Archive for the ‘E Cook’ Tag

West Cordova from Abbott (2)

We saw a view westwards from Abbott along Cordova from 1889 in an earlier post. That was the south side of Cordova – here’s the north side seen in a more recent image – it’s an undated postcard that we guess is from the late 1900s.

The block on the left is G W Grant’s first known project in Vancouver “commercial block for W B Wilson, 1887”. It was illustrated in an 1887 promotional publication “Vancouver – Pacific Coast Terminus of the CPR”. William Bell Wilson was from Nova Scotia, and he lived in St John New Brunswick before moving to British Columbia in 1862. He worked in Victoria as an accountant, and Kamloops as a merchant. He married, had two children, and then became a widower when his wife died in 1879 when the children were aged 1 and 3. He was obviously successful financially, owning at least four lots in the city in 1886. In 1887 he was listed as a real estate agent in this building, and that year the city’s handbook listed him as a ‘Principal Property Owner’ with $25,000 of assets, one of the more significant landowners. By 1891 the block was owned by Rand Brothers, and Mr. Wilson’s finances had suffered, and he became Collector of Customs in Rossland, and then Trail.

He died, of dropsy, (these days it would probably be identified as edema due to congestive heart failure), aged 55, in Spokane. The Trail Creek News published his obituary “Mr. Wilson went to Spokane in July, for treatment. From the first no hopes had been entertained of his recovery. Last week his son was telegraphed for, and was with his father when he died.

Mr. Wilson was appointed collector of customs at this outport last November, at the time the outport was created. Prior to that time he had been with the Rossland office. Of his previous history the Rosslander says: “Mr. Wilson was a pioneer of the province, and is well known to most of the earlier residents.  During the C.P.R. construction he was a partner with J.A. Mara, ex-M.P. at Kamloops, where they built three steamers for conveying supplies from Tacoma to the eastern end of the Onderdonk section at the head of navigation on Shuswap Lake. These did a very large carrying business. Mr. Wilson went to Vancouver when that city was young and owned valuable property there, but he became interested through further investments in Anacortes, and with the depression in that city lost considerable money. Mr. Wilson had few intimate friends, but a wide circle of acquaintances who admired his many good qualities and learn with sincere regret of his death.”

A man in Mr. Wilson’s position has little opportunity to make friends, but the writer, with many others in Trail, knew him well and had the friendliest feelings and the greatest of respect for the dead officer.”

Today the base of a 31-storey condo building, part of the Woodwards redevelopment. occupies the site.

Today the Runkle Block sits on the north west corner, but in 1901 it was the two-storey wooden Cosmopolitan Restaurant. In 1910, according to a building permit, J C Runkle hired Sharp and Thompson to design the building standing today. It cost $28,000 and was built by Robert McLean. The developer was a total mystery – although we have identified what appears to be a likely subject. The initials for ‘J C Runkle’ come from the building permit, but there’s a cartouche on the building with the initials ‘J R’.

Runkle is a relatively unusual name, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the developer. In fact, in 1911 there was only one person in Canada listed in the census with the surname ‘Runkle’. Fortunately for us, he lived in Vancouver. Unfortunately, he was called Gordon Runkle, so J C Runkle didn’t match. He had lived in Vancouver from 1906, and died in Nanaimo in 1943.  He was married in the city in 1914, and he had the same architects design a house on Marine Drive in 1922. His father, John D Runkle was a resident of Brookline, Massachusetts, the President of MIT (the second in the institution’s history), and also a chairman of the Brookline School Committee and an early advocate of mathematics and science. Gordon had an older brother (sixteen years older) named John C Runkle. Our guess is that Gordon, at the height of Vancouver’s property boom, managed the development on behalf of his brother – an absentee American east coast investor. In 1900 John worked for the National Coal Tar Co, in 1910 he was Vice President of a manufacturing company, and in 1930 he was an executive of a lumber supply company, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1908 he bought an old house dating back to 1765, had it moved, and hired architect Lois Lilley Howe to reconstruct and remodel the house.

Only one of the three buildings looks the same today as it did in the early 1900s. That’s part of the Cook Block – the western-most 4 storey element is said to have been completed in 1892. That part of the building has bay windows on two floors. Next door was a three storey building that has had an additional floor added to make it a matching four storeys today. They were developed by Edward Cook (who also constructed the Wilson Block on the left, laid the foundations of Christ Church, and was the builder of the first courthouse among many other projects). We don’t know if Edward hired an architect – and if so, who he chose.

In the 1891 census Edward was shown aged 35, born in Ontario, with a wife from Quebec, and four children under 8; Edna, May, Winifred and baby Wallace (listed as Douglas a decade later). In 1901 his wife is recorded as Miri, (actually she was Maria) and the four children now have three siblings, Beatrice, Francis and Elsie. His wife’s sister Elibeth (sic) Douglas, and son-in-law, Thomas Forman were shown living with the family (Maria and Elizabeth had a brother in the city; Frank, of Kelly, Douglas & Co). Edward arrived from Manitoba in 1886, and built a house for his family, that was burned down before they could arrive. They were travelling from Quebec, overland through Chicago , Portland and Tacoma, and then by steamer to Victoria and then Vancouver. They arrived days after the fire and their first home in Vancouver was a tent on Carrall Street, near this location. Edward was elected an alderman from 1901 to 1905, and was a very successful resident of the city. Maria died in the spring of 1940, and Edward four days later.

