When Hudson Street Boomed

LGN 994 - [View of Hudson Street, looking south toward the Eburne Railway Station] 191-?

CVA LGN 994: View of Hudson St (at the time of this image, known as 4th St., aka Bridge St.), looking south toward Eburne Railway Station (on Eburne Ave, now Marine Dr), 191-.

Those familiar with the Vancouver neighbourhood of Marpole may be surprised that this is a view of neither Granville nor Oak Streets (the principal north/south thoroughfares, today), but rather what currently is the relatively sleepy Hudson Street (near Marine Dr). The image appears to have been taken, facing south, at or near what today is known as 73rd Ave on Hudson Street.

When Europeans began to settle the area the 1860s, it became known as Eburne after Harry Eburne, the first storekeeper and postmaster in the vicinity. It became important to distinguish ‘Eburne’ on the mainland (what is now called Marpole) from the ‘Eburne’ on Sea Island – where Mr Eburne ultimately moved (apparently, taking the name of the settlement along with him). To help distinguish the Sea Island Eburne from the Mainland Eburne, the latter became known as Eburne Station and, by 1916, as Marpole (after CPR executive, Richard Marpole).

CVA believes that this image was taken sometime in the 19-teens. I’d narrow it down a bit — to the early years of the decade, prior to WWI. What leads me to that conclusion? The large structure mid-frame, in the image above. I believe this was the Grand Central Hotel. It appears to be just on the verge of opening for business (I detect neither window treatments nor furniture in the lobby area). The following note claims that the Grand Central was built in 1912 and relates a couple of interesting details about later uses of the property: In 1912, during optimistic and prosperous times, the Grand Central Hotel was built on the northeast corner of Hudson and Marine. The owners went bankrupt and in 1917 the hotel was refurbished and reopened as the Provincial Home for Incurables. The home, which catered primarily to elderly tuberculosis patients, was torn down in the 60s. The only remaining building, the staff house, is used as a community corrections facility. Today, The Retro condo building occupies the site.

The building across Hudson St from the Grand Central Hotel is, I suspect, Paton’s Books. It was owned by James A. Paton (publisher of the Point Grey Gazette – what would become today’s Courier newspaper). This paragraph is from a profile of Paton’s life (formerly online):  Paton used his newspaper to promote his other business: Paton’s Book Store. A 1912 edition of the Gazette contains a full-page ad for the shop, located on Fourth Street (modern Hudson Street) in Eburne. The store sold “books, stationery, fancy goods and novelties” as well as picnic and camping supplies, sports equipment, toys and games, brassware and china. It also featured a lending library with more than 150 titles. I am assuming that there was not more than one shop in Eburne at the time that traded in toys; and I see that “Toys” are advertised on the end of the awning of the building I’m calling Paton’s Books.

With the construction of the Oak Street Bridge in the 1950s, Marpole became less town-like and became more truly a bedroom community. It gradually became dominated by rental apartments that offered temporary and relatively inexpensive housing for UBC students and seniors on tight budgets. Since the 1990s, however, the neighbourhood increasingly has seen the older rental blocks demolished and replaced with for-purchase condos.

This entry was posted in books/reading, hotels/motels/inns, street scenes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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