W Marks the Spot

Van Sc P114 - [The Woodward's Department store beacon] ca 1938.

CVA Van Sc P114 – [The Woodward’s Department store beacon] ca 1938. (The “W” marks where the flagship outlet of Woodward’s Dept. Stores was located at northwest corner of Hastings at Abbott. Originally, as shown here, the W was mounted beneath a tower with a beacon. During WWII, however, this was considered to be a potential target and so the beacon was extinguished for the duration of the war. After the war was over, the W was mounted atop a replica of a substantially-shorter-than-actual Eiffel Tower. More recently, the original W was moved to ground-level as part of the Woodward’s Condominium redevelopment project. A shiny new W sits atop the redeveloped Woodward’s condos).

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 6.52.50 AM

According to a recent lecture titled “A Few Myths About Vancouver: The Real Stories”, by local historian, John Atkin, Woodward’s own brand of peanut butter was at one time produced beneath the beacon shown in the first image. This Woodward’s Peanut butter label (from the period 1973-1986) is at the Museum of Vancouver’s online site. (Thanks to J. Friesen for passing along the peanut butter information from Atkin’s lecture).







































This was originally posted July 2015. Updated on April 28, 2017.

Posted in art, businesses | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Bull! The Conversion of Black Motors to Black’s Restaurant

vpl 80449 Black Motors gas station, Georgia & Richards Streets. pumps, cars, sign, Holy Rosary Cathedral 1948 Tom Christopherson photo. Part of a Series 80449-80449D

VPL 80449. Black Motors gas station, NE corner at Georgia & Richards Streets. Service station and parts dept components of Black Motors. Looking north. 1948 Tom Christopherson photo.

The NE corner of Georgia and Richards is currently occupied by an office block (475 W Georgia). The building itself is not remarkable. It is distinguished by a sculpture of a life-sized bull which eyes the property kitty-corner from the building (Telus Gardens).

The first occupant of the corner in the earliest years of the City was St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. The large church building would remain on the site until 1937, when it was demolished and the congregation moved with the congregants of Wesley Methodist Church (SW corner Burrard at Georgia; also demolished) into their new, combined quarters at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (SW corner, Burrard at Nelson).

It isn’t clear to me what occupied the site of the Presbyterian Church in the decade immediately following the church’s demolition. It probably served as a parking lot until the postwar years.

vpl80441 Black Motors auto dealership 1948 Art Jones

VPL 80441. Exterior of Black Motors Parts and Service Depts (at Georgia and Richards). 1948. Looking north (with a steeple of Holy Rosary Cathedral in background). Art Jones photo.

In 1948, the Ford automobile dealership/service station shown above was established on the corner. Black Motors had two locations about a block apart: its sales location at the corner of Dunsmuir & Homer and the site shown above at Georgia and Richards. The dealership continued to do business at Georgia and Richards until about 1952. From that year, it appears that the two sides of the automobile dealer’s business were consolidated at the Dunsmuir and Homer location.

vpl 80442 Black Motors auto dealership parts department 1948 Art Jones

VPL 80442. Interior of Black Motors auto dealership parts department. 1948. Art Jones photo.

Whether the Georgia and Richards property was sold or not, isn’t clear. But the business certainly changed: from car dealership to restaurant: Black’s Restaurant (note the apostrophe-s attached to the restaurant’s name).

VPL 83253

VPL 83253a. Interior, Black’s Restaurant, 686 Richards Street, Counter. 1951 (the date was supplied by VPL, but I think it was probably ca1953; City directories continued to show Black Motors at both locations through 1952). Looking south to an auto dealership across Georgia St. Dick Phillips photo.

Whoever owned the restaurant – whether a new owner or George Black, the president of Black Motors (or a member of his family) – they seemed to have excellent advice on how to convert the dealership into a restaurant. The counter area, in particular, looks like it was a brilliant redesign of the original parts department.


VPL 83253b. Interior, Black’s Restaurant, 686 Richards Street, Dining Room. 1951 (the date was supplied by VPL, but I think it was probably ca1953; City directories continued to show Black Motors at both locations through 1952). Looking south. Dick Phillips photo. (Note: This image was photographed from the negative and was taken while the negative was lying on bubble wrap; hence, the mild distortion in the image).

Behind where the photographer was standing to take the counter photo, was a dining room in what, I’m guessing, was formerly the service department of the dealership.

Black’s Restaurant, didn’t last long. By the early 1960s, the space had become home to an auto upholstery outfit. And by the mid-’60s, the building that had housed Black Motors and Black’s Restaurant had been demolished to make way for . . . (you guessed it) . . . a parking garage!

The office building on the corner today was constructed in 1976. The Bull sculpture (Fafard), “Royal Sweet Diamond”, has been on the site from about 2000.

Posted in Art Jones, automobiles, cafes/restaurants/eateries, churches, Dick Phillips, Tom Christopherson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orange Meat?!

Str P278 - An H.A. Edgett Company Limited grocery delivery wagon on Hamilton Street 1908

CVA Str P278 – An H.A. Edgett Company Limited grocery delivery wagon on Hamilton Street. 1908. Edgett Grocers was an early Vancouver grocer that carried Orange Meat.

ORANGE MEAT vdw 5 apr 1904

Vancouver Daily World, 5 April 1904.

I came upon this advertisement when looking for something else in a 1904 edition of the Vancouver Daily World. The very peculiar product name compelled me to drop what I was looking for and read the rest of the ad.

The ad copy seems to have been produced by H. A. Edgett & Co., a notable Vancouver grocer; the product was evidently being introduced to the local marketplace at around this time.

From the ad we learn the following:
– No cooking was required prior to consuming Orange Meat;
– It was easily digested;
– It was produced in Canada;
– Cost was 15 cents/package.

But what was this foodstuff with the off-putting name brand (at least to 21st-century eyes)¹?

The ad following, printed by the manufacturer (Frontenac Cereal Co. of Kingston, Ontario) in 1906, was better in terms of its descriptive strength: it was at least clear that the mysterious ‘meat’ was in fact a breakfast cereal. According to the marketing folks at Frontenac, Orange Meat’s combination of ‘crisp flakes’ + ‘spicy malt’ + sugar = ‘fascinating tastiness’. Here, the company made the classical rhetorical appeal to ‘yumminess’! (I’m kidding, they were actually appealing to pathos – of which ‘yumminess’ is merely a subset!)

But they undid their positive work by making the claim “Orange Meat simply grows on you.” Hmmmm . . . I’m not sure that’s quite the word image that the marketers wanted to conjure in the minds of prospective buyers.

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 6.25.17 PM

Manitoba Morning Free Press. 18 August 1906.

In the next national ad released in the autumn of 1906, they shifted the appeal to the cleanliness of their manufacturing process (the classical appeal to logos).

Well, sort of. The headline read “Absolute Cleanliness Free.” To me, that sounds like their process was free of cleanliness. Probably not the impression they were going for.

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 6.36.28 PM

Ottawa Journal. 20 October 1906.

Finally, the appeal was shifted sightly again (it remained an appeal to logos) by advertising the high food value delivered by Orange Meat. (Call in the scientists!) A Prof. John Waddell of Queen’s University was enlisted to do a series of tests. The outcome? “Orange Meat contains over 45% of wheat sugars. These build up muscles and feed nerves and make people strong and cheerful.” (Winnipeg Tribune, Feb 2/07)

Man Morning Free Press 26 Dec 1906

Manitoba Morning Free Press, 26 December 1906.

The Frontenac Cereal Company seems ultimately to have said ‘uncle’ ca1911 and pulled the plug on the product with the dreadful name which, unhappily for Frontenac, was so damaged at birth that all of their marketers couldn’t put Orange Meat together again!


¹Other breakfast cereal brands of the early 1900s included such winners as: “Hello-Billo’, “Korn Kure’, ‘Tryabita’, “Tryachewa’, Oatsina, and the ever-popular, ‘Malt-Ho’!

Posted in advertising, food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Church Membership Transfers

LGN 484 - [Men and women assembled outside First Baptist Church, at the southwest corner of Dunsmuir and Hamilton Streets] 1889

CVA LGN 484 – People outside the second structure dedicated to First Baptist Church worship (SE Corner, Hamilton & Dunsmuir) from various local churches, probably for interdenominational temperance meetings. 1889?.

Membership transfers (or “letters of dismissal/admission”) were an important aspect of early 20th century protestant churches. This post will explore some of the features of membership transfers, using First Baptist Church, Vancouver as a case study. I will present scans of actual membership transfer correspondence between First Baptist and other churches. The correspondence on which I’ll comment in this post, for the most part, occurred when FBC was in the building shown above.¹


One of the first tasks of a group of believers who wished to form a church was an exchange of letters of dismissal (from their previous church home) and admission (to their new home); this action would be repeated again and again in church meetings as a congregation moved forward.

The following is an excerpt from the earliest document of First Baptist Church: the minutes of the meeting held to incorporate the church (March 16, 1887):

Address by Chairman Rev. R. Lennie on object of formation of churches and qualifications essential for church membership and relationship members should bear each to the other.


Rev. J. W. Daniels then read letters of dismissal and commendation for the purpose of forming church at Vancouver on behalf of the following members, viz.,

Bro[ther] E. J. Peck, Bethesda, B. C. [Baptist Church], La Conner WT [Washington Territory]
Sis[ter] Mary Peck, Bethesda B.C., La Conner, WT
Sis J. C. Alcock, Olivet [Baptist Church], New Westminster, BC
Sis Isabella McLean, Calvery [Baptist Church], Victoria, BC
Sis Seraph Crandall, Salisbury, New Brunswick
Sis Nellie Evans, Emerson [Baptist Church], Emerson, Manitoba
Bro Henry A. Morgan, Calvary [Baptist Church], Victoria, BC
Bro J. H. Carlisle, 1st [Baptist Church], Seattle, WT
Sis Sarah E. Hamilton, Calvary [Baptist Church], Victoria, BC
Bro Abram Broulette, Emerson [Baptist Church], Emerson, Manitoba

After reading of letters those present whose letters were read came forward and declared it their desire and intention to unite and be organized into a Baptist Church.

If some of the language above reminds you of phrases you have heard in a marriage service, I’m not surprised. Membership and especially the transference of it to/from other congregations was taken very seriously in First Baptist Church Vancouver in its earliest days.

When Letters of Transfer Were Truly Letters


(A) An example of a “Letter” Style of Membership Transfer. From “Correspondence File 1908”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.

The letter above (A), sent regarding Mr. and Mrs. Waine from the Church Clerk at “Central Fairview Baptist Church” in Vancouver to First Baptist is very typical of the earliest of such correspondence. In what ways?

First, it’s a letter, rather than a standardized form (for an example of a form, see (B)). This was typical of smaller, newer, less institutional congregations.

It is also a typical piece of transfer correspondence in that it was from one church clerk (that is what the “CC” abbreviation following J. S. Brookes’ name stands for) to another (at FBC, the clerk was Mr. Thompson). For a rarer example of pastor-to-pastor communication, see (C) below.

Third, Fairview’s clerk makes makes it plain that he isn’t acting on his own authority in making this request: “I am requested to write for letters of dismissal…” The request was made to him indirectly from the Waines and more directly from his congregation.


(B) An example of a “Form” Style of Membership Transfer. From “Correspondence 1902”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC. Note: This form alludes to ‘this blank’ which is no longer attached to the rest of the form. It would have been completed by Vancouver FBC’s Clerk and sent to San Jose FBC confirming that Mrs. Hickman had formally ‘united’ with the Vancouver church. See (D) for an example of a still-attached blank.


(C) An example of a Pastor-to-Pastor membership transfer letter (versus the far more typical Clerk-to-Clerk style). It is plain from the context of this letter that the Pastor at Temple Baptist in L.A. was a friend or acquaintance of H. Francis Perry at FBC.

Step-By-Step Guide

This was probably roughly the order in which things happened (still relying principally on the case of the Waines, to illustrate):

  1. Mr. and Mrs. Waine had been living somewhere in or near downtown Vancouver and had been members at FBC. They then moved to Fairview, for some reason or other. There wasn’t much choice among Baptist churches in Fairview at that time; and for most Baptists in this period, it would have been quite exceptional for them to consider moving to a non-Baptist church. So choosing a new body of believers with which to unite in their the new neighbourhood would not have been a big decision for the Waines.
  2. They notified the Fairview church, probably through its pastor, that they wanted to make Fairview Baptist their church home. The pastor would pass their names along to Fairview’s Clerk, Mr. Brookes.
  3. This is the stage at which the Brookes/Thompson correspondence was initiated by Mr Brookes.
  4. Upon receiving the request from Fairview, Thompson would have put Mr. and Mrs. Waines on his ‘little list’ of those who had requested letters.
  5. Thompson’s actions at the next FBC congregational meeting (which in 1908 would have happened weekly) would have been recorded in FBC’s minutes in language similar to this: ‘Bro. Thompson presented request from Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Waine to join Central Fairview Baptist Church.’ And, assuming that FBC’s congregants approved: ‘On motion, granted.’
  6. Thompson would send Fairview a ‘letter of dismissal’ from FBC membership. There are no surviving copies of FBC’s dismissal letters, but judging from letters of dismissal sent to First, the letter may have included a proviso that if FBC didn’t receive confirmation that the Waines had ‘united with’ Fairview in membership within a stated period, the dismissal would be assumed null/void.
  7. Upon receipt of FBC’s letter, it would be Fairview’s turn to have a meeting. At the Fairview congregational meeting, the names of Mr. and Mrs. Waine would be raised as desiring to join Fairview. The language used in Fairview’s minute book was probably something like this: “Bro. and Sis. J. T. Waine were received by letter.”²
  8. It was then incumbent upon Fairview to communicate to FBC that the Waines had become members at Fairview – this is the ‘letter of admission’ side of the equation. (A large congregation would likely eventually adopt a form rather than a letter as a way of communicating this membership transfer info between churches. At this stage, if FBC had adopted a form system – and I do not know when/if they did so, though it seems likely – Fairview would have returned the blank at the bottom of the form to FBC confirming that the membership transfer had been finalized. See (D) below for an example of a ‘blank’ attached to another church’s ‘letter of dismission’ form.
  9. Finally, FBC, upon receiving Fairview’s final correspondence regarding the Waines, would make a note in FBC’s membership roll that the Waines had withdrawn their membership and were worshipping at Fairview.

(D) An example of a “Form with Blank Attached” Style of Membership Transfer. From “Correspondence File 1907”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.

No Respecter of Persons (Nor of Congregational Politics)

The membership transfer system was no respecter of persons. All were treated equally, at least on paper. Members wanting to unite with FBC Vancouver who had come from a lonely rural Alberta church followed the same steps as did an incoming pastor and his wife whose previous pastorate had been at Cambridge, Mass. See (E) below.


(E) Membership transfer form completed by the Clerk (probably a Clerk Pro Tem since the name of the clerk was scratched out on this form) at FBC, Cambridge, Mass. for Mrs. J.L. Campbell (wife of the incoming pastor at FBC, Vancouver). From “Correspondence File 1915”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.


(F) I’m including this one because it makes me smile. It was sent to FBC Vancouver, I’m guessing, by error. It is a membership transfer for a former FBC,Vancouver pastor, J Willard Litch whose pastorate was shifting from Broadway Baptist Church (in Vancouver) to FBC, Calgary. This is a fine example of the sort of confusion that can ensue when there is a First Baptist Church in most major centres in North America! From “Correspondence File 1910”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.

Likewise the membership transfer system operated in the same fashion no matter which congregation was involved – even if the congregation was a splinter sub-group of First Baptist Church: West End Baptist Church (see (G)).³


(G) An unusual example of membership transfer from West End Baptist Church, Vancouver. WEBC was a splinter of FBC for a very brief period (ca1904-06). Note that no ‘receiving church’ is stipulated by WEBC’s clerk. It isn’t clear whether that was because the clerk was unsure which Baptist church Ida Hooper would end up going to with her letter, or if it was a case of ‘we’re not speaking’ between WEBC and FBC. From “Correspondence File 1905”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.

Clues for Researchers

Clues to church history abound in membership transfer correspondence. If you should happen across them when assembling documents for a church archive (or under other circumstances), I’d urge you not to pitch them out. They can tell you a great deal about both churches involved in a transfer: hints as to congregational theology (it is not safe to assume that a congregation’s contemporary theological stance was always the same – indeed, it seems to me safer to assume that it was not the same in the past), church governance style, and the background of individuals being transferred. These are among the clues that can be revealed when membership transfers are taken as seriously today by church historians, archivists and others, as were transfers when the transfers were first issued.

Snapseed 3

(H) A clue to the history of an (ultimately) prominent figure in Vancouver and at First Baptist Church, in particular: Charles Bentall. He would become a principal of Dominion Co. and instrumental in rebuilding FBC’s sanctuary following the 1931 fire in our current (Nelson at Burrard) building. He was being transferred from Jarvis Street Baptist (Toronto) in 1909; that is the same year as Dr. H. Francis Perry left Jarvis Street for the pulpit at FBC Vancouver. Notably, Perry would be followed in the pastorate at Jarvis Street by T. T. Shields. Shields would remain there (not without considerable controversy) until his death in 1955. From “Correspondence File 1909”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.


¹Letters of transfer came into play (perhaps obviously) only for those people who had been members ‘in good standing’ at a ‘regular’ Baptist church. Without getting into a detailed discussion of Baptist denominational distinctives prior to the 1920s, suffice to say that non-Baptists could not have their membership from a non-Baptist church transferred to a Baptist church in the fashion described below. They would need, most probably, to be baptized in order to receive Baptist membership. (Today, a person could become a member at First Baptist from a non-Baptist church without being baptized “by experience” if adult immersion baptism was practiced at their previous church).

²I don’t know what Fairview Baptist Church’s by-laws required at this time regarding votes on admission of new members. But the earliest by-laws of First Baptist Church, Vancouver, indicate such a vote must be unanimously in favour in order for the person to be admitted. However, “Should any objection be made the case shall be postponed and the objection inquired into. If the church on inquiry shall regard the objection as unscriptural, it may be overruled.” (Handbook, First Baptist Church, 1889)

³West End Baptist Church was made up of about 50+ former members of First Baptist Church, Vancouver between 1904-06. The members who left the mother church to form WEBC were loyal to the most recent pastor, Rev. Dr. Ronald Grant (who, apparently, had been urged by the FBC powers that be to seek work elsewhere). Grant preached at WEBC for a few months, but left Vancouver soon after. Rev. Dr. M. L. Rugg was called by WEBC to become their pastor and he remained until the members decided in 1906 to reunite with FBC. During its brief life, WEBC met at Pender Hall (SW corner, Pender at Howe) and also in a building on Granville between Nelson and Smythe.

Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Behind This Wall at Hotel Vancouver…

Update: March 24, 2017

This post has been revised since it was first published about 10 days ago. The most significant change has been to its scope. It was originally a very lengthy discussion that wandered into topics well beyond Beatrice Lennie’s sculpture at the Hotel Vancouver. This update has carved off the non-Lennie aspects of the original post and created a separate one.


Two of the six public elevators which flank the wall which probably was home to Beatrice Lennie’s Ascension in the lobby of current Hotel Vancouver from 1939-ca1967. March 2017. Author’s Photo.

Behind the wall shown above, in the elevator court of the current Hotel Vancouver (1939- ), lies, in all probability, Ascension, a work of bas-relief sculpture created by Beatrice Lennie (1904-1987) a renowned and very able local sculptor. Doris Munroe, in her M.F.A. thesis (UBC, 1972, p. xix), described Ascension, installed in 1939, as follows:

The theme with its vertical lines, arches, elongated figures, sun and stars was one of ascent. It was finished in tones of blue steel, brass and chromium which harmonized with the cream marble walls and bronze elevator doors. The hotel was opened on May 25, 1939. At the time of the reconstruction of the hotel in 1967 the ceilings were dropped and the artist believes the mural was then boarded up and faced with a new textured facade.

The poor image reproduced below is the only one I’ve found that shows all of Ascension. But, taken together with Munroe’s evocative description, we can imagine how stunning the work must have been. (Also shown below is part of Ascension from a Hotel Vancouver publicity brochure.)

Snapseed 2

Beatrice Lennie’s Ascension. This poor image of the bas-relief was found in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s clipping file. The source of the image was not noted in the clipping file. I have not been able to find a better image of the work.


This is from a ca1940 Hotel Vancouver brochure (which touts on its cover that the hotel is “one of the most modern hotels in the British Empire”). There appear to be partial images in the brochure taken from Ascension. Source: Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections (647.94711/V22va).

Ascension and the Artist

In an August 1, 1975 interview for the Vancouver Province, Lennie said:

I used to think your sculpture would outlive you, but they boarded up one of mine, a 12-foot panel in the elevator court on the main floor of the Hotel Vancouver. They covered it with a wooden wall when they lowered the ceiling. It’s discouraging in one’s own lifetime. At the time (1939), the CNR [for whom the hotel was initially built; it later became a CPR property] asked me to do something that wouldn’t be out of date in 30 years.

In another piece published about Lennie, she remarked (with bitterness and some overstatement): “I never go back to see my work because they always do such dreadful things to it” (emphasis mine). To the best of my knowledge, Ascension is the only Lennie work that is ‘lost’.

An article was published, likely in the Sun, shortly after the sculptor’s death in 1987, that recalled Lennie’s body of work and related something of her history and family background in British Columbia.¹  It is interesting that the article noted that Lennie came from a pioneer B.C. family, but there was mention made only of her maternal grandfather, Benjamin Douglas, who arrived in the province in 1862 for the Gold Rush (the Douglas border crossing near Blaine, WA was named in his honour). No mention was made of Lennie’s paternal grandfather, Rev. Robert Lennie, who came to New Westminster in 1884 and established the Baptist church that is still there, Olivet Baptist Church. Lennie also served as ‘the first missionary pastor’ to the small body of believers who would ultimately form First Baptist Church, Vancouver.

CVA 1184-1129 - [Sculptor at work] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay

CVA 1184-1129 – “Sculptor at work.” 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo. Although the artist isn’t identified by CVA, I’m certain that this is an image of Beatrice Lennie in her studio.

It seems likely that Beatrice, one of Rev. Robert Lennie’s twenty grandchildren, had grown away from her grandfather’s Baptist roots.² But I wonder whether she may have been subconsciously paying tribute to her dad’s dad with the creation and naming of Ascension.

At one level, of course, the naming of her Hotel Vancouver sculpture was a case of word play. Ascension would be located in the elevator court and was one of the last things which guests would see as the elevator doors closed and they were lifted to their rooms.

But at another level, I cannot look at the image of Ascension without wondering about the prominence of stars and halo-like objects, which taken together, seem to me to speak of Easter, the highest and holiest holiday in the Christian calendar.

HV - Main Floor Plan

Hotel Vancouver – Original (1939) Main Floor Plan. Note that eight elevators appear in this plan. The two elevator shafts closest to what was designated as the porter’s area (no. 4 and no. 8) were, apparently, walled up, presumably by ca1967 with Lennie’s Ascension.

According to a concierge at the Hotel Vancouver with whom I spoke in preparing this post, there are other things buried behind that wall. The original hotel drawings called for eight elevators, but part way through its construction, it was decided that six elevators (three on each wall that flanked Ascension) were ample. The abandoned two elevator shafts remain hidden behind the wall, to this day. Along with Beatrice Lennie’s bas-relief work.


¹The article referenced here was found in the Vancouver Art Gallery library’s clipping file and no attribution was noted. So I’m guessing that it was a Vancouver Sun piece. (For a detailed list of Lennie’s extant work and biographical info pertaining to her, see this excellent site.)

²I didn’t find in my research indication of Lennie’s religious denominational affiliation, if any.

Posted in art, churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, hotels/motels/inns | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Another Hotel Vancouver ‘Lost’ Artwork

Update: March 24, 2017

This post was originally part of the one about Beatrice Lennie’s lost art at the Hotel Vancouver. I have created this new post for two reasons: (1) the Lennie post was too lengthy and the principal connection with the material below was that both posts pertain to the same site: the Hotel Vancouver. (2) Since publishing my original findings about 10 days ago, I’ve learned things that have caused me to re-think my conclusions.

CVA 586-776 - Bill Morrall, Chair, Advertising and Sales Bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade 1941-43 Don Coltman

CVA 586-776 – Bill Morrall, Chair, Advertising and Sales Bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade 1941-43 Don Coltman. Note the curved wood panelling flanking the art (visible only on the left in this image, but visible on both sides in other CVA images).

The image above is from the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA) online collection. It shows Bill Morall, Chair of the Vanc0uver Board of Trade, speaking at a function held at the Hotel Vancouver (judging from the “HV” on the lectern). He is standing in front of what appears to be a piece of sculptural relief that is somewhat obscured by flags. The subjects of the relief appear to be indigenous, fruit-bearing women.

Who was the artist who created the ‘indigenous women’?

At first, I wondered if it might have been one of Bea Lennie’s. We know that she was commissioned by the Hotel Vancouver architect in 1932 to create much of the art work in the building (including some mouldings and fireplace features). But it seems improbable to me that Lennie would create a piece as large as this one without mention being made at the time it was created or subsequently. ‘Indigenous women’ has not been visible in the hotel for decades, and Lennie never mentioned any of her art being ‘lost’ or ‘boarded up’ except for Ascension.

I was helped by a comment on an earlier version of this post from Ron. He directed me to a link at the Vancouver Sun which displayed the same artwork (unobscured by flags):

The Sun claimed that the artist was Valentin Shabaeff, who is best known today for specializing in ceramic art. This doesn’t look much like ceramic work to me. And it probably wasn’t; I’m guessing it’s a metal relief, of some sort. The Ottawa Journal, in a March 23, 1957 profile, mentioned that Shabaeff went to Vancouver (from his home in Montreal) where he “did murals and bronze relief figures for the CNR’s Hotel Vancouver, in preparation for the [1939] Royal visit.” According to the article, he didn’t seriously take up ceramic art – which became his specialty – until the late 1940s. It seems to me likely that Shabaeff was the artist who created the ‘indigenous women’ relief.¹

But I do have questions around the location of the piece within the Hotel. The Sun claims that it was installed in the “cafe of the Golden Inn, royal suite”. This means nothing to me. I cannot find mention of any such room in any Hotel Vancouver publication I’ve looked at.

CVA, on two occasions, refers to the room in which they believe a photo which includes the artwork was made. In both of these instances, the room they identified was the “Mayfair Room”. I asked a Hotel Vancouver concierge whether a room with this name is extant today. Nope.

