Aimee Semple McPherson in Vancouver

CVA 99-2396: "Arrival at Great Northern Railway Depot of Aimee Semple MacPherson (sic) on visit to Foursquare Gospel Tabernacle". 1930. Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: This image is a crop. For complete image, see CVA)
CVA 99-2396: “Arrival at Great Northern Railway Depot of Aimee Semple MacPherson (sic) on visit to Foursquare Gospel Tabernacle”. 1930. Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: This image is a crop. For complete image, see City of Vancouver Archives).

The image above shows Aimee Semple McPherson with a welcoming crowd shortly after arriving in 1930 at Vancouver’s Great Northern Railway Depot (demolished in 1965, the GNR Depot was just north of the CN Rail Depot which still stands and today serves as the long-distance bus and VIA Rail depot). ASM was born near Ingersoll, ON and ultimately became a pentecostal minister/evangelist and the founder of Angelus Temple in Glendale, California (a suburb of Los Angeles).

In the image, ASM is holding the bouquet. Minnie Kennedy, ASM’s mother and a key co-worker with ASM at Angelus Temple, appears to be just to the left of ASM. This must be one of the last public appearances which Mrs. Kennedy would make with ASM; Mrs. Kennedy would break with ASM and leave Angelus Temple within the next few months (Sutton, 162-64). Standing to the right and a little behind ASM is the woman who founded the Vancouver Foursquare church, Anna D. Britton. Britton was a graduate of L.I.F.E. Bible College in Los Angeles, a school founded by ASM for the training of Foursquare pastors; the school’s dean was Frank C. Thompson, editor of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. (Elliot, 124). Britton moved to Vancouver in 1927 where she established a small group of people that ultimately grew into a local congregation, Kingsway Foursquare Church (located, then, on the 400 block of Kingsway near East 13th Avenue). Britton also established L.I.F.E. College  of Canada in 1928; it merged in 1997 with Pacific Bible College to form Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey.

Matthew Avery Sutton, in an excellent recent biography of ASM, says this of her impact on American culture in the 1920s and ’30s and even to the present day:

Dazzling religious theatrics and a penchant for publicity made McPherson one of the most famous American personalities of the interwar years. The first religious celebrity of the mass media era, she mastered print, radio, and film for use in her evangelical mission. Her integration of the latest media tools with a conservative creed established precedents for the twentieth century’s most popular ministers, from Billy Graham to Oral Roberts to Pat Robertson. Possibly more significant, she brought conservative Protestantism back from the margins to the mainstream of American culture, by arguing that Christians had an obligation to fight for the issues they believed in and boldly proclaiming that patriotism and faith were inseparable. . . . Finally, with her extraordinary religious fervour and theatricality, McPherson helped shape one of the twentieth century’s most explosive religious movements – evangelicalism. And she did it, of all places, from just outside Hollywood. (Sutton, 4)

ASM was a complex character and had more than a few personal contradictions. She seemed to publicly embrace all people regardless of race or class; but, on more than one occasion, members of the Ku Klux Klan appeared at her Angelus Temple services in full hooded uniform to support her (Sutton, 32-35). She emphasized “bride of Christ” imagery in a number of ways (not least by adopting an all-white uniform), but she was also able to appeal, especially in the later years of her ministry, to women who had a modern, non-traditional outlook: the flappers (Sutton, 125). She was the founder of a church with a very conservative theology, but she was married three times and divorced twice.

The website of the Canadian Foursquare Church suggests that the denomination wants to retain the historic link to Aimee Semple McPherson.  However, their story of ASM is, to put it politely, abridged.

Sources:

David Raymond Elliot. Studies of Eight Canadian Fundamentalists. Doctoral Dissertation, UBC. 1989.

