Archive for the ‘Joe Wai’ Tag

31 West Pender Street

Here’s the Pender Hotel in 1977, although at that time it was called the Wingate Hotel. Today it has a new name, Skwachays Lodge, and it’s effectively a new building. It was first a new building in 1913 when it was called the Palmer Rooms and it was an investment property designed by W T Whiteway for Storey and Campbell. They were owners of a manufacturing company making saddles, harnesses and trunks, with a new warehouse and manufacturing building just up the street on Beatty Street. We looked at the owners of the company when we described the history of that building.

This was a $40,000 investment, which was only a fraction of the budget that the same architect had three years earlier for the World Building, (today known as the Sun Tower), just across the street. Whiteway still managed to add some fancy architectural details in terra cotta with some elaborate pressed metal work on the cornice. Structurally the building wasn’t sophisticated – steel columns supporting millwork floors. In 1946 it was acquired by Lai Hing, who lived in the building and operated his hotel business under the Wingate Hotel name for over 30 years.

More recently it was acquired by B C Housing, one of over 20 SRO buildings that were bought to stabilize the stock of older, cheaper rental space, and to improve the state of the buildings, both structurally and in terms of facilities. After years of neglect (and with some harrowing stories of former activities in the building), the Pender Hotel was the only one found to be beyond repair. Instead a completely new building was constructed in 2012 behind the original (and now seismically stable) façade. Joe Wai, who designed the adjacent native housing building to the east, was the architect.

Today the building is run by the Vancouver Native Housing Society, and provides 24 housing units for artists and 18 hotel rooms, each one designed by first nations artists on a specific theme with names like the Hummingbird, the Moon and the Northern Lights suite. They’re available for first nations medical stay guests as well as tourists. As a social enterprise, the hotel needed at least 50% occupancy, but initially that wasn’t being achieved. The idea of adding the themes made all the difference, and now the hotel is recognized around the world and in high demand. As well as the first nations designed rooms there’s a sweat lodge on the roof, as well as a totem pole called ‘Dreamweaver’, carved by Francis Horne Sr, and a Haida designed screen by Eric Parnell as well as a Fair Trade Gallery at street level.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-19

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Posted August 17, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End, Victory Square

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Keefer Street, north side from Jackson

keefer-jackson

When W E Graham took this picture in 1966, Strathcona was an area of the city that was still threatened with obliteration. The ‘urban renewal’ of the neighbourhood and parts of Chinatown were still on the table – although it was becoming apparent that the local community weren’t going to roll over and allow their homes to be bulldozed, at least not without a fight. Several blocks of houses and businesses had been flattened, and new rental housing (at higher densities) had been built, ostensibly to rehouse the community. The McLean Park housing development between Union, Keefer, Gore and Jackson is immediately behind the photographer; construction was started in 1963, and completed in 1970 (although the design dates from the 1950s).

The homes in the picture had already been expropriated by the City of Vancouver some years before. We don’t know who built them, or exactly when, but they were already built when the 1901 Goad’s Insurance map was published. In 1967 it became apparent that even if the City of Vancouver still favoured ‘slum clearance’ of the entire area, other levels of government wouldn’t be funding the remainder of the program. We’re not sure exactly when the houses were demolished; there’s an Archives image that shows a few were still standing on the block in 1973. The dramatic change in levels that resulted from the redevelopment can be seen clearly – the houses were on a much higher level because, as with much of Strathcona, the streets were leveled after the houses had been built.

The City’s plans for this site intended it to be sold to a private developer for market housing, and it was sold for a third of the cost to assemble it. The purchaser blew the deal and didn’t develop the land as promised; lawsuits ensued and the city eventually regained the land. The City then proposed that a fire hall should be built on the site, but after local objections that was built on Prior Street and the land was reserved for family housing. Mau Dan Gardens was developed by the Strathcona Area Housing Society, (a spin-off from the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association – SPOTA – the community group who successfully fought the comprehensive redevelopment of the area). It was designed by Joe Y Wai and Spaceworks Architects, and built by the Turnbull and Gale construction company. Some of the units were sold, and remain freehold properties.