But there was such a Mayfair Room in the Hotel’s early years. In fact, I’ve found references to a Mayfair Room at the Hotel Vancouver from the early 1940s until as late as the early ’50s (and reference to a “Mayfair Lounge” dating from 1959). The Mayfair Room was regularly used during the 1940s by the Vancouver Medical Association as what we’d probably refer to today as “breakout” or seminar rooms. It was also used by at least one UBC sorority for its “spring formal” in 1951. ²

To me, the most convincing evidence of the existence of the Mayfair Room in the Hotel’s early years and the likelihood of that being the location of ‘indigenous women’ – is in a Hotel Vancouver document from UBC’s Chung Collection.

Excerpt from chungtext-1.0228937- Dec 31 1940 - CPR Hotel Vancouver CC-TX-198-5-4 UBC Chung Collection-2

Excerpt from chungtext-1.0228937- Dec 31 1940 – CPR Hotel Vancouver CC-TX-198-5-4 UBC Chung Collection

CVA 586-4596 - Display of Moffat [appliances in] Mayfair Room at the Hotel Vancouver 1946 Don Coltman

CVA 586-4596 – Display of Moffat [appliances in] Mayfair Room at the Hotel Vancouver 1946 Don Coltman. Cropped by VAIW.

The wood panelling which flanks the rather nondescript painting shown in the brochure seems to me to resemble that which is on either side of ‘indigenous women’. The photo seems to have been made at about the time the Hotel opened (ca 1939-40). Presumably, sometime between that time and the first appearance of ‘indigenous women’ in a photograph – in 1942 – the room had a major makeover; the fixed lounge seating was removed (presumably, to make room for longish tables at which Board of Traders and others could munch on lunch), the open ceiling was filled in, and the nondescript painting was replaced with the relief produced by Valentin Shabaeff.

Shabaeff’s ‘indigenous women’ was likely in the Hotel Vancouver from ca1942 until sometime in the 1950s or ’60s. Whether it was sold to a private collector, destroyed, or was simply walled up, a-la Lennie’s Ascension, seems to be unknown today.


¹I haven’t been able to track down what (if anything) Shabaeff called his relief, however. In this post, therefore, I’ll refer to it as ‘indigenous women’.

²Where the Mayfair Room was within the Hotel (even which floor it was on) remains, to me, a mystery.

Posted in art, hotels/motels/inns, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Bolivia Bound: The Story of Howard & Mary Plummer


Howard and Mary Plummer, 1924. In Bolivia (probably on the Pantiel Experimental Farm, there) . Photographer unknown. From: These Sixty Years, 1887-1947. Being the Story of First Baptist Church Vancouver, BC. By: W. M. Carmichael.

Howard’s Early Years

Arthur Howard Plummer (1900-1970) had his first taste of a mission career when he was 8 years old. In 1908, he accompanied his parents from their home in England to Wenchow, China, where his father, Dr. William Edwin Plummer, served as a medical missionary for a year. In 1909, the family returned to England and Howard went to boarding school there.*
It isn’t clear why the family moved to Canada in 1913. They initially moved to New Brunswick and Howard entered a boarding school in Rothesay. In 1917, the Plummers moved west to Saskatoon where Howard finished high school. Following that, he spent two summers on a prairie farm and two winters at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1920, the family moved yet again, this time to Vancouver, where Howard enrolled in the Agriculture faculty at UBC. He graduated in May, 1924 with a B.S.A.

Dr. and Mrs. Plummer joined First Baptist Church in 1921. Howard was baptized and also joined the church in that year. For 2 years, Howard was “Efficiency Superintendent” (whatever mysterious responsibilities that position entailed) of the Vancouver Association of the Baptist Young People’s Union (BYPU).  In 1923, he was President of the Provincial BYPU. And in 1924, was Superintendent of the Hastings East Baptist Sunday School.
It seems that sometime in early 1924, Plummer approached Rev. J. J. Ross (1870-1935), the pastor at FBC, and expressed interest in serving as a full-time Baptist missionary in Bolivia. Whatever it was that inspired him to want to serve in that South American country, he had certainly said the ‘magic word’ among Canadian Baptists at the right point in time to receive a positive reception. He met with an assortment of Baptists (clergy and laity) who gathered at FBC on August 27th to form a council of examination and ordination that ultimately would decide that Plummer had indeed been called of God for service in Bolivia and, indirectly, that he had the ‘right stuff’ for this task.

At the time that Plummer was undergoing his ordination exam, he was also engaged to be married to a young woman who had grown up in First Baptist, Mary Evangeline Pattullo. Not much is today known of Mary. She was one of three daughters born to Mr. and Mrs. James Pattullo, a Vancouver barrister, who had been granted the designation, King’s Counsel (K.C.), and was a senior partner in the firm of Pattullo and Tobin. Mary was baptized at FBC in 1912 and became a member of the church that year.

It isn’t clear how long she had been Plummer’s “bride elect”, but I’d wager it hadn’t been long; probably it had just been from a few months prior to his August 27, 1924 ordination exam. They were to be married a week later, on September 2nd.

The Ordination Council “unanimously and enthusiastically” approved of Howard Plummer’s responses to their questions and was “voted into fellowship” by them. Later that day, during an evening service at First Baptist Church, a congregation of some 1800 packed FBC for the service at which Plummer was formally ordained for Gospel ministry as signalled by the “laying on of hands”. Among those on hand at the service was former FBC pastor, Rev. Dr. J. Willard Litch, Superintendent of Missions in B.C. and Alberta. And, even more notably present was 85-year-old B. C. Baptist “Pioneer” Rev. D. G. McDonald who was present to give “the charge” to the candidate. “Infrequently is such a charge delivered to a young minister or missionary!” enthused the official account of the service in FBC’s minutes. Clearly, great things were expected of Plummer and of his service in Bolivia.

Bolivia and Furlough

It isn’t clear from FBC’s records when exactly Rev. and Mrs. Plummer departed for Bolivia, but it was likely late 1924 or early 1925. Whether they received any formal training for what they would face overseas (and in Bolivia, in particular) isn’t clear. But it seems likely that if they received any preparation or language instruction for their time there, it was minimal, certainly by today’s standards.

There is no information that I’ve been able to dig up pertaining specifically to the contribution of Howard and Mary Plummer in Bolivia. There are accounts of contributions made by a number of Canadian Baptists in that country prior to and around the period of the 1920s.

It isn’t clear whether they had any break during their 5-year term in Bolivia. However, at the conclusion of their first term in 1930, they had earned a furlough. How lengthy a rest period this was to be isn’t clear, but it was certainly a matter of months, perhaps as long as 12 months.

Howard’s name appears in the Vancouver Directory for 1930. At the time, he was living in one of the 5 units in Caroline Lodge (305 W. 12th Avenue; extent), where Mr. and Mrs. Pattullo, Mary’s parents, also resided. His name appeared with the abbreviated honorific, “Rev.”, and with the occupation, “missionary”. It isn’t clear whether or not Mary was living with Howard at the time. Her name doesn’t appear in the listing, but that was more the rule than the exception at the time, when it came to showing the spouse of the “head of household” in city directories. (For example, the listing for Mr. & Mrs. Pattullo appears simply as “Patullo, J M”).

On August 7th, 1931, Mary Plummer went to the roof of Strathmore Lodge (1086 Bute Street; extant; about 3 blocks SW of FBC, as the crow flies) and jumped. The fall would have been one of 8 stories (7 residential levels plus the roof). Death appears to have been instantaneous. She suffered multiple skull fractures.

No autopsy was deemed necessary. The coroner’s investigation (the day after Mary’s fall) seemed to conclude that the underlying cause of death was mental illness that led her to suicide.

Why Mary chose Strathmore Lodge to jump from, I don’t know. Perhaps she knew someone who was residing in the building at the time (although I’ve scanned the names of those living there, as listed in the 1931 city directory, and don’t see any names I recognize). Who can say, especially at this great remove, what was going through her mind when she felt moved to go up to that roof and jump.


Strathmore Lodge, Vancouver’s West End. 2017. Site of Mary Plummer’s 1931 death. Author’s photo.

The obituary for Mary Plummer was very basic. But it suggests an interesting clue pertaining to the life of the Plummers just prior to Mary’s death. Mary’s obituary described her husband as “Rev. Arthur Howard Plummer of Chemainus”. Huh? He’d been living in the same home as his in-laws, presumably with Mary, in Vancouver in 1930. Between then and August 1931, it seems clear from this, Howard and Mary had separated and he’d moved to Chemainus. There is nothing in the Chemainus directory of that year (or subsequent years) to confirm that he had taken up residence in that town. He may have been bunking with a friend.

Life After Mary

Whether he reached the conclusion before or after Mary’s suicide, Howard decided that he didn’t want to return to the mission field in Bolivia. In fact, his mission career was over. He decided to pursue a ministerial career; and so he sought a job as a church pastor.
Openings for Baptist ministers at that time in B.C. were not thick on the ground. The Great Depression was just ending. And there was significant disunion within the  B.C. denomination since the ‘Big Split’ of 1925 into the Regular Baptists and the Convention Baptists.


Oakland Tribune. 4 Jan, 1934.

So it isn’t surprising that Howard looked to the United States for work. He found employment in 1934 with Tenth Avenue Baptist Church of Oakland, CA. That church was looking to expand their staff from a solitary pastor to a pastor and five associate ministers, or ministerial ‘aides’. The position which Tenth Avenue wanted to fill with Howard was one of three ‘pastoral visitation’ ministers. This seems to have been the ideal post for Howard. He had had no real pastoral or theological training as far as I can tell. Nor would he have had much opportunity in Bolivia to hone any sermon delivery skills he might have had. But he could probably swing the job of “pastoral visitation”! He seems to have remained in that job about four years.

By 1938, he’d accepted a call to be the pastor at Visalia (near Fresno, CA) Baptist Church.

Sometime between 1934 and 1939, Howard remarried. Very little is known of his second wife. Her first names were Lulu Helen Keizur. She was born in 1902, and before marrying Howard, was a school teacher who lived with her parents.**

By 1959, Howard had accepted a call to become pastor of First Baptist Church in Port Townsend, WA. Sometime after 1965, Howard seems to have retired and the Plummers moved back to the Los Angeles area. He died there in June, 1970. Lulu seems to have died in 1983.


It isn’t certain that Mary’s suicide was directly linked to the prospect of a return to Bolivia. It may have been, or it may have been that Mary despaired over the state of her marriage, or that some other factor was in play that we aren’t privy to.

The Ordination Examining Council plainly didn’t consider Mary to be a full partner with Howard in his ministry work in Bolivia. She received only a single mention after the Council had pronounced “enthusiastically” in favour of Howard: “At the conclusion of the ordination. . . a beautiful bouquet [was presented] by the ladies of the Church to the bride elect, Miss Mary Evangeline Patullo, whose marriage to the Reverend Arthur Howard Plummer, B.S.A. will take place in the church on September 2nd.” This, it seems plain, did a real disservice to Mary. A bouquet would not serve her well during the five years ahead in a wholly foreign country.

Howard and Mary Plummer were ‘green as grass’ when they were sent to Bolivia by First Baptist. They deserved more preparation for what they would face; for the loneliness; for the absence of family and friends and things that they were accustomed to.


*Thanks are due to Dr. Donald O. Anderson. His ‘fingerprints’ are all over this post. Thanks for reading patiently and providing sage counsel as I unloaded on you regarding this one, Don!

**My thanks to Neil Whalley who found Lulu’s surname, date of birth, and occupation.

Posted in biography, churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Peculiar Notion: Foot Bridge Across First Narrows, 1909

LEG1709.1 - First Narrows. Proposed Suspension Bridge for Foot Passengers Only 1909 F. Tytler?.jpg

LEG1709.1 – First Narrows. Proposed Suspension Bridge for Foot Passengers Only. 1909. Plans signed by Frederick Tytler.

The plan above appears to have been one of the first proposals for a crossing of the Burrard Inlet at First Narrows (preceding the very different Lion’s Gate Bridge by about 30 years). It was the brain child of William Thomas Farrell¹ of the Burrard Wire Bridge Company and his draughtsman, Frederick Tritely.

In a June 19, 1909 article in the Vancouver Daily World, the proposal was described as follows:

Briefly, the plan is this: To erect on either side of the Narrows a tower of sufficient elevation and strength to maintain at a proper height cables that would carry with safety pedestrians from one side of the Narrows to the other; as a recompense for the outlay a small toll would be charged for the privilege of crossing. . . . To maintain at a height of 240 feet above high water the center of the span, it will be necessary to have the towers at each end of the bridge 335 feet above sea level, which allows for a sag of 66 feet in the center. The towers will be 1280 feet apart, or nearly a quarter of a mile, which will place this third on the list of long spans. . . . To guard against falling or being blown over the side a fine-mesh wire netting, strongly supported, will be placed on either sides of the roadway and will be eight feet high. It will be almost impossible to even scale this fence owing to its peculiar construction. An electric hoist will transport passengers from the base of the level of the bridge. . . . Mr. Farrell, the promoter, states. . . . “From a tourist standpoint I believe we will have something that will add to the fame of our city as much, if not more, than the beautiful natural forest at our western gate….It will be gratifying to learn that Mr. Farrell has been successful in interesting enough capital to erect and maintain the proposed bridge, and he only awaits the consent of the park board to begin its construction.

I’ll enumerate the principal facts of the proposal in summary form:

  1. It would be for pedestrians only. There weren’t many automobiles in the city at the time; indeed, the first BC driver’s licenses would be issued only in 1925.
  2. There would be a “small toll” charged for each individual who chose to cross the Inlet using the bridge.
  3. The towers would have elevators installed within to take pedestrians up to bridge level and down to ground level.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-2-57-40-pmThe advocate of this proposal, W. T. Farrell, had been responsible for the construction in 1903 of the first Capilano Suspension Bridge (450-feet long). It is interesting that the office space of Farrell and that of his draughtsman, F. J. L. Tytler was in the same building (522 West Pender Street). In Room 8 at that address, Tytler maintained his civil engineering consulting office and there he also fulfilled his responsibilities as Principal of the Technical School of Civil Engineering & Surveying. Tytler didn’t have many years left to live following the conclusion of this proposal. In March 1912, it was reported that he “dropped dead on St. Andrews avenue, North Vancouver.” (Chilliwack Progress, 6 March 1912).

Whether it was strictly true that Farrell’s First Narrows proposal had adequate capital behind the scheme is difficult to know. But what was certain was that the Vancouver Parks Board had the power to approve the proposal or nix it. It need hardly be said that nix it they did.

[The proposal was] laid before the board, but the expressions of opinion were adverse to the proposition and Mr. Farrell for the [Burrard Wire Bridge] company asked permission to withdraw the petition for the present without a vote being taken. This was granted. (Vancouver Daily World, 15 July 1909)²


¹The William Farrell referred to in this post was not the William Farrell who was the first president of BC Tel.

²Other decisions taken by the Parks Board at that meeting included the following: The city solicitor would be asked to draft a by-law requiring dogs to be leashed when in the park (the dogs “harried the peacocks and swans and did other damage”); steps were being taken to get another cow buffalo for Stanley Park, as the buffalo resident there until recently had died; and the Board agreed to pay half the cost of fencing between the park and Mr. J. Z. Hall’s property, provided  no barbed wire was used. “Mr Hall’s request for a private entrance to the park was refused.”

Posted in bridges/viaducts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nina Raginsky’s ‘LIP Grant’ Images

I have recently been introduced to British Columbia photographer, Nina Raginsky. How I have managed to live this long without being aware of her amazing photographic skill and talent, I don’t know!

Raginsky makes her home on Salt Spring Island and was recognized nationally in 2015 for her contributions to photographic art by having a postage stamp made of one of her best known Vancouver photos: Shoeshine Stand.

I’m including in this post some of my favourites by Raginsky from the Vancouver Public Library Historical Photos Collection. These images were all made in 1972 as part of the Leonard Frank Society of Documentary Photographers LIP Grant (Local Initiative Project). Other photos made with support from the LIP Grant may be found at the VPL historical photos link (there are 355 LIP Grant photos at the site).

Posted in Nina Raginsky, street scenes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Corrected Image by Horizontal Flip


CVA – 2010-006.062:  The back side of B.C Hydro building (today The Elektra residential building). The Clements Block (on south side of Robson between Hornby and Howe) is being demolished in this image. Ernie H. Reksten photo. June 2 1965. Note: This image has been corrected by me flipping it horizontally.


2010-006.062 – CVA’s UNCORRECTED Version.

It can be disorienting when a historical image’s negative is printed from the wrong side. By viewing the image to the right, you can see the way the image appears on CVA as of mid-February, 2017. (That the image was wrongly oriented when printed is apparent upon clicking on the uncorrected version of the image and enlarging it to try to read the ‘No Parking/No Stopping’ sign).

Let’s take a tour of the correctly oriented image.

The photo was taken southbound on Howe Street through the windshield of an automobile. To the right of the car (and outside the photo frame) is the courthouse (1906 Rattenbury; 1912 Hooper – annex)/art gallery. To the right and just ahead of where the car is is some metalwork. That was the above-ground indicator of the courthouse public washroom, which was located underground. The lawn surrounding the couthouse/gallery would later be removed as part of the redevelopment of the block (and replaced with concrete) to make possible the construction of such features as the civic skating rink.

The structure that is under demolition in the photo is the Clements Block (1922-65). Clements (SE corner Hornby and Robson) was home to a number of businesses, not least Danceland. Just behind Clements is the hotel that was known at the time this photo was taken as the Johann Strauss Hotel (and restaurant and cabaret). Later the hotel would be known as the Mayfair.

The church tower to the right of the BC Hydro (1957; Thom/Pratt)/Elektra block is the tower of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (1933; Twizel & Twizel). The building to the left of Hydro (now The  Elektra) is what was Sir William Dawson School (1913-1978; Edward E. Blackmore), the site today of Sheraton Wall Centre.

The other buildings in this image I won’t identify. Suffice to say that the area between Clements and Hydro (Block 61) was made up primarily of ground-level parking lots and would ultimately become the Erickson-designed Law Courts structure.

Posted in businesses, cafes/restaurants/eateries, churches, Ernie Reksten, hotels/motels/inns | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Norris Sculpture a Viaduct Memory


Vancouver Sculptor, George Norris, poses with a model of the liquid-filled glass prism – along with a model of the little park at the western end of the Georgia Viaduct – while pointing to where in the park the prism would be located. Vancouver Sun. Oct 20, 1971. Dan Scott photo.

George Norris (1928-2013) was a Vancouver artist whose sculptures adorn many city spaces. Doubtless the best known is his award-winning Crab at the entry to the Museum of Vancouver. Another one is Mother and Child at UBC near the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

But there is a small subset of Norris’ public art works which have been removed.¹ One of these works is the liquid-filled glass prism which formerly was on the NE corner of Georgia and Beatty Street – at the western end of the current Georgia Viaduct (1972-present). The sculpture and the park in which it would sit were designed to be memorials to the former Georgia Viaduct (1915-72) which for clarity I’ll refer to by its original name, the McHarg Viaduct.

Given that the current Georgia/Dunsmuir viaducts are today marked for demolition, it is interesting to think about why the park was created and the Norris sculpture was commissioned. My suspicion is that this may have been a sop from Mayor Tom “Terrific” Campbell and the Council that was dominated by his fellow-Non-Partisan Association partisans. This may have been intended to mute the outcry of so-called ‘anti-development’ forces who had raised such a stink over the


Looking east on the current Georgia Viaduct sometime after 1971. Source unknown. Photographer unknown. n.d.

replacement of the McHarg Viaduct with the Georgia/Dunsmuir viaducts at the expense of Hogan’s Alley and a number of homes and businesses in the Main Street and Prior Street area. Council spent $13,000 on Norris’ work.


CVA 772-123: Looking north up Beatty at Georgia. Between 1980-97. The Norris sculpture is visible to the south of the Armoury. The former Greyhound and Pacific Coach Lines long-distance bus depot is visible on the west side of Beatty (on the future site of the Vancouver Art Gallery). This is a crop of the original CVA image.

According to an earlier version of an online article written about Norris and his work, the sculpture was removed in 1987. (This date seems too early. I moved to Vancouver in 1991, and I recall seeing the prism at its location in the park after I arrived; the current version of the article has crossed out that year as well as its original assertion that the prism was in storage at the Surrey Works Yard – I have no current information on where the Norris prism is). Note: See comment below from JMV of Illustrated Vancouver for more on the date the sculpture is thought to have been removed.

The reason the Norris sculpture and the park were removed seems to have been pretty straightforward and predictable: the City wanted to develop the land on which they sat.


Georgia & Beatty, Vancouver. There is now a condo housing development on the former site of the Norris prism and park. Google Map, 2017.


¹There has been at least one other Norris sculpture which has been removed from its original site: his pinwheel at Pacific Centre (located between the entry to what then was Eaton’s and the Toronto Dominion building, at Georgia and Granville). It was installed in 1974 and removed in 1988. “In 1996 a section of the steel design was famously mistaken for scrap metal and destroyed; the artist was understandably upset with this revelation (not to mention the work had been worth $50,000).” Source: Scout Magazine profile of Norris.

Posted in art, Bailey & Neelands, politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

First Baptist Church in Disguise?

Update: February 10, 2017


First Baptist Church, Vancouver, mis-identified on this postcard as “Christ Church Cathedral”. Mailed in 1927 from San Diego to Kingsbury, Quebec. “Printed by the Heliotype Ltd. Ottawa.” n.d. Photographer’s name not shown.

This postcard of mis-identification was presented to me about a year ago as a gift by JMV of Illustrated Vancouver. The image appears to have been made between 1911 (when construction of FBC at Nelson & Burrard was completed) and 1921 (when right-side-of-the-road driving was established in the province, as the vehicle passing the Nelson Street doors appears to be on the left side of the road). I have no idea how many of these mis-identified cards were printed, but I’ve never seen another.

For another case of mis-identification (as of February 2017), see the City of Vancouver Archives photo below. Once again, the two churches involved are First Baptist and Christ Church. This time, however, the shoe is on the other foot. The interior of what is plainly (to me) Christ Church Cathedral is mis-identified as First Baptist Church!


CVA 1187-44: Mis-identified by City of Vancouver Archives as “Interior of First Baptist Church.” This isn’t FBC’s interior, but that of Christ Church Cathedral. ca1950. Artona Studios photo.

The sanctuaries of the two places of worship have little in common except their proximity to one another (FBC is at Burrard and Nelson; Christ Church at Burrard and Georgia). For comparison purposes, a photo of First Baptist’s sanctuary, ca1931 (post-fire reconstruction), may be viewed here (the second photo in the post).

Posted in Artona Studios, churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, street scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cafes and Bookshops – Two of My Favourite Things


Drawing by Keith McKellar, www.laughinghand.com. Reproduced with permission.

Paper Hound (344 W Pender) books is located on the site of what was for several decades a cafe in Vancouver’s ‘book row’. Most recently (ca 1989-2002), it was White Rose Cafe (evocatively shown in the drawing above by Keith McKellar). Before that, it was Dixon’s Cafe (ca 1941-87), and before that, very briefly, Pender Lunch (ca 1939-40) and Three Sisters Lunch (ca 1938-39).¹

The number of open secondhand book shops (versus closed shops where books are sold out of the homes of sellers and aren’t open to browsing customers) have thinned out considerably in the digital age. In 1989-90, for example, Joyce Williams Antique Prints and Maps was at 346 Pender (next door to White Rose), and on the north side of Pender in the same block were Stephen Lunsford (341) and Ainsworth (321); two blocks up Pender was the Anglican Bookshop (167) – which had been in the Joyce Williams site at 346 W Pender in the ’60s and ’70s – and Brendan M. Moss (101). On the north side of W Pender in the other direction (west) was the bookstore that has become an institution, MacLeod’s; Michael Thompson (434 W Pender) and Albion were about a block away. And Bond’s (319 W. Hastings), Colophon (407 W Cordova), William Hoffer (58/60 Powell), and Reginald Lissel (434 Homer) were within easy walking distance.

Joyce Williams would ultimately move to Yaletown, where it is today. Lunsford would settle into a closed shop in the Dominion Building, until quite recently; Ainsworth remained at its Pender location until finally packing it in circa the mid-’90s; the Anglican Bookshop seems to have called it quits shortly after 1989. Moss moved to his longtime site on Water Street in the basement of Le Magasin until finally closing his shop sometime in the mid-2000s, I believe. The bookshops of Bond’s, Colophon, Lissel, and Hoffer, are but memories. Michael Thompson is a memory of Vancouver bookstore lovers like me who miss his great eye and who can’t readily get to his current shop on Hornby Island.

What remains today of ‘Pender Book Row’ (i.e. of general open bookshops in the vicinity of West Pender)? The way I figure it, as of early February, 2017, just three remain:

Criterion Books (434 W Pender; across Pender from MacLeod’s on the second floor) was formerly an open secondhand shop, but according to signage at its entry, it is no longer an open shop.

I’m pleased to report that scientists so far haven’t found a way to digitize coffee or the purveyors thereof. At least one of my favourite things isn’t under threat of extinction!


¹In its very earliest years (following construction of the Victoria Block, of which it is part), 346 W Pender was occupied by realtors: in the 1910s by Herbert F. Maskill (ca1882-1928); and during the ’20s by Hugh S. Banbury (1886-1963) & Co.

Posted in books/reading, businesses, cafes/restaurants/eateries, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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


UBC Historical Photograph: UBC 1.1/1080. “Showing army huts [sometimes referred to by early faculty/students as ‘Hotentot 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 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.

Update: January 28, 2017


Interior of Bus Stop Cafe in 1969. It seems to have earned for itself a popular reputation as early as this year. No idea whether the cinnamon buns had been then introduced to the menu! UBC Historical Photograph: UBC 5.2/35

During time spent at UBC in the late 1980s, I recall a faculty member referring new students to “the bus stop coffee shop” not far from the Main Library (roughly where the campus White Spot is located today, inside the David Lam Management Research Centre) as being the source for the best cinnamon buns at the university. And I recall wondering why the coffee shop was so named. There were certainly no buses anywhere near that location. (In the 1980s and until relatively recently, the central bus loop was located adjacent to where the Student Union Building is).


I believe the UBC Campus buildings shown here were, moving l-r: Agriculture  (now math annex), Bus Stop, Gymnasium (now Buchanan Toewer), Main Library, Science building. cdm.arphotos. UBC Historical Photograph: UBC 1.1/308. 1930. Leonard Frank photo.

It wasn’t until stumbling across the image above that this low-grade mystery was solved for me. The structure in the middle of the Leonard Frank photo is the central bus stop in 1930. And, yes, the bus stop appears roughly to be at the same location as the Bus Stop Cafe of the 1950s-1990.

Posted in books/reading, libraries, schools/colleges/universities, street scenes, war | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Miss Jefferd’s Epithets

Miss Jefferd was never at a loss for an apt epithet, often with a touch of malice. Even yet, I hesitate to quote those applied to various professors which were hilariously funny and with enough truth to sting. But I might mention one or two referring to places of things in the [Main Library] building, which for thirty years, were common library terminology, such as the “Cave-Brown-Cave”, “Mysteria,” and the “dinosaur”. All have entertaining stories, now part of our library folklore.