Matthew Avery Sutton. AImee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007.

http://www.foursquare.ca/history.html

http://www.pacificlife.edu/index.php/General/history.html

Varied Skyline Views from Burrard Inlet

CVA Pan-N242b "Waterfront view from Burrard Inlet." 1916. WJ Moore photo.
CVA Pan-N242b “Waterfront view from Burrard Inlet.” 1916. WJ Moore photo.
CVA 260-205 "Vancouver skyline at sunset from ship." ca 1930. James Crookall photo.
CVA 260-205 “Vancouver skyline at sunset from ship.” ca 1930. James Crookall photo.
CVA 1435-97 "British Columbia, Vancouver Skyline." 197-.
CVA 1435-97 “British Columbia, Vancouver Skyline.” 197-.
Vancouver skyline image made from North Vancouver (Lonsdale Quay), 2012. Author's photo.
Vancouver skyline image made from North Vancouver (Lonsdale Quay), 2012. Author’s photo.

Each of these images was made from somewhat different vantage points, but all were made from or across Burrard Inlet. The 1916 WJ Moore panorama photo shows one of the very early skyline images of Vancouver with a skyline – with implied skyscrapers – worthy of mention.

BC Permanent Loan Co.

CVA 392-1191: "View if British Columbia Permanent Loan Company Building at 33 West Pender Street, ca 1965.
CVA 392-1191: “View if British Columbia Permanent Loan Company Building at 33 West Pender Street, ca 1965.

This building lived with the contradiction that was its name for a number of years (there is no such thing as a permanent loan, except in the nonsense-world of art galleries and museums).

There is at least one other contradiction about The Permanent, however. Its exterior puts on a good show of being just another staid, conservative, pin-striped and stolid neo-classical-style bank building. Exactly the sort of external impression the stereotypical banker wanted to make on prospective customers. “We are safe. We are not frivolous. Your hard-earned savings are safe with us.” But, apparently, once a client crossed the threshold, the bank was prepared to shake off its external pretensions to conservatism . . . and party.

Have a look at the ceiling window treatment visible from just inside the front door. I strongly suspect that most Vancouverites have never seen this view – and likely wouldn’t suspect that it was in an old bank!

Internal ceiling window treatment at 330 W Pender. Author's photo, 2014.
Internal ceiling window treatment at 330 W Pender. Author’s photo, 2014.

Farewell Ormidale

There are those who argue that preservation of a historic building’s facade is cause for celebration; that the building’s heritage is thereby  preserved. I am not of that group. I believe that preserving a heritage building’s facade is preferable to destroying the entire structure. But let’s be frank: saving the facade is not saving the building; the very heart of the old structure is being destroyed so that a new structure may stand in its place. Sometimes this is unavoidable. But let’s call a spade a hammer.

What prompted such an uncharacteristic rhetorical outburst? The loss over the past few weeks of a building that I didn’t know existed in the heart of old Vancouver’s downtown: the Ormidale Block. This one was a beauty, and its loss to the wrecking ball in recent weeks is a real one.

For historical background on Ormidale , see this link and this one.  For details on plans for the ‘new’ Ormidale, go here.

CVA SGN-924: "View of Buildings, Streetcars and Pedestrians at Hastings and Cambie Streets." 1909.
CVA SGN-924: “View of Buildings, Streetcars and Pedestrians at Hastings and Cambie Streets.” {Ormidale is the second building from the left — adjacent to the oversized Flack block, which rounds the corner]. 1909.
What is left of Ormidale as of yesterday afternoon, following demolition of all except the facade. Image was taken from behind the building site, from the lane way. Author's photo, 2014.
What is left of Ormidale as of yesterday afternoon, following demolition of all except the facade. Image was taken from behind the building site, from the lane way. Author’s photo, 2014.

Crossing the Inlet

This post celebrates the launch this week of Sea Otter II, the newest among the vessels that ply the waters of Burrard Inlet between Waterfront Station (Vancouver) and Lonsdale Quay (North Vancouver) for SeaBus. For more information about SO2, including a couple of brief videos pertaining to her launch, see the TransLink site.

There have been a number of ways of crossing between the municipalities of Vancouver and North Vancouver/West Vancouver (referred to collectively as “the north shore”) over the roughly 1.5 centuries of their settlement by non-Native people. Several of these means are represented visually below – from canoes and rowboats to passenger/car ferries, from bridges to aircraft (and doubtless a few others that don’t appear). Note: I’m showing only the first narrows bridge (Lions Gate) below, since I dedicated a post to an image of the second narrows crossing (Ironworkers Memorial), recently.

