Archive for the ‘Woodwards’ Tag

West Hastings Street – 100 block, north side (1)

100 block W Hastings

We’ve viewed this block – or at least a few of the buildings – from the other end. We’ve identified the Selkirk Block, (about halfway down the block) and the former YMCA that became the Hotel Astor. At the eastern end of the street we’re looking at the first building in Woodward’s new departmental store – the company having originally set up further east at Main and Georgia in 1892. This image (although dated in the Archives as c.1900)  shows the street as it looked in around 1904. The foundation for the new store was laid in June 1903, and it was completed as fast as possible. W T Whiteway was the architect, E Cook the builder, at the cost was $60,000. It was a four storey ‘brick and stick’ construction – a heavy wooden frame with a brick facade. A few years later Smith and Goodfellow designed the $35,000 vertical addition (in 1910). Three years later the store got a huge further addition, a $100,000 westwards extension designed by George Wenyon with a steel and concrete frame.

We’ve been unable to identify the two-storey building that was demolished to make way for the 1913 addition. It was built after 1903 – that year the site is clear (and it looks to be under construction in this image). The first name of a business appears in 1905 when John A Flett was running a hardware store, presumably in the new building. A year later they’re joined by White & Bindon, stationers, J W Gilmer selling carpets and Richard Mills, boots and shoes. In 1908 the hardware and stationers are still there, but the other tenants are the American Type Founders Co, Fraser and Pride clothing and H E Munday had the boot and shoe store. In 1909 the building was apparently owned by Mahon, McFarland & Mahon who paid for alterations to the storefront.

Today just the 1903 store still stands – looking more like the 1903 photo today than it has for a century. The Woodwards redevelopment (designed by Henriquez Partners for Westbank) retained the wood-frame building but added a concrete reinforcement on the western facade to give the old frame seismic stability, while the brick facade was tied back and the original lettering was faithfully restored after being covered in layers of paint for decades. New retail uses including a TD Bank now sit underneath office space, while further west the new part of the project here included non-market housing and Simon Fraser University’s Arts campus, as well as a London Drugs store.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2102



Hudson’s Bay – Cordova Street

The Bay, Cordova

When the Hudson’s Bay Company built a new store in the new city of Vancouver in 1887, they hedged their bets on the location. It wasn’t in the rapidly establishing replacement for Granville – ‘Old Granville Township’ around Carrall and Water Street, where the 1870s fledgling city had grown, only to be destroyed by fire in 1886. But it also wasn’t on the rival centre being developed by the Canadian Pacific Railway on Granville Street, running from the  CPR Terminal to the new hotel, way off in the recently cleared bush. The Bay executives split the difference and put their new store roughly halfway between the two rivals, on Cordova Street. If there’s any indication of which side they might favour in the tug of war between the two developing centres it might be indicated by their choice of designer – T C Sorby, also responsible for the design of the Hotel Vancouver.

The building he gave them wouldn’t have looked out of place on any prosperous English High Street. That shouldn’t be surprising; Yorkshire-born Sorby arrived in Canada in the early 1880s and by the time he reached Vancouver in 1886 he was already 50, with a long career already behind him in England. Here’s how the new store looked in 1888 in a VPL photo.

The Bay didn’t stay in this location for very long. In 1892 C O Wickenden was hired to build a new store on Granville Street – confirming the company commitment to the CPR’s part of town. They still ran the Cordova store until 1894, and in 1895 Beaty and Hall had replaced them, greengrocer and produce merchants. In 1901 there was a druggist here, with a cigar store in the other half of the building. Eventually the building was swallowed up in the ever-expanding Woodward’s store, replaced recently with the 43 storey tower of the Woodwards redevelopment.


Posted 1 January 2014 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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West Cordova east from Granville

Here’s another corner that has changed significantly, and not necessarily for the better. We’re pretty certain the 1940s picture here shows the 1911 stores designed for the Allan Brothers (who also built them) by W P White. White only practiced architecture in Vancouver for two years – he was basically a Seattle architect – but he designed a lot of buildings in that short period, including the Sylvia Apartments (now the Sylvia Hotel). The magazine stand anchored the corner, and way off down the street you can see Woodwards store with the tower and the replica Eiffel Tower – but no ‘W’ so it must be before 1944. Today there’s a parkade designed by Reid Jones Christopherson back in 1969. Parkades are starting to disappear across the Downtown – three are already being redeveloped (on Richards Street and on Thurlow). This one may join the list of ‘gone and best forgotten’ soon as a proposal has been submitted to replace it with an office tower.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-3272


Posted 8 January 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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108 West Cordova Street

In 1898 the Klondike gold rush was in full swing, and having a doubly important impact on the 12 year old City of Vancouver. While successful prospectors were already returning with enough money to commission investment buildings (like Thomas Flack), Vancouver merchants were making money equipping the miners scrambling to catch the tail end of the boom. William Kerfoot ran a clothing and furnishing business with his brother-in-law James Johnston (who had married William’s sister, Deborah, in Emerson Manitoba in 1881). They opened their store in G W Grant’s 1887 Wilson Block in 1890 or 1891 (when they appear in the street directory for the first time).

