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

Monday, January 11, 2010

This Friday, January 15th, I am going to be on CBC Radio


Some weeks back I was called by one of the staff for CBC Radio One's ON THE COAST. I was told there was going to be a special show broadcast live from the Hotel Patricia at 403 East Hastings on Friday January 15th to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton's playing there. Anyone who does not know who Jelly Roll Morton was, here is a link to Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jelly_Roll_Morton.

I was asked if I would be interested to come on the show to talk about the history of the East End. I would be on for three three-minute segments. Needless to say, I didn't have to think this one over.

Matthew, the man from ON THE COAST, asked me to think about three stories about this history of the East End to share on the show. Anyone who has taken my walking tours or who have followed this blog know that I have literally hundreds of great stories about this neighbourhood; the problem would be to choose which three.

While I was thinking about which stories to use, I got an e-mail from Matthew asking if I knew anything about the history of the Hotel Patricia. In the past I was lucky enough to be hired to do an in depth research study on the old Niagara Hotel on the 400 block of West Pender, but sadly I knew almost nothing about the Patricia.

Luckily, I was at the best place to start snooping around about the Patricia when I received Matthew's e-mail--my favourite haunt, the City of Vancouver Archives. I did a quick online search for photos of the hotel and found one taken in 1917 by Stuart Thomson, (CVA Photo 99-187 above) .

I then went to look at the water service records for 403 East Hastings, the hotel's current address. The Water Service application number I found for the property was #288, too early in the scheme of things to be the number for the hotel. I checked the microfilm reel and found that the original water service application was made by someone named W. Cargill on April 26, 1890. Interesting, I thought. So the hotel was not the first thing to be built on the site. Beside the original 1890 application were some additional, more recent forms. Water service for the Patricia Hotel was originally applied for by a Dr. T. H. Wilson on August 17, 1911 but not hooked up until 1913. Another document had a hand written note on it saying that the hotel was due to open on August 1st, 1913. So in less than ten minutes I found out quite a few interesting tidbits, just from the water service records.

I checked the old fire insurance maps for the site, starting with CVA Map 384 and found that indeed ther had been a house standing on the property for some time before the hotel was built. Here is what the 1901 fire insurance map shows. This is a section of Plate 9 from CVA Map 384. W. Cargill's house stands on the three lots on the bottom left of the image. It faces Dunlevy Avenue. Note how, for this block at least, the development along Hastings lagged behind that of East Cordova.



I next went to the old city directories to find out what I could about this original house and who W. Cargill was. Although water service was applied for in 1890, William Cargill's house stood on the corner of Dunlevy and East Hastings as far back as 1888 and was likely built in 1887. The 1888 and 1889 directories list William Cargill in a partnership with John J. Cargill, and that they were the proprietors of Tattersall’s Stables and Livery in Trounce Alley. The 1890 directory shows Cargill working as an accountant out of an office at 13 Cordova Street. (East Cordova was called Oppenheimer after Vancouver's second Mayor until it was renamed East Cordova). Then, for a number of years William Cargill worked as an accountant for Union Steam Ships.

I took a break from the directories and went to look and see if Major Matthews, Vancouver's first Archivist, had anything on him in his Topical Files. There was only one small page on a microfiche, but what it told me was that William Cargill had served a term as a Vancouver Alderman.

I went back to the directories. William Cargill continued to live at his house at 316 Dunlevy until 1901 after which Cargill moves to a rooming house. For the last years that Cargill lives at Dunlevy he is listed as working as a Public Accountant and Deputy Collector for Inland Revenue.

The the 1901 directory lists a travelling salesman at 316 Dunlevy named Arthur J. Morse there is no record of the house after 1902. It either burnt down, or was demolished for some reason.

I looked for Cargill in the 1901 Canada census. He is shown living with about 19 other lodgers in a rooming house run by a woman named Alameda McCluskey.  The census records indicate that William Cargill was born in the Straits Settlement (now the southern tip of Malaya and Singapore) on June 10, 1852, came to Canada in 1880, was of "Scotch" heritage, was an Episcopalian (Anglican) and was 48 at the time of the census.  The census also indicates that Cargill was or had been married, but no female Cargill turns up in BC in the 1901 census.

I did an online search for a death certificate on the BC Archives Website but nothing comes up for Cargill. On a hunch I checked to see if he had been in Vancouver early enough to be included in the 1886 Voters List (The BC Genealogical Society has put together an amazing book on all the people who were included in Vancouver's first Voters List) and sure enough, I found him on page 157.

What I found written there confirmed my finding but added some other information. William's father's name was John, and was a Scotsman. His mother was born in New South Wales, Australia. The John J. Cargill he was in partnership in was his brother, who had been born in New Zealand. Apparently William was born in Singapore. He married an Isle of Jersey native named Alice sometime before 1882, possibly in Australia. Their first born, John, was born circa 1882 in Australia. They had two other children, Henry born in BC circa 1887 and Alice born in BC circa 1889. (None of these BC births were registered as they do not show up in the BC Archives Vital Events Listings.)

 Another interesting fact mentioned in the article is that at one time, William Cargill was the manager of the Sunnyside Hotel which used to stand on the NW corner of Water and Carrall (seen on the right in VPL Photo 19807 taken in May of 1888). Apparently Cargill died sometime in June of 1904. There is an obit in the June 27, 1904 Vancouver Daily World Newspaper. (See below).

