Archive for the ‘Bruce Price’ Tag

The Van Horne Block

This was one of the first of the city’s office buildings, seen here under construction in 1888. It was on the south-west corner of Granville and Dunsmuir, and was originally designed to be twice as wide, with four retail bays, but just two were built. It was commissioned by an American living in Montreal, William Cornelius Van Horne, the fomer general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway who became vice-president of the company in 1884, and president in 1888.

Having successfully negotiated a route, and to be given a substantial land allocation to put the railway’s terminus in the newly named Vancouver, the Directors of the CPR set about undermining the economy of the old Granville Townsite to the east by creating a new city centre, with Granville Street as its spine, and the new railway station on the waterfront to the north. They built their hotel a block to the south of here, (as this 1889 etching from West Shore, a Portland magazine, published in 1889, shows), and filled in some of the remainder of the street with their own investment properties, different office and retail buildings like this one, all designed in 1888. They mostly ignored the local architects, and favoured Bruce Price to design four of them. He was an experienced American designer based in New York. These would have been relatively minor commissions for an office designing Chateau Frontenac in Montreal and buildings for Yale University. (He also designed a version of the CPR’s Opera House, even further into the recently cleared forest to the south, but a different architect got the design commission for the building that was constructed in 1889).

‘Sir’ William Van Horne was given an honary knighthood in 1894, although as an American citizen he wasn’t technically supposed to use the title. Despite having the biggest salary earned by any North American railway executive, he resigned the presidency of the CPR in 1899, aged 56, and was involved in businesses across Canada, and around the world. He helped create a viable Cuban railway system, spending time in hot climates to help treat  bouts of bronchitis. He was extraordinarily gifted in areas beyond commerce. He was an accomplished artist, an excellent violinist, and an avid and knowledgeable collector of art, Asian porcelain and pottery and fossils. He was said to be able to outlast his friends at both drinking, smoking Cuban cigars and playing cards into the night. He died in 1915, three years after his office building was transformed.

That was stripped out and extended internally to create a movie theatre, the Kinemacolor Theatre, (which two years later became the Colonial), in a $70,000 reconstruction. The 1912 building permit was to the Ricketts Amusement Co and the architect was E W Houghton, a Seattle-based architect originally born in Hampshire in England (who had redesigned the CPR’s former Opera House in 1907). The facade was extensively altered with a different window pattern.

The final movie shown in January 1972 was ‘The Sun Also Rises’, from 1957, with Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner and Errol Flynn. (Flynn died in Vancouver in 1959 having been in the city to lease his yacht, accompanied by a 17-year-old actress). The theatre was demolished in April 1972 – the estimated one million bricks were carefully removed and sold at eight and a half cents per brick, to buyers who came from as far as Seattle.

After several years as a vacant site the third Pacific Centre Mall office tower was completed in 1981, designed by McCarter Nairne and Partners with a lighter colour than the earlier ‘dark towers’ to the south. From 2018 over a period of 18 months the building underwent a total reclad to replace the poorly-performing curtain wall, while the tenants continued to occupy the building. New double-glazed units designed by Perkins + Will were installed from a staging platform that worked from the top to the base of the building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 92


Posted 26 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Granville Street 600 block – west side

This side of Granville Street was demolished to make room for the extension of Pacific Centre Mall northwards. At the far end of the block in this 1953 image was the Colonial Theatre, a cinema converted in 1912 from an 1888 office building. We looked at its history in one of our early posts over 8 years ago. It was originally designed by New York architect Bruce Price for Sir William Van Horne. President of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Since then, the 1981 office tower that replaced the cinema has been reclad to a lighter colour, with double glazed widows.

