Archive for the ‘Maxine MacGilvray’ Tag

Maxine Motel – Bidwell Street

We looked at the early years of this West End building in the previous post. Initially developed in 1929, the facade we see today was built in 1936 and 1938, designed by Thomas McArravy and Ross Lort. A further southern addition was added some time after 1939, but before 1954. It was very shallow, as behind it was 1233 Bidwell Street, an early house on the block that had been bought by the building’s owners in 1929.

They were Maxine MacGilvray and her husband, Ivor Bebb. The married in 1928 and became partners in her already expansive beauty products and salon business. The depression in the early 1930s meant a trip to the beauty salon was a luxury many women chose to cut out, and the business suffered. There was also a Beauty School here, training many of the young women then recruited to work in the beauty salons.

In 1940 the US census shows the couple were living in Washington, in Seattle, where Ivor was shown as manufacturing cosmetics for his beauty shop, while Maxine was shown running the shop. Their ages and places of birth were recorded accurately – Maxine was from Wisconsin, and Ivor was 10 years her junior, aged 36, from Wales, (although their advertising had Maxine from Beverley Hills, and Ivor ‘of Paris and London’).

They were still travelling back to Vancouver for their business here. In 1939 “Gaily colored streamers and large green shamrocks decorated the reception-room of the Maxine School of Beauty Culture on Friday evening, when the juniors of the school entertained at a dancing party for, the graduating seniors. Guests were received by Maxine and Mr. Ivor Bebb, president and vice-president of the school, and during the evening prizes were presented to several students.” The house at 1223 Bidwell still showed I. Bebb as resident.

In 1940 Ivor Ewan Bebb became an American citizen, and the application shows he was born near Welshpool. His wife, Max Elwy Bebb was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and Ivor said he had moved from Vancouver to Seattle in 1930. In 1941 a new business, the Max-Ivor company, was incorporated in the US and continued to operate until 2001.

In 1942 the Maxine Beauty School was shown operating here, but a year later this was the Maxine Apartments – eight in total. The house at 1223 was still listed too. In 1943 The Max-Ivor Motel, on Highway 99 at 6188 4th Ave in Seattle was opened.

In March 1943 the tenants in the Maxine Apartments got their rent reduced on appeal from $45 to $37.50, and George Hodgson, a shipyard worker, was given immediate notice to quit. He successfully sued G L Gillette and Maxine Ltd, joint owners of the property, after Mr. Gillette, who acted as janitor, removed the door to his suite and refused to put it back on. A month later things had escalated: “the tenants were asking for a second reduction in their rent, alleging that the management is neither providing heat nor collecting garbage. The landlady, her manager, and at least four tenants all had something to say” The case had been before the judge six times, and two or three times in police court – and once in the Supreme Court. In 1944 Maxine tried to get the building back from her lessee, Joseph Cuillerier, (who was already in prison awaiting extradition to England on embezzlement charges), arguing he was operating the building as an apartment hotel, rather than a rental building. She initially failed, but then succeeded on appeal. In 1945 1223 was still shown, but now with 4 suites rather than as a house, with Ivor as resident in Suite 1. In 1946 the building had 12 apartments, and the house was no longer listed, so that seems likely to be when the southern alterations and small addition were made.

In 1947 Ivor E Bebb successfully rezoned 5 lots in Seattle to permit a mobile home park, although he continued to keep his apartment in Vancouver, presumably commuting over the border to manage their interests in both Seattle and Vancouver. By 1948 this became the Maxine Apartment Hotel. You could rent a one, two, or three-room apartment with tiled kitchens and private bathrooms daily, weekly or monthly.

Maxine Bebb died in 1952 at the age of 58. We often struggle to find people in the census, but remarkably Ivor and Maxine were surveyed twice in the 1950 US census. In the first record Ivor said he was 50 (adding four years to his age) and born in Wales while Maxine knocked 11 years off her age, to 45, and chose California for her birth state. In the other record Maxine admitted to being 53 (which was only three years off) and born in Wisconsin, while Ivor was shown as 46 (which was true), and was shown born in ‘Wales, England’ (which would have upset anyone from Wales). Their days in the beauty business had apparently ended; Ivor was running an auto court, while Maxine was manager of an apartment hotel. Ivor took a trip to Britain in 1953, following his wife’s death.

In 1960 the Hotel here featured unexpectedly when Joseph Corbett, Jr., aged 32, listed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list for kidnapping and murdering the 44-year-old chairman of the Coors Brewing empire, was captured here. At the end of October, a Vancouver resident thought she saw the man in the West End, and a policeman recalled seeing Corbett’s car outside the Maxine. His landlady identified ‘Mr. Wainwright’ from his photograph, and a combined FBI and Vancouver police team arrested him without incident.

Corbett, who was from Seattle had been convicted of shooting a man in the back of the head in 1951, which he claimed was self-defense. Initially in a maximum-security prison, his good behavior, saw him transferred to minimum security, from which he then escaped in 1955. Adolph Coors had left for work in February 1960, but never got there. His bones and clothes, with two bullet holes in his back, were found in a remote mountain dump in September.

