The Dales House at 414 Alexander Street circa 1890 CVA Photo SGN 490

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This Thursday I will be presenting on the oldest part of Vancouver, Strathcona North of Hastings, courtesy of Heritage Vancouver. Here are the details from the Heritage Vancouver website.

337 and 341 Powell Street January 5, 1928 VPL#21174
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Presentation: Strathcona North of Hastings – The Forgotten East End
Time: 7pm to 9pm | Registration 6:45pm; Presentation 7:00pm sharp
Location: Vancouver Museum, 1100 Chestnut Street (Vanier Park)
Admission: $5.00 Non-members; Heritage Vancouver members free

Join James Johnstone, Strathcona resident, house historian and community curator for a conversation and pictorial journey through Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood.
Johnstone’s focus will be on the forgotten Strathcona, the area north of Hastings and on East Hastings the spine that joins the northern and southern areas of Strathcona. North Hastings is home of some of Vancouver’s oldest and most fascinating built heritage. Strathcona North is host to the ghosts of R.H. Alexander’s milltown, Japantown, the Alexander Street red light district and the site of some of Vancouver’s bloodiest labour history.

Much is gone of the old neighbourhood, and much is under threat of demolition for future redevelopment. Through Johnstone’s personal slide collection and story telling you will have the opportunity to imagine what it was like then and what it could be like in the future.

400 block East Cordova Baseball at Oppenheimer Park VPL 42936

Friday, November 12, 2010

Remembrance Day - Lest We Forget...

CVA 99-1561 - Armistice Day crowd at Cenotaph. - 11 Nov. 1926 Stuart Thompson
I never used to actually go to the Vancouver Cenotaph for the annual Remembrance Day observance until fifteen years ago when I started going out with my parter Richard. This year will mark the 15th year we have been together and the 15th year we have gone together to the Cenotaph to remember and pay our respect to our Canadian Veterans.

CVA 99-2697 - Remembrance Day ceremony at Cenotaph. - 11 Nov. 1932
 I find the ceremony terribly moving. 15 years ago, it was all about the old Vets from WWI and II. These days there are no Canadian WWI Vets alive, and though there is a large contingent of WWII, Korean War, and even Viet Nam War Vets and the ceremony, the focus has naturally shifted to the recent and ongoing deaths of Canadians in Afghanistan. 
CVA 99-2691 - Remembrance Day ceremony at Cenotaph. - 11 Nov. 1932
For the past four or five years now Richard and I have had a tradition of walking down to the Cenotaph with our friends Graham Elvidge and Kathleen Stormont. About two and a half years ago Graham and Kathleen's daughter Charlotte was born, so our Remembrance Day party of four has grown. This year, along with Charlotte and Kathleen's Mom Aloma, our friend Lisa Binkley came along...

My grandfather was a WWI vet. I am not sure where it happened, but I know he was gassed during the war. Though he survived and returned to Canada, I know that he had health problems for the rest of his life. Richard's Dad was a WWII vet.  

This year, for the first time in a long time, the weather was decent. The rain held off until the end of the ceremony, but my face, like every year, was wet with tears. From the singing of In Flanders Fields to the playing of The Last Post, the flyovers of vintage airplanes (no Spitfires, sadly), the Moment of Silence, Reveille, all in that time-honoured quintessentially Edwardian Vancouver environment... The Dominion Building, The Province Building, The Flack Block, and all those ghosts... Remembrance Day in that environment is the closest thing to a time travel experience one can have in Vancouver.

I saw other neighbours in the crowd today. Maybe next year we can make a point of attending and remembering together.

CVA 99-2010 - Armistice Day ceremonies at Cenotaph. - 11 Nov. 1929

After God Save The Queen was sung and the last wreathes were laid, the rain started to pour, not heavily though. As we walked through Chinatown another Remembrance Day Ceremony was starting at the Chinese Canadian Pioneer and Veterans monument at Keefer and Columbia. There is an amazing display in the Chinese Canadian Military Museum at 555 Columbia Street on the contributions of Chinese Canadians during World War II. It is well worth a visit.

I did a little post on Facebook talking about going to the Cenotaph and my intrepid AHA Media journalist friend April Smith sent me a link to AHA Media's coverage of todays events. April and her colleagues do amazing work and this was no exception. For a closeup up look at today's events, here is a link to AHA Media's coverage of Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph this year.

