Archive for the ‘Townsend & Townsend’ Tag

566 West Broadway

This modest two-storey building has lasted over 100 years on the same location, but may not be around too much longer. With the extension of the SkyTrain along West Broadway, and a prominent developer advertising its current lease, it’s safe to assume redevelopment is on the cards.

It was built in 1910, and only cost $10,000. The owner, and builder was B Naffzinger, and Townsend & Townsend were the architects. It’s relatively unusual for a building designed by them, as generally they faced the building in beige brisk with a red brick diamond pattern. In this case they added a magnificent pediment with their client’s name prominently displayed, as the 1912 image here shows, with Melvin H. Clapp Shoemaker and Robert G. Woods Candies occupying the storefronts.

This was Mr. Naffzinger’s only development. As half of Tompkins and Naffzinger, he was a property agent with an office, in 1907, at 535 Ninth Avenue (this block, before it became Broadway). In 1908 the business had 21 lots for sale on Ninth Ave, ‘a rare chance for speculation’ (which is a joke, as it seems as if half of Vancouver were involved in property speculation). In 1909 Benjamin Naffzinger was appointed a Notary Public. Clearly the business was doing well; in 1910 is was reported that Mr. Naffzinger and family have returned after spending the winter in Los Angeles. In 1912 he had changed partners to Fred Duerr, and moved their office to closer to Main Street.

Benjamin made it into the 1911 ‘Who’s Who in Western Canada, where he was a financial broker born in Danvers Illinois, starting out as a telegraph opertaor in Chicago. He came to BC in 1906, and had married Florence MacLachlan (born in Aylmer, Ontario) in Chicago in 1886, with one daughter, Bessie, born in 1889 in Chicago. He’d already headed west, as the 1900 census showed the family living in Corning, California.

Benjamin Naffzinger died, aged 61, in 1922. Florence, his wife, was aged 75 when she died in Seattle in 1935.

There were four suites upstairs: A-D, and tenants tended to stay for a while. It was a quiet neighbourhood, although one afternoon in March 1937 Mrs. B J Wood’s window was broken with a stone. Ten years later B W Aubert lived in suite B, and was selling a 1940 Ford coach, and was willing to trade for an older car and cash. In 1954 Allen Orr reported $68 stolen from his suite – a year earlier he had been in a car accident Downtown, ending up with scrapes and bruises.

In 1955 truck driver William Pearson, who lived here, was arrested for stealing a wallet with $125 in it from an Edmonton fan who had come to watch the Grey Cup game. That year a suite leased for $45 a month. In 1964 that had risen to $65 a month, and in 1998, $945.

Our 1974 image shows the Round The Clock Steak and Pizza House, and a realtor’s office. Round the Clock became Kosta’s Pizza Restaurant a year later, and in the late 1980s there was a Sitar Indian Restaurant here. The space upstairs is now an office, with one main floor unit a Yoga and Fitnesss Studio and the other recently vacated by a hairdresser.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archites CVA 1095-00307 and CVA 371-881



Denman and Davie Streets – ne corner

This corner is one of relatively few spots where the contemporary building is less significant than its predecessor. The pattern in the brickwork of this 1912 building suggested it had been designed by the father and son partnership of Townsend & Townsend. Sure enough, the permit from December 1911 shows them designing the $75,000 stores and apartments for Simpson Brothers, who also built it. To the north, a much smaller 2-storey building had been developed by S A Heaslip for $4,500 in 1908.

There were a lot of Simpsons in Vancouver, but fortunately the brothers were identified; William and Zach, (often written as Zack), both living in 1911 at 1811 Beach Avenue. They were boat builders, with premises a block from their home. Their father, Zachariah, was from Chorlton, Lancashire, where he worked as a tailor and draper. By 1875 he had come to Buffalo, New York, with his wife Ann. His brother John was also there, and in 1890 they headed west, to Canada, and Simpson Brothers, merchant tailors opened on Granville Street, with the brothers living on Beach Avenue. They were living in the same household in 1901, but that seems to be the last reference to John in Vancouver.

