Archive for the ‘N S Hoffar’ Tag

West Cordova north side from Homer Street

Remarkably, all the buildings in this 1919 Vancouver Public Library picture are still standing today, almost unchanged in appearance in over 100 years.

We looked at the history of the big warehouse in the middle of this image in two earlier posts. On West Cordova it’s numbered as 401, while on Water Street it’s 342 Water Street. It was developed as a three storey building that later had two floors added. It was built in 1899 as The Burns Block, but became known later as the Buscombe Building. William Blackmore was hired by John Burns to build a three storey stone building, and in 1911 Grant and Henderson designed two additional floors at a cost of $13,500, which was executed in a grey Gulf Island stone matching the earlier phase of the building. We’re not completely sure which of two possible John Burns developed the building, but we suspect he was a Scottish born businessman who arrived in the 1890s when he was already in his 60s, and retired. His son, Fred Burns, was already in Vancouver, dealing in plumbing and engineering supplies.

To the left of the warehouse are two significantly older properties. The Jones Block was developed in 1890, and designed by N S Hoffar, who recycled his design (with an extra window on the top floor) for the McConnell Block next door, also in 1890. Most census records suggest Gilbert Smythe McConnell was born in Quebec around 1857, although his death certificate and the 1891 census said it was 1855. That Census has his name as Guibert, which is probably more accurate, before he switched it for convenience to Gilbert. An 1891 biography tells us much more about Mr. McConnell “Mr. McConnell was born in Argenteuil County, Quebec, in 1856, where he attended school. When fifteen years of age he entered the employ of Green, Sons & Co., of Montreal, wholesale dealers in men’s furnishings. He remained with this firm for seven years, when he received the appointment as Indian agent in charge of the Touchwood Hilt district, Manitoba, in which service he remained for about six years. At the breaking out of the rebellion in the Northwest, in 1885, he was appointed one of the transport officers on Gen. Middleton’s staff’. He returned to Woodstock after the rebellion had been quelled, and was married to the eldest daughter of Wm. Muir, of that town. Mr. McConnell came to Vancouver in 1886, shortly after the fire, and has since been actively identified with the city’s interests. He built about thirty houses, including a couple of brick blocks, and has been interested in various enterprises. He served for two years in the City Council. He started his present business, as a wholesale importer of gents’ furnishings, hats, caps, etc., about three months ago, and has already a very large trade. He owns and built the building he occupies, which is a three story brick, fronting on Cordova and Water streets.”

His wife, Nettie Agnes was from Ontario and ten years younger. They married in Woodstock, Ontario in 1886, and their children were born in British Columbia; William in 1888 and Florence in 1890. Gilbert died in 1934.

We haven’t found a contemporary reference to who the ‘Jones’ in the Jones Block was, but H A Jones had his offices here the year after it was completed. Harry Jones was originally from Liverpool, born there in 1851, and had been in Vancouver from before the 1886 fire. He developed several buildings in the city, and was married at least three times.

Running off the picture to the left is the Holland Block, completed in 1892 and designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, an American lawyer. On the right of the Buscombe Building is the Homer Street Arcade which dates from 1912, designed by Stuart and White for the ‘Thompson Bros’ (actually Thomson), and built by the Burrard Construction Co for $30,000. It was an unusual building for Vancouver: an arcade linking Water Street to Cordova, with an entrance across the street from Homer Street, (which presumably explains its name).

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Cambie Street north at West Cordova

This view north towards Burrard Inlet and the north shore is said to have been photographed around 1900, but actually it must be a little earlier than that. Two of the buildings are still standing, and most of the others we can see were built not too long after the picture was taken. On the left edge is the Horne Block, developed by James W Horne in 1895, and designed by N S Hoffar. It has an unusual arrangement of two floors of retail, exploiting the slope of Cambie Street. The upper floors were initially offices, but for many years have been SRO residential, with 18 rooms known as Danny’s Inn.

Next door is the Panama Block, developed in 1913. It’s triangular, without a lane, and was designed by fairly obscure architects (Wallington & Wheatley) who only appeared in the city in 1912, just as the economy tanked. The owners were McConnell, Abbott & Drayton and it cost $10,000 to build. We looked at who the developers were in the linked post.