Closer to us, just showing on the left of the picture was 679 Granville, a 1910 3-storey building designed by Dalton & Eveleigh for Henry Bell-Irving. In 1953 Purdy’s chocolate store was here, with the Devon Cafe. Next door, at 665 Granville, D’Allaird’s lady’s clothing store had obscured the facade of their building. It appears to have been built in 1904, with the St Louis rooms above retail, initially occupied by R J Buchanan’s crockery store, and Cicero Davidson’s jewelers. We think the site was owned and developed by Jonathan Rogers, who applied to build a $24,000 building on the three lots here in 1904 – described (somewhat inaccurately) as a ‘frame dwelling’. The whole building included both the D’Aillards lot and the building with mis-matched windows to the north. (It’s hard to see in the image, but one has a curved cornice, and the other a shallow pyramid). Mr. Rogers was a builder and identified himself as the architect too (although the mismatched window style is how G W Grant liked to design buildings). D’Aillards Blouses Ltd carried out work to 651 Granville (just to the north) in 1925, so had been in this area for many years.

The next building appears to have two identical facades, but was developed as a single structure, also in 1904. It was designed by Parr and Fee for ‘Mrs. Northgroves’, and cost $15,000. We’re not completely sure who she was. She doesn’t appear in any street directory, or census, although she was listed as attending a function with many other women in 1913. The most likely was Miss Alice Jane Northgraves, who lived on ‘income’, with her sister (and her sister’s husband, William Walsh, who was listed as a ‘capitalist’ under occupation in the 1911 census). In 1905 and in 1908 Mrs. Walsh and Miss Northgrave left the city to spend the winter in Southern California. Mr. Walsh developed a number of properties in the city, including some designed by Parr and Fee. Miss Northgraves died in Vancouver in 1922, aged 63.

The building with the four Roman arches beyond also dates from the early 1900s, and we’ve failed to identify the architect or developer. In the early 1920s it was owned by B. Holt Fur Company, who spent over $5,000 on repairs and alterations. In the 1910s P W Charleson carried out repairs to 641 and 657 Granville on several occasions, and ‘Charlson & Abbott’ to 665 Granville. (Percy Charleson also owned 800 Granville, two blocks to the south). Fraser Hardware also paid for alterations to 641 Granville in the mid 1910s, and were tenants here. Brown Bros appear to have owned the properties in the mid 1920s.

Down the street, the narrower four storey building was approved to be developed as an apartment building in 1912. Charles Williams of Acroyd & Gall claimed to be developer, architect and builder of the $29,000 project. This was one of very few building lots that had originally been developed before 1901 (when the only other building that had been developed was the 1888 office on the corner). Richards, Ackroyd and Gall were an Insurance, Finance and Real Estate agency and there was a civil engineer called Charles Williams who might have managed the development. It’s not clear if the project was for the company, or whether they were representing a client when they submitted the plans.

Next door, there’s a modest 2-storey building. It was developed in 1910 by W F Huntting, who hired Thomas Hooper to design the $13,000 investment. William Foster Huntting was the wealthy president of the Huntting-Merritt Lumber Company, and he had a Shaughnessy mansion built in 1912. He was born in Iowa in 1879, and was successful in business at a young age, founding his lumber company in 1902, the year he arrived in BC. He died in 1930.

There’s another small building to the north, designed by W T Dalton for Edward Bros, who spent $7,000, hiring E Cook to build it in 1902. Beyond that, (just before the cinema), is a building on two lots. It has a shallow bay window on the second floor, and was apparently called The Bower Block in 1907, when it was developed by G Bower, who hired Hooper and Watkins to design the $15,000 investment. George Bower built other Granville projects including a much larger investment on the next block to the north two years later, using the same architects.

Image source: Leonard Frank, Jewish Museum LF.00308


622 Granville Street

We’re seeing a 1925 store in an 1888 building on Granville Street. The Crewe Block (later recorded as the Crews Block) was one of a number of building developed along Granville Street by CPR Executives. Rather than trying to find local architects, most of the designs were drawn up in New York, in the offices of Bruce Price, who also worked on CPR commissions like the Opera House. The intent was to drag the city’s business district away from where it was founded, in Gastown, and closer to the CPRs new landholdings that ran southwards from their station on the waterfront at the foot of their new street, recently carved out of the forest.

