Story Behind a Cavity

1184 Granville Street. Approximate site of Hotel Martinique Smoke Shop in 1920s. Author's photo, 2014.
1184 Granville Street. Approximate site of Hotel Martinique Smoke Shop in 1920s. Author’s photo, 2014.

Behind the real estate cavity shown above, there is the beginning of a story about a Vancouver personality. The cavity is, I’m convinced, the location in the 1920s of the Hotel Martinique Smoke Shop at 1184 Granville Street. Today, the wall on the left is part of the Howard Johnson Hotel, the same wall facing the photographer of the 1926 image below where Borden’s Evaporated Milk is advertised. The structure on the right of the 2014 photo is the former Bank of Nova Scotia at Granville and Davie; today, the Scotiabank Dance Centre.

So what is the story behind this empty space? Well, according to Vancouver Noir – an excellent history of the city’s seamier side – the Martinique Smoke Shop was the headquarters of Ab Forshaw – the “lynchpin of the gambling and bookmaking network in the city”. (1) I’m guessing that the smoke shop was an early HQ; later, he moved up in the world (literally and figuratively) by renting the entire top floor of the Vancouver Block along with eight others who, with him, constituted a gambling/bookmaking consortium known as ‘the big nine’.

Forshaw was pretty good at staying out of the public eye. But in 1952, things began going pear-shaped for him. He was a central figure in a huge bookmaking conspiracy trial in Vancouver that year. I couldn’t see any evidence that he did jail time, but it is possible justice was meted out in a somewhat more ‘rough and ready’ fashion. Three hours after giving testimony at the bookmaking trial, Forshaw was slugged and robbed at his home in West Vancouver (he lived on Robin Hood Drive, by the way!) Then, in 1955, Forshaw was charged by California authorities with manslaughter in connection with the death of “Vancouver tennis ace”, Billy Green, while driving an automobile in that state. (2) As far as I can tell, Forshaw was never convicted of of the charge.

Albert Edward Forshaw died in July, 1972. Of a heart attack.

(1) Vancouver Noir. Diane Purvey and John Belshaw. Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2011, p. 152.
(2) I have had no success tracking down anything else about Billy Green.  If anyone can fill me in on his story, I’d appreciate it.

CVA 99-2273 [Taken for Duker and Shaw Billboards Ltd Granville Street looking north from Davie Street], ca 1926. Stuart Thomson photo.
CVA 99-2273 [Taken for Duker and Shaw Billboards Ltd Granville Street looking north from Davie Street], ca 1926. Stuart Thomson photo.


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The Right Honourable Joe Clark was leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, a member of parliament for many years, minister of foreign affairs, minister of constitutional affairs during the debate over the Meech Lake Accord, and – all-to-briefly – the prime minister of Canada.

What is his connection with Vancouver? In 2012, UBC conferred upon him an honorary degree, about 50 years after he briefly pursued a law degree at that institution. He left the program, upon concluding that legal studies were dull (which, in my opinion, is difficult to argue with). He finished an M.A. in political science at the University of Alberta in 1973.

Marine Reflections 75


These reflections of the Marine Building were made about 75 years apart in a city that  is greatly changed in many ways. There is some comfort, though, in seeing that the building’s exterior is essentially identical.

The view on the left is from the City of Vancouver Archives and was made by photographer James Crookall in a puddle adjacent to the rail tracks near where the northwestern portal of the Dunsmuir Tunnel was located. The view on the right was made by the author in the glass ceiling of the lower level of the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Rheumatic Olympian (1928)

CVA 99-3633 - Percy Williams in 100 Metre Final Olympic Games 1928 Stuart Thomson
CVA 99-3633 [Percy Williams in 100 Metre Final Olympic Games], 1928. Stuart Thomson photo. (Williams appears to be the runner on far left).
 In 1928, at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam, 20-year-old Vancouver native, Percy Williams, won the 100-metre race on July 30th and the 200-metre on August 1. As Ivan Ackery recounts in his memoirs of a life in Vancouver theatres, Fifty Years on Theatre Row, “the country just went nuts”. Mr. Ackery tells the story better than I can:

Just five years earlier, after a bout of rheumatic fever, doctors had told young Percy he’d have to avoid any undue physical strain. In spite of that advice, he’d become top sprinter at King Edward High School and in 1927 had defeated the U.S. runner, Charlie Paddock, unofficially billed as the wold’s fastest human being., in the 175-yard sprint.

