Archive for the ‘McCarter and Nairne’ Tag

B C Electric Substation, Main Street

The Vancouver Public Library say this image was shot on 8 July 1920 by the Dominion Photo Co. It shows the electric substation for BC Electric that dominated the street – and especially the wirescape – around this stretch of Main Street. It was built and rebuilt several times over a few years. Some work was designed in-house, but in 1903 Blackmore & Son had designed the substation on the corner here, costing $32,000 and built by E Cook.

This image shows a $12,000 addition built in 1912 as well; (the building on the right). A year earlier one of the the concrete smoke stacks had cost $16,000, designed by C C Moore and Company. They were specialist engineers who also supplied the boilers in the sugar refinery, and they had constructed the first $6,000 chimney in 1910 designed by Weber Steel Concrete Co, a US specialist chimney designer.

After this image was shot, in 1923, Coughlin & Sons were hired to carry out another $15,000 of alterations, although there’s no obvious difference to the buildings in this 1929 VPL image, except there seems to only one chimney remaining for the auxiliary power supply. (B C Electric had built a hydro-electric generating station at Buntzen Lake as early as 1903).

B C Electric built a new substation just to the north of these buildings, between 1945 and 1947. The Murrin Substation is still standing, and in use, today. Designed by McCarter and Nairne, the open air transformer yard replaced the buildings to the west, down Union Street. A new smaller substation building designed by Sean McEwan was added more recently on the corner. (William G. Murrin was the president of the British Columbia Electric Railway Company from 1929 to 1946.)

The Murrin Substation is currently expected to be decommissioned around 2030. BC Hydro reviewed a number of options, including rebuilding a new substation on the Murrin substation site. A new site has been acquired, as upgrading the existing facility isn’t a viable option because it sits on seismically unstable soil. It’s technically not feasible and cost prohibitive to seismically upgrade the site to appropriate levels.

With the viaducts to the immediate south expected to see removal and redevelopment, this stretch of Main Street will look very different in a few years time.

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Posted 15 July 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Main Street and West Broadway – south-west corner

Here’s a 1985 view that hasn’t really changed a lot in the nearly 36 years since our picture was taken. The building on the south-west corner of Main and West Broadway was still a branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Completed in 1953, we’re reasonably certain that McCarter and Nairne were the architects. They designed a very similar building for the bank in 1950, on West Hastings, and also designed a larger Downtown branch in 1957, on Granville Street. The first bank here had been built for the Bank of Commerce in 1921, designed by W F Gardiner. Most recently there’s been a Tim Horton’s here, but the building was also a loonie store and a showroom for condo developments in recent years.

To the south along Main Street was a single storey retail building that had been built in 1929. A fire destroyed it in 2011, and it was replaced with another single storey (and mezzanine) building, completed in 2013. They had originally been developed in 1911 by A F McKinnon. Further south the flanking wall of Belvedere Court can be seen, an apartment building built in 1912 to Arthur J Bird’s design for D E Harris. Along West Broadway there are a series of single storey retail buildings, the oldest from 1926, and the most recent (today), next to the bank, completed in 1994. The two storey building with a bay window that was replaced had also been developed by A F McKinnon, in 1906. He owned and developed several other properties in this part of Mount Pleasant, including the Broadway Rooms two blocks to the north.

We know he was a local resident as the Mount Pleasant Advocate, in 1904, reported that “Little Alice, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. J. McKinnon, while playing yesterday fell from a pile of lumber and broke her right arm. Dr. Brydon-Jack was summoned and put the injured member in plaster-paris.” Mr. McKinnon ran a confection manufacturing business, and lived on W 10th Avenue with Alexander McKinnon, who was in real estate. We suspect they were father and son, and both called Alexander. The 1901 census shows A F McKinnon, born in Ontario, aged 62, who was involved in lumber and his son A J McKinnon, aged 24, born in the US, and a book keeper. His son’s wife, from Ontario, was also listed as A J McKinnon, and they had two daughters, Alice and Francis. A F McKinnon’s other daughter, Fannie aged 28 and also born in the US, also lived in the household. The street directory shows A F McKinnon in real estate.

By 1921 Alice was a nurse, still living with her parents and five siblings. Her father, Alexander was aged 43; he was born in the USA, but his father was Canadian. His wife, Mary, was born in Ontario, and her father was English as were both their mothers. Alice was the oldest still at home, at 22, and had been born in BC, so the family had been in the Province from the 1890s. Alexander was shown arriving in Canada in 1897, and was listed in the street directory as ‘real estate’, but intriguingly in the census as ‘chauffeur, automobile’. 

