Mistaken Assumption . . .

CVA 447-334: Tip Top Tailors at 314 West Hastings Street (near Hamilton). Adjacent to (west of) the former Commerce Bank (now SFU’s Charles Chang Innovation Centre). 1955. W E Frost.

There’s a building on West Hastings near Hamilton about which I’ve had a long-standing misconception. It’s sweeping facade reminded me so much of a 1940s-style movie theatre that I’ve always assumed that that was the original occupant. [1]

But I was wrong. This building was constructed for Tip Top Tailors in 1948, in the days when Tip Top provided not only clothing for men (as it does today), but also catered to women who wanted to have a “mannish” appearance.

CVA 371-1150: The corner of the Canadian Bank of Commerce at 300 West Hastings; and showing scaffolding for future site of Tip Top Tailors at 314 W, Hastings. 1948, G. Clarke.
Province. 10 Feb 1949.
Province. 26 Jan 1949.

Tip Top Tailors was established in 1909 in Toronto. The first Vancouver shop was at 137 West Hastings (north side of Hastings between Cambie and Abbot) in 1920. The shop moved to the Flack Block (at Hastings and Cambie) and later to 301 West Hastings before building its shop at 314 W Hastings in 1948.

CVA 586-7781: Tip Top Tailors interior. Style (fashion) Show. 1949. Don Coltman.
CVA 586-7779: Tip Top Tailors interior. Style (fashion) Show. 1949 Don Coltman.
CVA 586-8837: This is apparently the mezzanine floor of Tip Top at 314 West Hastings. 1949. Don Coltman.

The first two of the three photos above show a 1949 “Style Show” of some of the women’s wear options available from Tip Top at that time. All three photos show off the truly unusual and exceptional interiors that were at 314 West Hastings.

More than 5000 square feet of aluminum was used on the facade and interior of Tip Top. Anodizing (to prevent rust and corrosion) was done by Western Bridge and Steel Fabricators (Province, 18 Dec 1948).

By 1955, Tip Top had moved out of 314 Hastings. (Tip Top continued at a Granville Street location and, today, continues to exist in several lower mainland locales). By 1960, 314 W. Hastings was home (briefly) to “Drug King Self Serve Supermarket”. From ca1961, after Drug King faded to black, the space has been subdivided for use by various offices. Today, little has changed: 312 is currently an empty office rental, and 314 is a cafe. [2]

It is a shame, in my judgement, that the amazing interior space that once was home to Tip Top Tailors should be, effectively, lost.

Sun. 7 Sept 1960.


  1. It resembles the Vogue Theatre (on Granville Street) with its grand exterior and the sweeping curves of the interior design. I was stumped as to how to refer to the architectural style of Tip Top. However, “Streamline Deco” seems to me to cover off the transitional aspects of the style. For more on this, see here. Thanks to Wes for this link.
  2. Following Tip Top’s exit from this location and the subsequent subdivision, the street address was also subdivided to 312 and 314.

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4 Responses to Mistaken Assumption . . .

  1. Dan says:

    It was also a Sweet 16 from mid sixties to 70’s. The facade was unmistakable

  2. Casey Lazecki says:

    Interesting story! I too, always thought the exterior resembled an old movie theatre. I suppose the fortunes of the street were declining by the late 1950’s.

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