These two images were taken by the same photographer (Stuart Thomson), the camera is facing the same direction (northwest), and are of nearly the same locations (Seymour Street at Nelson in the first image; Seymour from a bit south of Nelson in the second).
The 1920 image was one of two made by Thomson of an automobile wreck on the corner (the second image looks west down Nelson, toward Granville), possibly for an auto insurance client of Thomson’s. The occurrence of auto accidents was apparently still sufficiently uncommon that it could draw a crowd of pedestrian rubber-kneckers on a miserable day. The 1926 image was made by Thomson for an advertising client, Duker & Shaw Billboards.
It is remarkable, to me, how dramatically this section of Seymour Street had changed in the approximately six years that passed between the creation of the two images. In the 1920 photo, the property on the northwest corner of Seymour and Nelson was a single family dwelling (albeit, one that appears to have been for sale) and the neighbouring properties appear likewise to be family homes. In the 1926 image, Nelson Street crosses Seymour about mid-way up the image. You can just make out the end of the name of the business then located at the northwest corner of Seymour and Nelson: Boultbee Motors. The neighbours of Boultbee appear to be other businesses and the anchor at the end of the block (at southwest corner Seymour at Smithe) is Vancouver Motors (the building in which the Staples stationery store is located today).
For different/later images of Seymour and Nelson, see this post.
We are looking toward the northeast corner of Granville Street at Beach Avenue in these two images. The first photo (above) was taken slightly to the east of the second (1909) Granville Bridge; the photo below was made a little ways to the east of where the first one was taken – where the Seymour off-ramp of the third (1954) Granville Bridge now is. It is looking at the same lot, however. Today, this lot is one of the very few in downtown Vancouver which is undeveloped. I suspect the reason for this is that for many years the lot was the site of automobile paint removal shops and garages/service stations. Typically, such lots need to pass pretty stringent environmental tests before they are approved for re-development.
To the west of this location, at Howe and Beach, is where Vancouver House will be located. I expect that an innovative design akin to that of Vancouver House will be proposed, ultimately, for the oddly-shaped lot beneath the Seymour off-ramp.
We are looking above at the southwest corner of Homer at Georgia in 1933, where Stonehouse Motors was located for about 20 years (ca1926-45). Prior to that, another automobile dealer was at this site, Knight-Higman Motors (ca1920-25). Before that, for little more than a single year (1917-18), the building was home to the Stettler Cigar Factory (interior image shown below). And in 1916, this building housed the Model Service Garage. From the late 1940s until the 1980s, the site was occupied by Collier’s Ltd., another automobile dealership. Budget Rent-a-Car has occupied the corner (and much of the block) for the period since Collier’s left here.
The brick structure (on the right above and pictured below) still stands today. It was built in 1913 for what seems to have been an investment and real estate multinational (with a local board) called London & British North America Co. Sharp & Thompson were architects (and were responsible for the design of a great many other Vancouver buildings during their 82-year partnership); and Bruce Bros. were the builders.
This post consists of two 1914 images that appear to have been made on the same day by BCER (and of the mates made last week by the author).
The 1914 images were interesting to me because they were made at one of those retrospectively important historical junctions. Until shortly before this image was made, what would become Victory Square (the cenotaph was unveiled in 1924) had been the first Vancouver courthouse. The courthouse had been demolished by 1914 and the great horrors of the Great War (and the need of a memorial for this first world-wide war) was, to put it mildly, unanticipated.
In this second 1914 photo, the photographer seems to have move to a place part way down Cambie, between Pender (where the earlier image had been made) and Hastings. We are looking towards what was the Vancouver Hospital (on the corner where the parking garage is today). The building on the left of both images was built in 1911 for early Vancouver grocers, the Edgett Bros., and today houses (among others) the Architectural Institute of B.C.
This image illustrates for me, yet again, the potential of a photograph to help me see things as they once were. I knew from earlier reading that the first Georgia Viaduct (1915) began and terminated at different points than does the current (1972-installed and twinned) structure of the same name. I had no difficulty visualizing where the eastern end was – thanks to early photographs – but picturing just where the early Viaduct had its western end wasn’t, for me, easy to imagine. Partly, I think, because I hadn’t seen a clearly contextual photo of it with a current and contemporary major landmark in common . . . until today.
