Vancouver Arts & Crafts Association

Bu N135 - [O'Brien Hall, Metropolitan Block and the De Beck Building, southeast corner of Homer and Hastings Streets] 1940.
Bu N135 – [O’Brien Hall, Metropolitan Block and the De Beck Building, southeast corner of Homer and Hastings Streets] 1940. This was the site of the inaugural exhibition of the A&CA, July, 1900. Interestingly, R. M. Fripp, who was later president of the Arts & Crafts Association, was the designer of O’Brien Hall. The Hall was demolished in 1940, presumably shortly after this image was made.
image2-3The Arts & Crafts Association came into being in April, 1900 and lasted little more than a couple of years.* It had as its “chief aim . . . to encourage artistic feeling and knowledge and to bring the designer and the workman or craftsman into closer relationship.” (Brochure, Arts and Crafts Association. Vancouver, B.C., Evans & Hastings [Printer?], n.d. {190-?], CVA Collection off-line).

The Association offered classes in a variety of areas:

  • Painting and drawing
  • Modelling
  • Art Needlework
  • Design and Execution of Furniture
  • Architectural Drawing and History
  • Mechanical Drawing
  • Photography
  • Painting on China
  • Carving

An “annual exhibition” was held in which members were entitled to submit their works for show and sale. The first of these was held in September, 1900 at the Theatre Royal (also known as the Alhambra Theatre), located at Pender and Howe. The second annual exhibit was in 1901 at the Fairfield Building on Granville at Pender. (There was a third exhibit that wasn’t one of the “annual” exhibits. It was an inaugural exhibition at O’Brien Hall (Hastings and Homer) to help celebrate the creation of the association. It was held in July, 1900.)

Judging from the handwritten list of members held by CVA, about half of the 60+ paid members were women. The gender distribution among the executive was consistent with the time in not being representative of the membership, however the one woman among the ten officers – Mrs. Balfour Ker – was a Vice-President (the other V-P was S. M. Eveleigh). The President and a major force behind the Association was Robert M. Fripp.

Port P552 - [Robert MacKay Fripp] ca1888 J. D. Hall photo.
Port P552 – Robert MacKay Fripp. ca1888 J. D. Hall photo.
After the 1901 exhibit, the Association seemed to run out of steam. Mention was made in the press that the Association came to an end with the move of R. M. Fripp to California (temporarily) and “the scattering of other important members.”

Some of the functions of the Arts & Crafts Association were assumed by the Studio Club** (1904) and by the B.C. Society of Fine Arts (1908).


*The Arts & Crafts Association was birthed from an even more short-lived organization: the Art Workers Guild. Not much is known about the Guild except that it was established in early 1900. It was replaced by the A&CA when it was created about three months later.

**Emily Carr was hired (briefly) in 1905 or 1906 by the Studio Club to be a resource person for one of their painting classes. William Thom quotes Carr regarding her time with the Club in his thesis: “The [Studio]… Club was a cluster of society women who intermittently packed themselves and their admirers into a small rented studio to drink tea and jabber art jargon” (Thom, 30). It won’t be surprising to anyone familiar with her acerbic wit that Miss Carr was dismissed from her job with the Studio Club after just one month. Her impatience with her students was doubtless exceeded only by her students’ distaste for ‘her’ sort of (decidedly non-Victorian) art!


City of Vancouver Archives. Off-line file on the Vancouver Arts & Crafts Association.

William Wylie Thom. The Fine Arts in Vancouver, 1886-1930: An Historical Survey. M. A. Thesis. UBC. April 1969.

“What Food These Morsels Be”

Money's Former Slogan-What Food These Morsels Be
Money’s Mushrooms Former Slogan. On Prior Street a couple of blocks east of Main Street. 2016. Author’s photo.

This sign was painted on the side of a building on Prior Street many years ago. A friend, who is in his 70s, claims not to remember a time when the advertisement wasn’t there.

W. T. Money established W. T. Money & Co. (later, Money’s Mushrooms) in 1928. Its headquarters was at 631 Seymour Street; today, it is based in Surrey.

The slogan shown above was apparently adopted by Money’s in about 1940. It was in use by the company at least through the 1950s, and possibly through the 1970s. What Food These Morsels Be is an example of word play; in this case, the slogan plays with a quotation by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s line was “Lord, what fools these mortals be.”* The original Shakespearean line has also been adapted in a blues classic made popular by Etta James and released in 1969.

The elf figure on the left of the ad may be intended to represent the mischievous fairy, Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The first apparent use of the current slogan, Money’s Makes Meals Mmmarvellous, was in an advertising campaign led by Canadian cooking personality, James Barber, The Urban Peasant. He the campaign for Money’s with the current slogan in the 1980s.



A Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3, scene 2, 110–115.

Risky Swinging in the ’20s

Couple on (Apparently Hand-Powered) Cable Tram (Over Seymour Creek?) UL_1184_03_0058. 1920-30? Photographer Unknown. From Possible Murray Family Album. UBC Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs.

This couple appear pretty relaxed, given that they are suspended by a none-too-sturdy-looking cable over what I believe (but cannot prove) is Seymour Creek in North Vancouver. I’m led to conclude that it is probably Seymour Creek mainly from context. There are a couple other Seymour Creek images in the same album; and the water appears similarly calm in the other Seymour Creek photos. A friend has suggested that another possibility is the Lynn Creek headwaters.

