Thurlow and Alberni Streets: then and now

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752 Thurlow Street
Garden family at 752 Thurlow Street, ca1890s. Photo courtesy Anders Falk

Anders Falk is a Vancouver realtor with deep roots in the city. His great, great grandparents William and Mary Henderson Garden arrived in Vancouver from Helensburgh, Scotland, via Liverpool and a cross Canada train trip in April 1889. William opened up Garden and Sons Wholesale Tea and Coffee on East Hastings. By 1894, Murchies has broken their monopoly on the tea business, and William and Mary and their two sons William and John have moved into a new house at the corner of Thurlow and Alberni Street.

222 East Hastings Street
Garden and Sons Wholesale Teas, 222 East Hastings Street, ca.1890s. Photo courtesy Anders Falk

William died in 1897, and the following year, the business has disappeared from the directory. John became a lumber broker and William Junior played in a band and worked at the Bay for his day job. The Gardens remain at 752 Thurlow until 1903. Fortunately one of the Garden family was an avid photographer and was able to capture the family’s various activities—at the house, a boat at the rowing club, and biking in Stanley Park.

William and Mary Garden
William and Mary Garden family in Stanley Park mid-1890s. Photo courtesy Anders Falk

Anders says Joe Fortes taught the Garden kids to swim at nearby English Bay.

William Lamont Tait, a wealthy retired lumber and real estate tycoon, is the next resident at 752 Thurlow. Tait must have spent much of the next few years planning and supervising the building of Glen Brae, his Shaughnessy mansion on Matthews. Completed in 1911, Glen Brae, named for Tait’s Scottish homeland, was dubbed “the Mae West” by locals because of its two outlandish turrets. Tait died in 1919, and in 1925, his former house became the headquarters of  the KKK. More recently it has found a nicer use as Canuck Place.

752 Thurlow Street
752 Thurlow Street with Wesley Methodist Church in the background ca1900 VPL 7153

The house on Thurlow Street and Alberni, like most large places in the West End, went through a number of uses—at one point it was a YWCA, a nursery, and during the First World War, it was occupied by the Canadian Medical Army Corps.

Rear of 754 Thurlow Street in 1956 CVA Bu P508-19
Rear of 754 Thurlow Street in 1956 CVA Bu P508-19

Between 1924 and 1940, 752 Thurlow showed up as the Vancouver Women’s Building in the directories, and in 1941 it was taken over by the Salvation Army.  Surprisingly, it looks like it survived until at least 1956, and at some point went through a street change to #754.

752 Thurlow Street, 1974. CVA 778-432
752 Thurlow Street, 1974. CVA 778-432

In 1966, 752 Thurlow was a three-storey building next to the Manhattan Apartments and occupied by Oil Can Harry’s. The club stayed there for the next 11 years.

752 Thurlow Street, 1974. CVA778-433
752 Thurlow Street, 1974. CVA778-433

The Carlyle, a 21-storey tower replaced the Thurlow Street building in 1989. Its address is now on Alberni.

The Carlisle, 1060 Alberni Street
The Carlyle, 1060 Alberni Street

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

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9 comments

  1. Ms. Lazarus. When I worked at the CPR, a co-worker, Victor Nunn, was murdered in 1961/2. I have often wondered if his murder was solved. As a matter of interest, he was openly gay. Do you have any knowledge of this case ?

      1. Thank you for taking the time to research Victor Nunn’s death. I was sure it was much sooner than that but the story in the Sun matches what I heard. He would have been in his early 40’s at that date, he was stabbed and he did live on Beach Ave. I left the CPR near the end of 1962 so I don’t remember where I heard about it. I still wonder who did it and if they were prosecuted. Thanks again. Carol

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