Archive for the ‘Hudson’s Bay Company’ Tag

321 Water Street

325 Water St, Hudson's Bay

This significant heavy wood-frame warehouse was one of the first in this part of Water Street. Built in 1894, it is said to have been designed by C O Wickenden for the Hudson’s Bay Company with three floors whose function included the storage of furs and liquor.

The Vancouver Daily World announced completion under the headline: A SUBSTANTIAL, STRUCTURE. “What is probably the most strongly constructed building in the city has just been completed ready for occupation. It Is situated on Water street and will be used as a warehouse, wholesale offices and liquor store by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The latter apartment will be taken possession of on Monday and the other at an early date. The binding has a frontage on Water street of 80 feet and a depth of 120, running lack to the C. P. R. tracks, where there is a covered way for the unloading of cars on the spur that is to be run into the building. There are two parts to the building all the way up. and there are practically two large cellars which promise to be the best storage apartments.”

While it may be a subsequent design, it’s possible that Mr. Wickenden only supervised the construction; the Winnipeg Tribune in September 1893 announced that George Creeford Brown had designed the building.

In less than a decade it was too small, and Dalton & Eveleigh were hired to add $8,000 of additional space on two further floors in 1903. (Dalton had designed the additional floors on both the warehouses to the east as well). Both the original design and the addition utilized the Romanesque Revival, with curved brick arches ending up appearing on alternate floors.

This 1941 Vancouver Public Library image shows the Bay continued to use the warehouse over many years, until the early 1950s. It was the company’s general office in the city in 1912, but reverted to warehouse use later. In the 1950s J F Mussenden took over the building as a shoe warehouse. The top floors were gutted by fire in the early 1970s, and the building was rebuilt with Werner Forster supervising the renovation. Renamed Hudson House, it is now used as commercial office space over retail and restaurant uses (like most of Water Street).



Hudson’s Bay – Cordova Street

The Bay, Cordova

When the Hudson’s Bay Company built a new store in the new city of Vancouver in 1887, they hedged their bets on the location. It wasn’t in the rapidly establishing replacement for Granville – ‘Old Granville Township’ around Carrall and Water Street, where the 1870s fledgling city had grown, only to be destroyed by fire in 1886. But it also wasn’t on the rival centre being developed by the Canadian Pacific Railway on Granville Street, running from the  CPR Terminal to the new hotel, way off in the recently cleared bush. The Bay executives split the difference and put their new store roughly halfway between the two rivals, on Cordova Street. If there’s any indication of which side they might favour in the tug of war between the two developing centres it might be indicated by their choice of designer – T C Sorby, also responsible for the design of the Hotel Vancouver.

The building he gave them wouldn’t have looked out of place on any prosperous English High Street. That shouldn’t be surprising; Yorkshire-born Sorby arrived in Canada in the early 1880s and by the time he reached Vancouver in 1886 he was already 50, with a long career already behind him in England. Here’s how the new store looked in 1888 in a VPL photo.

The Bay didn’t stay in this location for very long. In 1892 C O Wickenden was hired to build a new store on Granville Street – confirming the company commitment to the CPR’s part of town. They still ran the Cordova store until 1894, and in 1895 Beaty and Hall had replaced them, greengrocer and produce merchants. In 1901 there was a druggist here, with a cigar store in the other half of the building. Eventually the building was swallowed up in the ever-expanding Woodward’s store, replaced recently with the 43 storey tower of the Woodwards redevelopment.


Posted 1 January 2014 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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New York Block – Granville Street

New York Block

In 1888 well-connected American architect Bruce Price designed the New York Block on Granville Street. It was one of a series of fancy new office buildings the Canadian Pacific Railway commissioned for their land holdings, particularly along Granville Street. The New York Block was in the 600 block of Granville, just down the hill from the Donald Smith Block, also designed by Price, and the CPR’s Hotel Vancouver. In 1889 it was valued at $25,000, and was faced and trimmed with granite, described by the Daily World as “certainly the grandest building of its kind yet erected here, or for that matter in the Dominion”. You can see that in 1889 even grand buildings still had plank sidewalks and uneven streets in front. The ‘Canadian Builder and Architect’ identified the developer: Sir George Stephen, a founding member of the CP Rail backers, and a prominent Canadian businessman. Originally from Scotland, he made his fame in Montreal and was the first Canadian to be elevated to the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