Thanks April!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Love Fire Insurance Maps!

A while back I had the good fortune to be hired to research a property on the corner of West 11th and Columbia for contractor Joel Massey from Ronse Massey Developments. Joel's company focusses on the rehabilitation and restoration of heritage houses and has hired me a number of times to do the research on properties for which he needs a Statement of Significance (SOS) in order to get a Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) from the City.

The focus of the project for Joel was 204 West 11th Avenue. It was built on Lot 6 of Block 0 of District Lot 526 in 1909  by Verulam Township, Ontario-born merchant James Jordan Wetherup. Wetherup applied for water service for the house on March 5, 1909. His building permit application was made a month earlier on February 17, 1909. Estimated cost to build the house was $1800. Wetherup, spelled Weatherup on the application, is listed as the owner, architect and builder.

The first time the house appeared in the city directory was 1910. James Wetherup’s name is listed, but without any information on what his profession was. Often people who were retired or who were living off their fortunes were listed this way.

In the year the house was being built, 1909, the city directory lists James Jordan Wetherup as living at 2833 Westminster Road (Kingsway). There is no listing for the family in the 1908 directory. What we do know from various census and other official records is that James Jordan Wetherup was born in Verulam Township in Victoria County, Ontario on April 24, 1840. He was the son of James Wetherup and Martha Jordan. The 1901 Census has him living in Lindsay in Victoria County, Ontario with his wife Jane (b. August 2, 1841). In 1901, James was a merchant and 60 years old. Jane was 59. Jane must have passed away because on March 10, 1904, 63 year-old merchant James Jordan Wetherup married 35 year-old Surrey, England-born Kate Elizabeth Snelling, daughter of Walter Snelling and Edna Worsley. Witnesses were W. J. Carlisle and Eleanor Snelling. By 1906, the Wetherups had moved from Lindsay as by that time a newspaper report on new buildings in Lindsay in 1906 reported, “.Dr. A. E. Totten’s new home on Peel Street, south side, on what was Mr. J. J. Wetherup’s property, when finished will be a handsome dwelling. Mr. Forsyth is the contractor.”

It is likely that the Wetherups honeymooned or temporarily moved to England as census records tell us that their daughter Hilda was born there in November of 1905. According to the 1911 Census and records from the BC Archive Vital Events listings, Kate Elizabeth Wetherup was born in London, England in February of 1869 and (in 1911) was 42 years old. Kate’s parents were Walter Snelling and Edna Worsley. James and Kate’s daughter, Hilda, was born in England in November of 1905 and (in 1911) was five years old. The Wetherup family was apparently Methodist.

The Wetherup family hadn’t been living in their new house at 204 West 11th for more than a few years when James Jordan Wetherup died of diabetes on May 26, 1911 at the age of 71. James Wetherup is buried in the Jones Section of Mountain View Cemetery in Plot 04/024/0006.

Kate and Hilda Wetherup continued to live in their Mount Pleasant home until late 1920 or early 1921 when they sold the house to the Kennington family. The Kennington family moved to 204 West 11th from a house at 4081 Miller. The head of the family, Albert Robert Kennington, was born in the Indiana on March 3, 1872, the son of Robert Kennington. He was a Mason. His wife, Minerva Prather was born in Indiana on September 2, 1872 the daughter of South Carolina-born William Prather and Indiana native Nancy Stuteman. The Kenningtons had three children: Richard, Russell and Helen. The Kennington family came to Vancouver in 1911 but seem to have returned to the USA for a while as their son Russell was born in Portland in 1912. 

Albert R. Kennington was a saw filer working in various sawmills. Son Richard was also a saw filer. Helen Kennington worked as an operator for BC Telephone Co., while Russell went on to become as travelling salesman for a variety of companies. Russell Kennington was a basketball player of some renown. Russell was a star on the Daily Province basketball team when it won the national amateur championship in the 1930s.

After Mrs. Kennington died in 1948, her widowed husband Albert moved out of the house in 1949 and lived with his daughter Helen’s family on West King Edward. If the directory information is to be believed, the house was sold in 1949 or 1950 to a Mrs. Evelyn Regelous, who ran the house as a boarding house for a number of years. The directories usually indicate ownership by putting an asterisk beside the assumed homeowner’s name. Despite the fact that Mrs. Regelous’ name has an asterisk beside it, Richard A. Kennington, a life-long bachelor, continued to live in the house until 1957. The mystery of who actually owned 204 West 11th during the years that Richard Kennington continued to live in the house can easily be solved by a title search. 