Percy was sent to Amsterdam to represent Canada in the 1928 Olympics, but there was no financing to get his coach there. The public raised the money to send him over – on a freighter….

Twenty thousand people were out to meet Percy when he returned to Vancouver; Premier Tolmie, Mayor Taylor and all the dignitaries of the city and province. He was presented with a new car and his coach with a purse of $500.

Percy was a national hero. His mother was a lovely woman [a cashier at Capitol Theatre, which Ackery was managing at the time], and so proud of her son. Unfortunately, two years later a pulled muscle caused his withdrawal from the first British Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario, and sometime in the thirties he had to retire. He’s living in Vancouver still [at the time Ackery's memoirs were published in 1980], now retired from a career in the insurance business. (Ackery, p. 89)

I wish I could end this post on that relatively positive note, but a sad, final sentence on Percy’s life appears in a very detailed Vancouver Courier feature:  On Nov. 29, 1982, after his gold medals were stolen and while suffering from recent strokes, Williams ended his own life at 74 with a shotgun in the bathtub of his apartment at 1-905 Chilco St., a sad finish to the most extraordinary athlete in Canadian history.

For more on the life of Percy Williams, see this recently published biography by Samuel Hawley, I Just Ran (2011), and/or see Hawley’s website here.

CVA 371-249 - [Mayor L.D. Taylor congratulates Percy Williams on the stage of the Vancouver Opera House] 1928 Frank Leonard
CVA 371-249 [Mayor L. D. Taylor congratulates Percy Williams on the stage of the Vancouver Opera House], 1928. Frank Leonard photo.

Farewell, McHarg Viaduct

1971 CVA 216-21 - Demolition of the "old" Georgia Viaduct. 7.7.71.
CVA 216-21 [Demolition of the "old" Georgia Viaduct 7.7.71], 1971.
This is a view of the eastern end of the McHarg (aka the “old” Georgia) Viaduct as demolition of it began in 1971. (1) The photograph was taken from the surface of the viaduct, looking toward Main Street. The demolition would proceed toward where the photographer was standing.

The new Georgia Viaduct would take a different route (and would be twinned, with the Dunsmuir Viaduct taking westbound traffic and the Georgia Viaduct taking eastbound) from that of the original bridge. The first Georgia Viaduct connected West Georgia at Beatty (next to the Drill Hall) with East Georgia at Main.  The new one would connect West Georgia at Cambie (next to BC Place) with Main at Prior Street. It was this change of route that meant that Hogan’s Alley (home of a substantial number of Vancouver’s black population) would be destroyed as part of the new viaduct project.

The 1970s viaduct (which was originally intended to be the first part of an urban highway) gave the city an excuse to launch an anti-“blight” campaign against Hogan’s Alley and other older neighbourhoods. It also led to the construction of the MacLean and Raymur-Campbell housing “projects”. The city’s anti-blight campaign is summed up well in the propaganda film entitled To Build A Better City (this is worth watching, if only for the soundtrack – which reminds me of that of a 1960s Hitchcock flick – and the over-the-top script read by long-time CBC News announcer, George McLean.)

Note: (1) The “old” viaduct was initially known as the McHarg Viaduct in honour of WWI hero, Lt. Col. William Hart-McHarg of the Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles, who died at Ypres.


Street Cleaning Method: 1914

Street Cleaning crews on horse-drawn water tanks Sept 1:14. Ci Dept P4
CVA Ci Dept P4: [Street cleaning crews on horse-drawn water tanks], Sept 1, 1914.
I’m assuming that the conveyances shown in this 1914 image were City of Vancouver entries in the annual Labour Day Parade (and probably also had the function of cleaning up after other animals in the parade). These water tanks, used by cleaners of the city streets, appear to be pausing for the photo and/or perhaps waiting for their cue to join the parade from a downtown location. The first Georgia Viaduct (1913-71) is visible in the background.

