Archive for the ‘Thornton and Jones’ Tag

Felix Apartments – 610 Jervis Street

This large residential investment cost $130,000 to build in 1910. The Felix Apartment was designed by Thornton & Jones for G E Greveson, who was also recorded as the builder. These days it has a different name, (The Banffshire) and the building is far less prominent in the landscape (although still imposing).

Mr. Greveson has proved elusive – and he almost certainly wasn’t the developer. There was a G E Grieveson who was in the street directory – although not with a street address. He was listed as ‘3rd Officer, Empress of China’. In 1910 George E Grievson acquired a lot in the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwai today). He obtained his Certificate of Service to sail Canadian Coastal waters in 1908, and the Report from the Harbour Commissioners of eastern ports identifies his original home as Sunderland, England.

A June 1912 article in the Province suggests our builder was Mr. G. R Grievson, but not the developer.

Mrs Frances Kensit Stops the Work on Sidewalk at the Felix Apartments

An injunction restraining Mr. G. R Grievson, a contractor, from proceeding with the work of pulling down the garage belonging to Mrs. Frances Kensit and adjoining the Felix apartments was granted by Mr. Justice Morrison in Supreme Court chambers today. His lordship made it clear to the applicant, Mr. Cecil Killam, that he granted the injunction at the plaintiff’s risk.

The trouble is alleged by counsel to have arisen owing to a sale of a three-foot strip of land by Mrs. Jane Nickson to the owners of the Felix Apartments. The strip was shadowed by the overhang of the cornice on the apartment house. The strip was a portion of the house and lot with garage previously leased to Mrs. Kensit. After purchasing the strip of land the owners of the Felix apartments proceeded to lay a concrete walk thereon. As Mrs. Kensit’s garage stood on a portion of the strip they proceeded, stated Mr. Killam, to tear down the garage.

“I don’t see why you should apply for an injunction. The parties are good for damages. Why not bring a damage suit?” said his lordship at first. “In the meantime my clients have no place in which to store their motor car,” said Mr. Killam. The application was granted, the writ being directed against Mrs. Jane Nickson, her son. Mr. John R. Nickson, and the contractor. Mr. G. R. Grievson. A writ has also been taken out by Mrs. Kensit’s solicitors claiming damages, or in the alternative a cancellation of the lease.

We can’t find any reference to who Mr Grievson was, or where he lived. As far as we can tell there was nobody called Greveson, Grievson, or Grieveson in the 1911 Census in Canada. The developers might be identified from 1912, when both the building’s janitor and the Vancouver Financial Corporation were handling the leasing. The corporation was led by Harry Abbott, the former CPR boss, turned property mogul. He lived on West Georgia just to the south of here. More confusing still, a 1924 profile of Walter Hepburn, BC’s motion picture censor describes his earlier employment as a contractor, responsible for erecting the Felix Apartments. He had been elected as an alderman on seven occasions, and had been chairman of the finance committee for two of them.

This wasn’t an ordinary apartment building – in 1912 an elevator boy was employed. The building offered 3, 4 or 5 room furnished flats, for long or short-term rental. In 1912 a 3-room flat was $35. A few years later the apartments were also available unfurnished. In 1925 the suites were advertised as ‘minutes walk from post office and Stanley Park’.

In 1928 a fire in the building caused considerable damage. The building how had 110 suites, and 150 ‘lightly-clad tenants shivered in morning air‘ as firemen removed everyone from the building and then tackled the fire in the basement. It damaged an apartment above, occupied by J. R. Ashdown to another above this tenanted by Lee Millar and his wife Verna Felton. Entering the basement with hose lines the firemen were met by a powerful gas, which overcame several of them. Thomas A. Wylle of No. 3 hall, was rescued with difficulty by his comrades, having been overcome and lost in the dense smoke. He was given first aid and was able to resume duty.” The fire had burned for some time, and the wires on the alarm in the basement were found disconnected, and the telephone wires damaged. Repairs were covered by insurance, and expected to cost over $3,000, and the police were able to secure the building ‘to prevent looting by prowlers‘. When the permit for repairs was submitted, it was for $7,000 of work, and the owner was identified as F T Schooley. He was manager of Royal City Soaps, and he lived in suite 46 here, and as a sideline seems to have developed several houses. Mrs F T Schooley was still resident in 1928.

In 1933 Cecil Ellis lived here. Accused as being the driver of the getaway car in an armed robbery on the Bank of Montreal at 4th and Alma, he was acquitted after identification testimony was inconclusive. During the robbery the bank staff and robbers exchanged gunfire, with the teller injured by a bullet. Ellis had a snapshot of one of the robbers in an album found in his suite, but that wasn’t enough evidence to convince the judge.

The building sold for $90,000 in 1946, two years after this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, and was generally known by its address from then on.

In 1959 Russell Walker, a 71-year old mining engineer who lived in the building was rescued at a gold mine 30 miles north of Tofino and flown by the RCAF to Vancouver to have a ruptured appendix operated on.

Today there are 51 apartments, and the building has recently undergone an extensive restoration. Tenants share a Facebook Group to ‘Connect with your neighbours, ask to borrow a cup of sugar, share events, building history, whatever!’



Posted 19 December 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Hankey Block, 367 East Hastings Street

It’s surprising that we’ve missed telling the story of any of the 1900s hotels on East Hastings, but here’s another. The four-storey Hankey block was designed by Thornton & Jones in 1911, and built by Purdy & Lonegan at a cost of $33,000. When it opened it became the Holborn Rooms.

