Archive for the ‘Pacific Centre’ Tag

559 Granville Street

559 Granville

One of these two buildings has completely gone; swallowed by the Pacific Centre Mall. The other retains part of its facade, rather oddly hoisted slightly higher into the air and changed from a store front to what looks like a canopied emergency stair outlet to the street.

Back in the 1960s or 70s when this picture was taken, the building to the south was the home of butcher James Inglis Reid, ‘The Larder of the Wise’ who also offered the slogan “we hae meat that ye can eat”

The Vancouver Archives have the full history of the company on their website, (and there’s a display from the store in the Museum of Vancouver as well). “James Inglis Reid (1874-1952) was a Scotsman, born in Waterside, Kirkintilloch Parish, who immigrated to Vancouver in 1906. Reid found employment with Edgett s Grocery; however, he soon established his own business. He sold hams and various types of bacon, including Ayrshire, which he cured himself. Following the commercial trend of Vancouver at the time, Reid moved his place of business to 559 Granville Street in 1915. Reid incorporated the business as James Inglis Reid, Ltd. on December 24, 1930. It was at the Granville Street address that Reid achieved financial success, wide renown, and a permanent place in the history of Vancouver.

After Reid purchased the property situated at 559 Granville Street in 1922, he began an extensive renovation. The building comprised three stories and a basement. The top floor was converted to a baking area and a kitchen for the production of fresh sausages and other products. The second floor included a business office, locker room, lunch room, storage area, and a space for maturing cheese. The basement was home to the smokehouse, curing operations, coolers, and storage for supplies. The ground floor of the building remained the retail area; however, it was enlarged and the counters and floor were transformed by the installation of white and black marble during the renovation. The lane side of the ground floor had a receiving dock for deliveries, a cooler large enough to hold whole sides of beef, and the main area for meat cutting. The two year renovation was completed in 1924. Nine years later, Reid installed a structural awning over the Granville Street sidewalk. The awning featured (in neon signage) the phrase, adapted from Burns Selkirk Grace, we hae meat that ye can eat that was closely identified with the business.

The multitude of on-site operations and a skilled staff allowed James Inglis Reid, Ltd. to offer a wide selection of fresh meat, hams, bacon, and sausages. These operations included the daily cutting of sides of beef, hogs, and lambs; the curing and smoking of hams and bacon in the purpose-built, fire-brick enclosure ( the smokehouse ); and the production of sausages in the third floor kitchen. In particular, the employment of Horatio Nelson Menzies, a fellow Scotsman and experienced butcher who was hired in 1917, helped James Inglis Reid, Ltd. become very well known for its house-made Scottish specialties such as white puddings, black puddings (blood sausage), and most notably, haggis. Production figures indicate that four to six tonnes of haggis was made and sold annually. Reid s haggis was prepared and shipped to townships throughout British Columbia, other Canadian provinces, and to customers in the United States.

Reid was proud of his Scottish heritage and did much to promote its traditions in Vancouver. He was a founding member of the Scottish Society of Vancouver. In addition, the shop served as a gathering point for those interested in Scottish traditions and culture. The celebration of Robert Burns birthday was an annual event. Haggis was supplied to fraternal organizations, churches, businesses, hotels, steamships, and individuals throughout British Columbia for Burns Night Suppers. In addition, the left front display window of 559 Granville Street was decorated with Burns portrait, selected quotations from the poet s work, and memorabilia.

Following the retirement of James Inglis Reid in 1945, Gordon Young Wyness, Reid s son-in-law, became manager of the business. Wyness, an engineer by profession, had gained management experience while working for Burns & Co. Ltd., a meat packing firm, and Canadian Industries Ltd Ammunition Division. He had an understanding of the demands of running a small business since his family had owned and operated a general store in Saskatchewan. James Inglis Reid Ltd., under the guidance of G.Y. Wyness, prospered for another forty years. Throughout his stewardship, the business refined its operations while maintaining its traditions ( Quality First, Value Always ).

By the middle of the nineteen-eighties, commercial patterns had shifted away from the factors that decades ago had attracted Reid to the Granville Street location. The shop was now an anomaly among the financial institutions and large chain stores that dominated downtown. Consequently, the decision was made to close the business when Cadillac Fairview Corporation began the expansion of the Pacific Centre Mall north of Dunsmuir Street. James Inglis Reid, Ltd. ended retail business operations in 1986.”

