Archive for the ‘Braunton and Leibert’ Tag

Unit block – West Pender Street north (2)

The Arco (on the left of the picture) started life as The Patricia Lodge. It’s a six storey building developed by John Walker, who hired Braunton and Leibert to design it in 1912. J F Langer (who lived on Woodland Drive) built the $53,500 investment, with a reinforced concrete frame. We looked at the buildings on this block in an earlier post, but at that point hadn’t worked out who John Walker was. We think we have pinned him down now, having sifted out a series of John Walkers who were labourers, farmers and other unlikely candidates for an investment like this.

John was born in Clarksburg, Ontario in 1873. He appears in Vancouver in 1903 as a clothing merchant, with a store on West Cordova and living in rooms on East Cordova. He added a second store for a while on West Hastings in 1904, and he lived on Melville, then in rooms at the Board of Trade (probably above the saloon of the same name). In 1906 he returned to Clarksburg to marry Carrie Hartman who was 7 years younger. The western provinces were obviously a little unfamiliar to the registrar, who identified John as a merchant in Van Couver. The couple moved to a house on Nelson Street in the West End and John had just one store again at 74 W Cordova.

In 1907 he branched out into a new line; real estate brokerage. Like many other merchants, he opened an office, initially as Walker and Dresser, and in 1909 with Daniel Campbell. That year his clothing store was taken over by David Hunter. Business must have been good during the 1910 – 1912 boom years; John invested in this building and Daniel Campbell built his own rooming house in the same year on East Cordova. However, like many other real estate businesses, things went badly for Campbell-Walker as the Great war added to the recession that had already hit the economy. The 1915 Government Gazette lists a number of lots where they had failed to pay the appropriate taxes, and where they were in arrears. John appears to have moved out of Downtown. His family was growing; a son, John, was born in 1914 and a daughter, Kathleen, in 1916 (whose records seem to end at some time after the 1921 census).

In 1920 John appears to have been in a partnership with Adam Wallbridge. John Walker represented the owners of the Princess Mines, a copper deposit on Texada Island. In 1921 the family had returned to the West End, to the Felix Apartments, and John was listed as a partner in Walker and Robinson (with George Robinson) on West Pender. This was a return to familiar territory; a high-class tailoring business in ‘The Store with the Yellow Front’. John had survived the war years well enough to move to a $7,000 house he commissioned on Angus Drive, designed by W M Dodd in 1921. The family lived there until 1939, when they moved to Surrey. At the age of 66 John and Carrie moved to Newton, in Surrey, where Walker’s General Store was established. Carrie was 89 when she died in 1970, and John was just short of his 102nd birthday when he passed away in 1975.

The Patricia Lodge opened in 1913, with Mrs L E Pomeroy running the operation. Several long-term residents moved in, paying $3 a week. Travelers could stay for $0.75 a night. Unusually for a Vancouver hotel, there was no bar.

In 1921 there was considerable damage to the building following a fire. The manager, M S Cot, dropped a key down the elevator shaft, and went down to the basement to retreive it. Lighting a match to see his way, there was a large explosion. Water leaking into the basement was mixed with gasoline coming from the Central Garage to the west.

In 1936 the new (and current) name was adopted; the Arco was initially run by A B Janousek, and during the war by Bill Chan and Wong Oak-Laing. The Arco became a typical run-down rooming house over the years, with the Two Jays cafe on the main floor (featured in two different episodes of the X-Files). In 2007 BC Housing acquired the building, and it was closed for a while for renovations and repairs, reopening as welfare rate non-market housing managed by Atira.

The large Wosk’s furniture warehouse in our 1978 image was initially a clothing factory operated by the Original Blouse Co. Built in 1950, there’s an approved scheme to turn it into office space with two added floors of residential rental units, but the devlopers have put the building on sale rather than construct the project.


Posted 3 May 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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561 East Hastings Street

Here’s another of the SRO hotels built as a rooming house. It was developed by Gordon R Baird, who ran a hardware store on Granville Street. He hired Braunton & Leibert to design the building in 1912, and F J Kelby built it at a cost of $33,000. It opened as The Spokane Rooms, although by our 1978 image it was known as the Francis Faye Hotel, and today it’s the Patrick Anthony Residence, managed by Atira following a renovation. It was badly needed, as in 2012 it was one of the worst 10 rental buildings, with 133 issues identified by inspectors as needing attention.