Originally the building had sash windows, but some time later the second floor windows were slightly widened, and altered to centre-pivoted units. This is often a sign of the work of Parr and Fee, who favoured glazed white brick and pivoting windows in the many buildings they designed elsewhere on Granville. In 1925 Saba Brothers hired Townley & Matheson to design a $25,000 makeover of their premises. (The second floor windows had been installed before that renovation, as they can be seen in this earlier post which has an image from 1921, when Con Jones had one of his ‘Don’t Argue’ tobacco stores here).

Alex and Michael Saba who ran the store here were Christian Lebanese immigrants who were living on Vancouver Island before they moved to Vancouver. Michael arrived from Beirut first, and Alex joined him nearly a decade later in 1900 when he was only 17. He learned English by selling door-to-door, with a suitcase full of underwear, handkerchiefs and notions. By 1911 Alex was aged 28, had a 20 year old wife, Adma, a baby son, Edgar, and a home on Barclay Street that the family shared with Adma’s mother, Katherine Hashim. In 1921 Michael and his wife Freda were living on Pendrell Street, and the record shows Michael had arrived in 1891, and Freda (who was also Syrian, and 9 years younger than her husband) in 1893. Alex (recorded bizarrely as Axel) and Adma now had three sons, with Clarence and Arnold joining Edgar, and Catherine Hashim was still living with them on Balsam Street in a home that Alex had built in 1914 at a cost of $6,500. Alex was now managing director of the business, and various other Saba family members worked there.

The Saba Brothers sold ladies clothing and fabrics, especially silk, although they started out by selling a broader range of ‘Oriental Goods’. The History of Metropolitan Vancouver noted the importance of the business. “Saba Brothers opened on West Hastings  in November 1903. Two years later, the store moved to the 500 block Granville. By 1940, Saba’s was the largest retail house in Western Canada specializing in silks. Although hit by shortages in WWII, the business survived. In 1942, there was a riot when 500 women stampeded the store to buy 300 pairs of nylon stockings (no one was hurt)“. By the 1930s the store here was twice as big, as they expanded north into 628; in 1925 that was Hunter Henderson’s Paint store. In 1947, the company built a new five-storey $250,000 store here, designed by Sharp, Thompson, Berwick & Pratt. In 1954 they opened a Victoria outlet. Alex’s three sons, Edgar, Clarence and Arnold, later managed the business.

Today the loaction is part of the Hudson, a 400 plus unit condo tower developed in 2006 with retail and office space in the podium. Stores have generally been successful here, but the effects of the COVID pandemic has seen the closure of Swimco, the Calgary-based swimwear chain, and the unit was for lease in 2020.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-527


Posted 14 December 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Granville Street – 600 block, east side (2)

This 1889 picture shows the sporadic development of the newly established Granville Street – the Canadian Pacific Railway flagship street, designed to pull the centre of the new City of Vancouver onto their land and away from the earlier Granville Township near the waterfront to the east. Development here was either initiated by the railway company itself (like the Opera House and Hotel Vancouver, close to here), or by individual directors commissioning office buildings. The largest building here is the New York Block, designed by Bruce Price of New York. We assume the railway negotiated a collective deal for the directors, as he designed six buildings here, all in 1888, four of them for CPR Directors. The wooden Banff Springs Hotel, which was commissioned by the CPR had opened in 1888; the first of Price’s Canadian buildings to be completed. Price went on to design New York skyscrapers that were much bigger – for a while the American Surety Company building built in 1894 was the tallest in the city. His work for CPR continued with the iconic Château Frontenac in Quebec City.

His client here was Sir George Stephen, a founding member of the CP Rail backers, and a prominent Canadian businessman. He made his fortune in Montreal and was the first Canadian to be elevated to the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The ‘Canadian Builder and Architect’ identified him as the developer of the building. Born in Scotland, the son of a carpenter, he left school at the age of fourteen to work variously as a stable boy, shepherd and in a local hotel. He apprenticed as a draper, then moved to London. In 1850 he moved to Canada, joining his cousin’s wholesale dry goods business business in Montreal. He took over after his cousin’s death in 1862, and sold out in 1867 having started a successful wool-importing company and also investing in other textile businesses. In 1866 he partnered with Donald Smith, his first cousin, in a number of new business ventures. By 1873, he had become a director of the Bank of Montreal, and three years later he was elected president. In 1877, Donald Smith introduced him to Canadian railway promoter James Hill, which led to the creation of George Stephen & Associates, one of the most profitable partnerships in the history of North American railways. Having successfully reorganized and expanded the St Paul Railway, the company were selected to develop the coast-to-coast rail link for Canada: Stephen became the first president of Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881, and despite cost overruns from numerous unanticipated engineering, business and political problems, successfully completed the track laying in 1885, with the first train arriving in Vancouver in 1887.

