Commuter Train to Fraser Valley

1910? - LGN 949 - [B.C. Electric Railway Company Fraser Valley Railway line cars]
CVA – LGN 949 – BC Electric Railway Company, Fraser Valley Railway Line Cars, 1910?
The image above was taken at Front and Begbie Streets in New Westminster, in about 1910. The train was a BC Electric commuter to the Fraser Valley – and it was apparently a packed run (or at least it was made to seem so for this photo).

I have been a Greater Vancouver resident long enough to recall the hotel on the corner that apparently was called the Windsor (although I don’t remember that detail) throughout its life. Along the Begbie St side of the establishment, I recall seeing separate entries to the hotel bar for each gender. Today on that site is the aptly named condominium tower, the Interurban.

The brick building left of the Windsor is what today is the Salvation Army Thrift Store. In the 1910-ish period above, however, it was the local BC Electric rail barn.

An Audi Baritone

CVA 1184-2072 John Charles Thomas signing a druum while group of people watch in music store. Jack Lindsay photo. 1940-48?

Who is the apparent rock star above? A fellow who, in his day, was a household word: American opera baritone, John Charles Thomas.  Today, his vocal stylings are not quite forgotten (although his name is all but so); his English rendering of Johann Strauss’s “Open Road, Open Sky” was used in Audi’s 2011 advertisement for its A6 Avant automobile (featuring robotic bird animation).  In the image above, he appears to be in Kellys Appliances shop (Georgia at Seymour).  Thomas was well known and appreciated by Vancouver music lovers; most notably, he drew some 15,000 to an outdoor concert at Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl in 1939. I cannot imagine a crowd of that size at the Bowl!

Railway Club: 1974, 2014

CVA 779-79 – 500 Dunsmuir street north side. 1974.

The Railway Club has been at the northeast corner of Dunsmuir at Seymour (579 Dunsmuir) since 1931. The image above was taken in 1974; the one below in 2014. It was originally a member’s-only club, called the Railwaymen’s Club. In the 1980s, it was transformed into a nightclub venue with an eclectic variety of musical acts.

The club occupies the second floor of this building.  Retail space is on the ground floor: Columbia Optical (west-most), Wigwam restaurant, Railway Club entrance, Schick Electric Service Centre (and unseen, a barbershop, and east-most, a “personal aid shop” which seems to have been principally a wristwatch repair shop).

Author’s image. Railway Club entrance. 2014.

Victory Square

Victory Square-2
Postcard of Victory Square looking south from (most likely) the Dominion Bldg, ca1930s.

The postcard above, probably created during the 1930s, and the image below, made in 2014 by my friend and shooting partner Wes Hiebert, both show the decidedly non-square Victory Square bounded by Cambie Street on the left and Pender near the top of the images, and Hastings at the bottom (Hamilton is unseen, but is stage-right). The earlier occupant of this block was the first Courthouse (the predecessor of the later Courthouse on Georgia Street, currently Vancouver Art Gallery).

The cenotaph is the principal feature which endures today, although the Edgett Building (northeast corner Cambie at Pender) is also present in both postcard and photo. The building across the street from the Edgett in the postcard (southeast corner) was Vancouver City Hospital (predecessor to Vancouver General Hospital); and the structure partly hidden behind the flags on the postcard was Central School – where Vancouver Community College’s downtown campus is located today. One of the most striking differences between the two is the relative absence of trees in the postcard view.

The public conveniences (aka washrooms) at the lower right corner of the 2014 photo were most likely also present in the 1930s (installed in the 1920s, I believe), but were not included in the postcard.

Wes - VicSq3- DSCF5357-2
Victory Square made from 7th Floor, Dominion Bldg. Photo credit: Wes Hiebert, 2014.


