Archive for the ‘Dominion Trust Company’ Tag

1200 block Homer Street (2)

1200 block Homer 2

We saw the building on the right of this 1981 picture in the previous post. It was built in 1910 as MacPherson & Teetzel’s hardware warehouse and designed by Parr and Fee.

The more substantial building next door was built in the same year for W R Arnold by Adkinson and Dill for $48,000. It was designed by H S Griffith and described in the permit as a reinforced concrete warehouse. The first tenant was Hamilton Smith’s ‘Smith Biscuit Co’. Mr. Smith lived in the Hotel Europe, on Powell Street, along the street from one of his rivals, the Mooney Biscuit & Candy Co, based in Stratford, Ontario. In 1907 Mooney’s advertisement claimed they were ‘the fastest growing business in the Dominion’, and had added a fleet of their own rail cars to ship their ‘Perfection Cream Soda’ biscuits around the country.

H S Griffith was based in Victoria, having moved from England, and he established his Vancouver office in 1910. This warehouse, and another in Yaletown, were both issued with permits on the same day, and appear to be the first issued to Griffith. William Arnold was, in 1910, the Managing Director of the Dominion Trust Company who had also built a West Pender building through another subsidiary, also designed by H S Griffith, as well as the Dominion Building that they took on when the Imperial Trust ran into financial problems. It isn’t clear whether Mr. Arnold developed this warehouse as a personal project, or on behalf of The Dominion Trust Company. In a later court case (after Mr. Arnold’s death), the judge described him as ‘a man of endless speculations’.

A couple of years after the construction of Dominion Trust’s portfolio of buildings the economy went into a ‘severe financial re-adjustment’ (as it was described at the time). The final straw may have been over-extended company finances on a planned harbour scheme on Lulu Island (that was never built), and the company’s liquidator concluded that Mr. Arnold had advanced a series of unauthorized loans that were very risky. The $5,752,232 of book assets were estimated to actually be worth under a million dollars. W R Arnold shot himself, aged 31, in 1914 in what was initially reported as ‘a bad accident’. An initial court judgement agreed that it was an accidental death, and his insurance company was to pay $100,000 to the Dominion Trust. However, the insurance company won on appeal, and the death officially became a suicide.

In 1912 the Mooney Biscuit & Candy Co acquired the Smith Biscuit Co as part of their Canadian-wide expansion, allowing them to bake their branded biscuits in the west coast market, rather than having to ship them from further east. The First World War may have caused something of a problem for Mooney’s – by 1916 they were in receivership (which may be the reason for the VPL having a photo of their empty ‘melting pots’ from that year). The building was apparently vacant for several years, but in 1919 the Canadian Nut Co were here, and in 1920 they were joined by the Mainland Confectionery Co, managed by Chas. Rimmer.

By 1924 the confectionery company were still here, but the nut company had been replaced by Ogilvie Flour Mills Co. Ltd. The Montreal-based millers retained the location (and soon replaced the confectionery company) for over two decades. (The archives have some great images of their delivery trucks for Royal Household flour at the warehouse). By 1944 they shared the building with a wholesale confectioners, McBride Jackson Ltd, and a commercial artist and printers, R H Storer & Co.

By 1981 when these images were shot, Moore & Middleton occupied the building. The company was a manufacturer of knitting yarns for Cowichan and Icelandic sweaters and North American distributor of knitting yarns, needlepoint, sewing supplies, laces, trims and hobby crafts; it was dissolved in 1985. Today the building has office space on the upper floors and Yaletown’s last billiard hall on the Hamilton Street loading dock side of the building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.16

0359

 

Advertisements

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

0044

British Canadian Securities Building – 402 West Pender

These day the building is just known by its address, 402 West Pender, and it’s almost exactly as built a century ago, and as seen in this 1918 Vancouver Public Library image. It was completed in 1912 by British Canadian Securities Limited, a successful land investment company (and a subsidiary of the Dominion Trust Company). It was designed by H S Griffith, an English-born architect whose practice was based in Victoria. It’s a sophisticated Chicago influenced building, with a contemporary structural design and classical details. The base is stone, the top is terra cotta, and in between the walls are brick. It’s a reinforced concrete frame, built by Norton-Griffiths Steel Construction Company at a cost of $299,000.

An investment advertisment in a Montreal Newspaper of 1911

An interesting court case from 1917 offers some insight into how projects like this were funded. BC Securities obtained mortgage financing from the Mutual Life Assurance Company, secured by the building itself. After the completion of the building the Dominion Trust Company became tenants for one year, and at the expiration of the lease, bought the building. They then went bankrupt, and the Insurance Company went after them for the building and the safety deposit boxes in the vault. To cut a long set of arguments short, the judge ruled that the 2,800 boxes installed by BC Securities were part of the building, so the Insurance Company got them. But over 300 boxes installed by Dominion Trust a year or so later, placed on top of the rubber floor (which covered the vault’s steel floor) were the property of Dominion Trust, so the insurance company couldn’t have them. Despite this the building was still called the Dominion Trust Building. Today it continues to offer office space in what is now a heritage building.

0032