131 East 2nd Street, North Vancouver, British Columbia, V7L, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Administration Building is a one-storey plus basement wood-frame office building, located adjacent to the commercial district of Lower Lonsdale. It is set on a steeply sloping south-facing site, with the majority of its basement at ground level. The main floor has commanding views of Burrard Inlet, including the old Wallace Shipyards. The historic place includes the building and grounds.
The Administration Building is significant for its association with its original owner, Wartime Housing Limited, a Crown Corporation established in 1941 with the passage of the War Measures Act, to assist communities throughout Canada in providing new housing for the large numbers of workers relocating near essential industries during the Second World War. The provision of workers' housing was recognized as a key priority of the war effort. After the Wallace Shipyards (later known as Versatile Pacific Shipyards) was chosen as one of the plants that would produce Victory Ships for the Allies, it expanded rapidly to become the largest employer in the City, and the influx of shipyard workers created a huge demand for housing. Hundreds of modest houses were built from standardized plans that maximized the efficiency of material and labour, often on tracts of land developed for the purpose. Families were accommodated in small detached houses, while barracks were built for unmarried men. Few intact examples survive of these wartime residences, as they have proven too modest for modern usage, but the Administration Building has survived as emblematic of their existence.
The utilitarian design and simple ornamentation of the Administration Building reflects the values and use of the building by Wartime Housing Limited. Its domestic scale, conservative construction and traditional Period Revival-style references are reflective of the type of buildings provided by the company. After the end of the war, the Administration Building was acquired by the City and used for community purposes, first as the City of North Vancouver Library. The heritage value of the Administration Building is also linked with its central location in Lower Lonsdale, the commercial core of North Vancouver, and its location overlooking the shipyards.
The heritage value of the Administration Building is linked to the architectural firm of McCarter and Nairne, one of the most prominent in the province. John Young McCarter (1886-1981) and George Colville Nairne (1884-1953) were appointed supervising architects for Wartime Housing for British Columbia. The Administration Building represents the attention given to even their modest commissions during the stringent economic conditions of the Second World War.
Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of North Vancouver
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Administration Building include its:
- location on a sloping site with views to the south over the harbour and shipyard
- modest scale and simple, symmetrical massing, with tall, at-grade basement at rear
- original setback close to the sidewalk.
- high hipped roof
- wide lapped wooden siding
- covered central entrance porch, with four turned wood columns set directly on the semi-circular concrete steps
- fenestration, such as: the simple, multi-paned wood-sash windows flanking each side of the central entrance; Chicago windows at the ground floor rear that face the view, with 6-over-6 double-hung sash on each side of a fixed pane; and multi-paned double-hung wooden-sash windows at the lower level
- central flagpole
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Office or office building
Architect / Designer
McCarter and Nairne
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Planning Files, City of North Vancouver
Cross-Reference to Collection