Archive for the ‘West End’ Category

Robson and Bute Streets

This section of Bute has been closed to through traffic and turned into a local plaza. In 1981 there were single storey retail stores on Robson and up to the lane, and two houses across the lane on Bute Street, one on the corner of Haro Street. That’s still standing, but the house behind it has been demolished. The houses were built in 1906, on Haro, and 1907, on the lane. The Haro building was big, and developed by Edward Hobson. In fact it was never a home, but a rooming house, with 8 tenants when it first opened, and 12 today. The developer, Edward Hobson, was an English-born builder and investor. We looked at his history in connection to his Homer Street apartments, also still standing today. He was 49 when he developed the apartments here, and living with his wife Mary, whose surname was Reilly before she married Edward. This became known as Reilly House.

To the north, the house on the lane was unusual; in 1907 as it was described as “Concrete dwelling [cement]” and cost $6,700 to build. John J Hanna, who built the house, moved in soon after. He was an undertaker, and the Archives have an appropriately stern portrait of him. He was a member of the Vancouver Pioneers’ Association, and apparently first shows up in the Vancouver street directory in 1895 working as a clerk for Lockhart and Center; undertakers. A year later George Center and John Hanna were in business together as undertakers, based on Cordova, and after 1912 on West Georgia. They owned a motorized hearse as early as 1915. John was from Ontario, (his father was Irish and his mother from the USA). While the street directory got his first name wrong before 1895, the census shows he was here earlier; in 1891 he was aged 31, and living with his wife, Sarah, also from Ontario, and their children aged Otto, 1, and Leila, 4, and working as a house builder.

His obituary in the Province in January 1934 gave his life story “Mr. J. J. Hanna, 74, president of Center & Hanna Ltd. and one of Vancouver’s moat prominent old-timers, died suddenly early this morning while en route to California to visit his daughter. Mrs. Hanna was with him when he passed away. Apparently in good health, Mr. Hanna left here Monday morning, and at 7 o’clock last night caught the steamer Santa Rosa from Victoria. Shortly after midnight he was taken with a heart attack. The ship was then off Cape Flattery. The remains win be taken to Ban Francisco and returned to Vancouver for the funeral at the end of this week. A highly-esteemed citizen, Mr. Hanna had spent the last forty-two years in Vancouver. He was born in Janetvllle, Ont, and as a young man engaged in the shoe business in that town. In 1891 he came to Vancouver, and two years later formed a partnership in the undertaking business with Mr. George L. Center, who died some years ago. Their establishment in early days was on Cordova street, on the north side, between Abbott and Carrall streets. A prominent Mason, Mr. Hanna was member of Mount Herman Lodge and of King David Lodge in West Vancouver. He was also past grand master of Western Star Lodge No. 10 I. o. o. F. and a leading member in the Rotary Club. He was a past president of the Vancouver Pioneers Association; also of the Victoria County Old-timers. Besides his wife, he leaves a son, Mr. Otto Hanna, 6113 Angus drive. and a daughter, Leila, 6876 Marguerite, now visiting in Los Angeles. He has two brothers, W. J. Hanna In Victoria and A. E. In Meaford, Ont. Two sisters, Mrs. J. R. Magee of Janetvllle and Mrs. M. Richardson of Peterboro, Ont., also survive.” Sarah Hanna continued to run the business until her death in 1937.

We don’t know who developed the single storey retail here, but it wasn’t until the 1930s. This block of Robson was still houses until then; tobacconist Con Jones lived on the south west corner of Bute and Robson (just out of shot) for over 20 years. In 1988 the stores were redeveloped with a more substantial 2-storey retail building, with a restaurant on the second floor, designed by Sidney Suen.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 779-W09.36


Posted 22 October 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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1629 Comox Street

This 1906 house was developed by A J Crowe. He was a house builder who lived quite close to here at 1110 Nelson, and this was apparently one of the earliest he built in the city. He was in the area, building houses from an earlier date. The 1891 census finds him living in New Westminster, aged 34, a house carpenter. His wife, Annie, was seven years younger, and they were both from Nova Scotia. They had two children, Roland and Clarence, aged four and two. The 1911 census shows why a year earlier Mr. Crowe spent $800 raising his new Nelson Street home, and three years earlier adding an addition. (Interestingly, he didn’t build himself a new house from scratch, although he built at least 30 others over a long career as a builder/developer). As well as Roland and Clarence, who were still at home, there were (in descending age), Bertrand, Edna, Raymond, Edith, Ruth and Douglas (who was 9). The census also tells us that Mr. Crowe was called Andrew, although he never appeared to use anything but his initials in business. The household also had three lodgers.

