Early Palmists

“Madame X”. Sun, 22 Oct 1924,

I should begin by commenting briefly on what it is that palmists do. They are palm readers. Meaning that they claim to be able to tell a person’s fortune from lines on palms. I won’t get into the details of the practice; instead, I will point readers to a link on the subject and leave it to you if you wish to chase the palmistry rabbit down its hole(s).

The earliest mention I could find of Vancouver palmists in the local press was in an August 1896 edition of the Weekly News-Advertiser. The article in question spoke of a St. James (Anglican) Church social in which “the phrenologist and the palmist were kept fully occupied, disclosing to all who sought their services much that was previously unknown to them (19 Aug 1896 Weekly News-Advertiser). This apparently lighthearted attitude to palmistry seems to have been pretty typical of Vancouver residents. It wasn’t illegal to practice palmistry. The City Council took a pretty pragmatic attitude to palmists. As long as they paid their business license ($10/year in the early period), they could practice.

Who Were They?

We don’t know much about the individuals who worked at this occupation, but we can make some remarks about the Vancouver palmists as a group, mainly from their advertisements in the press over the years.

The overwhelming majority of Vancouver palmists were women. Typically, they referred to themselves in their ads as “Madam(e)” or (infrequently) “Mrs”. Perhaps most were married; perhaps not. But the important point is that they seemed to want to be so perceived. I expect that this gave them a desired gravitas which they might not have had if they were identified as “Miss” or “Mademoiselle”.

Bu P634 – Building at SE Corner of Granville and Dunsmuir Street. Just prior to demolition. Shows Madam Rawney’s business digs on second floor, complete with the hand symbol which indicated the practice of palmistry within. 1927. W. J. Moore photo.
Province 13 Jan 1927. An ad for Madam Rawney when she was still working on West Hastings (before assuming the space shown above at Granville and Dunsmuir). I think “menthist” is a typo; probably should have been “mentalist”.

There were a couple of qualifiers that were added to the words “Palmist” and “Palmistry”. One was Egyptian Palmist. I haven’t been able to find out whether this had any meaning beyond sounding romantic. It doesn’t seem to have had much to do with the practitioner’s ethnicity. Nor, apparently, to the type of palmistry practiced. We probably will never know whether “Princess Pyterlyngero” was of Egyptian decent — or even black, for that matter (although one of her ads claims that she was born in Alexandria, Egypt). We can probably safely rule out a royal bloodline, however (Province 11 Jan 1906)!

Another common qualifier was Scientific Palmistry. “Madame Bayla” was one who so sold her services. Those, like Bayla, who put an emphasis on the science of palmistry were probably at pains to de-emphasize the “art” or the “seat of the pants” aspects of the practice. “Palmistry,” she remarked in an ad, “is a true science . . . . and she has read the hands of the most noted people in Europe and this country and . . . her patrons rank up to royalty.” (Manitoba Morning Free Press, 13 July 1904). She claimed to come from France, and that seems to be true; her actual name was Louise Robert (b. ca1877). I established that she was well-travelled in Canada. From Quebec to B.C., she covered all the principal cities thoroughly. Even some of the then-towns were graced with Bayla’s presence — including Lethbridge and tiny Frank, Alberta!

There were a couple of other more clunky qualifiers in addition to “Egyptian” and “scientific”. Seemingly, wishing to cover most of the bases, Madame Vordya sold herself as “the Royal English Egyptian Palmist” (World 25 Jan 1913). Queen Maze, however, described her work as being “the Royal English Gypsy palmist” (Sun 4 Feb 1913).

Everybody’s Wonderful! (Except When They’re Not)

One peculiar commonality among the many ads that I reviewed (from the 1890s to 1970) was the regular use of the word “wonderful”. Everyone who practiced palmistry, it seems, was “wonderful”! Permit a few examples:

“informs the public of her wonderful powers in reading the history of one’s life by examining the palms” un-named Egyptian Palmist. (World 31 March 1908)

“most wonderful delineator and gifted reader” La Fayette the Great (Province 12 June 1909)

“the wonderful palmists” un-named palmists in New Westminster (Province 15 Nov 1909)

“the wonderful Scotch palmist” John Muir (Province 24 Mar 1910)

“the wonderful card reader and palmist” Madame Damsky (World 2 July 1910)

“her wonderful gift of second sight enables her to lift the veil of mystery and reveal to you important matters of your future life.” Ceola (World 20 June 1912)

But there was at least one early palmist who did not feel so “wonderful” about herself. Lilian Field was a palmist who practiced in Victoria. However, this poor woman was judged to be insane and was moved to the hospital for the insane in New Westminster in November 1896. According to the Province, she was treated (as was typical at the time) as a criminal and only one day after being admitted in New Westminster, she was dead. What did the Province mean about her being treated as if she were a criminal? Apparently, she was bound hand and foot in shackles and was imprisoned in Victoria just as a criminal would be. Little use was made at the time of “camisoles” — which I take to be a reference to straitjackets. The Province editor summed it up well: “The principle of treating the insane as criminals is wrong and should no longer be allowed in practice” (Province 21 Nov 1896).

As the World Turned

By the early ’30s, there were changes evident in the occupation. Madame Sonia was partnering with David Spencer’s department stores. She would tell fortunes during lunch and tea hours in Spencer’s dining room. Madame X was broadcasting over CKCD and CHLS radio stations. In short, it became less common, as the years went by for palmists to function as solo acts. More and more, they relied on cafes and radio broadcasts to help them ply their trade. By the 1940s, to my surprise, the number of palmists advertising in the press fell dramatically. (I say that this surprised me, as I had expected these years to be a period of growth for palmists, given the uncertainties of war). There were just two palmists who were advertising regularly in the papers in that decade and by the ’60s that number fell to zero. I am sure that palmists continued to work in Vancouver in the ‘60s, but they made little use of the press in advertising the fact.

A related change I noted was that palmists tended less often to be based in the commercial district as the century wore on. Less frequently were they on the Granville or West Hastings “great white ways”; more often, they were in lower-rent East Hastings.

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The Unfinished Story of Rev. W. C. Weir at First Baptist

Rev. W. C. Weir, Pastor at First Baptist (Vancouver), 1890-1894. Guelph Museums.

Of all the ministers at First Baptist Church over the years, the work of W. C. Weir (1890-1894) is among the most obscure and lacking in detail. The two FBC historians — William Carmichael (1947) and Les Cummings (1987) — make remarkably scant mention of him. We don’t even know Weir’s first name. In this post, I’ll try to assemble as many facts as I can about Weir using the tools available to me which weren’t around for earlier FBC historians to draw on.

William Cornett Weir was born in 1854. He married Elizabeth Louise Dutton in 1886 (one of the witnesses of their marriage was James B. Kennedy, who would very shortly become FBC’s pastor and whom Weir would succeed). Together, William and Elizabeth had 5 boys: Frederick (1888), William Arnold (1890), Charles (1892), Gordon (1895), and George (1898). Weir did his bachelor’s degree at Toronto and McMaster Universities and upon completing his education, accepted a call from Woolwich Street Baptist Church in 1890. He resigned his ministry at Woolwich Street after four years with that congregation. In a 1928 Woolwich Street anniversary souvenir, it was stated that “For some time, the church had suffered from a lack of unity in spirit and action. In the summer of 1890 the smouldering embers of disharmony burst into sudden flame.”1 It was in the wake of this disharmony that Weir submitted his resignation (and, further, that about one hundred members split from Woolwich Street to start Trinity Baptist Church in Guelph).

Whatever were the specific reason(s) that motivated Weir’s departure from the Guelph church to accept the call to distant Vancouver, he assumed the FBC pulpit in short order. His swan song sermon in Guelph was on August 3rd; he arrived at the Vancouver CPR station on September 11th and was preaching at FBC on September 15th — at both morning and evening services, if you please! (Typical of early Baptist churches, since Weir traveled through Winnipeg on a Sunday, the local church there snagged him to be their guest preacher; there was little rest for anyone who could preach in those early days).

By all accounts, Weir’s ministry in Vancouver was a successful one. His preaching style was frequently described in the local press as “earnest”. And although today such a description might be perceived as damning with faint praise, I get the impression that it was not so intended at the time.

In March, 1893, Weir’s youngest child, William Arnold, contracted diptheritic croup. Arnold died. He was 3 years old (Daily World, 16 March 1893).

At the end of August, 1893, Weir submitted his first resignation to FBC. Today, when a resignation letter is submitted to an employer, the employee had better be prepared to leave; rarely are there second chances. But that wasn’t so, at least for pastors, in the early years; it was very probable that if a pastor was popular, his resignation wouldn’t be accepted by a congregation and they would request that the pastor reconsider. Weir did reconsider, ultimately deciding that he’d acted hastily and that he’d stick with FBC for awhile longer. The reason for his initial decision to resign was a difference of opinion between him and several congregants over the interpretation of a pretty obscure element of theology: millenarianism (Weekly World, 31 August 1893).

Weir and the Congregational Church minister at the time, J. W. Pedley, engaged in a public disagreement (in the local press as well as from their pulpits) as to the morality of attending the theatre. Although the two men took a great deal of time to set out their respective positions on this subject, their perspectives may be summed up as follows: Pedley argued that it was okay to attend the theatre under some circumstances; Weir argued that it was never okay to attend the theatre, that the theatre was in and of itself evil and ought always to be avoided (Daily World, 17 January 1893).

Weir’s second resignation from FBC was in October, 1894. No fuss was made in the press, this time. His “farewell sermon” was mentioned on October 28th, and that was all (Daily News Advertiser 28 October 1894).

After leaving FBC, Weir ministered with the Baptist Church in Everett, WA from 1894-1898. Weir would succeed Rev. D. J. Pierce as the head of “Seattle University” (Post-Intelligencer, 31 May 1895). Robert Moen has established that this was not the same institution that goes by that name today — one founded by Jesuits — but rather a Baptist school.

Around the turn of the century, the Weirs returned to their home province of Ontario. Here, he served several Baptist churches, including Carleton Place in the Ottawa area and Oxford Street Baptist Church in Woodstock.

Elizabeth died of tuberculosis in July 1909. William married Emily Gertrude Laycock in December 1910.

From early in 1911, Weir had been feeling poorly and early in 1912 his illness caused him to resign from Oxford Street church in Woodstock. However, within months of resigning, he was feeling so much better that he attended the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec, and “supplied” pulpits for pastors who had to be away from their home churches (Brantford Daily Expositor, 29 October 1912). Ironically, one of the last churches where he preached was a Congregational church (Daily Expositor, 19 October 1912). It isn’t mentioned in the local press if his sermon subject while preaching there pertained to the immorality of theatre attendance!

W. C. Weir died in October, 1912 at age 58 from angina.

Weir’s second wife, Emily, married a former FBC minister, Dr. H. Francis Perry (who was minister at FBC during the move from Hamilton Street to Burrard & Nelson) in 1922.


1From a Historical Sketch of Woolwich Baptist Church on the occasion of their 75th anniversary services (1928) https://guelph.pastperfectonline.com/Archive/92411C5F-EB8C-4C23-BBD6-210814693148#gallery-14.

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Jeff Wall . . . Cartoonist?

Honest confession, I was raised to believe, is good for the soul. So I need to begin this post by admitting that Jeff Wall‘s photographic work – the work for which he is best known worldwide – doesn’t really “rock my world”.

But when I was browsing through back issues of UBC’s student newspaper, The Ubyssey, recently, I discovered that Wall had a pre-photographic period as a cartoonist, and some of his drawings struck me as being quite good.

I’ve had a look at online sources of Wall’s work and cannot find any sites that show his cartoons. Therefore, I’ll share some of my favourites of Wall’s cartoons that were produced in the 1960s, when he was pursuing his B.A. and M.A. degrees at UBC. I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I have.

The Ubyssey. February 12, 1965. This drawing accompanied an editorial which had guarded applause for a grant from MacMillan Bloedel Co. that would triple the university’s library holdings. The funding would be directed to Union College and Anglican Theological College.
The Ubyssey. November 6, 1964. This is a good caricature of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. It accompanied a negative review of a film about Pearson which followed the PM to work in the Parliament Buildings until he went home at day’s end. The final paragraph sums up the reviewer’s opinion of the film: “Blah Oatmeal.”
UBC Alumni Chronicle Summer 1965. This drawing accompanied an article titled “Computers in White”, which pertained to the “new” UBC hospital which was “fully computerized”.
UBC Alumni Chronicle. Summer 1965. This drawing accompanied an article titled “Problem-Solver at Work”. This was another article in a series in this edition of the Chronicle pertaining to the “wonders” of computers.
UBC Alumni Chronicle. Autumn 1965. This drawing accompanied an article titled “Mothers in Academe”.
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Vancouver Reachout

Front cover of program for Four Party Forum on December 2, 1975. MDM’s Collection.

The Political Forum (at the Agrodome, appropriately)

The program cover shown above came to me last week, courtesy of my old friend, Bill Reimer, bookstore manager at Regent College. Within it was outlined the program for the debate which took place on December 2, 1975 and was sponsored by the Christian Action Committee of Vancouver Reachout. The Opening Address was presented by Dr. Clark Pinnock, who filled the systematic theology chair at Regent College at the time.1 Interestingly, the local press didn’t even mention Pinnock’s address. I have heard from then-Regent College president, Carl Amerding (via Reimer) that Pinnock took as his topic the Kingdom of God and how it supersedes earthly politics.2

Following Pinnock’s talk, each of the four major political party leaders running in the provincial election (due to happen a week later on December 11th) spoke. Their subject was supposed to be the “moral and ethical implications” of the provincial election. Dave Barrett (NDP and incumbent): “We (politicians) try our best to behave as [if] we really are our brother’s keeper and that’s really what life is all about.” Scott Wallace (Conservative): “The principal role of the politician is to give fair play and justice to all groups in society.” Gordon Gibson (Liberal): “There must be morals and ethics in politics because government is here to unite people and help them.” Bill Bennett (Social Credit): “Government must be the servant of the people and never the master; government must do things for people and not to people.” (Province 3 Dec 1975). He later expanded upon this by proclaiming that “The enemy of the people is big government…” but he was apparently prevented from completing his statement by boos from the crowd (Province, 3 Dec 1975). Senator Ray Perrault was Moderator of the debate and one assumes he was an effective one, as he failed to earn any press coverage for his role!

Bennett’s attendance at the debate was iffy from the get-go. About a month before it was to happen, Bennett’s campaign team said he couldn’t attend due to prior commitments. However the Christian Action Committee must have had some clout as Bennett’s team said they would try to get him to the debate somehow. And he did ultimately attend it — the only all-party-leaders debate that he would participate in in that election campaign (Sun 18 Nov 1975).3

5,500 people attended the debate. Once Pinnock and the party leaders had presented their remarks, the audience was able to ask questions of the leaders. Topics ranged from abortion to juvenile delinquency to labour issues.

Finally, there was a “Response” section on the program (just before Rev. Roy Bell led the closing prayer). Just what the Response was is vague and must not have been considered newsworthy by reporters attending the event, as nothing was said about it in either of the local papers. The responders consisted of religion writer for the Province newspaper, David W. Virtue, and the following clergy: Rev. Calvin W. Netterfield of Ellendale Heights Baptist Church, Jon L. Jessiman, past president of the United Church of Canada in B.C., and Rev. Bernice M. Gerard, pastor of Fraserview Assembly. Of the three, the most well-known was doubtless Gerard. I haven’t heard of Jessiman or Netterfield before (nor of Ellendale Baptist – which appears to have been located in Surrey).

The Vancouver Reachout (read “Evangelistic Campaign”)

The “Vancouver Reachout” was the wider context in which the Political Forum took place. Indeed, the Forum seems to have been almost an after-thought, as it wasn’t mentioned in press accounts of the Reachout until November 1975.

The Reachout was, for all intents and purposes, an evangelistic campaign led by Leighton Ford and his team, which was, in turn, part of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Ford was a Vice-President of BGEA and Graham’s brother-in-law.4 During the Reachout, Ford traded liberally on his Canuck creds (which seem to me to have been a bit feeble; he was born in Canada). The Reachout included 150 local Greater Vancouver churches representing approximately 23 denominations.

The Reachout wasn’t a typical evangelistic campaign, however. At least, it was quite unlike the typical Graham campaigns with which so many of us are familiar (parachute the evangelist into the city, preach at the audience, and culminate with an “invitation” whilst umpteen verses of “Just As I Am” are belted out by the mass choir).

No, the Reachout was to be a two-year “people-to-people” effort.5 The inspiration for the project seems to have come from Ford’s involvement in a similar effort in Lausanne, Switzerland. A curriculum of material was prepared to assist Christians in the city to “reach out” to their non-Christian neighbours, family, and friends. There would also be a survey taken of Vancouver residents to get a better picture of who we were from a spiritual perspective. Findings of the survey included:

  • Roughly 2/3 of respondents were satisfied with “life as it is”
  • Only 7-9% felt guilty about or discouraged about the state of their lives
  • The primary motivation of most respondents was to “live the good life”
  • Most residents were not especially religious (only 22.5% claimed to be active in church)
  • 25-30% of those interviewed were agnostic or skeptical about Christian claims.

The two-year project concluded with traditional crusade-like gatherings. The first of four such gatherings wasn’t great from an optics perspective, attendance-wise. It was held in the Pacific Coliseum which holds up to 17,000; there was an audience of 4,500 (about 1/4 full). Leighton Ford spoke on the reality of hell on another night. And on all four occasions, he issued a Graham-like invitation.

It isn’t clear whether “Just As I Am” was sung.


1Pinnock would be replaced in that chair within a few years by J. I. Packer. Pinnock’s views underwent a shift as he grew older. For example, in his 70s, he embraced “open theology” This is viewed by some Christians as heretical.

2Email message from Bill Reimer to MDM, August 22, 2022. Reimer spoke to Amerding about Pinnock’s talk at the debate.

3The press seemed to have more than the usual number of typo errors when it came to Vancouver Reachout. In this newspaper article, for example, the “ethical and moral implications” of the election, which the leaders were asked to speak on became the “moral and liberal implications” when printed. In a related article, “Vancouver Reachout” was printed as “Vancouver Beachout“!

4There had been a Billy Graham crusade in Greater Vancouver in 1965.

5In July 1975, it was announced that Reachout was sponsoring Yellow Bird Taxi which would offer free taxi service to elderly and moderately handicapped residents (Sun 5 July 1975).

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The Forgotten Elphinstone

CVA 70-11 – Art Grice photo. 1973. The Elphinstone Building with the iconic Scott’s Cafe at 722 Granville wedged between the Vancouver Block (with the somewhat confusing Birk’s logo atop it) to the south and the (now gone) Birk’s Block to the north. Prior to the construction of Birk’s, there were two other buildings on that site: the Strathcona and the Durham blocks.

The Elphinstone Block was the southernmost of three buildings across Granville Street from the first and second Hotels Vancouver. All three were owned by British peers (members of the House of Lords): at the SE corner of Granville and Georgia was the (Lord) Strathcona block, then the (Lord) Durham, and finally the (Lord) Elphinstone. All three seem to have been constructed in about 1888. Only the Elphinstone survived into the mid-1970s. The Strathcona and Durham were demolished so that the Birk’s Building could rise in their stead in 1912 (Province 10 Jan 1912). Oddly, the 3-storey Elphinstone was allowed to stand, squeezed uncomfortably (and with its history increasingly forgotten over the years) between the ‘skyscrapers’ on either side of it: 11-storey Birk’s and 14-storey Vancouver Block. The Elphinstone was finally demolished in 1974 along with Birk’s and the Strand Theatre to make way for Scotia Tower and the rather ho-hum Vancouver Centre.

The Lord Elphinstone who was the original owner of the Elphinstone Block was the 15th Baron Elphinstone; he was born William Buller Elphinstone (1828-1893). He was connected with the C.P.R., not least as a shareholder (Weekly News-Advertiser 2 Sept 1891). He died at his home in Edinburgh in January 1893 (World 19 Jan 1893). His heir was brother, Mount-Stuart Elphinstone, who continued the family practice of owning property in Western Canada; in 1910, he bought 60 acres near Kamloops for the purpose of growing fruit (Province 15 Aug 1911). He sold the Elphinstone block in 1911 for $125,000 (Province 2 Jan 1912). The Starbucks on Granville (722) adjacent to London Drugs is the former site of the Elphinstone Block.

The Elphinstone block served as an early home for parishioners of Christ Church in the days before they had a building of their own. Although the Elphinstone block on Granville is gone, there are various other B.C. and Canadian sites that still bear his name. There is an Elphinstone, Manitoba, Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park and a YMCA Camp Elphinstone (the latter two both loccated on the Sunshine Coast). There was a settlement in Howe Sound, at one time, called Elphinstone; it seems to have been part of what today is known as Gibson’s (Daily News Advertiser 28 Aug 1893). Doubtless there are other sites that bear the Elphinstone name.

In the early years of Vancouver, property ownership was central to the privilege of having one’s name on the voter’s list. Rudyard Kipling1 got his name on the voter’s list by this means, although he never voted here. Likewise Donald A. Smith (Lord Strathcona) and Lord Elphinstone (Province 21 Jan 1902).

I should say a little about Scott’s Cafe, as it was an iconic tenant at the Elphinstone for many years. It wasn’t the first eatery at 722 Granville, however. The Mission Confectionary seems to hold that honour (1912-1925). It was followed by the Picardy Candy Shop (1925-27), which was a Winnipeg chain of candy stores that thought it could duplicate its success in Vancouver — but didn’t, for some reason. Then came Scott’s Cafe (1927-1974). Scott’s on Granville, of course, was demolished in 1974. They opened a restaurant for a brief period on West Broadway, but by 1976 they had moved back downtown to 580 West Georgia (just around the corner from their Granville location at the SE corner of Georgia and Seymour). Scott’s endured at Georgia until 1985 when they were bought by the White Spot chain. White Spot kept the Georgia site until it was demolished just a few years ago to make way for the Telus Garden condo development.


1It was likely during his 1892 visit to Vancouver that Kipling succumbed to the wiles of a local realtor. He apparently purchased land in North Vancouver (Province 1 Oct 1907).

SGN 1542 – View of Georgia Street at Granville Street, showing parked cars and the demolition of the Strathcona and Durham blocks to make way for the Birk’s Building. The Elphinstone block (at far right) would stand until the mid-1970s. 1910-1912. Charles Bradbury photo.

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Radio FBC

In 1974, under the innovative1 Senior Pastorate of Rev. Dr. Roy Bell (1970-1981), First Baptist Church Vancouver participated for the first time in a radio broadcast of its morning service.2 The radio station – CJVB 1470 – was a relatively new one; it had been in business only since 1971.3 It was a multilingual “ethnic” station, carrying programs in Croatian, Portuguese, Estonian, Finnish, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Greek, German, Danish, and French (Province 2 May 1972). But the station’s license required it to have at least 60% of its programming in English. An inexpensive means of achieving a healthy proportion of that percentage was by providing local worship services over the air. This seems to have been something the station provided to the church free of charge (with the possible exception of some basic set-up costs).

Rev, Dr. Roy Bell

The church radio broadcasts from FBC had a similar function to the Zoom internet broadcasts of recent years: they were to serve the “shut-ins”, seniors, and others who found it difficult to attend services in person.

A major constraint of the broadcasts, however, was time. The radio station could only offer a 1-hour time slot for church services. Immediately following the FBC service there was either another church service scheduled or a news broadcast “at the top of the hour”. This meant that the service had to be very carefully timed in order to ensure that it ended exactly one hour after it began.

Linda Zlotnik was Administrative Assistant (1986-2001) to Rev. Dr. Bruce Milne, Senior Pastor (1984-2001). Linda had this to say about the radio services:

Everything, on every service, was timed to the second by Bruce . . . . If we didn’t stick to our time [in other elements of the service; the announcements, for example] there would not be time for his sermon, which came last.

Email to mdm from Linda Zlotnik, July 11, 2022.
Rev. Dr. Bruce Milne. n.d. Jennifer Friesen photo.

According to another source, when the one-hour point was approaching, a light bulb on the pulpit – visible only to the preacher – would begin to flash. Thus, a visual cue to mark the end of the broadcast. Ideally, the broadcast would fade during the singing of the final hymn.

The radio broadcasts at FBC ended in 1987. It isn’t clear whether this was partly a decision of FBC or if it was wholly the decision of CJVB. The station was sold in 1993 for over $5 million.


1During Dr. Bell’s pastorate, a folk choir was established and a coffee house ministry, known as Hobbit House at 1025 Nelson Street, came into being. Hobbit House would endure for much longer than the folk choir or the radio broadcasts!

Linda Zlotnik

2FBC wasn’t the first or only church to participate in CJVB’s radio broadcasts. The first church to take part was St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church. First Presbyterian Church in New Westminster was another participant.

3CJVB got its last two call letters from the surname of the owner: Jan Van Bruchem. Van Bruchem and his family, apparently attended FBC from time to time.

I’m appreciative of Linda Zlotnik, Mary Cramond, Saad Zarifeh, Peter Findlay, and Cathie McGuire for their memories and willingness to share them with me for this post.

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Man Plunges From 15th Floor! (And Other Tales – Thrilling and Banal – at the Standard Bank Building)

AM1052 P-211 – Weart Building (later known as the Standard Bank Building), SW Corner of Hastings at Richards Street, Vancouver, B.C. ca 1912 Valenetine and Sons Publishing Co., Ltd. Note: This is a pre-construction illustration.

Construction started on the “Weart Building” in Spring 1913; it was finished by August 1914. By the time the building opened, it was referred to as the Standard Bank Building as that was the name of the anchor tenant at the time. The name stuck, even though the Standard Bank didn’t.

The building would rise to 15 stories, even though City Council had, in 1911, passed a by-law putting a height limit of 10 stories/120 feet on downtown structures. The City later made an exception for the Standard, since its building permit had been approved prior to the height by-law being passed.

There was some early wild reportage claiming that the Standard’s height would make it the tallest in the British Empire. This was never in the cards, because by 1910 the Dominion Building was already due to exceed the planned height of the Standard (174 vs 171 feet); and, by the time the Standard was built, it would be thoroughly outstripped in height by the World Tower (17 stories/269 feet).

The anticipated building was described by the Province in 1910 – with no little hyperbole – as “a prose-poem in steel, stone and marble (Province 18 Jun 1910)”

CVA 99 – 3312 – Vancouver Harbour [view of Waterfront looking east] 1920 Stuart Thomson. Note the giant light bulbs lining the rooftop of the Standard Bank Building.

I don’t know (and I am assuming other researchers don’t know either) what year changes were made to the upper stories of the Standard. But we know that at some point, a number of the gothic flourishes along the roof were toned down to what is there today. Among these were several large light bulbs (see photo above). It isn’t clear to me whether these were purely decorative, although I’m assuming so, as it was a bit early in the century for there to be much concern with urban aeronautics and tall buildings. Stuart Thomson is the only early photographer who seems to have gotten access to the roof of the Standard in its original incarnation. This photo may be a CVA sleeper, as the location where the image was made – plainly, to me, the Standard Bank Building – wasn’t identified.

What follows is a collection of bits and pieces from print news media pertaining to the Standard:

  • In November 1913, there was a construction accident involving a W. M. Thompson. “While working on a scaffolding on the fifth floor . . . the scaffolding gave way. Thompson was thrown toward the ground, but just in the nick of time caught one of the steel girders from where his fellow-workmen pulled him to a position of safety. He suffered no injuries except a slightly strained back.” (World 26 Nov 1913).
  • In 1915, Miss Cal Young and Mrs. Frances Lohman announced that their business, Venetian Hair Co. would move out of their former digs at 767 Granville (Orpheum Building) and onto the mezzanine floor of the Standard. “Facial massage and hair dyeing are specialties with us.” Hours: 9am-6pm (M-Fri); 9am-8pm (Sat) (News Advertiser 19 Sept 1915).
  • “Mrs. F. Pearce . . . was the victim of a brutal attack yesterday when an unidentified bandit beat her into unconsciousness and looted the offices of the Continental Credit company, 408 Standard Bank building where she is employed. The robber obtained $7 from a desk in the office and $20 from the purse of his victim” (Sun 6 Aug 1920).
  • On April 1, 1941, relative newcomer to the city (from Regina 15 months before), Thomas W. Farmer “plunged 15 stories from the Standard Bank Building . . . to his death on the floor of a cafe immediately adjoining . . . . E. B. Bull sustained cuts on his head from glass which shattered from the skylight as Farmer’s body plunged into Ziegler’s Cafe, 512 West Hastings Street, where about 30 persons were having their midday meal. . . . V. C. Spink, manager of the Standard Bank Building, said the man had apparently fallen from the window of a washroom on the 15th floor of the building (Sun 2 Apr 1941). Farmer was a hotelier in Regina before moving to Vancouver, where, presumably, he’d planned to retire. He was 69.
  • Some of the Standard Bank Building’s tenants over its 100+ year history have included: Li Chao, Chinese Consul; Girish Mathur, Vancouver’s first Indian trade commissioner; the National Council for Canadian-Soviet Friendship; the Vancouver Detective Agency, John O’Grady, Manager, “Complete dicta-phone service”; First Church of Christ Scientist’s “free reading room”; the B.C. Aquarium Society; and, currently, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation.
  • J. W. Weart, former Reeve of Burnaby, who was the principal promoter of the construction of the Standard Bank Building, lived with his family for a few years after construction was completed in the penthouse of the Standard (the 15th floor) from 1914 until ca1920 (Sun 24 July 1951).
  • In 1952, Japan’s first post-WWII consul, Takeshi Yusakawa, had his office in an “over-size suite atop the Standard Bank Building.” Presumably, this meant that he was in the former penthouse of J. W. Weart on the 15th floor. “There is practically no trade from Japan to Canada now,” he said. “Your ships come full to us, with wheat, lumber and, at present, some heavy cargoes of iron ore from Vancouver Island. But they have to go back empty. That is bad.” (Sun 5 July 1952).
  • Sheridan’s Physiotherapy and Slenderizing Salon: “It’s new in this city, but already the women have heard about it and are lugging their excess fat up to room 525 Standard Bank Building. There they leave it without a parting tear.” (Not necessary, it seems, for men to lug their excess fat up to the fifth floor!) (Sun 11 Oct 1945).
  • The Standard, like most tall downtown buildings, was an air raid shelter during WWII.
  • 20 years after Thomas Farmer’s death, a woman was thwarted in attempting to jump from a 15th floor window in the Standard. She later went to the Cypress Hotel, 655 Robson, and asked the manager to see a room on the top floor. She left her purse and gloves on the dresser of the room and leaped from the window. Police escorted the woman to VGH, where she was reported to be in “poor condition” with a fractured leg and ribs and internal injuries. The 45-year-old woman had earlier been a patient at Essondale (Province 3 Mar 1961).
  • During the Great War, strawberries, lettuce, onions, and beans were grown on the roof of the Standard in answer to the national call for additional food production (Sun 28 July 1937).
Current roof line (minus many original gothic features) of the Standard. June 28, 2022, mdm photo.

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A. W. Sullivan: Black Pioneer and Hall-Builder

Crop of CVA Port P334 – 1888 church picnic showing, I strongly suspect, Arthur Sullivan surrounded by several ladies. Arthur Sullivan is identified on the photo at CVA as being present in the image (but it doesn’t specify where in the image he is). But, given the small number of males in the original photo and the tiny number of blacks in Vancouver at this time, I concluded that the black gent was, in fact, Arthur Sullivan.

Arthur Willis Sullivan (1860-1921) was a black pioneer who was very popular in early (and pre-) Vancouver.1 He was born in New Westminster to Philip ( – 1886), who came originally from the West Indies, and Josephine Sullivan (1818-1894), who came from the U.S. (but may have had at least one parent from France). Josephine came to the area that would become Vancouver (Granville) in 1859 from Panama aboard the S. S. Beaver (World, Aug 23, 1894). Philip cleared much of Granville of trees and stumps and he served as cook for a number of years at the Moodyville Mill (Vancouver Voters, 1886 p. 672). The Sullivans were the first Methodists living in Granville. Philip and Josephine (and Arthur and his siblings) were described in their day as being “mulattos“, a distinction not commonly made today; they would doubtless be described today simply as Black).

In 1887, when they were both 26, Arthur married Annie Elizabeth Thomson, a native of Campbellton, NB. Interestingly, he identified his profession on the marriage certificate as “Gentleman”. She died in 1909 when she was only 48. He died in 1921.

Arthur played the organ for services at St. James Anglican Church and for the Princess Street Methodist Church for a number of years.

Sullivan’s Halls

Crop of drawing showing Bird’s Eye View of Gastown ca 1875. Made by Beverly Justice for Granville Revisited, 1970. The Community Arts Council. (Annotations added by mdm). The Maple Tree (located just to the left of ‘Gassy’ Jack Deighton’s Hotel and Saloon) is at far left of drawing; the next street south of the tree (‘up’ on the drawing) is Cordova. The first Sullivan’s Hall is located on the south side of Cordova at the right.

There have been three structures associated with Arthur’s family in Vancouver and known as Sullivan’s Hall. The first building was in Old Granville from the 1870s until 1886, when it was destroyed, along with most other structures, in the Great Fire. This first Hall was built by Arthur’s father, Philip.

The second hall replaced the first one on the same property. This structure was built by 1887 by Arthur. It was in this hall that First Baptist Church held some of its early meetings. First Baptist historian, W.M. Carmichael has remarked in These Sixty Years: 1887-1947 that meetings after the Fire were held at various locations, including “Sullivan Hall, owned by a well-known coloured resident whose father had been cook at the Moodyville Mill for many years. His mother was the first Methodist in Granville” (Carmichael, p. 5). Trade unions often met in this hall (e.g., United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners).

The third Sullivan Hall was built on the north side of the same street at 61 Cordova by 1903. This building was a 3-storey brick building. Secret societies, such as the Odd Fellows often met in this hall. Some church groups also rented space there, such as the First Spiritual Church of the Soul. There were also businesses that had permanent digs in this building. The Fricke-Schenke photographic studio was one such. As the building got older, it seems that some of the space was converted into residential suites. I don’t know when the third hall was demolished, but on its site currently is a residential co-op building (adjacent to the Fortin Building).

VPL 8389. Looking NE from Abbott and Cordova. 1912. R Broadbridge photo. This shows the third (and final) Sullivan Hall. It is the tallest structure on the street near the bottom of the image.

A Ladies’ Man?

Well, the first photo in this post certainly is suggestive that Sullivan was not opposed to reclining into the laps of ladies! Perhaps I’m imagining it, but it seems to me that there is a twinkle in his eye which conveys the message pretty clearly that he was enjoying himself.

As you will see in the Changing Vancouver post, Arthur was part of a huge scandal at the time (1889) in which Sullivan and a Dr. Langis faced charges of procuring an abortion of a Mrs. Amanda Hogg with whom he was accused of having an intimate relationship while he was married to Annie (and while Amanda was married to local photographic professional, James Hogg). Although Sullivan and the doc were found “not guilty” of any crime, it remains an open question as to whether or not Sullivan committed adultery with Mrs. Hogg. I must say, however, that whenever I see the photo above, I wonder whether one of the ladies in that 1888 photo was Amanda Hogg! That will probably need to remain in the realm of historical imagination, as there doesn’t seem to be a publicly available photo identifying Mrs. Hogg! And that is probably just as well.


1The blog, Changing Vancouver, has a number of additional details pertaining to Arthur Sullivan. I will generally avoid going over ground covered by that post and will seek to add bits and pieces about the life of Sullivan that they haven’t covered. I suggest that the two posts be read in conjunction with each other.

