Archive for the ‘Alex Mitchell’ Tag

1040 Hornby Street

This 1965 image of two Hornby Street buildings shows Barons’ Auto House in 1040 Hornby, a three-storey building that looks like it may have had a partial 1940s makeover. Underneath was an earlier structure, designed by Thomas Hooper in 1910 for Alex Mitchell. When it was built, the $30,000 building was home to the Stanley Park Stables.

Around 1900 Alex Mitchell took over the Georgia Street stables of Queen Brothers. He ran the stables with a partner, W Hill Peppard who also ran the Pacific Transfer Co. In 1901 he stopped working for Dunn’s and moved to Howe Street, and in 1902 took over the Stanley Park livery on his own. In 1905 he built a new stables on Seymour Street but was only there for five years before moving to this location. At one point Alex had 86 horses, 40 rigs, seven hacks and two tally-hos. Much of the company’s profits came from showing visitor’s around the city – including Stanley Park. By 1909, one of the Tally-hos was an automobile. (They were the largest carriage, carrying up to 20 passengers and drawn by a team of four horses).

The growing popularity of automobiles, and the effects of the war led to the stables closing in 1915. Alex kept his home four blocks north of here, and by 1917 was manager of the Ice Delivery Company, a job he retained for 20 years. His commute wasn’t too onerous – the company, initially managed by Charles Faucett, took over this building. They then moved to Homer Street, and by the 1930s to Richards and Davie. In 1920 the RCMP were using the building as a stables, but by 1923 they had moved, and Black Brothers Autos moved in

Black Brothers made automobile upholstery. Before moving here, they were on Homer Street, so the image of the interior of their works, dated c 1914 in the Archives is either inaccurate about the date, or the location. They were still here in 1930, but a decade later W T Tupper’s Auto House bodywork restoration business was here.

Auto House were still here in 1950, but sharing the premises with Meredith Motors and the Arrow Boat Works at the back of the site. They were replaced by Mendham & Robertson auto repairs by 1955.

1070 Hornby, the smaller building next door, was developed as an office building later known as Emerald House in 1952. In 1955 Trans Canada Airlines had an office here, as well as Marine Surveys of Western Canada and National Paper Goods. Previously there were residential addresses here, with 5 separate doors. Thomas Hooper had designed a $6,000 stable building for W H Gallagher, also in 1910, but we don’t think it was built. Instead, rowhouses were built here, although we haven’t found a permit to accompany their construction.

In 2000 The Canadian was built here, with 185 condo units in a Busby & Associates designed building for Wall. 44 more units are used as a time-share hotel.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 319-26 and CVA 1403-4



Posted 24 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Stanley Park Livery – 601 Seymour Street

Alex Mitchell took over the Stanley Park Livery stables on Georgia Street from Queen Brothers in 1900, initially with a partner, W Hill Peppard, and then from 1903 on his own. In 1905 he moved to these new premises on the corner of Dunsmuir and Seymour, on a site that Hill Peppard had owned. (We saw the home of Mr. Peppard, also on Seymour, in an earlier post). We know Hill Peppard owned this property, because in 1900 he was required to attend police court for “Failing to place gulley trap at rear of Premises Georgia & Seymour St given to Sept. 7th to comply not complied with + dismissed by request of R.M.” 

Hill Peppard was born in 1870 in the US according to the 1901 census, and was shown with his wife, Mary, who was 3 years younger, from Ontario, and two daughters, aged two and one. Their marriage had been in December 1900, and showed Hill born in Arlington, Virginia, marrying Mary Russell from Barrie. Hill had been in the area for a while; he was in a teamster in New Westminster in 1891, when he was also shown born in the US. The odd thing is that in the 1911 census, (when he was lodging in the Hotel Vancouver), and his birth registration, Hill was shown born in Nova Scotia. (His parents were born there, but it’s unclear where he was actually born).

He was in partnership as a drayman with Herman Robinson until 1899. From 1903 he was delivering firewood from the Coal Harbour Mill as Peppard & Macdonald. Mary died in 1905, and in 1911 he was in real estate, on Granville Street. A decade later he had moved to Chilliwack, where he was listed as a farmer. His brother, Clarence, a building official from Minneapolis, visited in 1925. He sent a telegram telling Hill’s other brother, who lived in Langley, that he was visiting, but it was delivered to the wrong location, so nobody met him at the station. Clarence checked in at the Belmont Hotel on Granville and was never seen again. He supposedly set off on the train to Chilliwack, and there was sighting of someone who might have been him in Marpole, but it was nearly a year later that his body was found in the North Arm of the Fraser River. Hill remarried to Mary Ann Rohrabaugh in 1927, in Whatcom County. He died in 1943, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. His executors, on tying up his affairs, advertised a mysterious message in the press, saying Hill was also known as C W Moore. We have no idea what that refers to – a second family?

These premises were designed and built in 1904 by C Mills, with a $5,000 permit issued to ‘Mrs Roberts’. Exactly who she was, we still don’t don’t know, althouigh we know she was called Mary. Mrs. Mary Roberts was given permission to build a brick retaining wall at Mitchell’s livery, in 1904, and a few weeks later complained that because the dirt had not been filled in against her property, the basement had flooded.