Like other city businesses they quickly cashed in on the massive upsurge in demand that accompanied the would-be miners, and this 1898 image shows a mule train about to head out loaded with supplies. In the background is Dougall House, built in 1890. Today this corner of the Woodwards development, designed by Henriquez Partners, is partly occupied by the Nesters Market supermarket, part of Jimmy Pattison’s retail empire, reintroducing a food store where Woodwards Food Floor used to be.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P336


Victory Square

The three significant buildings seen in the view from Victory Square in 1927 are still there. On the left is the 13 storey Dominion Building. Started in 1908 by the Imperial Trust Company it was designed by J S Helyer and Son. John Helyer handled the architectural aspects of their projects, while his son Maurice was more involved with the engineering.  An over optimistic belief that the necessary $600,000 would be easy to raise led to a shotgun merger with the Dominion Trust Company, and the building was completed in 1910. Perhaps it would have been called the Imperial Building if the merger hadn’t been needed.

The Dominion is said to be the first steel-framed building in the city, and on completion the tallest in the British Empire. When it was built it was across the street from the Courthouse, which was replaced in 1913, and later transformed into Victory Square with the Cenotaph, which can be clearly seen in this 1927 photograph. Several books and websites carry statements like this “Tragically, the Dominion Building’s architect, J.S. Hellyer, is said to have tripped, fallen and died on the interior staircase during the opening party for the building. His ghost reportedly haunts the staircase.”

It may well be true that Mr Helyer (not Hellyer) did fall at some time during the building’s construction, but the fall was not fatal and father and son went on to design other buildings. John Helyer finally died in 1919, having seen the building suffer further financial crises, with the Dominion Trust Company selling the building to the Dominion Bank, the Trust Company President W R Arnold committing suicide and the main financial backer Count Alvo von Alvensleben bankrupt.

The smaller building in the centre, the Flack Block was completed in 1899 to William Blackmore’s design for Thomas Flack who made his money successfully prospecting in the Klondike. On the right is the Carter-Cotton building, also steel framed and completed in 1909. Designed by Cox and Amos, it was home to the News-Advertiser newspaper. Later acquired by the Province newspaper, it continued as editorial offices until 1960. The Flack Building has recently had an expensive and superb restoration designed by Acton Ostry Architects that has added a new fifth floor. And the only significant addition to the picture? The 43 storey Woodwards W Tower designed by Henriquez Partners and completed in 2010.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Park N19


148 West Cordova Street

Here’s another building on the block where the new Woodwards project sits today. This is on the Cordova side, and back in 1889 when the photograph was taken Mr Kurtz sold his cigars here. In 1887 Mr Kurtz had his Pioneer cigar manufactory on Westminster Avenue (Main Street today) and in 1888 he was shown at the corner of Water and Abbott at #4 Abbott, but by 1890 his business has moved to Cordova. The other businesses were A. Godfrey and Company Hardware and Davidson Brothers Jewellers. Because they were the tenants, we can tell from an 1889 Daily World article who developed the site: “in process of construction on Cordova Street reference may first be made to Robert Grant’s block which is fast nearing completion. This fills up a large gap and when quite completed will be a very handsome building. It will be occupied by A Godfrey & Co and Messrs Davidson Bros on the ground floor and divided into offices and rooms above.”

John Kurtz was an American, born in Pennsylvania in 1831 who had followed the stories of gold from San Francisco to Yale around 1858. In San Francisco he’d been well off “He was dressed in the height of fashion and was one of the leaders of society there-a club member, a poet, a noted wit a contributor to the press, and one of the most popular and amiable young fellows in that big city”

In Yale he was in business, owning interests in several mines, and along with other local businessmen operated a sternwheeler steamer to break the monopoly of high freight fees. (The owners included Hugh Nelson, who for a time part owned Moody’s Mill in Burrard Inlet). Kurtz also knew the Oppenheimer family – he was a partner with them in a coal syndicate in 1883. In 1878 he established The Pioneer White Labor Cigar Company, based in Victoria, and it would seem a Vancouver operation as well.

