Local History Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 16 – DePencier House

It’s back! I has been 3 years since I published my last Local History Advent Calendar! So much has happened since that last time—including the publication of my first book, Mount Pleasant Stories—that I figured it was about time to dust off the Local History Advent Calendar once again. Similar to a regular advent calendar but instead of chocolate treats, each day you “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder– 24 facts or stories about local history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

DePencier house in 1940. Photo: CoV Archives, CVA 136-524

This Victorian house originally sat facing Main Street (then Westminster Avenue) and is one of the oldest remaining houses in Mount Pleasant. 

It was built in 1889 for early Mount Pleasant settlers, Henry (d. 1909) and Mary (d. 1896) DePencier, who lived here with their children and a domestic servant named Sarah Lowe. Henry DePencier was a grocery retailer whose store was located next door to his home. Giving up the retail trade, DePencier later worked as manager for North Pacific Lumber Co. and briefly, in 1891, a City of Vancouver councillor. 

This structure was shifted to its present location (151 East 8th Ave) to make room for the construction of the Royal Bank in 1912.  In addition to being a residential property (upstairs), a variety of businesses have occupied the ground floor–including the production facility for Mount Pleasant’s iconic Bain’s Chocolates’. Every day Campbell Munro would get up at 5 AM to make chocolates here for his Triangle Building store. He could be seen crossing Main Street at 8th balancing trays of chocolates in his arms. Munro died in 2004 at the age of 94 after over 66 years as proprietor of Bain’s Chocolates. 

DePencier House from inside the old Nice Cafe ca. 2018. Photo: C. Hagemoen

In the 1930s-50s, Broadway Printers and the Mount Pleasant News were operating out of the converted house. More recently several restaurants have taken up the main tenancy, including Wink Vegetarian Café, Eight 1/2 (operated by another Vancouver councillor, Mike Wiebe), and since 2020, Side Hustle Sandwiches. Sadly, it was just announced that Side Hustle will be closing in January 2023.

The tiny storefront (155 East 8th) attached to DePencier house is the home of Dandy Barber since 2017.

Side Hustle’s original take out window May 2020. Photo: C. Hagemoen

You can find this and other Mount Pleasant stories in my walking tour book, Mount Pleasant Stories. Copies are available for purchase in Mount Pleasant at Pulpfiction Books – 2422 Main Street and in Chinatown at Massy Books – 229 E Georgia St. It makes a great gift or stocking stuffer for your favourite local history buff!

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