From 1950 to present, 204 West 11th has been operated as a boarding house and later as an apartment building with first five, and later six suites. The directories started labelling the house as “apartments” in 1976.

Another house that was included in the study was to the east, across Columbia Street at 174 West 11th. This house has a very interesting history in that it started slightly off its current location as a one storey house in the middle of what is now the intersection of 11th and Columbia and that brings us back to the subject line, Fire Insurance Maps. Take a look at the intersection as it looked in 1901.

CVA Map 384, Plate 36, 1901
You can see 174 West 11th, on the edge of civilization as it were, just inside the borderline of District Lot 302. CPR owned District Lot 526 is still "thick bush". Note the greenhouse across the street beside the house on the east side of Columbia.

It is interesting that someone would build a house on what would clearly end up being a city intersection sometime in the future. Maybe there wasn't a street grid when gardener Frederick E. Sargent built his house there in 1896. 

According to the 1901 census records, Frederick Edwin Sargent was born in Sussex, England on July 6, 1836 and came to Canada in 1885. His wife, Mary Ann, was also born in England. Mary Ann died of peritonitis and pneumonia in Vancouver on November 26, 1897 at the age of 62 and was buried in the Old Section of Mountain View Cemetery in plot 3/01/011.0012. By 1901, Frederick Sargent was still living alone. The census records indicate he was Church of England and made $300 working as a gardener.
Fred and his son Fred J. Sargent continued to live in the house until 1906 with a short interim when painter William Piner Jones and his wife Adelaide lived in the house. According to the 1901 census records, William Piner Jones was born in England on October 2, 1862. His wife, Adelaide Wood, was born in England on April 1, 1861 the daughter of James Wood and Mary Morris. Both came to Canada in 1884 and to BC in 1898. The 1901 census lists four children: Eliza M. Jones (born in Ontario on September 4, 1889), Adelaide Jones (born in Ontario on February 9, 1891), Gertrude Jones, (born in the USA on March 20, 1896), and Grace E. Jones (born in Vancouver on July 11, 1900). Beside Gertrude’s name on the census is the date 1897, the year the family re-entered Canada. Also listed in the census is Esther Wood, Adelaide’s sister. She was born in England on October 11, 1874 and came to Canada in 1884. The Joneses were Anglicans. The census also indicates that William P. Jones made $500 in 1901 as a painter.

By 1905, Fred Edwin Sargent and his son had moved back into the house. Frederick Edwin Sargent died at home at 174 West 11th on March 27, 1906 at the age of 69 and was buried beside his wife in Mountain View’s Old Section in Plot 3/01/011/0011.  

From 1907 to 1928, 174 West 11th was home to the Walker family. Prior to moving to 174 West 11th, Thomas William Walker and his wife Myra had lived at 9th and Birch. Until his retirement just prior to moving to his new house, Thomas had worked as the Chief Steward of the Empress of India.  

It was during the time the Walkers lived at 174 West 11th, possibly the year they moved in, that Frederick Sargent's rambling one-storey house on the Columbia Street right of way was replaced with the current two and a half-storey house on the SE corner. Here is the fire insurance map for 1912.

CVA Map 342 Volume 1, Plate 28, 1912
In August of 1912, Thomas William Walker had an accident in which he fell from his verandah fracturing his forearm and injuring his head and back. He spent the next six months or so in the hospital. Thomas died on March 19, 1913 at the age of 64 and was buried in the IOOF Section of Mountain View in Plot 016/0003.

Myra Walker continued to live in the house until 1928. She died at her sister Annie's house at 1427 Laurier Avenue in Point Grey on June 2, 1928. She was 75 at the time of her death and was buried beside her husband in the IOOF Section of Mountain View in Plot 016/0004.

In 1928 the house passed to Myra's sister and brother in law, Annie J. and Peter G. Drost. Peter Grant Drost was the founder of Vancouver's historic social services provider Central City Mission. Peter and Annie's son, Herbert Mason Drost, went on to found and conduct the Vancouver Bach Choir. The Drosts lived at 174 West 11th until 1931.

