Archive for the ‘R M Fripp’ Tag

Homer Street north from West Georgia Street

This modest almost suburban street doesn’t look like the heart of a busy metropolis, but in 1948, it was. The clue that you’re in a city is in the background, where the Hotel Alcazar can be seen on Dunsmuir Street. At the far end of the block on the corner of Dunsmuir was a single storey retail building. The tallest building on this block is a three storey building about two thirds of the way down. 632 Homer Street was built in 1912 as three-storey brick & concrete printing shop by Gustav Roedde, who claimed to have designed and built it himself. He also moved the 1904 house built by F H Donovan on the adjacent lot to the north, presumably to allow construction of his building. There had been a house built on the lot in 1901, designed by Bedford Davidson for Mr. Goldstern. Mr. Roedde was a bookbinder who was born in Germany, worked his way from Cleveland to San Francisco to Victoria, and eventually settled in Vancouver in 1888. He started work at the News Advertiser, was briefly based on West Cordova, and then in 1892 moved to premises on Cambie Street. His building here was renumbered to 616 Homer in 1948, but was still the home of G A Roedde Ltd, printers.

To the south, also in 1901, R M Fripp designed a house for Robert Mee. In 1948 it had been redeveloped (or altered) as a single storey building on the street, home to the BC Journal of Commerce. The two storey building at 622 was the home of Smith Marking Devices, as well as printers Cornell & Burroughs, and as the bus poking from the archway shows, it was also the Greyhound Bus Company depot.

Closer to us is a house that had been built in 1902 by the Church of England as a mission, designed by W T Dalton. The house to the south of the mission, extending forward to the sidewalk by 1948, was built by Fred Melton in 1910. By 1920 it was home to another printing firm, Trythall & Son, run by Wm J, Wm T and E Howard Trythall. The family were living on Nelson Street in 1921, and William and his wife Minnie were both shown aged 50. William had arrived in Canada in 1888, and Minnie in 1909. They had a six-year-old daughter, Marjorie at home, and a governess and lodger. William Trythall, William’s father lived next door, as well as their son Ernest, (known by his middle name, Howard) who was also a printer. They appear to be living with William and Ernest’s sister and her husband, George Peake. Fred Peake worked for Trythall and Son as well, living in the West End. In 1948 It was still a printer’s: J A Kershaw.

The buildings to the north, closer to the camera, predated the turn of the century as owner J H MacNab carried out repairs costing $300 in 1901. Next door to them, to the north, was another house that was built before 1901 (666 Homer) that had repairs carried out in 1915 for the Chinese Trust Co. In 1948 both houses were listed as vacant. The site was probably in process of being acquired for redevelopment. The new General Post Office, which takes up the entire block was completed in 1956. Designed by McCarter and Nairne, it is now a heritage building that will be repurposed as a retail and office project, with new towers above the restored 1950s structure.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P256



Posted 10 May 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with , ,

Oyster Bay Cafe – Cordova and Carrall

Carrall and Cordova se

J M Spinks was an early Vancouver pioneer. We’re pretty certain he had the dubious distinction of getting embroiled in legal argument to land claims even before the city was established. It doesn’t seem to have been an impediment to his later success, although he seems to have rewritten history a little by claiming in the 1901 census to have arrived in Canada in 1887. John Manly Barrington Spinks was born in his preferred version in 1853 in Liverpool (that’s his birth year on the 1891 and 1901 census forms). One version of his story is that he arrived in Victoria in 1884 and lived briefly in Duncan before moving to Granville in March 1886. Unless there were two J M Spinks in the city at the same time, he was probably here a little earlier. While there are two different birth dates for a John Manly Barrington Spinks in Liverpool (suggesting an earlier child died, and a second was given the same name) his birth date record in the UK was 1850 (Although in the 1881 English Census – where he was a butcher – this had already slipped to 1851).

A Select Committee of the Provincial Legislature heard evidence in 1884 “About fifteen years ago two Indians, named Charlie and Jim, squatted on said land and made improvements thereon (including building two houses), several clearings, &c., and resided continuously upon the land until the sale presently mentioned, and one of them is still upon the place, it having been arranged that he shall receive the year’s crop of potatoes. On the 23rd June, 1884, the said two Indians conveyed their right and title to said land (with the consent of the Indian Agent) to one J. M. Spinks“. In further evidence it became apparent that Mr Spinks had a partner, Sam Greer (later of Greer’s Beach – now Kits Beach) who had paid the Indian Agent for transfer of title to the land, but put the land in Spinks’ name as he thought it more likely that Spinks claim to title would be accepted.

Having had Greer carry out the legal transaction on his behalf, Mr Spinks then sold his interest on, but the Province was not willing to entertain the idea that he ever had anything to sell. F G Richards Jnr, on behalf of the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works replied to a request to recognise the new owners title to land:

“In reply, I am to inform you that your application cannot be entertained, as the Chief Commissioner cannot admit that the Indians ever acquired a claim to the land in the slightest degree.

“The land in question, among others, was leased to the British Columbia and Vancouver Island Spar, Lumber, and Saw-Mill Company (Limited), by Indenture dated 13th November, 1865, for a term of twentyone years.

“According to the terms of the agreement no portion of the lands so leased could be pre-empted or entered upon by bona fide settlers or pre-emptors without the written sanction of the Governor and Superintendent of the Saw-Mill Company.

“No such sanction was ever given in this case. Furthermore, the existing Land Laws, at the time you claim the land was entered upon by the Indians, does not permit any of the aborigines of this Province, or the Territories neighbouring thereto, acquiring or holding any land by pre-emption.”