There are three other similar images in the same album in UBC’s Uno Langmann Family Collection of Early B.C. Photos. The subjects in each of the other three photos are all different and they are not all as relaxed as this couple seems to be.

The photographs all appear to be made  by the same (professional, I assume) photographer. I assume that there was a parallel cable car on which the photographer was perched. Either that, or there was a bridge that ran parallel to where our brave pair were.

North Vancouver’s Tiny Subway

April 26, 2016: See the helpful comment below from Brendan Dawe.

cdm.langmann.1-0053433.0065full (1)
Subway train going through tunnel – UL_1612_01_0065. University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs. Photographer unknown.

I wasn’t aware, until a few days ago when browsing through some of the Uno Langmann Family Collection of early B.C. photos, that North Vancouver had ever had a streetcar subway – albeit a tiny one of scarcely more than a single block in length (see subway map, below).

Map of Lonsdale Subway University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs
Map of Lonsdale Subway – UL_1612_01_0002. University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs.

Since then, I’ve been trying to unravel some of the details pertaining to its creation. One of my challenges is that I’m not part of the intended audience of most writers I’ve found on this subject; I’m not a train enthusiast, per se.

So the approach I’ll take with this post is to do a brief review of those writers who have written about the North Van Subway and seem to be authorities on the subject; then I’ll summarize my conclusions; finally, I’ll conclude with a remaining question.

Map of BC Electric Railway Lines in North Vancouver. Back of The Perfect Little Street Car System. Henry Ewert. [2000]. (Note: B.C. Electric Railway, P.G.E. Railway, and the National Harbour Board Railway all seemed to operate on standard gauge tracks).

Literature Review

In his history of North Vancouver street cars, Henry Ewert had this to say about the subway:

During 1927 the ‘Lonsdale Subway’ was being constructed under Esplanade and Lonsdale Avenue to connect the rail line from Second Narrows Bridge with the P.G.E. [Pacific Great Eastern Railway] without disrupting the interchange of passengers between ferries and street cars at the foot of Lonsdale. (Ewert, The Perfect Little Street Car System, 42)

Ewert wrote a more sweeping history of B.C. Electric Railway in 1986. In this larger volume, he remarked:

On April 24 [1929], the Harbour Board’s tunnel under Lonsdale (constructed at the insistence of North Vancouver’s city council), linking its railway from Second Narrows Bridge with the P.G.E., was opened with the running of a special seven-car train. It was pulled from Vancouver’s C.P.R. depot [“Waterfront Station” as it is known today] by a Harbour Board locomotive over the bridge and through the tunnel…” (Ewert, The Story of the B.C. Electric Railway Company, 184)

On the Old Time Trains website, the following was written by John Picur under the heading Vancouver Harbour Commissioners Terminal Railway:

The Vancouver Harbour Commission Terminal Railway later became part of the National Harbours Board… and eventually was taken over by Canadian National January 1, 1953. The VHCTR operated on both sides of Burrard Inlet, crossing to North Vancouver on the first Second Narrows Bridge. This was a low road-rail bridge with level crossings at both ends….

Finally, the North Vancouver Heritage Register, published in 2013, noted that:

Construction on this railway tunnel, which was designed to convey railway traffic along the waterfront. amounted to a total cost of $200,000 upon its completion in 1929….The first passenger train from Vancouver arrived two days later. (Heritage Register, 123)

National Harbour Commission Locomotive Pulling Train through subway. University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs
National Harbour Commission Locomotive Pulling Train Through Subway – UL_1612_01_0068. University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs. Photographer unknown.


From this brief review of the principal authors that I could find who had written on this subject, I reached these conclusions about the subway:

  • There were at least two owners of railroad real estate between the Second Narrows Bridge (the railway bridge) and points west of North Vancouver:
    • National Harbour Board Railway, between the bridge and Lonsdale Ave.;
    • P.G.E. Railway, west of the City of North Vancouver;
  • Although I haven’t found evidence that B.C.E.R. was an ‘owner’ of any of the rail lines in question, I’m inferring they had rights to travel on both of the other lines.
  • The entity which appears to have been the owner/creator of the subway was the National Harbour Board (sometimes called the Vancouver Harbour Commission). The initials, “V.H.C.” appear above the entry to the tunnel on one of the Langmann photos not shown in this post.
  • The major motive for building the subway seems to have been to remove level-crossing rail traffic from the snarl that apparently was the rule at the foot of Lonsdale. The major movers behind this seem to have been North Vancouver civic leaders.
  • The subway is extant, and is still in regular use.
Design Drawing of Subway Car – UL_1612_01_0001. University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs.

A Question

The brief journey into some of the subway literature has been helpful to me, but I’m left with a persistent question: What sort of rolling stock was the subway designed for?

On the one hand, the subway seems to have been built principally for the B.C.E.R., given the design drawing (shown directly above) of the street car which appears prominently in the Vancouver Harbour Commission’s album in the Langmann Collection.

On the other hand, the Langmann images also show a Harbour Commission locomotive apparently towing street cars through the tunnel. What is that about?* If the tunnel truly was designed to accommodate B.C. Electric’s street cars, would the subway not have included provision for the self-propelled street cars, especially given the presence of the electrical conducting pole atop the street car shown in the V.H.C. design drawing?

I’d be obliged to anyone who can help me with this question.


*I have confirmed that the B.C.E.R., P.G.E. and Harbour Commission trains all ran on track of standard gauge, so they would be inter-compatible on track within the City and east and west of it, as well.