This home followed a pattern that Mr. Crowe replicated throughout the city. It appears that the buyer of the house was Arthur Kendall, a doctor, who lived here from 1907. He died in 1910, and Mrs. Arthur Kendall is listed as the head of household for some years after this. The 1911 census identifies her as Vina, aged 32 with her 7 year old son, Lloyd Arthur, and three-year-old twins, Francis and Kathleen. The house would have been full as she also had four lodgers, and her cousin, William Woodley, living with her.

An obituary in a climbing magazine included more details about Dr. Kendall. “In Vancouver, on October 8, 1910, occurred the death of Dr. A. L. Kendall, a most highly valued member of the Alpine Club of Canada. Dr. Kendall was bom at Rockland, Ontario, in 1876. He lived in Texas for a few years, but his heart was always Canadian, and he returned to his mother country in 1889, making his home in Sapperton, B. C, where he lived for some ten years. He attended High School in New Westminster and entered McGill University in 1897, graduating in 1901. In 1902 he married Miss C. Woodley of Moose Jaw, and settled in Cloverdale, B. C. During 1905 and 1903 he studied special branches of his profession in the hospitals of Boston, Chicago and other great cities. Finally he settled in Vancouver, where his fine record in major surgical operations gave ever promise of a most distinguished career.

He had a keen interest in every movement that tended to the benefit of the community. Though he took no practical part in politics he used his influence – no small one – to promote the highest standard of purity in the party to which he belonged. It was the purely national spirit of the Alpine Club of Canada which first attracted him to that body. He graduated to Active membership on Mt. Huber during the period of the O’Hara camp. There the mountains threw their spell upon him and held him to the last. His trying trip to Mt. Baker and the characteristic unselfishness which made him give up his chance of attaining the summit on order that he might not imperil the success of the others are recorded elsewhere. With his death the Alpine Club mourns the loss of one of its most enthusiastic supporters and feels the deepest sympathy for his surviving relatives.”

The last time Mrs. Kendall appears in the street directory is in 1922. That year Vina Kendall, a widow, born in Rockland Ontario married Matthew Jones, who was 15 years younger, in Victoria.

In 1931 the Vancouver Sun reported the death of the builder. “A. J. Crowe Was B.C. Resident Since 1890 Prominent In building circles in New Westminster and Vancouver since 1890, Andrew J. Crowe, 79, died this morning at the home of his son, C. B. Crowe, 4522 West Sixth Avenue. He had been in poor health for several years. Coming from Bass River, N.S., 42 years ago, Mr. Crowe resided In New Westminster until 1909, when he moved to Vancouver. During these years he was associated with construction of many public buildings. Three daughters and four sons survive“. Three sons were in the Great War, and Bert died in 1917 at Vimy Ridge.

Our 1966 image was from the sale offer. Described as ‘an older style revenue house’ the rent income was $305 a month, but the value was assumed to be purely as land value for redevelopment. The owner, Mrs. Isabel Coe was hoping to sell at $26,500; cash only. The house was replaced in 1981 by a four-storey wood frame strata building called Westender One.


Posted 9 July 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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1661 Nelson Street

We don’t know who developed this house, probably around 1906, but we know that S H Horstman added a garage in 1924. There’s nothing outstanding about the house – it’s a standard style for the era, so without a permit it would be impossible to guess at the builder. Next door, just on the edge of the image, were a pair of less common houses. Built by the Vancouver Construction Company at a cost of $5,000 each the 1907 permit is for ‘Two concrete dwellings’. This was their only building permit the company sought, and they were a new business in 1907, managed by A V Crisp.

