Pacific Transfer Company Building
120 East Cordova Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Pacific Transfer Company Building at 120 East Cordova Street is a three-storey, stone and brick former transfer warehouse located in Vancouver's Gastown, close to the Port of Vancouver and railway networks connecting BC with Eastern Canada and the United States. It remains in commercial use.
The heritage value of the Pacific Transfer Company Building resides in its history of use and its built form.
The construction of the building at 120 East Cordova Street in 1901, for Vancouverite Hugh E. McDonald's Pacific Transfer Company, demonstrates particularly well a key role of the commercial district as a local distribution centre for goods arriving by ship and rail. This role relates in turn to Vancouver's function as the destination for goods produced in eastern Canada, as well as the province's distribution centre for locally produced material.
The arrangement of doors and windows on the front and rear facades of this building is of value for reflecting the former functional arrangements of a transfer warehouse. The wide central doorways at front and rear facilitated the passage, and loading from the warehouse above, of carts and (after the sale of the horses in 1920) trucks through the building. The unusually tall doors flanking the main elevation, and the windows now glazed with glass blocks, probably reflect the need for access and stabling for McDonald's 100 horses. The upper storeys, architecturally more typical of the Edwardian Commercial style, housed the goods for transfer, and on the top floor, hay and straw for the horses.
The adaptation of the building in the mid-1950s to workshops, and the erection of a rooftop radio mast array, for Spilsbury and Tindall Ltd. (the important British Columbia radio communications pioneer) consolidates its significance. Spilsbury and Tindall's radio telephones opened communication lifelines along the BC coast and to logging camps throughout the region. In 1993, A.J. (Jim) Spilsbury received the Order of British Columbia for his significant contribution to the development of the Province.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The character-defining elements of the Pacifc Transfer Company Building include its:
- Location on East Cordova Street in Gastown, Vancouver's former commercial district
- Occupation of the entire lot
- Eclectic mix of Victorian and Edwardian Commercial architectural styles
- Materials of construction including the stone lower ground floor storey, the stone string course and the stone capitals and bases of the brick pilasters, the red brick of the upper storeys, and the buff brick that indicates the position of the former sheet metal cornice
- Wide central doorways at front and rear of lot
- The articulation of the East Cordova Street elevation, including the brick pilasters that divide the front elevation into a wide central bay flanked by two narrow bays, the large lunette (semi-circular window) over the former vehicle entrance, surmounted by three small brick arched windows, the single windows in the side bays with cambered brick heads, and the windows and doors in the stone ground floor storey with stone lintel square heads
- The articulation of the lane elevation, including the pyramidal arrangement of cambered windows surrounding the former vehicle door, the lunette and the tall door to the west of the vehicle door
- The finished woodwork of the windows of the upper storeys including the four light centre-pivot sashes surmounted by fixed lights and the fixed lights and sashes of the lunette
- The remains of the radio mast array at the north east and south west corners of the roof and on the back of the East Cordova Street parapet
- The remains of the columnar grid within
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Charter, s.582
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Cross-Reference to Collection