John Roberts, a contractor, lived almost opposite here at 616 Seymour. It seems unlikely his wife would hire another contractor to build her stables. John Wesley Roberts, a teamster, lived very close, at 511 Richards, but it seems less likely to be his wife as he was widowed when he died in 1909, and William Roberts was a hostler living at 560 Cambie, but he worked for Mainland Transfer. In 1905, and 1906 A Mitchell carried out alterations and repairs, so presumably Alex bought the premises in 1905..

We looked at Alex Mitchell’s history in connection to his home on Princess (now East Pender). Born in 1867 in Huron, Ontario, he arrived in 1894, and married a year later. He started as a warehouseman for Thomas Dunn, but by 1900 had partnered with Hill Peppard to take over the stables on Georgia. They brought the Stanley Park Livery name with them – as far as we can tell the stables were never actually in Stanley Park, but you could hire horses and a carriage, and take a ride round the park (pausing to reverse into the Hollow Tree and take a photograph if you had the skill). This image is dated c 1910, but we think it may have been taken around 1906, when another was taken of Alex outside the stables.

By 1911 Alex had built another new building at 1040 Hornby, although this building was still listed as Stanley Park Stables. He was offering Boarding Stables, Nacks, Victorias, Surreys, Carriages and Tally-Ho, so he probably briefly filled both buildings. Gasoline powered cars were still relatively few and far between, and the city was growing fast, so business was good. In 1912 all the business was conducted from Hornby, and for just one year Bligh Stables operated here, run by Herbert Bligh. This building must have been demolished only seven years after it was constructed, because in 1913 The St Regis Hotel opened here, owned by Leon Melekov and designed by W T Whiteway. Unlike many of the local rival hotels from the era, it continues (without becoming a rooming house) to this day. Indeed, it’s one of the smarter and more popular boutique hotels in the city.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 319-12


Posted 21 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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414 Princess Street

When this image was taken, (supposedly in 1897), the street was called Princess. Today it’s called East Pender, (and there’s a totally different Princess nearby – Princess Avenue, renamed from Carl Avenue). The house was home to the Mitchell family from 1897 when it was newly built.

Alexander Mitchell arrived in the city around 1894 (he was born in Stanley, Huron, Ontario) and married in April 1895. Before she married, Louisa Maria (‘Lou’) Richardson, (who was born in Point Edward, Lambton, Ontario), had been living in New Westminster with her family. They had arrived in 1889, and her father, who was born in Westminster in England, worked for the railways.

Alex was a warehouseman for Thomas Dunn, and in the 1901 Census he was still a warehouseman aged 35. His wife, Louisa, was nine years younger, and they had two daughters, Vera aged 2 and Marion, 1, a lodger, Thomas Leith, who was a teacher, and a 15-year-old domestic, Ellen Lush, from the North West Territories. As Vera was born in 1899, we suspect this picture was taken around 1900, with Louisa holding Vera in the doorway.

In 1900 Alex became associated with the Stanley Park Livery Stables in partnership with an American called Hill Peppard. The business was established by Queen Brothers on Georgia Street and was briefly run by Dixon and McRae. Later in 1901 the Mitchell family moved Downtown, initially to Howe Street, and a few years later to the 900 block of Hornby, which would remain the family home for many years.

By 1903 Alex was running the business on his own; in 1905 he had permits to build and then alter stables on Seymour Street. Alex was second in a family of nine children, and Lou was the sixth of ten, so it’s not surprising that by 1911 Vera and Marion had a sister, Clare, and two brothers, Wilfred and Elmer. The family domestic was now called Lillian Valley, from Finland. Here’s Alex in his buckboard in 1906.

In 1902 Matthew Barr, a plumber had moved into this house, and was here a year later when it was renumbered as 432. In 1904 W H Rogers moved in, a carpenter, who became a contractor, and was still here in 1908 when it became East Pender. We’ve written Mr. Rogers’ story in relation to a building he constructed near here, on Keefer Street. Born in Bristol, in England, he was in Vancouver before moving to Seattle, then here again from around 1904, before he moved to the West End, and later back to Seattle again.

When he moved out, the 1912 residents weren’t recorded – just listed as ‘Chinese’. That listing was unchanged through the 1920s. In 1931 the listing switched to ‘Orientals’, but by 1936 a name was published; Doe Heong. Louisa Mitchell became secretary of the Pioneer’s Association. She died in 1937, and Alex in 1948.

The area was marked for demolition and redevelopment in the 1950s, and the City voluntarily or compulsorily acquired all the property on the block. The plans for this block were for it to be sold to a private developer for market housing, and even though it was sold for a third of the cost to assemble it, the deal fell through, and after lawsuits the City eventually got the land back. Mau Dan Gardens was completed in 1982, developed by the Strathcona Area Housing Society, (a spin-off from the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association – SPOTA – the community group that successfully opposed the comprehensive redevelopment of the area). It was designed by Joe Y Wai and Spaceworks Architects. Some of the units were intended for sale, but only a few sold and remain freehold properties. The remainder are a housing co-op, and the entire development has seen a multi-year renovation with new energy efficient windows and roofs, exterior walls, and new landscaping throughout the project.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 319-19 and Bu P494.


Posted 14 November 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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