Today, 14 March 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of the Hudson’s Bay Company Vancouver flagship store [opening] on Granville & Georgia. I dropped by for a brief 15 minute visit to the HBC store in Downtown Vancouver to take in the celebrations.
I made it just in time for the cake cutting in the middle of the store, near the NARS and Philosophy counters. I don’t know which cake company created this rather tall cake but wouldn’t you agree that it was very well done? I did not stay for the cake but it looked like chocolate cake to me (if I saw the slices clearly).
Next to the cake table was the temporary ‘museum’ of the HBC Vancouver store’s history. The first wall had eight photos of the changing façade and expansion of the store from 1914 to 2014.
Take a look at how much ‘smaller’ the store was in 1914 and how spacious the streets were! According to HBC Heritage, the present store was part of the new construction in 1913 on Georgia & Seymour.
In 1925, the old store on Granville & Georgia was torn down and replaced by the present store which joined the one on Georgia & Seymour.
It appears that the store was fully expanded in 1949 (it takes up Georgia-Granville-Seymour-Dunsmuir). New awnings were added back to the store in 2013, which are reminiscent of the ones in 1918.
Late in 2013 (I believe), the cosmetics department on the main floor had its own face lift. The main floor looks much brighter and every cosmetic counter is as inviting as the next. It was this year, however, when I started to notice these white columns with elaborate designs. I wish I had a better camera to show you what it looks like but this one from my iPhone will have to do for now:
Just before the cake cutting ceremony, I had heard the presenter mention that the interior of the former restaurant on the 6th floor was still preserved. Since I love historical architecture (that is, anything pre-war that was made to be beautiful), I had to take a look. I took the escalator to the top floor where the men’s wear is (poor men who would rather go in and out of the store as quickly as possible!) and spotted some wooden columns to the left. This is what the former restaurant looked like:
I’m not sure when the restaurant was closed but I do wish HBC had a restaurant. The first thing I thought of was the Palm Court in the ITV period drama series, Mr Selfridge. I think it would encourage shoppers to stay longer and to have somewhere to rest for a while. I don’t know if the new Nordstrom across the street will have a restaurant when it opens in 2015. (Although, with so many dining options in the area already – Rosewood Hotel Georgia on Howe St, for instance – perhaps it wouldn’t really matter?)
The lights that once lit the columns had been removed. Whether they had been tossed or kept in storage, I do not know, but the columns looked bare and incomplete. In lieu of the chandeliers were two large antler chandeliers, a tribute to the elks in the HBC coat of arms I believe?
This was all I had time for before I had to leave. I highly recommend you visit the HBC store. It’s generally quieter so you’re guaranteed to be greeted and helped by any of the sales assistants. There are frequent Bay Days (discounts) on various items every week so be sure to sign up for an e-newsletter if you’re looking to save money.
If you are interested in getting some Canadian Olympic merchandise (for instance, the $10 Olympic mitts) or some HBC merchandise (e.g. the signature multistripe HBC blanket), you can find them in the lower level (where the skytrain is). There are also some HBC merchandise on the main floor (away from the cosmetics) and I believe on the 5th floor.