The building housed the CPR’s ticket, telegraph, and land offices until the turn of the century. It appears that a number of people, many of them CPR employees, lived in apartments in the building as well, an early example of ‘mixed use development’ in the city. A P Horne recalled attending parties in the building. “Father Fay was a fine fellow; he was popular; he could sing; had a good voice. Williams, of Williams Bros. and Dawson, surveyors, had a flat in the top of the New York Block; the Canadian Pacific Railway offices were below, and Sir George McLaren Brown was in them. Williams used to give parties in his flat, and Father Fay used to come and sing. Mr. Buntzen could play the piano in those days, and so could Mrs. Buntzen; play it well; and we used to have parties up in Williams’ flat.”

Bruce Price’s residential designs were important enough to influence Frank Lloyd Wright, particularly his designs in a New York planned suburb, Tuxedo Park. His early designs for hotels and stations for the CPR established the château style they continued to reference for decades. Among others, Price designed the Château Frontenac in Quebec and the Banff Springs Hotel. In New York, as in Vancouver, he favoured the Richardson Romanesque style, although in New York (where his office was based) he soon moved on to skyscrapers in a classical style.

The building lasted about 25 years, replaced in the early 1920s with the current Hudson’s Bay store. We’ve already shown in another post how the first Hudson’s Bay store was added to in 1914, and then the first store was replaced with this second phase of construction. The contemporary image shows the new glazed canopies that replace the heavier steel design that was in place until 2012.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P79


Lacey Johnson house – Seymour Street

Lacey R Johnson

This is one of the earliest houses built in the city, in the newly cleared CPR land one block off Granville Street where they were developing their hotel and office buildings to create their new city centre away from Gastown. We know a fair bit about it because the owner’s daughter gave a detailed interview to Major Matthews, who recorded it in the early City Archives.

The owner of the house was Lacey R. Johnson, V.D., first Master Mechanic, Pacific Division, Canadian Pacific Railway. Mrs Evans, the daughter in question recalled “As Mother and my brother, now Col. R.E. Johnson of Montréal, and two sisters, Grace and Julia, were travelling westwards on the train, a telegram reached us from Father which read in part, ‘Vancouver in ashes’ (13 June 1886), “so we got off at Yale. We had closed up our home at Carlton Place, Ontario, so our furniture en route went to Vancouver. Whilst at Yale, we lived, first, in a furnished cottage belonging to Dan McDougall” 

“We remained at Yale, and then came on to Vancouver in Father’s railway car, September 3rd , 1887, and lived in it for about ten days on a siding at the foot of Granville Street until our house, 455 Seymour Street, west side, close to Georgia Street, and now part of the site of the Hudson’s Bay store, was completed. Father had started to build before the Fire; the lumber was on the ground, but the fire destroyed the lumber; it had to be replaced.

“I recall that when we first went there, there were no buildings near; the view down the slope towards Water Street was unobstructed; then, later, the nearest building was the No. 2 Fire Hall, on the east side of Seymour, south of Georgie Street.”

“This photo of our first house, 455 Seymour Street; Father is on the steps with my brother Ernest, and I am looking out of the window. I remember it so well. Here is the Durham Block, on Granville Street, where Christ Church held the first service—in the evening—in one of the stores on the ground floor. You know that after Christ Church was built, the sheriff was going to seize the church for debt, and Mr. H.J. Ceperley, W.J. Salsbury, H.J. Cambie, and Father, four of them, contributed one thousand dollars each to ‘save it.’ I know that Father mortgaged our house to get his one thousand dollars. No, it was never returned to him.”

