Archive for the ‘Sharp and Thompson’ Tag

Denham Court – 745 Jervis Street

Sharp and Thompson were hired by Mrs. E E Bewes to design this $37,000 apartment building in 1912. It stood on the corner of Alberni and Jervis, and is seen here in a 1912 photo in the Vancouver Public Library collection

Mrs. Bewes didn’t live in Vancouver – or, apparently Canada. Mr. E E Bewes travelled from Liverpool to Quebec in 1912, but otherwise there’s no trace of a Canadian connection. The Pacific Builder and Engineer added a little more information in a 1912 entry (with typos). “Mrs E E Bewes, 615 Pender st, will build a 5-sto brick apt house at 748 Jervis st. The plans were prepared Sharpe & Thompson”. Clearly this is just a rework of the building permit, with the same error on ‘Sharp’, and an additional error in misreading 745 for 748. It does tell us that her address was 615 Pender. Unfortunately, that’s the Crown Building, an office full of lawyers, real estate brokers and other offices, so it doesn’t get us any further in identifying who she was.

Then we came across a list of planning applications from the Eton District Council, in Buckinghamshire in England. Mrs E E Bewes obtained permission to build a bungalow at Mopes Farm, Denham in 1920. As this was Denham Court, she seemed a very likely candidate to be our developer.

Her address was shown as The Marish, Denham. That’s a 17th century half-timbered Grade 2 listed building in Denham Green, and the resident was ‘W Austis Bewes’ in 1901. A county directory said “Mrs. Goodlake and Mrs. Bewes are the chief landowners. The soil is loam and gravel; subsoil, chalk. The chief crops are oats, barley, grass and wheat. The area is 3,880 acres of Iand and 59 of water; assesable value, £8,999; the population in 1901 was 1,146, including Denham New Town“.

Wyndham Anstis Bewes was a lawyer, born in Dublin in 1858, although he was christened three months later in Plymouth, and three years later his family were still living in Devon, where his mother, Mary was listed as an ‘officer’s wife’. He was sent to Repton School in Staffordshire, attended Cambridge to study law, but was forced to leave due to ill health. He completed his studies in London, and was called to the bar, and became a lawyer. He became an authority on the laws of Spanish-speaking countries, and translated into English the codes of commerce of various South American countries.

He married in South Kensington in 1890 to Ellen Elizabeth Muller, who was aged 50, seventeen years older than he was. In the 1891 census they were living in Kensington, where Wyndham was a barrister, and had an instant family with Alicia and Charlotte Wyld, his step-daughters, aged 14 and 15 living at home.

Ellen was shown born in ‘Chili British Subject’, (Chile) and her death record shows that she was the daughter of William Christian Muller of Hillside, Shenley in Hertfordshire, and the widow of Edward Wyld of The Tile House, Denham in Buckinghamshire. She married Edward Wyld, a Scotsman, in Marylebone in 1869, when she was 29, and he was 45. They had 10 children in 13 years, and the youngest, also Edward was only aged 4 when his father died in 1887. His father had been a wine merchant, and the family lived at Tolbooth Wynd in Leith. In the 1881 census, Edward Wyld was shown as an ‘Australian Merchant’, and he was shown as a merchant (living in Shropshire) twenty years earlier. He worked for Brown & Co of Moorgate and Sydney, (wine merchants) and was also made a board member of the British Bank of South Africa in 1876. As well as her two daughters at home in 1891, Ellen also had younger children who were perhaps away at boarding school.

We hadn’t found any reason that Ellen Bewes would have invested in an apartment building in Vancouver, but we found a reference on the Social Page of the Province: “Mr. and Mrs. Wyndham Bewes of “The Marish,” Bucks. England, are the guests of Mr. and Mrs. C. Tweedale. They expect to return home in three weeks“. In 1913 the Sun reported that ‘W Bewes and wife’ were staying in Revelstoke. Quite how Cyril Tweedale came to know the Bewes family remains a mystery, but his influence appears to have been considerable. The block developed by Ellen Bewes in 1912 looks very similar to a West End apartment that Cyril developed, also designed by Sharp & Thompson in 1912, and also no longer standing today.

