Archive for the ‘R A Nicolais’ Tag

Hamilton Street – 1000 block, east side

This 1981 image shows Yaletown warehouses when the area was still mostly used for industry and storage. The building on the corner of Hamilton Street however had already transitioned to office space – with the sign offering individual offices and basement storage space. The building had been developed in 1910, designed by James W Keagey for the McClary Manufacturing Company, and costing $35,000. McClary’s made stoves in London, Ontario, and had already developed an earlier property on Water Street in 1897. Keagey had moved from Ontario around 1909, and won the competition to design the Rowing Club clubhouse, still standing today in Stanley Park. He was also an artist; two of his paintings made in Egypt in 1917 are in the National Gallery. Today the warehouse is a bank, and upstairs, although it’s not obvious from this angle, is a Keg steakhouse with a relatively recently added rooftop patio.

Next door to the south is a warehouse that we looked at several years ago. It was designed by an Italian born architect, Raphael A Nicolais, for Buckley and Baker. During the 1920s it was home to Consolidated Exporters Corporation, whose history we didn’t look at in the earlier post – but we should, as they have a fascinating history. The company was something of a ‘marriage of convenience’. In 1922, when Prohibition was enacted in the US, Canadian brewers and alcohol suppliers quickly established supply lines to illegally move alcohol into the US. The Canadian Government made very few moves to limit this increasingly profitable trade. (Imports of alcohol into Canada were all legal, and sometimes even paid duty, although it wasn’t required if the goods were for re-export. They took the view that re-export was none of the concern of the government). The one token gesture to placate the Americans was a move to increase the cost of an annual export licence from $3,000 to $10,000. To circumvent this additional cost, fifteen companies (brewers, distillers and agents) formed a liquor export conglomerate, and paid for just one licence for the Consolidated Exporters Corporation. There were several other affiliated businesses that weren’t listed, including United Distillers whose manufacturing plant was located in Marpole.

Over a short time it became apparent that joint operations had other significant advantages. As well as a shared warehouse, the new business quickly established a fleet of ‘mother ships’ that theoretically were heading to ports in Central America, although almost always didn’t quite make it that far. Instead they ‘hung out’ off San Francisco, beyond the US 12-mile limit, (and later off Ensenada, slightly further south). They would carry anything up to a million dollars worth of alcohol –  for example Federalship, crewed by Vancouver residents, flagged in Panama but owned by Consolidated was seized in 1927 (illegally, the US courts would later determine) carrying 12,500 cases of highest quality whisky and wine, imported from Glasgow. Supposedly headed for Buenaventura in Columbia, the boat was arrested (after being hit by the Coastguard cutter’s guns), in international waters 270 miles off San Francisco.

By the mid 1930s Goodyear Rubber were in the lower warehouse, and Consolidated continued to operate from the other building, but sharing with Davis Liquor and Canada Dry Ginger Ale. By 1940, once prohibition was over, Consolidated no longer operated, and a variety of manufacturers agents and storage companies used the warehouse. That was still the case in 1955, with Goodyear continuing to use the warehouse on the corner.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E14.05

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Posted February 6, 2020 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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East Pender Street – 100 block, south side

While parts of Chinatown (including these buildings) are seeing change to the businesses occupying the main floor retail units, the bricks and mortar have remained unchanged for several decades. The exact date for the image is unknown – it’s said to have been taken between 1960 and 1980. In the background, across the street, the sign for the Marco Polo Club is visible. It was demolished in 1983, and opened at the end of 1964, so we can narrow the date a bit, and our best guess is the early 1970s – possibly 1972.

The most westerly building on the block (on the right) is the Sun Ah Hotel, home to the Ho Ho Restaurant (more recently Foo’s Ho Ho, currently being refurbished). It was designed for Chinese merchant Loo Gee Wing by R T Perry and R A Nicolais, and completed in 1911. The European style of architecture has no obvious reference to Chinatown, even though the client was a prominent Chinese merchant and property developer. There was an earlier building on the site, with Chinese merchants based here from before the turn of the 20th century (when the street was still Dupont Street). The Lung Kong Tien Yee Association acquired the building in 1926, and today it’s an Single Room Occupancy dwelling.

