Home / Accueil

Dominion Hotel

210 Abbott Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

Exterior view of the Dominion Hotel; City of Vancouver, 2004
Oblique view
No Image
No Image

Other Name(s)

Dominion Hotel
Sherdahl Block

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1900/01/01 to 1901/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Dominion Hotel is a three-storey masonry commercial building occupying the southeast corner of Abbott and Water Streets in the historic district of Gastown.

Heritage Value

Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city's earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The Dominion Hotel is valued as an early Gastown hotel, originally located above a commercial ground floor space, representative of the area's seasonal population in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Vancouver emerged as western Canada's predominant commercial centre. Hotels such as this provided both short and long term lodging, serving primarily those who worked in the seasonal resource trades such as fishing and logging. Many of these hotels had combined functions of commercial services on the ground floor and lodging rooms on the upper floors, which contributed to the lively street life in Gastown.

The Dominion Hotel is valued for its architecture as a fine example of the late use of the Victorian Italianate style, dating from the very end of the Victorian era. The exterior also exhibits characteristics of the emerging Romanesque Revival, reflected in the repetitive use of round-headed window openings and illustrating how popular architectural styles were used by the hotel business to market a progressive image. The parged pilasters and window arches set against the red brick walls create a commanding street presence.

The name of the hotel, now in continuous use for over a century, is a demonstration of the significance of Gastown as the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which linked the provinces of the Dominion of Canada from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans. The building itself was known as the Sherdahl Block after its original owner, merchant Swain Sherdahl, who operated a department store on the ground floor.

This building is also significant as a surviving design by architect Emil Guenther (born 1855), who had a brief but notable career in New Westminster and Vancouver. Prominent early Vancouver builders Theodore 'Granite' Horrobin (1861-1919) and J.P. Halden were responsible for its construction.

Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Dominion Hotel include:
- prominent corner location, in close proximity to the waterfront of Burrard Inlet and the Canadian Pacific Railway yard
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- rectangular plan, flat roof, prominent scale and cubic massing
- masonry construction: red brick on two main facades with raised tooled mortar joints; common red brick on rear and side facades; and parged continuous beltcourses and pilasters
- architectural features of the Victorian Italianate style such as a bracketed cornice at parapet level, with paired brackets at each pilaster
- upper floor arched window surrounds with keystones, joined by running beltcourses
- double-hung 1-over-1 wood-sash windows with round-headed top sash, on the upper floors
- continuous sheet metal cornice above the rectangular storefront openings
- chamfered corner entry with surviving arch and keystone detail
- entry to upper floors on Abbott Street, marked at parapet level with name plaque with raised letters 'Sherdahl Block'
- heavy timber frame interior structure



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.593

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn

Architect / Designer

Emil Guenther


Horrobin and Haldin

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places