Archive for the ‘Thomas McWhinnie’ Tag

Columbia Hotel annex

We looked at the history of the Columbia Hotel (on the right in our pictures) in an earlier post. It was designed by Honeyman and Curtis for Boyd & McWhinnie in 1911, and cost $60,000. The adjacent building on the other half of the double lot as actually an earlier structure. It was, (according to a press report), a “Three-storey brick business block w/ stores & dwellings; cover south half of the two lots at the SW corner of Columbia & Cordova;” for the same owners, built by Mr T Mackinnon, and costing $10,000. No architect was identified, and given the simplicity of the design, it’s possible none was involved.

The 1905 building was an annex to the original Columbia Hotel, which was smaller, and replaced with the 1911 6-storey structure. Thomas McWhinnie probably developed the building with Thomas Boyd as there’s an 1891 Council minute that recorded “That permission be not granted to Messrs Boyd and McWhinnie to erect a frame building on the corner of Oppenheimer Street and Columbia Avenue same being contrary to the By-Law” We can be certain that Thomas Boyd, a contractor, was Mr. McWhinnie’s partner as the two men owned this lot as early as 1886.

Thomas Boyd first appears in the street directory in 1888, as a contractor, and he became a wealthy developer and property owner. In 1889 his construction interest expanded as he teamed up as Boyd and Clandenning, and he also carried out work on his own, and developed with Thomas McWhinnie. He was from an Irish family settled in Nova Scotia. He arrived in 1883 in New Westminster, which was why he was able to buy Vancouver property without living in the city at that point. He carried out local road building, like the Stanley Park Road, but also railway construction on the Crowsnest Railway, and the Pacific Great Eastern to Cheakamus. He married in Montreal in 1893, and had two daughters. He ended up as executor to both James Clandenning and Thomas McWhinnie, and died in 1938.

The 1889 insurance map only shows the Australasian Saloon one lot down on Columbia Street, later incorporated into the Columbia Hotel site, but nothing was built here at that time. Thomas ‘McWhiney’ doesn’t appear in the city until 1890. Before that he was listed in New Westminster. The Columbia House Hotel run by Joseph Dixon first shows in the directory in 1894, at the corner of Oppenheimer and Columbia. In 1895 it’s the Columbia Hotel, and Thomas McWhinnie lived there. He was running the hotel in 1896, with a partner called J A Murray, and in 1898 with Charles Orre.

By 1899 Thomas McWhinnie was sole proprietor of the hotel, with A A McWhinnie shown as the clerk in 1901. In 1891 Thomas was living in Vancouver, a house carpenter living with his wife, shown as Jennie, who was from England. She was actually Hannah Jane Solloway – they had married in 1890, and she died in 1893. The Daily World reported that their infant son Thomas also died later that year, in Mission City. Thomas’s brother Arthur was also in the city, a painter living with his American wife Annie and their infant daughter, Lillie. In 1901 the census said Arthur was a saloon keeper. It showed Thomas living at the hotel with 16 borders. He was aged 42, and had arrived in Canada when he was 7 from Scotland. (There were two Thomas McWhinnie’s born in Scotland in 1858, but only one was born on the 28th of May). Thomas was born in Girvan in Ayrshire. His father was Henry, and his mother Sarah Dunlop. In 1881 the family were living in Simcoe, in Ontario, and the census that year showed one of Thomas’s younger brothers was Arthur A McWhinnie, who was born in Ontario. A meeting of the Pioneers Club said Thomas arrived in the Lower mainland in 1884.

Both brothers were working at the hotel in 1902, but Arthur was no longer listed in 1903. He held the licence for a liquor store on Hastings Street which was transferred to Urquhart Brothers in 1902, so he was apparently contemplating moving then. Thomas McWhinnie transferred his licence in 1903 to James Guthrie, who was running the hotel a year later. Thomas’s absence was explained in The Province: “Mr. Hugh Uquhart has returned from a trip to Edmonton. He and Mr. Thomas McWhinnie of this city, have purchased a wholesale and retail liquor business there, and Mr. McWhinnie has remained behind to carry it on.” Although he was absent, his involvement continued in Vancouver. Another Boyd and McWhinnie building worth $10,000 was approved on Water Street in 1905.

