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.

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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 (instaed 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.

CVA 1376-652 – Ellen Pedden. 190-.

Ellen seems to have been the first Pedden to make the trans-continental journey in 1912. She was employed by the Canadian Credit Men’s Trust Association and was living at the time at 607 East Cordova. The year following, however, Catherine was in town and was working for herself — also as a stenographer — in an office in the Northwest Securities Corp. building (on the site today known as The Lumbermen’s Building). Catherine and Ellen shared accommodation at 120 Cassiar. By 1914, one of their brothers and their mother Mary arrived in town. While Ellen was still working for the Credit Association, Catherine set up shop for herself as a freelance “public stenographer” [1] in a suite in the Birk’s Building. The following year, another sister, Margaret, was working in Vancouver, too; as a nurse. All of the Peddens were residing at 120 Cassiar.

By 1919, Ellen had left the Credit Association and joined forces with Catherine in working at her small business, which by this time had moved to the Pacific Buidling on West Hastings. The women made it known that they were “public stenographers” operating under the business name of “Vancouver Steno-Typists”. Catherine always appeared to be the “face” of the business.

The Pedden business must have been doing okay, as in 1918 (presumably following the end of Great War hostilities, thus making international steamship travel relatively safe), Catherine left Vancouver for a trip to Asia (HongKong, Shanghai, and Japan). She was there for about two years (Province, 19 August 1920). Much later (after WW2), Ellen took an “extended trip” to New Zealand and Australia, returning via Fiji and the Hawaiian Islands (Sun, 20 August 1952).

Both sisters were actively involved with the Crescent Rebekah Lodge (initially a women’s branch of the Masonic International Order of Odd Fellows; both women and men are now permitted to join).

By the 1930s, the business name had changed slightly to emphasize the stenography element of their services: henceforth it would be simply “Vancouver Stenographers” [2]. The name change seemed to happen about the same time as their final business move to the Stock Exchange building.

Catherine Pedden ad for Vancouver Stenographers in Vancouver Sun. 1 June 1929.

Catherine (age 55) and Ellen (49) Pedden retired in 1942.

In her retiring years, Catherine was involved with the leadership of the Vancouver branch of the Business Women’s and Professional Club (she was a past president) and of the Vancouver Women’s Curling Club. She was also a member of the Vancouver Heights Presbyterian Church (this church merged with the local Methodist congregation to become a United Church in 1925 as part of the church union movement; Vancouver Heights United disbanded in 1973).

Catherine died in 1965 at age 79 and Ellen passed in 1976 at age 84.


  1. I tried in vain to determine what exactly was meant/implied by the title “Public Stenographer”. How was a Public Stenographer different from a garden-variety stenographer? Perhaps there wasn’t a difference. I even had a look at what American pop culture in the ’30s had to say about this. There was a movie titled Public Stenographer (starring Lola Lane and Buster Collier, Jr. and a small part played by Jason Robards, Sr., father of later Oscar-winner, Jason Jr.) about two young women on the make in the big city who work as stenographers. These two seem to me not at all like my impressions of Catherine and Ellen; the two starlets seem primarily concerned about maintaining their “girlish figures”. I didn’t get very far in the film before I turned it off, but from the way the job of “public stenographer” was portrayed in the early part of the film, my impression is that there may not have been any real difference between the tasks taken on by “stenographers” and “public stenographers”.
  2. I should point out that, with the exception of the court stenographer (which is a very specialized job), the position of stenographer has today pretty much disappeared. My Dad used to teach stenography (or shorthand) at a Canadian college. He points out that, by the ’70s, with the growing popularity of dictaphone machines, the demand for steno and shorthand skills began to fade and that, by the ’90s, many colleges had scaled back or cancelled their steno programs. By the way, for the benefit of any millennial readers out there, I should note that the steno pad is a creature of the shorthand era.

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Art Glass at First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church is going to be closed to the public for the next two years (2021-ca2023) as it undergoes substantial renovation, seismic upgrading and development. It seems to me appropriate, therefore, to offer a stained glass ‘tour’ of First Baptist here.

If you are interested in seeing all of my posts pertaining to FBC (to date), go to this link.

An excellent ‘farewell tour’ of the current church structure (at Nelson and Burrard), hosted by FBC member Kurtis Findlay, was held on April 30, 2021. If you are interested in seeing the recording of this, go here.

The (I am the Good Shepherd) Nesbit Memorial Window: Sanctuary

Nesbit memorial (I am the Good Shepherd) window. MDM photo.

This window was dedicated to the memory of John and Bessie Nesbit by their son and daughter on June 1, 1947. It was constructed in Toronto and installed by the Royal City Glass Company.

Mr. Nesbit came from Berwick-on Tweed, England, in 1888. Mrs. Nesbit came from St. Mawgan, Cornwall, England, in 1890. John died in 1936; Bessie in 1943.

The (He Restores My Soul) Joiner Memorial Window: Sanctuary,

Joiner memorial (He Restores My Soul) window in FBC’s sanctuary. Greg Burke photo.

This window was installed in memory of William Joiner and Lottie (1894-1988) & Maynard (1894-1990) Joiner, all longtime members of FBC. There is a mini-bio on Maynard and Lottie here. William (1865-1964) was Maynard’s dad. He worked as a printer in Scotland, Boston and Calgary before retiring to Vancouver. He served as FBC’s treasurer in his 80s.

The Joiner window was dedicated in the 1990s by the Joiner family. Mark Laughlin, FBC’s caretaker at the time the Joiner window was installed, had an interesting anecdote. He said that one of the donors was a dentist and when the window arrived at FBC, the dentist was offended by what looked like an overbite on the image of Jesus. So the window was returned to the manufacturer (who is unknown, today) for a re-do of Jesus’ mouth. The amusing thing, to me, is that the revised Jesus still seems to have an overbite!

It is mildly surprising to me that both of the windows on the east wall of the Sanctuary are related to the ‘good shepherd’ theme, and it’s unfortunate that no attempt was made to be consistent in the use of pronouns (“I am the Good Shepherd” and “He restores my soul”).

Cross and Crowns: Vestry

The Cross and Crowns (in the “Vestry”, aka, the “Prayer Room”). MDM photo.

This is among my favourite FBC art glass. It was designed by Sharon Wiebe, a member at First. It shows Christ’s cross as the central feature of the image and His crown of thorns appears beneath the cross and the crown of glory above it. Those three features are connected visually with an artful ribbon.

The window is located in the room at the front of the sanctuary on the west side. That room has been traditionally been referred to as the Vestry (probably inappropriately these days, because Baptist ministers do not wear anything like vestments and they probably never used the Vestry room as somewhere for donning vestments). Today it is, perhaps more accurately, referred to as the “Prayer Room”, the room where the pastor and platform people gather before worship services.

Worship Windows: Pinder Hall

Worship Windows (on the east wall of Pinder Hall). Alf Wiebe photo.

This pair of stained glass windows were dedicated in 2008 and were the result of the vision and collaboration of folks at FBC involved in the Choir and other music and worship ministries. The design for the windows was by Mae Runions. Alf Wiebe, who is an FBC member, was the stained glass artist who constructed the windows.

The project was prompted by the death of a Choir member, Stan Grenz, in 2005, who was a singer, guitar and trumpet player and whose ‘day job’ was Professor at Carey Theological College and Regent College. The windows were not intended to be a memorial or tribute to any individual, however. As the brochure published at the dedication of the windows said:

The two windows remind us that worship is a core value of our congregation. The left panel (Inspiration) suggests downward motion and mimics the ‘organ pipes’ in the sanctuary; the dove at the top is symbolic of God’s Spirit . . . . In the second panel on the right (Response), there is the reverse upward motion of believers lifting up their praises to God. The two birds down below suggest community. . . .This window mimics the brass instruments. Creating a horizontal line from left to right are the stylized square music notes proliferating [at] the bottom of both windows.

From “The Worship Windows Project” Dedication Brochure, 2008

Chapel Windows: Memorial Chapel

The First Baptist Church Memorial Chapel was dedicated as such on January 8, 1958 in a service led by FBC’s minister of the time, Rev. J. Gordon Jones. It has served as a gathering space for tiny services — most often for small weddings and memorial services. The space occupied by the Chapel has been part of the church structure at the northwest corner of Burrard and Nelson since it was built in 1911 and was used for various purposes — as a study for the senior minister, a utility room, a Sunday School classroom, and as a denominational administrative office.

Christ the Carpenter (aka “Christ in the House of His Parents”)

Retired FBC Caretaker, Mark Laughlin, standing adjacent to “Christ the Carpenter” window in the Memorial Chapel. MDM Photo.

The window shown above, “Christ the Carpenter” or “Christ in the House of His Parents”, is in memory of Wayman Kenneth Roberts (1904-1955), the Senior Minister of FBC at the time of his passing in 1955. This window, quoting from the Memorial Chapel dedication brochure symbolizes “our emphasis upon the Lordship of Christ”.

