When this image was taken in 1959, we think this house had looked something like this for fifty years, although it had been around a bit longer. In 1902 J Jenkins got Cornish and Cooper to design and build a house here for $1,600. In 1909 J Jenkinson spent $2,000 on alterations to the house, which were designed and built by E Cox. John Jenkinson has also carried out $300 of repairs to the house a few months earlier. We’re going out on a limb, and are suggesting that the clerk in 1902 got the name slightly wrong, and John Jenkinson owned the property the whole time. The 1903 street directory backs us up: John Jenkinson lived here, shown as an employee of the BC Electric Railway.
The Archives have a set of family photographs, and a little of the family history. John Jenkinson is said to have emigrated from Lancashire, England to Vancouver in 1898. He worked as a meter reader for the B.C. Electric Railway Company. The family were shown in the 1911 Census: John (born in April 1871) was living here with his Danish wife Ellen, daughter Olga, aged 7 and a Danish lodger, Alma Anderson.
It’s likely that in the 1901 census John was the boarder shown living with with James Ray, as there was an electrician with his name in the 1901 census. That John Jenkinson was shown born in July 1869, had arrived in Canada in 1897 and was already a Canadian citizen. The street directory shows John Jenkinson working for BC Electric living in rooms at 1025 Eveleigh St, and it shows James Kay, who worked at BC Electric as the owner of the property. While we don’t know whether he was born in April or June of 1869 or 1871, it seems likely to be the same person.
The 1921 Census shows the family – including Olga and Alma, still living at 992 Howe. John is shows as aged 51, which suggests 1870 as a birth year. Alma was recorded as John’s sister-in-law, and both John and Ellen are shown as arriving in Canada in 1897. He earned $2,700 a year. We know Mr. Jenkinson stayed in the city for a log time, as Major Matthews, the City Archivist, interviewed him in 1933 when he was recorded as ‘In charge of the Meter Department, BC Electric’. We tracked down John and Ellen’s marriage – it was in Vancouver in 1902. John was shown born in Ulverston, (in Cumbia) England and was aged 32 and Ellen was from Copenhagen, Denmark and was two years younger. Her father was Anders Anderson, and her mother Marie. We haven’t found when they died, but Olga’s death was in 1980 in White Rock.
By 1930 the Jenkinson’s had moved to West 15th Avenue. As far as we can tell it remained a house. In 1955 it was run as Rooms by Miss L Leeds, who had Mrs E Grimes and L W Fisher living in the two units. The addition of the store front seems to have been a year or two later. By 1968 the building had been replaced with a single storey Royal Bank building, (which you can remind yourself of on another of out blogs) in turn redeveloped last year with a 16 storey office building developed by Manulife and designed by CEI Architecture with Endall Elliot.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives P508.6
The Winchester is another venerable West End apartment building. Perhaps not quite as venerable as a few of the buildings we’ve looked at nearby, but a very respectable 90 years old, and now with heritage status. It was designed by father and son team of Enoch and George Evans, originally from Walsall in England. They arrived in Canada in 1912, just as the development industry turned very sharply downwards. George went off to war a few years later, but returned to rejoin his father in a successful architectural practice that could turn out both traditional designs (like this) and more contemporary moderne buildings.
Alliance Estates Ltd were the developer; the permit was issued in October 1925, and Fred Davies was the contractor. There’s no sign of a company called Alliance Estates in the street directory of the day, but there was an Alliance Finance Co, managed by W J Albutt – although some directory entries refer to W J Albert – who was also listed as the proprietor of the apartments in 1929. It looks as if the 1921 census found Mr. Albert living on the opposite side of this block of Jervis Street, an Englishman working in insurance, earning $1,080 a year and living with his English wife Winifred. He was recorded in the census as J W Albert – although the same home address, 909 Jervis, shows Walter J Albutt in the 1921 street directory – and in the 1911 Census he was also called that, although then his spouse was called Edith. In 1911 Mr. Albutt was a traveller. As Mr. Albutt is shown with his name spelled correctly intermittently from 1911 to 1929, we suspect all the references to ‘Albert’ are errors based on hearing the name and not checking the spelling. There were two possible builders: Frederick S Davies ran his contracting business from E 15th Avenue, while Frederick Davies ran his from his business address on West Hastings – we think he’s more likely to be the builder here.
There’s nothing of note in the building’s history that we’ve discovered. The earliest residents were a cross-section of the part of Vancouver society who rented a new apartment in the late 1920s. A clerk in a real estate brokerage; the president of the Bowen Utilities Corporation; a wage inspector with the B C Government; a music teacher; a Hudson Bay salesman; a Romer Gowns saleswoman; John Damer of John Damer and Son, Wholesalers of Fine and Staple Footwear; managers, clerks and stenographers.