Across the street to the north is one of the earlier buildings still standing today, developed as the Springer-Van Bramer Block, by American ships captain and mill owner James Van Bramer and mill manager Ben Springer. Built in 1888, it’s another N S Hoffar design, and once had the insignia of the Freemasons, whose hall was on the top floor. Down the hill, the Regina Hotel was the only building in Granville Township that survived the 1886 fire. It was replaced in 1907 by the Hotel Edward, developed by Swedish mining engineer Charles Edward Beckman at a cost of $21,000, although we don’t know the architect. He leased it for ten years to two former police officers, former jailer John Deptford, and Constable Gosby. They were fired by Chief Chisholm, after a bottle of liquor was found in a cell with its inmate. The chief in turn resigned his post, claiming he couldn’t run the police force due to interference from other officials in the city. John Deptford ran the hotel for several years, and today (unusually) it’s office space upstairs, rather than residential.

On the right, hidden by the trees, today there’s the McDowell, Atkins and Watson building from 1899, designed by J E Parr just before he formed his partnership as Parr and Fee. As there’s an earlier building in the picture, it must date back to closer to 1898. The developers were druggists, noted for their home-grown syrups like Linseed and Hoarhound, their Beef, Iron and Wine preparation and Extract of Sarsasparilla and Iodides. A few years later Stark’s Glasgow House moved their dry goods store here.

Across Cordova is the Whetham Block, developed by Dr. Whetham (who also built the Arlington Block in 1887 that faces the Springer-Van Bramer building). This building came a year after the Arlington, so was built in 1888, and was designed by N S Hoffar. Although a medical doctor, James Whetham spent his time as a real estate developer; by 1889 he had the sixth largest land holdings in the city, was on the board of trade and was a city alderman. In 1969 the almost windowless building that replaced Whetham’s was the one of only two buildings completed for Project 200, a massive redevelopment plan that would have seen the entire waterfront of Gastown demolished to be replaced with a row of towers over a waterfront freeway. Once the plan was dropped, this rather more modest structure was home to CNCP Telecommunications – perhaps the first serious hi-tech investment in the city, designed by Francis Donaldson and developed by Grosvenor Estates. Today it has been refigured as office space, as there’s no longer a  need for buildings full of equipment.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2095

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Posted 29 October 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Braden & Co – 300 West Cordova Street

This provisions and meat retailer occupied a store in the Arlington Block, developed in 1888 by Dr. James Whetham. No architect has been identified with the building, but another building nearby developed by Dr. Whetham around the same time was designed by N S Hoffar, so it’s likely that this was too. The Arlington Hotel was upstairs.

Whetham, like many early Vancouver developers, came from Ontario. His father moved to Canada, established himself as a general merchant and then died, leaving a widow and three young children. James initially became a teacher, then headed west, farming in Manitoba in 1878. Somehow he managed to study medicine (his biography says ‘in winter’) in Toronto and then Portland, Oregon, while living in Spokane Falls. He only practiced medicine very briefly before moving on to develop real estate, initially in Spokane Falls and then from 1887 (aged 33) in Vancouver.

By 1889 James Whetham had the sixth largest land holdings in the city, was on the board of trade and was a city alderman. He was boarder in the Hotel Vancouver. He died in 1891, aged only 37, of what was diagnosed as typhoid fever.

T J Braden lived on Richards Street, near here, in 1898 when the photograph was taken. He first shows up in 1896, working as a butcher and living on Harris Street. It’s possible he was Thomas J Braden, from Simcoe, Ontario. His brother Robert was working with him a year later, and by 1900 they had additional branches on Harris Street and Granville Street, but by 1901 they were no longer in the city, and these were the premises of the Burrard Inlet Meat Co, managed by Herbert Keithley. Mr. Keithley and his brother-in-law, Robert Leberry, ran six meat stores, some that they had acquired from the Bradens, and lived in New Westminster. Early in 1902 they failed to open the stores, and two days later the San Francisco Call reported their pursuit in the US (left).

The sheriff was on the right track, but not fast enough. A few days later the Province reported that the two men were already mid-ocean, having boarded a sailing ship in San Francisco headed for Australia. It added “The unfortunate part of the affair Is that the wives of the departing men were left in ignorance of their husbands’ destination, and they were left absolutely without funds as well. Both women live In New Westminster and are sisters, and through no fault whatever of their own are left all but penniless. It is said Keithly did write his wife once after his departure, saying that he enclosed certain shares in a local company, the value of which would amount to about twenty-five dollars, but he forgot to send the shares.”

