Archive for the ‘H H Stevens’ Tag

Silverdene – 999 Denman Street

This 1927 West End apartment building is remarkably unchanged in nearly a century. It was built by Dominion Construction Co., and designed by R T Perry for Vancouver Holdings Ltd. Costing a reported $80,000 to build, (more than the $65,000 on the permit), it has a concrete frame and a ‘buff-coloured tapestry brick’ facing. The Province newspaper reported ‘The building is one of the finest of its type in the city and Is completely equipped with every modern convenience. It is claimed by the owners to be fireproof and soundproof.’ The walls between units had hollow tile construction, and there was matting between the floors called Cabot’s Deadening Quilt. ‘It Is claimed by the owners of the building that a piano played in one suite cannot be heard in the one adjoining, so well is it soundproofed’. The basement boasted ‘one of the newer types of electric washing machines‘.

Vancouver Holdings were H H Stevens property investment vehicle. We looked at his history as a (very) conservative politician in an earlier post where we looked at The Queen Charlotte, another 1927 apartment building developed by Stevens. This project wasn’t quite smooth sailing. City Council approved the building, but when they considered it in March, the Civic Building Committee wanted the apartment to be set back from the building line. The developers did not agree, pointing out that the location wasn’t one where a setback was required. After a 3 month delay, the building went ahead without the setback. It was completed by December, and photographed in 1928.

W H Stevens was the local manager running the apartments; he wasn’t in the city in 1921, which is the most recent census we can access. He was a grocer, in Yale, in 1911 and was born in 1877, arriving in Canada in 1887. We believe he was Henry Herbert Stevens’ slightly older brother (as H H was 9 when he arrived in 1887), and was William Harvey Stevens. He died in 1962, and was buried in Burnaby.

Today the building is owned by Equitable Real Estate, whose portfolio includes some of Vancouver’s best heritage buildings (as well as some contemporary ones). The laundry facilities are still ‘of the newer type’: there’s a common Laundry room with fob activation for the washers and dryers.

Image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str N267.2

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Posted 20 January 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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Queen Charlotte – 1101 Nicola Street

Queen Charlotte Apartments 1101 Nicola

We had to catch this ‘after’ picture in early spring – in summer the building almost disappears behind the greenery. Back in 1928 it was a brand new building built by Dominion Construction (the contractors led by Charles Bentall). The client was H H Stevens, a successful politician and businessman. Herbert Henry Stevens was born in Bristol, England, but arrived in Ontario with his family in 1887 at the age of nine. He made his way to the West Coast, working as a mine laborer and eventually became a small businessman. For a brief time in 1900, his travels took him to the newly annexed Philippines as part of a U.S. Army transport unit. He was also in the Pacific at the time of the Boxer Rebellion and participated as a volunteer civilian member of the U.S. Army in China.

These experiences can be associated with a number of Steven’s future positions; a confirmation of his Methodist teetotal background, (and active opposition to the availability of alcohol), support for organized labour (despite a staunchly Conservative political opinion on almost everything else) and a strong belief in the fundamental difference between western and Asian culture, which he believed should be removed from areas of western control (like Canada).

In 1901 he established a grocery business, and in 1910 the newspaper ‘The Western Call’ that supported Conservative views and included significant coverage of ‘the Chinatown problem’. Stevens never moderated his views on preventing any further incursions into the superior white world he imagined Canada should be. He was elected to Vancouver City Council in 1910, and then as a Conservative member of  parliament, In 1911, in his maiden speech he called on the government to keep Canada “a white man’s country”. During the Great War he ensured that the ‘official photographers’ in Stanley Park, Fricke and Schenck, lost that contract because of their German lineage. In a 1922 speech he argued for exclusion of all Chinese, posing the question “shall Canada remain white, or shall Canada become multi-coloured?”. It’s unlikely he’d be particularly happy in Vancouver today. Stevens was Minister of Trade and Commerce in R.B. Bennett’s depression era Conservative government of 1930 to 1934, and was actively involved in the Komagata Maru incident, working with the head immigration officer to stop the ship’s Indian passengers from coming ashore.

Stevens undoubtedly chose Dominion Construction to undertake his investment because Charles Bentall was a staunch member of the Methodist church, and Dominion had in-house architects who could design their projects, acting as design-and-build contractors. More recently it was restored by designer Robert Ledingham when it became a 25 unit strata, and has a period lobby, carpets and lighting fixtures, with what is claimed to be the city’s last brass-gated bird cage elevator.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N261.1

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Posted 30 April 2015 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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