Archive for the ‘Ross Lort’ Tag

The Park Lane – 975 Chilco Street

This 1931 apartment was the second building on the site. It was designed by Ross Lort, and was called the Park Lane Apartments, and it was yet another of Hugh A Warner’s developments, seen here in a VPL image in the year it was completed. In 1905 the site was the home of G W Hobson, and a picture of his house was in the Vancouver Province that year. It was built around 1902 as 2001 Nelson Street, and Christopher Hobson was the first resident. We looked at Mr Warner’s history in a post on one of his other West End investments, the Plaza Apartments.

As with many of the West End apartments, (other than the usual leasing advertisements), the Park Lane was mentioned for a few weddings and new tenants moving in. Other references are few, and far apart – as in 1933 when Miss A M Day found her unit had been broken into and her purse, with $5 in it, stolen. There seem to have been a significant number of deaths of tenants reported, perhaps indicating the age of many of the people who chose to call it home. In 1939 John McGibbon, former assistant commissioner of the RCMP died here. In 1941 it was George Dudley Eaton, a Maine lumberman who had retired aged 37, due to ill health, in 1910 and moved to Vancouver. In 1943 Michael Arhus passed away in hospital, aged 43.

It was reported that D J McLachlan had a lucky escape in 1939 when he hit another automobile while driving in Surrey. The car careened across the road, struck another vehicle, and rolled into the ditch. Mary McLachlan was 68 when her death was reported here in 1941. She must have been the driver of the car, as her husband, a hardware merchant, had died in 1931. She was a retired social worker, and “a worker in both the Local and Provincial Council of Women, of which she was past president. She was active in the John Howard Society, and, at the time of her death, was its first vice president. She was also a former officer and life member of the Women’s Canadian Club, a director of the Alexandra Orphanage, and a charter member of the Point Grey Golf Club.

Dr. McNichol, who lived here, was fortunately only injured when the car he was driving hit another vehicle at Alberni and Gilford in May 1945.

Some of the units here are described as ‘huge’, and in 2007 a 3-bed apartment leased at $2,695 a month; in 1986 it had been $950. Today the apartments, as with all the heritage buildings in the West End, become available very rarely and are leased very quickly.



Posted 30 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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1110 West Georgia Street

1100 West Georgia Street is the corner lot on the south side of West Georgia, at Thurlow. In this 1981 image there was a seven storey office building that we noted recently on a 1955 aerial shot of this part of the Downtown peninsula.

The building was completed in 1950, built by Allen and Viner. The architect for the conversion and addition was Ross Lort, identified in a Journal of Commerce story in 1949.

This wasn’t a wholly new structure – the base was a four storey car showroom and dealership developed in 1926 by Chevrolet Cars at a cost of $80,000. They hired Dominion Construction to carry out the work (and design the building), and there was a second $50,000 permit too. Begg Brother’s who had built an earlier 1912 building across the street were running the facility. When it opened in June 1927 The Evening Sun reported “The building and all of its service, sales, storage and handling conveniences were designed by the management, architects’ assistance being required only for the technical structural specifications. The work, of construction was done by the Dominion Construction Co.” On the ground floor there was a showroom, with a parts department alongside on Georgia, and a service department at the back. There was a ‘spacious ladies’ rest room’ on the mezzanine floor, with the company offices. On the second floor the service department continued, accessed by a ramp than ran up the entire building. (There was also a passenger elevator). New cars were stored and prepared on the third floor, and the fourth was a paint department, which could add a GM Duco non-scratch finish to any other vehicle. Begg Brothers were still here at the start of the 1940s, although now they were a Dodge and DeSoto dealership, but by 1945 they had moved their main showroom to a smaller single storey building just to the west, (although the truck division were still on Thurlow Street) and this was briefly used by Neon Products engineering division.

The first reference to government use of the old car showroom was early in 1946, when Veteran’s Affairs were supposed to move their office here from the Second Hotel Vancouver – but the Neon Products lease was still in place until the end of January. In 1947 Allen and Viner were hired by the owners to remodel the building and add two additional floors. The government committed to buying and paying for the addition in mid 1948, budgeting $1,060,000 in total. Meanwhile the Taxation Department were located here, but they moved out at the end of 1948.

