Archive for the ‘James Borland’ Tag

Persepolis Hotel – 351 Columbia Street

This modest rooming house has been operating for at least 110 years, but its development is something of a mystery. The smaller building to the left, with the arched entrance, is on the southern half of the lot. That’s Parr and Fee’s building for Borland and Brown, from 1902, and was home to The Horse Shoe Hotel. The part of the site in the picture was vacant until 1907. In 1908 there were businesses addressed here, so we can reasonably assume that’s when the building was constructed, in the dark years where building permits have been lost. We think James Borland would have been the developer. He built the Horse Shoe Hotel in 1902, and was still carrying out alterations and repairs up to 1912.

James was originally from Ontario, arriving in Vancouver around 1891. He started as a builder with two houses built in 1892 – both still standing. His death notice said that he arrived in Vancouver in 1888, although the street directories didn’t include him until 1892, and he appears to still be in Ontario in the 1891 census. He was born in Huron, Ontario, around 1864 and married Sarah Hamill, who was from Grey County, Ontario. They initially lived in the East End, then moved to the West End in 1901, where they stayed for over 20 years. When James died in 1937 he was living in Shaughnessy Heights. Over many years he developed a property empire, including several hotels and other commercial investments.

The 1912 insurance map shows this building as part of the hotel, and there’s no reference in the street directory to any separate lodging here initially. The 1908 directory shows McLean & Oliphant, real estate closer to the lane, and The Horse Shoe Hotel Grill next to the hotel. In 1909 Royal City Realty Co took over the real estate office, and a year later the Empire Shoe Shop and the Empire Tailor Shop. The Horse Shoe Grill expanded to take the whole frontage in 1912. The Grill closed a couple of years later. Annie Snider, a tailor operated here in 1915, and Maurice Glucksman offered a similar service in 1920. By then there was also a barber and B B Taxi – rivals to Central Taxi who were located immediately opposite. The ‘rooms over’ shown on the insurance map that year were still the Horseshoe Hotel, and the hotel bar was on the corner of East Hastings. BC Collateral, a pawnbroker had moved in to the other half of the main Hastings frontage.

A Hamill and S A Harris hired R Hill to make alterations to one of the stores in 1920, and A Babalos opened a barber’s shop in the unit. A Hamill also carried out more alterations to another unit in 1923. Alfred Hamill was a motorman for the BC Electric Railway, but he apparently also owned this property, and he built himself an expensive ($7,500) house on West 40th Avenue in 1926. The reason for his involvement in the building, and property, was presumably because Alfred was James Borland’s brother-in-law.

Stores came, and went over the years. B B Taxi stayed for years, joined in 1930 for example by Horseshoe clothiers and Horseshoe Tailors and Cleaners. Five years later the New Horseshoe Tailors were here, and Blue Cabs. By 1947 both Horseshoe Tailors and Cleaners and Blue Cabs were still here, but the upper floors had become the Sunshine Rooms.

By the early 1950s the property had been split. On Hastings, to the left, BC Collateral and Cunningham Drugs (who had occupied the stores for many years) were underneath the Toon W O Fong rooms, while here the ‘Frinces Rooms’ were run by Chow Choy. Wing Mah who ran confectionery store Wing Hong Co, lived over the shop, and Horse Shoe Tailors were still in operation next to the lane. (We have no idea if that was the actual name of the rooming house, or a typo).

The names of the businesses here continued to change over the years. In our 1978 picture Hing Hing was running a store next to Eddie’s Trading Post, that offered to buy or sell pretty much anything. In 2001 this was the Evergreen Rooms, still in Chinese ownership when it was ordered closed for a number of violations of the Standards Maintenance By-law (among other problems). The building reopened in 2008 as the Persepolis Hotel; still a privately owned SRO hotel with 27 rooms. The retail store was most recently ‘Farm’, an unlicenced cannabis dispensary, which was not approved to continue in operation when it sought to become legitimate.



Posted 14 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Granville Street – 1100 block east side 2

We looked at the southern end of this block in an earlier post, and at some of the buildings here in a view from Davie Street photographed in the early 1970s (like this picture). We didn’t examine the history of the three buildings seen here on the south side of Helmcken. Across the street is 1090 Granville, a 4-storey brick building developed by James Borland designed by Braunton and Leibert in 1912. Borland was a successful contractor turned property developer from Ontario, whose history we looked at in connection to his Maple Hotel on Hastings Street. There’s a modest single storey building beyond the Borland investment. It was developed in 1919 by Mary McQueen, who was the niece of Dr. James Whetham, a doctor who developed several important early Vancouver buildings, He husband James was also a developer, but several permits identify Mary as the developer of projects in the city.