The majority of the 128 unit project is a housing co-operative. The founding membership of the Co-operative were predominantly of Chinese ethnicity, but included families of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Japanese and Canadian origin. In the past couple of years the complex has been comprehensively updated for the first time since its 1981 completion. New energy efficient windows and roofs were provided, the wooden frame repaired where needed and a new rainscreen stucco finish applied to the outer walls over improved insulation and soundproofing.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-35 (reversed)

Posted November 21, 2016 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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East Pender and Columbia Street (2)

Columbia Block 1972

Over the forty plus years since the earlier view of this building, relatively little changed on the building originally designed by R T Perry for Sam Kee. In 1935 they were the Tung Ah Rooms; they were still called that two decades later. Just as in 1929 W Santien and Co were occupying the store: but instead of dry goods they sold men’s furnishings – they were still there ten years later as well.  Next door was Tom’s Taxis and the Sen Sen barber’s store; in 1955 it had become the Joyland Arcade. At 107 in 1945 was Way Lee’s confectionary store;  ten years later the Dai Yew Club operated. By 1972 when this picture was taken Con’s Appliances occupied the main floor and the rooms upstairs hadn’t changed their name – they were still the Tung Ah Rooms, although the building had been tidied up and named the Columbia Block. A VPL shot from 1961 show’s Con;s was already established in the building then.

In 1974 the rooms were closed as a result of new City by-laws. It was closed down for seven years, and reopened in 1981 with an additional floor. It had fewer, quite a bit larger rooms, but they were still small. The developers were the Dart Coon Club – an organisation loosely associated with the Chinese Freemasons. The Club still exists, but have their club premises on the other side of the street, but they administer the rooms here. The Chinese Freemasons included Harry Con, who ran Con’s Appliances and was also active in the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association who eventually stopped the redevelopment of the entire Strathcona area. In 1967 he had published the first history of Canada written in Chinese, and in 1982 was awarded the Order of Canada. They hired Joe Wai to design the renovated store fronts and third floor addition.

Today the Chinese Tea Shop have their store here, and along Columbia are three newly opened ‘pop-up’ stores. Three murals, added in 2010, show the Wah Chong Laundry (which was on Water Street), Chinese men in 1936, and a 1905 merchant called Lee Chong. The artist is Arthur Shu Ren Cheng and the work was initiated by the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-451

Posted January 13, 2014 by ChangingCity in Altered, Chinatown, Still Standing

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27 West Pender Street

27 W Pender 1920

27 West Pender Street is today’s address – when the building in our image was built it was numbered as 31 Pender (East Pender was still called Dupont). It was built for the Brackman-Kerr Milling Co, and designed by Townsend & Townsend in 1909. It was built to the west of the warehouse built by McLellan and McFeely, but later used by the United Warehouse Co, and by 1920 (as our photo shows) the McQueen Produce Co Ltd. In actual fact, Brackman-Kerr (the name on the building permit and the insurance maps of the day) was really Brackman-Ker. Henry Brackman (who made his fortune in the Cariboo Gold rush) initially partnered with James Milne, a Scottish miller and stonecutter in 1877 to manufacture rolled oats in North Saanich, but the company disappeared in 1879 and was resurrected when Brackman partnered with David Russell Ker in 1881. After Brackman’s death in 1903, Ker led the company in an ambitious expansion throughout Western Canada, including this Vancouver property. Their 1912 catalogue offered Grass and Clover Seeds, Seed Grain, Seed Potatoes, Fertilizers and Sprays.

van loo27 W Pender 1950We haven’t dug up much about D J Elmer; El Sidelo seems to have been a brand created by a Seattle company, while El Doro was a Canadian brand and the Van Loo Cigar Company were a Vancouver based manufacturer. They were fairly newly in the building, which might be why the photo was taken. For several years before the cigar company moved in the B C A Junk Co were in the building. By 1924 the operation was still there but called the Vancouver Tobacco Co. By the 1930s they had been replaced by Gough & Thompson Ltd who supplied electrical equipment. Then in the early 1950s, in a curious case of deja vu, Brackman-Ker were once again the building’s occupants. Perhaps they never sold the building, and the various companies through the 1930s and 40s were their tenants. (Brackman-Ker occupied a small modern building near the Georgia Viaduct in the 1930s).

Today the building on the site is Ian Leman Place, designed by Joe Wai for the Vancouver Native Housing Society. They are an organization dedicated to providing housing for the urban aboriginal community, funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and BC Housing Management Commission through programs such as the Urban Native Housing Program, Low Income Urban Singles (LIUS) and Homeless at Risk Programs. In addition they provide programs that enrich and enhance the lives of tenants and others in the community.

Photo sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-1351 and CVA LGN 454

Posted January 24, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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243 East Georgia Street

Here’s a small building in Chinatown designed by E E Blackmore in 1910 for T T Wallace and later the home of Chinese produce merchant Ah Mew, seen here in 1933. The more recent replacement is one of two Housing Co-ops both named after Lore Krill. This one was designed by Joe Wai and completed in 2002. A small house with a false front can be seen on the right of both pictures.

photo source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4379

Posted December 25, 2011 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Gone

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