The houses were expensive to build – about 50% more than a typical wood frame house here at the time, but we assume they were ‘proof of concept’ for a new construction system. The US patent, from December 1907 explains. “Be it known that we, JAMES LAYFIELD and ALBERT V. CRISP, citizens of the Dominion of Canada, residing at Vancouver, in the Province of. British Columbia, Canada, have invented a new and useful Improvement in Cement-Block-Molding Machines, of which the following is a specification.

This invention relates to a machine for molding cement building blocks which, although particularly designed for forming a patented cement block wherein the outer and inner wall members are bonded together by sheet metal ties embedded in the cement of the wall members, is equally applicable for molding cement blocks of ordinary construction.

The invention comprises chiefly the means whereby the elevation of the frame to which the mold plates are attached, will, in the act of elevation and before the plates themselves move up, first withdraw from the faces of the block the several plates between which the block has been molded.

In 1909 it was reported in The Province newspaper that the Vancouver Construction Company were to construct the largest and finest ice rink in the world – to be located at Richards and Pacific. Despite an announcement that the building would start 60 days later – it never happened.

At 1661 Nelson, John F Watkins, a printer, was the first resident in 1906. In 1908 George A McNicholl, purchasing agent for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad moved in, staying for four years. The census shows he was 35 in 1911, living here with his wife Ella, their three children, and an aunt; Gertrude Clarke. The entire family had been born in Quebec. In 1914 Mrs Matilda Bowen was living in the house, but the occupants changed regularly through the war years. In 1919 Mrs Isaac L Woodley moved in and stayed until her death in 1924. The 1921 census tells us Emma Woodley was a widow aged 69, had been born in England, and had a lodger called Frank Hamilton, who was also from England, and aged 47. Mrs. Woodley died after a long illness of ‘heart trouble’, and had four children, a son in Vancouver, and three married daughters in Vancouver, Moose Jaw and Los Angeles. The family lived in Moose Jaw from 1901, moving from Ontario, and “Mrs. Woodley took a prominent part in social work and was well known as a temperance worker.”

Our 1967 image is from the sale particulars. The house was offered at $35,000; potential buyers were instructed not to disturb the tenants. They were unlikely to want to, as the building was described an apartment site. It wasn’t too long before that became true; today there’s a 1972 strata building called Hempstead Manor, (originally a rental, but converted in 1984) designed by D M Sarter.


Posted 6 July 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

Nicola Street north at Robson

This image is already out of date, because the building on the right in our ‘after’ shot has just been demolished. It’s the end of the Empire Landmark Hotel; now a big hole in the ground as two new condo and rental buildings replace it. This 1958 image shows a house where the hotel would be built, and another across Robson Street. We know who built that one, and the owner. It cost $3,500 in 1904 when J J Dissette built it for A Ferguson. This was Andrew Ferguson, a mining promoter according to the street directory. He retained that employment for many years, moving from here in the mid 1910s to 1 Fir Street. He was in partnership with Adolphus Williams, developing the ‘Union Jack Fraction’, ‘Corasand’, ‘Great Fox’ and “Emmadale” in the Lillooet Mining District in 1913. In 1916 they developed the ‘Sunset’, ‘East Pacific’ and ‘Clifton’ claims. A history of the mine tells us that in 1911 Peter and Andrew Ferguson, Arthur Noel, Adolphus Williams and Frank Holten bought the Bralorne mine from Fred Kinder for $26,000. Subsequently Noel and Holten sold their shares to the others and, in 1915, Pioneer Gold Mines Limited was incorporated. Between 1914-17 the partners built a small mill and power plant and produced about, $135,000 in bullion. In 1921 a Vancouver syndicate headed by A H Wallbridge and A E Bull bought controlling interest; within two years they, too, after investing a further $50,000 suspended operations.

