Archive for the ‘Honeyman and Curtis’ Tag

Beatty Street – 500 block (2)

We looked at most of the older buildings in this image (but on the Beatty Street side) in one of our earliest posts. The front of the buildings are quite a bit shorter than they are on this side – the back of the warehouses are mostly three storeys taller. Today most of them are taller still, as residential conversion has also seen a couple of lightweight penthouse floors added on top.


This 1918 image by Frank Gowen shows that the rail tracks ran right up to the back of the buildings, and covered the area developed in the 1990s as International Village. Today’s SkyTrain tracks run at right angles to those original freight tracks: that’s the vault of Stadium station in the left foreground.

At the end of the block is the Sun Tower (as it’s still known today, althought the Vancouver Sun has moved offices at least three times in the decades since they occupied this building). It was built for the Daily World newspaper, with offices above a printing works, and was briefly claimed as the tallest building in the British Empire (although tallest in Canada is more likely). W T Whiteway designed it in 1910, and it opened in 1912, just as the city hit a serious recession, leaving most of the additional office space intended to make the project pay, empty.

Alongside are the Storey and Cambell warehouse, also by W T Whiteway and built in 1911, and next door Richard Bowman’s warehouse that today has a Townley and Matheson designed façade after a 1944 fire. We looked at the histories of both of the buildings a couple of years ago. Next door, the Crane building had Somervell & Putnam as architects and cost over $120,000 in 1911. In 2008, like the Bowman and Storey warehouses it was converted to residential use, with two tall penthouse floors added (as this 1972 image comparison shows).

The shortest building in the 1918 image is now taller, after a comprehensive reconstruction in 1983 designed by Bruno Freschi of the 1906 Mainland Warehouse to create residential lofts. Originally designed (we think) by Honeyman and Curtis, a rebuilt back façade saw the face of the building moved back to create balconies in a grid of brick piers. The top two floors of the original building were added in 1928, but extra height was added again in the conversion.

Today, 560 Beatty is the least changed, and shortest building. It dates back to 1909, when it was built by J M McLuckie for Fred Buscombe, at a cost of $35,000. In 1899 he bought out James A Skinner and Co, china and glass importers, originally founded in Hamilton, and changed the name to Buscombe & Co. He was at different times President of the city’s Board of Trade, and Mayor of Vancouver in 1905. He was also president of the Pacific Coast Lumber & Sawmills Company, and director of the Pacific Marine Insurance Company.

Next door, 564 Beatty now has an extra four office floors, but it started life much shorter (with just a single floor on Beatty Street) developed by Jonathan Rogers – with an unknown architect. In 1912 J P Matheson designed an additional two storeys for Robert A Welsh, and the office floors (designed by IBI) were added in 2014. In 1918 there was a warehouse next door, but today it’s a set of stairs running down to International Village and the T&T Supermarket, and the SkyTrain station. It was first occupied by Robertson Godson Co who had hired Parr and Fee to design the $35,000 building in 1909.

Image source CVA 1135-4



1065 West Pender Street

When it was built, in 1909, this was the first structure completed on the lot. It was on Pender Street – East Pender had another name, so there was no need to reference ‘West’. In front (to the north) on top of the cliff above the beach were a row of fancy houses, initially occupied by the city’s CPR managers and other professionals like lawyers and doctors. Many of their original owners had already moved on to new locations, either in the West End or the new First Shaughnessy area across False Creek. This block had several other buildings completed around the same time, including another Honeyman & Curtis design.

The developer was the Canadian General Electric Company, and they hired Honeyman and Curtis to build an initial $30,000 warehouse, built by Murray and McMillan in 1909, followed by another $30,000 addition to the east in 1913, built by Purdy & Lonegan. The Company were the Canadian subsidiary of the US General Electric Company, created in 1892 and manufacturers of generators, transformers, motors, wire and cable, and lighting products for consumer and industrial products.

