Home / Accueil

Harper Warehouse

151 Water Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

Exterior view of the Harper Warehouse; City of Vancouver, 2004
Oblique view
No Image
No Image

Other Name(s)

Exposition Gallery
Harper Warehouse

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Harper Warehouse is a modest two-storey plus lower level masonry warehouse building on the north side of Water Street 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 Harper Warehouse is representative of the importance of Gastown as the trans-shipment point between the terminus of the railway and Pacific shipping routes, and the consequent expansion of Vancouver into western Canada's predominant commercial centre in the early twentieth century. As Vancouver prospered, many warehouses were built on piles on infilled water lots between Water Street and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) trestle. The small size and simple facade detailing of this structure demonstrates the variety of warehouses built at the time to accommodate different sizes of businesses, resulting in the distinctive 'sawtooth profile' of the streetscape.

The Harper Warehouse is also significant for its association with architect Arthur J. Bird (1875-1967). Bird established his practice in Vancouver in 1908, and was notable for his prolific output of apartments and commercial buildings.

As the warehousing and light industry functions in Gastown became obsolete, a number of early warehouse structures were adapted to other uses. This structure's early adaptive reuse within the context of the redevelopment of Gastown as a heritage district represents the changing nature of the local context and economy from warehousing and manufacturing to commercial, retail and residential uses.

Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Harper Warehouse include:
- location on the north side of Water Street, in close proximity to the waterfront of Burrard Inlet and the CPR yard, with open alley to the east side
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks at the front or sides; loading area at rear
- two storey plus lower level flat-roofed form, scale and massing
- typical Edwardian era design elements, such as a brick facade with projecting bracketed cornice, and tripartite facade organization
- masonry construction, including high-fire variegated tan brick on the front facade, and common red brick on the side and rear facades
- street-level retail display windows with original upper transoms and metal cornice above
- wood-sash pivot windows with divided upper transoms on the front facade second floor
- side entry to the upper floor
- heavy timber frame internal 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

Architect / Designer

A.J. Bird



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