The Rental Market in 1921 Grandview

An innovation of the 1921 Canada Census was to ask detailed questions regarding those who rented, how much rent they paid, and how many rooms they occupied.

According to the 1921 Census counts, in the core district of Grandview, there were:

  • 4,547 people living in rental accommodation, or 44.27% of the Census population;
  • They were living in 1,191 suites and houses, comprising 5,341 rooms;
  • The average rental unit contained 4.5 rooms, with
  • an average of 3.82 people per unit, and 
  • an average of 0.85 persons per room;
  • The average rent was $26.75 per month and
  • the median rent was $25 per month;
  • Rents ranged from $5.00 to $75.00 per month;
  • Total rents brought in $31,861.50 per month;

I have used this data to show how rentals as a percentage of overall population were distributed across the district.

The map shows that the highest concentrations of renters were in the north-west half of the district, while properties east of Victoria were more generally occupied by owners.

The data also allows us to see where average rents per block were higher or lower:

The pattern here is not so clear, although the less expensive rents were generally along the western, northern, and eastern periphery.

The least expensive rents, at $5 per month, were both in 2-room shacks, one at 1812 E. Pender and the other at 1224 Garden Drive. Besides those, 1365 E. Georgia — which in 1911 had been a $1 a week flophouse — was the next cheapest option offering 20 two-room units at $6 and $7 a month.

The most expensive suites were at 841 Commercial and 1000 Commercial.  In the former, furniture dealer Ada Walsh and her three children occupied an 8-room suite at $75 per month. In the latter, Dr. Sutherland and his family lived in a 7-room suite for the same price.  (As an aside, I will note that Mrs. Walsh claimed on the census form to have earned $1,000 in the previous 12 months, while paying $900 in rent).

The apartment building at 841 Commercial, the Sandon Apartments, offers a good opportunity to see what variety was available.  While Mrs. Walsh paid $75 a month, most of the suites listed in the census were significantly less — ranging from 1- and 2-room suites at $10 and $12 through to 4-rooms at $20, $22.50, and $25 a month. The owners of the building were frequent rental advertisers and during 1921 they offered 3- and 4-room furnished housekeeping suites at $22 and $25, with a 2-room unit at $12 a month.

Vancouver Sun, 7/13/1921, p.10

Vancouver Sun, 10/28/1921, p.10

Finally, I believe the actual number of renters is under-counted in the Census.  There are significant numbers of people listed as “boarders”, “roomers”, or “lodgers” who are shown as distinct from those who were officially renting. Because neither rental amounts nor the number of rooms they occupied are shown in the Census, I have not counted them in my survey.  However, I assume that at least some of these people were contributing to the household expenses and were, in all but name, renters.

Population Growth in Grandview: 1911-1921

Further to my previous post about the geographic distribution of population in Grandview in 1921, the following map illustrates the same using the 1911 Census returns (For a description of the block system used to map these results, please see here.):

The 1911 Census showed a population count of 7,356 compared to the population in 1921 which was counted as 10,270.  This indicates a growth of 2,917 persons, or a rise of 40% between the two years.

The following map illustrates the geographic dynamic of that growth:

For earlier analyses of the composition of the residents of Commercial Drive as reflected in the 1911 Census, please see here and here.

I am obliged to note that I do not altogether trust the accuracy of the 1911 Census count. I went through all the relevant census pages some years ago when the 1911 Census was first made available, entering all the data into the Grandview Database.  While doing my count of database entries to compile this map, I noticed a number of individuals who were not included in the Census count but who were definitely here in 1911. Therefore, I chose to go through the Census documents a second time to ensure that I had not missed them on the first pass. Although I did manage to find and correct a few of my earlier errors, most of the “missing” people were still missing in the Census. I leave this as a reminder to others who may rely on the Census data.