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The Unusual Life of Ruby Kay, Bookseller

Ruby Ellis was born in Bradford, England to Angus Ellis and Charlotte Emily Hudson in November 1905. There is no record of Charlotte having a career (but it’s likely she stayed at home to raise Ruby and her sister, Beatrice Maud). Angus was a factory worker. A year after Ruby was born, the Ellis family immigrated to Canada and by 1911 they had settled in Montreal.1

By the late 1940s, Ruby had hooked up with an American lad named Wesley John Kay, who supported himself by working in a gift shop in Niagara Falls, NY. When Ruby tried to cross the Canada/U.S. border in 1947, presumably to live with Wes in New York state, she was “debarred”. It isn’t entirely clear what the most important reason was for her debarment; it seems likely to have been due to a combination of factors: she wasn’t married to “boyfriend” Wes; she wasn’t an American citizen; she had no money on her person; and her reasons for entering the U.S. weren’t clear.

In 1955, Ruby and Wes Kay had moved together to Vancouver. They apparently got hitched at some point in the decade after Ruby’s debarment from the U.S. They were co-proprietors of Kay’s Magic Shop at 666 West Cordova, 1124 Commercial Drive, and 6166 Fraser St (they seemed to reside at the latter address).

CVA SGN 1070.05 – East side of Granville Street just south of Nelson, 1912? I figure that the Magic Book Store in 1961 (the time of Ruby’s arrest) was located just south of Cunningham Hardware in the structure with the narrow facade and the two 2nd floor bay windows.

Their 1955 ads in local papers claimed that they carried “party jokes, magic tricks, and model kits”. Another ad, a couple of years later for a shop at 1026 Granville, indicated that “DOLLS repaired, dressed. We buy and sell.” There was no mention made of books being on offer at this stage of their careers.

That had changed by 1961, when Ruby was described in Vancouver newspapers as being “a bookseller” at the same Granville Street address. In March of that year, Ruby was sentenced in Assize Court to do 18 months jail time for possession of stolen property. She had an adding machine, a typewriter, and a record player stolen from different people. Said Mr. Justice H. W. McInnes to Ruby: “The evidence indicates to me that you were carrying on the business of a fence. You were an inducement to thieves to steal by providing a ready market for their loot.” (Vancouver Sun 17 Mar 1961).

So Ruby spent the next year and a half in the hoosegow courtesy of Her Majesty’s Government. Chances are she spent that spell either in Oakalla prison (which by 1953 could accommodate 12 female inmates) or in Twin Maples Farm for women.

Wes kept the Magic and Book Store operating while jailbird Ruby served her time.

In 1965, the following incident was reported in the Sun:

An armed bandit bound a bookstore proprietor’s hands with her nylon stockings Friday night, robbed her and escaped with about $35. Ruby Kay, owner of Kay’s Magic Book Store, 307 West Pender, told police the well-dressed bandit entered the store about 8:30 p.m. and demanded money. She said he threatened her with a gun and a knife before forcing her to take off her nylons.

Vancouver Sun. 6 Feb 1965.
Crop of CVA 780-16 – North side of 300 block W. Pender, 1960-80. I’m guessing that 307 (the Kays’ shop when it was robbed in 1965) was just east of the building with the light blue facade.

I imagine that after this development, Ruby was feeling as though she couldn’t catch a break from either the cops or the robbers!

In 1967, Wes died. His early death at age 65 seems to have been due to a combination of acute renal failure and heart disease.

The Magic Book Store seemed to fold upon Wes’s death. There is no sign of it being in operation in the 1970s or 1980s. The bookshop was a second-hand store, dealing in, primarily, used paperbacks and magazines.

Ruby died in her 90th year in 1995.


1I am indebted to Robert Moen for his invaluable genealogical research on Ruby & Wes Kay for this post. He is the author of his own blog at https://westendvancouver.wordpress.com/

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Gone . . . But Not Forgotten: Used/Antiquarian Bookshops (1970-2020) – UPDATED

Updated October 25, 2022

This post pays tribute to used and antiquarian bookshops (and their booksellers) which existed between 1970 and 2020 and are no longer operating in Vancouver. It will not include existing shops such as The Paper Hound, MacLeod’s, Albion, People’s Co-op, Lawrence, Stillman’s, Spartacus, Antiquarius, Michael Thompson, Wilkinson’s Automobilia*, etc. In order to qualify for inclusion in this post, the shops listed need to be out of business and to have been located within Vancouver’s city limits (and to have sold principally English-language books).

Each listing shows the shop’s name, the approximate dates it was in business (in decades), the shop’s proprietor (if known) and its address(es).**


A-Aabaca Book Bin (1970s-1980s) – Proprietor: Lloyd Cartwright. 1247 Granville. By 1988, it was purchased by Skip Mabee. See: Fraser Book Bin and ABC Book & Comic Emporium.

Albert Eddy, Nan Vie photo.

Aardvark Books (1970s-1980s) – Founder proprietor: Albert Eddy. Started in business ca 1971 at 4185 Main. By 1979, it was at 4331 Main. By 1982, ownership had changed to Fred Miller. By 1989, the name of the shop had changed slightly to Aardvark Books & Comics. There were several video machines in Aardvark by Miller’s time.


ABC Book & Comic Emporium (1990-2010s) Louis “Skip” Mabee, proprietor. 1247 Granville. It was bought by Mabee in 1988 after it was sold a couple of times after Ted Fraser sold it. By ca2000, the shop had a date with re-developers and it was moved over to the east side of Granville (1200 block). Within a short time, it was moved yet again by Mabee to Broadway just west of Granville, where it remained until 2012. See: Fraser Book Bin.

Abraxas Books (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. 3210 Dunbar.

Cartwright of A-Aabaca
Book Bin.

Acorn Books (1980s-1990s) Don Stewart, proprietor. (Catriona Strang managed it for Stewart for about a year and then Renee Rodin took over). 321 W. Pender. Acorn was a low-end version of Stewart’s main shop, MacLeod’s Books.

Ahrens’ BooksJohn Ahrens (1960s-1980s), proprietor. The shop was located at 756 Davie. It had a reputation as a chaotic (book-wise) meeting place of book people.

Ahren’s Books on Davie Street at Howe, 1981.. CVA 779 W03.24.

Ainsworth Books (1930s-1990s)A. J. Ainsworth established his shop at 321 W. Pender in 1939. He was the third generation of his family to be in the book business; he had learned the business from his father in England. A.J.A. died in 1950 at age 75. One of his daughters, Doreen Crombie, took over the business. Crombie sold the shop to Russ Cunningham in the 1980s. The shop continued under the Ainsworth name and at the same location until ca1995, when it apparently folded.

Arcanum Books (1990s-2000s)Kevin Dale McKeown, proprietor. Was open in Vancouver from 1998-2006. Location: 317A Cambie Street (one of the retail spaces beneath the rooms of Danny’s Inn). Arcanum was originally opened in Burnaby in 1969 with Everett Foley, proprietor. It had several locations just east of Boundary on Hastings, the last being where Brown’s Books is today until McKeown bought the business and moved it to Vancouver. Specialties: Religion, philosophy, metaphysics, miscellaneous conspiracy theories and inexplicable phenomena.

Ashley’s Books (1990s-2000s)Ashley Offill, proprietor. 3754 W 10th. Specialties: history, art, literature, psychology, eastern religion. See: Baehr Books.

Baehr Books (2000s) – Scot Baehr, proprietor. 3754 W 10th. Specialties: history, literature, art, psychology, science fiction.

Beland’s Bookshop (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. 3315 Kingsway (at Joyce). Specialties: pocket books, magazines, comics.

Belly Button Books and Novel Cafe (1980s-1990s) – Collectively owned, but according to his obituary, James C. Campbell was “very involved” in the business. He died of AIDS in 1994 and, from what I can tell, the bookshop didn’t outlive him by long. 109 W. Cordova. Generalist shop.

Better Buy Books (1960s-1990s)Ron Webber, proprietor. 4393 W. 10th. A UBC-area source of used books. I recall finding many supplementary, out-of-print books there when I was working on my M.A. at UBC in the early 1990s.

Bidwell Books (1980s-1990s)Dalia Sinius (later Dalia Dargis), proprietor. 824 Bidwell. This wee shop felt to me very much like a West End neighbourhood bookstore (at a time when the West End was more truly a neighbourhood). Specialties: architecture, boating, cooking, philosophy.

The Blue Heron (1980s-90s) Alma McIntyre, proprietor (Stephen McIntyre‘s wife). At 8321 Oak St. in 1990. By 1992, at 3516-A Main. Specialty: books about antiques/collectibles. Not sure how long this shop lasted, but it hasn’t been in business for at least a decade. Alma McIntyre died in 2005.

Black Sheep Books (1990s)Trent & Denise Highnell, (later, George Kroller), proprietors. 2742 W. 4th Ave. When Renee Rodin decided in 1994 to sell R2B2 Books Books, the Highnell’s bought it and renamed it Black Sheep Books. It was operated by them for 4 years, after which George Kroller bought it and ran it for another 3 years under the same name. Black Sheep’s specialties: alternative literature, poetry, drama.

Bond’s Bookshop (1930s-1990s) – A generalist shop run by Francis Carradice (originally) and later by Ed R. Bowes. In the 1930s, it was located at 575 Dunsmuir. Gordon Bowes bought the Dunsmuir shop and put his son, Ed (Ned) Bowes, in charge; he was then 20. By 1969, it had moved to 523 Dunsmuir. In the late ’70s, it had moved to 579 Richards. By the 1980s, it had moved to 319 W. Hastings. It was in business there until the early 1990s, I believe. Ed Bowes died on January 21, 2021; he was working as a book scout at the time of his death.

The Book Basket (1960s-1970s) Ted Fraser. 1070 Robson.

The Bookends (1970s-90s) – Proprietors: Gwenne and Earle Huston. 937 Davie.

The Bookends at Davie location.

The Book Mantel (1990s) and Coffee Bar Bonnie Murray, proprietor (1990); Cynthia Brooke (1994). At 1444 Kingsway (1990); 1002 Commercial Dr. (1994). Specialities: feminist lit, poetry, philosophy.

In Almadene?!

The Book Mantel (1980s-1990s) – Was co-owned by Frank Davis, who also owned Frank’s Records next door. The Mantel had two locations: one at 2551 Alma (near 10th Ave., approximately where Buntain Insurance is today); the other in Kerrisdale at 2065 West 41st. The shop seems to have closed ca1990. Davis died in 2017. Specialties: Classics, art, music, theatre, poetry, philosophy, natural history and science.

Busy ‘B’ (1920s-1970s)George Biswanger, proprietor. The shop started in 1926 at 706 Seymour and advertised itself as selling “2nd hand goods”; books were not specified. It moved by 1927 to 540 W. Pender. By 1955, it had expanded to become two shops, both called “Busy B Book and [postage, presumbaly] Stamp” store at 445 W. Pender and 508 Richards. Biswanger died in 1966 (after which Don Duggan seemed to be proprietor, at least for awhile). Busy ‘B’ carried on through the mid-1970s; it seems finally to have folded by ca1975.

Carillon Books (1990s)George Carroll, proprietor. 1926 W. 4th Ave. (1994). 822 Howe St. (1996). In 1998, the shop moved across the inlet to North Vancouver. I patronized Carroll’s Howe shop. I remember being on a Tchaikovsky kick in the late ‘80s and purchasing from his shop the full orchestral score of one of T’s piano concertos.

Cat & Fiddle Bookshop (1970s) – (Murray Schoolbraid), proprietor. The Point Grey shop was at 4529 W. 10th Ave. New and used books for and about children. It closed in August 1979.


Chef Bell – the Cookbook Man (1980s) Lionel J. Bell, proprietor. The shop was located at 335 W. Pender in 1982. In 1983, he moved his “2000 cookbooks” to 434 W. Pender. He custom-built bookshelves for this space which I’m certain are the ones still in Criterion Books, the succeeding shop in that space (which is now also defunct). Bell died in 1989.

Coho BooksMichael Baker, proprietor. 3211 Dunbar. General stock.

Shows Chef Bell’s Coookbooks entrance (to the 2nd floor) at 434 W. Pender. This is the space most recently occupied by Criterion Books. CVA 790-1852.

Collectors’ Books and Records (1980s-1990s)David Grannis, proprietor (later, Andy Stone). 648 Kingsway. (For more details, see Gordon Watson’s comment below – 07/03/2021).


Colophon Books (1980s-1990s) James F. McIntosh, proprietor. This shop was located at 407 W. Cordova. It was an excellent general shop. I remember with fondness browsing through the stacks in his second-floor shop. McIntosh died in 2019.

Colophon Books (upstairs) on Water Street. CVA 790-2118.

Connoisseur Art Books (1980s-1990s) – Proprietor, Charles Anderson. 5957 W. Boulevard. Specialties: art, collectables.

Criterion Books (1990s-2000s) Lance McCaughran, proprietor. 434 W. Pender. I suspect that the custom bookshelves in this shop were the same ones constructed by Lionel Bell when he owned Chef Bell Cookbooks at this location in the 1980s. McCaughran retired ca2015 and sold most of his general stock to Don Stewart (of MacLeod’s Books). Stewart took over the space as one of his book storage locations.

DeJong Books. 7 – 980 Denman Street. General stock.

EP Books (1990s)Ed Peasgood, proprietor. 4495 Dunbar. Specialties: mystery, children’s, Christian studies/spirituality.

Fahrenheit 451 Books (1980s) – Linda Stackhouse, proprietor. Specialties: Literature, Sci-Fi.

Evelyn’s Book Shelf (1950s-1970s) – 3075 W. Broadway. This was the self-proclaimed “largest bookshop in Kitsilano“ during its time. That claim was probably quite exaggerated. See comment below from Gordon Watson. I have had Gordon’s general impressions confirmed (privately) by someone else.

A. H. Falstaff Books (1970s) – Co-owned by William Hoffer and Van Andruss. 4529 W. 10th Ave. The shop opened in 1972 and closed after a year.

The Fiction Co. (1990s) Gordon McRae, proprietor. 425 Abbott. Generalist shop.

Fraser Book Bin (1940s-1970s) Ted Fraser, proprietor. 6184 Fraser; also at 1247 Granville. The 1247 Granville location first became Fraser’s in 1946. In 1963, Fraser and his manager were charged with “possession of obscene material for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation.” Fraser appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, but was ultimately convicted and fined $3,400. Skip Mabee took over the 1247 Granville site in 1988 and changed the name from A-Aabaca Book Bin (the interim name of the shop between Fraser’s and Mabee’s proprietorships) to the ABC Book & Comic Emporium.

Fraser Book Bin (No. 2) (1990s)Brian Wright & Gerri Ironsides, proprietors. 4750 Main. By 1996, the name of the shop had changed to Fraser Books.

Funston’s Christian Book Centre (1970s-2000s) – William T. Funston, founder (died 1992); Dave Powell was the manager of the Cambie outlet. 8146 Cambie Street. Their stock was divided about equally between new and used Christian literature.

Margaret Gabriel, Bookseller (1990s) – 3036 W. Broadway. Gabriel ‘packed it in’ with a closing out sale in 1995. Specialties: religions of the world, children’s, and 12-step books.

Hermit Books (1990s-2000s) Sharon & Eileen Hansen, proprietors. 2509 W. Broadway. Specialties: poetry, eastern and western religion/philosophy, fine arts, women’s studies.

Hoffer, here, in his Granville Street shop. From Harrison & Dobson’s First Vancouver Catalogue. 1978. Photo credit: Chris Bickford/Jurgen Vogt.

William Hoffer Books (1960s-1990s)Hoffer (1944-1997) had his first bookshop on Water Street in Gastown in 1969 while he was an SFU student (Province 25 Oct 1969). Hoffer had a shop at 3293 Dunbar, briefly, in the early ’70s. In the mid-1970s, he opened a shop with Van Andruss called Falstaff Books, at 4529 W. 10th Ave. His fourth location was on the second floor (#104) of 570 Granville (in retail space directly above The Love Shop). His final bookselling location was at 58/60 Powell St. Hoffer had a reputation as a ‘difficult’ person. But he could be charming and generous as well. He left Vancouver and his book selling business for Russia. He married Marsha there (his first wife was Pat; they parted company in the early 1970s). Hoffer died on Vancouver Island from lung cancer. There is an amusing Hoffer quote that pertains to his Dunbar shop: “It was an unnerving experience, trying to operate a bookshop in a largely working class neighbourhood in a short terrace of shops. Across the street there was a small cafe, the owner of which had a son who had been aboard an alien space craft. Very few people came into the shop, but occasionally I would notice faces pressed like snails’ feet against the plate glass windows.” (From Hoffer’s book catalogue, STIGMA #80).

Below are the full text of three of Hoffer’s less readily available articles written in the mid-1980s for the Alcuin Society in their Amphoras 56, 58, and 59 and titled “Letter from a Bookseller” in which he reflects upon his early years in bookselling. Many thanks are due to Richard Hopkins for supplying these seemingly scarce issues of Amphora:

Hummingbird Books (1970s) – Proprietor: Albert Eddy (the same person who founded Aardvark Books ca1971). 337 W. Pender (second floor) starting in ca1978.

Kirkwood’s Fine Used Books (1990s-2000s)Carol Kirkwood, proprietor. Was established in Marpole in about 1994 at 8662 Granville. By 2000, it became Characters Fine Books and Coffee Bar and moved to the west side of Granville at 8419 Granville.. The shop ultimately was the victim of high rent charged by the landlord and they called it quits ca2008. I lived in Marpole when Carol Kirkwood started Kirkwood’s Books and I faithfully returned to the neighbourhood shop after it became Characters (and we’d moved to Burnaby).

Kitsilano Bookstore (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. 2887 and 3075 West Broadway. Their tag line was “Books for all of the family.”

CVA 800-0182 – 2800 Block of West Broadway. 1978. Alan J. Ingram photo. The bookstore on the north side of the street appears to be Kitsilano Books.

Reginald Lissel, Bookseller (1990s) – 434 Homer. Specialties: science fiction and literature.

Stephen C. Lunsford – 341 W. Pender. #711 – 207 W. Hastings. Specialties: Western Canadiana/Americana.

McIntyre. Bill Cunningham photo

Stephen McIntyre Books (1940s-1980s) – Was involved in the used/antiquarian book trade from the 1930s until his death from lung cancer in 1984. Initially, he was a book scout, but by the 1940s, he was a book dealer. The first of his shops of which I am aware was at 340-B Cambie; where the 340 Pub is today. In the 1970s, he was at 833 Davie. Later, he moved to a shop at 319 W. Pender. He traded in the occult and science fiction, but was best known as a generalist.

Makara Books (1990s)Barbara Draskoy, proprietor (later Barbara Stefan). 2868 W. 4th. Specialties: metaphysical and oriental philosophy. It closed in 1992.

William Matthews, Bookseller (1980s) – His shop was at 434 W. Pender in the early ’80s, presumably before Lionel Bell took over the space in 1983. Bill was Terry Rutherford‘s business partner in the 1970s. He has been on Vancouver Island for several years. He recently bought The Haunted Bookshop in Sidney.

Mei Lei Holdings (1970s) – 33 W. Broadway. Used and new (English language) paperbacks.

Brendan M. Moss, Esq. (1980s-2000s)Moss was formerly an auctioneer. He had an antique map and print shop. In 1986, his shop was at 402 W. Pender (#804). In the late 1980s, the shop was at 101 W. Pender. By 1990, the shop had moved to a basement unit at 332 Water Street (formerly, Cloth Hall; today known better as (Le Magasin). I am not certain when his Water Street shop closed, but was probably ca2005.

Murray’s Books (1950s-1980s)Murray Hughson, proprietor. 856 Granville (1954-1974). Hughson died in 1971. The shop carried on for about a decade after his death under the management of Peter C. Lawrence. The shop moved to 942 Granville in 1974 due to high rent. It closed in late 1980.


The Mystery Merchant Bookstore (1990s) – Proprietor: Christa Pritchard. 1952 W. 4th Ave. Specialties: Mystery, true crime, detective, espionage fiction (used and new).

Narnia Books (1990s) David & Joanne Anderson. 5585 Dunbar. A small generalist shop with a specialty in Christian literature. I recall my wife finding a couple of unusual John Buchan-related items for me at Narnia.

Norris Books (1980s) – T. I. B. Norris. 420 W. Pender; later, Norris apparently moved to W. 4th Ave. at Alma. General Stock.

Octopus Books (1970s-1980s)P. R. Brown (“Brownie) and Juils Comeault, proprietors. The two proprietors bought Octopus Books on the 2200 block of West 4th from Bill Fletcher in 1977. 2705 W. 4th Ave. Specialties: literature, journals. Comeault died in 1983 and shortly after that, Brownie sold West to Renee Rodin and poet Billy Little. The new owners changed the name of the shop (at the same address as West was at) to R&B Books.

Octopus Books East (1980s-1990s) – P. R. Brown (“Brownie) and Juils Comeault, proprietors. Brownie and Comeault bought this second store in 1980. Both East and West stores were popular literary and social centres. Comeault died in 1983 and Brownie decided to focus on Octopus East. It traded in used and new books and magazines and was a regular site of readings and workshops. Finally, after 17 years of running East, 11 years on her own, Brownie closed the shop in 1994. 1146 Commercial Drive. Regular poetry readings were held at Octopus Books. CVA has an hour-plus-long recording of one such reading in August 1987 at East; it is good way to get a flavor of the place.

Paul’s Books (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. Denman and Robson. Became the Sunset Book Exchange in mid-70s.

Richard Pender Books (1970s)Van Andruss, proprietor. 445 W. Pender (1974); 438 Richards (1975-76). It appears to have closed ca1976.

Peregrine Books (1980s) – Proprietor unknown. 2932 West Broadway. Specialties: Feminist literature, children’s books.

Octopus Books on West 4th. CVA 790-1428.

Proprioception Books (1980s-1990s) Ralph Maud started the store in the early 1980s (1956 W. Broadway) as a sort of replica of the library of poet, Charles Olson. Lisa Robertson (one of the poets featured on a CVA recording of a 1987 Octopus East bookshop poetry reading) bought the shop in 1988 and moved it to 432 Homer (1993). She closed the store in 1994 after the rent at her Homer location tripled in two years (this is a not-uncommon but disturbing theme among used bookshops and among small businesses generally in Vancouver). The term “proprioception” was a favourite of avant-garde poet, Charles Olsen, thus the name of the shop.

R&B Books; later R2B2 Books Books (1980s; 1990s)Renee Rodin (and, for a year, with Billy Little), proprietor. Rodin and Little bought the former Octopus West store at 2250 W. 4th Ave. in 1985 and named it R&B Books. There was a bad fire at R&B at around Christmas of that year; the building was destroyed. The shop moved to a small space at 2742 W. 4th Ave. and changed the shop’s name to R2B2 Books Books to convey that it was R&B Books, ’round two’. Little left the store within the year and Rodin carried on until 1994. She sold the shop to Denise and Trent Highnell who renamed it Black Sheep Books. R2B2’s specialties: Art, poetry, literature. (See: https://bcbooklook.com/2008/03/13/bookselling-remembering-r2b2-a-na-f-s-story/)

Rostan’s Books (1970s) – 1029 Commercial Dr. General stock.

Rutherford. Rick Loughran photo.

Terry Rutherford (1990s) – She had her first Vancouver shop with Bill Matthews at the former location of Falstaff Books: 4529 W. 10th. This shop specialized in science fiction. Later, Rutherford worked at Star Treader Books. She later opened a mystery/detective shop at 432 Homer. She then moved to 415 W. Pender before leaving Vancouver for Port Moody where she took on a book and paper restoration business. She later moved to Eastern Canada where she continued her restoration business. Rutherford has recently moved back to B.C.

Shows Richard Pender Books for the brief period (1974) when it was located next door to the Niagra Hotel (today, the Ramada) at 445 W. Pender. Today, Richard Pender is part of MacLeod’s shop which also includes the space in this image where the Luggage shop was. CVA 778-270.

Secondo Music Store (1990s) Chris Held, proprietor. 2744 W. 4th Ave. Used and out-of-print classical music and books on music.

Star Treader Books (1970s-1980s) – Was located in the mid-1970s at 4325 W. 10th. It was gone from there by ca1982, moving to 434 W. Pender. Its second location was taken over in ’83 by the shop run by Lionel Bell. Specialties: fantasy/science fiction.

Sunset Book Exchange (1970s) – One shop at 1795 Robson. Another at 1993 E. 41st Ave. Used paperbacks.

Terminal City Books (1990s)Judy Fraser, proprietor. 231 Main. Specialties: science, trades and mechanical books.

Charles H. Tupper (1980s) – 2868 West 4th Ave. Specialties: Fine arts, Canadiana, history, travel. This seems to have lasted from about 1987-1990.

We Call With Cash (1950s-1970s) – Proprietor unknown. The shop first appeared in 1955 Vancouver directory and continued at least until 1977. 3621 W. 4th Ave.

West Coast Books (1980s) George Carroll, proprietor. Carroll crossed Burrard Inlet to open WCB and later Carillon Books in Vancouver. He had owned and operated Pacific Books in North Vancouver. WCB was at 1130 Granville, when it first opened in September 1980. Gordon Watson, a WCB employee remarks that “In order to start with a good selection, George had bought a large stock of books from the renowned Peter Howard of Serendipity Books in Berkeley, CA…and many of them were snapped up [on the opening] night” — not least by Bill Hoffer, at the dealer-only, by-invitation affair. “The best stock we would ever have was on that opening night.” Locating WCB at 1130 Granville was ill-advised; it was (and is) a rough neighbourhood. By early 1983, WCB moved to 3209 W. Broadway until it finally folded ca1986. A generalist shop.

Joyce Williams (originally Bishop-Williams with Lois Bishop as JW’s partner) Antique Prints and Maps (1980s-2000s) – From 1984 and into the 1990s Williams had her shop at 346 W. Pender. Her shop later moved to Yaletown for a number of years before closing.

West Coast Books at its Granville Street downtown location. CVA 790-1803.

Y’s Books (2010s-2020) – Pam Townsend and David Gagne, proprietors. 4307 Main Street. Y’s opened 2013 on Main at 27th and seems to have succumbed to COVID in Spring 2020, closing its Vancouver space “indefinitely”. The shop was small, but it appears not to have had any specialties; it was a general shop. Shop closed February, 2020.

Yoga Vedanta Metaphsyical Bookstore (1960s-1970s)Ursula Sylvia Hellmann (founder) and (later) William Balderstone, proprietors. The shop was apparently initially on Robson (opening sometime after 1957) and moved later to Georgia just east of Granville. Balderstone apparently did psychic readings on CFUN radio. Not sure what year it closed.

Zona Arq (or Arc) (1980s) – Proprietor unknown. Was located at Broadway & Alma. It lasted for 1-2 years in the 1980s.


*Wilkinson’s Automobilia (specializing in automotive-related books, magazines and shop manuals) has closed their Main St. warehouse, recently, given the COVID-19 pandemic. They have an online presence, however: https://www.eautomobilia.com/.

**Principal sources for the information in this post are various editions of Guide to the Secondhand & Antiquarian Bookstores of Greater Vancouver, The Province, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver News-Herald, and of course the City of Vancouver Archives photo database. I am appreciative of details provided by Kim Koch, Rod Clarke, Neil Whaley, Jason Vanderhill, Catriona Strang, Renee Rodin, Don Stewart, Kevin Dale McKeown, Angus McIntyre, Erwin Wodarczak, Peter Findlay, Joscelyn Barnard, Doug Sarti, Gary Sim, Bill Reimer, William V. Lee, and Don Young (who kindly gave me access to his stash of 1980s editions of the Guide to Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookstores as well as numerous pertinent newspaper clippings).

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H. E. Lazarus and the Hotel Vancouver Cigar Stand

Hotel Vancouver (#2) Corona Cigar Box (inside), H. E. Lazarus, Proprietor. Note: Hotel Vancouver is misspelled here; it is spelled correctly on the other side of the lid. The gold-colored emblem seems to be a monogram of H. E. Lazarus. Photo courtesy Tom Carter, the owner of the box.

Hyman Edward Lazarus (1872-1961) came to Canada from London, England when he was about 30, arriving in Vancouver in about 1902. When he got here, he found work with a tobacco vendor named Solomon Blackson at 506 Granville. Lazarus remained with Blackson until 1909, when he started as the proprietor of the Hotel Vancouver Cigar Stand.

Lazarus married Miriam Robinson (d.1944) in 1904; he was 32 and she was 25. Together they had a family of a boy (Bernard Horace) and two girls (Louise and Minnie-Ray Nina). Miriam was very active in community organizations (indeed, I’d venture to say that her name more frequently appeared in local newspapers than did Hyman’s). She was at one time the president of the Alexandra Orphanage. She was a member of the ladies auxiliary that was responsible for erecting the first Crippled Children’s Hospital in the city in 1933 (at Manitoba and 59th; across the street from where Sexsmith Community Pre-School is today), and was active in the work of the Red Cross during WW1. Bernard became a manager at Miller and Coe, the tableware retailer on West Hastings Street (The Province, 7 Oct 1944). Minnie worked as a clerk for the City; Louise was a stenographer.

Lazarus’s Cigar Stand was on the NE corner of the ground floor of the old hotel, as shown below.

CVA 362-19 – Ground floor plan, Hotel Vancouver (#2) at Granville & Georgia Streets, 1916.

In the Victoria Daily Times in 1922, I found a piece that indicated that Lazarus was, in that year at least, also vending tobacco and newspapers at The Empress Hotel. Presumably, he had employees either in Vancouver or Victoria (or both) whom he trusted to carry on the business when he was away (Victoria Daily Times Feb 7 1922). According to his obituary, he also operated cigar/news stands in the Banff Springs Hotel and at the Lake Louise Hotel (Vancouver Sun 19 Jan 1961). However, I was unable to find any supporting evidence of this claim. (It may be a mistake to put too much faith in the ‘facts’ in H. E. Lazarus’s obituary in the Sun. His wife was shown, incorrectly, as “Marion Robertson” instead of, correctly, as “Miriam Robinson”!)

At his Hotel Vancouver Stand, Lazarus sold cigars and other tobacco products, as well as newspapers and magazines and tickets to local performances being held at such locations at Vancouver theatres. He also sold postcards, at least some of which were published by him of B.C. scenes, including this one of the city of Vancouver ca 1910 taken by photographers Bullen & Lamb.

Vancouver Daily World 20 May 1922.

The tobacco business seems to have been kind to Lazarus. In 1922, he purchased a Lexington automobile. I had initially assumed that this must have been a very high-end car (as I hadn’t heard of the maker before). But upon consulting classic car expert, Peter Findlay, I learned differently:

The Lexington Motor Company in Indiana was a subsidiary of the United States Automotive Corporation. It was what we call an “assembled car”, meaning that the company purchased all the components from other manufacturers and assembled them all into a car on their premises.

For 1922, Lexington cut prices in an effort to boost sales. It didn’t work, as the company was bought by the Auburn Automobile Company in 1926. The 1922 price for Lazarus’s Lexington was $1745 at the factory, probably around $2000 in Vancouver. This puts it somewhere in the middle. The Lexington and others like it would be considered a nice family car. Many of them would not survive for 10 more years. It might be like buying a basic Chev or Buick sedan these days.

Peter Findlay, email sent May 30, 2022

Even if the Lexington wasn’t a high-end vehicle, Lazarus certainly seemed to be doing well enough at his Cigar Stand(s) that he could afford a $2000 vehicle in the early 1920s. Whether he could afford to keep it into the depression years a decade into his future (or if his Lexington even survived that long), I don’t know.

Lazarus retired from the Hotel Vancouver Cigar Stand in 1928.

His replacement at the Cigar Stand was one Charles William Dixon. He met with a mysterious death just before he began working at Lazarus’s former business. Dixon hailed from Victoria and he disappeared almost without a trace upon arriving in Vancouver in February 1929. Only a coat and hat bearing Dixon’s initials were found on the centre span of the Connaught Bridge (aka Cambie Street Bridge). It was assumed, therefore, that he must have drowned in False Creek. But there was no further sign of Dixon until a decomposing body was found in the Fraser River near Marpole in early April 1929. A distinctive ring worn on the left hand was the means by which Dixon was identified (The Province 7 April 1929).

Very peculiar.

Lazarus’s retirement from the Hotel Cigar Stand wasn’t the conclusion of Lazarus’s career in the tobacco business. He established a tobacco retail shop at 605 West Hastings, after leaving the hotel. This business seemed to fizzle by the early 1930s (with the onset of the Great Depression).

In a 1940 Sun retrospective on the old Hotel Vancouver, H. E. Lazarus was fondly recalled:

For twenty years kindly Hyman E. Lazarus conducted the cigar stand in the old hotel. Lazarus was a great artist, he knew the vagaries of his clientele. Lazarus studied the likes and dislikes of his customers and while the bulk of his trade demanded the quality of the “Corona de Corona,” retailing at four-bits [50 cents each], Lazarus had ever the same kindly smile as he served the lobby lizards a “stinkdoro” for a nickel….Today he lovingly hovers over a real Havana cigar like a tea-taster. Lazarus knows Havana; ’tis a dying art, few like him are left.

Vancouver Sun 16 March 1940

H. E. Lazarus died in 1961 when he was 88.

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The Home of Photographer S. J. Thompson (1275 Haro)

Stephen Joseph Thompson (1864-1929) was a fine early Vancouver photographer – arguably the best early B.C. landscape photographer. Eve Lazarus has written a piece about Thompson’s life and career here. This post is less about Thompson than it is about his family’s home for several years at 1275 Haro Street (Mr Thompson was married and they had two boys and two girls).

CVA 635-2 – 1275 Haro St – Residence of S.J. Thompson – Exterior and Garden. 191-. Presumably a photo by S. J. Thompson.

I stumbled across the series of photos of Thompson’s home when browsing through the photos on the City of Vancouver Archives today. It was love at first sight. I would love to have lived in this home!

CVA 635-7 – Residence of S.J. Thompson – 1275 Haro Street – Interior Entryway. 191-. Presumably a photo by S. J. Thompson.

I don’t think I would retain the big horn sheep’s head if I owned this home, but everything else visible in the entryway would suit me fine. The grandfather clock seems to just barely have fitted the ceiling height. Could that be the kitchen on the other side of the curtain?

CVA 635-4 – Residence of S.J. Thompson – 1275 Haro Street – Interior Living Area. 191-. Presumably a photo by S. J. Thompson.

The room shown above appears to be what we’d today call the living room (although in Thompson’s day it was probably called either the drawing room or the parlour). The fireplace is charming with the row of books above it and the (presumably family) portraits and other knick-knacks above the books. There appears to be an extension to the living room to the right and another room just visible beyond it. The room past the drawing room appears to be the formal dining room and it is shown in greater detail in the next photo.

CVA 635-6 – Residence of S.J. Thompson – 1275 Haro Street – “Interior Parlour”, according to CVA, but looks to me like a Dining Room. 191-. Presumably a photo by S. J. Thompson.

The table in this room appears to be expandable and the several chairs seem to match the table, thus why I conclude that it is the dining room. The stained glass in the upper windows is very appealing to me. As are all of the photos on the walls. More of a “confounding” mystery, in friend Jenn Friesen’s language, are what appear to be three doors in the room! There appear to be two doors on the left side of the room (on either side of the sideboard) and one designed for a very short person or a child on the right side! Why all these entryways?! Jenn suggested that the short door may have been a pass-through (assuming that the kitchen is on the other side of that wall or, if the kitchen is on another floor (presumably below) there may be a dumb waiter behind it. Who can say for sure?

CVA 635.5 – Residence of S.J. Thompson – 1275 Haro Street – Back Yard Tennis Court. 191-. Presumably a photo by S. J. Thompson.

The lot on which the home sat was plainly a very large one as it could fit a backyard tennis court. I’m assuming that the woman on the back balcony is Mrs. Thompson.

The Thompsons took up residence at 1275 Haro in 1907 and remained there until 1924. Stephen died in 1929. Prior to the Thompsons buying it, the home was occupied by Fred Buscombe (crockery merchant and later Mayor) and his family from about 1899-1905.

Shortly after the home was sold by the Thompsons, the single occupancy residence was split into 6 rooms and became an apartment block known as the Ellsworth Apartments. As far as I can tell, the home remained more or less intact until the 1960s when it was demolished to make way for the 10-story Logan Villa apartment block. Logan Villa still stands.

