The Bentholme Building

Those residents of Grandview who have been here for more than, say, seventy years might remember that the north west corner of First & Commercial was the site of the Grandview School of Commerce.

0111-1Since the mid-1980s,this has been the site of Il Mercarto Mall, which is how most people think of it.However, from the demolition of the School in the 1950s until the construction of the Mall in the 1980s, there existed a rather undistinguished building called the Bentholme which is rarely recalled today.

The School had been built in 1905 and flourished for several decades. From 1940 until 1955, the site was the subject of protracted and unpleasant negotiations between the Vancouver School Board (VSB), the Vancouver Library Board (VLB), and the Grandview Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber wanted the school demolished and replaced with commercial and retail businesses more suitable to such a major intersection. The School Board kept changing its mind as to whether it needed the space, and the VLB kept changing its mind about whether they would become a tenant in a new building.

Eventually, the VSB closed the School in 1950 and, to make matters worse from the Chamber’s point of view, they allowed the main building and various sheds and playgrounds abutting Commercial to fall into ruinous disrepair.  At the same time, the VLB decided that Grandview didn’t deserve a library at all.

In 1954, Super-Valu paid $40,000 for the west half of the School lots, the School was demolished and the supermarket built, leaving the lots along Commercial still vacant and decrepit.

After a further year of difficult negotiations, a developer managed to buy the lots and, after promising an elegant two-storey building with offices above, eventually threw up a single-storey flat roofed structure with the unexplained complaint that “the City had tied their hands.”  The Grandview Chanber of Commerce made the best of it, wheeling out former alderman and local man Syd Bowman to officially open the project on a rainy cold day in January 1956.

The structure was called the Bentholme Building, the name a combination of long-time alderman John Bennett and long-time Echo editor Alex Holmes.  The Bufton’s popular florist shop, which had been on the Drive since the 1920s, took the prominent corner space and they were joined as founding retailers by Docksteader Drugs, Bo-Peepe Children’s Wear and a group practice of doctors and dentists.

I had never found a photograph of the Bentholme Building — though some must exist — and I was reminded of this history when today I found, with great pleasure, the following photograph in the Echo of 13th June 1974.

First and Commercial 1974If you know of any other photographs of this building, we would appreciate seeing them and sharing them here.

No Damping Our Enthusiasm

Many thanks to the nine brave souls who joined us this morning — in pouring rain — for the second half of our Centenary House signs walkathon to pick this year’s candidates.

Today we covered a lot of ground, primarily in the south and far east of the Grandview neighbourhood, where we identified a range of beautiful heritage buildings — everything from mansions to workmens’ cottages — that we are keen to celebrate.  Over the next few weeks, we will refine the list and start to contact the owners for permission to place signs on their property.

Thanks again to all those who came for one or both of the walks.  These are the very best way to get to know the neighbourhood.

Notes From The February Meeting

We had a busy, lively and highly productive meeting on Thursday last.

  • The Centenary Birthday House project: We are still exploring options for permanent signs for the Centenary House campaign.  These will be offered to those houses that were celebrated in 2012. We followed up on our walk for the 2013 campaign, and will finish off the second half of our potentials list on Sunday.  We will be meeting at Continental Coffee at 10am if anyone cares to join us.
  • There was a fascinating discussion about the plans for preserving the Shelly’s 6X sign on Via Tevere’s wall. We discussed the pros and cons (and possible availabilities) of various funding sources for the estimated $3,000 cost, including neighbourhood grants, foundations, paint companies, and other.  We will be exploring these options over the next few weeks.  Michael Kluckner will also supervise a small test patch to confirm the methods we hope to use to preserve the sign.  We also discussed the potential for various tie-ins to the project, including the Rose/Lily annual block party, St. Francis Church, and a historical tour.
  • We looked at a number of relevant events that are upcoming:
    • Michael Kluckner is organizing an Art Mob to help save the Mac-Blo building at Van Dusen Gardens.  This starts at noon on Saturday 23rd.
    • The Grandview Woodland Community Plan is holding a workshop on housing on Wednesday 27th from 6pm at the WISE Hall.  This is a workshop that has obvious implications for heritage in the neighbourhood.
    • Eric is attending the Heritage Foundation’s Old School workshop on plastering on Saturday 2nd March.
    • Also on 2nd March, the Rio Theatre is showing the excellent documentary called “The Hollow Tree” about the efforts to save an iconic relic in Stanley Park.  It features our own Bruce Macdonald.
    • On Monday 4th March at 7pm, the monthly GWAC Meeting will include a presentation by the Commercial Drive BIA on their Vision Report for the Drive.  This again has strong relevance to heritage.
    • Finally, on Saturday 23rd March, Penny Street will be presenting her workshop on researching the history of a house.  We will write a detailed post about this at the beginning of March, but we suggest you pencil in that afternoon in your date book.
  • It was noted that Spank on the Drive is looking for vintage photographs.  This led to a discussion about venues where we could display some of the heritage images of Grandview.
  • Eric has offered to present at our March meeting a talk on heritage electrical systems.  His offer was enthusiatically approved.  We’ll have more information on this in a later posting.
  • Bruce Macdonald presented the first draft of a booklet he is preparing on the early history of the Cedar Cove district of Grandview.
  • Jak noted that he is now formally at work on the second volume of his history of Commercial Drive and he is looking to schedule interviews with those who lived or worked on the Drive (and neighbourhood) between 1955 and 2000.