Several of the city’s ‘working ladies’ had houses in this location in the late 1890s, including Bilcox McDonald and Gabrielle Delisle. In 1909 the middle building in the group was constructed, replacing one of the houses. It was a very different style – occupied by The Chinese Benevolent Association. In the first half of the 20th century this was the most important organization in Chinatown. We don’t have an identified architect for the building, started in 1908 and supervised by Chinese merchant Yip Sang. In 1909 Michael O’Keefe was hired at a cost of $10,000 to design and complete the Chinese Hall here, and he had designed and built other properties for Yip Sang’s Wing Sang Company in the early 1900s. The imposing council hall featured a shrine to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, and the room was furnished with elaborately carved armchairs from the Qing Dynasty. In the 1970s, the CBA lost most of its influence. It has since been restructured and has once again become an important organization in the Vancouver Chinese community.

It housed an organization with deep roots in China. It evolved from the Hongmen movement, which is said to have originated as a group opposed to Manchu rule. In 1910 and 1911, the organization, in their old Vancouver headquarters at Pender and Carrall streets, hid Dr. Sun Yat-Sen from the agents of the imperial Manchu government. The organization is also said to have mortgaged its previous building with the proceeds going to help pay for the Chinese revolution of 1911. Today, the Chinese Freemasons in Vancouver through the Dart Coon Club own and administer this and another building on Pender Street, and two non-profit housing projects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-473

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East Pender and Columbia Street (3)

Pender & Columbia 2

We saw what this view looked like in 1929 in an earlier post. We looked in more detail at the building on the corner in another post. Remarkably few of the buildings further east (up the street) have changed very much since the earlier 1929 image, or since this 1978 image. The biggest change (in summer in particular) is the addition of street trees.

Next door to the hotel is a 1903 building designed by W T Whiteway for merchant, Chu Lai. He arrived in British Columbia in the 1860s, worked in the Cariboo and by 1876 he was able to open his own firm, Wing Chong Company, at the corners of Store and Cormorant streets in Victoria. He was Hakka from Guangdong province, and his company became the centre of the Hakka community. Chang Toy (founder of Vancouver’s Sam Kee company), when he first arrived in the area stayed at the company’s property before finding work in New Westminster. The Sam Kee company developed the hotel building on the corner in 1911. Chu Lai died in 1906 in Victoria, survived by four wives (two living in China), five sons, and three daughters.

The 3-storey building next door is a mystery to us – completed around 1910, we haven’t managed to identify a client or architect. There’s a small, more recent building to the east of that, built in the 1950s, and then the substantial Wong’s Benevolent Association with the Mon Keang School, and the Lee Building is beyond that (which we featured in an earlier post). On the far right of the picture is the Sun Ah Hotel, home to the Ho Ho Restaurant (today Foo’s Ho Ho). It was designed for Chinese merchant Loo Gee Wing by R T Perry and R A Nicolais.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-459

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1028 Hamilton Street

1028 Hamilton

We now know a bit more about this Yaletown warehouse than has been recorded anywhere else. We know who designed it – it was Raphael A Nicolais, an architect about whom we can find very little information. Sometimes he partnered with Richard Perry, and his name was as often as not recorded as Nicolas, or as Nicholais, although we think it was most accurately (and mostly) written as Nicolais. Unlike some blog subjects, he can be found with his wife and family in the 1911 Census, living in Point Grey on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Trimble. There he was recorded as Ralph A Nikolias, he was only aged 28 and he was born in Italy, arriving in Canada in 1910.

The builder was George Baker, and the owners were Buckley and Baker. They don’t seem to have ever built anything else, so are hard to track down. It seems most likely that Baker is the same George B Baker who built the Gray Block, and the most likely Buckley is Frank L Buckley who had a new house built on Osler Avenue in 1913. He was recorded in the street directory as Managing Director of the British Canadian Labour Corporation, a position he continued to hold over a number of years. We think he must have been the Frank Buckley who in 1911 was the American manager of B C Lumber Mills, and lived with his American wife Rosa and two children, James and Helen, and their Norwegian domestic, Bertha Ostrom.

The building was built in 1911, and is recorded on the 1912 Insurance map as the King Warehouse when it was apparently numbered as 1050 Hamilton. In 1924, as our picture shows, it was used by the Consolidated Exporters Co. During the 1940s and 50s it was home to Crawford Storage, where Mrs M M Crawford was company president. More recently it continued to be a warehouse for clothing, but now operates predominantly as office space.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3487

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Posted February 15, 2013 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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