Archive for the ‘E E Blackmore’ Tag

Hamilton Street – 1100 block

These are the loading dock side of a range of Homer Street warehouses that we saw from the other side in an earlier post. On the left is Smith Davidson & Wright’s warehouse, on the corner of Davie Street. Designed by E E Blackmore for a wholesale paper and stationery business it was completed in 1911. The huge canopy on the Hamilton side allowed trans-shipment of goods from rail cars, or trucks in the street, to the warehouse without any impact from adverse weather. As the area changed in recent years, and office and restaurants moved into the area, the canopies have been retained, although in a less solid form, allowing outdoor dining under cover in spring and fall. The Cactus Club Cafe here has added an all-weather screened area to allow the space’s use to continue through winter.

In 1981, when the picture was taken, the rail use had almost been abandoned, but the warehouse operations were still in place. (To our surprise, there are very few images of railcars occupying the tracks; it seems that as often as not wagons would block the street at right angles to load from the docks).

To the north is apparently the same building in 1981 and 2022, but actually it’s a new built recreation. The McMaster building became residential in 2006, and in the process of stripping the building for seismic upgrade and conversion it was found to be so unsafe as to be impossible to save. The Homer facade was retained, and the rest of the building is 100% new build (with a replica recreation of the original building).

The McMaster company was formed in 1901 by 3 brothers, William, James and Edward McMaster who were unusually shown living at home in Toronto and also lodging in Vancouver in the census that year. They were initially clothing wholesalers, with premises on Cordova. They became McMasters Ltd., manufacturers of shirts and overalls, and sold their business to the B. C. Shirt and Overall Manufacturing Co., Ltd. in 1916. Although their name is attached to the building, the first tenant here was the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Co. The building was developed by Adamson & Main, in 1910, designed by architects Campbell & Bennett, and built by T G Coulson for $35,000. By 1920 there was a Royal Bank branch on the main Homer Street floor, Ives Modern Bedsteads occupying the space next to them, and Smith Davidson & Wright using the rest of the building.

The same developers built the lower $40,000 warehouse next door. We think the Adamson who developed the buildings was James Adamson, chief engineer on the CPR’s Empress of India, and later the Empress of Russia. His partner was probably David Main, a Scottish carpenter, turned contractor and later real-estate investor. The first tenant in the lower building wasn’t until 1914, when DeLaval Dairy Supply Co Ltd moved in.  Thet were still here in 1920, but there were four separate units with Druggists Sundries Co, Dominion Equipment & Supply, and Cyders Ltd., with Brown Fraser & Co (contractors, railroads and mining equipment and supplies) using one of the other floors. De Laval Dairy Supplies (and their rival Dairy Supply Ltd) and Brown Fraser were still in the same locations twenty years later, along with an upholstery business and outdoor advertising companies, a Quebec company, Vibra-Lite Displays, and Poster-Ette.

Today the warehouse on the corner, 1190 Homer, is mostly office space owned by Madison Pacific, including the Vancouver offices of Apple Canada. Condos in The McMaster Building at 1180 Homer are priced at around $1,400 per square foot, and a 2-bed apartment is available for over $1.8m. 1148 Homer is also offices, including those of Labatt Breweries British Columbia, part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, and owner of Stanley Park Brewing Co (who now actually brew a small amount of their product in Stanley Park, rather than on an industrial estate in Delta).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.04


Aberdeen School – Burrard Street

Seen here in this early 1900s Vancouver Public Library image, Aberdeen School was set back from the street with a huge yard in front. There had been a wooden school here from 1888; the West End School. (The East End School was in Strathcona). It was a four-room frame building, and soon considered inadequate. The 1889 Annual Report of the Principal, Miss M Hartney said “The attendance, however, would have been considerably larger were it not for sickness that was so prevalent among the children during the spring months. And this sickness, I am convinced, was much aggravated by the school grounds, which are in very unfavorable condition, and require immediate attention in order to preserve the health of pupils and teachers.”

The rapidly growing school population led to the construction of a replacement, Dawson School, which was on the east side of Burrard a little to the south. In 1908 another school was built here, for primary classes. It was named after the Governor-General of Canada. John Campbell Gordon, 1st Marquis of Aberdeen and Temair. Although it was built at a time when the permits have been lost, we know E E Blackmore designed it because his appointment was referenced in the School Board Annual Report in 1907.

