Archive for the ‘Dominion Construction’ Tag

550 and 564 Cambie Street

The smaller building, on the left in this 1974 image, is still standing today. We think 550 Cambie dates from around 1929. There was an earlier building on the site; in 1909 it was shown as ‘cabins’, which was true until about 1920, when we assume the site was cleared. It was still shown vacant on the 1928 insurance map. In 1929 Cope and Sons were shown occupying 550 Cambie, so they might have developed the building.

Fred and his son Frank Cope ran an electrical wholesaling business here, and had been in the city since the 1890s. Frederick Thomas Cope was born around 1861, and had come from England in 1875. (As far as we know he wasn’t related to Fred Cope who was the third mayor of Vancouver, who was born in Ontario). His wife Marjory was from Ontario; their two children, Frank and Bert were born in Manitoba in 1886 and 1888, and Fred was a housebuilder in Brandon in the 1891 census. They first show up in Vancouver in a street directory in 1900; Frederick Thomas Cope was in an electrical wholesaling business with Charles Frey on West Hastings, and F I Cope (who lived at the same address on Hornby Street) was a contractor. In 1905 the directory identified F I Cope to be Frank, who was by then an electrician. By 1910 Bert had also joined the family business, although it was still Cope and Son. By 1913 Fred was company president and Frank company secretary, and both had moved to West 13th, while Bert was living on Granville Street, By 1922 all three lived on W13th at different addresses, and were all working at Cope and Son.

In 1939 The Wellington Plating works were here, offering to re-chrome motorist’s headlight reflectors. They were located at the back of the building. Cope and sons were still here, with H Morris and General Printers and Publishers. In 1956 fire men fought a $75,000 two-alarm blaze which ripped through top floor of warehouse of Van Horne Electrical Supply Co. 550 Cambie. (They were the successor of Cope & Sons). 

The site where the larger building sat (564 Cambie) was developed with a building shown on the 1901 insurance map occupied by the Vancouver Transfer Co. We’ve seen another building that the company developed later on Mainland Street (in 1912), when we looked at the company history.

Founded by Victoria businessman and politician Francis Stillman Barnard of Barnard’s Express in 1886, it was controlled by Fred and Clarence Tingley in the early 1900s. In 1904 Reid Tingley built an addition to the company’s stables here, almost certainly seen in this picture of their premises around 1908, published in Greater Vancouver Illustrated.

Once Vancouver Transfer moved out, George Jones ran the Cambie Street Boarding Stable here through the First World War. By 1918 Julius A Tepoorten had taken ownership, and spent $150 on repairs. By 1920 Central Sheet Metal works had moved in, with Albert Morris, a cabinetmaker and J Morris’s export and transfer company. The Sheet Metal Works was still listed here in 1928. There were possibly major alterations in 1921; J A Tepoorten obtained a permit for $5,000 of repairs and alterations built by Dominion Construction. It’s possible this was initially a single storey structure; in 1974 the windows on the upper part of the building don’t match those on the main floor.

We suspect the redevelopment and additional floors probably occurred in 1928. ‘J A Teporten’ obtained a permit for $23,000 of alterations, designed and built by Dominion Construction. Tepoorten Ltd was first listed here in 1929, with Western Distribution Ltd and Cunningham Drug Stores. The building was now numbered as 560 by 1930, and Knowles and Macaulay, and Terminal Drug Stores had replaced Tepoorten Ltd in the building.

Julius Tepoorten was born in Michigan, and went to school in Ontario. He was apprenticed to James E. Davis & Company, wholesale druggists of Detroit, and went to Victoria in 1887. He travelled the whole of BC representing Langley & Co until 1909, when he set up his own wholesaling business. He married Mary Dolan in Michigan in 1889, and they had ten children, eight of whom survived. His business was based on Water Street, but moved here in the years he amalgamated with National Drug and Chemical Co of Canada. He retired in 1929, but retained a shareholding in the company, and died in 1939.

In 1940 there were seven businesses in 560 Cambie; Knowler and Macaulay, Western Distribution, Ryan Cotton (manufacturers agents), Latch & Batchelor (wire rope) C Korsch Ltd (millinery), Barham Drugs (wholesale) and F W Horner Ltd (pharmaceutical manufacturers). In 1955 there were only two companies shown, BC Leather Co wholesale and Pro-Made Golf Co. They were a Vancouver golf club manufacturer, founded by Roy Francis. Following his death his sons inherited the company, and moved production from Pender Street to here. They sold the business in 1957, but it continued with other brands as well, with Pioneer Envelopes, Pro-made Golf Company, Royal Scot Golf Company and Golfcraft occupying 560 Cambie that year.

