View of Sleeping Beauty from the Windows of the Canadian Pacific Railway Hotel, Vancouver, a watercolour by Agnes Gardner King (1857-1929), circa May to June, 1912. This image now appears online in the Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1990-312-21.
Portion of a rendering of the Hotel Vancouver (1916) by Francis S. Swales, architect. Preliminary perspective drawing by H.C. Wilkinson, retouched by Francis S. Swales. From an article in Pencil Points magazine (September, 1930) dedicated to Francis S. Swales, the work is further described…
…as being the earliest modern set back building, designed in 1911. The drawing was done in pencil on mounted Steinbach paper and rendered with water color. The portion reproduced measured 8¾” x 11 on the original while the whole drawing measured 34” x 26”. It is seldom that we see today such care expended in drawing the detail on a building.
Alas, if we could only see this entire rendering in colour—spectacular! It was truly the grandest hotel we ever had in this town. Speaking of Grand Hotels, you have one more full week of the Grand Hotel exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which closes on September 15th, 2013.
You can see the full rendering of the hotel in this previous post, printed in the August 1916 issue of The Architect. Sadly, this magazine was only produced in black and white. It is unknown if the original presentation drawing survived, though it did last until at least 1930 when this colour detail was printed. The third image above does show a postcard with the same perspective, but it has been completely recoloured and lacks the subtlety of the original. I did discover that the Library and Archives Canada has a negative of this image, which I thought may have been acquired via the CN Archives, but instead it appeared in the Albertype Company fonds:
Albertype Company, a postcard factory in New York, New York, was established in 1938 on the site of what was originally the 1846 First Free Congregational Church, and later the African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, a major stop on the Underground Railroad in the 1860’s…Material was acquired in 1968 from Miss Edith G. Firth of the Toronto Public Library, Baldwin Room, College and George St., Toronto, Ontario.
I’m thankful for all the archival materials relating to the hotel that have been preserved to date, but I’m surprised there isn’t more available on such a prominent building and architect. The CPR Archives seem to have very little material on this hotel. To rectify this, I’d like to start with an excerpt from the above mentioned Pencil Points article, providing some insight into the life of the architect Francis Swales:
Francis S. Swales, born in Canada of American parents, was reared and educated in the United States. Heredity and environment formed a uniquely favorable background for the rapid development of his natural talents in the field of architecture. His father, a building contractor of the old school, kept a joinery shop in the rear of the Swales home in Buffalo. Here old white-bearded English craftsmen and artists executed fine interior woodwork from architects’ drawings and details. Constant contact with these activities from infancy made the keen young Swales so familiar with the various phases of the craft that at the age of eight years, he was quite capable of reading and interpreting all types of drawings of carpentry, joinery, and building construction. Steel was just the beginning to supplant wrought iron structurally and Mr. Swales can still recall how the various members had to be colored for identification—red for wrought iron and blue for steel. As far back as he can remember, architectural magazines came to his home and he followed the usual bent of children by copying their illustrations. Probably by reason of environment his interest did not wane; his efforts were continuous and his ability to draw grew apace…
The entire article is rich with details and anecdotes, It’s one of those great little hidden gems that deserves to be shared and rediscovered. That’s why I plan on donating a copy of this magazine to the Vancouver Archives in the near future. Update! I also scanned the whole article! Stay tuned VanArchives; I’m saving it for you! Cross-posted with alternate text to VancouverIsAwesome.com
A panel from a Fraser Wilson comic, numbered 86-40, titled # 7 The Handicap Down South, from the Jack Boothe Fonds in the Vancouver Archives. You can see from the full panel that this is essentially the week’s news in review, covering topics such as the escalation of armament leading up to WWII, the Japanese question in British Columbia, the old Hotel Vancouver filing for unemployment, the sentencing of Social Credit by the Supreme Court (I believe Mother Abe refers to Social Credit politician Abe William Miller), and the Handicap Down South, showing Seabiscuit struggling with a flood at the racetrack. From these events, I am guessing the publication date is from 1939. The final panel may be referring to the 1939 California tropical storm in September of 1939. This was also a few months after the new Hotel Vancouver was opened, and of course, falls on the eve of WWII.