An Alternate Version of House Layout (and Likely Much Closer to True!)

The account below comes from Jenn Friesen (a friend of mine, mentioned earlier in this post):

The photo of the entryway is taken from the front door. Through the curtain is the dining room (not the kitchen as you had speculated earlier). To the right is the staircase going up and you can see the light from the second floor small window (almost hidden by foliage on the shot of the front exterior of the house) touching on the stair bannister.

From the drawing room photo, you can see the front door with the curtained window. That changes the orientation of your so-called “kitchen” (through the curtains in the entryway photo) because the light if definitely at the photographer’s back (looks as though he shot with the door open and his camera on the front porch).

Through the entryway curtain/door we can see the sideboard in the dining room! Look closely at the front edge and the item that is sitting on the front right corner and look also at the placement of the throw rugs! Then look at the dining room photo and you see the same configuration of the rugs and just a little peep of that thing on the sideboard and its edge. That is the same sideboard but it is so huge and complicated that it looks very different from the perspectives of the two photos (of the entryway and the dining room).

So, if all of that is true, then the little door is a storage area beneath the stairs!

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Early Vancouver “Ontario” Businesses

Crop of CVA Van Sc P38.4 – Looking south toward Pender Street from Hastings Street and Seymour Street 1892. Charles S. Bailey photo. Ontario House is at the SW corner of Pender and Richards. The Homer Street Methodist Church looms in the background (and to the right of it, Sacred Heart Academy).

There were a couple of early Vancouver businesses that were named “Ontario”: a rooming house/hotel and a grocery store.

Ontario House

J. G. Taylor was the proprietor of the Ontario House from 1889 to 1892. It apparently was so named because proprietor Taylor had come to Vancouver from Ontario, specifically from Gravenhurst. Ontario House was a business that operated on temperance principles; meaning, I assume, that there was no liquor sold (or permitted?) on the premises. The rate was $1/day.

By 1892, Taylor was worn out and he sold his business to one Isaac Brown. The only thing notable about Brown’s ownership was that he advertised (with apparent pride) that “no Chinese” were employed by the hostelry. Whether that was a change introduced by Brown or a policy that was established by Taylor and continued by Brown isn’t clear.

In 1894, Ontario House was leased by Mrs. Henry Wise and renamed, grandly, “The Palace Boarding House.” The rooming house seems to have stood at this corner at least until the 1950s — in these later years as Lamona Rooms.

Ontario Grocery

CVA 677-640 – Carrall Street at Hastings Street. 190- P. T. TImms. Ontario Grocery was located in the space where McTaggart & Moscrop Hardware was in this later photo.
Port P134.2 – Mayor William Templeton 1897?

The Ontario Grocery was owned initially by William Templeton and Joseph Northcott (Northcott withdrew from the partnership, apparently, by 1889). It had to be one of the first grocery stores in Vancouver. It was destroyed in the 1886 Great Fire and was speedily re-built with bricks on the site of the first grocery — the NE corner of Carrall and Hastings — and was known as the Templeton Block. Indeed, according to the Vancouver Weekly Herald (cited in Major Matthews’ Early Vancouver, Volume 4, p. 70), it was the second brick building to be erected in the City.1

Like Ontario House, Ontario Grocery was named apparently because Templeton came to Vancouver from Belleville, ON.

Templeton unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of Vancouver in 1890 and in 1891 was successful in becoming an Alderman of the Vancouver City Council. After serving one year as an Alderman, he was elected a member of the Vancouver School Board. He ran for Mayor successfully in 1897.

Templeton died suddenly in his 45th year (in January 1898) of an “apoplectic stroke” just weeks before his first term as Mayor was over and the next election was due. In August 1898, James Foran (a former clerk at the grocery) and N. Frost (the former book-keeper) took over the Ontario Grocery. At some point, Frost withdrew from the partnership and Ontario Grocery was taken over by the Foran Brothers. By 1901, the name of the firm became Foran Bros. Grocery and in the same year they moved the business from the Templeton Block up Carrall a bit and across the street to the Harris Block (309 Carrall).

The Templeton Block still stands. As does the Harris Block (which today also houses the Rainier Hotel).


1Maurice Guibord has pointed out that at least two buildings claim the honor of being the first brick building in the city (the Tremont Building on Carrall just south of Water Street and the Oppenheimer Building on Powell Street where Bryan Adams has his recording studio), so the claim that the new Templeton Block was the second building built with bricks is probably open to question.

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Vaughn Moore’s Studio of Terpsichorean Art

CVA 99-1917 – Vaughn Moore group at Lost Lagoon. 1929. Stuart Thomson. I think Vaughn is the gent on the left. The other man appears to me to be Vaughn’s brother.

For those of you who (like me) are not well-versed in advanced crossword clues, the term “Terpsichorean” pertains to dancing. Vaughn Drier Moore (1894-1965) made a career out of providing dancing instruction in the Pacific Northwest from about 1919 until his death in 1965.

Vaughn was born to LeBaron and Thirza Moore in Connell, New Brunswick and came to Vancouver at a relatively young age (about 21), circa 1915. Moore played on a local amateur lacrosse team, the Olympics, from 1913-1915. He was also team captain.

A wedding notice in 1917 mentioned that Moore had been studying at Columbia College — a Methodist school in New Westminster — for a number of years. This would be the first of two marriages for Moore; this time to Lilas May van Houten.

Vaughn and Lilas’s marriage certificate shows Vaughn as being an “advertising agent” at the time of their wedding. But his directory listing in that year indicates he was a law student (if that’s accurate, he didn’t pursue studies in the law for long).

Oddly, I could not find any record that indicated that Moore was involved in WW1.

By 1919, Moore had established the first of his dancing schools, which he called “The Vaughn Moore Studio of Terpsichorean Art”. I’m guessing that he received some negative feedback on the name of his studio and within a year, it became the somewhat more pedestrian-sounding “The Lilas and Vaughn Moore Studio of Graceful Ballroom Dancing” and less than a year later, simply “The Vaughn Moore School of Dancing”. The studio’s first location was above the Colonial Theatre at the SW corner of Granville and Dunsmuir (603 Granville). It had branch studios, as early as 1920, in the Fairview and Grandview districts and a studio in Seattle. In the early 1920s, the downtown studio was moved from the Colonial Theatre building to a space on the second floor across the street from David Spencer’s store at 518 W. Hastings.

CVA 447-399 – Colonial Theatre. 1972. Walter Edwin Frost. This image was made just before the Colonial Building (aka the Kinemacolor Building) was demolished to make way for Pacific Centre Mall.

In 1923, Vaughn and Lilas were awarded by Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Valentino the Valentino Dancing Trophy (a loving cup), upon being judged to be Vancouver’s best ballroom dancers (Sun. 3 June 1923).

The Moores taught classical ballroom dance and also tap dance and the latest dance moves. In 1928, for example, they taught the Lindbergh Waltz (aka, the Lindy Hop) and the Varsity Drag.

Moore was divorced from Lilas Moore in 1929. Interestingly, Lilas married another dancer in 1943, one Arthur G. Lewis. In 1931, Moore married Lilian Bonython. He was also divorced from Lilian at some point.

Moore fell down the stairs in his apartment at 1374 W. Broadway in September 1965, fracturing his skull. He was 71. His death was found by Coroner Glen McDonald (whose autobiography, How Come I’m Dead?, I highly recommend) to be a suicide. The Vaughn Moore Dance Studio continued to operate until February 1966.

CVA 99-4186 – Vaughn Moore Tap Review at Capital Theatre. 1932. Stuart Thomson.
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Gai Paree Supper Club in South Burnaby

CVA 2018-020.10436 – The Gai Paree Supper Club, NW corner at Kingsway and Sperling .

The Gai Paree Supper Club was established in 1947 by the Morin family on Kingsway at Sperling. Anne Marie and R. P. (Rene Pierre) Morin were born in France, later moving to the Channel Islands in the U.K. where they worked as farm laborers, met and ultimately married in 1903. They migrated to Bonnyville, AB — a French-Canadian community NE of Edmonton — in 1912. “Dad” Morin served with the Canadian Forces overseas and, upon returning to Canada, worked for the CNR until taking his pension in 1943. Meanwhile, Mom was busily operating her own community grocery and buying three houses which she rented, all the while raising a family of four (Sun 12 Jun 1954).

Mom (Anne Marie) Morin.
Sun 24 Oct 1953.

In 1942, Mom left Bonnyville with her ailing daughter, Adele, and settled on Sperling Avenue in Burnaby. (Adele died in 1945 at age 38 of Addison’s Disease). Mom had a real entrepreneurial flare, as she soon had her eye on the corner of Kingsway and Sperling and had an idea for establishing a food service business there. At that time, her eldest boy, Rene, was managing the Spokane Spartans’ hockey team. And another son, Rudy, had his own band in the Kootneys, the Rossland Ramblers (Sun 12 Jun 1954). The family was called together in Burnaby.

Mom sent Rudy and another son, Severin, out to learn the food business. They moonlit with Nat Bailey’s White Spot restaurants for awhile. Everyone pitched in with the construction of the Gai Paree until it was completed in November 1947.

The Gai Paree Supper Club was born! Every Friday and Saturday night, from 10 ’til 2 a.m., there was dancing. All other nights, the Paree was available to be booked for corporate get-togethers, wedding receptions, birthdays or any other catering occasion. And on Saturday nights, the Gai Paree Party Bus brought folks from Vancouver into the Burnaby location and took Paree-ers back to Vancouver at 2 a.m. There was also a nightly (except Monday) drive-in service provided at the Paree until 1 a.m.

There was a band, of course. Early on, music was supplied by Arne Moller and his Band. Later on, it was supplied by Pierre and His Gai Paree Orchestra. “Pierre” was, in fact, Rudy. He doubled as “Pierre the Arteest” who drew cartoons of guests on their souvenir photos. Photos were taken, in 1953, by Bart Van Den Beld.

Rene, Rudy and Severin Morin (Ray Allan photo for the Sun). Sun 12 June 1954.

In 1976, the Gai Paree became Severin’s, named after the manager of both establishments: Severin Morin. There was a dining room, and adjacent to it a room called “That’s Entertainment”which featured live entertainment, no cover charge, and no reservations. And there was a club upstairs that paid tribute to local radio host, Jack Cullen, called Jack’s. Severin’s was open every night from 5 p.m. (Province 5 Aug 1976).

Severin’s quietly disappeared in 1985 and, in its place, Diego’s was established. But the Morin family had nothing to do with Diego’s. Today, there is a condominium residential tower where The Gai Paree/Severin’s once were.

The eldest son, Rene, died suddenly in 1954 at age 49. The Morin family contributed to the establishment of the Rene Memorial Playground in 1956 just behind the Gai Paree at Sperling and Balmoral; it is still there. Mom passed in 1956; Dad in 1963; and Severin in 2014.

The Rene Memorial Playground – in memory of Rene Morin – at Sperling and Balmoral. Google Street View 2022.

Many thanks are due to Maurice Guibord for his assistance with
details pertaining to the Morins and the Gai Paree.

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The Happy Wanderers: Findlater’s Elgar Choir – Updated

Snapseed 17

Findlater and the Elgar Choir posing on the steps of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (First Baptist Church tower in the background). The Choir consisted mainly of teenaged girls, but a few boys whose voices hadn’t yet changed were also members. n.d. BC Archives.

Charles E. Findlater (1893-1975) founded and led the Elgar Junior Choir from 1924 until shortly before his death.¹ Until Findlater received permission from English composer Sir Edward Elgar’s daughter in 1932 (there is some disagreement as to the year; in some places, 1935 is cited) to use “Elgar” to identify the choir, it was known as the “Wesley Methodist Sunday School Choir” which later evolved to the “St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church Junior Choir”.² According to the Canadian Encylopedia, the repertoire of the choir was drawn principally from Elgar and his British contemporaries.

The choir’s name change to Elgar, according to “The Story of the Elgar Choir”, recounted in the programme for the Choir’s 3rd Canadian Tour (1940), came about mainly due to the growth of the group in both numbers and reputation:

The Choir had steadily grown, until it became usual for a season’s enrolment to far exceed one hundred. Although the membership changed a little each year, there was always a large number of girls who had received several years’ training and were experienced junior choristers. It was apparent that from these trained singers a special demonstration group could be formed, which under good auspices, could visit other parts of the Province and carry on the work which had been so successfully begun by the Sunday School Choir. The experiment was decided upon and in 1932 the new organization was formed and named the Elgar Junior Choir, after the eminent British Composer and Master of the King’s Music, Sir Edward Elgar.³

The Choir began as a competitor in provincial and more distant music festivals. But later, the choir was considered to be of such high calibre, that they no longer engaged in competitions. They toured (at the choristers’ own expense) as a goodwill gesture and as a fund raiser during WWII for the Red Cross and other charitable organizations. I will summarize some of the Choir’s travels below (not all; most texts agree that the Choir made 13 overseas trips to some 27 countries):

  • 1934: To Chicago World’s Fair and cities in Eastern Canada (later referred to, collectively – in some texts – as the First Canadian Tour);
  • 1936: Tour to U.K. and Norway (Highlights: World’s Sunday School Convention at Oslo; Bournemouth Musical Festival, and the National Welsh Eisteddfod at Fishguard, Wales) – later called the First British Tour.
  • Early 1940s: Plans for a second British tour were cancelled due to wartime hostilities; instead, the Second Canadian Tour (1941) and the Third Canadian Tour (1942) were arranged. The object of both tours was principally to fundraise for war charities.
  • 1949: Second British Tour;
  • 1950: A local tour (of B.C. and parts of Washington state);
  • 1954/55: Tour of Europe and Britain, including appearances in: Pairs, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Holland, Belgium, and various cities in Britain;
  • 1960: First USSR tour (“the first Canadian cultural group” to visit there);
  • 1963: A Round-the-World tour, with appearances in the following places: Switzerland, East Berlin, Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Rome, Vienna, Paris, West Berlin, and “the British Isles”. Following this, C. E. Findlater apparently decided, briefly, to “retire his baton”;
  • 1971: CEF evidently picked up his baton again to lead another overseas tour by the Choir (Europe and Asia);
  • 1974: Choir’s 50th Anniversary Reunion was held at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church. It was estimated at the time that over 6,000 choristers (boys and girls) had been Choir members during its lifetime. (A 14th overseas trip had been planned for summer of 1974, but that seems not to have happened, presumably due to Findlater’s worsening health.) I suspect that most of the photographs in this post that are courtesy of BC Archives were originally supplied from this reunion.

Snapseed 9

Elgar Choir touring U.K. They appear to be posed in front of Canada House in London, England. n.d. BC Archives.

Findlater was born and educated in England, coming to Canada in 1914 and settling in Vancouver in 1918. He did much of the recruitment for the Elgar Choir through his “Elgar

Vancouver Sun. 4 Oct 1963, p.3. Photograph in honour of CEF's retirement. A bit premature! Brian Kent photo

Vancouver Sun. 4 Oct 1963, p.3. Photograph in honour of CEF’s “retirement”. A bit premature! Crop of a Brian Kent photo. (The article from which this was taken was generously provided by former Elgar Choir member, Nancy Nelson (nee Haines).

School of Music”, which was established ca1935 and continued to thrive until his death. The school consisted of space in the Fairfield Building (no longer extant; at the NW corner of Granville and Pender).

Findlater was Music Superintendent of Vancouver Schools from 1928-31. He taught piano, music theory, and directed the choirs at Crofton House School. Beginning in 1941, he was Director of the choir at Vancouver College (a Roman Catholic school established by the Christian Brothers; it was/is located at Cartier and 39th Ave.). He was choir director at Knox United Church and at St. Mary’s Anglican Church (both in Kerrisdale) at different periods. And he served as a music adjudicator at music festivals across Canada.

Mrs. (Amy) Findlater, the choir director’s wife, was chaperone and ‘mother’ to the Choir. She accompanied her husband and the choir on every tour they made (she died in 1973, just two years before CEF’s passing).

Nancy Nelson (nee Haines), a member of the Choir (ca1944-54), now 81º, has a couple of anecdotes about touring with the Choir, in which the Findlaters figure prominently. Nancy’s first recollection is of the ‘special’ train car arranged to carry the the Choir across Canada:

My recollection is that Mr. Findlater told us that the Choir had a special train car from an arrangement with either CPR or CNR (probably one of their older cars that had been taken out of regular service) which was renovated to the Findlaters’ specifications.  The forward part of the car included a lavatory, a space that Mrs. F had fixed up as a kitchen (with a fridge and hot plate) and their sleeping quarters. We were not permitted to go into their end of the car. Mrs. F handled the money and she also had a list of staples – provided by our parents – so she could make sure we ate properly.

We would pull down the upper bunks and arrange the lower bunks for our sleeping arrangements and then, somehow, put them out of the way during the day when we sat facing each other over tables for travel and eating. It was ingenious to have that ‘special’ car, with it only having to be shoved in a corner of the rail yards when we were on tour and stored between tours. There were no porters, conductors or other rail personnel on our car and no dining car was required of the train company. We were completely autonomous, except for being towed around. The special car was probably Mrs. F’s brain child. She was quite a lady, and a force to be reckoned with!

We certainly didn’t travel First Class or even Business Class, by any stretch of the imagination. It was bare bones, going and coming.  But for those young singers who worked so hard studying, then auditioning, and then spent months practicing to get to go on tour with the Elgar Choir, it didn’t matter a fig!

Nancy’s other vivid memory is of preparation, near the end of the train trip, for intercontinental travel by ocean liner:

Mrs. F was a law unto herself. She didn’t want any of the choristers to get sea sick. So, 2 or 3 days before our train car arrived at Montreal, she hauled out a huge metal container and stirred up what we called ‘the witch’s brew’. I can’t tell you what it was made of, but it was pink! It wasn’t just a laxative…it was a purgative! We lined up and each of us had to drink our dose in front of her! If you barfed it up, she made you drink another. It was bitterly terrible!

There was one lavatory for the 18+ choristers and a pianist. We were running literally all night and most of the next day! Unfortunately, someone forgot to check the cupboard on the rail car before we left Vancouver to ensure we had sufficient toilet paper. So, we had to line up (again) to receive from Mrs. F our individual allotment of four squares of TP. The squares came with instructions, delivered by Mrs. F with a straight face, that we were to fold each square and use it carefully! Oh, my. It was a wild trip into Quebec!

Mrs F’s witch’s brew sure paid off, though. While some passengers were stuck in their shipboard cabins during rough weather, we Elgar choristers were all practicing our hearts out! The Findlaters were hardened and savvy travellers. They knew that the best prevention for sea sickness is to clean out the gut!

The signature song for the 1954 international tour (the one Nancy was on) was The Happy Wanderer. “We did it at the end of every performance, and we sang it again for all the kind people who came to the dock in Liverpool to see us off as Cunard’s Samaria slowly pulled away to begin our return trip to Canada. It was quite a memorable moment for everyone, I think.”

I love to go a-wandering
Along the mountain track
And as I go, I love to sing
My knapsack on my back
Music: Frank Weir. Music: Friedrich W. Moller. Lyrics: Antonia Ridge.



¹In a 1970 ad, I noticed that the Elgar Choir had changed their name to the “Eldigar Singers (formerly the Elgar Choir)”. Coast News, June 10, 1970, p. 8. What prompted this apparently very brief name change isn’t clear to me. In any event, the use of the name seems never to recur.

Note also that there were several other “Elgar” choirs based in other Canadian cities in the first few decades of the 20th century: in Winnipeg, Montreal, Brockville, Sudbury, and perhaps elsewhere. None of these seems to have been anywhere near as long-lasting  nor as renowned as the Vancouver choir, however.

²Wesley Methodist in the 1930s merged with St Andrew’s Presbyterian to become St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church. They also moved to a different church structure. When it was a Methodist only congregation they made their home at Burrard and Robson. When it became St. Andrew’s-Wesley, they moved to Burrard and Nelson.

³City of Vancouver Archives.

ºSadly, Nancy Nelson (nee Haines) passed away in late 2021. I miss our regular correspondence. I never had an opportunity to meet her face-to-face. I’m greatly indebted to Nancy for her recollections in this post of her Elgar Choir experiences.

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Drinking Fountains in the City


A very early (if not the first) Vancouver water fountain was situated at the corner which, from the 1930s, was known as Pioneer Place but is better known, today, as Pigeon Park. This piece of real estate was useless for much of anything, and so the CPR (which owned it), gave it to the City (with typical CPR ‘generosity’).

I have been instructed [said CPR Land Commissioner, J. M. Browning] by the trustees of the Vancouver townsite to offer to the city, free of charge, that triangular piece of ground at the intersection of Hastings and Carrall Streets, measuring 17 ft. 6 in. x 16 ft. 1 in. x 11 ft. 8 in., upon which to erect a public drinking fountain.

Daily World, 2 April 1889

For a very early drawing of the park, which shows a drinking fountain, see below. I cannot see any sign of a fountain in mid-century city archives photos of the site, however there seems to be a fountain there today.

MAP 780 - [Map of Pioneer Place showing the area deeded to the City of Vancouver by the C.P.R.] 1895

MAP 780 – Early map showing Pioneer Place, 1895.

New Slaking Stations

In 1904, it was reported in the local press that a few new drinking fountains (constructed of concrete and faced with portland cement) would be installed in the city that year (Province, 17 June 1904):

  • At the ‘triangle’ on the corner of Georgia at Pender streets. There is still a ‘triangle’ there today, but it is populated primarily by flagpoles. Few pedestrians walk past this corner these days, so it isn’t surprising that no fountain is extant.
  • On the road at the base of the reservoir within Stanley Park. This is almost certainly gone today.
  • The location of a third fountain was still up for grabs in June, 1904, but it was thought likely to be placed at “the depot” (which, I take to be the main B.C.E.R. depot in the city).

By 1912, ten other quaffing sites had been chosen by the city. To the best of my knowledge, there are no drinking fountains today at any of these locations:

  • City Hall (it was located, at that time, on Main Street, just south of what today is Carnegie Centre)
  • Hastings at the old courthouse (what would ultimately become Victory Square)
  • Corner of Georgia and Nichol
  • Fifteenth and Westminster Road (Main Street)
  • Powell and Victoria
  • Victoria and Keefer
  • Commercial and Broadway
  • Cornwall and Yew
  • Heather and Broadway
  • Granville and Davie

Two Types

There were two sorts of drinking fountains which were popular in Vancouver over a large chunk of our history.  If you grew up in the 1960s or later, you are likely accustomed to water fountains that conform to a pretty standard form: a unit with a device on it which you press or twist that sends water out the top from which you slurp to take in a mouthful (or, perhaps more typically, less than a mouthful!)

Until the mid-20th-century, things were different.


Our forbears, for reasons which I don’t pretend to understand, often considered it fitting, when a major personality died, to create a memorial to him/her that included a public drinking fountain.

Three Vancouver examples of this type of fountain are discussed below.¹

King Ed VII: One is the King Edward VII memorial, which, after it was created by local sculptor, Charles Marega, for the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE), was located on the south side of Georgia Street in front of the then-new courthouse building.  Here is my favourite photo of it:

From Van & Beyond - King Ed with Girls drinking

From Vancouver and Beyond, Thirkell and Scullion. Girls drinking at the King Ed VII Memorial.

What are the two young gals drinking from? Well you may ask! They were tin cups that were attached to the memorial with metal chains. Yes, community cups, quite literally! (I can hear your 21st century, germ-sensitive self reacting to this. I know. Me, too.) Water flowed from the mouth of the lion figure and into the basin over which the girls were drinking.² Today, the Edward VII fountain has been shifted out of its proud place in front of the courthouse/Art Gallery has been moved to the west side of the Art Gallery. It has suffered significantly from vandalism and wear/tear over the years.

Vicky: Another example of a memorial fountain — one which pre-dated Ed VII by a few years — was the Queen Victoria memorial (Victoria died in 1901; Ed, Victoria’s son, died in 1910).

Mon P32.1 - [Women in roller skates around the Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain] ca 1940

CVA Mon P32.1 – Women in roller skates around the Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain, ca 1940. The girl on far right has hold of one of the metal chains that held one of the bronze cups once upon a time. It was long gone, by the time this image was taken.

This monument has been within Stanley Park from the date it was first established there (in 1906) to the present. Victoria’s memorial was designed by local artist, James Blomfield. The cups (which had disappeared by the time the above 1940s-era image was made, leaving just the metal chains) were made of bronze, rather than tin.

The Maple Tree: This final example of a memorial fountain commemorated not a deceased person but a former tree (and the memories associated with it by Vancouver pioneers). The memorial plaque, which originally resided above the fountain (as shown below) was removed from the fountain pedestal (the fountain was scrapped, probably during a 1970s refit of Gastown) and integrated instead into the ‘Gassy Jack’ monument.

The Maple Tree Fountain bridged the two sorts of drinking fountains in Vancouver: not only was it s memorial, it was also a ‘bubbler’.

CVA 677-167 - Drinking fountain at Powell and Carrall Streets [Maple Tree monument] 1928

CVA 677-167 – Drinking fountain at Powell and Carrall Streets. The Maple Tree monument and Drinking Fountain, 1928. Charles Marega (the gent nearest to the fountain monument) was its creator


Two disadvantages of the memorial sort of fountain were germ issues and the fact that the cups were very prone to vandalism (they were invariably stolen).

Bubblers didn’t have the second problem; but they still had the former issue.

Bubbler drinking fountains (sometimes called – with more than a little wishful thinking – “sanitary” fountains) bubbled the water upward, as most fountains do today. The crucial difference is that public bubblers in the city until about the 1960s didn’t have an on/off valve, so they bubbled water ‘eternally’, and a person could slake his/her thirst by simply bending over the fountain and interrupting the stream with their mouth.

The problem with this design was that birds, dogs, and other critters liked the bubblers, too, and weren’t shy about partaking of its life-giving flow when humans weren’t using the devices.

Province columnist, D. A. McGregor, expanded on this shortcoming of bubblers in this 1948 piece:

Where the diagonal pedestrian traffic way through Victory Square divides across Cambie Street from the Province office, is a bubbling drinking fountain much used by birds and dogs and humans. The sparrows have a rather hard time of it when thirst drives them to the fountain, for they must perch precariously on the edge of the cement basin and take their drink a drop at a time. The pigeons having more bulk, do better.

Some of the dogs show considerable ingenuity at the fountain. One little black spaniel comes quite frequently, always approaches joyously with a run and a jump that lands him square on top of the basin and there he sits and laps and laps. Other little dogs look longingly and pass by. Some have to be held up to the water spout by their owners. The larger dogs stand up much like people, and yesterday a big old fellow embraced the whole fountain with his forepaws while he quenched his thirst for a good five minutes, pausing now and then to take in the scenery.

The humans seem seldom to come by when the birds or dogs are at the fountain. so, they do not know when they drink they drink from the bird bath and from the dogs’ dish. It may be all right at that. Perhaps what the patrons of the fountain do not know doesn’t hurt them, and perhaps Fido’s tongue is antiseptic and the much-licked water spout quite sanitary. It merely occurred to me that the park board and the medical health officer might like to know what is going on, and might be persuaded to place a bird bath and dog trough at the foot of the fountain.

Province 11 May 1948

CVA 180-3647 - Dog drinking from water fountain 194- PNE

CVA 180-3647 – Dog drinking from water a bubbler drinking fountain in Hastings Park. A human looks on. 194-

I applaud Mr McGregor for his concern and for making his fellow-residents aware of this public health problem, but it seems to me that his proposed solution would have had little effect as long as bubblers continued to bubble ‘eternally’ with no shut off/on valve.”

Why Did Bubblers Persist in Vancouver So Long?

The public health issues associated with memorial fountains was solved by their other disadvantage: cups were stolen almost as soon as the memorials were erected!

But what about bubblers? Why is it that Vancouver allowed these things to continue until roughly the 1960s — when fountains were by default in the ‘off’ mode?

I was able to suss out at least three possible reasons:

Reason 1: Anti-Alcohol Movement. There were those who maintained that if fountains were readily available, they would serve to discourage folks from entering saloons (Daily World, 2 Oct 1914).

Reason 2: City cheapness. I’m certain that lack of technology for a ‘default off’ bubbler was not a reason. It may have been that this option was more expensive, however. And from what I saw in press reports, the city seemed to always been on the lookout for cheaper models of bubblers, over the years. Oddly, it wasn’t until the late 1950s, when a major drought hit the Vancouver area, that folks seemed to give much consideration to the cost of lost water due to the ‘eternal’ bubblers.

Reason 3: Willful ignorance. The general public didn’t seem to be hugely worked up about the public health issues associated with bubblers (if the few letters to editors can be taken as indicative).

It wasn’t that there wasn’t public health information warning locals away from the dangers of fountains. A New Westminster physician by the name of Dr. Hall was quoted in the Province as early as 1906, remarking on a connection between tuberculosis and public fountains:

The greatest need . . . is for the taking of ordinary precautions against the spread of [tuberculosis]. Some of the very worst centres of infection are the public drinking fountains. Not only tuberculosis, but all manner of diseases are spread from these . . . . If a man wants a drink when he is out, let him go to a saloon — they will give him a drink of water for nothing; but avoid the drinking fountain.

Province, 26 Oct 1906

Well, Dr. Hall has put Reason 1 and 3 in their place; and I suspect that he wouldn’t have much positive to say about Reason 2! What is monetary cost when compared with threats to public health?


¹Other memorial type drinking fountains included: the Pauline Johnson memorial in Stanley Park (yes, when it was first unveiled, it had a “drinking fountain” component) – Province, 22 May 1922. Also the Joe Fortes memorial was originally, in part, a drinking fountain. (Province, 25 June 1927). The final memorial fountain that I could find being erected in the city was one that was in 1957 dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Sally Birmingham and Mrs. Agnes Lutes. It was sponsored by the Kiwassa Girls Club and was located at the Club headquarters at 600 Vernon Drive.

²For more about the King Ed VII monument, see this VAIW post. This other VAIW ‘fountain’ post may also be of interest.

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The Nanaimo Street Foundry

Associated Foundry at 25th and Nanaimo Street. From: The Days Before Yesterday: A History of Cedar Cottage. Produced by the Students of Gladstone Secondary School, 1968. Note: The prominent ‘cone’ atop the foundry seems to be the one which so dramatically blew off in 1965.

The foundry at 4080 Nanaimo Street, shown above, was Vancouver Pipe and Foundry from ca1913-1919, then Anthes-Tait Foundry (1919-1944) and finally Associated Foundry (1944-69). From 1969 until ca1980, the site was City of Vancouver property. I have been unable to find written confirmation of this, but I’m assuming that the Province bought the land from the City sometime in the early 1980s so that the Nanaimo Street Skytrain Station could be built on the site.

Having a foundry at this location was the source of headaches over the years (both literally and figuratively, I suspect) — for nearby residents and for City Council and its officials. The foundry was the only industrial business in the Cedar Cottage area; most of the neighborhood was/is residences and “mom and pop” shops.

From the 1940s through the 1960s, as Cedar Cottage became more densely populated, there were regular calls for the City to rezone the foundry site from industrial to residential (which the City refused to do) or to buy the foundry land outright (which it ultimately did after decades of complaints). Principal concerns were that the foundry was producing too much smoke and noise pollution, especially after the period around 1950 when Associated Foundry moved to a 24-hour production schedule. (News-Herald 31 Aug 1950). When foundry-related noise complaints reached a fevered pitch, the City referred the issue to the City Engineer’s anti-noise pollution committee. Nothing much seemed to come of such referrals.

Two incidents, however, made the Nanaimo Street foundry too hot a political potato to be ignored. In 1965, there was a “shattering explosion” at the plant that “hurled molten metal and pieces of iron from a melting pot . . . and blew a 10-foot diameter cone off the top of a chimney stack above the pot. One piece of metal, weighing about 25 pounds, landed on the roof of a house 200 yards away” (Sun 23 April 1965). There were no injuries, but it was considered a wonder that there weren’t. The other incident was less explosive. A “blaze broke out in a tank used for painting pipes, and spread to a shipping office and pattern shop” (Province 3 May 1967). Nobody was hurt in the fire, but on top of the explosion two years before, this added weight to rezoning calls, and the City asked its officials to begin quiet negotiations with Associated Foundry.

A week before the fire, the City officials reported back to Council, but Council believed that they couldn’t afford the purchase price negotiated — pending Council’s approval — with Associated Foundry ($250,000). This price included the cost of moving the plant to Associated property in Surrey ($116,000) (Sun 3 May 1967).

Presumably, the city was in a position, post-fire, to negotiate a better price with Associated Foundry. The price the city ultimately paid to Associated in 1969 was $149,000 (Sun 29 October 1969).

The Nanaimo Street Skytrain Station. Google Street View. 2022.
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Union Steam Ship Cutch

Bo P82 – Union Steamship Company S.S. Cutch’s arrival at Vancouver. ca 1890.

Old Cutch1, as she was affectionately referred to in the press in later years, was built in Hull, England in 1884 as a yacht of the British Raj in India but was sold to Captain Webster, the Manager of Vancouver’s Union Steamships Co. in 1890. Its original specs were:

  • Engines: Compound Condensers capable of making an average speed of 12 knots
  • Lenght: 180 feet
  • Beam: 23 feet
  • Depth of hold: 11 feet, 6 inches
  • Capacity: 400 tons

According to the World‘s account (based on the ship’s log), she departed Bombay on March 23, 1890, reaching Singapore April 5. She left Singapore April 20th and docked at Nagasaki on May 2. She departed Nagasaki the next day for the short trip to Yokohama, arriving there May 6. Her final leg consisted of departure from Japan May 14th, reaching Victoria June 2. The Cutch docked in her new home port of “English Bay” on the evening of June 3rd (in fact, based on the context of the article, she docked in Burrard Inlet, which in early accounts was often misidentified as English Bay) (World, June 3, 1890).

A month later, Cutch was ready to take a trial/shakedown voyage to Nanaimo. Union Steamships issued 70 invitations to prominent Vancouver businessmen to be gratis passengers (World, 7 July, 1890). It was perfect sailing weather and no reported mechanical or other hitches occurred on the trip. She left at 10 a.m. and tied up in Nanaimo at 1 p.m. The businessmen must have squeezed a lot of Nanaimo schmoozing into their brief time in the city, as the Cutch set off for Vancouver again at about 4 p.m. She docked at Vancouver by 7 that evening.

The Cutch would make that journey between Vancouver and Nanaimo many, many more times, as it was soon announced that she would be Union Steamships’ daily passenger ship to the “Black Diamond City”2. It would leave the CPR dock at 2.30 (except Saturdays) and return to Vancouver by 7 a.m. (except Sundays). It would make the round trip 6 days a week (with occasional breaks for excursions to other nearby ports and for maintenance) until late 1897. The ship was known throughout this period as being staunch, reliable, fast, and safe.

In October 1897, the Cutch was taken out of service for a thorough overhaul to prepare her for a quite different sort of regular service: she would be making longish-haul trips between Vancouver and Alaska. Union Steamships spent about $40,000 to install (among other things) two new boilers so that her engines could achieve up to 14 knots, a hurricane deck, and a new deck house. Accommodations on the ship would also be spruced up to better suit passengers who would be spending not hours but days aboard her (World, 4 October 1897)

By May 1898, the Cutch was all ready to go ‘north, to Alaska’ (she would stop in Skagway, Wrangel, Dyea, as well as northern BC ports, such as Atlin). The principal objective of Union Steamships in fitting up the Cutch for northern service was to take advantage of the northern gold rush. As it turned out, the Klondike rush was just about finished by the time the Cutch got into regular northern service. There was a mini-rush in Atlin a bit later, but it too was short-lived. The captain of the Cutch on the northern route was Holmes Newcombe; H. W. Taylor, purser; Mr. Saunders, chief officer; and Mr. Kick, chief engineer (World, 10 May 1898)

SGN 60 – Steamer “Cutch” covered in ice. Feb 1900. E. A. Hegg Photo.