William Carey: Cobbler, Missionary and Scholar

William Carey: Cobbler, Missionary and Scholar window in the Memorial Chapel. MDM Photo.

The William Carey window is in memory of Ester Odella Duncan (1906-1957) and is meant to stress “the authority of the Word of God” for Baptists.

John Bunyan: Tinker, Writer, Preacher

John Bunyan: Tinker, Writer, Preacher window in the Memorial Chapel. MDM Photo.

The John Bunyan window is in memory of Esli Powers Miller (1872-1949) and stands for “soul liberty and spiritual freedom” in Baptist belief.

The Armour of God

The Armour of God window in the Memorial Chapel. MDM photo.

The west wall of the Memorial Chapel, when the Memorial Chapel was dedicated in 1958, was empty of any art glass. But in the 1958 dedication brochure, it was stated that:

It is hoped that, eventually, in the west wall of the Chapel, three windows will be installed portraying Roger Williams, the Statesman, Charles Haaddon Spurgeon, the Preacher, and Ann Hasseltine Judson, the Missionary.

Memorial Chapel dedication brochure.

But, as of 2021, at least, this dream for the west wall of the Chapel of some of those living in 1958 has not been realized.

There has been a single window installed on the west wall, “The Armour of God” in memory of Padre James Willox Duncan (1906-2002). The symbols are taken from Ephesians 6:10-18. The stained glass artisan of this window was Jeanette Blackwell.

Other Art Glass at First Baptist

There is other art glass at FBC that isn’t perhaps as noticeable, but is every bit as representative of the care and skill of the makers.

Burrard Street Tower Entry

Burrard Street Tower Entry. Alf Weibe photo. This work was done by Alf Wiebe in 2005 to replicate the windows at this location prior to the 1931 fire which gutted the sanctuary.

Nelson Street Balcony Windows

South-facing Nelson Street (Balcony) Windows. MDM photo. The cross was installed by Alf Wiebe in 2004.

A Window in the Balcony

A Window (with vintage light fixtures silhouetted) from the Balcony of the Sanctuary. MDM photo.

Tower Windows

Tower windows near sanctuary’s balcony. Alf Wiebe photo.
Tower window. Alf Wiebe photo.
Tower window. Alf Wiebe photo.
Tower windows and rosette window near the top of the tower. There are four rosettes in the tower — one on each side. Sharon Wiebe designed and Alf Wiebe installed the rosettes in 2004. Alf Wiebe photo.

The tower windows shown above received extensive repairs at the skillful hand of Alf Weibe. Alf had this to say in email messages regarding these windows:

In 2005 I repaired all of the windows in the tower, and replicated the windows above the door facing Burrard St to be like the windows prior to the [1931] fire. The windows in the tower were all original windows and were falling apart, so. . . I spent the entire summer rebuilding those windows. Finding matching glass was not possible in Vancouver at the time, but I found a distributor of stained glass in Seattle that worked with samples I had and found matching glass. Mark [Laughlin, FBC’s caretaker at that time] found a picture of the church prior to the fire and, based on those pictures, I also designed windows to replace some that had been replaced by plain glass sometime in the past.

[The tower windows] get smaller with each floor of the tower as you go up. Only people familiar with the tower entrance in the balcony would ever have seen these, and only those who were adventurous enough to climb the very steep set of stairs [from the FBC Archives room up past the chimes to the very top of the tower] will ever have seen them. The smallest upper ones are reproductions because all that was left [of the original windows] were fragments of lead and glass.

Alf Wiebe in email messages to the author.

Burrard Street’s “Rose of Sharon” Window

Before: The site of the 1990s-installed ‘Rose of Sharon’ window (near the roofline of FBC’s Burrard Street facing wall). Crop of CVA 790-1657. 1985?
After: The Rose of Sharon Window. Greg Burke photo.

This window is high above Pinder Hall and the Gym facing onto Burrard Street and is known by those ‘in the know’ as the “Rose of Sharon” window. It is round, like the roses in the tower, but this window was installed in the early 1990s, is much larger, and has a quite distinctive appearance. Before the 1990s, the place where the window is now was filled in with granite stonework. By the ’90s, the space was allowing moisture inside and instead of simply plugging it, the church leaders (at Mark Laughlin’s suggestion) decided to fill the round space with art glass. It isn’t known today who the artist was who created the Rose of Sharon window.


*I’m grateful to each of the following for enduring with patience and good grace my questions and requests in connection with the research and writing of this post: Greg Burke, Edna Grenz, Mark Laughlin, Evelyn Loewen, and Alf & Sharon Wiebe.

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Sir John and Prince Volkonsky

vpl 8916 Sir John Martin-Harvey and Prince Volkonsky fencing at the Fencing Academy 1926 Stuart Thomson

VPL 8916. Sir John Martin-Harvey (left) and Russian Prince Volkonsky (right) fencing at the Fencing Academy in Vancouver. 1926. Stuart Thomson.

Sir John Martin Harvey had a reputation as a Shakespearean actor on the stage and (later) as a silent film star in the U.K. and in the wider world, not least in Canada (when he was in Vancouver in 1921, he planted a tree in the Shakespeare Garden in Stanley Park. It is still there, pictured below)². The Russian Prince pictured above with Sir John was, however, at the time this photo was taken (post-Russian revolution), a relative nobody.

In an interview given for the Winnipeg Tribune in November, 1926, Prince Sergeie Alexandrovish Volkonsky claimed that he’d been on a world tour, searching for his parents, from whom he’d become separated during the Revolution.  According to the Tribune,

CVA 99-1533 - Prince Volkonsky, passport photograph 1926 Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-1533 – Prince Volkonsky. Passport photograph. 1926. Stuart Thomson photo.

The last trace he had of them was that they had gone to France. After a fruitless search through the country, the prince went to England and there he spent two years. Since that time he has visited every corner of the globe. He arrived in Victoria, B.C. nine months ago from 1 i New Zealand . . . . On his way to Winnipeg from the Pacific Coast, the prince stayed near Calgary for a few weeks on a ranch owned by a Russian count . . . . Speaking of Canada, the prince termed it as “not a bad place at all. I like Canada and Canadians,” he said, “and would like to stay here, as it reminds me of Russia.” His ambition is to own a sheep ranch. “I want to become a good naturalized Canadian,” he said. (Winnipeg Tribune. November 1, 1926)

It seems to me likely that while his missing parents may have motivated his travels early on, surely by the time he reached Canada nearly a decade later, his motivation would have become, at least, mixed; that the principal reason for his being in Canada was to put down roots.

This conclusion seems to be supported by remarks in Sir John Martin Harvey‘s autobiography:

Maurice Willson Disher - The Last Romantic 1948

Caricature of Sir John Martin-Harvey. Maurice Willson Disher. The Last Romantic. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1948.

Of course, after the Russian revolution, the whole Pacific coast was littered with desolate refugees from that unhappy country. Vancouver was full of them . . . . Prince Volkonski . . . was haunting afternoon tea parties for the bread and butter he could unnoticed consume . . . . He had been in turn insurance agent, bill poster, waiter and actor. When my wife and I met him he was trying to teach the youngsters of Vancouver the elegant accomplishment of fencing — with scant encouragement. He thought that if I would visit his salles d’armes and allow myself to be photographed for a picture-paper in the midst of a bout with him, it might help. This I was delighted to do, and found myself credited by the newspaper with the reputation of being the finest swordsman in Europe! The youth of the city, however, were unimpressed, and the school was shortly afterwards closed. (The Autobiography of Sir John Martin-Harvey. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. 1933, pp 435-36).

There is no evidence in Vancouver directories of there being a dedicated fencing academy in the 1920s. (The only sign I’ve seen of there being any school in the city which included fencing on its curriculum was an ad for M. Lester Dancing Academy). But there was a mention of the location of Volkonsky’s fencing studio in the Sun: it was apparently located (albeit briefly, by all accounts) at Robson and Howe in “the Court House block”. (Sun, 20 Mar 1926).

It seems plain from Sir John’s report (and, reading between the lines in the Tribune article, too) that Volkonsky was tired out, hungry, and desperate to establish himself in a new, friendlier nation.

But I’ve been unable to find out what ultimately happened to Prince Volkonsky.¹ I can find no evidence that he ever became a naturalized Canadian (sheep farmer or otherwise). I have not even been able to ascertain where he died and was buried. Indeed, the later years of Sergeie Alexandrovish Volkonsky seem to be every bit as clouded in mystery to contemporary researchers as were his parents’ latter years to him!


¹In Russia’s Rulers Under the Old Regime (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), Dominic Lieven accurately notes: “[A]ttempting to trace relationships in the huge Volkonsky family is a nightmare.”