Fred Hartsook Photo

ca 1915 CVA 19-73 - [Signed portrait of fellow actor Broderick O'Farrell %22To Daisy%22] Hartsaak Photo
CVA 19-73 – [Signed portrait of fellow actor Broderick O'Farrell "To Daisy"] ca 1915. Hartsaak Photo.
The portrait shown above is of vaudeville (and later motion picture) actor, Broderick O’Farrell. Not very much appears to be known today of Mr. O’Farrell except the little that may be found here. (Could he have been anything but an actor, with that very self-conscious and saucy cocked eyebrow?) There is an inscription over O’Farrell’s signature “To Daisy: With memories of a very pleasant engagement. Glad I met you.” Under his signature, O’Farrell elaborates on which engagement it was at which he met Daisy (just in case Daisy couldn’t remember him!) – a 1915 one with “Avenue Players”. I take this to be a reference to the acting company which played at the Avenue Theatre, about which I wrote on an earlier occasion here. Neither Avenue Theatre nor O’Farrell are central to this post, however.

I’m more intrigued by the photo studio that made O’Farrell’s portrait. According to the photo’s source, the City of Vancouver Archives, the portrait was made by “Hartsaak”. I did an internet search for early photographers of that name and found an exact match for that spelling only with the link to the CVA page for the O’Farrell portrait.

There is a wiki page, however, for a photographer by the name of “Fred Hartsook”.  The details on wikipedia persuaded me that Fred Hartsook (rather than “Hartsaak”) was the person responsible for Mr. O’Farrell’s portrait. According to the site’s summary of Harstook’s early career, following a brief stint in Utah, Hartsook packed up his family and moved to California: “Initially, Hartsook operated as an ‘itinerant shutterbug, [wandering] all over the state, his team of mules pulling a homemade darkroom.’ Later he opened two studios, in Santa Ana and Santa Barbara, but eventually closed them in order to open a studio on 636 South Broadway in Los Angeles.”

Probably the factor which tipped the scales in persuading me of the identity of the creator of the O’Farrell image as Fred Hartsook was the reproduction on the Wiki site of the Hartsook copyright symbol (shown below). It bears a striking resemblance to the one that appears on the O’Farrell photo (albeit, in what is most likely an earlier, less sophisticated form).c-right

Faculty: Early Van High


The City of Vancouver Archives has, I think, mistakenly identified this image as being from ca1900. I believe that this, in fact, is a few years older – from ca1894.

Two  clues led me to this conclusion:

  1. By 1900, Vancouver High School had been incorporated as a college of McGill University. There is no mention on the image of the McGill University relationship; it seems to me doubtful that the McGill connection would be unmentioned on a document if it had already been established.
  2. There is a mismatch between the faculty who are identified in the image and faculty listed in the calendar of Vancouver College of McGill University: Session 1900-1901. According to the calendar,  Miss Hunt taught modern languages in that year; but Hunt does not appear in the image. However, the faculty shown in the image do match those in the calendar listing for 1894-95 (and that appears to be the only calendar faculty list which matches exactly those shown in the image).

A note about the early Course of Study/Calendar documents: they  include admission exams and promotion exams which make humbling reading. It is amazing to me what breadth and depth of knowledge was expected of Vancouver High School students both before and after there was a connection with McGill.

Van High – McGill University College – UBC

UBC was not created in a single sweeping act. It came to be in piecemeal fashion.  Vancouver High School (shown below in its first incarnation at corner of Dunsmuir and Cambie, with Central School in the background) was where UBC had its start. B.C. passed legislation which allowed the province’s high schools to affiliate with Canadian universities. Accordingly, VHS in 1899 incorporated as Vancouver College of McGill University.  Further legislation in 1906 created McGill University College of B.C. , which operated until 1915. Affiliations with Vancouver imageCollege were severed upon creation of Mcgill University College.

Finally, in 1908, the province enacted legislation creating a university which became known as the University of British Columbia or UBC.

The story of UBC’s creation and physical establishment in Point Grey was just started, however. For more details see  here.

Across From Pigeon Park

The corner across from Pigeon Park (or, more formally, Pioneer Square) is shown below in two images: the first was made sometime in the first decade of the 20th century; the second in 1926. This is the northeast corner of Carrall Street at Hastings.

