Hammond Furniture

Update (Originally Posted November 2015):

CVA 1184-1988 - [Exterior view of Hammond Furniture warehouse and manufacturing facilities] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.

CVA 1184-1988 – Exterior view of Hammond Furniture warehouse and manufacturing facilities. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo.

The buildings that today house at least three businesses on the NW and NE corners of Clark at Venables were ones that I’ve wondered about each time I’ve gone past. This morning, as I was browsing through online photos of the City of Vancouver Archives, I was delighted to see a 1940s image of the familiar buildings which were then home to the warehouse and manufacturing facility (NW) and showroom (NE) of Hammond Furniture. Ernie Hammond was its head. Today, the NW building houses Russell Food Equipment and the NE corner is home to AquaPaws and Mr. Mattress.

It isn’t clear to me when Hammond Furniture closed, but it was a going concern in the 1940s and was advertising into the 1950s and ’60s. I was pleased to note (from the first image below) that furniture sold by Hammond in the 1940s – and perhaps manufactured as well – was very similar, if not identical, to some of that which my grandparents once owned!

CVA 1184-1986 - [Furniture display at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.

CVA 1184-1986 – Furniture display at Hammond Furniture. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo. (Presumably, from the showroom building, on NE corner).

CVA 1184-1985 - [Woman cutting wood at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.

CVA 1184-1985 – Woman cutting wood at Hammond Furniture. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo. (From NW corner manufacturing and warehouse building, I presume).

CVA 1184-1992 - [Workers outside the Hammond Furniture warehouse] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay

CVA 1184-1992. Workers outside the Hammond Furniture warehouse. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay. (Note: This is a crop of the original image).

CVA 1184-1987 - [Man sewing cushions at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo

CVA 1184-1987 – James Harold (Jimmy) Reid sewing a mattress at Hammond Furniture. 1946-48. Jack Lindsay photo. (Pleases see comments below from Brent Reid for more details).

CVA 180-3821 - Marching band in 1959 P.N.E. Opening Day Parade Graphic Industries photo. (Hammond ad atop former Oxford Motors then later the ARP bldg - NOw PArk Place park Adjacent to C

CVA 180-3821 – Marching band in 1959 P.N.E. Opening Day Parade. (The Hammond Furniture ad is atop the former Oxford Motors on Burrard Street; it later became the ARP HQ. Today it is the green space between Christ Church Cathedral and Park Place on Burrard Street). Graphic Industries Ltd. photo.

CVA 371-1626 - Ernest Charles Hammond. 1948.

CVA 371-1626 – Ernest Charles (“Ernie”) Hammond. 1948.

CVA 586-5725 - Hammond's [Furniture] signature ca1950 Don Coltman

CVA 586-5725 – Hammond’s [Furniture] signature ca1950 Don Coltman.

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26 Responses to Hammond Furniture

  1. I just discovered your blog this morning. Lots of fascinating things to explore here! Thanks for putting in the considerable effort to share this material.

    The late Al Purdy, Canadian poet, worked for a few years at Vancouver Bedding, which was a subsidiary of Hammond Furniture, located in the same building. Purdy writes vividly about the mattress manufacturing process, and his Vancouver life in the early 1950s, in an excerpt from a memoir that may never have been published (uncertain about that). The excerpt is available online at the Books in Canada site: www dot booksincanada dot com slash article_view dot asp?id=2019

    • mdm says:

      Thanks much for your generous words re the blog. Thanks also for the tip about Purdy. I wasn’t aware that he’d worked at Vancouver Bedding nor that VB even existed.

      • I’m pretty sure the chest of drawers in the photograph above is the same model I owned for a while, but sold on Craigslist a couple of years ago. I bought the piece at the Sellution on Main. It had “Hammond” stamped on the underside, but no location. I initially wondered if the Hammond Organ Company might have had a furniture division. I did some online research which is how I learned about the former Hammond Furniture on Clark, and discovered the Al Purdy piece. At the time, I think I assumed there was a much greater chance that the chest of drawers had been produced by Hammond Furniture rather than Hammond Organ, and I think the image above confirms that.

        I’m kind of sorry I let that piece of Vancouver history slip from my hands. Although I did inform the new owners of the local connection.

  2. Ernie Hammond was also active in the horse racing scene in Vancouver, and with Robert Hall was co-owner of the great BC-bred George Royal.

  3. Brent Reid says:

    The man sewing the mattress in the bottom photo is my father, James Harold (Jimmy) Reid, who came to Vancouver from Winnipeg right after high school and began work as a labourer in the mattress factory at Hammond’s. He eventually became one of two salesmen for Hammond’s, and eventually started his own furniture wholesale company, which sold Ideal Brass from Winnipeg and other lines to Woodwards, Hudson’s Bay, and major furniture stores in Vancouver, Victoria, and the BC interior, including Bennett’s Furniture in Kelowna. Although I was a child at the time, I remember Ernie Hammond well, and also Art Watt, one of the managers.

    • mdm says:

      Thank you for this detailed addition to VAIW. I appreciate this!

      • Brent Reid says:

        I just found my copy of “Purdy Selected” (M&S 1972), a collection of the poems of Al Purdy, which includes one titled “Percy Lawson (Contract Negotiator–Vancouver Upholsterers’ Union.” It describes a tough negotiation between union official Lawson and someone referred to as “Watt”–presumably Art Watt, the owners’ representative. Purdy is not flattering to either of the adversaries.
        My strongest personal memory of Art Watt was visiting his impressively large home just east of Granville and south of 41st Avenue on a sunny Saturday morning with my dad, Jimmy Reid, to watch a modern miracle–a major league baseball game live on TV in glorious black and white. Art had a separate television room and had the drapes pulled shut to keep the room dark. “Media rooms” are commonplace now, but back in the mid-1950’s Art’s man cave was pretty impressive.

