Friday, November 19, 2010

Where Did That Come From?

Have you ever wondered about how certain places and streets got their name? Vancouver, of course, was named after Captain George Vancouver and - as I have previously reported - the name was suggested by CPR President Van Horne when certain individuals were trying to entice Van Horne to put the railroad in Vancouver or Granville as it was then called.

The settlement of Granville rose around the area that is now known as Gastown. And Gastown was named after its colorful citizen, Gassy Jack Deighton. And, just to fill your head with trivial facts, according to 2006 Stats Canada  figures:
Gastown is 18.2 hectares or 44.97 acres or 1,959,031.6 square feet;
The population in 2006 was 2,323;
There are 82 retail shops, 37 restaurants/cafes, 11 galleries and 8 bars/nightclubs.

But what about the streets in Gastown? Where do those names come from?

Water Street was so named because of its proximity to the waterfront. At high tide water from the Burrard Inlet used to cover parts of the street.

This is the corner of Water Street and West Cordova. Cordova was named after Don Antonio Bucareli y Cordova - 46th Viceroy of Mexico.

This building is at the corner as well and you can see one of the eight bars/nightclubs. This is the Holland Block built in 1891-1892. The flatiron Italianate Victorian building is built in a triangular style to maximize the lot shape which is a result of old Gastown street survey meeting the new CPR land grant survey.

About a block further down Cordova there is Homer Street. That street was named after Joshua Attwood Reynolds Homer (1827-86) who was a New Westminster merchant and an MP for New Westminster 1881-86.

Homer Street actually ends at West Cordova and this is where it would go if it went right through.

This is the back of Le Magasin building, which Homer street would go right through if it weren't stopped. Architects Stuart and White designed this in 1910 and in the 1960s it was renovated. That was before Gastown was declared a heritage site so those redoing the building didn't have to adhere to regulations keeping the building in the style it was originally designed. Ergo it stands out on the block.

Cambie Street, named after the first divisional engineer of the CPR Henry John Cambie (1836-1908), is just after Homer Street. And if you turn towards the water - north - you will come  to the Steam Clock.

Today I was lucky enough to catch the clock as it was actually steaming. What an interesting sight wouldn't you say?

Abbott Street was named after Harry Braithwaite Abbott (1820-1915) - the first general superintendent of the Pacific Division  of the CPR, the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The Dominion Hotel and Lamplighter Pub at 92 Water Street was built in 1900-01 by E.G. Guenther. The hotel, designed in an Italianate style, was popular with commercial travellers. The pub on the bottom floor was the first in Vancouver to serve alcohol to women and commerates Vancouver's first lamplighter John Clough.

When I saw this sign I thought that this was called Blood Alley because of its proximity to Gaoler's Mews - Vancouver's first jail but that is only part of the reason.

At one time if a person wanted fresh meat they would visit one of the many butchers on this street. Here the butchers would make sure you had fresh meat as it was slaughtered as needed. Blood from the butchered animals soaked the streets. For that reason, as well as the fact that people were also hung in this area, gave the alley its macabre name.

Not far from here is the statue of Gassy Jack Deighton which is situated where once an old maple tree stood. It was under those branches that pioneers met in 1885 and chose the name Vancouver for this great city.

This is the corner with the Hotel Europe. Here Carrall Street travels from the south and meets with Water street coming from the west as well as Powell Street and Alexander coming from the east. Here Water Street ends.

Powell Street was named after Dr. Israel Wood Powell (1836-1915) who happened to be the first president of the Medical Council of British Columbia and first superintendent of Indian Affairs for British Columbia.

Carrall Street was named for Dr. Robert William Weir Carrall (1837-79) a doctor and politician.

Alexander Street was named for Richard Henry Alexander (1844-1915). Manager of Hastings Sawmill.

This building, #1 Alexander, stands on a very important site. The Dunn Building was erected in 1898 and designed by N.S. Hoffar. It was originally built to house the ship chandlery and hardware business of Thomas Dunn. It also stands on the spot where the 'tent' city hall was established after the great fire.

So now you know where some of the names in that area came from.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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