Gordon Baird was only 26 when he developed this building. He was from New Brunswick, (probably Saint John), his wife Jennie was an American, and the same age, and they had a son, Winston, who was only seven months old in 1911. Jennie had arrived in Canada when she was five, and despite their relative youth the family had an English domestic servant, who was two years older than Jennie. Their wedding was reported in the Vancouver Sun in 1908 “Word has been received from Long Beach, Cal., of the marriage there of two well-known and popular young Vancouverites. The groom was Mr. Gordon Baird, hardware merchant of Granville street and the bride Miss Jennie Pearl Sherdahl, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. Sherdahl, of Rosehill, Mount Pleasant. Mr. and Mrs. Baird are wintering amid the frosts and snows of “sunny Southern California.” Mr. S Sherdahl was Sven, whose history we noted in connection to the Dominion Hotel on Water Street, which he developed.

The Baird family moved to Long Beach in the 1920s. In 1921 Gordon was manager of the Mount Pleasant Hardware Co, but by 1930 he was living in California, and as well as Winston there was a second son Lloyd, born in 1918. That record tells us Jennie had been born in Kansas, and that both Gordon and Winston were working as salesmen selling hardware. Gordon was still in Long Beach in 1940, but he was living alone, recorded as single, the owner of a second hand store.


Posted 6 August 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Granville Street – 1100 block east side 2

We looked at the southern end of this block in an earlier post, and at some of the buildings here in a view from Davie Street photographed in the early 1970s (like this picture). We didn’t examine the history of the three buildings seen here on the south side of Helmcken. Across the street is 1090 Granville, a 4-storey brick building developed by James Borland designed by Braunton and Leibert in 1912. Borland was a successful contractor turned property developer from Ontario, whose history we looked at in connection to his Maple Hotel on Hastings Street. There’s a modest single storey building beyond the Borland investment. It was developed in 1919 by Mary McQueen, who was the niece of Dr. James Whetham, a doctor who developed several important early Vancouver buildings, He husband James was also a developer, but several permits identify Mary as the developer of projects in the city.

The McQueen’s, who had been born in Ontario, also owned the site on the south corner of Helmcken, where the two storey green painted building was developed. In 1903 Mary Jane McQueen developed 2 frame dwellings, costing $2,000 on the lot, (which may have been on the Helmcken frontage at the back of the site). This was also where James McQueen obtained a permit for a $4,200 frame store in 1905, and we think he also had builder James Layfield carry out some alterations in 1910. This building may be the 1905 commission, or it may have been built a little later in a period of missing permits.

The two single storey retail buildings to the south were developed by R B Reilly in 1911, hiring Higman and Doctor as architects of his $2,300 investment. This appears to be R Buchanan Reilly, secretary to the Commission Agency, with a home on Davie Street. He was born in 1889 in Toronto (and he returned there in 1920 to marry his wife, Mary O’Connor). He seems to have moved to Michigan before the end of the first World War, as he seems to have been drafted into the US army there in 1918., and was still living there in the 1930s.

D Donaghy obtained the permit for the property next door in 1909, built at a cost of only $1,000. He had alterations carried out in 1919 and again in 1922. Dugald Donaghy was a barrister and solicitor with an office in the Flack Block and a home in the West End. Born in East Garafraxa in Ontario, he moved to the north shore, and was Mayor of North Vancouver from 1923 to 1925. He was elected as a Liberal MP for Vancouver North in 1925, and in the election the following year ran in Vancouver Centre and was defeated. Mr. Donaghy had an indirect connection to James Borland’s Maple Hotel, as he led the prosecution in 1928 against local brothel-keeper ‘Joe Celona’ (whose mother knew him as Giuseppe Fiorenza). Donaghy was particularly offended by the fact that Celona’s brothel at the Maple Hotel was frequented by Chinese men. He told the court, “There are no words in the English language to describe the abhorrence of white prostitutes being procured exclusively for the yellow men from China,” and was aghast “That these girls should be submitted to crawling yellow beasts of the type frequenting such dives”. Joe was sentenced to 22 years, reduced to 11 on appeal. He was out in five, but a public outcry saw him returned to prison, and he was eventually released after serving nine years. He immediately turned to bootlegging, managing to avoid further prison time, and died at the age of 57.

