When looking at the history of Lower Lonsdale, the Aberdeen Block at 88 Lonsdale Ave. and the Bank of Hamilton Chambers at 92 Lonsdale Ave. must be viewed together. These landmark brick-faced buildings with sandstone trim were built in 1910 and 1911 by the same architectural firm of Mills and Hutton from Hamilton, Ontario and they immediately stood out from the predominantly wooden structures in the area.
Firstly, The Aberdeen Block (originally The Keith Block as noted by a large âKâ carved into the sandstone shield over the entrance) was home to the North Vancouver Post Office in 1911 and 1912, City Hall in 1914 and a British Columbia Electric Railway office. The BCER supplied electrical power to North Vancouver from their Buntzen Lake hydroelectric plant, and this office is where customers would come to pay their bills. Another original tenant, occupying the ground floor was the North Vancouver institution, Paine Hardware. It would remain operating in this location until New Year’s Eve of 1998 when it was gutted by fire. Right until the end, with floor to ceiling wooden shelves, an oak counter with vintage cash register and oiled wood floors, entering Paine’s was like stepping back in time. After the fire, the West and South facades would be all that remained in reconstructing the building. Today The Aberdeen Block is home to condos and among other businesses, Spa Deja Vu.
Directly North of The Aberdeen is the Bank of Hamilton Chambers (later the Bank of Commerce Chambers) on the Southeast corner of Lonsdale and 1st Ave. With it’s unique entrance at a 45 degree angle to the corner, this beautiful three-story edifice currently houses Obsession Bikes on it’s ground floor. Originally home to the Bank of Hamilton as well as medical practitioners in the upper floors, it would in 1933 be the location of the first electric passenger elevator not only on the North Shore, but the entire Lower Mainland.
As it did over a century ago, this handsome pair of buildings remains an integral and visually appealing part of the Lower Lonsdale community fabric.