– Anne M. Smith in Scrapbook for a Golden Anniversary: The University of British Columbia Library, 1915-1965, p. 16.


Miss Jefferd. UBC Open Collections cdm.arphotos.1-0028735full. n.d. George Van Wilby photo.

Miss Smith, unfortunately, had nothing more to say in Scrapbook about Dorothy Jefferd’s epithets. Her final sentence was so tantalizing, I found myself internally pleading with her: Tell me one of these “entertaining stories”, please!

Alas, Miss Smith (1899-1990) and Miss Jefferd (1889-1971) have gone to their rewards. And in their absence and that of so many other library staffers for whom the terms ‘Cave-Brown cave’, ‘mysteria’ and ‘dinosaur’ would probably have been assumed knowledge, and with the recent wholesale renovation of the building that once was Main Library (into the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre), it has proven no small challenge to unearth what these terms referred to.

Venturing into the Cave-Brown Cave


Anne M. Smith. UBC Reference Librarian and later Assistant Librarian. cdm.arphotos.1-0020708full. n.d. Gordon Pinkerton photo.

I won’t keep you in suspense. The Cave-Brown Cave was, in fact, much less interesting than the epithet suggests. Indeed, according to Miss Smith’s contribution to UBC’s oral history (at about the 25 minute mark) the ‘cave’ was a windowless area that served as the staff tea room. There is no photograph of the tea room in the UBC Photo Collection, as far as I know. However, given Miss Smith’s verbal description of where it was located, I figure (and Erwin Wodarczak, of the UBC Archives, agrees) that it was probably at or near the Storage room shown in the crop of the 1964 drawing of the 3rd floor of Main (one floor up from the entry floor) shown below. The ‘cave’ element of the epithet is clear enough – since the room would have been a relatively dim space, without any windows. But what of the rest of the label? According to Miss Smith, the room was named after a Miss Cave-Brown-Cave who was a library staff person. It isn’t clear to me exactly who this person was. There is no record of a Cave-Brown-Cave in the list of librarians at the back of Scrapbook. It could be that she was a part-time staffer and/or a student.¹  Just why the tea room was named for this person has also been lost in the mists of time.


Cave-Brown(e) Cave/Tea Room on 3rd floor of UBC Main Library. Crop of “Alterations to the LIbrary, UBC”, John M. Bean, P. Eng., Toby Russell & Buckwell Architects. March 1964. Annotations by author.

The Mysteria Beast


This may have been Mysteria (aka Level 1 Storage room). 1949. cdm.arphotos.1-0140011full.

There seems to be little doubt that Mysteria was a room located in the basement (Level 1) of the Main Library. The basement was originally in large part given over to Men’s and Women’s locker rooms/washrooms and a fan/engine room (which presumably was the building’s electrical and heating plant). That changed over the decades; eventually the locker rooms were removed and the remnant was the fan/engine room, washrooms, a Bindery, and a Storage room. It would have been very unimaginative for librarians to refer to the latter as a Storage room, however. That room became Mysteria!

Mysteria seems to have had its first documented mention as such in the 1952 minutes of a meeting of Library division heads:

Operation Mysteria:  Mr. [Neal] Harlow [Head Librarian] asked Miss Alldritt to report on this project. Miss Alldritt replied that the work was done, except what lurks behind the plywood partition in the cloak room. Everything remaining in Mysteria is shelved and everything that goes into Mysteria henceforth is to be shelved immediately. The room is now in good order….As soon as possible, the plywood partition will be taken down and the material stored behind it examined. Miss Smith believes that a great deal of it is wartime propaganda.

Minutes, Meeting of Library Staff Division Heads – May 1952

The note struck in 1952 seems to have been a bit optimistic. Fully 15 years later, the monster backlog that defined Mysteria was back (or, more likely, it had never left):

New Home for the Backlog: M*Y*S*T*E*R*I*A:  Beneath Circulation [which was on Level 2], lies a large dark hole called the Mysteria, wherein have accumulated government publication duplicates, triplicates, etc. After some negotiation, several institutions were found to be interested in acquiring various sets from the treasures: some were even willing to pay for them. Many will be going to up-state New York University; others to the National Library and other institutions. Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria have already been through the collection from time to time. Packing started last Tuesday….

Library Staff Newsletter, Feb, 1967


Crop of drawing of UBC Library, Level 1. By J. R. McKenna, Revised 7 Nov 1961. Note: I have cropped out all of the drawing except the centre block of the Main Library.

But if library staff had hoped to have slain the Mysteria Beast in 1967, they realized by 1977 that such hopes were the product of rose-tinted eyeglasses:

Living with Books in Storage:  Stack space in the Main Library has been at a premium for many years now. As noted in the annual report for 1971/72, when books were returned en masse at the end of term, “in several areas, books would not fit on the shelves.” The problem of more books than shelf space is still with us – in greater intensity than ever. As a research library, we rarely discard books, a new building is not in the offing, and we continue to add about 50,000 new volumes to the Main Library every year. Like many other North American libraries, we have been forced to store part of the collection.

There are two major storage areas in the Main Library Building: Museum Storage, in the old Museum of Anthropology area, and “Mysteria” on level 1…. “Mysteria” is a holding area for the East Asian and Indic vernacular materials that will eventually move to the new library planned for the Asian Center.

Library News, Dec/Jan, 1977/78

Where’s Dino?

The Dinosaur epithet remained a stubborn nut right up to the last minute before I published this post. I wasn’t able to find any documentary nor oral history sources that mentioned it (with the exception of the very bare reference by Miss Smith in the initial quote from Scrapbook).

Erwin Wodarczak, of the UBC Archives, didn’t know. He did speculate that it might have been a reference to the Fan/Engine Room on Level 1, “maybe because it was bulky and loud?” That made sense. My only guess was that Dinosaur may have referred to the room on Level 1 of Main Library where the Museum of Anthropology artifacts were stored (awaiting construction of MOA as a stand-alone site).

I decided I’d make one final search of UBC’s Open Collection to see if I could find anything more conclusive about the pre-historic epithet. I looked inside a 1959 Totem (UBC’s yearbook) and there it was on page 22:


‘Dinosaur’ was a huge free-standing bookcase located in the Riddington Room. It contained reference books. The Totem, 1959. p.22.



¹There was a Miss Genille Cave-Browne-Cave (note the minor spelling variation) who was a student at UBC around 1938. She may have have had a part-time student job at Main Library; I don’t know.

Posted in books/reading, UBC | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Early Submariner Dies in Hospital


CVA 102-26 – Vancouver water works, Capilano water pipe repair. November 1890. Richard T. Llewellyn in diving suit on right. Bailey and Neelands photo.

What an odd assortment of people to see with a work party in Burrard Inlet’s First Narrows! I would expect to see most of the men here pictured, but not the four young women and three kids.

We are able to identify with some certainty only two people in this shot: the diver (“submariner”), Richard Thomas Llewellyn (in the diving suit on right) and his wife, Catherine Llewellyn standing just behind and to the right of the gent holding Llewellyn’s air hose (with RTL’s helmet in front of him). The child between RTL and Mrs. Llewellyn is most likely their firstborn, May, who would have been almost 2 years old. The Llewellyns would have at least four other kids before Richard’s death in 1900 from pneumonia: Selena (1890), John (1892), Mary (1894), and Richard Jr. (1895).

Llewellyn was an employee of the City of Vancouver Water Works. Following the portrait made for posterity by pioneer professional photographers, Bailey and Neelands, the men on this craft would set out with the task of repairing the water main between the north shore and the City of Vancouver. The S. S. Abyssinia, a steamer which plied Georgia Strait and Howe Sound, somehow “sat” upon the pipe, and thereby broke the principal source of Vancouver’s drinking water.¹ Until RTL and his team had made the repair, Vancouver had to make do with water from wells and that which was supplied from more distant sources by horse-drawn wagons.²

One of RTL’s later jobs was to “journey across the Fraser river on foot.” He was contracted to “recover the Telephone Co.’s valuable cable which was swept from its moorings by last year’s [1894] flood, and lost, opposite New Westminster.”³

I wasn’t hugely surprised that RTL died at the early age of 46. I was prepared for that; I did not anticipate that “submariners” in the late 19th century had particularly long careers or lives. So I was taken aback that his cause of death was pneumonia. To put it mildly, Mrs Llewellyn seemed more than surprised when Richard died in hospital. Indeed, she seemed to be in shock, even some months after his passing. Indeed, things got so dire for her and her family that they made headlines in the local newspaper:


 Authorities Have a Heart-Rending Experience

According to the Daily World, one of Mrs. Llewellyn’s children, a “three-year old” (although a child of that age in the Llewellyn home doesn’t fit with birth records for the Llewellyns summarized above) had contracted suspected “diptheria”. In order to rule out or confirm that preliminary diagnosis, however, the child needed to be admitted to the City Hospital (Note: Not VGH, which would be founded in 1906 in Fairview at its current location, but the prior City Hospital – pictured below – which was at the SE corner of Pender and Cambie on which corner there has been a parking garage for several years).

City public health authorities went to the Llewellyn residence, with an ambulance, to remove the child to the hospital. I’ll let the World pick up the tale:

They went into the house, but the child could not be found, and the almost frantic mother admitted that she had hidden it. . . . [Vancouver Medical Health Officer] Dr. McLean had by this time put on a white wrapper, as he expected to handle the child. The doctor’s tragic appearance made things all the more exciting for the idle crowd that soon congregated outside the door. The neighborhood [of Strathcona; the family lived on Prior Street, just a few doors east of Main Street] is a populous one, and almost as soon as the trouble had commenced, a crowd of 150 men, women, and children gathered on the sidewalk in front of the door.

For fully a quarter of an hour, poor Mrs. Llewellyn proved more than a match for the officers. Several times, the latter thought they would have to give up the search, so effectually had the child been secreted. . . . Mrs. Llewellyn was alternately crying hysterically and denouncing the officers. She had a fear of the hospital – inherently believed in all her life, and no doubt deepened from the fact that her late husband had recently died there. . . .

Mrs. Llewellyn seemed impervious to reason, and for some time the search for the missing child was fruitless. But when [Assistant Health Inspector] Mr. Robinson tried to move a certain table, his attempt made the woman frantic. A little attic that could be reached only by standing on the table, was found by Mr. Robinson and the baby was resting on some slats laid cross-wise on several beams. She was either too frightened or too sick to make any noise. The uproar was redoubled when the child was found, for several other people joined in the chorus of protests. The mother tried half-a-dozen times to snatch her little one away, and altogether the scene was what Inspector Marrion describes as about the worst he has ever witnessed. Finally the doctor carried the child out to the ambulance.

Two guards were placed on the house, one at the front and the other at the back door, until the premises can be fumigated today. But the woman, with a second child in her arms, rushed past the guard and was half way across the street when she was caught by Mr. Robinson. She wanted to go to the hospital with the sick child. She fought and screamed again and had to be carried back into the house, and then the doors were locked.

Today arrangements are in progress for the fumigation of the premises.

— Vancouver Daily World. 22 September 1900.

Plainly, this wasn’t a public relations triumph for Vancouver public health authorities.

I couldn’t find any further mention in the Daily World of Mrs. Llewellyn with the exception of a couple mentions (one prior to the “hidden child” ruckus, and one a few months after) of her pleas for the City of Vancouver to purchase her husband’s diving suit. There is no indication from the World as to whether the city chose to purchase it or not.

Catherine moved to the central Kootenays at some point afterwards (the last listing of her in BC directories was 1904). She died and was buried in Burton, BC in 1950.

Interestingly, there is evidence that Catherine’s eldest daughter, May (the one pictured in the water craft with her Mom and Dad above) ended up marrying a physician!


CVA Bu P369 – Man and nurses on lawn in front of the Vancouver City Hospital. 530 Cambie Street (at corner Pender), 1902.


¹Matthews, Early Vancouver. Vol. 3, p. 260.

²Matthews. Vol. 5, p. 145.

³Vancouver Daily World 25 June 1895.

Posted in Bailey & Neelands, biography, hospitals/health care | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ackers’ Shoeshine Shop


CVA Bu P264 – Exterior of Fred Ackers – Tobacconist and shoeshine man – 132 Cordova Street. ca 1895. I believe Ackers appears on the right; the unidentified black man is unknown to me. (Note: The original CVA image has been adjusted by me by cropping and adjusting exposure.)

I like this photo. It has a strong human element but enough contextual content that it isn’t exclusively about the two men who are its subjects. If I’d had my ‘druthers’, I would like to have seen the image in proper exposure (rather than in its still over-exposed condition; I did my best to bring it up to close to well-exposed, after the fact); I’m curious to know what the headlines on the Vancouver World newspapers say, for example!

Fred Ackers was in 1895 a very recent arrival in the city. There is no mention of him nor his tobacco/shoeshine stall, at any rate, in a BC Directory prior to that year. Nor does Ackers’ name appear in a later directory. Perhaps he was much like the Rene Mizonys and had wanderlust in his blood and settled in boom and mining towns only as long as they still appeared to be boom towns. Once they began to look as though they were going to settle into boring “big city” status, perhaps, he moved on!

Ackers’ shop was located on West Cordova between Cambie and Abbott (on the south side of the street) in the block where the Woodward’s condo development now is. He resided at Dougall House, which was a very short walk from his workplace (at the corner of Abbott and Cordova). Within a couple of years of Ackers moving on, his former stall was occupied by Miss Carrie Smith, milliner.

Posted in businesses, street scenes | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Lionel Haweis: Artist


Lionel Haweis. cdm.arphotos.1-0020705full. Staff, UBC Library.jpg

Lionel T. J. Haweis (1870-1942) was born in England to Rev. Hugh Reginald Haweis (1838-1901) and Mary Eliza Haweis (nee Joy) (1848-1898). Hugh preached at St James Church, Marylebone in London, but was known widely as a lecturer and author on music topics. Mary was from an artistic family and wrote books for women and children and created pen and ink illustrations for her work as well as that published by Hugh.

Lionel was the eldest of three children born to the couple. The other children were Stephen (1878-1969), an artist, and daughter Hugolin (1881-1957), a writer and singer in England. Lionel ran a couple of photographic studios in Vancouver, was a librarian at UBC, and was known for his poetic and dramatic efforts¹. For a summation of Lionel’s life and work, see here.

To the best of my knowledge, however, Lionel is not known for his illustrations. One reason for that is probably that his brother, Stephen, was “the artist” in the family. Also, I suspect that growing up in the home he did, and in the (Victorian) period, illustrating with pen and ink was considered by him to be a basic skill (sort of like having a rudimentary understanding of the piano and the C-major scale).

I’m including, below, the pen and ink illustrations I found in a booklet that Haweis produced in the 1920s, titled Seeds; it seems never to have been published.² It is a monograph which includes a single-page poem (the poem is not included below) and these several illustrations. The poem and illustrations are assembled loosely within paper wrappers, not as a bound book.

I’m not an expert on illustrations, but I know what I like. Haweis’ ink illustrations strike me as being  very good – especially considering that they are the work of someone who was an amateur in this field.


¹An example of his dramatic writing was The Rose of Persia. One of his poetic pieces was Tsoqalem: The Cowichan Monster (An Indian Legend)which was available for sale “at all book stores” for 75 cents at Christmas, 1917.

²Seeds is included in the Rare Book and Special Collections holdings at UBC Library. It is part of the Vancouver Vagabonds collection.

Posted in biography, Illustrations | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Drifting Mizonys


Crop from the deep background of CVA Str P338. Sign mounted atop the Petrina Block near corner of Cordova and Cambie (north side of Cordova). ca1889. Charles S. Bailey photo.

The original photo from which the above crop was made is the one featured at this recent post. I was zooming into the original shot, during the time that I was writing that post, when I noticed the sign atop the Springer-Van Bramer building (extant, but apparently known today as the Petrina block) at the corner of Cordova and Cambie. Mizony was not a name that I had previously encountered. So I jotted it down, expecting that I’d discover with a little bit of research that the name was widely known by Vancouver historians. However, as it turned out, the Mizonys were in town so briefly as to make relatively little impact on the collective Vancouver memory.

So who were the Mizonys¹ of Mizony & Co. Wines, Cigars, Liquors? There are two Mizonys who have listings in early Vancouver directories: R.T. (Rene Theophile) and Artemus (who appears to have been a junior partner in the firm, and a relative, possibly a brother, to Rene; Artemus doesn’t figure in this post).


CVA Port P41 – Mr. and Mrs. Mizony (Presumably, Rene and Anna). 188-

Rene seems to have been a shortened form of his full first name: Irene. Rene was married to Mary and they had a son, born in Colorado, and the only one to accompany them to Vancouver: Paul (1881-1975). Rene and Mary were both born in France; They seem to have both been (along with Paul) American citizens. (Note: At some point, I presume, Mary died and Rene married again, in 1904 – this time Anna Dunn, born in Kansas).

The Mizony family lived at 714 Nelson Street (near Granville). Paul was enrolled in Sacred Heart Academy (a Catholic school).

Mizony & Co. Liquors was located at 303 Cordova Street, in the Springer-Van Bramer Building (Hoffar, 1888). By 1891, Rene was managing Dougall House, a Hotel at SE corner of Cordova and Abbott; today it’s the building that houses the administrative hq of the Army & Navy Dept Store.

Rene and family came to Vancouver by 1886 (Rene was here in time to be on the first city voter’s list) and left as early as 1892; by 1894 for sure, as Rene’s name was dropped from the electoral list that year, “having left the country.” The Mizonys apparently left Vancouver to return to their home base of San Diego. They later lived in the mining town of Randsburg, CA.


CVA – Hot P34 – Dougall House being moved to the rear of lot on southeast corner of Cordova Street and Abbott Street. A brick structure would replace this wooden one as Dougall House; the wooden structure would become an annex behind the brick building, 1890. Bailey & Neelands photo.

Paul Mizony, in his retirement years, wrote a monograph titled Gold Rush: A Boy’s Impression of the Stampede into the Klondike During the Days of 1898.² In Gold Rush, he says that his parents, “Mr. & Mrs. I. T. Mizony… had always followed gold strikes or boom towns.” He then relates the story of his family’s journey to Alaska in 1898, a few years after their time in Vancouver. He tells how, upon their arrival in Dyea, Alaska, his father counted his cash…

and found that he had just $1.75. By good fortune we met an old family friend that we had known years before, in Vancouver, B.C.  He had a furniture store and gave me a job as a clerk and handy man.

The name of the family friend isn’t provided at this point, but it is shared a couple of paragraphs later when Mizony refers to “Mr. Hart”, who “was also an undertaker.” The friend that they ran into in Alaska who employed Paul Mizony must have been Frank W. Hart (1856-1935), a pioneer Vancouver furniture salesman, undertaker, and the owner of Vancouver’s first opera house.³


¹Various spellings are recorded (e.g., Mizoney). CVA spells it “Mazoni” in one place; “Mizony” elsewhere. Family members seemed to spell it Mizony.

²A copy is available from VPL’s Special Collections department.

³This is confirmed by Vancouver Votes, 1886, p. 348: “In 1894 the Harts sold out in Vancouver and moved to Rossland. . . but during the Alaska gold rush Frank went to Dyea and invested heavily in real estate. . . . In 1908 the couple moved to Prince Rupert where the couple was again in the furniture and funeral business. . . . He died 4 May 1935 in Prince Rupert.

Posted in Bailey & Neelands, businesses, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Hastings MEATS Puzzle


CVA 180-2739 – P.N.E. Shrine Circus float in 1955 P.N.E. Opening Day Parade. Aug 1955.

The first time I laid eyes on this photo, I saw the prominently displayed “MEATS” sign and immediately assumed I was looking at an early version of the Save On Meats sign – where it is today on the north side of the unit block of W. Hastings.

But, with further study, doubts developed about that conclusion and an internal debate began:

MDM1: Wait a minute… if the MEATS sign was on the north side of Hastings in 1955, as it is today, what is the Army & Navy department store doing opposite it?

MDM2: Well, 1, that isn’t difficult to answer. For many years, the Army & Navy had shops on both sides of W. Hastings, more or less opposite each other (a shoe dept. on one side and all other departments on the other).

MDM1: Ah, but allow me to point out that the address printed beneath the MEATS sign is 46 W. Hastings. Since we kn0w that even numbers are on the south side of east-west streets, that must surely clinch my assertion that Save On Meats was on the south side of the street in the mid-1950s. (And, although my case has been made, a couple of additional pieces of evidence buttress it: (1) The Rex Theatre is the white building adjacent to the main A&N shop (on the north side of Hastings). The Rex building is still there today, but it was swallowed up and greatly remodelled by A&N in 1959, thereby substantially increasing the retail space on the north side and making it unnecessary for A&N to have the Shoe dept. on the south side of Hastings; (2) The Beacon/Majestic/Odeon Theatre is opposite the Rex Theatre, right where it should be – on the south side of Hastings.)

MDM2: Not so fast, 1. Although you’ve successfully settled the question as to which side of the street the MEATS sign is on, you are wrong about it being the Save on Meats sign! In fact, if you’d allow your eyes to take in all of the signage in front of that shop, you’ll see a charming piece of neon with “Front Street” superimposed over a bull’s head. And if you check the BC City Directory for 1955, you’d see that a Front Street Meat Market was located at 46 W. Hastings!

Case closed!

Okay, okay! I think it’s a draw.

And there is a little more to the story.

zezula-joseph-a-ubc-commerce-class-of-1949 The chap whose likeness appears to the left is Joe Zezula¹. He and (his brother?) Walter Zezula were the original owners of Front Street Meat Market. There were two locations of Front Street. The initial location was on the 700 block of Front Street in New Westminster (thus explaining the name). This shop seems to have been started in 1953. The Front Street Meat Market in New Westminster  endured at least until 1963. However, only in 1953 was the New Westminster shop owned by the Zezulas (and starting in 1955, it had been moved off of Front Street to a location a block away, on Columbia). Starting in 1954, it seems that the Zezula brothers left the Greater Vancouver area.

By 1954, Front Street Meat Market (New Westminster) was under new management: Saul l-16191-sonny-wosk(Sonny) Wosk, whose portrait is on the right² (of the Wosks who owned the furniture shop on the south side of Hastings). The timeline seems to be as follows: Sonny acquired the original Front Street Meat Market from the Zezulas in 1954.

In 1955, Sonny opened another Front Street Meat Market at 46 (south side) W. Hastings, which he operated for a couple of years.

According to this history of Save on Meats

When Save-on-Meats originally opened in 1957, the location at 43 West Hastings Street was still serviced by interurban trams that brought customers nearly to its door. Entrepreneur Sonny Wosk founded the business, bringing in a young Al DesLauriers to run the meat department. . . . and when Wosk was ready to sell, DesLauriers bought the business.

So in 1957, it appears that Sonny closed Vancouver’s short-lived Front Street Meat Market on the north side of W. Hastings and opened Save On Meats almost directly across the street.


¹The Zezula photo is from the 1947 issue of The Totem, the UBC Yearbook. Zezula was in the Commerce class of ’49.

²Wosk’s portrait is from the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C.


Posted in businesses, cafes/restaurants/eateries, neon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rev. Arthur J. Hadley: “Let’s Go!”

imgfbc-archives-3_0439My very good friend, Art Hadley, died on Christmas Day, 2016. He had a special connection with Vancouver, although he and his wife, Edna, spent relatively little time in the Greater Vancouver area, recently. In their retirement, they settled in Mississauga and later in Gravenhurst, ON.

Art was a Baptist pastor who seemed to me born for that career with a preacher’s voice that boomed out of his relatively small body¹. He became a member of First Baptist Church (Vancouver) with his parents (Frank and Nellie) in 1946, after serving in the Canadian Navy in World War II. He spent time at divinity school in the U.S. and then became a full-time minister. He served pastorates in Regina, Fredericton, and West Virginia. He also served long and significant terms in New Westminster (Olivet Baptist) and Vancouver (West Point Grey Baptist). 


Rev. Art Hadley and Rev. Dr. Bruce Milne while ministering together at First Baptist Church (Vancouver). Archives, First Baptist Church (Vancouver). n.d.

Later in life, following his retirement from full-time ministry, he served as an interim pastor in Charlottetown, P.E.I. and served two terms at First Baptist Church (Vancouver) as Interim Director of Ministries in 1994-95 and also in 1999-2000. Even in the ’90s, there were still longtime FBC members who remembered Art and his parents with great warmth and he was welcomed at FBC in his largely administrative role, with Rev. Dr. Bruce Milne as the Senior Minister.

It was when Art was at FBC that I first got to know him. I was working in the office at First during his stints there as interim DOM. A memory I have is of knocking on Art’s office door around lunch time. I recall seeing him sitting at his desk with a can of Classic Coca-Cola within easy reach. I can hear his reply to my question as to whether he was free for lunch, as though it were yesterday: “Let’s go!” he’d most often say, and he’d be on his feet in a flash and ready to accompany me.

That will be my enduring memory of Art Hadley.

For a more complete obituary, see below:

A J Hadley Obit


¹If you are interested in hearing an example of Art’s preaching, there is a sample on Regent College’s audio site (as part of First Baptist Church’s audio archive there). It is his sermon delivered on February 28, 1999 at FBC and is entitled Begrudging Generosity. It’s a free download.

Posted in biography, churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Vancouver Vagabonds


CVA 99-5297 – 10th Anniversary Salon dinner. Vancouver Vagabonds Club. Dec. 10 1924. Stuart Thomson photo.

The Vancouver Vagabonds was a men’s club. It didn’t last long (1914-1928), but it was fondly remembered by former members long after it had ceased to exist.(1)

The Vagabonds are generally believed to have been the creation of J. Francis Bursill (1848-1928). Bursill, an art critic with the Vancouver World (who was known by the pen name Felix Penne), was a member of the Vancouver Poetry Society, the Dickens Fellowship, the Shakespeare Society, and was founder of the Bursill Institute and Free Library in the Collingwood neighbourhood.(2)

Lionel Haweis (1870-1942) was responsible for the design of the Vagabond crest (the club motto was “Loaf and Liberty”). His vagabondian role was Scribe (or what would have been known as Secretary, had this been been ordinary club!) for several of the club’s early years.


The club’s crest, designed by Scribe Haweis. Motto of the Vagabonds was “Loaf and Liberty”.

What was the purpose of the Vagabonds? In a word, fellowship. But it was a sort of fellowship that wouldn’t have suited all men; and, indeed, it seems to me that the sort of fellowship promoted by Vags (as they called themselves) was of a sort that would be difficult to sustain in the post-WWI period (thus contributing to an explanation as to why the group petered out in the years after the war; more on that, shortly).