²Martin-Harvey was in Vancouver more than just the once. He was here in 1913 in “The Only Way” at Empress Theatre (Sun, 31 May 1913); 1914 in “The Only Way,” “The Cigarette Maker’s Romance,” and “The Breed of the Treshams” at Avenue Theatre (Sun, 23 March 1914); 1921  in “Garrick,” “The Burgomaster of Stilemonde,” and “The Only Way” at Avenue Theatre (Province, 23 February 1921); 1924 in (among others) “Oedipus Rex,” and “Hamlet” at Orpheum Theatre (Province, 12 April 1924); 1926 in “The Corsican Brothers” at Orpheum Theatre; and in 1932 in “The King’s Messenger” and “The Bells” at Vancouver Theatre (Province, 21 February 1932). Sir John Martin-Harvey died in 1944 at the age of 81. 

The plaque beneath the tree planted by John Martin Harvey in Stanley Park’s Shakespeare Garden in 1921. MDM photo.

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Hornett vs. Solomon

CVA 677-542 – Harry Solomon’s “New and Second Hand Store (Clothing, Furnishings, Boots & Shoes, Guns, Jewery etc., Trunks & Valises)”. 221 Abbott Street (adjacent to Blood Alley); where Gowon Cafe is located, today. 1906. P. T. Timms photo.

The Process (and Some Findings)

A number of VAIW readers have asked me how I get and develop ideas for my posts. This post presents a pretty typical example, so indulge me as I trace the process:

  • I began with an image (usually a City of Vancouver Archives photo, as in this case, but sometimes an illustration or postcard from another source). Images are nearly always the initial inspiration for my posts.
  • I then try to verify the location in the city where the image was made. CVA claimed that the image shown above was made at 233 Abbott. But I found evidence (see later in this bullet) that Solomon’s store was actually at 221 Abbott. Solomon’s shop was, therefore, on the site of what would become, in 1907, the Winters Hotel building (rather than the Central City Mission, as CVA had averred; Province. 30 October 1907). I narrowed the year the photo was made to 1906 (from “ca1903?” maintained by CVA) by consulting local newspapers, where I found an ad in 1906 that was nearly identical to the “fire sale” sign posted over the entry to Solomon’s shop: “Three thousand dollars worth of mixed stock, consisting of clothing, boots & shoes, etc., slightly damaged by water, will sell positively at a great sacrifice. Property of H. Solomon & Co., 221 Abbott St” (Province. 28 February 1906).
  • I began to track down who “H. Solomon” was. I started by looking for some mention of him in BC vital statistics. Here I found two death notices of men named “Harry Solomon”; one had an online-accessible death certificate while the other didn’t. The Solomon with a death certificate, I concluded, couldn’t be our guy, as he been residing in Vancouver for just three days. The other Harry Solomon (our man, I concluded) had lived to age 45, dying in August, 1925. This would put Harry in his mid-20s at the time of the conflict detailed below.
  • It was disappointing not to find a death certificate online for Harry Solomon, but there were other avenues to explore for information on him. I turned to newspaper listings pertaining to Harry. There weren’t many, but this search led me to the entertaining story that follows.
  • I found out more about Solomon in Census Canada records, notably that the death record for him in BC Vital Stats that showed his age at death in 1925 as 45 was probably wrong. The 1891 Census shows an H. Solomon born to F. and M. Solomon in Germany in 1868. He was the eldest of three kids. The thing that convinced me that this record was more accurate than the Vital Stats record was that Harry’s Dad (F. Solomon) had the occupation of “peddler” — not greatly different from Harry’s second hand shop proprietorship.
  • The story below mentions a gent named Leonard Hornett. According to the news story, Hornett was in Vancouver visiting from his home in Red Deer, AB. Other newspaper clippings established that Hornett was actually a farmer from an unincorporated community near Red Deer called Hill End.
  • I had a look in VPL’s Historical Photos and UBC’s Open Collections for anything that these institutions might have pertaining to Hornett, Solomon, or 221 Abbott Street; nothing much was gleaned from these latter searches.

How Solomon Schvindled Himself

On Friday, 2nd February 1906, Leonard Hornett, who was a resident of the Red Deer, Alberta area (specifically, the district of Hill End, where he farmed), was in Vancouver on a visit. He was out for a stroll along the streets of Gastown when he happened across a second hand shop on Abbott Street: H. Solomon’s store. Hornett saw a leather-lined shooting coat in the window that appealed to him.

I’ll allow the person who reported on this story for the World to take up the tale:

He went in and asked the young man behind the counter what was the price of the coat. He answered $3. “Here is your money,” said Mr. Hornett, and the bargain was concluded and the coat wrapped up. . . .

Mr. Hornett did not want [anything else] and started away. He had not got far [down the street] when the fun began. The people on Water street had a view of a man in a wild state of excitement tearing along the sidewalk, shouting a mixture of Yiddish and English as he ran, in wake of a peaceable old gentleman who did not look as if he would harm even an enemy unless forced to, much less steal anything. When the flying man reached the “old un”, he made a grab at the parcel he was carrying, shouting as he did so, “Vat a shame. Vat a shame. He would ruin me. Oh! my peautiful, peautiful goat.”

The old gentleman had hold of the string of the parcel and at the first [jerk] it did not break but after a short tug of war during which the air was filled with Yiddish expostulations and objurgations the string gave way and Mr. Solomon, for it was he, fled back to his store hugging the coat to his bosom like a long lost child. In a few moments he rushed out again and pushed $3 into the old gentleman’s pocket . . . . If Mr. Solomon expected Mr. Hornett to come back and raise his bid he was mistaken. Mr. Hornett told his troubles to Detective Waddell and had a warrant for theft sworn out against [Mr. Solomon]. . . .

Mr. Solomon took his place in the box and removing his hat after being sworn he leaned over and proceeded . . . . “You see it was shoost dis vay, chudge,” said Mr. Solomon solemnly and impressively. “I had to go out for a few minutes and I ask Mr. Kattlefat, he is my frent, chudge, not my glerk, to vatch the store for me. Ven I come pack I fount he had sold the peautiful goat dat I refused seven tollar for day before yesterday for tree tollar! I vent after the goat and give the man back his moneys.”

“What do you value the coat at?” asked the court.

“Eight tollars, your honour.”

“And a man with your accent and in your business refused $7 for it?” asked the magistrate, in a tone of sarcastic surprise.

When the laugh subsided the magistrate decided that Solomon was responsible for what his agent had done. The coat was Mr. Hornett’s property. The $3 belonged to Solomon.

“Here you are, lad,” said Mr. Hornett. “It’s been in my pocket ever since; thou might have had it before if thou’d liked.”

Province. 5 February 1906.

The Hornetts and . . . Kattlefat?

Leonard Hornett Sr. and his wife, Sarah Stockbridge, emigrated to Canada from England in 1891. The couple retired from farming in Alberta in 1919 when they moved to Vancouver. Sarah died in 1931; he married a second time, to Edener Smith, in 1932. Leonard died in 1944. It was noted in local newspapers that at his death at age 93, he was BC’s oldest automobile driver (Province. 3 January 1944).

Hornett’s son, Leonard Jr. lived in Vancouver. It was likely Jr. whom Sr. was in town to see in 1906. Leonard Jr. was a job printer in partnership with. Mr. Bolam at that time. He married Beatrice Andrews in 1905 in Vancouver. Later, he worked for Keystone Press. He died in Vancouver in 1957 at the age of 79. Leonard Sr. and Sarah also had three daughters.

I wasn’t able to track down “Mr. Kattlefat” in the vital statistics records and there is no listing of “Kattlefat” in any local newspaper, except for the article quoted above. Chances are that either Harry Solomon wasn’t able to pronounce the name or the newspaper reporters didn’t hear/spell it correctly; the Province reporter had the “frent’s” name as “Candlewax”!

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Some 19th-Century Lingo Related to Marriage and Singleness

This brief post is a tour of three odd Victorian words and phrases that pertain to marriage and singleness and that were employed in early Vancouver newspapers.

CVA 2018-020.3612 – A pioneer bachelor’s hall, Vancouver, 1890.

Bachelor’s Hall

The photo above shows a bachelor’s hall in Vancouver in 1890. This seems to have been, in the earliest years of the city, a type of doss house. The early bachelor’s halls were frequented by seasonal workers, of which Vancouver had its fair share (forestry workers, especially).

 CVA 371-739 – [Exterior of F.W. Hewton’s residence at 544 Burrard Street] ca1903.

I’ve found evidence of bachelor’s halls at:
– 935 Hornby St. — Province 19 Nov 1898.
– 1041 Robson (corner of Thurlow) — Province 11 Aug 1904.
– 544 Burrard (also the Hewton School of Music) — Province. 17 Dec 1906.
– East side of 5th (today’s Selkirk) Street, north of Moosomin (today’s W. 73rd) Ave (in Eburne/Marpole) — 1916 Henderson Directory.
– 2118 W. 41st Ave (updstairs) — 1920 Henderson Directory.

Most of the above locations were not, I suspect, halls in the sense of the initial photo (with two or more men to a bed). I got the impression that most of these had one bachelor per room.