Ye Little Brown Inn

xx-2Yesterday, I was looking at a printout of Sheet 16 of Goad’s Fire Insurance Atlas of Vancouver (March 1920) when I noticed the name of a business that was new to me: “Little Brown Inn”. What could that be, I wondered?

The name of the commercial enterprise was, in fact, Ye Little Brown Inn, and appears to have been one of the legion lunch counters in downtown Vancouver in the early decades of the twentieth century (among its near competitors were the 800-block Granville outlet of White Lunch and the Old Country Lunch and Tea Rooms at 641 Granville).

YLBI was first established at 606 Granville in 1915 by three ladies: Anna Fletcher, Agnes McKay, and Mary H. Lawrence. It appears that two of the women dropped out of the enterprise sometime within the first year or so of operation. By the time the 1916 Vancouver City Directory was published, Mary Lawrence was the sole proprietor listed. By 1918, the business had moved a couple of blocks, presumably to somewhat less expensive digs, at 745 Dunsmuir (roughly where Holt Renfrew is located today).*

There is no way of knowing how well YLBI did against its many competitors. But by 1922, the business was finished. Mary Helen Lawrence succumbed to Tetanus and died on March 5th, in her 55th year (just five days after being diagnosed with the disease)**. According to the Immunize Canada page pertaining to Tetanus (aka Lockjaw), after 1920, “[t]he introduction of horse antiserum neutralized the effect of tetanus toxin and improved the care of wounds, leading to reduced cases and deaths in Canada and other industrialized countries.” By the 1940s, the serum was readily available and the practice of immunizing infants for Tetanus began.

However it was that Miss Lawrence contracted the disease (whether as part of her work at YLBI or elsewhere), if it had happened just a few years later, chances are good that she would have survived.


*I was unable to track down any images of YLBI at its Granville or Dunsmuir locations.

**The following details about Miss Lawrence’s life prior to owning YLBI are excerpted from her obituary, published in the March 6, 1922 edition of the Vancouver Daily World“Miss Lawrence, who owned and managed the Little Brown Inn, had resided in Vancouver for the past eight years. She came here from Paris, France, where she had lived for several years. She was born at Niagara Falls, Ont., and at an early age went to New York, where she trained as a nurse. She followed that profession first In New York, later in Paris, then in Rome, Cairo and again in Paris. She was appointed by the Italian government matron in charge of the hospital ship which was sent to Messina at the time of the big earthquake disaster there and was later decorated by King Emanuel for her services. Her only brother lives in Buffalo and her only near relative in this city is Miss M. A. Leith. The late Miss Lawrence was a member of the I.O.D.E. and the Woman’s Canadian Club. The body will be sent to Niagara Falls, Ont. for burial.”

A. J. Davis, Vancouver Painter

Blackfoot Chief Two Guns White Calf - Painting by A J Davis. n.d.
Portrait of Chief Two Guns White Calf. Painted by A. J. Davis, apparently from a photograph on a postcard (shown below). n.d.

The painting above was purchased by my good friend, Wes, at a thrift store, recently. He didn’t know who the artist was nor anything of his story. He just liked the painted rendering of the portrait. A bit of digging online revealed that the painting was made by Alfred John Davis (a Vancouver artist) – who was unknown to Wes or me – from a photographic postcard of Chief Two Guns White Calf.


A. J. Davis was born in England in 1868. He later immigrated to Canada and settled for a few years in Winnipeg. He came west to Vancouver in 1891, and he married Ellen Ann McCannell here in 1897. His occupation in Winnipeg and in Vancouver was as a railway coach painter for the Canadian Pacific Railway (later on, in Vancouver, he became foreman of the CPR paint shops here).

In a Vancouver Sun profile that was published just a couple of weeks before Davis’ death in 1933, the author noted that

“Mr. and Mrs. Davis are living in a veritable art gallery, wherein beautiful paintings, both in oil and water color, with huge pencil drawings adorn the walls throughout their well-situated home at 3741 39th Avenue West. Indian heads in oil is the chief subject for his brushes and over which has the most absolute control, so much so that he is recognized in artistic circles as the authority in such work.” (A Home Filled with Treasures. Vancouver Sun, January 7, 1933)

The indian subjects appear to have been paintings he did for his own amusement (and probably as an additional income source), although it is possible that his output for the CPR may also have included native american portraits. According to the Sun author, the Davis home was full of wood carvings in addition to oil and watercolour paintings. One of these sounds from the description as though it would have made a lovely piece for a local museum. Whether or not it was donated to the Maritime Museum or the MOV is unknown to me:

“The year 1863 marked the beginning of a new era in the history of British Columbia with the arrival on the Columbia River on March 19 of the first vessel, the historic Beaver, after a passage of 163 days from Gravesend, entirely under sail. Today, all that is left of the vessel* after sinking in the Narrows at Vancouver just forty years ago, is a beautifully carved scimitar and sheath brought to light from a trunk by A. J. Davis…This was carved from part of an inside cupola of the old vessel obtained at low tide after a lengthy scramble over barnacles  and sea refuse in the autumn of 1891 about three weeks before the vessel completely disappeared from sight. The Beaver knife sheath has a perfectly carved scroll-work. The curved blade contains a piece of one of the copper rivets used to fasten the old oak beams of the historic old steamer.”**

Although I’m very appreciative of the Sun for assigning a reporter (albeit, an anonymous one) to write the profile of the today-all-but-unknown artist, if I’d had my ‘druthers’, it would have been helpful to have more detail about A. J. Davis’ work for the CPR, including what exactly his job entailed. Was he responsible for any of the famous CPR posters? Was he responsible for painting scenes in railway coaches (in which case, most of his career art work must surely now be gone) or (more likely), was it his job to see that all CPR property was properly maintained with a fresh coat of paint, inside and out?

