Vancouver Auditorium – West Georgia Street

The Vancouver Auditorium – or Georgia Auditorium – initially the Denman Auditorium – was built in front of the Vancouver Arena and opposite the Horse Show Building (which had by then become the Stanley Park Armories) in 1927. It was developed by the Patrick family’s Vancouver Arena Co, and it didn’t have an architect design it, but an engineer, L T Alden and cost $60,000 to build. Frank and Lester Patrick built the 2,500 seat building to promote shows that were too small for the cavernous Arena, next door. In its early days, there were boxing and wrestling matches, (as there had been in the Horse Show Building early in its life) and rallies and political meetings. The Arena was destroyed in a huge fire in 1936, but although damaged, the Auditorium continued in operation.

During World War II, it was taken over by the Canadian Navy and was temporarily used as a storage facility by Boeing Aircraft. The Palomar Supper Club owner Hymie Singer returned from the war, and bought the Denman Auditorium and Arena site apparently intending to build a new Arena (but that was never pursued). He promoted shows in the Auditorium: in 1948 jazz vocalist Kenny Hagood brought his show to town, in 1949 the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and in 1950 violinist Jascha Heifetz performed. The building was renovated as a concert venue in 1952, renamed the Georgia Auditorium, and the mix of shows, rallies and large meetings continued. Dave Brubeck played in 1953, as did Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald. She returned in 1955, and Jascha Heifetz again played the venue.

In 1957 a ‘who’s who’ of contemporary music appeared. The Province critic’s review was less than enthusiastic: “The young patrons, the great majority in the 15-year-old bracket, sat through two hours of brash musical noises highlighted by Fats Domino. The first show started at about 7 p.m. and the Auditorium was cleared to allow another show to go on at 9:30 p.m. The Audience was amazingly well behaved as special duty policemen patrolled the aisles. Guitarist Buddy Knox, who rose to fame with a record called “Party Doll” did three songs and was well received.” That same year both Ella Fitzgerald and Dave Brubeck returned their tours to the auditorium.

A year later Sir John Gielgud appeared in a world tour of “Shakespear’s Ages of Man”, and also in 1958 operatic soprano Lily Pons performed. The venue closed in 1959, with the opening of the new civic theatres Downtown, with the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and The Playhouse offering a much better (and more comfortable) customer experience. This image was taken that year, with a sign offering ‘This Valuable Corner Property For Sale’. By August it had been demolished, and the site sat for many years. Various residential tower schemes were proposed, some by local developers, one by a New York developer, but none found acceptance. Eventually residential buildings were allowed further east, and this became a park that joins into Stanley Park known as Devonian Harbour Park after the Calgary charitable foundation that donated $600,000 to move the project forward.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1123-6

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Posted 16 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Robson and Bute – north east corner

This image is labelled as the former Bute Street Private Hospital, seen in an Archives image taken somewhere in the 1940s to the 1960s. The Library have a copy too, and say it was photographed in 1960.

Dr. Simon J Tunstall was born in St. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec in 1854, and after qualifying in medicine in Montreal he headed west in 1881, working for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Lytton and Kamloops, where he established a medical practice. He was married by a ship’s captain in Victoria in 1885 to Marianne Innes, daughter of the naval storekeeper at the naval base in Esquimalt. In 1892 they moved to Vancouver, where Dr. Tunstall’s office was on Cordova, and they were living initially on Hamilton Street, then East Hastings, and in 1898 at 1036 Robson, with the doctor’s office moving to the Flack Block. The Tunstall family had moved to this house by 1905.

