Archive for the ‘Francis Carter Cotton’ Tag

View from Harbour Centre Lookout south east

The before image here is from 1981, and the contemporary image was taken about 18 months ago, although very little has changed since. (That won’t be true in future, as the viaducts cutting across the image are due to be demolished at some point in the near future).

There are three landmarks, each over a century old. In the foreground is the top of the Dominion Building, developed by the Dominion Trust in the late 1900s and completed in 1910, designed by J S Helyer and Son, and replacing an earlier retail building called The Arcade. On the corner of Hastings and Cambie is the Province Building (once home to the newspaper of the same name) developed by the newspaper owner Francis Carter Cotton and completed in 1908. He also built the adjacent and linked building on West Pender Street that became home to wholesale fruit and vegetable dealer H A Edgett. A A Cox designed both buildings. Further up West Pender is the Sun Tower (the name coming from another newspaper) developed in 1910, designed by W T Whiteway and completed in 1912 for Daily World owner L D Taylor, who was mayor of Vancouver for several terms between 1910 and 1930.

Beyond those buildings, and the row of warehouses down Beatty Street, was a soon to abandoned industrial landscape. Once home to heavy industries, and heavily polluted with metals and chemicals, in 1981 there were a number of warehouse and shipping operations and at the ends of False Creek, a concrete batching plant. The viaducts were the second structure – the first so badly built that the plan to run trams over the bridge was abandoned as it couldn’t take the weight. The new viaduct was the only part of an ambitious plan to run a highway through and round Downtown from Highway 1. It would have cut through the early residential Strathcona neighbourhood, removed much of Chinatown and then replaced the warehouses of Gastown. Some versions of the plans added complex cloverleaf junctions and cut through the West End. Delays and changing governments (and priorities) ensured only the replacement for the structurally compromised existing viaduct was funded.

It crossed a landscape that changed significantly after this picture when Expo 86 was built on the land around the end of the Creek in the mid 1980s. Subsequently the land was sold to a few developers. Concord Pacific developed most of the site (and continue to do so today, over 30 years later), but two other developers were responsible for the residential transformation today. Between 1989 and 2007 Bosa Development built over 1,000 units at the end of False Creek, between Main and Quebec Streets. Five towers can be seen today, with a sixth the headquarters of the Vancity Credit Union which spans the tracks of the Skytrain. Closer to us is International Village, a complex of six towers and a supermarket, retail mall and cinema built over a similar period to Citygate by Henderson Developments, a Hong Kong based developer. The worst polluted soils were retained on site and capped, with Andy Livingstone Park built on top.



West Pender Street – 100 Block (2)

We looked at this block of West Pender from the other end in an earlier post. Here, we’re looking east and down the hill from Victory Square. On the corner of Cambie Street is the Edgett Building, actually developed by Francis Carter Cotton and later used by H A Edgett for his wholesale fruit and vegetable company. Today it’s the home of the Architectural Institute of BC. Next door is a vacant site, soon to be redeveloped with a non-market rental building, but originally home of the Calumet, a rental building that may have been one of Sam Kee’s investment hotels, where he hid his ownership (as the building was outside Chinatown) by having the Building Permit submitted by his lawyers, Parkes & McDonald.

Next door going east were two hotels, still standing today and operated as well managed privately owned SRO Hotels. The Silver was developed by W S Silver, and English born broker who lived in Burnaby (with Silver Avenue being named for him). Designed by Grant & Henderson, it was completed in 1914, five years after the Savoy Rooms, later the Avalon Hotel, designed by Parr and Fee for McLennan and Campbell.

The Vancouver Public Library picture (above) was taken in 1912, while the one below dates from 1981, after the Calumet had burned down. In 1981 137 West Pender was still standing; a warehouse built in 1915 probably developed by an advertising executive called I N Bond. That was replaced in 1989 by Pendera a non-market housing building designed by Davidson & Yuen that was part of the Jim Green era Downtown Eastside Residents Association development program.