In 1932 an almost destitute Andrew Ferguson, who, with his brother Peter and others had bought the Pioneer sued Pioneer Gold Mines. He charged that, “From January 1921 to July 1924, the defendants, being in full control fraudulently conspired to refrain from mining and producing gold so as to bankrupt the company.” Pioneer Gold Mines, which had sold out in 1928 for $1 1/2 Million, had never paid him the agreed upon asking price of $50,000, he said. Ferguson, after losing the first suit, carried his case to the Appeal Court of British Columbia, which ruled that the defendants were guilty of a deliberate breach of faith. However, because Ferguson had not sought to set aside the 1924 sale, the defendants were not held liable . The Privy Council in London subsequently dismissed the suit on the technicality that Ferguson was not the proper party to bring the action, but allowed a new trial. A settlement, details of which were never revealed, was finally reached in 1937, while the latest action was before the British Columbia courts.

An unnamed lawyer who became involved in the case told the Vancouver Province that Ferguson gained little from his legal battling. “When I knew him during the case, he was a little man, meek and mild. The life had been squeezed out of him. He was not bitter, though there had been a battle and he hadn’t won it. It was the 1924 option and sale to the new company that squeezed out the original shareholders.” Ferguson became a recluse in a tiny upstairs suite in Kerrisdale, and died at the age of 81. In the summer of 1934, midway through his fight in the courts, it was reported that the Pioneer Mine had yielded well over $1 million dollars in profits in a six-month period.

On the right, the large house at 800 Nicola has eluded our search for a developer or architect – it’s too early. The first resident was Charles Stimson, who probably developed the building around 1900. He owned a wharf at the foot of Abbott Street, and in 1901 was aged 59, living with his wife Linda and their Chinese cook, Wong Ching. The Stimsons were from Quebec, and an 1896 profile of Mr. Stimson said he had arrived five years earlier from Montreal. He started as a commission agent, representing a number of eastern businesses in the fast-growing Vancouver. They included the St Lawrence Starch Company, the Montreal Rolling Mills (steel manufacturers) and the Bell Telephone Company of Montreal. for the first couple of years in the city Mr. Stimson had rooms in the Hotel Vancouver, before moving to an address on Robson Street, and then here around 1900. In Montreal Charles had been a leather merchant., and in 1891 his wife was recorded as Mary. 1906 is the last directory that Charles is included; his death (aged 64) was in May, and the death notice tells us he was from Compton, Quebec. For three years from 1907 Mrs M Stimson was shown living here, ‘widow of Charles’. The 1908 ‘Elite Directory’ tells us that Mrs. Charles Stimson received visitors on Tuesdays. In 1911 Alexander McRae had moved in; the manager of Fraser River Lumber Company.

The 34 storey Empire Landmark opened in 1974 as The Sheraton Landmark, and across Robson a condo building called The Colonnade was completed in 1983. The Georgian Tower beyond was completed in 1955, three years before this picture was taken.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P508.47


Posted 28 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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700 Bute Street

This 1974 image shows two houses on the 700 block of Bute Street. The more obvious house dated back to 1898, while the one on the edge of the picture (on the corner of Alberni) was a year older. The numbering was initially thouroughly confusing; the house on the left was numbered as 744, and on the right (which should have a higher number) as 740. That would change around 1902, when it became 748.

Both houses were probably built by their initial occupants, who stayed in them for many years. The 1897 house on the left was home to Colonel Thomas H Tracey, the city engineer, while the slightly younger was home to W R Angus, described as a ‘traveller’.

In 1891 Tracy resigned his position as City Engineer of London (the smaller, Ontario version), in order to accept a similar post as City Engineer of Vancouver. As well as overseeing the construction of sewer and water supply systems throughout the city he designed public buildings like the West End School. In 1901 he was shown as aged 52, with his wife Sarah, who was 10 years younger. He was born in Ontario, but she was American. A daughter, S Louise, and a son, Thomas L, were at home with them, as well as Lilian Graves, who was 25, born in India, and unusually, listed by the census taker as ‘friend’.