There was a fire at Denham Court that caused $3,000 of damage in 1914, and advertisements for suites that year were run with those of Gilford Court, Cyril Tweedale’s building. The residents were mostly professional, and sometimes were shown by the social pages receiving guests in their suite. In 1920 there was an unwanted guest in one suite “Gaining entrance through a rear window that faced on an air shaft in the Denham Court apartments, 725 Jervis street, last night, thieves ransacked the suite of Victor A. McLean, taking Jewelry, expensive lace and wearing apparel which, according to the police report, is valued at more than $3,000.” In 1927 Mrs. Armitage, mistaking the accelerator pedal for the brake, drove at full speed into the front of the building. Although rendered unconscious, she was taken home. The building was apparently unhurt.

Ellen Bewes died in 1928, and her husband, Wyndham, in Cambridgeshire in 1942. In 1929 Cyril Tweedale brokered the sale of the building to a local investor for $40,000, cash. It changed hands again in 1941, and in 1949 D Nemetz sold it to W H Miller of Kamloops for $50,000. Apartments continued to be offered through the 1950s, always stating ‘adults only’. By 1962 it was even more restricted, becoming Denham Court Men’s Residence. In 1974 it gained a new lease of life – albeit only for a short while, when a company owned by Derek Adams acquired it. The Sun reported “In two, three, five years it will come down,” Adams says ruefully. “A 12-apartment three storey building in that area isn’t economically feasible. But we’ve rehabilitated it, and we’ll keep it going as long as possible.” Opened in 1913, Denham Court was a West End landmark, an imposing example of elegance and good taste, a fashionable address tenanted by well-known names.”

The site of Ellen’s investment was redeveloped in 1990 with a 31 storey condo building designed by Eng & Wright, called Emerald West.


Posted 7 July 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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St Luke’s Court – East Cordova Street

This 1920s Arts and Crafts style building replaced a building that housed the City’s first hospital, St Luke’s. The original seven bed building was intended as a maternity hospital, but with no other general hospital in the city in 1888, it became the general hospital by default. Not too much later the city opened a brick building on Cambie Street which later became Vancouver General Hospital, and the Sisters of Charity of Providence opened a three-storey building on Burrard Street, founding St. Paul’s Hospital. St Luke’s continued to be used as a hospital for a short while, and then became a nursing residence.

The site was redeveloped in 1923 as a women’s hostel or guest home, called St Luke’s Home, designed by Sharp and Thompson. It was funded with a bequest from J.B. Greaves, founder of the Douglas Lake Cattle Company, and was initially a residence for retired nurses, community workers and nuns. Our 1978 image shows it when it was the St Luke’s Home.

Now named St Luke’s Court, in 1986 the building was refurbished and enlarged so that there are now 9 rental apartments. It is in private ownership and was most recently sold in 2015.


Posted 28 April 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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1348 Robson Street

This is another survivor of an earlier era still standing on Robson. In this 1934 Vancouver Public Library image it was the Hotel Gifford. It had been developed by R J Kerr, and the architects, Sharp & Thompson, filed the drawings (today in the University of Calgary collection) as ‘Kerr Rooming House’. The $41,000 investment was built by Carver, Jones & Carver in the fall of 1912.

Mr Kerr was listed as a director of the Hastings Shingle Manufacturing Company in the period when the company owned a mill in Vancouver as well as at Moodyville (and four in Washington state) in 1906. He was also Company Secretary and Treasurer to B C Packers, the huge fish canning business in 1907. But he didn’t have a home in Vancouver, although oddly, Mrs. R J Kerr was present at a variety of events.