The McQueen’s, who had been born in Ontario, also owned the site on the south corner of Helmcken, where the two storey green painted building was developed. In 1903 Mary Jane McQueen developed 2 frame dwellings, costing $2,000 on the lot, (which may have been on the Helmcken frontage at the back of the site). This was also where James McQueen obtained a permit for a $4,200 frame store in 1905, and we think he also had builder James Layfield carry out some alterations in 1910. This building may be the 1905 commission, or it may have been built a little later in a period of missing permits.

The two single storey retail buildings to the south were developed by R B Reilly in 1911, hiring Higman and Doctor as architects of his $2,300 investment. This appears to be R Buchanan Reilly, secretary to the Commission Agency, with a home on Davie Street. He was born in 1889 in Toronto (and he returned there in 1920 to marry his wife, Mary O’Connor). He seems to have moved to Michigan before the end of the first World War, as he seems to have been drafted into the US army there in 1918., and was still living there in the 1930s.

D Donaghy obtained the permit for the property next door in 1909, built at a cost of only $1,000. He had alterations carried out in 1919 and again in 1922. Dugald Donaghy was a barrister and solicitor with an office in the Flack Block and a home in the West End. Born in East Garafraxa in Ontario, he moved to the north shore, and was Mayor of North Vancouver from 1923 to 1925. He was elected as a Liberal MP for Vancouver North in 1925, and in the election the following year ran in Vancouver Centre and was defeated. Mr. Donaghy had an indirect connection to James Borland’s Maple Hotel, as he led the prosecution in 1928 against local brothel-keeper ‘Joe Celona’ (whose mother knew him as Giuseppe Fiorenza). Donaghy was particularly offended by the fact that Celona’s brothel at the Maple Hotel was frequented by Chinese men. He told the court, “There are no words in the English language to describe the abhorrence of white prostitutes being procured exclusively for the yellow men from China,” and was aghast “That these girls should be submitted to crawling yellow beasts of the type frequenting such dives”. Joe was sentenced to 22 years, reduced to 11 on appeal. He was out in five, but a public outcry saw him returned to prison, and he was eventually released after serving nine years. He immediately turned to bootlegging, managing to avoid further prison time, and died at the age of 57.

The buildings managed to survive to the early 1970s, when the unusually angled mass of the Chateau Granville hotel was developed.


200 East Pender Street

Despite some liberties taken with the cornice, which these days (and in our 1978 image) has a fake Chinese pantile affair, this is a genuinely old building in today’s Chinatown. When it was first built in 1895, it was a main street (called Westminster Avenue) – not Main Street, and with almost no Chinese businesses. Chinatown was located to the west of here, and expanded eastwards later. Here it is in a 1910 Vancouver Public Library image, before the tiles were added, but around the time when Chinese tenants started to move into the area. The Mon Sun Barbershop was here for over seventy years, and the King Hong Co. Chop Suey House was also here for a long period. The upper floors were used for lodging rooms, professional offices, and the meeting rooms of a Chinese musical society. Among the early professional tenants was Dr. J. Scott Conklin, remembered as a ‘noted B.C. Medical pioneer’.

It was built by James Borland, who was originally from Ontario, arriving in Vancouver around 1891 He started as a builder with two houses built in 1892 – both still standing. He ended up developing a property empire, including several hotels and other commercial investments. For this project (when he was still shown as a plasterer in the street directory) he might have partnered with James Ironside, who built the next door building to the south. He won the contract to plaster the new Mount Pleasant school in 1892. Most buildings along Westminster Avenue were half the depth of the lot, with a rear yard.  In 1907, Borland extended the building east along Pender Street to the lane. In 1919 he sold it to Chinese owners, but the tiled element wasn’t added until 1970. Today there’s an accountant’s office upstairs, and Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng moved from a few doors away to occupy the main floor.



Posted 2 May 2019 by ChangingCity in Chinatown

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71 to 83 East Hastings Street

Unit block E Hastings 1

There are two buildings in this 1934 Vancouver Public Library picture that date back well over a century; although one has been partly rebuilt in recent times. Today it looks like three buildings because half of the 1902 building on the corner with Columbia has retained (for the most part) its original appearance, (without the cornice) while the other half was extensively altered in the early 1930s, and was rebuilt again a year or so ago, with an additional small set-back third storey. The three storey building on the left (west) side of the image also dates back to 1902, and shares an architect with the other building. This 1934 Vancouver Public Library shot shows the renovation completed for long-time occupant of the building, BC Collateral.

