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

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Panorama Shot of the NE and SE corners of Franklin and Woodland

City of Vancouver Archives Photo Pan N144
I am in the midst of preparing for a walking tour of Strathcona, north of Hastings Street. This is a fundraiser for Heritage Vancouver Society and starts at 10pm Saturday, August 14th. I was doing a search of the City of Vancouver Archives photos page when I came across this stunning panorama shot of the corner of Albert Street (now Franklin) and Woodland Drive.

Though technically outside the area my tour is concerned with, I was elated to find some information on a streetscape I have been interested in for a long time. Some of you know that I work part time at The Gourmet Warehouse at 1340 East Hastings. I actually began working at The Gourmet Warehouse back in 2002 after the repercussions of September 11th lost me my consulting contract with JTB International (Canada) Ltd., a Japanese travel company I had been working for in various capacities since 1983.

Eight years ago, The Gourmet Warehouse was located off the back alley behind Continental Importers at 1856 Pandora. For about three years I would walk to work taking various routes but would often follow Franklin Street east to Salsbury Drive, then north on Salsbury to the alley and then on to work. There are a number of interesting old houses and buildings along the route including a great old house built on a foundation of concrete bricks that look like stones... and there are some great old apartment blocks along Franklin and Woodland, some which you can see in this picture. I never knew before today that they were the Ontario Apartments.

Today, the Ontario Apartments on the SE corner of Franklin and Woodland Drive stands mostly empty. There are a number of ground level units being used as studio spaces, and a small business or two, but most of the building looks derelict.

Little did I know until I saw this picture, what a vibrant streetscape it once had. I have not done any research into any of the buildings yet, but the Buddhist Church looks like it might have been a Christian Church at one time, but who knows. I seem to remember that at some time in the early 1900s that the city attempted to move Chinatown to Albert Street (today's Franklin Street). A quick look at the 1914 city directory shows that around the time of World War I at least, these blocks of Albert Street were mostly occupied by Chinese businesses. I just looked back a little further at it would seem that the Buddhist Temple was in fact built as such, and was not a Christian Church. From what I can tell from the directories I looked at, it would seem that the neighbourhood transitioned to a mostly Chinese neighbourhood around 1913 or so.

Anyway, a whole new world opened up to me when I found this picture. I hope I can devote some time to doing some more research in the area.

But now I best get back to work. There is still lots to research to do for my upcoming tour of Strathcona North of Hastings. I understand there are still some spaces left. For those of you who are interested, you can buy tickets by paypal online via the Heritage Vancouver website.

Later that afternoon, I will be doing another one of my East End History Walks. This one starts at 2pm at 696 East Hastings Street. I hope to see some of you on Saturday, be it in the morning or the afternoon. Thanks for following my blog. For the latest news on my house history projects, walking tours or speaking engagements, follow me on Twitter. Or, you can always come down and talk to me at the Gourmet Warehouse on Sundays between 11 and 5. Cheers!

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