Colonel Tracy was reported to have been dismissed from his City post in February 1905, possibly because he was already moonlighting, designing sewer systems for several other municipalities. He continued to work privately as a consulting engineer, advising on the design and installation of waterworks systems in Revelstoke, Kamloops, Vernon, Nanaimo, Ladner and other B.C. towns. He later served as an alderman on Vancouver City Council in 1921, and held the post of Chairman of the Civic Water Committee. This portrait was taken while he was a council member. He died on 31 October 1925 and was buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

William Angus was a little younger than his neighbour; he was 41 in 1901, and his wife Lizzie was 32. He was from Nova Scotia, and she was from New Brunswick. Their 3-year-old daughter was born in Ontario, and William’s brother-in-law, William Matthews lived with the family, as well as a domestic servant, Alice Major, who was from England and only 14 years old. Mr. Angus was variously described as a travelling salesman, and commission agent (which was effectively the same thing). In 1905 he had an office at 336 West Hastings, (which was the De Beck Block), and sold clothing. His employers were the Campbell Manufacturing Co of Montreal, who had a multi storey factory making men’s clothing “in sanitary conditions”.

The 1911 census shows William, Elizabeth and 13-year-old Muriel, Gordon and Stanley (who were eight, and presumably twins), Margaret Adams, their domestic, Irene Matta, his niece and Mary J Howard, a lodger. In 1913 the Daily World announced “Mr. W. R. Angus, 748 Bute street, one of Vancouver’s pioneers, died at the Bute street hospital this morning, after an illness extending over six weeks. The body has been removed to Center & Hanna’s undertaking rooms, and the funeral will be held Thursday afternoon from the family residence. Mr. Angus came to Vancouver thirty years ago, when it was hardly more than a clearing. He continued to live here until his death. He was a man of fifty – four years.” There’s no sign of him in the city before 1897, when he was living on Hornby Street, but he may have been a travelling salesman with only occasional visits to Vancouver. In 1871 he was aged 11, the fourth of Jeremiah and Catherine Angus’s ten children, in Pugwash, Cumberland Nova Scotia, but we haven’t found him in the 1881 or 1891 census records.

The Angus family occupied the same house for 40 years, but in 1938 the newspaper reported the death of “Elizabeth Ann, widow of the late William R. Angus in her 70th year”. During the war, Valerio Bissonnette lived in the Angus home, running it as a rooming house with his wife, Marguerite. In 1950 Cesidio Angelucci, who lived on East 7th, was running 744 as a rooming house, and Mrs. Helga May was running 748 as a rooming house. Miss Ella Stern, who was in charge of the fountain display at Purdy’s Café also lived here. In 1955 Leo and Dorothy Pierron, who also lived elsewhere, ran the rooming house at 744, while Mrs Helgo Gross, a widow ran apartments and rooms at 748, with Mrs. Paluline H Anderson (also a widow) in number 1, and Miss Joyce Carter, a clerk, in number 2.

Today there’s a 1980 office building that had additional retail space added in 2011, home to a large B C Liquor store.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-36


Posted 10 February 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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The Berkeley – Bute Street

If we had waited for winter, more of this West End apartment building would be visible, but we chose summer as the building looks pretty much the same as when it was built in 1923, but the context has changed as the area’s street landscaping has matured. The apartments were worth $45,000 when they were built by Oliver Lightheart, the youngest of six Lightheart brothers who all came from Nottawasaga in Ontario, and all went into the construction and development business in Vancouver. Oliver was 35 when he developed this building, and had planned a much more ambitious $200,000 building in 1913 that was never built. We have written about his family elsewhere, and seen his later investment property (also in the West End, and built in 1928) in an earlier post.

The Vancouver Public Library image dates from 1930, when there were no street trees on Bute, only on Nelson. The building was renovated in 2011, and continues to offer 36 rental units – these days ‘heritage’ apartments.


Posted 9 January 2020 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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The West End and Stanley Park from above

Here’s another dramatic aerial view. There’s nearly a century separating the two images – the Archives image was shot in 1927, so there’s no bridge to the North Shore yet – and very little there if you did manage to cross on the ferry. The picture was taken by Pacific Airways, apparently for the Union Steamship Company.

The West End in 1927 was mostly houses, although the smart money had already moved on to the CPR’s relatively recently released Shaughnessy district, so many of the big old houses (twenty to thirty years old houses), were being divided up or used as guest houses and rooming houses. There were apartment buildings sprinkled throughout the area, and many more were being built in this period, replacing some of those earlier houses.

