Malkin Building
Culture

July 4 2013

Gastown Throwback: The Malkin Building

MALKIN BUILDING:  55 WATER STREET

BUILT:  1907-1912

ARCHITECT:  JOHN EDMESTON PARR & THOMAS A. FEE

ARCHITECTURAL STYLE:  EDWARDIAN COMMERCIAL

The “Malkin’s Best’ sign was the company’s trademark. [PHOTO:  VPL 11552 – 1929]


William Harold Malkin left the prairies in 1895 to join his brother Fred here in Vancouver. With a background in merchandising, he soon got a job working for Osmund Skrine Wholesale produce merchants. In 1897 Harold and his brother bought the company and changed the name to W.H. Malkin & Co. Wholesale Grocers, Tea Blenders and Coffee Roasters.  The company went on to add preserves, pickles and import spices to their product line and quickly become one of Vancouver’s most important import businesses. Malkin products could be found in every household as well as in the packs of prospectors heading for the Klondike.

H.W. Malkin 2

Mr. Harold Malkin served as Mayor of Vancouver from 1929 to 1930 [PHOTO: CVA: 371-1884  W.H. Malkin – 1920’s]

In 1907, the Malkin brothers started construction on this massive brick and timber warehouse to meet the growing demand of their business which prospered from the mining boom in the Kootenays and the Klondike Gold Rush.

The Western half of the building was constructed in 1907, the Eastern half in 1912.  The simple façade and heavy cornice are typical of Parr and Fee’s solidly-built, no-nonsense commercial buildings.

W H Malkin served as Mayor of Vancouver from 1929 -1932. As Mayor he oversaw the construction of the Marine Building and was also the first Mayor of an amalgamated Vancouver when Point Grey and South Vancouver officially become part of the City. Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park was a gift to the city from Malkin as a memorial to his wife Marion.

 Malkin Building Interior 2
Malkin Co.’s coffee packing line.  The top floor of the building was devoted to tea and coffee.  It had the most modern coffee roasting and tea blending equipment in B.C.  [PHOTO: VPL 11553  – 1929]

Today the Malkin Building is home to the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant and Michelle’s Import Plus.  The upper floors have been converted to residential live/work studios.

Old Spaghetti Factory

Michelle’s Import Plus LTD