A LENS ON VANCOUVER'S PAST
Walter Frost's Holland-America Line (1920-1975)
Evans, Coleman & Evans Dock
One of Vancouver oldest piers, the first of two 700-by-100 ft (210-by-30 m) piers was constructed in 1888 by Ernest Evans, George Coleman, and Percy Evans who partnered together to conduct business as “general merchants, shipping agents and wharf owners”.
The company began on a small scale, using the single pier to receive coal from Vancouver Island, and then sell that coal on the lower mainland. In 1889, the steam tug Tepic was purchased to tow logs and log booms for lumber companies. That led the Evans, Coleman & Evans, Ltd. into selling lumber as well as coal, which, in turn, led the company into “a gradual building up of a trade for the supply of builders’ materials” including concrete.[i] From its beginnings at the foot of Columbia Street, the dock ultimately expanded to two finger piers, nine freight sheds, and coal bunkers (to refuel steamships). A single railway siding provided access to the western pier.
Later as part of Ocean Cement Ltd.’s holdings, the pier was also dismantled to make way for Centerm.
[i] http://www.butchartgardenshistory.com/evans-coleman-evans/ accessed May 28, 2022
CRASH OF THE GARONNE
Shortly after the wharf was built, the 3,876 GRT, 382 ft long SS Garonne of the American-British Steamship Company crashed into the Evans, Coleman & Evans Dock after arriving from Victoria on June 1, 1899, whilst on her way to St. Michael, Alaska. Her master (Captain Conradi) reported that the big steamer’s engines refused to obey the signals from the bridge. Consequently, even though Capt. Conradi ordered the dropping of the forward anchor, the ship failed to stop in time and her bowsprit tore away the upper part of the main wharf shed and was actually halfway through the building. The ship ended up taking out 50 ft (15 m) of dock and shearing off the warehouse roof. [i]
FINE DISPLAY BY CZECH0-SLOVAK LEGION
On Sunday, June 6, 1920, the first of more than 9,000 Czecho-Slovak troops to pass through Vancouver on their way from Siberia to their homes in Bohemia left for Valcartier, QC on five Canadian National trains. The 2,945 strong vanguard, off the Blue Funnel liner SS Ixion (Master – Captain J. Inkster) which berthed at the Evans, Coleman & Evans Dock; marched through the city centre towards the Canadian National Station clad in long greatcoats, with rifles, sidearms and metal helmets. In the line of march was a detachment of engineers, the First Horse Battery of artillery, the Seventh Regiment of infantry and the Storming battalion. The latter were reportedly particularly smart in appearance as each legionnaire carried a business-like curved sword with a wrought brass hilt and a worn but be-tasselled leather scabbard. Many wore medal ribbons, indicating they had been decorated for bravery in battle. Four Russian bears, mascots of the different regiments, accompanied the soldiers.[ii]
After the vanguard, the main body (2,699 soldiers on the SS Protesilaus also at the Evans, Coleman & Evans Dock) and rear guard (3,400 soldiers on the SS M.S. Dollar at the Great Northern Dock) arrived on June 21st and 23rd, respectively.[iii]
DANGEROUS DOCK FIRE CONTR0LLED
Fast action by city firemen and the Vancouver fireboat were reported to have averted a major waterfront blaze on the afternoon of July 18, 1956, when a three-alarm fire occurred at the Evans, Coleman & Evans Dock. Flames had broken out at 5 p.m. on the west side of the warehouse at a point halfway down its length and were discovered by the watchman on duty. The warehouse housed small quantities of lumber, pulp, and plywood. They were not damaged. Thirteen pieces of equipment and more than 50 firemen rushed to the scene. Fireboat No. 2 arrived shortly after receiving the alarm and directed streams of water underneath the deck.[iv]
[i] Vancouver Daily World (Vancouver, BC: June 1, 1899) p 1
[ii] The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver, BC: June 7, 1920) pp 1-2
[iii] The Vancouver Daily World (Vancouver, BC: June 22, 1920) p 11
[iv] The Province (Vancouver, BC: July 19, 1956) p 19