CVA 152-1.180 - [Construction progress photograph of the CPR Pier %22A-B%22 extension] July 1913.
CVA 152-1.180 – [Construction progress photograph of the CPR Pier “A-B” extension] July 1913. A worker is painting the exterior of the pier. Was this the sort of painting work with which A J Davis was principally concerned?
A. J. Davis died while still in harness with his employer of 45 years on January 25, 1933. His widow died in 1953 in Burbank, CA. What happened to the treasures in their former home is unknown to me.



AM1052 P-872 – The five Georges (ca 1910)
The above postcard (front and verso) is the only piece of art and information available at the City of Vancouver Archives pertaining to A. J. Davis. The drawing of the “Five Georges” is a reproduction of a painting, according to the note on the card’s face.


*This claim that the Davis item is the sole extant piece of the Beaver isn’t accurate. See here for an image of an auction mallet composed of wood from the craft and a reference to “a number of other such items” from the Beaver, including its boiler which resides outside of the Maritime Museum.

**I appreciate very much the information embedded here in an online request for help with additional details about her grandfather, A. J. Davis. Without the reference in her post to the newspaper article profiling Davis, I would have had very little to say about his life and vocation (and avocations).


April 19/16: I have just found a listing of a few others of AJD’s work; they were on display at the Theatre Royal (aka the first Orpheum Theatre), as part of the First Annual Exhibition of the Arts and Crafts Association, September 25-27, 1900.


Another Controversial Subject: Vancouver Housing

Traffic congestion and inadequate housing are subjects which are revisited regularly in Vancouver. The previous post was a look at how the City tried to persuade residents not to be ‘Traffic Peakers’ in the 1940s. This post is a reproduction of a News-Herald ‘Editorial in Pictures’ that deals with the editor’s views on the state of housing in Vancouver during the WWII era.

I have been able to find all of the photos, except one, used in the News-Herald editorial within the City of Vancouver Archives. Except for that missing photo, the content of the article is reproduced here just as it appeared in 1944:

Something Must Be Done

(An Editorial in Pictures)

The authoritative and detailed survey by the Vancouver Council of Social Agencies reveals that more than 2,000 Vancouver families are living in such “shockingly inadequate” housing that ordinary city slums would look like heaven to them.

The City Council has made nine “appeals” to Ottawa for more housing, but has taken no practical steps to deal with the emergency. “I don’t see what more we can do,” says the Mayor.

The Dominion government has accepted responsibility for only a limited amount of housing for actual war workers, and for some financial assistance for post-war housing projects.

The provincial government merely supplies a sheriff to carry out evictions.

But 2,000 Vancouver families – 4,000 men and women and more than 4,000 children – are living from day to day, NOW, as are those pictured here.

Says the Council of Social Agencies: “These conditions . . . are a damning indictment of the failure of the authorities.”


More than 12 families live in this double row of ramshackle and unsanitary tenements on Sixth Avenue in Fairview. They are less than a quarter of a mile from Shaughnessy Heights, but no proud citizens bring visitors to see Vancouver’s “line homes” HERE.

CVA 1184-639 - [Garbage and garbage containers at the slums in the 300 block East Cordova] 1943 Jack Lindsay photo-2
CVA 1184-639 – [Garbage and garbage containers at the slums in the 300 block East Cordova] 1943 Jack Lindsay photo.
Here is a Vancouver child. Here is his playground. Hundreds of youngsters, the hope of our city’s future, spend their waking hours at play in back alleys like this. This lane is one block from police headquarters and the city jail.

CVA 1184-2612 - [Tenement building] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo-2
CVA 1184-2612 – [Tenement building] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.
War industry booms and Vancouver’s busy harbor seeths (sic) with activity less than a block from this row of hutches for human beings on Alexander Street. In such conditions as this live the city’s “pampered workers” – 20 of them and their families in this one ancient building. Notice the pathetic endeavor to grace its  tattered railings with flowers and vines.

CVA 1184-2615 - [View of the rear of a tenement house] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo-2
CVA 1184-2615 – [View of the rear of a tenement house] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.
The city rejoiced when the Japs were moved out of the human rabbit warrens on Powell Street, hailing the end of our worst slum. But it was not the end. These wretched buildings are now filled with white families, in some cases, six and seven persons to a room.

“Traffic Peaker” vs “Polar Cap Melter”?

Vancouver Traffic Peaker (July 19:44 Sports Page)
Downtown Vancouver “Traffic Peaker” Ad. Vancouver News-Herald. Sports page. July 19, 1944.

This 1940s ad, which I’m assuming was a production of the City of Vancouver, makes use of all three of the classical rhetorical appeals. There is ethos in the use of statistics, figures, and a chart to persuade the audience that the persuader is credible. Pathos is applied by attempting to make the audience feel emotions (guilt, primarily). And logos is used to persuade the audience by presenting an argument which the persuader hopes will be seen as logical.

It would seem that there has been little improvement in downtown congestion between the 1940s and the 20-teens.* What sorts of rhetorical appeals are used today in the ‘battle’ to reduce automobile congestion? The same ones as were implemented in the ’40s, as far as I can tell. Only today, the appeal to pathos seems to be in the guise of guilt over contributions to global warming, rather than guilt over slowing down your neighbours’ trips home at rush hour.


