Located in Vancouver’s first downtown core, Gastown, the Leckie Building is the premier building in the center of the fourth-most-stylish neighborhood in the world, so named in 2012 by Complex, a New York fashion magazine.
The Leckie Building is occupied by a wide range of quality tenants, including lawyers, a world renowned fashion and beauty school, a technology company ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in North America, a renowned art gallery, a highly acclaimed restaurant and a specialty tea company admired by Oprah Winfrey.
To be outdone only by New York’s SoHo, Tokyo’s Harajuku and the neighbourhood judged the world’s most stylish, the First Arrondisement in Paris, Complex stated that “Gastown’s blocks are full of gorgeous Victorian buildings that provide unique scenery for what’s currently an emerging neighborhood. It also offers a mix of cool boutique fashion shops, interior design stores, restaurants, nightclubs, and real estate. Naturally, creative types are drawn to the neighborhood, but it’s also become a prime location for law firms and new media.”
Gastown’s roots date back to 1867, when “Gassy Jack” Deighton arrived to open the area’s first saloon. As the site of a sawmill, a seaport, warehouses and a resort for off-work loggers, fisherman and the crews of sailing ships, the town prospered and quickly became the general center for trade and commerce.
In the early 1890s, Richard and William Leckie opened a branch of their family’s Toronto based John Leckie and Company, which sold fishing supplies, selling oilskin clothing, imported netting, sails, tents, and marine hardware. After noticing demand for boots from fishermen and loggers, the Leckie brothers began investigating the idea of manufacturing their own footwear instead of selling other company’s products. In 1906 they purchased a small shoe factory and a tannery so that they would have complete control of the finished product.
The Leckies’ quickly gained a reputation for producing quality footwear and they soon found their original location was too small to handle the business. They purchased a lot at the corner of Cambie and Water Street, the present location of the Leckie Building, and commissioned the firm of Dalton and Everleigh to design a new factory building for them.
In 1909, the Leckie Company applied for a building permit to erect a water tank on the building. This iconic feature, with its out-sized boot and ring with the Leckie name, became an instant Vancouver landmark. The boot and the water tank survived into the 1980s.
Along with huge orders for boots from the Canadian government during World War One and again during World War Two, the growing resource industry kept orders flowing into the Leckie Company, which continued to do well until November 1950, when their staff went on strike for 18 days over wages. One month after the strike was settled, the Leckie family surprised everyone and sold the company to Winnipeg businessman and provincial politician Maitland Steinkopf.
Steinkopf controlled six other Canadian shoe companies and the Leckie firm was eventually rolled into his Canada West Shoe Manufacturing Company. Canada West was sold soon afterwards to the Greb Shoe Company based in Kitchener, Ontario, and the Leckie Brand disappeared in the 1970s.
In the early 1990s, the Leckie building went through extensive renovations. Included was a seismic upgrade that took a unique engineering approach to the problem. The building was tied together by steel “cables” extending diagonally from the roof line to anchors 90 feet in the ground. The building won a City of Vancouver Heritage Award in 1991 for the innovative engineering required for the seismic upgrade.
In June, 2006, the Leckie Building was acquired by Talia Jevan Properties, who immediately invested $2,000,000 on an extensive an exterior restoration that included repairing parapets, sills and the cornice along with repointing the brick work. New LED lighting was also added to highlight the building in the evening.
The Leckie Building is occupied by a wide range of quality tenants, including lawyers, a world renowned fashion and beauty school, a technology company ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in North America, an art gallery, a highly acclaimed restaurant and a specialty tea company admired by Oprah Winfrey.