IMG_7289 190? CVA 677-640 - [Carrall Street at Hastings Street] PT Timms photo
CVA 677-640 – Carrall Street at Hastings Street – PT Timms photo, 190?
Although it is hard to distinguish trolley tracks in the 190- image, they are there (as also in 1926). A difference, traffic-wise, however, is how little there is in the first image. No automobiles are present here, indeed there is no evidence of non-pedestrian traffic. (If there had been vehicles in the 190- photo, however, they would have been driving on the left side of the street. It wasn’t until January, 1922 that right-side-driving came to B.C.) One other traffic-related point is worth noting. In the 1926 image, you can just make out (if you click on the image, to enlarge it) in front of the United Cigar Store entry, a portable stop/go sign which a police constable could drag out to the intersection to simplify the task of directing traffic.

The two-storey structure on the corner of both images is the Templeton Block (built ca 1895; enlarged in 1900s). The principal tenants in 190- were the Mint Saloon and McTaggart & Moscrop Hardware. A little further to the left (north on Carrall) is a sign indicating that there is a bookstore there (probably part of Bright Stationery Co.) On the Hastings side of the corner, just past the Mint’s entry, I cannot make out the lettering on the signage, but according to the 1905 BC Directory, there were store fronts for a harness maker, a confectioner, and a purveyor of ladies underwear. There was no Dodson Rooms in the 1905 Directory (nor in the first image), but there was a baker by the name of Joseph Dodson at 27 E. Hastings – presumably after whom Dodson Rooms ultimately was named. Dodson Rooms is the 5-storey building visible east of the Templeton corner at 25 E. Hastings (on whose wall, the word “Bakery” is advertised – the Dodson Bakery, I presume, which was still at its earlier address).

IMG_7287 ca1926 CVA 99-2257 - Taken for Duker and Shaw Billboards Ltd. [Hastings and Carrall, north east corner] S Thomson photo
CVA 99-2257 – Taken for Duker and Shaw Billboards Ltd. [Hastings and Carrall, north eascorner] S Thomson photo, ca1926

Kitsilano Indian Reserve Beach

1936 CVA 260-617 - #1FBFBEC
CVA 260-617 – Shacks and boats on Kitsilano Point beside the Burrard Bridge – James Crookall, photo, 1936.

This image was made shortly after completion of the Burrard Bridge, to the east in background. The bridge behind Burrard Bridge is most likely the former railway trestle bridge crossing false creek (now gone). Behind the trestle is the Granville Bridge (the one previous to the current bridge).

The beach was referred to in some quarters as the Kitsilano Indian Reserve Beach (for obvious reasons; Seaforth Armoury at the south end of the Burrard Bridge was also built on the Kitsilano Reserve). Today it is known simply as Kits Beach or Vanier Park.

Early Days of Labour

1903 Fl P2 - [The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners with their Labour Day parade float at Seymour Street and Dunsmuir Street] Alfred A Paull
CVA Fl P2 – The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners with their Labour Day parade float at Seymour Street and Dunsmuir Street. Alfred A Paull photo, 1903.
This image appears to have been shot on Dunsmuir Street, facing west towards Granville. The Bank of Montreal building at the time was located on the northeast corner of Granville at Dunsmuir and is the castle-like structure visible behind the float. The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners fought for (and won for its members, during a strike) a 9-hour working day.  For details on the history of the Amalgamated Society (and later representatives of these trades), see this link. For more on Labour Day and organized labour celebrations generally, this is a helpful article.