The school operated until 1942 when the name was changed to Sir William Dawson School Annex or just plain Dawson Annex, and it operated in conjunction with the school down the road. Around 1949, when Jimi Hendrix was 7, in a 1968 interview he recalled staying in Vancouver, attending grade 1 at Dawson Annex, although his presence does not appear in any VSB records. While it’s often noted that he lived with his grandmother, Nora Hendrix, she lived in Strathcona, and it would have been a long way for a small boy to travel. It was more likely that he stayed with his aunt (her daughter), Patricia, who lived on Drake Street, and was five years older than Jimmy’s father. Her first husband, Joe Lashley, died that year, and she moved back to the States.

After a mini post-war boom in the 1950s the school closed in June of 1962, the students were absorbed into Dawson School at Burrard and Helmcken. The building sat vacant for several years and the school grounds were used as a parking lot for the B.C. Hydro building.

The building was demolished on April 1, 1969 (when Health and Safety rules were apparently less stringent, as this VSB image shows). After years as a vacant site, in 1991 a condo tower called Vancouver Tower was developed here, designed by Eng and Wright, with a two-storey IGA grocery store occupying the whole of the front of the site.


Posted 28 February 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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612 East Hastings Street

This modest apartment building was replaced in 1988 with Shon Yee Place, a Chinese senior’s residence with 72 1-bed apartments. Designed by Davidson, Yuen and Simpson, it was designed for The Shon Yee Housing Association. The external insulated sealing system used, in common with many condo projects of the period, failed in a relatively short timeframe, requiring a make-over in 2009 to remediate and provide a more effective rain screen.

The apartment building that it replaced had been designed by E E Blackmore for George Simons in 1910, and D G Grey built it for $13,000. In 1916 George was shown living here, and in 1918 the building was named in the street directory as Alliston Apartments. In 1913 one of the suites was offered for rent, ‘Furnished 4-room suite, with bath’.

We assume the George Simons who developed this is the same one who was living further east on East Hastings, in 1921. He was aged 56, living with his wife Sarah, who was 7 years younger, and three sons, Alexander, Juilius and Isadore. The family were Jewish, and George was from Austria, as was Sarah. Alexander, who was 19 in 1921 had been born in England, but the two younger sons were born in BC. Records for the family are elusive, but Alexander was married in 1924, and the record shows his mother had been Sarah Simpson, and he had been born in Manchester in 1902. His parents place of birth was also shown as Manchester, not Austria. Alexander was shown as Presbyterian rather than Jewish.

Before this building was constructed, the family lived here, so presumably in the house that sat on the site. George had a business on West Cordova, repairing umbrellas – clearly a lucrative business in Vancouver. He was the only umbrella repairer listed in 1909. In 1911 he had moved (logically so that this apartment building could be constructed). The local press that year reported his offer to build a tram line from the terminus at the time to Port Moody. Mr. Simon was described as ‘a capitalist of Hastings Townsite’. One report mentioned he had ‘large holdings’ on East Hastings. His offer was to construct the line, and then sell it on at cost, plus seven percent interest, once the dispute between BCER (the rail company) and the City of Burnaby was resolved. “Mr. Simons was well backed by the property owners and residents of North Burnaby, as most all were willing to assist him in the construction of this line, as this district is rapidly developing and the need of a car line is so imperative that the people do not feel that they can longer do without it.

We believe George Simons died in 1939; he’s shown living on East Hastings that year, and Sarah was still there a year later, listed as a widow. That year shows this building as The Howard Apartments, with 11 units. The name change came after 1923, although the directory listed it briefly (and we suspect inaccurately) as The Harrod Apartments in 1924. This remained an apartment building, with 11 tenants to the point when it was demolished in the 1980s to make way for the Shon Yee development.


