Archive for the ‘J M MacKinnon’ Tag

Mackinnon Block – West Hastings and Granville

We looked at this building on the corner of Hastings and Granville in a very early post (in 2011) from a different angle. It was designed by W T Dalton for John Mackinnon (on the right), an early and successful resource baron in the city. (The press frequently called him McKinnon, but as the advertisement for his business shows, that was wrong). It was built by Henry Bell, who also built the Dunn-Miller block on Cordova Street, and many Canadian Pacific stations. It was completed in 1897, twelve years after John left Scotland, and only six years after he arrived in Vancouver. Born on the small Inner Hebrides island of Eigg, John travelled to Edinburgh to study then set off for a new life in Canada in 1885, but not as he had expected. As a 1913 biography noted “It is a matter of interesting history to know that Mr. Mackinnon purchased the first ticket the Canadian Pacific Railroad ever sold in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Victoria, British Columbia. The railroad, however, was unable to get him ‘through and so transferred him in New York and he came to this province by way of the Northern Pacific and over the line of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company, the Canadian Pacific not having been completed until the following year.”

Once here he promptly headed south to the United States, running a sheep ranch in The Dalles, in Oregon before heading back to BC in 1891. He purchased Hardy Island off Powell River in the same year, retaining it as a game reserve. He became a land and investment broker, acquiring land, mining and lumber interests, as well as property. Initioally he was in a partnership as Mackinnon, Macfarlane & Co. The 1913 biography referenced this building: “In 1897 he erected the Mackinnon building in Vancouver which was the first office building of any importance to be built in that city and which, at that time, was considered the most modern building in the city.”

He sold it after a few years, to a Mr. Williams. The last reference to the Mackinnon Block was in July 1907, and in the same month the first to the Williams Block although Mr. Mackinnon continued to have his business offices in the building, next door to architects Grant and Henderson. The name change came a few months after a tragic accident occurred “William Lawson, a stonecutter, who lives at 1235 Homer street, was instantly killed this afternoon, by being struck on the head by a heavy stone, which was being hoisted into position at the McKinnon block, corner of Granville and Hastings streets. Lawson Is a married man and leaves a family. Repairs are being made to the front of the McKinnon building, and Lawson, together with the other workmen, were hoisting heavy stone and other building material to workmen above, when the tackle broke and fell, striking him on the head and killing him instantly.” The building however had been sold seven years earlier to an absentee overseas investor. Frederick De La Fontaine Williams, a London businessman, had visited Vancouver, seen the building, and struck up a deal to buy it for $100,000, as reported in ‘The Prospector’ in October 1900.

By 1916 it had been acquired by London & British North American Co, and in 1921 Townley & Matheson designed a $15,000 alteration for owners Sharples & Sharples: “Removal of nearly entire north wall of Hastings St. frontage to be replaced w/ plate glass front, other minor alterations” From later photographs there’s no suggestion that such a dramatic intervention was carried out – although there were slightly different fully glazed storefronts by 1940. As the job was for Service Tobacco Shop, it seems likely to have just been the main floor of the Hastings Street frontage (the north wall) that was being replaced.

Mr. Mackinnon’s mining interest included being president of the Bend’Or Mines in the early 1900s. He created the Canadian Pacific Pulp Company, Ltd., at Swanson Bay on the Inside Passage in 1906. (Today it’s a ghost town after the mill closed in 1918). He owned 20,000 acreas of timber land along the coast, and also a 1,200 acre ranch in Lillooet with 300 acres growing fruit and the remainder used as a cattle and horse ranch. In 1914 he was prospecting for coal and petroleum on Graham Island in Haida Gwai.

These days the corner of Granville and Hastings has the United Kingdom Building which has been here for over 60 years. Built in 1957 it was designed by Semmens and Simpson who only practiced together for about 10 years, but produced a significant set of quality modernist residential and commercial buildings, almost all in the West End and Downtown.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-390

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Posted January 22, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Hastings and Granville – sw corner

These days the corner of Granville and Hastings has the United Kingdom Building which has sat there for over 50 years. Built in 1957 it was designed by Semmens and Simpson who only practiced together for about 10 years, but produced a significant set of quality modernist residential and commercial buildings, especially in the West End and Downtown, including the Main Library in 1957 (just coming to the end of it’s more recent reincarnation as a music superstore).

For over 60 years before that the MacKinnon Building (later known as the Williams Building) occupied the same spot. Designed by W T Dalton for J M MacKinnon, a land and timber broker who had arrived from Scotland in 1885 aged 22 and only 12 years later built the 5-storey stone-faced building.