The buildings managed to survive to the early 1970s, when the unusually angled mass of the Chateau Granville hotel was developed.


Granville Street – 800 block, east side (1)

This is a view that will probably change a lot in the near future. The owners are reported to be contemplating redevelopment of the first three or four buildings from the corner of Robson Street. The building on the corner is from 1922, designed by Townley & Matheson for the Service Investment Co, costing $31,000. For now it’s the Lennox pub, with the closing Payless shoes alongside and upstairs.

Next door is a small building recently occupied on a temporary basis by Indigo Books. It was designed by Parr and McKenzie for Mrs. Sophia Cameron in 1912, built by E J Ryan and cost $12,000 to build. We don’t really know much about Mrs. Cameron. She’s not obvious in the 1911 census record, but there was a Mrs. Sophia Cameron living near here in 1901. She didn’t appear in the street directory, but her son, Maxwell did. He was listed as a clerk at Woodward’s departmental store, although he seems to have managed the clothing department. A few years later he established his own clothing store on Cordova Street, and moved from 404 Robson to the West End, first to further west on Robson in 1909, then to Thurlow by 1911. He is also unidentifiable in the 1911 Census. Both Sophia, who was 50 in 1901, and Max, who was 25, were shown born in Ontario, and Sophia was listed in 1901 as being on the Women’s Voting List.

Maxwell still had his clothing store, and still lived on Thurlow in 1921, so we can find him in the census of that year, and Sophia, his mother is still living with him, although twenty years after the 1901 census she’s only fifteen years older. In 1891 they had been living in Brantford, Ontario, where Sophia was already a widow, aged 40, and 16-year old Maxwell was working as a clerk.

Next is a four storey building, designed by Braunton & Leibert in 1913 for R A Allen. The 4-storey apartment and retail building, now known as the Clancy Building, cost $35,000. When it opened, the second establishment of Allen’s Café was here, and Robert A Allen was associated with the business, although the owner was listed as Osro M Allen. The Province newspaper clarified their relationship: R A Allen died in 1929, and he bequeathed $110,000 to his brother, Osro. “The assets include a lot at 814 Granville Street, worth $100 000. which is subject to a mortgage, so that the estate’s equity amounts to $79,720“. Osro’s father, and his wife, were both American, but Osro himself was born in Canada. In 1921 they were living in Point Grey (on Granville Street) and his American born children, George (29) and Jeanette were at home. Jeanette was divorced, with a two year old daughter, Elizabeth. Osro and his family had arrived in Canada, (presumably from the USA) in 1913. Robert was single, living on Hastings Street, and ten years older than his brother. He was born in Quebec, and was already running Allen’s Café and Rooms on West Hastings when his brother moved to Vancouver. He had originally run Allen’s Café at an earlier address on West Hastings from 1906.

Next to the Clancy Building was the Capitol Theatre. In its 1922 design it had a simple arched window. That was altered to a more contemporary (for the time) design in the 1940s, and it was redesigned again before the theatre finally closed in 2006. A simple glazed retail box replaced it, and another was built next door two years later.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E02.28



Unit block – West Pender Street – north (1)

We’re looking at the north side of the unit block of West Pender Street in 1981. Several buildings have changed, and that will be even more true in future as development is likely to finally develop the corner lots. As we’re looking east, we’re counting down from the former gas station at 99, already closed down and used as a car rental lot when our ‘before’ image was shot 36 years ago. There was a gas station here 80 years ago when it was identified as the Pender Abbott service station – gas and oil, and a century ago in 1917 it was the Central Gas Station, managed by W Noble who lived next door in Patricia Lodge.

Before the gas station opened there’s a 1909 image showing this block; it shows no structures on the corner lot, so ignoring the small gas station kiosk, this must be one of the only never really developed lots in the city. The two storey building was occupied by Stevenson Bros, wholesale boots & shoes, numbered as 83 W Pender. It dates back to the turn of the century, appearing in the street directory around 1901 as the Boyd Burns & Co warehouse, (addressed then as 45 Pender Street). That company, which dealt in plumbing and engineering supplies  including Portland Cement, built a new warehouse on Alexander Street in 1907, and a bigger one on Powell a few years later. The building survived many years, and was only incorporated into the gas station site after the 1950s.

