Archive for the ‘Cornelia Oberlander’ Tag

Howe Street – 900 block

900 howe courts 1

We’ve looked at a very similar set of images from the Hornby Street side of Arthur Erickson’s Law Courts. Here’s a pair of 1981 images that we updated last year. Far less of the building is visible in summer, as Cornelia Oberlander’s landscaping has matured. We saw one of the buildings on the corner with Nelson (below) when it was a house in an earlier post, and how it had changed to commercial use by the early 1960s.

900 howe courts 2

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W07.27 and CVA 779-W07.28


918 Hornby Street

918 Hornby

Here’s 918 Hornby from Heather Lapierre’s family album picture of her great-grandfather and family (many thanks for the image Heather). The image dates from 1893, the year the Thicke family arrived in Vancouver. Walter and Clara Thicke were from England, but had been in Ontario since at least 1881, as they were living in Ottawa that year – then Clara is listed as Anny Clara (although she was really Clara Annie). The 1891 census shows they had four children in the next decade, Walter, Claude, Violet and Harold aged from nine down to one. That year Walter was a clerk in the registry office and Clara a music teacher. They were living in New Edinburgh, a suburb of Ottawa. Once they arrived in Vancouver there were five children; in the photo there is an additional child, Marjorie, born the year after the 1891 census, also in Ontario. She is the child in Clara’s arms. Heather identified the people in the picture, from left to right they are Harold, Walter Sr., Clara, Marjorie, Claude, Violet and Walter Jr. Clara retained a musical interest in her new home city – she was a soloist at Christ Church Cathedral.

The block the family lived on initially developed slowly. Eight years after they moved in (in 1901) there was a house next door, but then four vacant lots to the north and just one small structure at the back of one lot of six lots to the south – but by then the family had moved on. That year they were living at 1138 Robson, where Walter senior was a notary public and Walter junior was a clerk with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Claude was also working for the CPR. They had moved away from Hornby even earlier; in 1896 Walter was listed at having moved that year to 1026 Haro and he was the deputy registrar at the Supreme and County Courts as well as Registrar of Marriages at the Law Courts.

After 1901 the block was built out quite quickly – it was almost all houses, and only one lot was left undeveloped by 1912. By then the house had long been renumbered as 940 Hornby, and Mrs M A Howard was living there (the Howard family had been in the house for some years, and Mrs Howard was a widow at this point). Her husband, James was partner with John Ross in Ross & Howard, one of the city’s ironworks. (You can see their name on the cast bases of the Chinatown lamp standards). Mrs Howard stayed until after 1920, and a series of new owners (or tenants) seem to have lived in the house until at least 1950. There are few pictures of this street through this period, but the street Directories show that while a number of commercial uses appeared, several addresses on the block were still homes. Clearance for the proposed Provincial complex started in the mid 1950s; the 700 block for example was cleared in 1956.  Today, as we saw in an earlier post the even side of the 900 block of Hornby is part of Arthur Erickson’s Law Courts, now almost disappearing in summer behind Cornelia Oberlander’s tiered landscaping, and now also featuring the Hornby Street bike lanes.


Posted 13 August 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Hornby Street – 900 Block (1)

900 Hornby east 1

Adding colour, and 30 years can make quite a difference. Here’s two 1981 images showing the one-year old Law Courts that were part of the re-thought Robson Square complex. In the early 1970s a 50 storey 600 foot tower would have been on the site if the WAC Bennett Government plan had been followed. Instead Arthur Erickson designed the Dave Barrett NDP ‘tower on its back’ that we have today, completed in 1980. It’s still nearly 140 feet tall, and has 35 courtrooms on seven levels, but the most striking thing today is the integral landscaping that has vines trailing from every floor, and trees carefully sited in mounds and pits that create an entire elevated park through the complex, designed by Cornelia Oberlander.

900 Hornby east 2

Originally the 1,300,000 square foot complex cost $139 million. After thirty years of use it recently saw a multi-million dollar restoration that included replacement membranes and re-sealing the waterproofing throughout the buildings. The waterfall is running again as well, and all the planting was carefully removed and returned, or replanted so there’s still a mature 30-year old landscape. The double row of red maples that line the Hornby sidewalk (and flank the new bike lane) have done a bit of root damage to the sidewalk surface – but nothing like what would have happened in Erickson’s preferred Plane Trees had been planted.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W07.24 and CVA 779-W07.31