Archive for the ‘John Callister’ Tag

Callister Block, 30 West Cordova Street

The Callister Block, to the right, is the newest structure in this picture. The Dunn-Miller Block to the east was completed in 1889, and the McIntosh Block to the west, completed soon after. (The part of the Dunn-Miller block seen on the left of this image became a hotel in 1907, the Crown Hotel. Clarke and Stewart, stationers, occupied the main floor. in earlier years. It’s possible that Mr. Callister hired N S Hoffar to design the building.

John Callister arrived in Vancouver in April 1885, settled in the town of Granville, and a year later lost everything he owned in the fire that destroyed the city. He was born in Ballaugh in the Isle of Man and emigrated to the States and was a builder in Chicago and San Franscisco. In 1891 he was aged 40, a carpenter and builder. He never married, and was sufficiently successful to part own the Ellesmere Rooms in 1887, and to build this building around 1890. The earliest tenant on the main floor was L Davis, who ran a clothes house here in 1891. It appears the upper floors were initially a hotel, the Dufferin House, run by Miss Kearns.

For a few years the main floor were occupied by a furniture store owned by Sehl Hastie and Erskine Co, employing a cabinetmaker and an upholsterer, and by 1895 C Hach, who took over the business and also lived here. James Stark had his dry goods store here in 1898, moving on to new premises in 1904, replaced by Alexander Ross and Co, another dry goods merchant. Upstairs James Thomson & Sons were manufacturers agents for Stewart & McDonald of Glasgow, but in 1908 they moved to Water Street and two unions moved in: the Brotherhood of Painters Decorators and Paperhangers, and the Lathers Union.

A couple of years later they were replaced by the Apostolic Faith Mission from 1913 until around 1935. The other tenant was the Industrial Workers of the World, a radical labour union started in Chicago and often referred to as ‘The Wobblies’. In 1912, when Vancouver authorities tried to ban street demonstrations, the Wobblies started and won a spectacular free-speech fight. Still operating today, the IWW’s website notes that “After building mass workers’ power, the arrival of the First World War saw the IWW declared a banned organization by the Government of Canada from 1918 until 1923, which debilitated the union for many years afterwards”.

The building was purchased by the Army & Navy Store in 1960. Initially it was used as the Outdoor Store (seen in this 1965 W E Graham photograph), but a remodeling of the building in the 1970s saw it incorporated into the main retail store, with new construction behind the preserved facades.

John Callister, seen here in the early 1900s, didn’t live in the city. He acquired land and built his home in a forested area covering about three blocks in 1904 at Hastings Townsite, some kilometers to the east, across from today’s PNE location. Upon his death Callister, a bachelor, left his property to two nieces. One of the sisters died and Mrs. Ada M. Stevenson inherited all of the property.

In 1920, sports promoter and tobacconist Con Jones entered into an agreement to purchase “lot 5, Town of Hastings, Suburban Lands” for $10,000 from Stevenson. According to the Vancouver city archives only three payments of $1,000 were made. In the space of a year, Jones supervised the building of a grandstand and field and Con Jones Park opened in 1921. Later the field was acquired by the City of Vancouver, and renamed as Callister Park.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-55 and Port P600

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Posted February 7, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Ellesmere Rooms – West Pender and Homer

The Ellesmere Rooms were unusual because they weren’t clad in fireproof materials, even in the 1940s, although that was the what the fire by-law generally required. The Ellesmere had been around a long time – the name was on the 1912 insurance maps, but it was noted as ‘formerly Douglas House’ in the Archives, and in 1901 it was shown as ‘Elesmere – Boarding’ and was three storeys on Pender and two behind.

The Ellesmere Rooms were described in J. S. Matthews Early Vancouver (Vol. I), 1932 as ”a tall wooden building…which is now used for cheap stores and offices. It was the first large ‘boarding house.” A photograph in the Vancouver Archives shoes John Callister, a pre-fire settler in Granville, and builder and contractor. He was described there as having “Built and half owner “Ellesmere Rooms”, Pender and Homer, May, 1887″

In 1889 it was operating as Douglas House, run by Mrs. J M Douglas. The census shows that Mrs. J M Douglas was a 45-year-old widow in 1891, born in the USA, but not long after that entry she seems to have disappeared from the city. In the 1891 census there are a series of names associated with 439 Homer, headed by F Yorke, Stevedore. There’s a picture from 1890 (or thereabouts) that shows Mr. Yorke on the porch of the premises, on the hill of Homer Street. (He’s third from left, wearing the derby hat). He wasn’t just a stevedore, he ran a stevedoring company in Moodyville, across the inlet. By 1901 he had married, had moved to Victoria, and was a master mariner, with a tugboat business.

The other residents of the building had a variety of jobs, including clerks, a real estate agent, the manager of the BC Iron Works and Monsignor L’Abbe LaChasse. Alterations were carried out to the premises around this period, designed by N S Hoffar.

In 1894 it has become Elsmere House, and in 1896 Elesmere House, shown as being run by  Mrs. L Walsh. A year later it is listed as the Ellesmere, which is how the spelling stays, run by Mrs. Welsh. In the 1901 census Mrs. Loirisa Welsh was aged 60, a widow, still running the Ellesmere rooms with her daughter, Florence, who was 20. Mrs. Welsh had arrived in Canada in 1888, but her daughter arrived 5 years later; both were born in England. Mrs. Welsh had ten lodgers, including Emma Shand, a photographer and Stanley Kirby, a rancher.

At some point after the 1890 picture the entire building was lifted up so that retail stores could be inserted along Homer and Pender Streets. This looks to have been done in the later 1920s, although there seem to have been addresses here in office use earlier than that period.

This image is said to have been shot in 1948. On the corner you could leave your films for processing at the newsagents and tobacconist that had been Bert’s Cigar Box since the early 1930s. There was a watchmaker next door, on West Pender, and a laundry to the north, along Homer Street. In between was a locksmith, ‘Garry’s Lockeyist Shop’, while to the north was the Hollywood Café, and Lacey’s Sign Works. Those businesses were located here in the 1930s, and were here in 1940, but rapidly closed during the war. The Ellesmere Rooms name disappeared after 1938 when it was listed as vacant, and from the look of the building, and the window boxes, we think this was more likely taken in 1938, not 1948. In 1943 it was reported that a city inspector had condemned the building as a boarding house. The shops were still occupied in the building in 1950, though you can see a for sale sign on the building in a Walter Frost image taken that year, and the boarding house looks to be in a pretty poor state. There was a parking lot here for many years once the building was removed, and then in 1993 Central City Lodge was built, offering 112 rooms of supportive housing with 24 hour care and a meal service.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P642 and Bu P141

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Posted November 5, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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