Archive for the ‘Spencer’s stores’ Tag

Thompson-Ogle Building – West Hastings Street

This is another building swallowed by the expanding Spencer retail empire. The Thompson-Ogle building (as it was identified on the 1901 insurance map of the city) was the earliest on the block. It’s the second building to the east of the Molson Bank in this picture. We don’t know who designed it, but it was completed before 1889 – it’s the only building on the block on the 1889 insurance map. However, it apparently took a while to complete; the 1890 Directory describes the building as ‘4 stores, unfinished’. By 1901 it was known as the Thompson-Ogle Building, and labeled that way on the insurance map, but it actually started life as the Innes & Richards Building – seen in this 1890 Daily World illustration.

by 1891 the first tenants have moved in; a number of civil engineers and the all-encompassing Vancouver Loan, Trust Saving and Guarantee Co, whose principle was H T Ceperley. Henry Tracy Ceperley was from New York state, a former Montana rancher who arrived in 1886 and went on to become one of the most important real estate brokers in the city. His long-time business partner, Frank Rounsfell was also with the VLTS&G Co, as bookeeper.

Our main 1900 picture shows the four bay building, the outer bays on the top floor with triple windows of Romanesque curved arches, the centre bays with a larger single arched window. In case you were wondering, that’s the Tsimpsian brass band marching past.

We don’t know for sure who the Thompson in the ownership of the Thompson Ogle Building was. There are only a handful of candidates, with the most likely being Philip Nairn Thompson, a wealthy Ottawa native who had moved to Vancouver by 1891, some years later joined by his brother and married sister. In 1891 the Williams Directory identifies the corner of Pender and Howe as having the Thompson Block, (possibly designed by R M Fripp) while Henderson’s Directory for the same year identifies the address for Captain Philip Thompson as being 504 Howe (the corner of Pender Street). In the 1898 Voter’s List Philip N Thompson was one of only two people in the entire list whose occupation was described as ‘gentleman’. Captain Thompson died in 1934, still in Vancouver, and reported in the Ottawa obitiary as being single. We’re suspect that Thompson also developed the Innes-Thompson block on the opposite side of Hastings.

We think that the Ogle is most likely to be Edmund W Ogle, a Sheffield native whose sister-in-law had married pioneer John Morton. Ogle was in business with dry goods and clothing, buying Dan Drysdale’s business in New Westminster when his Vancouver store was destroyed in the 1886 fire. Ogle stayed in New Westminster, but by 1896 like Thompson was also living on Howe Street.

The building was redeveloped in 1903 by Drysdale and Stevenson at a cost of $30,000. Wickenden’s Roman arches were replaced by Parr and Fee’s trademark white glazed bricks. In 1906 David Spencer managed to get into Vancouver’s retail market by buying first Charles Stevenson’s half share, and then in 1907 Gordon Drysdale’s other half of Drysdale-Stevenson. The Spencer family immediately started on the road to increasing and modernising the business.

Despite the Spencer company intention to rebuild the entire block, this structure stayed as part of the store until it was demolished in the early 1970s to be replaced by the Harbour Centre development.

Nearer to us is a building we believe to be the Tatlow Block, developed in 1889 by R G Tatlow and designed by C O Wickenden

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives In P120.1, VPL


West Cordova and Seymour – se corner (2)

Here’s an earlier (1930 VPL) image of the Cordova Street frontage where Seymour ends. As we saw in the previous view of this corner Clarke and Stuart’s printing works and warehouse was built on the corner in 1906, and alongside David Spencer (and later his sons) has established a massive retail emporium. Before Spencers started building there had been two sets of earlier buildings, wooden ones erected soon after the fire, and then brick replacements, including one of the many ‘Horne Block’ developments at the eastern end of the block.

In 1920 Clarke and Stuart still had a store here, and also one at 550 Seymour. A year later they only had the new store, and Spencer’s had taken over control of the entire block. From the look of the chimneys on the roof, they used the upper part of the Clarke and Stuart warehouse to add new boilers for the entire complex. From this angle it’s also possible to see how Spencer’s 1907 and 1911 store buildings were actually taller than the 1976 Harbour Centre that replaced them. The complex incorporated most of the store facade but did some really terrible things to the lower part of the Cordova Street frontage (and no favours to Seymour Street either). These days SFU Harbour Centre are in the Spencer’s part while offices fill the Harbour Centre tower and the lookout on top offer views over The Changing City.


West Cordova and Seymour – se corner (1)

This 1973 image shows the St Francis Hotel on the west side of the street, and on the opposite side of Seymour, Clarke and Stuart’s printer’s store and warehouse. Clarke and Stuart occupied the building from when it was built for them in 1906 (to Grant and Henderson’s design) until 1920, when Spencer’s took it over. The rest of the block was also occupied by various iterations of David Spencer’s department store. The next building to the east is a Thomas Hooper designed 1911 addition to the larger building he designed a few years earlier next door to the east. The much bigger building beyond that is McCarter and Nairne’s 1925 massive expansion of the Spencer store.

Clarke and Stuart had been located further east on Cordova from before the turn of the century, operating as a bookstore but also selling typewriters, pianos and organs.  Their former building had a makeover at some point, losing the cornices and details, but apparently retaining the original windows.

David Spencer, a Welshman, arrived in Canada just slightly too late to join the Cariboo gold-rush and instead bought the Victoria Library, a stationers and bookshop,  in 1864. Following the success of that he partnered with William Denny to buy ‘The Victoria House’, a dry goods store in 1873, and five years later a new store under his own name. In the 1890s he bought a site on Hastings street for a location in Vancouver but a rival, Drysdale-Stevenson Company built a store on an adjacent site before he was able to develop his own building. Spencer acquired his rival’s business in 1905, and immediately built a $150,000 expansion. The store had immediate  success in Vancouver, and the Spencer company and Charles Woodward out-competed each other to add new extensions and departments year after year.

In the mid 1970s the Harbour Centre was built to replace Spencer’s store (which had been taken over by Eatons in 1948, and who then vacated to the new Pacific Centre Mall). The building was designed by Toronto-based Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership (who had also designed the CN tower at around the same time). The 1920s part of the Spencer’s store was incorporated into the building, which these days also includes the Downtown campus of Simon Fraser University.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-379