The company’s 1912 Annual R port explains the extent of the company operation and how the local offices operated: “In addition to the head office at Toronto, with its Sales and Engineering Departments, the Company has a number of branch offices throughout Canada – at Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Cobalt, Porcupine. Winnipeg, Nelson, Victoria. Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Calgary, Regina and Edmonton, each with its own complete organization, thus enabling the Company’s officers to study the local conditions and requirements, which differ considerably in the various provinces of the Dominion.” GE had been selling products to Vancouver for many years – their equipment was used by the Consolidated Railway Co as they expanded the streetcar network throughout the city.

The company were still operating their wholesale division in this building in 1934, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, and through to at least the mid 1950s. It was replaced in 1978 by the Oceanic Plaza, designed by Charles Payne (who also designed the earlier Guinness Tower nearby). The developers were British Pacific Building Ltd, the Guinness family company that owned much of West Vancouver where they developed the British Properties, and the purchasers of the adjacent Marine Building.


Posted September 6, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1000 block West Pender Street

There are two buildings here that were replaced in the 1960s, seen here in a 1931 Vancouver Public Library image. On the left is the Essex Rooms at 1033, while next door were the Duchess Rooms, at 1025. These were apparently developed by the A S French Auto Co in 1910, as a $55,000 ‘garage and rooms’, designed by ‘Blackmore’. The Essex Rooms were described as a warehouse when their building permit was issued in 1909 to Crickmay Bros. who hired Honeyman and Curtis to design the $14,000 investment. The main floor was occupied by the BC Anchor Fence Co when the building was completed. Baynes and Horie were the contractors, while Hemphill Brothers built Austin French’s building.

In 1911 the Daily World announced “The A. S. French Auto Co. are now occupying their new commodious quarters at 1027 Pender Street West, and have the largest fireproof and most up to date garage and sales rooms in British Columbia. They have a storage capacity for 600 cars, and carry besides a full line of accessories. The building is of reinforced concrete, absolutely fireproof, and with two floors, 66×132 feet In size. Each floor has a level driveway entrance, the lower being on Seaton street, and the upper on Pender. When the outside decorations are completed, the building will present an extremely attractive appearance. “Any one wanting a Napier car this season will have to hustle.” said Mr. A. S. French, “as the allotment for this year Is almost sold out. Nearly all the cars allotted us are in now, only five or six carloads remaining to be delivered. I have no idea how many Napiers have been sold in Vancouver without looking up the records, but as an instance of the way they are going I might mention that last week I sold over $42,000 worth, including the sales of Saturday night after dinner, which amounted to $19,500. We are open for business day and night. Besides the Napier we also handle the Stoddard – Dayton cars, which I consider the best car on the market for the money. The Napier is a British built car.”

Fred and Alf Crickmay were customs brokers, The had offices in the Pacific Securities Building, across from the customs building and overlooking the harbour. Fred had arrived from England in 1886, and by 1901 were already successful in the brokering business. Fred shared a house that year with his two older sisters. By 1912 he was also managing director of the BC Anchor Fence Co, and had moved to Shaughnessy Heights. Alfred had arrived in 1888, and was married with two children in 1901, with a 19 year old Japanese servant called Verna. By 1912 he had moved to North Vancouver.

A few years after construction in 1915 the Duchess Rooms had become the Driard Hotel, managed by J K Ramsay, while the Essex Rooms had Mrs E T Armstrong as proprietor. A S French continued in business, switching to selling the Overland cars in 1916 (at only $850), and in 1922 the Chandler, Cleveland and Liberty Six lines of vehicles. His father, Captain George French (whose warehouse we saw in an earlier post), Austin, and Austin’s son, (also George) were all associated with the company.

In 1978 the 26 storey Oceanic Plaza office building was completed here. A later cousin to the Guinness Tower across the street, it was developed by British Pacific Building Ltd and designed by Charles Paine and Associates.


Posted August 24, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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300 block Main Street – east side

This 1951 image shows a series of buildings soon to come to the end of their existence. In 1953 Townley and Matheson’s Public Safety Building was completed where the earlier structures had stood. While the adjacent addition of the Public Safety Building was completed a year later, and was supposedly designed by Dawson and Hall (if you believe the Heritage Statement for the building), there’s an architects illustration in the Archives that suggests it was all designed as a single project and was all the work of Townley and Matheson; Dawson & Hall were a construction company, so that was presumably who built it.

