Archive for the ‘Invermay Hotel’ Tag

Invermay Hotel – 828 West Hastings Street

800 W Hastings south

We saw this 1906 hotel in the previous post. It started life in 1906 as the Hamilton House, built by Frank Hamilton (of Calgary) and designed by C B McLean. After a series of name changes over the years, including the Fairmont Hotel, it became the Invermay Hotel. It was still the Invermay Hotel in 1930, at that point run by Merritt G Gordon who was also President of the Gordon Hotel Co, and lived on W15th Avenue. He was one of seven brothers born in Quebec but raised in Minnesota, three of who bought the Commercial Hotel in Harris, Saskatchewan in 1910. The brothers had previous experience mining in Butte, Montana, and a prospector brought some ‘rubies’ into their bar which they promised to look after, and then quickly filed a mining claim. Like many of the sharpest profiteers they made a fortune, once word was out, running the hotel, and building a camp at the instant mine townsite. It was populated almost instantly by over a thousand ruby-seekers; they operated a saloon, a restaurant and other entertainment in three large tents. It took quite a while before it become known that the rubies were almost worthless garnets. Once the hotel burned down in 1923 the family split up, with Merritt heading to Vancouver where he ran a series of hotels over the years. In 1940, 514 Richards was the Merritt Gordon Beer Parlour and 518 was the Merritt Gordon Hotel; that’s the former Marble Arch Hotel that has recently been renovated and has now reverted to it’s original ‘Canada Hotel’ name.

The Invermay Hotel name continued until 1971, when it became the Invermay Inn, as it was in this 1974 image. The final name change came when it was renamed the Jolly Taxpayer, and was painted a deep cherry red. Although it has been demolished for over 5 years, you can still find a website that say the hotel “has twenty-seven rooms with all modern facilities. Each room has ensuite bathroom facilities and private shower. The hotel also provides large screen sports, satellite televisions, pool, darts, golf games and more. It also serves fish, chips, juicy burgers, sizzling steaks, chunky chicken wings and a daily drink special.”

On the sites to the west are two other older buildings. While the hotel has gone, they survive – one as a façade, one completely intact. The façade that was retained belongs to a building known as the BC and Yukon Chamber of Mines. Actually, they were a later tenant, the building was erected to J C Day’s design for the Royal Financial Trust Co in 1926, but they went bankrupt in the depression. After a number of other brokerage and insurance tenants the building became home to the Chamber of Mines, an information and publicity organization for the BC and Yukon mining industries. In 2007 the façade was retained while a deep hole was dug for a new office and condo project. Out of shot to the right is the Ceperley Rounsfell Building that was also incorporated into the project underneath the dramatic overhang of the new building. It was retained in its entirety, chocked up laterally and suspended over the excavation before being given a new foundation and a heritage restoration.

In 2011 the new building that was completed here showed some unusual international design flair: Jameson House is an office and condo tower squeezed onto a 100′ site in the middle of the block. Designed by Foster and Associates in London (lead architect Nigel Dancey) with Walter Francl of Vancouver, the development ran into some financial and sales problems and Bosa Properties stepped in to complete the project.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-178


Posted 9 February 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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828 West Hastings Street

828 W Hastings

Here’s the Hamilton House in 1906, with the Hamilton House Bar downstairs (well, up the stairs, technically) and the rooming house above. There seems to have been a slight change of detail, as in 1905 the Daily World referred to ‘Temperance house’, ‘F. J. Hamilton, Prop’. The new level wood plank sidewalk was in front, although the street wasn’t quite as level. The hotel itself was also new – there’s nothing showing on the 1903 insurance map, and the first appearance in the Street Directory was in 1906 – The Hamilton: Francis J Hamilton, prop. We’ve met Francis – or Frank through his ownership of an East Side building. The 1905 building permit describes him as ‘of Calgary’, and identifies the architect as ‘Mr. McLean, of Vancouver’. That would be C B McLean, an architect who practiced for only a few years in the city.

Francis didn’t keep the hotel very long – in 1907 it had become the Orpheum Hotel, run by George Fortin. That same year George was making sure he could get a licence, but in a totally different location, in North Vancouver. “A letter was read from Messrs. Cowan & Parkes, Barristers, Vancouver, stating out that their client, Mr. George Fortin, had purchased Lots 54, 55, and 56 in Block 166 for the purpose of erecting a Hotel thereon. Mr. Fortin, who was present, submitted plans of the Hotel proposed to be erected by him. After discussion and expression of opinion, the Board assured Mr. Fortin that, if the Hotel was constructed according to the plans submitted, the would have no hesitation in granting a Licence for same.”

Unlike Mr Hamilton, we can trace Mr Fortin back to at least 1896 in the city, and in 1891 in New Westminster. In 1904 he ran (and maybe owned) the Leland Hotel on West Hastings where he carried out some alterations. He only kept our building for a year – by 1908 it has been renamed again as the Fairmont Hotel, run by James Pope. Mr. Fortin in 1909 was running the Café Fortin in the Fortin Block on West Cordova where Frederick Fortin was the manager of the Pool Room at the Fortin Hotel there.

This hotel retained the Fairmont name after that for several years, although the proprietors changed as we’ve seen with many of the city’s hotels and rooming houses. In 1910 it was run by Flanagan and Smedley, and they kept it all the way to 1916. In 1910, presumably when they bought it, they carried out $5,000 of alterations, designed by G M Baly and built by T E Young. In 1918 it was Mr Flanagan on his own running the hotel, and in 1919 it had become the Invermay Lodge run by Mrs A Blackburn. It was still the Invermay in 1924, but the Invermay Hotel run by E W Arnott with J LaChance.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA Hot P87


Posted 5 February 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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