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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1080 Mainland Street

In 1911, the year before this building was developed, Clarence Tingley was Secretary & Treasurer of the Vancouver Transfer Co Ltd, living on Howe Street. Fred Tingley was Manager of the same company, and in 1911 lived in Kitsilano. Both brothers were born in British Columbia; Clarence Harper Tingley in 1869 and Frederick Chipman Tingley in 1873. Their mother died the year after Fred’s birth.

Their father, Stephen, was born in New Brunswick, and came to BC in 1861 to prospect in the Cariboo Gold Rush. After years of no luck (despite walking from Yale to Williams Creek, a distance of 370 miles, carrying a 100 pound pack), he was hired as a stage driver for the Barnard’s Express in 1864. Known as the “Whip of the Cariboo”, he incorporated as a partner with the British Columbia Express Company in 1871 and drove stagecoaches in the Cariboo region over what was then one of the most hazardous roads in North America. In 1886, Tingley became sole owner of the express company which he ran for before selling out in 1894. He had bought a ranch at 108 Mile House, still standing today, where he built the BX Barn Service, stabling stagecoach horses. He sold out for $11,000 in 1903, and increased his fortune as the “Discoverer of the Nicola Coal & Coke Mine”.

Fred came to Vancouver before Clarence, and managed the Vancouver Transfer Co, originally established by Francis Stillman Barnard of Barnard’s Express, while Clarence was still ranching. By the early 1900s they were both involved in the Transfer Co, and in 1912 Tingley Bros hired ‘Snider, Geo. & Brethune’ (according to the building permit) to design and build a 3-storey warehouse in the CPR Reserve on Helmcken Street – which we’re almost certain has to be this building (as we’ve accounted for all the other Helmcken Street buildings built around this time). In fact, the builders were George Snider and Edgar and John Brethour, who ran their business from offices in the Dominion Building. In 1911 Clarence was living with his wife Blanch, born in Nova Scotia, and their three children, Elizabeth, Stephen and Hall, all aged under seven. Fred was living with his Scottish wife Sarah and their three daughters, Jean, Henrieta and Myrtle, all aged five and under.

The new building served double duty; it was the stables for the Transfer Co, and also home to the Elevator Supply & Equipment Co Ltd, managed by Arthur Gamwell. In 1920 the Transfer Co still had their stables here, but shared the building with the Chevrolet Car Company. By 1930 there were multiple tenants, including the Orange Crush Bottling Co and the Van Loo Cigar Co. In 1940 when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, Tingley Brothers still operated here, although now they were listed as ‘property owners’. Clarence died in 1942 and Fred in 1947. In 1940 the building was used by T Eaton and Co, and United Milling and Grain. By 1950 the entire warehouse was occupied by T Eaton and Co, and by 1970 Dogwood Wholesale Stationery were in the building.

Over the years the Yaletown warehouse district became under utilized and run down. In 1988 Simon and Associates designed a radical change of use for the vacant building, designing a boutique hotel conversion. The use never took off, although the additional floor, balconies and curious ‘bay’ windows are a legacy from that idea – and instead a 64,000 sq. ft., multi-tenancy design centre (showroom/office) project was created. Yaletown Galleria still operates today, with a mix of retail and office tenants.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E18.21

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1106 Mainland Street

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In 1912 J M McLuckie obtained a permit for a $41,000 5-storey warehouse that he designed and built. On the permit it was shown shown at 1106 Helmcken, but we’re almost certainly it was really this building; 1106 Mainland Street. It was developed by Kelly, Douglas & Co, and the building here was initially used by the Kelly Confectionary Co, a company created by Robert Kelly. He was the son of an Irish tailor and was born in Ontario. He travelled to Vancouver in 1886, but finding things a bit slow, moved south and managed a general store and telegraph office in McPherson, just south of Los Angeles.

