Archive for the ‘Edward Hobson’ Tag

Robson and Bute Streets

This section of Bute has been closed to through traffic and turned into a local plaza. In 1981 there were single storey retail stores on Robson and up to the lane, and two houses across the lane on Bute Street, one on the corner of Haro Street. That’s still standing, but the house behind it has been demolished. The houses were built in 1906, on Haro, and 1907, on the lane. The Haro building was big, and developed by Edward Hobson. In fact it was never a home, but a rooming house, with 8 tenants when it first opened, and 12 today. The developer, Edward Hobson, was an English-born builder and investor. We looked at his history in connection to his Homer Street apartments, also still standing today. He was 49 when he developed the apartments here, and living with his wife Mary, whose surname was Reilly before she married Edward. This became known as Reilly House.

To the north, the house on the lane was unusual; in 1907 as it was described as “Concrete dwelling [cement]” and cost $6,700 to build. John J Hanna, who built the house, moved in soon after. He was an undertaker, and the Archives have an appropriately stern portrait of him. He was a member of the Vancouver Pioneers’ Association, and apparently first shows up in the Vancouver street directory in 1895 working as a clerk for Lockhart and Center; undertakers. A year later George Center and John Hanna were in business together as undertakers, based on Cordova, and after 1912 on West Georgia. They owned a motorized hearse as early as 1915. John was from Ontario, (his father was Irish and his mother from the USA). While the street directory got his first name wrong before 1895, the census shows he was here earlier; in 1891 he was aged 31, and living with his wife, Sarah, also from Ontario, and their children aged Otto, 1, and Leila, 4, and working as a house builder.

His obituary in the Province in January 1934 gave his life story “Mr. J. J. Hanna, 74, president of Center & Hanna Ltd. and one of Vancouver’s moat prominent old-timers, died suddenly early this morning while en route to California to visit his daughter. Mrs. Hanna was with him when he passed away. Apparently in good health, Mr. Hanna left here Monday morning, and at 7 o’clock last night caught the steamer Santa Rosa from Victoria. Shortly after midnight he was taken with a heart attack. The ship was then off Cape Flattery. The remains win be taken to Ban Francisco and returned to Vancouver for the funeral at the end of this week. A highly-esteemed citizen, Mr. Hanna had spent the last forty-two years in Vancouver. He was born in Janetvllle, Ont, and as a young man engaged in the shoe business in that town. In 1891 he came to Vancouver, and two years later formed a partnership in the undertaking business with Mr. George L. Center, who died some years ago. Their establishment in early days was on Cordova street, on the north side, between Abbott and Carrall streets. A prominent Mason, Mr. Hanna was member of Mount Herman Lodge and of King David Lodge in West Vancouver. He was also past grand master of Western Star Lodge No. 10 I. o. o. F. and a leading member in the Rotary Club. He was a past president of the Vancouver Pioneers Association; also of the Victoria County Old-timers. Besides his wife, he leaves a son, Mr. Otto Hanna, 6113 Angus drive. and a daughter, Leila, 6876 Marguerite, now visiting in Los Angeles. He has two brothers, W. J. Hanna In Victoria and A. E. In Meaford, Ont. Two sisters, Mrs. J. R. Magee of Janetvllle and Mrs. M. Richardson of Peterboro, Ont., also survive.” Sarah Hanna continued to run the business until her death in 1937.

We don’t know who developed the single storey retail here, but it wasn’t until the 1930s. This block of Robson was still houses until then; tobacconist Con Jones lived on the south west corner of Bute and Robson (just out of shot) for over 20 years. In 1988 the stores were redeveloped with a more substantial 2-storey retail building, with a restaurant on the second floor, designed by Sidney Suen.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 779-W09.36


Posted 22 October 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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The Homer – 890 Homer Street

Edward Hobson developed this apartment building in 1909. To do so he removed a house that he had constructed here only three years earlier. The house in our 1960s image originally had a matching double to the west, replaced with the retail and apartments seen here. Originally there were just 8 apartments, so they were generously sized. A 1909 story in The Province explains: “Mr. Edward Hobson, a well known builder and realty operator, has planned a handsome three-story store and apartment building which he will I erect at the northeast corner of Smithe and Homer streets opposite the entrance to Recreation park. The building now on that corner will be removed to another location. Mr. Hobson has evolved a unique plan by which every room in the building will have outside windows.”

Mr. Hobson was listed as a contractor in the 1901 census, from England, aged 43, living with his Irish-born wife, Mary, who was 10 years younger. They had arrived in 1898, and Edward’s two Australian-born brothers-in-law, Thomas and William Reilly were living with them. In 1911 William Reilly was one of five lodgers living with Edward and Mary at 1772 Davie. Edward was shown as retired, (although street directories continued to show him working in real estate), and William was also in real estate. Two of the lodgers were shown as working as house work – which may mean they were part of the household rather than paying guests. The final record for the Hobsons living on Davie Street was in 1916, Edward died, aged 61 in January 1917. Sadly, the 1921 census found Mary listed as an imate of the BC Mental Hospital in New Westminster. Mary Jane Reilly Hobson, the daughter of John Reilly & Hannah Kincaid, born in Ireland, died in 1922 and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Edward built a lot of property in the city over about 12 years. Mostly he built houses, and all the permit records show him as both architect and builder. Mostly he developed in the centre of the city, but in 1909 he was listed as developing a brick block in Kerrisdale. We think his wife’s relatives continued to manage his estate, as a 1918 permit for this building was issued to the Hobson Estate, with the work carried out by T Reilly. A 1919 judgement confirmed that seemed to be the case. Edward’s will bequeathed a total of $169,000, but his will was written when his property assets were valuable. When he died the value had dropped dramatically, and the property was only worth around $50,000. The first $50,000 of his estate went to his widow, followed by various $10,000 bequests to relatives (mostly living in England and New Zealand), and smaller sums to a variety of relatives and friends. The problem was that while these added up to $119,000, there was only $291 in assets to distribute. William Reilly was an executor of the will.

The Homer became a rooming house, and initially there was a dyeing business in the retail unit, (one that dyed cloth – not one struggling to survive!) and various businesses replaced it until in 1952 it became the Smithe Coffee Bar, and later Pauline’s Cafe, then Rose’s Coffee Shop and later Stratos Cafe. In 2011 the site was redeveloped as ‘The Beasley’, a 33 storey condo tower designed by GBL Architects. The Homer Apartments were completely renovated, with the original turrets (long missing) reinstated. Over the years the original 8 apartments had been divided up into 23 tiny shared-bathroom rental units. Those were renovated as 15 self-contained market rental units, and The Homer CafĂ© opened downstairs.


Posted 31 August 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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