Initially budgeted at $850,000, the work to add the floors and clad the entire structure eventually cost the government, who became the developer of the building, $575,000 more. With the purchase of the building, the bill was double the initial estimate. The Vancouver Sun sent their reporter, Jack Webster, to Ottawa, to question the Minister, and he reported “The extra $375,000, the officials, told me, was necessary to add a third storey to the building (bringing it to a total height of seven storeys). “We had to drive columns down to the foundations in order to strengthen the walls sufficiently to take the additional storey,” it was explained. “But the total price (of $1,800,000) is reasonable, It is the largest block of good office accommodation in Vancouver today.” Questions were raised in parliament because the contract was let on a non-competition basis to Allen and Viner, who a local Conservative member argued were given the contract as ‘friends of the government’. The Minister denied knowing the gentlemen, claiming they werer selected because one of them had worked for Dominion Construction when the garage had been built.

It continued to be known as The Begg Building, home to the Taxation Department once more, but didn’t survive very long. In 1980 it was part of a trade with Marathon Realty, with a valuation of $3m, part of a complex land deal that saw Federal and Provincial agencies swapping sites around the city to obtain a Marathon-owned site to build a new stadium (BC Place). Marathon’s general manager, Gordon Campbell, was already planning new office buildings on the sites they acquired, and the office was demolished around 1983. It stayed as a parking lot for twenty years, and while there was an office building proposed in 1994, that wasn’t built and the land was incorporated into a larger site, with the single storey car dealership buildings to the west. In 2008 the Shangri-La hotel and condo tower, the tallest in the city (and the whole of Metro Vancouver, although not for much longer) was completed after three years of construction.

Image Sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W12.02 and CVA 99-3748


Posted 16 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Maxine Motel – Bidwell Street

We looked at the early years of this West End building in the previous post. Initially developed in 1929, the facade we see today was built in 1936 and 1938, designed by Thomas McArravy and Ross Lort. A further southern addition was added some time after 1939, but before 1954. It was very shallow, as behind it was 1233 Bidwell Street, an early house on the block that had been bought by the building’s owners in 1929.

They were Maxine MacGilvray and her husband, Ivor Bebb. The married in 1928 and became partners in her already expansive beauty products and salon business. The depression in the early 1930s meant a trip to the beauty salon was a luxury many women chose to cut out, and the business suffered. There was also a Beauty School here, training many of the young women then recruited to work in the beauty salons.

In 1940 the US census shows the couple were living in Washington, in Seattle, where Ivor was shown as manufacturing cosmetics for his beauty shop, while Maxine was shown running the shop. Their ages and places of birth were recorded accurately – Maxine was from Wisconsin, and Ivor was 10 years her junior, aged 36, from Wales, (although their advertising had Maxine from Beverley Hills, and Ivor ‘of Paris and London’).

They were still travelling back to Vancouver for their business here. In 1939 “Gaily colored streamers and large green shamrocks decorated the reception-room of the Maxine School of Beauty Culture on Friday evening, when the juniors of the school entertained at a dancing party for, the graduating seniors. Guests were received by Maxine and Mr. Ivor Bebb, president and vice-president of the school, and during the evening prizes were presented to several students.” The house at 1223 Bidwell still showed I. Bebb as resident.

In 1940 Ivor Ewan Bebb became an American citizen, and the application shows he was born near Welshpool. His wife, Max Elwy Bebb was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and Ivor said he had moved from Vancouver to Seattle in 1930. In 1941 a new business, the Max-Ivor company, was incorporated in the US and continued to operate until 2001.

In 1942 the Maxine Beauty School was shown operating here, but a year later this was the Maxine Apartments – eight in total. The house at 1223 was still listed too. In 1943 The Max-Ivor Motel, on Highway 99 at 6188 4th Ave in Seattle was opened.