*But there appears today to be at least a willingness, on the part of many Vancouver residents, to support alternatives to automobile traffic into downtown (the growing popularity of mass transit Skytrain options, for instance, and bicycles). This is in contrast with the apparent situation in the 1940s. The ad assumes that the automobile is the only viable means of getting into downtown. And this in a decade when streetcars were still an option (albeit, for a very few years more).

Henry (“Harry”) S. Van Buren

VPL 21209 North West Bldg, Nov 1921 Dominion Photo Co.
VPL 21209 North West Building (8-storey bldg.) and the site (as of 1939) of Western Manufacturers Salvage to the left at 525 Richards (roughly at the location where Albion Books is today; the building shown here is long gone). 1921. Dominion Photo Co.

Henry Samuel Van Buren (1885-1977) was a Vancouver business owner from the late ’20s until the late ’40s.  He seems to have had two principal businesses: VB Grocery (from 1926 until about 1935) and Western Merchandise Brokers (during the 1940s).

Henry Samuel Van Buren (often called “Harry” throughout his life) was born in 1884 in Morden, MB to Henry Cornelius Van Buren and Rosamond Law. He was the middle child of three; Abram and Hazel were his older and younger siblings, respectively. In 1905, Van Buren set out to homestead a piece of land in the area around Macleod, AB (today, Fort Macleod). A few years later, he moved to the Strathmore area (east of Calgary). What his occupation there was, isn’t clear.

Sometime between 1923 and 1925, Van Buren moved to Vancouver. He established his first business here, VB Grocery, at 1509 Commercial Drive. He packed it in as a grocer by 1935 and a couple of years later was proprietor of Western Merchandise Brokers, a salvage firm at 525 Richards (a couple doors south of Pender on the west side of Richards). By the late 1940s, he retired.

Henry Samuel married Clara Mabel Snell. The year they were married and the year of his wife’s death are not clear (one source shows her passing in 1935; Another shows 1972). Henry and Mabel had one child, Henry Lloyd, who died in 2003. The Van Burens (at least as far back as H. S. Van Buren’s grandfather) had been Baptists.

Van Buren moved to Vancouver Island after retiring from the salvage business.* In his very late years, Van Buren returned to Vancouver, where he lived out his final days. He died at 92 at Pearson Hospital in 1977. Padre James Duncan (Pastor Emeritus, First Baptist Church, Vancouver) led Van Buren’s memorial service.


*There is evidence of a Harry Van Buren living in Victoria from 1948. However, the Victoria Directory shows him living there with someone called “Enid”. Because I’ve found no other mention of an Enid in any Van Buren records, I’m inclined to treat this as being someone other than our Harry Van Buren.

Mudge the Poultry Man

Crop of CVA 99-89 - Main Street market 1910 Stuart Thomson
Crop of CVA 99-89 – Close view of a wing of the Vancouver City Market where Mudge the Poultry Man advertised his presence within. The sign reads (in part) “Mudge The Poultry Man”. 1910. Stuart Thomson.

William Mudge’s business was known in early Vancouver as Mudge & Son and (probably better) as Mudge the Poultry Man. As indicated in the latter name, he specialized in Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 4.31.54 PMproviding chicken products to hard-working, hungry Vancouverites. He hung his shingle at Vancouver’s farmer’s market, known then as the City Market which was originally located, from 1908 until before 1925 (when the building was destroyed by fire) roughly where ScienceWorld is today.

vpl 7435 New City Market opened that year at Westminster Ave (Main after 1910), west of Westminster or False Creek Bridge. On south side ofFC. 1908 PT Timms
VPL 7435 New City Market opened that year at Westminster Ave (Main after 1910), west of Westminster or False Creek Bridge. 1908. P. T. Timms.

Mudge was a recent emigrant to Canada from England (1909) and lived near Main and 25th Avenue (King Edward Ave.) with his wife Ethel (nee Tremaine), first son, William, second and third sons Wilfred and Gerald, and his only daughter, Mary Monica (known by the nickname, ‘Queenie’, which may have been an homage to Queen Victoria.)

We don’t know the exact Vancouver address of the Mudges; their mailing address was simply “City Heights”, the name of the local post office which, with its establishment in 1911, was located at 4116 Main Street, George P. Findlay, postmaster.* I should point out that the original structure in which City Heights Post Office seems to have resided is extant; it is the building immediately to the south of the Walden Building (1910), which was known at the time as Findlay Place (Apartments), doubtless named for George the Postmaster.**

LGN 487 - [People entering streetcar on Main Street at 25th Avenue] 1912 ? W J Moore photo
LGN 487 – The camera is facing south down Main St, located approximately at 25th Ave. The Walden Building is the 3-storey structure on the left (extant); Findlay Place Apartments and City Heights Post Office was in the building adjacent to and south of Walden (also extant). 1912? W J Moore photo.
Later in life, William and Ethel moved to Cobble Hill, on Vancouver Island (not far from Cowichan Bay). It isn’t clear whether they continued to produce poultry at Cobble Hill, but there is evidence that they remained producers – of seed potatoes.***

William Mudge died in 1932 and was buried in Cobble Hill Cemetery.


*I’m appreciative of the generosity of the gent who blogs at WestEndVancouver for clearing up the mystery of where on earth “City Heights” was. Thank you! Note: By 1919, the Mudges were living at 3115 Quebec (near 15th Avenue).