It would probably have been the source of some excitement among the men gathered for this event that war had been declared just one month before this image was taken.  At the time, of course, nobody knew that the war would ultimately become known as the  First World War or ‘the war to end all wars’, nor that it would take a devastating toll on the lives of Canadians and those of other nation-states.

Familiar. . . Yet Different

CVA 800-2000 desc in progr
CVA 800-2000 “Description in Progress”. (900 block Granville, South of Smithe; ca 1970-72).

Although the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA) – the source of this image –  apparently isn’t satisfied that all necessary details of the image are pinned down (its title as of the publication of this post is “Description in Progress”), it appears to be a northward view of downtown Vancouver taken from about the middle of the 900 block on the east side of Granville St (downtown), circa 1970-72.

Out of what hat did I pull the date for the image? From the construction in the background of the photo of the TD Tower (at the time, the “Stock Exchange Tower”, 700 West Georgia), finished 1972. The Tower stands on the site of the second Hotel Vancouver (1916-49). HV#2 was the most stunningly beautiful of all three HVs, in my judgement (the third and current HV is three blocks west, at Burrard and Georgia); it was pulled down in 1949, after which the lot sat vacant for 20 years until construction began on the TD Tower, aka the “Dark Tower”, a derisive nickname that stuck partly due to the dark, reflective glass with which it was clad and partly to the sharp contrast between its appearance and that of the earlier – and still much-loved – occupant of the lot. (1)

Most of the structures on the west side of Granville remain intact south of Smithe (the corner where the House of Stein stereo shop/Gresham Hotel appear), although most of those that are visible have  different tenants, today. One of the most notable of these is the Studio Theatre ( prior to the time of this image, called the “Eve” adult cinema; after the time of this image, it was known variously as the Lyric, Towne, Studio again, and – in its final theatre incarnation, as the “Paradise”; today, it is”Joe’s Apartment” nightclub). However, the most distinctive feature of the building – its neon signage – is, unfortunately, lost.

(1)  A possible  confirmation of my rough date of 1970-72 for this photo may be seen in the billboard of the Vogue Theatre (partly visible on the right mid-way up the photo). A Rock Hudson flick called Hornets’ Nest was released in 1970, and could be the name of the first film in the double feature then playing at the Vogue.


Jack Peach

ca1943 CVA 586-1696 - Jack Peach CBR [station announcer] Coltman & Colmer .jpg
CVA 586-1696 – An early photo of Jack Peach with CBC (Vancouver) affiliate, CBR. Serving as station announcer ca 1943. Seffans-Colmer photo.
Jack Peach. From:

Jack Peach (1913-93) was, I now realize, an  important early influence on my love of historical subjects. Growing  up in southern Alberta, my bedroom radio was typically tuned to CBC Calgary in the morning and I remember hearing Jack Peach’s historical features pertaining to Calgary and wider Alberta history.

It turns out that although Peach was born, raised and educated in Calgary (and in England), Peach got his first  (non-freelance) radio job with CBC in Vancouver starting in 1937.  This link from 1939 pertains to what was then a remarkable piece of news – the first overnight mail flight from Victoria to Montreal. The flight was with the national airline, Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) and took  a total of just under 16 hours. And CBC Vancouver’s intrepid reporter, Jack Peach, was aboard.

8989891454Peach produced at least three books pertaining to Alberta heritage topics: Peach Preserves, Peach Cordial, and Peach Melba.

If you are interested in hearing one of his later radio features, here is one, pertaining to Western Canadian author, W. O. Mitchell.