There were no serious incidents with the Cutch in northern waters from 1898-1900. In February 1900, however, there was a dramatic turn when the ship was docked in Skagway. The steamer was literally coated with thick ice. Captain Newcombe brought a photograph of the ice-encrusted Cutch back to her home port of Vancouver as evidence of this.

Six months later, Cutch’s captain and crew may have looked back to the ice-encrustation incident with some nostalgia.

On August 24, 1900, the Cutch foundered on Horseshoe Reef in Stephens Passage, 25 miles south of Juneau. She never completely sank. But the steamer did have a sizable hole in her. The bow was high and dry; the stern seemed to be the part of the ship where the trouble lay, as it was down and filled with water. Passengers and crew all safely reached “the beach”.3 (World, 31 August 1900)

CVA 260-1178 – The foundering of the S.S. Cutch at Horseshoe Reef in Stephens Passage.

Over a month after the foundering of the Cutch, a report came from Union Steamship’s Coquitlam on a northern run, that the Cutch was still lying on Horseshoe Reef, owing to an especially nasty several weeks of weather which had prevented any successful attempt to re-float her (World, 26 September 1900).

Finally, she was raised in early October and towed to “Douglas”4 by tug, where she was put whole again. In 1901, Union Steamships was paid about $30,000 by the insurers. She was then sold to a Captain Clinton of Portland, Oregon. The little steamer would, flying the American flag, ply the Columbia River between Portland and Astoria. It would also have a new name. No longer would it proudly bear the name of Cutch. During its time as an American riverboat, it would be known as the Jessie Banning (World, 2 May 1902).

By 1904, the Jessie Banning was for sold again, this time to the nation of Colombia, and not as a riverboat, this time. She was fitted out with guns, and would be known as the gunboat Bogata. (Province, 4 April 1904).

Thereafter, the history of the former Cutch becomes hazy. It seems improbable, however, that the Bogata made it out of Colombia. It seems more likely that, when she had served her purpose in the eyes of her Columbian masters, she was abandoned in some corner or other of that state.

It was an ignoble passing of a little ship with a proud heritage.


1Why was she called Cutch? After a region in India, and allegedly, after a Maharajah of that region.

2Nanaimo was known as the Black Diamond City in the Victorian era due to coal which powered the local economy there during that period.

3Just where “the beach” was located was a bit vague in press reports, probably because this was pretty obvious to readers of the day (versus this landlubber researcher). The “beach” had to be on the land on one side or other of Stephens Passage.

4I take it that by the reference to “Douglas” is meant Douglas Island, Alaska, which is near to Juneau. Not Port Douglas (part of Surrey, B.C.), which would have been a far greater distance than a tug would have been able to go.

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Kerrisdale Baptist Church

CVA 660-927 – Kerrisdale Baptist Church en route from Port Coquitlam on a barge on the Fraser River. It looks to me as though it is just across from Eburne/Marpole at the foot of Hudson Street. It would be taken ashore not far from here at the foot of Angus Drive where Marpole’s Fraser River Park (across the Fraser from YVR) is today. May 1921 John Davidson.

As is true of most Baptist churches in the Greater Vancouver area, Kerrisdale Baptist Church had quite humble origins.1 Baptists living in the Kerrisdale neighbourhood met, starting ca1913, at the home of Ralph Daggett at 38th and Dunbar (which seems to me to be outside of the Kerrisdale precinct and more accurately within Dunbar district). Later, they moved to another temporary site at Wilson Road (41st Avenue) and Carnarvon where Kerrsisdale Elementary school is located today.

The church was formally organized in February 1914 with Rev. Joshua T. Marshall as pastor. They continued to meet at the school site during this time. Later that year, the church reported to the denominational HQ that they had a charter membership of 32 souls. Over the next couple of years, two decisions were taken by the congregation. First, they adopted a formal name. Nope, not Kerrisdale Baptist; Calvary Baptist Church! Second, they moved from the school site to a store at the corner of 41st Ave. and Balsam Street.

Around 1917, the congregation purchased a lot at the corner of 37th Ave. and Yew Street. However, by 1920, they had found and bought another lot at the corner of 43rd Ave. and East Boulevard. So the church had a lot, but no building. And so it was with guarded glee that they received news from the Home Mission Board (the local denominational office) that there was a former Baptist building available. And at no cost to the Kerrisdale Baptists.

There was just one wrinkle: It was situated in Port Coquitlam!

The Kerrisdale Baptists were made of pretty stern stuff. The fact that their future building was located in Port Coquitlam was viewed as a challenge, rather than as the insoluble bureaucratic tangle which it would doubtless be today. In charge of planning and carrying out the project was Canadian General Electric Co. manager and Baptist church member, Frank McNeill.2

There were two principal stages to the journey from PoCo; a rivers segment; and a land one. For the rivers leg, the church-on-barge needed to proceed down the Pitt River and the Fraser. Six bridges had to be raised along the way. Finally, just west of Marpole, the barge was beached at the foot of Angus Drive (at that time, Angus Drive was called Angus Ave. and went as far as the Fraser River).

The land leg required that huge rollers be used to carry the structure to its final destination north on Angus and over to East Boulevard — at night. Several BC Electric wires needed to be cut along the way. Meanwhile, a foundation and basement walls of the correct proportions were set at the East Boulevard site. The foundation fitted the structure perfectly.

Before the building was moved to its new site, the name of the church was changed to Kerrisdale Baptist.

CVA 660-920 – Kerrisdale Baptist Church at 5870 East Boulevard. ca1922. John Davidson.3

The Kerrisdale Baptists had a tendency to call ministers who were at the tail end of their ministry careers. This meant that these men were less energetic than one might hope for in a pastor of a new congregation. Joshua Marshall lasted scarcely a year (1914-15); likewise John Pirie (1921-1922). George Reynolds lasted longer (1922-30), but his replacement, Charles Morse didn’t (1931). Merle Mason (1934-37) made it just three years. J. Willard Litch (1937-43) had a respectable pieriod in the pulpit at KBC, but poor health and 50 years of continuous ministry in Baptist churches (including First Baptist) made it advisable for him to resign in 1943. His replacement, Clarence Wright (1943-46) endured in the pastorate for just over three years. And J. Leroy Sloat (1946-51), while he had a longish period in KBC’s pulpit, finished his 50th year of ministry there in 1951 and resigned later that year.

Trinity Baptist Church. Sun 9 July 1955. H. E. Addington photographer.

By the early 1950s, it was apparent that a larger building was needed to accommodate the growing congregation, but no adjacent lots were available. Clark Bentall donated a large property located at the SE corner of Granville and 49th avenue. Sod was turned for the new building in January 1955 and the sanctuary was dedicated on July 10, 1955. Because the church was located outside of Kerrisdale, it would be known as Trinity Baptist Church.

Former Kerrisdale Baptist Church for Sale in 2013.
Source: Vancouver Street Blog. January 26, 2013

The old church structure was sold to the Christian Scientists for $50,000. It was sold by the Christian Scientists in 2013 (listed for just under $6 million). On November 8, 2016, an early morning fire destroyed the church building. Today, there is a four-story condominium at this location with retail space at street level (5888 East Boulevard).


1 I am very grateful for the eagle eyes of my old friend, Bill Reimer, manager of Regent Bookstore, for setting aside the little booklet for me on which much of this post is based: The Past is the Prologue: A History of Trinity Baptist Church Prepared for the Celebration of its Diamond Jubilee, 1914-1974. n.d. [1975]. At first, I thought that the (unnamed) author(s) had been playing a bit fast and loose with another Canadian book title, the memoirs of Vincent Massey, What’s Past is Prologue. But I have since learned that ‘past is prologue’ references are common in historical literature!

2In January 1950, Frank McNeill managed to steer his car into a ditch (it must have had some unspecified issue). He didn’t consider it safe (for others) to leave his automobile there, so he walked until he found a service station. He asked the service station attendant to move his car to a safer location and then McNeill collapsed. He died before he reached hospital (Province 20 Jan 1950).

CVA 660-686 – John and Annie Davidson. 1903-08

3John Davidson, the photographer of the early views of Kerrisdale Baptist shown in this post, was the BC Provincial Botanist and was a professor at UBC. Known as “Botany John”, he was the founder of the Vancouver Natural History Society and was a charter member with his wife, Annie, of Kerrisdale Baptist Church.

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B. T. Rogers Family Silent Film

Duke (Duncan Bell-Irving) and Duchess (Irene Rogers) of Faversham are in a tizzy, as their breakfast is interrupted by news that the Duke’s ‘bachelor brother’, Claud, has married and will be coming to Faversham Towers (the ‘Tawse’). Screen capture.

This is an atypical post about an unusual item at the City of Vancouver Archives.

The item is a silent film. That in itself is not uncommon among CVA’s holdings – they have several early silent films. But most of them are non-fiction-oriented (e.g., the construction of a bridge, gas stations of the Lower Mainland, etc). This film, however, is a silent fictitious film which includes several of the B.T. Rogers family and their friends among the actors. The play was called “Bastard Love” and was produced around 1928. This was not an undertaking for people with very limited budgets – and the Rogers family, who bankrolled the venture, certainly weren’t strapped for cash; this is the family that built B.C. Sugar, after all.

Who were some of the prominent players in “Bastard Love”? Duncan Bell-Irving, who played the Duke, was a Great War hero and his parents were neighbours of the B.T. Rogers family. Ernie Rogers, a son of B.T. was in the role of Claud Faversham and his real-life wife, Irene Rogers, was in the role of the Duchess of Faversham. Captain Tucker was played by Reggie Tupper; and Tupper’s wife, Isobel, played Millicent (Claud’s wife). Harold E. Molson (aka “Moley”) played the ”son and heir” (although it isn’t clear to me whose son he was playing; Molson’s future wife, Lila Malkin, played the maid. Elspeth Cherniavsky (who was a daughter of B.T.) was in the part of the native girl; her husband, Jan Cherniavsky (who became an internationally-acclaimed concert pianist), played the parts of the butler and minister. There were several other players, but the pattern is, by now, clear. Those acting in the film were offspring of B.T. Rogers, their spouses, or others of distinction who were likely friends of the Rogers clan.


Faversham Tawse (aka Shannon Mansion). Screen capture.

The play opens with the Duke and Duchess of Faversham sitting down to breakfast. They are supposedly in London at Faversham Towers (‘Tawse’), but in fact they are dining at the Rogers’ Shannon mansion (at Granville and 57th Avenue). Most of the scenes, like this one, are set outdoors, presumably due to the low light indoors which would no doubt have resulted in poor film quality. The Duke opens the morning mail, to find a letter from his ‘bachelor brother’, Claud, in which he notifies the Duke of his recent marriage to Millicent. Claud describes the wedding as having been “more sudden than is perhaps proper for a man in my position”, thereby hinting broadly that their wedding had something of the shotgun about it.

“What can be done?” the Duke and Duchess ask themselves. To which the Duchess points out that “not all the Favershams died in their beds,” thus hinting at fratricide as a solution.

The recently married Claud and Millicent pay a visit to Faversham Tawse. The Duke and Duchess invite Claud and Millicent to join them on a trip to the Swiss Alps, to which they reply with Bertie Wooster-like enthusiasm: “How perfectly ripping!”

The two couples climb Swiss Alps. Screen capture.

The scene shifts to the mountains of Switzerland, one of which the two couples are climbing. (I suspect that the location at which this was shot was one of the local Vancouver mountains).

The title card reads: “Ambitious wife inspires fratricide.” The Duchess produces a knife for the Duke to stab Claud to death. But the Duke, to his credit, proclaims “I can’t!” However, fate steps in and the rope which was holding all of them together on the mountain breaks — just above Claud’s position at the end of it. Claud went tumbling down the mountain to his death. Millicent is inconsolable in her loss.

It’s at this point in the play that I think the plot begins to unravel.

The ciggie-to-ciggie snogging scene. Screen capture.

Two characters who have not hitherto been introduced, a Captain Tucker, and a lady wearing crown-like head gear, spend a nuit d’amour, prior to Tucker leaving for Africa for an unspecified reason. (This is the only scene filmed indoors and is notable for ciggie-to-ciggie snogging!). Tucker sails for Africa aboard a North Vancouver ferry, the next day! A real puzzler was a brief scene of a baby pram being pushed by a nun. In the pram is an adult male!

Bear scene. Screen capture.

The scene changes to Africa, where a man is being mauled by a North American black bear! Whether the bear is a real (presumably, tame) bear or a person in a bear suit, isn’t clear. The bear’s hoped-for luncheon escapes from it by jumping into a pool.

Scene change, still in Africa, but now in the jungle. Here, the guy who had the lucky escape from the bear happens upon a native girl to whom he is abusive (he kicks her repeatedly).

GWHs with dead birds. Screen capture.

Scene change, apparently still in Africa, but in a sort of plain (likely filmed somewhere in Stanley Park) where two gents are out with long guns to shoot birds. They successfully bring down a bird apiece. The great white hunters stumble across a n’er-do-well who is striking a young white girl. The GWHs cannot allow this and so intervene, rescuing said girl from the clutches of the n’er-do-well.

We seem now to be back in London, apparently at the home of the Favershams. Judging by appearances, the Duke and Duchess have aged considerably. It’s possible that one of the GWHs is their son.

The girl rescued from the African plains is in this scene. She is introduced to a matriarch (perhaps the mother of GWH?) and curtsies multiple times. The girl next appears in a maid’s uniform, presumably in the employ of GWH’s mother. GWH gets into hot water (with his mother?) on a couple of occasions for snogging with the now-maid.

Scene change to what appears to be a drug den. What the point is of this scene is utterly beyond me.

The many kids of about the same age. Screen capture.

The play ends with a wedding . . . apparently of GWH to the maid. A title card claims that the union was a very fruitful one and then shows a few frames of about 12 children — all of whom seem to be of about the same age. Fruitful, indeed!


It would be unfair of me to be hyper-critical of this wee movie/play, since, to the best of my knowledge, it was never intended to be anything serious. Given that, I’d make one principal critique of “Bastard Love”. It would have helped viewers to hang onto the plot thread if there had been more title cards throughout. After we moved out of Switzerland, there were very few titles in the film. Having more title cards would have gone a long way toward helping the viewer follow what was going on.

The big and probably unintentional mystery of this film is “who is the bastard love child” and whose child is he/she? If, upon watching “Bastard Love”, you think you know the answer, please comment!

I should note that in January 1979, “Bastard Love” and another film produced by a prominent lower mainland family, “Done by the Son,” were shown at Centennial Theatre (North Vancouver).

I was all prepared to dislike this film; but I found the acting (for an amateur production) to be pretty good, and the “production values”, as they would be called today, weren’t bad at all. In fact, aside from the fact that the plot seemed to meander aimlessly part way through, it was an entertaining way to spend 45 minutes!

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A Lubritorium at Broadway Auto Dealership!

CVA 586-16399 – Opening of Dueck Motors at 1305 W. Broadway at night. (Note that a searchlight was used as part of the opening). 1947 Don Coltman photo.

Dueck Chevrolet Oldsmobile established a large, multi-service structure at 1305 West Broadway (just a couple of blocks east of Granville at Hemlock) in 1947. In addition to new cars on display in Dueck’s swanky glass-enclosed showroom, there was a used car department, a huge service centre (which, starting in 1948 would be open 24-hours a day), a U-Drive where folks who were having their vehicle serviced could arrange to get a temporary for-hire vehicle, and a safety inspection division to give drivers an alternative to the provincial safety inspection services.

And a lubritorium.

What, you may fairly inquire, was a lubritorium?* It was where you went to get your car lubed; also known as a grease rack. Dueck seems to have been the first outfit in the city to use this term, although by 1950, at least one other service station (identified as being just south of the Pattullo Bridge) was also employing the term (Sun 25 June 1954); as was a service station toy sold by local firm, Millar & Coe (Sun 10 Nov 1953).

Leonard Dueck (1901-1954), the president and general manager of Dueck’s, had been working out of this Broadway address since 1927 (during that year, it was known as Champion Garage). With the establishment of this new building, Leonard invited his two brothers, Edward (1905-1995) and Ben to join the firm. Ben would become the head of the used car division. Ed had been running his own company, known as Ed Motors (Kingsway at Victoria) until 1946, when he sold that business to assume his responsibilities as assistant to the president and customer relations manager at Dueck Motors (Sun 2 Oct 1947).

Dueck moved out of their Broadway digs in the early 1980s. It still stands today, although the distinctive tower and the deco-ish neon features at the Broadway side of the building have been modified out of existence. During the 1983 B.C. provincial election, the showroom served as the Social Credit Party’s Vancouver campaign HQ (Sun, 16 Apr 1983). Later, it was the Mercedes Benz dealership and today it is Jim Pattison’s Toyota dealership.

Dueck Motors has expanded to become Dueck Auto Group.

CVA 586-11219 – Interior of garage. 1948 Don Coltman photo. If you are interested in seeing others of Coltman’s Dueck photos, go to this link.


*”Lubritorium” seems to have been coined with ancient Roman bathing in mind. In Roman baths, there were three main rooms: the tepidarium (warm room), calderium (hot room) and frigidarium (cold room). The term was in use in the U.S.A. long before Dueck used it at his Vancouver service station. It was used in Decatur, Illinois in 1926 and in Joplin, Missouri in 1927 and in countless other cities, subsequently. The term seems to have fallen out of vogue by the 1950s.

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Up, Up and Away!

CVA 2010-006.157 – Balloon on PNE Grounds. May 5 1958. Ernie H. Reksten.

The image above shows the hydrogen-filled* balloon that was featured in the 1956 blockbuster film, Around the World in 80 Days. It was in Vancouver as part of the B.C. International Trade Fair which was held at the PNE grounds in Hastings Park. There wasn’t a balloon used in the original book by Jules Verne of the same title. Verne’s book has been made into various films, the most recent being a TV PBS (2021) version and a Jackie Chan (2017) slapstick version.

The balloon flew on three occasions in Vancouver. The second and third flights were not big successes, as the prevailing winds took the balloon far off course. The first flight, however, was a relative success. Pilot, Francis Shields and passenger, Vancouver Sun reporter Audrey Down, lifted off from Hastings Park at 2.50 p.m. on May 3, 1958. They landed 40 minutes later in a North Vancouver back yard.

To launch the balloon pilot Shields dumped out sandbags while six strong men held it down.

Our first start was a bad one. The basket bumped along the ground and the balloon was heading into a mass of wires and poles at the north end of the ring.

Our human “anchors” caught us on the brink of disaster and dragged us back to the 1,000 onlookers. The pilot wasn’t worried. . . .

I didn’t realize we were moving until a cheer rose from the crowd. It was as if gravity had suddenly let go. The PNE grounds shrunk away. We were rising at the rate of 700 feet per minute but the smoothness and the silence made it seem like a dream. . . .

At 1,500 feet up we were free of the 10-mile-an-hour ground wind and ascent had slowed to 30 feet per minute. . . . We reached a height of 3,200 feet. . . .

Then it was time to come down. . . . Instructions for the landing were to brace myself against the side of the basket and hang onto the ropes.

“Don’t fall out,” warned Mr. Shields. He told of an experience of three of his friends riding in one balloon. “It was a rough landing and the two men fell out. With that weight out of the balloon, the woman in it went right back up to 2,000 feet. Luckily, she was an experienced pilot. . . .”

Below us a woman was industriously digging in her garden. We called to her and she looked up at us, about 500 feet above. “Don’t land that thing on my fruit trees,” she snapped. . . .

The pilot uncoiled a heavy rope and dropped it to the ground, calling to onlookers to grab it and tow us to a clear backyard. First to grab it were two boys. . . . Three men helped them and we were gently set down in the 50-foot backyard. . . .

Vancouver Sun, 5 May 1958


*Hydrogen is, today, still most commonly used in balloons of this sort for reasons of economy. Hydrogen is far less expensive than helium, although helium is the safer of the gases.

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1175 Haro Street

Sch P141 – Exterior of The Granville School at 1175 Haro Street. ca 1900.

Granville School

The building shown above at 1175 Haro Street was built in 1898 for Mlle. Marie-Louise Kern (1861-1951), the principal of Granville School.

The school was a private boarding and day school for girls. Granville School was established in 1896 at 1021 Melville Street (located about where the outdoor seating area is at Bentall Centre today) by Kern and her sister, Salomé Aimee Kern (ca1858-1938). The Kerns were born in the much-disputed territory (between France and Germany) of Alsace-Lorraine. After having the Haro Street structure built, Granville School moved there.

Marie-Louise Thomson (nee Kern). Province 1 May 1954.

By 1906, there were reports in the local press that Mlle. Kern was planning to get out of the school business. It isn’t clear why, but it is probable that it was the usual reason: she was planning to marry soon, and it wasn’t seemly for a married woman to work. In 1907, Marie-Louise Kern married local bookshop and stationery pioneer entrepreneur, Melville Patrick Thomson. It was Thomson’s second marriage; his first wife, Marcella, with whom he had two sons, died in 1902. Melville and his brother, James followed the CPR from Ontario, where they had their earliest business, ultimately opening their Vancouver bookshop in 1889. The brothers retired in 1908, shortly after M. P. Thomson’s marriage, selling their business to Clarke & Stuart.

Marie-Louise Thomson (1861-1951) lived with Melville Thomson (1860-1944) in Oliver, B. C. , where they settled after marrying. She died in Victoria at the age of 90.


1175 Haro, meanwhile, passed into other hands ca 1907 and had a name change, becoming Granville House school. Miss Inglis was the school principal. The Granville House school was a “kindergarten and day school for girls” which also admitted boys to primary grades (Province 11 Aug 1909). A Miss Patterson, a graduate of Hoover University, San Francisco, taught physical culture, which seems to have been an early version of phys. ed. (World 15 Jan 1908).

By 1910, Granville House had another name change to reflect its change of purpose; it would become an apartment house and be known as Lynwood. The apartments would typically house the great and the good who were in the city temporarily, but for a period longer than a hotel would be practical accommodation. One of these people was C. Noel Wilde. At the time he was staying at Lynwood (1911), Wilde was a manager with C. N. Railway. Wilde went on to become Canada’s trade commissioner to Central America and shot himself to death in his home in Mexico City (Province 7 July 1932). Another was J. D. A. Tripp (1867-1945), a concert pianist who hailed from Toronto originally, but who moved to Greater Vancouver (for the gentler winters?) in 1910. Mr. and Mrs. Tripp made their summer home in Caulfeild and wintered in Vancouver proper, staying at Lynwood from time to time (Sun 26 July 1917).


Finally, in 1953, an auction was held at Lynwood to sell its contents. By 1967, there was a 10-story concrete apartment tower standing where Granville School once was. It had another name change: Villa Esto Apartments (literal translation, “this villa”). It would probably have been more aptly named ‘Lyncrete’ in tribute to the forest of residential towers being erected around it in the West End in the 1960s. In 1994, a 2-bedroom suite with heat and cable included cost about 1000/month. In 2004, a “new” 2-bedroom penthouse in the same building would set you back $1850/month. Goodness knows what sort of sum a suite commands today.

Thanks to Maurice Guibord for his assistance with some details in this post.

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Pioneer Hotel and Current Bookstore Share Similar Logo Across 135 Years

Crop of CVA Bu P243.1 – Greyhound Hotel with an illustration of a hound at its secondary entry off of Cordova Street. (Its principal entry was at 232 Water Street).
The logo of The Paper Hound Bookshop at SE corner of Pender at Homer

The Greyhound Hotel (1886-1890) at 232 Water Street and a contemporary bookshop called The Paper Hound at 344 West Pender Street share a strikingly similar logo. I stumbled across the hotel illustration on CVA’s database yesterday. The photo from which the above was cropped is a view of Cordova Street from Cambie. This is a very uncommon view of the Greyhound. Typically, it was photographed at its principal entry: 232 Water Street. There doesn’t appear to be a hound illustration at the Water Street entry. I assume the illustration at the Cordova entry was intended to lure folks who were walking down Cordova in search of accommodation.

The Greyhound was a small hotel with a brief history. It was apparently a pre-Great Fire hostelry on Water Street, so presumably it went up sometime in early 1886. It was rebuilt following the fire and seems to have been up and running by 1887. It had a single proprietor, Harry T. Cole from its opening until it was sold by Cole in 1890 to Louis Wider who renamed it the Occidental Hotel; it was later renamed the Sherman House. Cole left Vancouver after the sale of the Greyhound to move to Victoria where he took on the proprietorship of the Leland Hotel (World 21 July 1891). He married Mary J. Mavis of Langley in 1891 (World 8 Aug 1891). Cole retired from the hotel business in 1894 (World 16 Feb 1894). He died in Victoria in 1911 from pneumonia at the relatively young age of 50.

The Paper Hound Bookshop – my favorite bookstore in Vancouver – opened in 2013 at its current location on Book Row with Kim Koch and Rod Clarke as the friendly and helpful proprietors. The bookshop’s hound is actually modeled on the artist’s now-deceased whippet, Trooper. It was drawn by Victoria artist, Carrie Walker.

The principal visual differences between the hotel’s illustration and that of the bookstore are that the hotel hound was facing right (as opposed to the left-facing book hound), and the hotel hound seems to be flanked by trees while the paper hound is standing upon a book.

Ad in 1888 City Directory.
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Beatrice Shaw, Vancouver Vaudevillian, Dies on New York Stage

Beatrice Shaw. Daily News. 5 March 1924.

Beatrice Amelia Shaw (1901-1924), daughter of William Arthur Shaw (1866-1923) and Amanda Nelson (1876-1950) died in 1924 in New York City on stage, apparently due to heart disease. She was performing as one of “the Dale Sisters” in the International Perfume Exhibition at the 71st Regiment Armory.* Her act consisted of her dancing “eccentrically” while playing the soprano saxophone. An audience of some 1500 people watched as she danced and played her sax. Suddenly, she fainted, collapsing to the stage floor. “Restoratives” were applied by physicians, but she was pronounced dead when ambulance attendants arrived.

A few minutes before her collapse, Beatrice was photographed kissing a newspaper reporter as a demonstration of the ”kiss-proof” rouge manufactured by the cosmetics firm which sponsored the vaudeville act (Sun 5 March 1924).

Beatrice attended Sacred Heart Academy in West Point Grey in her younger years and later attended the Cumnock Hall School of Expression in Los Angeles where she studied violin with Russian-born violinist, Gregor Cherniavsky (1887-1926). She then went to Chicago and New York City where she further pursued musical studies (Sun 5 March 1924). In 1922, Beatrice took part in in the Vancouver Orpheum Theatre’s one-third of a century anniversary performance.

Her father, who predeceased Bearice by almost exactly a year, was the owner of Vancouver’s Strand Hotel (on West Hastings) and business partner with Harry Duker (1886-1982) in Duker & Shaw, Ltd., a major outdoor advertising (billboard) concern in the city.

Beatrice Shaw’s remains were returned to Vancouver and buried in Ocean View Burial Park in Burnaby.


* The Dale Sisters were not truly sisters. They were a trio of unrelated people — Margaret Ranelle, Helen Leopold, and of course, Beatrice Shaw.

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The DeMuths: Canadian Pacific Steamship Artists

Flora and Martin DeMuth were partners both in marriage and in art on Canadian Pacific Steamships. The pair made their first round-the-world cruise in 1925-26 aboard CP’s Empress of Scotland, a year after their wedding.

Memograms: What Are They? Empress of Australia Round-the-World Cruise, 1929-30. UBC Open Collections (both this one and the one at left advertising the “Greenwich Village Follies”).

Martin was a captain in the U.S. Infantry and later served with the American Expeditionary Forces in France during the Great War (Bradford Evening Star 4 Oct 1933). Flora received her artistic training at the Art Students’ League in NYC.

What they most wanted to do after they were married was to combine their love of art and travel and make a living at it. They did this by developing an idea which could be sold to a transportation company and would earn them passage on major trips. The idea was the Memogram. This was a series of “pictorial memoranda originated and produced on board by special cruise artists” (Memograms: What Are They?). Memograms would include graphic calendars, illustrated letter forms to save passengers time in writing correspondence, and maps and diagrams for reference during cruise lectures and on shore excursions.

CP’s Empress of Britain World Cruise Menu cover by Flora DeMuth. February 1939. (This was probably one of Flora’s final jobs for CP before the start of WW2).

The DeMuths sold the Memogram concept (and themselves) to Canadian Pacific Steamships Co. for its long-haul trips. Flora served as Cruise Artist and Martin was Cruise Artist and Lecturer. The DeMuths produced the Memograms aboard ship and duplicated them on the ship’s mimeograph machine. Ultimately, they expanded their artistic talents to producing cover art for CP’s menus (see left for an example).

Martin and Flora made a total of 15 round-the-world trips with CP. The cruises came to an end in 1939 with Canada’s declaration of war on Germany. The couple lived together in Connecticut for a number of years. Flora published illustrations in more than a dozen books during her life.

Martin died in 1961. Shortly after his death, Flora moved to Honolulu, HI where she lived until her death at the age of 87 in 1976; her ashes were scattered at sea (Honolulu Advertiser 4 Aug 1976).

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Romance in Death Notices?

CVA 99-1035 – Double funeral for Captain M. D. & Mrs. Jessie McLennan. Sept 1922. Stuart Thomson photo.

One doesn’t often find stories of romance in the obits. But in early September 1922, if one looked in the local newspapers, you would certainly have found one. It was the love story told of Captain Murdock & Jessie McLennan, “one soul in two bodies” who, as their end approached, spoke openly and fearlessly of their desire to be buried side-by-side in the same grave. They had both lived to the ripe age of 82 and been married to one another for 56 years and 9 months. Capt. McLennan went first, on September 6th and approximately 48 hours later, Mrs. McLennan joined him in death — almost fulfilling their expressed wish that they would die together (Province 8 Sept 1922). Mrs. McLennan was doing so poorly when Mr. McLennan died, that the family decided to postpone his funeral for a couple of days. When she passed two days after his death, they decided that a double funeral would be appropriate.

CVA 99-1034 – Funeral of Mr. & Mrs. McLennan. The three sons of Captain McLennan are on the right side of one of the coffins. Sept 1922 Stuart Thomson photo.

Captain McLennan came to Vancouver in 1879 and was “one of the most widely known sea captains on the Pacific Coast.” Prior to that, had been a mariner based in Nova Scotia (Sun, 7 Sept 1922; Province 6 Sept 1922). The captain lived in Cuba for 20-some years; he returned to Vancouver to retire about 12 years before his and Mrs. McLennan’s passing. All three of his sons followed in his occupational footsteps and became sea captains. The McLennans also had a daughter, Mrs. Frank Gore, who along with the McLennan sons, lived in Greater Vancouver.

The funeral was at Armstrong & Hotson Funeral Home, located just north of Hastings on Dunlevy Street. The building shown in the first photo above, where Armstrong & Hotson was in 1922 still stands, although today it’s known as the “Chapel Arts” building. The crowded scene in the photo is probably largely due to the Vancouver Pioneers’ Association (of which the McLennans were members) turning out in force (Sun, 9 Sept 1922).

The octogenarian couple were laid together in the New Westminster Odd Fellow’s cemetery.

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Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, Batman, this is NUTS!

CVA 354-449 – Vancouver Fire Department District Chief Loftus jumping into a life net from the Winch Building (today, the Winch is part of Sinclair Centre at the corner of West Hastings and Granville). 1910. William Jefferson Carpenter photo. Exposure adjusted by mdm.

The life net (or the Browder Life Safety Net) was invented by Thomas Browder in 1847 to assist people who are stuck on the upper story of a building that is on fire.

The photo above, notwithstanding, I doubt that life nets were ever in common use by the Vancouver Fire Department, although they were purchased (from as early as 1907) and were available for use by VFD over several decades.

Given mixed success (to say the least) in other North American cities, the use of life nets in Vancouver only as a last resort makes a great deal of sense to me (World, 23 March 1907). In a New Jersey fire at the Newark Paper Box Company in 1910, for instance, a young woman who was stranded in an upper story of the building was faced with an unenviable dilemma:

Finally I realized that if I was to get out I must start, and I fought my way back to the window. As I looked out I saw women and girls jumping, crying as they fell. One girl struck a picket fence. That was so horrible I decided to stay there and burn. Before long I saw the life net and decided to jump into it. I hit the net alright, but bounced high in the air and sprained my arm.

World 28 November 1910

The sprained arm that came with use of the life net, in that case, definitely seems better than other alternatives available to her.

A Texas fire two years later at a Roman Catholic orphanage however, further demonstrated that jumping into a life net was not fool-proof.

Sister Kostka in jumping from the fourth floor window to reach a life net, evidently lost her balance. Her body struck a railing on the second story. Her back was broken…

Province 30 October 1912

A year following the orphanage fire, there was a fire in Montreal, this one in a multi-story shoe factory. In this case, several female employees (why is it that so many multi-story employees in fires seem to have been female?) were driven to jump 60 feet into life nets. “Many of them who took the jump were badly injured but only one…was seriously hurt…” (Province 23 August 1913. Emphasis mine).

These are just three of many examples of instances in other cities in which life nets were not successful in preserving life without causing injuries — some serious.

Life nets, it seems, required training for rescuers. There has been at least one case in Vancouver where the rescuers (who were not VFD members, in this case, but amateurs) were not trained in the appropriate way of holding a life net. Apparently, the net should be held at shoulder height. The amateurs held it at waist height. This caused the jumper to be injured, as there wasn’t enough space beneath the net to prevent him from hitting the ground (Sun 22 June 1920).

Sun. 23 January 1957. A little black humor.

But it wasn’t only rescuers who should be trained in the use of life nets; jumpers also should receive training. The fellow who was jumping into the life net in the photo above, VFD District Chief Loftus, was ”demonstrating to his men the proper way of jumping into a life net, a hazardous undertaking to the uninitiated.” Just what was the ”proper way” wasn’t explained, but the fact that jumpers would benefit from training when most jumpers are, by definition, amateurs, and unlikely to get training before they need to make use of a life net, makes the whole notion a bit ludicrous.

Life nets have been phased out in recent decades due to the development of modern aerial apparatus available on most fire trucks, today.1


1 There is one variation on the life net which survives in Vancouver. That is the sort of semi-permanent net that serves as an anti-suicide feature beneath some of our major bridges (Lion’s Gate and Burrard Street are two examples).

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Carter’s Vintage Vancouver Christmas!

I think the Christmas season is now near enough that I can safely notify you of an opportunity for you and/or yours (and, at the same time, to ‘toot the horn’ on behalf of a gifted friend)!

Tom Carter is a talented artist and conservator of things vintage Vancouver. (He has been mentioned on several occasions on this blog).

Well, now it’s your chance to own some of Tom’s work. By going to the Etsy link below and paying the nominal price stipulated, you can acquire twenty greeting cards (five different images of Tom’s).

If interested, the link is here.

Happy Holidays!

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Cora McFarland, Public School Teacher

CVA – SGN 80. Cora McFarland, at right, sitting on a bench with an unidentified girl in a wooded area. Dated by CVA as 189-, but more likely ca1908.

Very little is known today about Cora Helen McFarland (1878-1966). She was born and raised in New Brunswick by John and Isabella McFarland and attended the University of New Brunswick (UNB). She earned a Bachelor’s degree from the UNB with a concentration in mathematics. Indeed, she was awarded the Brydone Jack Scholarship (1907) in that area of specialization.1 She never married.

Class of 1908 (her year of graduation, presumably). Courtesy: University of New Brunswick Archives.

Her occupation from the early years of the 20th century (ca1908) until 1944 (when she retired) was as a school teacher at Queen Alexandra school.

She identified with the Baptist church, although it isn’t known which (if any) Baptist church she attended in Vancouver.

Cora died in Vancouver in 1966; her death was marked by just a single paragraph obituary. She was living at 1915 Haro (Stanley Park Manor) at the time of her passing.

The person on the right in the photo shown above was identified only as “Miss McFarland” by CVA. By reaching out to the Archives at UNB, I was able to obtain access to a photo of Cora H. McFarland (at right), and thereby confirmed that the person shown above was, indeed, Cora.