Corbett’s booking shot from 1960 showed a neatly dressed man with tinted glasses. He was found guilty in 1961 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Released in 1980, he only gave one interview, in 1996, where he maintained his innocence. With a recent cancer diagnosis, he killed himself with a single shot to the head in his Denver apartment in 2009, aged 80. He left no note, and there was nobody to claim the body.

From 1964 to 1970 Ivor was president of the Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club in Seattle. He apparently remarried; when Olaf Stevens died in 1955 his obituary referenced a daughter, Mrs Ivor E Bebb of Seattle, and a granddaughter, who was born, we believe, in 1954. Ivor was aged 85 when he died, in Seattle, in 1989, a year after the Max-Ivor hotel had closed. Grace Rena Bebb, the last person associated with the Max-Ivor company died in Renton in Washington in 2001.

In Vancouver, in 1965 the motel was owned by Maxine-Beach Lodge Limited. In 1968 Mrs. Margaret Finigan, a tenant (28) lit a cigarette while gas was apparently leaking from the stove and suffered third degree burns (and didn’t improve her apartment’s decor). The apartments were still here in 1972, but not for much longer.

In the mid 1970s an architect, Vic Pimiskern, acquired the building, and ran his practice here as well as opening a restaurant here called Maxines, specializing in ribs. In 1978 Denny Boyd, a columnist in the Sun told a moonshine story (but didn’t suggest there were any of the elusive tunnels we mentioned in the previous post). “Maxine’s young charm students were often shocked to find the carcasses of dead sheep hanging in the basement. Maxine used to extract tallow from them to use in the preparation of her own line of cosmetics. It is said that she also had a productive still operating in that basement lab, cooking up prohibition moonshine for her many friends“.

In the late 1980s this was Fogg n Suds on The Bay, becoming Mescalero, a Mexican and south-west themed restaurant in the 1990s, then Balthazar’s, and finally Maxine’s Hideaway, when the owner spun some attractive but totally fictitious stories about tunnels, rum-running and bordellos.

In 2013 the Alexandra, a condo and market rental building designed by Henriquez Partners was developed by Concord Pacific and Millennium, incorporating the facade of the original Maxine Beauty School, now serving as a coffee shop.

Image source: SFU postcard collection msc130-5071-01



Posted 13 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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Maxine Beauty School – Bidwell Street

This West End landmark is the source of numerous stories, many of them total fabrications. The part of the facade still standing today was designed in 1936 by Thomas B. McArravy for his entrepreneurial client, Maxine MacGilvray. He was mostly based in Nanaimo, although he did briefly move here, so only a couple of his buildings were in Vancouver.

Maxine’s name first appears in Vancouver in connection with beauty products sold by Spencer’s department store in 1913 in Victoria (left, when Maxine would have been aged 19), and in Vancouver in 1914. Said to be trained in California, she gave talks on skin care at the stores and would later open an in-store beauty parlor. It’s not clear if she had a permanent residence in Vancouver in those early days, although there was M A McGillivray, a hairdresser living at 742 Dunsmuir in 1917 (for only that year), although Maxine was also lecturing at ‘The Bay’ in Edmonton (right).

In the 1921 census, there were two McGillivrays living at 999 Georgia, one a manufacturer of cosmetics. Living with her was a sister, Patricia, who was manager of a hair salon, and five years younger. What’s odd is that ‘Maxine’ was recorded as Annie McGillivray, not Max, or Maxine. It was probably an error as in 1921 Max E MacGilvary and Patricia McGillvary were both shown in the street directory at the same address; the Maxine Hair Dressing Shop, 726, 510 Hastings (The Standard Bank Building). Patricia was a skin specialist and living on Seymour Street. In 1922 Patricia wasn’t around, and Max E MacGilvray ran Maxine Hairdressing Shop, and was living at 999 East Georgia. That’s the same address where she was shown living in the 1921 census. The shop had moved down to the second floor of the bank building, where it remained for a few years, although Maxine herself wasn’t always shown to be living in the city.

She was often travelling in her expanding empire; in 1923 she was on the radio in Calgary, lecturing on the need for vitamins for city-dwellers, and was described there as a physical and health specialist She had an extended series of lectures in Parker’s Departmental store in the same city, covering a wide range of beauty and health topics. In 1924 Maxine’s hair business (Mrs M MacGilvray) had moved to 601 Dunsmuir and the Max Chemical Co (Miss M E MacGilvray) was at 999 E Georgia, where Maxine also lived. Robert Garner was the chemist in 1926, and a year later he had an apprentice, Ivor Bebb, who lived at the back of the property. In 1926 Maxine opened a beauty school in Calgary, and the press had to retract the suggestion that she had severed ties with the Hudson’s Bay Company there. In fact, she was still manager of the HBC beauty shop (as well as her other business interests)

Maxine married Ivor Bebb in Skagit, in Washington, in April 1928. She was recorded in the register as Max Elwy Mac Gilvray, and she was born in Wisconsin in 1894. He parents married in Chippewa Falls, and Maxine was the youngest of seven children. Her father was born in Ontario, and her mother, Adeline was from Wisconsin. Her husband was from Wales, and was ten years younger. It appears that they were discreet about their marriage: in 1929 there’s a description of the colourful lighting display on their home, described as ‘The home of Miss M E McGillvray and Ivor E Bebb, partners in the Maxine Beaty Shoppe‘ and in 1933 the Vancouver Sun reported ” Miss Maxine MacGilvray, Ph.C, and Mr. Ivor Bebb, M.S.C., have left the city on an extended business trip to New York and Chicago, where they will visit the Century of Progress Exposition.