In March 1943 the tenants in the Maxine Apartments got their rent reduced on appeal from $45 to $37.50, and George Hodgson, a shipyard worker, was given immediate notice to quit. He successfully sued G L Gillette and Maxine Ltd, joint owners of the property, after Mr. Gillette, who acted as janitor, removed the door to his suite and refused to put it back on. A month later things had escalated: “the tenants were asking for a second reduction in their rent, alleging that the management is neither providing heat nor collecting garbage. The landlady, her manager, and at least four tenants all had something to say” The case had been before the judge six times, and two or three times in police court – and once in the Supreme Court. In 1944 Maxine tried to get the building back from her lessee, Joseph Cuillerier, (who was already in prison awaiting extradition to England on embezzlement charges), arguing he was operating the building as an apartment hotel, rather than a rental building. She initially failed, but then succeeded on appeal. In 1945 1223 was still shown, but now with 4 suites rather than as a house, with Ivor as resident in Suite 1. In 1946 the building had 12 apartments, and the house was no longer listed, so that seems likely to be when the southern alterations and small addition were made.

In 1947 Ivor E Bebb successfully rezoned 5 lots in Seattle to permit a mobile home park, although he continued to keep his apartment in Vancouver, presumably commuting over the border to manage their interests in both Seattle and Vancouver. By 1948 this became the Maxine Apartment Hotel. You could rent a one, two, or three-room apartment with tiled kitchens and private bathrooms daily, weekly or monthly.

Maxine Bebb died in 1952 at the age of 58. We often struggle to find people in the census, but remarkably Ivor and Maxine were surveyed twice in the 1950 US census. In the first record Ivor said he was 50 (adding four years to his age) and born in Wales while Maxine knocked 11 years off her age, to 45, and chose California for her birth state. In the other record Maxine admitted to being 53 (which was only three years off) and born in Wisconsin, while Ivor was shown as 46 (which was true), and was shown born in ‘Wales, England’ (which would have upset anyone from Wales). Their days in the beauty business had apparently ended; Ivor was running an auto court, while Maxine was manager of an apartment hotel. Ivor took a trip to Britain in 1953, following his wife’s death.

In 1960 the Hotel here featured unexpectedly when Joseph Corbett, Jr., aged 32, listed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list for kidnapping and murdering the 44-year-old chairman of the Coors Brewing empire, was captured here. At the end of October, a Vancouver resident thought she saw the man in the West End, and a policeman recalled seeing Corbett’s car outside the Maxine. His landlady identified ‘Mr. Wainwright’ from his photograph, and a combined FBI and Vancouver police team arrested him without incident.

Corbett, who was from Seattle had been convicted of shooting a man in the back of the head in 1951, which he claimed was self-defense. Initially in a maximum-security prison, his good behavior, saw him transferred to minimum security, from which he then escaped in 1955. Adolph Coors had left for work in February 1960, but never got there. His bones and clothes, with two bullet holes in his back, were found in a remote mountain dump in September.

Corbett’s booking shot from 1960 showed a neatly dressed man with tinted glasses. He was found guilty in 1961 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Released in 1980, he only gave one interview, in 1996, where he maintained his innocence. With a recent cancer diagnosis, he killed himself with a single shot to the head in his Denver apartment in 2009, aged 80. He left no note, and there was nobody to claim the body.

From 1964 to 1970 Ivor was president of the Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club in Seattle. He apparently remarried; when Olaf Stevens died in 1955 his obituary referenced a daughter, Mrs Ivor E Bebb of Seattle, and a granddaughter, who was born, we believe, in 1954. Ivor was aged 85 when he died, in Seattle, in 1989, a year after the Max-Ivor hotel had closed. Grace Rena Bebb, the last person associated with the Max-Ivor company died in Renton in Washington in 2001.

In Vancouver, in 1965 the motel was owned by Maxine-Beach Lodge Limited. In 1968 Mrs. Margaret Finigan, a tenant (28) lit a cigarette while gas was apparently leaking from the stove and suffered third degree burns (and didn’t improve her apartment’s decor). The apartments were still here in 1972, but not for much longer.

In the mid 1970s an architect, Vic Pimiskern, acquired the building, and ran his practice here as well as opening a restaurant here called Maxines, specializing in ribs. In 1978 Denny Boyd, a columnist in the Sun told a moonshine story (but didn’t suggest there were any of the elusive tunnels we mentioned in the previous post). “Maxine’s young charm students were often shocked to find the carcasses of dead sheep hanging in the basement. Maxine used to extract tallow from them to use in the preparation of her own line of cosmetics. It is said that she also had a productive still operating in that basement lab, cooking up prohibition moonshine for her many friends“.

