Archive for the ‘Yaletown’ Category

Yaletown From Above

Here’s another aerial image paired with a recent shot – the more recent one taken in 2018 from CTV’s helicopter. The historic Yaletown district can be seen clearly as three streets of relatively low buildings, surrounded by more recent residential towers that the real estate industry has attached the Yaletown name.

The historic area was developed in remarkably short order between 1909 and 1913. When the original building permits were issued, many of the buildings didn’t have a street address, and the legal description was ‘CPR Reserve’. The railway company released the land for new development of warehouses in 1908, when Water Street’s storage buildings were oversubscribed. Household names like Otis Elevator had buildings here, later joined by Ford and Heinz, but the majority of developers were local businesses expanding their warehouse space. Woodward’s Stores, Mainland Transfer and Empress Manufacturing all built new storage or manufacturing premises here. The name was brought from Yale, where the CPRs original maintenance facility was located, before it was moved to Vancouver. (The roundhouse, just above David Lam Park, still stands today, now repurposed as the area’s community centre).

The area remained a mixture of storage and manufacturing buildings, with high rail loading docks on the downhill side of the block, and tracks running down the street. During the 1980s and 1990s this gradually changed; a few restaurants and retail stores opened in the area, and then as industry moved away and adopted different (often container based) freight handling, the are saw hugw changes. Residential and office conversions were carried out; the rail docks became extended covered patio space for a surprising number of restaurants, and developers looked to add additional storeys as buildings were converted and upgraded. A couple of buildings were in such poor condition that only the façade was retained, and one warehouse burned down and was replaced with the Opus Hotel, whose dimensions replicated the warehouse that was lost.

Our before picture dates to 2001 so there were already plenty of residential towers that had been built in the 1980s and 90s, including many built by Concord Pacific as they commenced developing the land they acquired from the Province following Expo ’86. The first towers were built on the north side of Pacific Boulevard, but in 2001 they were well on the way to complete West One, the first tower of the Beach Crescent neighbourhood (in the foreground) which even today has a couple of yet-to-be-developed non-market housing sites. The eight Concord towers in the picture developed since 2001 added over 1,100 units, and once complete the whole neighbourhood, clustered around George Wainborn Park, will have over 2,000 apartments, including non-market rental.

While much of the rest of Downtown South (to the north of the Concord lands) has been built out, one large tower is still under construction next to Emery Barnes Park, another on Smithe Street, and there are a few more infill sites left. The greatest potential change in this picture will occur when the 1948 Hudson’s Bay warehouse (today an office building on an entire city block) gets redeveloped – undoubtedly into residential towers.

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Posted February 17, 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, Yaletown

Hamilton Street – 1000 block, east side

This 1981 image shows Yaletown warehouses when the area was still mostly used for industry and storage. The building on the corner of Hamilton Street however had already transitioned to office space – with the sign offering individual offices and basement storage space. The building had been developed in 1910, designed by James W Keagey for the McClary Manufacturing Company, and costing $35,000. McClary’s made stoves in London, Ontario, and had already developed an earlier property on Water Street in 1897. Keagey had moved from Ontario around 1909, and won the competition to design the Rowing Club clubhouse, still standing today in Stanley Park. He was also an artist; two of his paintings made in Egypt in 1917 are in the National Gallery. Today the warehouse is a bank, and upstairs, although it’s not obvious from this angle, is a Keg steakhouse with a relatively recently added rooftop patio.

Next door to the south is a warehouse that we looked at several years ago. It was designed by an Italian born architect, Raphael A Nicolais, for Buckley and Baker. During the 1920s it was home to Consolidated Exporters Corporation, whose history we didn’t look at in the earlier post – but we should, as they have a fascinating history. The company was something of a ‘marriage of convenience’. In 1922, when Prohibition was enacted in the US, Canadian brewers and alcohol suppliers quickly established supply lines to illegally move alcohol into the US. The Canadian Government made very few moves to limit this increasingly profitable trade. (Imports of alcohol into Canada were all legal, and sometimes even paid duty, although it wasn’t required if the goods were for re-export. They took the view that re-export was none of the concern of the government). The one token gesture to placate the Americans was a move to increase the cost of an annual export licence from $3,000 to $10,000. To circumvent this additional cost, fifteen companies (brewers, distillers and agents) formed a liquor export conglomerate, and paid for just one licence for the Consolidated Exporters Corporation. There were several other affiliated businesses that weren’t listed, including United Distillers whose manufacturing plant was located in Marpole.

