The Woodbine, like many of the remaining hotels in this part of East Hastings, was built in the city’s dramatic development boom around 1912. This was built for George Woodcock, and designed by A J Bird. Despite the sign on the cornice looking like it’s been on the building for it’s entire life, the name only dates to the 1960s – and not even the early 1960s – it wasn’t on the building in this 1965 image. When it was first built (at a cost of $35,000) it was called the Oak Apartments.
George Woodcock was said by the 1911 census and the street directory to be a builder, the census adds that he was originally from England, as was his wife Mary, and they lived with their five children (including 11-year-old twins) on East 9th Avenue . They’d arrived in 1901, so all five children would have been aged under seven, so George had either done well in the following decade to build the rooming house, or perhaps he borrowed the money with the intention of selling off the completed building. In 1908 he was shown as a bricklayer. In 1910 he designed and built his house on East Broadway (E 9th) which cost $2,700 to build.
H C Woodcock was listed as the builder of the property – although George was listed as a builder in the census, Hubert Woodcock was the more experienced if later building permits are to be believed. From their daughter Gladys’s wedding in 1923 and Florence’s in 1924 we know her mother Mary Woodcock was originally Mary Etherington, and so we know George and Mary married in Tamworth, in Warwickshire, in 1892. There’s a Hubert C Woodcock living in Tamworth in 1901, aged 19, so he’s almost certainly a relation of George – possibly a younger brother. Hubert married in Tamworth in 1906, and had been born in Wooton Wawen, also in Warwickshire. He first shows up in the Vancouver street directory in 1912, although the permit for the hotel was issued in December 1911, so he must have arrived in the second half of the year.
Either Mr. Woodcock sold his investment, or he allowed somebody else to manage his property. In 1914 Mrs L McLeod was proprietor of the apartments.
George and Mary Woodcock stayed in the East Broadway house. George worked as a bricklayer until he was 75, and Mary died in 1939, aged 66, just as he finally gave up working. George died in 1948, aged 85. Hubert and Edith Woodcock settled in Vancouver, had a family, and they were living in Victoria, with Hubert still alive when Edith died, aged 90, in 1971.
The area around this part of Dunsmuir Street was once the location of several churches – Holy Rosary is the only one still standing. The multiple denominations found here may be why this is wrongly labeled in the Archives as St Andrew’s Presbyterian which was on a corner of Richards Street on the same block as Holy Rosary, but at Georgia Street. This image dates to around 1900, when the church was a very new structure. It was the second church built here; the first was much more modest. The construction of the church began in 1899 on the site of an earlier structure by the same name, which only lasted 12 years before being rebuilt in the French Gothic Revival style, designed by T E Julian (with H J Williams). This view only lasted a few years – by 1908 David Gibb was planning the Dunsmuir Hotel, designed by Parr and Fee.
The project was managed by the parish priest, Father James McGuckin, who took over the project in 1897, and despite the parish already being in debt managed to see it completed; the religious order McGuckin belonged to (the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate) mortgaged their headquarters in France to pay for it. It was initially known as “McGuckin’s folly” because of the financial strains that accompanied the construction, but the rapidly growing city ensured that the Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was an appropriate scale for the congregation.
It was elevated to a cathedral in 1916, and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate withdrew in 1927 (partly due to the financial circumstances that continued to cause them problems). A Catholic church can only be consecrated when it is free from debt – so the cathedral did not have its rite of consecration held until October 3, 1953, fifty-three years after it first opened. The construction is Gabriola sandstone on a granite base: the sandstone isn’t tremendously well bonded and the cathedral has needed repairs as details of the carving have been lost and some parts threaten to break off.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 466-23
We saw this location, but with a different building, in the previous post. Between the demolition of St Ann’s Academy (the city’s first Catholic School) in 1947, and the construction of 401 West Georgia, completed in 1984, there was one of Vancouver’s favourite structures of the 1950s and 60’s – a parkade. This was a modest building; the designer, (we don’t know who was responsible), squeezed a layer of retail and office uses along Dunsmuir Street with cars above, with a furniture store and the offices of a credit union along Homer Street.