The first building still standing is the Arco Hotel at 81 W Hastings. It was designed by Braunton & Leibert for John Walker, and completed in 1912. When it was built it was called Patricia Lodge and it seems to have a delayed opening until 1914. Then the building was described as a ‘private hotel’, seen in this early image by William Stark. It cost $53,500, and was described as “reinforced concrete stores & rooms”. John Walker was listed as a real estate developer in the Street Directory, living on Bute Street, but we haven’t conclusively linked any of the John Walkers in the 1911 census to this development.

Next to the Arco is a 2-storey building dating from 1927. In the 1950s it was occupied by an advertising company and Regal Greeting Cards. Beyond it is a large warehouse building, either rebuilt or remodeled in 1951. There was a clothing manufacturing company, a wholesale sportswear company and Safeway of Canada’s Training School here when it was first completed. We’re not sure if there are the bones of an earlier building underneath the 1950s warehouse, although the building’s appearance suggests that might be the case. Surprisingly, it appears to continue in use as a warehouse today. Beyond is W T Whiteway’s design for the Palmer Rooms Hotel; completed in 1913 for Storey & Campbell Ltd, and completely rebuilt in 2012 for the Vancouver Native Housing Society with funding from BC Housing and federal funds.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E17.22, Sc P57.3 and LGN 1185.5


900 Granville Street – east side (2)

Off in the distance, behind the tram in this 1948 image, is the Vogue Theatre. To the south is Parr and Fee’s design for T McWhinnie’s Harvard Rooms which we looked at in an earlier post. (That’s the Siesta Rooms and The Roxy today). Hidden by the tram is 944 Granville Street, probably designed by Thomas Fee as in investment around 1905, with four apartments upstairs numbered as 946 Granville. There were three nondescript single storey retail stores to the south, then another two storey building at 972 Granville, almost identical in design to 944 up the street, and therefore very likely also designed by Thomas Fee. Like that building it had four apartments upstairs, and retail below; in 1948 the Kiddies Arcade and Lynn’s Ladies Apparel. In 1916 it was owned by G D Scott, a real estate broker, who may have been the developer.

There’s a narrow two storey shopfront hidden by the tram, but visible in this c1915 image of the same block. It was yet another Parr and Fee design developed by builder Peter Tardiff, whose history we looked at in connection to the Broughton Apartments he developed in 1912. He was probably born in Quebec as Pierre Tardif. The building at 968 Granville started life as The Family Theatre in 1910, and continued to be listed as such through to 1915. There’s an odd situation in that Irwin Carver & Co made $1,500 alterations to the building 2 months after the initial $25,000 construction permit. Peter Tardiff is still listed as the owner, but Irwin, Carver were the designers and builders – even though Tardiff was a builder himself, and had built the structure. It’s possible that they were hired by the operators of the theatre to carry out fit-out alterations.

The Family Theatre itself is an oddity; there seem to be few records of its existence or operation. It opened in June 1910, and lasted less than 7 years. (The building is behind the octagonal sign advertising Cambie Ice Cream, which is attached to the store to the south). In the year it opened Mrs. Clara B Colby, an American who had lectured in Seattle a week earlier, spoke on “The Spiritual Significance of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in England”. As with a few other theatres on Granville Street, it was also used on a few Sundays to attract larger crowds to religious services, adding an orchestra to the hymn singing. In 1911 it was announced that “The feature for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Is Pathe’s Animated Gazette. These weekly pictures of the world’s doings, is proving a great attraction at the popular theatre, and deservedly so, for this theatre is the only one in the city that imports the Gazette direct from London, Eng., thus ensuring their patrons the news of the world first hand.” In 1914 we know the theatre was showing movies, because the Manager, Peter Carter, was fined “$10 and costs with the option of ten days in gaol for allowing young boys in moving picture theatres after the curfew hour.”

In January 1917 an advertisement appeared: “BICYCLES AND SUPPLIES GET A MOVE ON. YES. THAT’S WHAT we are doing. We remove Into the old Family Theatre, Granville Street, on Jan. 15. After that date Fred Deeley, The Cycle Man, will occupy the largest and best equipped cycle store In Western Canada.” Fred was born in 1881 in Bromsgrove, England. After 10 years in business in England, he first visited B.C. in 1913, representing Birmingham Small Arms, manufacturer of BSA motorcycles. He moved and in 1914 opened Fred Deeley Ltd. in a 12-foot-wide store at 1075 Granville. In 1916 he acquired a Harley-Davidson franchise, moving to 1126 Granville. He moved to the theatre location a year later, but by 1923 had moved again to Hastings Street, selling BSA, Paragon and Red Bird bicycles as well as Harley Davidson motorcycles. By 1925 he owned a motorcycle shop, bicycle shop, and one of Canada’s larger car dealerships.