**Note: The numbers along this block today don’t accurately represent the locations of businesses with the same numbers in 1912.

***Just a couple years before William Sr.’s death, he was elected as an officer of the BC Certified Seed Potato Grower’s Association. (Daily Colonist, November 1929)

Lest We Impress

CVA 99-3749 - [Georgia] Medical Dental Building [at 925 West Georgia Street] 1929 Stuart Thomson photo
CVA 99-3749 – Georgia Medical Dental Building at Northwest Corner Georgia at Hornby. 1929. Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: The angle from which this image was taken makes the  ground level on the right side of the wooden construction zone fence appear to be lower than the street on the left side. But it isn’t. Photographer Thomson was probably inside the construction barrier of the 3rd Hotel Vancouver shooting from near the top of the fence line; Thomson was the official photographer of the hotel’s construction.)
It is all too easy to impress the present onto the past. Especially in cases where there has been an attempt made by contemporary architects to ‘nod’ to a prior building that once occupied a lot. A good example of this is the Georgia Medical-Dental Building (MDB, hereafter; 1929; McCarter & Nairne, architects), which was demolished by implosion in 1989, and the Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place (SCP, hereafter; 1991; Merrick, architect), which stands on the lot today.

When I recently happened upon the image above, I was initially disturbed by the apparent narrowness of the Medical-Dental Building. It appeared to me to be only half as wide as it ought to be.

At first, I thought that perhaps when work started on the structure, the economic downturn of the Great Depression forced the builder to focus on building just the southern slice; that the northern half would be built later to create the square footprint that I assumed was ‘natural’ for the structure.

But that was not the case.

The next image revealed my error: MDB had an ‘L’ footprint, not the square one that I’d assumed it would have. My assumption was due, in part at least, to my expectation that the older building would have had the same sort of footprint as today’s SCP has.

vpl 12176  View looking east on Georgia from Burrard Street. 1930. Frank Leonard photo.
VPL 12176 View looking east at the Georgia Medical-Dental Building from Burrard Street; this reveals that the structure had an “L” footprint, not a square one. 1930. Frank Leonard photo.

Features in Common and Differences

There was an attempt made by the architect of SCP (Paul Merrick, 1991) to replicate some features of the Medical-Dental building. Common features include:

  • ‘Nursing sisters’ on the corners of the buildings;
  • ‘Step-backs’ at higher floors;
  • Use of materials having contrasting colours (on MDB, use of differently coloured brick; on SCP, use of glass and concrete);

There are many more differences between the past and present occupants of the northwest corner of Georgia at Hornby than there are commonalities:

  • MDB had an ‘L’ footprint, SCP has a square one;
    Bu P179 - [Exterior Georgia] Medical and Dental Bldg. Vancouver BC [925 West Georgia Street and parking garage under construction] 1929 Leonard Frank photo.
    CVA 99-3749 – Georgia Medical Dental Building at Northwest Corner Georgia at Hornby. 1929. Stuart Thomson photo.
  • MDB had an appended, above-ground, 4-storey garage attached to the Hornby arm. SCP has an underground parking garage;
  • There was a single step-back at the 10th floor of the MDB. There are several step-backs on SCP;
  • MDB had 17 floors. SCP has 23;
  • On MDB, there were just the ‘nursing sisters’ as exterior ornaments and they appeared only at the 10th floor step-back and were of terra cotta. The nurses on SCP appear on the northeast corner just a couple of stories up and also higher on the building at the step-backs; there are other exterior ornaments on SCP, including griffins. The nurses and other ornaments on SCP are made of fibre glass;
  • MDB had a blunt roofline with lighter bricks near the roof to contrast with darker brickwork below. SCP has a chateaux-style roof (which, together with the griffins, is probably a nod to the architecture of its near neighbour, the Hotel Vancouver).
A Griffin and Other Ornaments on Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place (taken from Hotel Vancouver). c2013. Author’s photo.

A Block of Libraries

CVA 1376-517 - [Clearing the lot at 2818 and 2820 Granville Street] 1928_
Crop of CVA 1376-517 – Workers clear front of lots at 2818 and 2820 Granville Street (east side of street between 12th and 13th Avenues) for construction of commercial space. One of the businesses at front would be The Stanley Library, not to be confused with The Library, another bookshop, initially located across the street. By the time this image was made, The Library had moved across to the east side of Granville, right beside where Stanley Library would be (note ad on The Library’s wall, cheekily facing the home). 1928.
 In 1925, Mrs. A. J. Davidson would start a little bookstore business across the street from the home shown above (later she would move the business next door to the home, later down the block a few doors; it would never be far away). She called the bookshop, perhaps with a vain hope of exclusivity, The Library.

But by about 1928, Mrs Davidson had a competitor on the block. The owner of the home at 2818 Granville was Mrs. Maud Leslie, a widow. Mrs. Leslie’s daughter*, Miss Lorna-June Leslie had an entrepreneurial drive and wanted to run her own little book and china shop. Start-up capital was doubtless an issue for June Leslie; if she was going truly to be an entrepreneur she wanted to own the property rather than be forever beholden to a landlord. So the Leslies decided they would capitalize on the front yard of their residence** and have June’s Stanley Library built on their home property. This was not by any means the first such residence/business mash-up in Vancouver. Indeed, in the downtown area (Davie Street, e.g.) this early variant on densification was fairly common. I don’t know whether a rezoning permit from the City was required in 1928.

