Historical building wiped out in downtown fire

The Northcoast Anglers building, which burned April 13, carried nearly 100 years of history in the Terrace B.C. downtown.

  • Apr. 15, 2017 7:00 p.m.
The Northcoast Anglers’ building in the mid-1950s when it housed the Mary-Lynne Shoppe

The Northcoast Anglers’ building in the mid-1950s when it housed the Mary-Lynne Shoppe

By: Kelsey Wiebe

The Northcoast Anglers building was nearly 100 years old.

It was originally built in 1919 or 1921 as the Bank of Montreal. According to Yvonne Moen and Helen Haselmeyer in This Old House, the building was built by Ed Eby in the fall of 1919. Old-timer Ken Kerr, however, recalled the bank being built in 1921 in an oral history. Lloyd Johnstone, who later became the mayor of Terrace, also recalls the bank being built in 1921.

Either way, the building was approaching 100 years when it burned down on Thursday morning. The first bank manager, E.W. Marenette, lived in an upstairs apartment.

The Bank of Montreal operated through the 1920s and into the 1930s, when business slowed down too much during the Depression and ‘the bank got out fast,’ according to early Terrace resident Mary Harris. The bank closed in the mid-1930s, and Lloyd Johnstone lamented the bankless state of Terrace from the 1930s to 1947. His hardware store cashed cheques in the store for their customers, and they had to send all of their business banking to Prince Rupert by mail.

After its tenure as a bank, 3217 Kalum Street was converted into a Chinese restaurant by ‘Little Joe,’ a Chinese man whose full name hasn’t been remembered, as is often the case with Chinese Canadians in Canadian history. Mary Harris remembers that Little Joe’s (officially called Montreal Restaurant) was where local girls would go for coffee.

The building later served as a dress shop under several different names. In the 1950s, the Mary-Lynne Shoppe sold ‘Ladies’ Ready-to-Wear.’ There are many rumours around Terrace that the upstairs of the building served as a brothel at some point during the dress shop days, although no one will (so far) commit to details.

Later still, an outdoor sports store operated in the building. Bert Goulet ran it in the 1970s as Terrace Sporting Goods.

In the 1980s, it was the Northwest Sportsman, and, most recently, the Northcoast Anglers.

The loss of this building means the loss of an important part of the community’s built history. It was one of a quickly dwindling number of heritage buildings left in our ever-changing community, and had important stories to tell about community history, social history, and business history.