On the waterfront it’s possible to make out both Englesea Lodge that was right on the water’s edge, and nearby the Sylvia Apartments, both designed by Seattle architect W P White. Between them were two piers, the older (and longer) with a pavilion at the end. It was built around 1905 and demolished in 1938. On a holiday like today in 1927 a band would probably be playing here, and there might be another at the bandstand on the roof of the changing pavilion to the southeast.

Today’s West End has a mix of lower density buildings, some already built in 1927, and far more mid and higher towers, built for the most part (in this part of the area) from the 1950s to the 1980s. The relatively recent West End Plan has encouraged development in certain parts of the area, and in Trish Jewison’s image (taken from the Global News helicopter) it’s possible to spot a number of tower cranes on Davie Street near Denman. There are five new rental towers being built there. The picture was taken in the spring, so the Empire Landmark was still standing, although the revolving restaurant had already been removed; now there just a big hole in the ground, awaiting the construction of a pair of condo towers with social housing over a retail and office podium.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 374-181 and Trish Jewison on twitter.


Posted 26 December 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

Davie Street – 1200 block, north side

As in another 1928 Davie Street picture, the 1200 block was once a street of houses, but by 1928 several had already been altered to add commercial frontages. As some of the houses were set back quite a way, with front gardens, the stores projected forward to the sidewalk. None of the houses on this block survive today – there’s actually just one property here, addressed as 1150 Jervis, with a residential tower over retail, built in 1970.

Behind the Capitol Grocery and Fruit Market, at 1253 Davie were two houses, built in 1902 by M C Griffith (according to the permit) costing $1,650 and $1,600. Malcolm Griffith, a contractor, lived at 1249 when it was built, as did Arthur Griffith, also a contractor. In 1902 only Arthur was listed, living three blocks away, on Davie (and invariably, and apparently inaccurately, the street directory listed them as Griffiths). That year there were four other Grifffiths in the city, every one of them either a carpenter or contractor.

M C Griffith had acquired a series of lots in this area, and he designed and built several other houses on this block. We’ve looked at the family history in connection to an earlier post that looked at the investment hotel he built on Granville Street in 1911 at a cost of $55,000. His 1902 home on Davie coincided with his marriage to Annie Montgomery, from Peebles in Scotland (which may be why he was temporarily missing in the street directory). Malcolm and his father, Arthur, were from Quebec, and had arrived in the city in the 1890s.

In 1911 the houses were addressed as 1243 and 1249 Davie, occupied by Walter Stark and Henry Stone. Calvin Grey was in 1243 a year later. It looked like Dr Seager might have been the owner of the building in 1915 when the retail unit was built – he paid $300 to H Elphick to add a single storey addition, although no retail use was apparent in subsequent street directories. That year 1243 was occupied by Charles Bell and 1249 was St Mark’s Theological College, associated with Dr. Seagar. Although it shares a name with a later Catholic college at UBC, this was an Anglican training facility. The theological college remained here until 1920 when it merged with Latimer Hall, to become The Anglican Theological College of British Columbia and moved to the Latimer Hall building on Haro Street. In 1921 Milton Clay lived at 1249 Davie, and it was vacant in 1925, and the Capitol Grocery opened a year later, run by Tim Lee, with P Ecker living at the back. In 1928 when the picture was taken it was still T Lee, with G Chan.

On the far left of the picture, Peter Tardiff altered the house at 1263 Davie in 1913 for Philip White, who lived here into the 1920s. We were not sure what he did; the directory doesn’t mention his occupation, and the census entry was impossible to read. However, Philip lived here before the alterations, and earlier directories show him to be a miner. He was obviously a successful one, as he built an investment block on Granville Street in 1905, and another in 1911. Philip was from Quebec, as was his wife, Charlotte, but the 1921 census shows his three daughters and son had all been born in BC.  In the 1928 image the house was occupied by the Toc H (Talbot House), an international Christian movement founded in World War One.

