Monday, January 31, 2011

Abbotts and Future Sensing Dogs

Let's take a look at a place on Abbott Street in Gastown. Abbott Street was named for H.H. Abbot (1829 - 1915) who was a general superintendent for the CPR in BC.

This is 228 Abbott Street. It has been called the Hickey Block or the Abbott Cosmopolitan Rooms. Built in 1889, the Hickey Block is an early Gastown hotel.
This Victorian Italianate style building was one of the first brick buildings to be built after the Great Fire of 1886. It was a beautiful example of the craftmanship that existed in Vancouver as the city was emerging as Western Canada's predominant commercial center.

For a short time this was home to the Central City Mission until the mission's permanent home was built in 1911. Across the street at 233 Abbott Street.

When I read the above information it saddened me. I look at these photos and realize how this building has been left to deteriorate, this piece of our history could be vanishing. Hopefully someone will redo it.
Ming Wo Cookware has been in existence in Chinatown since 1917. Back then it was a hardware store and hardware stores sold everything. It was founded by Wong Chew Lip and in an article I read which was from 2006 the reporter was speaking with the grandaugher, Fontaine Wong. According to Ms. Wong it is still a family business and they have retained some of the original wood floors and shelving.

While walking today- I was on Cordova Street I think - I happened upon a street mosaic with an interesting story to it.

You might be furrowing your brow right now wondering what the importance of a yellow dog is. Well you remember the stories of Gassy Jack Deighton who founded Gastown - with a saloon - and was a character. He had numerous health problems (one theory is chronic heart and lung disease) and was bedridden in May of 1875. His yellow dog started howling the night of May 29 and Jack is reputed to have said "You son-of-a-bitch! There's something going to happen." And something did. That evening, at the age of 44, Gassy Jack Deighton passed away. Did the dog know something I wonder?

This is the Chinese Benevolent Association Building or the CBA building which was built in 1909. From its beginnings all through the 1960s this building and its inhabitents have played a vital role in the Chinese community in Vancouver.

Chinatown's leading businessmen at the time lent their time, expertise and other assets to ensure the building's construction. Wang Yu Shan sold the CBA the property at rock bottom prices, not making a profit at all;  Yip Sang, owner of the Wing Sang Company, supervised the construction work and Chang Toy, owner of the Sam Kee Company (the narrowest building in the world) also lent a hand.

The CBA was instrumental for many decades in trying to uphold the rights of the Chinese immigrants that were living not only in Vancouver but also across the country. The organization helped to supply education and health services; the CBA lobbied the government over such injustices as the Head Tax that was imposed on Chinese immigrants.
In 1910 a hospital for the Chinese was established in the building and seven years later the Chinese Public School became a tenant. Even though the CBA's influence and power started to decline in the 1960s due to the changing times, this building and the work that organization did remains important not only to Chinatown's history but to Vancouver as well.

Remember when I wrote on the Vancouver Club and couldn't find much information on it? Well this is the rear - last time I showed the Hastings Street entrance - and I managed to find some information after all.

January 1, 1914 is the date I found for this building. It is designed in a sophisticated Edwardian era structure with Classic Revival ornamentation. The architectural firm of Sharp and Thompson were responsible for this clubhouse that was made to resemble a substantial British townhouse - a home away from home if you will for the private club members.Interesting note. Shortly after winning the commission to build the Vancouver club, Sharp and Thompson won their most famous commisson - the University of British Columbia.

The above is a shot of downtown. You can see the train and the yeards, the W and the rear of a few Gastown buildings.

And a shot of downtown taken from East Hastings, around Victoria Drive. I was trying to get a really good photo of that balloon - the red dot you see - but it didn't work.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Some Notable Facts

This is the Water Street Side of the Jones Block. I only took a photo of the address listed - the brighter  orange building - but maybe both buildings are part of the block. And here I can see some differences that were mentioned in an earlier entry.

In 1903 a Canadian Pacific Railway engineer -Henry John Cambie- moved to Vancouver.From 1876 to 1880 he was in charge of CPR surveys and his survey from the Yellowhead Pass to Port Moody set the route to the lower Fraser. Cambie Street is named after him. 

1903 was the year that Vancouver got its first Crown prosecutor. At the age of 24, John Wallace deBeque Farris arrived in Vancouver to fill the position.

The Capilano Golf and Country Club got its start in 1903. A philanthropist, Harvey Hadden, bought 160 acres in the Capilano Canyon from architect Sydney Morgan Eveleigh. Even though Hadden had never seen the property. He went on to build a 'sort of Garden of Eden in the forest' that he named Hadden Hall.

John Lawson a conductor with the CPR came west from Ontario in 1903. He later became known as the 'Father of West Vancouver'.

Jumping ahead to 1904.

On January 20 the Canadian government disallows a BC Act restricting Chinese immigration.

On May 11 W. Kaye Lamb was born. This is noted because Lamb went on to have distinguished career as an archivist and librarian. Provincial Archivist and Librarian of British Columbia from 1934 to 1940, University Librarian of the University of British Columbia from 1940 to 1948, Dominion Archivist of Canada from 1948 to 1968 and, overlapping with the previous, National Librarian of Canada from 1953 to 1967.

