This is another of the Yaletown warehouse buildings built after the Canadian Pacific railway released some of their land for development around 1910. Frank Darling & Co built this warehouse in 1913. Honeyman and Curtis were the architects, Frank Darling was the client, and Irwin Carver and Co were the builders of the $40,000 structure.
Frank Darling was an electrical equipment supplier, living on Nicola Street in 1911 with his wife Frances and their three young children, David, Elizabeth and Ruth. He was born in Montreal, Quebec, Frances was American, and the children had all been born in BC. Frank’s company was established in Vancouver in 1906. Frank was one of four brothers (with Arthur, Edward and George) who owned Darling Brothers, founded in 1888. Frank set out on his own in 1906, leaving the day-to-day management of the manufacturing arm of Darling Brothers to his three siblings and acting as an agent for their products in British Columbia. At the height of its production the Darling Foundry was the second largest operation in Montreal, with over 100,000 square feet of space. Each of its 4 buildings was dedicated to its own specialized purpose: inventory & stock, a showroom, the iron works, and the assembly plant. The company closed in 1991, and in the early 2000s repurposed as an Arts Centre.
In Vancouver, Frank’s business stayed here until the 1940s, sharing the building with Rennie Seeds for a while after the war before moving to premises in Burrard Slopes. Advertisments in the Vancouver Daily World offering space for lease suggest that Frank continued to own and lease the parts of the building his own business did not need.
In this 1924 picture H J Heinz were using the Hamilton side of the building as their warehouse, staying here through to the 1930s. In the early 1950s a variety of companies operated here including Industrial Adhesives and Barclay & Co, importers and exporters, joined rather unexpectedly by the Consulate of Spain. Frank was still alive in the early 1950s, but retired from the business, with the former manager, W G Metcalf as President of the company that still dealt in pumps and other machinery.
In 1973, when the image was taken, Luxford International Housewares were operating their warehouse here. Today it’s the Brix and Mortar restaurant on the main floor (on the Homer Street side) next door to the New Oxford pub, with another restaurant on the lower loading dock floor and a market research company occupying the upper floors.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3446 and CVA 447-96
Our 2003 ‘before’ image was taken shortly before the demolition of the Plaza Hotel. Despite the swanky name, the Plaza was a run-down SRO hotel with 33 rooms on part of a small development lot (only 12,000 sq ft) that was, at the time, potentially developable as a condo tower. A numbered company applied for the project which had 120,000 of space above ground, and 60,000 below grade as a 6-storey parkade. The tight site meant that a lot of the underground space was taken up by parkade infrastructure of elevators and ramps. A 3-storey podium was proposed with 16 floors of condos designed by Hancock Bruckner Eng & Wright, and a public benefit of space for the Artstart for Kids program, still running today. Back in 2003 Council took a less stringent approach to the loss of older SROs, and with payments to the replacement housing fund of $5,000 a room and an additional contribution to the affordable housing fund Council of the day approved the loss of the rental space.
The building, christened ‘R&R’ (Robson and Richards) was completed in 2006. The predecessor ‘hotel’ here started life as the Montgomery Block. Approved to be built in 1911 for J A Montgomery, it was designed by G P Bowie, and described as a “4 storey brick store & rooming house; marble entrance, hot water heating, plate glass front” costing $29,000 to build. Egdell & Dixon were the contractors, although Mr. Bowie supervised the work (which wasn’t always the case in those days). Mr. Bowie designed several larger residential buildings during the city’s early 1900s boom, as well as Yaletown warehouse projects. He was also responsible for the design of the lumbermen’s Arch in Stanley Park. He died in July 1915, fighting in Ypres.
The building was delayed a little – but in March 1912 the Daily World announced that Mr J A Montgomery of New Westminster would commence construction of his 4-storey building, which would cost $33,000 and was expected to be completed in June. In 1913 it was called the Richelieu Rooms, run by Mrs J E Conroy. The names of the proprietor changed frequently; every year we checked to see who was running the rooms found a new name – in 1919 J A Trepanier was running the establishment, in 1925 O and H Agnew and in 1930 Mrs L H Smith. In 1940 Mrs A Chambers was shown as running the rooms, and in 1950 L T Taylor was running the now renamed Plaza Hotel.
John Alexander Montgomery was born in Drummondville, Quebec and was married to Fannie, also from Quebec. She had been married to Rev. Simeon Huff and had two children, but he died in 1900, and she remarried in 1906, having two more daughters, Jean and Joyce.
John Alexander Montgomery, who had lived in New Westminster from 1887, was described as “one of the best known and most highly respected men of the city, each year having chronicled an increase in his prosperity and his additional security in the esteem and confidence of his fellow citizens. He was born in Drummond county, Quebec, and is a son of James and Jane (Bothwell) Montgomery, pioneers in that province, where the father engaged in farming.