Kurtz died in 1891, although Kurtz & Co remained in business. In later years Woodward’s expansion swallowed up the site, and this was where their gas station was located. Now it’s the pointed end of the 43-storey W Tower of the Henriquez Partners designed Woodwards complex.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P71


Posted 5 January 2012 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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West Cordova and Abbott (and Woodwards)

We’ve already referenced the Wilson Block on the corner, owned by real estate broker W B Wilson. He had a series of important tenants including Rand Bros real estate (who initially set the development of the Alhambra Hotel going before George Byrnes took it on), a barrister, D S Wallbridge and the Vancouver Gas Co (C D Rand secretary-treasurer).

The building behind it, up Abbott Street is the first Metropole Hotel, built in 1892 to N S Hoffar’s design for English investors Town and Robinson. For 1894 and 1895 there’s an odd Directory entry “Hotel Metropole vacant” but by 1898 Hodson and Dempsey are proprietors, and in 1900 when this VPL photograph was taken William Hodson was the proprietor, and George Parker was the Manager.

By 1904 Woodward’s Department store had been established on the vacant lot on the corner of West Hastings, next to the Hotel Metropole (at that time managed by Atkins and Johnson) . The Hotel remained standing until 1924 when Woodwards expanded southward, and the Metropole name transferred to an existing hotel, the Travellers Hotel on the opposite side of the street. W T Whiteway designed the 1903 4-storey Woodwards building, and Smith and Goodfellow the vertical expansion of Woodwards in 1910. Today’s heritage restoration was designed by Henriquez Partners as well as the 32 storey tower on the corner.


Here’s a Vancouver Sun image dated to 1908 that shows the 1903 store with its new addition on the Abbott and West Hastings corner and the restored (and seismically rebuilt) Woodwards building, now used as offices and a childcare. The Metropole Hotel can be seen a bit further down Abbott Street. As the addition by Smith and Goodfellow wasn’t added until 1910, the image must really date from at least then.


West Cordova from Abbott (1)

We’re looking west up West Cordova Street from the junction with Abbott in this 1889 Vancouver Public Library image. Somebody at the studio of Bailey and Neelands took the photograph – both the Bailey and Neelands families moved west from the same small area of rural Ontario that a number of other successful Vancouver pioneers came from. The only building in common in both pictures is right at the end of the street and almost out of sight. That’s the Arlington Block, developed by Dr. James Whetham in 1888, almost certainly using N S Hoffar as the architect. The pink building is the Panama Block, built in 1913. The block on the left is G W Grant’s first known project in Vancouver “commercial block for W B Wilson, 1887”. It was illustrated in an 1887 promotional publication “Vancouver – Pacific Coast Terminus of the CPR”.

There are several businesses that will be very successful on this side of the street including G E Trorey, whose business was later bought by Birks jewellers. (When Birks took over they also got the clock Trorey bought in Boston for $2,000 in 1905. When they moved their business to its new location they also moved the clock, which became the Birks Clock). Johnston and Kerfoot are there, who outfit many Klondike excursions in years to follow, and McClennan and McFeely, who will grow a trading empire in the city. Bailey Brothers, the photographers, are based about half way up the street, just before Kurtz and Co’s cigar factory. On the right is the Cosmopolitan Hotel, the Savoy Theatre (designed by William Blackmore), a Chinese company, Kwong Hang Chung Co (showing they weren’t all confined to Chinatown) and Rae’s Boot and Shoe Co, among others.

In between the two photographs Woodwards took over the entire south side of the street, and these days it’s the base of the 43-storey Woodwards W tower by Henriquez Partners with a mix of condo and non-market housing above retail, including Nester’s Market. Most of the right side is Henriquez’s redesigned Gastown Parkade, but the Cook Block from 1901 and the 1911 Runkle Block designed by G L T Sharp are both still standing.


Hotel Astor – 147 West Hastings Street

Here’s the Hotel Astor in 1910.  The Ormidale Block is just to the west, Woodwards Department Store is to the east, and it was probably designed by Dalton and Eveleigh for Crowe and Wilson and finished the year before. Swain Sherdahl, who also owned the Dominion Hotel on Water Street, had a controlling interest in the building. Until recently we hadn’t realised that the hotel use took Thomas Hooper’s 1890 YMCA building and converted it for hotel use, adding a canopy but removing the fancy cornice.

By 1917 it was owned by Mr Frank McIntyre of W H Malkin and Co decided to have the hotel remodelled for store purposes, and T A Fee got the design job.

Now it’s the western end of the huge redevelopment of the Woodwards property, and part of the Simon Fraser University presence in the scheme. Developed by Westbank and designed by Henriquez Partners it was completed in 2010.

Image source: BC Archives