In further evidence it was clear that all the purchasers were unhappy with Mr Spinks. As well as he having successfully sold on a claim that he probably didn’t have legal rights to sell, it was also suggested that the claim as staked was 160 acres, but as sold was 400. Sam Greer was probably the least happy – he was out of pocket and he was then accused of (and taken to court for)  forging the document claiming title in the first place. This is the simple version of the story – there are even more twists in other people’s memories of the ‘deal’.

Tatlow & Spinks 1891This didn’t seem to cramp Mr Spinks style at all. Initially he was partner with Walter Graveley – who in 1932 remembered rescuing the metal ‘Graveley and Spinks’ sign and putting it behind a stump as he ran from the 1886 fire, only to find it melted from the fierce heat. For no obvious reason, Mr Graveley recalls Mr Spinks to be called ‘Bob’. Later Spinks partnered with R G Tatlow in real estate promotion, although the year that this building was built, 1891, that partnership was dissolved and he continued in the real estate business alone. He and Tatlow developed at least one property near Seymour Street. He had a house built on Seaton Street in 1888, designed by Henry Bell-Irving. Later he partnered with R C McKay and Dr Israel Powell on a commercial block on Pender at Richards, designed by Fripp and Wills. John’s brother, William also moved to British Columbia. A barrister by profession, he was practicing in Kamloops by 1884 and was sworn in as a judge in 1889. He had  Fripp and Wills design a house in Swan Lake in 1892, and was obviously an aficionado of the Arts and Crafts style as he hired Greene and Greene to design his retirement home in Pasadena in 1909.

According to the 1891 census 38 year old John M Spinks was married to Jane (originally from Paddington, and possibly a year older than he was, depending on when he was really born), and had a son, John M, another, Richard and a daughter, Mary, as well as their domestic, May Austin. Jane died, along with her new born baby, in 1892 and by 1901 John was married again to a Danish born wife, Ursula, 17 years younger than him (and only seven years older than his son, Richard). In 1903 he apparently moved east, to Toronto and in 1911 had a wife 19 years younger, Ella, recorded as having been born in Ontario.

Oyster Bay adFor the building, Walter Graveley, who owned the lot, partnered with Spinks to develop a triangular building on the awkward lot created where the rail right of way cut through the street grid at forty-five degrees  (behind the building in this 1939 image). Designed by the Fripp Brothers, the building became well-known as the home of the Oyster Bay Cafe. In 1913 Fripp was again hired by Gravely to work on the building. At the time it wasn’t called Cordova, but rather Oppenheimer Street.

Gravely was born in Cobourg, Ontario, in 1853. In 1873 he worked in Toronto in the marine insurance business for eight years, then two years in Winnipeg as a real-estate and financial broker, and finally Victoria where he opened an office with F C Innes while they waited to see where the Canadian Pacific terminus would end up locating. In 1885 they separately moved to Vancouver, as did C D Rand, and set up rival real estate sales offices. Graveley had the receipt for the first piece of land sold by the Canadian Pacific in 1886 (which miraculously survived the 1886 fire), and continued to acquire and sell land. As far as we can tell this was his only foray into property development. He married in 1888 and his first daughter was born in San Fransisco (his wife’s home town) in 1890, followed by a second in Vancouver in 1900.

As well as his real estate activities, Graveley was known around town as the first Commodore of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (he was responsible for getting the ‘Royal’ label. He also dabbled in a railway company that was to build a spur to Chilliwack, although nothing came of that scheme. By 1913 he had retired, although he lived on until 1939.

Today the site has another curious triangular building, the retail component of a condo project called The Van Horne completed in 1996 and designed by Kasian Kennedy as a partner to Carrall Station on the opposite side of the street, finished a year later.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-290


Posted 31 March 2013 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Tagged with , , ,

West Hastings Street west from Cambie

We’ve skipped back through the 20th Century to around 1898 on Hastings Street. (the records say it’s 1896, but it must be a bit later) Cars aren’t a problem – there aren’t any – but the cyclists have to be careful of what might be lurking on the road surface, and it becomes obvious why cow catchers might be necessary on the front of the streetcars.

On the right hand (north) side of the street is the single storey Great Northern Railway offices where R Campbell and Sons were also based. It was called The Arcade and designed by John Parr for Harvey Hadden. Next door is the 1894 and 1898 Rogers Block, built by Jonathan Rogers in two phases with William Blackmore and then Parr and Fee as architects (which is why the picture must be after 1898).

The mix of tenants in there is wide, including the Misses Taylor (Miss Laura, Miss Emma and Miss Bertha) – possibly dressmakers (especially as a year later they had gone, but Miss Martin a ‘modiste’ had arrived). There are two canning company offices, and the Columbia Commercial College, as well as architect William Blackmore (called Blakemore in one directory). A ‘W A Cumyon’ is listed almost certainly Won Alexander Cumyou, secretary of the Chinese Reform Association of Canada and the first Chinese born in Canada (who worked as a court translator).

On the left, just out of the picture is the Courthouse, then the Inns of Court Building (where, somewhat oddly, the Council meetings for the Municipality of North Vancouver were held) designed by R Mackay Fripp and built in 1894. These days a much smaller former CIBC bank building sits on the corner of Hamilton Street, now used by the Vancouver Film School, while the Dominion Building occupies the right hand side. At the end of the street the Marine Building closes the vista – soon to be joined by a 400 feet high curved glass office tower immediately behind it.

Image source: City of Vancouverr Archives CVA Str P317