John A. Montgomery acquired his education in the country schools of his native community, and after laying aside his books was obliged on account of conditions at home to earn his own livelihood. In choosing an occupation he took up that for which he was best fitted by early training and environment, turning his attention to general farming. For a time he assisted his father with the work of the homestead, afterwards becoming connected with railroading and following this by a period of activity in the mines. Seeking broader scope for his labors and better opportunities, he came to British Columbia in 1887 and, recognizing immediately the splendid future of New Westminster, took up his residence here. He invested heavily in land, and during the twenty-six years of his residence here, has continually added to his holdings until he is today one of the most extensive owners of valuable real estate in the city. All of his business interests are carefully and progressively conducted and his success rewards many years of well directed and honorable labor.”
There’s a three storey building in our 2011 ‘before’ image that dated back to 1912. Designed by William O’Dell for Albert Milton when 2nd Avenue was called Dufferin Street, this was described as a factory/warehouse three storey brick stable. Assuming that the Albert Milton who built this is the same Albert Milton in the 1911 Census (which is a pretty safe bet as he was the only Albert Milton listed), he was from Ontario, already retired at the age of 50 and living with his 38 year old wife Luretta and their four children, Ada, Ernest, Aletha and Edward. Ada was aged 18, and all the children were born in BC, so the family had been in the province for a while.
Before moving to Vancouver Albert had been down the valley – the 1901 Census shows him living in Surrey, farming in Cloverdale. 56th Avenue was once called Milton Road, so it was a reasonably important farm. Daniel Milton, his brother also lived with the family then. Albert was the Treasurer of the Surrey Agricultural Association in 1895, (a role that would have been much more appropriately performed by the Association’s Secretary, Mr. Thrift). In the 1880’s Mr. Milton built the first Campbell River Bridge – Mr. Thrift recalling the story in his memoir: “the Hon. Prov. Secretary instructed the Council to let a contract for the erection of the bridge and to draw on the Government for the amount of $500 when complete. This was done, Mr. A. Milton of Cloverdale took the contract and erected the bridge and when completed the Council attended the official opening, a grand dance was held on the Bridge, the settlers ran pony races across the structure and there was much jollification in celebrating the opening of the Campbell River Bridge on the Coast Meridian Road.”
William O’Dell in Vancouver wasn’t really an architect; he was a builder. He constructed an East Cordova hotel, but the owner hired an architect to design it. He also built one of the buildings in an earlier post. In the 1880s however he was one of four architects in Nanaimo, so had the ability to design this structure with no difficulty. It was indeed a stables, run by Burke & Wood Co Ltd, a transportation company. In 1913, when they were first shown having their stables located here, their transfer office was on Water Street and H Vasey was company president. There was another Water Street firm of draymen, Burke and Cameron, and we assume it might be the same Mr. Burke; Allan (or Allen) L Burke. In 1913 Mr. Wood was no longer associated with the company, but he was S P Wood, and in 1910, like Mr. Burke, he lived at 791 Cambie Street. The company had a stables then at 102 Harris Street – today’s East Georgia Street.
It’s surprising how long horse-drawn transportation remained viable in the city: the company operated here all the way to 1920 – then the building was shown as vacant. In 1923 the street name switched to East 2nd Avenue, and Burke & Wood Co Ltd are shown here again all the way to 1930. In the early 1930s it became home to Vancouver Art Metalworks Ltd, run by J Woodman. From the early 1940s until at least 1955 Hume and Rumble, electrical contractors, were based here. The South East False Creek area was identified to be ‘let go’ from industrial to residential uses in the late 1990s, but development only took off a few years ago. The residential over retail building here, called Proximity, was designed by IBI/HB for Bastion (who also developed Opsal nearby), and was completed earlier this year.
Here’s another of the undated and unidentified location shots from the City’s Archives. From the cars we’re putting this into the 1970s; it’s at least 30 years ago as the Expo 86 pavilion now occupied (for only a short while longer) by the casino is just visible today. We’re looking north on Columbia Street towards False Creek and the mountains.
Back then Downtown seemed a whole lot closer to the Mount Pleasant industrial area. You could see the Woodwards ‘W’, The Sun Tower, and the Dominion Building. Today there are two rows of buildings in the way; the residential towers built on the Expo lands, and the more recent buildings of South East False Creek.