Many thanks to those who came along on Thursday night and helped the conversation.



Next Meeting: 21st February

The next public meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is this coming Thursday at 7:00pm.  As usual, we will meet at the Board Room of the Britannia Centre on Napier Street.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come along.

Also as usual, we have no set agenda but I am sure we will talk about the 2013 Centenary Houses project, the revitalization project for the Via Tevere Shelly’s 4X sign, and we’ll start the publicity for Penny’s House History seminar which is set for March 23rd.

Come along and share those conversations and anything else you might care to discuss.

Walking The Neighbourhood

Many of us of the Grandview Heritage Group took a long walk through the neighbourhood yesterday afternoon. We were looking at the houses we have listed as potentials for the 2013 Centenary House signs and trying to whittle the list down to 25.  The walk started in the 2000-block of Pandora and meandered down to First and Woodland where we stopped for the day.

The weather was perfect; it started sunny and bright and, as the exertion of the walk heated us up, it turned cloudy and cool:  couldn’t have been better.

It was a joy to look carefully at so many of the heritage treasures that decorate our streets.  Even more pleasant was to meet a lot of the residents who were drawn to wonder why a group of people were peering at their houses so intently.  They all seemed genuinely pleased to talk with us and to hear about our efforts to preserve and advertize these glorious Grandview assets.

In a week or so we’ll finish the second half of our list, this time south of First.

Update on the Shelly’s 4X sign

A plan is coming together to restore the sign on the side of the Via Tevere restaurant at Victoria and William. A small group of us are applying for grants to try to raise about $3000 for wages and materials to allow us to start work in April or May.

The sign looked like this when it was daylighted in 2011…


… but has faded really badly. This is how it looked the other day…


So time is of the essence. (both photos by Penny Street)

With the collaboration of mural artist Victoria Oginski, Penny Street, Anne Daskal and I will be sealing the surface and then retouching parts that have disappeared. If all goes well in the test we plan asap, the weathered quality of the sign will endure for future generations.

1911 Census Finding Aid

The 1911 Canada Census, now available online, is an extraordinary resource for historians.  For those seeking information about individuals or families, a number of geneaological organizations have transcribed some of the data, making it a relatively easy matter to find people. However, the same cannot be said for those of us who study streets and neighbourhoods. I am not aware of any index to where a particular street can be found in the Census documents.

The 1911 Census is organized in Districts, sub-districts, and pages.  Vancouver is in District 12.  The data for Grandview is scattered among at least nine sub-districts, and streets are broken up among scores of pages within multiple sub-districts. It quickly becomes apparent that the data was collected by census officials taking long walks, often with no discernible logic to the route.

The table below is my effort to create an index of where 1911 Census data for Grandview can be street name.

Census 1911It is probable that I have not yet found all the data available; but I believe the table above includes the vast majority of Grandview addresses.  I hope it proves of value to researchers.

Notes For The Early History of Rose And Lily Streets

Lily and Rose Streets are two of the most interesting oddities of Grandview, being “off the grid” of the surrounding streets.  No doubt they were a function of lot-splitting at some early date.

In August 1907, well-known local auctioneer J.J. Miller and 9 other local residents wrote to Vancouver Council’s Board of Works in regards to what would become Lily Street, asking them to:

“clear a right of way on an un-named street lying between blocks one and two in Block 136 Grandview, and between William and Napier Streets, being about 260 feet long.  Several new houses are going up there and the residents are unable to obtain access to their homes unless the Council renders them sound assistance in the manner asked for.”

Rose Street was cleared and graded in the summer of 1909.  George Freeman was the foreman and the work was completed on 24th August.  That November, a sewer was laid on Rose Street. In April 1910, a 3-plank sidewalk was laid on both sides of Rose Street.

