This is a view of the south side of the 400-block of W. Pender St. as it was during the 1935 federal election campaign (the vote was held on October 14). This shows the HQ of the Reconstruction Party, a new party that was formed and led by H. H. Stevens, who split with the Conservative Party and is leader, R. B. Bennett, earlier that year. The creation of the party was not given much thought (nor, I might add, was the party’s motto, which seems to me to be incomprehensible). In fact, it might be argued that the party’s creation was a result of a fit of pique (mixed with vanity*) because Prime Minister Bennett (his leader) hadn’t implemented recommendations he made while chairman of the Price Spreads Commission.
Only one Reconstruction MP was elected: Stevens (Kootenay East). J. Patrick Boyer makes passing reference to him in The Big Blue Machine (2015), describing his sole accomplishment in the 1935 election being “to draw away enough Tory votes in 1935 to help the Liberals [under William Lyon Mackenzie King] defeat the Conservatives.” That is probably true.
The 1935 election came at the depths of the Great Depression and, in addition to the Liberal and Conservative parties, three new parties were seeking to elect MPs to the House of Commons (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, Social Credit, and Reconstruction). This was the first election for all of these parties; none had been in existence during the 1930 election, and the Reconstruction Party would never field candidates in another one. CCF edged out Reconstruction in terms of the popular vote (410,125 vs. 384,462), but CCF won 7 seats as compared with the single seat won by Stevens for Reconstruction.** Stevens crossed the floor back to his Conservative brethren in 1938 – to a less-than-enthusiastic partisan ’embrace’. H. H. Stevens died in 1973 at 94.
The sign in the image says “Stevens for Premier.” He never ran at the provincial level (which is typically the meaning associated with “premier” today; usage was less hard and fast at that time, apparently – it could refer to the leader of the governing party at either the federal or provincial level).
The Reconstruction Party HQ was at 416 West Pender. The commercial space adjacent to it, at 418 W. Pender, was a branch office of A. H. Timms, Printer. AHT was the brother of Philip T. Timms, a remarkable early photographer of Vancouver.
The Western Canada block is extant. MacLeod’s Books has its (substantial, to put it mildly) collection of surplus volumes in the space once occupied by the Reconstruction Party.
*Vanity? In a politician? Unheard of!
**My good friend and practicing Canadian Political Scientist, Stephen, has pointed out that while Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system ‘short-changed’ Reconstruction vis-a-vis CCF, it’s also true that the SoCreds were unduly rewarded in seats with respect to both CCF and Reconstruction. Social Credit won fewer votes than either of the other two parties (garnering only 180,679 votes across the country), but it won disproportionately more seats in the Commons (17 seats for SoCreds vs. 7 for CCF and just 1 for Reconstruction).