The industrial area hasn’t really changed that much – at least, not here. There are still a few of the houses that show how this area first developed, including one on the corner of 5th Avenue that dates back to 1909. It’s clearly visible in the 1970s, and hidden today by one of the street trees added in the past 40 years.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-239
We’ve looked at a very similar set of images from the Hornby Street side of Arthur Erickson’s Law Courts. Here’s a pair of 1981 images that we updated last year. Far less of the building is visible in summer, as Cornelia Oberlander’s landscaping has matured. We saw one of the buildings on the corner with Nelson (below) when it was a house in an earlier post, and how it had changed to commercial use by the early 1960s.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W07.27 and CVA 779-W07.28
This modest two storey structure dates back to 1906; according to the heritage statement it was built for Jacob Kane. Unusually, the construction used pre-cast concrete blocks that look like stone. There’s a 1906 news piece that says that J Kane had obtained a permit for an $11,000 building on Water Street. In the same paper it noted that Dan McPhail had bought the property with Mr. Kane with a view to adding an addition to the existing building at the back, and building a new front – so the bones of the building were probably older. Earlier that year J Kane of Kamloops was staying at the Dominion Hotel, just up the street from here. There was a J Kane who owned mining interests in the province in 1894, but beyond those disjointed pieces of information we haven’t managed to pin down a developer, or identify an architect for the building. J Kane was listed in the 1901 census as a lodger in a location we haven’t managed to identify yet – he was born in Ireland, a businessman and had arrived in Canada in 1899 aged 33. His location may have been waiting to sail on board the Empress of India: most of the household are ship’s crew. He was probably christed Jacobus, and came from a family with Italian origins; there are a surprising number of Jacobus Kanes born in England and Ireland in the 19th Century.
The first tenants in the building seem to have been a fruit and confectionery dealer, F Baiocchi and Elias Healman was selling clothing next door. In 1910 Richard Johnson, a shoemaker was here with Weinrobe & Cohn’s clothing store and the Vancouver Employment Agency upstairs. In 1916 Tomlinson & Cook hired Hugh Murray to design and build a $400 brick addition to the building. That year it was a different shoemaker, Samuel Goodall was at 50 Water Street, the Mainland Rooming house was upstairs and Benjamin Wolfe, a second hand dealer in 56 Water Street. In 1920 Mr. Goodall was still in business and a branch of the Great North Western Telegraph Company were also located here.
In 1926, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, H Brown and Son, wholesale meat merchants had the eastern half, and H M Nugent (who made tents and awnings as well as waterproof clothing), the western half. They were right next door to Edward Lipsett’s tent and awning company, so presumably you could comparison shop without difficulty. The Canadian National Telegraph also had their office here. Henry and his son Myer Brown were Hungarian; The 1911 census suggests they had arrived in 1898 (older children like Myer were born in Hungary, four younger children were born in British Columbia). Henry Nugent was an American who arrived in Canada in 1906. He was married to Lilly, from Ontario (where their son had been born in 1909) and in 1921 lived with her parents James and Mary Nairne.
Remarkably, all three businesses were still in the same location in 1940, although the upper floor (52 Water Street) was vacant. In 1942 the Beulah Rescue Mission occupied that space. The mission served meals twice a day to the city’s indigent (while saving souls at the same time). It continued to operate here for at least 30 years.
In 2006 the building was effectively redeveloped, although the façade was retained with a new ‘old’ store front. Virtually every existing building element was replaced, including the structural, architecture, mechanical, and electrical systems. Busby and Associates, designing the project for Neils Bendsten’s Inform furniture store used heavy mass concrete, brick, and wood materials to restore as many original architectural features as possible. A green roof, complete with a skylight, was provided as well. A vertical geo-exchange system has been installed below the existing structure which, combined with a radiant heating and cooling system and exhaust air heat recovery, significantly reduces the building’s energy consumption.
The Oriental was an early wooden hotel quite a bit to the west of the main action of Maple Tree Square. It sold itself on its proximity to the railway terminus, and first appeared in 1888 with an addition built in the same year. It was a couple of doors down from the Regina Hotel – the only building that survived to fire of 1886. In 1889 it was numbered as 208 Water Street, and was run by John Crean and Richard Fleming (who had been a clerk at the Regina a year earlier). In 1890 they got the first big hotel omnibus. As Major Matthews recorded: “Prior to that most hotels had busses which met the C.P.R. trains and C.P.N. and U.S.S. Co. boats—then the only things to meet—but they were comparatively small, with a seat fore and aft along the side, and black canvas side and roof; the side flaps could be rolled up in fine weather. The Oriental Hotel had a big bus.”
William Edwards, who used to drive the bus told the Major: “We used to haul twenty-five persons in that bus; great big bus, make three trips down to the C.P.R. station; seventy-five from one C.P.R. train. There was not room at times in the house” (hotel) “to accommodate them, but we bunked all just the same. We had little cots, and we used to push the regulars out of their rooms into the hallways, set them up in cots, and keep them there until the rush was over, then let them go back to the rooms the transients had pushed them out of.”