G A Hankey developed the block – but he wasn’t in Vancouver. Gerald Cramer Alers Hankey ran a Vernon company where he was a ‘Notary Public, Financial, Land, Insurance and General Agent Mining Broker and Agent’. He was 41 when he developed the hotel. He arrived from England in 1891; his wife Mary was also English but had arrived in Canada in 1885. In 1911 they had three sons and a daughter (who died soon afterwards) in their Vernon home. The company also owned the Hotel Russell in New Westminster.

A biography says “G. Alers-Hankey was born in 1869 in Bexley, Kent and was educated in England. (misprinted as Dexley). He emigrated from there in 1891 and arrived in Vernon in 1892 to open the city’s first bank, a branch of Wulffson and Bewicke, a private bank. After the Bank of Montreal opened the following year, Mr. Hankey went into the real estate business for himself under the name of G.A. Hankey & Co. In 1913, he sold the business to A. Waring Giles, but retained wide business interests at the coast which he managed until his death in 1943” 

This misses a few additional details. Initially, on leaving England, Gerald became a rancher in Argentina as an 18 year old, working there for 4 years. He briefly returned to England before coming to British Columbia. The bank that he initially worked for controlled the Okanogan Land and Development Co. of Vernon, owning most of the building lots in the townsite. Hankey was to be their local manager, with the bank as a profitable sideline dealing mainly in mortgages, and the discounting of  cash orders.

The arrival of a branch of the Bank of Montreal saw the banking arm of the business dropped within a year of his arrival. Other business interests included being a director of Okanogan Telephone Co., Ltd.; of Imperial Underwriters Corporation; and of White Valley Irrigation & Power Co. Ltd. and of the Point Grey Land & Investment Company. He was a member of the Board of Vernon Jubilee Hospital; Mayor of Vernon in 1902 for one term and Alderman for one term. He considered opening a steam laundry in 1911, but seems to have developed his Vancouver investment building instead.

He sold his business to A. Waring Giles in 1913, but retained wide business interests locally and in Vancouver and New Westminster. A fourth son was born in 1914, but his wife was in England at the time. The 1921 census shows him retired, and living on his own in the Hotel Russell in New Westminster, but a year later he had an English address in Bexley Heath. Gerald managed his business interests until his death in 1943 at the Jubilee Hospital in Vernon.

The Holborn Hotel remains a privately owned rooming house, with a reputation as one of the best run in the Downtown Eastside. Owned by the Woo family, it had a half million dollar makeover in 2012, with restoration of the ornate façade partly funded from a rare federal government grant. Internally the bathrooms were restored, and the building got new windows as well. The MPA Society offer support to the tenants on weekdays, assisting tenants with referrals to mental health/ healthcare agencies, educational and employment resources, as well as any other supports that are identified by the tenants.

Mary Alers Hanley, Gerald’s widow, continued to live in Vernon. She was 101 when she passed away in 1979, a year after our photo was taken.


Posted 27 July 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Tweedale Block – 341 East Hastings Street


The Tweedale Block is one of a number of surviving four-storey buildings on East Hastings that look quite similar top each other. That’s because the architects, Thornton and Jones, were responsible for several buildings here. This one was built in 1910 (and not 1915 as the Heritage Statement says) at a cost of $26,000 by Baynes & Horie for Cyril Tweedale, who had his name placed just below the cornice line. His initials are also set in a cartouche among vegetative decoration on the spandrels.

Tweedale Block, Thornton & JonesThe building was built as a rooming house, and operated under the name of the Olympia Rooms (later the Olympia Hotel) until 1987, when the name changed to the Sunlight Hotel. It continues to be used for residential accommodation. It has changed very little in the 100 or so years it’s been standing, and so relatively little since this 1972 Curt Lang image in the Vancouver Public Library. Two years after this building was built he had another $33,000 apartment building constructed on Pendrell Street, designed by Sharp & Thompson. That’s also still standing today, although significantly altered in appearance.

Cyril was an investment broker and realtor. He was born at Bacup, Lancashire, in 1881, and was christened Cyril Aitken Tweedale, the middle name coming from his mother, Fanny. The family may have moved south as Cyril attended Portsmouth Grammar School and King’s College University in London. He started in banking, but in 1903 he moved to Canada as a member of the “Barr Colony.” The Reverend Isaac M. Barr had set up a plan to establish a community of British settlers, who would take up farming in Saskatchewan. Cyril joined a group of about 2,000 proposed settlers, most of whom had almost no experience in farming. He travelled with one group of the colonists on the S.S. Lake Manitoba, which sailed from Liverpool in March 1903. Much more fascinating detail is available on the westendervancouver blog.

He initially worked for Richards & Akroyd, insurance, financial and real-estate agents, “one of the oldest and most prominent firms in that line of work in Vancouver”. Mr. Tweedale rose through the various departments of the business, and was made manager of the real estate department, acting in that capacity until 1910. He started working for himself, and set up his own finance business called London and Western Canada Investment Company, which he operated until the late 1920s, when he joined the Royal Trust Company. The Investment Company were involved in both finance and insurance, specializing in handling transactions for English investors.

Cyril married Clara Wood, from Montreal, in 1906, and they had three children; Phyllis, Cyril Dudley and Esme Josephine. His list of interests was broad; he was a military man, in both the infantry and cavalry. He was a member of the Automobile Club, the Canadian Highway Association, the Vancouver Horse Show Association, the Canadian Club, the Royal Yacht Club, the Vancouver Hunt Club and the Brockton Point Athletic Club. In 1916 the family moved to Victoria, and in 1918 he joined a tank corps, fighting in France. He moved back to Vancouver after the war, starting up his real estate business, and in 1922 he built a house on Angus Drive. He continued working through to the 1930s, and died in 1938. His wife, Clara, died in 1954.


Posted 13 August 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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