Vagabond John Ridington (1868-1945, UBC’s first head librarian, summed up the point of Vagabond meetings in speaking notes prepared for a Vag Salon at which guests and spouses of Vagabonds were present:

In some respects the Vagabond Club is a unique institution. In miniature it corresponds in some respects to the famous Garrick Club of London and the equally famous Lambs of New York.(3)  Wealth or social position are not in themselves sufficient recommendation for membership….We welcome cranks, but bar bigots. . . . At times, serious and earnest enough, but we decline to take ourselves, or each other, too seriously. . . . We all long for the carefree life – to forget taxes [and] bills. . . – and be like grown-up children, enquiring, joyous, and irresponsible.(4)

At times, serious, but like grown-up children. That seems well to sum up the men who were Vags. Papers of a semi-academic nature were presented at meetings and literary, musical and theatrical efforts were encouraged. But there was also an emphasis on verbal jousting (5), word-play, and the absurd.

That sort of light-hearted spirit which evidently was present in Vancouver Vagabond meetings did not (and, arguably, could not) survive WWI and its cost of nearly 61,000 young Canadians. Further, A. C. Cummings (1885-1976), who was Editor of the Vancouver World, maintained that some of the best men associated with the Vagabonds in the club’s early years had later moved from Vancouver (like Cummings himself, who settled in New Zealand), had become weary from old age, or died. According to Cummings, at its end, there were no longer “energetic” men who were still Vagabonds who could hold the club together. Notably, Bursill died in 1928, the year the club wrapped up its activities.

For most of its life, the Vancouver Vagabond Club did not have a fixed address. This was doubtless part of the code of being a ‘vagabond’, a drifter. Among the halls and other spaces that Vags called home were: the University Club (310 Seymour), a room across from Forester’s Hall (at 930 East Pender), Brotherhood House (233 Abbot) and Glencoe Lodge (1001 West Georgia). For the quarterly salons (sometimes referred to as galas), they met variously in the University Club, the Dining Room of Spencer’s Department Store (as shown in the first image above) “the Lodge at Stanley Park”(6), the Hotel Vancouver (No. 2), Hamilton Hall (a former home of First Baptist Church at Hamilton and Dunsmuir), and at the homes of various Vag members.

There was a women’s club, the Comrades in Arts Club, which has sometimes been linked with the Vagabonds as having been a sort of Vagabondian women’s auxiliary. According to correspondence from A. C. Cummings, however, there was never such a link. Apparently a number of spouses of Vagabonds (including the wife of Cummings) were members of the Comrades, and that may have given the impression of a connection, but that was never the intention of the Vagabonds, according to Cummings (Letter from Cummings to Hooper, Nov. 2, 1967).

The Vagabonds played a lead role in establishing the Shakespeare Garden in Stanley Park on the tercentenary of the Bard’s death in 1916 (the quatercentenary of his death was in 2016). This, at least, was the impression in news items of the time.(7)  Cummings recalls events slightly differently. He said that Bursill was “wholly responsible for the creation” of the Shakespeare Garden (Letter from Cummings to Hooper, Jan. 1, 1967). He noted that the opening of the Garden by the wife of the Park Board Chairman at the time, Jonathan Rogers, was “attended by the Vagabonds in force”. Cummings’ claim that Bursill single-handedly organized the Shakespeare Garden strikes me as improbable. There was, after all, a Shakespeare Tercentenary Committee which is (according to CVA) pictured below at the opening of the Garden by Mrs. Rogers (the bearded fellow on the left of the image appears to be Bursill).


Tr P24 – Mrs. Jonathan Rogers plants an oak to commemorate William Shakespeare’s Tercentary near pipeline road in Stanley Park. 1916. Frank Henry Gowen photo.


(1)  I am indebted to Jacqueline Hooper for her research into the Vancouver Vagabonds, carried out in the late 1960s while a part-time VPL librarian and freelance writer. Hooper’s work was funded by the the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation. Since Hooper was working in the 1960s, she had access to the living memories of some who were Vagabonds or spouses thereof. There seemed to be a longer-term plan that her research would be used as the basis for a monograph or book about the Vagabonds (and a MS by Hooper is included with the collection of Vagabond materials held in UBC Library’s Special Collection). To the best of my knowledge, such a document was never published. 

(2) Bursill’s role as Vagabonds founder is mildly disputed by A. C. Cummings. In the opinion of Cummings, as an early Vag himself, the principal mover behind the club’s formation was UBC Library staffer and founder of the Rosetti Photographic Studio, Lionel Haweis (Letter from Cummings to Hooper, January 1, 1967). (There is a brief anecdote relating to Bursill in a letter from Vag Francis Dickie: “There are a great many anecdotes about [Bursill]. The only one I remember you probably don’t want to use: A Hindu acquaintance of mine, speaking of Bursill said ‘He is not very cleanly in his habits.’ A beautiful understatement.” (Letter from Dickie to Hooper).

(3) This is the only reference I’ve seen to the Garrick Club or the Lambs Club of NYC as possible forbears of the Vagabonds. More typically, when casting about for organizational family tree roots, Vags tended to refer to the Savage Club (London).

(4) In the April 3, 2013 issue of the Renfew-Collingwood newsletter, Paul Reid quotes “An Ode to the Vags” (which he seems to have unearthed from CVA’s Vagabonds collection). This poem, which claims to have been written by “Box Car Jimmy”, was probably penned by a Vag.

(5) I’ve noticed from time to time, descriptions of club meetings that borrow from Proverbs (27:17): “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” This suggests that character-building (although of a secular nature; religion and politics were the two subjects that were verboten at Vag meetings) was part of the purpose of the Vagabonds.

(6) It isn’t clear to me whether this was a reference to the Stanley Park Ranger’s Lodge (which doesn’t appear large enough to hold a salon group of the number shown above in 1924) or to the Pavilion behind Malkin Bowl (or to another building?)

(7) Example: Vancouver Daily World. 7 February 1916.

Posted in stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Freeze, Varmint! (Or ‘Vacant Lot as Window to the Past’)


Str P338 – Vacant lots on the north side of West Hastings street between Homer Street and Hamilton Street. ca1889. Charles S. Bailey photo. Annotation with arrow showing “Arlington Block” added by VAIW author.

This very early Vancouver image by pioneer photographic professional, Charles Bailey, makes me chuckle.

Not only is it a clear and sharp photograph of a time in Vancouver which would be nearly inconceivable today, without such images, but it shows a little slice of life at the time. The gent in the foreground has, apparently, spied himself a varmint of some sort (although it isn’t visible to me) in what must be described as an unofficial midden of the period.

But where on Hastings Street was this photo taken?

There aren’t many structural clues left of the old town to guide us. But there is one: the Arlington Block. Happily, the window configuration at the rear of the Arlington (which faces onto Cordova at Cambie and backs onto the lane between Cordova and W. Hastings) is unique.  The Arlington is shown in the ca1889 image above and in the 2016 one (courtesy of Google) below.


Screen capture made from Google 2D view in December, 2016. Shows retail businesses fronting on the north side of West Hastings between Cambie and Homer. Note: Annotations and arrows in blue added by VAIW author.

The lot that was vacant in about 1889 is vacant today. But during most of the intervening years, it was occupied. The structure on the lot housed, for many years, the Clubb & Stewart clothing retailer. This building was known as the Rogers Block, after the owner, evidently. (Note: the ‘Rogers’ in question was not Jonathan Rogers of Rogers Sugar fame, it was an ‘E. Rogers’, probably Ernest Rogers, who was with B.C. Electric Railway).

The structure on its right (to the east) wasn’t there when Bailey’s image was made, but when it was established a few years later, it became home base for The King (photographic) Studio on the upper floors and R. A. Cambell and Sons (boots and shoes) on ground level. This structure still stands (today it houses Emery’s Cannabis Culture).

The building left (west) of the empty lot appears in the Bailey photo to have been little more than a wooden shack (it also appears in the cropped image below).


Crop of Str P18 – Looking west on Hastings Street from Cambie Street. ca1898. Note and arrow added by VAIW author.

The shack appears to have been a printer’s shop at one time. It didn’t last very long, however; it was replaced within a few years with the tall, brick structure (which is extant) that housed Buscombe & Co. (china and glass) for several years. More recently (1980s-90s), I have confirmed through a query of the current retailer in this building (Vinyl), the space was leased to Bond’s Bookshop (which I remember with fondness from my earliest visits to Vancouver; it had wall-to-wall books on the main floor and in the dimly lit basement. It has been so cleaned and brightened that the Vinyl space isn’t recognizable as the one where Bond’s once was!)

Before we close this post, you may be forgiven a nagging question. What became of the building that housed Clubb & Stewart and which was in 1898, and is again today, a vacant lot?

The building burned in 2004, taking with it, among other things, left-of-wing shop Spartacus Books.


CVA 677-642 – Hastings Street between Hamilton and Homer Streets 190-?. P T Timms photo.

Posted in Charles S. Bailey, P. T. Timms | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Polar Pan?


CVA 99-1783 – Miss E. Robinson and Pete Pantages, Royal Lifesaving Society members pose at snowy beach, 15 Dec 1927. Stuart Thomson photo.

Here are Royal Lifesaving Society members, Peter Pantages and Miss E. Robinson. (Sadly, we don’t know Miss Robinson’s first name; she looks like she was quite a character. Although Peter and Miss Robinson appear in the photo to be friendly, they didn’t marry. Peter married a girl three years later who was, like him, of Greek extraction, Miss Helen Antonio Sarantis).

Peter Pantages wasn’t associated directly with his uncle Alexander’s theatre empire in Vancouver or elsewhere. Pete’s claim to fame was the establishment of the Polar Bear Club in 1920, shortly after arriving here from Greece and for being the proprietor of Peter Pan Cafe (adjacent to the Hotel Martinique at 1180 Granville) and Peter Pan Hall (at 1636 W. Broadway).


CVA 371-836 – The Polar Bear Club about to go for a swim on New Years Day. Jan 1 1939. Pete Pantages appears to be the left foreground in the photo.

I stumbled across a December 19, 1949 newspaper article recently (from the Lethbridge Herald, no less), which reported that:

Ten human polar bears took a ‘cool but refreshing’ dip in the chilly waters of English Bay Sunday. 

Peter Pantages, president of the Polar Bear Club, will complete a 20-year record of a ‘swim every day in the Pacific Ocean’, New Years’s Day.

The temperature was 30 degrees above [Fahrenheit] as Pantages and his ‘Bears’ splashed in the bay. Specatators, bundled in overcoats, watched from a snow-speckled beach.

It was a trial round for the annual New Year’s Day swim when 50 club members are expected for a dip in the icy bay.

Today, the Polar Bear Swim attracts in excess of 2500 folks every New Year’s Day. With references to it as a “tradition” and a “crazy baptismal”, the Polar Bear Swim today may be one of the most faithfully attended events in Vancouver. I doubt that Pete Pantages ever imagined himself the founder of a local religion!

Posted in stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pet/Person Fountain . . . Gone.


Fountain donated by Theresa Galloway in 1986. Was on Robson St near Hornby St until 2016. Author’s photo.

On October 1, 1986 – in Vancouver’s centennial year – this fountain was established on the north side of Robson street, a half-block east of Burrard (in front of the retail space that at that time housed the main store of Duthie’s Books and today is home to Tesla electric automobiles). It was developed as part of the Vancouver Legacies Program. The fountain was sponsored by Mrs. Theresa Galloway.

I noticed earlier this year that the fountain had disappeared from its location. I think it had been a number of years since it was connected to water services and so hadn’t been functional for awhile. But it was doing no harm and was still in good condition, not sullied by graffiti or otherwise marred.

My (unproven) theory is that it was no coincidence that the fountain was spirited away about 30 years after its unveiling. I suspect there was a clause in the agreement between Mrs. Galloway and the City that would ensure the fountain would be maintained for a 30-year period. If I’m right about this, I’d conclude that the City chose to take that contract literally (and negatively) and removed the fountain in 2015 or early 2016.

Theresa Galloway, who was not widely known for suffering fools gladly – whether they be government officials or otherwise – died in 1992, so she wasn’t around to raise a ruckus when the fountain vanished. And judging from what I have been able to discern, there was little fuss raised by others, either.

There are additional photos available on CVA’s site from the October 1986 fountain unveiling day.


CVA 775-189.28 – Unidentified woman, Theresa Galloway, Constable Rob Bosley and police dog Sport at drinking fountain inauguration. October 1, 1986.

Posted in people | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Fate’s Temptress


BC Archives H-05550

Mary Warburton (ca1871-1931) was a Vancouver nurse with a penchant for walking where she needed to go, regardless of distance or season. Two of her trips were reported in the news – one from Hope to Princeton in 1926; the other from Squamish to Princeton in 1931. Both trips were made in autumn.

On August 25, 1926, Warburton, age 56, left Hope for Princeton, a 65-mile journey. On foot. According to the account of Warburton’s trip as related by Michael Kluckner, she had finished a lengthy nursing stint with a terminally-ill patient and was heading to the Okanagan to take a working vacation as a fruit picker. She set out wearing a light khaki hiking outfit and supplied with food which would last four days: “4 packets of RyeCrisp, a half pound each of bacon, butter, and cheese, a pound of raisins, 2 oz. of almonds and some tea. . . . A frying pan, a billy [cooking pot], a spoon and a single-bladed pocket knife, plus a sketch map of the area and a compass, completed her kit.”

On the second day of her hike (and having travelled about 25 miles), Warburton  took a wrong turn. On Day 3, she stumbled and lost nearly all her food in a mountain stream, except what remained of the half-pound of butter. She conserved the butter by eating only a small portion morning and night; but in a few days, it was all gone. From then on, the only nourishment Warburton got came from chewing leaves and fungae, which she did not swallow. She claimed that after the first week, she didn’t feel hungry.

Warburton was reported missing before the end of August and a search party was launched. By September 21, however, the search was all but called off. A final effort at finding Warburton, was undertaken, however by BC Provincial Police Constable Daugherty and a guide by the name of “Podunk” Davis.

“Shortly after pitching camp in Paradise Valley on Monday the[y] heard a faint ‘hello’, and after a search Davis came upon the nurse, who, supported by a stick, was tottering in the direction of the camp-fire smoke. She was in an emaciated condition and her clothing was in tatters. All that was left of her shoes were the soles, which were bound to her feet with pieces of rope.

‘You’re an angel from heaven,’ was the woman’s greeting as she collapsed at Davis’ feet.”

Warburton was transported by pack horses and automobile to Princeton , and “after arriving at the hospital, insisted on taking a hot bath, unaided, before she was put to bed.”

Warburton Peak, near Princeton, is named in her honour.

Five years later, and by then 60 years old, Nurse Warburton was again missing – this time, walking from Squamish to Princeton.

From the start, however, Warburton’s prospects on this trip seemed grimmer. The search seems not to have been initiated until 9 weeks after she left Squamish. And by the time of the search, it was the first week of November and accumulated snow would have been a factor along mountain trails. The length of her planned trip was also substantially greater (although for some reason the searchers confined the scope of the searches to the area between Squamish and Indian Arm.)

The initial search for Warburton was launched by BC Provincial Police Constable W. Gill and he was accompanied by trapper Jack Haysburg. On that first search, a note from the nurse was found, along with other “traces” of her. Gill and Haysburg set out on a second search the week following the first search. The searchers were hoping against hope that the nurse had taken refuge within a cabin along the trail between Squamish and Indian Arm.

Neither Warburton nor her body was ever discovered and she was presumed dead.

Questions arise when I think about Mary Warburton. Questions like: “How many other times did she undertake walks to outrageously distant locales?” and “Was Mary mentally ill? Or did she simply enjoy really long walks – alone?” Or perhaps Mary was just an early version of that multitude of contemporary hikers who keep North Shore Search and Rescue crews so busy by taking on the mountains of the North Shore, ill-prepared for Mother Nature’s nasty side and/or their own lack of fitness for the area.



• https://www.michaelkluckner.com/bciw2hopeprinceton.html. “The Search for Mary Warburton.”

• http://forums.clubtread.com/28-lodge/9205-old-hiking-stories-hiking-characters.html. “Old Hiking Stories/ Hiking Characters.”

• http://universityrelations.ok.ubc.ca/publicaffairs/videos/. “The Search for Mary Warburton” (Video).

• Winnipeg Tribune (21 Sept 1926; 1 Oct 1926; 9 Nov 1931; 11 Nov 1931; 13 Nov 1931).

• Chilliwack Progress (14 July 1927; 29 Apr 1942)

Posted in biography, hospitals/health care, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Unsung Local Artist: Hans Lankau

Updated: November 22, 2016

The image from 1972 was added.

CIBC Bronze at Birks2

Bronze formerly located at entry to Canadian Bank of Commerce (SE corner, Granville and Hastings). Today it is what appears to be a little used tiny foyer leading to a staircase in the Birks building (not the main entry to Birks; one door east of the main Hastings entry). 2016. Author’s photo.

Hans Gottfried Edita Lankau (1897-1971) was born and raised in Germany. He immigrated to post-war Canada in 1951 when he was in his mid-50s, settling in West Vancouver. His principal work in Canada consisted of casting large coats of arms in metal. The Bank of Commerce example which appears above (the only work of his of which I’m aware that is extant in Greater Vancouver) appears to be a coat of arms plus. It seems to me to be similar to a piece of jazz music: the straight-ahead theme is in the coat of arms (encircled in the middle of the work), with improvisations surrounding it. It is, in my judgement, a brilliant piece of relief sculpture.

There was another, later (1965), coat of arms in Vancouver by Lankau, commissioned by the former Bank of Canada at 900 West Hastings. But Lankau’s specialization of coats of arms tends to lead to even more speedy disappearance of the art than happens with other kinds of public artwork in Vancouver. Once the corporation leaves the site of the coat of arms, the arms, generally speaking, are doomed. (This wasn’t the case, technically, with the Bank of Commerce work, but it was squirrelled away into such a non-travelled corner of the new Birk’s headquarters as to be gone in all but fact).

Lankau’s other work is listed here. Just how much of it is extant, I don’t know. Little, I suspect. A giant piece of biographical mystery is his pre-Canadian training and works.

One of Lankau’s sculptures that remains  in B.C. is the Canadian Coat of Arms at Confederation Court in Victoria. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists tries to make a case for Lankau’s Victoria work being deserving of the highest marks. The Confederation Park work may have been the more technically challenging of the two works. But in my opinion, the Bank of Commerce bronze is by far the most visually stunning of Lantau’s work in the province he adopted as home.]


CVA 70-23 – Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce building, 640 West Hastings Street, doorway. 1972. Art Grice photo. Here is the artwork in a more deservedly prominent location above the main entry to the building (when it was a CIBC structure).

Posted in art | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lads and Strays BENEATH the Platform, Please!


Crop of CVA 586-1313 – A.R.P. District No. 16 Celebration. 1943. Don Coltman photo. (The “Queen” appears fourth from the left in front row: Viola Balzer).

The photo above was made in 1943 on the occasion of (among other things, perhaps) the crowning of the Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.), District 16 “Queen” Viola Balzer from among other contenders for the crown (some of whom, I assume, are on the platform with her, in addition to her younger “attendants”).

The most interesting aspects about this image, however, are not the fact that it was considered advisable to have such a thing as a “Queen” of the A.R.P., nor the names of the other folks on the platform (most of whom are not known to me), nor even the location of the coronation (although it’s probably Stanley Park or Hastings Park).

Most intriguing to me are characters in this photo who, I suspect, were never intended to appear in the final (public) crop: the stray dog, and the three young male ragamuffins (one of whom appears to me to have been of East Indian ancestry) beneath the platform! I suspect that this image was made by professional photographer Don Coltman mainly for his own entertainment.

Posted in Don Coltman, parks, people | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pacific Centre Rotunda to be Demolished for Denser Commercial Space? REALLY?


Pacific Centre rotunda. 2016. Author’s photo.

In the nearly 450 posts I’ve produced for VanAsItWas over the past two years, I’ve typically focussed on Vancouver’s past. I will continue that practice. But today I will pause to reflect and comment on a news item which I didn’t see until recently.

On August 10th, Vancouver Sun journalist, Bethany Lindsay, reported that…

The familiar glass rotunda and public square that welcome shoppers to Vancouver’s Pacific Centre mall may soon be gone, replaced by three storeys of new retail stores.

Cadillac Fairview’s plan for the corner of Georgia and Howe streets was presented to the city’s urban design panel at the end of last month, but the proposal requires the approval of Vancouver’s director of planning before it can become reality. If the application is approved, the site would see 31,603 square feet of new, glass-fronted retail space, including an outdoor restaurant deck on the third floor and a “green” roof with planters arranged in a geometric grid, as well as a new mall entrance on Georgia.

The design comes from the Vancouver office of Perkins+Will Canada Architects, and follows negotiations between the city and the mall’s owner that began more than a decade ago. The mall was rezoned to allow more retail space in 2006, after Cadillac Fairview agreed to take on some of the costs for building the Canada Line entrance inside its plaza at Granville and Georgia.

This densification plan seems to me to be just dense. Why?

First, the result will be another wall of commercial space added to a corner that already has plenty. The Hotel Georgia on the NW corner and the TD Building on the SE already present pedestrians with a very vertical geography of concrete and glass. Adding another wall to those already on that corner will do nothing to make the corner more inviting to pedestrians. (To experience a corner with a similar feel to what the redevelopers are proposing for this corner, walk just a couple of blocks to Dunsmuir at Hornby. Not attractive, is it?)

Second, Pacific Centre mall has precious few architecturally redeeming features, in fact I can’t think of any, besides the rotunda. It has effectively created a place where passers-by and mall shoppers can gather and rest their feet for a few minutes either in the area just outside the glass rotunda or inside. The rotunda accomplishes what no other part of the mall does: it allows the sunshine (liquid or otherwise) to be visible inside the ‘Pacific Cave’.

Third, this corner has ALWAYS been low-rise and low-density; and, except for a period from the ’30s til the rotunda was built, it was a public park/square. As I’ve illustrated below with historical photos from the City of Vancouver Archives, from its earliest years, this corner of Vancouver has been relatively under-developed. It is one of the very few downtown street corners of which that can be said. Indeed, only from 1932-c.1972 was there any real commercial development of the corner. Before then and since then, the site has been a public space.



The corner in Vancouver’s early years was a park: CPR Park. Above, the East Indian Tea Co. (801 Georgia St) was using the elbow room that the park afforded to dry out a shipment of tea.



A gazebo graces CPR park in the photo above. An inspiration for the rotunda?


A (decidedly low-rise and low-density) service station was on the site before 1932. c1930 Leonard Frank photo.


Until the Paciifc Centre rotunda replaced it in the 1970s, the McLuckie Building was on the corner from 1932.

In conclusion, it would be a great pity, in my opinion, if Cadillac Fairview and the City of Vancouver decide to demolish the rotunda and replace it with commercial space: You got one thing right with the development of Pacific Centre. Don’t mess up that one truly positive element 40 years later.


Sign in front of the Rotunda advertising the new building proposed for the site. Sadly. 2016. Author’s photo.

Posted in businesses, Leonard J. Frank | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

John Goss: Baritone, Art Advocate, Politician, and Marxist

Winn Tribune Jan 28, 1933.jpgJohn Goss (1894-1953) was an Englishman by birth, but for most of his later years, he made Vancouver his home. In the 1920s and ’30s, Goss toured in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada as a recital singer, gradually building a reputation as a world-class baritone.

Shortly after the outbreak of hostilities at the beginning of the Second World War, Goss was in Canada and found himself stuck here for the war’s duration. During those years, Goss toured across the country, but Vancouver was his home base.

He opened the John Goss Studio at 641 Granville Street and built on his reputation as a baritone to become a notable singing instructor. A choral group performed in the Greater Vancouver area under the name of the John Goss Studio Singers. screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-7-35-18-pmHe also received positive reviews for roles he played in local theatrical productions (playing the composer Schubert, for example, in the Theatre Under the Stars production of Blossom Time in 1942). In 1949, in fact, Goss accepted a verbal offer from the principal of the BC Institute of Music and Drama (BCIMD) – which was connected with the Theatre Under the Stars – to join BCIMD as a faculty member.

Goss was also political. As early as 1941, he spoke out at the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations, urging amateur musicians to “organize to avoid this ‘sweated labor’ by various well-meaning organizations which offer artists nothing more than a cup of tea in return for their services” (11 July 1941 Lethbridge Herald).

In 1944, he ran as a candidate for the Parks Board as a member of the Labour-Progressive Party (the legal political party of Canadian Communists from 1943 to 1959). His platform advocated that a civic centre be built, that city parks be beautified, and that more libraries be established. He came in dead last among candidates. He ran in the B.C. provincial election the following year (in the posh Point Grey riding no less), and while he didn’t come in very last that time, he garnered less than 1% of votes cast.

Starting in 1944, he co-founded and later became president of a new organization called the Labor Arts Guild. The Guild was intended to promote interest in the arts among labour and interest in labour’s struggle among artists. A number of the members of the first executive of the Guild were members of the Labour-Progressive Party.


“Aircraft Worker”. 1st Prize in BC at Work exhibition (1944?). This sculpture is still on display at the Museum of Vancouver. Author’s photo.

The Guild sponsored a number of ‘people’s concerts’. Its most notable achievement, however, was the mounting of two juried art exhibitions (in 1944 and 1945) titled British Columbia at Work. There was a single criterion for inclusion in BC at Work: the celebration of labour.

In 1949, Goss was evicted from the U.S. while in New York at a peace conference. The FBI made noises about Goss being a Communist sympathizer. He returned to Vancouver where he was under the impression that he had a job with the BCIMD faculty. Wrong. The BCIMD, together with many others in the city were not interested in a ‘Communist’ joining the staff of the Theatre Under the Stars group. There was no written contract between the board and Goss, and the Board made it clear that he could forget about working with BCIMD.

Goss left Vancouver for England the following year, with his reputation in tatters. He died there in 1953.

Selected Sources

  • Vancouver Art Gallery. Vancouver: Art and Artists 1931-1983, pp. 72-78.
  • Sutherland, Richard. Theatre Under the Stars: The Hilker Years. M. A. Thesis. 1993.


Posted in art, biography, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thomson’s Cowboys


A. D. “Cowboy” Kean (with huge hat; front row, center) and a troupe of cowboys. Stuart Thomson photo.

I purchased the image above last week from a friend. It shows a number of men dressed as cowboys. The location of the image, I quickly concluded, was indeterminate; there are no visible landmarks. The photographer was Vancouver professional, Stuart Thomson (as confirmed by his right/bottom corner mark). As for when it was made, I’m inclined to put it in the 19-teens or early 1920s. Thomson began shooting professionally in Vancouver in 1910 and this photo looks to me like one of his earlier ones.

