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.

Grandview Database v.29

We have today uploaded a new and substantially updated version of the Grandview Database.  

This version incorporates more than 2,000 new and amended data points since the previous release.

Now that the 1921 census data entry has been completed, analysis of certain overall characteristics of Grandview in 1921 can begin to be ascertained — population densities, household sizes, the location, distribution and cost of residential rental space, for example. Along with the recent concentration on Commercial Drive, this also allows for the beginnings of detailed analysis of retail and other sociological trends across decades (see for example the preliminary work on house prices) . Over the next few months we will continue to bring some of this work into the public forum.

We hope you find the Database of value, and we encourage and welcome corrections, and additions which should be sent to jakking@shaw.ca.