Archive for the ‘W F Gardiner’ Tag

630 Alexander Street

Unlike a couple of other buildings that were developed on this block with potentially more innocent intent, we can be certain that this was developed as a brothel (even if the permit said it was a rooming house). It was far from cheap for such a modest building – $15,000 – and developed by Ollie Gilbert. She hired on of the city’s more upstanding architects, W F Gardiner, and E J Ryan as builder in 1912. Six years earlier she had built a very expensive house on Harris Street (E Georgia today) for the same purpose. The street name was briefly changed again to Shore Street, and Ollie and all her girls were listed there in the 1911 census. She was 38, from the US, having arrived in Canada in 1906. She had 10 female lodgers, most with no stated occupation, but two claiming to be musicians, one a hairdresser and one a dressmaker. They were all from the US, except Jeanette Gibson from Quebec.

Ollie managed to keep her business out of the papers, except for one unusual case in 1915, when two local men, W. J. Taylor and R. J. Lewis appeared on charges of conspiracy to defraud, in connection with the sale of land in Oregon. She had already closed her establishment, although from the court case it was clear she was still in the city. “Miss Ollie Gilbert was the first witness called, and she testified to having been induced by the accused to pay $250. She believed she was buying 160 acres of land in Oregon.” The accused were selling documents which appeared to give title to the land, but actually were only forms that allowed an application to acquire the land. As the land itself was subject to another court action in the US, the offer was fraudulent. The men were convicted of fraud and sentenced to two years and 18 months’ imprisonment respectively. (Another witness who lost money on the same scam got minor satisfaction. William Hayes, a CPR employee from North Bend explained that “when he had learned that the land he had paid $260 for was worthless and that the land game was “bunco” he had Interviewed Taylor and In the argument had thrashed him and he himself had spent a night In the cells for it while Taylor put two weeks in the hospital.

After the first war this part of Alexander had been ‘cleaned up’ (although Nellie Arnold was still living here), and this became a Japanese owned rooming house operated by H Soga in 1922. By 1941 Howard Harman was running the rooms here (and also working as a machinist at the Heatley Machine Works, so probably his wife, Bessie, was running things), and in 1955 Tony Fediw. While several of the former brothels are still standing today, Ollie’s building was replaced in 1985 with the Dera Co-op, designed by Davidson & Yuen, with 56 units of non-market housing.

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Posted June 8, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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East Cordova Street – west from Jackson Avenue

This 1970s shot shows the buildings on the corner of Jackson Avenue, with Oppenheimer Park down the street on the right. The four storey building on the corner dates back to 1911 when it was developed by Frank Vandall. He first appeared in the city directories in 1909, managing the Roseleaf Rooms on Westminster Avenue (Main Street), although he was giving Vancouver as his location in legal filings in 1908. He moved on, and a year later was managing rooms at 143 Dunlevy Avenue. His own building, listed as the Vandall Block, was designed by W F Gardiner a year later, and cost $80,000 to build. According to the permit, Mr Vandall built it himself, but we know that Mr. Gardiner let the contracts to the various specialist sub-trades, so it appears that no overall contractor was hired.

Mr Vandall proved to be elusive, missing earlier census records and not showing up in 1911. In 1895, Frank Vandall, a miner, was living in Revelstoke, and in 1898 he had two partners in a placer mine on French Creek. In 1906 and 1907 there was a Frank Vandall working as agent with William Moody, surveying and marking timber to cut on the BC coast. In 1908 Frank Vandell was a land agent in Vancouver. It’s likely that his absence from the 1911 census was due to his death; a Frank E Vandell died in August 1911 and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. In 1912 his widow was recorded in the street directory, and while she was missing from the 1913 directory, was running the Roof Garden Rooms on Jackson in 1914, and for several years after that. Frank was only 45 when he died, and had been born in Ontario.