”Keeping Bachelor’s Hall”

This was a phrase used in Vancouver, which could be a longer way of saying that so-and-so is a bachelor; could also be a way of saying, in today’s colloquial, “I’m batching it for awhile.” For example: “My family are away on a visit at present, and I am keeping bachelor’s hall out at the house” (Province, 24 Feb 1900).

A “Benedict”

A benedict is “a newly married man, especially one who was previously a confirmed bachelor.” An example of this: “Surely Cupid himself . . . [w]ill be present to wish every maid a matron and every bachelor a benedict . . .” (World, 8 Feb 1907).

“Goin’ to the Hymeneal Altar, and We’re . . .”

A hymeneal altar pertains to a wedding or marriage (since this is a family blog, I won’t get into other etymological sources of this phrase). A usage example from the Vancouver Daily World: “Speaking of a doctor getting married, calls to mind the fact that a certain well-known Granville Street disciple of Aesculapius [Greco-Roman god of medicine], who has dabbled considerably in provincial politics, is soon to lead his betrothed to the hymeneal altar” (World. 3 Aug 1893).

Why the author didn’t simply say “A Granville Street physician is getting married soon,” I don’t know. He/she must have been paid by the word!

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Those Musical (and Tragic) Clays

The Musical Clays. Milton and Amy Clay, and between them, Reginald. Percy is on far left. Harold isn’t in this photo (nor, for that matter, is Gwendoline; she probably wasn’t born when this image was made, but in any case, she never seemed to ‘count’ as one of the “Musical Clays”. Vancouver Sun. September 13, 1952.

Prof. Milton Clay his wife, Amy and their boys, Percy, Harold, and Reginald made quite a splash during their time in Vancouver. Milton, who was an unabashed promoter of himself and his family, made sure that from their arrival in Vancouver, the Clays were widely known as “The Musical Clays”. 

The Clay family [1] emigrated to Canada from England, settling in Vancouver in 1905. It was widely reported for many years that the Clays had had a large audience in the ‘motherland’ and, specifically that eldest son, Percy (who was scarcely 7 when they arrived in Vancouver), was known in England as the ‘World’s Wonder’ for his ability to play several instruments (4 at that time; 10 by the time they began performing here). These reports seem to have been largely fictitious, encouraged by Prof. Clay’s public relations juggernaut. I was unable to track down any reports in newspapers published in England of Percy performing there, nor, for that matter, of any of the Clays doing so. 

Within a few months of their arrival, the Clays were living in their home, 850 Helmcken Street, which also served as the HQ of the English Academy of Music, of which Milton was principal. According to a later report by Reginald, his father had as many as 110 pupils per week, with the first arriving at 6am and the last leaving at 10pm (Sun, 13 September 1952). Clay’s English Academy would be one of two local institutions (the Vancouver College of Music was the other) that was certified to train students for music exams set by Trinity College, London.

In 1906, Milton launched a “musical carnival and diorama” of the Russo-Japanese War. Central to this was Clay’s 18-piece banjo, mandolin, and violin orchestra and songs with questionable titles, today, such as “Happy Jappy Soldier Man” and “Soldier Boys are Only Toys” (World. 15 Sept 1906). According to the Vancouver News-Advertiser:

“There was not a single vacant seat at the Opera House” for the first performance and that “traffic was snarled [by horses and buggies, presumably, as this was prior to there being automobiles in the city] between Robson and Georgia on Granville by the attending throng.”

Vancouver News-Advertiser 30 Sept 1906 quoted in Vancouver Sun 13 Sept. 1952.
Chilliwack Progress. 30 June 1909.

By 1909, it occurred to the ambitious Prof. Clay that the Musical Clays may find a new and appreciative audience in the northern regions. In the summer, the Clays set their faces north via steamship from Vancouver. They played such places as Whitehorse, Granville (north of Dawson City) and Port Essington (between Terrace and Prince Rupert; now a ghost town).

If Vancouverites had seemed hungry for music, the miners, loggers, and fishermen of the North were starved for it . . . . [T]he concerts put on by the Clays were jammed. After each performance the family was showered with gifts, including a fair number of gold nuggets.

Sun. 13 September 1952.

Once back in Vancouver, Amy became active in several groups noted for their “women’s work”, including the Daughters of England (of which she was president for awhile), the Red Cross Society, and the women’s auxiliary of the Great War Veterans Association. She seemed gradually to be stepping away from public appearances with the Musical Clays as the boys grew older.

Meanwhile, most of Milton’s time, seemed to be dedicated to his English Academy and the musical instruction of other people’s kids, and the presentation of regular “musicales” where his students showed off what they’d learned. When he wasn’t kept busy with the Academy, he had purchased a summer resort property sometime around 1920 that was situated 3 miles north of Horseshoe Bay. It would become known as “Clay’s Landing”.

Around the time of the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco (1915), the earlier craze for the mandolin and banjo was starting to fade and was replaced by a new fad: a love for Hawaiian and Spanish guitars. Reginald was an early convert to the Hawaiian guitar and he and his brothers started a dance band that featured that instrument. The boys appear also to have had a short-lived Saxophone orchestra (Province 16 October 1920).

Percy and Reginald were married on the same day in 1923 — a double wedding. Percy married Bertha Tribe; he indicated on the marriage certificate that his occupation was “musician”. Reginald married Helen Nelson; he showed his occupation as “music teacher”. Harold married Muriel Epps in 1924.

On 28 October 1924, in the Province newspaper, there appeared this shocking notice:

I hereby give notice that I, Milton Clay, 1249 Davie Street, am not responsible for any debts contracted by my wife, Amy E. Clay, who has left her home without just cause. — Milton Clay

Province. 28 October 1924.

It is pretty clear from this that Mr. and Mrs. Clay were having serious marital problems and that Amy had moved out of their home. There was no other public announcement or legal action (such as divorce) taken by either of them.

The next mention of Amy in the local newspapers was on March 31, 1927.

She died on March 29, in her 50th year, at Vancouver General Hospital. Her death certificate is not available online and the cause of her death was not specified in her obituary. The obituary did show her address at the time of death as 2510 Marine Drive East. At that time, Milton was living at #5-1035 Granville Street.

Things went from bad to worse for the family. On December 24, 1927, Milton went missing after heading out on the water with a rented rowboat:

The Vancouver music teacher is believed to have been drowned Christmas Eve about 3 miles from Horseshoe Bay [Clay’s Landing, I presume], which point he left in a rowboat for Sunset Beach. The boat, with its oars and a club bag was later found adrift off St. Mark’s Summer Camp beach, a short distance from the professor’s objective, and it is presumed that while attempting a landing at the small wharf he lost his balance and was drowned.

Victoria Times Colonist. 2 January 1928.

Milton Clay’s body was never found and there was no public funeral, as far as I can tell. The only public statement was one made by someone whose initials were B.B.C. It was published in a local newspaper a year after he was presumed drowned. (Poetry wasn’t B.B.C.’s strength).

IN LOVING AND AFFECTIONATE MEMORY of Prof. Milton Clay, who passed out of my life on December 24, 1927. “There came a mist and a blinding rain and life was never the same again.” — B.B.C.

Province. 24 December 1928.

But fate wasn’t finished with the Clays yet. In 1956, Gwendoline (1907-1956), the “unmentioned Clay” who had seemed to be more interested in sports than music, passed away from breast cancer (she’d been married to Wallace Parker since 1937). And a year later, a few months after he moved to Kelowna after a career as a postal carrier, Percy (1897-1957) committed suicide — by, of all things, drowning in Okanagan Lake.

Reginald (1898-1985), of all of the family, was the only one of the kids who stuck with music as a full-time career. He was a music teacher for many years, dying at the age of 86. Harold (1900-1986) was the last of the Musical Clays. He also died at age 86 after having had a career as a sign writer in Vancouver.


  1. The idea for this post came from Neil Whaley, who saw potential in the Clays for a good story. Good eye, Neil!

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Vancouver’s Junkmen of the Thirties

Jewish Museum & Archives of B.C. L.25110 – Harry Halpern some time after he’d left the occupation of junkman. ca 1960.

This is an atypical VAIW post. It consists largely of an extended verbatim quotation from a long-forgotten West End Vancouver newspaper, called the West End Breeze. The subject of the quote is the junkmen of the 1930s who, with horse and wagon, went through the back lanes of the West End collecting and buying junk for the purpose of selling it to junk dealers. These junkmen were, in fact, early recyclers in the city.

The Breeze was a weekly community newspaper, edited by former Vancouver Sun reporter Myrtle Patterson Gregory (1898-1981) and published in 1932-33. Vancouver collector Neil Whaley has the only known copy of the paper, a bound edition from Gregory’s family. He has graciously made his copy of this article available for use on VAIW.

Myrtle Patterson Gregory started the Breeze as a way to work from home while raising two children. The book Women Who Made The News, by Marjorie Lang, says that Gregory was reputed to be the highest paid female reporter in Canada in the 1920s — at $25 a week. When the Sun started Edith Adams Cottage, Myrtle headed it with a staff of university-trained home economists.

