Remembering Mayor Taylor

Posted by Daniel on Jul 4, 2012

The media revealed last week that a generous Vancouver couple have agreed to donate $30 million so that Taylor Manor, a former residence for the destitute elderly at the eastern edge of the city, can be refurbished as a home for the homeless.

Until the announcement I'm sure most people had never heard of Taylor Manor. I wouldn't have either, except that a few years ago I wrote a book about the building's namesake, Louis D. Taylor, the city's longest-serving mayor. Taylor was mayor for eight terms between 1910 and 1934. He was also a newspaper publisher; as owner/editor of the World from 1905 to 1915 he built the World Tower, better known today as the Sun Tower, once the tallest building in the British Commonwealth, at the corner of West Pender and Beatty.

I'm not sure how involved Taylor was in the origins of Taylor Manor. It opened in 1915 as the Old People's Home to house the indigent elderly, mainly single men from the downtown. Taylor was mayor that year, but the facility had been in the planning stages for a while so I wouldn't want to give him too much credit.

At any rate, the place was renamed Taylor Manor in 1946, the same year Louis died at the age of 88. The new name was considered more attractive than Old People's Home, which I guess it was, but it was also appropriate. Taylor himself was near destitute for much of his later life. He was a good politician but didn't seem to have much of a knack for earning an income. He lived by himself in a room in an apartment building that once stood on the corner of Robson and Granville (it was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the Eatons Centre mall) and he got by largely on a weekly stipend provided by a group of well-wishers.

I hope when the new facility reopens Taylor's name will be retained, or at least remembered somehow.