The last building on the block dates from 1914, designed by Braunton & Leibert for G B Harris costing $17,000 and built by J Nelson Copp. When it opened Pill Box Drugs were on the corner here; later it was home to Kripps Drugs, who expanded and remodeled the property before moving to Kerrisdale a few years ago. At 990 Jack Stearman had his lock & keys business in the location that in 1915 was a Pool and Cigars store. Two clothing stores took the remainder of the space: Darlings’s Style Shop and Vogue Menswear. G B Harris owned property in the city over many years; he carried out repairs to the Boulder Hotel on Cordova Street in 1901, and had N S Hoffar design a block of stores on Carrall Steet ‘adjoining the old Burrard House’, in 1889. George Berteaux Harris was from Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, although after leaving home he worked in Boston in the US and then on the railway in Panama. He collected and classified birds in Trinidad for three years, working for a Boston ornithologist. He was back in Annopolis in 1881, shipping apples to England and first visited Granville in 1884, returning to his family in Nova Scotia every two years, eventually bringing his wife and children to live in 1895. When he built these stores he was Chairman of the Vancouver Rowing Club. He died in 1936.

Today there are a series of recently developed single storey but double height retail buildings.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archines CVA 229-15 and SGN 1602 (extract)


500 block Richards Street – west side (2)


These two buildings are immediately to the north of the previous post looking at the west side of Richards Street’s 500 block. The building on the left is 569 Richards, and unusually, it started life as a residential building, but today is office space. With a 1912 completion, the Oakland Rooms appear first in the 1913 directory, when S R O’Neal was the proprietor, followed in 1914 by William Jureit. In 1915 there was another proprietor listed, Mrs. H Chappell (and confusingly, another Oakland Rooms on Main Street).

Haley & Sutton were the owners of the building; Braunton and Leibert were the architects and Davis & Saunders built the $28,000 investment. In an earlier post we had understood that Haley & Sutton had sold out their business to Gordon Drysdale in 1893; that’s what early biographies state. However, it seems that a company with that lived on, although not in Vancouver for several years. The earliest mention of Haley & Sutton we can find is for Walter Haley aged 23 and William Sutton aged 21, both merchants in the same household in Dufferin, Marquette, Manitoba. Walter H Haley of Haley & Sutton was running a general store in 1884, in Nelson. However, this wasn’t Nelson, British Columbia, but rather Nelson, Manitoba. William Sutton ran a store in Milton, Manitoba that year.

Both partners relocated to Vancouver in the 1890s. They first appeared in the 1892 directory, with premises on Cordova Street and in New Westminster, with William Sutton living in rooms at 1031 Robson Street and Walter Sutton at 1033 Robson Street. However they were here a little earlier; Walter Haley was living in Vancouver in time for the 1891 census, aged 32, a dry goods merchant born in Ontario, as was his 19-year-old wife Cora Belle. (Strangely, there’s no mention of their son, born in 1890). William Sutton was also recorded living in the city, aged 30, born in Ontario and described as a dry goods merchant. His wife, Harriet wasn’t shown to be with him, but that might be because their first daughter had been born earlier that year in Ontario.

Having sold their business to Gordon Drysdale, the partners’ movements become a little confusing. There was a William Sutton in the city directory until 1895, but we’re pretty certain he was a different person with the same name as he was a commercial traveler. William and Harriet’s second child, William, was born in Brandon Manitoba in 1894. The Manitoba Directory of that year showed Walter N Haley and W J Sutton running the Haley and Sutton dry goods store in Rosser, Manitoba. In 1897 Haley and Sutton were recorded in Morden, Manitoba as bankers, where they were still based in 1905 described as ‘private bankers and real estate’. Walter and Cora Haley were recorded in the 1901 census living in Lisgar, Manitoba with their three sons aged 9, 7 and 5. William and Hattie Sutton were living at the same location with their two children aged 10 and 6, and a domestic to help the household. (A third child, Ruth, was born in 1911 when Harriet was aged 45.)