CVA Map 599 Volume 2 Plates 272 & 273 July 1927
CVA Map 599 is fun to use. Of all the fire insurance maps, it gives the most in terms of architectural detail, such as the footprint of the house and information on the out buildings around the houses. 

Note the house at 2720 Columbia just behind 174 West 11th. It was built in 1911 by Thomas Walker at an estimated cost of $3000. The Drost family lived there in 1927 before moving to Laurier then later moving to 174 West 11th. 

From 1932 to 1942, 174 West 11th became the home of engineer Charles A. Maddison and his wife Eliza. Prior to moving to 174 West 11th, Charles A. and Eliza Maddison lived at 205, 2545 Main Street. Charles was working as the janitor of Belvedere Court. Charles Arthur Maddison was born in Huntingdon, England on August 23, 1864. His father’s name was Charles Arthur Maddison. Charles came to Canada around 1909 and to Vancouver in 1921. His wife, Eliza Ayriss, was born in Croughton, England on January 112, 1865. Her father’s name was John Ayriss.

From 1933 onwards, Charles is listed as the caretaker of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Church which was built right across the street on the NE corner of Columbia and West 11th, replacing the old house with a greenhouse that once stood on that location.

CVA Map 610 Volume 2 Plates 272 & 273 October 1955
Here is the fire insurance map from 1955 showing the new church across the street.

By 1943, Charles and Eliza Maddison were living at 555 East 54th. Charles died there on June 28, 1943 of a heart attack following a bought of influenza. He was 78. Charles Arthur Maddison was buried in Forest Lawn. Eliza Maddison also died at home on March 22, 1947 at the age of 82 and was buried in Forest Lawn.

From 1943 to 1948, 174 West 11th was home to VGH splint maker Edward J. Parker and his wife Ethel. Edward James Parker was born in England on May 22, 1883 the son of Benjamin Parker and Mary Ann Hulding. His wife’s maiden name was Ethel Newsom. Parker came to Canada in 1898 and to BC in 1923. The Parker family moved to 174 West 11th from 2675 Wall Street.

In 1949 the house was bought by Harry and Jessie Kleparchuk. They only stayed in the house for two years. The Kleparchuk family moved to 174 West 11th from 804 East 10th. Harry worked for Carruthers & Sons which did custom welding and sold supplies at 225 Kingsway.

After the Kleparchuks moved out, the house was rented out and up until recently, seemed to change hands every few years. from the 1960s, perhaps earlier, the house was divided up into a number of suites and run as an apartment.

This is only a fraction of the information I included in the full study for Joel. My main focus for this article was to talk about the Fire Insurance Maps. There are quite a few different sets covering different parts of the city from the 1800s to the 1950s at the City of Vancouver Archives and the VPL Special Collections. Most are on microfilm, but if you get a chance, ask to see one of the originals. Additions to the original map are pasted on in different coloured paper patches. It is a fascinating way to learn how a specific street block or neighbourhood developed over the years.

In the meantime, if you are looking to hire a great contractor for that special job on your heritage house, think of Joel Massey. He does great work, and hires great help. ; )

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Mil P220.3
Every day we see archival images of our city in newspapers, on websites, in books, in documentaries and even hanging framed on office and restaurant walls. Where do these precious photos and films come from, how did they survive and how are people and organizations so easily able to access them?

The City of Vancouver Archives is one of the most popular “go to” places for archival photographs and film, as well as many other historical records. For seventeen years the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives (FVCA) has raised funds to help collect, save and preserve these rare and vital objects of our cities past.

Money raised by the Friends helped purchase: a 1600 cubic foot cold storage facility to preserve the Archives’ deteriorating photographs and films, web publisher software to assist researchers search the database, a dye-sublimation printer and the Archives’ Reading Room photocopier. Currently the funds the Friends raised are supporting a crucial description and digitization of a backlog of old photos donated to the Archives Collection.

“I found my grandfather`s 8mm film of a 1944 Callister Exhibition Park Rodeo held on the old PNE grounds. You can even see the wooden roller coaster in the background. The film was beginning to show signs of deterioration and would have soon turned into a sticky messy roll. It`s now safely preserved in the Archive’s cold storage room and digitized to view on their website...” says Friends board member Jolene Cumming.