Posted 22 April 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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East Georgia Street – 200 block, north side

This 1960s image by W E Graham shows very little change in this part of Chinatown over sixty years. On the right hand edge of the picture are the Arno Rooms. Completed in 1912, they were designed by E E Blackmore and S B Birds for Leon Way Co. When they opened in 1913 they were called the International Rooms, but they closed within a year, and didn’t reopen again until 1916 when they were called the Sunnyside Rooms. Two of the stores were vacant that year, but a Chinese grocer, Wing Sun Co occupied the corner. There’s no contemporary sign of a ‘Leon Way’ in any document other than the Development Permit, and it’s possible that it was a Chinese name that was recorded by the clerk as he heard it.

Next door is 271 E Georgia, which dates back to 1905. There’s the original house structure set back behind the store front. The next two-storey buildings were built in 1938 and 1936. The three storey building to the west of these was developed by A Urquhart in 1911, and designed by Stroud & Keith. It cost $20,000, and Allan Urquhart was also listed as the builder. He had added to a house further down the street to the west as early as 1903, and in 1909 was in partnership with Roderick McLellan in a liquor wholesaling business. There were apparently three Urquhart brothers, all born in Ontario. Hugh, John and Allan were in partnership from around 1891 to 1911. In 1912 the main floor was a Chinese grocer’s Kwong Chong Co, with the Urquhart rooms upstairs.

Stuart & White designed the four storey building for someone recorded on the building permit as M K Nigore. The building cost $30,000 and was built by Dominion Construction Company, also in 1911. The street directory identifies this as the home to the Japan Rice Mill, owned and operated by K Negoro. There were two people with that name in the city in 1901, both arrived from Japan, one in 1898 and the other in 1911. As neither seem to have been identified in the 1911 census (at least not with that spelling), we don’t know whether it was either of them, and if so which one ran the Rice Mill. There’s a 1906 advertisement for the Rice Mill located on the opposite side of this block; the business got its rice from the Sam Kee Company’s wholesale rice importing business.

Beyond that, one of the oldest houses on the block has recently been redeveloped. 245 East Georgia was replaced with a nine storey rental building in 2018. Beyond it, in 2002 the Lore Krill Co-op replaced a warehouse designed by E E Blackmore in 1910 for T T Wallace, and home to Ah Mew’s produce business

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-34


Posted 24 February 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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East Hastings Street – 100 block, south side (2)

Here’s the eastern end of the 100 block of East Hastings in a picture from 2002. (We looked at the western end in an earlier post). On the left in Molson’s Bank building, while the tallest building is the Regent Hotel, and on the far right of the picture is the Empire Hotel. The pale brick Molson’s Bank was designed by H L Stevens, who was based in New York but had a branch office in Vancouver for a few years from 1911 and was responsible for several landmark buildings in Vancouver and the United States. Molson’s had an earlier 1898 branch on West Hastings, while this building, the East End Branch, costing $80,500, was approved for construction with a concrete frame in 1912. The bank continued to use the building until the 1930s, and the upper storeys were initially used for offices for doctors, dentists, lawyers, and other professionals, (including court interpreter and notary public W A Cumyow), but by 1922 had become the Graycourt Hotel (rooms).

Later the whole building became the Roosevelt Hotel, over the years becoming more run down and in the late 1990s home to some of the women who were victims of the Pickton murder case. It was acquired by BC Housing, and is now run by the Portland Hotel Society, with 42 units of non-profit housing for Downtown Eastside residents. The community members are largely individuals dealing with physical and mental health issues, social stigma, emotional trauma, substance dependence, and other issues.The building underwent a major renovation in 2015 as part of BC Housing’s SRO Renewal Initiative, and reopened, beautifully renovated, in August 2016.

162 E Hastings, to the west, was probably completed in 1913 (as 148 E Hastings), although it received its building permit in 1911. Designed by Parr and Fee for Adolphus Williams, it was purpose-built as a Billiard hall & cigar stand built by Hemphill Brothers and cost $10,000 to build. Mr. Williams was a lawyer, magistrate and former politician; (he represented Vancouver City in the BC Legislative Assembly from 1894 to 1898). Mr. Williams apparently sold the building to real estate agents Hope and Farmer, who carried out a number of repairs and alterations including a 1919 permit to use it as the Veteran’s Canteen. In 1916, Mr. Williams sued Art Clemes (described as a rancher from Spences Bridge) for trespass. Presumably the building was built just over the property line onto the land owned by Mr. Williams.