Over a short time it became apparent that joint operations had other significant advantages. As well as a shared warehouse, the new business quickly established a fleet of ‘mother ships’ that theoretically were heading to ports in Central America, although almost always didn’t quite make it that far. Instead they ‘hung out’ off San Francisco, beyond the US 12-mile limit, (and later off Ensenada, slightly further south). They would carry anything up to a million dollars worth of alcohol –  for example Federalship, crewed by Vancouver residents, flagged in Panama but owned by Consolidated was seized in 1927 (illegally, the US courts would later determine) carrying 12,500 cases of highest quality whisky and wine, imported from Glasgow. Supposedly headed for Buenaventura in Columbia, the boat was arrested (after being hit by the Coastguard cutter’s guns), in international waters 270 miles off San Francisco.

By the mid 1930s Goodyear Rubber were in the lower warehouse, and Consolidated continued to operate from the other building, but sharing with Davis Liquor and Canada Dry Ginger Ale. By 1940, once prohibition was over, Consolidated no longer operated, and a variety of manufacturers agents and storage companies used the warehouse. That was still the case in 1955, with Goodyear continuing to use the warehouse on the corner.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E14.05

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Posted February 6, 2020 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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Homer Street – 1100 block (2)

We looked at the other end of this block in a post from a few years ago. This 1981 view shows some of the warehouses constructed on CPR land near their freight yards and roundhouse, in the area known as Yaletown. Many of the buildings have heritage designations these days, although none are used as warehouses or for manufacturing any more. The third building down the street from Helmcken is the Frank Darling warehouse, built in 1913 by Irwin Carver and Co for Frank Darling, an electrical equipment supplier. Honeyman and Curtis were the architects of the $40,000 structure.

The two and three storey buildings closer to us were both designed by the same architects for the same client, although two years apart. The Empress Manufacturing Co commissioned the lower building in 1909, with Grant & Henderson designing the $20,000 structure, built by Smith and Sherburne. Two years later they designed the three storey neighbour that cost $29,000 and was built by Barker, Campbell & Whipple. Yaletown was created because the warehouse district along Water Street in Gastown was full.

Walter Taylor was the founder and managing director of the Empress Manufacturing Co., Ltd., which dealt in imported coffees and local jams and jellies and one of the early successful local food supply companies. He also built a five storey building on Water Street in 1911, (with Edward C Taylor, his son), hiring Grant and Henderson to design that too.

Empress sold their jams and jellies under the Empress label, spices as ‘Seneca’ brand, with a sailing ship on the label, and Beverly brand peanut butter. Walter Taylor had been an early business leader in the city, and the family first appeared in 1890, living at 1006 Nelson street (where they stayed for several years). Walter was initially manager of the Vancouver Fruit Canning Co; a newly established business in 1890. It appears that the business also operated as the B.C. Fruit Canning Co and were based at 1107 Homer Street (across the street from here).

All the Taylor family were born in Ontario; Walter, his wife ‘Elisa’ (on the 1901 census, although she was actually Eliza), son Edward and daughter Ethel. In 1901 their household also had two of Elisa’s sisters living with the Taylors, Louisa and Theresa M Eastwood. Edward was a bookkeeper, and no one else in the household had an occupation shown. Walter was 55, and Elisa was 52. The previous census in 1891 showed Walter aged 44 and his wife was shown a year younger aged 43. Their marriage certificate shows Walter was 29 when he got married in 1872, and Eliza was 24, so it appears that Mr. Taylor felt the need to shave a few years off his age in both census records. (His 1915 burial record in Mountain View Cemetery confirms he was actually born in 1841). They were married in Lloydtown, in York, Ontario, and Mr. Taylor was a merchant in Albion. When Edward was born in 1873 and Ethel in 1876 the family were in Bolton, Peel, Ontario. Two other children born in 1880, and in 1881 (Francis, in Toronto) but they apparently didn’t survive.

