Archive for the ‘Art Clemes’ Tag

Regent Hotel – East Hastings Street

The Regent, like the Balmoral across the street, is another large commercial hotel developed at the end of the early 1900s development boom. The Regent’s developer, Art Clemes, obtained the building permit for the $150,000 building in December 1912, and it was completed the following year. It was designed by Emil Guenther.

Art Clemes is mentioned in some records as Archie or Archibald, although the earliest record aged 10 in 1860 called him Arthur, living in Victoria, Ontario, where he seems to have been listed as Clemis, rather than Clemes (although the handwriting in the record isn’t clear). Subsequently almost all official records call him Art. He was in BC by 1881, listed as a hosteler, with Esther, his wife (who was shown two years older than Art). In 1882 he was running the B C Express House in Nacomin. (Sometimes it was written as Necomin), which is in Spences Bridge.

By 1901 he was the leading businessman in the town, a small community on the Thompson River, seventy miles west of Kamloops on the main line of the C.P.R. He ran the general store and the hotel, and acted as postmaster. Around the turn of the century he took a holiday in Europe. He probably attended The 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle, where it’s said that he was so taken by a Wolesley car exhibited there that in the early 1900s he ordered one from England. It was shipped via the Horn, as if it had come on the more convenient route across the Atlantic it would have had to be stripped down and crated, and there was nobody in Spences Bridge or Kamloops at that time who knew how to assemble an automobile. It was the first gasoline-driven automobile to run in the interior of British Columbia; here’s an oddly chopped picture of Art from the Archives, in his car.

In the 1901 census Art is listed as hotel keeper and rancher, with his wife Esther and their two domestic servants, Helen and Rachel Oppenheim. Art and Esther were both from England; (Art is shown specifically as being born in Cornwall, and stated his ethnicity as Cornish), and both were shown (inaccurately) to be aged 49. Art was only three when he came to Canada, while Esther had been 19. Their servants were both local, born in Yale. We know where Art’s family first moved in Canada, as his brother Henry, a stationary engineer, was living with the family. He was aged 40, and had been born in Ontario.

Art owned quite a bit of property in Vancouver. He built six brick dwellings at Hamilton Street & Georgia Street in 1903. In 1906 Art leased his ranch to Chinese growers. The Nicola Herald reported that he had leased it to three chinamen. “The enterprising Celestials intend supplying the various railroad camps with fresh vegetables. Rumour has it that $1,000 rental was paid in advance” Art remained in Spences Bridge; and retained his role as justice of the peace there, while developing in Vancouver. In 1908 he partnered with Alexander Pantage to build a theatre on East Hastings, which he continued to own for many years.

In 1911 Art and Esther were still shown in the census living in Spences Bridge, with many employees and lodgers living in the same accommodation (their hotel). They seem to have travelled more, as they visited the US in 1915. Esther died in 1918; her death record confirming she was two years older than Art. Art continued to travel after her death, and crossed from Mexico to the US in 1921. He died a year later, aged 70. The Hotel Regent (as it was called in 1923 when our image was taken), like many Downtown Eastside hotels has seen a steady decline. Today it has a mix of troubled tenants paying welfare rent and an owner unwilling or unable to invest in maintainance. Recently the exterior has been cleaned up, although the interior is still not somewhere anybody would chose to inhabit.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot N37.1 and Trans P151

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Posted November 13, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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