Archive for the ‘W J McMillan’ Tag

800 block Beatty Street – north side

We’re looking up Beatty Street from Smithe Street. These warehouse buildings date back over a century, and this 1926 image shows them already looking well used. On the corner is the $25,000 1910 warehouse designed by Thomas Hooper for J McMillan – although the insurance map and the street directory identify the company as W J McMillan and Co Ltd. Next door, in the same year, Thomas Hooper also designed the warehouse for E G Prior and Co, costing $21,000. The third warehouse in the row was another Hooper design, also in 1910 costing $22,000 for J B Campbell. That was shown (inaccurately) as being used by the McCampbell Storage Co on the insurance map. Baynes and Horie had the contracts to build all three buildings.

The McMillan warehouse was associated with the Saskatchewan Flour Mills Co. but was developed by a firm of wholesale grocers. W J McMillan was born in Restigouche, in New Brunswick, in 1858 and came west, initially to Sacramento, then Oregon before Victoria in 1883. He arrived in Vancouver in 1888 as a produce merchant, although he had already acquired land in the city. As he moved from selling produce to wholesaling his brother, Robert McMillan became a partner, and the business incorporated in 1907 adding E J Deacon as Vice-President. The business prospered, and they shipped as far as Yukon and Alaska. Before they moved to this new building they occupied one on Alexander Street.

We have also seen the earlier building occupied by E G Prior’s hardware company. Prior was a Yorkshireman who originally trained as a mining engineer, and worked in the Nanaimo coal mines from 1873. He was appointed Inspector of Mines in 1877, living in Victoria, representing that city in parliament from 1886 (and establishing his company a few years earlier on Yates Street). Prior was elected an MP in 1886 but lost his seat in 1901 because of violations of the Electoral Act. In 1902 he became Premier of BC, only to be dismissed in 1903 following a charge of conflict of interest by ensuring his hardware company received Government business. He remained an MLA until his defeat in 1904, the same year he failed to be elected to a federal seat. He was appointed lieutenant-governor of BC in 1919, only to die in office in 1920.

John Bell Campbell was born in Woodville, Ontario, and his father moved from there to Vancouver in 1891, having sold his carriage building business and retiring, eventually joined by all five sons. J B was the eldest, initially training as a blacksmith and then working for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. He later moved to Atchison and worked for the Missouri Pacific Railway. In 1898 he moved to Vancouver, with the initial intention of heading to the Klondike. Instead he opened a storage business, growing to the point of building his own warehouse. In 1910 he organized The Campbell Storage Company, Limited, which was incorporated with him as the president; his brother, Gregor L Campbell, as the vice president and his son, Charles E Campbell, as the secretary and manager; while his son, John G, and brother Charles were directors. In 1921 they sold out to Mainland Terminals, part of C P Railways operations, who had another warehouse on Beatty Street. The Campbell family were very active in the city’s life. J B Campbell was elected alderman for four years between 1907 and 1911. He stood for a provincial seat in 1909, but wasn’t elected. In 1910 he was made shipping master for the port of Vancouver. His extraordinarily comprehensive 1913 biography revealed that “Mr. Campbell is five feet eleven inches in height and weighs one hundred and eighty-five pounds.”

His son, Charles went on to own the Vancouver Daily World for three years having worked for the family business from 1910 until it was sold. Previously he had been part-owner of the Sun, and after selling the World in 1924 he founded another paper, the Star, only to sell that after 6 weeks to Victor Odlum. He moved to Alberta, bought the Edmonton Bulletin in 1925 and stayed for many years.

The McMillan warehouse today is home to a college offering courses in gaming, graphics, fashion and interior design. The Prior building was added to and converted to 21 artist live/work strata apartments in 1999, while the Campbell building was one of the earliest residential conversions of an industrial building, with 37 rental apartments built in 1989.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N258

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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. 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.

 

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

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