We think another Frank Ernest Vandall, who was born in March 1911 in Seattle, and died in 1957 in Vancouver, aged 46 was almost certainly Frank and Nellie’s son; His father was also named Frank, and his mother was formerly Nellie Ernestine Bishop. Frank junior was buried in Mountain View with his parents. Nellie had died in Capitol Hill in Seattle in 1943, and was also buried in Mountain View cemetery next to Frank. She had been born in Dublin, and left a sister in Ireland and two more living in England.

Over the years the rooms (which have their entrance on Jackson) were run by a number of different proprietors. The corner store changed too: in 1918 D D Radakovich ran a grocery store, and Nellie E Vandall was running the rooms upstairs. (The building to the south, which occupied the other half of the two lots, and can’t be seen in this image, was run by Japanese proprietor, Sam Takao). In 1922 A H McLean was running the Roof Garden Rooms, and by 1925 Mrs. Marriott. The corner store by then was part of Japantown, run by Shimoda Sugakichi. By 1940 the rooms had become the B C Rooms, run by T Sakamoto, but the Japanese connection was severed as the entire community were moved to internment camps away from the coast. In 1942 Mrs M Mcintosh was running the rooms, and next door were the Jackson Rooms, run by E Karlson. The two rooming houses continued operations for many years, (and are still operating today), although at some point they became under the same ownership as a single legal lot.

The building closer to us, with the bay windows, was developed in 1909, although some part of it had been completed earlier. Mrs. Hannah Peterson added a frame addition that year that she had claimed (on the permit) to have designed herself. She ran a lodging house, but unfortunately for us, had moved out by 1911 when the census was collected, and Frederick Frey had replaced her. She might have been the Swedish Hanna Peterson, who had arrived in 1889. We know nothing about Frederick, because only his name was recorded – no other details were noted, so we don’t know where he came from or how old he was. The rooming house is also now a non-market housing building called The Vivian, run as transitional women’s housing by Raincity.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-349

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Howe and Davie Street – sw corner (1)

For many years this site remained vacant, as site remediation from the earlier use as a gas station was needed. Eventually the site was cleared, excavated, and redeveloped, but the gas station use went back many decades. Here’s the Home gas station seen in a 1929 Vancouver Public Library image. The street directory doesn’t mention the gas bar, but that year Mutch Tires are listed, and a year later they had been replaced by Wallace and Co’s radiator repair business. A year earlier there appears to have been a house here, so the date for the picture looks to be correct. W F Gardiner designed a series of gas stations for Home Oil between 1927 and 1937, so he may have designed this one.

A few years earlier George Mutch’s tire store had been on Granville Street, and it was still there a year later, but for just one year, 1929, they tried branching out with a second location, although the timing was probably unfortunate, given the state of the economy. Home Gasoline were based in Alberta, and in February of 1929 they hit a bonanza. Pierre Berton told their story; “In January you could buy a hundred shares of Home Oil for $350 (or $3.50 per share) with a down payment of less than $50 and sell them in March for $1,585 (or $15.85 per share), But hardly anybody sold, because everybody believed stock prices would continue to rise. And for another six months they did.” Will McMartin in the Tyee explained that Home Oil’s stock-market valuation made William C. Shelly, B.C.’s finance minister and the company’s president, who had bought his seed shares for just a dollar each, an extremely wealthy man. By March 5, Home Oil hit an all-time high of $18, and Shelly’s personal stake in the firm was estimated at close to $2 million. Six months later as the stock market weakened, investors began to sell their Home Oil stock. On Oct. 25, the day after Black Thursday, the company’s shares were down to $12.65. Home Oil Co. Ltd was nearly wiped out in the years following the stock market crash. From a high of $18 the company’s stock two years later was trading at just fifteen cents. William Shelly lost his personal fortune, and his job as Finance Minister.

Today the building here is called Alto, a condo building completed in 2010 whose name references the ten foot ceilings.