It first appears around 1900, home to Bertha Wolfe, a Jewish widow who had previously lived across Bute Street on the next block along. Described as a boarding house keeper, in 1901 she lived with her daughter, Ethel, her niece, Minnie Meyer, three Chinese domestic servants and eleven lodgers. Bertha (who was also born in the USA) had been married to Marcus Wolfe who was an insurance agent and real estate broker in Nanaimo, born in New Orleans and who died in 1896. In 1881 he was living in Hope, working as a clerk, living with Isaac Oppenheimer and his family. He shot himself in what was described at his inquest as “death by his own hand during a fit of temporary aberration”. He had apparently been in financial difficulties, so it’s unlikely that Bertha had the funds to build the house, although she may have been able to borrow them. She ran the boarding house here until 1904; by 1905 Dr. Tunstall had moved in. There’s no sign of Mrs. Wolfe in the city after this. Her daughter Babette, (Ethel was her middle name), married in 1906 to Alexander Green, who became a bank manager and in 1915 they moved to Victoria. In 1930 he drowned in the Thompson River in Kamloops while he was on a train journey from Vancouver to Toronto.

The Tunstall’s needed the large house; the 1911 census shows five daughters at home, aged 15 to 24. That year Dr. Tunstall built a garage, but in 1902 he had become a much more ambitious property developer, building a large commercial block on the corner of Dunsmuir and Granville. He maintained his practice until around 1912, when the house was sold and the family moved to West 2nd Avenue. He added an additional two floors to the Tunstall Block. In 1913 Marianne was living in the West End – Dr. Tunstall apparently suffering from problems with alcohol, entered a nursing home The Tunstall’s apparently moved again to another house on West 2nd in 1914, although Marianne had taken her daughters on a trip to Europe ‘for a year’ in 1913. Dr. Tunstall died in 1917, leaving an estate estimated at $250,000 (although eventually it was assessed at $134,000). His will had a disputed codicil, added in 1916, leaving funds to Emma Playter and her son. The Tunstall family members alleged that Simon had made the codicil while he was the victim of alcoholic dementia, but the case was settled in 1918 before it could be heard in court. Marianne stayed in Vancouver, and all five daughters married. Her second daughter’s husband, John Browne, died in 1920, and Marjorie and her three young children moved in with Mrs. Tunstall. Marianne died in 1935 aged 73.

The private Bute Street Hospital operated from 1913, run by Mrs. Mildred A Moran. The Province had earlier announced “Bute Street Lot Sold For $80,000: English Capitalists Buy Site of Private Hospital in West End: Will Erect Pressed Brick Business Block in Near Future”, but in practice the house was retained as the hospital. In 1913 (Emily) Pauline Johnson, the poet, died here of cancer, and in the same year, W R Angus, pioneer and developer of a house nearby. In 1917 hockey legend Fred ‘Cyclone’ Taylor had his ruptured appendix fixed, and despite fears that he wouldn’t be able to play again, was skating five weeks later. Fortunately the hospital saw many births as well as deaths: pioneer Vancouver oncologist Dr. Richard Beck was born here in 1913. The last year the hospital was listed was 1931; a year later it had become Minaki Lodge, and it remained a rooming house (again) until it was demolished, probably not long after this image was taken.

Next to the hospital (on the edge of the picture) was J McRae’s 1928 Robson Garage, designed by Townley and Matheson. By the early 1970s this was the site of a Texaco Gas Station, only to be replaced in 1985 with a 2-storey retail building that includes a London Drugs store, and smaller retail units on Bute Street, designed by Hale Architects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2011-010.1800

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Posted 13 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Vancouver Arena – West Georgia and Denman

The Vancouver Arena was sometimes called the Denman Arena, as it sat on the water side of West Georgia Street, to the west of where Denman Street crosses. It was developed in 1911 and is seen here around 1920 (and not 1913) in a Vancouver Public Library image. It was the city’s biggest venue, with 10,500 seats around the artificial ice surface, used for ice skating, ice hockey and curling. Thomas Hooper designed the $300,000 arena for the Vancouver Arena Co., Ltd, controlled by Frank Patrick. (The permit was for $80,000, but that was just the cost of the structure; the land and ice making equipment added significantly to the investment).

It was the first artificial rink in Canada, and was claimed as the largest indoor ice rink in the world at the time it opened (although Madison Square Gardens was actually bigger). Frank Patrick was from Ottawa, and came to Vancouver in the early 1900s when he ran the local operations of the Patrick Lumber Co. based in Nelson and run by his father, Joe. A former professional hockey player, he founded the Vancouver Millionaires hockey team in 1911, bringing Fred ‘Cyclone’ Taylor to lead the team in 1912, and winning the Stanley Cup in 1915 by beating the Ottawa Senators at the Denman Arena.

