Vancouver Feature: Birks Clock Moves Downtown

“Meet me at the Birks clock” was the standard Vancouver rendezvous plan in the pre-cell phone era of 1913 to 1974. But the Birks clock itself has been a wandering timepiece. It started at Granville & Hastings, moved to Granville & Georgia, and returned to its original intersection — but across the street!

In fact, the Birks clock began keeping time as Trovey’s clock, because it was originally installed on Hastings in front of George Trovey’s Jewelry store. In 1906, Birks bought the store, the clock and even kept Mr. Trovey on.

Vancouver Intersection, c.1900
Hastings Street at Granville Street, c1900.
Birks Clock
Meeting under the Birks clock, at the southeast corner of Georgia at Granville. Note the old Hotel Vancouver across Granville Street.

But the central business district was moving south, and Birks created an impressive terra cotta-tiled edifice at Georgia and Granville in 1913, taking its trademark clock along. The downtown Birks was a sparkling monument to Vancouver prosperity for years, and the clock was a literal landmark in the city.

But the grand old building was torn down in 1974 amid civic hue and cry. Birks moved back to Hastings and Georgia, but this time to the southeast corner — directly across from its original home. It continues to thrive by selling high-end jewelry, but friends, families and lovers rarely use the clock as their rendezvous point these days.