Archive for the ‘E G Prior’ Tag

800 block Beatty Street – north side

We’re looking up Beatty Street from Smithe Street. These warehouse buildings date back over a century, and this 1926 image shows them already looking well used. On the corner is the $25,000 1910 warehouse designed by Thomas Hooper for J McMillan – although the insurance map and the street directory identify the company as W J McMillan and Co Ltd. Next door, in the same year, Thomas Hooper also designed the warehouse for E G Prior and Co, costing $21,000. The third warehouse in the row was another Hooper design, also in 1910 costing $22,000 for J B Campbell. That was shown (inaccurately) as being used by the McCampbell Storage Co on the insurance map. Baynes and Horie had the contracts to build all three buildings.

The McMillan warehouse was associated with the Saskatchewan Flour Mills Co. but was developed by a firm of wholesale grocers. W J McMillan was born in Restigouche, in New Brunswick, in 1858 and came west, initially to Sacramento, then Oregon before Victoria in 1883. He arrived in Vancouver in 1888 as a produce merchant, although he had already acquired land in the city. As he moved from selling produce to wholesaling his brother, Robert McMillan became a partner, and the business incorporated in 1907 adding E J Deacon as Vice-President. The business prospered, and they shipped as far as Yukon and Alaska. Before they moved to this new building they occupied one on Alexander Street.

We have also seen the earlier building occupied by E G Prior’s hardware company. Prior was a Yorkshireman who originally trained as a mining engineer, and worked in the Nanaimo coal mines from 1873. He was appointed Inspector of Mines in 1877, living in Victoria, representing that city in parliament from 1886 (and establishing his company a few years earlier on Yates Street). Prior was elected an MP in 1886 but lost his seat in 1901 because of violations of the Electoral Act. In 1902 he became Premier of BC, only to be dismissed in 1903 following a charge of conflict of interest by ensuring his hardware company received Government business. He remained an MLA until his defeat in 1904, the same year he failed to be elected to a federal seat. He was appointed lieutenant-governor of BC in 1919, only to die in office in 1920.

John Bell Campbell was born in Woodville, Ontario, and his father moved from there to Vancouver in 1891, having sold his carriage building business and retiring, eventually joined by all five sons. J B was the eldest, initially training as a blacksmith and then working for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. He later moved to Atchison and worked for the Missouri Pacific Railway. In 1898 he moved to Vancouver, with the initial intention of heading to the Klondike. Instead he opened a storage business, growing to the point of building his own warehouse. In 1910 he organized The Campbell Storage Company, Limited, which was incorporated with him as the president; his brother, Gregor L Campbell, as the vice president and his son, Charles E Campbell, as the secretary and manager; while his son, John G, and brother Charles were directors. In 1921 they sold out to Mainland Terminals, part of C P Railways operations, who had another warehouse on Beatty Street. The Campbell family were very active in the city’s life. J B Campbell was elected alderman for four years between 1907 and 1911. He stood for a provincial seat in 1909, but wasn’t elected. In 1910 he was made shipping master for the port of Vancouver. His extraordinarily comprehensive 1913 biography revealed that “Mr. Campbell is five feet eleven inches in height and weighs one hundred and eighty-five pounds.”

His son, Charles went on to own the Vancouver Daily World for three years having worked for the family business from 1910 until it was sold. Previously he had been part-owner of the Sun, and after selling the World in 1924 he founded another paper, the Star, only to sell that after 6 weeks to Victor Odlum. He moved to Alberta, bought the Edmonton Bulletin in 1925 and stayed for many years.

The McMillan warehouse today is home to a college offering courses in gaming, graphics, fashion and interior design. The Prior building was added to and converted to 21 artist live/work strata apartments in 1999, while the Campbell building was one of the earliest residential conversions of an industrial building, with 37 rental apartments built in 1989.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N258

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Wood, Vallance and Leggat – West Hastings Street

Wood Vallance Leggat Hastings 1908

We showed Wood, Vallance and Leggat’s West Cordova Street retail premises a few posts back. Like the Army and Navy store today, the company operated on both sides of the alley between Cordova and Hastings. Here’s the wholesale and office portion of the business, on West Hastings Street as it looked in 1908, six years after the company bought out Thomas Dunn’s hardware and ship’s chandlers business. However, on Hastings Street the previous business owner wasn’t Dunn, it was E G Prior who sold hardware and machinery.

Prior was a Yorkshireman who trained as a mining engineer, and worked in the Nanaimo coal mines. He was appointed Inspector of Mines in 1877, living in Victoria, representing that city in parliament from 1886 (and establishing his trading company a few years earlier on Yates Street). Prior was elected an MP but lost his seat in 1900 because of violations of the Electoral Act. He became Premier of BC in 1902, only to be dismissed in 1903 following a charge of conflict of interest, He remained an MLA until his defeat in 1904, and was appointed lieutenant-governor of BC in 1919, only to die in office in 1920.

Prior 1893E G Prior & Co were operating in Vancouver some time after 1891 (as this 1893 advert shows) and established the Hastings Street premises around 1900. They apparently didn’t sell the business to Wood, Vallance and Leggat as they had Thomas Hooper design a new warehouse on Beatty Street in 1910. The company also had premises on Pender Street that were expanded in 1901 by a Victoria architect, W R Wilson.

We haven’t been able to discover the architect of the Prior building which looks as if it was built in 1899. It could be W T Dalton, who designed a number of Hastings Street premises around the turn of the century. In 1903 Wood, Vallance and Leggat hired Dalton & Co – (presumably Mr Eveleigh) to design a $9,000 addition to the building.

Rex Theatre W Hastings 1950 VPLThe building in the picture didn’t last very long. Hastings Street had become an important public street, full of theatres and department stores, and wholesale warehouses were moving elsewhere.

In 1913 architect P M Julien applied for a permit for the Rex Amusement Co to build a $40,000 theatre, and the Rex Theatre appeared soon after (it was operating by 1914). It’s listed as a 922 seat theatre, and was used for some vaudeville acts before transforming to a movie house. J A Schuberg, a theatrical impresario from Winnipeg bought a half share in the theatre in 1916 and by 1918 the Rex was described as the leading highclass photoplay house of the British Columbia metropolis” Schuberg’s First National Exhibitor Circuit Exchange of Canada distributed movies throughout BC and the prairies, with exclusive rights to Charlie Chaplin’s movies.

It was still operating in 1950 when this VPL Artray photo was taken, but in 1959 was closed to be incorporated into the adjacent Army and Navy store. Sadly, underneath that ‘modern’ metal screen there are no vestiges of the theatre facade – it was replaced with concrete blocks..

Photo source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P500