Archive for the ‘H McKinnon’ Tag

527 East Georgia Street

In 1910 when the permit was obtained for this building, it was described as ‘stores and rooms’. Out 1978 image shows that the stores haven’t been apparent for over 40 years. For some reason the Assessment Authority think this dates from 1905, but for some reason almost nothing was built on this block in the first decade of the 1900s, unlike all the other blocks in the area.

The developer was shown as Alexander, R. (Mrs.) and the architect was H McKinnon. The only logical person in the city was Hector MacKinnon, who was a real estate broker with an office nearby on Main Street. H McKinnon had permits as a builder, owner and architect of various projects, mostly in the East End of the city. He was in partnership with Murdoch Campbell in 1909, but sole proprietor of the business a year later. He was Scottish, and proved hard to find as the census either missed him, or mis-named him. We can find his wife, Catherine (formerly McLeod) who was mentioned in the local press a lot, as she was a violinist. Hector was only 54 when he died in 1930. His wife was living in White Rock when she died in 1945.

Mrs. R Alexander could have been the wife of Richard Alexander of BC Mills. Isabella, from Ontario, and was 34 when the building was constructed. However, other permits suggest a different Alexander. The builder of the $7,000 building was shown as Alexander & McKinnon. There’s no identified business with that name in the street directories, or the press, so we suspect it was a one-off partnership, probably of relatives of the architect and developer. In 1908 R Alexander had a $5,000 house built on Larch Street – the first building in the area. Robert Alexander was in Real Estate, and already retired at 55 according to the 1911 census. His wife was Mary, from Ontario, who was 46. The family had a domestic servant, but no children at home. In 1911 the family built a garage at their home; the architects were Alexander & MacKinnon and the builder H MacKinnon, presumably the same H McKinnon who also built the house in 1909. That permit is why we think Mary was the Mrs. R Alexander who developed this building.

Mary was 42 and single when she married Robert in 1908 in Revelstoke. He was a widower, and his profession was shown as ‘gentleman’. Robert was 54, from Forfarshire, and Mary was born in Beaverton, Toronto. The marriage certificate didn’t include a line for her occupation, and the 1901 census – when she was still living in Ontario – didn’t show one either. She was head of a household with her two younger sisters and two boarders. In 1921 Robert and Mary had moved to Alberta Street, and Robert is shown as a ‘retired merchant’. He first appeared in a Vancouver street directory in 1906, and was already shown as retired. It’s possible he was the Robert Alexander who died in Vancouver in 1923, leaving property in Saskatchewan that the BC Government attempted to tax on his death. They failed, after two court cases. Mary Grant Alexander died in 1952, aged 87.

When they opened these were the Harris Rooms – the name of the street they were built on at the time. The BC Candy Co was on the main floor to the east, and Atkins Co to the west. The Harris Rooms were run by Miss C M Morgan, who lived on the premises, and Atkins Co were sheet metal workers, installers of cornices, and furnaces. It suggests that perhaps the plain box seen in our 1978 image wasn’t the original appearance of the building, but we haven’t seen other images of this block that are earlier.

By 1920 Harry Barzman (who lived in a house next door) was running his butchers business in one of the stores. The other was vacant, and oddly, the rooms aren’t mentioned. In 1925 The Zion Kosher Meat Market was in 527, run by Coleman Kolberg. The Harris Rooms were at 531, and the other store, 533 had Joseph Costanzo’s grocery store. In 1930 Guiriato Attilio had taken over the grocery store, and in 1936 Kametaro Mochizuki was running the rooms, and the second store was the Maxim Gorky Club. In that year it was reported that “Meat valued at $45 was stolen from the Kosher Meat Market”. Five years later “Russian residents in Vancouver collected $2457 for medical aid to the Soviet Union at meeting held Sunday at 533 East Georgia Street, under the auspices of the Russian Committee in Aid of the Native Land. The money will be forwarded through the Red Cross.” The hall was vacant later that year, as was the hall, and the rooms were run by O Kawaguchi. They would be removed from the Lower Mainland a year later as war was declared with Japan, and John Berezowecki (who was a shipyard worker) took over running the rooms. The Russian National Committee had taken over 533. They would later move to the nearby Russian Hall. By 1955 this had become the Cathay Lodge rooms, with one store vacant, and Benson Hoy living in the former hall location. Benson, and his wife Edna ran the Cathay Lodge.

Some reports continue to list the building and its 33 rooms as Cathay Lodge, but the owners changed it to ‘Metro’ several years ago.

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Posted 29 July 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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