Then we realized that R J Ker of Victoria was listed as secretary of B C Packers, and was also part of Brackman-Ker, a milling company. Their premises on Pender Street were also referenced as Brackman-Kerr, so the additional ‘r’ was a common error. In 1901 Robert Ker, and his brother Arnot were both living with their mother, Annie, who was aged 70. Robert was 36, and a ‘cannery-man’, and Arnot was two years younger and a ‘Mill man’, and both had been born in BC. Their older brother, David was the ‘Ker’ in Brackman-Ker, but all three were directors of the company.

The family name pops up in several other contexts, and tells us Robert’s family origin. His father was also Robert Ker, and arrived in Victoria in 1859. He became attorney-general of the Province, helping establish Victoria as the capital, and one of the early auditors-general of BC, described as a close fried of Governor James Douglas. He died when Robert was just 15. Having retired from government service, he farmed in The Gorge outside Victoria, and during a winter snowstorm he died of exposure.

When Granville burned to the ground in 1886 it was the crew of the ‘Robert Ker’ (anchored off Deadman’s Island, but dragged into the Inlet in the huge wind that fanned the fire’s flames) that launched the ship’s boats and saved many lives of people standing helpless on shore as the town burned down.

Not long after his investmnet was complete, at the end of 1913, The Province reported that R J Ker Esq. was retiring from business and returning to England. The contents of his apartment in Granville Mansions were to be sold off: “Auction of Valuable High-class Modern and Antique English Furniture”. In 1919 the Colonist reported that Mr. Ker’s death was one of many away from Victoria – he was 54 years old when he died in Kensington.

When it opened as the Hotel Gifford, Gifford R Thomson was running it. Originally from the Shetland Islands of Scotland where he was born in 1848, he arrived in Kelowna in 1892 with his wife, Harriet, and eight children (with a ninth born soon after their arrival). He initially had an orchard, but it grew poorly because of the high water table, and to make a living he drove the mail three times a week to Vernon. He pre-empted a different property in 1900 and built up a mixed farm, initially growing hay, but later a variety of vegetables. When he moved to Vancouver to open the hotel his two sons remained behind to run the farm. Gifford lived on Nelson Street, but he rented rooms in the house and moved here. In 1920 Albert Howard was running the Gifford Hotel, and in the 1921 census Harriet was living back in Kelowna with some of her children, and there’s no sign of her husband in the census. In 1923 A C Howard, proprietor from 1920, renamed the hotel as the Vendome Hotel. Mrs E Duncan had taken over running the hotel by 1929.

Gifford Ratter Thomson died in 1932, aged 84. (His mother was Elizabeth Ratter, hence the unusual middle name; his parents were recorded as Magnus Thomason and Elizabeth Rattor on his birth record). The hotel was still the Gifford in 1955, with the Gifford Dining Room on the main floor. Today it’s the Barclay Hotel, with the adjoining building to the east joined on.


Posted 11 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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East Hastings Street – west from Columbia

We saw a 1905 image down the middle of this stretch of East Hastings in an earlier post. Until the mid 1900s there was very little built on the south side of the street. Here we are looking at a similar view a few years later, showing the south side. The Holden Building is the large office building – a tower in its day – completed in 1911. Next door is the significantly smaller Desrosiers Block, which was one of the few buildings in the earlier post as it was built before 1901. At the end is the Woods Hotel, today known as the Pennsylvania. It was built in 1906 and designed by W T Whiteway who also designed the Holden for William Holden. The Desrosiers Block was developed by Magloire Desrosiers, a tinsmith, who would have designed the elaborate decoration on the building (which recently received a much-needed restoration of its facade), but the architect is unknown.

Closer to us there’s a vacant site next to the Holden. That was developed at the end of 1911 by Con Jones as a billiard hall, with retail below, designed by H A Hodgson. The image therefore must date from the early part of 1911, when the Holden was complete, but before the vacant spot was developed. The lower floor of the building later became famous as The Only Seafoods restaurant.