The Helliwells

CVA 371-744 – [Interior of residence at 916 Cardero Street] Hindmark (sic; should be Hindmarsh) & Rowlston (sic; should be Rowlstone)  photo, ca 1908.
This image shows an interior room of the home at 916 Cardero Street in Vancouver in about 1908. The BC directory for that year indicates that this was the home of John F(rederic) Helliwell. (An exterior photo of the home appears at the end of this post. It was taken a few years later, sometime probably in the early 19-teens).

John F. Helliwell (1871-1958) received training in accountancy at Liverpool Institute. He left Britain for Toronto in 1890, where he married his second cousin, Rowena Helliwell. They came to Vancouver in 1897 where he became a partner in the firm of Clarkson, Cross & Helliwell and later founded Helliwell, Moore & MacLachlan (later simply called Helliwell MacLachlan). The firm was located at first in the Molson’s Bank Building (northeast corner Seymour at Hastings; no longer standing). It moved in 1914 to the still-standing, gothic-revival Yorkshire (aka Seymour) Building at 525 Seymour, and made a final move to the Marine Building in 1939.

John Frederic and Rowena Helliwell lived in their Cardero Street home with their two daughters and one son, John Leedom, until the outbreak of the Great War. When war was declared, the Helliwells moved to the U.K. where JFH served in the army as a senior administrative officer, running camps in the U.K. and Egypt.

After the war, the Helliwells returned to Vancouver and resided in a home at 4750 Belmont Ave. (in which, apparently, Lawren Harris later resided) which they rented from former Vancouver Mayor, William Malkin. They moved to 1799 Cedar Crescent in the 1920s and to JFH’s final residence at 7936 Angus Drive in the 1940s. With the exception of the Cardero Street house, all of the homes occupied by J. F. Helliwell stand today.

John Leedom Helliwell (1904-80), John Frederic’s son, ultimately trained in accountancy and joined his father’s firm. John Leedom, and his eldest son, David Helliwell (1935-93) each, in turn, became FCAs (John Leedom’s younger son, John Forbes Helliwell pursued an academic career as professor of Economics at UBC).

John Leedom Helliwell and his family spent their first vacation following WWII at Acton Farm at St. John Point on Hornby Island. JLH and his family were so enchanted with the beauty of the place that he was moved to purchase the property later the same year (1945).

In 1966, John Leedom Helliwell donated 3,000 hectares of this waterfront land to the people of B.C. It is known as Helliwell Provincial Park.

CVA 371-741 - [Exterior of residence at 916 Cardero Street]
CVA 371-741 – [Exterior of residence at 916 Cardero Street], 191-. [I suspect that the children in this image are the three Helliwell kids: John Leedom Helliwell and his younger and older sisters].

I am indebted to generous assistance with many details in this post from John Forbes Helliwell, Professor Emeritus (Economics), University of British Columbia.

UBC’s Main Library (aka Barber Learning Centre) as it Was

UBC 1.1/1080. “Showing army huts south of the Library”. 1948.

If this view of the UBC Main Library (today known as the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre) seems strange, it shouldn’t be surprising. It has been awhile since the library building and environs have appeared this way. The camera was situated roughly where the SUB (student union building) is today. The main entrance of the library isn’t visible. The windows on the right side of the photo are where the stacks were located and the windows were on the opposite side of the building from where the main entry was.

If that still isn’t clear, try this: Imagine you are standing near where the clock tower is today; you are facing the library’s main entrance. The wing of the library on your right is where the temporary army huts are located in this image.

A Few Names to Faces at Lynn Valley Picnic, 1888

1888 - Port P334 - [Church picnic at Lynn Valley]  Group portrait showing Miss Sentell, J.H. Carlisle, Miss Slade (Mrs. F.W. Sentell), F.W. Sentell, Mr. Beckett, Mr. Hooper and others
CVA Port P334 – “Church picnic at Lynn Valley” shows “Miss Sentell, J.H. Carlisle, Miss Slade (Mrs. F.W. Sentell), F.W. Sentell, Mr. Beckett, Mr. Hooper and others”.
The image above was made by  an unknown photographer in 1888. It is unclear just what brought this group together, but what seems clear is that they are on a picnic and (according to CVA) the location of the picnic is Lynn Valley. Just how this group of predominantly women got to Lynn Valley from the city of Vancouver in 1888, dressed in their finery, I cannot say. If the photo had been taken, say, in 1907, it would not have been so hard to conceive – they would have taken the regular ferry over to Lonsdale (North Vancouver) and then climbed aboard the Lynn Valley trolly bus. How they got to Lynn Valley before the turn of the 20th century, however, I don’t know.