Hotel Vancouver luggage label, circa 1901, seen via ebay. This shows the west wing addition of 1901-1905 that was designed by Francis Rattenbury, strategically obscuring the original 1886-1887 building from view. We could speculate this label may have been in use anywhere from 1900-1916, but I also presume it would predate 1912, at which point the hotel would be much more keen on promoting the grand new design by Francis S. Swales then under construction.
Changing Vancouver further describes the addition:
It was in an Italianate style, and from the postcard here it rather looks as if they expected to demolish the first hotel designed by T C Sorby. But as the picture [here] shows, the eastern wing of the addition was never completed. Instead it was cut off rather alarmingly and there would be a nearly ten year gap before the CPR were ready to replace the hotel and the first addition, also designed by Rattenbury. When they did that, they brought in new architects, initially W S Painter and later Francis Swales, who prepared a series of different designs all reasonably similar in style to the second addition which was incorporated into the final building.
As a followup to last week’s Hotel Vancouver #2 mural, here’s another long lost mural from the Hotel Vancouver #3.
In 1939 Charles Comfort depicted Captain Vancouver as the guest of honour at a Northwest Coast Native potlatch ceremony for the foyer of the newly constructed Hotel Vancouver.
In the previous mural, a group of completely out of place Plains Indians appear far off in the background on the right hand side. At least here, the Northwest Coast Natives are depicted with greater accuracy, prominently placed in the foreground with artistry.
But it’s hard not to view the depiction of the First Nations in a subservient manner. The three white men stand on podiums like track and field winners, looking rather pompous with their ship’s oar, navigational aids, and British flag. A massive totem pole looms in the background while birds fly idyllically overhead. With a target audience of visiting tourists, the intent of the mural was clearly to welcome and inspire the guests. There is no foreshadowing of the potlatch ban that would come years later.
This image is seen on the cover of the book National Soul: Canadian Mural Painting, 1860s - 1930s by Marylin J. McKay. Ironically, the painting itself is on the other side of the country in the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, PEI.
Ladies Parlor of the Castle Hotel, a vintage postcard-like image via Glen A Mofford's outstanding collection of hotel and beer parlour ephemera on flickr. This photograph shows a series of large scale murals above each booth, which I presume to be paintings they but could also be tapestries? I do suspect these are original art and not merely reproductions or wallpaper. I have never seen this interior before and it looks to be phenomenal!
This hotel was once located at 750 Granville Street tucked in next to the Vancouver Block, and it operated at that location from 1915-1990. Previously it was known as the Windsor Hotel which operated from 1888-1914. This postcard image is circa 1930, and it appears to mix art deco styles with some very organic folk art, creating quite a contemporary visual feast. It must have been spectacular to see in colour! This would have been such a great place to hang out after a show across the street during any of these eras: the old Opera House (1891), the Orpheum [#3] (1913), Loew’s Vaudeville (1914), the Orpheum [again, this time owned by the Orpheum Circuit] (1915), Vancouver Theatre (1927), Lyric Theatre (1935), International Cinema (1948), and Lyric Theatre again (c.1965-1969).
If anyone ever finds any further documentation surrounding these murals or the artist responsible, please leave a comment! I stretched a few of the panels for a simulated view of the art, but it is very difficult to reconstruct at this dramatic angle. It also appears to me that there are at least 8 large scale panels on the right hand side, with at least 3 more on the left, possibly with room for 4 or 5 more on the left! Conceivably, there could be as many as 16 original panels in this room - astonishing.
For more ephemera related to Beer Parlours and the Castle Hotel, see Glen’s additional posts on flickr. Thanks to Tom Carter for assistance clarifying the complicated theatre chronology above! The years listed above roughly indicates the year the name changed. Furthermore, between the last name change, the theatre was actually turned into a bank for a while! Alas, if only I could find a time machine, this would be the first block I visit!
