1116 Government Street

Date of construction: 1882, alterations 1909

Architect for alterations: Thomas Hooper

1116 Government StreetJohn Smeaton had this two storey brick shop built at a cost of $2,000. The building was noted as a dry goods store in a plumbing permit dated February 28, 1895.  The name at this time was the Westside.

In 1907, this location was the home of the Ideal Shoe Store and Sea & Gowan- men’s furnishings. ┬áThe December 3, 1908 British Colonist reported that ” an important deal has just been consummated whereby E. A. Morris, tobacconist, has purchased the premises now occupied by the Ideal Shoe Company, on Government street, between Fort street and Bastion street. As soon as the latter concern moves out, Mr. Morris will proceed with the fitting up of his new premises, which will compare favorably with the elaborate and expensive fittings of his Vancouver store.”

The Ideal Shoe Store’s last day of business was October 30, 1909 and the extensive renovations began thereafter.

The interior was designed to emulate a High Victorian gentleman’s club. The doorway is of Mexican onyx and the domed leaded window above blends with the interior ceiling mirrors, making the store seem larger than it is. In the centre of the floor is an electrolier on an onyx pedestal. During the renovation, the original counters were replaced with mahogany ones. The exterior features glazed brick on the upper storey and a fine name plate. The interior is still remarkably intact, virtually unchanged since 1910. A visit is like walking into an early 20th century store.

Today, E. A. Morris Tobacconist still occupies this space, although changes to local bylaws have made some signage changes necessary.


This Hallmark Heritage Society project was funded by the HBC Foundation and the BC150-Heritage Legacy Fund

Project manager and researcher: Helen Edwards

Principal Photography & Consultant: Ron Bukta, West Ventures Photography