Both these buildings were built by the same builder for the same owner. That builder – and owner – was Bedford Davidson, who sometimes designed his own buildings. Here he employed GW Grant to design both, spending $10,000 on the first building to the north in 1902 and $8,000 on the one beside it that would be occupied by Mr Reid four years later. The earlier (by 3 months) building was completely altered with the addition of a highly decorated tera cotta art deco facade in 1930 for what was then called the BC Lease Holders Building, soon to be the long-term home of the Hunter-Henderson Paint Company.

In 1990 the Townley Matheson facade was incorporated into the Zeidler Roberts Partnership final phase of the Pacific Centre Mall, with three floors of retail and an 18 storey office tower.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-786

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Colonial Theatre – Granville Street

We saw the buildings that once sat on the south east, north east and north west corners of Dunsmuir and Granville already. Here’s the fourth corner; the south west corner. It held the oldest building of them all, built initially in 1888 as the Van Horne Building. Sir William Van Horne was President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and there was no perceived conflict of interest for Sir William to acquire land and develop buildings on company property. It was in line with his responsibility to see the company’s investment pay off, so Sir William planned to build two buildings on CPR’s Granville Street holdings that were being promoted to drag the centre of the city westwards, away from its milltown origins. The first of his projects was on Granville Street at Dunsmuir, built in 1888 to the designs of Bruce Price. (Francis Rattenbury designed a second Granville Street building in 1903). Seen above in this 1887 illustration, it’s an impressive building for a one-year old city that just survived complete obliteration in a fire. Actually, the completed building was only half the size, but still impressive (as the 1909 VPL photograph on the right shows). The building lasted 24 years as an office, then received a dramatic $70,000 conversion to a cinema.

The 1912 building permit was to the Ricketts Amusement Co and the architect was E W Houghton, a Seattle-based architect originally born in Hampshire in England (who had redesigned the CPR’s former Opera House in 1907). Ricketts, who came from the same county, was the former lessee of CPR’s Opera House (just down the street from the building, and despite its title, a mainstream theatre). Ricketts probably ceased connections with the building before its completion; he managed the Imperial Theatre before retiring in 1915.  The 1913 opening saw the Kinemacolor Theatre offering movies, in colour – the first Canadian theatre with the system. Kinemacolor was invented by English cinematographer George Albert Smith, and marketed by American entrepreneur Charles Urban. Film was run through a projector at 32 frames per second, twice the normal speed, and then filtered through red and green coloured lenses to produce “the world’s wonders in nature’s colours.” A nine-piece orchestra accompanied the short films, and a baritone named George C. Temple “delighted the audience with some of the old songs.” Later, the theatre added a $10,000 organ to accompany the silent movies. The cinema failed to thrive, and was closed in 1914. The sign for the cinema remained however – perhaps because it’s 7 feet high and 13 feet wide. It mysteriously disappeared when the building was torn down in 1972 to make way for the Pacific Centre Mall, only to reappear in the Keg restaurant on Thurlow at Alberni, before it ended up removed from there too.

The theatre reopened as the Colonial in 1915 with Hector Quagliotti as the owner and for a time became the most popular cinema in the city. The pianist from 1917 was Paul Michelin, “The man with the Million-Dollar hands”, who could, it was said, play over 12,000 songs from memory. He also incorporated other sounds for silent films including train whistles, steam engines, and battle scenes, but was criticised by the Musicians’ Union because he was doing the work of a sound effects man.

Towards the end of its life the theatre incorporated the Pauline Johnson confectionery store, a popular stop before the main feature. In earlier years it was one of Con Jones ‘Don’t Argue’ tobacconists stores (“Don’t Argue – Con Jones sells fresh tobacco”). Today there’s a 1974 corner office tower of the McCarter Nairne and Partners Pacific Centre Mall – the colours ‘brightened’ from the more sombre earlier ‘black towers’ to the south.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-399 (Walter E Frost)

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Granville Street – 700 block west side (1)

Not many people think the contemporary building is an improvement on the 1920s pictured here. Granville Mansions stood on the corner, the Orpheum Theatre (not the current one) stood next door, and then the Hotel Vancouver (the second one, not the current one either). Originally the theatre site was where the Canadian Pacific Railway put the Opera House. The Hotel Vancouver was demolished in 1946. Granville Mansions were built around 1907 and Mayor L D Taylor lived there for many years, as did his employee and future wife Alice Berry.

The Mansions were damaged in a 1957 fire, and replaced in the early 1970s with Cesar Pelli’s retail building for Eatons (now Sears, part of the Pacific Centre Mall). Pelli was working with Victor Gruen and Associates of Los Angeles, and McCarter Nairne were the local associate architects. The curved off-white concrete box has not aged well (although the TD and IBM towers to the north by the same architectural team are now less controversial than when first built and dubbed ‘The Black Towers’).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-820

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