In 1906 Thomas McWhinnie married Etta Rye in Whatcom, Washington. They went on to have six children; Sarah, Frederick, Janet, (born in Penticton in 1913), Alexander, James in 1917, and finally another son, Douglas in 1919. Etta was only 38 when she died in 1920, the same year as her infant son. After a brief absence the family reappeared in Vancouver in 1907, living on West 4th Avenue, with William now listed as ‘farmer’. Apparently he retained the hotel but also acquired a Penticton fruit ranch, and property in Osoyoos. Thomas was still living at the W4th Avenue address, and was aged 64 when he died in 1922. He was buried in Penticton.



Posted 10 February 2022 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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71 to 83 East Hastings Street

Unit block E Hastings 1

There are two buildings in this 1934 Vancouver Public Library picture that date back well over a century; although one has been partly rebuilt in recent times. Today it looks like three buildings because half of the 1902 building on the corner with Columbia has retained (for the most part) its original appearance, (without the cornice) while the other half was extensively altered in the early 1930s, and was rebuilt again a year or so ago, with an additional small set-back third storey. The three storey building on the left (west) side of the image also dates back to 1902, and shares an architect with the other building. This 1934 Vancouver Public Library shot shows the renovation completed for long-time occupant of the building, BC Collateral.

T A Fee designed the three storey building to the west (on the left edge of the picture) for Thomas McWhinnie. We’ve looked at a Granville Street property designed for the same client by Parr and Fee, and the hotel further north on Columbia Street that he co-developed in 1911. We’re not sure if there was a delay, or poor recording by the street directory company, but it doesn’t seem that the rooming house on the upper floors was in operation here before 1905. Borland and Brown developed the wider 2-storey building, and they hired Parr and Fee as architects. We’ve seen other Borland investments in earlier posts, including a four storey building on Granville Street (where we looked at his history) and the Maple Hotel a little up the street from here. This is another reminder that Parr and Fee designs are by no means obviously identifiable; this building has traditional sliding sash windows, and no shiny white bricks.

The subdivided building took on a significantly different appearance after the 1930s renovation. The windows were smaller, and squarer, and a distinctive canopy was added. In the 1960s BC Collateral expanded into the three storey building, with a huge revolving sign being added a few years later to the three storey building. The two buildings were painted to match, creating even less coherence from the original disposition of the lots. BC Collateral first started operations in 1918.

In the 16 years before they moved in, the buildings shown here went through several iterations. The 2-storey building started life as the Horseshoe Saloon on the corner, and the Horseshoe Restaurant next door. In 1905 there was a rooming house above the Horseshoe Restaurant (the saloon having apparently closed). The restaurant was run by Peter Bancroft, and Mrs. F McElroy was running the rooming house. The Fidelity Real Estate Co. was next door to the saloon. By 1912 Mrs. John C Gillespie’s Horseshoe Rooms were above the unnamed saloon run by Phil Hacquoil and John Trachy, with a cigar shop and candy store also having store front space. The Horse Shoe Hotel was shown on the corner, run by A Pauche, J H Pates and W Murdoch.

The heritage statement for the building needs to be revisited. It says “The BC Collateral and Loan Buildings are of heritage value to the downtown east side for the business’ continuous local entrepreneurship for nearly 90 years. They are also valued as examples of commercial buildings that have been adapted to continuously suit the needs of one business.” That was once true, but BC Collateral no longer operate here. Instead there are newly rebuilt rental rooms above two retail stores. The 1970 revolving sign has been restored, although it no longer references BC Collateral (as they’re no longer here).