In May 1910, Lily Street was cleared and graded, and a sewer laid. In April 1911, a 7-room house on Lily Street was offered for sale at $5,500.  This was an average price in Grandview at that period – the height of the pre-war building boom.


Earliest Building Permits for Lily Street







1115 1910-06-12 McLellan, S. McLellan, S. McLellan, S.


1131 1910-06-02 McLellan, S. McLellan, S. McLellan, S.


1139 1910-06-02 McLellan, S. McLellan, S. McLellan, S.


1142 1909-12-07 Proffit, J.R. Proffit, J.R. Mahoney, A.D.


1149 1910-10-26 McLellan, S. McLellan, S. McLellan, S.


1152 1910-11-14 Thompson, G. Thompson, G. Thompson, G. J


1911 Canada Census – Lily Street

The 1911 Canada Census pages for Lily Street (12-32-12, 13 and 14) are extremely difficult to read.  The following information is what I can make out.

1115    Herbert & Florence Burns (both aged 32) lived with two daughters (8 and 4) and a son (1 year), along with two older relatives (60 and 62) and another female (18 years old).  Mrs. Burns and the 18-year were Dutch while the rest of the residents were of Scottish extraction.  All of the residents were listed as Presbyterians.  Herbert’s occupation was listed as “house building.”

1118    Nathaniel Rose (42) and his wife Jessie (30) lived with their son James (5) and their two daughters, Jessie (3) and the infant Katherine (?). The four oldest in the family emigrated from Scotland in 1909.  They were Presybterian.  Nathaniel worked as a labourer for the BCER.

1131    Mrs. Pearce, a 30-year old widow, lived with her sons (aged 5 and 3), her 73-year old father William (surname illegible), two of her sisters aged 32 and 29, and an 18-year old female lodger with the same illegible surname as her father and sisters.  All of the residents were born in England and were Baptists.  Mrs. Pearce worked as a nurse (?), the elder sister worked in a laundry, her father still worked as a shoemaker, and the lodger was a seamstress.

1138    Daniel Brown (age 24) and his wife Mary Elizabeth (23) lived with their 2-year old son Joseph, Daniel’s older brother John (35) and John’s wife Sarah (34). They appear to have emigrated from England in different years: John in 1904, Daniel in 1909, Mary in 1910 and Sarah in 1911.  Both brothers worked as moulders at the Ross & Howard Iron Works.

1139    Frank and Pearl Frederics (?), aged 27 and 21, lived with their one-year old son, Pasquale (?), and two of Franks brothers, Thomas (24) and Federico (?) (21). The family had moved to Canada from Italy in 1908, while Pasquale was born in BC.  All of the family were Roman Catholics.  Frank and Thomas worked as barbers; Federico was a tailor.

1142    Robert H. Cleborn (aged 40) and his wife Elizabeth (28) lived with their 4-year old son Stanley.  Elizabeth had emigrated from England in 1896, Robert in 1901.  He worked as a salesman.

1145    Charles B. Stamford and his wife Margaret, both 30 years old, lived with 20 year old Alice Appleyard and four young sons – Ray (4), Frank (2), Charles (1) and a two-month old baby.   Margaret was said to have arrived from the USA in 1906, but son Ray was listed as having been born in the USA in 1907.  All the residents were Presbyterians.  Charles was the manager of a shoe store and held insurance worth $6,000 (an extraordinary sum.) Alice was a nurse.

1149    Alexander McLellan (aged 32) and his wife Elva (31) lived with their one-year old son (name illegible) and their 10-year old niece Mazie (?) O’Brien.  Alexander, Mazie and Elva were born in the USA and they appear to have arrived in Canada in 1909. They were all Presbyterian.  Alexander was a housebuilding contractor and may well be the “S. McLellan” listed in the building permits.  By 1912 at least he had a partnership – McLellan & Middleton – working as masonry contractors.

1150    Hy John Hills (50 years old) and his 32-year old wife Anne lived with their 8 year old daughter Margaret.  Hy had come to Canada from England in 1870, while Anne had also come from England but not until 1901.  The family was Methodist.  Hy was a street labourer.

1152    William George Rowe and his wife Florence, both aged 29, lived with their sons, William George (6) and Joseph (an infant who was born in Alberta), and their 11-month old daughter Diane Alice.  Florence had been born in Ontario and was of Scottish heritage.  They were Anglicans.  William worked as an accountant.

