Southern View (Pender at Seymour), 1892

Van Sc P38.4 - Looking south toward Pender Street from Hastings Street and Seymour Street 1892 Charles S. Bailey

CVA Van Sc P38.4. Looking south toward Pender Street from Hastings Street and Seymour Street. 1892. Charles S. Bailey.

This view of Vancouver as it appeared to early Vancouver photographer, Charles S. Bailey just six years after incorporation as a city has appealed to me since I first clapped eyes on it a couple of years ago.

Vancouver may have been a city for half a decade, technically, but by today’s standards, it was more town-like. White guys hadn’t put their hands to ‘developing’ the land much south of False Creek and that is pretty evident here (and better, here). You can see the still-standing, forest that constituted what later would be known as the Mount Pleasant and Fairview neighbourhoods. The haze that seems to envelop this scene probably was due mainly to the multiple saw mills in the area. Hastings Mill, for example, was just northeast of where the photographer was standing.

It is also remarkable how many houses of worship are visible in this image (and how little theological variety was represented thereby). I count five Christian churches within about as many blocks of each other: four protestant and one Catholic. Holy Rosary appears to be different from how it appears today for a good reason: it was a different building. Construction of the current structure would begin a few years after this photo was taken – in 1899. The church became a cathedral in 1916.

This photo was probably made from the rooftop of the Empire Building (NW corner of Hastings at Seymour).

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8 Responses to Southern View (Pender at Seymour), 1892

  1. jmv says:

    Nicely annotated! We need more of this!

  2. Tim Kuepfer says:

    Interesting how the centre of the city drifted west, along with several of the churches (FBC and St Andrews).

  3. David says:

    Hi, just wanted to let you know, which I should’ve done when you first posted this, that this photo is the fourth in a four-part panorama. The Empire building at that time was known as the Lefevre Block and it is indeed from its rooftop that Bailey took this photo and the other three. They are reproduced on pages 48-49 of my little monograph “Eyes of City” (1986) along with detailed explanations. The panorama is also the centrepiece of a “Souvenir of Vancouver” advertising card Bailey created which is reproduced on the back cover of my publication. There the panorama is title “Vancouver B.C. and Hastings St.” The souvenior card is at the Vancouver Public Library Special Collections (VPL accession no. 19765). — David

  4. Carey Pallister says:

    Sacred Heart Academy was owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Ann. The name later changed to St. Ann’s Academy, Vancouver. Sisters of St. Ann take a religous name when they profess their vows. All Sisters of St. Ann had Mary or a variation (Miriam, Marie etc) in their name. The school opened in 1888 and closed in 1946

  5. James Crawford says:

    White guys? Yikes!
    Historically true — but disappointing optics. ‘Developers or Speculators or Capitalist Swine’ would all play somewhat better.

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