All the buildings from Belvedere Court northwards will soon be demolished, including the ones along Broadway. In 2025 the new extension of Skytrain will have a station at the corner, and in the meantime the site will be a large construction site to allow the station construction. The tunneling will be carried out by two passes of a boring machine, so disruption should be less than when the Canada Line was built. 

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Posted 14 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Broadway, Mount Pleasant

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Northern Electric – Robson Street

In the summer it’s impossible to be sure that this 1928 building is the same as it was in the picture, photographed in this Vancouver Public Library image a year after it was built. Nothing much has changed externally, although it was added to in 1947 with a matching element. To the east (left of the picture) there’s a former gas station that’s been a bar for many years. The architects for the Northern Electric building were McCarter Nairne, with Northern Electric’s Montreal based architect, Joseph Onesime Despatie. The building was basic, but there are a few modest Art Moderne / Classical touches at the entrance.

Northern Electric started life in the mid 1890s as the manufacturing subsidiary of Bell Telephone of Canada. Before they developed here they occupied a building on Water Street. During the 1920s, as well as the core telephone and related business, Northern Electric made kettles, toasters, cigar lighters, electric stoves, and washing machines. The Vancouver buildings were warehouse space, with a showroom, but manufacturing took place elsewhere. The company name was truncated to Nortel many years later, and eventually saw a spectacular bankruptcy in 2009. They had long abandoned this building, which had been purchased in 1958 by the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver for use as their Catholic Centre, containing their offices and the Catholic Men’s Hostel with over 100 beds on the third floor. A new office building was built some years ago on the site of the former St Vincent’s Hospital, and only the hostel occupies the building for now.

In 2018 City Council approved the development of a 29 storey residential tower here. It will sit above the restored facades of the Northern Electric Building, and there will be a hotel in the restored part, on four floors, with an adjacent new six storey building to the east. The oldest part of the heritage warehouse will have a restaurant on the main floor, and there will be a coffee shop in the 1947 addition. The Catholic Hostel is moving initially to St Paul’s Hospital, and will need another new home once that is redeveloped in a few years time.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N279.2

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Posted 9 December 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Burrard Street from Pender – looking south (2)

We saw a similar angle from an earlier photograph of this block of Burrard from 1939. (We saw the building on the corner looking the other way east along Pender, in another recent post). Apart from the Hotel Vancouver in the background, and the cathedral, buried in the trees in both pictures, very few if any of the 1939 buildings had survived when this 1981 image was taken. Things have changed again; none of the 1981 buildings are still standing today, either.

On the left hand corner on Pender was the National Trust building, built around 1958, and designed by McCarter, Nairne & Partners, which replaced the Glenwood Rooms, built sometime around 1907. The remainder of the block consisted of modest mid rise office buildings also erected in the 1950s when the city’s economy started to pick up after a long slow period during the 1930s and through the war years. At 540 Burrard, McCarter and Nairne (who seem to have had a near monopoly on designing the city’s 1950s office buildings), designed the 1957 Mercantile Bank of Canada, which we think must be the smaller office building just behind the bus. Next to the cathedral the Georgia Medical Dental building came closer to the cathedral than its replacement, Cathedral Place. This image must be taken quite early in 1981 as the buildings on Burrard were still standing; another image taken the same year shows the site cleared to construct Park Place

On the corner today is a 1985 office, 510 Burrard, occupied by Manulife, completed in 1985, designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership. The whole of the remainder of the block is Bentall 5, designed by Musson Cattell Massey and built in two vertical phases in 2004 and 2007, with the Cactus Club Café pavilion occupying the area reserved as a staging area for the addition of the final 11 storeys. Next door is the 1984 Park Place tower at 666 Burrard, also designed by MCM for the Daon Corporation. Additional density was permitted to protect the heritage of the Christ Church Cathedral by transferring the theoretical remaining permitted density under zoning onto the cathedral site to the office tower – the first example of ‘transfer of density’ in Vancouver.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.19

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Posted 30 August 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Homer Street north from West Georgia Street

This modest almost suburban street doesn’t look like the heart of a busy metropolis, but in 1948, it was. The clue that you’re in a city is in the background, where the Hotel Alcazar can be seen on Dunsmuir Street. At the far end of the block on the corner of Dunsmuir was a single storey retail building. The tallest building on this block is a three storey building about two thirds of the way down. 632 Homer Street was built in 1912 as three-storey brick & concrete printing shop by Gustav Roedde, who claimed to have designed and built it himself. He also moved the 1904 house built by F H Donovan on the adjacent lot to the north, presumably to allow construction of his building. There had been a house built on the lot in 1901, designed by Bedford Davidson for Mr. Goldstern. Mr. Roedde was a bookbinder who was born in Germany, worked his way from Cleveland to San Francisco to Victoria, and eventually settled in Vancouver in 1888. He started work at the News Advertiser, was briefly based on West Cordova, and then in 1892 moved to premises on Cambie Street. His building here was renumbered to 616 Homer in 1948, but was still the home of G A Roedde Ltd, printers.