Today the ‘Your Independent Grocer’ store occupies the site of the Capitol Grocer, and the West End Community Policing Office is located where Mr. White’s home once stood.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N266.2


Posted 16 December 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Robson Street – 1100 block, south side (2)

Here’s another example of early houses on Robson Street transformed into a retail space. As with our previous post, this is the 1100 block, and here we’re midblock. The two storey replacement that has had CinCin Italian restaurant upstairs since 1990, was supposedly completed in 1974, and the ‘before’ photograph is dated from May 1974. Presumably there was construction soon after the picture was taken, but there were further major changes in 1985, which is when we suspect the restaurant space may have been remodeled.

By the mid 1900s the house that stood here was 1150 Robson (today it’s numbered as 1156). It was built around 1900, but the numbering in the early 1900s was completely confused (as they were not in numerical sequence) We’re pretty certain J T Wilband, a mechanic lived here from its completion, and was still here in 1906 when he was described as a contractor – so it’s possible he built the house himself, or had help in doing so. John Thaddeus Wilband was from New Brunswick, aged 38 in 1901 and married to Florence, four years younger. They had six children at home; their four sons each had unusual names; Burns, Hesson, Bellamy and Seward. (The girls probably had an easier time at school as they were Laura and Jennie). Three other siblings had died before they reached one year old. The youngest three children, starting from 12-year-old Hesson had been born in BC, the older three in New Brunswick. There were several other New Brunswick-born Wilbands in the city, including Simon, a carpenter (who we think was John’s brother) Charles and Ernest (both brothers – Ernest ran a successful sheet metal works on Richards Street) and Valentine (their father). When the 1911 census came round, the Wilband family had moved elsewhere in the city. John was living on Landsdowne Avenue, and Burns had his own home, and was a plumber. John Wilband died in 1937.

In 1910 the street directory showed Albert Lloyd, a teacher, living here, and in 1911 it was Frederick McPhail, a conductor on the BC Electric Railway. The 1911 census shows how quickly tenants moved, as neither of these were listed; instead it was Signor L S Auria, from Naples, and his daughter, Margerita who were living here, although they stayed in the city for such a short period that they were never recorded in a street directory. By 1955 the house was used as a rooming house, run by Mrs. F Hingston, with the Esquire Shop selling tobacco and Progressive Sales smoker’s supplies.

It’s an unusually long block, and it’s interesting to see that underneath the ‘Will Build to Suit’ notice was an access back to the lane. In 1974 there was an aquarium and pet shop, Noah’s Ark. The single storey retail building to the east (on the left) appears to have been constructed in 1921 at a cost of only $1,500 by Taylor Construction for D Murray. In 1974 it was home to Peacock’s Children’s Wear, and Oriental Marble House – ‘imports’.

One significant change in the past 40 years is the switch in emphasis of the stores, from generally local-serving to shops serving a much wider catchment. The small single storey building to the west, the Dory Shop, was selling quality used clothing in 1974, and Sketchers footwear today. It was built in 1957, and the Esquire shop had moved here, selling Gauloises cigarettes, was part of the same building, although today it has a more prominent façade, and is another shoestore. There was another house at the back of that lot too, in 1974. The house numbered initially as 1154 Robson no longer exists, as the building has also had major changes in the past 45 years. It seems to have been built around 1907, with Margaret Hyslop living here in 1908 and Coralina Chapman in 1909, clarified to Cornelia in 1910. She had moved by 1912, but fortunately was included in the 1911 census which tells us she was from Ontario, aged 55, and a widow. It’s hard to tell how big the house was, but it was full. Her sister, and niece, Ida and Ruth Purdy lived with her, as well as seven lodgers. It was still standing in 1955; Andrew Nesmith, a janitor in the Metropolitan Building lived here, as well as Ken Willoughby, (married to Lillian) who was managed of Photo Arts who occupied the retail unit on the street, where they specialized in portraits.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-343


Posted 21 November 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Robson Street – 1100 block, south side (1)

Here’s the south side of the 1100 block of Robson in a 1939 Vancouver Public Library image. Today the stores offer clothing to a broad group of shoppers from around the region, and beyond, but in the 1930s they were more likely to be local, looking for a haircut, and food from Safeway. (Both of those can still be found a few blocks down the street). Today, Aritzia, a locally based clothing chain have several stores here, including their Downtown flagship store. The company operates 84 stores, each individually designed, throughout Canada and the US.

