Kensington Place

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1386 Nicola Street, Vancouver, BC

Kensington Place

Kensington Place - built in 1912
Building Information
Architect Philip Julien
Number of Units 22
Number of Floors 6
Year Built 1912
Construction Method Concrete
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1386 Nicola Street, Vancouver, BC
Distance to Public Transit Less than one block
Region Vancouver
Municipality Vancouver
Zoning RM-5A
Title of Land Freehold Strata



Kensington Place at 1386 Nicola Street, has just celebrated it's centennial year as an understated, yet elegant structure built on the shore of sunset beach in the West End of downtown Vancouver.

The park area along Beach Avenue, which Nicola Street joins, has long been a recreation area for residents of Vancouver. Sunset park reveals unparalleled views of the ocean extending across the bay to Kitsilano, Point Grey, and the promontory of the University of British Columbia endowment lands. Across the Georgia Straight, Vancouver Island can be seen in the distance.

English Bay from a postcard image - circa 1917

The land of the West End was originally forested wilderness. In 1862, three Englishmen purchased the land in the hopes of starting a brickworks and a mining operation for porcelain clay in Coal Harbour. This failed largely due to transportation problems.

They moved their operation to a community now known as Clayburn, which later became a neighbourhood of Abbotsford. Despite the abundance of forest products, the "Three Greenhorn Englishmen", as they came to be known, observed that brick could be valuable building material.

The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway terminating at Coal Harbour, quickly established the West End as an upscale neighbourhood and home to the richest railroad families. Many mansions were built particularly along Georgia Street and it came to be know as "Blue Blood Alley".[1]

Kensington Place has seen a century of change pass by its doorstep and is listed on the Vancouver List of Heritage Buildings.


The location Kensington Place offers easy access to many of the neighbourhood's amenities starting with a beach front park right across Beach Avenue. Sunset Park Beach at the foot of Kensington Place, is adjacent to English Bay Beach, and a short stroll later, the famed Stanley Park comes into view. Stanley Park was named for Lord Stanley of Preston, the Governor-General of Canada at the time, and an avid sportsman.

Lord Stanley's name is also given the annual coveted prize of the National Hockey League, the Stanley Cup. Sadly for Vancouver hockey fans, the Stanley Cup has only been in Vancouver one time when the Vancouver Millionaires defeated the Ottawa Senators in the 1914-1915 season in a best of three playoff.

Kensington Place as it appeared in 1975

English Bay has long been a playground for residents of the West End and other parts of Vancouver for more than 100 years. Today, the West End is popular with all citizens of Vancouver and also tens of thousands of tourists annually. Numerous special events are held in the area from open air performance to annual fireworks displays.

Davie Street, a few blocks away from Kensington Place, offers international cuisine choices and an eclectic night life. The area is famed for its densely populated and diverse demographics. World class shopping, albeit a little expensive, can be experienced on Robson Street, a little further beyond Davie Street. Denman Street, closer to Stanley Park, provides a cornucopia of restaurant and pub choices spanning a range of prices.

The neighbourhood has traffic calming measures in place punctuated by sidewalk barricades and concrete islands to discourage curious drive-through tourists and also locals, for that matter. Community Centres in the neighbourhood offer swimming pools, gyms, fitness centres and an ice rink.

The West End has many parks including Alexandra Park, Cardero Park, Nelson Park, Stanley Park and Sunset Beach at the door step. Stanley Park, recognized as one of the most famous urban parks in North America, offers 11 to 12 kilometers of seawall bike and walking paths, and 1001 acres of preserved and protected forest for the enjoyment of about a million visitors annually.[2]


The cream and ocher understated elegance
Entrance nestled among the trees

Kensington Place is a century old regal concrete structure of only six levels, lovingly preserved, portraying the pride of ownership by its residents. The overhanging roof top appears to be support by cast stone statuary along the top floor.

The modern day colours present a warm and rich facade using two shades of cream, tending to ocher, highlighted by a brilliant white around window frames, corner accents, and the cast stone ornamentation. The overall effect is one of quiet opulence.

The shallow "U" shape facing Nicola Street displays the short stairway to the main entrance, overseen by two trees that partially shield the entrance from view, yet revealing the building's dignified facade above.

Layout and Features

Apartments within Kensington Place have, no doubt, undergone numerous improvements and changes.

Today, 22 units exist within its walls all finished to the preferences of the current owners. Inside, one may find a wood burning fireplace, beam supported open areas adorned by plaster designs from an artisan era of bygone days.

Hardwood floors are features along with modern finishes in kitchens and bathrooms, including, but not limited to, marble floors and walls in the bathroom and granite or stone counter tops in the kitchen.

Some suites feature modern stainless steel appliances and gas burning cook tops. Other modernizations would include electrical wiring and plumbing upgrades.

Floor Plans

Floor plans for this elegant building are not readily available. Instead, a promotional video walk-through has been provided. See the References Section at the bottom of this page.[3]


The building itself provides sanctuary for the residents with easy access to neighbourhood amenities. The location on Beach Avenue leads residents to Community Centres to meet fitness needs, short distances along the seawall to Stanley park in one direction, and to entertainment and shopping possibilities of False Creek, in the other direction.


Kensington Place Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No

  • Rentals by owner are permitted
  • Limit of two pets. Both cats and/or dogs are allowed
  • No age restrictions are imposed for ownership


The one hundred year old, plus, Kensington Place was not designed to be a 'green building'. It was constructed long before our modern awareness of sustainability was imagined.

However, changes have been made over the years by residents. Their contributions to a 'greener' environment have included participation in Vancouver's recycling programs and ensuring that renewable and non-toxic materials are used for renovations, including their proper disposal.

Limiting the use of a car for day to day needs is always a good idea and particularly easy to do given the area Kensington Place is located.


The Joe Fortes commemorative stamp issued February 1, 2013
  • No historical account of English Bay would be complete without mentioning Joe Fortes, or "English Bay Joe". Joe Fortes made his home in English Bay after arriving at the Burrard Inlet in 1884.
    • At first he lived in a tent on the beach, until he moved into a small cottage. Joe was the self-appointed unpaid lifeguard of English Bay.
    • When not working as a bar tender at the Bodega Saloon or shining shoes, he devoted all his free time patrolling the beach and teaching children to swim.
    • He is credited with saving 29 lives, but the belief is, that number is considerably more.
    • Today, Joe is commemorated by the Joe Fortes branch of the Vancouver Public Library. He was also named citizen of the century during Vancouver's Expo 86. In 2013, Canada Post issued a stamp showing Joe with English Bay in the background. The citizens of Vancouver honoured Joe with a fountain in Alexandra Park that bears the inscription, "LITTLE CHILDREN LOVED HIM".[4]
The 1001 acre Stanley Park as seen from the air
  • Robson Street, near Kensington Place, became a hub for immigrants during the post war period, particularly for German people. So marked was their influence, that Robson Street became informally known as Robsonstrasse due to the large number of German restaurants and shops.
  • In the early 1860s, the Stanley Park peninsula was designated a military reserve as it was considered a strategic point from which to repel any attempted invasion by the Americans. Of course, no invasion came, but by being designated a military reserve, the land was spared from development. In 1886, the Dominion Government of Canada was petitioned by Vancouver's City Council to lease the reserve as a park. It was granted and shortly thereafter, the Vancouver Parks Board was formed. This board manages 192 parks with Stanley Park being the largest, by far.[5]


  1. Wikipedia - West End, Vancouver
  2. West End - Vancouver
  3. Kensington Place - Video Walk Through
  4. Wikipedia - Joe Fortes
  5. Wikipedia - Stanley Park

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