The store was no longer associated with the meat trade after this: A J Bloomfield sold cigars here in 1902. A couple of years later the street address disappeared, and the retail space appears to have become associated with the hotel upstairs. In 1905 it was run by Cottingham and Beatty, and a year later John Beatty on his own, later corrected to Beaty.

Within a few years the premises had been renamed the Arlington Rooms; Alice Gill ran them in 1915. The retail uses reappeared here; in 1920 Mrs Tosa Takaoha had a barber’s shop and S Nunoda sold confectionary.

Today the building still has retail stores; the butcher’s shop would be unrecognizable to former operators in its contemporary uses as an Italian fashion store for men and women, with the stripped-down design favoured by some clothing retailers.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu 5

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Posted 4 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Hastings Street east from Granville

Here are two almost identical images of the same view, from 1888 (above) and 1896 (below). Over those few years the initial wooden plank road was replaced with a more robust surface, and a number of additional buildings had started to fill the gaps along Hastings. The building with the turret on the south-east corner of the street is called ‘Customs House’ on the 1889 Insurance map, although it also noted a grocer occupying the corner store. Next door was the Leland Hotel, with exterior balconies, and across the street was the hotel’s annex, built in 1887, probably by Ben Springer, with hotel rooms on the second and third floors. The Leland Hotel was owned by Simon Hirschberg. His arrival, with his wife, from Winnipeg was noted in the press in July 1886 as they were the first passengers off the first train to arrive at Port Moody in 1886. That was the initial ‘end of the line’, and Mrs Elmira Hirschberg, (who was the widowed Mrs Custer when she married Simon) was presented with a bouquet to mark the event. In Winnipeg they had run The Merchants Hotel and The Tecumseh Hotel, and in Vancouver they built the substantial wooden frame Leland. Elmira was from Maryland, and Simon was probably a German-born Jew. The hotel was one of the first with gas lighting, as James England, secretary of the Gas Company recalled to Major Matthews “My recollection of the first gas service is that the Leland Hotel, a large four-storey frame building on Hastings Street, was the first building lighted by gas in Vancouver. I know it was common talk among the employees that this was so. It may have been on the 24th of May, 1887; it certainly was before my time as I did not come here until July 1887. I have a distinct recollection that the Leland Hotel account was No. 11 on the register of customers, but it does not follow that it was the eleventh customer that lit up; there was some holiday or special reason for getting the Leland Hotel going, and it was common talk among the men of the special efforts put forward to get the gas sent up to that hotel.” Business, and family life were both strained, and seven months after arriving, the Times Colonist told the story of Simon’s demise.

“S . Hirschberg, the proprietor of the Leland house, Vancouver, roused his employees early yesterday morning, and then taking a stretcher went to the attic of the house. He was shortly after missed, and his wife hearing someone groaning, went up to the attic where she found her husband in a state of semiconsciousness. By his side was a vial labeled laudanum, showing that the unfortunate man had taken the poison. Medical help was at once summoned and every means used to restore him to life, but without avail and he died at noon.

He had taken enough laudanum to kill half a dozen people, and the causes which led him to end his life were business and domestic troubles. Several days previous he had expressed his intention to hang himself but his friends never anticipated that he would take his life. Hirschberg was well known in Winnipeg where he was a hotelkeeper. He came to Vancouver last July and built the Leland house.”

Other reports can be found suggesting that the 300 pound man hung himself, shot himself or slit his throat – but there’s no reason to question the accuracy of the contemporary news report. Similarly, a 1940s news story suggested his body never made it to the new cemetery at Mountain View, and was buried under the street at Fraser and 33rd, but his interment location is known in the earliest part of the cemetery. He was probably the first adult to be buried there.