The buildings that were replaced were built over a number of years. The 2-storey corner building pre-dated 1900, and we haven’t identified the developer. The largest building on the block was once the location of the Hotel Blackburn, then the Blackburn House Hotel and was later converted and renamed as the Lanning Apartments. Next door was a more ornate building, completed as the Star Theatre in 1921.

Albert E Blackburn had operated a hotel here from 1900. Before that he ran the Russ House on Powell Street. He was from an Irish protestant family, and born in Ontario (in 1854), where his wife, Aggie (who was three years younger) was also born. The couple almost needed a hotel just for their family; in 1901 there were 9 children at home, 6 girls and 3 boys, aged 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, and 19 years. The family had moved around quite a bit; the oldest children (still at home) were born in the United States, then the next in Ontario, then in British Columbia, three in the US again (in Seattle), and the youngest in British Columbia.

In 1908 the Blackburn Hotel reopened, ‘entirely rebuilt and refurbished’ with steam heat piped to the ‘commodious rooms’. We haven’t traced a permit for the architect of the new hotel, but the rebuild cost $16,000 and the owners then were shows as ‘Boyd & Clendenning’ although we believe they were just the contractors at this point, not the owners. Patrick Gunn pinned down when the rebuild occurred: in July 1907 the Daily World reported “Mr. A.E. Blackburn’s request to be allowed to put up a corrugated iron building for temporary use while the Blackburn hotel is being remodeled could not be complied with as it would be a breach of the building bylaws.” In 1909 rooms on the European Plan could cost as little as 75c a night. A 1913 advertisement, when Mr. Blackburn was still in charge, noted the hotel’s convenient location for Orangemen – the Orange Headquarters were only a block away.

In 1914 Albert was appointed the Province as an Election Commissioner, and had given up his ownership of his hotel, selling it to what the Daily World referenced as ‘Boyd and Clendenning’. In fact, the new owners were Boyd & Clandening; Thomas Boyd, originally from Nova Scotia, and James Clandening from Ontario. The partnership had cleared much of the city, working on contract for both the railway company and the City Council. They cleared Granville street in 1886, worked on the Stanley Park road in 1888 and also on bridges, including the Westminster Avenue bridge. They also helped construct the BC Electric line to Cloverdale and in 1908 the Seymour Creek waterworks.

Invariably Mr. Clandening’s name was wrongly reported; in newspapers, in contracts, in the minutes of the City Council, and in the street directories. The Census however reported the correct spelling in 1901, identifying James, aged 62 with Eliza, his wife who was 17 years younger, and their children Nellie, Norma and Gordon. As early as 1898 (when the street directory managed to spell his name correctly) Mr. Clandening had owned part of the site, basing his contracting business here. At that time there was a grocer’s shop on the corner of Cordova and Westminster Avenue (Main Street) and Gordon Drysdale had his ‘People’s Store’ alongside. In 1903 Drysdale moved his business to Hastings Street and later to new premises that he built on Granville Street. Mr Clandening had first come to British Columbia during the Cassiar gold rush of 1873, but returned west before working on Vancouver Island helping build the E & N Railway in 1884 (when he had a crew of 60 working for him).

Thomas Boyd arrived in BC in 1883, in New Westminster, and helped build the Crow’s Nest Pass for the railway, and before that the Eagle Pass wagon road to help railway construction. He married in 1893, and had two daughters, one who died as a baby. Thomas had another simultaneous partnership, as Boyd and McWhinnie, and they had hired the same architects to build another substantial hotel quite close to here in 1911. He owned that property with Mr. McWhinnie as early as 1886.