 

 

Population Distribution in Grandview

When the suburb of Grandview was first surveyed and laid out for planning, the area within the core boundaries of Clark Drive (west), Hastings Street (north), Nanaimo Street (east), and Broadway (south) was divided into surveyors’ blocks, each with a unique legal designation. Grandview, at that time on the very edge of the new Vancouver, was made up of small urban blocks (north, west) and larger rural blocks (south, east), as follows:

The Grandview Database uses this structure for sorting, and it proves useful as a tool to visualise certain data geographically.  For example, the Database now includes a vast amount of data extracted from the 1921 Canada Census. Using this data within the block structure allows us to show how the total population of core Grandview — 10,270 persons counted — was distributed across the district.

In the weeks ahead, we will be publishing more of these maps using 1921 Census data. We hope you find them useful and of interest.   Your comments are always welcomed.

Missing Block in 1921 Census

I have been doing more work on the 1921 Census for Grandview and have discovered that the north side of the 2000-block Venables Street was missed by the enumerator.

The south side of the block (house numbers: 2012, 2030, 2036, 2052, 2056, 2062 and 2076) is captured on pages 4, 5 and 6 of district 22, sub-district 74 of the Census.  But after several hours of looking, I can find no trace of the north side on any page in that sub-district or its surrounding neighbours.

To double check, I did name searches in the Census for the residents listed in the City Directory for that year and again came up blank.

Given that the Census in those years was reliant entirely on fallible human surveyors, I wonder how many blocks or partial blocks were missed across the country?

 

Census Finding Aid 1921

Some while ago, I produced a Census Finding Aid for the 1911 Canada Census.  Now that the 1921 Census data is available, I have made the same kind of aid for that series.  The purpose here is to allow researchers looking for specific addresses or specific streetscapes to find the data they require more easily than is presently available.  I hope you find it of value.

1921 Census Aid copyI have tried multiple times to get the formatting correct, without complete success.  Therefore, I have uploaded the properly-formatted pdf for easier use.

Meeting Notes: August 2013

We had another great meeting last Thursday evening.  We covered quite a lot of ground:

  • It was noted that the 1921 Census of Canada is now available for scholars. At the moment it is made available via Ancestry.ca and a subsription membership is required.  The current search engine dies not allow searches via addresses.
  • Bruce Macdonald reported further on the 12′ tall bowling pin model from the Ridge Bowling Lanes, and his desire to have it placed on the Grandview Lanes building at Commercial & 6th.  It has now been made available to him, for free, but work still needs to be done with City Hall to allow it to be displayed.  We are seeking its designation as a piece of art rather than a structure.  It was agreed that GHG will write a letter of support, and Jak will approach the BIA for similar support.
  • We looked carefully at the brochure of historical houses and sites put out by the Heritage Revitalization Advisory Commission of Ladysmith, BC and forwarded to us by Maria Hindmarch.  We were impressed by its content and style; and we discussed in general terms producing one or more of similar type for Commercial Drive and Grandview.  Michael Kluckner noted that he had created a map/brochure for one iof his latest walks, and had made it available on iPad etc.
  • Jak explained and displayed the GHG Wiki (see next post) and generally showed users could add information about their houses, for example.
  • We then discussed the idea of permanent ceramic signs for heritage houses in Grandview.  We are just about ready to move forward on this project and we debated on some detail the nature of content, the possibilty of placement, and the price we will charge. These final points need to be established finally at our next meeting.
  • Eric Philips discussed the short personal videos a vintage car club has curated, and he encouraged us to create something similar for our historical house sites on the website and the wiki.  This was unanimously endorsed, and Penny Street offered the use of a flip camera she has.
  • Eric also noted that he is working on fresh presentations for this Mechanics and Materials series. These include (a) the hazards of old houses; (b) glass; and (c) heating systems.  We are hoping that one of these will be ready for presentation at our September meeting.
  • Michael noted that we need to complete our final reports to the funding agencies for both the Shelly Sign painting project and the Street Party project.