BC Electric Railway Depot, 1911 —Commercial Heritage Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation - Outstanding Achievement
Heritage BC

Commercial Renovation
Royal City Builders Awards

The British Columbia Electric Railway Depot  was opened in 1911 by the Duke of Connaught.  It functioned as the headquarters for the interurban streetcar line from Vancouver to Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley for the next 45 years.

Designed by prominent architect Samuel Maclure, the depot included an unusual design feature – the train concourse running diagonally through the building. Elegant, arcading, arched windows were enhanced by stucco banding, faceted keystones and elegant curved window muntins.

Almost 100 years later, after years of renovations and neglect, the building sat all but derelict and unrecognizable . However, sufficient heritage fabric and historic documentation existed – and the will of the new owner and local government – to prompt rehabilitation of the building. Initially a Heritage Building Assessment & Reuse Study was provided.  To offset restoration costs, unused allowable floor area was sold and transferred to an adjacent development.

To reveal the historic façade, work began with removal of 1970s metal cladding, 1950s stucco, various modern windows and storefronts, and a large sidewalk canopy. Original prominent feature bays at the building corners were reconstructed.  Bricks were repaired and repointed using blackened lime mortar.  Rendered stucco banding and cornices were reconstructed and façade lighting, matched from historic photos, installed. The original window layout was reinstated with wood windows.  Due to the extensive 1950s changes and restoration challenges, the Front Street facade of the building was restored to its “modern” look – a second Period of Significance.

The restoration project won the highest award for building rehabilitation from Heritage BC.  We have since designed office and retail tenant improvements in the building.