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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

L.D. Taylor and the History of Taylor Manor

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The Tudor Revival-style Taylor Manor built in 1915.


Thanks to a $30 million anonymous donation last month, Taylor Manor will get a much needed facelift and provide housing for 56 people with mental health issues, currently living on the streets of Vancouver.

It’s an amazingly generous gift that not only helps the homeless, but it also breathes life into a beautiful old heritage building.

The City built the Tudor Revival-style house in 1915 as a dormitory for destitute seniors and named it the Vancouver Old People’s Home. When it opened it had separate entrances for men and women.

L.D. Taylor, Vancouver’s serial mayor. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives.

In 1946, it was renamed Taylor Manor after L.D. Taylor, Vancouver’s serial mayor. L.D. is still the most elected mayor in our history, winning nine elections, losing seven, and serving eight terms between 1910 and 1934.  A picture of L.D. shows him as a slight looking, bland little man in owlish glasses. He was actually a bigamist and a flamboyant risk taker known for his trademark red tie and cigar. He published and edited the BC Mining Record, the Oil and Mining Record and the Critic, a paper on public issues. In 1905, he bought the Vancouver World newspaper from Sara McLagan, the sister of noted architect Samuel Maclure.

The Sun Tower: the highest building in the British Empire at the time it was constructed.

In keeping with his mega ambitions, in 1912 L.D. built a 17-storey Beaux-Arts building to house his newspaper. It was the highest building in the British Empire at the time, and caused a minor scandal for its nine near-naked women sculpted by Charles Marega.

The owners of the Vancouver Sun bought the building in 1937, and it’s been known as the Sun Tower ever since.

According to Daniel Francis’s highly readable biography, L.D. was an American-born accountant, who left his wife and young son in Chicago and headed for Vancouver in 1896 after he was accused of fraud.

Despite this shaky start, L.D. was a popular mayor. He supported the progressive idea of an eight-hour work day, universal suffrage for women and city planning. During his watch, L.D. oversaw the opening of the Vancouver International Airport and the Burrard Street bridge.

He had a relaxed approach to gambling, bootlegging and prostitution. In 1924, he told a Province reporter that he didn’t believe that it was the mayor’s job to make Vancouver a “Sunday school town.”

Although Taylor lends his name to Taylor Manor, he never lived there. In 1917 he lived on the top floor of the Caroline Court at the corner of Thurlow and Nelson in the West End. By 1920, he moved to what was once the Granville Mansions at Robson and Granville, where he lived in rather meagre circumstances until his death in 1946 at age 88.


Eve Lazarus is a freelance writer with a passion for history and heritage houses. She is the author of At Home with History: the secrets of Greater Vancouver’s Heritage Houses, a member of the North Vancouver District Heritage Commission, and blogs obsessively about buildings and their genealogies at Her next book with house stories of Victoria’s murders, ghosts, brothels, artists and sea captains (not necessarily in that order) will be published this fall.