In 1891 the family inherited a sizeable fortune from an uncle, and started a boat building business. They rented boats to local residents and tourists from Simpson’s Boat House on Beach Avenue. Zachariah Simpson died in 1910, and his wife, Annie having died in 1907, aged 56, he left his $28,000 estate to his children, Maud, Zack, and William.

William Niagara Simpson was 35 when his father died, and was a boat builder. Later he became a master mariner, owning the ‘Roamer’ and a tugboat, the ‘Ocean Plunger’. His brother Zack managed the boat house business, and aged 35 he married Lydia Kleaman, who was 22 and from Ontario. Until 1944 he owned the boathouse and concessions at Lost Lagoon, which he sold to the Park Board, and continued to operate them on their behalf.

William Simpson died in 1936, and his brother, Zack in 1949. His widow sold the Simpson Block in the year following his death. Their sister, Maud, never married, and died in 1940. The Simpson Block saw a constant turnover of both residential and commercial tenants, as is normal in the West End. The new apartments were advertised as having steam-heated hot water, a phone in every flat, and a lift. (clearly the American words apartment and elevator weren’t in universal use in 1913).

Kirkham’s Grocerterias Ltd had one of their 20 stores here in 1928, but the chain closed down and the location was taken over by Safeway Stores in 1929, who remained here for many years. Originally the Denman Grocery Co had opened in the new building. Later, in the 1950s, their store was home to Crown Cleaners and Dyers, while Cunningham Drugs occupied the corner, replacing the Vancouver Drug Co who had been in the same spot in the 1920s.

In 1972, the Sands Hotel (located to the east, up Davie Street) planned a 23-storey addition on the corner, but it was never built. In 1975, soon after this image was taken, a fire damaged the Simpson Block, spreading from an adjacent building on Davie. All 13 suites were evacuated, and in 1976 the building was demolished.  It was replaced in 1979 with English Bay Village, a strata building with 10 units, designed by Richard Henriquez. A third floor, 2-level 1,753 sq. ft. 2-bed 3-bath unit with a rooftop deck (with full kitchen!) was offered for sale at $2.6m in 2021.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-370


Posted 5 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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City Hotel – Powell Street

By 1911 the City Hotel looked pretty much as it does in this 1985 Archives image. The unusual shape was thanks to the railway track that sliced across the angle of the block that faced Columbia, leaving an irregular lot 50 feet wide on Powell Street, where there was a saloon, and closer to 80 feet on Alexander, where another hotel entrance was located.

There was a hotel here, called the City Hotel, as early as 1887, run by “Desantels & Co”. There had been an earlier City Hotel, in Granville, that burned down in 1886. The 1882 directory said: “THE CITY HOTEL, on Columbia street, Mrs. Bonson proprietress, is the only hotel in the city without a bar; has accommodation for 30 guests; it is well conducted, with moderate charges”.

The replacement, after the fire, occupied the middle 25 feet of the Powell frontage, (so the section of the Powell facade later rebuilt with the greater gap between the windows), with a Chinese Laundry occupying the back of the lot on Alexander Street. The wooden building was co-owned by Alphonse Fairon, a Belgian, and R G Desautels, who was from Montreal. M. Desautels had briefly been a butcher with Patrick Gannon, and after the fire ran the Stag and Pheasant on Water Street with M Fairon. Charles Doering (who was actually Carl) sold the Stag and Pheasant to Fairon and Miller in 1888. (Mr. Miller was almost certainly Jonathan Miller who had a wide variety of business interests and seems to have had financial partnerships with both Fairon and Desautels at different times).

Alphonse had arrived in Portland in 1872, and initially settled in Wisconsin, before moving north. In 1890 he owned the City Hotel with Louis Canonica, and in 1892 his housekeeper was Marie-Louise Desautels, R G Desautels’ wife. R G had apparently left the city, but on his death in 1898 was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. Alphonse then married Marie-Louise, who was nine years younger, and they are shown in both the 1901 and 1911 census records. Alphonse carried out repairs to the frame building in 1903, so we know it was still standing then. Marie Louise died in 1911, and Alphonse in 1918.

