West Hastings Street – 100 block, south side

This row of early buildings were almost totally abandoned by the turn of the 21st century, but today they’ve all been restored to architectural splendour, and active use. In 1981, when the ‘before’ shot was taken, the area was already in decline, but Woodwards was still open across the street, so there was still a draw to the neighbourhood. The White Lunch cafeteria on the left occupied the main floor of half of one building, and the whole of its neighbor to the west. The building on the extreme left is the Henderson Block, designed by G W Grant for Henderson Brothers in 1899. (We noted their history in connection to another building they developed in 1911),

The next building is the Ralph Block, designed by Parr and Fee for William Ralph, and also completed in 1899. Several historians point out that when it was opened here in 1913 by Neil and Thos Sorenson the White Lunch name reflected a policy of serving and hiring only white people. That changed later, but the name lived on. Elements of the restaurant’s past were still visible in mosaic floors when the buildings were restored in 2009. Initially the White Lunch was only in the Ralph Block. The Henderson Block restaurant in the 1920s was the Honey Dew restaurant.

Parr and Fee’s design for Ralph’s block used cast iron to allow for larger windows. The use of brick piers enclosing cast iron mullions was pretty remarkable in a city only thirteen years old. Ralph was a wholesaler and retailer who sold McClary stoves, ranges and furnaces, as well as Cleveland and Rambler bicycles. The Statement of significance for the Ralph Block will tell you that he started out as a bridge builder who specialized in iron structures for the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Dominion Bridge Company. That’s actually an entirely different William Ralph, who came from Quebec.

The William Ralph who developed the Ralph Block was said in the 1901 census to be aged 36, living with his 27-year-old wife May, their infant son, John, and his brother and sister, Ross and Eva. He was from Ontario, as was May. In 1891 he was a boarder, aged 30 and listed as a store merchant, (with his store on Carrall Street) lodging with Peter Larsen at the Union Hotel on Abbott Street. He first appeared in Vancouver in 1888 as a tinsmith, working for R E Dodds. By 1911 William had aged to 51, and there were two younger children at home (Robert and Kathleen), but no John. There was also a servant; Hettie McLeod. In 1921 Robert and Kathleen are still at home with William and May, and William’s sister, Isabel also lived with them.

The next building, 130 West Hastings was probably built around 1906, and was first occupied by F J Hart & Co, real estate agents. By 1981 the original appearance had been disfigured; an exemplary restoration has recreated something much closer to the original appearance of the building. The company was involved in insurance, real estate, mortgage loans and investments, and incorporated by Frederick J. Hart in 1891 when he was only 21. It had its head office in New Westminster, with this branch office in Vancouver as well as Victoria, Chilliwack, and Aldergrove. Frederick was from Newfoundland, and his wife Alice was English. In 1901 they had two children, a servant and Alice’s sister living with them in New Westminster.

Over the years this block of buildings gradually deteriorated and had no legal active uses (although some were sporadically used, often in unauthorized ways, despite their condition). The redevelopment of Woodwards and the attraction of older spaces for tech and startup companies has seen the whole block restored and returned to active use over the past 10 years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E16.20

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15 and 25 West 8th Avenue

This image shows a few of the past changes in the Mount Pleasant Industrial area. It started life as a residential neighbourhood, and there are a few vestiges of that residential past still to be found today; some still lived in, and others adapted to a commercial role. The gradual loss of the original houses has taken many years; the house on the right dated back to 1910, and was only replaced in 1967 with a single storey building. We can date the image quite closely, as the building on the left was only completed in 1963, so the picture must have been shot within a year on either side of 1965.

When the house was first occupied in 1910, Joseph H Brooks, a horse dealer lived here, and a year later he added a new stables to the property, although his sales stables were located at 1025 Main Street. In 1901 he was in the Yukon, living in the Atlin District with his wife, Anna, and their three children. At that time he was listed as a ‘freighter’. He had only been there a couple of years; his two year old son, Egbert, was born in the Yukon, but his older sons, one only a year older than his younger brother, had been born in the US. A daughter, Hazel was also born in the Yukon. Joseph and Annie (as she was shown in 1911) were both originally from Ontario. Joseph stayed in the house for several years, switching his occupation to coal dealer. The last year we can trace Joseph in Vancouver is in 1920, but his son Egbert, a boilermaker was still living in a different house on the same block of West 8th Avenue in 1921 with his wife and baby son.

