Archive for the ‘Dominion Building’ Tag

The Arcade – Hastings and Cambie

Arcade 1

Here’s another of Harvey Hadden’s Vancouver investments – possibly his first. The corner of Hastings and Cambie was important – across the street from the courthouse and near the newspaper offices. C O Wickenden designed the new Hadden investment, a series of retail stores and offices called ‘The Arcade’. S M Eveleigh was working in Wickenden’s office at the time, and knowing that Eveleigh subsequently designed a number of other buildings for Hadden, he may also have been involved with this one.

Major Matthews, the city archivist, recorded his impressions of the corner. “On the corner, a wooden building is the famed “Arcade,” with thirteen small shops, cutting through corner from Hastings to Cambie St. The first office of the “Great Northern Railway” is on the corner… The “Arcade” was built about Dec. 1895. “Meet you in the Arcade” was a common expression.”

Donald Luxton, in Building the West, records the impressions of the Arcade when the economy was in the doldrums despite the arrival of the railway “the enterprise betokened temerity for what prospect was there for Vancouver? What was there to lead one to suppose that this far city in the west would ever develop into anything worthwhile?“. Just twelve years later the building was torn down and replaced over a two year construction period with, for a while, the tallest building in the British Empire; the Dominion Trust Building. Undoubtedly, as with the Royal Bank site, Harvey Hadden made a substantial profit on the sale of the site.

Arcade 2

Designed by J S Helyer and Son, the unusual Beaux-Arts triangular terra cotta clad Dominion Building remains a landmark today, now set in the context of Victory Square across the street (the Courthouse having been removed many years ago). Our Archives images were both shot around 1900 when the city was growing, but at a slower pace than many had hoped. We already blogged an 1896 image of the street that showed how slow things were (there are cows being driven up the street)

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2097 and CVA 371-2103

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Victory Square

The three significant buildings seen in the view from Victory Square in 1927 are still there. On the left is the 13 storey Dominion Building. Started in 1908 by the Imperial Trust Company it was designed by J S Helyer and Son. John Helyer handled the architectural aspects of their projects, while his son Maurice was more involved with the engineering.  An over optimistic belief that the necessary $600,000 would be easy to raise led to a shotgun merger with the Dominion Trust Company, and the building was completed in 1910. Perhaps it would have been called the Imperial Building if the merger hadn’t been needed.

The Dominion is said to be the first steel-framed building in the city, and on completion the tallest in the British Empire. When it was built it was across the street from the Courthouse, which was replaced in 1913, and later transformed into Victory Square with the Cenotaph, which can be clearly seen in this 1927 photograph. Several books and websites carry statements like this “Tragically, the Dominion Building’s architect, J.S. Hellyer, is said to have tripped, fallen and died on the interior staircase during the opening party for the building. His ghost reportedly haunts the staircase.”

It may well be true that Mr Helyer (not Hellyer) did fall at some time during the building’s construction, but the fall was not fatal and father and son went on to design other buildings. John Helyer finally died in 1919, having seen the building suffer further financial crises, with the Dominion Trust Company selling the building to the Dominion Bank, the Trust Company President W R Arnold committing suicide and the main financial backer Count Alvo von Alvensleben bankrupt.

The smaller building in the centre, the Flack Block was completed in 1899 to William Blackmore’s design for Thomas Flack who made his money successfully prospecting in the Klondike. On the right is the Carter-Cotton building, also steel framed and completed in 1909. Designed by Cox and Amos, it was home to the News-Advertiser newspaper. Later acquired by the Province newspaper, it continued as editorial offices until 1960. The Flack Building has recently had an expensive and superb restoration designed by Acton Ostry Architects that has added a new fifth floor. And the only significant addition to the picture? The 43 storey Woodwards W Tower designed by Henriquez Partners and completed in 2010.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Park N19

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