By 1905 the hotel had a new owner, Chinese merchant Sam Kee and Co. ‘Sam’ was entirely ficticious, but the company that bore his name was owned by Chang Toy, who had extensive business interests across Chinatown and in other parts of the city. Although there are no permits available in the early 1900s, the Province reported that he hired Hooper & Watkins to design a $10,500 brick building on the lot that held the wooden hotel, and the one to the east, with the angled facade.

He added to the building again in 1909, spending $16,000 on a ‘brick addition’ designed by Townsend & Townsend. Based on this 1912 image of the Columbia Street frontage, we would guess that was the top floor, which doesn’t exactly match the brickwork of the three below. A further more expensive addition in 1910 was designed by W F Gardiner, and we think that must be the part of the building to the west, which has a strange angle to the Columbia facade, that doesn’t match the earlier building, but which maximizes the space in the building. Costing Sam Kee & Co $55,000, it was built by R P Forshaw, like the 1909 addition.

Sam Kee were careful to ensure their investment wasn’t seen as a Chinese business. A variety of ‘proprietors’ ran the hotel over the years. Alberrt Paucsche & Joseph Tapella ran the hotel in 1908, and Robert Swanson in 1910. Wrongly identified as ‘Bill Swanson’ in the heritage statement, he was born in Scotland although his family roots were Swedish. Married to an American, Charlotte, the census said they had arrived in 1904 and by 1911 had two children, Margaret and John. Robert’s widowed father, John Swanson, also lived with them. The census wasn’t entirely accurate, as Robert Swanson married Charlotte Turner in Nanaimo in 1903. He ran the Provincial Hotel there with a partner, William Hardy, and was apparently briefly a wrestler (but not a successful one). Robert Swanson went on to manage the Belmont Hotel on Granville Street, and was able to ensure all the patrons were safely evacuated when fire broke out in 1937, severely damaging the building. He died in Vancouver in 1955.

Charles Doering, the brewer, apparently continued to have an interest in the hotel. When he died in 1927, it was part of his estate, valued at $65,000 and described as ‘registered in the name of Chang Toy’. By 1940 the hotel had become The Anchor Hotel, taking a Columbia street address. In 1972 the bar still operating with the required men’s and ladies’ entrances. The Background / Vancouver Project, photographed the building that year.

A variety of clubs and bars have occupied the main and basement floors in more recent years, with clubs like sugarandsugar, and more recently Brooklyn Gastown.

Upstairs the rooms are no longer occupied by welfare recipients, as the SRO rooms have been ‘fully renovated’ as micro units, with rents to match. ‘Come with a kitchenette: sink, mini fridge-just need to bring your own hot plate. Shared washrooms cleaned daily. 4 bathrooms per floor. Coin operated laundry on each floor. No pets. No Smoking.’

A new extensively glazed ‘vertical addition’, designed by K C Mooney, has been constructed in wood frame by utilizing the existing light well as the location of a new exit stair, while constructing the new addition as an independently supported section above the SRO floors.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2421, CVA 359-32 and Background / Vancouver.


New World Hotel – Powell Street

The New World Hotel (also known as the Tamura Building) was built in 1912, although not completed until a year later, and featured one of Townsend & Townsend’s most exuberant set of added details. By the early 1970s, some of these had been lost, as our ‘before’ image shows. After extensive renovations and restoration funded by BC Housing, those details have recently reappeared. They include the huge and elaborate gabled roof top pediments, that the architects also originally added to a residential block in Mount Pleasant, as well as seven feet high vases.

The Townsends were father and son, (although published biographies suggest they were brothers), probably from Manchester and only in the city from 1909 to 1913. Their client here was Shinkichi Tamura, a Japanese businessman who emigrated, first to Victoria in 1888 aged 25 where he worked for a sulphur producing company who made him their purchasing agent, operating from Hokkaido. He was from a samurai family from Kumamoto, and apprenticed to a textile shop in Osaka at the age of 13. When the sulphur business went bankrupt in 1891 he moved back to Canada, this time to Vancouver. He initially worked in a sawmill, but soon established an import business, shipping (among other things) rice, soybeans, silk and oranges. He added an export element to his business, shipping salmon and lumber back to Japan. He was able to grow his business when he received a $150,000 insurance payment from a shipment of salmon that was lost at sea.