There’s some information about Joseph, and how he died, on a Yukon website. “Mr. Brooks came to Skagway in 1897 from Vancouver. He was a merchant and wrangler. His company “J.H. Brooks, Packer and Freight” was headquartered in the St. James Hotel. He is famous for taking 15 mules over the Chilkoot Pass and later took 335 mules over. He claimed that he and a Mr. Turner had first blazed the trail. He returned to Skagway in 1934 to collect information for his book and died on this day, July 13, 1934 on the Chilkoot Trail. He was born about 1867 and was about 67 years old when he died and was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.” We can’t find Mr. Brooks in Vancouver before he went to Yukon, so suspect that may not be accurate, or that he was here only very briefly.

It’s easy to see how street trees in the industrial area have altered the character of the street – there were very few, despite the residential origins of the neighbourhood, in the 1960s. Today the 1967 building is home to 33 Acres Brewing, but many of the existing structures are now getting replaced as new zoning has allowed office space to be added, as long as an industrial component is retained.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-242

Posted February 5, 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, Mount Pleasant

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278 Union Street

This little cottage lasted quite a long time on the corner of Barnard (which became Union) and Gore Street. It’s earliest resident was a stonecutter called Patrick Peake. (The first year he moved here, in 1904, he was listed as Peaks, but that was corrected in subsequesnt years). In the later part of the 1900s he was described as a quarryman, and listed as Pat. The 1911 census shows he was 42, born in Ireland and arriving in Canada in 1889. His wife Grace was an American, six years younger, who had moved north in 1890.

The cottage was pretty crowded; from 1901 the couple had a child roughly every two years, so there were five at home. There had been an earlier-born son, shown in the 1901 census, but no longer alive in 1911. That census gives Patrick a totally different birth date (April 1872 rather than December 1869) and Grace’s birth year is unchanged, but the month is shown as March in 1901, and July in 1911, and born in Nova Scotia, not the US. In the 1901 census Patrick is shown as arriving in Canada in 1893, and we know that this detail was more accurately portrayed in the 1911 record, as he was mining in Spallumcheen, Yale in 1891, when he split the difference and showed his birth year as 1870. We also know 1911 was more accurate for Grace, whose death certificate in 1953 shows she was born in Minnesota. The 1921 census shows the family had moved to another (ideally larger) home on East 18th. Patrick’s birthdate was, as in 1911, shown as 1872, but now Grace was four years younger, and there were nine children at home, three sons and six daughters aged from 20 to 1. Patrick was still a stonecutter, and several of the older children were working as well.

Patrick died in 1955, and was then shown as having been born in April 1867. When he and Grace married in Vancouver in June 1898 his birthplace was shown as County Louth in Ireland, and birth year as 1871 (which seems likely to be accurate). Most of Patrick’s siblings birth dates were registered – but for some reason his wasn’t. His mother had Maria in 1864, Thomas in 1865, Mary in 1870, Michael in 1873 John in 1876 and Francis in 1879. Two brothers also came to Vancouver; Thomas died here in 1943 aged 77, single, and John in 1954, married to Annie.

Mr. Peake is mentioned only once in news coverage, in a fairly remarkable manner. The daily World in 1912 reported on “Private Citizens Appear Before Police Commissioners to Complain of Disorderly Houses Far Removed From Restricted District”. The paper noted that “It is important that all who have occasion for complaint should be encouraged to give their information to the authorities, but it is not a nice subject to deal with, and ladies are, as a rule, somewhat diffident about appearing before the commissioners for fear their names will be published in the papers“. Mr. Peake was clearly not too concerned. “Mr. Patrick Peake. of 278 Union St., spoke next, of a house which was being conducted in a disorderly manner, on the east side of Gore avenue, between Prior street and Union street. The house had a sunshade, on which the word “Groceries” was printed, and on another side of the place was the word “Restaurant.” No groceries, however, were sold there, the signs simply being a blind. After describing the class of people who visited the house, Mr. Peake said, he had complained to the officer on the beat, but was informed that nothing could be done. When asked why he had complained to the mayor, Mr. Peake said he had been to the police station, but nothing had been done. Deputy Chief Mulhern said no report had been made to the police about the place, but Mr. Peake retorted, that he could bring in the man who had sent in the report. Chief of Police Chamberlin said the police had been placed in a very bad light, and it was his duty to put them right. If complaints reached the mayor, he would expect to hear from him at once. Again the mayor said he was chief magistrate of the city and if complaints came to him, it was because people had been to the police and their complaints had not been attended to.  The chief’s answer to this was, that if people spoke to a constable on the street and the matter was not reported to him, it was not his fault.” Rufus G Chamberlin was coming to the end of his tenure as the Chief of Police, falling out with Mayor L G Taylor about the continued ‘blind eye’ being turned on the brothels on Alexander Street, and gambling in Chinatown. Charles Mulhern replaced him in 1913.

