Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

The Oppenheimer Warehouse

Sep 13, 2018

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When out-of-towners arrive to stay I usually extract their room & board in kind by subjecting them to forced marches through some of the city's historic districts. Which is what brought us to Gastown earlier this week to view the Oppenheimer warehouse. The photo above was taken in 1898 (City of Vancouver Archives AM54-S4-: Bu P683); the building actually dates from a decade earlier.

In the aftermath of the Great Fire (1886) the Oppenheimer brothers constructed their brick warehouse on Powell Street at the corner of Columbia. They were in the wholesale grocery business and one of the brothers, David, was fast becoming one of the largest landowners in the city. He also served as mayor for four terms (1888-1891). Now the Oppenheimer Group, the company, which is credited with introducing mandarin oranges to BC, is still in business though it hasn't owned the warehouse for many, many years.

What gives the building added significance is that after the fire it served as City Hall while Oppenheimer was mayor. It is the city's oldest brick building. In the 1990s it was converted into a recording studio by musician Bryan Adams. Here it is as it looks today.

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