Next door to the east is the Regent Hotel, which the City of Vancouver are seeking to expropriate because of the condition that the owner has allowed it to fall to, and east of that was the Pantages Theatre, designed by E E Blackmore in 1907, and tragically demolished and redeveloped as a controversial condo building in 2011.


98 East Pender Street

We looked at the history of this building in an earlier post. In a later incarnation it became the Mandarin Gardens, but by 1920 it was supposedly the home of W K Chop Suey, according to the details of this Vancouver Public Library image. Actually, W K Chop Suey only appeared here in the 1922 street directory, managed by David Lee, so the image may date from after 1920, or it’s possible that the directory compilers were slow to catch the new business. It’s certainly from before 1924 when W K Chop Suey (which occupied the upper floor) had closed. Another restaurant appeared in 1927 at 127 East Pender as the WK Oriental Gardens, with a new company capitalized at $10,000 run by Harold and Wilbert Lim.

David Lee had arrived in Canada in 1911, and had been born in China in 1892, and in 1921 had two roomers living in his home in the 700 block of East Pender. He was listed as a restaurant labourer, so the promotion to manager a year later was a significant step up.

We noted in the earlier post that the $20,000 development was designed by E E Blackmore for Mrs Chance Wong Co, but that we couldn’t trace who that was. The contractor was Edgar Wilson, and we’ve traced another 1919 permit for work on the building that was owned by ‘Mrs Chance Wong Lo’, with the work designed and built by Yuen Wong. The same builder also worked on the adjacent building, which was owned by Lau Yip Wong, with Fong Wong running a jewellery store there. He was also listed as owner of this building when it was repaired in 1920. Despite the local Caucasian architect, the design borrowed from the vernacular Pearl River Delta architecture from Guangdong province that many Vancouver Chinatown buildings display.

The 1921 census helps clarify who the developer probably was. Fong Wong lived at this address (as 92 E Pender) with his wife, Chan Shee. They had both arrived in 1906, and had three sons and a daughter, all born in BC and aged between five and eight. A cousin and four lodgers also lived with them. Fong was a merchant, dealing in jewellery, and we wondered if there was a business reason why his wife was listed as the developer of the building, or whether she was in business in her own right. A 1931 court case clarified that Chansee Fong Wong was an active participant in the management of property in Chinatown. In 1927 she leased 143 East Pender, a second floor premises, to Wong Fon Hong, who operated the International Chop Suey restaurant there. The rent was $18,000 a year, and by mid 1929 the restaurant owed 2 months payments. She hired baliffs to take over the premises, and the case revolved around the question of whether the lessee gave up the property, or should have been allowed to make the late payments and continue in business. In a split decision, the judges ruled that “When giving up the keys at three o’clock in the morning, the lessees said ‘Here are the keys, we cannot carry on’.”

In the early 1950s the building was demolished, and became part of an extended Columbia Street, which until then had stopped at Pender.


Posted 25 June 2018 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Gone

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Pantages Theatre – East Hastings Street (2)

We looked at the story of Alexander Pantages, whose name graced Art Clemes East Hastings Street theatre from its opening in 1908 for about a decade in our previous post. The theatre was built in a hurry – the developer was fined $10 for covering up the foundations before they could be inspected by the city’s engineer. George Calvert managed the theatre when it opened in January 1908, seeing a range of vaudeville acts revolve through the stage door, playing several houses a night as the management sought to charge lower prices than rival theatres, but still extract a profit from the operation. They ranged from musical comedy to animal acts, (Madam Lucretia with her leopards and panthers), whistlers, acrobats, a quick change artist (Mlle Fregolia, the first popular woman to perform Quick Change with prepared costumes), blackface and boxers (Bob Fitzsimmons, the ‘Famous Freckled Fighter’ from Cornwall, the lightest heavyweight champion). Alexander Pantages checked the theatre out in November 1908.