To the south, also in 1901, R M Fripp designed a house for Robert Mee. In 1948 it had been redeveloped (or altered) as a single storey building on the street, home to the BC Journal of Commerce. The two storey building at 622 was the home of Smith Marking Devices, as well as printers Cornell & Burroughs, and as the bus poking from the archway shows, it was also the Greyhound Bus Company depot.

Closer to us is a house that had been built in 1902 by the Church of England as a mission, designed by W T Dalton. The house to the south of the mission, extending forward to the sidewalk by 1948, was built by Fred Melton in 1910. By 1920 it was home to another printing firm, Trythall & Son, run by Wm J, Wm T and E Howard Trythall. The family were living on Nelson Street in 1921, and William and his wife Minnie were both shown aged 50. William had arrived in Canada in 1888, and Minnie in 1909. They had a six-year-old daughter, Marjorie at home, and a governess and lodger. William Trythall, William’s father lived next door, as well as their son Ernest, (known by his middle name, Howard) who was also a printer. They appear to be living with William and Ernest’s sister and her husband, George Peake. Fred Peake worked for Trythall and Son as well, living in the West End. In 1948 It was still a printer’s: J A Kershaw.

The buildings to the north, closer to the camera, predated the turn of the century as owner J H MacNab carried out repairs costing $300 in 1901. Next door to them, to the north, was another house that was built before 1901 (666 Homer) that had repairs carried out in 1915 for the Chinese Trust Co. In 1948 both houses were listed as vacant. The site was probably in process of being acquired for redevelopment. The new General Post Office, which takes up the entire block was completed in 1956. Designed by McCarter and Nairne, it is now a heritage building that will be repurposed as a retail and office project, with new towers above the restored 1950s structure.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P256

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Posted 10 May 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Hornby Street – 600 block, west side (1)

In 1981 this block of Hornby had a parkade and an office building – today there’s an office building and a public space with an art gallery. The parkade in part served the Devonshire Hotel that was up on West Georgia Street and would be off to the left hand side of the picture. The office block was the Georgia Medical Dental Building – we’ve seen the back of it in an earlier post. It was designed by McCarter & Nairne, and imploded in 1989. Across Georgia is the third – and current – Hotel Vancouver. On the right hand edge of the picture is the entrance to Gary Taylor’s Show Lounge, Piano bar and restaurant.

The food wasn’t why anybody went to the club. Local music historians record that Gary had started out as a drummer; he was in the CBC house band, The Classics, in the 1960s filmed ‘Let’s Go’, the Vancouver segment of Music Hop, the CBC’s version of American Bandstand.  In the late 1970s and early 80s he was running his club on Hornby Street. The main floor hosted touring international acts in the Rock Room upstairs (including Johnny Thunders, who apparently had to be talked into the country by Gary after showing up at the border in 1981 to play the Rock Room with only his New York library card for identification). Up and coming locals like DoA, The Dishrags and the Pointed Sticks also got to play the room, while downstairs there were strippers.

The club had started on Granville Street, and Gary had run into problems in 1973 when he was charged with presenting an ‘obscene performance’ at his show lounge. In a rather unusual form of defence the five performers who were charged re-enacted the performance at the Show lounge with police, the crown prosecutor and Judge McGivern in attendance – they must have been good as Gary won the case.

The parkade and office building were replaced by Cathedral Place. Opened in 1991, Cathedral Place was developed By the Shon Group, headed by Ronald Shon, through a joint venture with Sir Run Run Shaw of Hong Kong under the company name of Shon Georgia Investments Ltd. The Shaw Group were Hong Kong’s biggest media company; founder and noted philanthropist Sir Run Run Shaw died in 2014 aged 106.

Paul Merrick designed Cathedral Place in a post-modern art deco style, borrowing the roof design from the chateau design of the Hotel Vancouver opposite. The building incorporates casts of the original nurses from the earlier 1930s building, although medical uses are no longer associated with the contemporary building. The office is still owned by Shon Group Realty.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W05.05

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Posted 7 May 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Howe Street – 500 block, east side

On the left side, on the corner with West Pender is Pender Place, relatively newly built when this 1981 image was shot. Completed in 1973, it’s a pair of identical towers designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson & Smith. We’ve seen the other tower (on the corner of West Pender and Granville Street) in earlier posts, including when it was the location of the main post office, and in the 1930s.