In 1906 Haley and Sutton reappeared in Vancouver as real estate brokers, with offices in Davis Chambers and Walter Milan Haley living initially on Haro, then in 1907 on Barclay, and a year later on W3rd. William J Sutton was first living on Beach Avenue, then Nelson Street, and then in 1908 on Comox. The 1911 census showed Walter Haley aged 51, his wife aged 39, both from Ontario, and their three children; Herbert aged 19, born in 1890, Reginald, 17 and Walter, 15. Herbert was born in BC, but Reginald and Walter were born in Manitoba. Walter Haley had Gamble & Knapp design a $5,500 house on West 1st Avenue in 1911 (redeveloped in the 1980s). William Sutton and his family remained for many years on West 5th Avenue, where they had moved by 1914. He died in 1931, and his wife, Harriet, in 1952. Although both Haley and Sutton were listed in 1914, with W Haley still in real estate, the company doesn’t seem to have survived the 1913 crash. Walter Haley died in 1943, aged 84, in Chilliwack. The main floor tenants of the building they developed changed several times over the years, but the Oakland Rooms continued to operate upstairs until at least the 1950s, but probably changed to office use before 1970.

Next door, 555 Richards is a more recent building, completed in 1928. Harvey & Gorrie, auctioneers, appraisers and furniture dealers were the first occupants of the new building. They had been in business on West Pender before moving here. Thanks to Patrick Gunn’s efforts we now know that according to the building permit D J McPhail & J M Livingstone commissioned Scottish-born J S D Taylor to design the $21,000 investment, built by veteran builder Bedford Davidson. We suspect that the clerk recorded the name McPhail incorrectly, and that it’s more likely that he was Daniel J MacPhail. There was obviously a lot of confusion generally about the spelling of his name. In the 1891 census there isn’t a single MacPhail in the country, but 8,300 McPhails. In 1901 it gets mixed between the two spellings. The 1910 street directory listed both John McPhail and John MacPhail as a tinsmith, living in the same house, but as there was only one tinsmith with that name in every other year they were presumably confused as well.

We’re not sure whether this D J McPhail is the Dan McPhail who acquired a building on Water Street with Jacob Kane. We know that in 1912 a D J McPhail built an expensive house for himself in Shaughnessy, and there was a Daniel MacPhail who was a real estate broker living at 633 Broughton Street with his sister Christina, a nurse, in the 1911 census. They were both born in Ontario; Daniel was aged 30, his sister was 27. The first time Mr. McPhail appeared in the street directory was in 1909 when D J MacPhail, real estate was living at 1242 Burrard. In 1910 he opened  an office in the Dominion Building. D J McPhail apparently hired Twizzell & Twizzell, architects to design a house in Shaughnessy (according to a report in the Province newspaper). He also hired MacKenzie & Ker to design an $11,000 house at the same address – we’re not sure which version he built, although to us it looks more like a Twizzell design than MacKenzie & Ker, and there’s a permit to build a garage that was designed by the Twizzells.

mcphail-1910We’re not sure where Mr. Macphail got the capital to become a property broker and develop such a grand house. There was a silver miner from Ontario working in Kaslo, but he appears to have been older. It may be that he was a successful broker in the right place at the right time – in 1911 for example he identified a large site to sell to the City of Vancouver for their isolation hospital (built in Grandview).

In 1916 Daniel McPhail was still listed at the Shaughnessy address, but in 1917 Fred Begg had moved into the house. In 1919, although Daniel still wasn’t in the city, Christina McPhail, a nurse, was living at 1297 W Broadway and a year later a block away at 1351. In 1921 she was still at the same address, but called MacPhail. In 1925 Don J McPhail was at 1149 W 27th Avenue – in 1926 he was identified as Daniel J McPail, ‘retired’. In 1927 he was still Daniel J and in 1928 he was back to Don, but associated with real estate in both 1927 and 1928. So we’re reasonably sure that Daniel J McPhail (or MacPhail) was back in the real estate business in the 1920s, and it seems probable that it’s the same Daniel who had left the city during the war.