Queen Alexandra School – Adult to the left of the image appears to be Cora McFarland. Vancouver School Board Archives & Heritage.


1 William Brydone Jack was a Scot who became professor of mathematics, astronomy, and natural philosophy at King’s College (later to become UNB) and later became the President (1861-1885) of that institution.

In 1921, a contingent of 22 UNB graduates organized a UNB alumni association in B.C. Cora McFarland was among them. And Dr. W. D. Brydone Jack (William Brydone Jack’s son and a physician in Vancouver at that time) was present, too. The first meeting of the association was held at the Picadilly Tea Rooms (732 Dunsmuir) (World 14 May 1921).

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‘Oops’ – 501 W. Pender Street

Bu P363 – Exterior of Provincial Government: Agent’s Office – 501 Pender Street. From l-r: Robert Alexander Burgoyne, Adele Mary Latimer, John Walker Mahony, Allan Peter Grant, and Frank Henry Behnsen.* Jan. 1914.

The image above has been on my radar for quite some time. Ever since I first saw it in the City of Vancouver Archives online a few years ago, I have assumed that the address shown for it – 501 W. Pender – was a CVA error. For this to be 501 W. Pender, it would need to be located across Richards from MacLeod’s Books. But from the first, I assumed that this was an early image of the space which MacLeod’s Books (and a variety of other retailers) has occupied for several years (at 455 W. Pender).

But I was mistaken.

CVA 772-1304. 1980s. 455 W. Pender before it housed MacLeod’s Books – here it was an antique shop.
VPL43367 501 W. Pender. The site of Cristall’s major appliance shop. 1955.

The image above truly was of 501 W. Pender; the building was a near twin of the MacLeod’s block, but not quite an identical twin! Two features that distinguish the building above from 455 are: (1) that “501” appears above the heads of the Government Agent staff; and (2) the fenestration (the arrangement of windows and doors) is different in the first image above when compared with 455. As you can see, the doorway is substantially wider on 501 than it is at 455. And, more tellingly, there are two windows in the second story (and the third), but there is only one window at each story above the 455 entrance.

CVA 810-98 – The parking lot at the site of 501 W. Pender. 1979-80.

How long was 501 at the NW corner? Well, it was constructed in 1905 and was demolished following a fire in 1962. On street level during 501’s last years was an outlet of Cristall’s appliances (it also had retail space on Hastings). After Cristall’s on Pender was demolished, it was replaced for 30+ years with – you guessed it – a parking lot. After it had been the Governement Agent’s office (for little more than a single year: 1913-14; it later moved into the Provincial Courthouse) what other sorts of retailers had the space? There was an auctioneer’s at 501 in the mid-1920s (Harvey & Gorrie’s); there was a hobby shop there in the 1930s; and by the 1940s, the hobby shop was sharing the space with a gunsmith and a postage stamp outlet.

Today, the lot (515 W. Pender) is the low-rise office-space (and very underwhelming) component of the Conference Plaza (1993-96 construction).

Google Street View Dec 2020. 515 W. Pender Street (where 501 W. Pender once was).


* I’m appreciative of help from Robert Moen of WestEndVancouver.wordpress.com in identifying in the correct (l-r) order the people who appear in front of the Government Agent’s office at 501 W. Pender St.

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The Radlett

CVA 786-6.05 – 862 Homer Street, 1978.

The rooming house shown above at 862 Homer Street was, early in its existence, called The Radlett. It was built in 1908 for about $3000 by owner, Thomas Foster. Depending who was counting, there were between 18 and 20 rooms in it. During some of the building’s history, it housed males, exclusively.

As with most multi-resident buildings, The Radlett had its share of tragedies. Like Angus Belfoy, a 76-year-old resident who was found dead on a 1952 afternoon in his gas-filled room (Province 15 Apr 1952).

Other residents were blessed with sunny dispositions, like Ronald Gordon-Cumming, who contributed the following poem to the Vancouver Sun. It concludes positively with a reflection upon his rented accommodation, be it ever so humble. As far as I know, this poem was original to Gordon-Cumming:

These have I loved — the silent woods,
The sea in all its restless moods,
The sunset with its crimson glow,
The murmur when a creek runs slow,
The rustle of dry autumn leaves,
The golden glow of ripe corn sheaves,
The smell of wood-smoke left behind
When softly blows the warm spring wind;
The song of birds, the swish of grass,
The whirr of wings as wild ducks pass;
The hum of bees, the smell of clover,
The wonderment when winter’s over;
The blue of lakes, the lovely sight
Of cloudless skies and bright starlight;
The drip of rain, the feel of loam —
But most of all the lights of home
When plodding back upon my way
They welcome me at close of day.

Vancouver Sun, 1 Aug 1956

The Radlett survived when buildings half its age were being knocked over for parking lots. It endured until it was all but destroyed by fire in 1991. It was later demolished and an office/residential condo was put in its place — The Beasley, named after one of Vancouver’s city planners, Larry Beasley.

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Vancouver’s Zeller’s Ltd.

CVA LEG26.14. Zeller’s first Vancouver site (1948-63) at Granville and Dunsmuir. 1960. Vancouver Planning Dept. Artist’s concept of the Granville Mall. (Note: Vancouver’s Woolworth’s store – the chain in which Walter Zeller got his start in retailing – is just four doors down from his Granville/Dunsmuir shop).

Walter P. Zeller, the founder of Zeller’s Ltd., was born in Ontario to Swiss parents (Province 13 May 1949). He got his start in business working at Woolworth’s, but by 1931 he had started his own retail shop in Montreal for “thrifty Canadians”. During WWII, Zeller worked for the federal Liberal government as the principal advisor to the Wartime Prices Board.

Early in WWII, Zeller had the following to say about government and its tendencies. Presumably, these were lessons he’d learned (or perhaps re-learned) during his time advising the feds:

“There can be no such thing as partial control by the government of our economic life. Once the government starts to meddle in economic control, it has to go further and further until its economic control is complete. It can’t control prices, wages and money without controlling production, and it can’t control production without the state being master of the lives and welfare of every human being.” Mr. Zeller demands an end of this, once we have beaten Hitler.

Vancouver Sun 3 Dec 1942

However, what was advisable for governments (shrinkage), wasn’t necessarily good business, in Zeller’s opinion. By late 1943, Zeller began to plan corporate postwar expansion, and those plans included Vancouver. It was announced that Zeller’s had bought the MacMillan building at 413 West Hastings and the adjacent Evans-Sheppard building at 417 West Hastings for about $200,000 (Province 7 Oct 1943). But a Zeller’s store would never occupy either of those properties. The Evans-Sheppard site would be sold about a year later, at cost (Province 15 Aug 1944). The MacMillan block would be sold a few years later with the proceeds being donated to the Marpole Infirmary (aka “provincial home for incurables“) (Province 11 Apr 1950).

Nobody likes to be called “cheap”. “Thrifty” is a much more retail-friendly word!

The first property which Zeller’s would occupy in the city was bought for $800,000 and was in the heart of downtown: the three-story former BC Electric showroom at the corner of Granville and Dunsmuir Streets (Province 18 May 1948). (The building still stands; today it is occupied by The Keg). The manager of the Vancouver store was W. C. Soper. He wasn’t a local man (he came from Ontario where he got his start with with the firm), but most of the non-managerial Vancouver employees were from Greater Vancouver (Province 5 Oct 1948).

The year following, Zeller’s would open its second Lower Mainland store: this one at 604 Columbia in New Westminster. The building had earlier been occupied by Spencer’s and later by Eaton’s. (This building also still stands). I don’t recall ever seeing a restaurant inside any Zeller’s store during the 1970s or later. But apparently there was an eatery in the New West store. There was an ad in the Vancouver Sun in 1971 seeking waitresses and kitchen staff for Zeller’s “new skillet restaurant” in that city (Sun 21 Aug 1971).

Zeller’s acquired the former David Spencer building (and later, Eaton’s) in New Westminster at Columbia and 6th Street. NWPL 1207.

Zeller died in 1957 at the relatively young age of 66 (Province 27 Aug 1957).

The downtown Vancouver store closed in 1963. It was considered too small to accommodate all of the merchandise sold in other Greater Vancouver Zeller’s stores, of which there were then four: Brentwood Mall (the largest Zeller’s store at the time it opened), Middlegate Mall (today’s Highgate Mall in Burnaby), Dell Shopping Centre (Whalley), and the Columbia at 6th Street store in New Westminster. By 1965, Zeller’s had opened four other shops in the Lower Mainland: another in New West (near Woodward’s 6th and 6th store); one each in North Vancouver and Richmond; and one on Lougheed Highway.

In the late 1960s, W. T. Grant, an American department store concern purchased 51% of Zeller’s shares. This was the first in a series of mergers, acquisitions and buy-outs over the next several years. In 1976, Fields stores picked up the Grant shares after Grant went belly-up. Then, The Bay acquired all of Zeller’s shares. Zeller’s became the low-end arm of the Hudson’s Bay Co.

You know how the story ends.

This shuffling of ownership of the chain did no long term good for the store or its employees. Mainly, it made a few people, such as Vancouver’s Joseph Segal, fabulously wealthy. Zeller’s finally bit the dust around 2012 when Target bought it from the Bay. But Target got cold feet a short time later and sold the former Zeller’s real estate to Walmart; Target skedaddled back across the 49th parallel like a scalded cat.

I can’t believe that Walter Zeller would be pleased to know that his department store ended “not with a bang but a whimper”.1


1 The quote is borrowed from T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Hollow Men.

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Department Store Food Floors

David Spencer Ltd.

The food floor at Vancouver’s David Spencer Ltd. was fundamentally different from the other local department stores mentioned in this post. Its name was original: “David Spencer’s Model Food Market”. And it wasn’t located with the other departments of the store — it was off-site, at 4th Avenue and Vine Street.

Staff in front of Spencer’s Model Food Market, 1934. Photo courtesy of the late (and greatly missed) Gordon Poppy.

The Model Food Market opened at the end of 1926, and it continued until ca1946. In 1947, when the retailer had just another year or so of life before Eaton’s purchased it, Spencer’s ceased referring to the Model Food Market in their print ads and began to refer to their “culinary world” and to their “service and specialty” food shop. It seems as though in its last year or so, Spencer’s brought their food department into the main store on West Hastings along with other departments.

T. Eaton Co.

Sun. 7 Jan. 1953

The (poorly-named) Eaton’s Foodateria began advertising in local newspapers shortly after the retailer moved into David Spencer’s former space at what is today SFU’s Harbour Centre campus, in 1949. According to long-time Vancouver resident, Angus McIntyre, the Foodateria was on the sub-basement level facing Cordova Street. Eaton’s established a “Parcel Checking Centre” inside their customer garage ca1955 (about the same time as Woodward’s got the better-named “Parcel Pickup” at their department store – it isn’t clear which retailer had the idea first).

By 1959, Eaton’s had made an arrangement with Dominion Markets (at Main & 14th and Kingsway at Willingdon) to take over their food floor (Province 9 Jan 1959). This collaboration was reportedly the first of its kind in Canada. In the full-page ad to announce the Dominion/Eaton’s collaboration, it was announced that the former Foodateria would be known henceforth as Dominion at Eaton’s. Eaton’s Home Delivery Service (another service also offered by Woodward’s; there was a ‘nominal fee’ charged by both stores) and Eaton’s charge accounts would continue to be honoured on the new food floor. Eaton’s Foodateria employees were taken on by Dominion. They did not lose their pensions, seniority or other employee benefits; Dominion assumed all of those (Province 28 Apr 1959). The lease of Eaton’s food space to Dominion appeared to last until 1968.

The logos of T. Eaton Co. and Sears Canada on the door handles at the Granville/Robson St. locations of both department stores. ca1990s. Greg Burke photo.

Eaton’s moved to what would prove to be its final location on Granville Street in the early ’70s (where Sears and later Nordstrom’s would be located) with the opening of Pacific Centre Mall. My wife and I both recall there being a grocery department in the basement of the Granville outlet during the years after 1991 (when we moved to Vancouver) until Eaton’s closed its doors for the last time in 1999.

Hudson’s Bay Co.

CVA 586-10783. Hudson’s Bay Company’s Food Dept. 1948 Don Coltman Photo.

Yes, Vancouver’s Hudson’s Bay Co. had a food floor, too, at one time. It was located in the basement of the flagship store on Granville Street from the early 19-teens until the late-1960s. It’s likely that HBC sold food even earlier than the 19-teens — probably from the 1880s out of its first store at 150 Cordova, but it didn’t have the space to dedicate an entire floor to groceries until it moved into the larger space on Granville.


CVA BuP704. Interior of Woodward’s Grocery Dept. (Hastings & Abbott). 1904.
Screen capture of Vancouver ad man, Fin Anthony (1929-2017) doing an ’80s TV spot for “Woodward’s Famous Food Floors”

As with HBC, I suspect that Woodward’s sold groceries from their very start as a business (in the case of Woodies, that was in 1892). However, Woodward’s didn’t have the space for a dedicated food floor until ca1902, when they moved into the large piece of real estate at Hastings and Abbott which they would hold onto (along with many other properties) until the chain closed in 1993.

When I think of Woodward’s (about which I freely admit that I am sentimental; I was a clerk on the food floor in Lethbridge, 1981-1986), among other memories are those of Fin Anthony, a Vancouver advertising man who became the face and voice of Woodies on TV (and also on radio, I think). He is rumored also to have been the wind behind the famous $1.49 Day whistle. Whether that is true or not, I do not know. The jingle was composed by the late Tony Antonias.

This appears to be one of the name tag variants worn by Woodward’s Food Floor staff. It was never one of the tags that I wore; either this came into use before my time on the food floor or (more probably) it was a tag worn exclusively by food floor managers. This was part of a display at the New Westminster City Hall lobby a few years ago.

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An Early, Forgotten Hotel: The Cosmo

CVA 321-4 – Group outside Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant at NW corner of Cordova and Abbott Streets. 188-. Canadian Photo Co. Photo modified somewhat by author to enhance features of the image.
World. 28 Dec 1888.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel [1], or ‘the Cosmo’ as it came to be known, was reputedly one of the first hotels to be opened after the 1886 Great Fire (World 11 Aug 1889). It was, presumably, open for business in 1887. According to Major Matthews, the first city archivist, the Cosmo took in a grand total of 65 cents on its first night in business. It was believed to be “too far uptown”! (Early Vancouver, Matthews, Vol. 4, p. 227)

The first owner of the Cosmo was Jacob Cohen. He died in 1889. Not long after Cohen’s death, ownership passed to a group of San Francisco owners.

The Cosmo Restaurant, “open day and night”, crowed that it was “the only first-class restaurant in town” and had “Eastern oysters in every style” (Sun 18 June 2016).

The manager of the Cosmo from nearly the outset was Vancouver’s earliest police officer, Jackson T. Abray (ca1856-1944). He was commissioned to be the first constable by Vancouver’s first mayor, M. A. MacLean, following the Great Fire and he remained in that job for three years. In 1890, Abray went into the hotel business, becoming the manager of the Cosmopolitan in that year and later of the Burrard Hotel.

In the summer of 1889, the Cosmo received a face-lift: the exterior was repainted; interior-wise, much of the work was done to the bar, including adding a new bar back (see photo below, which seems to show the improved bar). The architect responsible for the improvements was N. S. Hoffar.

CVA 321-2 – Interior of Cosmopolitan Hotel saloon 188-. The gent on the customer’s side of the bar, resting his left arm on the bar and with a cigar in his right hand looks like Jackson Abray.
World. 27 Aug 1894.

In the early years of the 20th century, the City waged a small war against the Como through its licensing regulations. Essentially, the city was embarrassed by the wood frame hotel and wanted the San Francisco owners to rip it down and rebuild — this time with brick and stone. The owners of the Cosmo were willing to do as the City requested, but they wouldn’t be rushed, much to the consternation of City officials.

There were others who wanted Abray’s liquor license yanked, notably among them, H. H. Stevens, secretary of the Moral Reform Association. In a letter written in 1906 to the civic licensing commissioners, Stevens claimed that the Cosmo was “the rendezvous of thugs, theives and rogues, and the resort of women of ill-fame” (World 9 May 1906). The licensing commissioners granted Abray the Cosmo liquor license.

Finally, the wood frame Cosmo Hotel was demolished in ca1908 and was replaced with a brick and stone structure which would house retail shops on the ground floor and office space above. This building doesn’t still stand. La Casita Mexican restaurant (ground floor) today is where the Cosmo was located.

CVA 321-5 – Interior of Cosmopolitan Hotel Restaurant and Oyster Bar 188-.
Photo modified somewhat by author to enhance features of the image.
CVA 371-1302 – Jackson T. Abray (far left) and others in front of the entrance to the Comopolitan Hotel at 101 Cordova Street, ca1900. Note the ad in background for Stanley Park Brewery.
The brick and stone building that replaced the old Cosmo Hotel at the NW Corner of Abbott & Cordova. This structure is not extant.


  1. There were several other Cosmopolitan Hotels in BC around the same time: New Westminster, Kamloops, and even tiny Ymir, BC all boasted hostelries of the same name.

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Space Towers

Postcard Image of the Spiro Tower at PNE. Plastichrome Natural Colour Productions, Burnaby.

The Spiro Tower, more commonly known as the Space Tower, on the Playland grounds at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) was Vancouver’s response to Seattle’s Space Needle. [1] The Seattle structure, built for Expo 1962, dwarfed Vancouver’s tower, however (Needle: 605 ft.; Tower: 330 ft; the traveling cabin ascended to 216 ft). Prospective ‘space travelers’ would cue up on the twisty concrete at the Tower’s base.

The Tower was built in 1968 and endured at the PNE site until 1979. The double decker cabin would hold a maximum of 60 people and would rotate three times on its way up the pole.

The Tower was designed in Switzerland and was imported from Mercedes-Benz of West Germany. The Mercedes logo was mounted atop the Tower, but it caused such a stink among the general public that it was later removed [2].

“[G]uides, dressed in authentic Swiss drindl costumes, are on each deck ready to answer your questions and show you the many points of interest.” [3]

Province columnnist, Lorne Patton, seemed to enjoy poking fun at the name of the Spiro Tower and the fact that it shared its name with Richard Nixon’s running mate and ultimately his V-P (until his resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal), Spiro Agnew (Province 14 Sept 1968).

Sun 1 April 1969. Shows PNE Space Tower manager, Don Shaw, some 200+ feet above the PNE grounds on the Space Tower.
CVA 180-4279.11 – The PNE Space Tower with the Mercedes-Benz logo affixed to it. 1969.
CVA 180-4028.07 – Opening ceremonies of the PNE Space Tower showing some of the Tower Guides in their ‘authentic Swiss dirndl costumes’. 1969.

The PNE Space Tower was pretty popular for the first few years of its existence, but by the late 1970s, its popularity had waned, and it was operating in the red. It must be admitted that the tower wasn’t the most exciting ride at the PNE. It didn’t really count as a ride at all to any but the likes of me for whom ascending even a few feet is more than enough of a thrill! So, by 1979, the PNE authorities announced that the Spiro/Space Tower would be dismantled.

Expo Space Tower (Son of PNE)

A sexed-up version of the PNE Tower would be purchased by the province in time for Expo ’86. The Expo version would also be known as “Space Tower”. The Expo tower (at about 236 feet) was a little shorter than the PNE tower, but the new edition had a more thrilling component for those who were looking for more than a view of Vancouver: they could have an oxymoronic ‘controlled free-fall’ from ‘Parachute Drop’ pods from near the top of the tower.

CVA 2010-006.466 – Expo ’86 site including the Expo Space Tower. 1986. Ernie Reksten photo.

The Expo Tower, like that at the PNE was Swiss-designed. But unlike the PNE version, the Expo tower was plagued with mechanical issues. I counted at least 4 different occasions on which Expo tower riders were stranded. Headlines such as “Space Trap for Visitors” and “Stuck Fair Ride Scares 2 Teens” weren’t ideal from the perspective of Expo’s public relations staff! But it didn’t seem to unduly affect ridership — by mid-July 1986, the Space Tower Parachute Drop had “terrified just over $1 million out of 415,000 people” (Province 20 July 1986).

The Expo tower was sponsored by Minolta camera company, and, naturally, they wanted to have their logo displayed atop the tower. Yes, this is a case of ‘dejas-vu all over again’! When it became clear that the giant Minolta sign would be visible over much of the city, the Expo powers-that-were insisted that the sign be replaced by a more modest corporate flag (Sun 9 July 1986).

At the conclusion of Expo, of course, the Son of PNE was dismantled, just as the PNE Tower had been. But unlike Big Daddy (as far as I know), Expo Tower was sold. Environmental Systems Co. of Little Rock, Arkansas, reportedly paid just over $200,000 for the Expo Space Tower (Sun 17 June 1988).


  1. Unlike the Space Needle, however, neither the PNE Tower nor the future Expo ’86 Tower had a restaurant at their summits.
  2. Why the Mercedes logo should have caused such an uproar was likely due to it being a German company. American corporate logos (such as Gulf and Shell oil) adorned the tops of such buildings as the Vancouver Block well before this period, without outcry.
  3. “Sprio-Tower Has a View With a Difference”. Pamphlet, ca1968

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The Dramatic Life of Carl Berch

CVA Bu P190 – Group portrait of the Carl Berch Stock Company standing in front of the People’s Theatre. The gent third from the left is Berch. ca 1904.

Early Years

Carl E. Berch was born ca1866 in Wisconsin. But he wasn’t made for mid-western life. He was made for the stage. Indeed, he seems to have made dramatic gestures throughout his life.

Berch first came to the attention of the press in 1891, when he was about 25. He performed with the Howard Athenaeum Company in Louisville and later in Boston (and presumably, in other centers) in the drama, True Irish Hearts. By 1892, however, he’d moved to the land of greater stage opportunities – California – and during the rest of his life, he performed mainly on the west coast of the U.S. and Canada.

By 1894, he was managing a stock company in San Jose. It was widely reported in March of that year, however, that he’d taken advantage of his position as manager to steal $200 of the company’s funds. Oddly, this event didn’t seem to have a negative impact on his career, and indeed after its initial mention in the press in that month, it seems to have been hushed up and never mentioned again; mind you, he seems to have been removed from his managerial role. 1895 was a very busy year for Berch. He was leading man with the Cooper Stock Company at the Burbank Theatre (Los Angeles Herald 30 July 1895).

1895 was a Red Letter year for Berch in another way. In September, he married actress Carrie Clark Ward. It wasn’t a standard wedding, however. Oh, no. His wedding was incorporated into the play The Country Girl. It was Berch’s first marriage; Ward’s second. She had been married when she and Berch first met, to actor James Ward. Carrie decided that she’d prefer to trade in James for a younger model, however, and so six months before The Country Girl wedding, she’d obtained a divorce from him. Officiating at the ceremony, appropriately, I guess, was a preacher from the “Church of the New Era”!

A novel wedding announcement! Los Angeles Herald 29 Sept 1895.

From 1896-1900, Berch was on the west coast of the U.S. acting in various plays. By 1901, presumably, enough time had passed since the San Jose theft, and he assembled his own stock company: the Carl Berch Company (Sacramento Bee, 4 Oct 1901).

In Autumn of 1903, Berch decided to sign a three-year contract which would make him the lessee and manager of the People’s Theatre in Vancouver (NW corner Pender and Howe).

People’s Theatre Manager, Vancouver

The People’s hadn’t always been so named. The structure was built in 1899 and was initially known as the Alhambra Theatre. Presumably it was its moorish appearance that caused it to be so named. Later, it was the Theatre Royal [1]. Then, it was the People’s Theatre and after that it became the first Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver [2].

Prov 6 Sept 1898. This is an artist’s or architect’s drawing of the anticipated Alhambra Theatre (later Theatre Royal, People’s Theatre and the first Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver). The theatre NEVER looked this good, in reality. See a photo of the Alhambra below for comparison.

The Allen Stock Company was the first theatrical group to play at the People’s during Berch’s time as lessee/manager. More often than not, Berch took a role in whatever was playing.

In the summer of 1904, a Berch School of Dramatic Art, was established. Berch was to take on students in dramatic art, expression, oratory, and fencing. It seems to have been very short-lived, however, as I found no mention of it in press accounts or ads beyond June 1904. Perhaps registrations were dismal.

It seems that Berch’s marriage to Carrie Ward had fallen apart by or (probably) before 1905. This notice appeared in a local newspaper in October 1905:

On and after this date I will not be responsible for any debts contracted by Katherine Brennan, now known as Mrs. Carl Berch.
Carl Berch
Vancouver, Oct 11, 1905

The Province 11 Oct 1905
CVA Bu N424 – Alhambra Theatre, the first name of the People’s Theatre. 1899? The building was demolished in 1914. It was ultimately replaced by the still-standing Stock Exchange building.

The notice suggests that Katherine Brennan (birth name of someone who was later known as Mrs. John P. Dalton) had married Berch at some point and that they were no longer living as husband and wife. Just how many marriages Berch had isn’t clear.

As the end of November, 1905 approached, so did the end of Berch’s three-year lease of People’s Theatre. The theatre was owned by a syndicate of which the controlling interest was held by W. H. Lucas [3]. The new lessees were to be Tim Sullivan and John Considine. On November 24th, the theatre would pass out of Berch’s lesseee-ship and into that of Sullivan & Considine (S&C).

But Berch didn’t see things that way.

In the days leading up to the 24th, Berch was blabbing to anyone who would listen that there was a clause in his lease which granted him the option of a three-month renewal. So confident was he that the terms of the lease were in his favour, that he several times offered to bet Mr. Dorr (who would be acting as local lessee for S&C) $1000 that Berch’s interpretation of the lease contract would carry the day. Dorr didn’t take Berch up on his wager.

On November 24th, the huge headlines (not quite in war-declaration type size, but nearly!) in the Province proclaimed:


The opening of hostilities in the bloodless but highly exciting struggle for the possession of her People’s Theatre occurred at the unearthly hour of 3.35 this morning. The first engagement, as the war correspondents would say, was brief but decisive, lasting only twenty minutes. But during this time firearms were discharged, blows exchanged, doors broken in, padlocks wrenched from their fastenings, and volleys of cuss words exchanged between the opposing forces.

Province 24 Nov 1905

I won’t get into the details of the affair, except to say that Berch seemed not to grasp (or chose not to) the fundamental difference between leasing and owning a property. Lucas was the principal owner; Berch the lessee. As such, Berch had no dog in the fight for ownership of the theatre.

Needless to say, when all was said and done and everyone had had their day (and say!) in court a few weeks later, Berch was no longer the People’s lessee; he was professionally homeless.

String of Misfortune

Carl Berch in middle age. Edmonon Journal 20 May 1908.

After ‘losing’ the People’s Theatre (as he would probably have described it), Berch had a string of bad luck.

Berch expressed early interest in acquiring a theatre site which ultimately was developed by Alexander Pantages for his initial Vancouver theatre on Hastings Street — the ’first’ Pantages (Province 15 Feb 1906). Berch was unsuccessful in his bid for this property.

Berch had another flight of fancy, this time in Edmonton. He also considered building a theatre there. But, like the future Pantages site, this plan also came to naught (Edmonton Journal 20 May 1908).

He was in San Francisco when the big earthquake hit in April 1906 and, according to the World, he lost all his possessions. There was some talk of him settling in Vancouver after that, but he didn’t follow through (World 17 June 1908). Instead, he returned to coastal U.S. cities where he plied his acting trade.

Finally, Berch had the misfortune to be aboard the coastal steamer Alaska when it was wrecked on Blunt’s Reef (near Cape Mendocino, northern CA) in August 1921. He was missing and presumed dead at age 55. Presumably, he was not married at the time, as his sister, Mrs. Edna Berch Corbeau was the one who brought suit for his death in the accident (San Francisco Examiner 16 Nov 1921).


  1. Tom Carter has made the observation that there have been at least four “Royal” Theatres in Vancouver over the years. This was the first; three other theatres on Hastings were so named at different times. (Email communication with the author, September 10, 2021).
  2. Interestingly, as early as September 1899 (just a few months after the Alhambra first opened), it was advertising itself as “Alhambra, the People’s Theatre” (Province 14 Sept 1899).
  3. Another member of the theatre syndicate (owners of Alhambra/Theatre Royal/People’s Theatre/Orpheum) was that musical fellow around town, Fred Dyke.
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Vancouver Bible School


CVA 790-0634 - 1601 West 10th Ave

(Crop of CVA 790-0634 – 1601 West 10th. 1985?). This was the campus of the VBTS, built at 10th and Fir (Fairview); it opened in September 1923 nearly debt-free. Because of its slightly peculiar, long and tall shape, it was known affectionately as “the Ark” by VBTS students over the years. By the time this photo was made ca1985, it had become home to Columbia College. I don’t know when the building was demolished, but there is no building currently at this location; just a green space adjacent to an apartment block.

The Vancouver Bible Training School (VBTS) was a child of the Vancouver Evangelistic Movement (VEM). Among the goals of VEM was the establishment of a Bible training school. The school was, accordingly, started in 1918. The raison d’etre of the school was to be an interdenominational evangelical school which had as its focus the training of the layperson to work in local churches. In this regard, it was an early predecessor of Regent College (at UBC).

The first principal of the interdenominational school was Anglican minister, Rev. Walter Ellis (1883-1944).¹ The first home of VBTS was VEM’s downtown office at 121 West Hastings. Within a year or so, it moved to a rented facility at 356 West Broadway (near Yukon). By autumn 1923, however, they moved into their own building shown above at the NW corner of 10th and Fir. Following Ellis’s death in 1944, the principal of the school was mainline Baptist minister, Rev. J. E. Harris.

CVA 400-1 - Vancouver Bible School - 1930-1931. 1930. R. A. Spencer photo.

CVA 400-1 – Vancouver Bible School – 1930-1931. 1930. R. A. Spencer photo. Note: First Baptist’s future long-time secretary, Edith Spain, appears above to the left of the calligraphic “1930-31”. The redoubtable Miss Spain served FBC as its secretary from the mid 1950s until her retirement in 1975. She died at age 100 in 2005.

The school was able to sustain itself as an interdenominational institution until 1956. It was then taken over by the Baptist General Conference (Swedish) denomination and the school’s curriculum became more narrowly defined and the name of the school changed at some point to become the Vancouver Bible Training Institute (VBTI).

VBTI wrapped up operations at this site by the mid-70s, I believe. It then moved to Surrey where it finally closed in 1977.


¹Historian, Robert K. Burkinshaw is the source of most of the material in this post. He has written about the Bible Training school and its influential principal, Rev. Walter Ellis, here. He also devoted the better part of Chapter 3 to VBTS and Ellis in his excellent volume, Pilgrims in Lotus Land: Conservative Protestantism in British Columbia, 1917-1981.

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Sentimental About Lyric Rooms and Other Businesses Lost on 600 Granville in the ’70s

CVA Str P427: West side of 600 Granville, Looking South. 1921

The scene above is of 1921 Vancouver on the west side of Granville Street, bounded by Dunsmuir (behind the photographer) and Georgia Street (where Hotel Vancouver #2 stands). Our principal interest in this post is the rooming house which is marked by a sign just this side of the Old Country Lunch sign: Lyric Rooms (635 Granville).

The Lyric Rooms were located in the upper floors of the four-storey building immediately to the south of Walter Calder’s photography studio (its location is a bit clearer in the image below as the building in which Fletcher Bros. piano house was at street level). It advertised itself as being just half a block from the Colonial Theatre, which was at the SW corner of Granville and Dunsmuir.

Why am I sentimental about this pre-1970s block, when it was gone, in its photographed incarnation, long before I first set foot in this city? I think it is a sense of regret, as much as anything, which I feel for this lost block and for the attitudes of some Vancouverites who came before me who shrugged when asked if they would miss these buildings once they were demolished.

CVA 2015-028.18 – Mid-600s of West Side of Granville Street between Dunsmuir and West Georgia. 1920-1922.


The building in which the rooming house was located was built in 1912. In 1913, when it opened, it was known, originally, as “Granville Lodge”. It was advertised as being “beautifully furnished; hot water in every room; steam heat, splendid view; moderate prices” (World 13 March 1913). The manager of the Lodge at the time was R. Ferguson.

In 1914, an auction was held at the rooming house: “Thirty-six rooms of first-class furniture in almost new condition and large quantity of bed linen; cost originally about $4000” (Province 11 Nov 1914) [1]. By 1917, the Granville Lodge became the Lyric Rooms. The proprietor of the ‘teen years was W. H. Dial. J. N. Kidd was the manager in the 1920s.

An assortment of palmists, phrenologists, clairvoyants, and providers of “vibratory treatments” were early and regular occupants of the Lyric. An example is Madam Stella, “the world’s greatest palmist and phrenologist. She reads the entire life just as the head and hand indicate, gives advice on all business matters, love and marriage. Are you in trouble? If so consult me. Gives advice on all affairs of life. Special readings this week only $1. Business hours 9 to 9. The Lyric Rooms. Room 2” (Province 27 March 1917).

In the 1940s, the proprietor of the Lyric was John Carrison. Paul Carrison was a brother of John; he ran a small business in one of the rooms in which eyeglass repairs were made.

In the early 1950s, the Lyric became for the rest of its days the “Marlboro Hotel”. Daily ($1.50) and weekly ($8) rates were advertised. In the 1960s, the manager of the Marlboro was Enoch Amos.

In the last decade or so of the life of the Marlboro it seemed to attract, principally, old-age pensioners.

Decision Made in ’60s: Demolish the Block!

Vancouver’s mayor in the late 60s, Tom Campbell (who will likely forever be associated with Project 200 and the destruction of Hogan’s Alley), also did the deal that saw the entire 600 block west side of Granville expropriated, demolished and sold to Cadillac Fairview (the owners, then and now, of Pacific Centre) for $1 Million.

But although Tom Campbell and the City Council of his day must own this decision to expropriate and demolish the west side of this block (among other buildings, such as the Angelus Hotel), it has to be acknowledged that the earlier Mayor Bill Rathie and his Council, as well as many members of the general public, were supportive of the poor decision ultimately made.

CVA 2009-001.060 – Shops along 600 block, west side, Granville Street. 1965. Leslie F. Sheraton, photographer.

Neighbours on the Block

I love browsing the street directories of early Vancouver. They are surprisingly revealing of the culture of a district over a number of decades. I’ve surveyed the neighbours of Granville Lodge/Lyric Rooms/Marlboro Hotel below by picking representative years: 1914, 1924, 1934, 1944, and 1954.

Does a pattern emerge, upon reading through the detailed decade-by-decade account of the shops on that block? I think so. It is a pattern of some of the essential businesses of a small town. There is entertainment (theatres, sweets shops), education (beauty schools, music teachers), there are physicians, optometrists, opticians, and druggists. Hobbies are catered to (photography, bookstores, tobacco outlets), housing, cafes, and no lack of men’s and women’s clothiers and shoe stores! Indeed, the only essential service that doesn’t seem to be catered to on the block is that of a general grocer.

Contrast the 1913-1970 period with today on that block, and you will see a substantially diminished range of goods and services offered on that block at street level. Today, you’ll find a Meinhardt’s at the Dunsmuir corner where the Colonial Theatre was; a Take Five coffee establishment next door; an H&M women’s fashion outlet adjacent to that; and next door to H&M, an Aritza women’s wear. One might argue that I’m not taking into account all of the businesses in the high-rise towers that crowd that block. But I’d reply that, even if one took those into account, they serve a pretty similar clientele (white collar businessmen and women) and don’t represent much of a retail street-level draw to the block. And, it’s worth noting, H&M and Aritza are both huge multi-national chains, rather than local entrepreneurs, as were most of those businesses that appear below.