In 1914, the Arena was used to house over 1,000 soldiers who were assembling to form the 23rd Infantry Brigade. The soldiers left Vancouver in August 1914 to be deployed as the first Canadian troops in World War I. The arena was also used for other sports, musical performances and public assemblies. Here’s the 1917 motor show on the floor of the Arena.

In 1921 it hosted the first international women’s ice hockey championship, organized by Patrick’s Pacific Coast Hockey Association. In 1924 William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister, during a tour of the west, broadcast a speech from the arena which may have been the first political broadcast in Canada. The CCF held a political rally in 1935 that attracted 16,000 people – the largest indoor gathering that the city had ever seen.

Wooden buildings in Vancouver had a history of burning down, and in the mid 1930s the Arena was given a brick skin (and a new nickname, ‘The Pile’) in order to avoid the fate of the Victoria and New Westminster arenas. In August 1936 a crowd of around 4,000 watched a boxing match between Max Bauer and James J Walsh. Later that evening the nearby boat builders yard caught fire, and around 1.30am the flames spread and engulfed the Arena. Two lives were lost and three firemen injured. The Arena was destroyed, along with seven industrial buildings, two homes and fifty-eight small boats.

The Patrick family announced plans for a replacement, but that never happened. They had built a smaller building in front of the Arena, the Georgia Auditorium, and although damaged that was saved from the fire. In 1945 the Arena site was sold to Hymie Singer, a local theatre and club owner, for $80,000, and he announced a new million-dollar arena, that was also never realized. Once the Auditorium closed in 1959 the site was eyed by several developers for a forest of towers, but eventually it became part of Devonian Harbour Park.

Image sources; Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 94-56

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Posted 9 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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False Creek from Above westwards 1

It’s another holiday, so we’re looking at another image shot by Trish Jewison from the Global BC traffic helicopter. This time we’re over the end of False Creek, and the ‘before’ (found on another twitter stream, with no identified attribution) comes from 1981. BC Place stadium is underway, and next to the old Cambie Bridge the Sweeney Cooperage has already closed down. To the west of the bridge the railtracks of the marshalling yards have already been removed. The CBC Studios can be seen, built in 1974, and today the Central Library occupies the site to the north.

By the early 1980s the West End already had already seen plenty of recently developed towers, and had a population of 37,000. In the next 25 years it added over 10,000, and today has probably closer to 50,000 residents. Today there are well over 60,000 in the remaining part of the Downtown Peninsula, but in 1981 there were only just over 6,000.

On the left the Olympic Village just comes into shot, with Canada House beyond the shipyards basin and the Community Centre towards the bottom of the picture. The man-made habitat island was built to maintain the length of natural shoreline, which today is far less toxic than when the mix of heavy industries lined the southern shore of the Creek. The worst of the polluted lands on the north side of the Creek were capped and turned into parks, to avoid disturbance and likely contamination of the water. A final Creekside Park is planned for the bottom right of the picture, where two huge freight transfer sheds stood in the early 1980s, although they would soon be torn down to allow the construction of Expo ’86.

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Posted 6 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

Horse Show Building – West Georgia Street

Our postcard shows The Horse Show Building, constructed on the south-west corner of West Georgia and Gilford, in 1909. There had been a successful horse show in the Drill Hall on Beatty Street a year earlier, so some members of the Vancouver Hunt Club decided to form an Association to have their own, larger hall. Eleven architects submitted designs, but the winner was from Seattle. Warren H Milner designed the $45,000 building, and a Seattle builder, A E White, was the lead contractor (with F C Franklin). (H B Watson, one of the rejected architects, defended the superiority of his design, but had to be content with morphing it into the design for the Industrial Building at Hastings Park a year later).

