Archive for the ‘Thomas Dunn’ Tag

Granville and West Pender – northwest corner


Here’s another early and substantial (for the time) Downtown office building. It’s the Fairfield Building, designed by William Blackmore, although there’s just a tiny part of the adjacent Dunn Block to the north showing (on the right). When Walter Frost took this picture in 1946 it wasn’t going to be standing much longer; the replacement buildings that are still standing were built in 1949 and 1951. The three storey ‘New fairfield-1899Dunn Block’ was erected around 1893, and the Fairfield in 1898. The image on the right (which we can’t reproduce as a ‘before and after’ because the photographer stood on the vacant site up the street) shows the building at completion, and the adjacent earlier structure to the north. Blackmore used almost identical design elements for both buildings, and Thomas Dunn also had a hand in the Fairfield. We know he certainly supplied many of the materials because William Blackmore chose to feature the building in a promotional brochure called ‘Vancouver of Today Architecturally’.

We also know the building was developed by the Fairfield Syndicate, as work started on August 8th and was reported in the Daily World. Earlier that year the paper reported that “the buyers of this property from Thos. Dunn were the Fairfield Company, of London, and of which J. J. Lang is the Vancouver agent. The building, which is to be a large four-storey structure, will extend from the McKinnon block to the corner of Pender street and will include the present Dunn Hall, on which another storey will be erected. A feature of the building will be a fine arch on the Granville street side and the entire fronts on both streets will be of granite.” The Syndicate weren’t just building investments downtown, they also actively developed a series of mining properties throughout the province; we don’t know which endeavor was the more profitable.

Thomas Dunn’s decision to build his building on Granville Street was significant – before this he’d built in the earlier Granville area of the city, both on Cordova Street and on Water Street in Maple Leaf square. The CPR had built their station at the foot of Granville, their hotel several blocks up the street in the middle of the cleared forest, and their directors had built office buildings along the street in between. In 1895 H. McDowell Co., Ltd., Agents were based in the Dunn Block – Vancouver agents for Columbia, Cleveland and Rambler Bicycles.

Jonathan Rogers (who owned the office building across the street) acquired the building in August 1905, and in 1920 paid $7,500 for general repairs to 445 Granville; the Dunn Block part of the building. Today the office building on the corner was designed by McCarter and Nairne and completed as the Dominion Bank building in 1949. The adjacent Canada Permanent building that replaced the Dunn Building was completed a year or two later and was also designed by the same architects. No doubt the sixty year old buildings, with their modest density, will themselves be redeveloped – most likely as an office tower, perhaps with preservation of the 1940s facades.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-286 and CVA 15-03


Posted 29 December 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Cordova Street – unit block


The biggest building on the unit block of Cordova was built by Thomas Dunn and Jonathan Miller in 1889 as a sort of loose alliance – one architect, (N S Hoffar) two owners and a variety of tenants. We’ve featured Wood, Vallance and Leggat who were in Thomas Dunn’s part of the building. There was also a hotel, a reading room, the headquarters of the Electric Railway and Light company and the Knights of Pythias Hall, located on the second floor of the building.

Today the facade says it’s the Lonsdale Block; North Vancouver property magnate Arthur Lonsdale acquired the building and had the facade plaques reworked with his name replacing the original. Despite Mr Lonsdale’s attempt to recast history, the building is still generally known as the Dunn-Miller Block. Arthur Pemberton Heywood-Lonsdale (as he became when he was allowed to change his name in order to inherit a fortune of a million and a quarter pounds under the will of his maternal uncle, John Pemberton Heywood, who died in 1877) used some of his funds to finance the Moodyville Mill in 1882 (several years after Sewell Moody’s untimely death at sea). He acquired property on the north shore and in the city, although he continued to live in Shropshire in England where he became High Sheriff in 1888.

