Archive for the ‘H A Jones’ Tag

East Hastings and Columbia Street – se corner

This is the corner of Columbia and East Hastings around 1985, and we’ve looked at the history of some of the buildings in the picture in the past. Right on the corner is a wooden building – one of very few left in the area – that was built in 1893 by H A Jones. Next door, to the east, is a building developed by W Clark in 1911 costing $17,000 and designed by a relatively unknown architect called Kenneth Fraser. We have no way of telling which W Clark was – there were two William Clarks and a Walter Clark in real estate, and another William Clark who was a reasonably wealthy business owner. The development probably involved the 3-storey building on Columbia Street, which only appeared in the street directory in 1912 as the Chateau Rooms. Mr. Clark’s lot was unusually L-shaped, with 50 feet on Columbia as well as 25 feet on Hastings – the corner 25 x 70 foot lot was in different ownership. The Chateau Rooms on Columbia were originally run by Madame Rose E Chenette. Douglas Jung, the first member of a visible minority elected to the Parliament of Canada had his offices there.

As we noted in an earlier post, the building was altered several times (and at some expense) several times in the first couple of years. At the end of 1912 there were alterations to a shooting gallery. This was the Wellington Arcade, run by H G Wickwire. It was possible to open the gallery because a year earlier this was the Wellington Theatre, run by ‘Lathan’ and Saborne, as well as the Wellington Pool Room in the same premises. There were alterations to the pool room in 1912 as well. Initially the World Wide News Co were tenants here, but they disappeared within a year and Mr. Clark spent another $2,000 carrying out alterations at the end of 1911, presumably to create the theatre and pool room. William Latham ran a business called Commercial Transfer as well as the theatre, and his partner was James Saborne, who also owned the Granville Chop House. (He’s probably the same James Saborne who also ran the Wilson Cafe on Yates Street in Victoria until 1913 when the sheriff seized the building contents for non-payment of debt).

William Latham’s household in 1901 also included James Saborn as a lodger. William was 50, and from England, and James was 21 from Ontario. William had a wife and three children at home, including Beatrice, who was 16. In 1911 James Saborne was 33, from Quebec, living with his wife, Beatrice who was 25, born in England, and their two sons, Eugene and James Oswald. He had two brothers sharing their home. Unusually, James was identified as a member of the Brethren denomination. James and Beatrice had married in April 1904.

In 1921 William Latham and his Welsh wife Eliza were living with their daughter, Jesse, her husband, Arthur Curtiss, and their 11-year old grandson. James and Beatrice Saborne were living at 1128 Granville Street, with their sons, and James was working as a ship’s steward.

To the east is a 1982 building, originally built as a retail centre, but more recently converted to artists workshops and a gallery. Next door is Brandiz Hotel, an SRO hotel that started life as the Howard Hotel and then became the Empire Hotel. It built in 1913 for Seabold and Roberts and designed by H A Hodgson.

Beyond the Chateau Rooms on Columbia, across Market Alley, is the Great Northern Hotel. This is almost certainly a 1911 building developed by Sam Kee and designed by R T Perry. The Great Northern station was initially just across the street to the south. A third storey was added when the building reopened in 1981 as a Chinese non-market housing building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-1905


West Cordova north side from Homer Street

Remarkably, all the buildings in this 1919 Vancouver Public Library picture are still standing today, almost unchanged in appearance in over 100 years.

We looked at the history of the big warehouse in the middle of this image in two earlier posts. On West Cordova it’s numbered as 401, while on Water Street it’s 342 Water Street. It was developed as a three storey building that later had two floors added. It was built in 1899 as The Burns Block, but became known later as the Buscombe Building. William Blackmore was hired by John Burns to build a three storey stone building, and in 1911 Grant and Henderson designed two additional floors at a cost of $13,500, which was executed in a grey Gulf Island stone matching the earlier phase of the building. We’re not completely sure which of two possible John Burns developed the building, but we suspect he was a Scottish born businessman who arrived in the 1890s when he was already in his 60s, and retired. His son, Fred Burns, was already in Vancouver, dealing in plumbing and engineering supplies.