Upon closer inspection of the men shown in the photo, I noticed that the man in the biggest hat greatly resembled Arthur David “Cowboy” Kean (1882-1961). Kean had a life as a rodeo competitor and organizer and he later had a film-making career (followed by a career in radio).

My initial suspicion was that the photograph was made in connection with Kean’s involvement with Range Days, which was a component of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in the 1920s. The following clipping from the Vancouver Daily World (August 13, 1923) describes it:


Kean’s role as the organizer of Range Days in 1923, however, got him into trouble with the city folks in Vancouver, some of whom were disturbed by alleged “cruelty” to animals. It isn’t clear to me whether Kean was ever brought to book in conjunction with this, or if the charge was ultimately withdrawn:


I continue to lean toward PNE’s Range Days being the occasion on which my Stuart Thomson image was made.

There is another possibility, however. In 1924, Kean made a silent film titled “Policing the Plains” (based on the book written by R. G. MacBeth). It was shot in Vancouver, the interior of B.C., and Southern Alberta (notably in the Ft. Macleod area). The film had a limited release in 1927, had mixed reviews, and today is considered lost. There is no evidence that I could find that Stuart Thomson shot any of the stills for “Policing the Plains”. There is at least one other cowboy image which was made at a rodeo (probably somewhere in the Vancouver area; possibly at the PNE) in the 1920s. It is the image shown below from the VPL’s collection of historical photographs.


VPL 18159. Cowboys at Rodeo. 192-. Stuart Thomson photo.

More information about the life and careers of “Cowboy” Kean, is available here. There is also a series of still photos made in connection with “Policing the Plains”. There is also an extant silent film made by Kean to help Ft. Macleod celebrate its Jubilee year (during the time he was there filming PTP). (Note especially the “exhibition football played from horseback” by the Mounties in Macleod starting at about 8.42 in this short feature. Worth checking out if only for that segment!)

Posted in Cowboys, Rodeo, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Franklin Hall


CVA Trans N87.08 – [Taxicabs on Granville Street at Robson Street] 191-? VAIW Note: Franklin Dancing Academy was on the upper floors – see banner notices. The Hall itself may have been on the 2nd or 3rd floor. (The over-exposure of this image has been corrected somewhat).

I was recently browsing through a Vancouver newspaper which was new to me: The Greater Vancouver Chinook. The Chinook seems to have run from 1912-15, then briefly (1915-16) as the Saturday Chinook, and still later as The Standard (1916 and later). The principal readership appears to have been people living in the Cedar Cottage area in East Vancouver and east of there (as far east as Edmonds in Burnaby). The Chinook is available in digital form at UBC Library’s Open Collections.

While reading through the entertainment section (typically called by the Chinook, “Music and the Drama at Vancouver’s Leading Play Houses”) of the January 18, 1913 issue, I came across this reference under the headline “Sensible Sundays”:

The meeting at Franklin Hall,  Granville Street, corner Robson Street, on Sunday night was a magnificent success. Over 300 people attended in spite of the bad weather, and the program of orchestral music given by an orchestra numbering 20 included selections from Mayerbeer, Haydn, Gounod and others. . . .

My initial surmise from this report was that Franklin Hall might have been part of the recently-renovated “old” Orpheum complex (formerly the Vancouver Opera House at NW corner of Granville and Robson); it seems from the write-up as though Franklin Hall had been suitable for smaller, more intimate performances and audiences. But I was wrong about its location.

Franklin was actually the building kitty-corner to what had been the Opera House, located on the SE corner at 640 Robson (Lennox Pub and Payless Shoes are on the site today). I’m not certain what year the building shown above was constructed, but I suspect it was in the late 1890s. It seems to have been demolished in the 1920s to make way for the two-storey that is there today. CVA maintains that the two-storey was “demolished” in about 1972, but I think that the work which they interpreted as demolition was, in fact, renovation. The give-aways are the window casings which appear the same today.

“Franklin Hall” was known by that name for a remarkably brief time; roughly 1912-1919. Before then, it was called the “Elks Hall” (presumably named after the men’s fraternal group of the same name) and post-1919,  the space was occupied by the dancing school called in some sources “Vancouver Dancing Academy” and in others, “Franklin’s Dancing Academy”.

Just who was the “Franklin” in “Franklin Hall”? That is one of those niggling historical questions that may never be fully resolved. For what it’s worth, though, I’m going to lay my money on “Franklin” being W.E. Franklin (WEF). He (typically only males were referred to in city directories of that time solely with their initials) was shown as a “music teacher” at 640 Robson in the 1913 city directory. In 1917, WEF appeared in the “names” section of the directory as the instructor of the dancing academy at that address (the Dance Academy didn’t appear at 640 Robson in the “streets” section until 1920). Just who WEF was, I have no idea. He was shown as residing at 640 Robson, in addition to working there, around 1919. So if he was, as I suspect, the chap after whom Franklin Hall was named (albeit, briefly); it seems unlikely that he was a wealthy Vancouver ‘mucky-muck’.

I suspect it was a matter of convenience to refer to the hall after Franklin.  If you are going to be having events that feature music by the likes of Haydn and Gounod, it must be admitted that “Franklin Hall” sounds higher class in advertising copy than “Elks Hall”!

Posted in music, theatre/vaudeville/cinemas | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Guide to Secondhand Bookstores in 1987-88 (3rd Edition)

3rd ed (1987-88) Vancouver Guide to Secondhand Bookstores-1.jpg

3rd ed (1987-88) Vancouver Guide to Secondhand Bookstores-2.jpg

A copy from my collection of the 3rd Edition (1987-88) of this useful pamphlet.

The Guide

This is the first in a series of a posts I plan to write that will make public my collected editions of this Guide to the Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookstores & Antique Map Print Shops of Vancouver. My reason for making my editions of the Guide available is that, as far as I can tell, nobody else has*. I wish I could say that I had all of the editions of the Guide. The earliest edition I own is the one shown above, the 3rd (1987-88); I have all editions after that up to and including the 13th (2000-01), with the exception (frustratingly) of the 5th edition (1989-90).

There is a recent edition of a guide to Used and Antiquarian Bookstores of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley available online here**. It plainly has as its ancestor the Guide shown above. This more contemporary pamphlet, however, bears the marks of the widespread North American rejection of books that have genuine covers and paper pages and, likewise, of bookstores that sell such things (with doors and walls, and booksellers within!)

Yesterday and Today

There are relatively fewer secondhand booksellers in the City of Vancouver today than when I began coming to this city from Edmonton on book buying trips in 1988. A few giants continue to roam, however.

Bernard Spring of Antiquarius, which in 1987-88 was located in New Westminster; later, on ‘book row’ – Pender Street – in Vancouver; today, Spring continues to offer books and ephemera for sale online.

Lawrence Books of the Dunbar district, also continues. In 1987-88, though, it was under the management of the endearingly grumpy Joe Lawrence. Since his passing a number of years ago, it has been operated by his daughter, Ann.

MacLeod’s Books is the only shop, I believe, that continues today to operate at the same location (455 West Pender) and under the same management (Don Stewart) as in 1987-88.

Michael Thompson had a charming shop full of unusual detective and science-fiction novels on Pender Street in the late 1980s. In 1987-88, his shop was located at the address occupied today by Criterion Books. I recall spending quite a few dollars in Thompson’s Vancouver shop and at least two of these volumes I still own. (My recollection of Thompson’s store site, though, is at a location not shown in any of the Guides in my collection. I remember him occupying the space at 343 West Pender, where Pender Grocery is today, adjacent to Finch’s Tea House). He continues to run a shop today on Hornby Island.

Joyce Williams Antique Prints & Maps operates today in Yaletown, but in the late 1980s did business out of a shop on West Pender adjacent to the space occupied today by another fine bookshop, The Paper Hound.


*It seems to me that I once found older editions of the Guide in UBC’s archival collection. But upon searching that site in preparation for this post, I wasn’t able to see any sign of the Guide there.

**The online edition that was present when I wrote this post, unfortunately, did not continue the practice of dating, and was not current. Indeed, there were shops listed – for example, Characters, formerly in Marpole, and Booktown, formerly in New Westminster – which have been out of business (to my continuing regret) for at least two years.

Posted in books/reading, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

English Bay Theatre


CVA 99-47 – [Group photo of the Corinthians Amateur theatricals]. 1912. Stuart Thomson. VAIW Note: If this image was made in 1912, as asserted, I suspect it was not an amateur production by ‘the Corinthians’, but rather a professional production of The Mikado by a NYC company. If I’m right about that, the theatre where this production was held was the English Bay Theatre (a later incarnation of what was the Imperial Roller Rink at English Bay).


When I happened upon the photo shown above in CVA’s collection I said to myself, “That looks like a theatrical company in costume for Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado!”

I could find no mention in local newspapers in 1912 for any performances by a “Corinthians” theatre group (indeed the only source I found that mentioned a “group of amateurs” by that name indicated that they were an English amateur football team – a soccer team as North Americans today would call it).

But my search for performances of The Mikado in Vancouver in 1912 was more productive. There was a professional production in September of that year by Shubert and Brady’s NYC Gilbert & Sullivan Festival Company.


The Mikado (and other G&S operas) was initially advertised to be held at the “Imperial Theatre”, but within days of that initial announcement, the ad copy was quietly changed to read the “English Bay Theatre”. The confusion was likely caused by the introduction of a new theatre in Vancouver which opened at about the same time: the Imperial, located on Main Street. The English Bay Theatre was a short-lived tenant in the former Imperial Roller Rink building (see photo below). The similarity in name between the Imperial Theatre and the Imperial Roller Rink was doubtless the source of the brief confusion in the ads.

The fact that G&S productions were held in the former roller rink, instead of in the far more commodious (and theatrically suitable), 1200-seat, Vancouver Opera House, was because the Opera House was closed for renovations in 1912 by the new owners, Sullivan and Considine (the CPR had sold the house in 1909). The closure of the Opera House must have accounted for the moaning in the press by the business manager of the G&S Festival Theatrical Company, Mr. Dillon, about the “distressing conditions” in which the Company would be forced to play. “We will not be able to use a great part of our scenery, but the people will understand the conditions.” The Mikado players shown in the image above, do indeed, seem to be crammed onto a tiny stage.


Crop of LGN 467 – [Crowds at English Bay in front of bathhouse and Imperial roller skating rink]. 1909? Richard H. Trueman photo. VAIW Note: The Roller Rink would later become, albeit for no more than a couple years, the English Bay Theatre.

Theatre Management

The ad for the G&S operas indicates that E. R. Ricketts was the manager of the English Bay Theatre. Ricketts had been the lessee of the Vancouver Opera House (on Granville) from 1902-1912. When the CPR allowed his lease to expire at the Opera House (as part of their plan to sell the house), Ricketts failed to get a new theatre house, at the corner of Pender and Burrard, any further than “the foundations”.

Robert Todd notes that “[t]he fall of 1912 found the manager [Ricketts] booking touring companies into the English Bay Theatre, the name he gave to the Roller Rink at English Bay; this was a thoroughly unsuccessful venture, producing houses of only a half and quarter capacity. He soon moved over to the newly built Imperial Theatre on Main St. which the Province reported, would be ‘the home of the best travelling companies until the new opera house is built – some months hence'”**. What was the capacity of the English Bay Theatre is anybody’s guess. But it was plainly substantially less than that of the Opera House.

Reviews of Play and Playhouse

Yes, and no. According the Vancouver Daily World, the production of The Mikado by the American theatrical company was “perfect”.

But the review of the ‘house’, the English Bay Theatre, was much less glowing. The Daily World reported that, after taking multiple curtain calls,

Mr DeWolf Hopper [the lead actor in the production; he played Ko Ko, better known perhaps as ‘the Lord High Executioner,’ in The Mikado] paid compliments to Mr. Ricketts for looking after the comforts of the artists and his allusion to the theatre being only a “temporary house” evoked a storm of applause which, being translated into coherent speech meant, “May we have a real good opera house soon – and may we have many such delightful entertainments as we have had tonight.”

The review concluded with a note that the G&S operas presented in 1912, “with two additional ones”, were scheduled to play in the renovated Opera House in the last week of September, 1914. (In fact, in October 1914, the G&S “Opera Co.”, as it was by then known – still with Brady, but sans Shubert – with DeWolf Hopper and the rest of the company would play in the Empress Theatre. And The Mikado was not among the operas that they would stage that year).***


*I am grateful to Vancouver theatrical history guru, Tom Carter, for this insight and for putting me onto the Todd article cited below which confirmed the Imperial Roller Rink as the later site of the English Bay Theatre.

** Robert B. Todd. “Ernest Ramsay Ricketts and Theatre in Early Vancouver,” Vancouver History, Vol. 19, No. 2 (February 1980), pp. 14-23.

***The 1914 productions were Trial by Jury, Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance, and Iolanthe.


Multnomah County Library. Program – The Mikado (The Heilig Theatre. Portland. G&S Festival Co. 1912). VAIW Note: This looks like a similar list of cast & crew to that which may have been used in Vancouver in September 1912. The Company was evidently on a North American tour in the autumn of that year.

Posted in music, stuart thomson, theatre/vaudeville/cinemas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



Lithoprint of skyline of downtown Vancouver from Burrard Inlet. 1912. Bullen & Lamb photographers. University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. The Chung Collection. CC-OS-00178.

1912 was a significant year in the development of Vancouver’s skyline. Among the structures under construction that year were:

Posted in Bullen & Lamb, Chung Collection, UBC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where W.E.C. Shopped?

Updated October, 2016


CVA 1399-494 – [Photograph of Acme Novelty B.C. Ltd building, 7832 6th St., Burnaby B.C.(VAIW Note: See photo and comment below: This was not located in Burnaby, as CVA asserts, but in Vancouver at – see the printed address on the rear of the ANC van below – 428 West 8th Ave). 197-?

This image appears to have been made sometime in the 1970s; right around the same period when the hapless Wile E. Coyote was entertaining fantasies of terrorizing the nameless Roadrunner using machines built from products made by Acme.

The company portrayed in the image, however, could not have been the same “Acme”; this one included “Novelty” in its corporate name – a word which would rarely be associated with the products produced by the fictional company portrayed in the Warner Brothers cartoon – and never with the cartoon’s plot.



CVA 1399-495 – [Photograph of Acme Novelty B.C. Ltd building] at 428 W 8th Ave., Vancouver. 197-?

Posted in advertising, automobiles, street scenes, theatre/vaudeville/cinemas | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Empire Cruise Comes to Town

What was the Special Service Squadron of 1923-24? Here is how the official site of HMS Hood (1915-41) sums it up:

This epic journey, known to the public as the ‘Empire Cruise’ or ‘World Cruise’ (but called the ‘World Booze’ by the Squadron’s men), was a highly successful public relations victory for the Empire. It served as a subtle [?] reminder to friend and foe alike that Britannia still ruled the waves. The squadron logged over 38,152 miles and visited numerous foreign countries around the globe. During the course of this cruise, over one million visited the entire Squadron, with Hood getting approximately 752,049 visitors alone.

The Squadron in Vancouver consisted of battle cruisers HMS Hood and HMS Repulse and of light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (of the Royal Australian Navy). A number of light cruisers were left in Esquimalt (where the Cruise had docked prior to making its Vancouver stop). For a complete list of the Squadron’s ports of call, see here.


This image appears to have been made somewhere along the City of Vancouver waterfront, roughly between the foot of Howe Street and Stanley Park. The photographer is looking out to Deadman’s Island in the deep background and one of the battle cruisers (the Hood or Repulse) in the middle distance. Passing just this side of the battle cruiser is what appears to be a civilian watercraft (it looks a bit like a North Vancouver ferry, to me) of which, by all accounts, there were many, darting about as the battleships prepared to dock. MDM’s Bottomley Collection.












Scott O’Connor, author of The Empire Cruise, who was aboard the Hood during the Cruise, had this to say about their arrival in Vancouver on June 25, 1924:

The reception given to the Squadron at Vancouver was of an enthusiastic character, and only the welcome at Sydney [Australia] affords a parallel to the extraordinary scenes which marked its entry into Burrard Inlet. Tens of thousands of cheering crowds lined both shores, while the Squadron was escorted and followed in by literally hundreds of small craft which had come out . . . to meet it. . . . At Brockton Point the Squadron was received with a royal salute of 21 bombs [bombs? really?]. The escorting planes followed through the smoke of the bursting bombs and close behind them a shower of rockets was sent up giving birth to flags which fell slowly attached to parachutes. On landing, the Vice-Admiral was presented with an Address by the Mayor [William Reid Owen]. . .  

It was, presumably, during Mayor Owen’s speech that a bison’s head (shown in the CVA image below) was presented to the Hood. I don’t know what possessed the City to choose this as a gift to a bunch of mariners. To the best of my knowledge, bison never roamed in the very forested area that had become Vancouver!


CVA 99-1211 – [H.M.S. “Hood” visit] dignitaries with bison’s head. 25 June 1924. Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW note: Mayor Owen is standing just behind the bison’s head – he is the balding, hatless gent).

The Squadron was docked at Vancouver from June 24 – July 5. That allowed time for the federal government to host 20 officers and 200 crew members of the Repulse on a train journey inland for six days. They took the CPR from Vancouver  through Revelstoke into Banff and Calgary, and then took the CNR from Edmonton to Jasper and back to Vancouver.

This ’round-the world trip was by no means an inexpensive enterprise for the British Navy. The Hood alone had a complement of well over 1000 crew. She was finally sunk in WWII off Denmark in 1941. All hands, save three, were lost in her sinking. The Hood was found and explored for the first time since its sinking in 2001 and in 2015, the ship’s bell was retrieved.

There are a couple of excerpted pages available from the log of the HMS Hood during its period in Vancouver for the Empire Cruise.

The following images came from this site (for more photos of the Empire Cruise arriving in Vancouver, please see this sister site of VAIW).

Posted in Bottomley, Navy, stuart thomson, water scene | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Bunch of Characters


CVA 1376-509 – [The Daily Province delivery boys in front of the building at 420 Cambie Street] ca1925.

These newsboys are a charming lot. The very few adults in the frame are in the background and in most cases, largely obscured by the boys. I spot only one boy who is a visible minority – the black boy apparently resting one of his arms on the mutt. I don’t see any Asians. One boy, in the back row, near the centre, is pointing at the (unknown) photographer with his index finger; he and his colleagues seemed to have had a significant dose of attitude! Small wonder that certain eateries in town made it clear that newsboys were to “Keep Out!”

This entry to the Daily Province building (420 Cambie) appears to be the entry to the Edgett wing of the newspaper complex – named after Edgett Bros. grocers, for whom the building was originally constructed; the other wing, across the lane, was known as the Carter-Cotton building – named for the publisher of the News-Advertiser newspaper which originally was in that structure. It looks to me like today’s entry to the former Edgett building is located roughly where this entry to the Daily Province was (where the Architecture Centre is today – 440 Cambie), albeit with a much less grand entry than the archway that was there when this image was made.


VPL 40055A. Pacific Press Building. 1966. David C. Paterson photo.

The Province used the Carter-Cotton/Edgett buildings until it shifted over to the custom-designed Pacific Press building at 2250 Granville (along with the Sun) in 1965. That building, in turn, was closed in 1997 and the newspaper headquarters were moved north to the foot of Granville Street (200 Granville).

Posted in newspapers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Use Your Head (With IBM)

Updated September, 2016

CVA 99-4954 - I.B.M. [International Business Machines Company store (515 West Georgia Street) at night] 1936 Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-4954 – I.B.M. [International Business Machines Company store (515 West Georgia Street) at night] 1936 Stuart Thomson photo.

This is an exterior shot of IBM’s Vancouver presence on Georgia Street in 1936. Their monosyllabic motto of the time, evidently, was ‘Think’ – which also was the name of an employee/customer magazine that published its first issue the previous year. Also in 1935, the company marketed the first commercially successful electric typewriter (and it would continue to sell them until 1990). One of the portraits on the wall (flanking THINK) is undoubtedly of Thomas J. Watson (CEO, 1914-1956); the other may be of Charles Ranlett Flint, who consolidated four other smaller companies into Computing-Tabulating-Recording company (CTR), which was renamed International Business Machines in 1924. IBM’s Vancouver presence was apparently that of a branch office; the site of the Canadian factory and head office was Toronto.

I’ve had help from a reader of VAIW, recently (see comment), who recognized his Dad and a couple of other local IBM sales and service gents in the photo shown below. The commenter’s father was the local head of the International Time Recorder division. In case you are curious (as I was) about what that division was responsible for, see this link.


CVA 99-4785 – I.B.M. personnel. 1935. Stuart Thomson photo. The fellow sitting at the desk (in the corner) is Bob Nelles, manager of the EAM (Electronic Accounting Machines) division; Ferris Stricker, manager of the International Time Recorder division is the next person (moving clockwise and sitting under “Be of the TIMBER that produces PLANKS); the gent next to him is unknown to me; Harry Kitely, service manager, is seated on the right at front (sitting under the sign that reads “Turn plans into planks!”)


Posted in businesses, street scenes, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Department Store Dining

Updated September, 2016



CVA 809-27 – Woodwards Dining Room [at Hastings Street and Abbott Street] ca 1910.

This is an early Vancouver interior shot of the Woodward’s dining room in what is today East Vancouver, but at the time was considered by most residents to be ‘downtown’.

The Bay (Hudson’s Bay Company)

CVA 99-4070 – Hudson’s Bay Company [interior of store at 674 Granville Street]. 1931. Stuart Thomson photo.

This is how the Hudson’s Bay Company dining room appeared in the 1930s. I have now confirmed (with the helpful tip from a reader of VAIW; see comment below) that this 1930s location was on the top floor of The Bay (the 6th), but that it was in a different section of that floor than the dining room which I recall (before it was closed in 2013). The dining area which I remember looked out on Holy Rosary Cathedral and other such structures to the north and east of The Bay. The 1930s photo above, however, is located in the northwest corner of the 6th floor. The key to identifying where the photo was taken is the skylight (which is still on that floor; currently, men’s jackets and slacks are located beneath the skylight.)


View of the northwest corner of The Bay (Men’s Wear, today). The 1930s location of the Dining Room on the 6th Floor. Author’s photo.

The skylight is visible from above in the Google Street View shown below.


A Google view of the exterior The Bay from above (looking from the northeast). The skylight is visible near the top right corner. Google Maps, 2016.

T. Eaton Company (Formerly Spencer’s)


The Marine Room in Eaton’s when it was in Spencer’s former location at West Hastings and Richards. Postcard from author’s collection.

Outlook onto Burrard Inlet and the North Shore from the Marine Room, the dining room of the T. Eaton Company’s flagship store in Vancouver. This was formerly Spencer’s (at the site of today’s Harbour Centre) from 1907-48. Eaton’s took over this location when Spencer’s closed in 1948 and remained here until 1972 when it moved to its final Vancouver location at the corner of Robson and Granville (anchor of Pacific Centre Mall) until 1999.

Posted in cafes/restaurants/eateries, department stores, interiors | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Elva Selman Drowns at 2nd Beach

Elva Selman, a 24-year-old member of First Baptist Church, died in the waters off Second Beach on Friday, August 21, 1908 at around 11am. She was the daughter of Samuel and Clara Selman. Samuel was a realtor in the City at the time of Elva’s death.

Elva apparently was wading in English Bay, using crutches to help her remain upright. She had had surgery about a year earlier (for reasons not explained in the Vancouver Daily World).

The scene of Elva’s death was evidently never treated as anything other than accidental. According to the Daily World:

“Miss Selman was somewhat crippled, and went into the water on crutches. None of the party saw the accident, but it is presumed that she must have lost her balance. Her absence was noticed and a quick search in the water resulted in the body being found within fifteen minutes. It was hoped that life might not be extinct and several men worked willingly for over an hour in a vain attempt [at] resuscitation. Immediately the accident was reported the police patrol, with a doctor, was hurried to the scene, and was later used to convey the body to the family home on Nelson Street.” (Vancouver Daily World, August 21, 1908).

I assume there was no autopsy, since the funeral service was held the next day, on Saturday the 22nd.

Elva’s death happened between senior ministers at FBC. Dr. J. Willard Litch had left FBC a year prior, and it would be almost another year after her passing before H. Francis Perry would take up pastoral duties at First.
img_20160919_0001Her Saturday service was, therefore, led by Rev. P. Clifford Parker (of the long-gone Central Baptist Church, Vancouver at Laurel and 10th) with assistance from veteran B.C. Baptist pastor, Rev. Peter H. McEwen, and another pastor who was in the city to supply the pulpit at First for a couple of Sundays, Rev. T. T. Shields. Albert E. Greenlaw  was also on hand to render a solo. Following the service, a special B.C. Electric train car was commissioned (at no small cost to the family, I suspect) to convey mourners from FBC to the graveside at Mountain View Cemetary.

The funeral service on Saturday, however, apparently was not enough. According to the Daily World column from the Monday following, “[t]he Sunday morning service conducted by T. T. Shields and A. E. Greenlaw in the First Baptist Church, took the form of a memorial service to the late Miss Selman, of which church she was a member.”


Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

T. T. Shields ‘Second Fiddle’ to A. E. Greenlaw… Who?

This article appeared in the screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-8-53-53-amVancouver Daily World on August 17, 1908. An intriguing aspect of the piece, to me, was that Shields, who was near the beginning of his career as an Ontario Baptist preacher of note (later, pastor at Jarvis Street Baptist in Toronto, and, ultimately, a leader of the Canadian Baptist fundamentalist movement who would contribute to the mid-1920s strife that would split the denomination), was given much less attention (in terms of column-inches) than the to-me-unknown singer, A. E. Greenlaw, who is described as “one of Canada’s greatest singers”!

Albert E. Greenlaw (circa1880-1953) was an American bass singer who (judging from his many concerts in Baptist churches) was probably of that denominational stripe.

Greenlaw also was a black man. He was apparently an original member of the Nashville-based, African-American group known then (and now) as the Fisk Jubilee Singers (consisting of students at Fisk University).


T. T. Shields

Greenlaw apparently had a pretty busy solo career, post-Fisk, touring in North America; his popularity (and, to some extent, that of Shields) pulled 1,800 people into the Vancouver Opera House a week after this Daily World article appeared.  It cannot truly be said that Greenlaw was “one of Canada’s greatest singers”, however; indeed, it seems improbable that Greenlaw cast himself as a ‘Canadian’. By 1925, he was described in the Ottawa Journal as the “well-known bass of Detroit, Michigan”.

I have found an early recording of the Fisk Singers (1909); although Greenlaw would have been long-gone by the time this recording was made, it conveys something of their a cappella musical style. If you are wondering how Greenlaw sounded as a soloist, I suspect that he may have sounded quite similar to the late George Beverly Shea (1909-1913). An example of Bev Shea’s musical style is here.