Simon’s widow continued to run the business for a while, before selling up and eventually remarrying again in Seattle. F W Hart remembered her as “the first white lady to come across the Canadian Rockies and it was to her that I presented the bouquet of flowers by the order of Mayor MacLean. She came on the first C.P.R. train from the east.” George Upham also remembered her, and thought that the family took over the hotel, rather than developing it. He also noted about Mrs. Hirschberg; “Make any man commit suicide to have a wife like that; a hard old bat; she was hard,”

Next door to the east of the hotel, the Delbruck Block was developed in 1889 and completed early in 1890. This was Delbruck Block No. 2 – another had been developed a year earlier on Cordova. Both had the same architect, the ever-busy N S Hoffar. George Delbruck was French, and only 34 years old in 1891. For an investor in two buildings, he has almost no published record. He never appears in a street directory, despite having been listed in the census (when he was lodging). We think he was from Nice, and also a composer, like his younger brother Alfred, who was also in Vancouver briefly in the same period, and also a musician. In 1890 he was shows as ‘A Delbuck, capitalist’, lodging at the Hotel Vancouver. In 1891 the Daily World reported “George Delbruck arrived yesterday from Paris and is quartered at the Merchants’ Exchange”. In the 1871 census he was in Cornwall, England, and 1881, Marylebone, London.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Str P127 and CVA 1477-641

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Posted 30 May 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Callister Block, 30 West Cordova Street

The Callister Block, to the right, is the newest structure in this picture. The Dunn-Miller Block to the east was completed in 1889, and the McIntosh Block to the west, completed soon after. (The part of the Dunn-Miller block seen on the left of this image became a hotel in 1907, the Crown Hotel. Clarke and Stewart, stationers, occupied the main floor. in earlier years. It’s possible that Mr. Callister hired N S Hoffar to design the building.

John Callister arrived in Vancouver in April 1885, settled in the town of Granville, and a year later lost everything he owned in the fire that destroyed the city. He was born in Ballaugh in the Isle of Man and emigrated to the States and was a builder in Chicago and San Franscisco. In 1891 he was aged 40, a carpenter and builder. He never married, and was sufficiently successful to part own the Ellesmere Rooms in 1887, and to build this building around 1890. The earliest tenant on the main floor was L Davis, who ran a clothes house here in 1891. It appears the upper floors were initially a hotel, the Dufferin House, run by Miss Kearns.

For a few years the main floor were occupied by a furniture store owned by Sehl Hastie and Erskine Co, employing a cabinetmaker and an upholsterer, and by 1895 C Hach, who took over the business and also lived here. James Stark had his dry goods store here in 1898, moving on to new premises in 1904, replaced by Alexander Ross and Co, another dry goods merchant. Upstairs James Thomson & Sons were manufacturers agents for Stewart & McDonald of Glasgow, but in 1908 they moved to Water Street and two unions moved in: the Brotherhood of Painters Decorators and Paperhangers, and the Lathers Union.

A couple of years later they were replaced by the Apostolic Faith Mission from 1913 until around 1935. The other tenant was the Industrial Workers of the World, a radical labour union started in Chicago and often referred to as ‘The Wobblies’. In 1912, when Vancouver authorities tried to ban street demonstrations, the Wobblies started and won a spectacular free-speech fight. Still operating today, the IWW’s website notes that “After building mass workers’ power, the arrival of the First World War saw the IWW declared a banned organization by the Government of Canada from 1918 until 1923, which debilitated the union for many years afterwards”.

The building was purchased by the Army & Navy Store in 1960. Initially it was used as the Outdoor Store (seen in this 1965 W E Graham photograph), but a remodeling of the building in the 1970s saw it incorporated into the main retail store, with new construction behind the preserved facades.

John Callister, seen here in the early 1900s, didn’t live in the city. He acquired land and built his home in a forested area covering about three blocks in 1904 at Hastings Townsite, some kilometers to the east, across from today’s PNE location. Upon his death Callister, a bachelor, left his property to two nieces. One of the sisters died and Mrs. Ada M. Stevenson inherited all of the property.

In 1920, sports promoter and tobacconist Con Jones entered into an agreement to purchase “lot 5, Town of Hastings, Suburban Lands” for $10,000 from Stevenson. According to the Vancouver city archives only three payments of $1,000 were made. In the space of a year, Jones supervised the building of a grandstand and field and Con Jones Park opened in 1921. Later the field was acquired by the City of Vancouver, and renamed as Callister Park.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-55 and Port P600

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Posted 7 February 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Alexander Street – unit block, north side

We have seen a number of the buildings on this block in earlier posts, but not all of them. The one on the left of our 1996 image is the oldest on the block. The owners, Lowtide Properties, would have you believe it dates back to 1896. In fact it dates to 1900, when owner Thomas Dunn moved his ship’s chandlery business here to a rectangular brick building he commissioned, designed by N S Hoffar. It was three storeys over a basement, with the top floor having huge arched windows. Dunn operated the building for only a very short time, until 1902. In 1903 hardware dealers Wood, Vallance & Leggett were based here, having bought out Thomas Dunn’s chandlery, with Dunn continuing in the hardware business in premises a short distance away on Water Street. They also took over his Cordova Street premises (in the building he developed with Jonathan Miller).

