Archive for the ‘Harry Jones’ Tag

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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