In 1928 there were two houses on the block face, 1203 on the corner, and 1223 next to the lane. (In 1929 both were vacant, but the couple had moved to 1233 for Christmas). In 1930 part of the garden of 1203 had been acquired and a new building had appeared mid-block, and the house at 1223 was shown occupied by Mrs. M MacGillvray. The new School of Beauty had opened in August 1929, with Maxine Beauty Shoppes at 1211, and the Maxine College of Beauty Culture sharing 1215 with Max-Ivor Ltd. In 1931 The Acadia Tea Room occupied 1203, and the directory had corrected Maxine’s title to ‘Miss’.

There was both an advertisement and a write-up in the Vancouver Sun for the August opening of the new building, whose architect isn’t identified. VANCOUVER SUN, AUGUST 3, 1929 – NEW ‘MAXINE’ OPENED IN CITY Ultra Modern Beauty Parlor Built on Bidwell St. With a chain of beauty shops in Canada and the Pacific coast of the United States, the Max Chemical company, with Mrs. Max McGillvray and Ivor Bebb sole owners, has further extended is activities by the erection of a fine new beauty shop at 1215 Bidwell street. Attached to the handsome new building is a college where young ladies are taught the art of the beauty parlor expert. “Maxine,” the name under which all the shops are conducted, has become a household word over great territory, and a visit to the ultra-modern plant on Bidwell gives assurance that this name has been well earned. Mrs. McGlllivray Is a qualified chemist and for a number of years has devoted her time and skill to the manufacture of cosmetics, powders and such like, and all of which are considered necessities for M’lady’s boudoir and bath. “I feel that there is a great future for Vancouver and British Columbia and that is the reason that I have come from the United States to live-here and make my business here,” said Mrs. McGlllivray. “We have an investment of upwards of $65,000 in the business and we feel that this, in itself, is evidence of our faith in this wonderful city.” A fully equipped factory is also attached to the new shop in which the various products are made.

The advertisement suggested Maxine was staying close to home (at least briefly). “The new Beauty shoppe will be under the direct supervision of Maxine MacGiIvray. Ph.C who is also personally supervising the up-town shop Maxine No. I (601 Dunsmuir St.) Miss MacGilvray is also the general manager of the international chain bearing her name. She is assisted by Mr. Ivor Bebb (assistant manager) and a staff of capable licensed operators, who have had years of experience.”

In 1936 the building was extended to the south, and the facade remodeled – that’s the image at the lead of the post. This was built by H A Wiles and designed by Thomas B. McArravy costing $3,500 according to the permit. Two years later another addition was made, designed by Ross Lort and costing $7,200. That’s probably the more ornate addition to the north, the edge of which is just visible in the contemporary picture. That year Maxine and Ivor had slightly altered their names and origins to persuade young ladies to train with them. The year had prompted a nasty shock “‘Fire completely destroyed the roof of the residence of Ivor Bebb, 1223 Bidwell street

The stories that have more recently attached to the building continue to live on – thanks to the internet. One story says that there was a tunnel from the building to English Bay, for smuggling, and another to the Rogers Sugar mansion, ‘Gabriola’. The owner of a nightclub in the building in the early 2000s was quoted in a magazine article: ‘Disguising the spot as a beauty school and boarding house, McGilvray gained notoriety by serving illegal alcohol and running the joint as an after-hours bordello. From his own personal research, Henderson learned the first tunnel was used by sugar magnate B.T. Rogers to access the bordello at his leisure. “The impetus behind the tunnel was bootlegging,” he explains. “Sailors would use the passageways to run rum from the boathouses at English Bay.”

If Maxine had been alive, she might have successfully pursued a lawsuit. Although her business undoubtedly involved attractive young women, there was never a hint of scandal attached to the business. The production of cosmetics would have involved deliveries and shipping, but it would have been unwise to drink the contents. Prohibition was long over in Canada, so smuggling to English Bay (which was then, as now, a hugely popular recreation area) would have been unnecessary (and the Vancouver rumrunners during prohibition were involved in exports, not imports). As for B T Rogers accessing the bordello, the elevation change between Gabriola, and Maxine’s would have made the proposition an incredibly expensive engineering feat, and risky, as the City Engineer might have come across it while maintaining the pipes under the road. It would have been even more expensive, as it was impossible without a time machine. The first building Maxine constructed was built in 1929, and B T Rogers died in 1918.

We’ll look at further developments with the building and the building that replaced it in a future post.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4477


Posted 10 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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