The 2-storey building to the east was built after 1903, (when the insurance map shows the site as vacant) and before 1911, when it had been developed. There’s a 1904 building permit for the building. It was developed by Yip, Yen C and designed and built by Mr. O’Keefe. Michael O’Keefe was a Victoria based builder, who was more than capable of designing straightforward brick buildings, and Charlie Yip Yen was the nephew of Yip Sang, who ran the Wing Sang Company. The 1920 insurance map still shows a 2-storey building with ‘rooms over’ and a Chinese laundry on the lane.

Next door, the single storey building (with a hoarding on the roof for William Dick’s clothing store) was developed in a similar timeframe, and in 1920 was another billiards hall. It was built in 1910, designed by Sharp & Thompson for Brown Bros & Co, who also constructed the $7,000 investment. They were florists and nurserymen, and they developed this as their city store. Their greenhouses were at Main and 21st Avenue. There were four Browns involved in the business, William, Edward (who was company treasurer), Alfred (who was a florist, and lived near the greenhouses) and Joseph, who lived in Hammond. Today the site once occupied by Yip Yen’s building and the single storey billiard hall were replaced twenty years ago with a non-market housing building called The Oasis, with 30 units designed by Linda Baker for the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation (known today as BC Housing).

Across Carrall Street the original car barn for the Interurban has been demolished, but the new building, still standing today, which included the headquarters for BC Electric on the upper floors had yet to be built. Designed by W M Somervell it was completed in 1911. As the Holden Building was completed in the same year, this confirms the picture should be from early in 1911 when the Holden was complete, and the new BC Electric Headquarters was under construction, but not yet visible.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA M-11-52


Posted 3 December 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered

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Water Street – 100 block south side (2)

We’ve seen the buildings further to the west in an earlier post. We also looked at the history of the two very similar buildings on the left of the picture; 110 and 118 Water Street. On the left, Sharp and Thompson designed a rooming hotel for Dr. Alfred Thompson costing $65,000 to build, which opened in 1913. Next door the same architects were responsible for the 1911 block for Albert DesBrisay, built at a cost of $62,000. Dr. Thompson was the MP for the Yukon, although he moved to Vancouver (and practiced medicine) in the 1920s. Albert was from New Brunswick, and part of a sizeable family who were all in business in Vancouver. He was a commissioners agent, and had been in Winnipeg for some time. His investment rooming house initially called The Colonial Rooms (as seen in this 1914 picture).

The third building in this part of the block was another investment for a local developer, but one that came with substantially lower costs as there were no architect’s fees. W T Whiteway designed the $45,000 warehouse for himself in 1910. By 1916 he had already sold the building; Kirkland & Rose hired R W Watson to carry out $3,500 of repairs and alterations. In 1925 A E Henderson designed another $1,400 of repairs to the warehouse.

John Rose and Henry Sinclair Kirkland were manufacturer’s agents, specializing in confectionery supplies. Before they moved here they were futher west at 312 Water Street. They moved in here around 1918, with the Canadian Chewing Gum Co and Cowan Co who were chocolate manufacturers in Toronto and represented by Kirkland and Rose.

The building beyond the gap was another $60,000 investment, built in 1912 for McLean Bros, (three brothers from the Scottish Islands). It was designed by Thomas Hooper and like the Kirkland & Rose warehouse was a victim to Woodward’s expanding empire, in this case to add a parking garage.

Today the Colonial Hotel, and the adjacent Gastown Hotel are both managed by Atira Women’s Resource Society. The Colonial is still privately owned, while BC Housing bought the Gastown Hotel and has carried out a number of internal improvements to what had become a very run-down building. The rest of the block to the west was demolished to build Woodward’s Water Street parkade, which was re-built by the City of Vancouver a few years ago, and has been altered again this year with the addition of a childcare facility on the roof.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA LGN 987



Japanese Hall – 475 Alexander Street

There has been a Japanese school here since 1906 when a new wooden building was constructed and a school established which taught the Japanese language and other general subjects such as math, history and science. In 1907 the windows were smashed in the anti-Asiatic riots, but the school continued in operation, although in 1919 the focus shifted to only teaching the Japanese language. The building became the focus of the community, and in 1928 this building was developed alongside, designed by Sharp and Thompson. The building served the growing needs of the school population as well as the Japanese Canadian community.  It was renamed, the Japanese Hall and Vancouver Japanese Language School to recognize its critical role as a community and cultural organization.