We have a clue about why he may have left town. In 1917 he fought – and lost – a court case where the YMCA accused him of offering to give them $5,000 towards their new Georgia Street property, and then not fulfilling that promise. The Daily World, in reporting the court case described him as ‘a prominent resident of Vancouver’. We don’t know whether he paid up.

His partner in the development might have been John M Livingstone, manager of the City Dairy Co and then the Vancouver Creamery Co until 1927. We haven’t managed to trace him after that; he may have retired and moved away from the city.

Today both buildings are office space; with the investment cost of the properties recouped many years ago this block is a candidate for assembly and redevelopment, Whether the old, but not heritage buildings would survive as anything other than facades (if at all) is doubtful.



Ashnola Apartments – 2152 Main Street


When this building was constructed Main Street had just changed its name from Westminster Avenue. Located close to one of the city’s breweries, while today we think of it as a pub when it was built it was a retail building. Braunton and Leibert designed it, completed in 1913 for Dr. Israel Powell, one of the province’s important pioneers. He was born in 1837 in Port Colborne in Simcoe, Ontario, and drawn by the Cariboo Gold Rush reached Victoria in 1862 via the Panama Canal and San Francisco. He never went to look for gold, but like his father, Dr. Powell became involved in politics. He was elected to the House of Assembly of Vancouver Island in 1863, but failed to be re-elected in 1866 and 1868. He supported the merger of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, and later Confederation. Sir John A Macdonald was a family friend, and offered him the position of lieutenant governor of B C, or as a Senator. He declined both, but agreed to become Superintendent of Indian Affairs for British Columbia, a position he held for 18 years from 1872. He was surgeon for the Victoria fire department and also served in the militia, while building his medical practice. He was also instrumental in establishing the first Scottish Rite Masonic Lodge in British Columbia. From 1871 to 1875 he was the first grand master of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, which brought together the lodges under English and Scottish jurisdictions, although later, in 1877, he severed his connections with the masons.

Although he lived in Victoria, he owned property in Vancouver from its inception, and was on the initial voter’s list. He was part of an early consortium with David Oppenheimer and others who bought land in 1886, and was also a shareholder in the Vancouver Improvement Company (a larger group with many of the same owners) who eventually owned 330 acres of Downtown land and helped ensure their increased value with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway into the city. At his death in 1915 he had investments in farms in the Fraser Valley, on Vancouver Island including the Hotel Wilson of Victoria, as well as in buildings and lots in Vancouver and North Vancouver. The names of several places in British Columbia, commemorate Dr. Powell, including Powell Street in Vancouver and Powell River.


This building was completed only two years before his death when he was in his mid seventies, and cost $47,000 to build. As far as we can tell it represents Dr. Powell’s only investment in bricks and mortar in the area, but according to the Heritage Statement for the local plan, he had acquired and named the streets of most of the area we associate as Mount Pleasant (with Henry Edmonds). It states that it was Dr. Powell’s idea to name the streets after the Canadian Provinces, although Mount Pleasant was a name chosen by Edmonds.

Our 1940s image show the retail unit occupied by a Fur company, while in 1976 it was Royal City Antiques. Over the years the retail uses have changed many times – today it’s a bike store and a dounut shop.

Image sources CVA 1184-2758 and CVA 780-234


Astoria Hotel – 769 East Hastings Street


Unlike the Patricia along the street which was built as a hotel, and stayed in that use, the Astoria started life as an apartment building – initially named for its developer, R A Wallace, and simultaneously as the Toronto House Apartments. The Astoria name was attached to a building on Hastings Street from the 1920s until 1949. The building permit was issued in June 1912 to cost $53,000. It was designed by Braunton & Leibert, and the contractors were Allen & Jones. Robert A Wallace was the original owner; he was aged 37 when he developed the building, a real estate agent from Ontario who lived in the household of Peter and Bella Duffey. In 1911 They lived on Charles Street, and Peter was identified as a builder. He was listed in the census as ‘brother in law’, and as he wasn’t married, Bella must have been his sister. We think he was born into a Presbyterian family in Mount Forest, Ontario and was living in Egremont, South Grey County in 1881 when he was aged seven, one of nine children born to Irish-born Mary. His father, William was born in Ontario, and we think we have identified the correct family because he had an older sister, Isabella. He was married in 1913 when he was 39 to Lillian Carscallen, who was aged 33, from Belleville Ontario.