This was not the first foray into Vancouver real estate; in 1887 the Lady Stephen Block had been completed on West Hastings Street, designed by T C Sorby. For many years it was hidden under a sheet steel facade, but it has been restored to its original appearance. The New York Block was described in somewhat over-the-top style by the Daily World as “certainly the grandest building of its kind yet erected here, or for that matter in the Dominion”. You can see that in 1889 even grand buildings still had plank sidewalks and uneven unpaved streets in front. The building lasted until the early 1910s; the 1912 Insurance map noting “to be torn down and new bldg. erected”. The economic downturn and war got in the way, and it was eventually replaced with the current Hudson’s Bay store in the early 1920s.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N96


Posted 28 February 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Granville Street 600 block – east side (1)

600 block Granville east 1

We’ve seen a 1906 image of this block in a much earlier post. Right at the northern end of the picture (on the left) is G W Grant’s eccentric Twigg Block. Next door is a building that we’re pretty certain was one of the first wave of office developments created by CPR linked sponsors. This was the Crewe Block, designed by Bruce Price in New York, and built in 1888. (At some point the second floor windows were altered, probably with Parr and Fee designing the work). This was where the Hudson’s Bay Company established a branch store in 1890, only two years after they built their Cordova store, and three years before their new building on this same block (on the corner of West Georgia – towards the right of the lower picture). The newspaper of the day described the carpenters fitting up the store: “The ground stores will be devoted to provisions and groceries, and the upstairs to dry goods”

Next door was a building, designed by A E Henderson for William Dick jnr. in 1919. This replaced an earlier structure that dated back to the 1890s. The new building cost $35,000 for a 2-storey structure, and was for many years the home of F W Woolworth on Granville Street, from the day it was built, through 1937 when this Vancouver Public Library image was shot, into the 1980s. We’ve drawn a complete blank on the other 25 feet wide store at 642 Granville; it’s another 1890s building, with relatively small windows in the upper two office floors.

600 block Granville east 2

This second image was taken a little earlier, in 1921, and the New York Block (like the Crewe Block, designed by Bruce Price of New York in 1888) was still standing down the hill from the Hudson’s Bay store designed by C O Wickenden in 1892. Next door, to the left was the 1892 Hunter Block, built by Samuel and Thomas Hunter and still standing today (it’s just visible in the top image on the extreme right hand edge). In 1925 the Hudson’s Bay and New York buildings were demolished and replaced by the terra-cotta covered Hudson’s Bay Company store still there today, designed by Burke, Horwood and White of Toronto. The first phase of the current building had been built in 1912 on the Seymour and Georgia corner, and this new phase dramatically increased the size of the store. The rest of the block today contains The Hudson, a massive condo building with over 400 suites and some retail space below, designed by Stantec Architecture. It incorporates the facade of the Hunter Brothers block.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-5008 and Str P426


Posted 7 January 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Granville at West Georgia

Granville at Georgia

These three office buildings were some of the earliest built in the city. Seen here in 1889 on Granville Street, south from the corner of Georgia were the Donald Smith Block, the Lord Durham Block and the Lord Elphinstone Block. We think all three were built in 1888, and all were part of Canadian Pacific Railway’s efforts to create an instant ‘new city’ on the CPR’s own land, some distance from the more established former Granville townsite down on Water Street.

