Archive for the ‘J E Parr’ Tag

Cambie Street north at West Cordova

This view north towards Burrard Inlet and the north shore is said to have been photographed around 1900, but actually it must be a little earlier than that. Two of the buildings are still standing, and most of the others we can see were built not too long after the picture was taken. On the left edge is the Horne Block, developed by James W Horne in 1895, and designed by N S Hoffar. It has an unusual arrangement of two floors of retail, exploiting the slope of Cambie Street. The upper floors were initially offices, but for many years have been SRO residential, with 18 rooms known as Danny’s Inn.

Next door is the Panama Block, developed in 1913. It’s triangular, without a lane, and was designed by fairly obscure architects (Wallington & Wheatley) who only appeared in the city in 1912, just as the economy tanked. The owners were McConnell, Abbott & Drayton and it cost $10,000 to build. We looked at who the developers were in the linked post.

Across the street to the north is one of the earlier buildings still standing today, developed as the Springer-Van Bramer Block, by American ships captain and mill owner James Van Bramer and mill manager Ben Springer. Built in 1888, it’s another N S Hoffar design, and once had the insignia of the Freemasons, whose hall was on the top floor. Down the hill, the Regina Hotel was the only building in Granville Township that survived the 1886 fire. It was replaced in 1907 by the Hotel Edward, developed by Swedish mining engineer Charles Edward Beckman at a cost of $21,000, although we don’t know the architect. He leased it for ten years to two former police officers, former jailer John Deptford, and Constable Gosby. They were fired by Chief Chisholm, after a bottle of liquor was found in a cell with its inmate. The chief in turn resigned his post, claiming he couldn’t run the police force due to interference from other officials in the city. John Deptford ran the hotel for several years, and today (unusually) it’s office space upstairs, rather than residential.

On the right, hidden by the trees, today there’s the McDowell, Atkins and Watson building from 1899, designed by J E Parr just before he formed his partnership as Parr and Fee. As there’s an earlier building in the picture, it must date back to closer to 1898. The developers were druggists, noted for their home-grown syrups like Linseed and Hoarhound, their Beef, Iron and Wine preparation and Extract of Sarsasparilla and Iodides. A few years later Stark’s Glasgow House moved their dry goods store here.

Across Cordova is the Whetham Block, developed by Dr. Whetham (who also built the Arlington Block in 1887 that faces the Springer-Van Bramer building). This building came a year after the Arlington, so was built in 1888, and was designed by N S Hoffar. Although a medical doctor, James Whetham spent his time as a real estate developer; by 1889 he had the sixth largest land holdings in the city, was on the board of trade and was a city alderman. In 1969 the almost windowless building that replaced Whetham’s was the one of only two buildings completed for Project 200, a massive redevelopment plan that would have seen the entire waterfront of Gastown demolished to be replaced with a row of towers over a waterfront freeway. Once the plan was dropped, this rather more modest structure was home to CNCP Telecommunications – perhaps the first serious hi-tech investment in the city, designed by Francis Donaldson and developed by Grosvenor Estates. Today it has been refigured as office space, as there’s no longer a  need for buildings full of equipment.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2095



Posted 29 October 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Stark’s Glasgow House – Cordova and Cambie se

Cambie & Cordova 2

In 1887 James Stark erected a combined grocery store and residential apartment at 12 Northumberland Street, Ayr. That’s not so surprising as James, and his wife Julia, were born in Scotland. However, the Ayr that James built his store in was in Waterloo, Ontario. James arrived in Canada aged 20 in 1865 and worked for a dry goods store in St Catharine’s Ontario, then in Brantford, Toronto, and then for 8 years in Ayr. He arrived in Vancouver in 1892 aged 45 with his wife and five children aged from 7 to 18. He opened a dry goods store at 226 Carrall Street, then moved a few years later to 32 Cordova Stark's Glasgow House, Cordova Street, 1897 CVA SGN 1076Street in the Callister Block. By 1897 (when this picture of the storefront was taken) the business was known as Stark’s Glasgow House – although it’s not entirely clear why as James was born in Dundee. In 1901 he was living at 1027 Robson Street with his wife and all five children. The business offered both dry goods and millinery and two sons worked with their father, joined by the youngest son William in 1903.