To the left of the warehouse are two significantly older properties. The Jones Block was developed in 1890, and designed by N S Hoffar, who recycled his design (with an extra window on the top floor) for the McConnell Block next door, also in 1890. Most census records suggest Gilbert Smythe McConnell was born in Quebec around 1857, although his death certificate and the 1891 census said it was 1855. That Census has his name as Guibert, which is probably more accurate, before he switched it for convenience to Gilbert. An 1891 biography tells us much more about Mr. McConnell “Mr. McConnell was born in Argenteuil County, Quebec, in 1856, where he attended school. When fifteen years of age he entered the employ of Green, Sons & Co., of Montreal, wholesale dealers in men’s furnishings. He remained with this firm for seven years, when he received the appointment as Indian agent in charge of the Touchwood Hilt district, Manitoba, in which service he remained for about six years. At the breaking out of the rebellion in the Northwest, in 1885, he was appointed one of the transport officers on Gen. Middleton’s staff’. He returned to Woodstock after the rebellion had been quelled, and was married to the eldest daughter of Wm. Muir, of that town. Mr. McConnell came to Vancouver in 1886, shortly after the fire, and has since been actively identified with the city’s interests. He built about thirty houses, including a couple of brick blocks, and has been interested in various enterprises. He served for two years in the City Council. He started his present business, as a wholesale importer of gents’ furnishings, hats, caps, etc., about three months ago, and has already a very large trade. He owns and built the building he occupies, which is a three story brick, fronting on Cordova and Water streets.”

His wife, Nettie Agnes was from Ontario and ten years younger. They married in Woodstock, Ontario in 1886, and their children were born in British Columbia; William in 1888 and Florence in 1890. Gilbert died in 1934.

We haven’t found a contemporary reference to who the ‘Jones’ in the Jones Block was, but H A Jones had his offices here the year after it was completed. Harry Jones was originally from Liverpool, born there in 1851, and had been in Vancouver from before the 1886 fire. He developed several buildings in the city, and was married at least three times.

Running off the picture to the left is the Holland Block, completed in 1892 and designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, an American lawyer. On the right of the Buscombe Building is the Homer Street Arcade which dates from 1912, designed by Stuart and White for the ‘Thompson Bros’ (actually Thomson), and built by the Burrard Construction Co for $30,000. It was an unusual building for Vancouver: an arcade linking Water Street to Cordova, with an entrance across the street from Homer Street, (which presumably explains its name).


5 and 11 West Hastings Street

We looked at the history of both these buildings in earlier posts, but we’re revisiting as both have seen more recent restoration, and we’ve researched the buildings a little more. On the right, the Canadian North Star (as it was last known) at 5 West Hastings is slightly younger than the Beacon Hotel to the west. We know that from an image we saw in an earlier post about the Palace Hotel, that pre-dated the Merchant’s Bank built in 1912, and recently restored. This Vancouver Public Library dates from 1920.

The image on that post (on the right) dates from 1899 and shows a two storey wooden building where the North Star was constructed. The Beacon, on the other hand had already been built, as a 3-storey building. That supported our earlier conclusion that when the 1899 news reported that “G W Grant would supervise the construction of a four storey block for B.B. Johnston & Co”, this was the building in question. In 1913, it was called “Drexel Rooms”, a name it kept until the 1980s, then later renamed the North Star Hotel or North Star Rooms, a single room occupancy hotel. In 1978 the Province newspaper investigated conditions in the Downtown Eastside SROs. “The owners of the Drexel are very energy conscious. The lights in the halls are left off. Manager Lau Mack King turned them on the other day because he thought the visitor from The Province represented the provincial government.”

In 1999 the Carnegie Newsletter reported the building had been closed for maintenance and health violations. “Although there are at least 29 units in this hotel, few were rented out monthly and many were just plain unrentable. There were so many orders for repairs that it was impossible to count them all.” It was briefly squatted in 2006 in a protest about the lack of affordable housing, but was already in a dangerous condition. Soon after the back of the building collapsed, leaving the structure open to the elements.

In 2014 the Solterra Group applied for permission to renovate the building to provide 31 self-contained units, each with a bathroom and cooking facilities. Half the rooms are reserved for low-income residents (5 for tenants paying welfare rate) and another 13 rooms at the provincial rent supplement rate, locked in for 30 years

Harry Jones was almost certainly the developer of the Beacon Hotel, probably around 1898. His name is in the 1900 Street Directory as occupying the West Hastings Street building, and he was still paying for repairs as owner in 1922. Harry was from Liverpool, and was an early successful real estate developer. We don’t know when the fourth floor was added; he carried out $1,500 of work to a building on Hastings Street in 1905, but he owned several properties, so we can’t be sure which was involved, and the work probably cost more than that. The style adopted for the addition didn’t attempt to follow the Italianate curved windows of the third floor, but added larger areas of glazing. Initially the rooms upstairs were the Ramona Rooms, then the Pacific Rooms, and more recently (and notoriously), Backpackers Inn, “BC’s worst drug hotel”

The Beacon was one of a number of run down SRO hotels bought by BC Housing in the early 2000s, and has had two periods of restoration. Now run by PHS, it initially reopened in 2009 as a social housing building for individuals living with concurrent disorders. An array of programs are available to residents including regular community kitchen events, pancake breakfasts, and movie nights. The Beacon closed for renovations in August of 2014, and reopened again in September 2016.

