What Might Have Been

Anyone who knows Commercial Drive knows Joe’s Cafe on the corner of William Street.

joes-cafe

It is an unprepossessing single-storey flat-roofed structure, not unlike many other similar buildings along the Drive.  This one has been that way since Harry Evans had it built in 1910:

  • Building Permit issued 9th November 1910
  • Owner: Harry Evans
  • Architect: Townshend & Townshend
  • Builder: Mr. Lauger
  • Value: $3,550
  • single storey, three storefronts

But this is not what Harry Evans had really wanted. In fact, a year before he had announced something completely different for that site. In the 3rd March 1909 edition of the Vancouver Daily World, we find this:

harry-evans-dream

I can only surmise that, even in the hyper-ballooning real estate market of 1910-1912, he couldn’t raise the $10,000 and had to settle for a less ostentatious addition to Commercial Drive.

 

Meeting Notes: October

We had another fine gathering this evening. There was a short agenda but we managed to fill the time with interesting discussions.

  • Eric presented his latest Neighbouthood Update.
    • Land assembly is going on around Broadway and Garden in preparation for the changes allowed under the new Community Plan
    • Work is continuing on the Green House on Venables; it is looking better than it has for more than a decade;
    • We looked at the work going on at the Westerdale apartments at Adanac and Victoria; at First & Victoria, and both the Bosa building and The Frances site on Victoria.
  • Notices about Upcoming Events included:
    • various lectures at Hycroft
    • Navigating City Hall for Heritage owners on 10/25
    • Friends of the Archives fundraiser this Sunday with a presentation on Vaudeville in Vancouver
    • Next Thursday’s Vancouver Historical Society lecture at MOV is on activism in the 1970s.
  • Jak gave a short presentation about the original grand plans for the building that eventually became Joe’s Cafe. This will be subject of a post on this site.
  • We had a report on both the sign and the plaque at the Via Tevere restaurant.
    • The plaque has once again fallen victim to the sun fading the words untikl they are illegible. It was agreed we will replace the plaque and this time Steph has agreed to build a frame that will incorporate a laminated glass so as to reduce this problem;
    • The owners of the building have pointed out that some of the paint restoration work we did on the Shelly’s sign is shifting. It was agreed we will contact the artist, Victoria G, survey the situation and come up with a budget to improve the sign.
  • Eric presented two more very entertaining Heritage Life Hacks:
    • The trials and tribulations of mending old locks;
    • Dealing with roots in old sewer lines.
  • We discussed the upcoming Complete Streets policy decisions, and how this may affect heritage buildings on the Drive.
  • Finally, we briefly discussed the uses of Newspapers.com and their complete run of Vancouver World.

Next Meeting: 20th October

It’s that time again; the monthly meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group will take place at: 7:00pm Thursday 20th October in the Britannia Boardroom, Napier Street.

The agenda this month will include:

  • Neighbourhood Update;
  • A brief presentation on “What might have been” instead of Joe’s Cafe;
  • Two heritage house hacks from Eric
  • Complete Streets — effect on heritage?

As usual, our agenda is always open to any items of interest to the group that you may want to discuss.

Hope to see many of you there on Thursday!

Venables and Victoria

While researching the previous post, I came across this image of the Methodist Church at Venables and Victoria.

venables-and-victoria

The quality of the image is not great (old newspaper + microfilm + online) but I am sure this is the earliest image of the church as it was taken before the dedication ceremony in March 1909, and was published in Vancouver World 1909 Mar 6, p.13.

This is, of course, now the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

A Lost Church Refound

“You have a very nice, bright little church here — even if it is out in the stumps,” declared Rev. Merton Smith as he preached the afternoon sermon of the Park Drive Methodist Church on Sunday 26th June, 1904. (1)

The brand new Park Drive branch of the Princess Street Methodist Church had been erected “on the fringe of the City’s populated district” standing “almost alone in the midst of what remains of a one-time huge forest. Burned and charred stumps, an undergrowth of green shoots, and a rough newly-opened road” surrounded the building. Though there were very few houses within shouting distance of the new church, there “poured forth a goodly number of persons who filled the new building to overflowing both at the morning and afternoon services.”