The Donald Smith Block on the corner was designed by Bruce Price, an American with impeccable credentials as a designer, based in New York. He produced a series of designs from 1886 to 1888 for CPR sponsored buildings, including this 4-storey building named for Lord Strathcona, the Scottish born Canadian co-founder of the CPR (with his first cousin, Lord Mount Steven). As a CPR Director there was an expectation that Sir Donald would invest in a building to encourage the growth of business in the new city (and particularly that part controlled by the CPR).

Next door was the Lord Durham Block. The architect was T C Sorby (whose role was reported in a Victoria newspaper). We were not completely sure if the Lord Durham of the day, The 3rd Earl of Durham, John Lambton, was associated with the CPR, but a contemporary 1888 publication certainly implies that he was. There’s also a building permit in 1902 for repairs to the building issued to ‘Durham, Lord’.

Lord Durham’s grandfather, an English peer, the 1st Earl, also called John, had earlier connections to Canada. He was a political reformer who in December 1837 was asked by Lord Melbourne, the British prime minister, to solve the Canadian situation after rebellion had broken out in both Upper and Lower Canada. He was promised virtually dictatorial powers as governor-in-chief of the British North American colonies and high commissioner, but didn’t last in the job very long. After his short stay in Canada he wrote a report in 1838 that proposed merger of Upper and Lower Canada and the creation of responsible government, in which the governor general would be a figurehead and the legislative assembly would hold a great deal of power. In the responsible government, the legislative assembly would be elected by the people, and the party with majority would hold power – as long as they held support, they would keep power. The merger would eventually come ten years later.

Durham 1888There’s a woodcut of the Lord Durham Block in an 1888 publication which shows a very English looking building. In 1889 the Daily World reported “The alterations to the Lord Durham block are approaching completion. The store windows, and those of the upper storeys as well, have been enlarged, and the general appearance of the block has been so changed that it would be difficult to recognize it. The new upper cornice is a great improvement to the building. T. Tompkins, the contractor, has reason to congratulate himself on the success of the work, as the building looks very much improved since the alterations have been made.” There’s no way of being sure, but we think the photograph above is the revised building – there’s an 1893 image that shows the building looking the same as it does here. While we haven’t identified the architect, we can rule one candidate out: a Daily World article in 1888 reported that Bruce Price of New York was the architect of a number of new buildings with the exception of the Lord Durham and Lord Elphinstone Blocks. It reported that each of the three were costing about $26,000, and that Mr. Tomkins was contractor for all of them. The Lord Durham Block was where the congregation of Christ Church met while they tried to raise the funds to build their church; often in cramped and stuffy conditions if reports from 1889 are accurate.

The third building is the Lord Elphinstone Block, designed by Montreal architects John and Edward Hopkins, a father and son team who also picked up another CPR commission for the Opera House up the street. Unlike Lord Durham, we are quite certain of Lord Elphinstone’s involvement in the CPR – he was their man in London. He was one of the British subscribers who bought shares in the company, and was also a founding director of the Canada North-West Land Company (with Donald Smith) incorporated in 1882 to buy five million acres of land along the route of the railway from the CPR, (later changed to a mere 2.2 million aces) including  forty-seven towns on the CPR main line. We can probably rule out the possibility of the Hopkins’ designing the Lord Durham Block, as the list of their works is comprehensive because it comes from the ledgers recording their income.

Despite their early importance, the buildings didn’t last very long. In 1912 the Birks Building went up here, only for it to be tragically replaced in the mid 1970s by the uninspired Vancouver Centre.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str P73


West Georgia and Burrard

Glencoe Lodge

Here’s the home of J M Browning, the Canadian Pacific Railway’s land agent, soon after it was built in 1888. It was quite a way out of town on recently cleared land at the corner of Burrard and Georgia. It looks as if the site had been graded, but the street was still playing catch-up. It was actually a CPR commision for a double cottage, designed by Bruce Price who had a lot of work from the CPR, including Sir William Van Hornes’s mansion on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal, the Hotel Frontenac in Quebec and the Banff Springs Hotel. The house only stayed a home until 1905. Browning was successor to L A Hamilton, the surveyor who supervised the subdivision of the new city (and got to name the streets).