The Waldorf Hotel by Ash Tanasiychuk, from a series of Vancouver venues and galleries participating in the Olio Festival last year. 2012 was the last year of the Olio Festival, as the programmers are moving on. From the Georgia Straight:
After four years as one of Vancouver’s more colourful and certainly hipper cultural events, Olio is calling it quits…
…Color Magazine is still holding JAMCOUVER this summer, the one-day skate fest it pioneered with Olio in 2011, while he’s teaming with some of his festival partners to launch a smaller “no-filler version of Olio” later in the year called CULt.R. “It’ll be more focused,” he said. “Not skate-fashion-film at a thousand different venues; it’s going to be one party at one venue.”
Co-founder Dani Vachon, meanwhile, is concentrating on her new project; a group of “talented marketing, design, and arts-based individuals” offering their navigation services to local businesses called The Beacon Collective.
Since its inception in August 2009, the Olio Festival hosted over 30 thousand visitors and a remarkable roster of local and international talent, including such varied musical fare as Teen Daze, Cave Singers, Father John Misty, Chad VanGaalen and J. Mascis.
I loved the Olio Festival, so hats off to all the organizers who created the institution in such short order. And thanks for the submission, Ash!
Some vintage commercial artwork by George McLachlan, via his website. The first is a cover from a BCTel brochure cover titled “Communications”, believed to be from 1976. The acrylic painting shows a cluster of downtown skyscrapers, many of which were new modern additions to the city’s skyline.
The next illustration is a vintage pastel rendering of the Hyatt Odyssey Hotel in downtown Vancouver, which is now known as the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
And finally, a brochure for the grand opening of Woodward’s Food Floor at Arbutus Village, which is also flogging the Woodward’s credit card. This post prompted the submission of the last image from none other than Michael Kluckner, who still has his Woodward’s card! Woodward’s Arbutus Village Food Floor opened November 13, 1974; it is now a Safeway store.
Waldorf Hotel facelift, proposed by Claude Neon Limited, which I speculate is circa 1971, though I’m not certain. This image has been slightly retouched, original from kk’s photostream on flickr. As mentioned previously, the hotel was designed in 1947 by architects Mercer & Mercer, built in 1949, and opened in 1952, it was transformed as a “tiki”-themed bar and hotel in 1955. The hotel then sold in 1970 to the cook, Frank Puharich [source 1 & source 2]. The illustration reads:
Rough proposal for the facelift of the Waldorf Hotel
Fascia bond to be embossed bamboo to simulate a South Seas hut effect. The signage & wall graphics below the fascia bond to be the same effect as the current “Polynesian” signage. Under canopy illumination to be employed on the fascia bond.
The facelift of the front of the building to carry the theme created by the Polynesian dining room entrance.
Top portion of the building to be repainted.
Claude George’s French company, Claude Neon, brought neon to North America in 1923. In 1924, George Sweeney and other local investors set up a company called Neon Products in Vancouver, to produce neon signs for Western Canada, which is still in business as part of the Jimmy Pattison empire. It would eventually become one of the largest sign companies in the world. Neon signs were eagerly sought after by Vancouver businesses and in 1953, Neon Products cited 19,000 neon signs in the city of Vancouver, one for every 18 residents. Today there are only a few dozen of the 19,000 vintage neon signs left…
There is a Love-In for the Waldorf happening TODAY at 2pm! More details from Facebook:
Press conference at 3 pm, mini food cart festival from 2-5, various musical acts and art performances by Vancouver luminaries, music by internationally renowned Vancouver artist & DJ Rodney Graham, Free Cereal Day for kids. Family friendly. All welcome!
Waldorf Hotel dining room Polynesian mural, basement level, via City of Vancouver archives CVA 1444-53.06 and an ebay postcard. You can see another angle of the dining room here. I have extruded the mural from the archives photo, and cut it into 3 pieces to show the complete mural with ‘relative’ accuracy, though it is unfortunately in black and white. I would be very curious to learn if better colour images of the complete mural exist somewhere, and
I do not know who the artist would have been I now know who the artist was - see below! I presume the mural is dated 1955 or thereabouts - close! It was 1957! Via BCLiving:
In 1953, a man named Bob Mills purchased eight black velvet paintings by Edgar Leeteg in Honolulu. When his wife declared she didn’t like them, Mills vowed to create a Tahitian cocktail lounge in Vancouver. And he did.