The Colonial Theatre building was at the Dunsmuir end of the block (603). Sautter jewellers was at 601; adjacent to the theatre was a cigar shop (605). Anderson and Warnock hardware was next (613), followed by Thomas Allan, jewellers (615). Singer Sewing Machines had a shop adjacent to (or above) the jewellers; Drs. McKenzie and Farish had surgeries (probably upstairs) (619) as did Progress photo studio (which seemed to sublet from the physicians (619). Next door was Edwards Brothers photo supply shop (623) and next to that, London Popular Cafe (625). At 627, was space rented by Harry Speck (a ladies tailor), George Little (an artist-craftsman-decorator; and, incidentally,an outspoken critic of liquor prohibition), and by Crown photo studio (purchased that year by A. T. Bridgman of Edmonton). 629 was host to The Ark Candy Kitchen, another cigar shop called Gold Standard and to Charles Cook’s pool hall. Fletcher Brothers piano house was the retail establishment at the time that was at the retail space beneath Granville Lodge (which would soon become Lyric Rooms) (633/635). At 637 was the Oriental Trading Co. and (probably above that) was Columbia Optical Parlors (639). 641 was the Sons of England building and had as lessees James Hildreth (tailor), W. G. Sutherland (decorator), Ferguson & Eaves (artists), and the Old Country Tea Rooms. A shoe retailer (A. S. Vachon) was at 649 and another hardware shop (Fraser Hardware) was adjacent to it (651). In 655 was Thomas & McBain clothiers and probably above it was Famous Ladies Tailoring Co. (657). Adjacent to the clothiers’ shop was A&B Co. liquor store. 661 was the Victoria Chambers building, which seems to have been a rooming house of sorts (with small businesses among its tenants, much like Granville Lodge/Lyric/Marlboro). Among its tenants was one who was particularly noteworthy: Hart McHarg, who would ultimately have the first Georgia Viaduct named in his honour. McHarg would die in 1915 at Ypres, among many thousands of other Canadians. Another photo supply shop, called United Photographic Stores, was at 665, and probably beneath it was Van Floral (667). At 673-675 was the Gardner Browne Co. furniture store. The Bell Irving building (similar to Victoria Chambers) was at 679 and Gaskell Book & Stationery Co. was at 681. At 693, at this time, was Granville Theater (a tiny space that house a theatre for just a short time — from 1911 to ca 1914; it would later serve as a retail space for a boy’s wear shop, a shoe store, and many other small businesses). Norman G. Cull, Optician (695), had his professional space above Georgia Pharmacy (699) at the Georgia Street end of the block.


Again, 603 was the Colonial Theatre. Adjacent to the theatre by 1924 was no longer a cigar store, but Colonial Confectionary (605). At 615 was Dall’s Real Lace Co. (which retailed items such as handkerchiefs and boudoir caps!). 619 was shared by assorted individuals, including Dr. McKenzie and a retail firm, Benson & Hedges Ltd. (presumably a purveyor of tobacco-related items). At 623 was Scottish Ham Curers. 627 was shared by Dr. Casselman, dentist, and W. H. Calder’s photo studio. Turpin Bros. haberdashers (purveyors of men’s clothing) were at 629; Fletcher Bros. piano house was still at 633; and Lyric Rooms were at 635, of course. 637 was Calhoun’s Ltd. (a hatter). Ireland and Allan, booksellers were at 649. 653 was apparently the residence of A. B. Smith (the “passenger traffic manager” in Vancouver for Northern Pacific Railway). 655 was still Thomas & McBain clothiers. Walter F. Evans music shop was at 657. At 665 was Brown Bros. florists. Walter M. Gow, jeweler was next (669). 675 was R. C. Purdy’s, purveyor of chocolate and candy. 679 was still the Bell-Irving building (there was a tenant whose name I recognized occupying one of the rooms at this time: Fred W. Dyke, a teacher with Vancouver Schools and a musician of some distinction in early Vancouver). The Bootery (a shoe shop) was at 681, then Van Stationers (683), and Rae-Son shoes (Rae was James Rae – one of the earliest shoe retailers in the city) (693). Norman Cull and Georgia Pharmacy anchored the south end of the block.


The Colonial Theatre building was still at the Dunsmuir end of the block. Bert Henry’s tobacco shop was on the north side of the theatre (601), then the theatre (603) and bracing it on the south side, J. McDonald’s confectioners. 613 was W. C. Stearman’s hardware store and 617 was Dall’s (known by this time as “Dall’s Linen“). 619 was a still-unnamed building that housed various small businesses, including R. H. Marlow’s, photo studio and Maison Henri beauty shop. At 623 was Ingledew’s shoe shop (until 1925, it had been across Granville on the east side; it would later move to the 500 block on the west side). 627 was shared by W. H. Calder’s, photo studio and dentist, Dr. R. F. Edmonds. Gordon’s women’s clothiers was at 629 and Edward Chapman’s Men’s Furnishings was at 633. Lyric Rooms were at 635. At 637 was Du Barry’s women’s wear and (probably above that) was space occupied by a church group identified as Unity Fellowship in Truth (641). Ireland & Allan, booksellers, were still at 649. 651 was shared by Rae’s Clever Shoes and Miss V. Dalgleish’s women’s furnishings. 653 was shared by an early site of the Bon Ton Cafe and H. F. Storry & Co, tailors. Turpin Bros., by this year, had moved up the block a bit to 655. And 657 was occupied by the Marilyn Hat Shoppe. 659 was J. W. Kelly Piano Co. 665 was Brown Bros. florists, and 669 was the professional space shared by W. M. Gow, Jeweler and H. A. LIphardt, optometrist. By this time, R. C. Purdy’s was no longer just a chocolate and candy shop, but also a cafe (675) (here is a photo from 1935 indicating that it was forced to move its cafe out of the 675 Granville space due to crippling rent increases from the landlord; how little has changed!). The Bell-Irving building (679), at this time, was occupied by a variety of folks, from a palmist to music teachers. 681 was T. Foster & Co. men’s clothiers. 683 was Great Northern Railway’s office. 691 was the Fashion Bootery; 693 was Sobie’s Silk Shop, and 695 was space shared by Potters Jewelers and I. P. Blyth optometrist (Blyth seems to have filled the space left vacant by Norman Cull). 699 was shared by Vancouver Drug Co. (replacing Georgia Pharmacy) and Con Jones Ltd. (of the famous Don’t Argue logo).


There were in 1944 businesses on either side of the Colonial Theatre (603): Who’s Your Hosier lingerie (601) and Unusual Gift Shop (605). Dall’s Linens (613) was still going. At 615, was Sally Shops women’s clothiers and Pacific Dress and Uniform( 619) shared the space with Maxine’s Beauty School. At 623 was Ingledew’s shoes; Hollywood Dance School was at 627, and a later West Hastings Street stalwart, Millar & Co. China was at 629. Edward Chapman’s men’s wear was at 633 and, of course, Lyric Rooms was at 635. Tip Top Tailors was at 637 and, sharing the space of 641 were Mrs. P. M. Schuldt (music teacher), John Goss‘s vocal studio, and F. L. Smith (a dramatic artist). Ireland & Allan, booksellers continued to hold onto 649 and D’Allaird’s women’s clothiers had the space at 651. The Bon Ton Cafe was still at 653; and there were two tailoring establishments hidden away upstairs from them. At 655 was Turpin Bros. men’s wear and next door, at 657, was another men’s wear outlet, Charlton & Morgan. At 665 was Brown Bros. florists, next door was Gow’s Jewelers (669) and sharing 669, likely upstairs, was Liphardt the optician. Purdy’s maintained their chocolate/candy shop at 675, but now shared it with the Devon Cafe (instead of their own cafe). There continued to be an odd assortment of small businesses at 679, and at 681 was Willard’s women’s clothiers. Great Northern Railway had an office at 683; Vanity Shoes was at 691; Georgia Style Shop at 693; and Potter’s jewelers was at 695. Vancouver Drug Co. had become Cunningham Drugs at 699.


By this year, bracing the Colonial Theatre (603) were Pauline Johnson’s Candy Store (601) and Jewel World (605). Rae-Son shoes had moved to 609, and Dall’s Linens were still at 613. Sterling Shoes was now at 615. 619 was shared, still, by Pacific Dress & Uniform and Maxine’s Beauty School. Edward Chapman’s men’s wear was at 633 and Marlboro Hotel was at 635. 637 was Tip Top Tailors, and 645 was Sweet Sixteen ladies’ wear. Ireland & Allan was still at 649 and Aaron’s Ladies’ Wear had moved into 651. 653 was the Alano Club; Turpin Bros. men’s wear weas at 655, and 657 was Charlton & Morgan men’s wear. D’Allaird’s ladies’ wear was at 665. Purdy’s Chocolates still shared space with Devon Cafe at 675. A peculiar mix of businesses was still at 679 (from barristers to music teachers to a beauty school), although it was no longer identified as the Bell-Irving building in the directory. 681 was McKenzie’s Style Shop (for ladies) and they shared the space above them, probably, with Rae-Bennett-MacKenzie properties (presumably some sort of real estate business). 691 was a men’s shoes outlet; 693 was Renfrews English Shop (for ladies); 695 was Potter’s Jewelers; and 699 was Cunningham Drugs.


  1. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the number of rooms in the rooming house. In a later ad for another auction, it was described as having 37 rooms (Sun 29 Jan 1922). Another auction ad claims it had 24 rooms (Sun 2 Feb 1922). I suspect the higher numbers may have been in reference to the total number of rooms, including kitchens, bathrooms, etc. I don’t think it likely that 37 suites would have fit into three quite narrow floors.

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The Neglected Place of George William Paterson in Local History

CVA 99-3425: George Paterson working on a bust of actor George Arliss while Paterson was a commercial artist working for Capital Theatre’s art department.

George William Paterson (whose name, more often appeared in print simply as “Geo Paterson” and frequently, although inaccurately, as “George Patterson”) was born to John Paterson and Ann Brown in Port Hope (west of Kingston), Ontario in 1877 [1]. His father was a banker at the time George was born, according to his birth certificate. But that was not the career path that George would take.

By 1901, George seemed to have heeded the call to “go west” and had come nearly as far west as it was possible for a Canadian to go and remain in his native land. By this year, he appeared in the B.C. Directory as a clerk for the C.P.R.

In 1902, George married a Vancouver French-Canadian girl by the name of Jeanne Henriette Delmas (Province 16 Dec 1902).

By 1904, he was clerking for B.C. Messenger Co., and in 1906 he had taken on work, briefly, as a (house, presumably) painter and wallpaper hanger; by 1907, he was a “traveler” for Henry Darling, a “dealer in paints, oils, varnishes, etc.” on the unit block of Powell Street. It isn’t clear how long George remained with the Darling firm, but it’s unlikely that it was much more than a couple of years.

By 1911, George and Henriette had moved to Vernon, where his occupation appeared in the Vernon Directory as “artist”. Henriette was a private nurse for a family. George apparently was principally a sign and show card painter for the rest of their time in Vernon.

In 1916, George enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force to serve in France in the Great War. He remained with the CEF until May 1919. (Oddly, on his attestation papers, he indicated that his “trade or calling” was “Rancher”!) Sadly, Henriette died in October 1917, in Vancouver, to which city she must have moved while George was “somewhere in France”; she was just 33 years old (Sun 12 Oct 1917). According to the 1921 Census record, George lived in Vernon after being de-mobilized. He was the proprietor of a show card, decorating, and painting business. In June 1922, in Vernon, George married his second wife: Jane Haliburton Ogilvie.

New Westminster War Memorial

In 1922, Paterson won the commission to create a Great War memorial for New Westminster. It was designed by architect, Bernard Palmer. The original memorial was 1′ high; from this, it was transformed into a 6’ 6” Plaster of Paris model by Paterson and Alimando Fabri. It was then cast in bronze in Seattle by Leon Morel (this last part of the process was described in the local press as being “merely” mechanical). O. B. Allan, a Vancouver jeweler, sponsored the project (Sun 18 July 1922).

Paterson/Fabri War Memorial at Patullo Bridge location, 1952. Frank Goodship fonds. New Westminster Archives.

The memorial was initially to have been placed in front of the Women’s Building at Queen’s Park. But if it was ever there, it wasn’t for long. The Women’s Building, as with most other structures in the park, burned in a 1929 fire. According to the New Westminster archives, the memorial, for a while, was at the little park overlooking Patullo Bridge, and, finally, in 1954, was shifted to a space in front of New Westminster City Hall, where it remains today. The memorial is typically credited exclusively, and unfairly, it seems to me, to Alimando Fabri.

From 1924 until about 1927, Paterson worked as an artist in Vancouver, with a day job in the art department of Capital Theatre (see the first photo in this post), and also as an art instructor.

Paterson/Fabri War memorial on grounds of NW city hall. Feb 2018. MDM photo.

Historical Tableaux at David Spencer’s

Spencer’s department store (on north side Hastings at Richards) took it upon itself to sponsor a Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Historical and Industrial Exhibition in June/July 1927. It was on the fifth floor of their “new” building (the structure referred to today as SFU’s downtown campus).

“Tableau” isn’t a word that is used often in current English, so a definition seems appropriate. Oxford says it is “a group of models or motionless figures representing a scene from a story or history.”

Vancouver commercial artist, George Paterson, was responsible for creating and overseeing the creation of all historical tableaux in the exhibition. The tableaux which Paterson created were:

  • Erection of the cross by Jacques Cartier
  • Champlain discovers Georgian Bay
  • The Hudson’s Bay Company receives its charter
  • Madeleine de Vercheres defending the fort
  • The capture of the Plains of Abraham by General Wolfe
  • Visit of Captain Vancouver to Nootka
  • Arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in Canada
  • Laura Secord warning British troops
  • Establishment of Lord Selkirk’s Settlement
  • Completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the site of the Last Spike
Paterson touching up Jacques Cartier erecting the cross (although there is no sign of a cross!) Province 19 June 1927. The quality of this photo leaves much to be desired, but it is the only photo available, as far as I know.

Many of these tableaux were based on pictures of Canadian history in a book by Charles W. Jeffreys and Henry Sandham. Each tableau was set on its own stage “with life-sized figures against backgrounds typical of the event”. The backgrounds were painted by a fellow named Dan Lade who “also painted all the mural decorations in the room.” From this description and from the photo of Cartier erecting the cross, it seems that the tableau consisted of three-dimensional figures set against two-dimensional backgrounds. Just what the background murals were in the room, which were painted by Dan Lade, I don’t know (Province 19 June 1927). To the best of my knowledge, none of Paterson’s tableaux or Lade’s murals have survived.

There was another tableau created by Toronto sculptor, Miss Merle Foster: the Fathers of Confederation. “Mr. George Paterson was responsible for the tableaux and the arrangement of the Fathers of Confederation group of figures by Miss Merle Foster of Toronto” (Sun 7 Jul 1927).

The exhibition ran concurrently with the painting of historical murals by John Innes and George Southwell on another floor of Spencer’s. The story of these murals is told by Jason Vanderhill at his Illustrated Vancouver blog.

Later Years

By 1930, George was back in Vernon, working as a sign writer. All indications are that he’d given up working full-time as an artist, probably because in the ‘dirty-thirties’, with art as his sole occupation, he couldn’t hope to keep food on the table. The Patersons remained in Vernon until about 1946. According to his death certificate, he retired formally in 1942. In or around 1948, they retired to Saltspring Island.

George Paterson died in Ganges, Saltspring Island March 9, 1955. Jane Paterson died in Duncan in 1968.

It isn’t clear whether George received any formal training as an artist, or even as a sign-painter and show card designer. But, judging from the quality of his George Arliss bust shown above, he seems to have had a fair bit of skill.

It seems to me a pity that George’s artistic contributions to Vancouver and B.C. are today largely unacknowledged.


  1. I’m very grateful to Robert Moen, of https://westendvancouver.wordpress.com/, for his research assistance with the genealogical details associated with George Paterson.

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Vancouver Street Fair/Carnival, 1901

CVA 396-06 – Vancouver street fair and carnival on West Hastings (looking from Granville St – behind camera, probably from the MacKinnon building at the SW corner of Granville and Hastings – to the intersection with Burrard Street, where the Edward Mahon home was; where the Marine Building is today). 1901. Nakazo Hamamura photo [1].

A street fair was held in Vancouver August 5-10, 1901 on West Hastings Street between Granville and Burrard (it also included Howe and Hornby between Pender and Hastings). Along much of this stretch, there were booths set up where the wares and services of Vancouver merchants were on offer. The booths would also include ads for various products from the wider B.C. (e.g., iron ore from the Kootenays, placer gold from the Cariboo, and coal from the Crowsnest region).

CVA 396-01 – Vancouver street fair and carnival. Presumably, on the trapeze were the Austin Sisters. I’m guessing that this photo is taken facing east on West Hastings from near Burrard Street. 1901. Nakazo Hamamura photo [1].

The Street Fair was promoted by an American, Mr. Jabour. Jabour had sold the fair to various other Western centres (before Vancouver, it would be at Butte, Montana, and immediately afterwards, at Tacoma and then Seattle) and he had the first week of August unscheduled. Jabour’s suggestion to Vancouver decision-makers that the street fair could appear in the City of Vancouver on that week was met with substantial local enthusiasm. The Vancouver bigwigs saw coins dropping into coffers of Vancouver businesses and, with cut-rate rail fares to the city for the fair’s duration, there were visions of vast touristic throngs dancing in the heads of aldermen and merchants, alike.

Belle MacKinnon, Queen of the Fair. Province 6 Aug 1901.

Aside from the booths that would, it was believed, be raking in the dough, Jabour would supply typical ‘carnie show’ elements: Japanese jugglers, Hindu snake charmers, “and other easterners by the score”; black bears, an African lion, a (boxing) kangaroo and an ostritch (Province 1 Aug 1901). And getting headline billing for the event were the Austin sisters “who have performed for some of the crowned heads of Europe” with their trapeze act (Province 24 July 1901).

Crop of CVA Sp P16 – King Charles A. Ross. ca 1896. A. Savard photo.

As seems common in the first half of the 20th century, there was a Queen and King of the event. Belle MacKinnon was the chosen Queen this time around. The identity of the King, however, was kept a secret until the final ball of the fair, held at the Theatre Royal. The King was revealed to be Charles A. Ross, captain of the Terminal City Bicycle Club. Presumably, fair organizers thought that keeping the King’s identity secret would contribute to a sense of suspense which would result in a huge turnout at the closing ball. That dream went unfulfilled; scarcely 100 attended. (World, 10 Aug 1901).

So what was the final verdict on the street fair of 1901? Well, it is difficult to be sure from a vantage of 120 years hence but, I think it would be fair to say, “guarded”.

A report pertaining to the later Tacoma street fair claimed that 15,000 people paid admission on a single day (contrast with the most up-beat Vancouver report of 4000 attending, probably on Vancouver’s best attended day) (World 21 Aug 1901; Province 7 Aug 1901).

And, according to some Vancouver merchants, the organizing committee played fast and loose with the terms of admission. According to the merchants, the agreement was that admission would be 10 cents to get in to see the booths (where the merchants were) and an additional 50 cents to get into the carnival proper – the more amusing (dare I say it, the more interesting) part. Apparently, the organizers went with the 10c/50c procedure on the first day, but during the rest of the week, charged everyone a flat 50 cents to get into anything and everything (merchants booths and amusements, both). This alleged practice led those merchants to hold back rent from the organizers for their booths. (World, 13 Aug 1901). Although the fair was history by the time this minor controversy become public, it would have left something of a sour taste, and could not be construed as positive public relations.

I think this part of an assessment by Seattle a year later, of the Jabour “Street Fair/Carnival” enterprise gets close to identifying the problem with the Vancouver affair in 1901:

“Some of the merchants of the city had exhibits that were good as far as they went, but a stranger in the city can walk up either First or Second avenues and see, free of cost, a hundred fold better displays than were generally presented at the carnival.

World, 2 Sept 1902

In short, the merchants of Vancouver were motivated principally by greed. And, furthermore, it was foolish greed — founded on a misplaced perception that the general public would pay for admission plus the cost of their wares. All that Joe public was really interested in paying for was an evening of entertainment with the Austin sisters or the goofy boxing kangaroo!


  1. Nakazo Hamamura was a Japanese photographer who lived and worked in Vancouver at the time of the street fair (but not for too long after that, it seems). I very much like Hamamura’s photographic ‘eye’ for picturing things that were not often photographed by others in CVA’s collection.

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Derril Warren BC Tory Ads from 1972

Encore Post

Derril with Labourers in Background

Derril Warren in BC Tory ads for 1972. This head shot is set against a background of labourers – similar to how one might expect an NDP ad to appear. Was this how BC Tories wanted to imagine themselves in ’72?

There are a series of television ads on CVA located here¹ (to find the first of the PC ads, go to the 7.08 minute mark in the clip) that represented another in a long series of attempts by BC Tories to woo voters away from the BC Social Credit Party.  Since 1956, the Tories had suffered shut-out after shut-out in all general elections. The party had also gone through leaders as often as they went through facial tissues on election night:

  • In 1953, 1956, and 1960 Deane Finlayson (1919-2005) led the BC Tories. They won just one seat (but the leader lost his seat) and garnered less than 2% of the popular vote in 1953. In ’56, the popular vote rose to just over 3%, and the first-past-the-post system wasn’t kind to them – they lost their solitary seat. In the 1960 election, the Tories doubled their share of the popular vote (just under 6%), but didn’t win any seats.
  • In 1963, the Tories under new leader, Davie Fulton (1916-2000), again nearly doubled their popular vote percentage (a little less than 12%); no seats.
  • The PCs barely contested the 1966 election; there was no leader and they nominated only 3 candidates (they nominated 44 for the 1963 contest). The popular vote was hardly worth mentioning (less than 1%).
  • John DeWolf (ca1931-2003) took up the Tory reigns of leadership (such as they were) in June, 1969. Premier W. A. C. Bennett (1909-1979) called the election for July. It was scarcely imaginable that the PCs could have performed any worse than they did in 1966, but they managed to do so. The popular vote was hovering close to that of the BC Communist Party!
  • In November, 1971, Derril Warren (1939-2005) challenged and beat out DeWolf for leadership of the Party. In the ’72 general election, the Tories won two seats and captured over 12% of the popular vote. (To borrow from a 1980 pop tune, it was indeed “Celebration” time for the Tories). Unhappily, though, neither of the two seats won was the seat contested by the leader. Warren tried to get himself elected to the Legislature again in a 1973 by-election. But no soap.

Warren left political life shortly after his by-election loss in 1973. George Scott Wallace led the PCs into the 1975 general election; they would lose one of their two seats in that contest and their popular vote would again plummet to less than 4%.

Derril Warren had, arguably, one of the best minds in BC politics of his day. He earned his B.A. degree from UBC in 1961; graduated from Dalhousie Law School with a Bachelor of Laws; and earned a Masters of Law from Harvard in 1965.

He practiced law for several years, including a stint as General Counsel to the Mannix construction business, based in Calgary. Mannix had served as an incubator for another young lawyer who would lead another provincial Progressive Conservative Party – the difference being he would lead his party to big victories over SocCreds in his province, starting in 1971: Peter Lougheed (1928-2012) of Alberta.

In the early 1990s, Warren was Executive Director of the BC International Commercial Arbitration Centre. He died in 2005 at the age of 66.

The 1972 TV ads had pretty high production values, in my opinion, although the lyrics to the tune that played during each ad were schmalzy:

When we look out on the land we call BC
Does the future hold a place for you and me?
Will the waters and the seas still be as clean? (later, this word was changed to “blue”)
Will the sun come shining through?

There’s a man who’ll take a stand
To protect this land we love
For the people and the sea and sky above.

So raise your voices, spread the word
There is still time to be heard
It’s your British Columbia
And we can lead the way
And we can lead the way.

Male voice-over: “Darril Warren and the Progressive Conservative team — now you do have a choice.”


¹For a laugh, there is a quite creative and well-made commercial near the start of the video (at about the 22 second mark). It seems to be a comedic play on The Creature from the Black Lagoon (ahem – from English Bay!) for Plimley Chrysler Dodge, featuring Basil Plimley (1924-2014). The ad seems to have been made ca1973. Watch it. I think you’ll agree that it’s superior to many of today’s TV ads made for much more moneyed businesses (and, arguably, superior to the ’54 feature film on which the ad was based)!

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BCER Motorman Prevents Grim Scene Becoming Grimmer

Str P142.1 – Remains of a BCER street car near the south end of Main Street after a collision with a Dominion Creosote box car. W J Moore. Sept. 30, 1914.

The wreckage shown in the photo above shows part of the outcome of school boys playing around with the brakes on a Dominion Creosote boxcar that was parked on Main Street (as part of a reconstruction job going on at Main) on Wednesday, September 30, 1914. [1]

Shortly after noon, somewhere between 46th and 48th Avenues on Main, one of four boys removed the “dog” which served as the brake on the boxcar (A). The boxcar began to roll very slowly southward on the slight incline of Main at that location. The boxcar that had initially been set in motion, then hit another and it, in turn hit another boxcar. The boxcar that had initially been set in motion by the schoolboy was now stationery, but the other two boxcars were moving, and at a considerable rate.

At 57th Avenue, there were some members of a waterworks gang who were lunching on the side of the road. Seeing what was happening, these men attempted to halt the boxcars’ movement by putting obstacles (mostly spare pieces of wood that they had handy) in front of the cars. But to no avail. The two cars had picked up more speed and simply blew the blockades away.

A map showing the progress of the boxcars as they barrelled down Main. Made from a map within Street Names of Vancouver. Elizabeth Walker.

There was supposed to be a “temporary switch” on Main to keep the BCER track free from any other traffic; that switch was rendered ineffective, however, and the boxcars proceeded to roll south on the BCER track. As the boxcars got further south, the percentage of incline increased, causing them to speed up even more.

Meanwhile, a BCER passenger car was heading up Main, northbound. It stopped at 59th Avenue to pick up a passenger. The motorman, Charles J. Gaell was just getting up speed again at 58th Avenue, when he noticed the oncoming boxcars — on his track!

He stopped his car and began to back up, at first slowly and then violently, at the same time opening the doors and shouting at the passengers and conductor to look out and save themselves. William Price, the conductor, opened the closed door at the rear of the car and was leaning out to see what was coming when the runaway cars crashed with terrific force into the front part of the car.

Province 1 Oct 1914

The point of collision was at 60th Avenue (B). It was estimated later that at the time of collision, the boxcars were traveling at 45 mph. The boxcars kept moving until they reached River Road (Southeast Marine Dr, today) (C), where they finally came to rest.

The motorman was killed instantly and his body was found, badly mangled, two blocks from the impact site. The Conductor’s legs were injured. And all of the passengers, except for a lone Chinese gent (who walked away from the accident, unscathed, apparently), were injured to various degrees. The worst injury was to a young girl, whose leg had been almost cut off in the collision, and needed to have it amputated later at VGH.

At the inquest, the Coroner held Dominion Creosote responsible for not ensuring that their cars were adequately braked.

The Coroner said that one thing about the accident was certain: the motorman had ample time to jump from the street car, but he gave little thought to his own safety, so concerned was he to ensure that his passengers and the Conductor escaped from the car.


  1. This post is heavily reliant on news accounts of the accident. Among them: Vancouver Daily World, 30 September 1914; Province 1 Oct 1914; Sun 1 Oct 1914; Province 2 Oct 1914; Province 5 Oct 1914.
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“Senator Grill” to White Spot’s “Garden Spot”

CVA 586-6971 – Senator Grill exterior at Cambie and 25th. Don Coltman photo. May 1948.

The Senator Grill was built in 1947 and opened in the summer of that year. The owners were Joseph W. Brault and John L. Cameron. Brault, a veteran restaurateur, had run an establishment just a few blocks away from where the Senator was (probably B & L Fountain Lunch). Cameron was new to the restaurant game.

1948 ad.

Brault and Cameron appeared to spare little expense on the Senator: architects of the “ultra-modern” building were Watson and Semmons. The furniture was of a “very high quality construction, specially designed to suit the luxury-type interior. In all, the building reportedly cost $55,000 in 1947 dollars (Province, 29 July 1947).

The Senator offered dining room and drive-in/take-away service, with a menu that focused on chicken and steak dinners. Yup, that sounds much like the service on offer by Nat Bailey’s White Spot in the 1940s and ’50s. Small wonder that Nat Bailey wanted to gobble up the Senator before it could become a major competitor.

1951 ad.

I suspect that the Senator didn’t come cheap. I couldn’t find any public references to the purchase by White Spot of the Senator or the numbers involved. But judging by what Brault and Cameron paid for the construction and outfitting the place and the apparent fact that buying the Senator was in Bailey’s interest, it seems probable that he had to pony up significant cash.

White Spot retained the Senator brand with their own for about 3 years. Then, in late 1951, they renovated the place to suit a new brand. The White Spot at Cambie and 25th would become the White Spot Garden Spot. (Jack and Joy Cullen can be seen here at KVOS Bellingham with his “Owl Prowl Theatre,” shilling for the Garden Spot. – in addition to Campbell Motors at 1234 Kingsway and ChanelMaster TV antennas).

A strike at White Spot in 1988, under then-owner Peter Toigo, led him to close two of the Spot’s locations: the one at Georgia and Cardero (in the West End) and the Garden Spot (Sun, 25 Oct 1988). Today, on the site of the Senator/Garden Spot is an office building.

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Dining Out – 50 Years Ago

I’m indebted to my friend, Rod Clarke, one of the proprietors of The Paper Hound Bookshop, for pointing out the book on which this post is based. It is called Where to Eat in Canada: 1971 and is a guide to dining establishments in the nation that were judged by the editors (Anne Hardy and Sondra Gotlieb) to be worthy of note that year. 1971 doesn’t seem so awfully long ago to the likes of me and those of my generation (and earlier), but it was, surprisingly, half a century ago!

Included in this little guide are several listings for Vancouver, only one of which is still a restaurant (with a name that is almost the same, today). [1] In this post, I’ll pull out a few of the listings for further consideration.

Hy’s Encore, 637 Hornby

Hy’s Encore (today, Hy’s Steakhouse) is the only one of the Vancouver listings in Where to Eat which is still at its location of 50 years ago. The earliest mention of Encore in the local press was in 1962, so that is likely its first year in business. It was located across the street from The Cave nightclub (and, later, was adjacent to Sugar Daddy’s Discotheque).

According to Where to Eat,

The decor is the same the country over: the wall of books (glued in place), the paneling and the mirrors, all designed to give an air of conventional opulence.

Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p.153

The crimes against books appear to have been removed [2], thankfully, but I suspect that the cave-like entry to Encore looks much the same today as it did in ’71.

Today’s Hy’s seems to have retained its classic feel of a stereotypically dimly lit, darkly and heavily furnished men’s club. It’s a minor puzzle to me how Hy’s has been able to sustain itself at its Hornby location for nearly 60 years. Probably it’s a testament to quality steak and seafood prepared and served well.

Interior contemporary shot of Hy’s Vancouver. I suspect the brick archway was present when Where to Eat in Canada 1971 was written. There is no sign of any pasted books, however. Photo credit Scoutmagazine.ca

La Cote D’Azur, 1216 Robson Street

Crop of CVA 778-354 – 1200 Robson Street south side 1974.

This French restaurant (which is “french riviera” en Francais), went out of business in 1995 as it faced demolition that year for redevelopment of the property. [3]

Where to Eat enthused:

Inside the old converted house, the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed and the service deft and welcoming. The prices are rather high but the food is superb . . . . The menu is in French, and owners, Maurice Richez and Alex Katz, maintain that every dish is a specialty of the house.

Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 151
Sun. 23 April 1976.

Iaci’s Casa Capri, 1020 Seymour Street

CVA 779-E06.35 – 1000 Seymour Street east side 1981. Iaci’s signage is visible at the northernmost house.

In the 1970s, this little Italian restaurant (according to one source, the first such in Vancouver) was located directly across the street from The Penthouse nightclub on Seymour (today the furnished apartment complex called “Level” stands in its place). It was open from 1939-1983.

This may well be the most unusual restaurant in Vancouver. In fact it isn’t even a restaurant in the ordinary sense. It’s the Iaci family home and has been for at least 25 years. The family are all still living in the old house, and meals are prepared individually in the family kitchen.The dining-room upstairs will hold 35 people and there’s a basement room for banquets. Mama Iaci’s kitchen is also in the basement, and there she personally supervises the preparation of food, as often as not doing things herself.

Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 154

This place has been written about at length, so I won’t say anything more, here.

Jade Palace, 252 East Pender Street

VPL 85874U People walking along Pender Street in Chinatown 1972 Curt Lang. The Jade Palace is on the far side of the street about mid-way down the block

Where to Eat begins its listing for the Jade Palace as follows:

The manager of this popular Chinese restaurant is a man with a sense of humour and a taste for large and varied menus. C. C. Sun is his name. He says the C. C. stands for Canadian Club and maybe it does.

Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 155.

The C. C., in fact, stood for Chia-Cheng, not Canadian Club. And, apparently, the Jade Palace became known as the first place in Vancouver that served the ever-popular dim sum.

Where to Eat isn’t a hugely humorous work, but there are occasional sentences that cause one to smile, as did this one in the Jade Palace write-up: “Crabmeat over Chinese greens is a good buy at 2.50, but one suspects the crab may have arrived fresh from the sea after a stop-over in the can” (Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 155).

Schnitzel House, 1060 Robson Street

CVA 306-25 – Schnitzel House Restaurant on Robson Street B. Silk, ca1970.

The Schnitzel House on Robson Street was an institution from 1960. It closed in 1985, moving with the new owner (briefly) to 830 W. Pender.

This is as warm and intimate as an Alpine inn. As the name implies, the specialty is schnitzels and they’re first rate. There are ten varieties on the menu, priced from 2.50 for the wiener to 3.20 for the cordon bleu, which is stuffed with Swiss cheese and ham.

Where to Eat in Canada, p. 160

By 1985, Robsonstrasse was beginning its transformation to Rodeo Drive North.

Concluding Remarks

If you’re interested in viewing all of the Vancouver listings in the guide, I’ve reproduced those in a pdf document, below.

To my surprise, Where to Eat, remains a going concern. The guide continues to be published; it was first published in 1967. The principal editor is today the same person who edited the 1971 edition: Anne Hardy.


  1. Okay, two, if you include the Sylvia Hotel.
  2. It is difficult to be certain based on the photo by Crystal Schick (Calgary Herald) at this link, but it appears that the Calgary version of Hy’s may still have the pasted books!
  3. Many thanks to Maurice Guibord for his assistance with figuring out when La Cote went out of business.
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“On With the Show, This is It!” – The McCance Theatre Men

When I began researching this post, I intended to focus exclusively on Gail McCance, set designer for Theatre Under the Stars, the Vancouver Opera Association and other organizations. However, one of the first sources I encountered was a 1919 newspaper review of a Vancouver production of The Geisha that referred to the scenery being “specially designed by Mr. J. McCance”. I didn’t know a lot about Gail at that stage, but I knew what year he was born – 1924 – and so either the similarity of name and occupation was a remarkable coincidence, or there was more to Gail’s story than I had thought!

John A. McCance

John Askew photo for Vancouver Sun. 1959.

John Alexander (Jack Sr.) was father to Gail and his siblings. He was born in St. Thomas, Ontario to John and Sarah McCance. He married Mary Teresa McHugh in 1910 after moving to Vancouver in 1900. The McCances had four sons and a daughter together: John Bernarr (Jack Jr.) (1911-1974), Larry Hugh (1918-1970), Edgar Joseph (1920-2005), Frederick Gail (1924-2009), and Theresa S. (Archie) MacLagan.

Jack Sr. was a carpenter by trade and, after coming to Vancouver, began to work as a stage carpenter in city theatres. He joined the Lyric Theatre group in 1903 and over the years constructed sets for the Vancouver Opera House, Pantages, Avenue, Capitol, Empress Theatre, and others. There is evidence that Jack’s “day job” – in the late ‘30s at least – was as an employee of Greater Vancouver Water Board, probably also as a carpenter (Sun 28 Nov 1936).

The first press mention I found of Jack was the review of The Geisha at the Avenue Theatre in 1919, mentioned in the first paragraph of this post (Province, 16 May 1919). Interestingly, Jack would be responsible again for set design in a revival of The Geisha in the city 21 years later (Province 8 Aug 1940).