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Posted February 26, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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May Wah Hotel – East Pender Street

The May Wah was developed in 1913 at a cost of $75,000 by Barrett & Dean as ‘apartments/rooms’, designed by W F Gardiner. The building opened in 1915 as the Loyal Hotel, a name it retained until at least 1930. Mr. ‘Dean’ was really Evans Deane, born in Australia. He built a block in New Westminster as well, and in 1910 newspapers was described as ‘Evans B Dean, capitalist’. Mr. Barrett was George A Barrett, another broker. Both were involved in 1910 in a rail car company, drydock and ship building. Barrett and Deane also built the Empress Theatre on East Hastings. The street directory showed three partners in G A Barrett & Co; George Barrett, Evans Deane and Harry Musclow.

Evans Deane had first been in Vancouver around 1880, when he was working on tunneling contracts through the Rockies for the CPR. He moved to San Francisco from 1882 and 1887, and lived in Oakland, where he was a printer. He had first arrived in San Francisco in 1876 when he worked for a stockbroker for a number of years. He met his wife, Sophie who was from San Francisco, and they married in 1885, and apparently moved to Vancouver a year or two later. By 1891 Mr. Deane was a real estate broker and insurance agent in Vancouver. From 1903 to 1920 the Deane family, including their four children, lived in the West End.

In 1917 the Daily World reported a complex case involving the hotel: “TENANT MUST VACATE Lease of Hotel Property Held Not to be Good One. Evans B. Dean, a former owner of the Loyal Hotel, after conveying his title to other parties, made lease of the property for five years at $75 per month to a Chinaman; when as a matter of fact it is stated that the place can easily be rented for $200 per month. This morning the mortgagees, the Sun Life Insurance Company, who are now in possession of the title, made an application in supreme court chambers to have the lease broken and the tenant evicted. It was stated by Mr. H. A. Bourne that the lessor at the time he rented the property had no power to do so. and that the present tenant really stood in the position of a trespasser. The present titleholders had an opportunity to lease the place for $200 per month for the first six months, and at $250 per month after that period. Mr. Alex. Henderson, K. C, for the tenant, claimed that his client had acted in good faith, and it was not certain the lessor at the time the lease was made did not have power to make it. His lordship, however, ruled that it had been shown with sufficient clearness that the lease was not a good one, and ordered the tenant to vacate by the end of March.”

In 1918 Mr. Deane retired from real estate, and concentrated on his main interest, yachting. He was a life member of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. As well as owning yachts, including at different times Tillicum, Wide Awake and Alexandra, Mr. Deane owned a powerboat called Davey Jones. The family appear to have moved to Washington in the 1930s, but when Sophie Deane died in 1940 it was in Vancouver, and Evans was still here a decade later when he died, aged 91.

George Barrett was a builder in 1901, living in the West End in a house he built in 1901. The census shows him with his wife Mary, their four children, and sister in law, Laura Blackwell. He appears to have been born in England, but his wife came from Ontario, where they married in 1887 and where their 11 year old son, Henry, was born. The seven-year old, Meryl, was born in BC, so they presumably arrived in BC in the early 1890s. By 1903 he had moved into real estate, and in 1911 the family moved to a new house on E 19th, developed (according to the building permit) by Mary Barrett.

The Loyal was renamed the New Orient in 1947, the Le-Kiu in 1950, the Garden in 1956, the Sydney in 1969 and finally the May Wah in 1980. Le-Kiu are a Chinese grocery wholesalers who from 1967 to 1995 had a store at 262 East Pender that was the first Western-style supermarket in Chinatown, where instead of telling a clerk what you wanted to buy, it was self-serve. The company were formed by H Y Louie’s grandsons, although they are a different branch of the family from the Louie family who own London Drugs.