Image sources Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E16.12



Posted 13 September 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone, Still Standing

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News Advertiser – 420 Cambie Street

Another of the newspaper buildings clustered around Victory Square, this is the News Advertiser seen in 1900, ten years after it had been constructed on the corner of Pender and Cambie. It cost $20,000 and the business included a bindery run by G A Roedde (you can still visit Mr Roedde’s former home in the West End). The News Advertiser claimed a number of firsts for the city, and possibly the country, including electric powered presses and, in 1893, typesetting machines. In 1910 the paper was sold by its long-time owner Francis Carter Cotton and seven years later the paper was again sold, this time to rival newspaper the Sun.

In 1907 the paper move to a new location on West Pender, and three years later a building permit was issued to replace the wooden former offices. Although the new building is often identified with fruit and vegetable dealer H A Edgett, the developer was Francis Carter Cotton, who presumably retained ownership when he moved his paper to its new home beyond the Courthouse. Carter Cotton had built an office building to the north of the site in 1908, and he used the same architect for his latest property investment, A A Cox. The style of the two buildings is complementary, and H A Edgett who occupied it had a storefront on the corner for his greengrocers and furniture store – a somewhat unlikely combination. That’s the store on this 1912 postcard, and the wagons from around the same time suggest the furniture part of the business was equally as important as the grocery.

Harry Edgett was born in New Brunswick and arrived in British Columbia in 1890. He was obviously a successful merchant as he was also a director of the Sterling Trust and by 1914 was living in Shaughnessy Heights.

The building was adapted in 1924 as the printing works for the Province Newspaper who also occupied the offices to the north and created an arched bridge between the two buildings.

These days the Architectural Institute of British Columbia occupy the building after a renovation designed by Peter Busby.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives, News Advertiser Building c1900, CVA SGN 1457


Carter Cotton Building – 198 West Hastings

The Carter Cotton Building was completed in 1908, so was one of the earliest tall thin office towers that were built in a frenzy in the city in a 5-year period from 1908 to 1912.  Built on Hastings next to the Courthouse (these days Victory Square) with a steel frame, it was designed by Cox and Amos as offices for Carter Cotton’s newspaper, the Daily News Advertiser. Carter Cotton was born in Shoreditch in London as Francis Cotton – nobody knows where the ‘Carter’ came from.

His early history is as mysterious as his name change – he may have been in India, and he was certainly in the US, making money, then borrowing heavily against an irrigation canal company and land investments for cattle both of which failed in 1886 leaving him owing $300,000 and escaping Denver by jumping on a train while his creditors were locked in his office.

He arrived in Vancouver less than a year after the fire, and within a few months had a partner and a new role as editor of a newspaper created with someone else’s money and the merger of two rival papers, the News and the Advertiser. He stayed as editor of the News Advertiser until 1910, and used the paper to launch into municipal and then provincial politics. Despite having written against speculative capitalism he got involved in high risk investments in trust companies and real estate. In 1907 he commissioned the new building, seen here in a postcard probably photographed soon after its completion a year later. Despite the suggestion in the Heritage description of the building, as far as we can tell it was never home to the News Advertiser.

When it was announced in the press in 1908 there was no mention of his newspaper interests. “Another large building is that proposed by Hon. F. Carter-Cotton, who owns the only vacant corner in the business section of the city. He will erect a seven-storey structure that will be absolutely fireproof, and it is proposed to have it ready in about a year. The Eastern Townships Bank will take the whole of the ground floor. The building will be located diagonally across Hastings Street from that to be erected by the Imperial Trust Company.

He sold his newspaper (which was struggling against aggressive competition) in 1910 and acquired land on the north shore, and promoted a bridge and tunnel company to improve access over Burrard Inlet. When the pre-war crash occurred these investment vehicles collapsed and he owed $150,000 more than he owned. Meanwhile the building he had developed took on the name of the Province newspaper, the rival that had taken him out (and acquired his building some years later). They linked the building to another Carter Cotton development to the south, the Edgett Building.

More recently history has been repeated somewhat – in 1998 Millennium Development Corporation restored the building as their headquarters, and in 2010 the City of Vancouver took ownership as part of the settlement for the remaining debt owed by Millennium on the Olympic Village project. The building was sold on again in 2012.