This building was sold to Boyd, Burns and Company Ltd., dealers in engineering and mill supplies, who moved here in 1904. They added a new warehouse in 1907, hiring Parr and Fee a year before to design a new 26 feet wide building to the east costing $60,000, angled differently to line up with the rest of Alexander Street. They then sold their company to Crane Co, a Chicago based business in 1908. Crane retained the plumbing interests, initially based here, but sold the ship’s chandlery part of the business to a newly formed company, Simson-Balkwill Co. Ltd. Ship Chandlery and Engineering Supplies. Boyd ran that company from the new eastern half of the building, and built a bigger Powell Street warehouse in 1911. They were replaced by H W Petrie’s machinery company.

By 1914 the building was vacant, and the older half was still empty in 1916, although the newer half saw Vancouver Scale & Butchers Supply Co move in, and the situation prevailed to the end of the Great War. By 1920 both buildings were occupied, although the tenants were not as prestigious as in the early years. The Canadian Pacific Junk Co were in 5 Alexander, and Fujita & Co in 7 Alexander. They were importers and exporters, with Y Uchida managing. They occupied the building for several years, while there was consistent turnover of tenants in the older building, including the British Wire Rope Co, anf Gibsons Ltd who were “Manufacturers and Wholesale Distributors of Modern Logging  Equipment, Wire Ropes, Welded Chains, Donkey Engines, Logging Blocks, Oil Burning Equipment, Mill Supplies, iron, steel and “Gorilla” Axes. They had moved out, leaving the building empty again in 1926, and Alexander Murray & Co moved in to the younger building, dealing in roofing and flooring materials. They were still there in 1930, and a number of other businesses had moved into the older building including Canadian Western Cordage. A decade later all the businesses in 1 Alexander had changed, but Alexander Murray still operated from 7 Alexander, and by 1950 they had expanded to use space in the older building, joined by Aero Surplus who sold radio supplies and a firm of mechanical engineers.

Next door, in our 1996 image, the Alexander apartments are under construction, with the adjacent Alexis apartments completed a year earlier. The Alexander incorporates the two storey façade of the building built for the B.C. Market Company, approved in 1906 to cost $25,000. Thanks to Patrick Gunn from Heritage Vancouver we now know this was designed by Alexander Maxwell Muir, a Victoria architect. As far as we know this is the only significant building he designed in Vancouver.

In October The Daily World announced a slight delay in construction under the heading ‘Dr. Underhill’s Very Latest Problem’ “I do not see what we can do with these Indians,” said. Medical Health Officer Underhill, this morning. “I have been down to see the encampment on the site of the proposed building of the B. C. Market company, next to the Boyd-Burns building. These Indians have just come from hop picking and on their way home to the vicinity of Port Rupert and Port Harvey. They have money to spend for supplies for the winter and it is only fair that local merchants should get the benefit. Still at the same time their encampment, where they are, is very bad, from many standpoints. It is a physical and moral menace. But where can I send them? The Indians have been in the habit of camping along the foreshore after the canning and hop picking seasons for many years I have been urging the finding of a suitable place for them to camp for some time and the police have also had something to say about the matter. The police have urged, and wisely, too, that the encampment should not be put anywhere where it could not he easily supervised.” This 1898 picture shows that First Nations had been camping on the beach beyond the tracks at Alexander Street for many years.

In 1908 the builders, Smith & Sherborne, had to go to court to get final payment for the building’s construction. The building was last occupied by the Vancouver Supply Company, before both buildings were offered for sale in the mid 1980s. The Alexis has an earlier 4-storey façade of a 1907 building first occupied by first by Knowler and McCauley, candy distributors. That was designed for Alderman Jonathan Rogers – a prolific developer – and cost $12,000, although we don’t know who he hired to design it. In the 1930s all three buildings were used by the Supply Company, a wholesale grocery business. Two buildings we’ve already looked at can also be seen; the Captain French apartments can be seen just tucked in behind the flatiron of the Hotel Europe.