The title of this image – taken in 1st January 1962, is “Small narrow one-storey house (ca 1900) at 722 Keefer Street”. It looks as if that’s not completely correct: there was a house here some time before the 1901 insurance map was published, although the 722 Keefer address appears for the first time in the street directory that year, listing the occupant as “Gray”. The year before the house looks as if it was standing, but addressed as 708(a) as the street had been renumbered, so there were two properties knows as 708, and no actual sequence on the block (708a came after 710, and before 720!). That year Henry Brown was living here, in 1898 “Wood” and “Hewton” were shown – only one was given a clearer identification: Frank W Hetwton, a baker. The City Archives have wonderful 1900s photographs titled “Franklin W. Hewton and others climb “The Ridge” on Mount Garibaldi” and “Franklin Walter Hewton overlooks mountains”.
In 1896 George Wood, J Wood and Miss A C Brewster lived at 708 Keefer, and while Miss Brewster’s occupation wasn’t identified, J Wood was a joiner, while George was a master mariner. Either the street was renumbered again in 1895, or more likely that was when this house was built, as Captain George Wood lived at 724 Keefer that year.
In 1902 the street numbering had settled down, and Captain William Summerville lived here. He commanded the S S Vulcan – a tug that was referenced a few times in the local press and towing logs on the Columbia River a few years later when the engine cylinder heads blew out. Clearly the Vulcan was a wooden boat – a little later the boat burned to the waterline, but was rebuilt – only to catch fire and burn out again.
The captain was still living here in 1905, but a year later William Currell, a teamster had replaced him in the street directory. In 1909 a pipeman, George Skinner was here, and as he was still here in 1911 when the census was held, we know that he was by then aged 44, born in England and listed as a labourer, with his wife Emma who was six years younger, and from Ontario, and their two children, James, 16 and Alice, 14, as well as Emma’s 29-year-old sister, Dorah Keil (actually Dora) and a 12-year-old nephew, Lewis Keil. If the house was cramped, it was because there were two more living here as well, Thomas Bugbee, an American lodger, and also a labourer, and William Currell (still a teamster) who was from Manitoba and George Skinner’s brother-in-law. Both the children had been born in Manitoba, so that was presumably where the family had moved from before heading further west. Dora Keil was a widow; she was born in Winnipeg and was called Dora Crack before she was married Charles Keil. She married again in 1920 to Frank Peacock, four years younger and born in Liverpool. Lewis was her son, actually James Lewis, born in Regina in 1899. At 33 James married Elsie Beale, aged 18, from Galiano Island, although when he died in 1982 he was recorded as being single.
A survey of housing was taken in 1962 for the ‘Redevelopment Project’ that was intended to remove the ‘slums’ of the East End – that may well be why there’s an image of the house. It was shown as being in ‘fair’ condition – as were many on this block. Nevertheless, the entire block was bulldozed for a relocated Maclean Park – the earlier version of the park having already been developed with new non-market housing a few years earlier. The park is named after the first Mayor of Vancouver, M A MacLean and was the first park to have a supervised playground in 1911.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 170-25
The Drake has been gone for a few years now; (we took the ‘before’ image in 2010), not noticeably missed in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood it sat in. Although a fair distance from Chinatown, in its early days it had a close connection. It was built as a four-storey brick store & rooms in 1912 for Kwong Wo Leung, designed by A E Cline and built at a cost of $30,000 by J J Frantz Construction Co., Ltd. Mr. Cline was an architect for many years in the city; his building permits stretch over the first 20 years of the 20th century. Most of his projects were for houses (which he often built as well), and the Drake appears to have been his biggest commission. It wasn’t completed until 1914, when it was called the Manitoba Rooms, replacing the Yuen Wo Co who occupied what was likely to be a modest wooden building here. Very confusingly, there were two Manitoba Rooms in the city – a longer established property on East Hastings, and this one, referenced (to distinguish it) as “Manitoba Rooms (Japanese) 606 Powell”.
According to Fay Leung’s ‘memoire’ Kwong Wo Leung was a Chinese meat and grocery store that was expropriated for the ‘slum clearance’ of Chinatown that saw McLean Park built in the early 1950s. The Chinese Times from 1950 say they were at 318 E Pender – which is where the China Villa non-market rental building stands, completed in the early 1970s. In earlier times the company were located in the heart of Chinatown, at 5 Canton Alley. It is possible the firm had moved north: it’s not a common name, and a business with the same name was based in Portland in 1882 on Second Street. In 1906 the company donated $3 towards the creation of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent society in Vancouver.
In 1955 the Drake didn’t look dramatically different from 2010, as this Vancouver Province image shows, (although then it had a neighbor to the east). It had been known as the Haddon Hotel (with the Haddon Hotel Beer Parlor in the 1930s) until it had its name changed to the Drake Hotel in the early 1950s.