The western end of the 1915 Viaduct apparently began about half a block north of where it currently starts (Georgia at Beatty). The southern exposure of the Beatty Street Drill Hall faces the viewer and was close to the western end of the early structure. (Today, the Dunsmuir Viaduct – the westbound twin of the 1972 Georgia Viaduct – runs next to the northern end of the Drill Hall).
The image evidently was made as a promotional photo by Stuart Thomson for the national Department of Public Works shortly after the end of the Great War. The choice of background – the Drill Hall – was a potent and, generally, positive symbol of the role of the federal government in the recently won war (staggering casualties, notwithstanding). In the foreground were symbols of man’s vanquishment over natural impediments to ‘progress’, the 1915 Viaduct and, of course, the federal trucks.
So, as an image of its time, it seems to me to have been successful. And as a help to this amateur historian of a different time, it has proven to be, arguably, even more helpful.
Thanks again, Stuart! (To see other VAIW posts with Thomson images, link here).
The fellows in this BCER laboratory scene do not seem to have similar comedic sensibilities to those of John Candy or Joe Flaherty (fortunately for them and the BCER), but they do seem to be borderline ‘mad’ scientists, if the equipment and fluids in the room have even a fraction of their apparent flammability!
I’m going to begin today’s post with a tightly cropped version of a CVA Stuart Thomson photo of what looks like a lovely commercial district in downtown Vancouver (the full image appears below). In these three shops, as my wife correctly points out, some of the major needs/wants of a man living at the time are covered! He could begin with a stop at Bert’s Barber Shop (where a shave and a haircut are a little more than “2 bits”, but at least he could still get a haircut for that price); while there, conveniently, he could have his hat (a “must-wear” for the well-dressed, urban, middle-class man) steam-cleaned. When he emerged from Hastings Hat Cleaners, our chap could stop in at Windsor Tailors to have a new suit custom-measured for pick up, probably, within a week. And then, leaving there, thoroughly worn out from this series of tasks, our hypothetical fellow could pop into the Log Cabin Lunch for a tasty meal, say, of roast chicken and spuds with a coffee. To me, this still sounds like a couple of hours well spent!
Well, it won’t come as a shock to you (if you paid attention to the the title of the post or to the caption on the photo above) that the photograph is not of Hornby, Howe, or Georgia Streets, where one might expect to find comparable types of shops today, but on the unit block (address numbers less than 100) of East Hastings (near Pioneer Square – aka ‘Pigeon Park’ – at Carrall Street).
There are a couple of things worthy of note, I think. On the one hand, and most obviously, the neighbourhood has changed dramatically. The Windsor Hotel, today, is known (principally by those living in it) as the Washington Hotel (a SRO rooming house) at 52 E Hastings. And in the building adjacent (which, then and now, was called the Gross Building) was, until recently, a pharmacy that has been closed by the authorities, apparently. So it is pretty plain that the sort of shops and those who patronize them have changed.
Less obvious perhaps, is the extent to which the buildings of an earlier Vancouver have been retained. If one looks up and down Howe or Hornby Streets today, for instance, you would be hard-pressed to find any surviving buildings of the vintage represented in this photograph (roughly, of the 19-teens).
In short, one lesson seems to be that poverty tends to be kinder to heritage structures (in terms, at least, of preserving them in some condition) than is great wealth.
This is a crop of a BC Electric photo of Burrard Street looking to the southwest and made in 1914. The Wesley Methodist Church (William Blackmore, 1902) – an ancestor congregation of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church which would be built a couple decades later up the street at the southwest corner of Burrard and Nelson – is just outside of the right frame (to the north). The six-storey structure in the foreground is the Irwinton Apartment Block (Braunton and Liebert, 1912). And, its tower silhouetted in the distance at the northwest corner of Nelson at Burrard, is the new-ish building of First Baptist Church (Burke, Horwood and White, 1911).
Perhaps the most remarkable element of this image is the very rough shape that unpaved Burrard Street was in!