Lee’s Pier Tea Rooms was a refreshment parlor at the north end of the English Bay Pier, with a street address of 1900 Beach Avenue.
Charles N. Lee (born Cornelius Nemmo Lee, and often called “Charlie” ) operated this business from 1908 to 1920.In the early 1900s, the City of Vancouver decided to improve the facilities at English Bay. One of the proposed improvements was a pier at the end of Gilford Street. This area was the former home of Alexander Biggart Sayer-Smith (1848-1935).
Parr and Fee were the architects for the pier.
Two factors delayed the construction: one was a carpenters’ strike; the other was the need for the federal government to approve structures in English Bay. (At this time, the federal government claimed that English Bay was a federal harbour and that it belonged to the federal crown under British Columbia’s Terms of Union with Canada. Further information appears on the page for 2030 Beach Avenue. As well, the Navigable Waters Protection Act required federal approval for any works that could affect navigation on navigable waters in Canada.)
After the end of the carpenters’ strike, the Parks Board decided to work on the bathing pavilions first, and to finish the pier construction later.The Gold Teredo-Proof Pile Company treated the pier’s pilings against Teredo navalis, a bivalve that lives with bacteria that can digest wood. (Further information appears on the page for Mary Jane Allan.)
A series of rocks served as the part of the base for the pilings of the pier.
Pier Tea Rooms
By November 1907, the pier was almost finished. The Parks Board considered the possibility of having a tea-room at the entrance to the pier.
By the spring of 1908, Charles Nemmo Lee (often called “Charlie” Lee or “C.N. Lee” was the proprietor of the tea-rooms. (Further information on Mr. Lee appears on the page for Charles N. Lee.)
Mr. Lee operated the tea rooms until 1920.
In 1916, a fire damaged the tea rooms.
The Parks Board discussed the options for re-building the tea rooms.
Charlie Lee continued to operate the tea-rooms until 1920.
By the beginning of 1921, Charles no longer operated the tea rooms. The Parks Board paid Charles $5,500 for his improvements to the facility.
The Parks Board took over the tea rooms and later leased them to a series of operators.
In the late 1930s, the Parks Board concluded that the pier had reached the end of its life. Work to demolish the pier began in February 1939.
The recovered materials from the pier were for sale.
For a short time, a portion of the pier structure was available for boat storage.
The tenants of the tea room space hoped that the Parks Board would retain the tea room for at least some period of time. However, the board decided to demolish the tea room along with the rest of the pier.
In 1943, the Parks Board considered removing the rocks that had been part of the pier’s foundation.
However, the foundation was still visible in 1954.
The remnants of the rocks are still visible, especially at low tide.