Image sources: VPL and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-27


Posted 6 April 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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575 Dunsmuir Street


The building is almost unchanged, but the tenant is very different. In 1942 this was the former Vancouver offices of Yukon Southern Air Transport, who had just moved to Howe Street. The company was undergoing other changes that year – Yukon Southern Air Transport was bought out by Canadian Pacific Air Lines, with Grant McConachie, founder of Yukon Southern becoming President of the company. Yukon Southern was sold for over a million dollars, although it had never generated a profit. We’ve seen the building the office occupies in an earlier post: it’s underneath the much-loved and (briefly shuttered) Railway Club, built in 1920 for real estate agent Harry Jones.

McConachie started flying regular mail and passenger flights to Whitehorse from Edmonton in 1937, first with his company United Air Transport (which he founded in 1933) and then with its successor, Yukon Southern Air Transport Limited. Planes used floats in summer and skis in winter, but McConachie soon realized that year round operations were more economical using runways. Only Whitehorse had a year-round runway; otherwise northern airstrips were almost non-existant. In 1938 McConachie hired men to clear airstrips in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson using small tractors and horse teams. The next summer McConachie had started to clear an airstrip at Watson Lake, when the federal Department of Transport decided to develop an airway between Edmonton and Whitehorse based on routes established by bush pilots and a consideration of the shortest route between the centre of the continent and the Orient (the Great Circle Route).

In 1939 an airway survey established a route linking existing airports at Grande Prairie, Alberta, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, B.C., and Watson Lake and Whitehorse in the Yukon. The government expanded these airports with 3,000 ft. x 500 ft. runways and some storage and maintenance facilities. The improvements were made to make it safer to fly across this remote area, and the chain of airports was known as the Northwest Staging Route. McConachie paved the way for the Department of Transport’s survey engineers, but was also able to take advantage of the new facilities for his airline operations. Yukon Southern added 3 twin-engine, all-metal Barkley-Grow T8P-1 airliners in the spring of 1940, followed soon after by 2 Lockheed 18-40 Lodestars.

Today you can’t buy a ticket to Whitehorse,  but you can get a very reasonably priced Falafel Plate.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives Bu N153


100 East Hastings Street

McDonough Hall

This is not the oldest wooden structure still standing in Vancouver – that’s probably 385 East Cordova, a house built and occupied in 1887 by Thomas Dunn. The Alhambra Hotel was also built that year, so that’s a contender for the oldest building, although we think there’s an earlier building developed by Ben Springer and Captain Van Bramer on Cordova Street, and we shouldn’t overlook David Oppenheimer’s warehouse either. However, we acknowledge that this building – previously wrongly identified as the McDonough Hall – is one of the oldest wood-frame surviving commercial buildings in the city. We have no idea who designed it – or even whether anybody did, other than the carpenter who constructed it.

In 1931, when this picture was taken, Major Matthews, the City Archivist, interviewed W F Findlay, an early arrival in the city who recalled “It is at the southeast corner of Columbia and Hastings Street, and is, I believe, the oldest building in downtown Vancouver, a wooden building approximately fifty feet facing on Hastings Street. The first big ball in Vancouver (later corrected to the first of the St. Andrews and Caledonian Society) was held in the McDonough Hall.  It was a really ‘grand’ ball, the supper was on the upper floor; the lower floor, even at that time, was stores, or rather, a grocery store. The building is now used for some sort of a mission, that is, top floor, with stores of various sorts on the street level.” That ball was said to be held on November 30, 1887.

“It was built in the fall of 1887, and finished in 1888. (Mr Findlay clarified later that it was built in 1887 by Mr. McDonough, afterwards for a short time proprietor of the Oriental Hotel). He described it as “practically the only very early building on Hastings Street; I know of no other so early. At the time people remarked, as they saw it in process of erection, ‘Why did he go out in the woods to build it?’. At the time it was built, and for a long time, it stood alone as the only building in the bushes of Hastings Street; there were some Chinese shacks on Dupont Street near it, but on Hastings Street it was the only building.”