In our 1974 image Van Horne Electrical Supply were still at 550 Cambie, and Joe Boshard’s painting company was about to give 560 Cambie a makeover. The building was demolished by 1990, replaced in 1994 by The Seimens Building, designed by Aitken Wreglesworth Associates as the local offices of the international engineering company. This is effectively the back of the building, with the front facing West Georgia and Beatty, curved and cantilevered out over the Dunsmuir Tunnel that cuts across the edge of the site. The tenants name has changed over the years, with Seimens replaced by Amec, and now by Wood Canada Ltd. There’s a proposal to replace 550 Cambie with a much larger office building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-56

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Howe Street – 500 block, west side (1)

This 1981 image shows a block that really hasn’t changed in nearly 40 years, despite being ‘underbuilt’. On the corner is a 1978 tower designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson and Smith. It replaced an earlier building that we looked at in an earlier post (and as it looked a little earlier). The new tower was developed by Grander Developments, the Canadian arm of UK Property developers Hammerson.

Across the lane is a 1935 Art Deco building designed by Gardiner and Mercer. It started life as the Pacific Athletic Club, developed by Jack Pattison, and more recently became the Executive Building. In the 1970s it was home to Maximillians Club and Symphony Hall, but today it’s office space. It’s bigger than it appears on the street, with six floors tiered back from Howe Street.

There are pictures from 1936 of the interior, including this one. There was a badminton court, a very comfortable lounge on the main floor, and 2 squash courts on the top floor. To watch squash you had to climb up a ladder and go along a walkway in order to sit on plank seats behind the courts. The courts were repurposed as a second gymnasium after the war.

The membership numbers boomed after 1947 when it became legal for the club to serve alcohol to members. After prohibition only a limited number of beer parlours were able to sell liquor to the public, and operated under very restrictive rules. Nightclubs (theoretically) couldn’t serve alcohol until the mid 1960s – patrons smuggled their own drinks in and kept them under the table.

Next door is a 1928 building, 541 Howe, that by 1981 had a contemporary glazed façade replacing the original. It was developed by Mrs. J W Fordham Johnson, and designed and built by Dominion Construction. Her husband developed a Thurlow Street retail building, but his day job was President of BC Sugar. He was also an important part of society – In 1931 the Sun reported “Society Is eagerly looking forward to the arrival of His Honor the Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. J. W. Fordham Johnson and their popular daughter, Miss Helen Johnson, who take up their residence at Government House today”. John was originally from Spalding, in Lincolnshire, and was a banker in Portland, Oregon, at the Bank of British Columbia. He married an American, Helen Tuthill, from Ellenville, New York. He moved to manage the Vancouver branch in 1900, but the bank merged with the Canadian Bank of Commerce, and he moved to be an accountant with BC Sugar. Helen Johnson died in 1915, and a year later John married Adelaide Alice Ridley, born in Kentucky. Her former husband, lawyer Henry Ridley, also died in 1915. They moved to Shaughnessy, where they lived until John’s death in 1938. In 1942 Adelaide moved to the Hotel Vancouver, where she lived until her death in 1952.

This block of Howe Street became commercial in the 1920s – it started life as a mostly residential street, as this 1913 image shows. Traffic appears to have been busier than it is today, but the caption explains that it was the Rotary Club leaving the Compressed Gas Company’s offices for the Royal Nurseries on August 12th.

In 1981 there was (and still is) a relatively tall, narrow office building from 1966 at 549 Howe, which replaced a store developed by motor engineer Harry Hoffmeister in 1913. There’s a 1923 two storey retail store next door at 551 and a three storey building from 1929 to the south at 555, and a single storey 1933 building next to that.