In 1939 there were far more small businesses, with a grocery store on the corner of Thurlow, just out of the picture, then the Glaz-O-Nut Doughnut store at 1102-and-a-half Robson, Woodall’s Hand Knitting Shop and on the left of the picture, F B Patterson’s barber salon. The Cookie Crock bakery was to the west, then P B Dean’s delicatessen, the Egg Basket selling butter, cheese and eggs, and then Safeway’s grocery store. The New Coleen Confectionery store was at 1116, with Edmund Daem, a CPR porter and his wife, and daughter Josie, a stenographer lived upstairs. The rival Silver Star confectioners were next door, and then Moore’s cleaning and dyeing business.

The Safeway store and several other buildings revealed their origins as a residential rather than retail street. Safeway’s 1110 Robson had been a house in 1901, 1106 Robson. It was occupied by Henry Vaughan, a clerk, with Frank Filion, a grocer living in a house to the east and Thomas Bradbury, a contractor to the west. Frank designed a new house himself, in 1902, and had P Dermes build the stone foundation. (He had previously been a hotel-keeper in Gastown, before moving to the West End). The future Safeway store was owned by Yorkshire & Canadian Trust Co in 1919. It was apparently still a residential building in 1936, when Mrs. E M Jenkins, a dressmaker lived there, but a year later it was the Safeway store.

Beyond it, the two storey building two doors to the west was designed for Gillingham & Korner for D M Hourigan in 1920, and cost $4,000 to build. In 1921 Daniel Hourigan was 51 and from Ontario, and seems to have owned at least two of the buildings here. He was married to Alice, a 53 year old American, and seemed to be living on the income from his investments. In 1911 they were living in Toronto, where a daughter was still living with them. Daniel died in 1944, and in 1949 The Medicine Hat News reported that Alice, and her daughter, Mrs. Moyer (who lived in Medicine Hat) had driven 2,000 miles for her to visit her native Illinois for the first time in 38 years, at the age of 82. Their daughter, Mary, had been born in Illinois.

The three storey building to the west is still standing today. It was built in 1912 for Esther P Buchanan, who hired W P White to design it. Allan Brothers built the $35,000 ‘Apartment/rooms; three-storey brick store and apartment’. Esther knew the site well, as she lived here, in a house, before it was developed. She was wife of Richard G Buchanan, and in 1911 she was aged 32 and from Quebec. (He was 12 years older, and from Ireland, arriving in Canada as a boy in 1880. He sold china and glassware on Granville Street, and before that on Westminster Avenue). There were three boys, aged 10, 6 and 4. The family moved to Haro Street when the new building was developed, and Richard’s china shop moved to the main floor. In early December 1913 there was a 25% sale in the china store; an unusual time of year for such an event. The advertisements explained that ” In order to close the estate of the late R. G. Buchanan we must have $15,000 in 30 days”. Presumably things worked out for the business: in the next few years Mrs R G Buchanan was running the business, and she lived in one of the apartments above the store. In 1917 Stephen Ira DeBou (a 33 year old unmarried contractor, from New Brunswick) married Esther Permelia Buchanan, a 39 year old widow, daughter of Thomas B Hyndman of Ottawa. In 1921 they were living on Nelson Street; there were three of Stephen’s stepsons still at home; Esther’s fourth son, Richard was born around 1912. Her father, Thomas, was also living with them. We’ve see Mr. Hyndman’s work in the city in an earlier post. He developed some houses on Robson Street, and had worked for R G Buchanan before becoming vice-president of Woodwards Stores, and then running a real estate business. Esther died, aged 61, in 1940, and Stephen in 1964.

There was a Piggly Wiggly store next door in the building in 1928, and upstairs the rooms became the Hotel Biltmore. The grocery store closed very quickly, reopening as the Leong Market. In 1955 Safeway and the Biltmore Hotel were still in operation, but the food store was now Tom’s Market.