Note that the sidewalk on Dunsmuir Street in the image above (1903) consisted of wooden plank structures, apparently petering out part way between Granville and Seymour Streets! These wooden sidewalks were the norm in early Vancouver, evidently. This is how Mrs. J. Z. Hall remembered early Granville Street (when speaking with Vancouver’s first archivist, J. S. Matthews, in 1931):

Of course, the sidewalks on Granville Street were three planks, and you had to watch out. At the Hotel Vancouver they were four or five feet above ground, and we had to be careful when wheeling the baby carriages—we wheeled our babies then—or you would tip baby and all, over. We used to hide our things under the sidewalks. Go to church on Sunday, and leave all your stuff under the sidewalk, and pick it up when you came out. (Matthews, Early Vancouver, Vol 1, p. 24)

My curiosity is piqued as to just what sorts of “stuff” Mrs. Hall and others hid beneath the plank sidewalks before Sunday services.

The Unsung Legacy of Eliza Chalk (1862-1915)

 The following article was written for the 125th anniversary of First Baptist Church in 2012. It was one in a series called “Who Was Who in the Pew”. It is reproduced below with a couple of minor edits, but is substantially identical to the original.

Eliza Chalk’s brief moment of fame at First Baptist Church came on September 4, 1917. Nearly two years after her death.

A single paragraph in the minutes of the Board of Deacons meeting on that date reads: Mr. Morgan mention (sic) that the taxes on the lot left the church by Miss Chalk would have to be paid otherwise it would be sold at the tax sale. It was thought best to let it go as it was not worth what was against it.

This minute, which takes about one-quarter of a minute to read, piqued my curiosity about Miss Chalk and her gift to First Baptist. A gift which, apparently, the church did not accept.

Eliza Chalk was born in England on March 13, 1862. She was raised by her father (a widower) in the town of Taunton with her sister and two brothers. She emigrated to Canada in 1906.

The 1911 census records show her as a lodger at that time with Owen and Mary Fuller and their family at 2395 West 6th Avenue. The Fullers and Miss Chalk identified themselves as Baptists. I suspect she was a live-in maid for the Fullers, who had four youngsters at the time.  The Fullers were members at First, and it is possible that they were Eliza’s initial connection to the church.

1907 Str P124 - Main Street September 1907 South of Ferris Road [49th Avenue]
CVA Str P124 – Man posing on Main Street South of Ferris Road (49th Avenue). Just a few blocks away from where Miss Chalk bought her home 11 years later. 1907.
That Miss Chalk became a property owner is remarkable. Her lot was located in the community of South Vancouver at 6438 Ontario Street. This is just north of 49th Avenue – near the geographic centre of the City of Vancouver, today (scarcely a block from Langara College) – but in 1915, it would not have been an exaggeration to refer to this area as “the sticks”. When she bought the property, it could not have been worth much. But given Eliza’s probable monthly wage of roughly $30/month, she must truly have been a first-class scrimper and saver to have made any real estate down-payment.*

Eliza suffered from a condition known as “cardiac dropsy”, what is known today as “cardiac endema”, and it seems she ultimately died from this condition at the relatively young age of 53 – just 2.5 months after buying her lot.

Eliza’s name does not appear in the membership rolls of First Baptist. Indeed, aside from the paragraph in the minute book of the Board of Deacons, I couldn’t find any reference to her in any of the church’s official documents. It seems safe to conclude that she was an “adherent” at FBC. We did not use that term in Eliza’s time, however. When referring to someone who was not a member, we’d often use the term “stranger”.

Thankfully, Eliza did not consider the congregation at First Baptist Church to be strangers. She apparently considered us “family”.

*Star Rosenthal. “Union Maids: Organized Women Workers in Vancouver, 1900-1915. BC Studies. No. 41 (Spring 1979), 53.

Other Sources: Ancestry (Library Edition); BC Vital Statistics: Death Records (microfiche); and the dedicated staff of reference librarians at Vancouver Public Library ( especially the Special Collections staff at Central Branch).

War Dance and Carnival, 1917

There was a four-day fundraiser called the War Dance and Carnival held May, 1917 on the Cambie Street Grounds and the adjacent ‘old’ Georgia Street Viaduct. The Carnival was sponsored by the B.C. Commercial Travellers’ Association in aid of four charities: the Red Cross Material Fund, the return of soldiers from the Great War, the Canadian Patriotic Fund, and the Royal Naval Service Fund. Entertainment at the Carnival included singing, dancing, fireworks, and acts including that by Harry Gardiner, “the Human Fly”.