The next single storey retail building is the oldest on the block, from 1912, developed by real estate agent J J Grey and originally designed by A E Cline, costing $6,000 to build.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.30 CVA 99-4465 and CVA Bu P535

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West Georgia Street – 1100 block, north side (2)

This large slab office, seen here in 1981, has been recently replaced by the Trump Tower. It started life as the Shell Oil building, completed in 1957. It was built by Dominion Construction, who appear to have designed it in-house. Although there was an architect employed by the company, engineer John McLaren was credited with the design, although it should have had an accredited architect to sign off. Sharp, Thompson, Berwick, Pratt carried out work for Shell Oil between 1954 and 1956, and it’s possible that they were involved in the building’s design. It was initially headquarters for Shell’s Western Division. Initially established in Canada in Montreal, Shell, like other North American oil companies established a new office in Vancouver, then moved operations to Alberta some years later as oil exploration and exploitation shifted the centre of Canadian activity. (The company headquarters moved there from Toronto in 1984). The office uses continued, with the building apparently renamed as the Weststar Building, (although that could be an error, as the Westar Building was next door).

Plans were approved to reuse the abandoned building. In 1994 it was proposed for reuse as the Newport City Club – but that project failed part way through redevelopment. The Vancouver Sun reported the project: “Six floors of the Weststar Building on 1188 West Georgia are being converted into the Newport City Club that will house three restaurants, a health club, meeting and reading rooms. Final approvals have been received for construction in north Squamish of the companion Newport Ridge Golf and Country Club, a 5,800-yard executive-type course, 900 residences (single units and townhouses) and a 100,000 square foot clubhouse. “Due to geographic limitations there’s only 90 acres for golf we’re developing a course with 7 par-threes and 11 par-fours,” says Newport vice-president Peter Heenan, a Vancouver businessman.” The project was developed by Andrew Leung, who had previously developed resorts and golf courses in the Dominican Republic, and the financial backing was supposedly coming from three Hong Kong businesspeople.

By 1996, the 1957 structure had been stripped of its exterior walls and interior finishes, but within a year the project was in financial trouble, and soon in receivership with a number of court actions and builders liens.  A new proposal was submitted to replace it with a 27 storey office tower to be called Golden Ocean Plaza, but the project never proceeded. The site would sit as a vacant and derelict frame for many years. It was later owned by Cadillac Fairview, and in 2003 they sold it to the Holborn Group, who had already acquired the adjacent Terasen Building. The Trump Tower (with no financial involvement by the Trump organization; just a management and branding role), took several years to develop. Initial designs were rejected, until the Arthur Erickson inspired ‘twisting’ tower was approved, with an initial sales launch as the Residences at Ritz-Carlton, but the market for luxury residential towers in 2008 was depressed, and the deal fell through, to be relaunched four years later under the Trump brand, finally opening in 2016.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.13.

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Posted 19 September 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia Street – 1100 block, north side (1)

The building on the right of this 1981 image is the Alaska Pine building, which we looked at in the previous post, but from a different angle. It was designed by Thompson Berwick and Pratt for Great West Life Insurance, who developed it for the Alaska Pine lumber and pulp headquarters. They occupied it in 1953, after Dominion Construction built it in under a year. Run by a Czech immigrant family, the Koerners, the lumber company was named for the alternate name for the hemlock, a tree previously considered as effectively valueless before they introduced European kiln drying practices that allowed it to be used for construction and box manufacture. The Shell Oil offices are further west.

Here’s another view of the building, past the McMillan Bloedel tower, and the Royal Centre (closer to us) in an undated image we think was taken in the late 1970s. Alaska Pine was replaced in 1992 with a 24 storey office building designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners. It was headquarters for BC Gas, (later renamed as Terasen and now known as Fortis BC), but it was developed by Manulife. More recently it was acquired by the Holborn Group, who incorporated part of the podium into their more recently completed Trump Hotel to the west.

The condo and hotel tower, the second tallest in the city, is carefully located on the block, towards the back of the plot, so that by twisting slightly on each floor the upper part of the tower avoids one of the city’s viewcones that limit tall buildings on part of the site. There’s a long, low swooping canopy over the front of the hotel that picks up the rhythm of the bays of the older office building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.15 and CVA 800-59

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440 Burrard Street

When this image was shot in 1974 there was still a lane to the north (on the left of the picture), and across it was a 2-storey office building. On this other southern half of the 400 block of Burrard was this five storey office building was completed in 1949. Although it faced Burrard, it was addressed to West Pender as 999.