In 1941 there were over 1,000 students registered, but the hall was confiscated and the community moved to camps throughout the interior and Alberta. The armed forces took over the property through the war, and in 1947, the government sold half of the property and facilities to pay for maintenance expenses accumulated during the war.  From 1947 this building was rented to the Army and Navy Department Store until 1952.

Uniquely, of all the Japanese property confiscated during the war, this is the only building that was returned to the Japanese community. By 1961 it had been restored (after damage when pipes froze in 1950) and reopened. The adjacent site to the east, where the original hall had stood, was developed with a larger facility for the school opened in 1999. In addition to the Japanese language classes, Children’s World, a licensed child care and preschool facility operates here.


Posted 20 April 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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West Cordova from Abbott (2)

We saw a view westwards from Abbott along Cordova from 1889 in an earlier post. That was the south side of Cordova – here’s the north side seen in a more recent image – it’s an undated postcard that we guess is from the late 1900s.

The block on the left is G W Grant’s first known project in Vancouver “commercial block for W B Wilson, 1887”. It was illustrated in an 1887 promotional publication “Vancouver – Pacific Coast Terminus of the CPR”. William Bell Wilson was from Nova Scotia, and he lived in St John New Brunswick before moving to British Columbia in 1862. He worked in Victoria as an accountant, and Kamloops as a merchant. He married, had two children, and then became a widower when his wife died in 1879 when the children were aged 1 and 3. He was obviously successful financially, owning at least four lots in the city in 1886. In 1887 he was listed as a real estate agent in this building, and that year the city’s handbook listed him as a ‘Principal Property Owner’ with $25,000 of assets, one of the more significant landowners. By 1891 the block was owned by Rand Brothers, and Mr. Wilson’s finances had suffered, and he became Collector of Customs in Rossland, and then Trail.

He died, of dropsy, (these days it would probably be identified as edema due to congestive heart failure), aged 55, in Spokane. The Trail Creek News published his obituary “Mr. Wilson went to Spokane in July, for treatment. From the first no hopes had been entertained of his recovery. Last week his son was telegraphed for, and was with his father when he died.

Mr. Wilson was appointed collector of customs at this outport last November, at the time the outport was created. Prior to that time he had been with the Rossland office. Of his previous history the Rosslander says: “Mr. Wilson was a pioneer of the province, and is well known to most of the earlier residents.  During the C.P.R. construction he was a partner with J.A. Mara, ex-M.P. at Kamloops, where they built three steamers for conveying supplies from Tacoma to the eastern end of the Onderdonk section at the head of navigation on Shuswap Lake. These did a very large carrying business. Mr. Wilson went to Vancouver when that city was young and owned valuable property there, but he became interested through further investments in Anacortes, and with the depression in that city lost considerable money. Mr. Wilson had few intimate friends, but a wide circle of acquaintances who admired his many good qualities and learn with sincere regret of his death.”

A man in Mr. Wilson’s position has little opportunity to make friends, but the writer, with many others in Trail, knew him well and had the friendliest feelings and the greatest of respect for the dead officer.”

Today the base of a 31-storey condo building, part of the Woodwards redevelopment. occupies the site.

Today the Runkle Block sits on the north west corner, but in 1901 it was the two-storey wooden Cosmopolitan Restaurant. In 1910, according to a building permit, J C Runkle hired Sharp and Thompson to design the building standing today. It cost $28,000 and was built by Robert McLean. The developer was a total mystery – although we have identified what appears to be a likely subject. The initials for ‘J C Runkle’ come from the building permit, but there’s a cartouche on the building with the initials ‘J R’.