A remarkable thing about Greenlaw and Shields is how they have almost completely disappeared from the historical ‘radar’ of most Canadians (and, I’d venture to guess, likewise of Americans). Neither is a household name. To borrow from Isaiah 40, reputations and notoriety wither and fade along with grass and flowers.

Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, music, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“What the…?”


CVA – Air P73.2:  Hoffar H3 Seaplane in Coal Harbour, 1919. (Exposure adjusted slightly by author).

I think this is a terrific shot made by some (today unknown) soul with enough spunk to see the potential of the shot and to just shoot it (in a day when camera technology didn’t often reward such spontaneity)! A pilot appears to be taxiing the Hoffar seaplane into Hoffar Shipyards (1927 W. Georgia Street), which backed onto Coal Harbour, pictured above. (For a decidedly less happy occasion in the career of Hoffar and his shipyards, see this dramatic post).

Hoffar Shipyards (later, Hoffar-Beeching) was ultimately bought by Boeing and became part of Boeing Canada where they built seaplanes and also more conventional seacraft. Boeing maintained the Hoffar site on Georgia Street until World War II when it was moved to a much larger facility at Sea Island.

There is a fact about James Reid Hoffar (1890-1954) of which I wasn’t aware until recently. He was the son of pioneer Vancouver architect, Noble Stonestreet Hoffar (1843-1907) and Sarah Hoffar.

Posted in boats/ships, water scene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Peter Thomas, Pender & Homer Portrait, 1972

vpl 86489C Parking lot attendant at the corner of Pender and Homer  1972 Peter Thomas

VPL 86489C Parking lot attendant at the corner of Pender and Homer. 1972. Peter Thomas photo.

Peter Thomas is not a photographer with whom I’m familiar. But upon stumbling upon some of his work at VPL’s online historical photos site, recently, I have to say I like his style.

The image above was apparently made at the northwest corner of Pender and Homer, where, roughly from the 1960s until the 1990s, Downtown Parking Corp. (DPC) had a small parking garage. The image is one of four similar photos made by Thomas of the attendant. I like this one best.

The exterior of the attendant’s hut is visible here a couple of years later (in 1974) beneath the wall ad for the Niagara Hotel:

CVA 778-194 - 400 Homer Street west side May 1974

CVA 778-194 – 400 Homer Street west side. May 1974.

In this perspective image (made in the same year), it is clear that the DPC lot wasn’t much of a garage. Two levels, evidently.

CVA 778-193 - 400 Homer Street west side May 1974

CVA 778-193 – 400 Homer Street west side. May 1974. Cropped slightly and exposure adjusted by author.

The parking garage replaced longtime resident of this corner, Ellesmere Rooms.

CVA 1184-699 - [Oldest boarding house in Vancouver, corner of Homer and Pender Streets] 1943 Jack Lindsay photo

CVA 1184-699 – [Oldest boarding house in Vancouver, corner of Homer and Pender Streets]. 1943. Jack Lindsay photo. Slightly cropped and exposure adjusted by author.

Posted in art, Parking Garages, Peter Thomas | Leave a comment

Langara School for Boys

CVA M-11-62 - A West End home [probably on the 1100 block of Georgia Street] 191- Richard Broadbridge photo

CVA M-11-62 – A West End home [probably on the 1100 block of Georgia Street] 191- Richard Broadbridge photo. This was the temporary quarters of Langara School for Boys (1913).

The Langara School for Boys was one of two private schools (the second was a school for girls known as Braemar) that were under the authority of Western Residential Schools. Principal McKay (of Westminster Hall) was president of Western Residential Schools and Rev. E. D. McLaren was the superintendent.

The photo above shows the temporary quarters of Langara. The school was at this downtown location on the corner of Bute and Georgia streets, apparently, for the best part of 1913. The principal of the School for Boys at this time was A. R. Tait.

vdw 7 Aug 1915

Vancouver Daily World. Ad. 7 August 1915.

Sometime in 1914, the school moved into its permanent quarters which had been under construction during 1913. This new location was located on 15 acres of land “adjoining the Shaughnessy Golf Course between Bodwell [33rd Ave.] and Whitehead [37 Ave.]”. The main building was situated at the corner of what is today 33rd and Heather.

vpl 20311 Langara School for Boys 1917. Dominion photo

VPL 20311. Langara School for Boys 1917. Dominion photo. This is the ‘permanent location’ of the school at 33rd and Heather.

The ‘permanent’ site of the school proved to be less than stable. By 1917, Langara was asked to shift out of its building so that a military hospital could be established there. Langara would move to Kitsilano to one of the corners at Larch and 2nd Ave. Residency was to be located in a separate building across from the school. I couldn’t find a photograph of the school at its Kitsilano location.

CVA 99-5096 - Patients and Staff - Langara Military Hospital June 1917 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5096 – Patients and Staff – Langara Military Hospital (aka Fairmont Hospital). (Formerly Langara School for Boys). June 1917 Stuart Thomson photo.

By 1920, Western Residential Schools was in the hands of the liquidators and negotiations were underway with the federal government to buy the Fairmont Hospital (formerly Langara school). It isn’t clear to me exactly why Western Residential Schools faced liquidation less than 8 years after establishing the schools. But I would speculate that being moved from their custom-built quarters near the end of the Great War probably didn’t help.

The federal government converted the former Langara property into a Vancouver barracks for the RCMP. The former Braemar would have a wing added to the Shaghnessy Hospital as a training site for Great War veterans (to be known by the awkward bureaucratic title: “Soldiers’ Civil Re-Establishment”.

CVA 780-288 - [Canadian Government RCMP Fairmont Barracks at] 4949 Heather [Street]. 1976.

CVA 780-288 – [Canadian Government RCMP Fairmont Barracks at] 4949 Heather [Street]. 1976.

The RCMP barracks have now moved off the former Langara School site to a location in Surrey. In October 2014, the Heather Lands were acquired by the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations and Canada Lands Company “in an historic joint venture. The agreement will see the joint venture partners working side-by-side with local communities and municipalities to establish new visions for this site.” The former Braemar school for girls site is today Braemar Park at corner of Willow and 27th Avenue.

Posted in Dominion Photo, education, Richard Broadbridge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charles Schooley: City Paymaster and Prominent Baptist

Charles Abraham Schooley - FBC LIfe Deacon and COV Chief Paymaster

Charles Abraham Schooley. n.d. First Baptist Church (Vancouver) Archives.

Charles Abraham Schooley (1850-1931) was born in Port Colborne, Ontario. He studied law for a couple of years but ultimately withdrew from that course of study due to illness. He then was one of the first men to enter into the moss trade (of all things) while in Florida for a few years. He returned to Ontario where he began working with the Hobbs Hardware Co. of London until he came to Vancouver in 1889 with his recently-wed wife, Kate Eastman Schooley (nee Samons, of Hamilton). When he got to Vancouver, he worked at first as an agent with Imperial Oil Co. and later as a wholesale produce dealer. Finally, in 1905, he became a City employee, working initially with the Treasury department and, two years later, being promoted to the post of Chief Paymaster.*

Schooley became a member of First Baptist Church shortly after establishing his residence here. He served as a Deacon and as Church Clerk for many years. In January 1925, he was made an Honorary Deacon in recognition of his many years of exemplary service.**

When the Schooleys first came to the city, they lived on Howe Street between Smithe and Nelson. By 1908, they’d moved to 2020 Beach Avenue – a home on the south side of Beach near Chilco Street. By 1911, however, the City wanted to create a string of parkland east of Stanley Park and so, as part of that plan, Schooley’s beachfront property was purchased by the City’s Land Purchasing Agent for $13,513.60.

S-5-15 - English Bay [and Beach Avenue West of Chilco Street looking east]  ca1896

CVA S-5-15 – English Bay [and Beach Avenue West of Chilco Street looking east]. ca1896. The Schooley residence at 2020 Beach Ave. would have been along here.

The Schooleys moved to their final residence at 2057 Pendrell Street in 1914.

VW 29 Sept 1922-1

Schooley’s job as City Paymaster wasn’t without drama. On September 29th, 1922 at 10.15am, Schooley and his aide, Bob Armstrong, “were slugged by three auto[mobile] bandits and relieved of a civic payroll of $75,000, while a crowd of terrified Chinese, who were standing by, scattered from a fusillade of three shots fired by the robbers.” (Vancouver Daily World, September 22, 1922). (We will leave to one side the question of whether three shots may be accurately called a fusillade.)

Neither Schooley nor Armstrong seem to have suffered serious injury. City Hall, at that time, was in the Old Market Hall. The two City employees were returning to City Hall from the bank, where they had picked up the payroll.

To the best of my knowledge, the robbers were never brought to book for this crime.***

Kate Schooley pre-deceased her husband in 1927. Schooley died in 1931 at the age of 84.

Charles and Kate Schooley seem to have been childless. I had initially wondered whether Jennie Schooley, a teacher at Strathcona School from  1928-1959, might have been their daughter, but I later learned that she was the daughter of another local Schooley: William Francis Schooley.


*These early details of Schooley’s life were found in British Columbia From Earliest Times to the Present: Biographical. Volume IV. 1914. S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., p. 819.

**Mrs. Schooley was a devout member of a different church: St. John’s Presbyterian (just a few blocks from First Baptist).

***There was a report on November 1, 1922 that Tacoma, WA police had two men in custody on suspicion of being parties to the Vancouver robbery. It was established pretty quickly, however, that the two who were detained were in no way responsible for the theft.

Posted in biography, city, First Baptist Church, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘That Old [Herzogian] Feeling’

CVA 780-41 - [Houses along] Helmcken St[reet] 1966

CVA 780-41 – Scene on Helmcken Street. February, 1966. City of Vancouver Planning Dept. (Photographer unknown).

This image is a powerful reminder, to me at any rate, of a Fred Herzog image. I make no claim at all that this is a Herzog photo (it isn’t; it is one taken for the Vancouver Planning Department by a photographer for whom no attribution was attached). But it does have a few elements that remind me of Herzog’s published prints: 1) the mid-20th-century hint of smog in the air (most evident in the background near the BC Electric HQ on Nelson at Burrard); 2) the palate of blues, greens and rusty red; 3) the overall tone of the image that cannot be truly captured by a digital camera (nor with post-processing software); it comes only with images made around the mid-century period with traditionally-processed film.

At the same time, there is a major clue that this wasn’t a photograph made by Herzog. There doesn’t seem to be any artistic point to the photo. What do I mean by ‘artistic point’? This is where things get fuzzy and harder to relate in prose; but I’ll try. A huge part of it is that there are no people in this image (except for the part of a shoulder in the lower right corner). Not all of Herzog’s photos from the 1950s/60s were populated, but I’d guesstimate that at least 70% or more captured at least one individual that contributed to the ‘story’ of the photograph. For the Herzog images of this period – with and without people (for one without, see Blue Car, Strathcona) – there generally seemed to be a ‘story’ that he wanted to tell about life downtown (or in Vancouver generally) at this time. As with most art, however, the interpretation of that story is left to the viewer.

Although I’ve made the claim that the image above doesn’t have an artistic point, it certainly had a pragmatic point. It was taken by a photographer for the Vancouver Planning Department with a purpose in mind. I’d speculate that the point of this image was to be a ‘record shot’ of the three rooming houses.

Where on Helmcken Street was this image taken? It seems to have been made on the 500-block between Richards and Seymour. The CVA image below claims to be an image of the north side of that block in about 1981. It is remarkable how much remained unchanged between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s. The single-level commercial structure seems still to be present, as are the three rooming houses (by the 1980s, probably, looking worse for wear, although that is less obvious in a black & white image).

CVA 779-E08.28 - 500 Helmcken Street north side 1981 Vancouver Planning Dept Photo (Unknown photographer).

CVA 779-E08.28. 500 Helmcken Street north side. 1981. Vancouver Planning Dept Photo (Unknown photographer).

Although the roughly twenty-year period from the 1960s to ’80s left the buildings on this side of the 500-block remarkably unchanged, the subsequent 30 years have been less ‘kind’. The north side of that block has been wholly given over, now, to residential towers.

Helmcken west of Richards north side of block

Helmcken between Seymour and Richards. North side of block. 2016. Author’s photo.

Happily, however, the next block (the 400-block between Richards and Homer) includes a few vintage homes that have been re-done for commercial purposes, but still retain something of the ‘early-Vancouver home’ style.

Helmcken east of Richards north side of block

Helmcken east of Richards. North side of block. 2016. Author’s photo.

The title of this post was inspired by lyrics by Lew Brown (melody by Sammy Fein) of a tune by the same name. For the record, I prefer Diana Krall’s rendition to that of Sinatra (who had a hit with this song in 1960).

Posted in city, Electric Power, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Gasoline ‘Strike’ of April ’40

CVA 1495-33 - What We Have We'll Hold! [David Spencer's Ltd. employees and unidentified man during gasoline strike of April 1940]_

CVA 1495-33 – David Spencer’s Ltd. employees and unidentified man during gasoline strike of April 1940.

The week-long, so-called ‘gasoline strike’ of April 1940 should probably more accurately be called an embargo or boycott. This wasn’t a withdrawal of labour, thus inconveniencing management and pressuring the latter to negotiate with labour’s trade union representatives (the common meaning of ‘strike’). Rather, this was an act of the oil companies of the day to pressure consumers to bring pressure to bear on their elected representatives. This episode had that effect, but probably not quite as the oil companies had in mind.

According to Vincent Bladen, in his Introduction to Political Economy, a central factor leading to the 1940 embargo was BC’s geography. He quotes Stephen Enke from an article written shortly after the embargo:

With a former base price at Vancouver of 27 cents an imperial gallon for ‘regular’ grade gasoline… retail prices in interior parts are in most cases 35 cents, and sometimes in excess of 45 cents. In the smaller towns retail margins are usually 7 cents and frequently more. Such spreads are not always a reflection on high retailing costs, however, but of collusion between a handful of dealers who know that the next settlement is 80 miles away. (Enke’s article from Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 1941 and quoted in Bladen)

The province of B.C. appointed a Coal and Petroleum Products Control Board in 1938; the Board issued an order fixing the retail price of gas.

That ‘tore it’ as far as Big Oil was concerned; an injunction was sought and a legal tussle was begun. The Supreme Court of Canada, in April 1940, ruled that the province was able to establish the Control Board.

Having failed to defeat the legislation in the courts, the oil companies decided to “strike”. On April 26, they agreed to furnish no gasoline to dealers in British Columbia. Stocks quickly ran out. (Bladen)

B.C. Premier, Duff Pattullo’s government took a surprisingly tough and activist stance vis-a-vis the oil companies. The Assembly amended the Act to allow the Province to

take over existing plants in the event of another emergency. Amendment after amendment proposed by opposition ranks went down to defeat as division after division revealed the government and C.C.F. members voting together against Conservative and individual Liberal support. (Chilliwack Progress, May 15, 1940)

A compromise agreement was reached between Big Oil and the Control Board. In most regions of the province, the consumer would enjoy a two-cent per gallon cut in gas prices. The retail dealers and wholesale distributors would each be expected to eat 1 cent of this cut.

The Gasoline ‘Strike’ of 1940 was over.

It isn’t clear to me whether the amended B.C. Act was ever proclaimed into law. It seems to me that it would have been vulnerable to legal challenge. The Supreme Court of Canada was not until 1949 the highest court of appeal. At this time, the oil companies could have sought leave to appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the U.K.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

An Audi Baritone: Update

Originally published October 2014.


CVA 1184-2072 John Charles Thomas signing a drum while group of people watch in music store. Jack Lindsay photo. 1940-48? (Probably 1946).

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!

August 4/16 Update:

Here is a shot I recently stumbled across on CVA that cracks me up. It shows John Charles in his pinstripes mugging as though he had something to do with the construction of the Brockton Point grandstand being built for Vancouver’s Diamond Jubliee at the time (1946).

St Pk N105 - [John C. Thomas and Mrs. Gordon Hilker during the stage and stands construction for Vancouver's Diamond Jubilee celebration at Brockton Point] 1946

CVA St Pk N105 – John Charles Thomas during the stage and stands construction for Vancouver’s Diamond Jubilee celebration at Brockton Point. 1946.

And here is another chuckle: John Charles in full costume as Captain Geo. Vancouver (and an unknown young Vancouver resident, I presume). As I recall, the Diamond Jubilee pageant was organized by an American who didn’t take Vancouver’s tendency to dampness into account. The pageant was not the roaring success that had been hoped for, as a result.

St Pk N103 - [John C. Thomas playing Captain George Vancouver at a pageant to celebrate Vancouver's Diamond Jubilee at Brockton Point] 1946.

CVA St Pk N103 – John Charles Thomas playing Captain George Vancouver at a pageant to celebrate Vancouver’s Diamond Jubilee at Brockton Point. 1946.

Posted in biography, music, people | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Classic Images: Update

1936 John Vanderpant. The Silent City

John Vanderpant. The Silent City. 1936.

H. Mortimer Lamb Mine Buildings, BC

Harold Mortimer Lamb. The Silent City. Mine Buildings, BC,

These two images are, in my judgement, outstanding examples of pictorial photography (or camera work as art). Both were made by Vancouver photographers: Harold Mortimer-Lamb was an amateur; John Vanderpant a professional. But when looking at these two lovely images, such labels become irrelevant. They speak only to how a person earns their daily bread, rather than to skill or compositional eye.

The first photograph reminds me of the former Britannia Mines, but I have no way of knowing whether that was where the image was made. The second, I’m pretty sure, was made in the City of Vancouver.

August 3rd, 2016 Update

I’ve just noticed an image made by Leonard Frank in the same year as Harold Mortimer-Lamb (from what appears to be an identical vantage point – although with Frank’s quite different, ‘sharp and shiny’/f64, photographic take on it). The photo is identified as Premier Mine (near Stewart, Portland Canal, BC). This is a much more distant and remote location from Vancouver than is Britannia Mine. For more information about the Premier Mine, see here.

Premier Mine near Portland Canal, BC 1927. Leonard Frank photo

Premier Mine near Portland Canal, BC 1927. Leonard Frank photo. From An Enterprising Life: Leonard Frank Photographs 1895-1944. Cyril E. Leonoff. Vancouver: Talon Books, 1990, p. 120.

Posted in Harold Mortimer-Lamb, John Vanderpant, Photographers | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Charles van Sandwyk


From Canadian Content. By Charles van Sandwyk (with an introduction by Waisiki Doughty). 2009.

Today’s post is a bit of a detour from the usual for VAIW.

I was reminded today, by a couple of events, of these wonderful illustrations. I was engaged this morning in the happy task of re-arranging the volumes in our bookcases and in so doing, I re-discovered the monograph (Canadian Content by Charles van Sandwyk) from which these two scans were made. Second, the book was a gift from my wife and me to ourselves on the occasion of an anniversary (the number of which neither of us can recall). It will be our Silver Wedding Anniversary in a couple days.

For more about van Sandwyk and his illustrations, see this site.


From Canadian Content. By Charles van Sandwyk (with an introduction by Waisiki Doughty). 2009.

Here is a link to Van Sandwyck reading from the volume from which these pieces were scanned.

Posted in Illustrations | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The ‘Heebie Jeebies’

CVA 180-1636 - Darlyne Slenderizing Glamour Salon device demonstration 1950 Artray Studio

CVA 180-1636 – Darlyne Slenderizing Glamour Salon device demonstration. 1950. Artray Studio.

When I first ran across this image in the City of Vancouver Archive online images, I was inclined to be scornful. Until I remembered some of the ads I’ve seen in recent years for so-called ‘body sculpting solutions’ and a wide variety of other ‘cures’ for a couple surplus cookies. Vanity of vanities.

Darlyne Slenderizing Glamour Salon was located at 1009 Nelson – adjacent to First Baptist Church (where FBC’s parking lot is today).


Posted in Artray, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, people | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Unsolved Photo Mystery


A scan of a Stuart Thomson print showing what appears to be a restaurant/lounge space. n.d. Author’s image.

I recently purchased the print from which the above scan was produced. It was made by one of my favourite early Vancouver professional photographers, Stuart Thomson. The photo seems to have been taken in a commercial food/drink establishment, somewhere in Vancouver I’m assuming. There is no year on the print, but I’m guessing it was a fairly early Thomson image, made in the 1920s, perhaps.

After buying the print, I did quite a lot of hunting for a similar image. I didn’t have much success.

The closest I came in my search was the interior shot shown below of the Peter Pan Cafe also made by Thomson (in 1929). I thought the space shown in my print might have been an earlier incarnation of the Peter Pan at 1138 Granville Street.

VPL 8927 Interior of Peter Pan Cafe (1138 Granville St) 1929 Stuart Thomson Cafe

VPL 8927 Interior of Peter Pan Cafe (1138 Granville St). 1929. Stuart Thomson photo.

This image has some features in common with the space shown in my print, but there are a number of differences, too (not least, that the space in the print appears to be wider than in the Peter Pan). At the end of the day, however, I eliminated the Peter Pan space as a possible contender by the fact that there is no evidence that it was ever a restaurant prior to it becoming the Peter Pan.*

Researchers tend to be optimistic. I continue to hope that I or someone else will eventually find a matching photo and/or some other clinching piece of evidence as to the location of the Thomson print. Perhaps not this month or this year. But eventually.

If it turns out that you figure out the location of the image, I’d appreciate hearing from you!


*B.C. Electric and Vancouver Gas Co. appear to have been occupants of the space for several years prior to it becoming the Peter Pan Cafe.

**It is called Opening Doors: Vancouver’s East End. Part of the Sound Heritage series (Vol VIII, Nos. 1 & 2). n.d. (c1980).

Posted in stuart thomson | 8 Comments

Frank Hart’s Harangue

Port P1449.2 - [Frank Hart speaking to other pioneers gathered for the Maple Tree Monument unveiling on the southwest corner of Carrall Street and Water Street] - incldg Charles Gardner Johnson, K. SIlverman, Peter Larson - 1925

CVA Port P1449.2 – [Frank Hart speaking to other pioneers gathered for the Maple Tree Monument unveiling on the southwest corner of Carrall Street and Water Street]. Including 1. Frank W Hart (c1857-1935), 2. Charles Gardner Johnson (c1855-1928), 3. Kalman Silverman (c1857-1926), and 4. Peter Larson (c1859-1934). (I cannot find any source that identifies the gent with the long beard at far left; he appears also in the final image in this post – likewise unidentified). Image made 1925.

The photo was made to commemorate the Maple Tree Monument at the corner of Carrall and Water streets. The monument was created by prolific Vancouver sculptor, Charles Marega, originally as part of a drinking fountain in 1925. In 1986, with the establishment of the sculpture of “Gassy” Jack Deighton (artist, Vern Simpson, working from a drawing by Fritz Jacobson), the monument was incorporated into it instead. It isn’t clear to me when exactly the drinking fountain was removed from the site, but probably during the renovations to the Maple Tree Square/Trounce Alley section of Gastown in the early 1970s.

The gent who is apparently haranguing his fellow Vancouver Pioneers from atop the chair is Frank W. Hart. I suspect this was a bit of fun, staged for the camera. But it was probably not wholly outside of his personality to give others their marching orders; he was a funeral director/embalmer.* I expect he was used to getting his way and having his say; his customers couldn’t talk back!

Mon P77.2 - [Charles Marega unveils Maple Tree Memorial]  1925 Stuart Thomson photo

Mon P77.2 – [Charles Marega unveils Maple Tree Memorial]. 1925. Stuart Thomson photo. It appears to be Pete Larson (Prop., Hotel North Vancouver) on the far left of the photo.

A larger gathering of the pioneers present for the unveiling of the drinking fountain monument in 1925 appears below.

Port P1449.1 - [Pioneers gathered for the Maple Tree Monument unveiling on the southwest corner of Carrall Street and Water Street] 1925

Port P1449.1 – [Pioneers gathered for the Maple Tree Monument unveiling on the southwest corner of Carrall Street and Water Street]. 1925. Selected individuals are identified by CVA (the occupation of each person has been added by the author): 1. John S.Rankin (Accountant, Customs Broker, Commission Merchant); 2. Captain E. S. Scoullar (Tinsmith); 3. Unidentified; 4. Unidentified; 5. Peter Righter(Engineer, CPR); 6. “Pete” Giles Shenston (Occ. Unknown); 7. Mrs. Carson (Delegate, Council of Women); 8. Mrs. Emily Eldon (Widow of Harry Eldon, former Parks Commissioner); 9. Mrs. J. W. McFarland; 10. J. W. McFarland (Mgr, Real Estate Dept., Ceperley Rounsefell); 11. Andy Linton (Boatbuilder); 12. Kelman Silverman (Pawnbroker); 13. Captain C. H. Cates (Master Mariner); 14. George Munro (Railway Builder); 15. W. S. Cook (Dealer in Lime, Sand, Brick and Soil); 16. Pete Larson (Prop., Hotel North Vancouver); 17. Harry Hoffmeister (Automobile Dealer).


*Hart was also the owner of Hart’s Opera House located on Carrall St. It had the distinction of being the first opera house in the city, but by all accounts there was substantially less to see, architecturally, than the name suggested.

Posted in art, pioneers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When a Rake Was a Component of Pole Vaulting?

805-43 - St. George's School - Sports Day May 1939 Dominion Photo

CVA 805-43 – St. George’s School – Sports Day. May 1939. Dominion Photo.

This is something I don’t recall seeing in recent track and field days: a dude standing next to a pole vaulter with a rake at the ready! Gotta love those stripy jackets with short pants! (Presumably, the rake was to smooth out the soil after a vaulter had finished his turn).

Posted in Dominion Photo, sport | 2 Comments

Bow-Mac Supermarket

99-29-15 - [Bowmac sign at 1154 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.] Barbara Elizabeth Wilson 1982-82

CVA 99-29-15 – [Bowmac sign at 1154 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.]. Sketch by Barbara Elizabeth Wilson 1982-83.

The 80-foot Bow-Mac sign at 1154 West Broadway, has been a landmark in the neighbourhood since it was erected in 1958.

There were a couple of aspects about Bow-Mac’s history of which I wasn’t aware until today: (1) the lot was originally called the ‘Bow-Mac (Used Car) Supermarket’; and (2) that it was the used automobile lot associated with Bowell-McDonald (later, Bowell-McLean) Pontiac, Cadillac, and Buick (and, later, Vauxhall) new auto lot located at 615 Burrard Street (roughly where the Burrard Skytrain Station is located today).

For more info pertaining to the sign, this page is pretty detailed.

Crop of CVA 586-2130 - Victory Loan parade [on Burrard Street] 1942

Crop of CVA 586-2130 – Victory Loan parade [on Burrard Street], 1942. Bowell-McDonald new car lot on Burrard Street appears on the left of the image.

Posted in automobiles | 6 Comments

Mr. Rockefeller Regrets


Correspondence written June 19, 1911 by Starr J. Murphy (Attorney to John D. Rockefeller) to Dr. Lachlan N. MacKechnie of First Baptist Church, Vancouver. Source: FBC Vancouver Archives.

