Archive for the ‘R P McLennan’ Tag

Silver and Avalon Hotels – West Pender Street

These two hotels are now joined together, but started life as rivals. The Silver, on the left gets its name from the developer, W S Silver. Designed by Grant & Henderson, it was completed in 1914, and was built by J J Disette for $30,000. The Avalon is five years older, and was designed by Parr and Fee for McLennan and Campbell. You can still see the Parr and Fee central pivot windows, in the $35,000 building constructed by Purdy & Lonergan. (Contract Record published the price as $45,000). When it started life it was known as the Savoy Rooms, run by Mrs Lillie Schadt, with a number of commercial tenants: the Mail Publishing Co, the Vancouver & Provincial Brokerage Co, Modern Office Supply Co, Upton & Heighton, real estate agents and Newmarch Cooper & Co, manufacturers agents.

William F Silver was from England, born in 1861, listed as a broker in the 1911 census. He had arrived in Canada in 1903 with wife Isabelle, who was shown as a year younger than her husband and born in Ontario. The Silvers had spent some time in the US, as the 1911 census shows sons William, a 24-year-old plumber, Kenneth, 23, a farmer, Neil, 21, and Hugh, aged only 8, had all been born there. Edith Brand, their 13-year-old niece also lived with them in Burnaby, on the corner of Kingsway and Silver Avenue. In 1900 they had been living in King County, Washington, where William was a life insurance agent.

The US Census for 1900 tells us that Isabelle’s mother was from New York and her father from Scotland. The three oldest sons had been born in Wisconsin, but there was a 1-year old son called Hugh born in Washington. (Either he died, and the family had a subsequent son also called Hugh, or the 1911 Canadian census recorded his age inaccurately). The birth certificate of one of the older sons tells us the family were living in West Superior, Douglas, Wisconsin, and that Isabelle’s maiden name was Isabelle McKinnen. Their marriage certificate from their wedding in 1863 shows that Isabelle was Jane Isabella McKinnon, born in 1860, her father was Laughlin McKinnon, and that she was a year older than her husband. Isabel Silver’s death was recorded in 1937, when her birth was shown as 1858 and her father’s name as Lachlan.  William F Silver died in December 1943, also in Burnaby.

McLennan and Campbell appear to be a development partnership of convenience, rather than an established business. Although there were many McLennans in the city, our guess would be that it was R P McLennan, the hardware mogul originally from Nova Scotia. In partnership with Edward McFeely of Ontario he built a huge warehouse on Cordova Street, and another on Water Street. Another company building was also designed by Parr and Fee and built by Purdy and Lonergan a few years earlier. There were hundred of Campbells in the city, so establishing which one developed the building is impossible without a clearer indication of a connection to an individual.

Over the years the upper floors have retained their residential use as the Silver Rooms and Avalon Apartments, (the Savoy name having been dropped by 1920). Retail uses have come and gone on the main floor; in the 1950s Haskins and Elliott sold bicycles and A E Marwell sold artist’s supplies. The cycle shop had been there over a decade.

Today the two buildings operate as a single privately owned SRO Hotel. The Avalon Hotel was purchased by Mario & Mina Angelicola in the late 1970’s. Our image dates from 1981. It was turned into an SRO (single room occupancy) in the late 1990’s and houses approximately 85 low-income tenants today.  Jenny & Josh Konkin, grandchildren of Mario and Mina have managed the hotel since 2010, also establishing Whole Way House in 2013 to provide support to the residents.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E16.13