In 1914 the partners hired Honeyman and Curtis to totally rebuild the site of the Blackburn Hotel, spending $75,000 and hiring J J Franz to construct the building described as ‘apartments, rooms, 4-storey concrete hotel’. However, it doesn’t look like they followed through, as out 1951 image shows the 1908 brick building still standing. They retained the Balckburn name, and Albert Blackburn was still shown as proprietor in 1916, although Harry Todd was managing the property. In 1918 they spent another $4,500 converting it to apartments, again hiring Honeyman and Curtis for the design work. Initially called the McDonald Apartments, it very quickly switched to the Lanning Apartments, a name it retained until demolition in the early 1950s.

In 1921 they hired the same architects to build on the plot to the south. This time the spent $20,000 to build “Miscellaneous; New; Picture Theatre; 49-ft frontage, 120-ft long; brick & tile with tar & gravel roof; provision made for two small stores on either side of theatre entrance; seating capacity of 450”.

The theatre was run by Mrs Annie Graham, who had been running the Star Theatre on the opposite side of the street since the mid 1910s. Before that it was run by Wilson and Allen, but Mrs. Graham made it a success and wanted to both expand and improve the theatre. When the owners were unwilling to invest, she presumably persuaded Boyd and Clandening to construct a new movie theatre, which continued in use until the 1953 redevelopment. Although her ambitions were for a 600 seat theatre, the new Star had 449 seats. The previous theatre space never reopened as a movie theatre.

Albert Blackburn died of a heart attack in Seattle in 1921, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. James Clandening died in 1927, aged around 90, and was also buried in Mountain View. Thomas Boyd died in 1938, aged 81, and was interred in the same cemetery.

Today the former police building is getting a complete makeover as an incubator for tech startup companies.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-100.jpg


1138 Homer Street

1138 Homer

darling brosThis is another of the Yaletown warehouse buildings built after the Canadian Pacific railway released some of their land for development around 1910. Frank Darling & Co built this warehouse in 1913. Honeyman and Curtis were the architects, Frank Darling was the client, and Irwin Carver and Co were the builders of the $40,000 structure.

Frank Darling was an electrical equipment supplier, living on Nicola Street in 1911 with his wife Frances and their three young children, David, Elizabeth and Ruth. He was born in Montreal, Quebec, Frances was American, and the children had all been born in BC. Frank’s company was established in Vancouver in 1906. Frank was one of four brothers (with Arthur, Edward and George) who owned Darling Brothers, founded in 1888. Frank set out on his own in 1906, leaving the day-to-day management of the manufacturing arm of Darling Brothers to his three siblings and acting as an agent for their products in British Columbia. At the height of its production the Darling Foundry was the second largest operation in Montreal, with over 100,000 square feet of space. Each of its 4 buildings was dedicated to its own specialized purpose: inventory & stock, a showroom, the iron works, and the assembly plant. The company closed in 1991, and in the early 2000s repurposed as an Arts Centre.

In Vancouver, Frank’s business stayed here until the 1940s, sharing the building with Rennie Seeds for a while after the war before moving to premises in Burrard Slopes. Advertisments in the Vancouver Daily World offering space for lease suggest that Frank continued to own and lease the parts of the building his own business did not need.

Heinz Warehouse 1138 Homer

In this 1924 picture H J Heinz were using the Hamilton side of the building as their warehouse, staying here through to the 1930s. In the early 1950s a variety of companies operated here including Industrial Adhesives and Barclay & Co, importers and exporters, joined rather unexpectedly by the Consulate of Spain. Frank was still alive in the early 1950s, but retired from the business, with the former manager, W G Metcalf as President of the company that still dealt in pumps and other machinery.

In 1973, when the image was taken, Luxford International Housewares were operating their warehouse here. Today it’s the Brix and Mortar restaurant on the main floor (on the Homer Street side) next door to the New Oxford pub, with another restaurant on the lower loading dock floor and a market research company occupying the upper floors.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3446 and CVA 447-96


Posted May 16, 2016 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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East Hastings and Main – north east corner

