Archive for the ‘Lewis Carter’ Tag

Carter House – Water Street (2)

Carter House 2

Here’s a second look at The Carter House on Water Street, built by Lewis Carter in 1886, soon after the fire that destroyed the city. The original verandah was removed some years after erection before this 1898 image. There were three Carter siblings in Vancouver, Lewis, John and their sister Elizabeth. Elizabeth was married twice, and had two sons. The elder son was William F Finlay who became sports editor at the Vancouver World and later the Vancouver Sun. He gave a number of interviews to Major Matthews, the city archivist, that are our main source of information about Lewis Carter. He was killed with his wife Nancy in a tragic accident when his car wheels stuck in the tram line on the Granville Street Bridge and the car was struck by a tram.

“Mr. Lewis Carter, who had been a surveyor on the construction of the C.P.R. from Port Moody to Vancouver, cleared the ground with his own hands. A tremendous cedar stump, over twelve feet in diameter, had to be removed from the spot where the front door afterwards stood, and in removing its roots, water was struck and added to the difficulty, a fact which illustrates the low level of the land of Water Street in those days.”

“My Uncle, Lewis Carter, crossed the continent five times, the first time in 1872. He was, for three weeks, on the survey line, the surveying of the route, of the C.P.R. from Port Moody to Vancouver. He had charge of the C.P.R. car building shops at Yale for two and one half years; they built freight cars there, and some of the first turntables.

“My first ‘impression’ of Vancouver came in the form of a big bump on the back of my head. I arrived by train, 22 October 1887, and took Uncle’s bus to the Carter House; an open ‘express’ conveyance with seat longways on both sides, a covering supporting with iron stanchions, and canvas flaps for the sides to let down in rainy weather, and drawn by two horses. The Vancouver roads were very poor for somewhere on our way up the incline to Cordova Street or down to Water Street, the bus gave a big bump, I bounced out of my seat, my head banged the stanchion of the covering, and left a big bump on the back.”

Carter wedding 1892We’re not sure exactly when Lewis handed the hotel to his brother John to run. In 1892 (as this wedding notice shows) John was linked to the hotel, and we know he worked there in 1891 as the desk clerk, and from 1894 to 1897 as the bartender. In 1898 he was shown living on Pender Street, and Louis was still proprietor of the hotel. Two years later John Lewis Carter was the proprietor, and a year later Mrs J L Carter was in charge.

Lewis and Maggie Carter continued to live in the city, presumably in retirement. John was shown as aged 59, and Margarett 38 in the 1901 census, but as with many people we’ve looked for, they were missed in the 1911 census (or had moved away) They died in 1923 and 1925, and were buried in Mountain View Cemetery. The hotel was demolished about 1921 or 1922, and the site was developed by Leckie’s with a new 3-storey warehouse designed by Downing and Kayll and occupied by the Pacific Mills Ltd., before being incorporated into the Woodward’s Water Street Parkade, now refurbished and rebuilt as the Gastown parkade designed by Henriquez Partners.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N166




Posted December 11, 2014 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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Carter House – Water Street (1)

Carter House 1

Lewis Carter was born in Ireland, in either 1842 or 1843, and arrived in Vancouver a few weeks before the fire that destroyed the city, and the hotel he had just built only weeks earlier. W.F. Findlay, Mr. Carter’s nephew told the story to City Archivist Major Matthews. “My uncle, Lewis Carter, of the Carter House, told me that, when the fire broke out, he was halfway up Mount Pleasant” (up Westminster Avenue on Mount Pleasant), “and started to run back. He ran a long way, then walked to regain his breath, then started running again, and got as far as the corner of Cordova Street East and Main Street and then turned west down Cordova Street slope. The wind was so strong that he could hardly make headway. He got as far as Carrall Street, but the fire prevented further progress and he turned and went down Hastings Road with the crowd.”

He started building a replacement hotel almost immediately, and The Carter House stood next to the Stag & Pheasant on Water Street for many years. It was, (some said), the first three storey building in the town – both before and after the fire. Mr. Findlay also explained how Lewis had ended up in Vancouver. “My uncle was one of the surveyors of the line of the C.P.R. from Port Moody to Vancouver. He once told me that he had once taken a big Indian canoe, capable of holding three and a half tons cargo—a big canoe—and he (Mr. Carter), three or four Indians, and two surveyors—a regular survey party—had carried it across from Burrard Inlet to False Creek at high tide, via what is now Carrall Street, to save half a day’s paddling, and bucking tide necessary to go around through the Narrows.”

In 1891 the census described Lewis as a hotel keeper, his wife, Margaret (from Ontario) was with him, nearly twenty years younger, and his brother, John, was there too as the hotel clerk. Over twenty lodgers were also recorded, from Ontario and New Brunswick, the USA, Scotland and England. They worked as loggers, mill hands, bricklayers and carpenters, tinsmiths and teamsters – a cross section of the trades building the rapidly expanding city. Margaret was the daughter of Robert McMorran who became a city Alderman for one term in 1898, was a member of the Orange Lodge, and who died in 1910.

The photograph was reproduced by W J Moore from a copy of around 1887, and the people in it were identified by W F Findlay: on the veranda was Mrs. Margaret J. Carter, wife of the owner. The third from the left is C.E. McTaggart, afterwards manager of the Vancouver City Market (destroyed by fire) opposite the C.N.R. station; the fourth is Chas. E. Doering, of Doering and Marstrand, brewers of Mount Pleasant; the fifth Lewis Carter, the owner of the hotel; and the seventh John L. Carter, his brother and manager of the hotel. A painted sign states, “Meals and Beds, 25¢.” The 1887 date seems likely to be correct – although there had been buildings on the street since the 1860s, after the fire the street was still uneven and unpaved; only the wooden sidewalks were reasonably easy to walk on.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P1


Posted December 8, 2014 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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