Kelly returned to Vancouver in 1887 and established a wholesale fruit and provision business with William McMillan on Water Street. Two years later he became a travelling salesman for Oppenheimer Brothers, leaving the job in 1895 and teaming up with William Braid to form Braid, Kelly and Company, wholesale grocers specializing in tea and coffee. Business was good, but the partnership lasted less than a year as Kelly’s loud style didn’t work with Braid’s more conservative approach to business.

Frank Douglas from Lachute, Quebec arrived in Vancouver in 1896. Douglas would be described a few months later by the Vancouver Daily World as “an able and progressive business man.” Despite their differing personalities, the pair created Kelly, Douglas and Company, wholesale grocers and tea importers. The firm prospered, helped by the Liberal political connections that Kelly established. Douglas spent each summer visiting the Klondike to meet clients and secure orders; he was on one of these trips in 1901 when the Islander, the steamer on which he was travelling, hit an iceberg and sank in Lynn Canal, Alaska. Kelly continued running the business, and Douglas’s brother became a partner a few years later.

1106-mainland-1941-vplThe company’s Nabob brand was registered in 1905 and soon became known for the high-quality pre-packaged teas and coffees that are still sold, (these days as part of Kraft Foods). In 1906 the firm built a huge nine-storey warehouse on Water Street.

The Kelly Confection Company Limited was established that year to market confectioneries, and business was good enough for the firm to require its own warehouse, built in the area now known as Yaletown, that the CPR released a couple of years earlier. By 1941, as this VPL image shows, the Mainland Street warehouse was being used by Kelly Douglas for their Nabob branded foods. As in our 1970s image there was a smaller 2-storey building next door; that was replaced in 1989 with a new ‘heritage style’ office building that looks like a former warehouse.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-813

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Posted February 27, 2017 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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Homer Street – 1100 block (1)

1100 Homer north

This 1970 Archives image shows how little this part of Yaletown has changed in nearly 50 years – at least physically. There are far fewer added street trees on this side of Homer Street, so you can still see the buildings. That’s not true of the west side or many other nearby streets, especially to the west of here in Downtown South; (the area realtors like to call Yaletown, or sometimes New Yaletown).

We looked at the history of 1138 Homer, the Frank Darling Block, in the previous post. That’s the three storey building to the left of the telegraph pole in the centre of the picture. Next door is a 2 storey building that also dates from 1913 and like its neighbor cost $40,000 according to the Building Permit. It was built by R & F Watson for Adamson & Main, who claimed to be the architects. The same developers, Adamson & Main, were also responsible for the adjacent five storey white brick building at 1180 Homer developed in 1910 and designed by architects Campbell & Bennett, costing $35,000. (Only four storeys are visible in the picture, and there is also an additional storey on all of these buildings on Mainland Street where the other façade of this block is a full storey lower).

Adamson & Main are a mystery. The only reference to any partnership under this name in contemporary sources is for the permit for this building. There are only a few possible people called Adamson in the city between 1910 and 1914; one possibility is Robert Adamson who was the accountant for the BC Sugar Refinery; the only other well paid Adamson was J Adamson who was Chief Engineer on the Empress of Russia (and in the 1900s on the Empress of India). He seems more likely to be the developer partner, as James Adamson hired the same R & F Watson to design and build a $15,000 apartment building on Oak Street in 1914. James Adamson had been first chief engineer since the Empress service was started in 1891, and he would have been well paid. His appearance in the street directories (but with no home address) suggests Vancouver was his home base. J Adamson had Parr and Fee design a $2,000 house on Burrard Street in 1903, although nobody called Adamson appears to have lived there. J Adamson appears in the 1901 census, but apparently aboard ship (as most of the members of the recorded ‘household’ are ship’s crew, including the Head of Household who was the First Mate). Apart from identifying his job as Chief Engineer, and that he was of English origin, all other details are missing. The ship would have been The Empress of India. Adamson was Chief Engineer on the Empress of Russia from her maiden voyage in 1913 when she broke the record for crossing the Pacific in an easterly direction by 28 hours. He ended his career in 1919 as Chief Engineer on the Empress of Asia.