As the Drake it would gain notoriety as one of the stripper bars that proliferated in the early 1970s after the obscenity laws were successfully challenged in BC Provincial courts. By the mid 1970s the Drake was considered one of the better bars to work in, and the managers of the Drake, and the nearby Marr spent $375,000 turning the mill and dockworker bars into ‘Show Lounges’ with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. The boom was relatively short-lived; a recession in the early 1980s saw the Drake’s bar receipts fall by over 25% in a year. The neighbourhood didn’t really change: the lounges just became more worn out to match their surroundings. Some of the city’s stripper bars became ‘respectable’, some closed down, and others hung on, but with little investment and fewer patrons.
The Drake was bought by the City of Vancouver in 2007 for $3.2m. The ‘last bash’ of the show lounge happened soon afterwards. The site was huge, with a large parking lot. The City briefly renovated the rooms to allow other Downtown Eastside SRO hotels to be decanted and renovated, but a 148 unit social housing project was being planned; the Budzey Building was developed by BC Housing, with the City of Vancouver providing the land. Neale Staniszkis Doll Adams Architects designed the new building; completed in 2015. The Drake’s 1950s neon sign ended up in the Museum of Vancouver collection.
John Maclean was an American-born builder, who in 1901 built two frame houses on Davie Street alongside one that stood on the corner that had already been built a little earlier that year. That was almost certainly also built by Mr. Maclean – he also built a house on the next lot to the north on Burrard Street in 1902.
In 1905 John Paul, the truant officer lived next to the lane (the furthest east of the houses); Edward Langley, a manager with Prior & Co was in the centre house and Arthur Wellesley Davidson, mariner, was living in a house on the corner with Burrard. The captain was living in Vancouver as a master mariner at the time of his marriage to Eva Van Arsdel Margeson in 1900 in Hantsport, Hants Co., Nova Scotia (where he had been born). He retired as a marine superintendent with Canadian Pacific Railways.
By 1908 the captain, and the house, were gone. Instead there was a corner store with two apartments upstairs. (We assume that’s the building still standing today). In 1910 Joseph Tolson and his wife Alice ran the grocers on the corner – the Gold Standard Grocery. Upstairs were Mrs H R Smith at 1188 and Samuel D Lowry, a contractor in the other unit. A year later William Flemming was running the grocery, Mrs Maud Little (widow of William) was at 1188 and William Marshall was at 1190 1/2. We’re not sure whether it was Mrs. Smith or Mr. Lowry who had high-class tastes in expensive furniture, but in September 1910 there was an auction to sell the contents – the address suggests it might have been Samuel Lowry’s property.
The houses lasted into the 1920s. In 1925 there was a new development of three small stores on Burrard that thanks to Patrick Gunn we can identify the developer and architect. Griffith & Lee developed the $6,871 Stores/Offices built by Adkinson & Dill and designed by W F Gardiner. The developers had a number of building permits around the city dating back to 1914. A number of those identify them as ‘agents’, and the company were mortgage and financial agents based in the Winch Building, so may have been operating for a client in obtaining the building permit. Julius H Griffith and Edgar S Lee had been in business in the city for many years. Mr. Griffith was active in the arts, as a member of the Kipling Club and also treasurer of the Symphony Society in the early 1920s. He was also an active member of the lawn tennis club, and the 1911 census showed him living on Georgia Street, aged 44, having been born in India to English parents. His son, also called Julius was born in 1912 and moved to London with his parents in 1928. He became an accomplished artist, returned to Canada in 1946 and his work is in a number of Canadian collections including the National Gallery of Canada. Edgar Lee was from Ontario, his wife Lillian was English and in 1911 they were shown as ‘boarders’ with their son, Douglas at 1001 Georgia – although the street directory said they were living in Shaughnessy Heights. They were probably staying at the address while work was being carried out on their house; their temporary address was Glencoe Lodge.
The three stores and the apartment are still standing – for now – but seem likely to face redevelopment in the near future. Our 1981 images show that the view along Burrard hasn’t really changed much, while down Davie the Swan Wooster building, built in 1984 fills in the skyline with residential towers behind. London Place is now a condo building rather than a hybrid office/residential, and time has taken its toll of the stuck on red brick façade.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W08.15 and CVA 779-W08.14
Our 1978 view along East Georgia shows both the Charles Woodward store to the north (on the left), and the Pacific Hotel (the London Hotel) on the southern corner. We looked at the history of the drugstore on the left hand side a few weeks ago, (built when this was known as Harris Street, named after a CPR surveyor who became a shareholder in the Vancouver Improvement Company). We also looked at Dan McPhalen’s London Hotel on the southern corner a little more recently, with its four storey later addition. Beyond the early Woodward’s store is the George Rooms. On the right, across a lane from the London Hotel addition is a typical 3-storey building on a 25 foot wide lot, with a 50 feet wide rooming house from 1910 next door to the east. Designed by E E Blackmore for George King, that project cost $25,000 and was called the Shakespeare Rooms when it opened. The smaller corner building’s history however alludes us: supposedly built in 1910, it was a rooming house called the Washington Rooms in 1911, staying in that role until the early 1980s; the upper floors have been vacant for over three decades.