”Any Joonk?” Call Europe-Born Junkmen Who Ride West End Lanes Day After Day

“Any oldt clothe’, any oldt shoe’, any oldt bottl’ — Any Joonk? –“

Vibrant foreign voices from Russia, Poland, Germany — sing-song this cry of wares-to-buy along our West End lanes to an accompaniment of scraping wagon wheels and plod-plodding of horses’ hoofs – minor notes in the rich symphony of West End life and so familiar that we lend to them only a subconscious ear, overlooking entirely the possibilities for human interest. Human interest in sordid “junk”? Human interest, even drama!

“Ja, this garten,” a German junkman said longingly one Spring day as he looked at table and chairs under a blossoming tree. “Ja, this garten, it iss like mein home in Bavaria. Meine frau and my little girl are there. I work to bring them here . . . .two years I work . . . . but now,” a despairing shrug, “hard times.”

Depression hits even the junkmen. Not so many bottles. People are not entertaining so lavishly. Not so many old shoes or old clothes — people are wearing them, not selling them. Even things which in the old days they were glad to have carried away for nothing, they are trying to sell to the junkman for as many pennies as possible.

Ben Gold refuses to be downcast. You’ve heard him in the lanes. He cries his “Any old junk?” call as do the others, but three or four times every block he breaks into a curious chant — “Doo, doo, doo-doo, doo-do-o-o!” (After four years, the words are still unintelligible to this writer).

“Gold, he like fon,” explains one of his contemporaries. “He get tired of same old call, so he put “You Hoo Hoo Hoo” after it — for fon.”

Not two or three junkmen, but ten or more, ply their trade through the West End lanes. Imagine never seeing the West End streets except where they intercept the lanes, briefly. Riding all day on a high wagon seat through lanes — eight miles of lanes a day. Four times towards the Park, and four times east towards Granville. Lunches, wrapped in brown paper, are eaten along the way. On short winter days, a red lantern beside the driver’s seat is lighted for the last couple of miles.

Every junkman, or practically so, owns his own horse and wagon. Harry Halperin [Halpern], on the West End “beat” for 2 years, drives “Baby,” who has been traveling though our lanes for 4 years. “Maggie” is another old faithful. On fine days, junkmen and horse start very early in the morning to make their daily round — for the early birds get the best junk!

Any old clothes? A junkman will buy a good suit for $5 and he will sell it for $7.50 at his special market. He pays 1c a pound for rags. Any old shoes? They are worth 50c a pair to the junkman, allowing him to make a small margin of profit. Any old bottles? Fifteen cents for a dozen is the standard price offered to private vendors in the West End and the junkman will re-sell them to the International Junk Company on Main Street, allowing himself a percentage. Earnings of the junkman average about $3 a day, although they may range from a few cents on a poor day to $10 on a lucky day when women are selling their husbands’ old suits.

Bottles are thus started on their return trip to breweries, wineries and manufacturing concerns. Rags become “wipes,” “shoddy” and material for making into fine papers, wallpaper and roofing. Iron goes back to the foundry, and other metals are gathered up for re-smeltering. Rubber can be re-used. So can farmers’ sacks. The junkman is the important link in the reclaiming of these materials.

Among the best known of the junkmen, in addition to Ben Gold and Harry Halperin [Halpern], are M. Hammer, Jerry [Joe?] Sapoznick, E. Schwartz, T. Jacobson, Ben Baltman, F. Kurtz, S. Kurtz, A. Fagan.

Heat does not deter them from the daily grind . . . . nor wet weather.

“Rain?” asked one younger man with expressive hands, “What does eet matter? We mus’ mak’ de leeving!”

West End Breeze. July 8, 1932

Most of the men listed in the article were of Jewish ancestry. There were a couple of non-Jewish gents. Jacobson was probably from a Slavic country (possibly Finland). But, judging from the death certificates I was able to find, most of the others were “Hebrews”. Benjamin Gold (1884-1949) spent 20 years as as a “junk dealer”. He came from Russia. Joe (I couldn’t find any indication of a Jerry) Sapoznick (1897-1973) was also from Russia. The other three junkmen for whom I was able to find death notices were all from Poland. Max Hammer died in 1947 at age 91. Benny Baltman (1879-1955) lived to 75. And Harry Halpern (not Halperin) (1902-1980) lived until he was 78.

This need hardly be said, perhaps, but none of these junkmen lived in the West End in 1932. They lived, principally on Powell, Union, and Jackson streets. In other words, they lived in the East End and worked in the West End.

I was thrilled to find the photo of Harry Halpern shown above at the Jewish Museum & Archives site. And also the following blurb about his early life, published in the Vancouver Sun in the year of his death:

Harry Halpern was born in Poland in 1902, worked as a butcher, then came to Canada in 1930.

” . . . . I saw an old man driving a horse and a wagon. And I said to him, “What are you doing for a living?” He said “I buy shmatas“. That means rags in Jewish, old clothes. He knew I noticed he was Jewish, and I was Jewish. I said, “Listen, can you take me in your wagon, and show me the town?” He said, “Oh I don’t want partners.” I said, “I don’t want to be a partner, just show me the town. I’ll sit with you in the wagon and you go around.” He said, “Okay. But I promise you I’m not going to give you nothing.”

I went with him to Twelfth Avenue, to the lane. And you know what he did? The first thing he said was “Junk! Rags! Bottles!”

I said, “You’ve got to do that?”

He said, “Well, if I’m not going to do that, nobody will know I’m a junkman.”

Mein Gott, I said to myself, I’ve come to Vancouver to do things like that!”

Vancouver Sun. 4 January 1980 (Halpern’s was one of the Sun’s “Voices from the East End”).
(Note: This quotation is from the first few minutes of Harry Halpern’s contribution to the Jewish Museum & Archives Oral History Project. For Halpern’s full interview, contact the Jewish Museum & Archives of BC.)

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‘Knight of the Brush and Broom’ and Curator of What Would Become MOA

UBC Archives Collection. “Old Bill” Tansley (far right) talking with some of the students on UBC’s Fairview campus. 1920.

William Tansley (1859-1951) was a UBC janitor starting in September 1916, in the period when the school was located in the Fairview district (at what is today Vancouver General Hospital). When Tansley accepted his position at UBC, it was another in a succession of several jobs that he’d held. Doubtless, he didn’t suspect that he would retire from UBC as the Curator of its museum.

A Varied Resume

Bill Tansley was born in England at Stoke-on-Trent, the son of a pottery maker, William Sr., and Emma Stanway. His grandfather sent him to a branch of the School of Science and Art in Hanley, England for a couple of years. His love was art. Unfortunately, he didn’t have too much additional formal training. But I suspect he would say that he had all the training he needed to get along. Much of his later learning was self-taught.

His resume of jobs was varied (Province 14 Jan 1939), to put it mildly:

1870s: Left England for North America. Spent a couple years at Cranford, NJ working as a terracotta worker, a printer and felt maker.

ca1878: Contracted malaria and spent some time in St. Luke’s Hospital, New York. Once he recovered, he shoveled coal and loaded pig iron on the docks at Perth Amboy, NJ. When dock workers struck for higher wages, he returned to NY where he worked as a decorator of toys.

1886: Returned to England, working at Milton where his family was living, as a house painter and decorator. Married Annie Elizabeth (1866-1930). (Bill married his second wife, Bessie, a year after Annie’s passing).

1890: Worked for a greenhouse manufacturer and was later made foreman of the glazing department.

ca1891: Went to London where he worked for a bicycle manufacturer. He lived near the Hugh Myddleton School, which offered university extension classes. He attended classes in French, economics, geometry, and art.

ca1900: Opened his own bicycle shop in Yarmouth, England.

1903: Left England for Canada, settling in Dundurn, SK where he was a house decorator and taught art at night school.

1904: Left Saskatchewan for Vancouver, where he worked in the carriage works of Tupper and Son and later for Lobb & Muir, blacksmiths, on Westminster Ave. (Kingsway). He left that job after he became ill with lead poisoning.

CVA Bu P669 – Group portrait in front of Lobb and Muir Blacksmiths at 2410 Westminster Avenue (Kingsway). ca1906. This is about the time that Tansley was working for them; the gent standing just behind the little girl appears to me to look like Bill Tansley.

1910-1914: He next worked for A. M. Ross & Co. Realtors for a while. Realty was booming, so he opened his own office; his health failed again, and he was forced to withdraw from realty work.

ca1915: Worked for awhile for BC Telephone and BC Electric (doing what isn’t known, but it seems likely it consisted of painting — one of the few themes — and one of Tansley’s loves — among several of his jobs).

’Knight of the Brush and Broom’

In September 1916, Tansley took a job at the recently opened UBC. He was a night watchman and janitor in the Arts/Library Building at Fairview. He assumed this job at the age of 57 — an age at which most men would be thinking of retirement.