There’s some doubt if Mr. Findlay’s memory was all that good. The Past Tense blog checked a picture from around 1890 taken from the roof of the city’s Market Hall near here, looking along Hastings, and there doesn’t seem to be anything built on this site. There’s also nothing showing in the street directories until 1894 when Hesson & Irving’s Grocery was operating here. Mr McDonough has also proved to be elusive. There’s Irishman Charles McDonough living in New Westminster in 1887, a widowed retired dry goods dealer aged 44 in 1891, but nobody called McDonough in Vancouver in either 1887 or 1888. The 1888 Directory described Hart’s Opera House under ‘Amusements’ but doesn’t mention McDonough’s premises. The St. Andrews and Caledonian Society met monthly at Gray’s Hall on Cordova Street. Later there was a P McDonough who was a general agent at the Granville Hotel (on Water Street) in the 1889 Directory, and E M McDonough who was proprietor of the Richmond House at 318 Carrall in 1892. He may be the American Edward McDonough who sold sewing machines according to the 1891 Census, and who was charged, (but acquitted), of dubious financial practices associated with that occupation in Vancouver in 1888.

So it would seem likely that this is actually an 1893 property – but still one of the oldest remaining wooden structures in the city. The application for a water permit was submitted by H A Jones in 1893. Henry Albert Jones was a pioneer real estate agent who lived in Columbus Ohio for some years, where he married Jane Richards and had two daughters. He moved to Vancouver before the 1886 fire (in Vancouver he generally seems to have been known as Harry), and lived in the Leland House hotel in 1890 before moving to a house on Pender Street and then in the early 1890s to a new house on Georgia Street at the corner with Bute. In the 1891 Census he was listed as Harry Jones, living with his second wife, Clara (from Ohio) and his mother-in-law, Louise Shafer who had been born in Germany. He had divorced Jane and remarried in Ohio in 1889.

In the 1901 census he was called Henry, born in England and as well as Clara there were two children, Ruth, aged 8 and Harold aged 6 and Laura Drake, their domestic. Both children had been born in the US, although there’s no sign that the family weren’t living in Canada for any extended period. We are fairly certain that Harry developed another building around this time, on West Hastings Street. In 1911 he was living with his daughter (from his first marriage) and son-in-law, and was shown as being called Harry and born in Wales.

In 1921 he was living on Seymour Street in another building he developed, (most recently known as the Railway Club) with his Norwegian wife Madge. They had married in Santa Ana in California in 1913, where he was described as divorced with 2 previous marriages, and she was a widow who had also been married twice before. He was born in Liverpool, but his father, James, was Welsh. He died in Capitola, Santa Cruz, California in 1923.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA STR N9


Posted 5 June 2013 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Beacon Hotel – West Hastings Street

5 to 11 W Hastings 1978

We looked at the building on the right of this 1978 image a little earlier. It was built as a boarding house before 1900, and we think its westward neighbour (today’s Beacon Hotel) was built a year or so earlier. It started life as a three storey structure, and at some point early in its life added a fourth. It also started out with a different address, as 19 and 21 West Hastings, but more recently has become 9 to 11 West Hastings.

In some ways The Beacon is a classier piece of work than its neighbour. It has rusticated stone lintels and cills, and arched brickwork on what was the top storey when it was built. We don’t know who designed it, but we’re reasonably sure it was developed by Henry A Jones, (most often called Harry) who was born in Liverpool, and was in the city during the great fire. His name is in the 1900 Street Directory as occupying the West Hastings Street building, and he was still paying for repairs as owner in 1922. His second wife, Clara, was born in the US, as were his children, although the family lived in Vancouver from the early days of the city. He had developed The jones Block on West Cordova in 1890, which is in some ways a smaller version of the same design. That was an N S Hoffar design, and he was still active in the city in 1899, so he may have designed this building too.

In the 1891 and 1901 census returns Harry is shown working in Vancouver as a real estate agent. He was obviously already pretty successful; by 1901 the family of four (there was a daughter, Ruth and a son, Harold) also had a domestic living with them and H A was listed as having $20,000 worth of property in 1889, doubling to $40,000 only two years later.

H A JonesJ W Horne treeHe’s listed as having an office on Carroll Street (sic) in the 1887 publication “City of Vancouver, Terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway”  We can find his office on Cordova Street in an 1888 Street Directory. In 1890 he was one of the founders of the Vancouver Loan Trust Savings and Guarantee with at least three other partners; H T Ceperley, J W Horne and R G Tatlow. He was also identified by Mr. H.P. McCraney, ‘a very early pioneer’, in conversation with Major Matthews as being in this noted Vancouver image, supposedly taken by Harry Devine in 1886 on Granville Street soon after the fire that destroyed the city.