Main & Hastings ne 2

This supposedly 1930 image shows the corner of Main and Hastings where today’s building is quite a bit smaller than the earlier one. There’s a 1905 picture that shows the site part built, but it may not have been completed until early in 1906. In 1899 Miss McLennan, a dressmaker and Captain Garthley, a master mariner, lived here, with a Japanese boarding house to the east. A year later, George Wilson, a clerk lived on the corner and H Hamamura’s boarding house was next door. H J Stubbs, a jeweler had moved into the corner house in 1901, and a year later Mrs Bourgeois a dressmaker replaced him, and a year after that Mrs. E J Coleman, another dressmaker. (We’re assuming that these dressmaker’s made dresses, and were not offering other services that some ‘dressmakers’ offered on Dupont Street). Dan Nicholson, a tailor lived on the corner in 1904 and 1905, with the boarding house now run by a Mr. Yuchmi. J S McLeod, a merchant, had premises to the north, on Westminster Avenue.

Main & Hastings 1905-06 (Timms)In 1906 the new property on the corner was occupied by J S Mcleod, Macbeth & Co, selling dry goods. They’re clearly the occupants in this 1906 Philip Timms image; their name is prominently displayed on the corner. The company described themselves as Importers of Dry Goods, Mantles, Millinery, Ready to Wear, Carpets, and House furnishings. They could have been responsible for developing the property, but we haven’t found a record to prove that. They were only located here for five years, moving again in 1911 to Granville Street. William Charles Macbeth, a Scotsman from Buckie in Banffshire had partnered with J S Mcleod in 1903, although the company claimed to have been founded in 1894. Before joining J S McLeod he worked for grocer William Walsh. In 1911 he moved (as so many Vancouver businessmen did) into real estate with the company of Macbeth and Brown.

In 1911 the Union Bank of Canada occupied the corner premises, with a side entrance on East Hastings, There were several other offices in the building, occupied by tenants that included Hindi Realty Brokerage and the Socialist Party of Canada. In 1914 it was listed for the first time as the McArthur & Harper Bldg, and while the Realty Brokerage had gone, the Socialists were still here, joined by the Halibut Fishermen’s Union. Harper & McArthur had owned the building from at least 1911 when it was enlarged at a cost of $35,000 to Parr and Fee’s designs. We initially assumed that represented the addition of two floors – it was a substantial sum to spend, but the building was already three storeys in 1905. It would seem that the addition might have been at the rear, down the lane.

Over the years there were many alterations made to the building – around 20 different building permits, sometimes only referencing Mr. McArthur, but usually the company, McArthur & Harperwhich more frequently was known as McArthur & Harper. As with Vancouver merchants they made their fortunes in mining – not by finding gold (which was obviously much more of a gamble), but by the more assured route of supplying the miners with the provisions they needed – based in Kamloops – as this 1897 advertisement shows. That doesn’t mean they were entirely averse to gambling;  J.H. Morrison, A.S. McArthur and J.M. Harper in 1906 had an interest in the Evening Star group of mineral claims in Galaxy Mine, about eight kilometers outside Kamloops. It doesn’t appear that ore was ever mined successfully, although there have been repeated attempts to exploit the copper and gold deposits. (The only reported production was A S McArthur extracting 902 grams of silver and 2,552 kilograms of copper from 53 tons of ore in 1916). There have been extensive further reports, tests, surveys and attempts to restart mining, which continue to this day.

Mr. Harper stayed on in Kamloops, and continued to be associated with the McArthur & Harper store. He was still resident in 1918. In 1911 Mr McArthur was living on Burnaby Street with his extended family. As well as his wife, Maud, and their three children, his brother, parents and mother-in-law were all resident as well as their domestic, Alice Winwood. Mr McArthur was aged 45 and had been born in Quebec like his parents, although his mother-in-law was Scottish and his wife was from Ontario.

The reason we question the accuracy of the suggested 1930 date on the photograph is that the construction of the replacement was started in 1929. Honeyman and Curtis were the architects of three different new branches for the Bank of Montreal; another was only a few blocks south of this one, at Prior Street and the third further south at East Broadway. With all three they favoured a classical style, here featuring Corinthian columns and the bank’s crest carved over the doorway.

