Archive for the ‘Harry Abbott’ Tag

Granville Street south from West Pender

We’ve seen some of the buildings here, on the eastern side of the 500 block of Granville Street in a post from a few years ago, but looking northwards and in the 1930s. This ‘before’ picture is undated, but we’re pretty certain it was shot in the late 1960s or early 1970s before any street trees had been planted. That’s one of the 1954 Brill buses in BC Hydro livery – so between 1962 and 1973. When the new vertical white lights were added to Granville Street a few years ago, and the surface redesigned and replaced, this short section of street was the only one where the existing street trees were considered worthy of retention, and so a taller, more mature canopy exists here.

On the left is Somervell and Putnam’s 1916 design for the Merchant’s Bank, expanded in 1924 by the Bank of Montreal to Kenneth Guscotte Rea’s designs. More recently, in 2005, Paul Merrick designed its conversion to the Segal School of Business for Simon Fraser University.

Next door, across the lane, is an 1898 building, still standing today. Designed by GW Grant, it was built for W H Leckie and Co and occupied in part by the Imperial Bank, (although that use ended decades ago). William Henry Leckie was born in Toronto in 1874, and moved west in 1896. Although he managed the family business with his brother, Robert, only he was noted in the city’s early biography, although by the early 1900s, R J Leckie and Company also had a successful boot and shoe manufacturing business in Vancouver. Robert had arrived in 1894 to run the Vancouver branch of the business established by their father, John Leckie, who had immigrated to Canada from Scotland. He established a dry goods store in Toronto in 1857 which evolved into fishermen’s supply store, selling oilskin clothing, imported netting, sails, tents, and marine hardware. The firm began to manufacture its own goods, and the brothers continued that expansion by not only establishing this retail and warehouse building, but also owning a tannery on the Fraser River. Later they built a much bigger factory and warehouse on Water Street.

William Leckie didn’t constrain his activities to footware; by 1913 he was a Director of the Burrard Land and Improvement Co, the Capital Hill Land Co and of the Children’s Hospital.

Next door was a two storey building, completely obscured in the 1970s, and today refaced with a contemporary frontage. Originally it was developed by Hope, Fader and Co in 1898, and designed by W T Dalton.

To the south is a third fifty feet wide building. Today it has a 1909 façade, designed by Parr and Fee for owner Harry Abbott. The building dates back to 1889, when it was designed for Abbott (the Canadian Pacific Railway official in charge of the west coast) by the Fripp Brothers.

While the collection of buildings has retained the same scale for over a century, rumours suggest a development may see a new office tower that would retain two original heritage buildings facades.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-455

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West Hastings and Howe – nw corner

800 block W Hastings

We looked at a building on this corner in an earlier post. It was the Merchants Building, designed by Townley and Matheson and completed in 1923. Here’s an earlier image showing the house that was replaced when the Merchants Building was developed. The picture shows the dramatic scale changes going on at the time as the frame for the Metropolitan Building was being erected next door, in 1910. The house pre-dated the century, in fact it was one of the oldest in the city. It had been built in 1887, designed by T C Sorby who also had the job of designing the first station and rail terminal.  In 1891 it was occupied by H Abbott, and A G Ferguson owned the house next door (where the Metropolitan Building was built). Significant city-building was being directed from this block: Harry Abbott was superintendent of the BC Division of the CPR and Arthur Ferguson was one of the most active real estate promoters and developers in the city.

Before this Mr. Abbott had, according to reports recorded by City Archivist Major Matthews, stayed in the Sunnyside Hotel on Water Street and the Burrard Hotel on Hastings. The house was built at the same time as the first Hotel Vancouver, and the lumber came from the Moodyville Mill on the north side of Burrard Inlet. Mr. Abbott’s family joined him from Brockville just before the first train arrived in Port Moody in July 1886. Apparently they travelled in his rail car a few days before the first official train, and so were technically the first passengers to travel across Canada. When the Abbott family were in residence Mrs. Abbott was said to have kept chickens in a large run in the garden.