Jack was stage manager for the pre-TUTS productions of A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Sun 1 Aug 1936) and Hiawatha (Province 8 Aug 1936) at Brockton Point in 1936. [1]

Jack was invited to teach in UBC’s extension department in (at least) 1941, 1945 and 1946 where he provided practical instruction in scene construction and lighting. Other note-worthy people who were on faculty there at that time were Beatrice Lennie (theatrical masks), Ross Lort (scene design), and Vivien Ramsay (make-up) (Sun, 31 May 1941; Province 3 May 1945; Sun 14 May 1946).

Jack packed his hammer away for the last time after building sets in 1959 for the Vancouver Opera Association’s production of Carmen (Sun, 1 Feb 1962). He passed away in 1962.

Larry was Jack’s second son. His first son and namesake, Jack Jr., became a coppersmith who also farmed a bit. Another of Jack Sr.‘s sons, Edgar J. became an executive with the Ocean Cement Group.

Larry H. McCance

Province photo.

Larry had the acting bug. The first mention of him in the local press pertained to him acting in 1937 with the Masquers Guild in Silas the Chore-Boy (Sun 21 May 1937). He later performed with the Masquers in The Golden Lady and Our Town. He also acted with the Vancouver Little Theatre Association in Waiting for Lefty, Of Mice and Men, and Full House.

The earliest TUTS performances were held at Brockton Point Oval, not the Malkin Bowl. Because the acoustics at Brockton Point Oval were poor, the director of TUTS at the time, E. V. Young, chose to rehearse two casts — one that would provide dramatic voices that could be amplified by hidden microphone and another cast that would mutely act out the parts. [2] Larry would play voice role of Quince in the TUTS precursor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In the early 1940s, Larry was working as a broadcaster with CJOR.

By 1947, in addition to acting and broadcasting, Larry had also taken up scenery design (like Dad and youngest brother, Gail) for the [Bowen] Island Theatre Summer Stock Company: “Larry McCance designs and builds all sets for the company”. Plays presented by the company included: George and Margaret, East Lynn, Accent on Youth, Late Christopher Bean, Petticoat Fever, Death Takes a Holiday, and Meet the Wife (Sun 16 July 1947). I suspect that part of the reason for taking on set design for this company was that Larry was under-employed as an actor and possibly as a local broadcaster, hence his decision later that year to move away from Vancouver.

In Autumn of 1947, Larry and his family moved to Toronto. He remained there for the rest of his life with the exception of 1956-1958 when he returned to B.C. to become the Executive Secretary in charge of the B.C. Centennial celebrations (Sun, 6 Jan 1970). In the 1960s, he appeared on early trans-national CBC television broadcasts out of Toronto.

At his death in 1970, Larry was the Canadian Executive Secretary of the Actor’s Equity Association, the union representing theatre actors in Canada.

F. Gail McCance

Gail McCance posing with a model of one of the sets for Madame Butterfly at the Vancouver International Festival at QE Theatre. George Diack Sun photo, 1960.

Gail was born, raised and schooled in North Vancouver (like his siblings). He ‘played theatre’ as a kid and, encouraged by his Dad, kind of fell into set design (Province 28 Jan 1961). Gail’s first job in the theatre was helping his Dad with set construction for A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a 12-year-old in 1936 (Sun 1 March 1963). When he was older, he spent a year in New York working in most of the scenic design shops there. He plainly wasn’t a typical kid.

Gail began his lengthy association with Theatre Under the Stars at Stanley Park’s Malkin Memorial Bowl in 1945 at the tender age of 20. Gordon Hilker, the producer of TUTS from 1940 until 1949, had a tendency, apparently, to hire staff who were known to him. [3] That may go some ways to explaining why it is that Hilker took a chance on such a young man to take on set design for TUTS. He may have approached Jack Sr., and Jack stood aside in favour of his youngest son, or it could be that Hilker wanted a young man in whom he could invest over several years, and Gail was known to him through his Dad, and so seemed a logical choice.

When Gail began with TUTS in 1945, he wasn’t hired on as the set designer. His task, together with Frank Vyvyan, was to construct and paint sets designed by Adrian Awan of Hollywood, CA. Awan had designed sets for the Hollywood Bowl, on which the Malkin Bowl’s design had been based (although Malkin was substantially smaller) (Sun 9 June 1945). For this first season of Gail’s involvement with TUTS, he and Vyvyan would build sets based on designs by Awan for Vagabond King, Maytime, Red Mill, Rio Rita, and Chocolate Soldier.

In 1946, Gail was sent by TUTS to New York City where he spent 6 weeks studying the construction and painting of Broadway shows in their scenery studios (Sun 25 Feb 1946). This was to become an annual venture for a number of years.

The British Columbia Institute of Music and Drama (BCIMD) was a creation of Gordon Hilker and was a creature of TUTS that had as its purpose “to provide free training to promising young talent throughout British Columbia in all branches of the theatrical arts.” [4] The BCIMD provided Gail with a teaching outlet very early in his time with TUTS (1945-46). He was in charge of courses pertaining to scenery construction, painting, and the resolution of electrical challenges presented by different productions.

In November 1946, the Parks Board, concluded an agreement with the federal Department of Naval Affairs to acquire the ‘Old HMCS Discovery’ building on Deadman’s Island. This two-storey building would become the TUTS scenery shop and Gail McCance’s work-a-day home for many years.

Crop of CVA 59-16 – Aerial photo. Pacific Survey Corp. 1959. I believe “Old Discovery” is the first building encountered upon crossing over to Deadman’s Island (left) from Stanley Park.

The first TUTS season in which Gail seems to have earned his set designer ‘wings’ was in 1947: for that season, the local press mentioned that there were “settings by Gail McCance” (Province 26 Aug 1947).

In 1947, Gail began to work for organizations besides TUTS; specifically the Vancouver Little Theatre group, for which he developed scenery for their production of George Washington Slept Here. However, Gail’s fireplace in the play proved to be a little too realistic:

It was the third act and the cue was given . . . acrid dusky coloured real fumes poured from the artificial fireplace. The cast coughed, according to script, but the first-nighters [the audience] coughed too and the keynote was realism.

Province 18 Nov 1947
Charlie Baker. “Coastal Currents” BC’s T. Eaton Co. employee magazine. ca1954. Gordon Poppy Collection. (Baker worked at Eaton’s Construction Dept., too, at this time.)

Gail’s job title was changed in 1948, to “Technical Superintendent”, probably reflecting a promotion. Charlie Baker, who had from 1946 been credited as the set painter is shown in the 1948 season as “Designer”. I take it from these changes in title that Gail was in charge of overall TUTS set design.

Gail married Patricia Mary Gale in 1948.

Gordon Hilker left the TUTS company in 1949 and was replaced in 1950 as producer by William Buckingham. Gail continued as Technical Superintendent until TUTS folded in 1963.

Gail produced the sets for the Steinbeck standard, Of Mice and Men in 1953 at the Avon Theatre (the original Pantages). In 1956, he took on the challenge of set design in the mammoth space that was the Georgia Auditoruim for the Opera Society of B.C.’s. Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe. And in 1958, he was working in a much smaller space, the auditorium of John Oliver high school for a performance of the Vancouver Ballet Society.

In Autumn 1962, Gail created scenery for the Vancouver Opera’s production of Tosca. It cannot often happen that the scenery upstages the actors in an opera, but that seemed to be the case with this opera:

Although there were many beautiful gowns in the first night audience it was Gail McCance’s set in the third act of “Tosca” that stole the show.

For this creation of his was one of the finest displays of the art that I have seen at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Here was the fortress Castel Sant’Angelo set against a morning sky.

In the distance were silhouetted some buildings of Rome and obviously there were more spread out beyond the hill if only we could see over, such was the illusion of distance created by lighting and a large heroic statue set on the battlements.

For me this illusion lasted for minutes, this feeling that we were looking not at a theatre stage but through an archway with the world spread out on the other side.

But the illusion was destroyed by some of the sloppiest acting in the opera.

Province 19 Oct 1962

In 1963, TUTS went bankrupt. The previous year, the Theatre organization as a whole lost $14,000. The only department in TUTS to show a profit was Gail McCance’s scenery department which made $2,960 off an income of $95,814, operating out of rent-free premises (the Old Discovery) (Sun 23 Nov 1962).

Starting in 1964, Gail relied on the Vancouver Opera Association more than before for steady set design work. He had no difficulty filling his days. He designed that year for VOA’s Barber of Seville, La Boheme, The Consul, and The Marriage of Figaro. The following year was likewise busy.

He collapsed from what was diagnosed as sheer exhaustion in 1966 (Sun 9 July 1966). He eased up considerably on his workload after that, producing about one set per year for the VOA ‘til 1973. Beginning in the early 1970s and continuing until his death, Gail painted and exhibited watercolours. He continued to design sets for productions at Marpole’s Metro Theatre through the late 1970s. He seems to have retired by 1980.

In 1997, the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame set Gail McCance’s name in a star along Granville Street near the Orpheum Theatre for his contributions to set design (Sun 24 Nov 1997).

Gail described the job of the set designer as “like the ham in the sandwich — necessary for the art of the theatre and the tastes of the public yet hidden from view” (Province 25 May 1963). Gail McCance died on June 16, 2009.


  1. These weren’t advertised as being TUTS productions, but it is generally acknowledged that they were precursors to the Theatre Under the Stars; TUTS officially became known by that name in 1940 and began holding performances at the Malkin Memorial Bowl in that year.
  2. Richard Sutherland. Theatre Under the Stars: The Hilker Years. A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Arts. UBC. 1993, p.6
  3. Sutherland, p. 29.
  4. Sutherland, p. 40.
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Happy Dominion (er. . . Canada) Day!

Originally posted July 1, 2014.

View from 1220 Homer 1967 CVA EH Reksten 2010-006.007

CVA 2010-006.007 View from 1220 Homer July 1967 – E H Reksten photo.

This is a view from 1220 Homer (Yaletown) made by Ernie Reksten on a ‘holiday Monday’, July 3, 1967. The holiday was Dominion Day (known as Canada Day since 1982), and most Canadians should be able to deduce from the year this image was taken (and also from the “100” atop the BC Hydro headquarters) that it was the 100th anniversary year of Canada’s confederation.

Yaletown and the area west of the then warehouse district has certainly changed over the intervening 47 years, but some landmarks are still present. The then-Hydro (now Electra) building still stands (background, right side of image), dwarfing the towers of its two neighbouring churches  – St Andrews-Wesley United (1933) and First Baptist (1910). The Ramada Inn is on the site of what is today the Holiday Inn Downtown (1110 Howe). The dark structure apparently on Granville near Davie is the Blackstone Hotel (1176 Granville). The Canadian Linen Supply structure has, fortunately, been retained in all of its industrial art deco glory; the anchor of the building, now, is a grocer. The garage in foreground (of a design sympathetic to Canadian Linen) is the Uptown Service Garage, part of the British American Petroleum family of service stations. The street running in front of Canadian Linen and the garage is Davie and the cross street mid-way up the image is Richards. The lovely street lamps are long gone from Davie, sadly, as are the home and the brick building adjacent to it. I haven’t established, yet, what business(es) made the brick building home in 1967.

Whether you grew up (and remain more comfortable with) the Dominion Day designation or if you are a bit younger and have no recollection of July 1st being anything other than Canada Day, may one and all have a good day today celebrating the privileges we enjoy of sharing life in this nation. Care to join me in a rousing rendition of “Canada” (1967)?

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The Stock Theatre Companies of George B. Howard

George B. Howard with Ray B. Collins and Charles E. Royal, actors and co-managers of the Empress Theatre Stock Co. (1917-1921). Courtesy: Tom Carter Collection.

George B. Howard (1868-1921) was a well-known figure in Vancouver in the 19-teens and twenties. He got his start in Vancouver at the Lyric Theatre (Pender at Hamilton), moved on to the Avenue Theatre (Main at Georgia) and finished at the Empress (Hastings at Gore). He produced many, many live dramas here and he and his colleagues deserve to be better known in Vancouver today and in the wider world for their work.

Early Years

Howard was born George Howard Bacchus in Norfolk, Virginia in 1867, the eldest of three boys, to James and Virginia [1]. He married Florence Smith in 1890. Howard and Smith both had a desire to be in theatre work, so they teamed up to become the Howard-Dorset Stock Company [1]; Smith took the stage name “Flora Dorset”. Starting in 1898, Howard-Dorset stayed pretty close to home, in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Beginning ca1901, they established a circuit of cities and towns in the Midwest states consisting of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin. This continued until 1907, when the company moved out to California and Nevada and then did some performances in Edmonton and Calgary. Interestingly, Howard-Dorset didn’t play Vancouver.

Sometime between 1907 and 1910, I’m assuming, Howard and Dorset divorced. Howard married a Vancouver woman, Theodora Schroer, in 1910 and had a daughter with her in ca1912 whom they named Virginia Betty Bacchus. Dorset/Smith married Lewis Park Kelly of Peoria, Illinois in 1915 (Fort Wayne, Indiana 15 Feb 1915). Bacchus’s marriage to Theodora lasted less than a decade; she divorced him in 1918. Theodora, like Florence, was an actress; her stage name was Betty Jonson.

Lyric Theatre (1908-1910)

CVA 99-4107 – Original site of Lyric Theatre (1906-present) at Pender and Hamilton (known as the Odd Fellow’s Hall – although, I don’t think it hosts the IOOF today). 1931. Stuart Thomson photo.

Howard began his dramatic work in Vancouver at the ‘cosy’ theatre known as the Lyric [2]. The capacity of this space would have been very limited; perhaps 250-300 people. As is visible in the image below, there was no ‘theatre seating’; the audience was seated on chairs at a single level.

From the.1908 Vancouver Elite Directory (Thanks to Tom Carter for directing me to this terrific interior image of the Lyric).

Howard’s company began performing at the Lyric on November 18th, 1907 with the four-act society comedy, “Christopher, Jr.”, with Howard in the title role. This was followed in rapid succession on November 28th by the 3-hour comedy, “Hello Bill!”. Other productions followed with similar frequency. This was typical of the Howard company; they would run a new play every couple weeks. It is staggering to me how the cast was able to memorize lines for a new production so often!

Most of Howard’s productions at the Lyric tended towards the comedic/farce end of the dramatic spectrum [3]. But his company was capable of taking on heavier subjects, too (e.g., “The Young Mrs. Winthrop” and “An Innocent Sinner”). These weightier-themed productions might fairly be called melodramas.

Members of Howard Stock Company at Lyric Theatre [4]

  • Stella Adams
  • Oliver Bailey
  • Huron L. Blyden
  • Virginia Brissac
  • Dorothy Davis
  • Marion Dunn
  • Arthur Elton
  • Frank Fanning
  • Hilda Graham
  • Betty Jonson (Betty Jonson was her stage name; her actual name was Theodora Schrorer — George Howard’s second wife) [5]
  • Guy Kitner
  • Thomas H. Kruger
  • Harry Lewin
  • Godfrey Mathews
  • Dorcas Matthews
  • Charles Marion
  • Charles E. Murphy
  • Ernest Murphy
  • Charles Norton
  • James Barrie Norton
  • Adelaide Power
  • Abel Preston
  • Stella Razeto
  • Maybelle Thompson
  • Noel Travers
  • Norma Yeager

The Howard company finished their time at the Lyric in 1910 not with a single play, but by putting on four of their all-time audience favourites: The Man From Mexico, Father and the Boys, Other Peoples’ Money, and the very popular, Charley’s Aunt. The last of these was perhaps the most popular of all the Howard productions and could be counted on regularly to pack in sell-out crowds.

Avenue Theatre (1911-1913)

CVA 99-121 – The Avenue Theatre (1910-1935) at Georgia and Main. It was replaced by a Standard Service Station in 1925, and today is the site of BC Hydro’s Murrin Substation). 1918. Stuart Thomson photo.

Howard took a break from Vancouver after finishing at the Lyric. He took his company to Alaska (where they had a limited run) and Honolulu (where they spent 3 months). They came back to Vancouver after doing Hawaii where they put on a few old favourites at the Lyric. Then, not to be an idler, Howard took his company to Southern Alberta for a limited run at theatres in Calgary and Lethbridge.

In May 1911, when his new theatre, The Avenue, opened at the SW corner of Main and the first Georgia Viaduct, he started a “new” stock company there, opening with Father and the Boys. Like the Lyric, this theatre was also described in press clippings as being ‘cosy’, but the audience capacity was much greater (World April 11, 1911). The Avenue was estimated to hold upwards of 1200. Unfortunately, construction wasn’t quite finished before the curtain went up:

To the tune of hammering and pounding from the back of the curtain, George Howard came to the front and made a really excellent little speech asking his patrons to be patient with him and all would be well. He also expressed his intention of living and dying right in the theatre if the people of Vancouver would only give him their support.

World. April 11, 1911

Members of the Howard Company at The Avenue

In 1911-1912, Howard served as lessee and manager of The Avenue. From 1913-July 1917, however, he didn’t have his own stock company in Vancouver and he gave up his position as manager of The Avenue. However, he remained an Avenue stockholder for the rest of his days.

Empress Theatre (1917-1921)

Item – Bu N134 – Empress Theatre (1908-1940), just before its demolition in 1940 to make way for retail space (and, much more recently, for a housing development). W. J. Moore photo.

The Empress Theatre was dedicated in June 1908. It had a stock theatre company for a few years that was led by Lawrence and Sandusky.

By 1917, the Empress Stock Company was co-led by “the big three” shown in the first photo in this post: Ray B. Collins, Charles E. Royal, and George B. Howard. The company and its leadership would be among the most successful ever to operate in Vancouver. Indeed, it was believed by some to be the best stock company on the Pacific Coast.

The sheer volume of plays produced at the Empress [6] and how many of the stock company went on to have film careers (which you can get some sense of by clicking on the links in the lists of members), I find remarkable. Vancouver and the Empress Theatre Stock Company, in particular, was an un-acknowledged nursery for Hollywood in those early years.

In many of the ads for Empress Theatre plays, added to the text can be found “Not a moving picture”, to make it abundantly clear that what were being advertised were live productions.

Members of the Empress Stock Company

  • Byron Aldenn
  • Robert Athon
  • Sherman Bainbridge
  • Marie Baker
  • Janet Cathro
  • Ray B. Collins (Collins most famous role was as homicide detective Lieutenant Arthur Tragg in the CBS Perry Mason series in the 1960s)
  • Daisy D’Avara (Alf T. Layne’s wife)
  • Etta Delmas
  • Eddie Edward
  • Edythe Elliott (Charles Royal’s wife until their divorce – in 1925?)
  • Charlotte Fletcher
  • Mary Fletcher
  • Thomas Foster
  • G. Richard Frazier
  • Eva Goodrich
  • Evelyn Hambly
  • Rodney Hildebrand
  • George B. Howard
  • Val Howland
  • James Kirkwood
  • Charlotte Lawrence
  • Eddie Lawrence
  • Robert Lawrence
  • Alf. T. Layne
  • Joe Lawless (also a scenery artist)
  • Junius Leonard
  • Margaret Marriott (Ray Collins’ wife until their divorce in 1924)
  • Dorothy Mitchell
  • J. Barrie Norton
  • Freda Padmore
  • O.S. Penny
  • Alice Round
  • Charles E. Royal
  • “Little” Edith Royal (Edythe’s & Charles’ daughter)
  • Howard Russell
  • Jerome Sheldon
  • Walter Seigfried
  • Jim Smith
  • Jessie Ward
  • Peggy Webster
  • Louis Weithoff


George B. Howard died from a stroke two hours after playing “Cappy Ricks” on March 17, 1921. It was a sudden and quick end for the 53-year-old actor/manager.

An appropriately theatrical funeral was held on March 22:

Vancouver paused awhile this afternoon while the curtain was being slowly and reverently lowered on the last scene of the last act in the drama of the career of George B. Howard. As the mournful strains of “The Dead March in Saul” floated through the air, and the muffled drum of the B.P.O.E. band heralded the approach of the cortege shortly after 2.30 o’clock from Christ Church, thousands of citizens in the busy downtown section of the city left their places of business, made their way to the streets and stood with bared heads while all that was mortal of the stage favorite passed on to its last resting place in Ocean View burial park.

World. 22 March 1921

But even in death, George Howard took a curtain call.

It seems that he had been on good terms for awhile prior to his passing with Charlotte Sophia (“Dot”) Williams, Percy Williams’ Mom (Percy was the “world’s fastest human” in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games). Whether Howard and “Dot” were romantically involved or not, isn’t clear. “Dot” worked in the Empress Theatre box office, and Howard wrote a codicil to his will, leaving his residence at 196 West 12th Avenue to her. When the existence of the codicil became known, his second wife, Theodora Stoddard (nee Schroer) sued his estate on behalf of their daughter, to whom he’d initially left his Vancouver home. The judge ultimately squashed the suit, as Howard had left Virginia Betty Bacchus very well provided for.

Williams was allowed to keep the home on 12th Avenue and when she died in 1980, her final resting place in Ocean View Burial Park was adjacent to that of George B. Howard (Sun 7 Dec 1922, p.11). [7]

The Empress Stock Company carried on for several years after Howard’s death. But by 1940, live theatre had been eclipsed by motion pictures and in May of that year, the Empress was dead; demolished, just 32 years after it had been built. [8]


  1. Howard’s companies of stage players were “stock companies”. By the 20th century, I think “stock” had come to mean “house” players in a particular theatre. In other words, the opposite of a “traveling” company.
  2. This Lyric Theatre shouldn’t be confused with another, later, theatre on Granville Street at the site of the earlier Vancouver Opera House.
  3. Indeed, the tag line on Lyric ads during the time of Howard’s company was “If you want to laugh, go to the Lyric”.
  4. Not all company members served at the same time. This list (and others like it) shows all company members over the period treated.
  5. My thanks to Robert Moen for digging up this info.
  6. For the lists of company members, I have leaned heavily on The Vancouver Daily World, The Province, and the Vancouver Sun.
  7. Thanks to Neil Whaley for drawing to my attention “Dot” Williams’ role in this drama.
  8. This demolition seems utterly pointless, as the lot was not developed until 1987.

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Christian Church (Disciples): 30 Years at Cambie and 13th

Ch N42 – Shelton Memorial Christian Church. 1927. NW Corner Cambie at 13th Ave. W. J. Moore photo.

The church shown above began its life as Shelton Memorial Christian Church at 505 W 13th Ave (at Cambie Street) in 1927. It was on the site of what today is the former Plaza 500 hotel complex (the lower, four-storey, retail wing).

Unraveling Denominational Identity

Explaining the denomination of the church that worshiped here is a challenge. They identified themselves as a “Christian” church, but acknowledged in early ads that their denomination was known elsewhere in Canada as “Disciples of Christ” or “Church of Christ”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help much in identifying where the congregation was on the ideological spectrum.

What can be said of this church denominationally is that they were part of the US-based Stone-Campbell Restoration movement. If you think you can stand any more detail about this bunch, see the links.

For our purposes, it is enough to know that the movement was very non-denominational. At its core, the Restoration movement was about restoring the earliest Christian church with a highly congregational polity (meaning no dictates from a denominational group above it), an absence of creeds during worship, and a desire for ecumenism (unity among denominations). The churches that were part of this movement celebrated the Lord’s Supper (aka communion; aka the eucharist) on a weekly basis (in contrast, Canadian Baptists celebrate communion once a month).

There were three major denominational groups to emerge from the Restoration Movement: Churches of Christ (which don’t use musical instruments during worship; they sing a cappella), the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the independent (and very confusingly named) Christian Church/Church of Christ churches. (I was a member of the last named denomination while growing up in Alberta).

There was tension between ecumenism and the restoration elements of the doctrine advocated by these groups and the different denominations resolved it differently: the Churches of Christ and the Christian Church/Church of Christ groups resolved it by emphasizing the restoration (or 1st-century church) aspects of the doctrine, and the Christian Church (Disciples) by stressing ecumenism. Shelton Memorial belonged to the last group.

In short (and to greatly oversimplify), I’d say that the Christian Church (Disciples) had more in common with the United Church than they did, say, with the Baptists.

The Early Years (1906-1927)

The First Christian Church (Disciples) in 1906, initially worshiped downtown at Pender Hall (Howe at Pender). There was, apparently, no designated pastor of the church in this very early period. In 1910, they moved to another rental space: Lester Hall (Davie and Granville) and hired a pastor, Rev. N. A. Davis. By 1911, they had moved to 1168 Seymour.

By 1923, they had moved to the East End (Woodland Drive and E. 14th) and hired a new pastor, Rev. Claude V. Stainsby. But Woodland Drive didn’t seem to suit the congregation; it was too far off the beaten path to attract new members. So they built Shelton Memorial. Stainsby submitted his resignation to the church board several months before Shelton was ready to be occupied on the understanding that when the new building was dedicated he would step down.

Shelton was dedicated in March, 1927 and was called “Shelton” in memory of Dr. A. L. Shelton, a pioneer missionary of the Disciples in Tibet, 1903-1922. He was murdered in Tibet by bandits.

After leaving Shelton, Stainsby moved to Fernie where he directed the Sunday School of the United Church there. His day job was as “shop” instructor at Fernie High School. He later moved to Mission, where he worked in a similar job and finally took a teaching job at Ladner High School. He died in 1948 at the age of 59.

Rev. Frank T. Carter was Stainsby’s replacement at Shelton. He didn’t last for more than a year.

Rev. William G. Kitchen (1928-1938)

Province. 31 March 1928. Rev. W. G. Kitchen.

Carter’s replacement was Rev. William G. Kitchen, who came in 1928. He came to Vancouver from Saskatoon, where he had been the pastor at a Disciples congregation from ca1917.

In 1938, Shelton began broadcasting its services over radio CKMO (1410khz).

After a decade at Shelton, Kitchen accepted a call to go to a Disciples church in Guelph, ON.

Rev. G. Hayden Stewart (1939-1943)

Province. 21 Oct 1939. Rev. G. Hayden Stewart.

Hayden Stewart came from Calgary where he’d been directing youth work for Disciples churches. He introduced a new evening service plan. It would be called the School for Christian Living and would frequently have guest speakers — not all of whom would be considered by other protestant churches in the city to be strictly appropriate. One such was Arnold Webster in 1941, then a failed CCF federal candidate and later a successful BC MLA for the same party. In 1943, Grace MacInnis, another CCF member, was also asked to speak at the School. Another speaker was Edna MacCullie, a co-founder of Narcotics Anonymous.

It is clear that, under Stewart, Shelton Memorial was putting a significantly greater emphasis on the Social Gospel. On the other hand, the ecumenism of Shelton was also evident, as they brought in pastoral speakers for morning services from such places as First Baptist Church and their near neighbor, Chown Memorial United Church.

In 1943, G. Hayden Stewart decided to pack it in at Shelton. In the same year, Shelton had a name change. For some reason (unadvertised as far as I can tell), the church became Central Christian Church.

Kenneth S. Wills (1945-1951)

Province. 13 Jan 1945. Kenneth S. Wills.

In 1945, Central Christian (formerly Shelton Memorial) hired Kenneth Wills to take over the pastoral reigns. Wills came to Vancouver from Windsor, ON, where he’d been the director of athletics at a local high school and the managing director of Windsor city playgrounds (Province, 13 Jan 1945). In 1951, Wills returned to Ontario where he took a job as Secretary of Christian Education with the Canadian Council of Churches in Toronto.

G. Hayden Stewart (1952-1957)

Stewart made a return to the pulpit of Central in 1952 and remained there until the church wrapped up its time at Cambie and 13th. It closed its doors in 1957.

Postscript: Community Christian (1957-1960)

But by September, Stewart had started a new church at the same site. It would have another name change: this time to Community Christian Church. The congregation was founded by Stewart on the belief that “people are fundamentally religious.” Said Stewart: “‘We want to give the non-church going people of Vancouver the kind of church that will help them find straight-forward answers to their problems'” (Province 14 Sept 1957).

In March 1958, Stewart created a Community Christian Foundation. The Foundation’s purpose was to secure financial support for ecumenical work to be done through his church.

But neither the foundation nor the church lasted long. By 1960 both seem to have been wrapped up. Stewart went on to start his own Christian counseling organization with a focus on teenage group counseling (Sun 5 Oct 1963). He died in Vancouver in 1998 at the age of 91.

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1927 Beauty Contest a Schmozzle

CVA 99-3613 – Canadian Legion – Some of the Contestants in “Popularity Contest” in front of Canadian Legion ‘Celebration’ Offices at 856 Seymour. 1927. Stuart Thomson photo.

Popularity Contest? Beauty Contest?

Shown in the photo above are some of the contestants in the Canadian Legion Celebration Popularity Contest, gathered around the Auburn vehicle that was promised to the winner of the competition.

Although the Legion referred to the contest as being a “popularity” and a “beauty” contest, it was in fact neither. It was principally about how skilled the various women were at distributing tickets in large numbers and in a strategic fashion.

Early Standings: Sun May 9, 1927

In 1927, the Legion sponsored a carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds and the Drill Hall from May 24 (Victoria Day) to May 30th. What was being celebrated was Confederation’s Diamond Jubilee; its 60-year anniversary. In order to gain admission to the carnival, folks needed a (free) admission ticket. The ladies who were in the “popularity contest” would distribute tickets to friends, acquaintances, anyone really who they could persuade to accept a ticket (or more than one) to the carnival. Presumably, the name of the “popularity girl” would be written somewhere on the ticket, and that part of the ticket would be submitted to the Legion. That way, the Legion could track who was leading in ticket distribution and, ultimately, determine who gave away the greatest number of tickets and thereby won the contest.

Sun May 19, 1927

Enrollment criteria were pretty straightforward: Females between the ages of 16 and 21; unmarried; of “unimpeachable” character; residents of Greater Vancouver; and sponsored by a reputable businessman, the chief executive of a fraternal group, a social service, or ex-service organization (Sun 1 April 1927).

Ticket distribution began in early May and continued until midnight on May 30th (the final day of the carnival).

What would “Miss Vancouver” win, exactly? It was widely reported in the local press that she would be given an Auburn coupe automobile (provided by Duplex Sales Ltd.) and she would earn the right to represent Vancouver through a “free trip” to the Inter-City Beauty Contest to be held in September in Atlantic City, N. J. (this was the Miss America pageant).

Sun May 26, 1927

The number of contestants, initially, was 22, but the number enrolled had dropped (for reasons unknown) to 20 by May 9th and to 18 by May 19th.

The woman who would ultimately win the contest and become “Miss Vancouver” was Velma Rogers. Watch how her name bounces around the standings. She begins in 6th place (May 9); then she dives to 15th (May 19); then she made a dramatic move into first place (May 26) and by the day before the final count she was in third place (May 30). The final standings were 1st: Velma Rogers; 2nd: Kitty Salmon; and 3rd: Gertie Preston. It took the counters until 5am to finish the tallying (Sun May 31, 1927).

The contest proved to be about not only having a large number of folks to whom you could go and beg to accept tickets. It was also about knowing when to pull out the stops. You didn’t want to ‘peak’ too early. So it was partly about strategizing.

The Real Contest

Sun May 30, 1927

But ticket distribution, in the whole scheme of things, seems to have been a side-show. The real contest began after the counting was done; the forum was the law courts of British Columbia.

Scarcely had the votes been counted when Mrs. Letitia Salmon, mother of 2nd-place winner, Kitty Salmon, filed an injunction in BC Supreme Court on her daughter’s behalf, claiming that Kitty had been declared the winner, but that after the closing hour, votes and money had been exchanged and that Velma Rogers was then declared the winner. How it was that Mrs. Salmon obtained this information, let alone how she hoped to prove it in a court of law, wasn’t reported. The judge granted her an interim injunction, however, restraining Rogers and the Legion from “handling or dealing with the awards”, at least until June 30th (Edmonton Journal 23 June 1927).

Sun. June 1, 1927

By mid-July, Salmon’s injunction was dissolved and it looked like Rogers would be free to claim the Auburn and her forthcoming Atlantic City expenses. But her legal struggle wasn’t finished, yet.

At the end of July, a new character entered the legal fray: Joseph J. Diamond. He applied for an order that would prevent Rogers from removing the Auburn from Greater Vancouver. Diamond had a written agreement with Rogers, which his lawyer produced in court, which stated that he would be given the car in exchange for his financial aid to Rogers during the contest, in the event that she should win. (Sun 28 July 1927). By early August, the court ordered that the car be sold so that her lawyer could be paid and so that the balance would be available to the court for Diamond’s suit. (Sun 4 August 1927).

A couple of weeks later, and “Queen Velma” (as she was coming to be known in the local press) was on the legal offensive. She had been deprived of her car; there was no way she was going to be denied her right to go to Atlantic City — expenses-free — for the pageant in September!

She threatened to file suit against some 70 individuals who were “patrons” of the Legion celebration, including Mayor L. D. Taylor and Vancouver city aldermen to get enough cash so that she could travel to Atlantic City, unburdened by expenses. Apparently this was the only avenue open to her, since the Legion Celebration Committee was an unincorporated group (Province 19 August 1927).

The 70 didn’t capitulate to Rogers’ threat of bringing suit, however, so she had to actually do so. She sued the 70 for $1500 (including the costs of five evening gowns, sport and afternoon dresses, bathing suits and other apparel) (Province 21 August 1927).

Rogers won the battle, but she lost the war.

It was February 1928 before the suit wended its way though the system — and so, five months after the Atlantic City event, the Legion paid her $1000 for the Atlantic City expenses.


Velma Rogers was married a few months after claiming her $1000. She married Gordon W. Dalgleish, a theatre manager in Nelson. A few years later, Velma was back in Vancouver. She had been made the head of a new hosiery department at Rae’s Clever Shoe Store on Granville Street (Sun 4 April 1934). Not long after that, Velma and Gordon were divorced. Velma married Christopher Beute and moved to California where she worked as an accountant. According to her death notice, during WWII she was employed by Hughes Aircraft and later worked for Samuel Goldwyn Productions. She died in 1996 at the age of 90. (Desert Sun 15 October 1996).

When I was initially piecing this story together, I just assumed that the Legion would have charged for the tickets to the carnival. But they didn’t. And I think that was a mistake. To charge would have meant that the women would have had the opportunity to show off their sales savvy (or lack thereof). And there would have been some money in the ‘kitty’ for prizes. As it turned out, Velma Rogers didn’t seem to win much that she really wanted (her dream of a new car and an expense-paid trip to the New Jersey beauty contest were a total loss). The Legion was damaged by negative publicity. Perhaps the only real winners were the lawyers who represented the parties to the disputes!

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Frank Stuart-Whyte: Impressario Extraordinaire

When Frank Stuart-Whyte wrote to the Vancouver Parks Board in 1911 asking for a meeting to discuss whether his “Versatile” players from England could have a license to perform at English Bay in the summer, he almost certainly had no clue that he was starting an enterprise that would continue — in one form or other — for a decade and become an institution in many cities and towns in Canada.

First Season: 1911

Stuart-Whyte arrived in Vancouver from England in early 1911 when he was 34. In England and Scotland, he had been involved with the production of “1643”, a historical drama that had played those nations to positive reviews.

The first page of Stuart-Whyte’s initial correspondence with the Parks Board, February, 1911. Note: His photo appears on this letterhead. It is apparently letterhead used with his earlier production in England and Scotland, a historical drama called “1643”. CVA RG. 7 Series B-2, Volume 3, #2.

When he got to Vancouver, Stuart-Whyte didn’t let grass grow under his feet; he soon got in touch with the Vancouver Parks Board with a proposal that he and his company of players perform at English Bay in the summer months of that year. He referred to the company as the “Versatiles”. In 1911, they consisted principally of Stuart-Whyte’s wife, whose stage name was “Miss Zara Clinton” and who was known for her impressions of English male impersonator, Vesta Tilley, and Clinton’s brother, comedian Harry Hoyland. “Harry Hoyland” was also a stage name, evidently; his marriage certificate shows his name as Harry Hoyland Young.[1]

The form of entertainment that would be offered by the troupe was English “Pierrot”. Pierrot seems to have been, in this context, a form of vaudeville: musical numbers, comedy sketches, and brief theatrical performances offered over the course of a couple of hours. A difference between Stuart-Whyte’s Versatiles and vaudeville elsewhere in Vancouver, is that it would be performed al fresco on the beach of English Bay in the summer.

