Intersections: Hastings and Cambie

We examine the spot that was once the heartbeat of Vancouver

May 24, 2016

By D.B. Thompson / Photo: Vancouver Archives

It was home to Vancouver’s first courthouse, first mall, and first major tower. It was where the business district, CPR lands, and streetcars to the suburbs all intersected. When Vancouver was coming into its own at the turn of the 20th century, Hastings and Cambie was its epicentre. The city’s heartbeat has shifted over the decades, but the three buildings that surrounded Victory Square during the First World War are still standing as reminders of what Vancouver was—and how much it’s changed.

Northwest
Standing 53 metres high, the Dominion Building was the tallest building in the British Empire when it was completed in 1910. Many Vancouverites know it now as the home of Lebanese restaurant Nuba (hint: try the crispy cauliflower for $9.75).

Northeast
Yukon gold prospector Thomas Flack built the “Flack Block,” the first home of the Bank of Vancouver, in 1898. After decades of pawn-shop tenants it was given a $20-million refurbishment that finished in 2008, and you can now go there to become an environmental activist at Tides Canada, grab a latte at Bean Around the World, or eat lunch at Meat & Bread.

FlackBlock.hastingscambie

Southeast
Built in 1908, the Carter Cotton Building was home to the Vancouver News Advertiser and the Vancouver Province. Sold by the city in 2012 for $18 million, its main tenant now is the Vancouver Film School.

CarterCottonBuilding_rev

Southwest
Vancouver’s first courthouse stood here from 1889 to 1912. As the land sat dormant during the First World War for lack of funds, it became an impromptu memorial site for soldiers—and was officially proclaimed Victory Square in 1922 (and unofficially proclaimed a popular site for protests ever since).

Victory Square Postcard 1925

Cambie: Henry John Cambie was the first division engineer of the CPR when the rail company plotted out downtown Vancouver.

Hastings: Named for George Fowler Hastings, British commander of the Pacific Station when Vancouver was founded.

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