One of my favourite things to do on a weekend afternoon combines my love of craft beer with my love of local history. This often takes the form of a historical walking tour followed by a stop for a beer. In the case of the recently opened Andina Brewing Company – located at 1507 Powell Street in East Van’s old Cedar Cove district – I can save my feet from getting blisters by combining the two in a single stop.
Section of fire insurance plan showing the Martin-Senour Paint Factory (COV Archives, Map 599)
Never heard of Cedar Cove? That’s ok. Neither had I before I started writing this piece, and I have lived in this city all my life. The area of Burrard Inlet to the east of Andina was historically named Cedar Cove due mainly to the fact that there were a number of lumber mills and cedar shingles being produced there since the late 1800’s. It is bounded on the north side by Burrard Inlet and the CPR right of way and includes the strip of mixed-use industrial buildings along Powell Street going west to Clark Drive, East Hastings Street to the south, and as far east as Kamloops Street.
With its bright yellow, corrugated metal exterior, Andina Brewing – founded by Colombian/Canadian brothers, Nicolás and Andrés Amaya – is a bright spot in this industrial zone at the corner of Powell and McLean. The brightness continues inside the tasting room. A mix of modern and industrial, the 112-year-old factory/warehouse space is warmed by the extensive use of wood, a nod to the history of the building and neighbourhood. Like most Vancouver buildings of the same era and ilk, large wooden posts and beams support the ceilings and a second floor. Large windows along the front of the tasting room allow visitors to view the endless stream of traffic along Powell Street. As the Number 4 Powell bus passes, one can almost imagine the BCER streetcar that used to travel along Powell taking workers to their jobs in Cedar Cove. I imagine those same workers would have appreciated the opportunity to grab a cold glass of beer after a long workday.
The history of the location dates back to 1904 when Alfred J. Burton applied to the city for a building permit and for water service. His plan? A factory to house the ‘AJ Burton Saw Works Co. Ltd.’. By 1905 the company was up and running, servicing the area’s and the city’s numerous lumber mills. Andina co-owner Nicolás Amaya told me that during construction they discovered an original brick floor and old industrial saw blades buried under several layers of concrete – evidence of the building’s first occupants.
AJ Burton Saw Works advertisement from 1905 (1905 City Directory)
As Vancouver’s main industrial thrust began to move away from a purely resource-based model, so did the type of industry that occupied this location. After being dormant from 1915 to 1917, the factory at 1507 Powell Street was reborn as a paint manufacturing facility when the ‘Martin-Senour Paint Co. Ltd.’ moved in. Evidence of its activity is still visible inside the production areas of the building today with support posts splattered with caked-on paint (see photo below).
In 1920 extensive renovations commissioned by Martin-Senour, including the addition of a second floor, took place, turning the building into much of what we see today. Andina’s brewing area is very similar to the interior structure visible in the old photos of the Martin-Senour paint factory. Instead of large vats of paint and varnish of yesterday, imagine vats of beer today.
Composite of 1505 Powell as Martin-Senour Paint factory in 1919/20. (VPL Special Collections Accession #s: 20969, 20746, 20747, 20748)
For the next twenty years, the Martin-Senour Paint Co. was the sole occupant of the building. In 1940 Martin-Senour’s parent company, ‘Sherwin-Williams’, and the ‘Canada Paint Co.’ started to share the factory. It got even more crowded in 1955, when ‘Green Cross Insecticides Products’ joined the paint factory party. This heady mix of chemical producers ended in 1958 and the factory building was left unoccupied for two years until ‘Factory Sales Service Ltd.’ (manufacturing agents) took over the space for the next 31 years. Considering the evolution of industry output in Vancouver (nature-made to man-made), it is fitting then that the final occupant of 1507 Powell prior to Andina Brewing was a plastics fabricating firm called ‘Peregrine Plastics’. They moved into the space in 1995 and stayed for 20 years.
After visiting the bar to place your order and sitting down at a table (both the bar and table tops are made of wood reclaimed from the building) with your glass of brew, may I suggest you face the window and consider the history of the 115-year old, 4-story rooming house across the street. According to the building permit registry the structure was designed for owner Samuel Flack (manager of Flack Estate and Investments) by the architectural firm of Townsend & Townsend. Built as the Wicklow Hotel, it is listed in the city directories as the Jesse P. Flint Rooming House. Jesse P. Flint lived down the block from Andina, in a home at 1547 Powell. The rooming house was ostensibly built to shelter the single male workers that worked in the various industries of Cedar Cove, as was the Princeton Hotel built the same year in 1912 down the street at Powell & Victoria Drive.
While you wait for your order of ceviche to arrive to your table, try to call to mind the time when the Andina building was a saw works (ca. 1912). In addition to lumber mills; there were other nearby businesses like the BC Vinegar works factory, a casket factory, Ross & Howard Iron Works, P. Burns & Co. Packing House (abattoir and cold storage), and the massive BC Sugar Refinery complex. Cedar Cove was not only bustling with industry and offices, but was also home to a number of Vancouverites from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Dotted amongst the businesses mentioned above were services such as stores, restaurants, laundries and banks. It was a lively and thriving industrial community.
This area is currently home to numerous local breweries and tasting rooms, with Andina being just the latest addition. But it should be noted that this is not a recent phenomenon. Cedar Cove has a long history involving the production and consumption of beer…
1889 Advertisement for Columbia Brewery (1889 City Directory)
Cedar Cove was home to one of Vancouver’s first breweries. Columbia Brewery operated at 1973 Powell Street near Wall Street, roughly where the McDonald’s is located today. According to Chuck Davis’s Greater Vancouver Book the Columbia Brewery was founded in 1889, apparently growing out of the city’s first beer garden, Columbia Hall. Prior to 1910, the BCER streetcar did not run east of Victoria Drive. People taking public transportation to attend events at Hastings Park had to trek two kilometres on foot from the end of the line to the park and back. A refreshing beer would have been a welcome relief, making the walk all the more worthwhile. Sadly, beer production at Columbia Brewery had ceased by 1912.
Eastern portion of Cedar Cove north of Powell Street in 1920. (COV Archives, PAN N239)
Fortunately, we don’t have to travel too far to enjoy a nice cold beverage today. Which reminds me, perhaps it’s time to wrap up this Cedar Cove historical “walking” tour and wander the 3 metres over to the bar and order another glass of Andina’s finest…