Next door (across the lane) was the Empress Hotel. Built in 1913 for L L Mills it was almost certainly inaccurately described as the ‘world’s narrowest tallest hotel’ when it was built. Mr. Mills had acquired the older hotel next door at 237 Hastings Street in 1910, and the new building was called the “New Empress Hotel”. Lyle Mills was American, almost certainly born in Iowa. His father was a hotelier, and so was his brother, Oscar, who also worked at the Empress. The hotel is the only Vancouver design by F N Bender. He was an American too, working in Independence, Kansas, and he almost certainly got the job because he was married to Lyle and Oscar’s sister. The last reference to Mr. Mills as proprietor of the Empress was in 1917. He disappears from the street directory that year, and seems to have moved to Seattle.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-293


West Pender – 500 block (3)

500 Pender south 2

We’ve looked at the eastern end of this block in two earlier posts (most recently here), but this corner of West Pender with Seymour Street is about to dramatically change. The building on the corner hasn’t been positively identified before in terms of its developer and architect, as far as we know. By a process of elimination we’re reasonably sure that it was a 1905 investment by A St George Hamersley, designed by Honeyman and Curtis. The small building next to it dates from the mid 1930s, and the two are soon to be redeveloped as a new office building.

There’s an announcement for the block ‘at Pender and Seymour’ in the Contract Record in May 1905 for ‘A. St. George Hamersly’. Across Seymour, also on the south side of the street the Clarence Hotel was already built. To the north was the Delmonico Hotel which had been built in 1892. The fourth corner was redeveloped in 1908 with the Imperial Building, designed by Parr and Fee. That leaves this corner for Hamersley’s investment.

Alfred St. George Hamersley was from a well-off English family from Oxfordshire where he lived first at Haseley House and later to Church Manor House in Pyrton. He was educated at Marlborough College and at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich. He moved to London where he became a Barrister-at-law in the Middle Temple in 1872, and two years later moved to New Zealand. He practiced law there, at the same time acting as a military officer (involved in the last military actions against the Maori) as well as being credited with introducing rugby to the youth of South Canterbury and founding the New Zealand Grand National Steeplechase Club. He married there, and started a family, before moving to the fledgling city of Vancouver in 1888.

Newly arrived in Vancouver he somehow managed to become the first City Solicitor – a role he retained until he left the city some 17 years later, fulfilling the role from his private office on Hastings Street. He became first president of the BC Rugby Union in 1889, and also founded the Amateur Athletic Club of British Columbia. His many interests, law practice and role as City Solicitor may explain why the published 1892 credit rating for A St. George Hammersley (sic) was “Very slow, too slow for desirable credit”. He was in partnership as Hamersley and Hamilton in 1893, was appointed a Queen’s Council in 1901 and J J Godfrey joined him as a partner in his law firm in 1903. He bought 640 acres next to Kootenay lake in 1897, and became increasingly interested in real estate. The wearing of wigs was abolished in British Columbia in 1905, and Hamersley is said to have abandoned his legal practice as a result – it’s unclear if that’s what caused him to leave, or whether he had decided to return to England already. In the 1890s he had R M Fripp design a house on Seaton Street overlooking the Inlet. (Seaton was the smartest street in town; today’s West Hastings; the Hamersley home was the last on the street before the cliff edge at the end of Bute Street). Mrs Hamersley hired an architect called Blackmore – either William or his son Ted, to design alterations to the house in 1901.

In 1902 he had acquired an entire District Lot on the north shore from the Lonsdale Estate.  He had Honeyman and Curtis design “Langton Lodge”, set in park-like grounds. Today it’s called Hamersley House and is a large Tudor Revival estate home set back on a large lot in a residential area east of Lonsdale Avenue. It’s two and a half storeys high on a full basement, and is unusual for having the main floor built of poured concrete. As a commuter to Vancouver from the North Shore, it helped that Hamersley had a controlling interest in the North Vancouver Ferry and Power Company, which established a regular ferry service across Burrard Inlet. He set about selling his new investment, initially as the Townsite of Lonsdale but later as North Vancouver.