Gabriel’s Thomas’s son, also called Gabriel, talked to Major Matthews about the picture “This is the Oriental Hotel on Water Street; next door west, south side, to the old Regina Hotel which escaped the ‘fire,’ on the southwest corner of Cambie and Water Street. John Crean and Gabriel Thomas (that’s my father), proprietors. Father is on the balcony with his hand resting on the railing knob. John Crean is in front of the halyards of the flag pole. I don’t know who the man in the middle is.”
“Jimmie’ Edwards drove the bus—horse-drawn bus. Met every C.P.R. train and boat, and also Evans, Coleman Evans to meet the Joan coming from Nanaimo. That was all the trains and boats there were to meet in those days. The bus used to be crowded sometimes and sometimes had to return for those they could not pick up the first trip. The first Oriental was the tall building in the middle with gable end roof; then it was extended to the west, but, on the east side, what appears to be an extension is actually only a store front—a blank wall for show. The lower part is the saloon, what we call beer parlour now.”
Richard Fleming sold his part share to Gabriel Thomas in 1891. That year’s St Patrick’s day saw a report of the dining facilities in the Daily World: “The fervent love of the ould sod, characteristic of Paddy’s boys, was never better evidenced than last evening, when the Ancient Order of Hibernians invited their brethren and sympathetic friends to a banquet at tho Oriental hotel. This hostelry has the reputation of being excelled by few in its cuisine, and the dinner, served at 9 o’clock, set before the large number of assembled guests fully sustained the reputation of the House.” The next day the hotel appeared again, in somewhat different circumstances “Only one case, that of a Chinaman charged with stealing underwear from a room in the Oriental hotel, was up in the Police Court this morning, He was dismissed.”
In 1892 we get confirmation that Gabriel Thomas lived at the hotel “Capt. Pittendrigh, coroner, came over from Westminster to – day, in the absence of Dr. McGuigan, and empannelled a jury to enquire into the circumstances surrounding the death of William Baylis, who was found dead in his room at the Oriental hotel yesterday with a bullet hole in his head. The only feature that was brought out beyond what was told in yesterday’s Woki.p was the statement of the young son of Mr. Thomas, one of the proprietors of the hotel, that he heard a pistol shot at about 4 o’clock in the morning. The jury brought in a verdict of suicide while temporarily insane.” This wasn’t the only death at the hotel that year. In November “Angus Fraser, C.P.R. section foreman at Cherry Creek, was found dead in bed at the Oriental hotel shortly before noon on Sunday. The deceased was well known throughout the Province, having been in the C.P.R. employ for the past nine years. He had been ailing for some time back of heart disease, his medical attendant being Dr. Tunstall.”
Crean and Thomas held the hotel until 1897, when Blanchfield and Grieves took over. An 1896 report suggested “The work on the construction of the new Oriental hotel, to be erected by Mr. Costello, on part of his lot, corner of Cambie and Hastings street, will be begun in a few days.” That new property never obtained the Oriental name – Gabriel Thomas ran the Commercial Hotel here. In 1898 John Meikeljohn owned the Oriental, with W E Fowler as manager. Mr Meikeljohn was reported to have sold the hotel after two years of ownership in November 1899, but Mr Fowler was still manager (and Richard Fleming was the clerk), and Mr Meikeljohn appears to still be the owner until June 1900 when it was sold at auction. In 1901 Mrs Caroline Norgood was the owner, and in 1902 the hotel is shown as ‘vacant’. It then became the Mission Evangelistic Science Hall to the east, although the Oriental Hotel name reappeared in 1906, with Mary Knight as proprietor. The Knight family lost two infant children while they ran the hotel; the funeral of their 4-month-old son was held at the hotel in November 1906. gIn 1910 Selby Baker was shown as the proprietor, and in 1911 the hotel had gone.
Paul Yee has published the details: “Sam Kee owned five hotel sites and buildings in central Vancouver and leased from German entrepreneur Edward Stolterfoht two sites on which it then constructed hotels for sub-leasing. In managing its hotels, the firm dealt firmly with civic officials through its lawyers R. R. Parkes and W. A. Macdonald, K.C. In March 1911 the city health inspector condemned Sam Kee’s Oriental Hotel and ordered it demolished. The company, however, argued that its solicitor and architect had consulted earlier with two civic aldermen and the building inspector, and they had all agreed to let the building stand for another five years. Sam Kee ordered its lawyer to appeal the decision, but in vain.”
In 1911 W and E C Taylor hired Grant and Henderson to design a warehouse for their Empress Manufacturing Co, which dealt in imported coffee and locally produced jams and jellies. In 2003 it became a stratified residential building with 22 units designed by Acton Ostrey.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P50