The Radlett

CVA 786-6.05 – 862 Homer Street, 1978.

The rooming house shown above at 862 Homer Street was, early in its existence, called The Radlett. It was built in 1908 for about $3000 by owner, Thomas Foster. Depending who was counting, there were between 18 and 20 rooms in it. During some of the building’s history, it housed males, exclusively.

As with most multi-resident buildings, The Radlett had its share of tragedies. Like Angus Belfoy, a 76-year-old resident who was found dead on a 1952 afternoon in his gas-filled room (Province 15 Apr 1952).

Other residents were blessed with sunny dispositions, like Ronald Gordon-Cumming, who contributed the following poem to the Vancouver Sun. It concludes positively with a reflection upon his rented accommodation, be it ever so humble. As far as I know, this poem was original to Gordon-Cumming:

These have I loved — the silent woods,
The sea in all its restless moods,
The sunset with its crimson glow,
The murmur when a creek runs slow,
The rustle of dry autumn leaves,
The golden glow of ripe corn sheaves,
The smell of wood-smoke left behind
When softly blows the warm spring wind;
The song of birds, the swish of grass,
The whirr of wings as wild ducks pass;
The hum of bees, the smell of clover,
The wonderment when winter’s over;
The blue of lakes, the lovely sight
Of cloudless skies and bright starlight;
The drip of rain, the feel of loam —
But most of all the lights of home
When plodding back upon my way
They welcome me at close of day.

Vancouver Sun, 1 Aug 1956

The Radlett survived when buildings half its age were being knocked over for parking lots. It endured until it was all but destroyed by fire in 1991. It was later demolished and an office/residential condo was put in its place — The Beasley, named after one of Vancouver’s city planners, Larry Beasley.

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