The hotel was bought by the Shon Yee Association in 1926, and has been used as a Single Room Occupancy hotel for almost a century. Our 1985 image shows that it has hardly changed over the past 30 or so years. Most recently it has been acquired in early 2017 by the Chinatown Foundation. More than 100 low-income seniors, mostly women, as well as a few businesses call the single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel home. The intention is that over the next few years the building will be renovated including seismic upgrades as well as cleared fire exits, and repaired roofs and walls.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2386

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Posted November 16, 2017 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

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Hartney Chambers – West Pender Street

The building on the corner of Homer and West Pender is numbered as 347 West Pender, because this is only a short block. It’s a small building because it shares the lot with an older structure, the original offices for the Daily World newspaper in 1892, and later for the News Herald. Down the street is the Pender Ballroom and the Riggs-Selman Building.

Hartney Chambers was completed in 1909, and designed by W F Gardiner, who then had his offices here. He tendered the building in the last week of February 1908, and tenants were advertising their businesses in the building a year later. Tenants leased either a single or double room in the building, and so were small , often one-man businesses. The Daily World in July 1908 described the building, which today could benefit from some attention, but at the time had ‘a handsome entrance’ to the offices on the upper floors, with a tiled entrance and space for a shoe shine stand. The facades, which have been painted for many years, was originally of pressed brick with New Zealand stone trimmings. The building was fitted with electric lights and steam heating,

We had no idea about who the ‘Hartney’ is that the building was named for, or why the name appeared on it. There were no contemporary records we can find that link the building to an investor called Hartney, although there were two possible candidates in the city, Charles and Patrick, and neither one seems more likely than the other. Both ended up running hotels in the city. The Hartney Real Estate Co had offices in 1907 on West Hastings, but frustratingly their advertisements don’t identify the owner, and the company seems to have lasted only a few months.

The developer was listed on the building permit as Peter G Drost, and the Daily World referred to it as the Drost and Turnbull Building. Adkison & Dill built it at a cost of $22,000. Drost continued to own the building, as he carried out some repairs in 1919. He was born in Ontario around 1863, and in 1891 was living in Whitewater in Selkirk, Manitoba where he was a grocer. That’s where the ‘Hartney’ name almost certainly comes from; Mr. Drost acquired a homestead in Manitoba, and then in the 1890s ran a flour and feed store in the newly expanding railway town of Hartney. In 1895 a fire destroyed much of the centre of the town, reaching Drost’s store.

In 1901 he was still in Manitoba, but in Brandon. He first shows up in Vancouver in 1903, with this rather odd entry, as a manufacturer. The advertisement from the Delta News from November 1902 explains a little more.

In the 1911 census he was living on the 2600 block of Columbia street of Vancouver. In the census he was described as retired (at age 48), but in the directory he was listed as a broker, with his office in this building on West Pender. His wife, Anne, aged 52 was with him, also from Ontario, along with Estelle, 26 and Harold, 23, born in Ontario, and four more sons aged 18 to 12, all born in Manitoba. In 1911 Mr. Drost used the same team of architect and builder to build a rooming house on Powell Street.

Mr. Drost was a Methodist, and involved in running the Central City Mission. In 1912 he was manager of the Mission, reporting that “2,034 men had been given free beds apart from the men who had been given free shake – downs”. In 1930 he had a huge row with the directors, who ran the operation in a way that he didn’t believe followed Christian values as it was run as a private company, and sometimes turned the destitute away. Clearly his disagreements were eventually resolved as the Archives have this image of him in 1949, burning the mortgage for the Mission.

Our image was shot some time in the 1970s, and today the building is still standing as a backpackers hostel. In 1918 it was home to the Vagabond Club, but by 1920 there were some rooms in residential use and by 1930 it had switched to entirely residential use as the Hartney Apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-16 and CVA 371-1576

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Posted May 4, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Richards Street – 900 Block east side (2)

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The building on the right of this 1981 image is also on our previous image. It dates from the mid 1950s, although that might have been a refurbishment of a $10,000 building designed and built by Bedford Davidson for the Pioneer Auto & Carriage Company in 1920. They were a firm of auto body builders run my William Alexander, Michael McLean and William Benson, and seem to have developed from the Pioneer Carriage and Shoeing Co, shifting from horses to horseless carriages.