Main could have been James Main, a hardware merchant, but David Main, is a much more likely candidate. A 1914 biography said: “for many years he has been engaged in the building trade but now practically spends his time in looking after his valuable realty holdings.” He was from Nairn, in Scotland. His father was a sea captain who “at the age of seventy-three years died suddenly of apoplexy, passing away after four hours of illness.” David Main trained as a carpenter, arriving in Philadelphia in 1887 where he worked as head carpenter on a training ship before moving to Vancouver in 1891. For a few years around 1900 he worked in Atlin in Northern BC, where he shipped lumber to White Horse and built the hospital and the Presbyterian church. On his return to Vancouver in 1902 he briefly worked as a carpenter before running a building materials company with T G McBride before retiring to manage his property interests in 1911.

The taller, narrower white brick building is known as the McMaster Building these days, and was turned into condos ten years ago. The original plan was to renovate the building, but it was in such poor shape that it had to be completely rebuilt with the façade retained and tied into the new structure. The original tenants in the building were William J McMaster and Sons. William was from Northern Ireland as was his wife Elizabeth and they had at least five sons, four of whom were shown in the census living at home in Toronto in 1901. It appears that for a while William also lived in Vancouver: he was shown on Georgia Street in 1901 and Haro Street in 1904. James was shown living in the city as early as 1899, and W J appeared in 1897, living at the Mountain View Hotel and a year later in the Leland Hotel. In using Census records we quite often note that someone resident in the city according to the street directories was missed by the census. In this unique example, William, James and Edward McMaster are shown living at home in Toronto and also lodging in Vancouver in the 1901 Census.

The Vancouver directors were James and Edward McMaster. Edward had been born in Montreal and attended Trinity University; a 1914 biography says he worked as a travelling salesman for the family company before taking on the sales manager’s role in the newly established Vancouver location in 1906. Actually he was already resident in Vancouver in 1901, and married here in 1904 to Mary Stewart, from Glasgow. He was elected an alderman in 1911 and was a Director of the Vancouver Exhibition Association. His brother James was also in Vancouver in 1901, marrying Lena who was from Ontario.

The company was a clothing wholesaler, and street directories show that their earlier premises were on Cordova, operating as Manufacturer’s Agents, specializing in Gloves and ready-to-wear. They lasted a very short time as W J McMaster & Sons – but they continued to operate from the property. In 1916 the BC Shirt and Overall Manufacturing Co were here: James torryMcMaster was the foreman and Edward the manager. A January 1916 edition of ‘Industrial Canada’ noted that “McMasters Ltd., manufacturers of shirts and overalls, Vancouver, have sold their undertaking to the B. C. Shirt and Overall Manufacturing Co., Ltd.” The Manufacturing Co was a new operation, incorporated that year and capitalized at $25,000. There had been a severe depression of the economy before the war, and in many cases businesses already in existence carried out a re-arrangement of business to avoid bankruptcy. This doesn’t seem to have helped the McMaster operations: both 1176 and 1180 Homer were vacant in 1917. By 1919 the Ives Modern Bedstead Co were in 1176 Homer and Torry-Lee storage in 1180. James McMaster had a job as an accountant with Fleck Brothers, a job he retained for several years. Edward’s employment isn’t noted in 1919, but in the early 1920s he was a manufacturer’s agent.

James L Torry was an importer, and the Homer Street facility was his warehouse with the storage and distribution business offered as an adjunct. By the mid 1920s another firm moved in, Pioneer Envelopes Ltd. Envelopes were obviously the thing on Homer Street. Pioneer were here right through to World War Two, and the company still exists in Richmond and Langley. They were replaced in the 1950s by the Norfolk Paper Co. The McMaster name was still used for the building.

The shorter building to the north also saw variation in tenants and change over the years, with, among others, an upholsterer, an outdoor advertiser and De Laval Co Ltd, dairy supplies (who were in the building for several decades). Closest to us is the Smith Davidson & Wright warehouse , also selling stationery, designed by Ted Blackmore in 1909 and completed in 1911.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-54

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Posted May 19, 2016 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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