Local History Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 17 – Heritage Hall

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.

1917 view of Postal Station C, aka Heritage Hall. Photo: Stuart Thomson, COV Archives, CVA 99-356

Heritage Hall is a grand landmark building, standing nobly on the rise from Broadway.  The federal government purchased the land as the location for the future Postal Station  ‘C’ in 1912. At that time local boosters believed that Mount Pleasant would become a bustling commercial centre. But it never happened.

Postal Station ‘C’, designed by A. Campbell  Hope, with David Ewart as chief architect, was completed in 1916. The ornate Edwardian style building was built using local stone from Haddington and Denman Islands. The impressive bell in the clock tower was built by the J. B. Joyce & Company Ltd of Whitchurch, England (makers of London’s Big Ben). 

Heritage Hall in 2022 after extensive renovations. Photo: C. Hagemoen

For seven decades the building contained various federal government offices. It served as a postal station from 1916 to 1922. From 1922 to 1962, it was known as the Dominion Agriculture Building. After that, the building housed the RCMP Forensic Lab and Criminal Records Section from 1965 to 1976.  

The building stood vacant for 7 years and was allowed to fall into disuse before an alliance of community groups stepped in to save the  structure. In March 1982, a non-profit organization named the Main Source Management Society was formed to restore the building and re-open it as a community and cultural centre. Today, under City ownership, the designated heritage structure continues to serve as a gathering place, office space for community organizations (like the Mount Pleasant BIA & Vancouver Heritage Foundation), and historic landmark for the community. 

Extensive exterior renovation of Heritage Hall was funded by the City of Vancouver in 2020/21, the clock-tower was seismically upgraded, the clock refurbished and an automatic winder was installed (from 9am to 9pm you can hear the clock bell chime on the hour). In addition, a new tile roof with grey slate from Quebec was installed and the decorative copper was entirely replaced with stunning new copper forged in Chicago.

The COV Heritage Plaque on the exterior. Photo: C.Hagemoen

You can find more 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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