As with many groups, the Friends have been hit hard by budget and granting cuts. You can help support our work to support the endeavours of The Archives by attending our Fall Fundraiser. Other ways to help preserve records of Vancouver’s past include; purchasing memberships, cash donations or donating your family or firm’s archival records.


The Friends of the Vancouver City Archives are asking the Vancouver citizens, organizations, businesses and others to help them “Help Save Vancouver” by attending:

“Researching Women in the Archives & in the Family”
An illustrated talk by M. Diane Rogers
President of the BC Genealogical Society

Explore researching strategies, techniques and learn how to interpret archival photographs.

Sunday Nov 14th, 2010

Includes a Reception with Refreshments by Emelle’s Catering.

Tickets $25

Please Register by November 9th  at 604-736-8561

Event location: City Archives at 1150 Chestnut Street in Vanier Park

Media contact:
James Johnstone, Chair, Friends of the Vancouver City Archives

CVA 677-35 Malkin Family at 1406 Davie

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Homeless in the City Dump during the Great Depression - CVA Photo Re N8.2 P6
On Wednesday, October 27th at 7pm I will be presenting a 200+ slide presentation on the fascinating history and multicultural heritage of my neighbourhood, Vancouver's first neighbourhood, the Old East End.  

Tosca Trasolini and Flying 7 in 1936, CVA Photo 371-478
The presentation will take place in the Seniors' Lounge on the first floor of the Strathcona Community Centre at 601 Keefer (near Princess Avenue).
CVA 447-297 N.E. corner of Gore Ave & Pender St  - Feb. 17, 1929
This will be a fundraiser for the Strathcona Community Centre Food Security Programme... It is actually a fundraiser for a fundraiser as I am trying to raise funds for an espresso machine that the Strathcona Community Centre (SCC) is planning to buy that will both help them raise money for the Food Security Programme and at the same time help train East End neighbourhood kids to become barristas.

CVA 287-20 Strathcona Elementary School Soccer Team ca 1928
The Strathcona Community Centre Food Security Programme provides over 100,000 meals and snacks a year to East End children and elders in need.

Admission:Sliding Scale $5-10.

"Donations" of $25 and above will receive a tax receipt. All monies raised will go to the Strathcona Community Centre Food Security Programme Espresso Machine Fund. All coffee sold through this initiative at the SCC and community events will support the Food Security Programme.

Sonny Wappler in front of 810 Union - courtesy Lucille Mars
Though most of the archival images in this show are from the City of Vancouver Archives and the Vancouver Public Library Special Collections, many of the images in the show are from private collections from former and current East End residents. This is a great way to learn about Vancouver's old East End and is a doubly good way to support youth in need in this neighbourhood.

People who cannot make it to the presentation but still wish to donate to the programme can send cheques made out to:

Strathcona Community Centre (earmarked for the Food Security Programme) 
c/o Ron Suzuki
Strathcona Community Centre
601 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC, V6A 3V8.

Thanks for your generous support.

CVA Photo Sch N11 Strathcona School circa 1923

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I will be escorting two seperate East End tours this Saturday

Bu P700.2 SE corner Gore & Cordova A. L. Yates June 16, 1963
I will be hosting two east End Tours this Saturday. For details, see my Vancouver Neighbourhood History Walks blog.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

East End Irredenta - Strathcona North of Hastings - Part 2

This is the second part of a two part posting on the history and built heritage (and lost heritage) of the oldest part of Vancouver's East End, Strathcona north of Hastings Street. Click here to see the first half. We now continue our tour of the built heritage and the history of Strathcona, north of Hastings. Vancouver's oldest Anglican Church, St. James, was built on the old Hastings Road, (Alexander Street) in the early 1880s.

St. James Church on Hastings Road (Alexander Str) by Harry T. Devine ca. 1885 Ch P15
This church was of course destroyed in the Great Fire of 1886 and a new location was found for the parish church at Gore Avenue (Vancouver's original skid road) and Oppenheimer (East Cordova Street) Street. Many people are familiar with the current St. James Church, designed by architect Adrian Gilbert Scott. It's art deco lines and conical roof stand out as unique among Vancouver's Churches. However, this building, thought by some to be one of the best samples of architecture in Vancouver, is the second church to be built on this site. Before the current building was built in 1936, a wood framed building stood on the location, similar in size and design to St. Paul's Anglican Church that still stands in the West End. Here are a number of pictures.

