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Visiting the Lee Building: in 1911 the Tallest Structure in Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, British Columbia

Updated on March 2, 2020
Provincial flag of British Columbia
Provincial flag of British Columbia | Source
Lee Building, 175 East Broadway Street at Main Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Lee Building, 175 East Broadway Street at Main Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. | Source

Designed by Stroud & Keith; with an arcade added in 1953

In the early 20th century Vancouver's new Mount Pleasant suburb was fast developing. Part of this process involved name changes to existing streets.

What was previously Westminster Avenue (1) became Main Street. The former 9th Avenue became Broadway.

In 1911, at the corner of Broadway and Main Street was built a landmark which became known as the Lee Building (2). This highly conspicuous landmark was thus Mount Pleasant's tallest building. I have included a photo (see below) of the Lee Building seen in its early years.

Rising to 7 storeys, this massive structure's visibility was enhanced by the fact that Main Street slopes uphill, away from the Downtown area of Vancouver. Designed by Stroud and Keith (3) Executed in brick, with stone facing, features of the Lee Building include a very prominent and somewhat ornate cornice. The interior of the building includes marble flooring and copper walls. Another interesting feature is that at its Broadway elevation the ground floor contains an arcaded pedestrian walkway which was not part of the Lee Building's original design; this was added in 1953, as a result of a widening scheme for Broadway.

The owner of the Lee Building was Herbert O. Lee (4), for whose family the top floor contained a residence. The Lee Building contained a combination of apartments and business premises. The Lee family maintained a connection with the building until 1938, when it passed into the ownership of the Royal Bank of Canada.

The Lee Building is located at 175 East Broadway Street, Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, British Columbia.

March 3, 2020


(1) In former British colonies, place-names named for Westminster typically referred to either the Westminster Parliament, London, or to the 17th century Westminster Confession, traditionally a seminal document for Presbyterians.


(3) A. B. Stroud (b. 1885), was an Ontario architect who designed various buildings in Ontario, and in Vancouver and Nanaimo, British Columbia. At various times his architectural partnership was known as Stroud and Donnellan, Stroud and Saunders and Stroud and Keith; it was in this latter name that the Lee Building was designed; interestingly, the Dictionary of Architects in Canada refers to this design as Lee Hall (see also: ).

(4) Originally from Ontario, Mr. Lee died in 1937.

Broadway and Main St - 1922; looking north along Main Street.
Broadway and Main St - 1922; looking north along Main Street. | Source

Also worth seeing

Among the numerous, outstanding visitor attractions in Vancouver, a very few of these include: The Lookout, with excellent views of the city, the surrounding Rockies and Burrard Inlet, Stanley Park and Lions Gate Bridge, Gastown; False Creek and Science World; the Vancouver Art Gallery; the 1914 Heritage Hall; the 1907 Dominion Building; the 1911 Sun Tower; the 1914 Waterfront Station; Granville Island; and many others.

Vancouver is also ideally situated for day trips to British Columbian mountain destinations such as Whistler (distance: 123.8 kilometres / 76.9 miles) and Peace Arch Park (Peace Arch Provincial Park in Canada and Peace Arch Historical State Park in the United States), shared between the Province of British Columbia at Surrey and the US State of Washington, at Blaine (distance: 48.9 kilometers / 30.4 miles).


How to get there

WestJet and Air Canada fly to Vancouver International Airport, Richmond (distance from Downtown Vancouver: 10.8 kilometres / 6.7 miles), with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of Vancouver, British Columbia
Map location of Vancouver, British Columbia | Source

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