Archive for the ‘Thomas Hunter’ Tag

Davie Street – 1100 block, north side

Davie Street has seen a significant change since this 1928 image, when it was basically a row of houses, (with, on this block, one exception, the store at 1135 Davie). Remarkably, one of those houses is still standing today, which was all we had to line up the picture. Today it’s the Ghurka Kitchen restaurant upstairs (a use added in 2005), but as a house it was built around 1900, numbered as 1141 Davie (although soon after it became 1139 which it still is today), and it was a matching pair with 1137, the house to the east. They were the only two houses on this side of the block in 1901, although there were three more to the east, off the edge of the picture. A Davis, an engineer was in 1141 that year, joined by Captain Frank B Turner at 1137, later that year.

Archibald Davis was originally from New Brunswick, was aged 53, and married to Alice, who was 15 years younger, and they had three children. He was an engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway, and he seems to have newly arrived in Vancouver when he moved into the house. He lived here until 1906, and a year later D A Williams of the Woods Hotel moved in.

Captain Turner was aged 41, lived with his wife Nellie, who was ten years younger, and he was captain of a steam boat. He was Irish, and Nellie was German, and they arrived in 1901. Captain Turner had previously been in Oregon, captaining The Wonder, a steamboat on the Columbia River used by the logging industry. He also captained the Bailey Gatzert, ‘the finest sternwheeler on Puget Sound’ when she was launched in 1891. Captain Turner, and his wife seem to have left Vancouver around 1903, and The Daily Oregon published two adjacent notices in 1904, announcing the birth of a daughter, on December 28th, and her death on the same day. In 1906, William Barnard, a jeweller was at 1137, but the occupant in 1904 (possibly tenant, given the turnover), was Irving Young, a clerk.

Alfred Wallace, a carpenter was living on a lot down the street, and a big house was completed in 1902, (1165 Davie was the only double width lot on the block), built by Thomas Hunter (for an inaccurately recorded W Wallace) and costing $3,000 – which was a lot of money tp spend on a house in 1901. Alfred was shown in the 1901 census as a shipbuilder, and had arrived in Canada from England in 1887. In 1891 he moved west and following his father’s profession, starting a small False Creek shipyard in 1894. By 1906 he had moved his business to the North Shore as Wallace Shipyards, and in 1921 as Burrard Drydock. His son Clarence took over the business on his death in 1929, and the Lonsdale yard became one of the largest shipbuilders in the province. The family continued to live on Davie after the shipyard had moved across the Inlet.

Four more houses were added to the block in 1903 – 1143 to 1157 were four almost identical houses, developed by ‘Mr. McGinnis’ at a cost of $8,000 and built by ‘C Mills and Williams’. The clerk who filled in the permit wasn’t too familiar with the builders, as they were actually Mills and Williamson. Charles F Mills lived two blocks from here in the early 1900s. He was born in Nova Scotia and arrived in Vancouver in 1888. It appears he lived and worked at Hastings Mill for a few years, but by 1894 was living in Fairview and had established his business as builder and contractor. By 1911 the Mills family had moved to West Point Grey, with five daughters and two sons at home aged between 3 and 16, his wife Jane and his sister, Margaret. Charles died in 1919. George E Williamson was from Ontario, and started as a carpenter before becoming a contractor. Mills and Williamson must have employed a sizeable workforce; in 1905 they completed 75 different building projects. The partnership lasted for several years, and Mr. Williamson then continued as a contractor on his own, and in 1914 built the new Main Street post office known today as Heritage Hall.

Their employer remains a mystery. John McGinnis was recorded by the census (although not by the street directory), and he was a ship’s carpenter, so is unlikely to have had $8,000 to commission four substantial houses. There was briefly a famer called McGinnis living on Robson Street around 1902, but we know nothing more about him, and he wasn’t shown in 1901. The other two McGinnises in the early 1900s were a moulder and a logger, so equally unlikely developers.

The house that was a store in 1928, 1135 Davie, was built around 1905, and initially Irvin Joyce, who was retired, moved in. He was still living there five years later, which suggests he may have had the house built for him. He was 57 when he moved in, and the 1911 census said he was a retired merchant. His wife Lizzie was twenty years younger, and they had two daughters at home. We can find Irvin in Tyendinaga, Hastings, Ontario in 1871, aged 27, with his Bible Christian family, led by his Irish farmer father, Valentine Joyce. We can’t trace the family before arriving in Vancouver, and they weren’t elsewhere in the city before moving in, but both Lizzie and their teenage daughters were born in Ontario. The Daily World recorded that ‘Irvine’ Joyce died in 1922, having moved to the city in 1904, and the death notice said he had been a contractor. In 1921 Irvin and Elizabeth were shown living on West 12th Avenue, and one daughter was still at home; in that census Arleyo Belden, who that year was described as his step daughter.

It looks as if the addition of the store took place in 1923, when 1135 was shows as vacant. Owner James Blackwood hired Gardiner & Mercer to design $2,500 of alterations to the building. In 1924 Louis Rosenberg was running a cleaning business at 1133 and Mr. Rose was living upstairs at 1135. The cleaners was still in business in 1928, when the picture was taken.