The idea for a new church had arisen the previous fall. At a meeting of the Quarterly Official Board of the Princess Street Methodist Church in November of 1903, it was noted that “the far east [of Vancouver] is so rapidly building up that it will ere long boast a not inconsiderable population.” They were already overcrowded at Princess Street, and had moved their Sunday school into rented space at the old Episcopal church building on Campbell Avenue. However, the Board members decided the rent money would be put to better use paying for another church that would be their own property, and realtor J.B. Mathers was contacted to assist them in this endeavour. (2)

Mathers secured for them two lots on the northeast corner of Park Drive and Barnard Street. After some delay while the property owners were contacted in England, the lots were purchased for $350 which was advanced by eight church members. Robert Clarke, secretary of the Princess Street church, then wrote to the Vancouver Board of Works (BOW) requesting that Park Drive be opened from Venables Street north to Powell. The BOW wouldn’t go that far, but agreed to open the street from Venables to Barnard. Later, the BOW also approved the laying of a sidewalk from Venables to the new church. (3)

On 14th April 1904, the Church was issued a building permit. They had secured a contract with builder A.E. Carter who agreed to construct the building for $1,000. A few weeks later, two dozen members of the Princess Street congregation “took a holiday” and cleared the lots. (4)

By June, the building was ready, with workers busy until nine o’clock the night before the dedication completing the final touches. Even after that late hour, Trustees William Raine and J.W. Burns had worked to clean up and decorate the interior with “a mass of flowers gathered by the children of east end families.” (5)

The 11:00am dedication service was supervised by Rev. J.F. Betts, chairman of the Vancouver Methodist district. He arrived ten minutes late, “mopping his brow” with heavy perspiration, having walked through the hot morning all the way from Greer’s Beach in Kitsilano where he and his family were currently camping. Notwithstanding his exertions, Betts was “in one of his happiest sermon moods” and the service, enliven by the Princess Street choir, was “thoroughly enjoyed” by the congregation of about 175 people. A similar number came for the afternoon service given by Rev. Smith.

At the services on that day, the church managed to raise $227.45 which was paid to the builder’s account. Church officials stated their hope that “in five years they will have paid every cent of debt on the new building.”  We can only assume that Carter the builder was an amiable chap.

The pastor of the new church, Rev. R. Newton Powell, was a 36-year old Englishman. He had spent seven years on church work in the West Indies where he married. In 1897 they moved to British Columbia on account of Mrs. Powell’s health, and he had served at various locations in the interior before coming to Princess Street. He is described as “a thoughtful, forceful, and flowery preacher with a thoroughly evangelical ring about him.”(6)

Rev. Powell was eventually replaced by Mr. Van Dyke, “a returned missionary from Japan on furlough”, who supervised the church for about a year. He then gave way to Rev. J.J. Nixon.  In 1908, the Park Street Church became independent of Princess Street, and the Rev. R.S. Stillman was installed as pastor, supervising Sunday School attendances of up to 200. It was already clear that a larger building was urgently required and three lots were purchased on Venables Street at the corner of Victoria Drive, where a $5,000 church was dedicated in March 1909, and the Park Drive Church was abandoned. (7)

Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate any photographs of the Park Drive Church. I assume the original building was rapidly dismantled as it does not appear on the 1912 Goad’s map.  The lots have been empty since then, and were partly subsumed beneath the Commercial Drive Diversion that was built in 1931. The remainder now forms part of the parking lot on the west side of the Drive between Venables and Adanac.

 

Notes:

(1) Commercial Drive prior to 1911 was called Park Drive. Descriptions of the dedicatory ceremony are from Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3, and the Western Methodist Recorder 1904 July. The author thanks Blair Galston, United Church Conference Archivist for this latter reference.

(2) Vancouver World 1903 November 20, p.6; 1904 June 27, p.3

(3) The intersection is currently known as Commercial Drive and Adanac Street. The lots were DL 183 Block 9D, Lot 1-2. “$350”: Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3. Board of Works: Minutes 3 Mar, and 2 June 1904, CVA, MCR-36 Roll 2; Vancouver World, 4 Mar 1904, p.5, June 3, p.5; News-Advertizer, 4 Mar 1904, p.4, 11 Mar p.5

(4)  “holiday”: Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3

(5)  Other Trustees included Victor Odlum, J. Horner, Alderman Angus MacDonald, and Robert G. Clarke.

(6)  Vancouver World 1904, June 27, p.3

(7) Vancouver World 1909 Mar 6, p.13. The “new” church is now the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.