Archive for the ‘Thomas Tracy’ Tag

700 Bute Street

This 1974 image shows two houses on the 700 block of Bute Street. The more obvious house dated back to 1898, while the one on the edge of the picture (on the corner of Alberni) was a year older. The numbering was initially thouroughly confusing; the house on the left was numbered as 744, and on the right (which should have a higher number) as 740. That would change around 1902, when it became 748.

Both houses were probably built by their initial occupants, who stayed in them for many years. The 1897 house on the left was home to Colonel Thomas H Tracey, the city engineer, while the slightly younger was home to W R Angus, described as a ‘traveller’.

In 1891 Tracy resigned his position as City Engineer of London (the smaller, Ontario version), in order to accept a similar post as City Engineer of Vancouver. As well as overseeing the construction of sewer and water supply systems throughout the city he designed public buildings like the West End School. In 1901 he was shown as aged 52, with his wife Sarah, who was 10 years younger. He was born in Ontario, but she was American. A daughter, S Louise, and a son, Thomas L, were at home with them, as well as Lilian Graves, who was 25, born in India, and unusually, listed by the census taker as ‘friend’.

Colonel Tracy was reported to have been dismissed from his City post in February 1905, possibly because he was already moonlighting, designing sewer systems for several other municipalities. He continued to work privately as a consulting engineer, advising on the design and installation of waterworks systems in Revelstoke, Kamloops, Vernon, Nanaimo, Ladner and other B.C. towns. He later served as an alderman on Vancouver City Council in 1921, and held the post of Chairman of the Civic Water Committee. This portrait was taken while he was a council member. He died on 31 October 1925 and was buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

William Angus was a little younger than his neighbour; he was 41 in 1901, and his wife Lizzie was 32. He was from Nova Scotia, and she was from New Brunswick. Their 3-year-old daughter was born in Ontario, and William’s brother-in-law, William Matthews lived with the family, as well as a domestic servant, Alice Major, who was from England and only 14 years old. Mr. Angus was variously described as a travelling salesman, and commission agent (which was effectively the same thing). In 1905 he had an office at 336 West Hastings, (which was the De Beck Block), and sold clothing. His employers were the Campbell Manufacturing Co of Montreal, who had a multi storey factory making men’s clothing “in sanitary conditions”.

The 1911 census shows William, Elizabeth and 13-year-old Muriel, Gordon and Stanley (who were eight, and presumably twins), Margaret Adams, their domestic, Irene Matta, his niece and Mary J Howard, a lodger. In 1913 the Daily World announced “Mr. W. R. Angus, 748 Bute street, one of Vancouver’s pioneers, died at the Bute street hospital this morning, after an illness extending over six weeks. The body has been removed to Center & Hanna’s undertaking rooms, and the funeral will be held Thursday afternoon from the family residence. Mr. Angus came to Vancouver thirty years ago, when it was hardly more than a clearing. He continued to live here until his death. He was a man of fifty – four years.” There’s no sign of him in the city before 1897, when he was living on Hornby Street, but he may have been a travelling salesman with only occasional visits to Vancouver. In 1871 he was aged 11, the fourth of Jeremiah and Catherine Angus’s ten children, in Pugwash, Cumberland Nova Scotia, but we haven’t found him in the 1881 or 1891 census records.

The Angus family occupied the same house for 40 years, but in 1938 the newspaper reported the death of “Elizabeth Ann, widow of the late William R. Angus in her 70th year”. During the war, Valerio Bissonnette lived in the Angus home, running it as a rooming house with his wife, Marguerite. In 1950 Cesidio Angelucci, who lived on East 7th, was running 744 as a rooming house, and Mrs. Helga May was running 748 as a rooming house. Miss Ella Stern, who was in charge of the fountain display at Purdy’s Café also lived here. In 1955 Leo and Dorothy Pierron, who also lived elsewhere, ran the rooming house at 744, while Mrs Helgo Gross, a widow ran apartments and rooms at 748, with Mrs. Paluline H Anderson (also a widow) in number 1, and Miss Joyce Carter, a clerk, in number 2.

Today there’s a 1980 office building that had additional retail space added in 2011, home to a large B C Liquor store.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-36

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Posted 10 February 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Dawson School, Burrard Street

This is the enlarged Dawson School on Burrard Street, seen in 1902, with its new name, five years after it was doubled in size. The right hand half of the building was the first part to be built, opening as the West End School in 1893 (the third in the city, after the East End School and Central School). On the left is a picture of construction wrapping up in 1892. The lack of symmetry of the earlier building, and the blank windows in the design suggests it was built with the expectation that it would be made larger.

Thomas Tracy designed this first building which fronted Burrard, which in 1892 was pretty much still a dirt track. Tracy was appointed City Engineer in 1891, and was also responsible for the construction of sewer and water supply systems throughout the city.  When the school needed to be enlarged a few years after initial construction, G W Grant was hired, but he used Tracy’s design as a template and added a new northern wing in an exact match of Tracy’s.

Tracy – who was always referred to by his military title as Colonel Tracy in the newspapers – was reported to have been dismissed from his job in early 1905, although he was still working for the city in August, and his dismissal was only reported in the London, Ontario press, (where he originated from), not in Vancouver. His interests extended beyond his professional duties; he owned and developed property on Hastings Street, and by the spring of 1905 he was already designing water and sewer systems for other municipalities including Fernie and Ladysmith while holding down his Vancouver job. He stood for election to the Board of Parks at the end of 1905 when he was described as Ex-City Engineer Tracy.

When a new Dawson School was added to the south of this building, facing Helmcken Street, the original building became the King George High School. At some point it lost the pointed roof on the central tower on the northern end, as seen in this undated VSB image. The school was replaced in 1963 with a new building in the heart of the West End.

Today the site is the landscaped gardens (over the underground parking) of the Wall Centre hotel and condos, with two towers completed in 1994 and the taller tower to the north in 2001.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Sch P29 and CVA SGN 48

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Posted 9 April 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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