A P Horne (who worked for Mr Browning in the land department) described him as ‘a delightfully charming man’ and ‘very Scotch’. Thomas Roberts, who was an early resident, recalled helping build the house. ‘I helped to build the Browning House on the northwest corner of Burrard and Georgia. There was a man nearby; he was blasting stumps, and he broke the circular windows which Browning had had brought out at a cost of thirty dollars. The big glass window panes were semi-circular and it took a long time to replace them.’

The Browning weren’t young for all this activity; in 1891 John M Browing was aged 65 and his wife Magdalena (who was born in Quebec to a Scottish family) was 57. They had no children at home, and one domestic, Hannah.

As the city grew westwards, sugar magnate B T Rogers assembled a site including the house, had it lifted and added to, and turned it into a hotel. In the meantime J M Browning also became property developer in 1894 with a building at Granville and Dunsmuir.

From the 1930s to the early 1970s there was a gas station here. Today the banking hall of the Royal Bank sits on the corner, part of the Royal Centre built in 1973.

Image source City of Vancouver archives CVA LGN 483


Posted 10 July 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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New York Block – Granville Street

New York Block

In 1888 well-connected American architect Bruce Price designed the New York Block on Granville Street. It was one of a series of fancy new office buildings the Canadian Pacific Railway commissioned for their land holdings, particularly along Granville Street. The New York Block was in the 600 block of Granville, just down the hill from the Donald Smith Block, also designed by Price, and the CPR’s Hotel Vancouver. In 1889 it was valued at $25,000, and was faced and trimmed with granite, described by the Daily World as “certainly the grandest building of its kind yet erected here, or for that matter in the Dominion”. You can see that in 1889 even grand buildings still had plank sidewalks and uneven streets in front. The ‘Canadian Builder and Architect’ identified the developer: Sir George Stephen, a founding member of the CP Rail backers, and a prominent Canadian businessman. Originally from Scotland, he made his fame in Montreal and was the first Canadian to be elevated to the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

The building housed the CPR’s ticket, telegraph, and land offices until the turn of the century. It appears that a number of people, many of them CPR employees, lived in apartments in the building as well, an early example of ‘mixed use development’ in the city. A P Horne recalled attending parties in the building. “Father Fay was a fine fellow; he was popular; he could sing; had a good voice. Williams, of Williams Bros. and Dawson, surveyors, had a flat in the top of the New York Block; the Canadian Pacific Railway offices were below, and Sir George McLaren Brown was in them. Williams used to give parties in his flat, and Father Fay used to come and sing. Mr. Buntzen could play the piano in those days, and so could Mrs. Buntzen; play it well; and we used to have parties up in Williams’ flat.”

Bruce Price’s residential designs were important enough to influence Frank Lloyd Wright, particularly his designs in a New York planned suburb, Tuxedo Park. His early designs for hotels and stations for the CPR established the château style they continued to reference for decades. Among others, Price designed the Château Frontenac in Quebec and the Banff Springs Hotel. In New York, as in Vancouver, he favoured the Richardson Romanesque style, although in New York (where his office was based) he soon moved on to skyscrapers in a classical style.

The building lasted about 25 years, replaced in the early 1920s with the current Hudson’s Bay store. We’ve already shown in another post how the first Hudson’s Bay store was added to in 1914, and then the first store was replaced with this second phase of construction. The contemporary image shows the new glazed canopies that replace the heavier steel design that was in place until 2012.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P79


Glencoe Lodge – West Georgia and Burrard

Hotel Belfred

Across the street to the west from the Christ Church Anglican Church, B T Rogers built a hotel in 1906. To be more accurate, he assembled a hotel, at a cost of $30,000. He bought two houses, one of them the former home of J M Browning (the CPR Land Commissioner) that had been designed by Bruce Price and built in 1888. He then hired Grant and Henderson to design his hotel by lifting the houses, adding two storeys beneath, and linking them to create a rather eccentric looking building. Glencoe Lodge, as it was named, was run by Jean Mollison. She had managed the CPR’s Chateau Lake Louise so Rogers (a CPR Director) probably knew her well.