Seizing on the emerging obsession with Polynesian culture that was becoming trend at the time, Mills transformed his Waldorf Hotel as a “tiki”-themed bar and hotel in 1955, opening the cocktail lounge in full tiki style. Designed in 1947 by architects Mercer & Mercer in a modernist style, the East Vancouver hotel, beer parlour and basement restaurant’s new facelift was a huge hit.
Fifteen years later, in 1970, the Waldorf’s cook, Frank Puharich, purchased the hotel from the Mills family.
The future of the Waldorf hangs in the balance.
UPDATE! More secrets of the mural revealed! Actually, the name of the artist was posted in a good number of places which I just happened to miss. Thanks to an email from O.C. Dobrostanski, he informed me the artist was someone by the name of Hopkinson, Peter Hopkinson actually. Doby writes about Peter and the artwork:
He was hired by the hotel owner to paint the image and it probably took him a fairly long time. Apparently he lived at the hotel while he painted the mural. Marko Pucharich actually met the man as he had done some cleaning and restoration work on the mural years later (in the 1980s). The image was inspired by a 1950 set of nine murals (“History of Hawaii”) by artist Eugene Savage of Indiana that were installed on a cruise ship, the SS Lurline that toured between Seattle, Vancouver and Hawaii during the same period as the mural was painted at the Waldorf.
Doby had been called to repair the mural about 3 years ago, as the work was suffering from water damage, lime contamination from the plaster wall, cigarette smoke, and all around wear and tear. Again, Doby writes:
I went to view the mural and immediately realized that a full cleaning would have to be done before repairs were started. Decades of tobacco and polluted atmosphere- generated grime and some minor mechanical damages (tears and abrasions) were evident…I cleaned a small isolated patch of mural area and immediately saw the difference in the colour and tone clarity of the image where the sample cleaning was done.
I did the cleaning and restoration over a period of several weeks. I also called the Vancouver Museum and through their connections arranged for a specialty photographer to take an accurate photo of the work for the owner.
You can also see a more updated photo of the complete mural from 2010 in this photoset by Les Bazso of the Pacific Newspaper Group. And from this 2010 John Mackie article in the Vancouver Sun, we learn that Peter Hopkinson also did all the murals for Nat Bailey’s White Spot restaurants in the 1950s.
I find it remarkable how just a few details can provide valuable insights into the life of the artist, the work of art, and the era in which it was created. I hope this knowledge enhances our appreciation of the artwork and ultimately aids the preservation of the site.
Vancouver hotelware logos and vintage china from the Neumann Collection [images collaged/enhanced].
Hotel Devonshire, a postcard by Edward Goodall. Here’s an archival photo almost from the same vantage point, or how it would have appeared from the old Hotel Vancouver. According to Emporis, construction began in 1923 and was completed in 1924; the building was designed by the prestigious McCarter & Nairne Partners. More facts:
- Demolished on July 5, 1981 at 7:05 a.m. with 100 kilograms of dynamite, along with the famous Cave nightclub, to make way for the HSBC Building.
- Opened as an apartment building for boarders, named The Devonshire Apartment Hotel.
The Burrard Motel, a vintage postcard by the Vancouver postcard artist Edward Goodall. This postcard shows the final design circa 1954; the hotel opened in 1956. I didn’t realize the Burrard Motel, now the Burrard Hotel is actually a trendy hip vintage midcentury modern mix of style and fashion, right in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Any hotel with an inner courtyard deserves some credit in my books!
2400 Court, a postcard of unknown vintage which appears to be signed by Christian Anderson, no relation to Hans Christian Andersen I presume.
A postcard for The York Hotel, 790 Howe Street, Vancouver. The York was featured on Changing Vancouver earlier this month. The Sears building designed by Cesar Pelli has taken it’s place. Soon, things are destined to change once again. Sears is planning to leave this building before Halloween of this year; then the building will get its makeover. Hooray!