190 West 2nd Avenue

190 W2nd

This 1927 warehouse and office was the second location for Wilkinson Steel. The company was founded by Frank Wilkinson in 1910 on Beach Avenue as the sole distributor for U.S. Steel in British Columbia. Frank Wilkinson was born in England, and arrived in Canada in 1891. His wife Alice was also English, but had arrived a year earlier. They must have spent quite a bit of time in Quebec as all their children, (they had at least six), were born there, the youngest in 1909. In 1911 Alice’s sister, Hilda Baker was living with the family; in 1921 they had a domestic servant.

There were two houses built on this corner in 1904; they only survived a little over 20 years. In the 1920s the neighbourhood was changing from a residential area to an industrial and commercial area, although there are still a few residential pockets even today. This image was shot in 1946, and shows a couple of houses still located on Columbia Street, behind the warehouse.

In 1958 the company moved to SW Marine Drive, where they still operate today. In 1973 the existing two storey office and production space was built; which we’re pretty certain incorporated some of the original warehouse building. It’s now home to City TV’s studios.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-4769

Posted August 8, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, False Creek

Granville Street north from Davie

Granville north from Davie

This is another of the Vancouver Archives ‘mystery images’. This one is easier to locate and date within a year or two. It’s probably taken at the same time as our previous image, from a block north of here. It’s clearly Granville Street, and most likely it’s 1970, or possibly a year or two later. That’s because mayoral candidate Robert Reeds had generously dated his encouragement to vote for him as mayor in the 1970 election. He’s stood once before, in 1968 when NPA mayor Tom Campbell got over 63,000 votes – Mr. Reeds got 360. He didn’t actually make it onto the 1970 ballot, withdrawing before the list was drawn up.

In the picture, the Hotel Martnique had become the Blackstone – today it’s the Comfort Inn. The building that Robert Reeds was advertising on was a four storey $21,000 building designed by Townsend & Townsend in 1912. That has now been replaced by ‘The Standard’, a 100% rental building. The Best Western Chateau Granville, completed in 1977 and designed by Hamilton Doyle Architects replaced a two storey building on the corner of Helmcken. We haven’t managed to trace a developer for that corner, so it probably dates back to the few years with ‘lost’ permits in the early 1900s. The single storey retail buildings further south were developed in 1909 and 1911, and were also replaced by the hotel.

Posted August 4, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown

Granville Street north from Helmcken

Granville & Helmcken north

Here’s another of the unidentified Archives images. Like others we’ve looked at where there’s no location or date, so we’re slething out an identification. The location is easy – the street sign has been flipped round, but even the building on the corner is the same.  It looks as if it was vacant then; today it’s one of the few remaining XXX Adult stores on Granville – or anywhere else. The building dates back to 1909. Originally the single storey retail on the corner was built with 125 foot of frontage (the 75 feet to the north were redeveloped with 3 floors in 1960). Maclure and Fox were the architects for T Godman, and the whole development cost $20,000. We’re pretty certain that the developer was Richard Temple Godman, a London businessman from a military family. He was in partnership with a Vancouver-based broker, and built a couple of other investment properties here; he also seems to have had interests in San Francisco which he visited several times, and the Godman family had built the earliest buildings in Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, and operated a cannery there.

In terms of dating the image, that’s a Mark 2 Ford Cortina (1967-1970), so we’re at the end of the 1960s or early in the 1970s. There’s no sign of the Scotiatower in the Vancouver Centre, so it’s before 1975, and the sign on the Vancouver block was removed in 1974, so it’s earlier than that. When it was removed it read ‘Birks’ – the ‘Gulf’ version was a year or two earlier, so this is probably somewhere in the first few years of the 1970s.

In the older image today’s Templeton restaurant was the Fountain Café – ‘Chinese food, fish and chips, steaks and chops’. It was Adele’s Cafe in 1934, in 1956 it was sold to Top Chef Cafe and renamed Top Tops and it became the Templeton in 1996. There a mural on the end wall by artist and activist Bruce Eriksen which dates from the late 1960’s. Leslies Grocery was Sunny Grocery – but the 7up sign was the same one. Q Carpets and Interiors had a huge sign, competing with Belmont Furniture across the street in the Glenaird Hotel – now a backbacker’s hostel. Behind it the Capitol condo tower has filled in a big chunk of sky, replacing the Capitol Theatre. Nobody in the early 1970s was listening to music, or checking their phone as they crossed the street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2102

Posted August 1, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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The Manhattan – Robson and Thurlow


The Manhattan is a much-loved West End building that has survived for over 100 years. We took the contemporary image a couple of years ago, but fortunately nothing much has changed in the recent past. Lumber baron W L Tait hired Parr and Fee to design this building, as he did with his other significant investment, The Orillia, further east on Robson Street. His other major investment, alsao designed by Parr and Fee, was his home, Glen Brae, an enormous house in Shaughnessy completed in 1910 at a cost of $100,000. (Today it’s the Canuck place children’s hospice). Completed in 1908 it competes with the Hotel Europe (by the same architects) as one of the earliest reinforced concrete structures in the city. When it opened there were 47 apartments and three stores on Robson street, a bakery, a drugstore and a skirt company.

