To celebrate my 100th post, published yesterday, I wanted to choose an image which was, to me, truly new. One I don’t remember ever seeing before, or knowing anything about.
This building was in the 100 (no coincidence) block of West Pender Street (at Abbott) and the image was made in 1949. It was the Rotary Clinic.
The Rotary Club led the campaign to raise funds for the founding of the clinic which was intended to diagnose and treat tuberculosis. It was established in 1919 and continued to operate until 1933.
The clinic should not be confused with the Vancouver Preventorium (as of the date this post was published, the CVA mistakenly identified one of its images of the clinic as the Preventorium). The Preventorium (shown below) was opened in 1931 (just a couple of years before the clinic closed) and operated until the 1950s. It initially was intended to treat children who had TB, but as TB became less prevalent, the Preventorium became a paediatric long-term facility (for kids with polio and other crippling diseases). It was located in the Grandview area.
If you’d like to read more about the clinic and the Preventorium and the staff who treated people at these sites, see this link.
The image above shows the 3rd incarnation (I think) of the YMCA in the City of Vancouver. (The first and second buildings were on Hastings, just east of Cambie Street).
The 1941 photo of the Y was probably one of the final images taken at this location. By late 1940, the next building (on Burrard at Barclay, just behind First Baptist Church) was nearly finished.
Today, the YMCA remains at Burrard and Barclay, but it has changed. As of 2010, it became known as the Robert Lee YMCA (after the Vancouver philanthropist and major benefactor of the Y). While the City of Vancouver required that the facade of the 1940 building be retained, the interior was gutted and utterly transformed and enlarged, and an enormous condo tower was attached to help finance the changes.
The enormity of the billboard showing a bespectacled gent shilling for Nabob is mildly shocking. Even more so that it appears to have been adjacent to a single family dwelling – although one that almost certainly was on a principal automobile route.
But the image shown below ramps up the marketing shock meter another notch: this one shows a billboard of comparable dimensions to the one above (again, adjacent to a home, it seems), but this one also has a neon component. There are light bulbs surrounding the advertisement and also the clock atop this (somewhat doubtfully, it seems to me) art deco monument to “Good Taste!”
The image above has a semi-rural charm to it that is a feature of many Canadian photographs made during the Victorian period. The lad in the foreground was almost certainly standing where he was at the request of the now-unknown photographer (his Dad?), probably to add some interest to an otherwise pretty barren Westminster Avenue (later, Main Street). City of Vancouver Archives staff have identified the two homes across the street from where the boy was standing as belonging to George W. Campbell and Dr. W.D. Brydone.
However, I am more interested in the relatively distant structure just visible in the background of the photo. It is a little more visible in the detail shown below.
The building appears to be of wood construction. It is described in the Vancouver Public Library image below as a “dry goods store” with, I’m guessing, residential rooms for lease above it.
The image below lends additional confirmation and a little more information about the “dry goods store”. This image is taken from behind the structure and wasn’t the photographer’s primary subject.
If you click on the image, a nearer view is revealed. A close look at the back of the building reveals an advertisement for W. D. Muir Grocery. It seems likely to me that the ad is for the structure to which it is affixed, rather than for another location.
An interesting tidbit related to this building is that it seems, from reviewing historic online building permits (a modest improvement valued at $200 was made in 1904), that an early owner was a
W. Duthie. Could this be the grandfather of Celia Duthie, the former owner of Duthies Books (and father of Celia’s dad and bookstore founder, Bill Duthie)? I don’t know anything about the Duthie family history, but would welcome a comment confirming or correcting my speculation from someone who knows.
The flatiron structure which is on the property today seems to me to retain something of the character of the early building. It was built in 1947 and has sort of a post-war, industrial feel to it; the glass brickwork suits it, in my opinion.
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 (see 1980s image below viewing the hotel and bar from Columbia St). 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.
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!
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).
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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 College 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
It is very difficult to remember that events now in the past were once in the future – Maitland's Dictum