The decorative building to the north was built in 1913,  a $30,000 office and store designed by W F Gardiner for the North West Trust Co., Ltd. It too was part of Vancouver’s expansive motordom, occupied initially with the showrooms of the Albion Motor Co, (a Scottish vehicle manufacturer), the Albion Motor Express  and the United Auto Agency of BC offices.

Off in the distance on the left is the first building on the block, the Pioneer Steam Laundry, built in 1908 and still standing today. While the steam laundry building remains, the rest of the block here is taken up by The Savoy, a 2000 condo tower designed by Hancock, Bruckner Eng + Wright.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.11

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Posted March 20, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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400 block West Pender Street – north side

400 W Pender

Here are three buildings, each over 100 years old, that have survived on the same block. This 1947 Vancouver Public Library image shows the Niagara Hotel in the centre, built in 1913 and opened as the Hotel Connaught. It was designed by Otto Moberg for William Walsh. Next door is the taller, and narrower Hutchinson Block, designed by W F Gardiner for Dudley D Hutchinson. Gardiner used a design of centre-pivoted window frequently, but not exclusively used by Parr and Fee. The Connaught cost $55,000 and was built by H Murray, while the Huchinson Block, described as a reinforced concrete store & office, 8 storeys cost $60,000 and was built by Adkison & Dill in 1910.

niagara 1947When it opened the Hotel Connaught, run by local hoteliers White and Passarini, boasted a French chef, and fifty of the 120 rooms had a bath! (And in those bathrooms were “individual cakes of soap, little glass shelves and all the little dainty wrinkles that make for perfection“). The hotel boasted the first oil-fired heating plant installed in any hotel in the city. The hotel lasted a relatively short time as the Connaught; by 1922 it had become the Balfour Hotel, run by Albert Davis and only a year later it was rebranded again as the Niagara, run by E R Rickman and W A Badger.

The Heritage Statement of Significance identifies Walter William Walsh as the developer of the hotel; a successful lawyer and partner in Williams, Walsh, McKim and Housser. Originally from Montreal, after graduation he headed west and was called to the bar in Vancouver in 1899. Interestingly, biographies published in 1913 and 1914 make no reference to any property development activities, which made us wonder if he wasn’t the developer at all. Checking the Building Permit we found that William Walsh is named there. He was president of the Metropolitan Trust Co Ltd – so a much more likely candidate for a significant development (especially as they had offices on the third floor of the Hutchinson building next door). Born in Quebec he was aged 52 when the arrived in Vancouver in 1896. In Quebec he was a wholesale clothing merchant; here he reinvented himself as a financier. He had a new home built on Granville Street at Matthews in 1912 that cost $15,000, designed by N Murray who might easily be the H Murray who built the Connaught.

In 1947 the hotel was given one of the city’s finest signs, A replica Niagara Falls, 60 feet above the ground with 45 feet of spilling blue-vein neon water, cascaded down the building over four floors. Silver spray crashed onto neon rocks edged by neon evergreen trees. It was installed by Neon Products and designed by Laurence Hanson. Initially, after rebranding as the Ramada in 1998, only the lettering was changed. Then in in 2005 the dynamic elements of the design were removed, leaving just the oversized corporate logo.