Historic image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA IN N12

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Posted 21 January 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Ellesmere Rooms – West Pender and Homer

The Ellesmere Rooms were unusual because they weren’t clad in fireproof materials, even in the 1940s, although that was the what the fire by-law generally required. The Ellesmere had been around a long time – the name was on the 1912 insurance maps, but it was noted as ‘formerly Douglas House’ in the Archives, and in 1901 it was shown as ‘Elesmere – Boarding’ and was three storeys on Pender and two behind.

The Ellesmere Rooms were described in J. S. Matthews Early Vancouver (Vol. I), 1932 as ”a tall wooden building…which is now used for cheap stores and offices. It was the first large ‘boarding house.” A photograph in the Vancouver Archives shoes John Callister, a pre-fire settler in Granville, and builder and contractor. He was described there as having “Built and half owner “Ellesmere Rooms”, Pender and Homer, May, 1887″

In 1889 it was operating as Douglas House, run by Mrs. J M Douglas. The census shows that Mrs. J M Douglas was a 45-year-old widow in 1891, born in the USA, but not long after that entry she seems to have disappeared from the city. In the 1891 census there are a series of names associated with 439 Homer, headed by F Yorke, Stevedore. There’s a picture from 1890 (or thereabouts) that shows Mr. Yorke on the porch of the premises, on the hill of Homer Street. (He’s third from left, wearing the derby hat). He wasn’t just a stevedore, he ran a stevedoring company in Moodyville, across the inlet. By 1901 he had married, had moved to Victoria, and was a master mariner, with a tugboat business.

The other residents of the building had a variety of jobs, including clerks, a real estate agent, the manager of the BC Iron Works and Monsignor L’Abbe LaChasse. Alterations were carried out to the premises around this period, designed by N S Hoffar.

In 1894 it has become Elsmere House, and in 1896 Elesmere House, shown as being run by  Mrs. L Walsh. A year later it is listed as the Ellesmere, which is how the spelling stays, run by Mrs. Welsh. In the 1901 census Mrs. Loirisa Welsh was aged 60, a widow, still running the Ellesmere rooms with her daughter, Florence, who was 20. Mrs. Welsh had arrived in Canada in 1888, but her daughter arrived 5 years later; both were born in England. Mrs. Welsh had ten lodgers, including Emma Shand, a photographer and Stanley Kirby, a rancher.

At some point after the 1890 picture the entire building was lifted up so that retail stores could be inserted along Homer and Pender Streets. This looks to have been done in the later 1920s, although there seem to have been addresses here in office use earlier than that period.

This image is said to have been shot in 1948. On the corner you could leave your films for processing at the newsagents and tobacconist that had been Bert’s Cigar Box since the early 1930s. There was a watchmaker next door, on West Pender, and a laundry to the north, along Homer Street. In between was a locksmith, ‘Garry’s Lockeyist Shop’, while to the north was the Hollywood Café, and Lacey’s Sign Works. Those businesses were located here in the 1930s, and were here in 1940, but rapidly closed during the war. The Ellesmere Rooms name disappeared after 1938 when it was listed as vacant, and from the look of the building, and the window boxes, we think this was more likely taken in 1938, not 1948. In 1943 it was reported that a city inspector had condemned the building as a boarding house. The shops were still occupied in the building in 1950, though you can see a for sale sign on the building in a Walter Frost image taken that year, and the boarding house looks to be in a pretty poor state. There was a parking lot here for many years once the building was removed, and then in 1993 Central City Lodge was built, offering 112 rooms of supportive housing with 24 hour care and a meal service.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P642 and Bu P141

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Posted 5 November 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Hastings Street Court House (2)

We looked at an image of this Courthouse building a couple of years ago, but from Pender Street, looking down the hill of Cambie. Here’s a postcard from around 1908 of the north face of the building, facing West Hastings. This shows N S Hoffar’s 1893 Provincial Courthouse addition – although it was actually twice as big as the original (and more modest) building designed by T C Sorby in 1889 and completed in 1890, which was located closer to Pender Street. From this angle, that building sitting behind the addition, almost hidden by trees but just showing on the left. On the right is a picture of the building in 1890. The maple trees on the Pender Street frontage are among the oldest in the city, planted in 1897.

