Brookhouse: The Interior

The building at 1872 Parker Street, on the south west corner of Victoria Drive, is a fine example of the Queen Anne style popular in the Grandview neighbourhood.  It was built in 1909, probably for George N. Jordan, a realtor who lived there until 1916.  The house is known locally as Brookhouse, named for a printer and editor, Arthur A. Brookhouse, who owned the house and lived there with his family from 1927 until his death in 1947.   The following image is from 1932.

After the war, the house was converted into a rooming house and remained so until the last tenants left this summer (2012).   A few days ago, the final tenant opened the house to friends for a final goodbye, and invited members of the Grandview Heritage Group to visit and document the interior of this important heritage building.  The following are notes from some of our members and a range of photographs taken during the visit.

Reviewing the complex floor plans sketched by Michael Kluckner, it was noted that it “demonstrates how poorly a Queen Anne like this converts into anything but a communal house. There was no possibility of discrete access to different parts of the place, thus no possibility of subdivision into suites.”

The original grandeur of the house is best expressed in the details that remain in the ground floor living rooms, including multiple leaded windows, a grand fireplace and classically decorated columns.








The second-floor bathroom was fascinating, with what appeared to be original fixtures…










. and the original hand-painted wallpaper.








“The house mechanicals are interesting  – to see what looks to be an original heating system still in reasonable condition, original electrical and old/original bathroom fixtures. Normally the radiators have been painted over the year, the plumbing fixtures modernized and at least the light switches replaced.

Some of the plumbing may be newer (toilet tank in main is 1930’s replacement) but in keeping. If the gas range is from early days at Brookhouse, it must have run on producer gas (coal gas) and I would have thought they may have had gas fireplaces as well since I have seen some in the city but could see no evidence here.”

“Added to my list of interesting things is the fact that such a big house had only one chimney. This was obviously a house designed for central heating — not a surprise there, but it is unusual not to have more fireplaces. The old gas range is a real curiosity.”

The house is run-down these days.  It appears to have suffered many years without maintenance …

…however, it is still full of small details that are worthwhile seeing.  We can only hope that some, at least, of these wonderful heritage details are retained in the upcoming re-development plans.

Contributions from:  Jak King, Michael Kluckner, Bruce Mcdonald, Eric Philips, Egon Simons, Penny Street,




Who Lived Here In 1911 (Part 2)

Back in May, I posted a first analysis of the 179 individuals who were counted as living on Park Drive (later known as Commercial Drive) at the time of the census in 1911.  In this second part, I’ll take a look at immigration patterns, employment, wages and the position of women.

Of the 179 people, at least 103 were immigrants from outside Canada.  We know this because we have the dates of their arrival into the country. We can see from the following graph that the vast majority of these immigrants had arrived after 1900, and that about 30% had only been in the country for three years or less.

Immigration by Date and by Nation (n=103)

It is interesting to note in passing the effect of the global recession of 1907/08 which reduced immigration almost to zero.

The residents of Commercial Drive in the 1911 census included 53 adult men of whom two were retired.  Every one of the other 51 were working.

Professional and office workers included three physicians, three realtors along with a druggist, an architect, an accountant, a clergyman, a nurse and two office workers.  The retail trades included a number of Commercial Drive storekeepers, butchers, bakers, tailors, a jeweler and their staff.  The manual tradesmen included 12 in the building trades, along with transportation workers, deliverymen and others in the logging business.  None were listed as “labourers”.

These figures show a significant difference between Commercial Drive and the rest of Grandview.  I have compiled figures for employment for Grandview residents between 1902 and 1914 which show that 72% of the working population in the wider area were in manual trades, with 16% in professional/clerical occupations, and 12% in retail.

The census also gives us information on the incomes of 26 of these men in 1910.  By dividing their given salaries by the number of weeks they declared they had worked that year, we can gain some idea of weekly wages at that time.

The lowest wage was earned by James Ingles, a 14-year old messenger, who was paid $5 a week.  His older brother, 17-year old Thomas, was next lowest paid at $9.23 a week as an express driver.  Physician George McKenzie and hardware merchant George Elliott both claimed the most — $2,000 for the year, or $38.46 a week.   Carpenters made between $11.17 and $23.88 a week, CPR brakemen made between $22.00 and $31.25, while John Dawson who was a jeweler received $24.00 a week.

Hours of work also differed widely. William Hallett operated his confectionery business for 70 hours a week, bakers and brakemen were on duty for 60 hours, while most of the manual trades worked just 44 hours each week.

The 1911 Census of Commercial Drive residents includes 64 adult women, only 7 of whom worked outside the home (3 others were housekeepers or servants in the household in which they lived).  Amanda Beresford ran a small millinery business, two others were bookkeepers, three more worked as stenographers, while young Elizabeth New worked as a cashier at a cafe.  Only two of the employed women were married.

One of the stenos made $6.00 for a 42 hour week, while another made $6.67 for 48 hours.  The third stenographer, who worked in a doctor’s office, was paid $10 for 42 hours a week.  Mrs. Ethel Mason was paid $11.54 a week for 50 hours as a bookkeeper, while Mary Burns, also a bookkeeper, made $20.00 for the same hours.  We only have financial data for one of the domestics: Amy Yates, a 17-year old servant to Mr. & Mrs. Charles Wood, was paid $360 a year, or $6.92 a week.

Source for all this data is the Canada Census 1911.




Meeting Notes

We had a marvelous meeting last night, with lively discussion on a wide range of topics.  These included:

  • our Centenary Signs project (the signs will be ready next week);
  • the age of the buildings on the 1200-block Lakewood Drive (1909 and 1910);
  • wallpaper stylings in early heritage homes;
  • the large number of “party hats” (or conical roofs) on the Queen Anne houses in Grandview (and how we can encourage their return on buildings that have lost them);
  • the development of radio and its impact on Commercial Drive retail;
  • early electricifation for homes and businesses; and
  • the history of bay and oriel windows (a signature style in Commercial Drive, for example)

We also determined on a series of walking tours for the fall and a lecture series in the winter.  More details on these will be forthcoming shortly.

It’s amazing how quickly two hours goes by!  Our next meeting is on the 16th of August and, as always, everyone is welcome.

Grandview Transportation: The Long View

Next Tuesday there is an important public meeting about the future of transportation in Grandview.  In anticipation of that meeting, I thought you might be interested to see this headline:

This was the front page story in “The Highland Echo” dated 3rd November, 1938 — seventy four years ago! We have been struggling with this issue for a very long time.

[And subeditors writing headlines were no better at spelling then than they are today!]

Sunny Day Walking Tour

Here’s a photo, by Connie Minogue, of the group on the walk on Saturday morning in front of the monastery/manse of St. Francis of Assisi Church at Semlin and Napier. Thanks to everyone who came out and contributed to the financing of our Century House Signs project, which will be launched soon.

Grandview walking tour reminder: this Saturday, 10 am!

Bring sunscreen and a hat (guaranteed!) at 10 am Saturday to the corner of Pender and Victoria for a walking tour of a corner of historic Grandview led by me, Michael Kluckner. We will wind our way through blocks of old builders’ houses, past some grand homes, churches, heritage conversions and modern infill houses. The tour will take about 2 hours and end up near the start point. Please also bring $10, which will go entirely to pay for our “Century House” signs that we will be putting up in the neighbourhood later this month.