I love it when I get surprises in my e-mail inbox, especially when they are from history researchers who come across something that relates to houses that I am researching or have researched, and especially when they related with Vancouver's East End's history.
Some years back I received this amazing scan of page from the October 28, 1905 Vancouver Province from a man named Nelson who over the years has been kind enough to forward me a number of great articles and photos he has come across through the course of his research.
|Principal G. H. Tom with students in front of Strathcona School June 10, 1903 CVA Sch P51|
The last of the nine houses included in the Province Article not only stands, but has been recently renovated and is part of a new strata project called Crawford Row that includes a new rowhouse facing Hawks Avenue that replaces a historic house that once stood there.
This house, now numbered 799 East Pender, was for most of its history known as 795 East Pender. On October 30, 1902 a man named Thomas Crawford applied for water service for a house he was building on Lots 21 and 22 of Block 67 of District Lot 181. Six days earlier, on October 24, 1902 builder D. McDonald applied for a building permit for the frame dwelling with an estimated building cost of $1,400.00 on behalf of Thomas Crawford. Thomas Crawford is listed on the application as owner and architect. The building permit application also indicates that the originally planned orientation of the house may have been towards Hawks Avenue as Hawks Avenue, and not Princess (East Pender) Street was mentioned in the application. The house was built in 1902 and completed for occupation in 1903, the first year the house at 795 Princess (renamed East Pender in 1907) is mentioned in the city directories. For the years 1903 and 1904, a sawmill employee Thomas Crawford is listed, but from 1905 and 1906 two separate Thomas Crawfords are listed by the directories: the mill hand, and a delivery clerk for the CPR Sheds.
This second Thomas Crawford, born in Ireland on October 21, 1868, is mentioned in the BC Archives Vital Events records, although sadly much of his past remains a blank. This Thomas Crawford came to Vancouver from Ireland in 1897 where he worked as a clerk and later a checker for the Canadian Pacific Railway. The names of his parents are not listed on his death certificate, although one can assume that the mill hand listed in the directories was probably his father.
The D. Mcdonald mentioned on the building permit application was a prolific builder. A search of the building permit records shows that he built quite a few homes in Strathcona, Mount Pleasant, Grandview/Woodlands and even Kitsilano and the West End in the early 1900s. Although he worked as a building contractor for others, several of the permit applications were for properties McDonald owned himself.
Mill hand Thomas Crawford drops from the Vancouver City Directories in 1907. In October of that same year, Thomas Crawford (then listed as a CPR Shed delivery clerk) built a smaller one-and-a-half storey house on the north half of lots 21 and 22 of Block 67 or District Lot 181—421 Hawks Avenue. In 1908, the year this rental property was completed and first occupied, Crawford moved out of 795 East Pender but lived off and on at 421 Hawks Avenue during World War I.
Thomas Crawford moved around a lot in the 1910s and 1920s. He is listed at 615 East Hastings in 1918, then 768 Hamilton, followed by 613 Hamilton and once again 768 Hamilton in the 1920s. The year the Great Depression hit, Thomas Crawford moved into the Lotus Hotel at Abbott and Pender, just west of Chinatown, then moved to the Abbotsford Hotel at 921 West Pender in 1933 then to the Benge Rooming house at 914 West Pender in 1936. He lived at the Benge until 1949 after which it becomes impossible to trace him with any certainty.
795 East Pender was rental property for most of its existence, and most of its occupants were working class. The last owner to live in the house was Grosvenor Hotel cook Tsan Quen Mah and his wife Wei Lan. They moved out in 1971.
After 1986 the house at 421 Hawks Avenue became vacant and shortly after 1990 it was demolished. At about the same time the house at 795 East Pender was divided into separate suites.
My regular Vancouver Neighbourhood History Walks schedule of walking tours in Vancouver's East End/Strathcona, West End, Mount Pleasant, and Grandview neighbourhoods continues until early September 2014 when I will be taking a sabbatical and moving to Italy for a year or so where I hope to write my first novel and perhaps a tourists guide of the Sabina.
Some of the houses mentioned in this post are featured in my East End/Strathcona History Walks.
Dates are July 12 and 26, August 9 and 23 for a History Walk of Strathcona South of Hastings, and there will be a History Walk of Vancouver's Milltown, Strathcona North of Hastings, on August 30th.
If you have been thinking of taking one of my tours, these next two months will be your last chance for a while. So while you can, come time travel with me through Vancouver's historic neighbourhoods and find out why my History Walks in Vancouver are rated 12 of 137 things to do in Vancouver on TripAdvisor.