Archive for the ‘H C Wilson’ Tag

Robson Street – 1000 block, north side

There was a row of stores built on Robson Street in 1911, although in this 1950 Vancouver Public Library image by Artray it looks like they were probably remodelled at some point. This location was initially developed with houses, and in 1911 the owner, Harold Wilson, moved a house to the back of the lot and hired Parr and Fee to design retail stores costing $10,000 on the street, built by Baynes and Horie. We know what his middle initial was from one of the two permits submitted by H C Wilson, but we haven’t definitively confirmed his identity. It seems most likely that he was Harry C Wilson, a shoe merchant with a store on Granville Street in the 1910s.

Harry was initially a baker, in partnership as Wilson and Sugden, in Strathcona. He lived in the 700 block of Keefer Street, above the bakery, in a building still standing today. By 1912 he was listed as both a grocer at 733 Keefer, and ‘of the Wilson Shoe Co’, and he had moved to E14th Avenue. In 1909 he got married, and the wedding notice noted that he was originally from New Brunswick, and his wife from Nova Scotia. As a member of the International Order of Foresters, he took a continent-wide tour, starting in Los Angeles and then to various unidentified ‘eastern cities’, ending up at the convention in Toronto. Mr. Wilson intended to combine business with pleasure: “While I do not concede that other cities have anything on Vancouver In the line of shoe stores, an interchange of Ideas Is always profitable, and I will visit as many large shoe stores and factories as possible.”

In 1924 the Royal Trust Co owned the building, and applied to convert it to a garage, to be built by Baynes & Horie for $1,800. However, the street directory shows a series of service and retail stores, suggesting the garage never moved in, although that might be the date of the alterations to the appearance in the picture. The most consistent business here was a milliner’s store.

To the left of the stores, (before The Manhattan apartments at the end of the block), were two houses, and a small single storey store built in 1925. Over the years the numbers were changed – for some peculiar reason, when the block was first developed in the 1890s the last house on the block was 1041. The houses were 1031 and 1035 Robson, (renumbered from 1033). They were already occupied in 1894 by H T Lockyer and J R Seymour, and 1031 was the older, with Jenny Drysdale living here in 1892 and it’s possible the house had been completed a year earlier, but no numbers were assigned to the properties that year. They were replaced at some point by single storey retail units that in turn were redeveloped this year as a double-height shoe store.

In 1950 it’s just possible to make out ‘Cafe’ on the front of the end of the retail block. That’s the geographically inaccurate ‘White’s Corner Cafe’. The houses in 1950 appear to no longer have any residents. C M Hyde, a barrister, had his offices here, along with Alford and Hughes, bicycles, Robson Realty and Aqua Accounting Services. In the house next door Curtis Radio and Electrical shared the building with W Kenyon, a jeweler.

Today there are limits on the height of new buildings (and residential isn’t allowed to be added on this part of Robson) so that the street retains greater natural light. Most buildings on this block have been redeveloped as double-height retail stores, either with two floors (like Indigo Books) or a mezzanine floor. Francl Architecture have been responsible for the design of most of these new buildings.

1041

Posted 7 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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