Gutta Percha and Rubber Ltd. was a Toronto-based company with regional offices across Canada, including in Vancouver. During the early 1900s (when the Vancouver office was established) the Pacific Division was at 100 W. Hastings Street, where Prado Coffee is today; later the office was in the 500 block of Beatty, just a couple of doors south of the Sun Building.
GP was founded in 1883 by H. D. Warren in Toronto. The company endured until 1960 when it went into voluntary liquidation. It struggled with competition from the U.S., in particular, and foreign markets in general, during much of its corporate life.
The name of the company was peculiar, with “Gutta Percha and Rubber” being partly a corporate brand as well as the names of generic products (gutta percha is a product that was similar to, yet different from rubber). It was kind of like the words “toilet paper” being elevated to the status of a corporate brand to become, say, “Toilet Paper, Ltd.”
The firm produced belts for industrial and farming applications, automobile tires, fire hoses, and footwear, including those items which were widely known as “rubbers” during my growing-up years. Such rubbers, sometimes called “toe rubbers”, were intended to keep one’s business shoes safe from the potential harm to leather that comes from rain.
Near the end of its corporate life, GP specialized in industrial applications, and one of the most notable of these, locally, concerned construction of the Deas Island Tunnel (today’s George Massey Tunnel). GP was responsible for the design of rubber gaskets to keep the Fraser River out of the tunnel during its construction.