A May 20 a school opened in Lynn Valley with 18 pupils.

In June of 1904 Prussian count and financier Konstantin “Alvo” von Alvensleben arrives in Vancouver. Although he went on to become a stock promoter, make a fortune and be a prominent social figure he got his start painting barns, repairing fish nets as well as shooting geese and ducks that he then sold to the Vancouver Club for 35 cents each.

July 23, 1904 was the day that the first bridge to span the Fraser River opened. It was quite the marvel. On the lower level it carried trains while the upper level was for pedestrians and vehicles. It was just wide enough for two hay wagons to pass each other. It cost 1 million dollars to build.

Two days after that the first branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia opened at 418 West Hastings Street.

September 10, the Grey Fox - Bill Miner - jumped into outlaw history by holding up a train at Silverdale, near Mission. He then escaped over the border to Whatcom County in Washington State. Miner received his nickname due to his white hair and sly ways and was a favourite among the people.

Other notable happenings in 1904 include:

The first auto dealership in Vancouver was started by Frank and Fred Begg. Industrialist John Hendry bought the first gasoline powered car.

The first movie house was opened in New Westminster by Frank Kerr. When the film broke Kerr had to glue it together.

The Steveston Land and Oil Company was formed in order to drill for oil on Lulu Island.

A wharf was built in North Vancouver by Charles Cates to handle cargo travelling from California to the Klondike.

Miss Harriet Woodward opened her private school on the northeast shore of Deer Lake in 1904. She also opened a post office in her home which she ran for 45 years.

BC sealing captain, Alexander McLean sometimes lived in Vancouver and in 1904 Jack London`s novel the Sea Wolf was published. London based the main character - Wolf Larsen - on McLean.

The Vernon and Nelson Telephone Company bought out a series of telephone companies around the province and changed its name to the British Columbia Telephone Company.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Horne's Mark

This building has seen a lot of Vancouver history. Built in 1888 - a mere two years after this city's incorporation and the Great Fire - the Springer and Van Bramer Block  is representative of the importance of historic Gastwon as a trans-shipment point between the terminus of the railways and the Pacific shipping routes.

Prominent businessmen, Ben Springer and James Van Bramer were the original owners of this prominent structure designed by architect Noble Stonestreet Hoffar - also referred to as N.S. Hoffar - and it attracted commercial and retail occupants as well as those in the social area like the Masons and the Odd Fellows. (In fact another name for this building is the Masonic Block)

This is a large and substantial Victorian Italianate Style structure and this style was popular in Canada during the late nineteenth century and Gastown has some very fine examples.

This is the J.W. Horne Block A.K.A Horne Block A.K.A Brinsmead Block. I would say it is close to the  Springer and Van Bramer Block  but that would be an understatement.

As you may be able to tell from these two photos, the buildings form one contiguous unit  that fills an edge shaped lot created by city surveys. (The triangular lot was dictated by the convergence of the original 1870 Granville Townsite survey and the CPR's 1885 grid plan survey to the south.)

Alderman  and real estate developer James W. Horne, after whom this building is named, once owned more land in Vancouver than anyone except the CPR. Other buildings in the area show Horne's prosperity at the time. As the design and detailing of this building shows the prosperity of Gastown at the time.

The same architect, N.S. Hoffar, who built the previous building built this one in 1889.

The J.W. Horne Block is situated on West Cordova Street and is where Homer  Street ends its route to the north. As you have seen the J.W. Horne Block is built on a triangular lot. On one side is West Cordova and on the other is an alley and the Homer Street Arcade.

Built in 1912 this two storey plus lower level masonry commercial building has gone by a few names such as Cloth Hill, Arcade Building and Le Magasin.

This was not a common building type - in fact the only one like it in Gastown - it had a covered passage with shops on both sides. Due to its location it has frontage on both sides. Originally the Water street side was more industrial with the south side, the alley, being more elaborate. The building was designed by architects Bertram Dudley Stuart and Howard E. White.

Back to J.W. Horne. This is the Horne Block built in 1890 and designed by N.S. Hoffar.

James Horne founded the Vancouver Loan, Trust, Savings and Guarantee Company  and is said to have brought $1.5 million in investment money from Brandon, Manitoba. While working as an alderman from 1889 - 1890 Horne worked with David Oppenheimer to municipalize Vancouver Water Works.

Past tenants of the Horne Block, or the Mutual Block, are the Bank of North America (1892), Rand Bros. Real Estate (1896) and G.A. Roedde, bookbinder (1896). Another noted tenant was the architect who designed the First Presbyterian Church (1894) at East Hastings Street and Gore Avenue, Atlen H. Towle.

The building was also home to many publishing and lithography firms during the time period between 1910 and 1925 - due probably to the bjuilding's close proximity to the newspaper offices of the Vancouver Sun and Province. From the 1930s to the 50s (and now) clothing retailers, bookstores and cleaners were the most common residents. (And at one time it has served as an inn)

A unique feature to this building is that the ground floor is recessed behind cast iron columns and shops are connected by staircases bridging the area below street level. This is a common feature in Britain but rare in Vancouver.

The elongated brick arches, which spans pairs of windows, are integrated into the brickwork.

That is a just a small glimpse into one of the influential people who helped to form this city.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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