BC Archives A-05554
From the British Colonist, October 9, 1891, page
5: "The Hotel Janion. Another creditable and commodious hotel,
The Janion, has lately been completed, and is now ready to receive guests.
The hotel is situated in one of the most convenient parts of the city,
being close to the railway station, the passenger wharves, and the tramway
line. From, the upper flats of the hotel can be had a magnificent view
of the harbour and the Straits, out as far as Race Rocks. The lower
flat consists of a medium sized bar-room, in which will be a good sized
game room, a large, airy dining room,with a very fine kitchen attached,
a store, a reading-room, and three or four other rooms for general use.
The Janion Hotel was built for $25,000, opened in October 1891 and operated as a hotel for only 2 years. A Daily Colonist ad introduced the hotel by stating "...electric light in every room, water view from every window, washrooms on every floor and all white cooks in the (restaurant) kitchen". By 1895 the E&N Railway had purchased it and used the south west corner of the building for its station and offices. A portion of the building was leased to the B. Wilson Co. for cold storage uses (coolers still exist in the basement). A few companies used the building as offices over the years until the Northern Junk Company bought the building, in the 1950's, to use for storage. The owner of the Northern Junk Company died in the 1970's. His widow, Clara (Trixie) Kramer, let the building become very derelict and still owned it until its sale in June 2012. Today it was announced that a Vancouver firm has purchased the building for $2.5 million with plans for 100 micro apartments.
The Globe & Mail June 17, 2012
The building has been vacant now for almost 35 years the only known occupant in that time, a squatter protesting against homelessness in the city. He was evicted by police in protective gear who used tear gas to flush him from a reinforced room after a day-long standoff six years ago.
The building has been the subject of another standoff between a long-time owner, who applied for a demolition permit, and the city, which responded by proclaiming heritage designation to prevent destruction.
The building now has a new owner, as a Vancouver development company purchased the building for $2.49-million. Two years ago, the same developer bought from the same vendor two nearby abandoned commercial buildings, known as Northern Junk.
Now, Reliance Properties will be renovating the historic buildings and constructing a new retail and residential complex. These will flank the downtown end of the Blue Bridge, which itself is being replaced.
The Janion has some serious problems as a dilapidated building, said Reliance president Jon Stovell. The walls and the foundations are generally sound. Thats the key. Once those are gone, you cant bring a building back.
Reliance is a major landowner in Vancouvers historic Gastown neighbourhood. The company plans to restore the exterior of the Janion. The interior will be refitted to house as many as 100 micro-lofts, compact living quarters that have been compared to the size of two parking stalls. The micro-lofts in the companys Burns Block development in Vancouver range in size from 270 to 350 square feet, featuring galley kitchens and pull-down wall beds.
Micro-lofts are not a whole lot different than its hotel history, Mr. Stovell said. Itll be a hive again, housing lots of people.
The Janion opened as a railroad hotel with 48 bedrooms. The Daily Colonist pronounced it a creditable and commodious hotel, noting every room was to be lit by electricity. The proprietors offered Sunday chicken dinners for 25 cents, promising in paid advertisements only white cooks employed.
The hotel lacked a liquor licence, limiting prospects in rough-and-tumble Victoria, still then the provinces commercial centre.
Less than a year after the first guest checked in, the sheriff held a cash auction at the hotel to disperse carpets, stoves and the contents of bedroom suites. Barroom furniture also went under the hammer for a hotel that sold nothing stronger than carbonated soda.
The building was then used as a warehouse, an assayers office, a cold storage facility, and, briefly, as the bottling plant for Pacific Beer, an ironic development considering its construction as a temperance hotel. For many years, the old building housed the offices of the Lake of the Woods Milling Co. and the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, whose terminus was just outside the front door.
The sale of the Janion is welcome news for preservationists. Others are keen to learn whether the Janions basement houses tunnels beneath Store Street to Chinatown, a persistent bit of urban lore.