Archive for the ‘P M Jullien’ Tag

Kensington Place Apartments – Nicola Street


This majestic Italianate styled building has stood in the West End for over 100 years. Completed right at the end of 1913 (when the picture was taken), it was designed by ‘P M Julian’ in 1912 for Robertson & Hackett. It has a Nicola Street entrance but used its Beach Avenue address for the permit. Philip Jullien, the architect, was from Washington DC where he learned the Beaux Arts style while working in several offices there. (He ended the 19th century trying to make his fortune in the Yukon goldfields, which might be how he became acquainted with Vancouver). He arrived here in 1910, and this was his biggest commission here, although he designed much bigger buildings on his return to Washington in 1916.

Ironically Robertson and Hackett made their fortune owning a sawmill at the south foot of Granville Street in False Creek, but they chose to build their $75,000 five/six storey investment apartments in brick & concrete. They had over 40 building permits over the years, but apart from this they were all for relatively minor changes and additions to their sawmills, or a few houses they seem to have owned elsewhere in Downtown.

David Robertson was a Scotsman, who established a construction business in England in the 1870s. He travelled to Toronto, then headed west, meeting James Hackett for the first time on the train when he joined it in Winnipeg. They formed a construction partnership responsible for building many of the city’s prestigeous early buildings. In 1891 they opened a sawmill, which they moved to False Creek in 1895, then added a sash and door factory, which burned down in 1906, (so they bought out a rival to continue operations).

James William Hackett was born in Truro, Nova Scotia, and arrived in Vancouver in 1888 after a decade in the construction business in Winnipeg. James was elected an alderman in 1897, and was an active member of the Board of Trade. After his death in 1918 his widow lived in Kensington Place apartments. His son, George Robertson Hackett became Manager and secretary-treasurer of the business, and David Robertson was president. In 1921 David, who never married, was living with his nephew, Alex, who was manager of the sash factory, Elizabeth, Alex’s wife, their 10-year-old daughter, and Elizabeth’s younger sister, who was a telephone operator with BC Phones. David was still at the same address when he died in 1933, aged 83.

The building started life as apartments – 22 huge ones. There are only four suites per floor, most with two bedrooms and two or three bathrooms. The first mention of the building is at the end of 1913, when F Bruce Begg, ‘of the Begg Motor Company‘ got married in Buffalo, New York, and on his return to Canada would be living here (on the top floor). While the seriously wealthy were building houses in Shaughnessy, those in society who preferred to rent were moving here. George Kidd, financier and comptroller of the BC Electric Railway had a top floor suite. Dr George Worthington, a prominent physician who later owned the Vancouver Drug Company was in suite 20. Norman Ridley-Shield who had been business manager of the Kelowna Opera House had a penthouse suite. A C Brydon-Jack, a well-known and well-connected lawyer lived here in 1916. From New Brunswick, he was the senior prosecutor in most crown criminal trials in the city. He organized the Dominion Trust Company. In 1915 only his wife Vera, was mentioned as resident (and presumably their children, aged 14 and 13). She was daughter of a New Brunswick shipbuilder. Arthur was living in the Main Hotel. Unusually, their divorce made the newspapers, in 1917, the year that Arthur remarried in Seattle. In 1919, Vera Brydon-Jack also remarried, also in Seattle.

Mr. and Mrs. Campbell Sweeny and their family moved from their flat in the Bank of Montreal Building. Mr. Sweeny arrived in 1887 as manager of the first Bank of Montreal branch in the city. Mrs Sweeny died soon after in November 1914, just before her son, Benjamin, was able to leave Europe to visit. He was in the Royal Engineers and had been wounded in battle. Shortly afterwards the remaining family moved to apartments in the Hotel Vancouver.

In 1916 the owners (still Robertson and Hackett), agreed to allow an auction of the valuable and recently acquired contents of Suite 32 ‘as the owner is going to the front’. Everything had been recently purcahsed from the Standard Furniture Co, ‘regardless of cost’ including Persian rugs that had cost $185 each. That same year Mrs. John D McNeill was visited by her mother, Mrs. J T Hightower of San Francisco. Her husband was managing director of a coal company that distributed ‘jingle pot coal’.

In the 1940s and 50s, the building was home to the celebrated Canadian novelist, Ethel Wilson and her husband. In the late 1960s the owners were planning to redevelop the building, but tenants led by Terry Devlin successfully bought the building, and in 1975 it was an early conversion to a strata building, and is also an ‘A’ on the Heritage Register. The new owners gradually updated the building, led by architect, heritage advocate and resident, Charlotte Murray. The exterior was restored; the cornice re-built, and the windows (almost certainly from a Roberrtson & Hackett factory) restored. Suites now sell for up to $3m each.

Image source: Library & Archives Canada 3259566



Posted 28 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

Tagged with ,

Wood, Vallance and Leggat – West Hastings Street

Wood Vallance Leggat Hastings 1908

We showed Wood, Vallance and Leggat’s West Cordova Street retail premises a few posts back. Like the Army and Navy store today, the company operated on both sides of the alley between Cordova and Hastings. Here’s the wholesale and office portion of the business, on West Hastings Street as it looked in 1908, six years after the company bought out Thomas Dunn’s hardware and ship’s chandlers business. However, on Hastings Street the previous business owner wasn’t Dunn, it was E G Prior who sold hardware and machinery.

Prior was a Yorkshireman who trained as a mining engineer, and worked in the Nanaimo coal mines. He was appointed Inspector of Mines in 1877, living in Victoria, representing that city in parliament from 1886 (and establishing his trading company a few years earlier on Yates Street). Prior was elected an MP but lost his seat in 1900 because of violations of the Electoral Act. He became Premier of BC in 1902, only to be dismissed in 1903 following a charge of conflict of interest, He remained an MLA until his defeat in 1904, and was appointed lieutenant-governor of BC in 1919, only to die in office in 1920.

Prior 1893E G Prior & Co were operating in Vancouver some time after 1891 (as this 1893 advert shows) and established the Hastings Street premises around 1900. They apparently didn’t sell the business to Wood, Vallance and Leggat as they had Thomas Hooper design a new warehouse on Beatty Street in 1910. The company also had premises on Pender Street that were expanded in 1901 by a Victoria architect, W R Wilson.

We haven’t been able to discover the architect of the Prior building which looks as if it was built in 1899. It could be W T Dalton, who designed a number of Hastings Street premises around the turn of the century. In 1903 Wood, Vallance and Leggat hired Dalton & Co – (presumably Mr Eveleigh) to design a $9,000 addition to the building.

Rex Theatre W Hastings 1950 VPLThe building in the picture didn’t last very long. Hastings Street had become an important public street, full of theatres and department stores, and wholesale warehouses were moving elsewhere.

In 1913 architect P M Jullien applied for a permit for the Rex Amusement Co to build a $40,000 theatre, and the Rex Theatre appeared soon after (it was operating by 1914). It’s listed as a 922 seat theatre, and was used for some vaudeville acts before transforming to a movie house. J A Schuberg, a theatrical impresario from Winnipeg bought a half share in the theatre in 1916 and by 1918 the Rex was described as the leading highclass photoplay house of the British Columbia metropolis” Schuberg’s First National Exhibitor Circuit Exchange of Canada distributed movies throughout BC and the prairies, with exclusive rights to Charlie Chaplin’s movies.

It was still operating in 1950 when this VPL Artray photo was taken, but in 1959 was closed to be incorporated into the adjacent Army and Navy store. Sadly, underneath that ‘modern’ metal screen there are no vestiges of the theatre facade – it was replaced with concrete blocks..

Photo source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P500