The building had a capacity of about 3,500 people, plus extra standing room, and for concerts, with chairs on the main floor, the capacity could be stretched to 7,000. Construction was fast – the permit was granted in January and the first show in the building was in April. This was despite the difficulties the contractors faced, as the architect explained to the Vancouver Daily World “We struck a swamp which we thought we would never get to the bottom of. It was several feet deep, and we had to fill that up with concrete. We also ran across great stumps twelve; feet across. Then for over ten days the ground was frozen so that wo could not get a pick into it. Then we had a great deal of difficulty in getting the dirt to fill the ring. We were just figuring on putting a suction pump into the bay and bringing out sand when some excavations were started and we managed to get along. Everything in the calendar has happened to delay us and nevertheless we have got through.”

The use of the building for horse shows, or anything else the public could attend, was short-lived. In 1910 there was a boxing match featuring Jim Jeffries, an American world heavyweight champion from 1899 to 1905. Sam Berger was also American and the first to win an Olympic gold medal in heavyweight boxing and became Jeffries’ manager in 1909. This is a Vancouver Public Library photograph taken by Bullen Photo Co., Vancouver. The date on the original is 31 January 1910, when Jeffries appeared in an “all-star combination” match.

There were a few other events held up to 1914, including three wrestling matches that year (in March Dulwall Singh defeated Tabusadzy, and the mysterious Walter Miller (The Masked Marvel) beat Al Hatch. In June Pat Connelly (billed as The Gallway Tiger, but based in Vancouver) beat Gus Schönlein (who wrestled as Americus, and was from Baltimore) and in August the crowd got their money’s worth from a bout between Dr. B F Roller (a physician, based in Seattle) against Pat Connelly, which ended without a winner as a time limit draw after two hours.)

Once war was declared the building was used for military purposes, becoming home to the Irish Fusiliers and soon renamed as the Stanley Park Armouries. It changed hands, and was owned by Morris Wagner, and he continued to lease most of the building to the Irish Fusiliers. Morris and his wife, Tina, were killed in an automobile accident in Mexico City, in 1958. The Toronto General Trust Corporation administered the Wagner estate, but in 1960 the building caught fire, and was completely destroyed. The site sat for 40 years, owned from the early 1970s by Runvee Georgia Properties Inc, a branch of Sir Run Run Shaw’s family business. It was bought by Prima Properties to develop Laguna Parkside, a 76 unit condo and townhouse project designed by Merrick Architecture, completed in 2007.

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Posted 2 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Uncategorized

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Nelson and Hamilton Street, looking northwest

This image was taken around 1912, inside Recreation Park, a sports facility that occupied a full city block between Homer and Hamilton, Smithe and Nelson. Because the 1912 insurance map shows the ‘Grand Stand’ was at Smithe and Homer, the photographer, (W.J. Cairns, Ltd), must have been on the touchline on the opposite corner, looking northwest towards Homer.

The picture shows a field lacrosse game between rivals Vancouver and the New Westminster Salmonbellies. The Vancouver club was run by Con Jones, and their home pitch was in Con Jones Park (later Callister Park – where the PNE Grounds are today). The picture was taken around 1912, so there’s a chance Vancouver are winning. The Salmonbellies had a fabulous run in the early 1900s, becoming Provincial Champions every year up to 1908 before travelling to Montreal that year to take The Minto Cup, defeating the more established eastern teams for the first time. They had a lull for a few years, before winning The Mann Cup for the first time in 1915, and in 23 other years since. The club still exists, and still play in Queen’s Park, but no longer attract the home crowds of 11,000, many travelling on adapted open freight wagons through the forest from Vancouver to watch the games.

Vancouver’s Recreation Park was operated by a private company, and was home to other activities besides sports. Built in 1905 by Layfield and Williams, it was also the home of Vancouver’s Northwestern League baseball teams. The grandstand seated 6,500 and the grounds were built on a former cow pasture owned by the CPR. The opening baseball game saw Vancouver Veterans beat Victoria Legislators 4-2, with 3,500 paying the 25c admission.