Harry Abbott came from a well-connected Montreal family – (his oldest brother was the first Canadian-born Prime Minister). He studied law, then switched to civil engineering, helping build new rail lines in eastern Canada. In 1882, aged 53, he joined the CPR, and two years later was given the job of managing the construction of the main line to the west. He was appointed to superintendent of the BC division of the railway in 1886, and spent over a decade developing the new city and expanding its services.

In 1897 Mr. Abbott was still living here, but had retired from the job of running the railway’s Vancouver operation, although he was still living in the house. A year later he had moved to a new house he had built on the corner of Georgia and Jervis, and Richard Marpole, the new general superintendent moved in. One possibility is that the house had become a company owned building rather a personal one, (although Mr. Abbott was definitely owner of the lot in 1886). Another credible scenario is that Mr. Marpole bought it and lived here for 12 years before Shaughnessy Heights was ready for house construction. He moved to a new home on Angus Avenue in 1911, and it looks as if the house was vacant, and then the address disappears completely until the Merchants Building was built in the early 1920s.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P556

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Posted June 27, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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550 Granville Street

550 Granville

This modest commercial building is still standing over 100 years after it was built. We think it was in part designed by the prolific Parr and Fee partnership – that’s their trademark centre-hung windows in the 1940 Vancouver Public Library image. The tax record says the building dates from 1910, but we suspect the bones are older than that. In 1909 Parr and Fee were hired to alter the building at a cost of $7,000 – suggesting a very substantial change. Their client was listed as H Abbott. We assume this has to be the former superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Although there were other people called Abbott in the city (all called Harry) no others were likely to own a Granville Street property. There were a series of buildings that were early investments funded by CP Directors along Granville Street.

Checking the 1903 insurance map confirms this was indeed the Abbott Block. (There was also an earlier building with the same name on West Hastings Street that dates back to the 1890s). It was originally commissioned to be designed by the Fripp Brothers in 1889, the same year that a Hastings building was also built to their designs. A year earlier another Abbott Block had been built on Hastings, designed by N S Hoffar.

We saw this Granville building in context in an earlier post, but by 1940 the store fronts had been altered quite a bit. To the north at 548 the Polar Fur company had their store, and to the south in 552 were Betty’s Hat & Gown Shoppe. Maison Henri had the biggest sign, and occupied the centre unit for their beauty salon. Polar Furs were run by Conrad Matoff, while Betty’s was owned by Mrs B B Crawford. Maison Henri had been in business a long time – as early as 1910 the West Hastings store announced “TO THE LADIES OF VANCOUVER: We wish to announce to our numerous clientele the return of Mr. Henri from Europe, where he has been taking up the NESTLE PERMANENT HAIR WAVING with the inventors, C. Nestle & Co. direct. This is the new complete wave, and entirely eliminates the old home treatment of heating by hand. You should come in after the return of Mr. Henri on Thursday to see the beautifying effects. Appointments may be booked from Thursday. The beautiful wave effect will absolutely not wash out. In fact noisture only accentuates the wave. To see is to believe. Let us demonstrate. MAISON HENRI, The Premier Hair – Dressing House of Vancouver”.

By 1940 Maison Henri described themselves as Vancouver’s Oldest, Largest and Most Exclusive Beauty Salon. If exclusive implies a bit too expensive, Maison Henri could help with that; next door at 556 Granville was the “Maison Henri Ltd Annex – First Class Beauty Work at Lower Prices”.

Henri Gautschi was Swiss according to the 1935 record when he became Canadian, although his 1911 Census record and his death registration said he was French. He arrived in Canada in 1905,  and his wife May a year later. She was born in London, England, and was seven years younger than her husband. By 1911 they had a daughter, Nancy. May died in 1931, the year that Nancy emigrated to Honolulu, Hawaii (although we think she returned and married in Vancouver later). Henri died in Vancouver in 1951, having retired not long after this picture was taken; his business was contined until after the war, run by Miss A D Sutherland.

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Posted August 17, 2015 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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