In 1909 Miss Nada Moret of Australia offered charming high-class songs, with a ‘dainty’ operetta as the headlining act. That contrasted with Sullivan and Kilrain who fought America’s last-ever bare-knuckle prizefight in 1889, and continued to cash in on it twenty years later. In 1910 Hamad’s Arabs appeared – not horses, but acrobats: “Abou Hamad’s Arabs, nine in number, said to be the best troupe of sons of the desert, will be on the bill. It is one of the best of foreign acts.” The Daily World reported “Eddie Martin, playing at the Pantages this week, will be seen in a specialty song and dance act that is one of the best in the business. Mr. Martin has the reputation of being one of the finest clog and fancy dancers in vaudeville”. Earlier that year The Great Pauline had been the attraction, “the wonderful French scientist and physician, whose demonstrations of the superiority of mind over matter have been the talk not only of the vaudeville votaries of the States and Europe, but also of physicians and psychologists in every city that he has appeared in.” This description might not make it obvious that Pauline was a male hypnotist and mind reader – one of the highest paid performers in vaudeville. He was French only if you had been hypnotized to believe that Rochester, New York, was in France. In October “an abundance of laughter will prevail during the turn of Chas Allen and Jack Lee who have the reputation of being the funniest pair of Jew comedians ever sent over the Pantages circuit.”

A year later, in August the Three Marx Brothers appeared for the first time in Vancouver in “Fun in Hi Skool”. Groucho played as a Dutch-accented schoolmaster and alongside his brothers his Aunt Hannah was one of the pupils. That year there were two attempts to break into the theatre’s safe. The Marx family returned again to play a week’s residency in 1913 as The Four Marx Brothers, and didn’t return to Vancouver again until 1918, when they had transferred their allegiance to the rival Orpheum circuit. It continued to operate throughout the war, adding drama to the roster of performances, including Arizona Joe’s Cowpuncher’s performing ‘Pastimes of the Plains’.

Once the new larger Pantages theatre opened a couple of blocks west, the old theatre continued under new owners, although Pantages had to sue to prevent the old name continuing in use. It became the Theatre Royal in mid 1918, and the owner, Mr Royal, chose a pink and gold redesign which could still be seen when the theatre was closed in the 1990s. Touring dramatic performances continued to provide most of the bookings, initially provided by Jim Post and his Musical Comedy Company, who worked up and down the west coast. There were still hypnotists and mind readers, and the occasional visiting songstress, but business was clearly falling off, and by the early 1920s the theatre was sometimes dark, and sometimes was showing films. Kelly’s Comedians performed here, but they moved to another theatre near the new Pantages.

In the late 1920s the theatre was converted to a movie house. In 1933 it survived having a bomb being thrown into the building, destroying the projectionists booth, and a car parked outside on the street. The aftermath damage is shown in our 1933 VPL image. Surrounding businesses including the Balmoral Hotel and the Dawson Building had their windows blown out, and discovered their insurance didn’t cover bombings. It was supposedly carried out by a Russian-born Chicago mobster and extortionist known as ‘Willie The Pimp’ working for union interests trying to create a monopoly union. (Years later, in 1955, having ratted out his gangland partners and despite being given a new identity by the FBI, Willie Bioff was killed when his car exploded in his Phoenix driveway).

Later it became known as the State, the Queen, the Avon and City Nights. As the Avon, in 1953, it saw a police raid in the middle of a live theatre performance of ‘Tobacco Road’. Five members of the regular cast were taken to jail, charged with taking part in an indecent performance. The play was an adaptation of Erskine Caldwell’s book about life, love, and poverty in the American South. Despite having run on Broadway for 8 years and being turned into a film, the VPD viewed the performance as “lewd and filthy”. It turned out that the raid was prompted by complaints from the production team to generate the response, and hence free publicity. It paid off; the cast returned after 90 minutes to complete the performance, and the play sold out for the rest of the run.

It last operated as the Sung Sing, a Chinese-language theatre, which closed in 1994. Several attempts were made to resurrect the theatre by community based groups, but holes in the roof started to see significant damage to the decorations. An appeal to the City of Vancouver to purchase the theatre was rejected, and the property developer owner was allowed to demolish the structure and the single storey retail buildings to the west. He built a woodframe condo building that was supposed to offer low cost home ownership over revitalized retail with a courtyard. However, the courtyard is gated, and locked, and the ownership model does not ensure the relatively low initial costs of apartments are maintained in subsequent sales, so units have been flipped to new owners at higher prices. The one tangible benefit are 18 units on non-market rental. The new Downtown Eastside plan wouldn’t allow a condo building in the area in future.


