Archive for the ‘Leonard Wett’ Tag

Granville Street – 800 block, west side (1)

The corner of Smithe and Granville has a single-storey building dating back to 1910, designed and owned by Leonard Wett, and built by Lewis Yarco at a cost of $5,000. This 1913 Vancouver Public Library image shows it when Turner’s store sold Crockery, Stoves and Graniteware – and Furniture. Mr. Wett continued to own the building for several years, with repairs in 1915, 1916 and in 1920.

Leonard Wett appears in several newspapers from as early as 1896, in connection with his mining interests in the Highland Laddie, Duke and Duchess Mineral Claims north of Campbell River, although the deposits were only developed in the 1930s, producing silver and gold (and are still offering promising assay results). Although his appearance in both the census and street directories is spotty, we know he was born in Germany around 1858, arrived in Canada in 1882 and became a citizen ten years later. He apparently arrived in Vancouver two months before the 1886 fire, and initially worked in the Hastings Mill. A year after he developed the building he was shown as a baker, lodging on Richards Street. Leon Wett, a baker, was recorded in the 1891 census, but so was Leonard Wett (although there’s only one Leonard Wett in the 1891 directory). We thought it could be a duplication error – except one was shown as Lutheran, and the other as Roman Catholic, so it’s less likely they were close relatives. His death was recorded in 1955 when he was 97, survived by nieces and nephews living in Germany and the US.

The two storey building next door was originally built in 1911, designed by Higman & Doctor for William Catto, costing $9,800 to build. It was apparently rebuilt again in 1928, and has seen further regular redesigns of the façade, most recently when a McDonalds restaurant moved in. No William Catto lived in Vancouver, or even British Columbia, but there was one who visited. Dr. William Catto was a physician in Dawson, in the Yukon, but was also part owner of the Lone Star mine, one of only a handful of bedrock gold mines in the Yukon, albeit a small-scale operation. The mine produced a small amount of gold between 1911 and 1914. He was recorded as staying in Vancouver in 1912 (at the Hotel Vancouver).

Next door was the Maple Leaf Theatre. We already looked at the history of the theatre, which later became the Plaza, and more recently the Venue (a nightclub).

 

By 1951 this VPL image shows the corner unit was a ‘Silk Hat famous fruit salads’ cafe, operated by Hank Oliver who also owned the Aristocratic Restaurant chain, including one located immediately across Smithe Street. (The Plaza was showing ‘Night Without Stars’ a 1951 British black-and-white dramatic thriller film, starring David Farrar, Nadia Gray and Maurice Teynac.)

By the early 2000s the corner had the McDonalds restaurant, (seen here in 2004), but they moved next door to the adjacent building, and today there’s a sports goods store on the corner.

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