In 1912, when the first residents moved into the Mount Stephen Apartments at 101 East 7th Avenue, the building’s facade featuring two bare breasted female figures caused a mild scandal. Still drawing second glances from photographers and heritage buffs, the nymphs hold the classic gable above the double doors. Other details made the building stand out then as today.
The Mount Stephen Apartments were designed as luxury apartments close to the intersection of Main Street and Broadway, Vancouver’s downtown at the time. The architects, Townsend and Townsend, came to Vancouver after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 and over a dozen buildings designed by the brothers have stood the test of time.

When wood was the prime material for surrounding buildings, brick walls made this structure more noticeable, sturdy and durable. Zigzag patterns in red brick lacing the corners are one of the brothers’ typical embellishments. Bay windows, light wells, wide staircases and third and fourth floor sunrooms also enhance this structure. Residents can admire the view of the North Shore from the back landings.
Rapid real estate development east, west and south soon eclipsed the neighborhood and property values dropped. From luxury accommodation, the building converted to rented apartments before the 1920s. The rooftop pediment with lettering “Mount Stephen Apartments” was removed. The premises suffered a long decline through the Depression years. Yet many residents stayed for many years in this “good building in a poor neighborhood” and a few apartments had boarders.

Despite increasing prosperity during and after World War II, the Mount Stephen Apartments never regained their intended status, but were a reminder of former glory. The building was renamed Quebec Manor when sold in the 1960s.

In 1979-80, faced with a 65% rent hike and declining maintenance, residents banded together and undertook a legal rent strike. They then organized to create the Manor Housing Co-operative, organizing finances to purchase the building. With the help of Shirley Schmid of Columbia Housing, they were able to establish an agreement with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to establish the co-op and then began ongoing renovations to preserve the structure and got the building listed on the Heritage A list of the City of Vancouver.

The 32 unit building continues to be home to a mixed community of young and old, blue collar and white collar workers, visual and performing artists, community activists and so on.

On July 21, 2012, Quebec Manor will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the building.