It wasn’t the first building on the lot – there was a frame house built here earlier than 1901. Morris Jones ran the rooms in 1911, while Emma King ran the Shakespeare Rooms. There were four Emma Kings in Vancouver in 1911 – fortunately only one had a husband called George. They were both from England: George was 57, and an agent, and Emma was 45. Their 16 year-old son Albert had been born in Ontario, but Dolores, who was five, was born in BC. There were 26 roomers living with them, mostly involved in the construction boom that year: carpenters, stone-cutters, painters and labourers. Morris Jones lived with his wife Elizabeth – he was from England and she was from the USA, and they had 18 roomers, also carpenters, plumbers and labourers. This stretch of the street had a few Chinese businesses – almost all laundries, but it wasn’t really part of Chinatown. The Shakespeare Rooms had Fidelity Real Estate in the main floor office, while the Washington Rooms had G Crosette’s grocery store and the Italian Commercial Exchange. There was another Italian further down the street; Giambattista Bruzzone was another grocer at the end of the block.
Today it’s home to the Liang You Book Co Ltd – although it’s really a convenience store. It’s main contemporary claim to fame is that scenes for the Doctor Who movie were filmed in the lane behind the building exactly 20 years ago. (For those who care, Paul McGann took over the role from Sylvester McCoy in a movie version in an attempt to revive the TV series after a seven year hiatus, but it would be another nine years before the TV series finally returned to British TV audiences. As is often the case, the area was portraying Chinatown – but San Francisco, not Vancouver.)
For a very short while longer the building on the left of this 1981 image, on the corner of Drake and Seymour, is the home of ISS, the Immigrants Service Society who welcome new immigrants to Canada. They’re moving to new premises soon, but underneath today’s beige stucco is a much older building: the Johnson-Morrison Block completed in 1908 (Johnson & Co took out the Building Permit on the 2nd of January that year for a frame apartment costing $14,000). It first appears in the street directory in 1909, and while there is nobody called Johnson associated with it in the city that year, Katie Morrison was shown as running a rooming house at this address. Philo Johnson showed up a couple of years later, born in Ontario in 1868. In 1901 he was in Dawson City; he had been seven years in the Yukon at that time, and a 1902 edition of the Dawson News Golden Clean up Edition tells Mr. Johnson’s history in searching for gold, and his co-owned No. 49 claim on Bonanza Creek.
The 1911 census recorded him as a miner, but he was now living in this building in Vancouver; still single, aged 43. There were many other families living at this address, which seems to have been recorded by the census clerk as self-contained apartments rather than a rooming house, although Katie Morrison was still recorded as running furnished rooms here in the 1911 street directory. The change to apartments probably took place when Philo arrived in 1911 (to be included in the census, but not in the street directory for that year). Katie Morrison in 1912 is shown as living in apartment 12; Philo is the building manager and living in apartment 10.
Perhaps – but almost certainly not – coincidentally, this mirrors the 1901 Yukon census. Philo Johnson (aged 33) lived next door to ‘h keeper’ Katie Morrison (aged 23) that year. (According to the 1902 Yukon and Alaska Directory, Kate Morrison was a hotel keeper, jointly running the Adams Road House with Mrs. Ida V Gardner). We think Katie is shown as being born in Perce in Quebec, but the handwriting isn’t easy to make out.
Because the building dates from 1908, we haven’t managed to identify the architect: the building records for that era have been lost. We do know what stoves the apartments were fitted with – the makers of the Kootenay Range chose to advertise their installation in the Daily World in the summer of 1908 – although they got the spelling of Mr. Johnson’s name wrong. Philo is an unusual name, and there’s one Philo Johnson who features in any search; one of the elders of the Mormons, chosen by Brigham Young to help found Salt Lake City. Our Philo was recorded as a Methodist of Scottish family origin – so there doesn’t seem to be any obvious connection.
What happened to the people who gave the building its name is a mystery we haven’t solved. Philo last appears associated with the property in 1919. Katie Morrison seems to no longer be in Vancouver after 1912, (or at least not under that name, although there is a Kate Johnson who lived in the West End). The building continued to be known by the Johnson-Morrison name for many years: it was still known by that name in 1977 when City Council considered whether it was in full compliance with the city’s new Fire By-Law.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E07.24