Archive for the ‘Oil Can Harry’s’ Tag

752 Thurlow Street (1)

This Downtown location has seen a dramatic transformation in the past few years as it has become an extension of the luxury shopping area that has expanded from Alberni Street. Today’s retail stores include Saint Laurent of Paris and Moncler, a clothing brand founded in France but now based in Milan. The stores are newly redesigned and refitted for their brands, but the building they’re in has been around for nearly 30 years: The Carlyle was designed by Aitken Smith Carter and completed in 1988. There are nearly 150 residential units here: they were initially rented, but were sold as strata units from 1989 onwards. Until the recent transformation there was a 7-11 on the corner of the building, and these units were part of The Keg steakhouse and bar.

The building here before the Carlyle was more modest; a three storey building that in this 1974 image was home to Oil Can Harry’s club. The club opened in 1966, and towards the mid 1970s there were effectively three clubs in one. On the main floor was a lounge usually featuring a singer with a rhythm section. Beyond that was the largest room of the club which usually had R&B bands and the occasional jazz group and upstairs was a jazz club.

The club was owned by Danny Baceda, who later also owned Issy’s and The Cave (before his company ended up in receivership in 1972), but his cousin, Frank Hook effectively ran the club. Despite seeing bookings for legendary performers including Ike and Tina Turner and Charles Mingus, disco eventually killed that version of the club. New management ran the club into the early 1980s as a disco club, complete with a pool and bridge in the middle of the room (where the dance floor might have made more sense).

The origins of the building are quite different from a nightclub. On 12 April 1911, women’s organizations banded together and formed Vancouver Women’s Building Ltd. The following year they purchased a lot at 752 Thurlow Street and spent years fundraising to erect their own building for meeting, office, and daycare space. The Vancouver Women’s Building, designed by A A Cox, opened in 1926. We’ll look at the history of that period in another post.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-433