William Tansley pictured in UBC’s Third Annual, 1918. Tansley was sometimes referred to as a ‘Knight of the Brush and Broom’ and on other occasions as ‘Curator of the Dustpan’. UBC Archives.

In 1917, he went onto the day shift. That meant that he could have more contact with the students (and get a decent night’s rest)!

“I enjoy the association with the students here,” he said in answer to a question. “I like the conversation and the discussions which university men often promote when they get together, and I have made many valuable friendships in the course of my work.”

The Province. 4 March 1922.

It seems the sentiment was mutual. Male students referred to him, affectionately, as “Old Bill”. Female students reportedly called him “Mr. Tansley”, with equal regard. At the end of the 1920-21 session, the students took up a collection for Tansley, presenting him with a bucketful of money. He invested the cash gift in a set of books called Original Sources (The Province. 4 March 1922).

Curator of Nascent Museum of Anthropology

In 1927, Dr. Frank Burnett donated his sizable collection of materials from the South Seas to UBC and Tansley was made the curator of the collection. How did Tansley and Burnett connect?

Mr. Tansley had first met Dr. Frank Burnett when he arrived [in Vancouver] from Dundurn [SK] with a letter of introduction to the firm of Burnett, Horne & Co. [Insurance Brokers]. When the doctor left his valuable collection of native curiosities to the University in 1927 what was more logical than that his old friend “Bill” should be placed in charge of it.

The Province. 14 January 1939.
CVA Out P647 – Dr. Frank Burnett surrounded by his collection of South Seas’ artifacts. 192-.

The Burnett Collection was established on the first floor of the Main Library and was formally known as the Burnett Ethnological Museum (sometimes referred to casually as the UBC Museum) The Burnett Collection would later form the core of the Museum of Anthropology (MOA). It consisted of “curious relics, rated as the most complete representative Polynesian collection in the world . . . . Among the exhibits are figures of Polynesian gods, native implements, several skulls, and samples of native dress” (UBC Student Handbook: 1929, p. 73).

Tansley made his own contribution to the UBC Museum. He offered a scrapbook compiled during each of his years at UBC (1916-33) showing newspaper and other information pertaining to students, former students and events at the University over the years. I see that his scrapbook and one of “Old Bill’s” paintings are now part of the William Tansley fonds at the UBC Archives.

In 1941, Tansley retired from UBC after 14 years as curator and 11 years as janitor. He was 83. He died almost a decade later at 92. He was survived by his second wife, Bessie Cox (1884-1963).

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Playograph Adds Zing to World Series

CVA 99-4059 – Crowd watching baseball results from the block on Pender St between Cambie and Beatty.
1931. Stuart Thomson.

The image shown above was encountered by me yesterday when I was researching a forthcoming post. When I saw the photo, I noticed that CVA’s description of the photo’s locale was wrong. It wasn’t “Hastings Street and Beatty Street” as they claimed [1]. It was actually the block on Pender between Cambie and Beatty. The buildings to the left in the image show those of the former City Hospital which, by 1931, was the site of the City’s “relief offices” (where today there is a parkade at the corner of Cambie at Pender). This is not an often-photographed block.


Later, it occurred to me to ask myself where exactly the crowd was looking? If they were accurately described by CVA as “watching baseball results” versus simply “listening” to them over some sort of public address system, then what were they watching? And where were they looking ?

Starting with the World Series of 1925 and continuing for most years after that through World Series 1931, there was an American invention in town called the Playograph. For the first few years (1925-1930), this was the exclusive domain in Vancouver of the Province newspaper. Only in 1931 did the Sun get on the bandwagon and get a Playograph of its own.

The Playograph (shown below) appears to our modern eyes to be a pretty banal thing — basically a scoreboard.

Province 6 Oct 1929.

The playograph is one of the latest devices in baseball boards. It shows every play from the time the ball leaves the pitcher’s hands until an “out” is registered or a run scored. It pictures the progress of a runner once he reaches first base, and also gives the running box score.

The Province, 5 October 1925

The Playograph was part of a system that included a special leased telegraph wire to the field in which the game was being played; it also had an audio component. A “baseball expert” would call the game for the fans that gathered before the Playograph board. And they would watch as hitters scored runs. And this audio information would be supplied in up-to-the-minute fashion, almost as quickly as it was seen by folks who were able to attend the actual ball game!

What Held the Crowd’s Attention?

But where were Vancouver ball fans looking in the image above? Where was the Playograph located in 1931?

CVA Str N164. Crop of Lion gargoyle at 2nd story of Edgett wing, Province building, Pender Street view.

This is where my brain needed some adjusting.[2] Partly because this city block was infrequently photographed in the 1920s and ’30s, I had a skewed notion of where the Province (and Sun) offices were located. When I think about the Province office, I typically think of it as the 7-storey building at Hastings and Cambie (shown here just above the cenotaph) at the site now occupied by the Vancouver Film School (aka the Carter Cotton building). It is easy to forget that the Province also occupied printing offices in the “Edgett wing” — shown here at the 420 Cambie entrance. What I overlooked, however, is that the Edgett wing is a three-dimensional structure with facings on Pender Street, too!

The Playograph was on an upper storey of the Pender side of the Edgett wing (see photos below; note, in particular, the lion gargoyles in common in the photo of the Province Playograph and the Edgett wing. That is where most of the crowd was looking — northwest toward the Province Playograph on the Pender Street wall of the Edgett wing.

The Province Playograph mechanism mounted on the Pender Street side of the Edgett Wing of the Province Building at Pender and Cambie. (Note the lion gargoyles). The Province. 6 October 1925.
Str N164 – View of Pender Street east of Cambie Street, showing the Bekins Tower (formerly the World Tower and ultimately to become the Sun Tower). Note the Edgett Wing (Pender St side) of the Province building at left foreground. Note also the Sun building on the north side of Pender across the street from Bekins Tower. 1927. W J Moore.

What About Those Looking North?

Some people in the crowd (mainly those who appear in the 99-4060 photo below) appear to be looking, principally, to the north (versus the northwest). What was going on there?

Crop of CVA Str N164 showing the Sun building on north side of Pender (across the street from the Tower, which would become in 1937 its primary HQ). The signage locates “The Sun” — where the Pendera apts are located today,

Once again, I needed to adjust my brain to the layout of the city in the latter 1920s and early 1930s. When I saw that the Sun jumped onto the Playograph bandwagon in 1931, I assumed that the Sun was located in the Sun Tower (aka, World Tower, aka Bekins Tower). But I was mistaken. As you can see in the 1927 image above, it was the Bekins Tower in the 1920s. The Sun didn’t become the principal tenant of the Tower until 1937, substantially after the Playograph had become a memory in Vancouver.

Where was the Sun office in the late 1920s and early ’30s? Its building is just visible in Str 164 in the left, middle-ground, two buildings west of the Lotus Hotel (where the Pendera residences are today). It is clearer in the crop of that image shown at the right.

So those in the crowd who appear to be looking north were looking at the Sun Playograph which was on the Sun building, located almost directly across Pender from the Tower.

Playograph’s Passing

The Playograph had limited utility and attractiveness to Vancouver ball fans and 1931 seems to have been the final year it was featured by either the Province or the Sun. It seems that radio broadcasts of baseball games had become commonplace and, with that, the appeal began to fade of gathering with your neighbours at a central location to watch changes to a glorified scoreboard. It was the first step towards the isolationism that would eventually come with television.

But in the early years of the Depression, and a good two decades before televisions were available for purchase, the Playograph contributed to the entertainment of thousands of Vancouver ball fans.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of another American export (in addition to the Playograph device and the World Series of baseball). Radio journalist, Paul Harvey, used to wrap up his syndicated broadcasts on our local radio station when I was growing up in the ‘70s with a simple sentence that seems apt here: “And that’s . . . the rest of the story.”

CVA 99-4060 – Crowd watching baseball results. Camera facing east and south down Pender and Beatty. The Bekins Tower is the structure at corner of Pender at Beatty. 1931 Stuart Thomson.


  1. Hastings and Beatty is an impossible address. Beatty dead-ends at Pender; it doesn’t intersect with Hastings.
  2. I am indebted to Tom Carter for his help adjusting my thinking about the urban landscape during these years. He lives in the neighbourhood of the World/Bekins/Sun Tower and was very helpful in straightening out my understanding of where the Sun and Province offices were in 1925-31.

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‘Brood’ of Seven Baptist Churches

First Baptist Church (FBC) had, as one of its early objectives, the planting of daughter churches in the neighbourhoods of the city as it gradually grew. The focus of this post is on the churches of that ‘brood’ and, specifically, the buildings they occupied over the course of their lives. I’m not including the history of First Baptist’s buildings in this post, as I have pretty thoroughly dealt with FBC’s history elsewhere in multiple posts of this blog.

The content in this post was first presented by me at a Vancouver Postcard Club meeting in June 2018. Although the format is different (a post versus a PowerPoint presentation), the information is largely the same.