CVA identifies a few of the picnicers, but (unfortunately) doesn’t point out where they were in the crowd. I may be able to help with that:

  • “Mr. Hooper” seems to be Tom Hooper, who (according to the 1888 city directory) worked at the Vancouver Harness Shop on Oppenheimer Street (today’s East Cordova). Hooper is the tall, bearded fellow who is standing at the far back of the group. He seems to have caught a good-sized fish (a salmon?) which he’s holding by its mouth.
  • “F. W. Sentell” appears to be the fellow in the black overcoat seated on the front right (child in lap). Frederick W. Sendell  was one of a family of six  – four brothers (Frederick, George, Alfred, and Ephrian) and two sisters (Ann and Charlotte). Fred and his brothers were involved in a family business called “Sentell Bros.” They were building contractors and were responsible for building, among other structures, the first Vancouver City Hall. Frederick also served a brief term as a city alderman.
  • “Miss Sentell” is, I believe, the younger of the two Sentell female siblings, Charlotte; she almost certainly is the child in F.W. Sentell’s lap.
  • “Miss Slade” is, I believe, the young woman lower right, seated just behind Mr. Sentell. It seems that at the time this photo was taken, she was Miss Alice Slade; she later married F. W. Sentell.
  • “J. H. Carlisle” was a founding member of First Baptist Church (then located in a tiny building on Westminster – now called “Main” – Street); he was the third chief of the Vancouver Fire Brigade. John Carlisle appears to be the fellow seated behind Miss Slade (right, roughly third row).
  • I’m not sure where “Mr. Beckett” is in the photo. My best guess is that he is the fellow seated (unenviably) next to Hooper’s fish. John Beckett was (according to the city directory) a painter and the secretary of the Fire Brigade.
  • In my opinion, the most intriguing person in this photo is likely also likely to have the most enduring question mark surrounding his identity: the black gent who is lounging with apparent comfort partly in the laps of two of the white ladies in this photograph. Even the exceptional (in every way) Joe Fortes faced racial discrimination in early Vancouver. That the fellow in this image was apparently able to pose with such ease and even (am I imagining this?) with a twinkle in his eye, in 1888, is remarkable! His identity seems lost, however.

Whether the event was in fact a church picnic (as is suggested by the CVA record) seems to me to be an open question. Indeed, CVA seems to hedge its bets by showing in the “Related Subjects” column in this record “Religious Groups – Baptist” and “Religious Groups – Methodist”. It seems to me possible that this picnic was a group of churchgoers who were meeting for a reason that crossed denominational/doctrinal boundaries – temperance, for example. Indeed, just one year later, the First Temperance Convention (see second page of image plates following p. 10, These Sixty Years: 1887-1947 by W. M. Carmichael) would be held at First Baptist Church’s new building (corner Hamilton at Dunsmuir). Perhaps the image above shows an informal picnic gathering of a few of the likeminded individuals who would gather in larger numbers, more formally, a year later for the temperance convention.

“Just like the money in a Canada Savings Bond.”

MI-186 - Bing Goes Bang - In Vancouver
CVA M1-186. Screen capture from “BIng Goes Bang”, a news reel of Canada Paramount News. Shows Bing Crosby receiving the key to Vancouver from Acting Mayor George C. Miller, [1948].
Famous American crooner, Bing Crosby, drove a Caterpillar earth mover for the groundbreaking ceremony in 1948 of the Sunset Memorial Community Centre in south Vancouver. Crosby came to the city to record his Philco radio show as a fundraiser for the centre at the request of Vancouver native son and World Welterweight Champion (1933-35), Jimmy McLarnin. Some 8000 people attended the taping of the show, thereby raising $26,000 for construction of the community centre. Crosby returned the following year for the Centre’s opening, and performed for an audience of 1,500.