The previous building on the corner of Howe Street was only two storeys high. Beside it, across the lane at 540 Howe Street was another modest building, replaced in 1953 by a new office building for Canada Trust designed by McCarter and Nairne. In 1964 the Stock Exchange acquired the building, and after alterations to create a trading floor, moved in, although not for very long. It was redeveloped as part of the northern part of Pacific Centre Mall, completed in 1990. The new building, including a parkade entrance, is actually shorter on this part of the block than its predecessor.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 779-W01.29

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West Pender Street – 900 block, south side

We’ve seen the two buildings on the left in a fairly recent post. On the corner was a building developed by Yorkshire Trust in 1952, designed by McCarter and Nairne. Next door were the Benge Furnished Rooms, later renamed the Midtown Hotel, originally built in 1909 by Fred Fuller using Parr and Fee as architects.

Beyond those buildings in our 1981 before shot is a single storey building, and beyond it the National Trust Building on the corner of Burrard. It dated back to around 1958, and was also designed by McCarter, Nairne & Partners. It replaced the Glenwood Rooms, built for Mrs. Charleson and designed by Honeyman and Curtis, completed in 1907, and seen on an earlier post.

The single storey building seems to have been built around 1924. It’s a little difficult to trace the history. There are two houses shown on the 1912 insurance map, and they first appear as logical numbered addresses in the 1913 street directory. John T Foster lived in one, and Christiana Mcpherson in the other, running furnished rooms at the same location a year earlier. The houses were built before 1900, but had totally different numbers on the block when they were first built. As a result the numbers ended up out of sequence, so one of the older houses, 910 Pender, was between 918 Pender and 934 Pender in 1912. A year later it appears to have been renumbered in sequence as 920. John Foster was still living at 920 in 1921, and Charles Mitchell at 934, an address that eventually disappears in 1924.

A year later the Owl Garage was located here, “R B Brunton , A J Parnin, Props. 100 Car Steam Heated Storage. 24 Hour Service (Day and Night) – Gas, Oils, Accessories.” The Vancouver Archives hold the records for the work of Townley & Matheson, whose “Job no. 193: owner J H Todd, garage, Pender Street” is this building. By the mid 1930s it was still a garage, but by then the Jewel Garage, run by A Cameron and J Parnin. In 1940 it was the Jubilee Garage, (H Turner, J A Whitelegg). By 1950 there seems to have been a substantial change. The garage use had ceased, and it appears to have become an office for Bell Irving & Co, O’Brien Advertising, and the Gas-Ice Corporation who manufactured dry ice. In 1952 the advertising company hired architects McCarter and Nairne to design a building, or conversion here, but it appears that the original 1922 structure was retained. By 1981 these were clearly retail uses, but the original image is quite blurred so no business names are identifiable.

Today this is part of the office occupied by Manulife, completed in 1985, designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership. Initially  it seems to have been developed by the Montreal Trust Company.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.25

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500 Burrard Street

This 1950s modestly sized west coast modernist building stood on the southeast corner of Burrard and West Pender. It was designed by McCarter and Nairne and named for its tenant, the National Trust (a Montreal based bank). It first appears in the street directory in 1955; before that Johnson’s Motors were located here. Originally there was a 1907 residential building on the corner of West Pender called The Glenwood Rooms, probably designed by Honeyman and Curtis for Mrs E Charleson, which we noted in an earlier post.

This building lasted just under 30 years; today it’s the plaza in front of an office building occupied by Manulife, completed in 1985, designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership. The National Trust still exists, and occupies offices on the block to the south, but it is now part of Scotiabank.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-17

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Posted 8 January 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Hornby Street – 500 block, west side

We’ve seen the building on the corner (on the right of the picture) in an earlier post. It’s the Yorkshire Trust building built in 1952 and designed by McCarter and Nairne. The Yorkshire Trust Company was established in the 1880s and existed until 1988. It’s backers came originally from Huddersfield, hence the company name. Founded by George Pepler Norton as the Yorkshire Guarantee & Securities Corporation, the Yorkshire connection was lost in 1965 when the company was acquired by Credit Foncier, and in 1988 the Yorkshire name was lost when it was amalgamated with others in the creation of the Central Guaranty Trust Company.

Today there’s an office building occupied by Manulife, completed in 1985, designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership. Initially we think it was developed by Montreal Trust.

To the south in our 1981 image was a parkade – one of many that have disappeared. Here it was replaced in 1995 by the new YWCA, designed by Charles Bentall Architects. It was built here to allow the previous (and larger) YWCA building to be replaced with the Bentall V office tower.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.26

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Posted 11 December 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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