Helyer, John Shaw

HELYER, John Shaw (1857-1919) was born in at Ryde, Isle of Wight, in 1857 and practiced as an architect in Bournemouth in partnership with Augustus P. Munt from 1890. In 1891 the firm of Helyer & Munt obtained the commission to design a large hotel on The Esplanade, WEYMOUTH, ENG., "on the site of the present Royal Hotel" (Building News [London], lx, 6 March 1891, 348). Their partnership was shortlived, however, and was dissolved in September 1892, and Helyer later took up a position with the government dockyards at Portsmouth. While there, he joined the Royal Institution of Naval Architects in 1899, and worked as boat designer for the yacht building firm of Field & Co. in Southampton.

Helyer emigrated to Canada after 1900 and was one of many architects engaged in architectural work in San Francisco after the earthquake in 1906. He opened an office in Vancouver in 1908 and operated under his own name in 1908-09, then invited his son Maurice Helyer to become a junior partner (1910-11). His best known work in Vancouver was the 13 storey "skyscraper" called the Dominion Trust Tower (1909-10). Reaching almost 200 feet in height, it held the title of the tallest building in the British Empire at the time of its completion. Both he and William H. Archer were in partnership (1912-14), but the deteriorating health of John S. after 1915 eventually led to his death on 29 October 1919 (obituary Vancouver Daily World, 30 Oct. 1919, 3, where he is incorrectly referred to as "John Helmar [sic], Architect"; The Province [Vancouver], 30 Oct. 1919, 25; Sun [Vancouver], 30 Oct. 1919, 2; D. Luxton, Building the West: The Early Architects of British Columbia, 2003, 467, 504).


IMPERIAL TRUST BUILDING (later Dominion Trust Building), West Hastings Street at Cambie Street, 1908-10 (Vancouver Daily World, 22 Aug. 1908, 23, descrip.; 15 Jan. 1909, 19, descrip.; C.R., xxii, 9 Sept. 1908, 25, t.c.; Const., iii, Dec. 1909, 37, illus. in advert; dwgs. Vancouver City Archives)
BOARD OF TRADE BUILDING, Homer Street, 1909 (C.R., xxiii, 24 Feb. 1909, 22; dwgs. at Vancouver City Archives)
EXCHANGE BUILDING, West Hastings Street "...opposite the Astor Hotel", 1909 (Vancouver Daily World, 19 Dec. 1908, 27, illus. & descrip.; 17 March 1909, 12; C.R., xxiii, 31 March 1909, 23; dwgs. Vancouver City Archives)
METROPOLITAN BUILDING, West Hastings Street at Hornby Street, 1910-11; demol. (Vancouver Daily World, 5 April 1910, 18, descrip.; C.R., xxiv, 20 April 1910, 26; dwgs. at Vancouver City Archives)
WEST PENDER STREET, at Burrard Street, commercial block for Arthur E. McEvoy and E.W. MacLean, 1910 (C.R., xxiv, 26 Jan. 1910, 23)


KITSILANO, B.C., store and apartment block for J.E. McLean, 1911-12 (C.R., xxv, 27 Dec. 1911, 64)
SEAMAN'S HOME, for the Robert E. Scott Memorial Home, Alexander Street, 1913 (Province [Vancouver], 4 March 1913, 24, illus.; C.R., xxvii, 26 March 1913, 66)