CVA 1376-521 - [2820 Granville Street - the Stanley Library %22June Leslie's store%22] 1933
CVA 1376-521 – The Stanley Library, 2820 Granville. 1933.
Mrs. Leslie and June lived in the home at 2818 Granville for a couple of years, and then moved, presumably preferring to collect rent on the property.

One of the most remarkable things about this tale is that the home remains on the site today, its exterior at least, apparently substantially unchanged.

Maud and June Leslie’s former home (2818 Granville) poking up behind Black Goat Cashmere and Daniel Chocolates, as it appears today. It isn’t clear to me whether the home is still used as a residence. But judging from a parking sign in the laneway (“Rear Entrance ONLY for Employees and Deliveries”), it doesn’t seem likely (Note: The concrete tower in left background of image is Chalmers Lodge, a seniors residence). 2016. Author’s photo.

What became of the apparent rivalry between The Library and Stanley Library? Who outlasted whom? Stanley Library seems to have remained in business for 17 years (1928-1945); a Mrs. Raymer took over the business in 1943. The Library, on the other hand) endured for more than a quarter century (1925-51); a Mrs. Kirby had assumed the reigns by the mid-1940s.

Even more interesting, perhaps, is that one block in the South Granville/Fairview area was able to sustain two independent bookstores for the better part of 20 years. How things have changed.


*I haven’t been able to establish beyond a doubt that Maud was June’s mother, but it seems to me to be all but certain.

**The home was built ca1909 for Fred Deeley by a J. Curtis for about $1,200.

Val Quan

IMG_20160114_0001 copy 10Val Quan (sometimes spelled Quon), his wife, Pauline, and their family were fixtures around First Baptist Church for a number of years. Val was born in China in 1906, emigrating to Canada in 1921, when he was 15 years old. He settled initially in Moose Jaw, SK, where he worked in the National Café. Val also became a Christian in Moose Jaw. It seems he later spent time in Shaunavon, SK (pop. today is just over 1700); he was a member of First Baptist Church in Shaunavon.

In 1954, Val moved to Vancouver where he established his own café at the SE corner of Hamilton and Davie streets.* His café was in the heart of Yaletown, just steps from the CPR yards and the roundhouse.

Val and his first wife, May, were married in China. They had three daughters and one son, Robert. May died of cancer in Vancouver six years after emigrating to Canada. Robert died 10 years later (1966) at age 18 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.

It isn’t clear to me when Val and Pauline married. They had a family – Edward, Gordon, and Nancy. Edward (Eddie) is remembered by First Baptist member, Edna-May Slade, as being a “magnificent” pianist; all of the Quan kids are remembered by her as being “brilliant”. Val died in 1988 at 81; Pauline later.

As is often the the case with immigrant names, Val’s surname did not survive the journey to Canada unscathed. They were known around the church (and by others who were not Chinese, no doubt) as the ‘Thing’ family. Mr. Quan’s given name was not Val. It was Sung Siu. Val was probably his choice of an ‘English’ name.

Although it is not at all unusual, today, to have people who are of Chinese origin (and of other ethnicities) among the members and adherents of FBC, it was a different story in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, the congregation (and the population of Vancouver, generally) was nearly homogeneously white.

Sung Siu Quan and his family truly were pioneers at First Baptist Church.


*It’s possible that he moved his cafe to Smithe Street near Cambie at some point.

The text of this post was written originally for First Baptist Church’s 125th Anniversary (2011), as part of my series of brief biographies of former FBC members, titled Who Was Who in the Pews. It is reproduced here with a few editorial changes, corrections, and additional details.



First Baptist Church in Disguise?

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

This was a gift presented today by JMV of Illustrated Vancouver. It was a delight to receive this postcard of mis-identification. The image seems to have been made between 1911 (when construction of FBC at Nelson & Burrard was completed) and 1921 (when right-side-of-the-road driving was established in the province, as the vehicle passing the Nelson Street doors appears to be on the left side of the road). If pressed, I’d speculate that the image was made closer to 1921.

It isn’t known  by me how many of these mis-identified cards were printed.

The Lesters and their Dance Schools/Halls

CVA 789-74 - Davie &amp; Granville [after heavy snowfall] 1916_
CVA 789-74 – Looking west on Davie at Granville after a heavy snowfall. The M. Lester Dancing Academy is advertised on the Davie side of the building, although by the time this image was made, it had almost certainly moved into its new digs at Davie near Burrard. 1916.

It’s Hazy in Detroit

There isn’t a lot known about the proprietress of M. Lester Dancing Academy. Maud was an Ontario girl (although exactly where in Ontario she was born and raised or what her maiden name was isn’t clear to me). At some point, she married American Frederick W. Lester and in 1898 in Detroit, they had their only child, Dorothy.* How Frederick and/or Maud earned their daily bread while they were in Detroit isn’t clear, either. Indeed, it is clear only that they didn’t tarry there for long.

As the century turned, they set out for Victoria, BC.

Victoria: Little Michigan?

Frederick found work as a clerk in Victoria’s Driard Hotel  (facade extant). Their residence during their time in Victoria was, interestingly, at 52 Michigan Street (an homage to their earlier home?)

