Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our First Suburb

This is the Western Front Lodge. Built in 1922, it currently serves as an artist collective, which specializes video and media art. Formerly home to the Knights of Pythias (1973), this building now houses production facilities, gallery and performance spaces as well as some living quarters.

This is also the city's oldest artist-run center. The false wooden front - just like you see in the westerns - makes the building look taller.

I recently obtained a new book -Namely Vancouver by Tom Snyders and Jennifer O'Rourke. It is there that I am gleaning some information for today's post.

Henry Valentine Edmonds, a clerk of New Westminster's municipal council, named Mount Pleasant. One of the first to foresee the coming railway, Edmonds bought a chunk of bush land in 1870. South and west of today's Main and 16th, he decided to develop his holdings when, in 1887, the railway arrived.

Built in 1910 for Fred Williams, the Williams Block is one of the first apartment houses in Mount Pleasant. The Williams family owned and occupied this building until 1949.

Designed by architects Cox and Thomas, this building features covered rear porches, front and side bay windows, which are nicely detailed with brackets, trims and stucco bases. The local branch office of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation resided in the storefront during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

2002 saw a completed restoration of the Williams Block by owner, Rick Erickson.

So a New Westminster clerk is now responsible for Vancouver's first suburb and he had to think of a name for the area. He chose his wife's birthplace in Ireland, Mount Pleasant. Because his land remained separate from either Vancouver or the municipality of South Vancouver (until 1911 when it was annexed by Vancouver), Edmonds got to name the many streets. He chose names of family and friends. 

Only the Sophia, named after H.V. Edmonds' sister, remains today. On an 1885 map, it was spelled Sophy; Sophie in 1894 and 1895 city directories and finally spelled correctly in 1898.

Connected to Vancouver by the Westminster Bridge across False Creek (first constructed in the 1870s) and the streetcar line built in 1890, Mount Pleasant was, and is, and easy place for people to settle. They could still hold downtown jobs. 

On Monday, I talked about the breweries that operated along the banks of Brewery Creek. Some of the names of the early drink makers are Thorpe's soda, Doering and Marstrand Brewery.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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