T A Fee designed the three storey building to the west (on the left edge of the picture) for Thomas McWhinnie. We’ve looked at a Granville Street property designed for the same client by Parr and Fee, and the hotel further north on Columbia Street that he co-developed in 1911. We’re not sure if there was a delay, or poor recording by the street directory company, but it doesn’t seem that the rooming house on the upper floors was in operation here before 1905. Borland and Brown developed the wider 2-storey building, and they hired Parr and Fee as architects. We’ve seen other Borland investments in earlier posts, including a four storey building on Granville Street (where we looked at his history) and the Maple Hotel a little up the street from here. This is another reminder that Parr and Fee designs are by no means obviously identifiable; this building has traditional sliding sash windows, and no shiny white bricks.

The subdivided building took on a significantly different appearance after the 1930s renovation. The windows were smaller, and squarer, and a distinctive canopy was added. In the 1960s BC Collateral expanded into the three storey building, with a huge revolving sign being added a few years later to the three storey building. The two buildings were painted to match, creating even less coherence from the original disposition of the lots. BC Collateral first started operations in 1918.

In the 16 years before they moved in, the buildings shown here went through several iterations. The 2-storey building started life as the Horseshoe Saloon on the corner, and the Horseshoe Restaurant next door. In 1905 there was a rooming house above the Horseshoe Restaurant (the saloon having apparently closed). The restaurant was run by Peter Bancroft, and Mrs. F McElroy was running the rooming house. The Fidelity Real Estate Co. was next door to the saloon. By 1912 Mrs. John C Gillespie’s Horseshoe Rooms were above the unnamed saloon run by Phil Hacquoil and John Trachy, with a cigar shop and candy store also having store front space. The Horse Shoe Hotel was shown on the corner, run by A Pauche, J H Pates and W Murdoch.

The heritage statement for the building needs to be revisited. It says “The BC Collateral and Loan Buildings are of heritage value to the downtown east side for the business’ continuous local entrepreneurship for nearly 90 years. They are also valued as examples of commercial buildings that have been adapted to continuously suit the needs of one business.” That was once true, but BC Collateral no longer operate here. Instead there are newly rebuilt rental rooms above two retail stores. The 1970 revolving sign has been restored, although it no longer references BC Collateral (as they’re no longer here).


Posted 14 April 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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Maple Hotel – East Hastings Street (2)

Maple Hotel

We last saw the Maple in 2012, when it was called the Washington Hotel, and awaiting a significant (and picture-perfect) restoration thanks to the Provincial Government’s program of restoring and seismically updating a series of heritage buildings run as Single-Room-Occupancy residences. The earlier post examined the story of developer James Borland, and some of the hotel’s shadier past. This 1935 image appears to be pretty much the only image of the building’s earlier appearance. The original Maple Hotel name has been restored, along with a reproduction sign on the front of the hotel. There are now 81 units, restored glazing and cornices, and the entire Parr and Fee designed structure’s brickwork has been stabilized, and plumbing and electrical systems replaced.

There are thirteen buildings in the current restoration package, partnered by Habitat Housing Initiative and BC Housing (who funded $87.3 million toward construction and implementation costs, plus additional funding over a 15-year maintenance period. The Government of Canada contributed up to $29.1 million through the P3 Canada Fund.) Merrick Architecture were the architectural partner, and Barry McGinn was responsible for the conservation plan. That document says “It was built for the James Borland, an established building agent to cater to the largely male business travelling public, with such in-house amenities as a poolroom, a gentlemen’s clothing store and a restaurant. On the upper floors, every other floor had a communicating door, which might be convenient for a travelling businessman to reside in one room and work in the adjacent room.” “The original storefront retail alcove was quite deep, providing for display window on both sides of the alcove. By 1936, this retail space had been replaced by a restaurant, the Cairo Café, and the display window areas appear to have been replaced by seating.”

Inside quite a few details of how high-end the hotel was can still be seen; the stairs are marble, with marble wainscoting. This has been restored, the front centre-hung windows have been restored to their original appearance but with double-glazed units in the restored wooden frames, and there’s a gorgeous lighting program on the building at night, as well.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot N65.


East Hastings Street – 100 block, north side

E Hastings from Main

Here’s another image showing how little some parts of the city have changed in over 50 years. Our ‘before’ picture was taken in 1961; the ‘after’ on New Years Day 2015. While the buildings haven’t necessarily changed much, the use they’re put to isn’t necessarily the same. The Ford building on the immediate right of the picture became low-cost rental housing in 1985, having been developed as an office building called the Dawson Building, built by Bedford Davidson. On the extreme left of the frame is the Carnegie Library which the sign shows was still the City’s Museum in the early 1960s. Heading west down East Hastings the first tall building is the Maple Hotel – looking really good in both pictures for a building dating from 1912 (designed by Parr McKenzie and Day for James Borland). In between the two pictures the building lost its cornice as our earlier post showed, but now a BC Housing restoration has given the entire building a new lease of life.