In 1903 Tamura was asked by the Canadian government to help sell Canadian goods to Japan. He advised on the Canadian pavilion at the Osaka exhibition where the star of the show was a bakery producing bread baked from Canadian wheat – a food item little known in the country at the time. Tamura Shokai, his trading company, was the exporter of the wheat to Japan. He was Canada’s first trade commissioner to Japan, and was listed in the 1911 edition of Who’s Who in Western Canada, the only Japanese represented in the publication.

He added banking to his businesses, founding Nikka Chochiku K K, in 1907, looking after the earnings of the Japanese community and arranging transfers of money back to Japan. His business was initially based on Granville Street, rather than in the Japanese community on the east side. That changed after he built the Tamura Building, which housed his businesses downstairs and the World Hotel above.

Tamura had returned to Japan by 1918 – the year he filed a US Patent for the design of an automobile suspension system. He became president of the Kobe Board of Trade, as well as a member of both the Japanese House of Representatives, and the House of Peers. As Baron Tamura he was an important figure in Tokyo in the 1920s. His business continued in Japan and in Vancouver (and Seattle) with family members representing the company. He died in 1936.

Today Tamura House has regained its New World Hotel entrance and is a rehabilitated Single Room Occupancy hotel. Managed by Lookout Emergency Aid Society, it provides 105 units for people who are struggling with issues such as addiction or mental health that put them at risk of homelessness. Thirty five units are for residents in the Tamura House Tenancy Program which offers staff support, such as advocacy and medication dispensing, seven days a week.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives W E Graham CVA 1135-15


Posted 13 April 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Mount Stephen Block – East 7th Avenue


When this apartment building was first completed it was known as the Mount Stephen Block. The architecture features the trademark brick patterning used by Townsend & Townsend, with one of the most flamboyant pressed metal cornice designs ever built in the city. ‘Exploring Vancouver also noted that ‘Two immodest female figures energetically support the heavy pediment’. The owner, and builder of the $60,000 project on the corner of Quebec  St was W D Muir.

We’ve seen a number of the Townsend’s other projects in the city. Many had the Argyle checker pattern in red, on a buff background. They used the same design on warehouses and apartments throughout the city. Although published biographies suggest they were brothers, our research suggests they were father and son, probably from Manchester. They were only in the city from 1909 to 1913, but managed to design buildings worth over $800,000.

muirW D Muir was initially a grocer in Mount Pleasant; his premises were close to the flatiron where Main and Kingsway meet at 8th Avenue and he was a pioneer, establishing his grocery and bakery around 1896. He dropped the grocery, not only producing thousands of loaves, but in 1903 patenting the oven he used to bake them. In 1904 the ‘Mount Pleasant Advocate’ announced that he had added another oven, and could now turn out over 1,000 loaves of bread in an hour. In 1905, when flour prices increased by $1 a barrel, W D Muir announced that he had $3,000 of flour on hand, and so could continue to feed Vancouver for a while longer without raising prices.

In 1908 Wiliam is already listed as retired; he had sold the bakery business a year or two earlier to Hanbury Evans & Co. In 1909 he sold the large brick ‘Muir Block’ on the corner of Westminster (Main) and 8th, and he obtained the permit to build this apartment block in 1911, with completion a year later.

The 1901 census tells us Mr Muir was from Quebec, born in 1856, while his wife Jane was from Ontario and a year younger. Their six year old son, Thomas, had been born in British Columbia. The household was large – there were seven lodgers, two who presumably worked for William as they were bakers, and a domestic servant. Duncan Muir was one of the lodgers, aged 21, a teamster (as were two others). By 1911 he’s shown born in 1854, and while Jane is a year younger her birth date is shown as 1850, showing census clerks couldn’t necessarily calculate accurately. William is shown as retired, living on income (presumably from selling his business, and a little later from rent). Their domestic was shown as Florence Muir, who was 28, and James and Jennie Muir, William’s niece and nephew were also living in the family. Jennie was aged 14, but James was 53 and working in a bakery as a stableman.