Dudley DeCourcey Hutchinson arrived in the city from Winnipeg in 1906. Born in Barbados where his father, John Inniss Hutchinson was manager of a sugar plantation, he quickly established himself in the ballooning real estate business, and built his first investment on Pender. Keen to improve his financial position, Mr. Hutchinson appears to have been a little too keen on at least one occasion. Hired by Amos Fleming to broker a land purchase, he quoted $220 an acre for one piece of land. He successfully negotiated to pay only $180 an acre, but omitted to mention this to Mr. Fleming, thus pocketing the difference. On a second lot he claimed that he was going to have to pay more than an agreed initial price, and persuaded Mr. Fleming to pay that amount, while actually completing the transaction at the original price. Court records from 1908 tell the story: “The defendant then invested the profits he had made on these transactions in the purchase of four other city lots and the plaintiff, on discovery of the deceit and artifices which had been practised in connection with his business, brought the action for a declaration that the defendant was his agent and became trustee for him of the four other lots purchased by the defendant with the secret profits he had thus made, or, in the alternative, to recover the amount of the difference between what he had been obliged to pay for the two lots and the prices actually paid to the vendors for them by the defendant.” Having lost in court, and appealed and lost again, Mr. Hutchinson had to repay the difference in the price of the two transactions and not receive any commission. A year later, still aged only 25, he built the Hutchinson Block, and three years after that a West End apartment building, Grace Court.

When it first opened the Hutchinson Building had eight different real estate offices as tenants – and that was just on the ground floor. There were eight more on the upper floors, as well as others including the offices of the Diocese of New Westminster, the Central Coast Mission, the Western Canada Amusement Association, architects R M Fripp, and further up the building Claude P Jones, the Trussed Concrete Steel Co of Canada, the African Plume Parlor and Pacific Coast Lumber. By the end of the war, eight years later, the building was vacant. A year later it’s pretty clear that the building had been converted to residential use; half the tenants being women. There were a few offices on the lower floors; the Norwegian Consulate was here in the 1920s. Later the building got a name; the  Montgomery Apartment Hotel. Over time it became a more run-down SRO hotel the Park Hotel, until acquired by BC Housing who gave it an entirely new life with restoration of the high quality and highly detailed sheet metal cornices, spandrel panels and belt courses. The façade was fully restored to its original condition, replacing many of its prominent cornices and restoring the storefront to something closer to its original design.

The Empress, the smaller building on the corner is an even earlier structure,with rooms over retail space, built in 1906. The owner of the land was Chinese merchant Sam Kee who acquired the two 25 foot lots at the corner of Pender and Richards in 1904. Chinese investment outside Chinatown wasn’t encouraged, and the site was sold for $20,000 to William Walsh in 1905, who built the property in 1906 for $25,000, probably using Grant and Henderson as architects. He sold it to Oakland investors for $200,000 in 1909, and these days the building is the home of MacLeods Books.

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1190 Burrard Street

900 block Davie n

John Maclean was an American-born builder, who in 1901 built two frame houses on Davie Street alongside one that stood on the corner that had already been built a little earlier that year. That was almost certainly also built by Mr. Maclean – he also built a house on the next lot to the north on Burrard Street in 1902.

1190 auction 1910In 1905 John Paul, the truant officer lived next to the lane (the furthest east of the houses); Edward Langley, a manager with Prior & Co was in the centre house and Arthur Wellesley Davidson, mariner, was living in a house on the corner with Burrard. The captain was living in Vancouver as a master mariner at the time of his marriage to Eva Van Arsdel Margeson in 1900 in Hantsport, Hants Co., Nova Scotia (where he had been born). He retired as a marine superintendent with Canadian Pacific Railways.

By 1908 the captain, and the house, were gone. Instead there was a corner store with two apartments upstairs. (We assume that’s the building still standing today). In 1910 Joseph Tolson and his wife Alice ran the grocers on the corner – the Gold Standard Grocery. Upstairs were Mrs H R Smith at 1188 and Samuel D Lowry, a contractor in the other unit. A year later William Flemming was running the grocery, Mrs Maud Little (widow of William) was at 1188 and William Marshall was at 1190 1/2. We’re not sure whether it was Mrs. Smith or Mr. Lowry who had high-class tastes in expensive furniture, but in September 1910 there was an auction to sell the contents – the address suggests it might have been Samuel Lowry’s property.