Georgia St 1917 The Bay #2 and #3 CVA 260-1043The family stayed in the house for three years, then moved to a new house on Beach Avenue. (Note that 455 later became 677 Seymour Street). The House stood until 1912, and must have been bought by the Hudson’s Bay Company as it is where they built the first phase of the existing building in 1913. (The first Hudson’s Bay store was in Gastown, and the second at Georgia and Granville. The expansion in 1913 was on Seymour, and then the second building was demolished and replaced to match the Seymour building in 1925. For a while both the 1893 building and the 1913 building stood side by side as the 1917 image on the right shows).

The architects were Burke, Horwood & White and the contractors Rourke, MacDonald & Moncreiff, and the first Seymour and Georgia phase of the construction cost $900,000. The architects were from Toronto, and specialised in designing large commercial 10 storey Baybuildings using historic styles but contemporary materials (favouring glazed terra-cotta, steel frames and fireproof construction methods). Although it was considered a new technique, the building had a reinforced concrete frame rather than steel (which had to be shipped from the east at considerable cost). Although a substantial building, at six storeys, the design included the possibility of an additional four storeys at a later date.

The design in part referenced Chicago architect Daniel Burnham’s store in London for American retailer Gordon Selfridge. This has been called a ‘decorated warehouse’ – which is in a sense what all the big departmental stores have been from that point on. The Vancouver design was deemed so successful other Hudson’s Bay stores were designed in the same style, starting with Calgary (which actually completed ahead of Vancouver) and Victoria.

Recent restoration of the terra-cotta, and the removal of a solid metal canopy with lightweight glazed weather protection have given the newly revitalised Bay building a new lease of life.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P119 and CVA 260-1043


West Georgia from Howe eastwards

That’s the 1925 part of the Hudson’s Bay building in the centre of this 1953 image, but everything else has changed. The Bay has recently received a comprehensive restoration of the terra cotta facade of the building designed by Burke, Horwood & White of Toronto. They used almost identical designs in Victoria and Winnipeg at around the same time. The Bay had been at this location since 1893, although they started off in the city further north and east on Cordova Street in around 1887. At some point we’ll post a before and after of the building this part of the store replaced, a brick building from 1893.

The facade of the new (and current) Hudson’s Bay store was supplied by the American Terra Cotta & Ceramic Co of Chicago, and the bit you can see here is the second phase from 1925 replacing the 1893 building, which joined to the 1914 building (which was further east on the corner of Seymour and Georgia).

The next stage of the restoration of the Bay building will be new glazed canopies, signs and lighting, more in keeping with the heritage building and creating a better sidewalk than the current solid canopies. The huge change in the recent picture is the arrival of the Pacific Centre Mall, completed in 1974. This part of the complex was designed by McCarter Nairne with Cesar Pelli working at Victor Gruen and Associates of Los Angeles. The dark tower was the Stock Exchange Tower when it was built. The rotunda entrance is likely to be replaced at some point with a retail use and a revised mall entrance.

Image source: BC Archives


Granville north from Georgia

Here’s a shot of the 600 block of Granville Street from the corner with West Georgia seen in a 1906 Vancouver Public Library image. The traffic is still driving on the left, and way down at the end of the street you can see the Canadian Pacific station buildings. The 500 block had a variety of businesses, including some apartments just up the hill from Pender Street, the First Church of Christ Christian Science Hall and the Bank of Montreal.

The 600 block had offices occupied by several physicians, the Grotto Billiard Hall, the Simpson Block with a baker and confectioner, the Seattle Rooms and the New York Block (a very early office building developed by CP Director Sir George Stephen, and designed by New York architect Bruce Price). There were offices of tea and liquor merchants and Frances Carter-Cotton of the News-Advertiser, and closest to us the Hudson’s Bay Company store. The store was built in 1892 and designed by C O Wickenden, but it only lasted to 1925 when it was demolished and replaced by the terra-cotta covered design still there today, designed by Burke, Horwood and White. The first phase of the current building had been built in 1912 on the Seymour and Georgia corner.

The rest of the block today contains The Hudson, a massive condo building with over 400 suites and some retail space below, designed by Stantec Architecture. It incorporates the facades of the 1892 Hunter Brothers block and the BC Electric Showroom by Hodgson and Simmonds from 1928.