The design for the new office tower that replaced it, by Aitken, Smith, Carter Architects – a precursor to Architectura and Stantec, put the 22 storey office tower closer to West Georgia and a low pavilion with a significant setback on Dunsmuir, allowing a view of the Holy Rosary Cathedral from the east.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-73 and CVA 779-E10.08
Dunsmuir was a street with a concentration of institutional buildings. The High School, Athletic Club and YMCA were all close to St Ann’s, the city’s first Catholic school. It was opened in 1888 by the Sisters of Saint Ann and was also known as Sacred Heart Academy. We’re not sure who originally designed the building, but in 1903 William Blackmore & Son designed additions to the premises. Our 1900s Vancouver Public Library image must be taken after that, as it looks the same in the 1947 picture below, when it was being demolished.
The Catholic Congregation purchased three lots separated by a narrow lane from the Church property on Dunsmuir Street. Sisters Mary Alexander, of the Infant Jesus, and Teresa of the Sacred Heart made up the first group of Sisters for the school. In 1901, two Sisters staffed the Boys School. In 1904 additions to Sacred Heart Academy allowed for more students and the name of the school was changed to that of St. Ann’s Academy. The school closed in 1946. The sister’s weren’t local -the early school records were written in French.
Today there’s a low podium associated with 401 West Georgia, a mid 1980s office tower. The building was kept low, and set back to allow a better view and more open setting for Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
Image sources: Vancouver Public Library, City of Vancouver Archives Bu N201
The Vancouver Athletic Club was conveniently located across the street from the recreation ground known as the Cambie Street Ground. The Drill Hall was also on Beatty, so the city lot sized Ground served double duty. The Club also served multiple purposes as both a gymnasium and indoor sports hall. There’s a 1909 postcard of the interior showing the Jack Johnson vs. Victor McLaglen exhibition boxing match. Johnson was black and had just become world heavyweight champion; McLaglen was white. After the match the club’s resident trainer, George Paris, (who was black) had to offer Johnson and his female companion (who was white) a room in his house after all the hotels in town refused the couple a room. McLaglen went bon to become an actor; Johnson would open a Harlem jazz venue that evolved into the Cotton Club.
The building was erected in 1906 when this Vancouver Public Library image was shot. In 1905, Albert Larwill was listed in the street directory on the other side of Dunsmuir. Albert was keen to help the creation of the Athletic Club in 1906, although contemporary sources show he wasn’t a director of the club as some histories suggest. Those roles were held by businessmen in the city including Charles Woodward, presumably on the basis of their ability to raise the money needed to repay the $6,000 debt for the land, $12,000 for the building and $2,000 in fees and expenses. F R McD Russell was the President, and E O’Callaghan the Secretary in 1906 when the building was being constructed.
The Cambie Street Grounds were eventually named after Albert – the Canadian Pacific Railway initially cleared the land, and subsequently sold it to the Park Board in 1904. In 1946, in a complex land deal the site was leased as the bus depot, and more recently it has become a parking lot, curiously still known officially as Larwill Park (a name the Park Board eventually bestowed in 1943). If the Vancouver Art Gallery successfully find a way to develop on the site, the Larwill name association is probably likely to fade.
Albert’s 1911 obituary noted the thousands of youngsters he had coached in lacrosse, baseball, cricket and football. He was originally from Chatham, Ontario, and having arrived in 1886 he built a shack on a piece of land that became the Cambie Street Grounds, and lived there for 20 years, establishing in the process (the Daily World claimed) ‘squatter’s rights’. On taking control of the land the Park Board named him caretaker, and built a new home for him (and the associated changing rooms for the facility) in the same location his home had always been, in the corner of the grounds across the street. An Archives picture of the Cambie Street Grounds from 1897 show the Athletic Club site with nothing substantial constructed here, and one in the mid to late 1900s show a snow-covered construction site. According to the permit it was designed by an architect we’ve never come across before – A Clive.