In the late 1980s this was Fogg n Suds on The Bay, becoming Mescalero, a Mexican and south-west themed restaurant in the 1990s, then Balthazar’s, and finally Maxine’s Hideaway, when the owner spun some attractive but totally fictitious stories about tunnels, rum-running and bordellos.

In 2013 the Alexandra, a condo and market rental building designed by Henriquez Partners was developed by Concord Pacific and Millennium, incorporating the facade of the original Maxine Beauty School, now serving as a coffee shop.

Image source: SFU postcard collection msc130-5071-01


Posted 13 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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Maxine Beauty School – Bidwell Street

This West End landmark is the source of numerous stories, many of them total fabrications. The part of the facade still standing today was designed in 1936 by Thomas B. McArravy for his entrepreneurial client, Maxine MacGilvray. He was mostly based in Nanaimo, although he did briefly move here, so only a couple of his buildings were in Vancouver.

Maxine’s name first appears in Vancouver in connection with beauty products sold by Spencer’s department store in 1913 in Victoria (left, when Maxine would have been aged 19), and in Vancouver in 1914. Said to be trained in California, she gave talks on skin care at the stores and would later open an in-store beauty parlor. It’s not clear if she had a permanent residence in Vancouver in those early days, although there was M A McGillivray, a hairdresser living at 742 Dunsmuir in 1917 (for only that year), although Maxine was also lecturing at ‘The Bay’ in Edmonton (right).

In the 1921 census, there were two McGillivrays living at 999 Georgia, one a manufacturer of cosmetics. Living with her was a sister, Patricia, who was manager of a hair salon, and five years younger. What’s odd is that ‘Maxine’ was recorded as Annie McGillivray, not Max, or Maxine. It was probably an error as in 1921 Max E MacGilvary and Patricia McGillvary were both shown in the street directory at the same address; the Maxine Hair Dressing Shop, 726, 510 Hastings (The Standard Bank Building). Patricia was a skin specialist and living on Seymour Street. In 1922 Patricia wasn’t around, and Max E MacGilvray ran Maxine Hairdressing Shop, and was living at 999 East Georgia. That’s the same address where she was shown living in the 1921 census. The shop had moved down to the second floor of the bank building, where it remained for a few years, although Maxine herself wasn’t always shown to be living in the city.

She was often travelling in her expanding empire; in 1923 she was on the radio in Calgary, lecturing on the need for vitamins for city-dwellers, and was described there as a physical and health specialist She had an extended series of lectures in Parker’s Departmental store in the same city, covering a wide range of beauty and health topics. In 1924 Maxine’s hair business (Mrs M MacGilvray) had moved to 601 Dunsmuir and the Max Chemical Co (Miss M E MacGilvray) was at 999 E Georgia, where Maxine also lived. Robert Garner was the chemist in 1926, and a year later he had an apprentice, Ivor Bebb, who lived at the back of the property. In 1926 Maxine opened a beauty school in Calgary, and the press had to retract the suggestion that she had severed ties with the Hudson’s Bay Company there. In fact, she was still manager of the HBC beauty shop (as well as her other business interests)

Maxine married Ivor Bebb in Skagit, in Washington, in April 1928. She was recorded in the register as Max Elwy Mac Gilvray, and she was born in Wisconsin in 1894. He parents married in Chippewa Falls, and Maxine was the youngest of seven children. Her father was born in Ontario, and her mother, Adeline was from Wisconsin. Her husband was from Wales, and was ten years younger. It appears that they were discreet about their marriage: in 1929 there’s a description of the colourful lighting display on their home, described as ‘The home of Miss M E McGillvray and Ivor E Bebb, partners in the Maxine Beaty Shoppe‘ and in 1933 the Vancouver Sun reported ” Miss Maxine MacGilvray, Ph.C, and Mr. Ivor Bebb, M.S.C., have left the city on an extended business trip to New York and Chicago, where they will visit the Century of Progress Exposition.