Rogers was the American entrepreneur who could arguably be called Vancouver’s Sugar Daddy. Born in Philadelphia in 1865, he enjoyed a privileged upbringing and family ties to important businessmen in the American sugar industry. While his father owned a refinery in Philadelphia, and later a sugar plantation in Louisiana, Benjamin learned the sugar industry the hard way, studying sugar chemistry in Boston, working in a refinery in Brooklyn and then headed to Vancouver in 1889 to establish his own business. It was an expensive business to create, but CPR directors bought shares in the British Columbia Sugar Refining Company. J M Browning, as chair of the finance committee of Vancouver City Council proposed the refinery should be given a site, a tax exemption on land and improvements for 15 years, free water for 10 years, and a municipal loan. In 1890 electors approved this package by 174 votes to 8. It didn’t hurt that Browning was also representative for the CPR Directors. Although the enterprise struggled to make money in the early years, and despite Chinese sugar being imported below cost, by 1895 the plant made a profit and has continued to do so to today. By 1916 the company’s assets had increased from an initial investment of $250,000 to $7.5 million and its daily capacity of refined sugar went from 30,000 to 900,000 pounds. When he died, Rogers was worth over a million dollars. He was a cautious investor, and Glencoe was one of only two property investments we know about.

Glencoe Lodge drawing room postcardGlencoe attracted classy visitors, and was said to more exclusive than even the railway’s own Hotel Vancouver – which might explain why Donald Smith – Lord Strathcona – the Scottish head of the CPR stayed here. Indeed, his full title may explain the hotel’s name ‘Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, of Mount Royal in the Province of Quebec and Dominion of Canada and of Glencoe in the County of Argyll’. Miss Mollison’s eclectic tastes were on view, including William Morris designed wallpaper.

The Whitehern Museum Archives have this wonderful 1912 postcard from Ontario resident Mary Baker McQuesten to her son Thomas From: Glencoe Lodge Vancouver

My dearest Tom

Here we are in most delightful quarters. We look out from one window on an ivy-covered church across the way and a little further over facing on out street the beautiful new court house with a point like the Parthenon all in pure white with grecian columns across entire front. M. [Mary] will try to get snap shot, there are no p.c as yet and further we see C.P.R. Hotel. Then from our other window we see the water (what particular part do not yet know) with steamers sailing along & ships beyond. We were pretty tired when we reached last night at 11 pm with gazing all day at the most magnificent scenery all the way through the Rockies till dark at 9 o’clock. But we slept right away till morning and took our breakfast after 9 o’clock of cream of wheat (fruit if we liked. M. had lovely oranges), tenderloin steak beautifully cooked & a pot of tea & coffee. Chinese lads wait and a particularly nice one born here runs elevator. We found Mrs. McLagan & Frankie in dining room, Grace Weir Hastings met us at elevator, lives here. Then we sallied forth to find directions as to Skagway trip. At the corner of our street & Georgia St. (the street leading to depot) are the Hudson’s Bay stores. We found a very pleasant young man at inquiry office at the Depot and heard that steamers only leave every Saturday night. The fare for four days there and four return including a room to ourselves with double berth is $60 each. The steamer is a new one the Princess Sophia. When we reach Skagway the Steamer remains long enough for us to make round trip to the summit of the White Pass by White Pass [?] Ry. & if sufficient number go will remain while the trip to White House is made. So it seems as if we would get the worth of our money. On the way back met Mrs. Steele who had been up to Glencoe Lodge, she told us Mrs. Henderson & Miss George were going same day up the Alaska trip so we will be alone. Then I spied sitting in an auto by the side of street Mrs. Gillard while I was speaking to her, up came Alice Smith, who was most cordial and I think owned the auto for she promised to call us up and arrange to show us things.

Must close, my one great regret is that you are not with us, my dearest boy. With fondest love.