Once the new courthouse was completed a few years later, on West Georgia, there was some debate about what to do with the old building. Despite its impressive appearance in the postcard, as a May 1909 Daily World letter suggests, not everybody was in love with the building. “With regard to the court house itself, they all knew it was one of the most disgraceful buildings that existed in the province. It was more or less in a foul and filthy condition all the time, but no blame could be attached to the officials. It was simply an incommodious and inconvenient building. Certainly it had been a standing menace to the health of the judges, juries and officials generally.”

Mayor Douglas suggested it might make a good City Hall, but the general view seems to have been that it wasn’t big enough (and presumably letters like the one above also had some influence). Instead it was decided to clear the structure and create an open space, which was named Government Square. During the first World War the site was used as a recruiting office, with a number of tents and temporary buildings. An Evangelical Tabernacle was also created as a temporary structure in 1917. The park was given the name Victory Square in 1922 and two years later the Cenotaph, designed by G L Sharp, was built through public subscription.

Image source (1890 image) City of Vancouver Archives Bu P390

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Posted 3 April 2017 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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Davis Chambers – West Hastings Street

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This substantial office building was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh in 1905 for E P Davis. This 1974 image shows the Philippine Creations store and the Green Parrot Café on the main floor. The only office advertising on its window is for F Gorlich, Foot Specialist.

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painless-parkerFor many years this was the home of Vancouver’s most flamboyantly advertised dentist – ‘Painless Parker’. Although there really was a ‘Painless Parker’ – a dentist who changed his name from Edgar so he didn’t fall foul of the advertising authorities, he didn’t personally carry out the extractions or fillings here.

An American, he had a chain of dental offices, with this location in Vancouver operating from the 1930s to past 1950. At 1940 prices of $1 for extractions and $2 for a filling he amassed quite a fortune – By the early 1950s Parker had 28 West Coast dental offices, employing over 70 dentists, and grossing $3 million per year.

On the ground floor of this 1940 image was a store frontage for Famous Cloak and Suit Co, shared with the building to the west, the Leland Hotel Annex. As we noted in an earlier post, the building had the 1887 façade designed by N S Hoffar replaced by 1943. That in turn was obscured with the windowless sheet steel shown in the 1974 image above.

davisE P Davis, who developed the 1905 building was an Ontario-born lawyer; a partner in Davis, Marshall & Macneil, Barristers and Solicitors, based in his new building although later moving to the London Building. He was called to the bar in Calgary in 1882, and in British Columbia in 1886 when he arrived here. He lived on Seaton Street and was unanimously recommended for the Chief Justiceship British Columbia in 1902 (a postion he declined, as he had previously in 1898). Owner of a spectacular moustache, he was legal counsel to the Canadian Pacific Railway, and also a Director of Royal Collieries, Ltd. In 1912 he built a mansion designed by Samuel MacLure, on extensive grounds near the tip of Point Grey. Davis named it “Kanakla,” a West Coast native word meaning ‘house on the cliff’. Now part of UBC, it was renamed Cecil Green Park.

The Davis Chambers were replaced in 1981 by the 11 storey ‘Princess Building’. That will be the baby on the block in future if the two towers proposed for either side of it get built. There’s a 25 storey tower proposed for the east side, on the corner of Seymour, and a 28 storey office proposed to the west, on the site once occupied by the Leland Hotel Annex.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-158 and Bu P294

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Posted 12 January 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Crown Hotel – Cordova Street

Cordova west from Carrall 2

We’ve looked at the history of the Boulder Hotel (on the right) some years ago, and we looked at it again more recently. On the corner on the left is the Rainier Hotel – we also looked at the history of this building several years ago. Beyond is one of the oldest buildings in the city – and certainly the grandest of the city’s early buildings; the Dunn – Miller Block. We’ve looked at parts of it in various posts – the buildings removed to build it in 1889 were featured here, and we’ve seen odd bits of the façade, like Clarke & Stuart’ s store in 1898, as well as how it looked in the 1960s. Here’s how it looked in 1990.

1912 Goad map Crown HotelThe Dunn – Miller block, it turns out, wasn’t really a complete building – more a unified façade designed by N S Hoffar, with a variety of businesses adding their own premises behind. A good example of this is the Crown Hotel, that occupied 75 feet of façade slightly to the west of the central portion of the block in 1912, as this extract from the Goad’s insurance map shows. It was numbered as 22-28 Cordova Street. Before 1911 there was a hotel called the Crown here;  when the building was first completed in 1889 all the retail units were occupied, and there were few tenants listed on upper floors (including a real estate office and a barrister at 44 Cordova). By 1892 it looks as if 22 Cordova was in residential use – it’s difficult to imagine why a streetcar conductor would have an office here.