There are no residents – or architects – called Clive that we can find; we’re thinking this is more likely to be Albert Cline, a builder who frequently called himself an architect and drew up plans for projects that were built by other contractors. For example there are several building permits for substantial buildings in 1911 in the same year that Albert, an American with a Canadian wife, described himself in the census as a carpenter. He was new in town in 1906, so it’s understandable that the newspaper might make a mistake with his name. He described himself in the street directory as a builder: there was one other person called Cline in town, William, who was a contractor. He didn’t get to build the Athletic Club: the contractor of the building was listed as W Twambly, and Alex McLean was responsible for the concrete work of the footings. William Twambly was a carpenter, and Alexander McLean was a mason.
Like the YMCA next door (to the west) the site today has the Amec office building – although where the Athletic Club stood is now mostly open space as the tunnel running under the site limits the ability of the location to take the weight of a significant structure.
We’ve seen the earlier building occupied by the YMCA on Hastings Street in a post from a few years ago, and their new 1940 premises more recently. Here’s where they moved to in the interim; a wooden building built in 1905 on the north-east corner of Cambie and Dunsmuir Streets. By the time this picture was taken in 1941 the organisation had moved on to their new Burrard Street building. Initially this building was designed by E E Blackmore, and it replaced two houses that had been built very early in the life of the new city.
Even when it was built it had neighbours. The High School had been built a few years earlier to the west, and the recreation ground was across the street with the Drill Hall on the other side of Beatty Street. The First Baptist Church was across Dunsmuir, and within seven years would be described on the insurance map as ‘Old & Vacant’. The lot to the east, across the lane became the home to another new building for the Vancouver Athletic Club.
In 1941 the newly vacated building was quickly adopted for the war effort, the Canadian Government Department of National Defence Support Column moved in, later replaced by the Armouries. After the war the Glad Tidings Pentacostal Assembly took over the premises and stayed until at least 1960, by which time the recreation ground had become the bus station. In 1994 the site was redeveloped as the Seimens Building – now known as the Amec Building, designed by Aitken Wreglesworth Associates.
The corner of the new building was cantilevered out to allow the building’s base footprint to miss the tunnel for the SkyTrain which angles across the site from the station on Beatty Street, and picks up the abandoned Canadian Pacific rail tunnel further west. The tunnel was originally cut in 1931, and allowed the trains from Waterfront Station to be moved to the Drake Street railyards to be cleaned, supplied and made ready for the trip back to the east. Before it was built, full scale steam trains could block the Downtown streets they crossed for up to 20 minutes. Eventually CP’s use ceased in 1979.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N151
The Burrard Street YMCA looks as good today as it did when it was built in 1940. That’s because it’s a restored façade with a new structure behind it, and a child care on the top. We saw a glimpse of the building in an earlier post. Fortunately, when it came to redeveloping the building a few years ago there was a natural break in the Barclay Street frontage that allowed the residential tower and new gym and swimming pool to fit in behind without overwhelming the retained brick building. Our ‘before’ image is from 1981, and the building was already starting to show its age. By the early 2000s there was a definite need to renew, and ideally replace the building’s facilities.
The 1940 building was at least the third YMCA in the city and was designed by McCarter & Nairne, ten years after their Marine Building. The ‘Y’ was a much more modest building, but one that still had some robust moderne modeling within the limited budget. In 2003 Stantec Architects (and subsequently Endall Elliot) designed the replacement which had slightly less space for the YMCA than the original, but includes a pool, gymnasium, racquet courts, health studios, support facilities, and also a licensed Child Day Care Facility, including a family and child development centre, on the fifth and sixth floors. Concert Properties built the 42 floor project and sold the residential tower above, named ‘Patina’.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W18.13