St. James Church 1892 CVA Photo Ch p76 - Bailey Brothers
By 1907, St. James had a steeple added to it.

VPL 18794 St. James Anglican Church 1907 Philip Timms
St. James Interior 1936 - Philip TimmsVPL 18793
301 East Cordova St. James Interior 1936 Philip TimmsVPL 18790A

Port P756 Clergy in front of St. James' Church - ca. 1886
This group portrait shows Reverend Ditcham, Reverend Wright, Archdeacon Woods, Reverend Clinton, Reverend Charles Croucher, Reverend Small, Bishop Sillitoe, Reverend Edwards and others in front of St. James Church circa 1886.

St. James is of the High Anglican or Anglo-Catholic tradition. Ritual is a very important part of litugical worship. The incense-filled atmosphere at High Mass at St. James verges on Byzantine. Here is a great picture of a procession down Cordova Street taken in 1908 by Philip Timms.

Look at the house on the NW corner of Gore and Cordova. Here is another picture of it below. This house was built in the 1880s for Arthur Willis Sullivan the son of Vancouver's pioneer Black family Philip and Josephine Sullivan.  Arthur's father Philip had arrived in BC from the USA in 1859. Philip died in 1886. His wife, Josephine operated a restaurant for a number of years in Gastown.

231 East Cordova - A. W. Sullivan house c 1889 Bailey & Neelands
Here is a picture of Phillip Sullivan, Arthur's father.

Port P858
Here is a picture of Josephine Sullivan, Arthur's mother, taken in 1889.

Mrs. Josephine Sullivan CVA Photo Port P67.3
Arthur Sullivan and his brother Charles Edward Seals Sullivan signed the petition for Incorporation of the City of Vancouver. The Sullivans were staunch Methodists. Arthur was known as one of the early musicians of Vancouver, as a singer at the Princess (East Pender) Street Methodist Church, and as an organist at St. James Anglican Church.

Arthur's wife, Annie E. Thompson, was caucasian. She was born in New Brunswick in 1861. Though the Sullivan home is long gone, its former location on the NW corner of Gore and Cordova is important in terms of Vancouver's Black history and also for the fact that one of Vancouver's earliest mixed race (Black/White) couples lived here.

But back to St. James Church. Attached to St. James' Church was St. Luke's Hospital, later St. Luke's Home. The original building was built in 1888 by the second rector Father H. G. Fiennes Clinton and Sister Frances Redmond.

St. Luke's Home in 1889, CVA Photo Bu P671
St. Luke's Home 1896 Bu P292
Sister Frances, known in later life as Vancouver's Florence Nightingale, was born in England. She was the wife of Dr. William Charles Redmond, Royal Navy Reserve. After the Redmonds came to Canada they settled first in Winnipeg. Mrs. Redmond went to Montreal where she trained as a nurse and midwife at Laval University, and also became an Anglican deaconess. After the great Fire of 1886 Sister Frances came to Vancouver in 1887 at the request of Father Clinton. She became the first district nurse here and practiced midwifery, and nursed women and children in their homes.

Sister Frances in 1894, CVA Photo Port P128.1
St. Luke's was one of Vancouver's and this Province's earliest hospitals. It functioned as a hospital until its demolition in 1925. The current building was built shortly after and has operated as a nursing home ever since. Sister Frances opened the first training school for nurses in Vancouver, taught students and supervised their clinical work. It was under Sister Frances tutelage, that Nellie Yip Quong studied midwifery, going on to provide those invaluable services to Vancouver's Chinese community.

347 East Cordova - St. Martha's Heritage House
It seems that 347 East Cordova was originally numbered 313.

Given that the part ofthe East End north of Hastings has some of Vancouver's oldest built heritage, a very large amount of its old houses and commercial buildings are now lost to us. immediately north of St. James and kitty-corner to the Sullivan house once stood an amazing old Italianate dwelling. I have not researched when this house was built, but it was old and sadly, there are no more houses of this exact style left in the city.

300 East Cordova on June 16, 1962, CVA Photo Bu P. 700.2 A. L. Yates
300 Oppenheimer was built in 1890 by contractor Thomas Beverly Spring. Stay tuend for a future post about Thomas B. Spring, who, according to his great great grandson in Sydney, Australia, had a rather interesting past. 