For several years the park became the temporary home to the Greater Norris and Rowe Circus. The circus travelled using the railways, growing from 3 cars in 1901 to 20 in 1909. The touring schedule was brutal. They spent the winter in Santa Cruz, in California and then worked a different city six days on, Sunday off, from March to early December. They visited pretty much every medium and large city in western Canada and the western and central United States, and Mexico. They visited Vancouver for a day in June 1906 (having previously been in Seattle, Sedro Wooley and then New Westminster) and were in Kamloops the next day. They would pack up the show after the evening performance, travel overnight, stage a grand parade of the animals and performers next morning, and then perform an afternoon and evening show, and repeat that all over again.

In 1907 they went to Bellingham from Seattle, then Blaine, and on to Vancouver before heading to Saskatchewan. In 1908 there was the luxury of playing Sedro Wooley, them New Westminster on a Saturday, a day off on Sunday, then two nights in Vancouver, before heading back into the US to Bellingham and Everett. In 1909 they played 2 nights again, in May. They didn’t visit in 1910 – early on in the tour, in Kentucky, “Bad weather, poor business, salaries and debts unpaid” saw the closure of the circus.  We don’t know when this picture of the elephants was taken, but it was during one of the later visits because the circus only had three elephants in 1906.

There were a few other events in the park; a ceremony following the death of the King in 1910 and a celebration on the coronation of King George the following year.

The area immediately to the south had been released for development in 1909, and rapidly built out into the warehouse district of Yaletown. In 1912 CPR decided not to renew the stadium lease, and it was rebuilt at Athletic Park at 5th and Hemlock in 1913, on another piece of CPR property. Timing to sell off the newly available land was terrible. The economy collapsed, then the war started. Much of the site remained undeveloped until 1937. Storage warehouses were eventually built, but most had no heritage value and in the early 2000s most of the site was redeveloped as Yaletown Park, a three tower condo project. Some of the density was allowed to build taller (more valuable) towers, leaving a part of the site as a public park. Because there’s underground parking, the landscaping consists of trees within raised bubbles of granite pavers, leaving a hard undulating design with limited use. Rumours of a redesign to a more user-friendly space have yet to come true.

Image sources City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-608 and CVA 677-1019

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Posted 30 August 2021 by ChangingCity in Uncategorized

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Pacific Street from Burrard

We’re looking southeast from Pacific Street on March 13 1931. These houses aren’t that old, but they’re about to be demolished for the new Burrard Bridge. Further north, Burrard was a wide boulevard, lined with big houses, but here it narrowed and dropped down a steep grade to False Creek. That all changed when the Burrard Bridge was built.

The houses on Pacific (on the left of the image) were built during the lost permit period, but we’ve traced several of them. Edward Hunt developed one of the homes in 1907, as a permit reference in the Daily World mentions the lot number. That house cost $2,000, and five months earlier Edward built another house on Pacific for $1,800. The 1908 street directory confirms there were four houses here (where there were none in 1906), and Edward Hunt was living in 934, the third in the row from Burrard. William Rickson, a merchant was at 928, Daniel MacLaren, a tailor at 940 and John Allen, a real estate agent was in the corner house, 946 Pacific.

We initially couldn’t find Edward in the 1911 census, (although there was another Edward Hunt who was a developer in the city at the time). Fortunately our contractor had been in the city in 1901, when he was a carpenter, living on Howe Street. That year’s census showed him from England, aged 44, having arrived in 1888. His wife, Mary was a year older, and they had three daughters. The eldest who was 18 was born in the US, her 14 year old sister Ethel, in England, and 11 year old Nellie in BC.

Edward built several other houses on Pacific and elsewhere in the West End, sometimes in partnership with George Calder. Down the hill H C and L Elliott built at least three of the houses in 1906 and 1907, each costing $2,500 each to construct. We think house-building was a side gig for the Elliott brothers: Harold (Clinton) Elliott was a shipwright born in Pugwash, Nova Scotia in 1870, while Lloyd was a ship’s carpenter, born four years later. They were from a family with ten children, and we think their older brother, Frederick had also come to Vancouver around 1902 with Harold, and Lloyd arriving a little later. Their father was a farmer, born in New Brunswick.