One frequently mentioned episode relates his involvement in selling property to writer Rudyard Kipling. It’s not at all clear that Hamersley was the agent who sold Kipling land – although the two apparently did meet. Several inaccuracies exist in some of the versions of the story; (one has Kipling knowing Hamersley as a fellow lawyer – while in reality Kipling never attended University). The common content has Hamersley initially not knowing who Kipling was, and later (on a subsequent visit) suggesting it was Hamersley who sold Kipling some real estate including two lots at Fraser and 11th. Kipling wrote about the city after his first visit in 1889. “Except for certain currents which are not much mentioned, but which make the entrance rather unpleasant for sailing-boats, Vancouver possesses an almost perfect harbor. The town is built all round and about the harbor, and young as it is, its streets are better than those of western America. Moreover, the old flag waves over some of the buildings, and this is cheering to the soul. The place is full of Englishmen who speak the English tongue correctly and with clearness, avoiding more blasphemy than is necessary, and taking a respectable length of time to getting outside their drinks.”  He might have had Alfred St George Hamersley in mind when he wrote that. Apparently he had an introduction to Hamersley, although he was only 23 years old, and only just starting to be recognized as a poet and author. Kipling is said to have bought the two lots in Mount Pleasant in 1892, on his second visit. He bought 20 acres on the North Shore in 1906, and as the Hamersley Estates were being actively marketed at the time, it could be hamersley weddingwhere the land was located – although A St George himself had moved to England by then. (Or so we thought – until we dug out this 1907 cutting in the Sunday Sunset newspaper, which lists both Surrey (Engalnd) and Vancouver as the family residence).

Kipling wrote about the first purchase in his book Sea to Sea “He that sold it to me was a delightful English Boy who, having tried for the Army and failed, had somehow meandered into a real-estate office, where he was doing very well. I couldn’t have bought it from an American. He would have overstated the case and proved me the possessor of the original Eden. All the Boy said was: “I give you my word it isn’t a cliff or under water, and before long the town ought to move out that way. I’d advise you to take it.” And I took it as easily as a man buys a piece of tobacco. Me voici, owner of some four hundred well-developed pines, a few thousand tons of granite scattered in blocks at the roots of the pines, and a sprinkling of earth. That’s a town-lot in Vancouver. You or your agent hold it till property rises, then sell out and buy more land further out of town and repeat the process. I do not quite see how this sort of thing helps the growth of a town, but the English Boy says that it is the “essence of speculation,” so it must be all right. But I wish there were fewer pines and rather less granite on my ground.” As Kipling wrote fiction, it’s quite possible that Hamersley is the subject – although he hadn’t (in anything we’ve read) – tried for the army and failed.

sale 1908In 1905 Hamersley returned to England where he set out to re-establish his credibility as a local, with the eventual (successful) intent of being elected a Unionist (Conservative) Member of Parliament (in 1910). At a dinner given in his honour in North Vancouver when leaving for England he extolled the

Alfred St George Hamersley c1910

Alfred St George Hamersley c1910

virtues of sport, manliness and the empire. Despite being aged 66, Colonel Hamersley was initially in command of an artillery battery during the First World War, handing over command to a younger man in 1916 when the battery was drafted to Ypres and the Somme (although he was in France in 1917).

Although he had apparently returned to England, Alfred continued to have a significant involvement in Vancouver. This Seymour building was completed in 1905; in 1906 he hired Parr and Fee to design a commercial building on Water Street, and in 1908 the North Vancouver land was still being subdivided and sold off. In 1906 he was still being quoted in the press concerning decisions his ferry company were making about the ferry service between Gastown and the Lonsdale Gardens, a recreational estate established by the company.

Alfred St. George Hamersley died in 1929, but his wife, Isabella (who was apparently known in Vancouver by her middle name, Maud) lived to the age of 102 and died in 1955.

The building was occupied as both offices and stores, tenants changing often over the years. In this 1974 image the Yorkshire Trust had their offices here. Most recently a Korean-based language school operated in the premises; before that there was a clothing store.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-282


Posted December 22, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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