This letter was written by John D. Rockefeller’s attorney, Starr J. Murphy (1860-1921), in response to a now-lost letter sent by Dr. L. N. MacKechnie (1864-1926) of First Baptist Church (Vancouver). It seems reasonable to conclude from the context that the letter from FBC was a plea for financial support from Rockefeller (1839-1937), to which Murphy replied in the negative on JDR’s behalf.

Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, was a noted philanthropist and well-known Baptist. He attended and supported (in both deeds and dollars, apparently) Erie Street Baptist Mission Church (later known as Euclid Avenue Baptist Church)  in Cleveland.

MacKechnie was a major mover and shaker at FBC in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was prominent in the building of FBC’s current structure at Burrard and Nelson streets.

In June 1911, First Baptist was on the verge of moving into their brand new ‘fortress’ church at the corner of  Burrard & Nelson (the dedication service was on June 9, 1911). Exact figures are hard to come by, but there is no question that the new church building had set the congregation back by an unanticipated amount. So much so that the FBC ‘powers that were’ had been in contact with the architects (Burke Horwood & White) and Heard (of Matheson & Heard, general contractors) about getting them to reduce their charges, which were in excess of the original estimates. Burke, apparently, was prepared to accommodate FBC. But Heard was more uncompromising. According to a minute from March 28, 1911, a committee had had “several interviews” with Heard “regarding the suggestion made by the Committee, that in view of the excessive cost of the buildings over the estimates, particularly the Contracts under Mr Heard’s charge, some reduction might be made in Heard’s charges by the way of commission or otherwise.” According to the minute, Heard was prepared to make “some reduction”, but not nearly enough to satisfy the committee: $100.

MacKechnie, who appears to have been the de facto chairman of the church board at this time, must have been at his wits end and in desperation thought to invite the richest Baptist of the day to make a donation to FBC’s financial mess. There is no mention in any FBC minutes that I’ve been able to unearth of the church instructing MacKechnie to approach JDR.

A few years subsequent to the Murphy/MacKechnie communication, JDR would give $10,000 to the Western Canadian denominational regional body (the Baptist Union) to support missions work in the area.*


*John Byron Richards. Baptists in British Columbia: A Struggle to Maintain Sectarianism. M.A. Thesis. UBC, 1964.


Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baptist Missionaries in Shaughnessy


The Baptist Union of Western Canada: A Centennial History 1873-1973. J. E. Harris, p. 148. The photo shows Florence Pletch [correct spelling of her name: Pletsch)* at 1492 West 33rd, the home donated by Mrs. F.R. Stewart to the Canadian Baptists. Photographer unknown.

In 1953, a member of First Baptist Church, Mrs. Francis Stewart, moved out of her home in Shaughnessy district at 1492 West 33rd Avenue (at Granville) and donated it to the Baptist overseas mission board.

The home was used as the Vancouver Missionary Furlough Home for missionaries who were taking a break from service abroad. According to the history of the regional Baptist body, written by J. E. Harris, the home “served that purpose well for several years. Then, due to traffic increase on Granville, the house was sold and the money used to buy a duplex in a quiet area” at 2337 W. 10th Ave., which was used as the Mission Home going forward. (Harris, p. 134).

It isn’t clear to me just how long this real estate service was provided by the denomination to its missionaries. But it appears to have lasted through the 1970s for sure, and quite possibly into the ’80s.

The original Mission House seems to be extant. It is difficult to get an image of it from street level, though, due to the tall hedge that surrounds it. However, on Google, one can see the house from above, and it appears to be the same structure. The more recent house on W. 10th is decidedly not extant, being recently replaced with a new duplex structure.


*Florence Pletsch died in Revelstoke in 2008 at age 86. She grew up in Calgary and trained as a nurse, later serving as a missionary nurse in India for Canadian Baptists for over 40 years. (Obituary, Calgary Herald, September 2008).

Sources: I’m indebted to Linda Zlotnik, Phyllis Metcalfe, and Nancy Scambler, in addition to the above-mentioned volume by J. E. Harris, for information and memories pertaining to the Baptist Mission Houses. 

Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver | Leave a comment

Local Shutterbugs: ‘The Bees’ Wings?’


Camera Craft. May 1923. p243. (VAIW note: John Vanderpant’s name is misspelled in the caption).

Camera Craft was a long-running monthly periodical published by the Photographers’ Association of California which (thanks to Internet Archive) is easily accessed today. There are interesting articles of enduring interest to a camera-savvy readership. But our attention here will focus on  a few mentions made of the Vancouver/New Westminster branch of the association in the 1920s.

The photo above puts faces to the names of some of the photographers featured in VanAsItWas. W. H. Calder is one, so is George T. Wadds and W. J. Moore. Some of the gents in the photo above have not, up to now, appeared in VAIW. Why? Most of those whose work isn’t included in VAIW were principally studio photographers (e.g., Chapman, Bridgman, Rowe, and McKenzie) and this blog tends not to show many studio images (street photography is my emphasis). John Vanderpant was a landscape and a studio photographer, but unfortunately none of his landscape work is included among the City of Vancouver Archives or VPL Historical Photos collections.

There are a number of prominent photographers who were active in the 1920s who were not on the executive committee of the V&NWPA (locally/informally known, I believe, as the Vancouver Camera Club). Stuart Thomson and Leonard Frank leap to mind as two examples. It could be that they were members of the club but not on the executive. Or they may have been too busy making their careers at the time (for Thomson, the 1920s were certainly his most prolific decade).

In a 1927 issue, the following list of photographic sub-genres appeared in a Camera Craft description of a Vancouver area show of photographs:

[It] occupied two spacious floors with its 2500 prints. These came from twenty-three countries besides the local contributions and comprised a variety of branches of the art and the craft: aerial, criminal investigation, finger prints, astronomical, pathological, X-ray and the usual portraiture and commercial work. (Camera Work, December 1927, 596)

In addition to the ‘branches’ mentioned – a couple of which tried my imagination – please note one category which got no mention at all in this list: street photography.

cameracraft321925phot_0667  p587 Dec 1925 CC

Camera Craft, Dec 1925, p587. “Too Early on the Job”. John Helders photo.

Helga Pakasaar, in her article titled “Formulas for the Picturesque: Vancouver Pictorialist Photography 1930-45” says:

Vancouver photographers saw the work of Edward Weston and Imogene Cunningham at the Vanderpant Galleries [at 1216 Robson] in 1931 and followed the ‘great debate’ in the pages of Camera Craft where the ‘fuzzy wuzzies’ railed against the “sharp and shinies” in an extended dialogue that lasted from 1934 to 1941. Vancouver photographers… participated in these discussions through their involvement in the the journals and the exhibitions. (Pakasaar, Vancouver: Art and Artists 1931-1983, Vancouver Art Gallery, 49).

John Helders (1888-1956) was a Vancouver amateur photographer. His image above of workers waiting for their work day to begin, seems to be evidence that Helders was of the ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ school. For a Camera Craft image from a Vancouver photographer that is a bit closer to the ‘sharp and shiny’ (aka f64) category, see this one by Hugh Frith.

cameracraft331926phot_0262-2 May 1926 p242

Camera Craft. May 1926, p242. This photo, made for Camera Craft by an unknown photographer, was taken at the annual banquet and dance of the V&NWPA, “held at Princess Cafe”. (VAIW note: I think the location was actually Prince’s Cafe – located at 560 Granville).

Posted in Photographers, W J Moore, W. H. Calder, Wadds Bros. | 1 Comment

A Five-Hour Tour

CVA 99-2008 - Visit of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, polo game (Saddled Up) 1929 Stuart Thomson

CVA 99-2008 – Visit of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, polo game. 1929 Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW note: Henry appears to be closest to the photographer).*

87 years ago this month, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester,** came to Vancouver for a few days of R & R (or, rather, G & P . . . Golf and Polo) before a planned itinerary that was to include a stop (among others) near High River, Alberta at the Prince of Wales Ranch and points east of there.

As it turned out, the Prince ended up spending most of his visit in Vancouver. And nearly all of his time here was spent in his suite in the Hotel Vancouver. In bed. Convalescing.

He fell from his polo mount onto his head and fractured his collarbone. That happened on June 4. According to press accounts, he left Vancouver to return home to Britain on June 27. His Canadian tour (with the exception of a couple of days in Victoria before arriving in Vancouver aboard the Princess Mary) was a washout due to the polo incident.

Journalists of the day were remarkably discreet on the question of how, precisely, Henry came to be off his horse and wrong-end-up. Even several years after the Princely Tumble, one press account blamed the Prince’s horse, not the rider: “The pony slipped.”***

Prince Henry was in Vancouver for all of 5 hours before his fall. There was, evidently, no opportunity for a round of golf.

The prince’s polo match took place at the Vancouver Polo Club which was located, at the time, at Brighouse Park in Richmond.

CVA 99-2638 - Building at Brighouse Horse Racing Track 1929 Stuart Thomson

CVA 99-2638 – Building at Brighouse Horse Racing Track. 1929. Stuart Thomson photo.


*All of CVA’s Stuart Thomson images of Prince Henry at the Vancouver Polo Club may be seen here.

**Prince Henry was the third son of King George V and Queen Mary; he was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria. Henry married Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott (later, Princess Alice) in 1935. He was Governor-General of Australia from 1945-47. He died in 1974.

***The Spartanburg (South Carolina) Morning Herald. Sept 20/35.

Posted in people, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Designated Alien Landing Zones?

Real estate in Vancouver is at a premium. That is a truism. It has nearly always been the case in this city. Sure, there have been periodic and relatively short-lived dips. But only rarely has the real estate market here been seriously “off”.

If we accept that as valid, why are there some lots that seem to be chronically undeveloped (or nearly so)? Here are three that I can think of in the downtown area off the top of my head: the NW corner of Robson at Broughton (vacant for at least 50+ years; the North side of Hastings, just west of Hamilton (vacant from the late 1990s); and the lot near the NE corner of West Pender and Cambie (vacant since the 1950s, as far as I can tell).


I’m going to look at the last address in a bit of detail. I can find only one photograph in the City of Vancouver Archives or the VPL Historical Photos collection where there is a building on the lot in question (the lot is between what today is known as Architecture Centre – on the corner of Cambie and Pender – and the SRO known today as the Avalon). It is the building shown in the image below. The building number in this decade was 181 W Pender. (The street numbering along this stretch changed a bit: the number of the building – or the vacancy where there should have been one – was 189 in the 1920s).

vpl 80604A A T Rowell's Used Mags store now vacant 181 W Pender 1948  Art Jones photo

VPL 80604A A T Rowell’s Used Magazines store now vacant 181 W Pender 1948 Art Jones photo.

Here is the lot in 1910:

vpl 13676 Looking north at 100 Block West Pender 1910 R Broadbridge photo Savoy 167 W Pender

VPL 13676. Looking north at 100 Block West Pender. 1910 Robert Broadbridge photo.

Adjacent to the lot on the left is the Vancouver News-Advertiser building (which would later be occupied by the Province). To the right of the lot (east) is Avalon Rooms.

And here it is in 1981:

CVA 779-E16.12 - 100 West Pender Street north side 1981

CVA 779-E16.12 – 100 West Pender Street north side.1981. (VAIW Note: The empty lot in question is the one adjacent (to the east of) what today is known as the Architecture Centre – the 3-storey structure at the corner of Cambie and West Pender.

Nothing much has changed between 1981 and 2016 with respect to the vacant lot. It’s still empty. (Note: A narrow residential space has gone up adjacent to the Avalon since the 1910 image was made and that is still there today; it seems to have become part of the Avalon property; it is the lot to the west of there that remains vacant).

I don’t know what to make of lots like this one. They are islands of non-development amid a vast sea of lots which (if we listen to our civic officials) must not only be developed, but re-developed to appease the great idol known as Densification.

If, as Conan Doyle’s fictional detective is reputed to have maintained, once everything else is eliminated as a possible explanation, whatever remains must be true. . . then perhaps my ‘alien’ headline isn’t completely goofy!

Posted in Opinion, street scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Lumberman and His Boy

Str P221 - [A horse-drawn lumber wagon at the corner of Hastings Street and Cambie Street] 1888

CVA: Str P221 – [A horse-drawn lumber wagon at the corner of Hastings Street and Cambie Street]. 1888. Photographer not shown. CVA’s record indicates “Donated by Mr. and Mrs. William Blais in 1944 from the collection of Dr. A.M. Robertson” (the city’s first medical officer of public health).

This is one of my favourite early photographs of Vancouver, the condition of the negative, notwithstanding. I love it for the usual reason for love . . . just because! But also for compositional and historical reasons.

It seems to me all but certain that this was professionally produced, although there is no credit associated with the image as it has come down to us today. The image bears the compositional marks of a professional hand, in my opinion. The lumberman standing atop the cut lumber on the wagon is balanced by the young lad (his son, perhaps?) standing next to the rear of the wagon. Also, the angle at which the wagon is positioned – this is not a normal or natural way to ‘park’ a wagon. In my opinion, the vehicle was posed. It was arranged by the photographer so that the lumber in all of its amazing length was clearly visible, along with the horses and the two human figures.

If I were pressed to name a photo company that seems to me to be the producer of this image, I’d speculate that it was J. D. Hall of the Vancouver branch of the Vancouver Photo Co. Hall would have been in Vancouver for about a year by the time this image was made and his office was just a couple blocks away on Cordova Street.

In addition to the compositional strength of the image, I also love it for what the photo points to historically, today, about a crossing of streets which would become of some importance to the city over the decades ahead and into the 21st century. The four corners of Hastings at Cambie tell different stories. I will highlight just a few of them below:

  • SW:  To the left of the heads of the horses, is what today is (the un-square-like) Victory Square (1924), where the Cenotaph is located. At the time this image was made (1888), however, the first Provincial Courthouse was either under construction or would be very soon on this site. It wouldn’t last long, being torn down ca 1911; it would be an empty lot until Victory Square was established following the Great War (with a notable exception; in the 19-teens, the site served as the home for significant Christian evangelistic meetings). The courthouse would move to the site of today’s Vancouver Art Gallery (at Georgia and Hornby). Some of the buildings visible behind the heads of the horses would give way within the next decade to the Inns of Court building (1894) at the SW corner of Hamilton and Hastings and where the “Hamilton plaque” once was. The plaque commemorated where the CPR’s first land commissioner in Vancouver, L.A. Hamilton, first pounded a stake into the earth and laid out a significant proportion of the streets which are part of Vancouver today.
  • SE: The corner that the horses are facing is the one where the Vancouver News-Advertiser offices once were and which was HQ for a great part of the 20th century to Vancouver’s print journalism offices. Today, the building on that corner is the Architecture Centre (home to the Architectural Institute of B.C.). The building that would have been on the site at the time of this photo, however, was a wood-frame structure.
  • NE: To the right of the wagon, by 1900, would be another architectural landmark: the Flack block (William Blackmore, architect). This building had a substantial, but historically sensitive, re-do in 2008 by Donald Luxton.
  • NW: And, finally, behind the wagon would be, from ca 1895-1910, a shopping mall of sorts. Not by contemporary standards, perhaps, but the Arcade was an early version; it housed 13 shops. By 1910, the “tallest building in the British Empire” (as it would briefly be known), would replace the Arcade. It is the Dominion building and stands there today.


Posted in J. D. Hall, people, street scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cecil Akrigg and Stan Lowe Go for a Climb


The first of two snapshots “tipped in” on a blank sheet of looseleaf paper inside Cecil Akrigg’s copy (now mine) of the souvenir brochure published on the occasion of the opening of the Lion’s Gate Bridge in 1939. In this photo, the bridge construction appears to be almost complete. However, this image was evidently made prior to installation of Charles Marega‘s lions. ca 1939. Akrigg or Lowe photo.


This is the second (and more vertigo-inducing) snapshot inside the Lion’s Gate Bridge brochure. ca 1939. Akrigg or Lowe photo. (Note: Both photos were a little over-exposed; I’ve tweaked the exposure of each for maximum clarity).


This sentence with the signatures of Akrigg and Lowe appear beneath the snapshots in Akrigg’s former copy of the brochure.

Cecil Akrigg and Stan Lowe were in their 20s when they made these images to remember their adventures in and around the Lion’s Gate Bridge ca 1939.

No mention is made as to whether their climb up the bridge tower (of just under 480 feet) was authorized by the powers that be, but it seems to me very doubtful! In adulthood, both men would have careers that were solidly respectable: Akrigg would become the Registrar of the Supreme Court of B.C.; Lowe would be an accountant.

Akrigg’s wife, Kathleen, died from cancer in 1983. Stan Lowe, who was Kathleen’s brother, also died from cancer two years later.

About a month prior to the publication of this post, Cecil Akrigg’s wartime story* and his wife’s battle with cancer were written up by the BC Cancer Foundation as part of their Leave a Legacy campaign. Akrigg, 99, has left his life insurance to the Foundation. No mention was made in the Foundation write-up of Akrigg’s and Lowe’s adventurous ascent of the Lion’s Gate Bridge, however!

I purchased the Lion’s Gate Bridge brochure from an antiquarian bookseller a few years ago.

CVA 1376-247 - [Fraser Boathouse, west of Kitsilano Pool] 1938 Cecil N. Akrigg photo

CVA 1376-247 – [Fraser Boathouse, west of Kitsilano Pool]. According to CVA notes, the image shows Claude Lowe and his son, Stan. 1938. Cecil N. Akrigg photo.

Upper part of tower

Lower part of tower-2

Tower Diagram 1938. This was included with my copy of the brochure. It was published much more recently, however. Produced as a fundraiser for Theatre Under The Stars. Portfolio Printsellers 1994.


*There is a recording of Akrigg recounting in a bit more detail some of his wartime experience at The Memory Project.

Posted in biography, bridges/viaducts, people | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Trevelyn Sleeth, Vancouver Vet

CVA 99-3465 - Dr. [Trevellyn] Sleeth's [Veterinary] Hospital [688 Seymour Street] - Operation on Dog 1923 S Thomson

CVA 99-3465 – Dr. [Trevellyn] Sleeth’s [Veterinary] Hospital [688 Seymour Street] – Operation on Dog. 1923. Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW Notes:  There are at least two errors with the CVA record and two potential misdirections: “Trevelyn” is the correct spelling of Dr. Sleeth’s first name; the correct address of the hospital from 1914-1924 was 690 Seymour; the person treating the dog probably should be identified as one of Sleeth’s staff to prevent confusion; finally, it doesn’t look to me as though there is an “operation” underway – looks more like the dog’s paw is being disinfected or perhaps is having a dressing changed.)

Dr. Trevelyn Elston Sleeth (1890-1987) first showed up in Vancouver as the proprietor of B. C. Dog and Cat Clinic in 1914 (in his first year in the business, however, the hospital was called the “Canine and Feline Hospital”; perhaps too many potential clients didn’t know the meanings of those words). Sleeth had his first hospital near the NE corner of Seymour and Georgia, until just a few years before the Hudson’s Bay Co. would entirely re-do that side of the block to create their huge parking garage. He left Seymour in 1924 and seemed to have difficulty for a few years finding a new location for the hospital. Finally, though, he found a central location that stuck for awhile: the south end of Granville street just before crossing Granville Bridge.

vpl 5426A B.C. Veterinary Hospital 1928 1329 Granville St. Frank Leonard

VPL 5426A B.C. Veterinary Hospital (VAIW Note: Presumably, Dr. Sleeth is the middle figure). 1928. 1327/1329 Granville St. Leonard Frank photo.

The hospital remained on Granville at least until 1945. Shortly after, he seems to have concluded that the days at that site were numbered, as the Animal Hospital would need to give way to construction of the new (current) Granville Bridge. He moved his hospital out to Burnaby, the city in which he resided. He had a business already established there (from the 1920s) – Kingsway Boarding Kennels – to which he appears to have added the Vet Hospital around this time, moving it out of the City of Vancouver altogether. The Burnaby kennels/hospital site was located roughly in the Royal Oak area of Burnaby (with Burnaby’s renumbering along Kingsway, it would today be located at 5414 Kingsway). In the 1960’s, Sleeth apparently also had a clinic on Hastings and Willingdon and another one in the Whalley district of Surrey. He retired from veterinary practice in the late 1960s.

156-005Burnaby - Kingsway Boarding Kennels (1925)-2

156-005. Burnaby Historical Society Community Archives Collection. Kingsway Boarding Kennels. 1925. Today, the site of the kennels would be at 5414 Kingsway.

Sleeth was born in Toronto and did his veterinary training at Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), which later became a founding college of Guelph University. He married Isabelle Grace Petrie after arriving in Vancouver in 1914. They had six daughters together, Phyllis, Pauline, Barbara, and Dorothy (two died at or near birth). Isabelle and Trevelyn were later divorced and he later married again (Olive). Isabelle seems not to have remarried and kept Sleeth’s surname until her death in 1967.

Dr. Sleeth spent the 1970s raising thoroughbred horses at the Surrey end of the Port Mann Bridge. He lived until he was 97.

Posted in Leonard J. Frank, stuart thomson | 2 Comments

Not-So-Terrifically Respectful

tom-campbell - Vancouver Sun-2

Mayor Tom “Terrific” Campbell (1927-2012) captured by Vancouver Sun.

Vancouver’s 31st mayor (1967-72), Tom Campbell, was a pro-development, shoot-from-the-lip civic leader.

Campbell is best known to Vancouver heritage advocates and to the communities of Chinatown and Strathcona, as one of the most vocal proponents of the proposed downtown freeway system. Fortunately, community groups prevented Campbell (and others who favoured the freeway) from succeeding beyond the initial stage of that plan – the replacement of the old Georgia (McHarg) Viaduct with the Georgia/Dunsmuir Viaducts (which resulted in the near-total destruction of the predominantly black community of Hogan’s Alley).

In November 1967, a public meeting was called by City Council on the proposed freeway (evidently, Campbell wasn’t able to muster the votes necessary to prevent Council from taking that action).

Campbell responded publicly that the meeting would be “a public disgrace” and “a tempest in a Chinese teapot”.*

“The only purpose of the meeting is so that some politicians at city hall can appease people,”he said.

The Playhouse Theatre (part of the Queen Elizazbeth Theatre complex) was tentatively booked by Council for the meeting .

Campbell said, in response: “Do we have to hire a playhouse to put on a puppet show for objectors? All we’ll hear from are a few groups with vested interests who oppose the freeway.”


Exhibit at MOV: Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver. Photograph illustrates the freeway system envisioned by Tom Campbell and others. 2016. Photo by author.


*All quotations in this post are taken from Vancouver Sun, November 6, 1967, p. 16.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Charles S. Price: Healing in Vancouver?


cdm.chungphotos.1-0219927full Dr. Charlie S. Price evangelist campaign, Vancouver, B.C. May 1923 UBC CHung

CC-PH-00416. Dr. Charlie S. Price evangelist campaign, Vancouver, B.C. May 1923. Chung Collection. UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections. Yucho Chow photo. Note: Mrs. R.’s “she-devil”, Miss Carvell, is second from left in front row. Price is just  to the right of Cavell.

For three weeks in May 1923, Rev. Charles S. Price (1887-1947) held daily (and often twice daily) evangelistic meetings and faith healing services in Vancouver. Price had been in Victoria for several days in April 1923 before coming to Vancouver. According to one source, one-sixth of Victoria’s population went to hear Price speak at Willows Arena at Oak Bay.  Price held meetings in Victoria’s Chinatown, too, and many Chinese-Canadians went forward at his altar calls.

In Vancouver, the Price meetings were held at the Denman Arena, which could seat up to 10,000. Frank Patrick, owner of the Arena had this to say about the Price crowd: “[T]he evangelistic party addressed over a quarter of a million people in the space of three weeks. On more than one occasion, I could feel the very building tremble with the singing of the multitude who were unable to wait for the opening hymn.”

Ministers of Vancouver were more divided than had been the ministers in Victoria on the work of Charles Price and his claim to anoint people with miraculous physical healing. A number of Chinese pastors from Victoria came to Vancouver to lend moral support to Price in light of the less-than-overwhelming support of the Vancouver ministerial.

Price Before B.C.

Charles Sydney Price was born in 1887 in England*. Following completion of high school, he served in the British Navy for a couple of years and attended Wesley College and ultimately Oxford where he studied law. (Note: There is no evidence that the “Dr.” which he regularly used with his name was academically earned. Either it came from him being awarded an honorary doctorate, or it was tacked onto Price’s name by him as a way to seem more learned than in fact he was). In 1906, Price left England for Canada. He sought work with law firms in Quebec and Winnipeg, but to no avail. In 1907, he left Canada for Spokane. Shortly after arriving there, he came upon an evangelistic service at the Free Methodist “Life Line Mission”. He was converted there and took up a career in the Methodist church ministry.

Price drifted into the Christian ‘liberal’ movement known as modernism. “He quickly began to reason away his previous salvation experience, and his minstry from that point would be marked by the absence of altar calls and salvations for several years” (Enloe, 7). He pastored a number of Methodist churches in Washington and later was pastor of even more liberal Congregational churches in Alaska and California.

In 1921, he was pastoring First Congregational Church in Lodi, CA. He was told of revival meetings that would be happening at San Jose, led by Aimee Semple McPherson, which would include “divine healing”. He was determined to attend the meetings with the intention of debunking them from his pulpit. Instead of collecting evidence to condemn the McPherson meetings, however, Price was ‘converted’ to the ‘full Gospel’ of pentecostalism, with its attendant features of anointing with oil, faith healing, and speaking in tongues.

In 1922, Price accepted an invitation from McPherson to travel with her evangelistic troupe. In autumn of that year, representatives of some Ashland, OR churches invited “Sister Aimee” to lead revival meetings there. McPherson couldn’t go, but recommended that Price go in her place.

Price drew huge crowds in Oregon to hear him preach and to participate in his healing services. Price’s Oregon campaign led to Victoria and the Victoria campaign led to the 1923 Vancouver meetings (and to later sequel campaigns in both B.C. cities the next year).

Bill Carmichael’s ‘Search for Truth’

I recalled seeing a file in the Archives of First Baptist Church, Vancouver, labelled “Dr. Charles Price Evangelistic Campaigns”. Upon looking inside the file, I saw what appeared to be a couple of typewritten, contemporary accounts, of the experiences of people who had attended the Price meetings. Upon closer examination, however, it became clear that the two documents were written by the same person about a year apart; one of the accounts was written within days of the 1923 Price meetings; the second was written after the 1924 meetings. The author, it turned out, was  William M. Carmichael (1880-1947), a member of First Baptist Church.**

Carmichael had heard from FBC’s outgoing pastor, Rev. Gabriel Maguire, of Price’s meetings in Victoria and of the “wonderful cure, ascribed to the prayer of faith, anointing and laying on of hands.”