The Mount Stephen Apaertments switched at some point in the 1950s to be an ‘apartment hotel and rooms’. It subsequently reverted to being a rental building that by 1979 was run down. The landlord of the day looked to add a massive rent increase, and the tenants fought it. With Federal financial support they formed a co-op and bought and renovated the building in 1980. The co-op later purchased the lot next door to add a yard, garden and parking space. With their new name, the Quebec Manor Co-op continues to offer 32 affordable rental apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA SGN 1028


Posted 19 January 2017 by ChangingCity in Mount Pleasant, Still Standing

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George Rooms – East Georgia Street

George Rooms 215 E Georgia

Until 1985 the George Rooms sat behind Charles Woodward’s Vancouver Main Street store that stood on the corner of East Georgia. The building was designed, as far as we can tell, by Townsend & Townsend for D C McLaren (of 646 Main Street) and built at a cost of $40,000 by E J Ryan. When it was built in 1912 East Georgia was still called Harris Street, and the building was described in the Daily Building Record as a five-storey brick store & rooming house. D C McLaren was a saddler and harness maker – the Museum of Vancouver has some of his work. He was also the Provincial Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of BC. David Carlson McLaren was born in Ontario in 1868, his wife Mildred came from Quebec, and in 1911 they had a 12-year-old son at home called Raleigh, who had been born in Kamloops in 1898. Mr. McLaren’s business was on Main Street, but he lived on Woodland Drive. David McLaren died in 1943, having last worked as a leather worker in 1922. His wife Mildred died in 1950, aged 83, and their son Raleigh McLaren died in 1966, aged 67, at Ganges in Saltspring Island, having worked in construction as a bridgeman according to his death certificate.

The rooms changed name in the very early years. They started out as the Mori Rooms, but in 1914 they were the Apex Rooms run by Mr. McLaren himself – a name they retained into the 1920s. By 1975 the building had clearly deteriorated, but was returning (briefly) to active service as a 73-room SRO hotel. A Council report in 1975 on “Derelict Buildings in Skid Road – 205-15 East Georgia Street” stated that “The Fire Chief reports as follows: These premises are now fully sprinklered and at the time of writing this report the building is almost ready for complete occupancy. There are some minor routine Bylaw requirements to be completed but otherwise  the premises may be occupied at any time.” The rooms continued in use until 1984, and were demolished in 1985 to make way for the 8-storey strata parkade, retail and office building that’s there today.


Posted 21 January 2016 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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322 Water Street

300 block Water St

Here’s another of the diamond-decorated Townsend and Townsend buildings that they designed between 1908 and 1913. They used the motif on many, but not all of their buildings, irrespective of the use. The previous post showed a rooming house on Granville Street – this is a warehouse. It cost $26,000 to build and was built by William McPherson in 1912 – this picture shows it two years later.

We’re reasonably certain that the most likely of the several William McPhersons who were living in the city at the time was a Scottish canneryman, who co-owned the Dinsmore Island Cannery with William Hickey. In 1911 he was aged 58, living with his wife Jessie and their domestic, Jane Hastings. Ten years earlier they had a different domestic, Tommy Kado. The cannery was sold to British Columbia Packers Association and Hickey partnered with Robert Kelly (of Kelly, Douglas) to obtain the exclusive rights to seine fish the Smith Inlet salmon run. McPherson had been a partner in an earlier cannery – a very much earlier cannery in Steveston called the Lulu Island cannery which ran from 1891 to 1895 before it was sold and renamed the London Cannery, (it had been demolished by 1911). The 1901 census tells us that William had arrived from Scotland in 1872, while Jessie arrived much later in 1893. William died unexpectedly in 1917.

