Archive for the ‘Mainland Transfer Co’ Tag

200 Nelson Street

This two storey warehouse dates to the same year as its neighbor; 1911. This was also designed and built by a builder recorded on the building permit by the City’s clerk as ‘Snider, Geo. & Brethune’. The City Directory listed ‘Snider and Brethour’, run by George Snider and Edgar Brethour, and John S Brethour. Sometimes the Building Permit clerk got the company name right – as there are several other significant buildings listed as being built by Snider and Brethour. George Snider was from BC, born near Sooke and living in Victoria with his wife Amy in 1901. Both Edgar and John Brethour were also born in BC, outside Victoria. They were almost certainly cousins; both their fathers were from Ontario, and both were farmers.

Their client here was the Mainland Transfer Co, confirmed by the 1911 Insurance map who label this building as Mainland Warehouse. Mainland Transfer was incorporated on May 28, 1902, with a capital stock of $50,000, in $100 shares. It seems to have been created by taking over the interests of Atkins & Johnson, who had been in the city from the 1890s. Mainland’s 1902 premises at 120 Water Street were where Atkins and Johnson had operated a year earlier. Those gentlemen went on to run the Hotel Metropole, and had a variety of other real estate investments

The company became much bigger in 1904 when Gross and McNeill merged with them and Frank Gross (from New Brunswick, arriving in Vancouver in 1887) became manager. John D McNeill, from Ontario and Frank Gross founded their draying and transfer business in the late 1890s. After the merger McNeill briefly became general manager and then 1n 1906 left Mainland and became president of Great Northern Transfer, (handling all the freight related to the Great Northern Railway) and the Vancouver Coal Company.

Mainland Transfer grew significantly in 1906 when it combined operations with the Vancouver Warehouses Ltd. By 1913 Frank Gross was Manager of Mainland Transfer, based on Pender Street, and a director of Vancouver Warehouses (whose warehouse was on Beatty Street) Willie Dalton was both manager of the warehouse company and secretary-treasurer of Mainland Transfer. He arrived in Vancouver (from Huddersfield) in 1904. Robert Houlgate was President of Mainland Transfer in 1913, and he also had a Yorkshire connection, as he had been a bank manager in Morley before joining the Huddersfield based but Vancouver located Yorkshire Guarantee and Securities Corporation, Limited in 1898.

In 1920 this was Mainland Transfer Co Warehouse No. 3, but they shared the premises with Sawmill Machinery Co, Holbrooks Ltd (who were pickle manufacturers) and Crane Co.’s warehouse. In the mid 1930s Gold Band Beverage bottlers were here alongside Gilchrist Machine Co who sold logging equipment, the BC Feed and Egg Co who wholesaled feedstuff, and the Ford Motor Co who assembled vehicles brought in to the rail dock at the back of the building. By the end of the war there were several different businesses here, including Restwell Upholstery, the Green Mill Coffee Shop and the Railway and power Engineering Co. By the late 1950s this part of the 1000 block of Mainland Street was owned by T Eaton and Co. Eaton’s had a showroom in this lower building, and a warehouse in the three storey building next door, which they had occupied from the early 1940s.

These days the building has a variety of tenants including a private 30 student elementary school for children aged 5 to 9.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E18.19


550 Beatty Street

548 Beatty

Many, but not all the warehouses along the 500 block Beatty Street have been converted to residential use over many years. Here’s the first conversion, carried out over 30 years ago by architect Bruno Freschi. This 1974 image shows it when it was still a multi-tenanted warehouse operated, we think, by Johnston Terminals.

The architectural intervention for the residential conversion was significant – there are balconies punched into the façade held up by the heavy timber frame. The frame is far more visible as a result – much more than is true of most of the buildings from this period. That’s especially true on the main (and basement) floors where the widows and brick bases were completely removed. The conversion didn’t go smoothly – there were unexpected problems with the warehouse foundations (probably the lack of them!) and completion was delayed. The original partnership ended up forfeiting the building to a finance company, once the original bank financing was pulled. The contractor withdrew, and eventually completion of the project was only possible once liability had been settled by the courts.

The 1907 building is said in the Heritage Statement to have been developed by Mainland Transfer Co, part of C P Railways operations. Mainland’s warehouse was at Abbott and Pender for many years from before the early 1900s, and a variety of other companies occupied this warehouse, including Frederick Buscombe for at least a decade. Honeyman and Curtis designed a warehouse on Beatty Street for Mainland Transfer Co, and we therefore assume that this is the building (although the 1906 permit described it as “brick stable” – although at $40,000 it would have been an expensive stable). It was built by George Williamson, a contractor of a number of significant buildings around this period.

Apart from the Heritage Statement, there’s no evidence that Mainland was part of the CPR. It was founded in 1902, and Frank Gross, the manager who ran it then was still running  the company in the mid 1920s. A 1923 news story explained the history of this building. “In 1906 the Mainland Transfer Company approached the Vancouver Warehouses Limited with the idea of fusing their interests and a working arrangement was made. Under the joint auspices, business continued to grow so that at the present time the company owns and operates the largest warehouse business In Canada, one warehouse at 550 Beatty Street and one covering almost the whole of a city block, in the 1000 block Mainland Street.”

The Heritage Statement states that in 1914 Mainland created Vancouver Warehouses Ltd, to acquire the building and were based in the building until at least the mid 1950s with a variety of other tenants. As the quote shows, this is also incorrect. The company name had been around for several years before 1914. The 1911 insurance map, and the Street Directory both identify this building as being that of Vancouver Warehouse Ltd. Vancouver Warehouse had been formed in 1905, and was originally located on Cordova Street, and in 1908 was based here, managed by Willie Dalton, managing rather than occupying the warehouse space; four companies were listed as occupying the building.

Two more floors, with office space were added in 1928. The permit identified George Snider Construction Co. Ltd as the builder of $45,000 of new warehouse for Vancouver Warehouses Ltd., but we assume it wasn’t the entire building that was reconstructed. In 1932 occupants included the Columbian Consulate, the Chilean Consulate and the Northern Alberta Dairy Pool. By the 1950s there were over twenty businesses in the building.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-4