The Versatiles at their English Bay al fresco location. n.d. Bullen & Lamb photo.
Courtesy: Neil Whaley Collection

The Parks Board granted Stuart-Whyte a license for the Versatiles to perform in the summer of 1911 for the sum of $150; he would assume the costs of erecting the stage on the beach. The Versatiles had consistently good turnouts at English Bay in 1911.

In June, Stuart-Whyte asked the Board if the Versatiles’ lease at English Bay could be extended for another three years. The Board initially denied this request, preferring to deal with the Versatiles’ lease on a year-by-year basis, but they ultimately agreed (Province 26 September 1912). This proved to be a good move, as the Versatiles through 1916 had strong turnouts at the beach.

Drawing appended to Stuart-Whyte’s initial correspondence with Parks Board, February 1911. Shows initial site of the Versatiles’ stage, SE of the bathing pavilion. (Note: the compass on this drawing is in error. W should be where E is). CVA RG. 7 Series B-2, Volume 3, #2.
A snapshot showing what I think was the Versatiles’ stage on English Bay beach. The orientation of the stage to the beach is different from that in Stuart-Whyte’s drawing, above. It is facing the promenade in this photo. This would put the date of this image between 1912 and 1916. In a letter from Stuart-Whyte to the Parks Board in April 1912, he requested that the stage be built “to face the promenade.” His company had apparently been plagued with colds in 1911 due to “the cold night wind which blew across the stage when it was at right angles to the prom.” (Letter from Stuart-Whyte to Parks Board, April 9, 1912 – CVA). Photo Courtesy: Neil Whaley Collection.

By Autumn, the Versatiles had finished their summer schedule of performances at English Bay. The troupe (Zara Clinton, her brother Harry Hoyland, and manager-husband, Stuart-Whyte) boarded the CPR steamer, Zealandia, bound for the Hawaiian Islands, where they would perform (World, 1 November 1911). They were also scheduled to perform that Winter in California, New Zealand, and Australia.

Second Season – Market Experiment: 1912

In late May 1912, the Versatiles were back at English Bay with an expanded cast that included Emylin Berryman, Will Conley, Lora Churchill, Frank Healey, Will Lochrane, George Bret, Walter Charles and, of course, Zara Clinton and Harry Hoyland (World, 23 May 1912). The English Bay enterprise had another great summer in 1912.

Stuart-Whyte’s Versatiles’ letterhead ca1912+. CVA RG. 7 Series B-2, Volume 3, #2. Stuart-Whyte is in the sharp sign (to the right of the treble clef). I suspect that the person shown within the treble clef is Harry Hoyland and that the woman’s face in the first note at the left is Zara Clinton.
Chilliwack Progress. 2 October 1912.

Beginning in the off-season of 1912, the Versatiles dipped a metaphorical “toe” into a new market; Stuart-Whyte booked the Versatiles into bricks-and-mortar theatres across Western Canada (including the Opera House in Chilliwack, the Sherman Grand Theatre in Calgary, the Empire Theatre in Edmonton, the Empire in Saskatoon, and the Orpheum in Regina). This experiment proved to be a great success and fueled later work by Stuart-Whyte and his company. The main vehicle for the Autumn/Winter tour was a playlet written by Stuart-Whyte called “In the Camp-Fire’s Glow”, a “cowboy musical comedy” set along the Fraser River in B.C.

Third Season – Stadacona Park (Victoria): 1913

By Summer 1913, the Versatiles had established themselves in Victoria in an al fresco setting not unlike Vancouver’s English Bay. They were granted a lease by the City of Victoria to the recently established Stadacona Park. The blue-bloods in the area weren’t impressed with the Versatiles performing in ‘their’ park, but plans went ahead and the general public of the city seemed to soak it up. They would remain at Stadacona Park in Victoria for the summer months of 1913 and 1914.

Regina Leader-Post 2 December 1913/

How did the Versatiles manage to perform in Vancouver and Victoria at the same time? I think the answer is found in a few classified ads that Stuart-Whyte put in Victoria and Vancouver newspapers. He announced that he was looking to “augment his well known companies of London Entertainers . . . .Comedians, tenors, baritones, sopranos, contraltos, pianist” (Victoria Daily Times 12 February 1912). It seems likely from this that a small contingent of Versatiles veterans would seed both the Vancouver and Victoria companies and be augmented by some of the locals hired as a result of ads like the one quoted.

In 1913, Stuart-Whyte added popular Scot, Billy Oswald, and sisters Edith and Harriet Fawn to the Versatiles gang. In the off-season tour, the Versatiles premiered “The Canadian Express”, a playlet depicting the woes of tenderfeet on their first train journey in the Canadian West (Saskatoon Star-Phoenix 22 November 1913). The 1913 tour saw a modest expansion on the tour of 1912. They hit all of the spots of the previous year, in addition to some smaller towns in B.C. (including Revelstoke) and at least as far east as Ottawa.

Fourth and Fifth Seasons: 1914-1915

The Pioneer (Bemedji Minnesota) 25 November 1914.

By 1914, the Versatiles had added to their headliners with Wilfrid Brandon, Fred Reynolds, KItty Clifford, Ida Hart, Thiel Jordan (Victoria Daily Times 1 May 1914). The Autumn/Winter tour featured a ‘re-run’ from 1913, “The Canadian Express” and the premiere of “Scottie in Japan”, a musical comedy “depicting a stranded vaudeville company in the flowery kingdom” (Saskatoon Daily Star 29 October 1914). There was a noteworthy difference to the touring locations in 1914, however: the troupe moved south of the 49th Parallel for at least one stop in Minnesota, in the city of Bemedji. There, “The Canadian Express” became “The Honeymoon Express”, presumably with a few other Americanizing edits to the script to make the train journey more recognizable to a U.S. audience.

In September 1915, Vancouver was the opening city for a new Stuart-Whyte musical comedy, set in a department store, called “The Girl from Nowhere”. “The Girl” was staged again at the Vancouver Avenue Theatre in January 1916 and then in late February, a new production, “Floradora,” was at the Avenue “with a brilliant cast of twenty-five”. Each of these productions opened in Vancouver and then later was taken on the road to the usual Canadian locations. There seem not to have been any American locations on the 1915 tour.

Sixth Season – End of English Bay Versatiles: 1916

Summer 1916 was the final season of English Bay performances in Vancouver.[2] It was an abbreviated season at English Bay, said Stuart-Whyte, due to conscription being imposed in England, causing several of those he would have included in his outdoor cast to be recruited for WWI service (Sun 10 August 1916).

Crop of CVA 99-1223. Shows the Versatiles’ English Bay stage and seats on the beach. ca1916. Stuart Thomson photo.

Autumn/Winter 1916 was notable for a couple of reasons. It marked the start of a string of hit pantomimes written/produced by Stuart-Whyte. And it marked his first production opening in a city other than Vancouver. In September 1916, “Alladin and His Wonderful Lamp” opened in Winnipeg at the Walker Theatre. This production was touted by Stuart-Whyte – accurately or not – as being “Canada’s first ‘old country’ pantomime” (Edmonton Journal 7 October 1916). Zara Clinton, in true English panto fashion, played the principal boy, Alladin; Harry Hoyland played the Widow Twankey.

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Seasons: 1917-1919

A scene from Robinson Crusoe. Regina Leader-Post. 26 November 1917.

Autumn/Winter 1917 saw the premiere of Stuart-Whyte’s “Robinson Crusoe”. Zara Clinton played the title role, supported by a cast of 40. Stuart-Whyte “followed the original text in large measure and then added a series of incidents that Daniel Dafoe probably never dreamed of” (Edmonton Journal 3 October 1917). For composition of the music for “Crusoe”, Stuart-Whyte called upon no fewer than three composers: Pierre Bayard, Clive Hamilton, and Sydney Blythe, all of England.

1918 saw the most ambitious touring schedule of Stuart-Whyte’s troupe, to date. In addition to the usual Canadian locations, the 1918 tour included a great many U.S. sites, including: Buffalo, Rochester, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnatti, Streator (Illinois), Davenport (Iowa), Madison, Des Moines, and Sioux City (Iowa). Why did Stuart-Whyte choose this year for such an expanded U.S. tour? There are a couple of reasons, I think. First, the production that they were showing in U.S. cities – “Robinson Crusoe” – was one that was familiar to American audiences. Second, it appears that Stuart-Whyte had a deal with the American theatrical syndicate, Klaw and Erlanger, that year and so had access to a large number of theatres in many cities, probably at reduced cost (Streator Times 27 March 1918). The summer months of 1918 saw the Versatiles at their al fresco location in Winnipeg at Portage and Vaughn. But, although it was advertised as having “the famous Versatiles”, it was, in fact just a single Versatile performing: longtime member, Billy Oswald.

The Autumn/Winter of 1918 saw the Versatiles touring Canadian cities again, this time with the musical “Cinderella”. Zara Clinton played Prince Charming and Sue Parker was in the title role. Other principals included John Barrett-Lennard, Harry Hoyland, Herbert Sydney, T. Clifden Corless, Kitty Arthur, and Blanche Young. This played in 1918 and through to March 1919.

Tenth Season – Final Successful Panto: 1920

Starting in January 1920, Stuart-Whyte produced yet another panto: “Red Riding Hood.” Dorothy Mackay played the title role. Other principal parts were played by Zara Clinton (“Boy Blue”), Johnny Osborne (“Mother Hubbard”), Will Hallet (animal impersonator), and John Barrett-Lennard (“King Cole”) (Saskatoon Daily Star 13 January 1920).

In October 1920, Stuart-Whyte launched “Babes in the Wood”, with Dorothy Mackay again in the title role. Other cast included George H. Summers (“Capt. Kidd”), R. N. Hincks (“semi-wicked baron”), Victor Dyer (“very wicked baroness”), Tom Ellis (“Dick Turpin”), and Mona Warren (“Robin Hood”).

The Versatiles at their English Bay al fresco location. n.d. Bullen & Lamb photo.
Courtesy: Neil Whaley Collection

Running concurrently with “Babes” was a revival by Stuart-Whyte of “San Toy: A Chinese Musical” which also toured a number of urban centres. San Toy was a departure from Stuart-Whyte’s spate of panto hits. It was musical comedy, but not a pantomime.

In December 1920, he spun out another theatrical revival, this one Sydney Jones’ “The Geisha”, “a love story of old Japan with an adorable musical setting.” These two revivals seemed to be, in part, vehicles for a number of Stuart-Whyte’s adult actors who had been strong performers in his earlier successes but who didn’t really fit in his juvenile pantos such as “Red Riding Hood” and “Babes in the Woods”. In “The Geisha” there would be 50 actors, including Zara Clinton (“Molly”), Kitty Arthur (“the little Jap Geisha girl”), and Fred Walton.

Eleventh Season – Prince Charming (Not): 1922

September 1922 saw a new musical from the pen of Stuart-Whyte: “Prince Charming, Jr.” (sub-headed in the ads “Girls, Gowns, and Gorgeousness”). It was based loosely on a recent tour by the Prince of Wales. Some of the music in the play was by B. C. Hilliam (Ottawa Citizen 26 September 1922).

The Citizen reviewer was quite critical of this production: ” . . . the composition has no intelligible story which, of course, is not necessary for its success. It has color and girls, one or two good songs, and some novelties in the way of gags and scenic tableaux . . . It has at least five good wheezes [jokes] and a number of others not so good.” (Ottawa Citizen 26 September 1922). And the reviewer at the Montreal Gazette damned “Jr.” with faint praise: “[I]t has sufficient good points to make it, on the whole, good entertainment . . . . On the other hand, the production scarcely has the freshness and vigor of some of its predecessors, particularly insofar as the plot and the musical setting are concerned” (Montreal Gazette 21 November 1922).

Never with any of Stuart-Whyte’s previous productions did I see a “discouraging word” in any review. But it isn’t really surprising, is it, that after 10 seasons of successes, he might lay an egg?

Movie Producer

Nothing appeared about Stuart-Whyte in Canadian press reports for four years after the flop that was “Jr.”

What had become of him?

Evidently, he had transformed himself from a producer of theatrical productions into a producer of movies. In Australia, according to one press source, he produced four films, all of which were financial successes (Sakatoon Daily Star 19 November 1927). There seem today to be records of only two Stuart-Whyte films made in Australia: Painted Daughters (1925) and Sunrise (1926). Zara Clinton starred in “Painted Daughters”. Sunrise is considered a lost film.

Stuart-Whyte spun colourful tales to the writer of a Canadian newspaper piece that was syndicated in various Canadian papers about how he was involved in producing movies in Hollywood, South Africa, the West Indies and India (Saskatoon Daily Star 19 November 1927). But, oddly only one movie title was mentioned; it was claimed by the writer that his name appeared among the “directorial staff” of Douglas Fairbanks’ “Thief of Bagdad“. Today, no movie credits for Stuart-Whyte remain except for the two Australian films.

The Cat Came Back (Briefly)

Edmonton Journal 3 March 1928.

By 1928, Stuart-Whyte had returned to Canada to produce another panto; this one was “Dick Whittington and His Cat”. “Dick” had pretty positive reviews, but I’m guessing that in terms of success that matters – bums in seats – it was found wanting:

(TORONTO) Stranded, though in their home town, four or five members of the defunct F. Stuart-Whyte pantomime, “Dick Whittington and His Cat,” which closed unceremoniously in Brockville [Ontario] several weeks ago, watched disconsolately while the entire outfit, slightly shopworn, was purchased by P. G. Gadsby of Toronto for $400 at the sheriff’s sale.

All one corner of a huge garage was occupied with a miscellaneous collection of theatrical goods and equipment. Seven changes of costume for 17 girls, two changes for four comedians, and large and valuable backdrops, as yet untouched with the painter’s brush, formed part of the collection. The equipment was said by the auctioneer to be worth $5000.

Regina Leader 1 May 1928

Just what became of Stuart-Whyte following the demise of “Dick” isn’t clear to me. I could find no newspaper accounts of later ventures (or even reports as to whether he’d retired), nor could I find an obituary for either him or his wife, “Zara”(Sarah, off-stage).

He died in England in 1947.

I’m very appreciative of Vancouver collector, Neil Whaley, for his treasure trove of ‘real photograph post cards’ and snapshots he has collected
and permitted me to show here.


  1. Late-breaking news: “F. Stuart-Whyte” was also a stage name! He appears in a couple of ship manifests as Frank Hardwick White (1877-1947); and “Zara” as Sarah Nellie White (nee Young) (1882-1950). Frank and Sarah were married in England in 1903. They had a son born 1904 called Geoffrey Hoyland White and another born 1906 by the name of Dennis William White.
  2. In 1936 the Versatiles made a return to English Bay for Vancouver’s jubilee year. The 1936 group was entirely Canadian, as far as I can tell. The cast included Sidney Dean, Frank Dowie, Linda Dale, Frank Vyvyan, Gladys Symmonds, Ruby Chamberlain, Agnes Harrison, Allan Roughton, Hazel McDonald, Lorna McDonald, Gus Dawson, Charles Courtier, and Bertha Strang.

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Clement Welch: A Passion for Choral Music – Updated

James Clement Welch (1871-1962) emigrated from England to Canada in 1886, the year of Vancouver’s incorporation as a city — and the year of Clement’s 15th birthday. By the time he was in his mid-30s, he would lead what would become, arguably, his greatest legacy: the Vancouver (Amateur) Operatic Society. But that period was still 20 years in his future and nearly a continent apart from where he initially settled with his parents: in the still-tiny, recently-christened Canadian national capital.


Clement arrived on our shores with his parents, Thomas (ca1836-1920) and Mary (ca1843-1925); the family settled in Ottawa. Thomas took on the organist’s job (and for a few years, that of the Choirmaster) at St. Alban’s the Martyr Church (Anglican; today the church is known simply as St. Alban’s).

Daily World. 11 Oct 1924.

It isn’t clear what exactly Clement did for the first few years after his family moved to Canada. Chances are, he did what most teens do: got some sort of training (judging from what came later, I’m guessing that included some accountancy training; I know for certain only that he graduated from Ottawa Normal School in 1894), and likely went through typical teenage rites of passage.

In 1896 (when he turned 25), however, Clement started his first full-time, professional job as a teacher in Ottawa’s public schools. His teaching career spanned 1896-1906 and from what I could find in Ottawa press reports, it appears that he spent most of his teaching career working at the same school.

1895-96 was a red-letter year for Clement, as he would begin a second career (simultaneous with that as teacher) — one that would feed his great passion for choral music. By that year, St. Alban’s Church had scaled back the responsibilities of Clement’s father, Thomas, from Organist/Choirmaster to just that of Organist. The new Choirmaster chosen by St. Alban’s was Thomas’ son, Clement! Two years later, the powers-that-were at St. Alban’s must have been pretty pleased with themselves for this personnel decision. The Ottawa Journal gushed: “[Clement Welch] is a great worker, and the boys esteem him highly — no small thing, mark you, for choir boys are difficult cattle to handle and to get such results as does Mr. Welch needs much tact and a peculiarly endowed temperament” (Ottawa Journal 30 Sept 1899).

Clement married Mabel Burtch (1875-1901) also in 1895. Their eldest child, Velma Ann Maud (1896-1925) and a boy was born to the pair, named Clement Bentley (1899-1974). (1)

Clement’s and Mabel’s marriage was destined to be very brief. Mid-way down a long, bleak column headlined the “Death Roll of 1901”, the local newspaper noted that “On Oct. 5th, Mrs. J. Clement Welch died at her residence…” (Ottawa Citizen, 2 Jan 1902). It seems that Mabel died of septicemia — although the circumstances under which she contracted it are unknown to me.

Taste of the West Coast

In July, 1903, Clement took himself on vacation from a probably uncomfortably hot and humid Ottawa for the mild west coast air of North America, specifically (according to local press clippings) San Francisco and Victoria. No mention was made of him stopping at Vancouver, but it’s possible that he spent some time there, too.

In 1904, Clement married his second wife, Minnie Ernestine Budd (1879-1970). Welch brought the two kids from his first marriage (Velma and Bentley); Minnie and Clement also had a son together, Thomas Kenneth (1905-1988).

Minnie Welch and Florence McLean (a Holy Trinity member) on Bowyer Island, n.d. Cecil Jeffares photo. Courtesy: Neil Whaley Collection.

Clement received a teaching promotion in July 1906 — which took effect in September. He was appointed to the position of musical director of all Ottawa public schools. The starting salary was $900 per year (Ottawa Journal, 6 July 1906). Furthermore, when September rolled around, he received a further promotion to become “relieving principal” and that as of one year later, he would become a full principal of a four-room school. His teaching career seemed to be taking off in an administrative direction. (Ottawa Citizen, 7 Sept 1906).

Interestingly, the September 1906 press report would prove to be the final such pertaining to Clement in Ottawa. Probably during the Ottawa winter of 1906-07 (not the best of seasons in the nation’s capital). Clement decided to pack it in with school teaching there and head for the west coast with his family. They arrived in Vancouver sometime in 1907.


After the Welchs rolled into Vancouver, one of Clement’s priorities was to become connected with a local Anglican church. One of the nearest congregations to where they were living at the time (842 West 7th Avenue) was Holy Trinity Anglican (at 10th Ave. and

Welch and his choir boys at Holy Trinity (Vancouver), presumably, n.d. Cecil Jeffares photo.
Courtesy: Neil Whaley Collection.

Pine Street; no longer at that location). Apparently, the Welchs became members there and it wasn’t long before he was invited to become the Choirmaster. As had been the case at St. Alban’s in Ottawa, Clement quickly developed a very positive reputation as leader of the choir at Holy Trinity.

For his first 10 years in Vancouver, Clement was kept busy with music at Holy Trinity and with his non-musical vocation. He maintained a non-musical career (like his teaching career in Ottawa) simultaneous with a musical one. When he left the teaching profession and came to Vancouver, he left it for good, never (to my knowledge) to return to it. When he arrived in Lotusland, he immediately took up an accountancy career. Initially, he operated as a “book-keeper”, presumably freelance, working out of his home. In the 1910s, he served as accountant to BC Market Co.; in the 1920s and ’30s he was accountant to the Vancouver Medical Association Credit Bureau; and in the 1940s and ’50s, before retiring, he was a “collections specialist”.

Vancouver Operatic Society

By the start of the Great War, Clement was inspired to start the group that became the Vancouver Operatic Society (it was known for the first year or two of its existence as the Patriotic Operatic Society) (2). Their first production, in May 1915, was George F. Root’s The Haymakers.

Welch and the Vancouver Operatic Society: The Haymakers, May 1915.
Courtesy: Neil Whaley Collection.

Later that same year, they followed up with the first in a string of Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas: Patience (1915, 1921). This was followed by The Pirates of Penzance (1916), and The Yeomen of the Guard (1917). The G&S series was broken by producing Jones & Hall’s The Geisha (1918) and The Country Girl (1920). After that, the Society produced Tanner & Nicholls’ The Toreador (1921) and The Mikado (1922).

For the first several years (1915-22), Society performances were almost invariably held at The Avenue Theatre (at Main and Georgia). However, The Cingalee (1923), The Rebel Maid (1924), and The Arcadians (1925) were performed in the “old” Orpheum Theatre on the west side of Granville Street. Proceeds from the performances of wartime productions went to support soldiers fighting in Europe. Proceeds from post-war productions supported local charities.

CVA 8-07 – “The Geisha”. Vancouver Operatic Society, Avenue Theatre, May 1919.

1926 marked the end of Vancouver Operatic Society productions, although it died with more of a whimper than a bang. There were no announcements of its demise in the press. But, J. C. Welch continued to put up comic operas and light musicals with various other groups.

North Van Operatic Society and Kiwanis and Kiwassa Glee Clubs

A North Vancouver Operatic Society was formed in 1926, with Clement conducting. That year, they performed Florodora. In 1927, Welch teamed up with the Maple Ridge Glee Club in March to produce Iolanthe at Hammond Theatre in Maple Ridge and at the end of the year, partnered with a musical bunch at the YMCA to produce the musical, Tulip Time, for five nights at the Avenue Theatre. In February 1929, Welch again led the North Vancouver Operatic Society in producing Planquette’s musical, Rip Van Winkle at the Lonsdale Theatre. He led the North Shore Operatic Society in 1930 in a production of a pre-Christmas Gilbert & Sullivan offering of The Gondoliers.

Clement had been a chartered member of the Vancouver Kiwanis since 1919. He quickly became involved with the Club’s music side. He organized a Kiwanis minstrel show in 1921, ’22 and ’23. That was followed by a series of annual musical comedies: Pung Chow of Po (1925), Pickles (1926), The Prince of Pilsen (1927), The Attached Attache (1928), The Firefly (1929), The Chocolate Soldier (1930), A Country Girl (1931), Florodora (1932), The Geisha (1933), The Chimes of Normandy (1934), The Red Mill (1935), The Wizard of the Nile (1936), The Toreador (1937), The Arcadians (1938), and A Runaway Girl (1939) (Vancouver Sun 24 June 1939).

In 1941, Welch retired form leadership of the Kiwanis Glee Club (The Province 3 Oct 1941). He turned 70 that year. He spent some of the time during his post-Kiwanis Glee Club years auditing the books of the women’s division of the Kiwanis, the Kiwassa’s and leading their Glee Club (The Province, 7 May 1948). Most of the Kiwassa productions were presented for a limited audience, typically just for Kiwassa Club members.

In 1945, Welch retired from the Choirmaster’s role at Holy Trinity after 35+ years. He led the Kiwassa’s Glee Club from about 1948 until at least 1954. There is no press report of him retiring from the position.

Clement Welch died on January 26, 1962 at the age of 90.


(1) Velma was born Velma Ann Maud Welch. She trained for a nursing career for a period starting in 1916, but ultimately left that course uncompleted due to ill health. Later, she spent some time with the Vancouver News-Advertiser and as society editor of the Vancouver Sun. She married Harold Robert Milner Potter in 1919 in Calgary. She spent a couple of years in Banff as a corespondent for a number of western Canadian newspapers. She died in Calgary in 1925 “after an extended illness”. She seems to have taken a new middle name at some point after marrying Potter and became Velma Albirdie Welch Potter. Following a funeral service in Calgary, her remains were interred in Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery as Velma Potter. (My thanks are due to Robert of WestEndVancouver for his help tracking Velma).

(2) There was at least one previous Vancouver Operatic Society in the city before J.C. Welch’s group was founded in 1915. A Vancouver Operatic Society seems to have been started in 1895 with the production of Dorothy. That group seemed to peter out within a couple of years, however, finishing with The Chimes of Normandy in 1897. Nothing more of the Society was evident in press reports until 1910, with the production of H. M. S. Pinafore at the Vancouver Opera House. This society seems to have fizzled by 1911, however, after the staging of The Mikado.

There was at least one amateur group that followed on from J.C. Welch’s Society after it died ca 1926. This next Society had service club origins similar to that of the Kiwanis Glee Club. It started life in 1950 as an arm of the Lions Club and was known as the Central Lions Operatic Society. However, before long, the name was changed to the Greater Vancouver Operatic Society. This group seems to have been the longest-lived of all, lasting, according to one authority, from 1948-1992 (although there is evidence in press clippings that this organization endured until as late as 2001).

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A Brief Revealing Tale

I’m reliably informed that this story has been told before, more than once. But it was new to me, and so, working on the assumption that others likewise may be unaware of the tale, I’m sharing it below.

CVA 677-591 – Cropped image of Joe Fortes diving into water at English Bay. The bathhouse in question appears behind Fortes. ca1906. P T Timms.

The story has its beginning in July 1905. The wood frame bathhouse shown above had recently been erected at First Beach on English Bay. A letter was written by “The Odd Man Out” to the editor of the Vancouver Daily World informing citizens that

the glass in the windows of the bathhouses (sic) is so transparent that all the “beauty” (?) of the male bathers and the entire angelic form of the female can be seen to perfection by all outsiders on the beach . . . .

World, 11 July 1905

Apparently in the mornings, when the sun hit the changing room windows just right, those inside the bathhouse who were changing were visible to those outside.

More than a fortnight passed, and nothing had been done about the non-opaque windows, so “Modesty” picked up his pen and wrote a letter to the World notifying Vancouverites of the inaction of civic authorities. This writer speculated, very presciently, upon possible future legal ramifications:

. . . . The question arises as to what would happen if the police took action against the bathers. Would the mayor and aldermen or the members of the board of works, or all of them, be responsible? And in the event of a conviction for indecent exposure, would they be open to conviction as accessories before the fact? One can understand how easy it would be for an innocent person to get brought up before the police court; and, in such a case, would not the authorities be the most criminal of the parties? A few hours work and a few pounds of paint would be all that is necessary to put the matter right.

World 24 July 1905

Fully a year passed, and still nothing was done by the City about the bathhouse windows.

And then, a series of events very close to those speculated upon by “Modesty” came to pass:

. . . . [A] young man, apparently refined and well educated . . . was arrested by [Special] Constable Joe Fortes for indecent exposure at the Beach last Friday. The defendant claimed that if he had committed the crime it had been done unwittingly, and was due to the condition of the glass . . . . [The Magistrate] . . . . dismissed the charge. It was now up to Park Commissioners to act. If they desired the present conditions to continue, well and good, but he believed some change should be made.

Province 9 July 1906

By July 12, the Parks Board had finally acted. The exteriors of the windows were given a coat or two of opaque paint. Problem solved.

Imagine the expense (to the legal system) and embarrassment (to the young man unfairly charged with indecent exposure) that could have been avoided if the Parks Board had applied opaque paint back in 1905!

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A (Forgotten) Dragon Named Sue

Cropped and edited CVA 1415-195 – The first(?) “Centennial Sue”, a smoke-spewing Chinese dragon and an accompanying Chinese junk at Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, ca1958

Monster Mash

The 150-foot dragon (“painted in an Indian motif and floating on oil drums”) was installed in Lost Lagoon by the B.C. Centennial (1858-1958) Committee in June 1958 (Sun 19 June 1958). The Chinese junk, which was to be part of the art installation was added in July (Province 11 July 1958). The dragon was named “Centennial Sue”. The dragon was constructed of B.C. plywood and it and the junk were illuminated at night (Province, 19 June 1958).

The monster and sailing junk on Last Lagoon are causing a little embarrassment to the park board. Few people like them and most everybody wishes they would go away — but the board is stuck with them till the centennial committee takes them away. . . . Park superintendent Phllip B. Stroyan explained it this way:

“We gave the centennial committee permission to put up decorations on English Bay and in the Lost Lagoon. The only snag was that we did not know what they had in mind for the lagoon.

“These things appeared overnight. The monster, whatever it is supposed to be, is bad enough. But then this junk appears, with a ‘for sale’ sign on it. Well, we tore that sign off quickly enough, but the rest is there to stay till Frank Bernard — special events chairman for the centennial committee — takes them away.

“I guess it won’t be too long now,” Mr. Stroyan added.

Province 5 August 1958

I don’t understand why it was that the Province was convinced that the dragon was generally disliked. I quite like it. I’m guessing that the dragon/junk installation wasn’t in the Lagoon for much more than two or three months.

Province, June 21, 1958.

Cartoon Cutie

There seemed to be a lack of originality by the various Centennial committees, when it came to naming. In April 1958, it was announced by L. J. Wallace that there would be a “Centennial Sue” who would be the companion to “Century Sam“. These cartoon figures would serve to boost tourism in B.C. (Chilliwack Progress, April 2, 1958).

It isn’t clear which of the “Centennial Sues” was the first, the dragon or the cute/folksy human cartoon character. However, based on the description at the Museum of Vancouver, I’m inclined to put my money on the “monster.”

Centennial Sue. MOV. H2017.41.2. 1966.

Century Sam was a cartoon prospector created as a symbol for BC’s Centennial celebrations in 1958. In 1956 Lawrie Wallace created the idea of the character, while illustrator Bob Banks was tasked [with] actualizing the character. Banks had an extensive career in illustration, working on a range of projects including portraiture, Buzzer transit pamphlets, textbooks, magazines, and work for corporate clients including MacMillan Bloedel, BC Rail, and Air Canada. Century Sam, in his iconic hat, checkered shirt, yellow vest, and chinstrap beard, became a symbol for BC’s Centenaries and tourism in general. Banks also created a companion for Century Sam, Centennial Sue. The figures were used in 1958 and again for the 1966 celebrations of the formation of BC as a colony, as well as the 1967 centennial celebrating Canada’s confederation, and the 1971 centennial celebrating BC’s entrance into Canadian confederation.


Sam seems to have been ‘actualized’ by Banks before Sue was, but it’s difficult to say for sure, and since Mr. Banks has now gone to his reward, it’s now probably impossible to know.

But one thing is certain: the dragon of Lost Lagoon has been all but forgotten.

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Misspellings of My Surname . . . Let Me Count the Ways!

Peter A Awrey Cropped from CVA LGN 484. 1889.

Aurey, Aury, Owrey, and Awray. I have found all of these mis-spellings of the surname of Peter Alpaugh Awrey (1824-1906). (Oddly, his middle name — which seems to me more challenging — was never misspelled in official documents!) The good folks at the B.C. Vital Statistics branch even managed to get one spelling for Peter (Aurey) and a different one for his wife, Rachel (Awrey)!

Awrey was, before coming to B.C., a farmer in Ontario and later (1880-1886) in Emerson, Manitoba. He and his wife, Rachel, came to Vancouver the year after civic incorporation (1886) to put up their heels after a lifetime of sowing and harvesting to enjoy their retirement. Why Vancouver? Well, it seems that they had a daughter living here: Martha (David) Evans. Perhaps that fact in addition to the more moderate climate of Vancouver served as motives.

Peter didn’t completely relax, though. He was a deacon at First Baptist Church, and later was named the first “life deacon”. He was also on the board of the Alexandra Orphanage.

LP 103.3 – Birds eye view looking down on 522 Homer Street from vantage of Holy Rosary Catholic Church. The home set back on the lot is likely 522; their yard is where the Homer Parking lot would be by 1974. Albert Langlois photo. 1900.
Crop of CVA 778-197 – The Homer Parking lot (shown in between the garage at right and the Victoria block at left) would have been 522 Homer. 1974.

The Awreys lived for most of their years in Vancouver at 522 Homer Street in the long-forgotten days when there were residences all along that street, before there was a wee parking lot on their former lot, and long before BC Hydro dominated the block.

For the last couple years of Peter’s life, the Awreys lived with daughter and son-in-law, Martha and David Evans, at their home at 724 Robson (the south side of Robson near Granville). Shortly after Christmas in 1905, Peter was out for a walk in their neighbourhood when he spotted a construction site and moved in for a closer view of it. In that period, streets did not have concrete sidewalks, but instead wooden boardwalks. The local newspaper attributed Peter’s accidental fall to his “failing eyesight”, but it could just as easily have been unsteadiness due to his age. But, in any case, he stumbled and fell into the excavated construction pit. When he was discovered some time later, he was unconscious, and was moved to the Evans’ home. He never regained consciousness and died nearly 48 hours later (Province, 2 January 1906). He was 83.

Str P229 – This is the south side of Robson between Granville and Howe. David and Martha Evans’ home (and David’s tailor business) would have been two doors to the right of the frame of this photo; just west of the barber shop shown here. Note the wooden boardwalk. Imagine how precarious it would have been to be standing on the edge of a wooden walk when trying to see a (presumably un-fenced) excavation of an undeveloped lot. ca1900.

Rachel passed in 1913 at age 85. David Evans (who formed the first Vancouver brass band) died in 1916 at age 65. Martha in 1948 at age 87.

The Awreys had one surviving grandchild from David and Martha: Joy Evans. The Awreys were predeceased by their grandson, Caradoc Evans, who died in 1887 (at age 10 months), who was the first person to be buried in the Mountain View Cemetery.

Port N173.6 – Mrs. David Evans at her son’s grave (Caradoc Evans) in Mountain View Cemetery. 1939.
Excerpt from 1st Baptist (Vancouver) Minute Book From Its Organization March 16th, 1887 to January 5th 1898. This shows the coming into membership of the Awreys at First Baptist Church on June 28, 1887. (Note: The church clerk of the time misspelled the Awreys’ name, too!), Page 5. Courtesy: First Baptist Church Archives.

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The Steno Sisters

CVA 1376-653 – Catherine Pedden. 191-. J. W. Hughes photo.

In the early years of the twentieth century, it wasn’t often that a young woman started her own small business, much less made a ‘go’ of it for nearly 30 years! But that’s exactly what Catherine Pedden did. With help from her sister, Ellen, Catherine’s stenography business endured from 1913 to 1942.

Catherine and Ellen Pedden were two of the daughters of Joseph Pedden and Mary McArthur. Joseph emigrated to Canada from Scotland ca1843 with his family when he was quite young (about 7). He married Mary in 1871 and settled in Middlesex County, Ontario where they farmed. Four kids preceded Catherine and two came in between Catherine and Ellen. Catherine was born in 1885 and Ellen, the youngest child, came along in 1891.

Joseph died in 1910 at age 73 in Strathroy, ON. His passing seemed to prompt the move of Mary, Catherine, Ellen, and one of the brothers to the west coast. It isn’t clear to me exactly why they pulled up stakes in Strathroy to make such a major move, but chances are that it was related to money and the good prospects for making more of it in the relatively new urban centre of Vancouver.

Museum of Vancouver. H2004.94.8 1910s period photo of Catherine Pedden’s office (Catherine, it is claimed, is seated at the typewriter at left).

I haven’t been able to find any evidence of what education the two girls received, but I suspect they went to a secretarial college in Ontario after finishing secondary school.