Historical Corner: Terminal & Main

CVA 1184-1734 - [Al Deeming Union Oil dealer service station] 1940-48 JAck Lindsay-2

Terminal & (1500) Main THEN: CVA 1184-1734 – Al Deeming Union Oil dealer service station, ca1940-48. Jack Lindsay photograph.

I encountered this image in CVA’s online holdings a couple of months ago. I was initially puzzled as to where this service station was located; but it didn’t take too long for me to realize that this was the SE corner of Terminal Ave. at Main St. and that the buildings just behind the filling station were the structures that remain there today, in the heart of the  former False Creek flats. I have later realized that the industrial buildings are on Heritage Vancouver’s  2015 “Top 10” Watch List and are part of what that organization considers to be historically threatened in the city.

Al Deeming’s Union 76 gasoline franchise is long-gone and last year was replaced with an experimental move toward modular housing. The industrial buildings in the background once housed Neon Products’ site (260 Terminal), BC Valve Company (250 Terminal) and Massey Harris’s agricultural implement showroom (242 Terminal). The structures continue to stand today, although all with different tenants. Today, only Neon Products maintains a business presence in Vancouver (at 1865 Clark Dr.) with its 1940s name.

Van now Terminal and Main

Terminal & Main NOW: 2018, MDM Photograph.

Crop of Can P23.2 -  Main and Terminal Even EARLIER. Perspective view of Canadian National Railway Station, Thornton Park and Service Station at (1500) Main Street at Terminal. ca 1932. Leonard J Frank.

Crop of CVA – Can P23.2 – An even EARLIER shot of the area. A perspective view from the north of Canadian National Railway (today’s “Pacific Central”) Station, Thornton Park, and the Service Station and other businesses (including Massey Harris Farm Implements building) along Terminal near Main Street. ca1932. Leonard J Frank photo.

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14 Responses to Historical Corner: Terminal & Main

  1. Sheila says:

    The mottled sky in your photo of modern day Main And Terminal makes your image look very painterly.

  2. lhhouben says:

    That is so cool! I think those heritage buildings look ghastly. lol I’m sure they looked great back in the day, though. I remember taking the #19 Kingsway bus from the corner of Kingsway and Joyce back in 1978 for my first job downtown, and passing an Esso station on this exact corner, and I remember when the gas was 21 cents for a liter. I’m beginning to feel my age….thanks for the neat photo!

    • mdm says:

      Yes, but at the time, wouldn’t it have been 21 cents/gallon? Thanks for commenting, L!

    • Those heritage bulidings don’t look “ghastly”. Maybe they could use a power washing, but that’s no reason to get rid of them. The land, being right next door to the Main Street skytrain is bound to be eventually zoned for residential. And there will be condos going up there one can imagine for sure. Now is the time to ensure (at least) the frontages of those buildings are kept and can be incorporated into a new residential buliding design.

  3. Angus McIntyre says:

    I took a photo of a Brill trolley bus at the corner of Hastings and Commercial in 1975, just before the sale of gasoline went metric. The Gulf self serve gas bar on the S/W corner shows 80.9 cents per imperial gallon. That makes 21 cents per litre comparable. You would have to go back quite a few years to find gas as cheap as 21 cents per imperial gallon.

    Lots of interesting detail in this photo. “CAR STOP”, just a few blocks from the Prior St. carbarns, post top street lights, old style Royal Mail box, gas pumps that went “ding” with each gallon filled.

  4. Laurie Doig says:

    Love the photo and story! I have been trying for a year now to find photos and history of the 800 block Main Street as my Grandma and her sisters ran a Cafe at 844 Main St called the Douglas Cafe ( from 1929-1954). I follow your blog hoping one day I will see a story somehow linked to my research. This is the closest so far. Have you ever come across anything on the 800 block Main Street in your research? The block was demolished to accommodate for the east end ramp of the Georgia viaduct to be constructed.
    Thanks for your stories, they are interesting to read.

    • mdm says:

      Thanks for your kind remarks about VAIW, Laurie. No, I’ve never done a post specifically on that block. I take it that 800 Main was the area on Main that fronted Hogan’s Alley? The block between Union (to the north) and Prior (to the south)? I’m certain that there are photos that show that area; whether or not they also show the cafe that your grandmother ran, I don’t know. This is the block, I believe, where the streetcar and interurban car barns were located… I’ll see what I can find; stay tuned!

  5. Angus McIntyre says:

    The 800 block was definitely the block where the Prior Street car barns were located, on the west side of Main Street. I have several photos of the immediate area, some from the City of Vancouver Archives, from my collection and from other sources. One view looks north on Main, and you can see most of the east side of Main Street. The Douglas Cafe shows in the City Directory of 1950 at 844 Main, telephone PAcific 9912. 3 Vets was just north of here. The car barns closed in 1955. I would imagine the cafe had motormen and conductors as customers.I can send along photos I have if you wish.

  6. Peter says:

    If you look further in the archive, you will see another shot of the same station converted to a B/A station when B/A bought out Union Oil.

  7. Harry Williams says:

    Did you find any info on The New Orleans Club? Think it was near or in Hogans Alley. Worked as a bus-boy there in 1943.

  8. mdm says:

    Thanks for commenting on the New Orleans Club. I haven’t found out much regarding it, although I have made a couple attempts. Part of the problem is confusion pertaining to names. There was a club called the “Cafe New Orleans” located at 699 Drake (near Granville) in the 1940s (including in 1943); I’ve been told by a friend that there was also a New Orleans Club in the east end around the same period, but that is all he knew, and I’ve been unable to confirm that via city directories or otherwise. Do you happen to know what street the club was on? I had a notion that it may have been near the location of the Moon Glow Cabaret (300 block E Georgia), but I’m not certain:

  9. alan says:

    There is a large building on the left of the original black and white photo you posted of Main and Terminal. That building looks like it could be at the eastern end of Terminal Ave or beyond. The size of the structure is significant. Do you know what the building or structure was?

    • mdm says:

      I’m glad you asked about that bldg, as I hadn’t noticed it earlier, I guess. It is difficult to know just what resided in that structure. The best source i can think of is BC City Directories online at VPL.
      Check out the 1948 BC & Yukon Directory; then look under ‘Greater Vancouver Streets’ for ‘Terminal’.

      The resolution makes this a bit of a challenge to read at times (or is it my aging eyesight?), but it looks to me like there are a couple of possibilities for occupants of that bldg (hint – we want even numbered street addresses for bldgs on this side – south – of the street): Something called “BC Cont. F….” (I cannot make out anything after the first letter; maybe you can do better); this appears to be adjacent to the Neon Products bldg.

      The other possible contender is a warehouse structure for Hammond Furniture. I have written a post about Hammond here, if interested.
      There are a couple of other even-numbered addresses, but they appear to be more distant from this location, to me. Have a look at BCCD and see what you can find. Good Luck!

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