Posted 31 May 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Pantages Theatre – East Hastings Street (1)


The Pantages Theatre stood on East Hastings for over a century. It was built in 1907 and was the Vancouver base of Alexander Pantages and his Seattle managed vaudeville circuit, and was the oldest surviving Pantages Theatre in Western Canada, and until its demolition one of the earliest purpose built vaudeville houses remaining in North America. It’s seen here in a 1910 postcard in the Vancouver Public Library collection.

Alexander Pantages had only a loose affiliation with accuracy when it came to recording his history (not least because he was effectively illiterate, so kept few records, although he could speak six languages). He was possibly born on the island of Andros in Greece as Pericles Pantazis, probably in 1867, and he almost certainly ran away from home (in Cairo at the time) at the age of nine and travelled around the globe as a deck hand. He headed to north America (after a stint digging the first attempt at the Panama Canal) in the early 1880s. His 1910 census record said he arrived in the US in 1881; in 1920 he said 1883, and in 1930, 1885. (His year of birth shifted as well, from a probably inaccurate 1872 to an even less accurate 1874).

He settled initially in San Francisco where he worked as a utility boy in a vaudeville theatre, as a waiter and as an unsuccessful boxer. By 1896 he owned a restaurant and in December of that year he was arrested for smuggling 185 tins of opium. He was found not guilty after he established that at the night of the alleged crime he was training for a prize fight. An incidental detail in the case revealed that he had a surprisingly healthy bank balance for the owner of a small restaurant. Like many others he headed for the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897 or early 1898, ending up in Dawson City. As other successful Klondike entrepreneurs, Pantages found there was more money to be made from the miners than from mining, especially if you’re only five feet six and would rather avoid digging in sub-zero temperatures. He worked as a waiter in Charlie Cole’s Saloon, which became a dance hall. He became business partner (and lover) of a Kansas native, and step-daughter of a Spokane judge, dancer and singer Kate Rockwell, (later to be known as “Klondike Kate”). Her specialty act, developed at Dawson City’s Palace Grande Theatre in 1900 involved wearing a red sequined dress spinning around in 200 feet of red chiffon cloth as if she was on fire. With Kate’s financial help he acquired and operated a small, but successful vaudeville and burlesque theatre, the Orpheum.

(There was another, and less flamboyant Yukon citizen known as Klondike Kate, with a Vancouver connection. Katherine Ryan was from New Brunswick, and in the late 1890s was set to marry her boyfriend, and when he decided instead to become a priest, Kate headed west and became a nurse in Vancouver. Tales of the goldrush led her to Whitehorse where she ran restaurant for many years. Eventually she ended up living in Vancouver again, where she died in 1932).

Unlike other female dance hall employees, as a named headliner on the vaudeville bill Kate Rockwell would not have been expected to ‘be available’ to patrons, but she would be expected to help relieve them of their money by drinking with them after the show. Champagne was $20 a bottle, and the girls were reimbursed for every cork they collected. Kate was successful as a dancer and entertainer – although not top of the bill – and she apparently saved money – although almost certainly nothing like the $150,000 that some sources suggest. She also didn’t stay the whole time in the Yukon; in 1899 she was part of a large vaudeville company that visited Victoria for a week and in 1900 she was on the bill as a dancer at the Savoy Theatre on Cordova Street. She briefly left for the States, and returned with an infant that she claimed was an orphan of a destitute mother. It’s possible that ‘Lotus Rockwell’ was the outcome of her affair with Alex.

In 1902, as the easiest gold had been found, Pangages headed south, and settled in Seattle. He rented a store on Second Street, fitted it out with hard benches, bought a movie projector and some film, hire a vaudeville act, and opened the Crystal Theatre. The funds he used included some of Kate Rockwell’s savings.