The houses lasted into the 1920s. In 1925 there was a new development of three small stores on Burrard that thanks to Patrick Gunn we can identify the developer and architect. Griffith & Lee developed the $6,871 Stores/Offices built by Adkinson & Dill and designed by W F Gardiner. The developers had a number of building permits around the city dating back to 1914. A number of those identify them as ‘agents’, and the company were mortgage and financial agents based in the Winch Building, so may have been operating for a client in obtaining the building permit. Julius H Griffith and Edgar S Lee had been in business in the city for many years. Mr. Griffith was active in the arts, as a member of the Kipling Club and also treasurer of the Symphony Society in the early 1920s. He was also an active member of the lawn tennis club, and the 1911 census showed him living on Georgia Street, aged 44, having been born in India to English parents. His son, also called Julius was born in 1912 and moved to London with his parents in 1928. He became an accomplished artist, returned to Canada in 1946 and his work is in a number of Canadian collections including the National Gallery of Canada. Edgar Lee was from Ontario, his wife Lillian was English and in 1911 they were shown as ‘boarders’ with their son, Douglas at 1001 Georgia – although the street directory said they were living in Shaughnessy Heights. They were probably staying at the address while work was being carried out on their house; their temporary address was Glencoe Lodge.

The three stores and the apartment are still standing – for now – but seem likely to face redevelopment in the near future. Our 1981 images show that the view along Burrard hasn’t really changed much, while down Davie the Swan Wooster building, built in 1984 fills in the skyline with residential towers behind. London Place is now a condo building rather than a hybrid office/residential, and time has taken its toll of the stuck on red brick façade.

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Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W08.15 and CVA 779-W08.14

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Posted February 4, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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London Hotel – Main and East Georgia

Pacific Hotel, E Georgia & Main

Across East Georgia Street from Charles Woodward’s store, the London Hotel is still standing. The Heritage Statement for the building says it was built by D J McPhalen in 1903, with a 1910 addition designed by W F Gardiner (the four storey section on East Georgia). That building work cost $35,000, and Mr. McPhalen built it himself. He lived in a house just across the street – in those days called Harris Street.

We’re questioning the accuracy of that version of events. We’re sure Dan McPhalen developed this site, but the insurance maps and street directories suggest a slightly different sequence of events. The corner is numbered as 700 Westminster Avenue, and in 1903 it was shown as being vacant with John S Duguid living a bit further south at 706 Westminster Avenue, with cabins behind. Both the cabins and Mr. Duguid had been on Westminster Avenue since 1901, when the City Fuel Co occupied the corner.  A year later S T Wallace’s grocery store occupied the corner, with Mr. Duguid and the cabins still listed at 706. In 1906 the grocery was still here, and Mr. Wallace was also running Avenue Furniture Mart. Next door at 706 the cabins were still here, and James Stanley, a saw filer was living at the same address. From the 1903 Insurance map and the Building permit issued that year we think that there was a retail unit built by Mr. McPhalen on the corner in 1903 at a cost of $4,500, (with grocer Samuel T Wallace occupying it from 1904). Mr. Duguid lived in the house furthest to the south. We think that was probably a single storey structure – we’d be surprised if $4,500 would pay for a 3-storey brick building (and the permit only mentions ‘brick store’).

In 1907 there was a ‘new building’ listed, (but so too were the cabins at the rear of the site). In 1908 the corner was still occupied by Mr. Wallace, both as a grocer and the Avenue Furniture Mart. 710 Westminster Avenue was the Gordon Furnished Rooms, (presumably the ‘new building’ completed in 1907) run by J Grantham, and in 1910 by Isabelle Cameron. In 1911 the London Hotel is listed here for the first time, with A G Marin and J Conta as proprietors. The 1912 Insurance map acknowledges the height change, but shows this as one single property, spelled out as London House. The southern half of the Main Street façade has square windows, similar to the 4-storey part on East Georgia, so we think those parts of the building might have been all built at the same time in 1910.