James Stark had one of the earliest vehicles in the city – nicknamed somewhat strangely ‘The Rolling Peanut’ by its owners. It was an Oldsmobile that was delivered in May 1902. The sons of the family extended their interest in motoring by running a bicycle store in a former livery stable on Hastings Street with W J Annand that also sold cars as the Vancouver Cycle and Auto Co – the first business to do so. The picture below shows the Rolling Peanut with other Oldsmobiles in front of the store in 1904 or 05. Son William remembered the car “single cylinder, four and a half horsepower; under the seat; single tube rubber tires; no inner tube, no fender, no lights, no horn, but a bell on the dashboard which sounded when a foot button and ratchet were kicked. Originally, it was intended for a delivery van for ‘Glasgow House’ on Cordova Street, and had two seats in front and a box at the back which could be lifted off, but we put two seats at the back; then it held four; two back to back. The foot brake was on a ratchet on the back wheels.”

Oldsmobiles outside Vancouver Auto and Cycle at 108 East Hastings CVA Trans P47Mrs H Sacret recalled riding in the car in a conversation with Major Matthews who added a few notes. “Automobiles would never run in those days; they would get stuck, and people would pass remarks; call to us, ‘Get a horse,’ jeeringly. They called the first little one we had the ‘rolling peanut.’ I used to stop at the store” (Vancouver Auto and Cycle Company) “on Hastings Street, and they” (Mr. Annand or Mr. Stark, partners) “would send me home to Mount Pleasant in the car. It used to bump up and down, especially when going over a crossing” (when Vancouver had macadam roads, and the crossings at street corners were three boards, twelve-inch planks side by side, and the earth used to wear away on each side of the crossing.)”

“I had to sit in the only seat beside the driver, and there was nothing to hang onto, and I did not like to hang onto him; oh, it was terrible; you couldn’t hang onto a man out in the street with passing pedestrians on the sidewalks to watch. They used to say at the shop, ‘Take Miss Louie home in the peanut,’ and I did not know the ‘boys’ who drove; it was terrible.”

In 1904 the business moved to their third location in 12 years; the one in our picture: the five-year old building initially built by McDowell, Atkins and Watson, on the south-east corner of Cordova and Cambie. In 1905 the business was incorporated under the name of James Stark & Sons, Ltd., with James as president and sons Walter as vice president and stark 1910Earnest as secretary and treasurer.

They stayed in the building until 1909 when Stark’s Glasgow House moved to Hastings Street and became a full-scale department store. The family moved to 1201 Harwood Street, although only Earnest was living with his parents; Walter lived on Davie Street. By 1912 James had moved to Shaughnessy Heights and Earnest and Walter had moved to West Point Grey.

The VPL photograph shows the building around 1905 soon after Stark’s first moved in. By 1910 it was the Carlton Cafe, and soon after the Carlton Hotel. During the 1960s there were four partners running the hotel, including Maurice St Cyr, and you could get a room for $40 a month. The building became a single room occupancy hotel known as the Cambie Hotel and the Gastown Inn, but in 1997 it became the Cambie International hostel with over 120 beds and the Cambie pub downstairs.


Posted 9 October 2013 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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McDowell, Atkins & Watson – Cordova and Cambie se

Atkins, McDowell & Watson

Henry McDowell initially started his working life as a school teacher and then learned the trade of a chemist in Milton, Ontario. He arrived in Vancouver aged 26 almost immediately after the fire had destroyed the new city in June 1886. He set up his store on Cordova Street and in 1891 moved to Granville by buying A W Draper’s business and partnering with Harry Watson, another Milton born Ontario pharmacist who had arrived in 1889. A Daily World souvenir publication from 1891 said “They have a large sale of patent medicines and are proprietors and manufactures of McDowell’s Syrup of Linseed and Hoarhound, McDowell’s Beef Iron and Wine, McDowell’s Embrocation and McDowell’s Extract of Sarsasparilla and Iodides.”