Kate was still touring; she was in Victoria at the Orpheum in 1903 ‘performing her beautiful electric serpentine dance’ and in Washington state in 1904, billed as a ‘spectacular dancer’, and had still been sending some of her earnings to Pantages. She was listed as the proprietress of the Orpheum in Victoria in 1903, having bought it for $350. Within a year she sold the theatre for $1,500 and returned to Alaska. Alex had been dictating regular love letters to Kate in which he expresses concern that she was drinking a lot, and in 1904 Kate returned to Seattle. She performed at the classier Alcazar Theatre, as Alex couldn’t afford to pay the salary she could command as a performer. She headed to Texas, which was going through an oil boom, and Alex bought yet another theatre, The Strand in the Skid Row area.

Kate understood that they would be getting married and settling down, so she wasn’t at all happy when A Pantager (sic) married Lois Mendenhall, a violinist from Oakland, in 1905. (Lois solemnly swore she was eighteen years or older – she showed her age as 25 in the 1910 census, but only 31 in 1920. She generally maintained her 1888 birthdate after that, suggesting she was actually only 17 when she was married.)

In 1905, while she was performing in Spokane, Kate heard from Alex that he was married, in a letter sent four days after the ceremony. In the summer she sued for breach of contract for $25,000. After effectively winning the suit, she settled out of court, and although some reports suggest she got $5,000, a contemporary newspaper report said she only got $800. She had to head back to Alaska and then out on the vaudeville circuit again, appearing in Vancouver with her Comedy troupe in 1907. She eventually settled in Oregon, was married at least three times, and became increasingly famous with the stories she told of her days in the Yukon – although the name ‘Klondike Kate’ appears not to have been used until 1929. She died in 1957.

Alex opened the first Pantages Theater in Seattle a few years after the Crystal, and in 1906 the even larger (1,200 seat) Lois Theatre. A year later the Vancouver theatre opened, designed by local architect E E Blackmore. Costing $100,000, it was bankrolled by local developer Art Clemes, who would go on to build the Regent Hotel next door to the theatre a few years later. Alexander supplied the acts, developing a circuit which saw his shows and acts constantly touring, always starting in Winnipeg. At the peak of his career in the 1920s, Pantages owned or controlled more than 70 vaudeville theaters, virtually all under his direct personal management. He and Lois had three children, and he moved to Los Angeles, living in a mansion. A second daughter was living with the family in 1920, Marjorie Nelson. A friend of the Pantages’ daughter Carmen, Marjorie was orphaned and adopted by the family. She later became Dixie Pantages, an actress who often doubled for her friend Carole Lombard in movies.

In the 1930 census Alexander and Lois Pantages were living apart. Lois and her children, Rodney, Lloyd and Carmen were living with her mother, Elvira, and four servants. Alexander’s census record identifies him as an inmate in San Quentin jail. 1929 had been a devastating year for the family. In June Lois caused a car accident that left a man dead and several others injured. In August, Alexander was arrested and tried for raping a 17-year-old woman named Eunice Pringle. Found guilty in a jury trial, Pantages sought a retrial, and finally in 1931 was found not guilty of the charge. The legal battle, however, exhausted a large part of his personal fortune. He had sold all but his flagship Broadway theatre to other owners, including RKO Pictures whose controlling investor, Joseph P Kennedy has been suggested to have been involved in framing Alexander on the charge. Paid in stock, rather than cash, the family fortune declined even faster as the market collapsed. Alexander Pantages died of heart failure in 1936. In Vancouver he had built a new, larger Pantages theatre which opened in 1918, and the old theatre continued under a new name and different management, finally to be redeveloped a few years ago.


Posted 28 May 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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1000 block West Pender Street

There are two buildings here that were replaced in the 1960s, seen here in a 1931 Vancouver Public Library image. On the left is the Essex Rooms at 1033, while next door were the Duchess Rooms, at 1025. These were apparently developed by the A S French Auto Co in 1910, as a $55,000 ‘garage and rooms’, designed by ‘Blackmore’. The Essex Rooms were described as a warehouse when their building permit was issued in 1909 to Crickmay Bros. who hired Honeyman and Curtis to design the $14,000 investment. The main floor was occupied by the BC Anchor Fence Co when the building was completed. Baynes and Horie were the contractors, while Hemphill Brothers built Austin French’s building.

