CVA – Bu P252 – [Entrances to the underground comfort stations on Howe Street near Robson Street] ca 1931 W. J. Moore.
If you are a Vancouver resident or have visited the city, you will probably know that these apparently quite handsome public washrooms are no longer here (there are two remaining sets of these relics, neither in the downtown core and both on Hastings Street; one on Hamilton at Victory Square, the other on Main at Carnegie Library. Both of these are exceptionally clean, by the way). If you find yourself in need of public facilities in the heart of downtown, you are restricted to those in nearby hotels/department stores or (if you are adventurous/desperate), the public pod-like WCs
that were installed around the time of the Winter Olympic Games.
The photographer of the image above seems to have been standing on Howe Street, just across from where, today, is the parking garage entry to the former Eaton’s/Sears (soon-to-be Nordstrom’s), facing south toward the Robson Street side of Robson Square. Where the W.C. steps descended was, roughly, to where today’s Robson Ice Rink is. The Court House Block (left background) and Clements Block/Alexandria Ball Room (right) – later known as “Danceland” (b&w image below) – were where the grounds and buildings of Vancouver’s Law Courts are today.
For an intriguing history of “comfort stations” or “sanitary conveniences” in early Vancouver, see this article by Margaret W. Andrews.
CVA 784-111 – Robson Square, 800 Robson Street 1986. (Note: In this photo, we are facing northwards and looking towards the Robson Square Ice Rink (beneath the more distant of the two dark domes), rather than facing southwards, as in the prior image).
CVA 447-351 – S.E. Corner Robson and Hornby Sts. 1965 W. E. Frost photo. For a painting that appears to be based on this image, see Illustrated Vancouver.