Dominion, The

Welcome to the Vancouver Lexicon. Its purpose is to pin down the patois of the City of Vancouver by recording its toponyms, nicknames, slang terms, personalities, places, and other Van-centric things. Full A-Z here.

Dominion, The | architecture, historical | A much-loved Vancouver landmark. “The Dominion” is situated at the heart of the city’s first commercial district (formerly Courthouse Square, now Victory Square). Built from 1908 – 1910, the triangular, terra cotta-clad beauty was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by J. S. Helyer & Son. It is considered to be Vancouver’s first steel-frame, Chicago-style high-rise and was once (for a short period at least) the tallest building in the entire British Empire. It is 10-storeys high (53 meters) and built around a central spiral staircase.

The Dominion under construction | Photo: George Barrowclough, CoV Archives, CVA 229-03

Despite being constructed during Vancouver’s early boom-period, it was difficult for the original owners, the Imperial Trust Company, to raise the total $600,000 needed to complete the building project. After a fundraising public bond scheme failed, the Imperial Trust Co. was forced to enter into a merger with the Dominion Trust Company, who took over ownership of the building while it was still under construction. The Dominion is included in the Canadian Register for Historic Places (CRHP) and is a provincially designated Class “A” heritage structure.

Despite popular belief, The Dominion’s architect J.S. Helyer never fell to his death during the building’s opening party in 1910, so it’s unlikely that his ghost haunts the building. In actual fact, Helyer went on to design many more buildings in Vancouver. He died of a stroke in 1919.

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Usage: “Though it looks like its offices would rented by accountants and lawyers, The Dominion is actually stuffed full of artists, writers and other highly creative types…”

 

 

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