In 1928 there were two houses on the block face, 1203 on the corner, and 1223 next to the lane. (In 1929 both were vacant, but the couple had moved to 1233 for Christmas). In 1930 part of the garden of 1203 had been acquired and a new building had appeared mid-block, and the house at 1223 was shown occupied by Mrs. M MacGillvray. The new School of Beauty had opened in August 1929, with Maxine Beauty Shoppes at 1211, and the Maxine College of Beauty Culture sharing 1215 with Max-Ivor Ltd. In 1931 The Acadia Tea Room occupied 1203, and the directory had corrected Maxine’s title to ‘Miss’.

There was both an advertisement and a write-up in the Vancouver Sun for the August opening of the new building, whose architect isn’t identified. VANCOUVER SUN, AUGUST 3, 1929 – NEW ‘MAXINE’ OPENED IN CITY Ultra Modern Beauty Parlor Built on Bidwell St. With a chain of beauty shops in Canada and the Pacific coast of the United States, the Max Chemical company, with Mrs. Max McGillvray and Ivor Bebb sole owners, has further extended is activities by the erection of a fine new beauty shop at 1215 Bidwell street. Attached to the handsome new building is a college where young ladies are taught the art of the beauty parlor expert. “Maxine,” the name under which all the shops are conducted, has become a household word over great territory, and a visit to the ultra-modern plant on Bidwell gives assurance that this name has been well earned. Mrs. McGlllivray Is a qualified chemist and for a number of years has devoted her time and skill to the manufacture of cosmetics, powders and such like, and all of which are considered necessities for M’lady’s boudoir and bath. “I feel that there is a great future for Vancouver and British Columbia and that is the reason that I have come from the United States to live-here and make my business here,” said Mrs. McGlllivray. “We have an investment of upwards of $65,000 in the business and we feel that this, in itself, is evidence of our faith in this wonderful city.” A fully equipped factory is also attached to the new shop in which the various products are made.

The advertisement suggested Maxine was staying close to home (at least briefly). “The new Beauty shoppe will be under the direct supervision of Maxine MacGiIvray. Ph.C who is also personally supervising the up-town shop Maxine No. I (601 Dunsmuir St.) Miss MacGilvray is also the general manager of the international chain bearing her name. She is assisted by Mr. Ivor Bebb (assistant manager) and a staff of capable licensed operators, who have had years of experience.”

In 1936 the building was extended to the south, and the facade remodeled – that’s the image at the lead of the post. This was built by H A Wiles and designed by Thomas B. McArravy costing $3,500 according to the permit. Two years later another addition was made, designed by Ross Lort and costing $7,200. That’s probably the more ornate addition to the north, the edge of which is just visible in the contemporary picture. That year Maxine and Ivor had slightly altered their names and origins to persuade young ladies to train with them. The year had prompted a nasty shock “‘Fire completely destroyed the roof of the residence of Ivor Bebb, 1223 Bidwell street

The stories that have more recently attached to the building continue to live on – thanks to the internet. One story says that there was a tunnel from the building to English Bay, for smuggling, and another to the Rogers Sugar mansion, ‘Gabriola’. The owner of a nightclub in the building in the early 2000s was quoted in a magazine article: ‘Disguising the spot as a beauty school and boarding house, McGilvray gained notoriety by serving illegal alcohol and running the joint as an after-hours bordello. From his own personal research, Henderson learned the first tunnel was used by sugar magnate B.T. Rogers to access the bordello at his leisure. “The impetus behind the tunnel was bootlegging,” he explains. “Sailors would use the passageways to run rum from the boathouses at English Bay.”

If Maxine had been alive, she might have successfully pursued a lawsuit. Although her business undoubtedly involved attractive young women, there was never a hint of scandal attached to the business. The production of cosmetics would have involved deliveries and shipping, but it would have been unwise to drink the contents. Prohibition was long over in Canada, so smuggling to English Bay (which was then, as now, a hugely popular recreation area) would have been unnecessary (and the Vancouver rumrunners during prohibition were involved in exports, not imports). As for B T Rogers accessing the bordello, the elevation change between Gabriola, and Maxine’s would have made the proposition an incredibly expensive engineering feat, and risky, as the City Engineer might have come across it while maintaining the pipes under the road. It would have been even more expensive, as it was impossible without a time machine. The first building Maxine constructed was built in 1929, and B T Rogers died in 1918.

We’ll look at further developments with the building and the building that replaced it in a future post.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4477


Posted 10 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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