With booming redevelopment in Downtown South, anything left standing from the city’s earliest development will soon be splinters.
This part of downtown was initially nick-named “Yaletown” as the original CPR employees came from the former shops at Yale in the Fraser River canyon.
Some workers literally moved house, loading their houses in Yale onto flatcars or barges and setting them on new foundations near False Creek. The community clustered around the CPR’s roundhouse and yards at the foot of Davie Street, where Vancouver’s Great Fire in 1886 had started when brush was being cleared for railyard construction.
Rebuilding was immediate and, since workers preferred to live close to work to save money, modest wooden frame houses soon lined the streets and a lively community established itself.
Sadly, only a few of these houses remain; best known is the bright yellow George Leslie House at 1386 Hornby Street – it will remain but be overwhelmed by an enormous tower right behind it. Even worse fates are planned or likely for a number of remaining houses dating from the late 1880s.
All but one of a row of early workers’ houses recently disappeared from Seymour Street, across from the Penthouse, including the home of legendary Iaci’s Italian Restaurant. The sad remaining house protrudes from the precipice like a lone tooth awaiting the dentist’s vise.