While some of those lasted decades, these houses didn’t last much longer than this picture – barely 25 years. All the houses here were cleared away as part of the construction of Burrard Bridge, which had started in 1930, with the new bridge opening in July 1932. In January 1931 The Province reported “Houses on Right-of-way of Burrard Bridge Doomed – Tenders will be called by the city for removal or demolition of several houses on property acquired by civic authorities for the northern right-of-way for Burrard bridge. This was decided by the civic bridges and railways committee Monday afternoon. It was reported the buildings are In need of repair and decorating.”

There’s still potential for development to the south, but a recent reconfiguration of the offramp from the bridge to incorporate a bike lane has altered the developable space.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Br N38.1

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Posted 26 August 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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308 Harris Street

This 1905 Vancouver Archives image shows the southeast corner of Harris and Gore. Harris today is East Georgia, and doesn’t actually exist (as a street) in this location. Instead there’s an oddly shaped area of open ground, with some mature trees; an unplanned bonus from the abandoned Eastside Freeway that would have bulldozed much of Strathcona, Gastown, and all of Water Street. There’s housing just to the east, on a superblock that runs between Union and Keefer. The demolished block of East Georgia that used to be here had buildings on both sides, that were replaced in the late 1960s with the Maclean Park housing project, part of a ‘slum clearance’ that was intended to redevelop all the old housing in Strathcona, but was only completed on a few blocks before it too, like the freeway plan, was abandoned.

Maclean Park housing was designed with a gentle curving perimeter in this location. It’s the sort of even curve beloved by road engineers, as the freeway connection from Highway 1 (which would have tied in to the viaducts a block to the west of here) would have seen a spur heading north, obliterating Gore Avenue all the way to a new freeway along the Burrard waterfront. The curve of the unbuilt off-ramp is still there in the railings around the edge of the housing.

The Royal Soap Co had been manufacturing Royal Crown Soap here since 1900, and was run in Vancouver by Frederick T Schooley until the late 1920s. He was born in Grantham, in Ontario, married there in St. Catharines, Niagara in 1887 and was a grocer before coming west. Royal Crown Soap Ltd. was purchased in 1889 by Manlius Bull who enlarged the business and moved the factory from St. Boniface to King Street in Winnipeg before selling the company to Lever Brother of England in 1910, with Bull continuing as its Canadian head.

The soap became Royal Crown early in the company’s history, and the Lever name was only adopted in the 1940s. (The Museum of Vancouver have a box of soap in their collection). In 1923 the Vancouver Sun reported “Viscount Leverhulme of Port Sunlight, England, and party, reached Vancouver, Tuesday night, and will remain for three days before sailing for Australia, This distinguished visitor is head of the famous Lever Bros., soap manufacturers. The party was met on arrival by F. T. Schooley, manager of the Royal Crown Soap factory in Vancouver. On his last trip to Vancouver Lord Leverhulme purchased extensive waterfront properties.

There were five houses on this site as early as 1889, and they were replaced with the building on the corner of the lot in 1900. The insurance map label read: “Raw materials Bast Warehouse & Framing 1st floor, Boiling and Preserving 2nd, Store Room 3rd.” An addition was built in 1905, and gradually over the years further buildings were added. The company used known architects for many subsequent brick additions and replacements; builder A E Carter a brick warehouse in 1912, J P Matheson a $7,000 warehouse/factory a year later and H H Simmonds a major new building in 1927 costing $17,000, and Bowman & Cullerne the same year with $4,000 of alterations.

By 1934 the complex was producing 6 million pounds of soap and soap products a year, and J E Stinson the managing director allowed a Vancouver Sun journalist a guided tour for a full page piece that would be an ‘advertorial’ today. In 1939 the Leonard Frank Studios photographed the operations of the factory, and VPL have copies (left).

By 1949 production had ended, and the building was vacant. A year earlier it was still in use, but listed as Lever Bros, warehouse, so production had presumably ceased some time earlier.

The buildings were still in use in the 1950s; in 1955 Ryan’s Carriers and Fraser Transfer were based here. The rest of the block was cleared in the 1960s, and the former factory was the last to go.