Today to the right is a drugstore, built in 1982 and set back on the lot with parking in front. The retail units beyond the Ghurka Kitchen (which was a rooming house in 1970) were built in the early 1970s. In the foreground is the street patio of Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna, converted from street parking spots.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N266.1

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Hunter Block – West Hastings Street

We caught a glimpse of this building when it was on an early hand-coloured postcard. It was lost in 2004, (the same year that we shot the ‘before’ image) after a fire destroyed the structure. The building dated back to 1890s, developed by the Hunter Brothers who also built a smaller building on Granville Street in 1892. Samuel and Thomas Hunter (and not James, as some surprisingly inaccurate official records suggest) were contractors and developers. Samuel arrived first, in 1891. Thomas was here in the same year, and in 1892 he got married. As the Daily World reported: “Wooed and Married. In Homer street Methodist church on Thursday evening Thos. Hunter, of Hunter Bros., contractors, was married by Rev. Robert R. Maitland, assisted by Revs. E. Robson and J. F. Betts, to Miss Jennie Simpson, daughter of Theodore Simpson, Seymour street. The groom was supported by his brother Sam and Jonathan Rogers“.

The wedding record shows that the brothers were from ‘Wilfred’, (actually Wilfrid, near Brock) Ontario, and Jennie had been born in New Market, also in Ontario. When she died in 1937, she was recorded as Jane Maria Hunter, and census records also record her as Jane, although her marriage certificate and the newspaper report called her Jennie. The 1911 census found the family headed by Jane’s father, Theodore Simpson, (born in England) and Jane and Thomas with their 17 year old son who was named after his grandfather.

Samuel was a year older than his brother, and they had been part of a large family headed by William, from Nova Scotia and Elizabeth, who was Irish. At 15 Sam was already working as a labourer, and when he first arrived in Vancouver worked as a machinist. Only a year later the brothers were building a modest commercial building on Granville Street for a local landowner, John Twigge, and a year later partnered with Jonathan Rogers (who was at Thomas’s wedding) on a commercial building on Powell Street. By 1896 only Thomas is listed in the street directory, and it would seem that Samuel (who would have been aged about 30) may have died in 1895; there’s an 1896 newspaper report that says ‘the heirs of the late Samuel Hunter of this city, received $2,000’ in an insurance payout.

The building was therefore only associated with Thomas Hunter. There’s a permit approved in 1902, designed by Blackmore and Son, costing $15,000 to construct. Thomas was the builder, and he stayed in Vancouver, and continued to act as a contractor and builder for many other projects. Several were investments built for his own portfolio, including about a dozen frame houses and an apartment building on Nelson Street in 1909. He also built a Parr and Fee designed commercial building on Cordova for his father-in-law in 1903, and there was a Parr and Fee commission for a three storey block in 1906, also on Hastings (and it’s possible that the Blackmore commission was never built, and this was a Parr and Fee building).

In 2004 we photographed the building early in the year, only a couple of months before the local press reported the fire that destroyed the building: “The three-alarm fire raged through a two-storey building at 311-317 West Hastings, gutting the Blunt Brothers, a marijuana-oriented cafe that billed itself as “a respectable joint.” Smoke from the blaze on the edge of Gastown could be seen as far away as White Rock.

Vintage clothing store Cabbages and Kinx was also destroyed, as was Spartacus Books, a long-standing left-wing bookstore.”

As historian John Atkin noted at the time: “The building that has major damage [311-317 West Hastings] is a wonderful building with an amazing sheet metal facade to it, lots of pressed tin.  It was very rare in Vancouver because the original overscale pediment that sat on top of the building was still intact.  Those are one of the first things to fall down in windstorms or whatever, and here it was intact.”

Today the site remains one of the most obvious redevelopment opportunities, with some parking, and the odd movie shoot occupying the space.

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Posted November 8, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Commercial Block – Columbia Street

Commercial Block

The Commercial Block was one of the most advanced buildings in the city – when it was built in 1893. Welsh entrepreneur Jonathan Rogers teamed up with Samuel and Thomas Hunter to build a two-storey and basement building on Columbia Street near Powell Street. It was the first building to have an electric elevator – and it had three of them. Each three bays of the building was a separate warehouse, although there was no indication of this arrangement on the facade. William Blackmore designed the building in a robust brick and stone design and once it was complete Thomas Hunter became the owner.

When it was first built the earliest tenant was a hardware company. By 1900 the building inexplicably took even numbered addresses (although it was on the odd side of the street) and had the Toronto Type Foundry, VW and FW Mitchell, brokers and merchants, and the Parsons Produce Co. In 1906 Cosens and Kindon, commercial merchants, had their warehouse here, along with the Terminal City Rice Mills and Western Oil and Supply Co. Sometime around that time a 3-storey extension was added to the north (although the architect is unknown). It was completed by 1908 when McLennan McFeely & Co (who had a massive warehouse next door) started using the rear of the property as well. M R Smith & Co were in front, manufacturing biscuits. McLennan McFeely would eventually use the entire premises in the late 1930s when they built an overhead link over the lane.

In 2002 Arcadian Architecture supervised the restoration of the building, and today it houses a variety of office users.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives LGN 481

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