WHERE: 375 Water Street
BUILT: 1905 – Renovated in 1988
ARCHITECT: W.T. Whiteway
The Kelly Douglas warehouse building characterizes the general history of wholesaling in Gastown. In 1896 Frank Douglas and Robert Kelly started a wholesale grocery business, the Kelly Douglas Company, to take advantage of the city’s importance as a distribution and shipping point between Europe, Eastern Canada and Asia.
Mr. Kelly was short, stocky, brusque and outspoken. With him business was business. He met his obligations and demanded that others do likewise. Mr. Douglas on the other hand was inclined to be easy going. As a good business man, he was keen and alert for opportunity but invariably cheerful and tactful.
The Kelly Douglas Co. prospered supplying prospectors with provisions during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. To meet the stiff competition of long established Seattle and Victoria merchants in the Yukon, Mr. Douglas decided to cover the gold mining centres himself. Each summer he would travel north for several months.
In August 1901, after two months in Dawson City, he started back to Vancouver with his order book full. He sailed on the “islander’ and on August 15th, 1901, at 2:00am, six miles northwest of Juneau in Lynn Canal, the ship struck a submerged iceberg. Forty of the passengers drowned including Frank Douglas. Stories were current at the time of his death that between $50,000 and $60,000 was lost with him. It was related that he had secured the gold in his clothing before he drowned. His brother Edward succeeded him in the firm.
Today, this building, now better known as The Landing, is home to several amazing business.
Bryan of London