It was photographed some time in the early 1960s, looking from the southeast corner of the block to the back of the buildings. Although the residential buildings had been designed in the 1950s, delays saw the project’s first buildings completed in 1965, and this block saw construction get underway in 1968.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 312-27, Vancouver Public Library and CVA 780-339

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Posted 23 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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936 Main Street

The larger building on the left is the American Hotel, (the Clarendon Hotel when it was built in the early 1900s). It might have been designed by William Blackmore – he had a commission for a building here, but only apparently for a single lot, not the double lot that was developed with the hotel, so we’re not sure whether he actually designed the building that was completed around 1907. The smaller 936 Westminster Avenue to the south was built soon afterwards.

In 1901 Mrs. Mary Walker had built a $600 frame dwelling here. We don’t know who Mrs. Walker was. She wasn’t obvious in the census that year, if she lived in Vancouver. The two Mary Walkers were married to men with low wage employment, and neither were in construction. She didn’t appear to move into the house; it was vacant in 1902 and a miner, Jacob Shermer lived there in 1903.

This building was apparently constructed in 1907. It was certainly built by 1908 when Belcastro & Co, tailors were here with Arthur Adams, a barber. In 1911 we have a permit that says developer R Stafford hired Coffin & McLennan to carry out $1,400 of work (we assume repairs) on the building. That year a fire affected another building close by on this block that the news report said was owned by J Stafford. We think the fire was in the building next door, (where there was already a vacant site in our 1985 image) and the owner would most likely have been Jonathan Stafford, who owned a stables and delivery business in Mount Pleasant. He was from Ontario, born around 1855, and had been in Brandon, Manitoba before moving to Vancouver. Jonathan Stafford was 95 when he died in 1949.

The only possible local resident was a Richard Stafford, who was living at the Commercial Hotel in 1907 and retired and in a rooming house on Burrard Street in the 1910s, but he had been a labourer with the Parks Board, so seemed an unlikely investor. The legal title was held by ‘Richard Staffors’ from 1907 to 1921, although the retired Parks Board worker died in 1915, when he was also shown having been born in 1855, single, and also from Ontario.

So we, and others, haven’t been able to make any sense of who actually developed the building, or even exactly when, and with no permits now available from the early 1900s we can’t identify the designer either.

The tailors weren’t here long. By 1910 this was occupied by the Ross Second Hand Store, run by L Rossman
& M Goldskin. By 1912 this had become Main Street (renamed from Westminster Avenue), and Nick Castis was running a restaurant. That didn’t last long; as the war started William Freeman was selling furniture, and by the end of the war Sun Fat Co were selling produce. In 1920 the State of Maine Junk Co run by Samuel Gordon and Abraham Green had moved in, after the building owner, D Goldberg, had carried out repairs to the staircase. In 1924 Louis Davis’s Coast Junk Company made more repairs to the vacant store, and had moved in by 1925.

In the 1930s the Nathan Perelman’s Tacoma Junk Co were here – and owned a Ford truck for the business.  Nathan made the news in 1945 “Nathan Perelman, 68 of 445 West Twenty-ninth, proprietor of the Tacoma Junk Company, after getting off one street car was struck by another going the opposite direction. He suffered severe head lacerations and was taken to General Hospital by Kingsway Ambulance. His condition is reported “fairly good.

They were still here in 1953, with Morris Burnstein running the store with Mr. Perelman, although a 1958 obituary for Joseph Sussman said he was the overall owner of the business, which originated in Tacoma and also operated in Seattle. Nathan died in 1953, and a court case led to his name in the press for a final time. “Chief Justice Farris awarded Mrs. Lena Burnstein, 445 West Twenty-ninth, $20,000 for taking care for 22 years of the late Nathan Perelman, Vancouver merchant who died last April. Perelman made his home with Mrs. Bernstein and her husband, Morris, but paid no board on the understanding that he would remember Mrs. Bernstein in his will, He left an estate of $81,000 and distributed about $10,000 to named beneficiaries, but left nothing to Mrs. Bernstein. The balance of the estate, Perelman directed, was to go to charities to be selected by his executors, David A. Freeman and Morris Bernstein. As counsel for Mrs. Bernstein on her petition for payment for the care she gave Perelman, A. A. Mackoff suggested $15,000. But Chief Justice Farris said $20,000 would be a more appropriate compensation.