The “official photographer” of the Carnival was pro photographer, Stuart Thomson (shown below in front of his studio at the corner of Georgia at Richards; he is the one standing on the tailgate of the automobile).

CVA 99-1145 – Truck outside Stuart Thomson’s studio:shop decorated with banners. Stuart Thomson, 1917.

However, we are indebted to James Crookall, an enthusiastic and fine amateur photographer for most of the the scenes of the Carnival itself. I will be showing all of Crookall’s images of the event that are available online at the City of Vancouver Archives and will remark on each.

ca1918 CVA 260-1052 - [Sideshows at a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds] J Crookall
CVA 260-1052 – Sideshows at a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds – James Crookall, ca 1918 [1917].
  • Far left, a person is dressed in what appears to be a Polynesian grass skirt.
  • Beatty St. Drill Hall is in the background at left (the banner hanging from the upper part of the drill hall indicates it’s the regimental home of the DCOR (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles).
  • Few of the banners announcing sideshows are legible. The one on left announces “Taking a Wife” at the top. The third from the right reads “Igorot” at the top . Fourth banner announces “Head Hunters” and seems to say “Dance of Victory” at bottom. None of the other banners are readable by me.
  • There is a sign affixed to the lamp post at far right announcing that there is a “Ladies’ Rest Room” (the smaller print below is not readable by me, although I assume it indicates where the rest room is located). Judging by the cross in the center of the sign, it appears that the rest room was a service offered by the Red Cross. For more information regarding the state of “public conveniences” in early Vancouver, see this fascinating article.
ca1918 CVA 260-1059 - [Entrance to the carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds] J Crookall
CVA 260-1059 – Entrance to the carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds – James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].
  • This is one of two images by Crookall of the entry to the carnival. Tickets were purchased (just out of the frame to the left) and then bills could be exchanged for “change” for rides and other events within.
  • On the far left, there is a sign posted to the wooden fence which announces that the “official photographer” is Stuart Thomson; his business address appears on the sign. What the posted sign says that is adjacent and to the right of Thomson’s sign, I do not know.
  • There appears to be a figure walking on a high wire over the Cambie St Grounds. Could this be Harry Gardiner, “the Human Fly”?
CVA 260-1045 – People heading towards a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].
  • The camera, in this image is facing east (toward the Drill Hall); further evidence is the ‘punny’ “Western Front” sign announcing the carnival’s western gate beneath it. This is a wider view of the ticket gate noted earlier.
ca1918 CVA 260-1048 - [A Red Cross booth at a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds] J Crookall
CVA 260-1048 – A Red Cross booth at a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].
  •  Shows the Red Cross booth. This appears to have been located somewhere on the Georgia Street Viaduct (given the lamp post behind the booth and left); it bears a strong resemblance to Viaduct lamp posts (see also next image for more lamp posts).
  • There is a sign posted on the left side of the booth pertaining to a “university platoon”. What this means, is unknown to me; the other words on the sign are unclear.
ca 1918 CVA 260-1050 - [The Georgia Viaduct decorated and closed to vehicular traffic during a carnival] J Crookall
CVA 260-1050 – The Georgia Viaduct decorated and closed to vehicular traffic during a carnival, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].
  • The camera appears, in this photo, to be facing southwest (the Vancouver Block and Hotel Vancouver #2 are visible to the right of the image; the Beatty Street Drill Hall is nearer to the centre/right of the photo) and looking across the ‘old’ Georgia Viaduct. The viaduct was closed to vehicle traffic during the carnival.
  • Note the streetcar tracks on the Viaduct; they were installed when the viaduct was constructed, but were never used (for safety reasons; the original viaduct was very poorly constructed).
ca1918 CVA 260-1051 - [The Georgia Viaduct closed to traffic during a carnival showing military displays and a refreshment stand]  Jms Crookal.jpg
CVA 260-1051 – The Georgia Viaduct closed to traffic during a carnival showing military displays and a refreshment stand. James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].
  • In this photo, the camera is facing northeast; the Georgia Viaduct is visible behind the “Ice Cream and Soft Drinks” sign.
  • Note that the entry to this section of the carnival (with a more military tone to it with military engineering tents dominating the scene) has been decorated, apparently, to create a (sanitized) sense of walking within a ‘trench’, similar to those in which our ‘boys’ were doing in Europe. There are two sentries standing at attention (bottom right) with bayonets unsheathed!
  • There is building with an Asian-styled roof, and a partly legible sign on it indicating that there are Chinese “noodles” and “tea” to be had within.
  • The Main Street (then, Westminster) bridge appears to be visible to the right and in the background of the image.
ca1918 CVA 260-1049 - [Crowds at a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds] Jms Crookall.jpg
CVA 260-1049 – Crowds at a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].
  •  A sign at center-left announces “Graffort & Burtons Colored Musical Comedy and Minstrel Show”, including the drama of “Madam Eudora Burton”.
  • To the right of the ferris wheel is a sign that reads “Ladies”. Near there, it seems safe to conclude, is where the Ladies’ Rest Room was located.
  • To the far right is a tent with the annoucement on it “Your Picture Made.” This, I assume, was where Stuart Thomson, the “official photographer” of the carnival, was hanging his shingle for the duration of the carnival.
ca1918 CVA 260-1054 - [A ferris wheel during a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds] James Crookall
CVA 260-1054 – A ferris wheel during a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds. James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].
  •  This is a wider perspective of the earlier image showing the ferris wheel. The photographer seems to be standing just outside of the carnival site.
  • The more complete Stuart Thomson sig apparently reads “Your Picture Made: While You Wait” (no small promise in 1917).
ca1918 CVA 260-1060 - [Crowds surrounding a building during a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds] Jms Crookall
CVA 260-1060 – Crowds surrounding a building during a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].
  • I suspect that this very well-attended event is the crowning of Miss Vancouver (see below).