Edward, Walter’s son, had joined BC Fruit Canning Co by 1904 as secretary to the business, and he retained that role when the company was established as the Empress Manufacturing Co in 1905. Walter was manager of the BC Fruit Canning Co, and had the same role at the Empress business. In 1914 a biography of William Hunter, president of the Empress business that year claimed he had moved from Ontario and founded the business in 1900, but he wasn’t in the city in the early 1900s, so that seems to be an attempt to overlook the Taylor family role in the company. A 1912 history of the company acknowledges that it was founded by Walter Taylor (with Edward Lindsay) but inaccurately puts that in 1880, (Walter was still an Ontario merchant in the 1881 census). It explained that “the original capital of $20,000 was increased to $100,000 to enable the firm to cope with the business. At that time their manufactures were mainly canned fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, and imported coffees and spices, which were put up in suitable form for the market. Later the firm began to import teas and a few other commodities, but the maximum of development was not reached until 1910, when the business was sold to Messrs. Hunter & Son, and was formed by them into an incorporated company with a capital of $250,000.” So the two Empress buildings were constructed by different owners of the same business.

Unlike so many buildings we look at, this one continued to be occupied by the same company for decades. Empress were still using the building in 1955, although in 1939 the business had been acquired by Safeway Stores. Today, like almost all of Yaletown, the buildings house restaurants and retail spaces.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E12.36

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1090 Homer Street

This five storey warehouse (six floors on Mainland Street) was built in 1910 by Leek and Co. William and Walter Leek were both steamfitters, operating one of the city’s larger plumbing, heating installation and engineering businesses. When the warehouse was built the company was run by William Leek and Walter jnr, his son. Walter Leek senior was William’s brother, and was also involved in the business. In the 1901 census William and Walter jnr. were both living at 1110 Davie Street, with business premises on Pender. There was also James Leek listed at the same address, a plumber, and John W Leek, also a steamfitter, who had his home at 1429 Georgia. The family had arrived early in the city’s history. They arrived in Canada in 1880 into Ontario, and by 1892 John Leek and his son William were running a plumbing business in Vancouver, and living on Richards Street. In 1893 William accepted the position of plumbing examiner with the City of Vancouver. They were still living on Richards in 1895, when Walter Leek had joined them; there’s a picture of Walter and William in 1894 outside a shack in the middle of the forest (E49th Avenue).

The family were originally from Harrogate, in Yorkshire, and their business specialized in installing power and heating systems using prefabricated parts. They designed and built the power plants for several large projects, including the steam heating system for the University of British Columbia. In 1910 William, Walter, Eleanor and Verna Leek all applied to buy land in the Cumberland mining district, no doubt part of the short-lived mining boom that so many of Vancouver’s more successful residents joined in. Leek also served as President of the Vancouver Exhibition Association and the Pacific National Exhibition for many years.

The building permit said the company designed the block. That’s quite possible as the family’s business meant they had the experience to draw up plans. They had designed their own 821 Pender Street premises in 1903, and in 1904 William Leek had designed and built his own home on Harwood Street. Walter also lived in the West End in the early 1900s, moving to Nicola Street. The company continued to occupy this building through the 1920s, and following William’s death, Walter ran the business. Several other younger members of the Leek family continued to work at a variety of trades in the company. By 1930 Walter was still in charge, but the business had crossed the street to new premises at 1111 Homer. This building was then occupied by The Canadian Westinghouse Co, who supplied power equipment for hydro electric projects, as well as manufacturing electrical apparatus for railway, industrial and domestic uses. They were still here when this 1943 Vancouver Public Library image was taken, operating their repair division, with several other businesses including a storage warehouse on the upper floors.