Runkle is a relatively unusual name, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the developer. In fact, in 1911 there was only one person in Canada listed in the census with the surname ‘Runkle’. Fortunately for us, he lived in Vancouver. Unfortunately, he was called Gordon Runkle, so J C Runkle didn’t match. He had lived in Vancouver from 1906, and died in Nanaimo in 1943.  He was married in the city in 1914, and he had the same architects design a house on Marine Drive in 1922. His father, John D Runkle was a resident of Brookline, Massachusetts, the President of MIT (the second in the institution’s history), and also a chairman of the Brookline School Committee and an early advocate of mathematics and science. Gordon had an older brother (sixteen years older) named John C Runkle. Our guess is that Gordon, at the height of Vancouver’s property boom, managed the development on behalf of his brother – an absentee American east coast investor. In 1900 John worked for the National Coal Tar Co, in 1910 he was Vice President of a manufacturing company, and in 1930 he was an executive of a lumber supply company, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1908 he bought an old house dating back to 1765, had it moved, and hired architect Lois Lilley Howe to reconstruct and remodel the house.

Only one of the three buildings looks the same today as it did in the early 1900s. That’s part of the Cook Block – the western-most 4 storey element is said to have been completed in 1892. That part of the building has bay windows on two floors. Next door was a three storey building that has had an additional floor added to make it a matching four storeys today. They were developed by Edward Cook (who also constructed the Wilson Block on the left, laid the foundations of Christ Church, and was the builder of the first courthouse among many other projects). We don’t know if Edward hired an architect – and if so, who he chose.

In the 1891 census Edward was shown aged 35, born in Ontario, with a wife from Quebec, and four children under 8; Edna, May, Winifred and baby Wallace (listed as Douglas a decade later). In 1901 his wife is recorded as Miri, (actually she was Maria) and the four children now have three siblings, Beatrice, Francis and Elsie. His wife’s sister Elibeth (sic) Douglas, and son-in-law, Thomas Forman were shown living with the family (Maria and Elizabeth had a brother in the city; Frank, of Kelly, Douglas & Co). Edward arrived from Manitoba in 1886, and built a house for his family, that was burned down before they could arrive. They were travelling from Quebec, overland through Chicago , Portland and Tacoma, and then by steamer to Victoria and then Vancouver. They arrived days after the fire and their first home in Vancouver was a tent on Carrall Street, near this location. Edward was elected an alderman from 1901 to 1905, and was a very successful resident of the city. Maria died in the spring of 1940, and Edward four days later.

Beyond the Cook Block was the Eagle Hotel, which was added to in 1906, helping us date the picture. The Eagle was lost when Woodwards built their parking garage. The upper floors of the Cook Block were, for a while, residential, known as the Marble Rooms, but they closed in 1974. Today the three structures of the Cook Block and the Runkle Block (all three are only half the depth of the lot, so sixty feet deep) have been combined into a single building, with a restaurant on the corner and commercial uses on the upper floors.


Posted 24 June 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Gilford Court – 1125 Gilford Street

These two buildings look quite similar, but one is an early rental building, and the other a more recent condo. Cyril Tweedale was the developer: an investment broker and realtor who hired architects Sharp & Thompson to design the $33,000 investment property. It was completed in 1912, and it was the first structure built on the site as this end of the West End took some years to build out. It was developed by the London and Western Canada Investment Co, where Cyril Tweedale was managing director. We looked at Cyril’s history in connection with the Tweedale Block he built on East Hastings. The Investment Company were involved in both finance and insurance, specializing in handling transactions for English investors. Rents were advertised from $37.50 for a 5-room suite.

The building was demolished in 1981, (in the days when rental properties weren’t protected) and in 1984 a new Gilford Court appeared. This is a 44 unit condo building. In 1984 they cost from $72,900 – although financing that year cost over 10%. Today 2-bed units sell at over $900,000.

Image source: Jan Gates, on flickr.