Just south of the Spring residence stood 306 (later 320) Gore Avenue.

320 Gore Avenue, in July of 1956 - Bu P508.23 by A. L. Yates
The south side of the 300-block of (Oppenheimer) East Cordova has been completely rebuilt. None of the original houses still stand.

But in the 1880s, this block was where Vancouver's first Mayor, Malcolm Alexander MacLean lived at 334 Oppenheimer. Above is a section of the 1901 Fire Insurance Map for Vancouver. The house where Mayor MacLean lived is the last one on the east end of the south side of Oppenheimer. Rememberto click on the map to enlarge the image.

334 Oppenheimer - Mayor MacLean's Residence CVA Photo Bu N8
Lots 17 and 18, Block 56 of District Lot 196
In the early 1920s and 30s, a house six doors down was home to a Japanese family, the Kusakas who had immigrated to Canada from Osaka. The Kusaka's young son, Shuichi Kusaka 日下周一 went on to become a world famous theoretical physicist who studied at Princeton under Albert Einstein. There is a great Youtube video on Kusaka produced by the descendent of one of his Vancouver relatives.

Directly north of the site of Mayor MacLean's old house on the NE corner of Cordova and Dunlevy is a group of buildings owned by the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement. For many years, this was the site of the Catholic Japanese Mission. One of the houses in the compound, 385 East Cordova, is reputed to be one of, if not the oldest standing house left in Vancouver.

You can see the house in this 1887 photo. The block without any development will become Oppenheimer Park. 385 Oppenheimer (East Cordova) is under the third annotation from the left. It would seem from the old directory listings that it was once numbered 333 Oppenheimer and, at the time this picture was taken, was the home of hardware merchant Thomas Dunn.

CVA Str P223 J. A. Brock 1887 Cordova near Heatley

333 Oppenheimer in 1887. closeup of a section of CVA Photo Str P223
 Thomas Alexander Dunn, besides being a hardware merchant, was one of Vancouver's original ten aldermen. Here he is in the famous Harry T. Devine photo reenacting the first city council meeting after the Great Fire. Dunn is the third man from the left standing in front of the tent, just under the City Hall sign.

CVA Photo LGN 1045
Thomas Dunn had his hardware store on Cordova Street in the Dunn Miller Block which now houses the Army & Navy Store. Here is a studio portrait of Thomas Dunn and his family taken in the 1880s.

CVA Photo Port P179
Thre 400 block of East Cordova has been entirely redeveloped. This photo may be one of the few in existance, or at least in scanned and online, showing some of the houses on that block. This picture, showing a baseball game taking place in 1965 on the home turf of the Asahi Tigers shows about eight houses that once stood on this block.

400 block East Cordova Baseball at Oppenheimer Park VPL 42936

Before we head east into the 500 block of East Cordova, there are four, rather imposing Edwardian Box houses on the east side of Jackson facing Oppenheimer Park. 230, 236, 242and 248 Jackson were all built in 1905, just south of the Japanese Methodist Mission in 1905 by two women: Alexandra Mcdonald and Amy McCrae.

230-248 Jackson in 2010 
230 Jackson
236 Jackson
242 Jackson
248 Jackson
Behind 248 Jackson is 513 East Cordova.

513 East Cordova
This is another view of a sliver of the house that can be seen from between two of the Jackson Avenue houses.

This has an old lane house behind it which looks quite old. Here are two views.

A little bit further down the street is a curious building at 549 East Cordova. To me it looks like an old building but maybe not. The 1941 map of Nihon Machi (Japan Town) put together by the Japanese Canadian National museum in Burnaby shows this address as the site of the Honpa Buddhist Temple with Rev. E. Mitsubayashi residing there. Other information I have on the Honpa Buddhist Temple had it at 604 East Cordova on the site of the present Union Gospel Mission building. It could be that this building was actually the priest's home. More research is required. (Sadly, since this post was first uploaded, this building has been demolished).

Here is the view from the back.

And another one...

Going to the north side of the 500-block of East Cordova we come to the orignal site of the East End School.

CVA Photo Sch P46 Oppenheimer Street (East) School in 1887 or 1888
Here is another photo. Apparently the street address for the school was 504 Oppenheimer.