First Born: Mount Pleasant Baptist

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church (MPBC) had initial, temporary church homes on 2nd Ave (1890) and in the Good Templars Hall (1891). On May 10, 1891, several members were dismissed[1] from the ‘mother’ church, FBC, so they could form the nucleus of MPBC. FBC offered Mount Pleasant Baptist $200/yr (for how long isn’t clear) and a pulpit chair and a pulpit Bible to support the new church’s first pastor, Rev. A. B. Lorimer.

Building 1 (1904-1908): 7th Avenue near Quebec Street

The first building would be on 7th Avenue, adjacent to what, by 1911, would be the Mt Stephen apartment block (today called Quebec Manor). In 1908, this building was sold to the Salvation Army.

PAN N161A – Crop of Mount Pleasant from the Lee Block, Broadway. Mount Pleasant Baptist’s Building 1 is located to the right of the Mt. Stephen apartment block. 1913. W. J. Moore.

Building 2 (1908-1910): Kingsway near Main

MPBC bought their second building from the local Presbyterians. This structure was at 2340 Westminster Road (now Kingsway near Main); this is the site, today, of Mt Pleasant Community Centre and the branch library of VPL. MPBC was at this location for just a couple of years.

Ch P62 – Boys’ Brigade and Band in front of Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church at 2340 Westminster Road (Main Street). This was MPBC’s Building 2. ca1892 Bailey Bros.

Building 3 (1910-1990): SE Corner of 10th Avenue at Quebec Street

In 1909, MPBC approached Toronto architects, Burke, Horwood & White (the firm used by FBC to design their Burrard & Nelson building) to design a new building for them at the SE corner of 10th Avenue and Quebec Street. The building would be of the Tudor Revival style and have a seating capacity of about 650.

The building was destroyed by fire in 2004. But the Baptists had called it quits and moved out by 1990 due to diminishing numbers of attendees and donations. By 1996, a new church (a Pentecostal one) occupied the building. Today, a condo development is on the site of the former MPBC structure.

CVA 780-225 – Mount Pleasant Baptist Church (Building 3) at SE Corner 7th and Quebec. 1976.

Second Child: Jackson Avenue Baptist

The congregation that ultimately became a Baptist church in the East End, began as a Sunday School mission of FBC. It started in a carpentry shop, later moving to a space on Powell Street, and finally to Harris Street (today’s East Georgia).

Building 1 (ca1894-ca1898): On Jackson Avenue

The first building occupied by Jackson Avenue Baptist Church (JABC) seems to have been a re-purposed residence (versus a purpose-built church structure). It was somewhere on Jackson Avenue, but exactly where it was is a bit of a mystery.

JABC’s Building 1. From a lantern slide. n.d. First Baptist Church Archival Collection.

Building 2 (1899-1952): NW Corner of Jackson and East Pender

By 1898, JABC was growing beyond the capacity of their first building and so JABC bought the former building of the local Presbyterians, Zion Presbyterian (NW Corner of Jackson and Princess (East Pender). JABC, for a while, was known as Zion Baptist.

Building 2 of JABC (NW corner of Princess and Jackson). n.d.
First Baptist Church Archival Collection.

JABC, like most of the people of Strathcona – the community in which it was situated – was not rich. By the late 1940s, its membership had dropped significantly. Therefore, in 1952, JABC merged with another (also dwindling) Baptist church in the East End, East Hastings Baptist, to form a new church: Ward Memorial Baptist Church (in memory of Rev. Albert W. Ward). It continues to operate today at 465 Kamloops Street

CVA 786-48.15 – 499. Former JABC’s Building 2, converted by this time to be a Chinese Public School.
East Pender at Jackson Street. 1978.

Third Child: Fairview Baptist

Fairview Baptist Church was typical of the offspring of FBC in that it began as a Sunday School. In 1902, Mrs. E. Peck offered her home at Maple and 3rd Avenue for a Sunday School. The school met there for 2 years.

Building 1 (1904-1909): Maple and 4th Avenue

In 1904, 20 members of First Baptist ‘got their letters of dismissal’ and formed the nucleus of Fairview Baptist; they also built their first building at the corner of Maple and 4th Avenue. FBC’s historian William Carmichael claims that the first building was built for $500. But the Vancouver Heritage Building Permits site tells a little different story. The building permit indicates an estimate of $1000. The architect/ builder was R. E. Scarlett.

Building 1 of Fairview Baptist at 4th and Maple. The photo was made a few years after the church had moved on. At this time, it had become a Heating and Plumbing enterprise.
(First Baptist Church Archival Collection, ca 1910-14).

Building 2 (1909-1924): Fifth Avenue and Arbutus

In 1909, Fairview pulled up stakes. It isn’t clear why. FBC historian, William Carmichael, claims it was “because of the laying of the street car tracks on Fourth Avenue”. This doesn’t further my understanding much, however. Was there a safety concern for the kids?

Fairview built a new structure on 5th Avenue at Arbutus. It was designed/built by Samuel Buttrey Birds for about $5,500.

Fairview Baptist Church. I’m guessing that this was Building 2 (5th at Arbutus). ca1910-20.
(UL 1624 03 0259. UBC Library).

With the move to Arbutus and 5th, Fairview Baptist seems to have undergone a period of identity crisis, given subsequent name changes. In ca1913, after being near Fifth Avenue for a few years (although the address was actually 2029 Arbutus), it started calling itself “Fifth Avenue Baptist Church”. In 1918, scarcely five years later, the name was changed to “Kitsilano Baptist Church”. The church building address didn’t change with either of these name changes.

In 1922, following a tumultuous period for “Kitsilano Church” (there was at least one significant split of the Kits congregation), Kits amalgamated with Central Fairview Baptist to form, wait for it . . . “Fairview Baptist”!

Building 3 (1924-1951): 12th Avenue at Fir

In June 1924, Fairview moved into a brick building at 1605 W 12th (NW corner at Fir). In 1949, Fairview briefly and temporarily joined with Chalmers United Church (Hemlock at 12th).

Building 4 (1951-present): 16th Avenue at Pine

In 1951, Fairview opened the building which houses the church today, on W. 16th Avenue near Pine.

Fairview Baptist Church Today (Building 4): 16th Ave Near Pine.(Google Street View).

Fourth Child: Ruth Morton Memorial Baptist

Rev. J. Willard Litch, ca1910, approached the prominent (and generous) Baptist, John Morton, about endowing a new church in the Cedar Cottage district of Vancouver at 27th Avenue and Prince Edward. Morton agreed. Litch wanted to name the church after Morton, but Morton demurred. He instead suggested it be named after his second wife, Ruth Morton (nee Mount). Three weeks after Morton made his endowment to Ruth Morton Memorial Baptist Church (RMMBC), he died (April, 1912).

Ruth Morton Memorial Baptist Church. (ca 2013. mdm photo).

In 2014, RMMBC amalgamated with 19th Avenue Christian Fellowship (formerly the Metropolitan Tabernacle) to form a new congregation that meets at the former Ruth Morton building. It is known as Mountainview Christian Fellowship.

RMMBC/Mountainview has continuously met in the same building from the start.

Fifth Child: South Hill Baptist

Building 1 (1908-1909): South Vancouver Municipal Hall

As usual, this church plant had its start as a Sunday School. It began in the home of the Frank Birketts in 1908. Later, it moved to the South Vancouver Municipal Hall.

CVA – Bu P322 – Exterior of South Vancouver Municipal Hall. 1911.

Building 2 (1909-1912 ): East 50th and Frederick

In 1909, a small building was erected (to which FBC donated $200) at the corner of East 50th and Frederick Street (just a block off Fraser). There don’t seem to be any publicly-available photos still existing of this building.

Building 3 (1912-1970): East 50th and Frederick

The small building was replaced with a more substantial one that was dedicated in October 1912 (same site).

South Hill Baptist Church.This was the second South Hill Baptist bldg at E. 50th and Frederick. (Building 3).
CVA – SGN 1029. ca 1912. W. J. Moore photo).

The church still stands today (although with some modifications) as the South Vancouver Pacific Grace Mennonite Brethern Church. South Hill Baptist ceased to exist in 1970. The majority of the remaining congregants (some 35) joined Killarney Baptist.

The Sixth Child: Broadway West Baptist (Collingwood and 7th)

Due to a greater population density in western Kitsilano by 1913, a Sunday School was started in a small store at 3417 West Broadway. In March, 1915, 25 FBC members helped form the nucleus of Broadway West Baptist Church (BWBC). BWBC met in the store until their building was finished ca1923 at Collingwood and 7th Avenue.

Broadway West Baptist Church at 7th Ave. and Collingwood.
(First Baptist Church Archival Collection).

Broadway West considered changing their name since they were no longer located on Broadway. The new name they decided on was a mouthful: “Broadway West Baptist Church Seventh & Collingwood.” That remained the legal name for the balance of the church’s life (which seemed to end by the mid-1990s).

The former Baptist Church building still stands today. It is occupied by a Pentecostal congregation, Redemption Church.