Posted 20 May 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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1145 West Georgia Street

In 1931 this was the city’s shiny new Art Gallery. Designed by Sharp and Thompson in a fashionable art deco style, it was squeezed onto a 66 foot wide lot donated by the City of Vancouver, and cost $40,000 to construct. There were apparently just seven Canadian paintings on show; most of the collection was by British artists.

At the time it was built, this was a quiet residential street, as this VPL image from the same year shows. This site had originally been developed with a pair of semi-detached houses before 1900. Emily Carr was still painting at the time, and there were none of her paintings in the collection. In 1938 the gallery was occupied by unemployed men protesting government policy, but no paintings were damaged. A major expansion and remodeling was built in 1951, and the Art Gallery moved to it’s current home in the converted court house in 1983. The site was redeveloped in 1992 with an office tower designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners for Manulife (who developed the building as the headquarters of BC Gas, known today as Terasen). More recently it was acquired by the developers of the adjacent Trump Tower, and there are now refurbished retail units along the street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4062


Posted 18 April 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Hastings Street west from Howe Street

This 1930s postcard shows several buildings that have been redeveloped, and three that are still standing. The extraordinary Marine Building dominates the older picture – one of Vancouver’s rare ‘street end blockers’ – and fortunately, a worthy example, designed by Vancouver’s McCartner Nairne and Partners, designing their first skyscraper. While it’s Vancouver’s finest art deco building, it was far from a positive example of development budgeting. Costing $2.3 million, it was $1.1 million over budget, and guaranteed the bankruptcy of its developers, Toronto-based G A Stimson and Co.

Stimsons were also owners of the Merchant’s Exchange, the building closest to the camera on the north (right) side of the street. That was designed by Townley & Matheson, and the building permit says it cost $100,000 and was developed in 1923 for “A. Melville Dollar Co”. Alexander Melville Dollar was from Bracebridge, Ontario, but moved to Vancouver as the Canadian Director of the Robert Dollar Company. Robert Dollar was a Scotsman who managed a world-wide shipping line from his home in San Francisco. His son Harold was based in Shanghai, overseeing the Chinese end of the Oriental trade, another son, Stanley managed the Admiral Oriental Line, and the third son, A Melville Dollar looked after the Canadian interests, including property development. (The Melville Dollar was a steamship, owned by the Dollar Steamship Company, which ran between Vancouver and Vladivostok in the early 1920s). Vancouver entrepreneur and rum-runner J W Hobbs who managed Stimson’s West Coast activities paid $400,000 for the building in 1927. Stimson’s bought the site with the intention of tearing down the recently completed building to construct the Marine Building, then discovered it was a profitable enterprise and instead bought the site at the end of the street.

The larger building on the right is the Metropolitan Building, designed by John S Helyer and Son, who previously designed the Dominion Building. Beyond it is the Vancouver Club, built in 1914 and designed by Sharp and Thompson.

On the south side of the street in the distance is the Credit Foncier building, designed in Montreal by Barrot, Blackadder and Webster, and in Vancouver by the local office of the US-based H L Stevens and Co. Almost next door was the Ceperley Rounfell building, whose façade is still standing today, built in 1921 at a cost of $50,000, designed by Sharp & Thompson.

Next door was the Fairmont Hotel, that started life as the Hamilton House, developed by Frank Hamilton, and designed by C B McLean, which around the time of the postcard became the Invermay Hotel. The two storey building on the corner of Howe was built in 1927 for Macaulay, Nicolls & Maitland, designed by Sharp and Thompson. Before the building in the picture it was a single storey structure developed by Col. T H Tracey in the early 1900s. There were a variety of motoring businesses based here, including a tire store on the corner and Vancouver Motor & Cycle Co a couple of doors down (next to Ladner Auto Service, run by H N Clement). The building was owned at the time by the Sun Life Insurance Co. Today there are two red brick modest office buildings, one from 1975 and the other developed in 1981.