CVA Photo Sch P21 The East School in 1892 
There are a number of interesting buildings on the site now, including a brick three storey apartment building and three old houses: 518, 522 and 526 East Cordova.

 East Cordova was built in 1908. The original owner was someone named Lena Carlson.

522 East Cordova was built in the 1907 by carpenter Louis Godo.

Chinese Signage on 522 East Cordova
526 East Cordova was built by a marine engineer named Frederick Webster in 1909. This house was the Japanese Catholic Mission School until 1918 when it was bought by Kenta and Hatsuka Tanaka. According to the research done by Dr. Audrey Kobayashi, they are the ones who were responsible for putting the Gomon (Japanese family crest or coat of arms) on the front gable.

526 East Cordova
526 East Cordova - Detail
I am not so sure if this is actually the case, because the Gomon looks like the Gomon of the Tenrikyo Religion. The 1941 city directory shows this address as the location of the Vancouver Tenrikyo Church and th home of Rev. S. Tashiro, a Tenrikyo priest. It may be that the Tanakas were followers of Tenrikyo. You can find out more about Tenrikyo by following the links.

The 600-block of East Cordova has the largest number of intact heritage houses in the neighbourhood, some, because of their association with their builders are historically significant.

Prior to WWII, 604 East Cordova was the site of the Hompa Buddhist Temple. This,the precursor to the current Jodo Shinshu Temple at Jackson and Powell, also served as a community centre.

Further down on the same side of the street is the beautifully restored Twambley House at 656 East Cordova.

This house has received Heritage Designation. It is a "B" modified. Here is what the heritage plaque has to say. Click on the image to enlarge it.

On the north side of the street are a number of houses in various states of repair. Some are in the process of being restored. Others need a lot of TLC.

605 East Cordova - 1889 by Thomas H. Boyd
Rear View of 605 East Cordova

611 East Cordova
627 & 629 East Cordova
This lot has two addresses: 627 and 629 East Cordova. 627 East Cordova was built in 1889 by M. L. Campbell. 629 was built by Italian-born hotelier Angelo Calori, the builder of Gastown's landmark Hotel Europe. There is a lane house on this lot. More research needs to be done but it may be that this smaller lane house is 627 and the grey house in the front is the Angelo Calori house. Here below is a picture of the lane house.

627 East Cordova?

631 East Cordova
633 and 637 East Cordova
637 and 643 East Cordova
647 and 649 East Cordova
653 East Cordova
655 East Cordova
655 East Cordova was built in 1905. For many years it was the home of widow Mary Jane Biggar and her son George. George biggar was a jeweller, optician, and watch maker (he must have had very good eyes for all that) who had a store at 143 East Hastings.

657 East Cordova
657 East Cordova is the other address on this block associated with Italian-born hotelier, Angelo Calori. Calori built this house in 1907. The first resident was bar tender Joshua Maton. Ionian capitals crown interior columns. The current owners are restoring the house and are replacing the lost capitals on the columns on the porch. Here is a picture of the rather dapper Angelo Calori. Sempre la bella figura!

665 East Cordova
The last two houses on the south side of the block are interesting... I say "two" because originally that is what they were, two single family dwellings. 671 East Cordova was built in the early 1900s by William Keddy, a miner, and 679 East Cordova was built in 1899-1900 by a blacksmith named Wilbur Watson. At some point these two houses were joined to make a single apartment building. I am not surewhen it happened or who did it yet, but the end result is rather interesting.

From here, we walk a block down Heatley to Hastings. On the way are three more Edwardian boxes, 313, 311, and 305 Heatley, all built in 1906 by an A. McRae. It is my belief that this A. McRae is the Alexandra McRae who was co-owner of the four houses on the 200 block of Jackson. The name is the same, the period close and the design of the houses almost identical.

305, 311 and 313 Heatley
305 Heatley
311 Heatley
313 Heatley
This tour of Strathcona North of Hastings has focussed mostly on the houses that still stand in the neighbourhood, but there are a number of interesting apartment and commercial buildings that are worthy of further investigation... That will be for another blog though. In the meantime, I sincerely hope that this walk around the oldest part of Vancouver's East End will spark some in interest in preserving the built heritage that we still have there. Here is the link to Heritage Vancouver Society's position paper on Strathcona North of Hastings.

Camelias blooming in front of 305 Heatley