Archive for the ‘Vancouver Women’s Building’ Tag

752 Thurlow Street (2)

Our previous post looked at this building in the 1970s when it was Oil Can Harry’s club. Long before the club use the building started life in 1926 as the Vancouver Women’s Building, designed by A A Cox. Here it is in 1927, soon after it was completed. There was a house here before this building was completed in 1927; it was bought in 1911 by delegates from twelve Women’s organisations who had raised funds by subscription. Judge Helen MacGill, an outspoken advocate for women and children’s legal rights was one of the founders, and remained active in welfare reform and women’s rights issues throughout her life. The house became a resource centre for women’s groups, with office space and meeting rooms, and a 10c a day childcare centre for working mothers, Canada’s first such public institution.

By 1913 21 organisations with 5,000 members were shareholders, and membership continued to grow. The crèche had moved in 1917 to Cambie Street, and by 1924 funds had been raised to allow the design of a new building, although the original house wasn’t demolished, but moved to the back of the lot. The new building had shareholders from 80 organizations and 500 individuals; it was smaller than had originally been hoped, but the war and economic downturn reduced the scale of the building. As with many businesses and groups, the recession of the early 1930s hit funds hard, and by 1933 the shareholders were finding it difficult to repay the remaining debt associated with the building. By 1940 it was impossible to retain the premises, and in 1941 it was taken over by the Salvation Army. By 1950 it was vacant, and in 1955 Pedersen’s Catering operated from the building. In 1966 Oil Can Harry’s club opened, lasting in various versions until 1977. The Carlyle, a residential and retail tower replaced the 1926 premises in 1988.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N292

Posted July 31, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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752 Thurlow Street (1)

This Downtown location has seen a dramatic transformation in the past few years as it has become an extension of the luxury shopping area that has expanded from Alberni Street. Today’s retail stores include Saint Laurent of Paris and Moncler, a clothing brand founded in France but now based in Milan. The stores are newly redesigned and refitted for their brands, but the building they’re in has been around for nearly 30 years: The Carlyle was designed by Aitken Smith Carter and completed in 1988. There are nearly 150 residential units here: they were initially rented, but were sold as strata units from 1989 onwards. Until the recent transformation there was a 7-11 on the corner of the building, and these units were part of The Keg steakhouse and bar.

The building here before the Carlyle was more modest; a three storey building that in this 1974 image was home to Oil Can Harry’s club. The club opened in 1966, and towards the mid 1970s there were effectively three clubs in one. On the main floor was a lounge usually featuring a singer with a rhythm section. Beyond that was the largest room of the club which usually had R&B bands and the occasional jazz group and upstairs was a jazz club.

The club was owned by Danny Baceda, who later also owned Issy’s and The Cave (before his company ended up in receivership in 1972), but his cousin, Frank Hook effectively ran the club. Despite seeing bookings for legendary performers including Ike and Tina Turner and Charles Mingus, disco eventually killed that version of the club. New management ran the club into the early 1980s as a disco club, complete with a pool and bridge in the middle of the room (where the dance floor might have made more sense).

The origins of the building are quite different from a nightclub. On 12 April 1911, women’s organizations banded together and formed Vancouver Women’s Building Ltd. The following year they purchased a lot at 752 Thurlow Street and spent years fundraising to erect their own building for meeting, office, and daycare space. The Vancouver Women’s Building, designed by A A Cox, opened in 1926. We’ll look at the history of that period in another post.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-433