A song was commissioned of Wilson MacDonald for the carnival. It was called (unoriginally), “Song of the Carnival”. Josie Siddons was crowned “Miss Vancouver” at the Carnival; her portrait appeared on the cover of the sheet music.

Screen shot 2014-08-28 at 3.15.08 PM

HV Fantasia

This HDR image is one I made about a year ago when I was feeling particularly sorrowful for the loss of the predecessor of the current Hotel Vancouver – the much more architecturally interesting hotel that was located two blocks east of its present location, where the TD Tower (or ‘Black Tower’) is today. It occurred to me prior to taking this shot that although the Black Tower has little to crow about when compared with the grand old lady who stood on the site previously, one of its advantages is that it has a highly reflective, glass surface. Add to that the fact that there are no tall structures interrupting the reflection on its face of the current hotel (thanks to the Robson Square, formerly Courthouse, property), and I realized that it makes a good canvas for a fantasy image of today’s Hotel Vancouver standing on the site of yesterday’s hotel.

Reflection of today’s Hotel Vancouver (located on Georgia between Howe and Burrard Streets) in the TD Tower (on Georgia between Granville and Hornby Streets). Author’s photo, 2013.

Grand Old Lady

hotel van

This yesterday/today combo shows the current Hotel Vancouver (#3, on Georgia between Burrard and Hornby) and the much more interesting and beloved second incarnation of the hotel (at Georgia between Granville and Howe), where today looms the ‘black tower’, aka TD Tower. In the 1931 image, you can just make out the Birks Clock on the southeast corner of Georgia and Granville (in front of what was then Birks and what today is the much less imaginative structure that houses London Drugs. The 2014 photo of the current HV shows green netting around part of the current HV; they are giving the building a face-lift.

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


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