Today there’s office space on the upper floors, a bank on the main floor on Homer, and the Blue Water Café occupies the lower floor on Mainland Street, using the former raised loading dock as an outdoor patio.

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Posted September 12, 2019 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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Hamilton Street – 1200 block

There’s a large warehouse on the northern end of the 1200 block of Hamilton Street (in the middle of our 1981 image) that’s no longer standing. It’s probably the largest building no longer in Yaletown, (lost to a fire) replaced in 2002 by the Opus Hotel.

In 1912 W O’Neil & Co were shown here for the first time. We think this must be a warehouse associated with William O’Neil’s building supply business, based on Seymour Street. Canadian Pacific Railway released the land for development around 1910, and the entire area built up in only a couple of years. While we can identify almost all the permits for the Yaletown warehouse buildings, this location has proved elusive.

The O’Neil firm was founded in Vancouver in 1898,. Among the items they sold was stained glass, initially acting as an agency for the noted Canadian stained and art glass firm of Robert McCausland of Toronto. By 1910 it appears that the company employed artisans in Vancouver, and the company’s 1913 catalogue said “We employ a competent corps of artists and are in a position to contract for and execute anything in the Art Glass line, from simple geometrical lines to the most elaborate memorial and ecclesiastical work. The following pages give just an idea of what we are continually doing, and we have an extensive portfolio of beautiful designs in Leaded Lights to select from, or we can submit designs for special work. Hand painted designs executed and fired in our own Kilns.” William Nelson O’Neil was from Brampton, Ontario, and unlike many of his business colleagues, who were initially in the West End, and later Shaughnessy, he chose to live with his wife and daughter in Fairview.

By 1920 this had become a storage warehouse – Mr. O’Neil was also president of the Western Warehousing Co, who operated the large warehouse, although by the mid 1930s it had become the Christie Brown biscuit warehouse, and by the mid 1940s the Hudson’s Bay Company were using the building as their service department.

Next door, the 3-storey building was developed for Woodward Department Stores Ltd, and designed by Smith and Goodfellow. The $25,000 warehouse and stable was built by McNeil & Campbell. It was later used by the national Furniture Co as their warehouse.

In 1981 there was a vacant site next door; in 1996 Raymond Ching designed a 12 unit condo building called Greenwich Place. It’s not completely clear from the street directory, and there are relatively few early images of this street, but it appears that the residential building might have been the first structure built here.

Next door we can just see the edge of a five storey warehouse that supposedly only cost $20,000 to build, designed by W J Kerr for J & A Phillips, and built by the owners in 1912. Today it’s a strata commercial building with Rodney’s Oyster House downstairs.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.20

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Posted December 17, 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, Still Standing, Yaletown

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555 Pacific Street

Crossing Granville Bridge in 1995, it was possible to look over and take this picture of the southern end of Yaletown, with Carlos n’ Bud’s Tex-Mex restaurant operation in a converted 1936 garage. This part of Pacific Street had originally been developed with houses around the turn of the twentieth century – there were four homes here built before 1901. By the 1930s the area was much more commercial, and the new car repair facility (addressed to Seymour Street) was shared by Len Cooper’s Signal Service, selling gas and oil, and Bentley’s Automotive Service Garage, run by William Bentley who lived in West Vancouver. There had been an Imperial Oil gas station across Seymour to the west in the 1920s, but by 1937 it had become the Atlas Tire Depot.

This location remained a garage; from the 1930s until at least the 1960s Hammond Ltd’s garage operated here, with an additional workshop on Pacific Street across the lane to the east. Thomas D Hammond was president, and by the mid 1930s lived in North Vancouver. Tom Hammond had started the Central Garage on Seymour in 1929, moving from the prairies having learned his mechanic skills during the first war. He took over this location a few years later, running both the gas station and the repair garage. In 1949 the station was selling Shell gas. On the next street across, Richards Street, there was a storage warehouse originally built around 1929 for Johnston Storage.

