Archive for the ‘Walter Thicke’ Tag

1674 Nelson Street

1674 Nelson

Here’s an old house on Nelson Street. The picture probably dates to around 1917 when Walter Thicke jnr lived here – he stayed here until 1952. He was shown as a log tower (it’s an odd definition until we realized that Walter and his brother Claude operated a towing company and owned a tugboat – although in 1917 Claude was away on active service). Walter had got married in 1915 to Dorothy Higman, and we can tell that Walter was doing well from the announcement that “After the ceremony Mr. and Mrs. Thicke left for a two weeks’ cruise on the groom’s yacht, Adelphi.” Technically it wasn’t Walter’s yacht – it was designed by E. B. Schock for the Thicke brothers, built in 1912 and sailed by them until 1919 when it was sold to Bert Austin, who sold it in 1922 to Seattle. In 1916 Claude was working for a blue print company, and Walter was an accountant with the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Walter senior was from England, having arrived in Canada in 1878 when he was around 31 years old. His wife, Clara, was nine years younger, and they had five children; Walter junior the eldest. All the children had been born in Ontario, and in 1891 the family were living in the town of Russell. When they first arrived in Vancouver they were living on Hornby Street in a house we already featured.

The first time this house appears is in 1909, when Frank Barnett, who was in real estate, was the occupant. He seems not to have actually developed anything, and there’s no office listed either, so we’re unsure whether he developed it himself. In 1911 he was replaced by Hugh Sweeney, who ran two businesses, as H Sweeny & Co, Clothing, Hats and Caps and Men’s Furnishings, and in partnership as Sweeney & Needham, Exclusive Clothiers. Both businesses were on West Hastings. In 1913 Sheldon D Brooks of the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Co owned the house, and carried out some unspecified repairs. In 1916 Allan C MacIntosh moved in here briefly, before the Thicke family, just in time for Walter’s daughter to be born in July.

Walter’s granddaughter, Heather recalls “There was a big lawn swing on the front porch and window seats in the living room. You could see daylight through the roof in the closet in the back bedroom – formerly the maid’s room. It is my understanding that he added this room himself, which may explain the daylight. There was a fireplace in the huge master bedroom and a tiny balcony off it. The bathroom was fabulous and big. There were linen drawers all down one wall and the toilet was down the hall in its own little room. There were two other bedrooms.”

Claude Thicke was apparently the leading light of the towing company. Betty Keller recounts how he started in business on the Sunshine Coast towing with the 71 ft tug Coulti, launched in 1904 in False Creek for Union Steamships, but sold because it buned too much fuel. Claude bored holes in the firebox to improve combustion, and made a go of the business. When he returned from the war (where he was in the Navy) B W B Navigation was created with four tugs bought from the Progressive Steamship Company, used to tow log booms from Jervis inlet.

The firm was renamed Blue Band Navigation when a new partner was added in 1923, and the firm added a sawmill and logging to the business – although the new partner was a poor businessman and the entire operation failed in 1931 while Claude was secretary and Walter manager of the company. In 1932 Walter was already a director of another company, Plummer-Craig, who were log brokers.In 1937 Claude also had a new job, working as the managing director of Hayes manufacturing, who built logging trucks on 2nd Avenue. That year Walter was identified as a salesman; in 1940 he was working as an appraiser by B C Appraisal, and both brothers kept the same line of business: Claude in 1950 was with Pacific Truck and Trailer, while Walter was treasurer and later a co-partner in the General Appraisal Company on Bute Street.

The redevelopment of the West End saw the loss of many of the original houses, including this one. Zoltan Kiss designed Chelsea Square, a 3-storey rental building with a central courtyard in 1979.

Image Source: grateful thanks to Heather Lapierre


Posted 27 July 2015 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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918 Hornby Street

918 Hornby

Here’s 918 Hornby from Heather Lapierre’s family album picture of her great-grandfather and family (many thanks for the image Heather). The image dates from 1893, the year the Thicke family arrived in Vancouver. Walter and Clara Thicke were from England, but had been in Ontario since at least 1881, as they were living in Ottawa that year – then Clara is listed as Anny Clara (although she was really Clara Annie). The 1891 census shows they had four children in the next decade, Walter, Claude, Violet and Harold aged from nine down to one. That year Walter was a clerk in the registry office and Clara a music teacher. They were living in New Edinburgh, a suburb of Ottawa. Once they arrived in Vancouver there were five children; in the photo there is an additional child, Marjorie, born the year after the 1891 census, also in Ontario. She is the child in Clara’s arms. Heather identified the people in the picture, from left to right they are Harold, Walter Sr., Clara, Marjorie, Claude, Violet and Walter Jr. Clara retained a musical interest in her new home city – she was a soloist at Christ Church Cathedral.

The block the family lived on initially developed slowly. Eight years after they moved in (in 1901) there was a house next door, but then four vacant lots to the north and just one small structure at the back of one lot of six lots to the south – but by then the family had moved on. That year they were living at 1138 Robson, where Walter senior was a notary public and Walter junior was a clerk with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Claude was also working for the CPR. They had moved away from Hornby even earlier; in 1896 Walter was listed at having moved that year to 1026 Haro and he was the deputy registrar at the Supreme and County Courts as well as Registrar of Marriages at the Law Courts. Walter died in 1903 when he and Clara were living at 1126 Robson, and Clara moved to 1150 Haro in 1905.

After 1901 the block was built out quite quickly – it was almost all houses, and only one lot was left undeveloped by 1912. By then the house had long been renumbered as 940 Hornby, and Mrs M A Howard was living there (the Howard family had been in the house for some years, and Mrs Howard was a widow at this point). Her husband, James was partner with John Ross in Ross & Howard, one of the city’s ironworks. (You can see their name on the cast bases of the Chinatown lamp standards). Mrs Howard stayed until after 1920, and a series of new owners (or tenants) seem to have lived in the house until at least 1950. There are few pictures of this street through this period, but the street Directories show that while a number of commercial uses appeared, several addresses on the block were still homes. Clearance for the proposed Provincial complex started in the mid 1950s; the 700 block for example was cleared in 1956.  Today, as we saw in an earlier post the even side of the 900 block of Hornby is part of Arthur Erickson’s Law Courts, now almost disappearing in summer behind Cornelia Oberlander’s tiered landscaping, and now also featuring the Hornby Street bike lanes.


Posted 13 August 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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