Monday, February 11, 2013

Real Estate Ventures

Last week I received a very special item in the mail. A calendar from Langara College.

The Langara College's Professional Photo-Imaging students used photographs from the City of Vancouver archives and blended each one with a present day image of the same location. It makes for a unique vision of the city's past and future.

I chose to show you the front and back cover and the photo for the month of June. The front cover shows the past with a fire at A.P. Slade's warehouse at 157 Water Street and the shot merges into what that smidgen of Gastown looks like today. The back cover gives you an idea of what the calendar holds within.

The final photo is one of my favourites  Not only is it for the month of June - my birth month - but it is also of one of my most loved buildings in the city, the C.P.R. station at 601 West Cordova.It is a treat to walk through the structure.

The college is intending on producing another calendar for 2014 in the fall. I will let you know when that happens and hopefully anyone who is interested will be able to get one. I am already planning to buy at least two!

Built in 1910, this house is at 1336 Odlum Drive.

At the end of the 1800s, there was unprecedented growth and development in Vancouver. In 1890, the population was around 10,000. By 1910, there was ten times that amount of people calling the city home. There was a spirit of frontier boosterism in the air and real estate speculation took on a fever pitch. Everyone  joined the land lottery.

The rich were flipping lots as quickly as they bought them - for a good profit of course - and the working class saved to get into the game. Many people who hit the lottery, were swept from rags to riches. This profitable nature of real estate is seen in the number of real estate agents - there were 50 in 1900 and 650 in 1910.
A notable figure to get involved with our local real estate was renowned author Rudyard Kipling who visited Vancouver in 1889.

Kipling purchased a lot in the city and learned the rules. A landowner would order their agent to hold the lot until property rises then sell out and buy more land further out of town. Land titles were flying back and forth, new suburbs opening and buildings springing up.

Numerous great buildings were built around that time that still exist today. The Christ Church Cathedral and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary were built downtown. The new financial streets of West Hastings and Pender were improved with the classic temple banks of the BC Permanent Loan Company adn the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The Sun Tower and the Dominion Trust Building are impressive signatures of the progress of the time. Both of these buildings had a turn at being able to boast of having the title of the tallest building in the British Empire.

Just before World War I, the CPR built an beautiful new Hotel Vancouver to replace the original one. (The second Hotel Vancouver was demolished in 1949 and replaced by a parking lot. The current one is the third.) Formidable civic buildings such as the Carnegie Library at Hastings and Main and the stately courthouses at Georgia and Howe came to be. Can you imagine the wonder and pride Vancouverites at the time must have felt watching all this progress and elegant buildings being erected?
Vancouver started to expand outward. Subdivisions from Point Grey to Grandview were parcelled into lots and sold. City bridges were built. The Westminster Avenue Trestle was refurbished in 1909 to give more access to Mount Pleasant and the areas to the south.

The new and improved Granville Street Bridge was opened by Earl Grey in 1909. This was so instrumental to the success of the CPR's exclusive Shaughnessy Heights development.

In 1912, a four-lane, medium-level Cambie Street Bridge connected downtown Vancouver to Fairview and Mount Pleasant. The first Georgia Viaduct stretched east from Downtown, which improved access to Main Street and the East Side neighbourhood of Grandview.

So much happened in such a short time! It was truly a heady time.

The information on the house came from Bob_2006 at and a really good book, Vancouver, A History in Photographs by Aynsley Vogel and Dana Wyse supplied the information about the real estate.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. Karen, very interesting post, especially the bit about the Langara College calendar. Your blog is quite eclectic. Nice job with this.

    If you get a chance to do so, I hope you'll visit my blog about Canadian culture (

    Best wishes, Brett

    1. I just visited your blog - great to see another perspective on our country.