BC waving from Cate#1C9F809
CVA M1-186. Screen capture from “BIng Goes Bang”, a news reel of Canada Paramount News. Shows Bing Crosby on a Caterpillar earth mover preparing to break ground for Sunset Memorial Community Centre, [1948].
A new Sunset Community Centre (Memorial was dropped from the name of the new centre) was opened in 2008 (Bing Thom, architect) to replace the one opened by Crosby in 1950.

At the conclusion of the newsreel produced by Canada Paramount News (an arm of Paramount Pictures), Crosby sinks a golf ball into a hole, mugs for the camera and says, a bit glibly, “Just like money in the bank. Or as the folks in Canada say, Just like the money in a Canada Savings Bond.”

To listen to the Philco show taped in Vancouver (complete with today-questionable jokes pertaining to Crosby’s induction as an honorary chief of the Squamish people – Chief Thundervoice) , go here.

When Hudson Street Boomed (Sequel): Eburne Hotel

Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 6.07.08 AM
Cropped version of CVA LGN 994. (See full image in previous posting for more details).

The Eburne Hotel, which appears in yesterday’s image (with that section of the photo enlarged, above) seemed, at first blush, unlikely to be mysterious and very likely to help with dating the photograph. After all, the name of the hotel is plainly evident and it was pretty clear to me where on 4th [Hudson] Street it was located (east side, north of Eburne Ave [Marine Dr]). But getting the Eburne Hotel to give up much other information proved to be a chore.

Historical building permit info, it seems, is unavailable prior to 1912, and so I have not found any details as to when the Hotel Eburne was originally built. (The final listing I found for an “Eburne Hotel” in BC Directories was in 1923.)

However, there was an item about renovations to the hotel in an August, 1912 issue of the Daily Building Record (a newspaper issued for readers in the construction businesses). The notice indicated that the Eburne Hotel would be erecting a “40 ft. in depth” addition to the existing hotel, “doubling the present size of the buffet, dining-room, kitchen and store-rooms. The addn. is of frame const. and a genl contr. has been let to Waddell & Reese, Eburne”. That was was a major renovation; since it happened in 1912, there was a record of it in the Historical Building Permits records. It showed that the estimated cost of the reno was $2700 – no small sum at that time. The Daily Building Record also mentioned that the proprietor of the hotel was A. G. Halstead. (I could find precious little on Mr Halstead, except that there was someone of this name from Eburne who was a lacrosse umpire in the early 19-teens in the Lower Mainland and that his first name in all likelihood was “Albert”, since he was referred to as “Bert” by his lacrosse colleagues.)

There were a couple other potential clues to chase down that might help with the date of the image. One was the note beneath the Eburne Hotel sign that the establishment was a “Vancouver Autoists Popular Hotel”. It appears that Vancouver Autoists was an early automobile club; the Vancouver Autoists were most likely a branch of a larger U.S. operation. I could find nothing in BC Directories or anywhere else (so far) that would confirm this or help with dating the photo.

Research into P. Frazier & Co.’s real estate business, which seemed to share some of the space in the hotel, proved to be more fruitful. By tracking appearances of P. Frazier’s Real Estate office in Eburne in BC Directories, I found that Frazier had offices on 4th Street from 1911 through 1913. The business did not appear to exist in Eburne before 1911 nor after 1913. In the 1914 directory, however, there was a listing for a Percy Frasier (note spelling difference) who was an agent with Mutual LIfe Insurance Co. I strongly suspect that Percy Frasier, insurance agent is the same person as had been P. Frazier, real estate agent in Eburne the year before. But whether or not the men are the same is moot; the critical point for our dating project is that Frazier’s real estate office disappears from the Eburne Hotel after 1913.

I’d say that it wouldn’t be an outrageous estimate, in light of this research, therefore, to conclude that the image was made ca1912.

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


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