Your mother

Glencoe also had many permanent residents; the 1911 Census showed 39 staff resident in the building, including 6 bellboys and 5 cooks (one who doubled as a waiter). In addition there were 48 boarders including a surprising number of families; Frederick Schofield and his wife Edith; Edgar and Lillian Lee and their 9 year old son Douglas; Gideon Robertson who was aged 70 and his wife Elizabeth and their 40 year old daughter Annie and the Calland family who had three daughters aged 5 to 12. Perhaps the best known family living in the hotel was W H Malkin, his wife Lillian and four children. Quite why they were there isn’t clear – they had a home on Davie Street but perhaps they were getting ready to move as they commissioned a grand new Maclure & Fox house on Marine Drive in 1912.

The hotel lost business in the late 1920s, and despite a name change in 1931 to the Hotel Belfred (seen in our picture) closed in 1932. Miss Mollison’s resident guests are said to have owed her $11,000 they were unable to pay. The site was redeveloped in the 1930s as a gas station, only to be redeveloped in the 1970s boom as the Royal Centre, with an office tower, the Hyatt Hotel and an underground shopping plaza.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot N3


Colonial Theatre – Granville Street

We saw the buildings that once sat on the south east, north east and north west corners of Dunsmuir and Granville already. Here’s the fourth corner; the south west corner. It held the oldest building of them all, built initially in 1888 as the Van Horne Building. Sir William Van Horne was President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and there was no perceived conflict of interest for Sir William to acquire land and develop buildings on company property. It was in line with his responsibility to see the company’s investment pay off, so Sir William planned to build two buildings on CPR’s Granville Street holdings that were being promoted to drag the centre of the city westwards, away from its milltown origins. The first of his projects was on Granville Street at Dunsmuir, built in 1888 to the designs of Bruce Price. (Francis Rattenbury designed a second Granville Street building in 1903). Seen above in this 1887 illustration, it’s an impressive building for a one-year old city that just survived complete obliteration in a fire. Actually, the completed building was only half the size, but still impressive (as the 1909 VPL photograph on the right shows). The building lasted 24 years as an office, then received a dramatic $70,000 conversion to a cinema.

The 1912 building permit was to the Ricketts Amusement Co and the architect was E W Houghton, a Seattle-based architect originally born in Hampshire in England (who had redesigned the CPR’s former Opera House in 1907). Ricketts, who came from the same county, was the former lessee of CPR’s Opera House (just down the street from the building, and despite its title, a mainstream theatre). Ricketts probably ceased connections with the building before its completion; he managed the Imperial Theatre before retiring in 1915.  The 1913 opening saw the Kinemacolor Theatre offering movies, in colour – the first Canadian theatre with the system. Kinemacolor was invented by English cinematographer George Albert Smith, and marketed by American entrepreneur Charles Urban. Film was run through a projector at 32 frames per second, twice the normal speed, and then filtered through red and green coloured lenses to produce “the world’s wonders in nature’s colours.” A nine-piece orchestra accompanied the short films, and a baritone named George C. Temple “delighted the audience with some of the old songs.” Later, the theatre added a $10,000 organ to accompany the silent movies. The cinema failed to thrive, and was closed in 1914.

The theatre reopened as the Colonial in 1915 with Hector Quagliotti as the owner and for a time became the most popular cinema in the city. The pianist from 1917 was Paul Michelin, “The man with the Million-Dollar hands”, who could, it was said, play over 12,000 songs from memory. He also incorporated other sounds for silent films including train whistles, steam engines, and battle scenes, but was criticised by the Musicians’ Union because he was doing the work of a sound effects man. The sign for the cinema remained for many years – perhaps because it’s 7 feet high and 13 feet wide. It was removed before the building was torn down in 1972 to make way for the Pacific Centre Mall by stained glass collectors John and Derrick Adams, only to reappear in the Keg restaurant on Thurlow at Alberni, before it ended up removed from there too.

Towards the end of its life the theatre incorporated the Pauline Johnson confectionery store, a popular stop before the main feature. In earlier years it was one of Con Jones ‘Don’t Argue’ tobacconists stores (“Don’t Argue – Con Jones sells fresh tobacco”). Today there’s a 1981 corner office tower of the McCarter Nairne and Partners Pacific Centre Mall – the colours ‘brightened’ from the more sombre earlier ‘black towers’ to the south.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-399 (Walter E Frost)