Homeless in Vancouver: Ed Chapman’s two o’clock shadows

The sun seemed to beam with especial favour yesterday (June 8) on the Edward Chapman Woman store on South Granville.

And I have some photos to prove that I thought so.

Sunlight aside, the clothier’s building on the northeast corner of South Granville Street and 10th Avenue is interesting in its own right.

The two-storey brick building at 2590 Granville Street was originally built in 1928 and underwent extensive restoration in 1970 when Edward Chapman Ladies’ Shop Limited took over the ground floor retail space at 2596.

In 2009 the store rebranded itself as Edward Chapman Woman (ECW), ostensibly to offer its existing customer base of older women younger clothing styles.

Stanley Q. Woodvine
Stanley Q. Woodvine

The beautifully restored building boasts two second story tenants whose windows bears lettering that, if not real gold leaf, is meant to look the part, in keeping with the period architecture. Sadly neither of the businesses is “Spade and Archer”.

A parking meter on 10th Avenue looks up at the camera.
Stanley Q. Woodvine

ECW is more than just a store among stores on an upscale shopping strip. In its 44 years in the same location on South Granville, it has now served at least two generations of customers, making it a South Granville tradition handed down from mothers to their daughters.

A tale of one store, two families

ECW’s history actually precedes its 1970 South Granville location by some 80 years. It is a direct descendant of the original Vancouver men’s and women’s clothing store started by Mr. Edward Chapman in 1890 and run by Mssrs Chapman and Ernest Rea.

After Chapman’s death in 1938, Rea took over majority control of the business with the Chapman family retaining a minority interest.

A 1959 reorganization saw the Chapman family take control of the menswear business while the Rea family continued operating the women’s wear business through a new corporation: “Edward Chapman Ladies’ Shop Limited”.

The two legally separate Chapman companies cooperated on buying and marketing until 1982 when the Chapman family opened a women’s wear shop called “Chapy’s”. In 2002, the Chapman family signaled its intent to drop “Chapy’s” and sell women’s wear under the Chapman name.

The two families ended up in court and in 2007 a judge upheld the Rea family’s legal right to exclusive use of the Chapman name for selling women’s wear. The Chapman family could sell women’s wear under the Chapman name only if “Chapy’s” was equally prominent.

In 2009 the president-CEO of the four-store chain of Edward Chapman Women was John Rea, a direct descendant of Chapman co-founder Ernest Rea. And two of Ernest’s granddaughters, Nancy Lyall and Kathy Jenkins, were the chain’s principal garment and jewellery buyers respectively.

If there are still Chapman family menswear stores, I can’t find them.

The east side of the 2500 block of South Granville is book-ended by two classic buildings. The 1928 ECW building is on the south end and an even more historic three-storey office building sits at the north end of the block: 1490 West Broadway. Built in 1930 and designed by the architects Townley & Matheson, it was originally called the Dick Building after William Dick, a Vancouver business man and elected member of the provincial legislature.

An older building from 1925 sits smack between them, but it has been modernized to the point of dullness. 

The back of the Chapman building looks a bit alarming but I think it’s safe.
Stanley Q. Woodvine
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