In 1911 the Daily World announced “The A. S. French Auto Co. are now occupying their new commodious quarters at 1027 Pender Street West, and have the largest fireproof and most up to date garage and sales rooms in British Columbia. They have a storage capacity for 600 cars, and carry besides a full line of accessories. The building is of reinforced concrete, absolutely fireproof, and with two floors, 66×132 feet In size. Each floor has a level driveway entrance, the lower being on Seaton street, and the upper on Pender. When the outside decorations are completed, the building will present an extremely attractive appearance. “Any one wanting a Napier car this season will have to hustle.” said Mr. A. S. French, “as the allotment for this year Is almost sold out. Nearly all the cars allotted us are in now, only five or six carloads remaining to be delivered. I have no idea how many Napiers have been sold in Vancouver without looking up the records, but as an instance of the way they are going I might mention that last week I sold over $42,000 worth, including the sales of Saturday night after dinner, which amounted to $19,500. We are open for business day and night. Besides the Napier we also handle the Stoddard – Dayton cars, which I consider the best car on the market for the money. The Napier is a British built car.”

Fred and Alf Crickmay were customs brokers, The had offices in the Pacific Securities Building, across from the customs building and overlooking the harbour. Fred had arrived from England in 1886, and by 1901 were already successful in the brokering business. Fred shared a house that year with his two older sisters. By 1912 he was also managing director of the BC Anchor Fence Co, and had moved to Shaughnessy Heights. Alfred had arrived in 1888, and was married with two children in 1901, with a 19 year old Japanese servant called Verna. By 1912 he had moved to North Vancouver.

A few years after construction in 1915 the Duchess Rooms had become the Driard Hotel, managed by J K Ramsay, while the Essex Rooms had Mrs E T Armstrong as proprietor. A S French continued in business, switching to selling the Overland cars in 1916 (at only $850), and in 1922 the Chandler, Cleveland and Liberty Six lines of vehicles. His father, Captain George French (whose warehouse we saw in an earlier post), Austin, and Austin’s son, (also George) were all associated with the company.

In 1978 the 26 storey Oceanic Plaza office building was completed here. A later cousin to the Guinness Tower across the street, it was developed by British Pacific Building Ltd and designed by Paine and Ching (evolved from Charles Paine and Associates who designed the Guinness Tower across the street). Where the building stood is now a plaza, with the 2002 Government office building (named the Douglas Jung Building) to the east, fronting Burrard Street.


YMCA – Cambie and Dunsmuir

YMCA Cambie & Dunsmuir ne

We’ve seen the earlier building occupied by the YMCA on Hastings Street in a post from a few years ago, and their new 1940 premises more recently. Here’s where they moved to in the interim; a wooden building built in 1905 on the north-east corner of Cambie and Dunsmuir Streets. By the time this picture was taken in 1941 the organisation had moved on to their new Burrard Street building. Initially this building was designed by E E Blackmore, and A E Carter built it for $8,500. It replaced two houses that had been built very early in the life of the new city.

Even when it was built it had neighbours. The High School had been built a few years earlier to the west, and the recreation ground was across the street with the Drill Hall on the other side of Beatty Street. The First Baptist Church was across Dunsmuir, and within seven years would be described on the insurance map as ‘Old & Vacant’. The lot to the east, across the lane became the home to another new building for the Vancouver Athletic Club.

In 1941 the newly vacated building was quickly adopted for the war effort, the Canadian Government Department of National Defence Support Column moved in, later replaced by the Armouries. After the war the Glad Tidings Pentacostal Assembly took over the premises and stayed until at least 1960, by which time the recreation ground had become the bus station. In 1994 the site was redeveloped as the Seimens Building – now known as the Amec Building, designed by Aitken Wreglesworth Associates.

The corner of the new building was cantilevered out to allow the building’s base footprint to miss the tunnel for the SkyTrain which angles across the site from the station on Beatty Street, and picks up the abandoned Canadian Pacific rail tunnel further west. The tunnel was originally cut in 1931, and allowed the trains from Waterfront Station to be moved to the Drake Street railyards to be cleaned, supplied and made ready for the trip back to the east. Before it was built, full scale steam trains could block the Downtown streets they crossed for up to 20 minutes. Eventually CP’s use ceased in 1979.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N151


Posted 3 September 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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