The two low buildings to the west are from 1904 and 1912; the second by Parr and Fee, who also designed the Balmoral Hotel next door for J K Sutherland, also in 1912. Beyond that are two small buildings dating from 1919 and 1920. The three-storey building beyond that is identified on the insurance maps as the ‘Crowe and Wilson Building’. We’ve looked at its history (and the buildings beyond) when we saw the same block looking east from Columbia Street. Today it’s home to Insite and Onsite, but it was a rooming house called the West Inn in 1961, having changed from the Western Sporting Club when a police raid closed down an extensive gambling operation. The ‘W’ of Woodwards can be seen in both pictures – today it’s a new sign is a slightly different location.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 2011-068.09


Maple Hotel – East Hastings Street (1)

The Maple Hotel was built in 1912 by James Borland – the same man who developed 1090 Granville Street in the same year. In 1909 James was listed in the city’s Directory as a builder and contractor. Peter Trousdale was a clerk with William Holden, (presumably the same William Holden responsible for the Holden Block)  but a year later (and in 1911) the newly formed partnership of Borland and Trousdale were at 108 E Hastings.  From 1912 to 1921 they were based in Borland’s new building in suite 101. Parr and Fee obtained the building permit, but Fee had left the partnership just before the building was to be built and Parr’s new partnership with Mackenzie and Day supervised its construction.

James Borland was listed in later years as a real estate broker, as was Peter Trousdale in the 1911 census. Trousdale, like Borland, was a Presbyterian, lived in the West End, and had arrived from Ontario. In the 1922 street directory, son Stanley Borland was listed as a law student living at the family home, 1934 Nelson Street, and Peter Trousdale was managing the building he developed, the Trousdale block on E23rd Avenue. In 1925 James Borland had moved to 1361 Minto Crescent, his son Stanley was a dairy manufacturer and in 1930 was running Borland Ice Cream on W 6th Avenue. James is listed as still being in the real estate business from 193 E Hastings. Peter Trousdale is a salesman for the Permanent Loan Company, although still living in his own development off Main Street.

It’s not clear whether James sold the hotel, but in 1930 Mr and Mrs Johnson were running the hotel and from 1932 to 1934 L Facchin was managing. In 1935 the hotel was renamed as the Hastings Hotel. This was no doubt connected to the notoriety it collected the year earlier when local bootlegger and brothel keeper, Italian born Joe Celona was charged (and sentenced to prison the year after) for running a brothel on the fourth floor of the hotel. Local (and prosecuting counsel’s) disgust was greater because he supplied white girls to Chinese clients. (for more on Joe see the Past Tense blog entry). James Borland died in 1937 aged 72 and Peter Trousdale died in 1948, aged 76.

These days the hotel is called the Washington hotel, and its 84 non-market units are managed by the Portland Hotel Society on behalf of BC Housing who acquired it in 1998. It’s part of a recent announcement of a $116 million program to improve and restore heritage features on 13 of BC Housing’s buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Hot N65


1090 Granville Street

We’ve seen 1090 Granville before, off in the distance on the 1000 block of Granville Street. It was designed by Braunton and Leibert for James Borland, who started small, as an Ontario born plasterer, building two houses (still standing) in Strathcona in 1892. By 1901 he was identified in the census as a contractor and he had built a two storey commercial building on Westminster Avenue (also still standing, although much altered). He was living with his wife Sarah and children Alfred and Stanley. In 1902 Borland and Brown hired Parr and Fee to design a building on Hastings Street (which can be seen here), built by Baynes and Horie next door to BC Collateral. In 1904 he had a court fight to acquire a site from Joseph Coote – the site being wrongly identified on the receipt. He won, and acquired the site where the Dawson Building would be erected for $20,000. In 1911 he was mis-identified as Barland but was living with his wife, children and now a daughter, Gladys, and their Chinese domestic Chufat at 1934 Nelson Street (close to Stanley Park, in a rather well to do area of town).

In 1912 he really pushed the boat out, hiring Bedford Davidson to build Parr and Fee’s design for the Maple Hotel (now the Washington Hotel) at a cost of $80,000, and also this Granville Street building designed by Braunton and Leibert which cost $55,000. We don’t often see how much the land cost, so it’s interesting to see it cost twice as much as the building cost to construct. Although built as retail space with rooms above, by 1920 the only occupant was the Standard Furniture Co. By 1933 when this picture was taken it had become the T Maher Furniture Co, who were still there in 1939, but gone in 1940. Today the building still has retail at the base, but it has returned to its intended residential use on the upper floors and since 1991 the McLaren Housing Society has provided low cost, supportive housing for persons with HIV & AIDS.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4324


Posted 13 March 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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