This suggests the corner part, with the arched windows was redeveloped (or added to the single storey retail built in 1903) in 1907 with the building we see today; initially as the Gordon Furnished Rooms, then in 1911 as part of the expanded London Hotel with the 4-storey East Georgia Street addition. The three storey building could have been built very quickly – the building on Westminster avenue built for Charles Woodward was completed in less than 3 months. It’s quite likely that D J McPhalen built them both; we know from building permits that he constructed his 1903 store, and the 1911 addition.

These days the Pacific Hotel is an SRO above the Brixton Café and the London Hotel bar, renovated by Porte Developments after they built Ginger, the condo building to the south in 2009. Our image shows the building when the condo was under construction, and the hotel was in its unrenovated state. For many years before the renovation, the windows were obscured reflecting a mid-century belief that drinkers should not be visible from the street. A ‘ladies beer parlour’ was constructed at the hotel in 1931; there were two entrances, one at the corner and one along Main Street.

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Posted January 18, 2016 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Downtown, Still Standing

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118 Alexander Street

110 Alexander

It’s unusual that a street configuration has changed in Vancouver, but here’s an exception. The Fleck Brothers warehouse (as it appears in 1934 in this Vancouver Public Library image) was in two sections, one fronting Alexander Street, and one fronting the rail right-of-way that ran all the way from False Creek at a diagonal angle through the East End. Elsewhere that right-of-way still exists today, although the tracks have long gone, but this 1934 image shows how the warehouse angled round the corner. The first element of the warehouse dates back to 1898; the third fourth and fifth bays (closest to the corner) were W J McMillan’s warehouse.

McMillan arrived in Vancouver from Victoria soon after the fire of 1886 – so had the advantage of having lost nothing in the fire, but ready to build a business in the frantic re-construction that followed. He was originally from New Brunswick (although the town he was born in is now part of Quebec). Leaving home in 1880 he farmed with two of his brothers in California before moving to Portland to work for the Oregon Railway and then Victoria in 1883 for the Island Railroad Company. In Vancouver he switched gears completely, and opened a fruit and produce store on Cordova, and then Abbott Street with two partners, (one, R J Hamilton, his cousin). When their new warehouse was built they were identified as McMillan and Hamilton. At some point the next two bays to the east were added – we don’t know who designed the original building or the addition (probably the same architect).

By 1902 the partners had taken over the Kootenay part of the business, and W J McMillan & Co remained in Vancouver with William and his brother Robert growing “one of the largest grocery houses of the Canadian west”. In 1912 they moved to Beatty and Smithe to a building they had Thomas Hooper design, and a sailmaker, C H Jones & Son (Charles and Fred Jones) occupied their space with Edward Blackwell, a machinery wholesaler. Jones & Co moved in 1918 to 28 Water Street and this building was vacant for a while. It appears that sugar and real estate baron B T Rogers had acquired the building; in 1916 he hired Somervell & Putnam to carry out some minor repairs to the building.

Fleck Brothers were another early arrival to the city; J Gordon Fleck and Bryce W Fleck were running their company in 1908, operating as manufacturers agents for Roofing, Lumber, Paper etc. from an office on Seymour Street. They moved to this building in 1921, and in 1941 hired W F Gardiner to add 2 additional floors, using a steel frame rather than the heavy lumber frame of the original structure. Once the CPR had stopped running trains through the streets they acquired the right-of-way, and in 1951 added a wedge-shaped addition to their premises. They also bought the warehouse on Powell Street across the lane. The company continued in business well into the 1970s, but as with most of the warehouses in this area, more efficient operations saw the use cease.

In 1988 the building was converted to residential use, with a new structure replacing the right-of way as a part of the Four Sisters Housing Co-operative, designed by Davidson and Yuen Partners for the Downtown Eastside Residents Association.

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Posted March 9, 2015 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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