The Neumann Collection


St. Francis Hotel Creamer

Posted by neumann32044 on September 27, 2013 at 7:50 PM

I've actually had a good run of luck on eBay with purchases of two local hotel pieces, the first of which is this creamer from the Hotel St. Francis, which used to stand opposite the CPR station in downtown Vancouver.  I could tell you a little about the history of the structures, but I would just be repeating what was beautifully written in the blog Changing Vancouver, and can be found by clicking here and here.  However, the story of those who designed the St. Francis is outlined below.

The exact date of this creamer is unknown, though I would guess that it would be from shortly after the hotel was originally built, around 1907.

The bidding was fierce for this little creamer, which in the local collecting community do command a premuim.  Creamers are popular because their small size makes them easier to store, they're easy to display, and they can fit into general store counter top display cases originally used for ink!  I've seen more than one display of them like this.  Something that I would like to do is to obtain an old wooden pop bottle crate and use it for a similar purpose.

However, how did I determine if this was a piece that belonged in my collection, and was originally from BC?  After all, there must have been many St. Francis Hotels in the English speaking world!  I first checked the image of the bottom in the auction listing.  It has a slightly blurred "John Maddock & Sons" stamp on the bottom, but no distributor.  This narrows in down to Canada at least, as I've never seen American produced china used in BC from this time period.

I also checked my image files, and found a picture of a plate with a matching logo that was in the collection of the Royal BC Museum.  However, I didn't check the reverse of that plate, so I couldn't see if there was a Vancouver distributor.  After all, the same logo could have been used for another St. Francis Hotel.  The final piece of evidence was an image of an envelope from the hotel, showing the logo in the corner and  Vancouver, BC:

Hotel stationary from the St. Francis.

The structure was designed by the architect  Edward Evans Blackmore, the son of William Blackmore who was also an architect.  He apprenticed with his father, and together the formed a practice and designed about twenty buildings from 1901-04 when William Blackmore died.  Between 1904 and 1920, E.E. Blackmore designed over fifty building in vancouver, from houses to apartment buildings, theatres, schools, warehouses, factories, and number of Chinese laundries.  Included in this list is the St. Francis.  After his father died, Blackmore collabobrated on projects with other architects but never formed another formal partnership.  He died of cancer in 1929.

In 1912, $20,000 was spent on a renovation to the hotel, likely to add the top floor.  The architect for this portion was J.S. Pearce.  Pearce's record in Vancouver was brief, but colourful.  He was an assistant to Francis Rattenbury from 1901-05, and then set up offices in both Victoria and Vancouver, and was active as an architect until 1913 when the local economy collapsed.  During that time, he entered into two different partnerships, designed a building in Revelstoke, two schools in Vancouver, and the Canyon View Hotel in North Vancouver (I'm also on the hunt for a dish from there).  He was also the architect for a proposed tourist hotel in Lynn Valley which was never built due to the aforementioned economy.  Its possible that his renovation of the St. Francis was his last commission!

This screen shot was taken from a photo of the third CPR station under construction, and shows the upper floor being added.  Dated September 5, 1912, the wider shot shows that many of the surrounding buildings and hotels are also being renovated or constructed because of the demand from travellers that caused the need for a bigger railway station.  I encourage you to see the original.

The lounge of the St. Francis, circa 1917.


Luxton, D. (2007). Building The West: Early Architects of British Columbia. Vancouver : Talon.


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1 Comment

Reply PatrickdrynC
8:33 AM on November 3, 2017