Hastings West Historic Walk – Part 6 | Hastings at Granville

Hastings West Historic Walk Route - the pin marks the location of 2nd CPR building

Our Vancouver Heritage Foundation‘s Historic Walking Tour of Hastings West resumed it’s regular route back onto Hastings Street after making to take a peek at Waterfront Station.

Birks Clock

We stood on the southwest corner of Hastings and Granville.  On the southeast corner, there is Birks Clock.  This classic landmark for a time sat at the corner of Granville and Georgia.  It was removed completely in 2006 for Canada Line construction along Granville Street.  It was re-installed at Hastings and Granville in 2009 as Canada Line construction wrapped up.

There is apparently a saying that goes like: “I’ll meet you under the Birks Clock.”  I’m not sure where that comes from, but it is a handy landmark to find and meet folks under.  I’m pretty certain people my age and younger have heard that phrase.  I remember $1.49 Woodward’s jingles but not much about the Birks Clock.

Kitty corner from our spot stands the grand temple bank building of the Royal Bank Building. This is one temple bank building that is still occupied by it’s original owner.  We crossed the intersection to get into the bank.  Maurice really encouraged us to step into the lobbies of some of these buildings because the real wow factor is sometimes on the inside.

Royal Bank Building - a temple bank on Hastings and Granville

The RBC Building definitely has a big wow factor on the inside.  Because it is still a fully operational bank, photography is not permitted inside.  Let me give you a rundown of what I saw.  The first thing that struck me is how tall the ceilings are in the main hall.  The ceiling was easily three stories above the floor.  The ceiling was decorated with what look like images sculpted into the ceiling.  However, upon closer inspection, it is all an optical illusion.  Maurice said this kind of imitation is called a “trompe l’oeil,” which literally in French means “deceive the eye.”  Even though there looks to be a buttress flying up even higher, it is simply painted that way to give the impression.  The images of people are painted to give the sense that they stand out.  Shadows are painted to give the impression that the lights are actually striking a three-dimensional object.

There is a small photo exhibit off to the corner of the main hall that shows historic photos of the building itself and the surrounding area. Below the main hall in the basement is the busy part of this bank.  This is where the daily banking still happens in this grand building.  Tellers stand serving customers behind the old counters from the previous century. This building is really worth re-entering when I have a chance.

Further reading:

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