Henry McDowell was connected with the Vancouver Street Railway and Electric Light Co., the Union Steamship Co., the Vancouver City Foundry Co, and was a prominent member of the Board of Trade. In 1895 Atkins and Atkins, another Vancouver druggist merged with McDowell and Watson. The combined company, McDowell, Atkins & Watson, druggists, built this store and office building in 1899. They eventually had 11 stores including one at Hastings and Homer in Harvey’s Chambers.

Atkins and Atkins were Thomas and John Atkins who were from Truro, Nova Scotia. Thomas was a druggist in Londonderry, Nova Scotia, before setting up in Vancouver in 1889, initially in real estate and then six months later as a pharmacist. His brother joined him in time to be listed in the 1891 census. In 1907 the partners sold out to the National Drug Company, and Thomas Atkins retired although Mr McDowell retained an active interest in the business. He retired in 1909, living at 1900 Barclay Street with his wife and three children. Harry Watson also continued with the firm – in 1910 he was President while also representing Vancouver as the MLA for Vancouver Centre. In 1913 he lived at 1230 Barclay Street with his wife and daughter.

For a while, while the National Drug Co were owners in the early 1900s, the building took its Cordova address.  From 1904 to 1909 this became Stark’s Glasgow House, selling Dry Goods. In 1910 the property became the Hotel Carlton (with the Carlton Cafe downstairs), and in 1914 it had become the Carlton Hotel, a name it retained for many decades. Max Crowe was the proprietor in 1912. Today the building is the Cambie Hostel, but our 1900 image is from a publication called Vancouver Architecturally produced by five of the city’s architects including Parr and Fee, who claimed credit for the design of the building, although some sources suggest Samuel McClure designed it with J E Parr. The building is one of Parr’s first in the city (whether with or without Fee) and features a series of cast iron windows between brick piers. Unlike their later trademark centrally pivoted windows, this building had more traditional sash units.


Hastings and Homer – ne corner (1)

Hastings & Homer

This 1906-07 postcard includes another of Harvey Hadden’s investments in Vancouver. In 1896 he commissioned John Parr (three years later partnering with Thomas Fee) to design a building on another of his Hastings Street corner sites – this one the north-east corner of Homer Street. At the time S M Eveleigh was apparently working for Parr, so as with Hadden’s earlier Arcade building down the street, he may have had a hand in the design. Harvey’s Chambers were initially the home to McDowell Atkins Watson Co., Chemists and Druggists, but by this Phillip Timms photograph G S Forsyth’s Book Shop was on the corner, with medical offices upstairs.

From the building permits records it appears that Hadden had sold the building not too long after its construction; in 1904 Martin & Robertson were the owners who hired Parr and Fee to design $3,200 of alterations to the building. The new owners were a Klondike outfitting company who hired W T Dalton to design their Water Street warehouse in 1899 (still standing today) and Parr and Fee to design another on the same street in 1908.

Hadden’s building didn’t last very long, although what replaced it wasn’t as impressive as the Royal Bank or the Dominion Building. In 1926 William Dick’s new clothing store designed by Townley and Matheson was built here.

Next door is another example of Parr and Fee’s design ability, a narrow 3-storey block for Thomson’s Stationers, completed in 1898 and altered (by no means for the better) in 1949. When this photograph was taken it looks as if Cuthbertson & Co a ‘men’s furnishings’ company were tenants. The two-storey building to the east (behind the tram) is The Mahon Block, designed by W T Dalton and built in 1902. In 1913 it was altered by W F Gardiner, which was possibly when an additional bay was added to the east, again for Thomson Brothers.