The cottage stood until 1972, as seen in our picture. It was demolished soon afterwards to make may for the approach ramp to the Dunsmuir Viaduct, which itself is due for demolition and replacement with housing in the next few years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 203-68

Posted February 1, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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651 and 657 Richards Street

This pair of houses is thought to have been photographed in the 1890s. That seems likely, as the two buildings to the north (where’s there’s a gap on the photo) were built a little later that the others on the block. When they were built these houses were numbered as 623 and 625, but the numbers were bumped up and regularized around 1900. The houses first appeared in 1892, when A M Beattie, an auctioneer was in 623 and Joseph Page, a real estate clerk in 625, with M H Hirschberg, an accountant and Mr Barnett who worked at the electric power house.

We’re guessing the houses were rented, as the occupants changed almost every year. In 1894 William Tufts was in 623 and Mrs. M Swinford in 635. In 1895 and 1896 R G Penn was at 623 and TA, PB and JB McGarrigle at 625. In 1898 E D Knowlton, a druggist was at 623 and Mrs. Captain Reide, widow at 625. A year later W J Beer was sharing 623 with Mr. Knowlton, and Thomas Wallace and F C Campbell shared the Reide residence.

We have no way of definitively identifying the family in the doorway, but clearly the sidewalk is newly built and in 1891 the Beattie family had three daughters, including Edith and Kathleen. She is in a Central School group photograph, but not specifically identified, but there is a resemblance between the girl on the porch and one in the group, although that isn’t strong evidence of this being the Beattie family. If it is, we’ve already noted their history in connection to Mr. Beattie’s auction house near City Hall on Westminster Avenue.

This site was redeveloped in 1959 with the Bay Parkade, more recently sold to developer Holborn and now called the Parkwell Plaza, with a covenant requiring the replacement of several hundred parking spaces (presumably underground) once redevelopment takes place.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 172.

 

Posted January 29, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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835 Cambie Street

This modest 1929 warehouse has been repurposed as an office building for many years. Originally it was built for Electrical Distributors Ltd, a company wholesaling electrical wires, cables, conduit, lamps, ranges, heaters and radios. They were also the BC Distributors of Ice-O-Matic Electrical refrigerators (still in business today making commercial ice machines). Gardiner & Mercer were the architects for the building, and in 1991 Musson Cattell Mackey designed the conversion to office space, used as classrooms by the Law Society who built their offices on the adjacent site to the south.

The electrical supply firm only occupied the space for a few years; by 1936 it was vacant, and at the end of the 1930s Barham Drugs were using the warehouse. From 1940 for at least 15 years this became a warehouse for Coast Paper, later joined by Package Productions, who were wholesalers of cartons. Before it was restored in the early 1990s it was also used as a distillery and as a restaurant. It’s seen here in 1985.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-1776

Posted January 25, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Mackinnon Block – West Hastings and Granville

We looked at this building on the corner of Hastings and Granville in a very early post (in 2011) from a different angle. It was designed by W T Dalton for John Mackinnon (on the right), an early and successful resource baron in the city. (The press frequently called him McKinnon, but as the advertisement for his business shows, that was wrong). It was built by Henry Bell, who also built the Dunn-Miller block on Cordova Street, and many Canadian Pacific stations. It was completed in 1897, twelve years after John left Scotland, and only six years after he arrived in Vancouver. Born on the small Inner Hebrides island of Eigg, John travelled to Edinburgh to study then set off for a new life in Canada in 1885, but not as he had expected. As a 1913 biography noted “It is a matter of interesting history to know that Mr. Mackinnon purchased the first ticket the Canadian Pacific Railroad ever sold in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Victoria, British Columbia. The railroad, however, was unable to get him ‘through and so transferred him in New York and he came to this province by way of the Northern Pacific and over the line of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company, the Canadian Pacific not having been completed until the following year.”

Once here he promptly headed south to the United States, running a sheep ranch in The Dalles, in Oregon before heading back to BC in 1891. He purchased Hardy Island off Powell River in the same year, retaining it as a game reserve. He became a land and investment broker, acquiring land, mining and lumber interests, as well as property. Initioally he was in a partnership as Mackinnon, Macfarlane & Co. The 1913 biography referenced this building: “In 1897 he erected the Mackinnon building in Vancouver which was the first office building of any importance to be built in that city and which, at that time, was considered the most modern building in the city.”

