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HB Armitage and Valley Lumber Yards

March 29, 2014

1933 - Valley Lumber Yards - International Trucks

In 1929, Valley Lumber Yards located near the south end of the New Westminster bridge, on a site that would become the Main Plant and company headquarters.

1922 -  HB Armitage - Edmonton - moving to larger premises

Founded in Edmonton

The firm was a successor to the HB Armitage Lumber Company, established in Edmonton in 1921.

Company founder, Ontario-born Harvey Boyd Armitage, age 42, had worked for lumber firms in Alberta and British Columbia before going into business for himself.
HB Armitage specialized in BC fir and cedar shingles obtained from contacts on the coast. The lumber yard operated on the cash-and-carry system.  Accessible to builders and homeowners, the yard was an immediate success and within a year Armitage opened a second yard.

The move to Vancouver

By 1924 Armitage Lumber had established a foothold on the west coast, with a yard at 6191 West Boulevard in Point Grey.
A couple of years later,  Armitage moved to larger premises at 185 W 2nd Avenue, and the store on West Boulevard was taken over by Charles Robert Filtness, operating as Kerrisdale Lumber, a business ongoing to this time.  CR Filtness was also a transplanted Albertan, an Englishman who had enlisted in the Northwest Mounted Police in 1894,  at the age of 21.
Armitage remained committed to the neighborhood and was chairman of the building committee of Ryerson United Church, completed in 1927 and located a short walk from the old store.

Established at South Westminster – Valley Lumber Yards

In 1929 Armitage opened a lumber yard on an 4.1-acre lot on the Pacific Highway near the south end of the Fraser River bridge, and renamed the business Valley Lumber Yards Company Ltd.
Valley Lumber Yards - South Westminster - 1929

Clicking map will open a Google Map with additional features relating to the history of this property.
When in 1930 the last remaining portion of the Government Reserve was put up for auction, Valley Lumber Yards purchased an additional 11.7 acres adjacent to the existing property, giving them about 16 acres.

By 1931 Valley Lumber had expanded to seven locations.   From his store and Head Office on West 2nd Avenue in Vancouver, HB Armitage managed yards at South Westminster,  Ladner, Langley Prairie,  Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission City.
By 1936 HB Armitage and wife Anne had become residents of West Vancouver, before the Lions Gate bridge was built. Harvey Boyd Armitage passed away on October 7, 1939 at Vancouver, aged 60.

There is an Armitage Crescent in Edmonton named for HB Armitage.

Owen takes the reigns

After the death of HB Armitage, son George Owen Armitage took over management of the family firm.

1941 -  Valley Lumber Vancouver & SurreyThe business enjoyed continued success especially during the baby boom years following the Second World War and the rapid expansion of housing in the suburbs of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Since its establishment in 1929 the South Westminster operation had risen in prominence to become the location of the company’s Main Office.
In 1951, there were 118 persons employed at Valley Lumber Yards in the Fraser Valley, with most working at South Westminster.

Downtown showroom and order store

1951 - Valley Lumber Yards downtown Vancouver store advertThe firm also proved up to the challenges of an urban setting. Among the innovations brought in by Owen Armitage was a display store and order branch — “An Indoor Lumber Yard in Downtown Vancouver” — located at 538 Seymour, just down the street from the Hudson’s Bay Company store.

The success of this branch led to the  opening in 1952 of  a large new building supply supermarket at Kingsway at 11th Avenue, with spacious display room and drive-in yard.

The firm had also expanded into the Interior with a branch at Salmon Arm.

South Westminster: the Main Plant

The company was lauded for its innovations by a leading industry publication.
“One of the most noted and progressive industries in South Westminster, BC, is the Valley Lumber Yards Ltd., which has a 27-acre site near the Pattullo bridge approach.”

Below, the Main Plant of Valley Lumber Yards, south end of Pattullo Bridge. New Westminster Archives Photo.
1953 - Valley Lumber Yards - South End - Pattullo BridgeIn 1953 Valley Lumber Yards was advertising a complete home for sale, for do it yourself assembly at an address of your choosing. On display at the South Westminster yard—see photo above—was the full-sized “McTavish Home,” yours for just $2927. Also available, the Valley’s “McTavish Junior” and the McTavish for narrow lots.

1953 - Valley Lumber - build your own home

Oak flooring, tiled kitchen, rock wool insulation. . .

There must be many of  these “McTavish” houses scattered throughout the lower mainland.


A trend-setter since its founding in Edmonton in 1921, “ the company has discovered it’s necessary for its staff to be building counselors, able at all time to unravel difficulties encountered by the ‘do-it-yourself’ home repairman.”

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