Coast Dry Cleaners, 2543 East Hastings, 1930-2012
Last summer this ghost sign was revealed briefly before the building was demolished as part of London Drug’s expansion. I did some poking around in the old city directories on VPL’s website and this is what I found.
Coast Dry Cleaners was opened in 1930 by Richard Ravenscroft, Jason Patience, and Helen Feltus. Helen was a widow and lived with Jason Patience at 935 Woodland Drive.
At first I thought they might have been romantically involved, but in 1934 Jason’s wife Georgina was included in the listing. Jason owned the house and was listed as a fisherman, except for 1932 when mechanic is given as his occupation.
Richard’s residence was the same as Coast Dry Cleaners, which might mean an apartment upstairs or in the back. In 1934 his wife Catherine is also listed. I checked the vital stats records and it turns out that Richard married Catherine Patience in 1923, so likely Jason and Richard were brothers-in-law. For the first few years, Richard is listed as a salesman for Swift’s, a meat store on Water Street. In 1931, the Coast listing only mentions Richard and Helen, and in 1932, Richard is the sole proprietor and presumably was able to quit his job at Swift’s.
The online directories only go up to 1952, and Coast is still there, but by then it’s owned by J Koshley. Beginning in 1940, the business is listed as “Coast Cleaners,” which could mean that this sign dates to the 1930s.
This may not be the most riveting history, but it does tell the story of starting up a viable East Vancouver business in the early days of the Great Depression, which couldn’t have been easy. It’s also the type of small business of which there are fewer and fewer each year in Vancouver, and it’s worthwhile to stop once in a while and acknowledge the changing landscape.
Thanks to Mike Sidić for submitting the photo.