Maud, meanwhile, established a dancing school in Victoria.**

Lester in Vic 1905 Daily Colonist Jan 18:05

She leased the hall of the AOUW (Ancient Order of United Workmen). The following appeared in the Victoria Daily Colonist on October 31, 1904:

Mrs. Lester’s Dancing Academy – A very enjoyable time was spent at A.O.U.W. Hall Saturday night. The occasion was a grand Cinderella dance given by Mrs. Lester to the members of her Friday night class and their friends. About forty couples tripped the light fantastic over a beautifully conditioned floor to the music supplied by Miss Heater who presided at the pianoforte. Among the young ladies who joined in the various sets were many in their ‘teens, pupils of Mrs. Lester, and their ease of movement and the grace with which they went through the various complicated figures of dances, showing unmistakable evidence of careful training. The main hall of the A.O.U.W. building has undergone a complete metamorphosis since it has been leased by Mrs. Lester for her classes. Gay bunting is tastefully festooned overhead, the side lights are shielded in delicate and effective tints, while the “cosy corners” are neatly and comfortably furnished and draped with Oriental textures. There is ample seating accommodation, abundant floor space, and a happy temperature which is always maintained. The supper room is a model of neatness, as indeed is the whole arrangement. This is the third season Mrs. Lester conducts these dancing classes, and the success which is attending them is proof of their great popularity.

Maud’s dance lessons weren’t held exclusively at the AOUW Hall during their time in Victoria. There was also a period during which the Academy called the Alexandra Royal College ‘home’ (on Government Street, “opposite the new post office”). As well, “parties desiring instructions at their own homes may be accommodated.”

“Lester Hall”: 1205 Granville

The Lesters pulled up Victoria stakes by about 1908 and headed across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver. By 1909, the M. Lester Dancing Academy had hung its shingle on an upper floor of the chemist’s shop at the southwest corner of Davie and Granville (1205 Granville). The Lesters also lived in the building. The didn’t own the building, however. The owner, certainly by 1913 if not before, was local architectural luminary, Thomas Fee.

In the 1909-12 editions of Vancouver Directories, Frederick described his occupation as “Dancing Master”. In the 1909-10 editions, “M. Lester” didn’t get mentioned; and in the 1911 edition, while Mrs. M. Lester received her own listing, she didn’t rate a professional designation. Just before moving out of their Granville location in 1913, however, there had been a remarkable even-ing of self-described designations: both Frederick and Maud were described as “Dancing Teachers”.

In addition to the Dance Academy, the Lesters supplemented income from the business by sub-letting the space to groups that were looking for a hall in which to hold a dance. Thus, the 1205 Granville property was known not only as M. Lester Dance Academy, but also as “Lester Hall”.

“Lester Court”: 1024 Davie

Sometime in 1914 or 1915, the Lesters’ new professional and residential location (designed by Thomas Hooper) on Davie near Burrard, was ready for them to move into.

They chose to call the dance school in its new location what it had always been called. But the dance hall would no longer be “Lester Hall”; it would be called “Lester Court”. What was the reason for the name change? It was probably partly to distinguish the Burrard Street property from the older and probably smaller one on Granville.

CVA 99-5118 - Bazaar at Leister Court, Pro-Cathedral Bazaar - Flashlight 1917 Stuart Thomson photo
CVA 99-5118 – Bazaar at Leister (sic) Court, Pro-Cathedral Bazaar – Flashlight. 1917. Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW Note: Stuart Thonson mis-identified this image and the one that follows as Leister Court. He was not alone in making this error. See, for example, the caption on the photo of the “Leicester Court Ballroom Orchestra” here).
CVA 99-5119 - Allied Nations Bazaar, Leister Court 1917 Stuart Thomson photo
CVA 99-5119 – Allied Nations Bazaar, Leister (sic) Court. 1917. Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5227 - [Unidentified group at a dance]  ca1922 Stuart Thomson photo
CVA 99-5227 – [Unidentified group at a dance]. ca1922. Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW Note: CVA hasn’t identified the location of this group image. It is at Lester Court.)
CVA 99-5231 - [Unidentified group in costume in ballroom] 192-? Stuart Thomson photo
CVA 99-5231 – [Unidentified group in costume in ballroom]. 192-?. Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW Note: Again, the location of this image isn’t included with CVA’s record; it is Lester Court).


M. Lester Dance Academy ceased to be in Maud’s name in 1923. She would have been about 54, then. From 1923 until 1931, when the school seems to have ceased operations, it was known as Lester’s Dance Academy (F. W. Lester, proprietor).

Maud’s final years are as opaque as her very early years. I don’t know why she apparently withdrew from the dance school. Was she ill? Was she simply tired of the daily grind? I haven’t been able to track down her death certificate, but I know that she died in 1943.

Frederick was retired from the business by 1934. By 1935, Lester Court was no more; it was then known as the Embassy Ballroom and was under new management. Frederick died in 1946.

The building that housed Lester Court still stands today. See here for what it has been called at different times since the Lesters retired.

Bu P508.17 - [Exterior of the building at the South West corner of Davie and Burrard Streets] 1958 A L Yates photo
Bu P508.17 – Embassy Ballroom, sign on side of former Lester Court building. Embassy Ballroom was one of the later businesses at this location. 1958 A L Yates photo.
Celebrities Nightclub (Former Lester Court) at 1024 Davie in 2016. Author’s photo.


*Dorothy died (of cause unknown to me) when she was just 13.

**Note Maud’s professional designation as a Member of the National Association of Masters of Dancing. See here for more about this American organization.

The Past is an essential human dimension, and to ignore it utterly is a terrible evasion. — Jack Matthews


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