Wilson’s

LGN 998 – [Illuminated sign for Cascade Beer, located on top of commercial buildings at Granville and Cordova Streets], 191- . BCER.

This retail corner (SE Cordova and Granville) was anchored by a newspaper vendor called The Checking Depot in the 1910s (I suspect that this image was made in 1914 – the only year I could identify in BC Directories in which most of the shops pictured existed). Next door was Taylor and Young: Marine and Stationary Engines; adjacent to that, Momsen & Rowe: General Shipping Agents. And next door to Momsen & Rowe was Great Northern Express Co (presumably the shipping arm of the Great Northern Railway). Running east of The Checking Depot up Cordova there was (according to BC Directoires) a rooming house, a barber shop, and a restaurant.

CVA 99-2262 - [View of shops in the 300 block Granville Street and C.P.R. Station at 601 Cordova Street West] taken for Duker and Shaw Billboards Ltd., ca1926. Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-2262 – [View of shops in the 300 block Granville Street and C.P.R. Station at 601 Cordova Street West] taken for Duker and Shaw Billboards Ltd., ca1926. Stuart Thomson photo.

The image above is the same corner a decade later. The third CPR Station (now Waterfront Station) had been built (1914) and is visible in the background (note that the WWI tribute sculpture at that time was at the opposite end of the station from where it is today). Except for The Checking Depot, none of the Granville-facing retail units are the same. In place of Taylor & Young is Lando Fur Co., and W. L. Webber: The Stationery Shop is in Momsen & Rowe‘s former quarters. Standing where the Great Northern Express office once was are Royal Transfer Co. and American Railway Express offices.

CVA 1184-3275 – [Wilson’s Newspapers, corner of Granville Street and Cordova], 1940-48. Jack Lindsay.

By the 1940s, there was a newspaper anchor of a different name at Cordova and Granville. The former Checking Depot was now Wilson’s Newspapers. Wilson’s appears to have been well-stocked. The list of “Daily Papers” on the chalkboard at the Granville entry seems to have been extensive. And they bragged that “Irish, Scotch, and English Papers” were available.

It is difficult to make out the retail shops running east of Wilson’s on Cordova, but using VPL’s BC Directories, it’s probably safe to deduce that the bell-shaped sign in the middle distance serves to advertise Dinner Bell Cafe and Dinner Bell Cigar Stand. The taxi stand is probably for Safe-Way Taxis. This image doesn’t afford a look up Granville Street to see whether any of the retail outlets from previous decades were extant. But, once again, BC Directories came to the rescue: Lando Furs and Railway Express were still present. But added to the retail mix is a shop called Wigwam Souvenirs.

VPL ____ 1952 Cordova Western Extension

VPL 81747 Showing projected Cordova Street extension at Granville Street. Art Jones, 1952. (VAIW Notes: Note the location of CP’s war memorial sculpture, at the west end of the station (not visible). Today, it is located at the other end of Waterfront Station. There was no print of this image at the time of this post. I made a photo of VPL’s negative and then processed the negative image into a positive, digitally).

The reason I’m including this image in the series is because, prior to 1952, Cordova ended at Granville. After that year, however, the street was extended west to Burrard Street. Wilson’s was still on the corner in 1952 (and endured at this site at least until 1961). But none of the other shops is visible.

IMG_3562

Parking garage at Cordova and Granville. Author’s photo, 2015.

I don’t know how long the parking garage has been on the corner. But, judging from the final image in this series (below) it’s been there at least since the mid-1970s.

This final photo in the series gives us a glimpse a bit further east up Cordova than we’ve had with earlier images. The Grandview Hotel (at some periods in its history, known as Austin’s Grand View Hotel) had been there since the early years of the century (about 1903); the St. Francis Hotel (at SW Cordova and Seymour) had been at that site from about 1907 (before that, there was a rooming house or hotel known as Revere House, later replaced by the White Swan Hotel).

The Sears sign in the distance marks the site of the iconic building which housed Spencer’s Department Store (from 1928-48) and which would later be home to two other department stores: Eaton’s (1948-70s) and, in a pattern which would be repeated several years later at Pacific Centre, Sears (1970s-80s). Sears ultimately realized it couldn’t make a go of it on this site, and cried “uncle”, turning the building over to Burnaby-based Simon Fraser University (SFU) to become its downtown Vancouver site. The SFU property became known as Harbour Centre Tower.

CVA 2010-006.267 - Looking east on Cordova from Granville St. 1976 Ernie Reksten

CVA 2010-006.267 – Looking east on Cordova from Granville St. 1976. Ernie Reksten photo.

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