My experience of this reverend gentleman [Maguire] did not warrant me taking his statements at par value; his eggs, as the Scotch say, “had aye twa yokes” or, in other words, he had so developed the gift? of exaggeration that I never really knew, until I had tested his statements afterwards, where fact left off and fiction began.

Thus it was with a very critical but open mind that I first went to the meetings.

Carmichael attended the first meeting on Sunday night (May 6th) and went again on Monday. Carmichael returned on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. He described the message given on each evening as being “plain gospel”, but by the Friday meeting he added that “the address that evening was another plain talk but somehow it thrilled me. Quite unconsciously, I was clapping my hands and shouting ‘Hear! Hear’ [and] others were shouting ‘Amen!’ ‘Hallelujah!’ and ‘Praise the Lord!’

CVA 1399-523 - [Photograph of arena stage construction] ca 1925 Dominion Photo
CVA 1399-523. Denman Arena stage construction. ca 1925. Dominion Photo.

By the Tuesday of the third week of meetings, Carmichael was planning to go forward for healing. He had been hard of hearing in his left ear from an early age.

He received his anointing on Thursday night – the Victoria Day holiday***. He described his experience thus:

[Price] gave me a quiet look of discernment, then he raised his hand and anointed my forehead – that was all that I was aware of. A power came over me and I fell backwards. I felt someone catching me as I fell, I felt someone place something under my head…. As I lay on the floor I was perfectly conscious of the sounds. I was in a blissful state of rest or lassitude and through my mind surged these words, “Thank you Jesus, thank you.” This over and over again….. About a quarter of an hour passed when I opened my eyes and looking up saw Dr [George] Telford [former FBC moderator] standing guard over me. 

 Carmichael seemed to have had genuine restoration of hearing to his left ear.

When I went to the arena [on…] Friday, the second-last day of the campaign…I went to the furthest back and the highest seat in the whole building to test out my hearing; to my joy I heard Dr. Price in every word. 

He summed up his 1923 experience of Price and his campaign as follows:

There were Christians who would have given Dr Price the highest honour the Church could give; there were other Christians who consigned him to the lowest pit of hell where, they said, he belonged….Yet to all, friend or foe, Dr. Price…even in the hottest bombard of venom and criticism, like the Saviour, answered not a word. When he spoke of those who opposed him, it was in the most loving way. “If” as he told us, “you do not see the light as I see it, I have no condemnation for you. All I want you to do is follow the light you have.”


William Carmichael’s very positive reaction to the 1923 campaign was followed by more muted enthusiasm afterwards. He remained convinced that the Price campaign had been a spiritual “uplift” to the church (and not least for his own First Baptist congregation). But he wasn’t sure what to do with his personal ‘healing’ experience. For, although he experienced improvement to his hearing immediately after his anointing by Price, one month later, the deafness had returned.

Carmichael spoke with others of his acquaintance who had received anointing and healing at Price’s meetings. Two of these folks had had similar experiences to his of relapse of ailment (either within a month or within a space of 2-3 months).

I’ll allow Carmichael to relate the response to his inquiry of the third person of his acquaintance, who was more embittered than the others:

[N]ext I met a Mrs. R. “Excuse me, Mrs. R.”, I said, “but you were anointed at the Arena and fell under the power. Did you receive healing?”

She turned on me with a glare of anger, “No,” she fairly hissed. “I believe it was nothing more than that I was hypnotized by the wicked eyes of that she-devil, Miss Carvell.” (Miss Carvell was Dr Price’s singer and assistant.).

And before I could say another word, she shot out the door.

Carmichael went to the second Price campaign meetings in 1924, searching for answers to his questions about his lack of enduring healing.  At the end of it, he could only conclude:

Of Dr. Price’s gospel preaching there is no doubt of his sincerity and earnestness as far as I can see; as for his tenets on healing, while I could not say with certainty he is right, on the other hand I could not with positiveness say he was wrong.



*Background on Price comes mostly from “Dr Charles S. Price: His Life, Ministry and Influence”. By  Tim Enloe. AG Heritage. 2008.

**He was the author of FBC’s first authorized history, in celebration of the church’s Diamond Jubliee: These Sixty Years 1887-1947. Carmichael was the father of Mrs. Edna-May Slade, currently the oldest member of FBC.

***Victoria Day in these years, must not have been designated as falling on the 4th Monday of May, but rather as being on May 23rd – whatever day of the week that should happen to be.

Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, Yucho Chow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Answers to “Find The Errors”

1. CVA 99-3791

The image is not the Marine Building (which is decorated with terra cotta marine features such as seahorses); it is the Georgia Medical-Dental Building (decorated with healthcare-related features (such as the nurse figure at the very top of the building).  

2. CVA 447-335

I don’t honestly know what is meant by the title wording associated with this image.

The Scope and Content portion of this record claims that the “Photograph shows the Dunsmuir Viaduct.” That is an error. There was no such thing as a Dunsmuir Viaduct in 1949; indeed, not until after the second Georgia Viaduct project was completed circa 1971. Prior to that, the Georgia Viaduct carried traffic both east and west. Only after the 1971 project was there a separate Dunsmuir Viaduct to carry  westbound traffic while the Georgia Viaduct carried traffic eastbound.

The Viaduct in the image is Georgia Viaduct.

3. Str P257

This is pretty clearly somewhere other than Georgia Street. It appears to be an image of Ceperley Playground in Stanley Park’s Second Beach. See a very similar image on CVA here.

Posted in street scenes | 2 Comments

Find the Errors

If you’ve been following VanAsItWas for awhile, you’ll recall that a few months ago, we played Name Those Streets. This consisted of me showing three images which were misidentified by the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA) as to their street locations.*

Today’s post is a variant on that theme. However, the errors pertain more broadly to the info provided by CVA. The archivists may have erred in the street location, or in some other aspect of the photo’s description. I will play fair, however. I’ll provide all of the info that CVA provides so you can make a decision as to what the error is and (if you’re ‘on the ball’) what the correct info ought to be.


  • Title: The Facade of the Marine Building
  • Year: 1929


  • Title: CPR Team Tracks Pender St.
  • Year: 1959
  • Scope and content: “Photograph shows the Dunsmuir Viaduct.”


  • Title: View of buildings in the 300 block West Georgia Street looking East from Homer Street.
  • Year: 1948
  • Scope and content: “Photograph shows Hopps Sign Co. nLtd. (375 Georgia) and a street light.”

Answers will appear in tomorrow’s post.


*As of the date of publication of today’s post – 4 months after Name Those Streets was posted – none of the three errors then identified have been corrected.

Posted in street scenes | 3 Comments

Fine Work by Unknown Artist


Vancouver CPR: UL_1085_0030. Views of British Columbia and Alaska. University of British Columbia Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs. n.d. [1880-90]. Artist and photographer unknown.

I find lithographs such as this one (from a volume in the Uno Langmann Collection entitled Views of British Columbia and Akaska) to be very appealing. Vancouver Art historian, Gary Sim, has pointed out that that the first image (from the source hard copy of the book; the signature isn’t visible at the online site) is signed Louis Glaser, Leipzig. Glaser, apparently, had an amazing process by which these lithographs were produced.¹

Views was published by M. W. Waitt & Co, an early Victoria bookseller. Marshall Wilder Waitt (1833-1892) succumbed to Smallpox in 1892 and sometime after that, Waitt’s son-in-law, Charles H. Kent, moved the business to Vancouver. The year that Views was published isn’t known, but the staff in UBC Library’s Special Collections department estimate it was between 1880-90.

I’m aware of there being several examples of B.C. publishers publishing their own work anonymously. As far as I know, that wasn’t the case with Views. However, Waitt’s daughter (who married Waitt’s successor, C. H. Kent) Georgina (1866-1933), was a portrait artist and may have been connected to a capable B.C. artist who she brought to her father’s attention (and who was just hungry enough to agree to M. W. Waitt’s terms of publication anonymity).

I take it that Views sold well because a smaller, “best of”, edition was published a few years later (1900?). There were only 20 or so prints in this little volume. The Langmann (188-?) edition – a first edition, presumably – has about 60 prints.

I am no art critic; mainly I know what I like. I like most of the work in Views, and I’m very interested in finding out who the unsung artist was behind the fine images within its covers. Permit me a brief ramble about my assessment of the art (and artist).

The artistic form is Realism (with a capital ‘R’). There is no hint of any abstract influence in this work at all. I’m convinced that the work in Views is by a single artist; it doesn’t look to me like a compilation of work by a variety of artists. That said, it seems to me that there is a difference in the maturity of the artist’s skill among the several examples in Views. I think that the work comes from different periods in the artist’s life – some of them from relatively early in his/her life; others from later periods. This is best illustrated by looking at the artist’s weakest artistic subject: human figures. In the print shown below (which I take to be an earlier one), the figure in the rowboat is rendered pretty crudely.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 4.39.07 PM

The CPR Crossing the Columbia River: UL_1085_0046. Views of British Columbia and Alaska. University of British Columbia Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs. n.d. [1880-90]. Artist and photographer unknown.

But here, in the image called “Indian Groups” the artist demonstrates a skill level vastly superior to that in the rowboat work. The human figures in this image are almost photographic.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 4.43.16 PM

Indian Groups: UL_1085_0028. Views of British Columbia and Alaska. University of British Columbia Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs. n.d. [1880-90]. Artist and photographer unknown.

I wish that there was much hope of me tracking down the artist/engraver who did this fine work. But I’m told that engraved work of this period was typically unsigned and that it is very difficult to pin down who was responsible from this distant remove.


¹For more background info on this artist and his work, see Gary Sim’s talk to the Vancouver Historical Society. The entire talk on early Vancouver artists is worth watching, but for the section pertaining to this artwork, go to the 34.37 mark.

Posted in art, Uno Langmann Collection | Tagged , , , , , , ,

West Cordova Unit Block*

CVA 780-768 - [View of West Cordova Street from Carrall Street] 196--2

CVA 780-768 – A View looking west down the Unit Block of West Cordova Street from Carrall Street. Photographer unkonwn. 196-.

It is a pity that we don’t know who made this photograph. To me, it is one of gems in the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA) collection. Why do I say that? The muted colour tones, for one thing, speak of a decade that was moving away from black and white images in favour of colour. The people in the image also are appealing to me. Nobody seems to be in a rush. Even the automobile traffic seems quiet. It could be a Sunday afternoon if this photo were made in an era when there was a good reason for pedestrians to be strolling in a retail area — Sunday shopping is two or three decades in the future.

The mix of businesses represented in the image is striking. Rainier Grocery is just visible at the southwest corner of Carrall and Cordova; the Army & Navy anchored the block then (as it does now) in the  Dunn-Miller block; there appears to be a loan service on the south side of the street, mid-way down; and, according to the 1969** Vancouver directory, there were assorted other shops plying trade in hardware, lock & safe services, sporting goods, tailoring, umbrella manufacture, and food service.

But if there was a dominant trade on this block, it was the hotel/SRO (single room occupancy) business. On the south side of West Cordova, at least two hotel signs are visible: the Cansino Hotel and the Hildon Hotel (for which, I have to believe, there must have been at least an informal slogan to the effect of ‘If you can’t afford the Hilton, stay at the Hildon!’). And on the north side of the street, there were Boulder Rooms, the Travellers Hotel (also known as the Fortin Building), the Stanley Hotel, the New Fountain Hotel, and Marble Rooms.


The iron fencing that seems discouraging to potential shoppers at retail shops on street level of current Stanley/New Fountain Hotel. 2016. Author’s photo.

There are some big changes in the future for the block. One of the most significant is the redevelopment of the Stanley/New Fountain Hotel. Plans are reportedly in the works for a “facadification” of these old hotels. If reports are accurate, the currently 2-3 storey hotels will be replaced with an 11-storey combo market- and non-market-housing structure. The time is ripe for changes to be made to these SROs and the retail businesses that crouch beneath them (behind a foreboding metal fence). I know that there are critics of the 11-storey profile of the proposed Stanley Hotel. But, frankly, that will put it only three stories higher than its neighbour, the Lori Krill Housing Co-Op.

I’m not sure what is going into the former home of Rainier Grocery, but it looks as though it will be a food service vendor of some description. Across the street, on the northwest corner of Cordova and Carrall, the Bauhous Restaurant has established itself on the main floor of what was once Boulder Hotel/Rooms. But it is pretty clear that there are few, if any, tenants on the upper floors, currently. That will probably change soon.

Meanwhile, there has been at least one change to the block that would have our forebears scratching their heads. The Float House (specializing in “floatation therapy and sensory deprivation”, no less) today occupies the space that once was the manufacturing site of the eminently practical BC Umbrella Co.



*A “unit block” is the block of a street or avenue numbered less than 100.

**I looked to the 1969 Directory because the 1960s are identified by CVA as the likely decade when this image was made. I have my doubts about that, however. I favour an early year in the following decade: possibly 1971 or 1972.

Posted in hotels/motels/inns, street scenes, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada’s First Drive-In Theatre

vpl 81172B - Cascade Drive-in Theatre and two automobiles with rain visors. 1950. Artray Studio. Rain visors to be rented for cars attending theatre at 3960 Canada Way, Burnaby.

VPL 81172B – Cascade Drive-in Theatre at at 3960 Canada Way, in Burnaby. Two automobiles with rain visors (rain visors were rented for cars attending the Drive-In). 1950. Artray Studio.

The Cascade Drive-In in Burnaby was B.C.’s and Canada’s first drive-in theatre. It was started by George and William Steel and Joe and Art Johnson (Steel-Johnson Amusements, Ltd.) in 1946, opening in August of that year. The theatre was built along Grandview Highway. 
Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 5.23.21 PM

Cascade Drive-In. 1951. Vintage Air Photos.

In 1977, the theatre was purchased by Don Soutar, Al Chappell and Norm Green and continued to operate as a drive-in until it closed in 1980 and was demolished two years later. The property was redeveloped into a condominium complex now known as Cascade Village.


Cascade Drive-In. 1946. Heritage Burnaby.

Posted in Artray, theatre/vaudeville/cinemas | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vancouver Arts & Crafts Association

Bu N135 - [O'Brien Hall, Metropolitan Block and the De Beck Building, southeast corner of Homer and Hastings Streets] 1940.

Bu N135 – [O’Brien Hall, Metropolitan Block and the De Beck Building, southeast corner of Homer and Hastings Streets] 1940. This was the site of the inaugural exhibition of the A&CA, July, 1900. Interestingly, R. M. Fripp, who was later president of the Arts & Crafts Association, was the designer of O’Brien Hall. The Hall was demolished in 1940, presumably shortly after this image was made.

image2-3The Arts & Crafts Association came into being in April, 1900 and lasted little more than a couple of years.* It had as its “chief aim . . . to encourage artistic feeling and knowledge and to bring the designer and the workman or craftsman into closer relationship.” (Brochure, Arts and Crafts Association. Vancouver, B.C., Evans & Hastings [Printer?], n.d. {190-?], CVA Collection off-line).

The Association offered classes in a variety of areas:

  • Painting and drawing
  • Modelling
  • Art Needlework
  • Design and Execution of Furniture
  • Architectural Drawing and History
  • Mechanical Drawing
  • Photography
  • Painting on China
  • Carving

An “annual exhibition” was held in which members were entitled to submit their works for show and sale. The first of these was held in September, 1900 at the Theatre Royal (also known as the Alhambra Theatre), located at Pender and Howe. The second annual exhibit was in 1901 at the Fairfield Building on Granville at Pender. (There was a third exhibit that wasn’t one of the “annual” exhibits. It was an inaugural exhibition at O’Brien Hall (Hastings and Homer) to help celebrate the creation of the association. It was held in July, 1900.)**

Judging from the handwritten list of members held by CVA, about half of the 60+ paid members were women. The gender distribution among the executive was consistent with the time in not being representative of the membership, however the one woman among the ten officers – Mrs. Balfour Ker – was a Vice-President (the other V-P was S. M. Eveleigh). The President and a major force behind the Association was Robert M. Fripp.

Port P552 - [Robert MacKay Fripp] ca1888 J. D. Hall photo.

Port P552 – Robert MacKay Fripp. ca1888 J. D. Hall photo.

After the 1901 exhibit, the Association seemed to run out of steam. Mention was made in the press that the Association came to an end with the move of R. M. Fripp to California (temporarily) and “the scattering of other important members.”

Some of the functions of the Arts & Crafts Association were assumed by the Studio Club***(1904) and by the B.C. Society of Fine Arts (1908).


*The Arts & Crafts Association was birthed from an even more short-lived organization: the Art Workers Guild. Not much is known about the Guild except that it was established in early 1900. It was replaced by the A&CA when it was created about three months later.

**A. J. Davis showed some of his artwork and carving at the inaugural exhibit.

***Emily Carr was hired (briefly) in 1905 or 1906 by the Studio Club to be a resource person for one of their painting classes. William Thom quotes Carr regarding her time with the Club in his thesis: “The [Studio]… Club was a cluster of society women who intermittently packed themselves and their admirers into a small rented studio to drink tea and jabber art jargon” (Thom, 30). It won’t be surprising to anyone familiar with her acerbic wit that Miss Carr was dismissed from her job with the Studio Club after just one month. Her impatience with her students was doubtless exceeded only by her students’ distaste for ‘her’ sort of (decidedly non-Victorian) art!


City of Vancouver Archives. Off-line file on the Vancouver Arts & Crafts Association.

William Wylie Thom. The Fine Arts in Vancouver, 1886-1930: An Historical Survey. M. A. Thesis. UBC. April 1969.

Posted in art, J. D. Hall | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Food These Morsels Be”

Money's Former Slogan-What Food These Morsels Be

Money’s Mushrooms Former Slogan. On Prior Street a couple of blocks east of Main Street. 2016. Author’s photo.

This sign was painted on the side of a building on Prior Street many years ago. A friend, who is in his 70s, claims not to remember a time when the advertisement wasn’t there.

W. T. Money established W. T. Money & Co. (later, Money’s Mushrooms) in 1928. Its headquarters was at 631 Seymour Street; today, it is based in Surrey.

The slogan shown above was apparently adopted by Money’s in about 1940. It was in use by the company at least through the 1950s, and possibly through the 1970s. What Food These Morsels Be is an example of word play; in this case, the slogan plays with a quotation by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s line was “Lord, what fools these mortals be.”* The original Shakespearean line has also been adapted in a blues classic made popular by Etta James and released in 1969.

The elf figure on the left of the ad may be intended to represent the mischievous fairy, Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The first apparent use of the current slogan, Money’s Makes Meals Mmmarvellous, was in an advertising campaign led by Canadian cooking personality, James Barber, The Urban Peasant. He the campaign for Money’s with the current slogan in the 1980s.



A Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3, scene 2, 110–115.

Posted in advertising, books/reading, food | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Risky Swinging in the ’20s


Couple on (Apparently Hand-Powered) Cable Tram (Over Seymour Creek?) UL_1184_03_0058. 1920-30? Photographer Unknown. From Possible Murray Family Album. UBC Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs.

This couple appear pretty relaxed, given that they are suspended by a none-too-sturdy-looking cable over what I believe (but cannot prove) is Seymour Creek in North Vancouver. I’m led to conclude that it is probably Seymour Creek mainly from context. There are a couple other Seymour Creek images in the same album; and the water appears similarly calm in the other Seymour Creek photos. A friend has suggested that another possibility is the Lynn Creek headwaters.

There are three other similar images in the same album in UBC’s Uno Langmann Family Collection of Early B.C. Photos. The subjects in each of the other three photos are all different and they are not all as relaxed as this couple seems to be.

The photographs all appear to be made  by the same (professional, I assume) photographer. I assume that there was a parallel cable car on which the photographer was perched. Either that, or there was a bridge that ran parallel to where our brave pair were.

Posted in parks, people, Uno Langmann Collection | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ye Little Brown Inn

xx-2Yesterday, I was looking at a printout of Sheet 16 of Goad’s Fire Insurance Atlas of Vancouver (March 1920) when I noticed the name of a business that was new to me: “Little Brown Inn”. What could that be, I wondered?

The name of the commercial enterprise was, in fact, Ye Little Brown Inn, and appears to have been one of the legion lunch counters in downtown Vancouver in the early decades of the twentieth century (among its near competitors were the 800-block Granville outlet of White Lunch and the Old Country Lunch and Tea Rooms at 641 Granville).

YLBI was first established at 606 Granville in 1915 by three ladies: Anna Fletcher, Agnes McKay, and Mary H. Lawrence. It appears that two of the women dropped out of the enterprise sometime within the first year or so of operation. By the time the 1916 Vancouver City Directory was published, Mary Lawrence was the sole proprietor listed. By 1918, the business had moved a couple of blocks, presumably to somewhat less expensive digs, at 745 Dunsmuir (roughly where Holt Renfrew is located today).*

There is no way of knowing how well YLBI did against its many competitors. But by 1922, the business was finished. Mary Helen Lawrence succumbed to Tetanus and died on March 5th, in her 55th year (just five days after being diagnosed with the illness)**. According to the Immunize Canada page pertaining to Tetanus (aka Lockjaw), after 1920, “[t]he introduction of horse antiserum neutralized the effect of tetanus toxin and improved the care of wounds, leading to reduced cases and deaths in Canada and other industrialized countries.” By the 1940s, the serum was readily available and the practice of immunizing infants for Tetanus began.

However it was that Miss Lawrence contracted the disease (whether as part of her work at YLBI or elsewhere), if it had happened just a few years later, chances are good that she would have survived.


*I was unable to track down any images of YLBI at its Granville or Dunsmuir locations.

**The following details about Miss Lawrence’s life prior to owning YLBI are excerpted from her obituary, published in the March 6, 1922 edition of the Vancouver Daily World“Miss Lawrence, who owned and managed the Little Brown Inn, had resided in Vancouver for the past eight years. She came here from Paris, France, where she had lived for several years. She was born at Niagara Falls, Ont., and at an early age went to New York, where she trained as a nurse. She followed that profession first In New York, later in Paris, then in Rome, Cairo and again in Paris. She was appointed by the Italian government matron in charge of the hospital ship which was sent to Messina at the time of the big earthquake disaster there and was later decorated by King Emanuel for her services. Her only brother lives in Buffalo and her only near relative in this city is Miss M. A. Leith. The late Miss Lawrence was a member of the I.O.D.E. and the Woman’s Canadian Club. The body will be sent to Niagara Falls, Ont. for burial.”

Posted in biography, cafes/restaurants/eateries | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A. J. Davis, Vancouver Painter

Blackfoot Chief Two Guns White Calf - Painting by A J Davis. n.d.

Portrait of Chief Two Guns White Calf. Painted by A. J. Davis, apparently from a photograph on a postcard (shown below). n.d.

The painting above was purchased by my good friend, Wes, at a thrift store, recently. He didn’t know who the artist was nor anything of his story. He just liked the painted rendering of the portrait. A bit of digging online revealed that the painting was made by Alfred John Davis (a Vancouver artist) – who was unknown to Wes or me – from a photographic postcard of Chief Two Guns White Calf.

A. J. Davis was born in England in 1868. He later immigrated to Canada and settled for a few years in Winnipeg. He came west to Vancouver in 1891, and he married Ellen Ann McCannell here in 1897. His occupation in Winnipeg and in Vancouver was as a railway coach painter for the Canadian Pacific Railway (later on, in Vancouver, he became foreman of the CPR paint shops here).

In a Vancouver Sun profile that was published just a couple of weeks before Davis’ death in 1933, the author noted that

“Mr. and Mrs. Davis are living in a veritable art gallery, wherein beautiful paintings, both in oil and water color, with huge pencil drawings adorn the walls throughout their well-situated home at 3741 39th Avenue West. Indian heads in oil is the chief subject for his brushes and over which has the most absolute control, so much so that he is recognized in artistic circles as the authority in such work.” (A Home Filled with Treasures. Vancouver Sun, January 7, 1933)

The indian subjects appear to have been paintings he did for his own amusement (and probably as an additional income source), although it is possible that his output for the CPR may also have included native american portraits. According to the Sun author, the Davis home was full of wood carvings in addition to oil and watercolour paintings. One of these sounds from the description as though it would have made a lovely piece for a local museum. Whether or not it was donated to the Maritime Museum or the MOV is unknown to me:

“The year 1863 marked the beginning of a new era in the history of British Columbia with the arrival on the Columbia River on March 19 of the first vessel, the historic Beaver, after a passage of 163 days from Gravesend, entirely under sail. Today, all that is left of the vessel* after sinking in the Narrows at Vancouver just forty years ago, is a beautifully carved scimitar and sheath brought to light from a trunk by A. J. Davis…This was carved from part of an inside cupola of the old vessel obtained at low tide after a lengthy scramble over barnacles  and sea refuse in the autumn of 1891 about three weeks before the vessel completely disappeared from sight. The Beaver knife sheath has a perfectly carved scroll-work. The curved blade contains a piece of one of the copper rivets used to fasten the old oak beams of the historic old steamer.”**

Although I’m very appreciative of the Sun for assigning a reporter (albeit, an anonymous one) to write the profile of the today-all-but-unknown artist, if I’d had my ‘druthers’, it would have been helpful to have more detail about A. J. Davis’ work for the CPR, including what exactly his job entailed. Was he responsible for any of the famous CPR posters? Was he responsible for painting scenes in railway coaches (in which case, most of his career art work must surely now be gone) or (more likely), was it his job to see that all CPR property was properly maintained with a fresh coat of paint, inside and out?

CVA 152-1.180 - [Construction progress photograph of the CPR Pier %22A-B%22 extension] July 1913.

CVA 152-1.180 – [Construction progress photograph of the CPR Pier “A-B” extension] July 1913. A worker is painting the exterior of the pier. Was this the sort of painting work with which A J Davis was principally concerned?

A. J. Davis died while still in harness with his employer of 45 years on January 25, 1933. His widow died in 1953 in Burbank, CA. What happened to the treasures in their former home is unknown to me.



AM1052 P-872 – The five Georges (ca 1910)
The above postcard (front and verso) is the only piece of art and information available at the City of Vancouver Archives pertaining to A. J. Davis. The drawing of the “Five Georges” is a reproduction of a painting, according to the note on the card’s face.


*This claim that the Davis item is the sole extant piece of the Beaver isn’t accurate. See here for an image of an auction mallet composed of wood from the craft and a reference to “a number of other such items” from the Beaver, including its boiler which resides outside of the Maritime Museum.

**I appreciate very much the information embedded here in an online request for help with additional details about her grandfather, A. J. Davis. Without the reference in her post to the newspaper article profiling Davis, I would have had very little to say about his life and vocation (and avocations).


April 19/16: I have just found a listing of a few others of AJD’s work; they were on display at the Theatre Royal (aka the first Orpheum Theatre), as part of the First Annual Exhibition of the Arts and Crafts Association, September 25-27, 1900.


Posted in art, biography, Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) | Tagged