He moved into his new investment, which he also managed, in the year he was married. Mrs Etta Chatwin was the building’s housekeeper and the first tenants included Malcolm Morrison, a policeman, P H Thompson, another policeman, C A Blubaugh, I Cumcumm, G W Daligher, a printer, D R Fraser who taught at the Central High School, C Edward who was a grocer and C W Erickson who was involved with ‘timber’.

In 1923, when Stuart Thomson took this picture (in the Vancouver Public Library collection) Robert had moved back to Charles Street (to a different house than his earlier address) and was still involved in real estate from an office on Seymour Street. Chris Owens was the proprietor of the Toronto Apartments, and there were many more residents including two engineers, several loggers, two longshoremen, three salesmen, a meter man with the City, Mrs. Lilly Rollings who was a telephone operator with B C Phones, and Mrs. Agnes Fraser.

Robert Aubrey Wallace died in 1950 (the year the apartments became the Astoria Hotel) aged 75. He and Lillian were by that point living on West 10th Avenue. In 1949 the Toronto Apartments were being run by C and B Y Chan. On the same block, at 717 E Hastings Wallace Neon’s manufacturing plant was operating, run by William and James Wallace. As far as we can tell there’s no connection between the two businesses.

This building took the Astoria name in 1950 when it was first run as a hotel by Alex Bayer and William Sawchuk. Mr. Sawchuk was president of Astoria Hotels at both addresses, so transferred it when he moved his operation from West Hastings to East Hastings. Five years later the owners were still Mr. Bayer, now with Ludwig Radymski. Today the hotel is a single-room occupancy rental with 85 rooms, and a newly rejuvinated bar. The balconies have been removed, but the 1950s neon signs, that had gradually lost their lustre over the decades have been restored and now offer a pretty dramatic splash on what is otherwise a quiet part of the street.


Seymour Street – 500 block east side (2)

500 block Seymour 1937

We saw a view of some of these buildings in our last post, in 1922. Here they are in 1937: Western Music operated the main floor of the tall building on the right (developed by Leon Melekov) and upstairs the Rexmere Rooms were still open.  We can find the names of the tenants, but not what all of them did for work. One was a chauffeur; there was a carpenter, a shoe shiner, a porter for the CPR, a longshoreman and a baker’s helper. James Minns, the owner of Olsen’s signs lived here with his wife, Louise. Elmer Steiner ran the Rooms, lived there with his wife Alice, and there was another Alice Steiner also living in the building (presumably a relative). The BC Music Festival shared the main floor for their offices.

The two-storey building next door was built by Dominion Construction for Gehrkes Ltd in 1925. (The 1922 image showed an old house on the site). There was a fire in 1959 that gutted much of the property, and it was subsequently rebuilt at the same scale as the building seen here. For years it was home to a&b sound, with Sam the Record Man in the Western Music Building. In 1937 Gehrke’s Ltd, were still here; printers and stationers, and operators of The Pen Shop.

Down the hill, there was a permit for a 4-storey building costing $115,000 designed by Parr and Fee for Thomas Fee in 1910. That was never built; instead, a year later, a more modest single storey building was permitted for a restaurant, designed by Parr and Fee for E Farr, costing $20,000, which we think was opened as The Sussex Cafe. In 1937 McLennan, McFeely & Prior occupied the building with their hardware store. Mr Farr seems to have been a CPR employee; the only E Farr listed in the street directory was Edward Farr who lived on Burrard Street and was a masonry inspector for the railway company. He was also the only E Farr in the census in 1911: or rather, there was another but he was also called Edward and he was Mr. Farr’s son (still living at home, a stenographer with the White Pass and Yukon Route). His daughter, Alice Isabell was at home as well, aged 18. Edward senior was born in Ontario, but his children had been born in BC. Ten years earlier Mr Farr’s wife, Christina was recorded (12 years younger than her husband), and the children were recorded as Eddie, aged 12 and Alice aged 7. Christina was born in Scotland and had arrived in Canada in 1885, and died in 1907.

The three storey building (still standing almost unaltered today) was designed by Sharp and Thompson for Robert Kerr, and completed in 1910. In 1937 it was occupied by Clarke and Stuart as a printers: we’ve seen that company before in other premises, on West Cordova and their earlier store further east. The Virginia Hotel occupied the upper floors in 1919.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N138