Morris Burnstein continued to run the business here through the 1960s. They were an early example of recycling, as they collected beer bottles which the sorted and returned to the breweries. They paid the public 25c a dozen.

The building has been abandoned for many years, after significant fire damage. A plan was approved to construct a rental building that would have incorporated the facade, but earlier this year BC Housing acquired the site as well as the adjacent vacant site and the American Hotel, with a view to redevelop one day on the full 100′ frontage.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0669

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Posted 19 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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420 Hawks Avenue

We’ve seen the rooming house on the corner of Hawks and East Hastings in an earlier post. It’s the Rice Block, designed by Otto Moberg for D H Rice. We think he was Daniel Rice, an American grocer who became an insurance agent, and he lived in a house here in 1911, the year before the apartments were built.

Behind it, to the south, is a vacant site awaiting a non-market housing building. In our 1978 image there was a house standing here, that had been built in 1903 by W Cline. The developer was Mrs. J A Gosse, and she spent $1,650 to have the house built.

Initially we thought that she might be the new wife of Captain Josiah Gosse, of Victoria, a master mariner. Annie Kendall had married Josiah Gosse in Vancouver in 1902; he was a widower, shown as aged 46 (although his death record suggests he was 3 years older), from Newfoundland, and she was 34 and a widow, born in Suffolk, in England. (Josiah’s first wife, Deriah had died in 1901).

However, there was also John Gosse, who lived in Mount Pleasant and was also a mariner, the master of the North Vancouver steamer, and later the St George, the North Vancouver’s sister ferry. Once built, the house was occupied by Bart Gosse, a fisherman, so that didn’t really confirm which of the two J Gosses it might be. The death in 1917 of Bartholomew Gosse in his 83rd year ‘a well known resident of Spaniard’s Bay’ (in Newfoundland) helped clarify the likely developer. On his death his family were recorded as John, of New Westminster, and Richard, Bartholomew, and Abraham Gosse at Vancouver, and a daughter, Mrs. E Martin, also in Vancouver.

That would mean Mrs. J A Gosse was the wife of John Gosse, born in 1865. John married Mary North, from Conception Bay, Newfoundland, in Vancouver in 1892. At the time John was a fireman; in the census the year before he was a general labourer, and in 1893 and 1894 he shared an address on Lorne Street (W 2nd today) with Mark Gosse, who we think was a cousin. By 1896 John was listed as a mariner, and he worked for the North Vancouver Ferry Company from 1900 to 1906, when he took the captaincy of the new fishing steamer Flamingo, with a crew of 21. He continued to live on Lorne Street, (as did Mark Gosse, but at a different address). John and Mary had Walter in 1896, Winnie in 1898 and Gladys in 1900. By 1908 Captain John Gosse was president of the Equity Brokerage Co. He had returned to captaining the steamship ‘St George’ that year, but by 1910 there was no sign of the family in Vancouver.

The 1911 census shows John Gosse, a master mariner, living in New Westminster with Walter, Winnifred, Gladys and Gordon (born in 1902). His wife was now English born Elizabeth, who was two years older. Mary had died in 1904, aged 39, and John married Elizabeth Miles, a widow in 1906. Bert Gosse was still living in 420 Hawks that year, but by 1908 it was occupied by Albert Keepings, a grocer. We don’t know if it was retained as an investment, but we suspect John sold it.

In 1953 when it was the home of L B Shortreed, the Sun reported ‘LOST Small white female cat, answers to name of Pussums. Please return. Reward. Child’s pet.’ Phyllis Shortreed, who lived at 420 Hawks, reported the death of her father later that year. Gordon Brooks, a sawmill worker, drowned while working on his boat, having had a heart attack.

It was later divided into suites, and in 1975 the Vancouver Sun classifieds showed ‘PRICE REDUCED Owner leaving city must sell quickly. Prime revenue. M-l zoned. $8,700 gross income. 6 suites. 50’x60 lot. Price $64,900’. It’s been a vacant lot for many years, and there are plans to build a 7-storey family non-market housing block on the site.

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Posted 16 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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