Up to 1947 there was a Shell service station on the corner, and before that an open air Chevrolet sale lot. Charles Bentall’s Dominion Construction acquired the site and completed the building in only 22 weeks. It was the first to be named as the Bentall Building, and had a CIBC Bank on the main floor and the Canadian Australasian Line offices on Burrard. Designed in a contemporary style with five floors of offices it was soon occupied by a series of Insurance companies  including Northwestern Mutual Fire Assurance, Travelers Insurance and Eagle Star, as well as the headquarters of Canadian Forest Products. Northwestern Mutual had prompted the development; based in Seattle, they were looking to expand north, and no new office space had been built in the city since the war had ended.

Charles Bentall, an engineer by qualification, had lost a court case in 1938 prompted by the AIBC, (the local Architects Institute), to prevent him from designing and signing off his own buildings, because he wasn’t a qualified architect. That means another designer should have been associated with the new structure. However, until the 1950s (when architect Frank Musson worked for Dominion) the company continued to design many of their own projects, with Claude Logan, a draughtsman, (and noted jazz pianist) credited with the design of several projects.

In 1984 Commerce Place, a silver reflective office complex designed by Waisman Dewar Grout Carter was completed to replace the 1949 building. Developed by Bentall, it houses offices for the CIBC Bank that have been on the same spot (with a short break for construction) for nearly 70 years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-16

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Posted 1 January 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Robson and Thurlow – north side

The building on the corner of Robson and Thurlow today is Joe Fortes restaurant, with a roof-top patio and a reputation for great seafood. Underneath there are smaller retail units with a shoe store on the corner; back in 1969 when this picture was taken the corner restaurant was the Traveller restaurant and steak house – licenced, and open 24 hours. It made no lasting impact on the written records of the city – the Archives have a place mat from 1960, and otherwise there’s nothing. The 1955 street directory show the Manhattan Foods restaurant here, and the menu from a few year’s earlier (in the Museum of Vancouver) suggests that like Joe Fortes it was a seafood restaurant. Despite being here for several years, that establishment also has no other online records associated with it. In 1955 it was run by Charles and Beatrice Bennett, and earlier, in 1948 it was run by L A Hobbs, (and we also can find Mary Shupenia and Ann Smith, the waitresses , Ann Loveless, the cook, and Beatrice Cook and Frances Morrison, the dishwashers in the street directory).

Next door was India House gifts. In the 1950s the Art Emporium was here, run by Frederick Michell, and next door was the Yarn Barn that had replaced the Normandie Beauty Shoppe run by Mrs T M Bayzand which shared a doorway in 1955 with P Campbell’s Modern Barbers. In 1969 the New York Barbershop was in the other half of the 2-storey 1926 building. The corner building and the two single storey retail units were redeveloped in 1985. There is a permit for the initial development of the corner building. In 1923 J W Fordham Johnson hired Dominion Construction to build an $11,000 reinforced concrete building with four stores.

These obviously weren’t the first buildings here. When the West End was first developed, this was a residential stretch of street. Mr Whitehead built two houses on the corner, fronting onto Thurlow, and designed and constructed by Thomas Hunter in 1901. J M Whitehead moved into one house, and B Douglas, widow, into the other. Mr Whitehead was chief clerk for the BC Packers Association, and he was still living in his house in 1922, when he was the general manager of the BC Fishing & Packing Co. In 1912 he appears to have been appointed as the Belgian consul to British Columbia. The two houses remained residential into the 1930s. One was occupied for many years by Reinhart Hoffmeister, who built several Granville Street properties

Next door to the west D M Fraser built one house in 1901, and another on the other half of the lot (where the 1926 building was constructed) in 1904. The first house was occupied by Mr. Fraser himself, with another contractor, W Brehaut. By 1922 the second house had added a retail use at the front, the Robson Dairy, although there was still a house behind.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-402

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Posted 13 July 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Queen Charlotte – 1101 Nicola Street

Queen Charlotte Apartments 1101 Nicola

We had to catch this ‘after’ picture in early spring – in summer the building almost disappears behind the greenery. Back in 1928 it was a brand new building built by Dominion Construction (the contractors led by Charles Bentall). The client was H H Stevens, a successful politician and businessman. Herbert Henry Stevens was born in Bristol, England, but arrived in Ontario with his family in 1887 at the age of nine. He made his way to the West Coast, working as a mine laborer and eventually became a small businessman. For a brief time in 1900, his travels took him to the newly annexed Philippines as part of a U.S. Army transport unit. He was also in the Pacific at the time of the Boxer Rebellion and participated as a volunteer civilian member of the U.S. Army in China.