In 1894 John Decker was running the Crown Saloon on Carrall Street. Two years later it was listed as the Crown Hotel, but reverted to the Crown Saloon two years after that. From 1907 the Crown Hotel is listed at this address, still run by John Decker. John was originally from Germany, arriving in Canada in 1886. His wife Alice was American, and their three children, John, Willie and Alice were all born in BC. In 1909 Mrs Alma Peterson’s jewellery store was on the main floor at 26 and Zarelli’s confectionary store at 26 1/2 (replaced by the Imperial Restaurant in 1910) and Joseph Sudmin’s clothing store at 28.

In 1911 the hotel was rebuilt at a cost of $30,000; accordiung to the building permit it was designed by ‘F Gardner’ – actually Francis Gardiner, brother of architect W F Gardiner. The owner at the time was a surprise to us; a Chinese businessman, Lung Kee. It’s likely that this was L O Kee who also imported dry goods at an East Hastings address. In 1912 the street directory shows the Crown Hotel being run by Alfd Manson, prop, 22-24 Cordova W. The bartender was Hans Christian, who lived in the Stanley Hotel (across the street). John Decker had moved on to run the Traveller’s Hotel on Abbott Street with A Burr, and was living on Haro Street in the West End.

A Lung family household of at least 7 members residing in Vancouver was recorded in the 1901 census. The head of household, Kee Lung, was born in China in 1851. The census identified his heritage as Chinese and showed he immigrated to Canada 27 years prior in 1874 when he was 23 years old. By 1901, at the age of 50, he had an occupation that was recorded as “Store Keeper”. Kee’s wife was Kee Mary Lung, who was 30 years old. Mary was born in China in 1870. Also identifying her heritage as Chinese, she immigrated to Canada in 1884 (when she would have been 14 years old). There were five children, 4 boys and a girl. In 1889 their eldest child, a boy named Mahie, was born. One year later, in 1890, when Kee was 39 years old and Kee Mary was 20 years old their second son, Man King, was born. In 1892 their daughter, Kee Ma Han, was born followed in 1898 by Malang, a boy and in 1901 by another son, Mashe. In 1901 the Lung family children’s ages were 3, 5, 8, 10, and 11 years.

The Crown stayed in business for many years, but reverted to offering managed rooms rather than a full service hotel. From time to time the building continued to have Chinese connections – either in terms of the café downstairs, or who ran the hotel. In 1919 it was listed as the Crown Hotel Rooms, run by K Kawano, while the bar was run by S Swaboda. Two years later the rooms were run by Samuel Riardan, and two years after that, C Hiraki. Although the hotel continues to be listed, there’s no proprietor associated with it. By 1926 the bar wasn’t mentioned, but there was a Crown Café, (Chinese) run by John Hing. In 1930 K Kosaka was running the Hotel Rooms, and the Beer Parlour was shown as being back in business at 28 W Cordova with J Shelling and A Didinsky running the bar. The Crown Café was now the Sunset Café, shown at the same address. At 22, J Grimaldi was running the Crown Jewelry store.

The depression seems to have had an affect on the businesses: in 1934 the Rooms were still operating but the jewelers had become Crown Tailors, selling second hand clothing, and the bar isn’t mentioned, although the Sunset Café is still being run by Jon Hing. In 1939 K Kosaka is still running the rooms, but the café had become the Golden Café, run by Sam Wong. During the war the Café became the Victory Café – a bit premature in 1942. No longer Chinese, it was run by G Maystovich. Mrs K Kosaka was running the Crown Hotel Rooms. By the end of the war, everything changed again. The Cansino Hotel, run by Mann Kuan and Wo Joon is shown at 24 W Cordova, and Harvey’s Boot Factory had occupied 28. We saw that business located a bit further up the street in an earlier post. The Cansino was still in business with one of the same owners a decade later, (M and S Kuan and C T Chan).

The Army and Navy store restored elements of the Classical-style façade in a remodelling of the entire store completed in 1974 that extends to Hastings Street (with a lane still bisecting the upper floors of the store).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-427

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Posted 14 March 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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