William Lamont Tait was a Scot, born in Dumfrieshire in 1847. His 1913 biography says “In shingle and sawmill business, Gravenhurst and Orillia, Ont, 1870. Came to British Columbia, 1891; operated lumber mills in own name, Vancouver, 1891-1903; sold out to Rat Portage Lumber Co., 1903. Married Jane Gray Donaldson, Orillia, Ont., 1871; has six sons and two daughters.” The Manhattan was built in 1907 and completed in early 1908. Our image dates from 1912; in 1908 the Daily World newspaper listed a $30,000 investment in an addition to the Manhattan, but it would seem that didn’t proceed. In 1912 Tait hired the Jewett Design Co to add what was described on the permit as ‘a four storey building’ next door to the Manhattan costing $20,000. (Actually it was five, and Mr Jewitt copied Parr and Fee’s details almost exactly on the addition). Our 1912 image shows the fifth floor under construction.

Today the building is a housing co-op, converted from market rental in 1982 with Thompson Berwick & Pratt and Norman Hotson Architects working on the design of the renovated building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P722

Posted July 28, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Granville and West Pender – northeast corner

Granville & Pender ne 1

We looked at the history of the building that’s here today in a recent post. Jonathan Rogers spent over $500,000; an extraordinary amount in 1911; to build the office block that still has his name associated with it. This wasn’t the first structure constructed here, and as we were aware that Mr. Rogers had acquired property that he didn’t develop for some time, we assumed the ‘meanwhile’ single storey retail that was constructed here was his initiative. We were incorrect; these 1902 stores were built at a cost of $8,000 for Ferrera & Canary. Designed by W T Whiteway, they were soon occupied, only to be torn down less than 10 years after they were built. Our images date from 1910, and probably about a year earlier.

In 1901, when the building permit was issued, there were three people with the name Ferrera in the city: Caesar Ferrera was a cook at the Savoy Restaurant on Cordova Street; Tong Ferrera was a waiter in the same restaurant, and A G Ferrera owned it. G Canary was the only Canary in the city, and he owned a store on West Pender that sold tobacco and oysters. (references of the day don’t say if they were smoked oysters). Mr. Ferrara had operated the restaurant in the Savoy Hotel for several year. Caesar wasn’t just a cook – he was chef de cuisine. And Tong was really Antoine Ferrara, he was . By 1903 somebody else had taken over running the restaurant, and by 1905 Mr. Ferrera was running another another restaurant on Granville Street.

Granville & W Pender ne 2

Agostino Gabriele Ferrera became Italian Consul to Vancouver a few years later and was a Knight of the Crown of Italy. He was recorded as Augustus G Ferrera in the 1901 census, and although he was born in Italy he had American nationality, as did his American wife Elissa who was at least ten years younger than her husband. (Agostino outlived his wife, dying as a widower at the age of 90 in 1948. The 1901 census shows another Augustus Ferrera aged 14 lodging in the city, and the 1911 census suggests it was probably Agostino’s son as there are two Augustine Ferreras living in the same household, father and son, aged 24, both of whom had arrived in Canada in 1898. In the 1911 census there’s a much older woman, Jeneve, recorded as the older Augustine’s wife, also born in the United States).

George Canary, according to the 1901 census was born in Turkey, and had arrived in 1895, when the calculation from his given birth year suggests he was aged 26. His wife, Mary, was Danish and arrived in 1886 when she would have been aged about 15, although her 1959 Death Certificate says she was born in 1880 and so would actually have been quite a bit younger than her husband in 1901. That calculation is complicated by the fact that George’s Death Certificate says he was born in 1874, so was also five years younger than the 1901 census suggests. It also says he was born in Greece – which matches the immigration record that shows him crossing from the US to Canada in Vermont (but headed for Seattle) aged 38 in 1908, born in Laros in Greece. It shows that he had a large mole on his left cheek,  and that he had lived in Seattle from 1902 to 1903. His death certificate confirms his employment as owning the Vancouver Oyster and Fish Co.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N20 and Bu P526.1


Posted July 25, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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160 West Hastings

160 W Hastings

This is the only building that has been redeveloped in a century on the south side of the 100 block of West Hastings. Built in 1986, it’s possible to see what the architect of the new building, John Perkins, was trying to achieve with the design. The building it replaced had elements that weren’t so very different. Built in 1901 at a cost of $10,000 by Hay Brothers, the design was by Thomas Fee for his favourite investor, Thomas Fee.

