Balaclava Block

"In the midst of a city in flux, this block represents continuity and a connection to the past. Residents may come and go, but the houses remain, sheltering their memories. I appreciate the efforts of neighbours to maintain these old homes -- an ongoing and costly project." -Naomi Pauls, owner since 1983; resident since 1988.

Plaque

The Craftsman style of house was a popular choice for builders in Kitsilano. The city issued permits to build these eight houses, on the east side of the 2300-block Balaclava Street, on July 5, 1912, to Vancouver Homebuilders Ltd. The value of the construction of all eight was $25,600. Settlement in this area began in 1909, when the BC Electric Co. started a streetcar service between Granville and Alma on 4th Avenue.

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History

The Development of Residential Kitsilano

The blocks of Kitsilano south of 4th Avenue were opened for suburban settlement by the completion of a streetcar line from Granville Bridge to Alma Street in October, 1909. A few years earlier, a small commercial area had developed around the West Fairview School on the north side of 4th between Vine and Yew. At that time, the only resident of 4th Avenue west of Trafalgar was James Quiney who lived with his family at the corner of 4th and Dunbar. Quiney (born in England) came to Canada in 1903 and by 1910 he was selling real estate and taking some of the first photographs of Kitsilano as settlement began. He helped sell the area north of 4th Avenue to builders and buyers. Historian Derek Hayes writes that Quiney, like many others, was ruined by the collapse of property prices during WW1. He returned from the war an invalid, unable to maintain payments on land he had acquired at boom-time prices, lost his house and ended up in a squatter’s shack at Spanish Banks. 

The First Residents of the 2300-block of Balaclava

Permits were issued for eight dwellings on the east side of the 2300-block Balaclava Street on July 5, 1912 to Vancouver Homebuilders Ltd. The value of construction for all eight was $25,600. The first residents of the 2300 block were middle-class people; they included a logger, an agent for the Imperial Life Assurance Company, a travelling salesman, a retired couple and the manager of the Dominion Cartage Company.

Balaclava Street

In 1907, Vancouver City Council decided to rename many Kitsilano streets to avoid duplication with existing street names elsewhere in the city, and sought inspiration from famous battle sites. Balaclava Street (formerly Richards Street) was named for a famous Crimean War battle that took place in 1854. Other battle names chosen at that time included Alma (also a Crimean battle), Bleinheim, Trafalgar, and Waterloo. A 1912 by-law extended Balaclava south from West 16th Avenue to the Fraser River.

Craftsman Houses

The Craftsman style of house was a popular choice for builders in Kitsilano, including Lockie & Miller, Bentley & Wear and the Vernon Brothers. “Kitsilano is the Craftsman suburb,” writes artist and historian Michael Kluckner, who says the Craftsman distinguishes Kitsilano from East Side neighbourhoods like Mount Pleasant and Grandview, where Queen Anne and Edwardian houses are typical. The Craftsman style emerged from the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th Century. It was a style builders could take on without the services of an architect, and generally used locally sourced materials. Customized components and even pre-fabricated sections were readily available using catalogues such as Sears, Montgomery Wards and Aladdin. With its popularity spanning a 20-year period, several variations of Craftsman houses developed, three of which are particular to Vancouver: traditional Craftsman, Vancouver Craftsman and Craftsman Bungalow. Each was influenced by builders’ budgets and changes in taste over time and the adaptations in design to suit both large and small lots in neighbourhoods across the city. Read More.

Sources

  • British Columbia City Directories (1913-1915)
  • Vancouver Building Permit # 14584
  • Vancouver Heritage Foundation. “Vancouver Craftsman.”
  • Derek Hayes. Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Douglas & McIntyre, 2005.
  • Michael Kluckner. Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years.  Whitecap Books 2012.
  • Elizabeth Walker. Street Names of VancouverVancouver Historical Society. 1999.

On July 28, 2012 we celebrated these houses’ 100th birthday with a block party. The plaque is located on one of the houses along the block.

Nearby Places That Matter

Media & Photos

Address

2300 block of Balaclava Street, North of Broadway
Kitsilano

Coordinates

49.265902, -123.173932

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