Earliest Building Permits for Rose Street







1108 1910-03-03 Main, John Main, John Main, John


1112 1910-02-09 Wilson, J.L. Wilson, J.L. Wilson, J.L.


1118 1909-06-08 Charley, Chin Wing Charley, Chin Wing Barrett & Earl


1122 1909-06-08 Charley, Chin Wing Charley, Chin Wing Barrett & Earl


1128 1910-04-01 Burgess, Mrs. R. Burgess, Mrs. R. Burgess, H.


1132 1909-04-03 Barrett, J. Barrett, J. Barrett, J.


1138 1909-09-09 Cox, J.M. Cox, J.M. Cox, J.M.


1142 1909-02-22 Wilson, J. Lennox Wilson, J. Lennox Wilson, J. Lennox

$ 800

1148 1910-07-27 Arnold, H.B. Arnold, H,B. Arnold, H.B.


1156 1910-09-28 Arnold, H.B. Arnold, H.B. Arnold, H.B.


1162 1910-09-11 Arnold, H.B. Arnold, H.B. Arnold, H.B.



1911 Canada Census – Rose Street

The 1911 Canada Census pages for Rose Street (12-32-15 and 17) are also extremely difficult to read.  The following information is what I can make out.

1114    Mr. Woods (age 43) lived with his wife Margaret (31), their daughter Eileen (1) and infant son John. All but John were born in England, and the family was Roman Catholic.  Mr. Woods worked as a labourer for the City.

1118    Harvey (?) Lusier (31) and his wife Hazel (29) lived with their three sons, Harold (8), Ernest (6) and Laurence (2), and with David White (23) and 21 year old man (name illegible), who’s relationships with the Lusic family are also illegible.  Harvey Lusier was born in New Brunswick and the oldest son was born in the USA.  All the others were BC-born.  Other than Hazel (who was Scottish), the entire household claimed French heritage, and everyone was Roman Catholic.  Harvey seemed to be the only one working: he was a labourer at the Sugar Refinery.  For 60 hours a week, he earned $800 in the previous year.

1128    Dudley Gulston (?) lived with his wife Laura and their 11-yeard old son Hector.  As Dudley was only 26 and his wife 28 in 1911, they must have had Hector at a very early age.  All members of the family were born in England and were Presbyterians.  Dudley worked as a steward in a club, making $600 in the previous year.

1138    George (30 years old) and his wife Catherine Brown (29) shared their house with a 23 year old lodger, Seymour Wright.  The Browns were from New Brunswick and the lodger from Nova Scotia. George was a Methodist, his wife a Christian Scientist, and the lodger was a Baptist.  George worked as a salesman for an aluminum company.  The lodger was a timekeeper for a builder’s company.

1142    Alexander Ross (33) and his wife (name illegible, age 33) lived with Alex’s sister Jessie (22) and a male lodger (name illegible, also age 22). They were Scottish Presbyterians and had arrived in Canada in 1903. Alex worked as a blacksmith at the Mainland Transfer Co., earning $1,164 in the previous year.  The lodger worked as a labourer.

1143    Mrs. Josephine Lindsay, aged 38 and widow of Alex Lindsay, lived with her two daughters.  Both their names are illegible, but they were 16 and 14 years old. There was also a lodger, a 40-year old widower whose name is illegible. Mrs. Lindsay had emigrated from Norway in 1890. The lodger was also Norwegian but had been born in England.  Mrs. Lindsay was a Presbyterian but her children were listed as Anglicans.  The lodger worked, but it is unclear what he did.

1148    Joseph Houston (45) and his 38-year old wife (name illegible) lived with their two sons, Joseph (10) and George (3).  They seem to have moved a lot: Father Joseph was born in the USA and his wife was from Nova Scotia.  The two boys were born in Saskatchewan and the USA respectively.  The family was Presbyterian.  The kind of work that Joseph did is unclear, but he held $10,000 of insurance.  It is interesting to note that the Houston family was counted twice, on page 15 and again on page 17.

1156    Anthony Carlton (aged 61) and his wife (name illegible, age 54) lived with their two daughters Mrs. Campbell and (name illegible, age 24), and Mrs. Campbell’s two daughters (names illegible) aged 5 and 3.  All of the family were born in England and were Anglican.  Anthony Carlton was listed in the census as an “odd jobs” man and as a labourer in the 1912 Directory.


Rose-LilyThis is the section of Goad’s map of December 1912 covering Rose and Lily Streets (click on image for a larger view.) As we can see, by this date Rose Street is built out with 11 of 13 blocks constructed.  The west-side of Lily is also virtually complete, with gaps still open on the east side.