In the picture the tenants were Bernet Bros; Joseph, Ernest and Martin Bernet were from New York, merchants whose warehouse was initially on Cordova, then Granville in 1911 and finally here. Joseph had started in Vancouver as a financial and real estate broker around 1910 in partnership as Bernet and Helm, and from 1918 to 1919 was a wholesale jeweler in a different partnership, Bernet and Gluck. Bernet Brothers seem to have ceased operations in 1914 when they were described as electrical wholesalers and Martin and Ernest Bernet were in partnership as Ernest & Martin Bernet that year. In 1916 G R Gregg & Co occupied the building, wholesaling Japanese Goods and European Silks, with Herbert Geddes as manager. They had moved here from the Buscombe Building, two buildings to the west.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA LGN 983


1140 Granville Street

1140 Granville

Here’s a pair of Granville Street buildings – one that’s still standing, and one that’s no longer there. The Rialto hotel at 1140 Granville (as it was called in our 1978 picture) was built in 1912 by R G Wilson & Son for Mrs. Clough at a cost of $21,000, and the tell-tale diamond brick pattern identifies it as the work of Townsend & Townsend, a British-born father and son partnership with considerable success in the five years they were in the city.

When the building was first completed these were the London Rooms, run by Amie Hiquebran. Mrs. Clough was Laura A Clough who in 1911 lived at 848 Howe Street with her son, Henry. Laura was an American who had arrived in 1909 and whose occupation was listed as ‘none’ on the 1911 census. In 1910 there was no sign of her, although Henry was listed as a student, living on Hornby Street. She came from Concord, New Hampshire, was called Clough before her marriage (in 1880) to George Clough, and it appears that both Laura and Henry shaved 10 years off their true ages in the 1911 census as she was born in 1842 (not 1853 as she claimed) and Henry Blaine Clough was born in 1884 (and not 1894). Laura was already head of the household in 1900 when she was still in New Hampshire, probably because George was aged 63 or 64 when he married 38 year-old Laura.

Assuming there was only one George Clough in Concord, New Hampshire, George  worked as a conductor on the Concord Railroad for over 20 years, and accumulated a significant fortune including a number of property investments. In 1865 he was accused of stealing from his employer, who sought $100,000 in restitution. The verbatim court record shows that Mr Clough had allowed some passengers to travel without payment, but with the approval of company managers. The local newspaper reported that, on being ordered to repay just over $12,000 in total, he considered the outcome to be a moral victory. In the process of the hearing Mr. Clough’s entire assets were revealed, valued at $127,000. His first wife, Eliza, died in 1874 and he remarried to Laura in 1880; Laura had been the schoolteacher in Concord in the 1860s. Mrs Clough was missing from the street directory in 1913 when the building was occupied, although there’s one mention of a Mrs. Clough in a 1914 newspaper. We haven’t found what happened to her or where she moved to after leaving Vancouver, although it looks as if Henry may have moved to Australia, got married and had a son also called Henry.

The building that’s still standing was the Clowes Building, designed and owned by J Clowes.  According to the permit it was built by J Hoffmeister at a cost of $18,000. John Clowes was living in Richmond in 1911, but in Vancouver in 1901. He was listed in the 1911 census as a carpenter, born in Quebec in 1849. He had lived at the address where the building was constructed from as far back as the early 1890s, in the city from the late 1880s, and was probably the John Clowes who died in Burnaby in 1922.

The Rialto was replaced by the first new market rental building in some years, developed with incentives from City Council to encourage more rental housing, ‘The Standard’.


Royal Mansions – Bute and Pacific

Royal Mansions

Here’s Royal Mansions in the West End, on Pacific. It was built in 1912, but in 1938 when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken it was still in great condition. It was designed by a British-born father and son architectural team, Townsend & Townsend. They only used two colours of brick on their buildings; red and buff, but generally they liked to mix the two with huge diamond shaped red motifs on a buff ground. Uniquely, as far as we know, this is all red – and has some fancy rustic stonework on the corners as relief. The building permit says it cost $80,000 to build for M B Wilkinson. The Townsends were only in the city for a few years, from 1908 to 1913, but they were responsible for designing at least 25 buildings worth over $800,000 in that period. They may have come from Manchester, and disappeared from the city as the economy started to face serious decline. We think Alfred Townsend (who might have been christened Joseph, like his father) may have fought in the First World War, and possibly returned to the US after the war. This seems to be the most expensive project that the partners designed.

