I ran across this photo amid the holdings of New Westminster’s Archives when I was researching another subject. The image struck me as worth paying attention to for a couple of reasons: First, it was unlike any photo I’d seen of this area in any other B.C. archive (including the City of Vancouver Archives); 2) Second, it appears to be a photo made (by an unknown amateur, I’m assuming) of a demolition site. Early demo scenes were not typically photographed. Perhaps they were considered to be like the ‘dirty laundry’ of urban life – unavoidable, but not something many would want as a photographic subject!
The fellows in the photo seem to be working at the final stages of demo: salvage. Most of the gents appear to be standing on what might be a piece of the concrete foundation of the old building. There is a horse on the left side of the image, and several men with bars for leveraging remaining materials having salvage value from the earth.
What is the location of this site? Well, we are looking (on the right side of the photo) at the back side of the Carter-Cotton building at the SE corner of Hastings and Cambie. The camera is facing the east side of the first Courthouse building and has captured a few of the buildings on the north side of Hastings. The Inns of Court, on the south side of Hastings at Hamilton, is also just poking out from behind the right corner of the courthouse.
Therefore, it seems that the lot on which the demolition is happening is on the site of the former News-Advertiser building (built ca1890; demolished ca1910) and the future site of the Edgett Block at the NE corner of Cambie at Pender (built ca1911 – present).
The News-Advertiser would move across to the west side of the courthouse (later, Victory Square) at the NW corner of Pender at Hamilton into the structure which is still there today — the former Pappas Furs building.
The business that would move into the much larger future building on the demo site would be H. A. Edgett’s grocery (on street level). By the early 1920s, however, the building would become home (briefly) to Buscombe Importing Co./Buscombe Insurance and later (by 1925) to the Daily Province newspaper. The newspaper HQ would move from there, but the structure remains. Today it houses several offices, including the Architectural Institute of B.C.