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1912::Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

Looking back on a city street that was one of the busiest on the west coast.


1912::A look down Hastings Street From Homer Street

"Then & Now: A look down Hastings Street From Homer Street"

Photo (top-1912): City of Vancouver Archives (tbd)/ (bottom-modern day)


By the time this photo was taken in 1912, some of the most sought after real estate in British Columbia belonged to Hastings Street in Vancouver. Some of its oldest buildings are still standing today.


1889::Major real estate deal in Vancouver, BC.

"Big Real Estate Deal"

Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1889)


In 1889, a young English gentleman arrived in Vancouver not long after inheriting his father's fortune. He had been travelling around the world purchasing rare collector items and sinking large sums of money into real estate. Vancouver impressed the young investor so much that in one fell swoop, he purchased some of the most valuable lots around the city and returned to England to tell his friends all about it. When he passed away in the 1930s, he left much of his collection of items to the British Museum (>>Click for Harvey Hadden and his Collection on the British Museum's website under 'Related Objects').


1912::Fire on Hastings Street

"Fire at Fit Reform"

Photo: BC Archives (D-06371)


In 1912, shortly after the first photo above was taken, fire and smoke ripped through the Fit Reform Clothing building and spread to the Thompson Building adjacent to it. Both business survived and rebuilt in the same location.


1905::Labour Day Parade on Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC.

"1905::Labour Day Parade, Looking up Hastings From Cambie Street"

Photo: City of Vancouver Archives (CVA 1376-720)

Note that the automobiles behind the Fire Brigade Coaches are among the first automobiles in the city of Vancouver. The first automobile drove down Hastings Street in 1898... that story is for another day.


The Paterson Shoe Company Ltd. started out as the Victoria Shoe Company on Vancouver Island. Paterson's enormous success forced the opening of two stores in Victoria and an expansion store in Nanaimo. In 1900, his newest store took over most of the newly built Flack Block in Vancouver. Flack was a man who had brought his Klondike gold down to Vancouver to spend his shiny nuggets on real estate investments. One of these investments was the building occupied by Paterson on Hastings Street. This building (the pink & white one in the first photo above) is still standing today. In the forefront of this photo, at the very corner of Hastings and Cambie, is a single level Arcade occupied by a reputable druggist named McPherson. It was built in 1894, but in 1907, big money came to town with big plans for the prime city lot on the corner.


1908::Vancouver's First Skyscraper

"Vancouver's First Skyscraper"

Clip: The Province (1907) Photo: City of Vancouver Archives (1912)


The Imperial Trust Company purchased the Hastings & Cambie lot for a large sum and went about their plan of replacing the Arcade with the tallest skyscraper in the British Commonwealth. Design contests were held for the interior office floors, and everything was in place to begin the build when suddenly a merger took place.


1909::New Buildings on Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC

"Buildings Everywhere"

Photo Clip: The Province (1909)


In 1908, The Dominion Trust took over the Imperial Trust Company, as well as their new skyscraper plan. But the building wasn't quite up to snuff. They had the architect remold the skyscraper design into something more befitting an upscale neighbourhood of a booming city, and changed the name of the building to the Dominion Trust. The building changed the value of the properties all along Hastings Street and suddenly buildings were popping up everywhere. Many still stand today.


1909::13-storey Skyscraper

"The 13-Storey Skyscraper"

Photo Clip: Saturday Sunset (1909)


The Dominion Trust Building was finally complete at the end of 1909. Although it is no longer the tallest skyscraper in the British Commonwealth, the Dominion Trust building still stands today at the corner of Hastings and Cambie Street. Some say it has 14 floors... including the basement.


1912::Busy Hastings Street Scene in Vancouver, BC.

"1912::A Look Up Hastings Street From the Corner of Cambie"

Photo: City of Vancouver Archives (1912)


The Dominion Trust building towered over the other Hastings Street buildings. Automobiles frequented the busy streets around it, oftentimes running horses, cyclists and pedestrians off the road. At the time of this photo, Vancouver's street car system had already been servicing the city for over two decades.

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