brick & tileIn 1887 a new company was incorporated – the ‘Vancouver Brick and Tile Company Limited’. The five Trustee shareholders made an interesting group: David and Isaac Oppenheimer, the Gastown merchants who controlled much of the land in the Old Granville Townsite, George Black; pioneer butcher who would become a hotel-owner, Sam Brighouse, one of the ‘three Greenhorns’ who bought 222 acres of land now making up today’s West End, and W H Armstrong – a local contractor. The Canadian Mining Manual for 1890-91 shows that the company – at least briefly – were in production, manufacturing 750,000 bricks in 1889, and that the company secretary was M B Wilkinson.

A complicated court case that lasted for many years revealed the relationship between Mr. Wilkinson, and Mr. Brighouse, and their involvement in the Royal Mansions. Michael Wilkinson by the point the case was settled (in 1929) was known as Michael Wilkinson Brighouse – he changed his name as a result of a requirement of Sam Brighouses’s will. Michael was Sam’s nephew; Sam had no wife or children, Michael came to Vancouver in 1888 at the age of 24, settled with Sam on his Lulu Island farm, and eventually took over running Sam’s extensive business and property interests. Michael’s mother (Sam’s sister) kept house.

Brighouse hollow treeWe know what Sam and Michael looked like from an Archives image that shows them setting up a bar in the hollow tree (something the Park Board haven’t contemplated). The photograph shows Michael Wilkinson, Sam Brighouse, William Beech, A. McCallum (serving drinks) and others around 1890.

A 1906 will left most of Sam’s assets (worth over $700,000 at his death) to Michael, but Sam was ill a couple of years later, had a prostate operation in 1908 and returned to England in 1911 in poor health. He died there in 1913, soon after changing his will to leave Michael the Richmond farm (on condition that he couldn’t sell it), and all the other property to other relatives. The court case (brought by Frederick Morton on behalf of Sam’s estate) eventually determined that this final version of the will was the legal one, leaving Michael merely extremely well off, rather than very, very wealthy. It also showed that as well as managing a company called the Royal Ice and Dairy Company on his uncle’s behalf, in 1912 Michael had developed Royal Mansions at a cost of over $80,000 on Sam’s land. The judgement allotted Sam’s estate $30,000 of value and Michael and his brother Arthur mortgages of $25,000 each, on which interest was paid. The initial court case in 1916 created this arrangement – the final 1929 Supreme Court judgement appears to have reversed it. Michael ran Richmond’s Minoru Race Track on its opening in 1909, and he married – in 1921 the Daily World reported “Mrs. M. B. Wilkinson of the Royal Mansions entertained at the tea hour on Wednesday”.


Posted 1 June 2015 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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Robson and Burrard – sw corner (2)

800 Burrard 1

Here’s the Toronto Dominion Bank that used to stand on the corner of Robson and Burrard as it appeared in 1974. We’ve recently added a little more information on our previous look at this corner when it had retail stores built for Alfred Perry. In 1939 architects Palmer and Bow were hired to design the bank here – apparently two storeys instead of the single storey it replaced. In practice it was William Bow who was hired; his partner Bernard Palmer had died in 1936, but Bow kept the practice name unchanged. Bow was trained in Glasgow and headed to British Columbia in 1913 after he had come second in the design competition for the University of British Columbia. (Technically it was his brother who came second; William drew up the design, but it was entered in the name of his brother Douglas, who was already in Vancouver).

The single storey retail store is almost certainly the Townsend & Townsend designed $1,500 brick store built by J P Foreshore  for Mr Perry in 1911. There was another permit for an $800 addition issued only a week later than the first to the same architect and owner, so perhaps the building became a little more ambitious.

The single storey retail stores across Burrard also date back to 1911, designed by Parr and Fee for Cicero Davidson. While that store lives on (with a contemporary façade), the bank was replaced in 1998 with a retail building designed by W T Leung.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 778-34