Leckie Block - Kelowna, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 49° 53.172 W 119° 29.850
11U E 320598 N 5528969
Quick Description: Built as bank and hardware store, this one storey business block became a two story business block within a decade.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 8/25/2020 12:08:04 PM
Waymark Code: WM131F3
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 0

Long Description:
One of the first concrete buildings to be erected in all of British Columbia, this business block was a project of pioneering Kelowna entrepreneur David Leckie. The Leckie Block opened in 1904 as Leckie's Hardware, Kelowna's first hardware store, on one side and the Bank of Montreal on the other. The bank remained in the building until moving to bank owned premises in 1908, at which time Leckie's Hardware expanded into the entire building. Built as a one storey building, a second floor was added in 1911-1912, which explains the date of 1912 seen at the cornice. Not a hardware store for many years now, the building is occupied today by boutique cafés, offices and other small businesses.

David Leckie had come to Canada from England in 1882, landing in Kelowna in 1903. Both David Leckie and his wife, Date, were very active in the community, as well as Knox Presbyterian Church, now First United Church. Leckie served several terms on City Council, contributed to the first hospital and the aquatic centre, and was involved in the cannery business as well. Date was very active in the church. Both Leckie Road and Leckie Place were named in their honour.
Leckie Block
The historic place is the two-storey Leckie Block and the attached two-storey Crowley Block, located at 267-271 Bernard Avenue, a brick-and-concrete commercial structure begun in stages between 1904 and 1912 in Kelowna's original townsite area, near the western edge of Downtown. Both buildings are often referred to simply as the Leckie Block.

The Leckie Block and the attached Crowley Block occupy a significant role in the evolution of Kelowna's Downtown area, for the form and characteristics of the building itself and because of the two high-profile individuals (David Leckie and W.A.C. Bennett) who were associated closely with it.

The association with David Leckie has considerable value because of his many contributions to early Kelowna. Leckie came to Canada in 1882 and arrived in Kelowna in 1903. With considerable capital, he developed this substantial concrete building - originally one storey, with a stone front, comprising the first storey of the left-hand (eastern) portion of the building. It was completed in the summer of 1904, at the onset of Kelowna's second building boom. This was one of the townsites earliest masonry buildings, which began to replace the original wooden structures at this time; and it would have been one of the earliest concrete buildings in British Columbia.

Leckie opened Kelowna's first hardware store, Leckie's Hardware, in the western half of the building. [Likely post-1904; see note above.] The Bank of Montreal, Kelowna's first bank branch, opened with a manager and two assistants in the eastern half of the building in November 1904 - an indication of the beginning of the development boom in the area. The bank moved to its own new building at the northwest corner of Bernard Avenue and Water Street in 1908, and Leckie's business expanded to fill the space vacated. In 1911 a second storey was added to the building, and occupied by offices.

As fitting a prominent businessman, Leckie contributed to his community through his involvement in civic projects, such as the building of the first aquatic facility in City Park and helping finance the first Kelowna General Hospital. He lived nearby at 781 Bernard Avenue, which is also included in the Kelowna Heritage Register. In August 1930 Leckie sold his hardware store to W.A.C. Bennett, who moved to Kelowna after having sold his interest in two hardware stores in Alberta; a timely move, considering conditions in Alberta as the Great Depression deepened. Bennett's hardware business prospered, as he opened branches in other cities. More space was needed for the Kelowna store, and eventually Bennett's took over the adjoining Crowley Block to the west, which had been built in very similar style in 1912.

Bennett, like Leckie, became involved in civic affairs, particularly in efforts to reorganize fruit marketing, which was in considerable difficulty in the 1930s. He then moved into politics, being first elected to the provincial legislature in 1941 and serving as premier of British Columbia from 1952 to 1972. Bennett lived at 1979 Ethel Street; his residence is also included in the Kelowna Heritage Register.

Reflecting the family's long-standing influence in the affairs of the community, Bennett's three children all worked in the hardware business, his sons managing stores until R.J. Bennett became president of the firm and Bill Bennett followed his father into politics in the 1970s. Anita Tozer (W.A.C. Bennett's eldest child and only daughter) took over management of the store from 1985 until its closure.

- Original proportions and composition, indicating its being an early commercial building
- Repetitive window pattern on second floor
- Ground-floor columns that support the masonry above, allowing full commercial glazed storefronts
- Lintels over windows on second floor are flat with brick soldier courses on the left-hand side, and segmentally arched with brick soldier courses on the right-hand side
- Double-hung windows on the left-hand side of the second floor
- Projecting parapet with building name and date
From the Kelowna Heritage Register
Photo goes Here
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

267-271 Bernard Ave
Kelowna, BC
V1Y 6N2

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

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