Posted 14 April 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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Columbia Hotel – Columbia Street

Columbia Hotel

In 1911 Holloway and Co built a $60,000 ‘6 storey brick building’ on the corner of Columbia Avenue and Cordova Street. Fortunately we know which corner, and that this was the Columbia Hotel, designed by Honeyman and Curtis for Boyd & McWhinnie.

Like many other buildings, there are some strangely inaccurate statements attached to the building’s history. We’re dating the building to 1911 from the Building Permit and the plans (available in the Vancouver Archives). For some reason the hotel itself thinks it’s older – here’s the quote from their website “Built in 1908 hotel specifically served hardy lumberjacks, miners and fishermen“. It is suggested that our photograph from the City Archives was taken around 1904 (and we think that’s too early). The Heritage Designation curiously attributes construction to between 1925 and 1950 – at least we know that’s not true – it’s clearly already standing on the 1912 Insurance Map.

There is a smaller 3-storey part of the building to the south on the lot, and the street Directories suggest that dates back to before 1894 when it was the Columbia House owned by Joseph Dixon, then in 1896 McWhinnie and Murray (and a few years later Thomas McWhinnie owned it on his own). In 1905 Boyd & McWhinnie built the three storey structure still standing today. So while an earlier date is correct, it is not for the larger structure.

Thomas McWhinnie was shown as being aged 42 in the 1901 Census, a Scottish-born hotel-keeper who was head of a household of 16 boarders. Ten years earlier he had been in New Westminster, a carpenter and at that time was married to Jennie, born in England. Actually, according to their 1890 wedding record she was called Hannah Jane, and she died just three years later. Later Thomas had another marriage to Etta and five children.

In 1905 E J Hunt, writing from the Columbia Hotel, claimed improved sleep from using Dr A McLaughlin’s Electric Belt which “Cures Varicoeoe, Rheumatism , Kidney Troubles, Lame Back, Sciatica, Stomach Troubles , Nervous Debility, Lost Vitality and every indication that you are breaking down physically”. Curiously, a few months later E J Hurst, also writing from the Columbia Hotel, praised the efficacy of the doctor’s belt which was said to invigorate ‘Weak, Run-Down Worn-Out Men’. Perhaps everybody who lived at the Columbia (and used Dr McLaughlin’s belt) had the initials EJ.

Although Boyd and McWhinnie developed the new building in 1911, McWhinnie is only shown as running the hotel until 1903. In 1904 and 05 James Guthrie was proprietor, in the next two years Conlin and Spearin, and  the hotel proprietors from 1908 to 1913 were listed as J M Conlin and Wm G Thompson. This seems to confirm that ‘hotel proprietor’ in the Directories refers to the person running the hotel, but not necessarily the owner of the building.

Thomas disappears from Vancouver Directories from 1904 to 1906, but reappears in 1907 living on West 4th Avenue, listed as ‘farmer’. Apparently he retained the hotel but also acquired a Penticton fruit ranch, and was still living at the 4th Avenue address when he died in 1922.

On the basis of a former logger’s story (recorded in 1945) it seems the Columbia was in part used as a seasonal hotel for resource workers, as many hotels at that time were. “Sometime in November, people from the logging camps came in and stayed for the winter. That’s what I used to do: come in November and stay all winter in the Columbia Hotel. In the spring you went back to logging. Most of the entertainment was in the beer parlour, or a wild woman once in a while.”

These days the Columbia (which for a while became the New Columbia) is partly a tourist hotel / hostel, and partly a single room occupancy hotel. This leads to some interesting comments on tourist review websites, given the hotel’s location and the Whiskey Dix bar downstairs – visitors expecting a quiet evening might check the clubzone listing “A million dollar renovation has turned the bar at the historic Columbia Hotel into what is sure to be the new hot spot for Vancouver party goers. Get ready for the Whiskey Bar experience!”

Photo source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 359-3