Chocolate Shop Cafe 160 W Hastings interiorToday there are four rental residential units over 3 stores, but in the 1920s this was home to the Chocolate Shop Café. We’re putting the picture at around 1924 when the Grand Army of United Veterans were occupying the second floor, and the H&E whose illuminated bicycle sign hung over the bikes in the window were Haskins and Elliot. The café offered French Pastries and a soda fountain, and had a significant staff – here they are, lined up for the camera. In 1924 the business was run by Nick and Dennis Sagris. (In 1927 Dennis escaped with his life when attacked by a cougar while hunting on Gabriola Island. “Eighteen charges of buckshot were needed to kill the animal”.) Nick Sagris was running a chocolate shop on Granville Street in 1921 before opening the café. Like the proprietors of the Trocadero café next door, Nick originally was from Greece.

Haskins and Elliot had two stores, this one and 800 West Pender, and sold and repaired bicycles and sharpened mowers. Their store moved on soon after this picture was taken; in 1925 it had moved to 44 West Hastings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3476 and CVA 99-3475

Posted July 21, 2016 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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156 West Hastings Street

Trocadero Grill 156 W Hastings

We looked at a 1940 image of this building in an earlier post. We also featured the building next door, 152 West Hastings to contrast the state it had got into by the early 2000s to how it is today, following restoration. Our earlier post noted the information contained in the Heritage Statement “In 1939, E. Chrystal & Co. changed the east half of the facade to match that on the west; the cornice on the west half was removed as well and replaced with a single continuous cornice”. As this 1914 image shows, that’s not accurate. It was the western façade (closest to us) built in 1901 for Jonathan Rogers at a cost of $10,000, designed by Parr and Fee, that was altered. The second floor windows were originally a shallow wooden bay window; today both facades match 152 West Hastings built in 1904 and designed by William Blackmore and Son. It cost $8,000 and the developer was listed as E Rogers – Elizabeth, Jonathan Rogers’ wife (who he married in 1902). E. Chrystal & Co were a sash and door manufacturer. Jonathan Rogers went on to develop the Rogers Building at Pender and Granville

There aren’t too many passing references to the Trocadero, which was here for many decades from at least as early as 1911. Delbert Guerin recalled that his mother Gertie, of Squamish and English lineage, was hustled into a corner table to be hidden from other customers, and as a result the family never ate there again. In 1936 the restaurant was the scene of a sit-down strike by waitresses who were fighting for unionization, better pay and working conditions. The Women’s Labour History Collection at SFU interviewed one of the strikers, Marion Sarich, who noted that “I was a bus girl, I was working seven days a week at, I don’t know I think it was 25 cents an hour … they weren’t allowed to work us over eight hours but they did … So we started organizing and had a strike. The CP’s Housewives’ League, the Women’s Labor League, and the CP Women’s Auxiliaries supported the stnke, as did much of the general public.” Anita Anderson, another striker and bus girl at the Trocadero remarked that “the police were sympathetic to the strikers because they ate there and got to know the bus girls and the waitresses. The customers became just like a family because they were eating there everyday and you saw them everyday“.

trocThere were 138 covers at the Trocadero Grill, which although known in the 1930s as a Greek restaurant with its own bakery, didn’t start out that way. It was initially owned by Donald D McKinnon, who advertised in ‘The Kilt’ in 1916 as ‘A Café for Highlanders, run by a Highlander’. Donald McKinnon was living on Melville Street in 1911, aged 34, with his 24 year-old Ontario-born wife, Kay and their five year old daughter, Kate. He had arrived in Canada in 1901 and the family had four lodgers, Juliet Cooper, Cassandra Walker, Mabel Hutchinson and Ethel Eggar. Before he ran the Trocadero Mr McKinnon appears to have managed the Winton Motor Car Co showroom. In 1914 he acquired the mineral rights of a property in the Peace Valley. By 1919 the Trocadero was run by J Makris, A Ziongas and H Mavris, an had presumably changed to its Greek manifestation. Donald McKinnon had become a manager of the Kincaid, Water Wheel and Power Company. (We know it’s the same Donald McKinnon, because his home address stayed the same). The McKinnon Water Wheel and Power Company as it then became offered a small, powerful wheel attached to a generator for mining operations that was said to be far lighter and easier to utilize than gasoline generators of the day. This was not the only application: the BC Government powered the electricity for the town of Squamish using a McKinnon wheel, and the 1919 report of the BC Department of Railways commented “This may be said to be the first special wheel of this or any type to be manufactured in the Province, and it has proved most satisfactory during the trials, – only a few minor alterations and adjustments requiring to be made.” The company survived well into the 1920s.

Today there’s a restaurant again where the Trocadero once operated – part of the Warehouse chain.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 1271