CVA InP16 - "First Nations War Canoe Race in Burrard Inlet", Bailey Bros photo, ca 1890.
CVA InP16 – “First Nations War Canoe Race in Burrard Inlet”, Bailey Bros photo, ca 1890.
CVA SGN-8 "Swimming baths and boat rental floats in Burrard Inlet at the foot of Bute Street" Charles S. Bailey photo, 1890.
CVA SGN-8 “Swimming baths and boat rental floats in Burrard Inlet at the foot of Bute Street” Charles S. Bailey photo, 1890.

 

CVA BoN120-2 "Union Steamship Company Ship Lady Alexandra Entering First Narrows of Burrard Inlet" [and biplane overhead] WJ Moore photo, 1924.
CVA BoN120-2 “Union Steamship Company Ship Lady Alexandra Entering First Narrows of Burrard Inlet” [and biplane overhead] WJ Moore photo, 1924.
CVA SGN-1100.2 "North Vancouver ferry St. George (later Ferry No. 2) in Burrard Inlet", 1904
CVA SGN-1100.2 “North Vancouver ferry St. George (later Ferry No. 2) in Burrard Inlet”, 1904
CVA Br-P81-5 "Lions Gate Bridge Construction", ca 1938.
CVA Br-P81-5 “Lions Gate Bridge Construction”, ca 1938.

Hogan’s Alley

Hogan’s Alley, the only predominantly (though not exclusively) black neighbourhood in Vancouver was destroyed by the City in the late 1960s. The reasons were two-fold: partly it had to be demolished to make room for a highway that (thankfully) never got beyond the early development stage; partly it was a component in the City’s drive to end real estate “blight” in Lotusland. (For more on the anti-blight movement, see the CMHC/City of Vancouver co-production, To Build a Better City).

CVA 203-28-259 Prior Street Choe Doely Gam Cabins (from front; facing north), 1968.
CVA 203-28: 259 Prior Street – Chou Doely Gam Cabins (from front; camera facing north), 1968.

The image above is of a tenement housing block in the heart of Hogan’s Alley and known as the Chou Doley Gam cabins (though whether it was actually known by that name except by archivists and historians long after it was gone, seems doubtful). I have not been able (so far) to figure out why an apparently Asian name was applied to this development, but I assume that it was owned by an Asian landlord. Hogan’s Alley is, after all, adjacent to Chinatown. The “cabins” above, as well as the other buildings on the block, and structures across the street (on Union) were destroyed to make way for the Prior Street off-ramp of Georgia Street viaduct (1970s edition).

IMG_8228
271(?) Union Street. Empty lot. Author’s Photo, 2014.

This isn’t the exact location of the ‘cabins’, but it is just across the street from Chou Doley’s resting place beneath the earthen mound that became the Prior off-ramp.

 

A ‘Tent’ for French

image

The building under construction in the photo above is what would be the setting of evangelistic meetings from May – July, 1917. The structure was known as the Evangelistic Tabernacle and was located on what was formerly the site of Vancouver’s courthouse and what would become soon after Victory Square.

The ‘ring leader’ of the evangelistic meetings at the tabernacle was American Presbyterian minister, French E. Oliver. Oliver was invited to lead the 9 weeks of ‘tent’ meetings by an interdenominational group of theologically conservative businessmen, professionals, and clergymen who together were known as the Vancouver Evangelistic Movement (VEM). The general ministerial was not supportive of Oliver.

I would be willing to bet that among the VEM reps (and contruction workers) shown below were more than a couple of members of First Baptist Church. J. L. Campbell, senior minister at FBC at the time, was one of Oliver’s prominent defenders and a speaker at the meetings.

image

Source: Robert K. Burkinshaw. “Conservative Protestantism and the Modernist Challenge in Vancouver, 1917-1927.” BC Studies, 85 (Spring 1990).

It is very difficult to remember that events now in the past were once in the future – Maitland's Dictum

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