Edgar George Baynes and William McLeod Horie were partners in a construction business they started in 1893, and were responsible for constructing over a hundred of the city’s building. They weren’t just content to build other people’s projects; E G Baynes in particular developed a series of commercial projects and houses. They invariably built their earlier buildings without the involvement of an architect, so appear as developer, architect and builder on many Building Permits.
Baynes has a significantly higher public profile, although Horie was the older of the two. Horie’s name suggests he was of Scottish extraction – and several generations back this is true – his grandfather was born on Orkney in about 1794. His grandparents moved initially to Nova Scotia with their first child, Mary (born in Scotland), to River Philip where they had five more children including William’s father Joseph. They then moved to Port Daniel in Quebec where two more children were born and their family grew up. Joseph married Melinda Ramier, a Port Daniel native in her home town in August 1857. Over a period of 23 years they had ten children, including William – the oldest, born either in 1857 (family records) or in 1858, a year after his parents married (his birth date in the 1891 census) – or a year after that (1901 census)
We know from family records that William Horie came to British Columbia in May 1889. He was a carpenter, and had married Mary Lawrence in October 1887. His son Roy is shown as being born in August 1889 in Quebec, so perhaps Mary joined him a little later and daughter Edna in British Columbia in December 1890. From their arrival in Vancouver the family continued to grow, Alfred was born in 1891, Harold in 1893, Frank in 1895, Maxwell in 1898, Gordon in 1901, Ivan in 1903 and Dorothy in 1906.
Edgar Baynes was born in September 1870 in Bocking, Essex. His family were farmers – and pretty successful ones if his parents subsequent move to Broxted Hall in Dunmow is any indication. He was the oldest of at least six children (from the 1881 UK census) and left school ‘early’ to join his uncle’s building and contracting firm. How early isn’t clear – but he arrived in BC in 1889 with his uncle, J A Franklin, having learned his trade as a builder. A 1914 biography of Edgar says they worked together for a couple of years, then he moved to the Squamish valley as a rancher (which probably explains his absence from the 1891 Census) before returning to Vancouver in about 1893 where he returned to being a builder, and teamed up with William Horie. Family records say it was actually a homestead up the Cheakamus River, upstream from Squamish, and that he rowed there from Coal Harbour to establish his claim.
He married an Ontario native, Margaret McAlpine in April 1899 when he was 28 and she was 25. They had four children, Doris Lillian born in 1903, Jean Hetty in 1904, George Edgar in 1907 and Margaret Anderson in 1908.
Both men were active trade unionists and served on the executive of the carpenters’ union in the 1890s. They could tackle building both framed and masonry buildings. They later added poured in place concrete construction to the methods they adopted – some of the earliest in the city. Two of the earlier buildings they built that are still standing are the 1902 $7,000 brick and stone store designed by Thomas Parr for T McWhinnie, and the adjacent $12,000 buildings built in the same year for Borland and Brown and designed by Parr and Fee.
In that same year they built a small brick store building on Main Street for $2,500 for themselves. They were also already picking up contracts from some important clients – BC Electric Railway Co had them build a wood and iron building on Barnard Street, and further larger contracts followed in later years. They picked up other important public clients like the Park Commission and the School Board, and the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1905 the built another larger building for their own investment purposes on the corner of Howe and West Pender Streets.
Their contracting work expanded dramatically, in 1909 they had over $200,000 worth of contracts, and in 1912 11 projects worth over $475,000.
The company were involved in public works – in particular they erected the arch into Stanley Park. Edgar Baynes would become an active Parks Commissioner in later years.
As well as the projects developed by Baynes and Horie for themselves, Edgar Baynes increasingly invested in real estate on his own account. We’re assuming the projects recorded as being for for Edmund Baynes and Edward Baynes are his too – it’s fairly certain he was known as ‘Ed’ Baynes (and Mr Horie as ‘Will’) from conversations recorded by Major Matthews in the early Vancouver Archives, and there were no Edward or Edmund Baynes in Vancouver. In 1910 Baynes and Horie built this W F Jones designed building for E Baynes on the corner of Broadway and Alberta
In 1912 Ed Baynes built a $150,000 building on Howe Street, the Grosvenor Hotel.
Although that hotel no longer exists, in the same year he also built a $45,000 commercial building on Powell Street, which he designed and built.
William Horie was also developing in 1912; he built a 4-storey warehouse on Howe Street that year which cost $50,000, and was built by the partners. It was only demolished in the 2010s to make way for Vancouver House, the condo tower that leans over Granville Bridge.
A couple of years later Ed Baynes had Sharp and Thompson design a number of houses which he built on West 42nd Avenue, two of which are still standing.
In the mid 1920s Ed built Vancouver’s first parking garage on Water Street, leased to Nagle Brothers. In 2009 it was restored and had 3 extra storeys added, but the original poured concrete structure looked like this before that significant change to the building’s appearance.
In 1926 they developed the Harbour Block on Alexander Street.
Ed Baynes had been the president of Vancouver Builder’s Exchange from 1908 to 1912, and a member of the Vancouver Park Commission from 1924 to 1939. He was Parks Board Commissioner from 1924 to 1928 and had a term as chairman of property and sites committee, during which time he took part in acquiring park areas. As chairman he was involved in a plan to bring Brockton Point Oval up to International Track and Field Standards and installed the organ in Stanley Park Pavillion on October 27, 1946.
Edgar was elected Vice-President of the Vancouver Horticultural Society and Farmer’s Association in 1938. In December 1938 he was voted the Hotel Industry’s “Man of the Month”.
Will Horie died in 1940, but Ed Baynes continued to have a very active presence in the city. In 1942 he revived the road project of Squamish to Vancouver Highway as director of BC Automobile Association.
From 1938, he was a member of Kiwanis Club. He served as the director of the Canadian Club. He was also an honourary member of Vanderhoof Board of Trade and executive member of BC Manufacturers Association. He was also a member of the BC Hotel Association, Vancouver Entertainment Association, Canadian Town Planning Association, and Vancouver Property Owner’s Association. He served as chairman of building and property committee of Vancouver Preventorium for 15 years and also 10 years in the same capacity for the Alexandra Orphanage. He was a member of council of the Board of Trade, warden of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, and President of the Vancouver Historical Society. For 15 years he served on the executive of the Vancouver branch of Canadian Forestry Association. He was also a member of the Terminal Club, Sons of England, Marine Golf and Country Club, and the Vancouver Bowling Club.
Edgar donated an organ to the Pavilion Ballroom in Stanley Park on October 27, 1946. His name was released as the donor in October 1948. He died in 1956.