Beyond the Cook Block was the Eagle Hotel, which was added to in 1906, helping us date the picture. The Eagle was lost when Woodwards built their parking garage. The upper floors of the Cook Block were, for a while, residential, known as the Marble Rooms, but they closed in 1974. Today the three structures of the Cook Block and the Runkle Block (all three are only half the depth of the lot, so sixty feet deep) have been combined into a single building, with a restaurant on the corner and commercial uses on the upper floors.

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Posted June 24, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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157 Alexander Street

149 Alexander

We’ve got two views of this small warehouse building squeezed in between the rail tracks and Alexander Street as it curves towards the tracks. In 1919, when the picture above was taken the newly arrived owner was the H G White Manufacturing Company who were the home of White Seal products. There were White Seal apples in Tasmania, White Seal lard in the US, White Seal beer and White Seal tinned salmon in British Columbia, but H G White didn’t sell any of those – the company was described as ‘manufacturers agent’ in the street directory – but what they manufactured wasn’t identified. Harold G White lived on Cardero Street, and we’ve discovered that White Seal was a brand of fur mittens. Originally, when the premises were built in 1913 this was occupied by the builder and developer, E Cook, designed by W M Dodd, an architect who designed a series of automobile-related buildings in the city as well as apartment blocks. Edward Cook built warehouses on Water Street and Woodward’s big new store on Hastings, so this investment was a relatively modest piece of construction for him. While he occupied the building he also ran his other business from here, the Columbia Clay Co. who had a brickyard located on Anvil Island at the north end of Howe Sound. He was born in Perth, Ontario, and after learning his trade as contractor in Manitoba arrived in Vancouver in the spring of 1886. By 1891 he was responsible for building around 40 of the city’s new business blocks.

By 1915 this was the warehouse for Jacobson-Goldberg, a fur trade business. (Isaac Jacobson was a furrier who lived on Ontario St and L Goldberg lived in the London Hotel; before they moved here they were in business on Main Street.) In 1916 they shared the building with B C Grinnell Glove Co, a company who also made sealskin gloves, for loggers, steel workers and lumbermen. (In 1914 they were located in Coquitlam). Nelson and Shakespeare (Arthur Nelson, of North Vancouver and W B Shakespeare who lived in the West End) wholesale confectioners took over the premises for three years in 1917. That year H G White was partnered with Benjamin Harrison, who lived in West Vancouver, and they were importers with premises on Hornby Street (he initially worked for Harrison, and then became a partner). In 1920 Nelson and Shakespeare moved to another warehouse across the street and H G White moved in, manufacturing sealskin gloves again, although still in the import and export trade.

Harold White claimed in some records to have been born in England in 1889. That seems to be the correct year: he arrived in Canada in 1906 with his parents who had apparently initially emigrated from England to Canada in 1881. However, in the 1911 census Harold and his sister Eliza (still living with their parents) are shown as being born in Michigan, USA, so presumably the family moved south of the border for a while. In 1919 he was living on Nelson Street, and in 1923 he had moved to Cardero and was listed as Consul for Peru, and Harrison’s company was once again BR Harrison and Company, now based in 325 Howe Street. By 1924 Harold White was no longer in the directories; in 1940 he appears to have moved to San Francisco with his family – an easier move for someone born in the US.

157 Alexander

157 Alexander 1933The image above was taken in 1929 when the building was for sale. The more substantial building to the east beyond the narrow gap that was a track that crossed the rail lines has apparently been masked off. You can see the adjacent warehouse a little more clearly in this 1933 Archives shot that we can’t reproduce these days as it’s taken from inside the Port security area. Gordon and Belyea had been using 157 Alexander for some years – they were listed as ‘Mill, Mining, Railway, Marine and Waterworks Supplies’, and had been in a building across the street earlier in the 1920s. They moved to a larger property in 1929, and the sale offering suggests they might have acquired the building rather than tenanted it. In the 1933 image Burnyeats and Co were occupying the building – they were ship’s chandlers.

Scout Magazine outlines the building’s more recent history: In later decades, the address’ upper storeys were converted into offices, and by the 1970s the ground floor was known as the Banjo Palace, a 20’s-themed club, supposedly boasting the country’s largest circular barbecue. The owner, George Patey, had purchased pieces of the brick wall involved in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and had it re-constructed in the men’s room (the wall was shipped from Chicago in 7 barrels, and after the nightclub failed it was removed again). Prior to the Alibi Room who still occupy the space today the building was home to the Archimedes Club, a watering hole for Vancouver’s taxi drivers where a signature on the membership book got you access to $5 pitchers (or so go the legends).

Image source: Vancouver Public Library, City of Vancouver Archives Str P30.2 and CVA 99-253

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Posted March 12, 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Gastown, Still Standing

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