When it first appears in 1899, one of the building’s tenants was Thomas Dunn. A couple of years later in 1902 the upper part of the building is the Ramona Rooms. J L Walworth and Co were operating their creamery supplies business, and Mr Jones is no longer listed but another real estate company, R J Blake & Co are here. The businesses change many times over the years – in 1908 the Clark Rooming House is upstairs, Greene and Simpson, undertakers are downstairs and Wray and Dick’s clothing store is next door. In 1910 it’s the Wallace Rooming House and Rickson Brothers downstairs (who sold notions, etc), next to Wray and McKee who now run the clothing store. By 1915 the rooms are the Pacific Rooms and William M Harrison’s drugstore is downstairs, with the other retail space vacant.

During the 1930s Gregory & Reid’s Paint store and G E Snider’s jewellers are beneath the Grand Central Rooms, and by 1950 the Beacon Hotel Rooms are upstairs over Beacon menswear. The stores would continue to change, and the building became increasingly run down (as seen in our early 2000s picture above). By 1978 Hershsons have the clothing store, and there’s also still a jewellers, but upstairs a few years later the Backpackers Inn would be known to the Vancouver Police Department as ‘BC’s worst drug hotel’ (as The Tyee noted). BC Housing acquired the building a few years ago, and have already competed significant improvements. The paint has been removed from the facade, and more bathrooms have been added for tenants inside. Management has been introduced, and the Blue Shell Laundromat offers a valuable service to the neighbourhood. Now the Beacon Hotel is going to get further upgrades as part of an extensive renovation and restoration program for 13 of the Province’s Single Room occupancy hotels.


Posted 22 January 2013 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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The Railway Club – Dunsmuir and Seymour

In 1903 Mrs Thrythall was listed in the Building Permit Register owner, architect and developer of a frame store and dwelling at the corner of Dunsmuir and Seymour. Her husband, William, was one of the earlier printers in the city, setting up shop in 1888 with his son, also called William. The 1903 insurance map shows the corner developed with a printers office (electric motor) with offices above. The additions seem to have been further east, along Dunsmuit Street. The family name is recorded as both Thrythall and Trythall, so there’s some confusion, but Trythall seems to be correct. The company was still operating from the Seymour address in 1920, although a year later they have moved to Homer Street. Most history associated with the family is connected to Mt Trythall’s cabin, halfway up Grouse Mountain – when a climb to the summit took three days to accomplish.

By the mid 1920s when this picture is thought to have been taken a new building had been erected. It’s identified by the City Archives as the Lawsen Building – although there don’t seem to be any residents of the city called Lawsen in the late 1920s or early 1930s. The street directory called it the Laursen Building. Viggo Laursen was already an important resident in the 1910s, solicitor to BC Electric, and it would seem likely that his family name was associated with the building. In 1927 he was living in West Point Grey, and was still solicitor to BC Electric; he was born in Denmark but had arrived in 1893 with his parents, John and Mary, joining his brother, Otto, a plumber, who had arrived two years earlier. A settlement of the Town Estate in the 1930s confirms that this property was associated with a $68,058.72 mortgage to V Laursen.

The building permit dates from 1920, although it doesn’t tell us who the architect was. It was built at a cost of $15,000 by Baynes and Horie for H A Jones. Harry Jones ran his real estate agency from the building (addressed as 592 Seymour) in 1922; another tenant was his son, Harold Jones, who was a manufacturer’s agent selling wire rope. In 1922 Harold lived on Trimble Street, but a year earlier in the 1921 Directory he was living at 590 Seymour, where Harry is shown living in the 1921 census, having moved from Cordova the year before. He was shown married to Madge, 20 years younger, and born in Norway. He didn’t occupy his offices here for very long, as he died in California in 1923. We’ve written more about Harry in other posts: he developed an earlier building in 1893 on East Hastings, and another around 1899 on West Hastings. He also founded the Vancouver Tugboat Company in 1898.

By 1932 The Railway Club began as a members only card club for railway workers. Known initially as the Railwaymen’s Club, it was one of many membership only workingman clubs opened in the city after prohibition was lifted. The club occupied space once occupied by the European Concert Cafe on the upper floors of the Laursen Building. The club operated with a rare “red circle” license where card clubs like the Marine Club and Logger’s Social Club were given a choice by the government, stop the cards or the sale of liquor. In 2012 when we posted this, the Railway Club still operated as a bar and live music venue with one of the most eclectic selections of music in the city. It closed a couple of years later, but has since reopened.

Picture source, City of Vancouver Archives, 1927? Bu N350 (identified as the Lawsen Building)


Posted 1 September 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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