5 things you didn’t know about Hycroft Manor

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Each week we’ll uncover some unusual and (hopefully) interesting facts about the city. This week we take on Hycroft Manor.

hycroft manor
The front of Hycroft Mansion on 1489 MacRae Avenue, 1927. Vancouver Archives Item: Bu P688

Hycroft Manor was built by General Alexander Duncan McRae

The Ontario born businessman, Military General and eventual Canadian Senator built the mansion for his family when they relocated to Vancouver in 1907. The 30 room house cost approximately $110,000 and was completed in 1911.

It was the epicentre of Vancouver’s social scene

According to the University Women’s Club of Vancouver (UWCV) website, the parties held at Hycroft from 1911 – 1941 were absolutely legendary, particularly the New Year’s Eve masquerade balls. Invitees included the “who’s who” of the 20’s and 30’s, including visiting royalty, well-known business associates, politicians and the social elite of Vancouver at the time.

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The ballroom at “Hycroft”, 1942. Vancouver Archives Item: CVA 434-9

McRae “sold” the house to the Federal Government for $1

McRae donated Hycroft to the Federal Government to serve as a veterans hospital during WWII. Mrs. McRae died soon after leaving Hycroft and Senator McRae died in just Ottawa four years later.  It served as a Military Hospital for over 18 years and was eventually purchased by the University Women’s Club in 1962, who still occupy it to this day.

It took the University Women’s Club of Vancouver 5 years to restore

When the UWCV purchased Hycroft, the building had been empty for two years and left unheated and without any basic maintenance. Overgrown vines had made there way through the walls of Hycroft and families of raccoons were found living inside the house.

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Drawing room at Hycroft. Photo: UWCV

It’s not the only “legendary” property McRae owned

McRae’s family “cottage”, also known as Eaglecrest Lodge, was situated on 2,000 acres of land in Qualicum Beach. Built in 1934, McRae made use of the land, employing about a hundred men during the Great Depression to help him farm. Apparently, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed at Eaglecrest during their travels in 1951. The house burned down in 1969.

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Adam Nanji is the Content Manager at Vancouver Is Awesome. When he’s not scouring the city for awesome news, he performs as ¼ of local band, Belle Game. Adam grew up in Vancouver and earned a degree in Cultural Studies with a double minor in Communication and Gender Studies from McGill University. He’s passionate about Vancouver’s social issues and local art. You’ll typically find him standing on a corner, contemplating where to eat next. Tell him what you think is awesome: adam@vancouverisawesome.com