He sold it after a few years, to a Mr. Williams. The last reference to the Mackinnon Block was in July 1907, and in the same month the first to the Williams Block although Mr. Mackinnon continued to have his business offices in the building, next door to architects Grant and Henderson. The name change came a few months after a tragic accident occurred “William Lawson, a stonecutter, who lives at 1235 Homer street, was instantly killed this afternoon, by being struck on the head by a heavy stone, which was being hoisted into position at the McKinnon block, corner of Granville and Hastings streets. Lawson Is a married man and leaves a family. Repairs are being made to the front of the McKinnon building, and Lawson, together with the other workmen, were hoisting heavy stone and other building material to workmen above, when the tackle broke and fell, striking him on the head and killing him instantly.” The building however had been sold seven years earlier to an absentee overseas investor. Frederick De La Fontaine Williams, a London businessman, had visited Vancouver, seen the building, and struck up a deal to buy it for $100,000, as reported in ‘The Prospector’ in October 1900.

By 1916 it had been acquired by London & British North American Co, and in 1921 Townley & Matheson designed a $15,000 alteration for owners Sharples & Sharples: “Removal of nearly entire north wall of Hastings St. frontage to be replaced w/ plate glass front, other minor alterations” From later photographs there’s no suggestion that such a dramatic intervention was carried out – although there were slightly different fully glazed storefronts by 1940. As the job was for Service Tobacco Shop, it seems likely to have just been the main floor of the Hastings Street frontage (the north wall) that was being replaced.

Mr. Mackinnon’s mining interest included being president of the Bend’Or Mines in the early 1900s. He created the Canadian Pacific Pulp Company, Ltd., at Swanson Bay on the Inside Passage in 1906. (Today it’s a ghost town after the mill closed in 1918). He owned 20,000 acreas of timber land along the coast, and also a 1,200 acre ranch in Lillooet with 300 acres growing fruit and the remainder used as a cattle and horse ranch. In 1914 he was prospecting for coal and petroleum on Graham Island in Haida Gwai.

These days the corner of Granville and Hastings has the United Kingdom Building which has been here for over 60 years. Built in 1957 it was designed by Semmens and Simpson who only practiced together for about 10 years, but produced a significant set of quality modernist residential and commercial buildings, almost all in the West End and Downtown.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-390

Posted January 22, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1201 Pendrell Street

Here’s a house in 1956, the year before it was redeveloped. The building that replaced it is an 80 unit rental building designed by Peter Kaffka, called Barracca Court when it was built in 1957. The house it replaced dated back to 1903, although it had a significant rebuild in 1912. The owner then was cannery owner A J Buttimer, who spent $3,000 on repairs and alterations, (more than many houses cost to build in that era).

Initially it was owned by Duncan Rowan, also a salmon canner, who hired Parr and Fee to build the house, which cost $9,000 to construct. Duncan owned the Terra Nova Canning Company with his brother, Jack. They had both previously worked for J H Todd and Son’s Richmond and Beaver canneries. Duncan Rowan became district manager when the British Columbia Packers Association was formed. In 1901 the Rowan family were still living in Richmond (nearer the cannery interests). Duncan was 41, and his wife, Mary, five years younger. They were both born on Ontario. There were no children at home, but they did have a domestic, Sarah Rowan, and a lodger, Thomas Robinson.

Alfred Buttimer, who moved into the house around 1911, was a partner with George Dawson in Brunswick Canneries. (There was initially a third partner as well; George Wilson). All three men came originally from New Brunswick. George Dawson was Alfred’s brother-in-law, and another of Alfred’s sisters, Annie, also joined him in Vancouver.

Alfred Buttimer arrived in Vancouver around 1890, and was married in 1904 in San Francisco to an Ontario-born divorcee called Margaret Cunningham. They had a son two years later, who died as a baby, and they seem to have had no more children. He continued to be involved in the fishing industry until he sold his interest to B C Packers in 1925, concentrating on his real estate interests until his death in 1934. Alfred and Margaret continued to live in the house until then, when William and Alice Francis moved in. They stayed in the house, but by 1940 it was listed under their name as ‘rooms’, a role it retained until it was demolished. In 1950 John Bota, a labourer for the city was running the rooms, and in 1956 it was known as The Pillars, split into 7 apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P508.82

Posted January 18, 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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