The site of Cargill's house stood vacant for a number of years when a house was built on the easternmost of the original three lots in 1905 for Ontario-born Doctor, Thomas H. Wilson. According to his death certificate, Dr. Wilson was born in Waterloo, County, Ontario on February 3, 1869, the son of John Wilson and Mary Haddow. He graduated from the University of Manitoba Medical School in 1897 and came to Vancouver shortly after that. On August 3rd, 1898, 28 year-old Doctor Wilson married 26 year-old Minneapolis, Minnesota-born Clara May Mitchell, the daughter of Peter Mitchell and Annie Richardson. Thomas was Presbyterian and Clara was Baptist. they were married in a Baptist Church by Rev. W. T. Stackhouse.
Prior to moving to 407 East Hastings, Dr. Wilson had been listed as living and working out of rooms above 414 Westminster Avenue (Main Street). Anyway, to get back to the Patricia Hotel, Dr. Thomas Wilson applied for water service for the hotel initially on August 17, 1911. On April 25, 1912, Dr. Thomas applied for a building permit for a rather stately home at 1142 Chilco Street. Estimated cost to build the house was $7000. L. E. Gordon is listed as the architect while the Dominion Construction Company is listed as the contractor. For some reason, construction on the hotel did not begin right away. Wilson finally applied for a building permit for the hotel on September 10, 1912. J. Y. McCarter is listed as the architect. J. Y. McCarter (1886-1981) went on to become one of Vancouver's most prominent architects in partnership with George C. Nairne. McCarter and Nairne designed such landmark buildings as the Devonshire Apartments (later Hotel), the Spencer's Department Store (now the SFU Downtown Campus) and the Marine Building. The Patricia Hotel, however, was McCarter's first solo project. Estimated cost to build the hotel was $115,000.00.

For a full biography of McCarter, see pages 272-277 of Donald Luxton's Building The West: Early Architects of British Columbia.

Interestingly, the address for the hotel was initially a Dunlevy Avenue, not a Hastings Street one. The street address listed in the building permit application is 332 to 348 Dunlevy. Here is what the immediate neighbourhood looked like at the time of its construction. This is a section of CVA Map 342 Volume 2, Plate 68. Note that although the three lots the hotel will be built on are empty, that there is still the 407 of Dr. Thomas' recently demolished house listed below lots 30 and 31. There are still a few empty lots along Hastings. Cordova Street, on the other hand, has been completely developed.


Although we know that the Patricia Hotel opened sometime around August 1st, 1913, the 1913 just lists a "New Building" on the site. The 1913 directory lists Dr. Wilson as living at 1142 Chilco and working out of an office at #5, 208 East Hastings.

It is in the 1914 city directory that we see 403 to 411 East Hastings as the Hotel Patricia with 405 East Hastings listed as the Patricia Pool Room. Edward P. Mulhern is listed as the proprietor, J. J. Moraney is listed as the chief clerk and Fredrick Southern is listed as the manager of the pool room. Prior to coming on board at the Hotel Patricia, Edward P. Mulhern was the proprietor of the Hotel Eagle Hotel at 111 West Cordova and lived at 1765 East Pender. Here is a copy of his wedding certificate. 403 East Hastings is listed as Mulhern's residence.

Knowing that August 1, 1913 was supposed to be the opening date for the Patricia, I searched through the microfilmed copies of two of the newspapers of the day, The Vancouver World and the Vancouver News Herald, hoping to find a full page article on the opening, similar to the one I found for the Connaught (later Niagara) Hotel. I was not able to find any. Perhaps there is one around August 1st in The Province or The Sun. If I find them, I will upload them.

But perhaps, just perhaps, the Hotel Patricia opened before the August 1st date mentioned in the water service application, because I found this in the July 31, 1913 News Herald on page 10. Two blocks from City Hall? you ask? Well, at the time that the Hotel Patricia opened, Vancouver's City Hall was still in the old Market Building on Main Street immediatly south of Carnegie Library. and $1 a day for a hotel room? Those were the days.


I hope to find out a little more about the Hotel Patricia between now and the radio show. Hopefully I will find that full page spread on the grand opening. In the meantime, I will leave you with the four other archival pictures of the hotel available at the Vancouver Public Library. If you have a chance, please listen in on the 15th, 3-6pm on CBC Radio 1. Oh! And remember, you can enlarge any of these image in this blog by clicking on them.

VPL 20404 Patricia Hotel Oct 23, 1917 Dominion Photo Co.

VPL 5008 Patricia Hotel 1945 by Leonard Frank.
VPL 80715 Patricia Hotel 1948 by Art Jones. Photo of Chinese Funeral for Jung Sin Sow going south on Dunlevy.

And lastly, this interesting photo...
VPL 44327 Photo of Japanese mountain climber at Patricia Hotel taken Aug 3, 1966 by Gordon F. Sedawie.

Here is CVA Map 599 Volume 3, Plate 310 showing how the immediate area around the Hotel Patricia looked in January of 1930.




Here finally, is a fire insurance map of the area published in December of 1956. This is a colour scan of an orignal I have, but the CVA code is Map 610 Volume 3, Plate 310 December 1956.



Photograph of Jelly Roll Morton, cropped from group photo of musicians and entertainers in Los Angeles, California, at the Cadillac Club, c. 1917 or 1918, scanned from reprint in book "Oh, Mister Jelly" by William Russell, JazzMedia Aps, 1999.


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