These experiences can be associated with a number of Steven’s future positions; a confirmation of his Methodist teetotal background, (and active opposition to the availability of alcohol), support for organized labour (despite a staunchly Conservative political opinion on almost everything else) and a strong belief in the fundamental difference between western and Asian culture, which he believed should be removed from areas of western control (like Canada).

In 1901 he established a grocery business, and in 1910 the newspaper ‘The Western Call’ that supported Conservative views and included significant coverage of ‘the Chinatown problem’. Stevens never moderated his views on preventing any further incursions into the superior white world he imagined Canada should be. He was elected to Vancouver City Council in 1910, and then as a Conservative member of  parliament, In 1911, in his maiden speech he called on the government to keep Canada “a white man’s country”. During the Great War he ensured that the ‘official photographers’ in Stanley Park, Fricke and Schenck, lost that contract because of their German lineage. In a 1922 speech he argued for exclusion of all Chinese, posing the question “shall Canada remain white, or shall Canada become multi-coloured?”. It’s unlikely he’d be particularly happy in Vancouver today. Stevens was Minister of Trade and Commerce in R.B. Bennett’s depression era Conservative government of 1930 to 1934, and was actively involved in the Komagata Maru incident, working with the head immigration officer to stop the ship’s Indian passengers from coming ashore.

Stevens undoubtedly chose Dominion Construction to undertake his investment because Charles Bentall was a staunch member of the Methodist church, and Dominion had in-house architects who could design their projects, acting as design-and-build contractors. More recently it was restored by designer Robert Ledingham when it became a 25 unit strata, and has a period lobby, carpets and lighting fixtures, with what is claimed to be the city’s last brass-gated bird cage elevator.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N261.1

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Posted 30 April 2015 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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Robson and Hornby – nw corner (1)

Robson & Hornby nw

This is the corner of Robson and Hornby in 1945. The Richmond Apartments, developed by Edward Hunt in 1910 are on the corner. A Spencer and Company were selling real estate from the store on the corner. The O’Neil Company (selling glass and tiles to builders) were next door in a building later used by Williams Bros, photographers.

Next door was the Famous Kitchen Cafe, which somewhat confusingly advertised ‘Famous Steaks’ with a huge neon chicken. (The Hotel Vancouver is in the background). 785 Hornby opened as The Devonshire Cafe, and in 1928 it was recorded in the street directory as the Richmond Arts Building. Richmond Arts Co obtained the permit in 1927 for a $15,000 building built by Dominion Construction. Before this there were houses here, similar to the houses further down the street next to the hotel. They were built before 1901. By 1938 the cafe was Helen’s Tea Room, and one of the houses was being used as a government health laboratory.

Today there’s an office building addressed as 777 Hornby. It’s been there for a while – having been completed in 1969. It’s divided into many small offices, with several lawyers and medical offices. According to a brochure in the Archives the architect was Frank Roy. He’s an architect with an extraordinarily low profile for such a large building. We can find for him as the designer of the glu-lam curved Safeway supermarket recently replaced on Granville in Marpole.He also designed St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Steveston.

The architectural practice who supervised construction of the Hornby office building was Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and partners.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-4162

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1014 Homer Street

1014 Homer - General Motors

In 1931 Dominion Construction built this 3 storey building on Homer Street. It’s a reinforced concrete structure, a technique Dominion were familiar with building. but it was the financial structure of the developer that was novel. While the recession hadn’t really bitten, Dominion’s boss, Charles Bentall, started to use the recently created New Building Finance Company to keep his construction workers employed. General Motors wanted a new building, but they wanted to lease it, and Dominion were the contractors and designers and were prepared to help finance the construction. When the time came, rather than the New Building Finance Company funding it the building ownership was taken on by the Selman family, owners of Canadian Wood Pulp and Tank Limited.

Our photo shows the building a year after construction, and General Motors continued to occupy the building until 1950. They had offices for their finance division as well as their warehouse (presumably for parts). A couple of years later Barr and Anderson, plumbers, moved into the building, and at some point it became known as the Stall Building.

Eighty years on the building looks remarkably similar to when it was built, but the occupants are quite different. Today the tenants, among others, are architects, a book publisher and a computer store. And somehow, (possibly during a 1986 renovation) while almost every building that had a fancy cornice has lost it, the Stall Building managed to acquire one it never had.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4156

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Posted 15 February 2013 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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