496 Prior Street

The building at 496 Prior Street lies directly across Prior Street from 823 Jackson Avenue. The building currently on that site was built in 1930 and has had many uses over the years.

In the composite image shown above, on the left is a portion of the Vancouver fire insurance map from around 1952 shown with a drawing of the building at 496 Prior Street and the notation “PRINTERS INK MFG.”  On the top right is a photo from an article in the Vancouver Sun taken from the steps of 823 Jackson Avenue. This photo, from July 1952, shows what appears to be a sign for the “Ault & Wiborg Company of Canada“, a manufacturer of printing inks and dry color dyes and pigments.

The Ault & Wiborg Company was established in 1878 in Cincinnati, Ohio by Levi Addison Ault, who was born in Mille Roches, Ontario to French-Canadian parents and Frank Bestow Wiborg, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of a  Norwegian immigrant. The business was very successful and by 1928, when the business was sold to the International Printing Ink Corp. (which later became Interchemical Corp.), it was the international leader in the inks field.

The building at 496 Prior Street also has a ghost sign for “Money’s Mushrooms” on the west side of the building that is still visible today.  W. T. Money established W. T. Money & Co. in 1928 which later because Money’s Mushrooms and was a local supplier of mushrooms headquartered at 631 Seymour Street, later moving to Surrey, BC.

496 Prior Street was bought by the City of Vancouver in 1983 and in the 1980s it was operated under a City program as an incubator for start-up businesses. A number of different  businesses leased space in the building from the city during that time.  In fact, one of the tenants was local artist Torrie Groening, who currently has her studio at 823 Jackson Avenue.  In 1989 Groening had just returned to Vancouver from several years in Toronto and as a master printer started the print studio “Prior Editions Limited“, so named because it was located on Prior Street.

Eventually one of the tenants, White Monkey Design, took over the entire building and is the current occupant. The bottom photo on the right above is a recent photo of the building.  White Monkey Design, run by Booth Milton, manufactures props for the film and TV industry and has created a large number of diverse and fascinating props for locally produced movies and TV shows.