      • mdm says:

        Thanks for sharing this memory of Art Watt and his home, Brent.

    • Lachlan Murray says:

      The obituary for William Ernest Hammond (d. 1944) suggests that he founded Hammond Furniture and mentions a daughter among the surviving family members, “Mrs. Arthur Watt”. So I’m guessing Art Watt was William Hammond’s son-in-law, and Ernie Hammond’s brother-in-law. (The Province, 31 July 1944 and 01 Aug 1944)

      In Al Purdy’s memoir of working in the mattress factory, he says, “Arthur Watt had married into the Hammond family who operated Hammond Furniture Company, and for which Vancouver Bedding was a minor subsidiary occupying a small part of the same building.”

      Purdy develops an extended portrait of Arthur Watt, who was the manager he worked under. The two had an adversarial relationship, but at the same time you sense their grudging admiration for each other.

      I linked to Purdy’s memoir above (“Being A Wage Slave”), but here it is again:
      www dot booksincanada dot com slash article_view dot asp?id=2019

      After reading some of the subsequent comments I’m regretting that I passed on that Hammond chest of drawers!

      I also just bought a mattress from Mr. Mattress, which got me thinking again about Hammond Furniture. Mr. Mattress has occupied the smaller of the two original Hammond buildings (NE corner of Venables and Clark) since 1968 (according to Brian, who sold me the mattress). While trying out various mattresses, I had a few moments to study the ceiling, which I believe is still the same acoustic tile that you see in the Hammond showroom picture above. Although that seems a little unlikely (50+ years?), Brian told me they don’t own the building and have done “absolutely nothing to it” since they moved in. So, it’s possible.

      • mdm says:

        Thanks for your comments on life at Hammond. Also for the link to Purdy’s online memoirs. I gave them a substantial read. Thanks again.

  4. Brent Reid says:

    The photo of my dad at Hammonds brings to mind some other connections that might be of interest to readers of this excellent blog. Jimmy Reid married Margaret Hampton, whose father Cyril Hampton was in charge of the cranes at Ballantyne Pier in Vancouver Harbour. Cyril had come out from England after WWI hoping to become a cowboy in the Cariboo, but when the ranch owners found out he couldn’t ride a horse but had electrical training they set him to work wiring their ranches for AC power. Margaret’s older sister, Lottie, married well-known journalist Hal Straight, who became managing editor of the Vancouver Sun and owner of the North Shore Citizen. One day Hal dropped in on my mother at our home on 35th Avenue and borrowed our living room to interview a young reporter fresh out from Scotland and sign him to a job at the Sun. The applicant turned out to be Jack Webster. Margaret’s younger sister, Beverley, married Art Leckie, who became a sales manager in the H.Y. Louie grocery empire.

    • mdm says:

      Many thanks, again. By the way, can you confirm if the approx. date of the photo of your Dad (assigned by CVA as 1940-48) is roughly accurate? Thanks.

      • Brent Reid says:

        I would say the photo is post-WWII, because my dad was training at the army camp in Vernon when the war ended. That would put it in the 1946-48 range. I think the photo was taken because the machine my dad is using was a new, improved technology that Ernie Hammond wanted to publicize. The shot might have originally run in the Vancouver Sun, as I recall seeing the same image in a newspaper clipping that my mother had kept.

      • mdm says:

        Thanks. By the way, I’m updating this post (so it will be the first post that appears – until I write a newer one for VAIW) with an additional image or two, as well as the details that you’ve supplied in your comments.

      • Brent Reid says:

        Thanks, MDM, for preserving such important facets of Vancouver’s fascinating history.

  5. lhhouben says:

    This is priceless. I love reading all the comments that follow with all that extra Vancouver history! Your blog is so neat. My Mom still has her bedroom set that looks nearly identical to the one above; she’s had it since she was 7! She shared it with her older sister, and kept it all her married life. It’s in beautiful condition, although it was from the USA, not Vancouver. I love that style. Thanks for the delightful post!

  6. danceslowlikehoney says:

    I have a lovely Hammond chest of drawers ca 1950s. It’s been refinished a few times but it still has the Hammond plate nailed inside one of the drawers. Sadly, I managed to destroy the original Bakelite pulls about 30 years ago.

  7. Lynne Grant says:

    The pic with the workers outside the factory was taken circa 1947 as they were on strike for higher wages. I’m not sure who the men are, nor the woman on the far right, but the three in the middle from left to right are Pauline (surname unknown), Dorothy “Dot” Torgerson (back facing camera), and Vi Ohlund. The women worked on the 3rd floor of the factory sanding the furniture. Dot is my mother and worked at Hammonds from 1944 to 1949. It was at Hammond’s where she caught the eye of my father, Richard “Dick” Grant, who worked on the same floor assembling drawers. Mom left after Mom & Dad married and started their family. I think Dad may have left in 1950 but don’t quote me on it.

  8. Shannon says:

    Very interesting information. I have almost exactly the same set in the picture at the top. At times I have considered selling it – but they just don’t make quality furniture like that anymore. There are some initials on the back GB – I assume they are from the person who inspected the piece when it was finished.

  9. George Young says:

    My Mother recently passed away, may she rest in peace, and I am administering her estate. I have a really similar Hammond bedroom set that I am just today taking on the job of researching and selling.
    Grandma was the original owner and it sat in the same bedroom in Trail BC for 60+ years now. It even has the original Hammond factory inventory card tacked to the back of it (C756).
    Thank you for all the fantastic information, I had no idea that the Hammond family was so important to Vancouver.
    I will be following this string if anyone is interested in photos or purchasing said bedroom set, please comment.

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