The Army and Navy Store occupied their West Hastings premises from 1919 when San Francisco native Sam Cohen established the store, and the company purchased the Cordova buildings  later. Through the 1940s there were a variety of restaurants, a barbers school and two tailors shops as well as the Skidrow Store grocers. Army and Navy restored elements of the Classical-style façade in 1973-74 in a remodelling of the entire store. What you can see here is the original building in the 1960s, before it became effectively a facade in front of a more modern (although now 40 year old) interior.

Image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-768


Wood, Vallance and Leggat – 8 to 12 West Cordova Street

Wood Vallance Leggat Cordova 1908

Thomas Dunn, born in Edinburgh, sold hardware in Scotland, and continued to do so when he moved to Canada in 1876. He arrived in Victoria in 1883, and in Vancouver in February 1886, four months before the new city burned to Dunn's 1898the ground. In 1889 he teamed up with postmaster and pioneer Jonathan Miller to build the Dunn-Miller block on Cordova Street, the pair hiring N S Hoffar to create a harmonious and heavily decorated brick facade, behind which a number of different businesses operated. In the bays furthest to the east, Dunn set up his hardware business. Here’s Dunn’s business in 1898, four years before he sold the business (but not his share in the building).  In the upper floors were a variety of public spaces and offices. The Vancouver Reading Room was here, and so were the offices of the Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Co (where Thomas Dunn was Vice President). In 1891 Vancouver’s first Jewish congregation celebrated the High Holy Days at the Knights of Pythias Hall, located on the second floor of the building. In the photo above you’ll see “Entrance K.P. Hall” over one of the doors.

The company that bought Thomas Dunn’s business was Wood, Vallance and Leggat. Andrew Wood was from Northern Ireland, and he was working in Toronto by 1846. By 1856 he was in Hamilton and running his own hardware business, and three years later he went into partnership with Matthew Leggat.

Leggat was a Scotsman who arrived in Canada in 1854. His wife, June, also arrived from Scotland six years later and while we don’t know when they married, they had at least three children, including a son John, and another three years younger, called Matthew like his father in 1871. They settled in Hamilton, and both Matthew senior and his son were still living in the same household in 1901 (with the help of a domestic staff of three). In 1880, as the Canadian Pacific worked its way westwards, the company set up in Winnipeg. Five years later they reorganized the business by bringing in two more special partners, William Valiance, manager at the head office, and Wood’s elder son, William Augustus, who had been with the firm since 1872. As Wood Vallance they became the largest wholesale hardware business in Canada. By buying in anticipation of sales and carrying huge inventories, the firm reduced its marketing risks. Its practice was to order by the carload: 10,000 kegs of nails from the Ontario Rolling Mills Company, 200 tons of wire from the Ontario Lead and Barb Wire Company, 40 tons of twine from the Brantford Cordage Company, and 1 million bolts from the Ontario Bolt Company.

When Thomas Dunn sold out to Wood Vallance, they seem to have turned to the younger Matthew Leggat to run the new business. In 1902, when he arrived in Vancouver, he lived at 1102 Seaton and was referred to as Matthew Hendry Leggat, treasurer and secretary of the company’s Vancouver operation. A year later he was at 1126 Seaton, and in 1909 at 27 West Hastings. (Our photograph shows the retail part of the company on Cordova Street in 1908) A year later he was listed as living on The Crescent in Shaughnessy. For some reason the 1911 census shows the family address as 1847 Barclay St, Matthew’s wife is called Anne and their son seems to have been called Hendrix – although Hendrie seems rather more likely, and later he was listed as Matthew, like his father and grandfather. The name Hendrie may have come from Matthew’s wife; the Hendrie family were another wealthy Hamilton industrial family, originally from Detroit. The Leggats are still shown living on The Crescent in 1930 – and Matthew Leggat’s son, Matthew, was living at home too, although the company had abandoned the Cordova location to the Sterling Hardware Company.

These days the Army and Navy store occupies the space, although only the first few metres of the store are original construction, the remainder of the structure having been rebuilt in the early 1970s.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P500.2