Urban Avian NavigationTuesday, December 08, 2009
Edgar George Baynes was born at Braintree, Essex, England in 1870. He started his apprenticeship as a carpenter with Joseph Franklyn, "Coffin Maker & Cabinet Work", in a shop in Great Dunmow. When Franklyn and his family immigrated to Canada, Baynes came with them, arriving in Vancouver in April 1889. Baynes worked on a number of projects with another young carpenter, Will Horie; the two of them became friends and in 1893 established the contracting firm of Baynes & Horie. Baynes was married in 1899, and in 1906 built a large concrete block house at 1200 West Broadway in Vancouver that the family occupied for over fifty years.
Baynes & Horie were very successful, and prospered as the lower Mainland developed in the boom years before the First World War. The firm also designed many of these projects, including the Grosvenor Hotel (1913), which Baynes owned and managed until his death at the age of 87. In order to supply bricks for their many projects, in 1907 Baynes and Horie, along with Harold Burnet, formed the Port Haney Brick Works, which operated continuously for the next seventy years, providing drain tile for the Fraser Valley and clay partition tile as well as their trademark bricks.
From The Historic Communities of Maple Ridge
I took the picture above on a dreary day in December 1994. It was all that was left that proved that some years before there had been an understated and elegant hotel called the Grosvenor Hotel. It was on Howe Street almost at the corner with Robson. In the hotel there was a fashionable (for those with good taste like yours truly!) who frequented the African safari motif bar called Livingstone’s. It was low key and I vaguely remember that the food was good two. The hotel was demolished to make way what soon became Chapters and an expensive furniture store. Right behind is one of my favourite buildings in Vancouver that for some years was the headquarters of Kodak. They had a couple of floors which were linked by a beautiful spiral staircase. There were plants (and even trees) that made the floors look like the mini-hanging-gardens of Babylon. For a few years part of the ceramic plaque that marked the entrance to Livingston’s remained. It was like a baby tooth that is left dangling until your mother asks you to open your mouth and with no advance warning pulls it out.
One day the merry explorer was gone and soon gone from the memory of most of us. Sometimes when I walk on Howe I feel the presence of something. I know that in some way we humans can be like birds. We have embedded somewhere in our brain a little navigational antenna that tells us that there is a reference point, a little beacon, that we can use to guide us home. The reference point is gone and every day home seems to be less like home.
I have a vague memory about running into someone who told me of knowing who had taken the tiles that were missing from the right side of the picture. I am not sure if my memory serves me well or simply the tiles always had a missing side?