Residential uses gradually returned to this location as plans to increase the residential population Downtown slowly became reality from the early 1990s. Pacific Point, the two white towers, were completed in 1990 and 1992, designed by Eng & Wright. The workshop part of the Hammond Garage was developed by Onni and Amacon as the 501, a 32 storey condo tower, completed in 1999. More recently Onni also developed The Mark, replacing the Bud n’ Carlos property with a 41 storey tower that includes a childcare centre. Just completing on the warehouse site, Onni have developed another tower incorporating a childcare – this one 43 storeys called The Charleson, with a rental podium and condos in the tower. Alongside is another 45 storey tower, designed by Dialog (who also designed The Mark and The Charleson) in this case for Wall Financial, who have decided to rent the units rather than sell them.

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Posted June 11, 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, Yaletown

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200 Nelson Street

This two storey warehouse dates to the same year as its neighbor; 1911. This was also designed and built by a builder recorded on the building permit by the City’s clerk as ‘Snider, Geo. & Brethune’. The City Directory listed ‘Snider and Brethour’, run by George Snider and Edgar Brethour, and John S Brethour. Sometimes the Building Permit clerk got the company name right – as there are several other significant buildings listed as being built by Snider and Brethour. George Snider was from BC, born near Sooke and living in Victoria with his wife Amy in 1901. Both Edgar and John Brethour were also born in BC, outside Victoria. They were almost certainly cousins; both their fathers were from Ontario, and both were farmers.

Their client here was the Mainland Transfer Co, confirmed by the 1911 Insurance map who label this building as Mainland Warehouse. Mainland Transfer was incorporated on May 28, 1902, with a capital stock of $50,000, in $100 shares. It seems to have been created by taking over the interests of Atkins & Johnson, who had been in the city from the 1880s. Mainland’s 1902 premises at 120 Water Street were where Atkins and Johnson had been a year earlier. Those gentlemen had gone on to run the Hotel Metropole.

The company became much bigger in 1904 when Gross and McNeill merged with them and Frank Gross (from New Brunswick, arriving in Vancouver in 1887) became manager. John D McNeill, from Ontario and Frank Gross founded their draying and transfer business in the late 1890s. After the merger McNeill briefly became general manager and then 1n 1906 left Mainland and became president of Great Northern Transfer, (handling all the freight related to the Great Northern Railway) and the Vancouver Coal Company.

Mainland Transfer grew significantly in 1906 when it combined operations with the Vancouver Warehouses Ltd. By 1913 Frank Gross was Manager of Mainland Transfer, based on Pender Street, and a director of Vancouver Warehouses (whose warehouse was on Beatty Street) Willie Dalton was both manager of the warehouse company and secretary-treasurer of Mainland Transfer. He arrived in Vancouver (from Huddersfield) in 1904. Robert Houlgate was President of Mainland Transfer in 1913, and he also had a Yorkshire connection, as he had been a bank manager in Morley before joining the Huddersfield based but Vancouver located Yorkshire Guarantee and Securities Corporation, Limited in 1898.

In 1920 this was Mainland Transfer Co Warehouse No. 3, but they shared the premises with Sawmill Machinery Co, Holbrooks Ltd (who were pickle manufacturers) and Crane Co.’s warehouse. In the mid 1930s Gold Band Beverage bottlers were here alongside Gilchrist Machine Co who sold logging equipment, the BC Feed and Egg Co who wholesaled feedstuff, and the Ford Motor Co who assembled vehicles brought in to the rail dock at the back of the building. By the end of the war there were several different businesses here, including Restwell Upholstery, the Green Mill Coffee Shop and the Railway and power Engineering Co. By the late 1950s this part of the 1000 block of Mainland Street was owned by T Eaton and Co. Eaton’s had a showroom in this lower building, and a warehouse in the three storey building next door, which they had occupied from the early 1940s.

These days the building has a variety of tenants including a private 30 student elementary school for children aged 5 to 9.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E18.19

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