The Last Kid: West Point Grey Baptist (11th Avenue near Sasamat)

In December 1926, 12 members of FBC met at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Wilbur Watson to plan the formation of a church in their neighbourhood of West Point Grey. The initial temporary home of the church was a Presbyterian building on 4th Avenue east of Sasamat. The first pastor was a former FBC assistant pastor, J. R. Turnbull.

On September 10, 1932, dedication services were held celebrating the move of West Point Grey Baptist (WPGBC) into their building located at 11th Avenue near Sasamat. The FBC choir presented the special music, and then-FBC pastor Rev. Elbert Paul gave the address.

In 2020, West Point Grey merged with Lord’s Peace Chapel (formerly located in Marpole).

WPGBC has been at the same site since 1932.

11th and Sasamat (Google Street View)


  1. There was nothing at all pejorative about the word ‘dismissed’ when used in this context; dismissal simply meant that members were free to request membership at another Baptist church. For more on Baptist membership transfer, see here.

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The Empire Building

CVA 447-322 - Empire Building [601 West Hastings Street] 1951 W E Frost

CVA 447-322: Empire Building [601 West Hastings Street] 1951 W E Frost, photographer

The Empire Building (C. O. Wickenden, architect) was located at the NW corner of Hastings at Seymour from 1889 until the late 1970s. It was initially known as the LeFevre Block, as the structure was built for CPR physician, Dr. James R. LeFevre.

A question which often arises in my mind with such structures is “Who were the tenants who occupied it?” It seems to me that the type of tenants (e.g., lawyers, realtors, doctors, accountants) must surely have created a certain sort of building; a certain sort of atmosphere within.

So I dug into Vancouver directories. Most of the early directories in the pre-privacy-obsessed world of the millennial age helpfully showed not only the name and first initial of the occupants of buildings, but also their occupation. If there was no gender/marital designation (e.g., Miss or Mrs), it was safe to assume that the occupant shown was male (although, whether the person was a bachelor or married was left to the reader’s imagination).

I was curious whether the dominant occupations of tenants in the building remained roughly static or varied over time.  Therefore, I divided the Empire’s past into two periods: Early (1891-1933) and later (1934-1954).¹

Early vs Later Tenants

In the early years of the LeFevre Building (as it evidently was known until about 1897) it wasn’t as easy as it became a little later to determine the occupations of those who were tenants; the Vancouver directory did not consistently show occupations in the earliest years. However, some could be deduced. For example, Dr. LeFevre and his physician partner, Dr. Octavius Weld, had offices in the building.  Likewise the architect of the block, C. O. Wickenden, the B. C. Chamber of Mines, the Vancouver Board of Trade, and the New Westminster & Burrard Inlet Telephone Co., Ltd. (which by  the mid-1890s apparently became the B.C. Telephone Co.) rented space there.

What became evident pretty quickly is that the nature of the tenants in LeFevre/Empire changed considerably between the 1890s and the 1920s and ’30s.² In short, it went from being a block that catered primarily to professions and services to one that was dominated by music-related businesses (e.g. teachers, drama schools, elocutionists, and dancing studios). If pressed, I’d say that the single most common occupation in the Empire in the 1920s and ’30s was the music teacher.

Frank Haines

Frank Haines

Frank Haines

One of the Empire’s tenants from 1931 until the mid-’40s was Frank Haines (1879-1944).

Haines was born in England and was a musician, and saw himself as such from his teens onward. He was sent to a school of music in London by his parents at age 12; he graduated at age 18. His instrument was the piano. For the first couple of years after completing his studies, he was pianist to a tenor who spent much of that time touring Europe. Apparently, the pianist and tenor had a major disagreement over something (just what was the subject of their disagreement is long ago forgotten) so Haines quit that job and returned to England.

Shortly after, Haines fell in love with a lady called Alice Alexander. The two ultimately became engaged to marry. But Alice left Frank at the altar – quite literally. Naturally, Frank was angry and heartbroken by this and he left England for the New World, vowing never to return to England.³

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 9.09.05 AMIt isn’t clear just what Haines was occupied doing when he first came to Canada. There is some evidence in Alberta records that he homesteaded near Medicine Hat in 1910. There are unsubstantiated family tales about him working in the U.S. and Canada.  He spent some of the war years in the Canadian forces. He was injured in an automobile accident in France and was subsequently discharged. In 1917, there is evidence that he was conducting Winnipeg’s Imperial Theatre Orchestra (which, in later years, became the Majestic and, later still, the Rialto). Whether he remained in Winnipeg during the ’20s or was elsewhere, isn’t clear. But it is plain from the Vancouver directory that in 1931, he had ‘gone west’ and was living in Vancouver at 905 Davie; and he had a studio in Room 211 of the Empire Building.

Frank married Nancy Marshall in 1932. In 1935, they welcomed their daughter, Nancy Haines, into the family.

Nancy spent several early years (approximately age 5 to 8) in the Empire Building. Part of the time during those years was spent in her father’s studioº (either for her Saturday morning piano lesson or at her Dad’s ‘music evenings’ when his students would perform and she would attend – sleeping on someone’s lap, more often than not – to save the cost of a babysitter); part was spent in elocution training with a ‘Mrs. Thompson’.

Nancy describes the Haines studio: He had an “upright piano shoved against the far wall. The studio would hold four or five people in a pinch. No desk. And he had a key to the common bathroom on that floor. There was a radiant electric heater on the floor of my Father’s studio in the winter; I remember the bright red filament glowing and reflecting on the curved metal case on the back. I also remember a single large pull-up window that looked out on the ‘well’ between the Empire’s wings. Dad didn’t have a street view from his studio.”

She also has described some of the sights, sounds, and odours of the building, in general:

From the Hastings entrance, there were stairs up from the street to the 2nd floor — the hallway at the top went straight north to the other end of the building AND to the west – with  studios along both hallways on both sides. The ceilings were high (I recall pipes running along the tops of them), causing sounds to be sort of lost up there. There was a glass panel in the upper part of each of the studio doors. The panels were not transparent; you could see light and movement through the glass,  but no clear image of anything or anybody. There was lettering on the glass. The floor in the building creaked a lot — so much so that I can still ‘hear’ it in my memory. There was a ‘walking’ runner down the middle of the wooden floors in the hallways. The Empire elevator was at the north end of the building. The stairs wound around the black iron cage that housed the clanking elevator and cables.

The smell of the building was ‘old’; it was similar to the smell of a building I would later spend time in — that of Lord Roberts School (I believe the janitors oiled the wooden floors in the hallways to prevent them drying out).

You could hear ‘hollow’ sounds emanating from the studios – a cough, a piano playing, a singing voice – as you walked past them. I can’t imagine – with all the sounds I heard every Saturday for 3+ years – that there was anything resembling sound-proofing in the Empire. The Empire was a busy ‘people’ building, with long-remembered sights, smells and sounds that are dear to this old lady.

Frank Haines died at age 64 in 1944 of a heart attack.

After Empire

The Empire was demolished in 1980. In about 1985, it was replaced with a glassed-in, circular public structure as part of the Grant Thornton complex (adjacent and to the north), which was located where the St. Francis Hotel once was. The structure isn’t long for this world, however. The corner is due for redevelopment along the same lines as the NE corner of Georgia and Howe: more retail space will be the result.

NW Corner of Seymour and Hastings where Empire bldg once stood

NW Corner of Seymour and Hastings where the Empire Block once stood. 2017. mdm photo. In the Summer of 2018, this public meeting place in turn was destroyed, sadly, to make way for additional commercial space.


¹I didn’t take the research beyond the mid-1950s as I didn’t have access to Vancouver directories beyond that period. At the time this research was underway, the Special Collections department of VPL (where post-1950s directories are held) was closed for construction.

²In 1942, John Goss had space at the Empire, apparently prior to establishing himself and his studio on Granville Street. And for the better part of the 1920s-1940s, Miss M. P. and Miss B. Cave-Brown-Cave hung their music teaching shingle at the Empire.

³ As is often the case with things we vow never to do, he did return to England on at least two occasions: in 1915 when he was hospitalized due to a wartime injury; and for a visit in 1922.

ºI’m delighted to report that a photo of an interior of a music studio in the Empire is available in SFU’s Digitized Collection here. It shows the studio of Dr. Albert Gittins, whose studio was on the same floor as — and looked quite similar to that of — Frank Haines’ studio, according to Haines’ daughter, Nancy.

Posted in W. E. Frost | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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

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.

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) L. 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 in the 1980s. Russ Cunningham took over from Crombie; 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 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.

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.


Chef Bell Cookbooks (1980s) Lionel 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.

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.


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.

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

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 Ironside, proprietors. 4750 Main. By 1996, the name of the shop had changed to Fraser Books.

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.


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 West Broadway.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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/)

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.

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

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 (1990s) – At 3209 W. Broadway. Later, near the 1100 block of Granville (east side). A generalist shop.

Joyce Williams 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.

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, and William V. Lee.

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Lending Libraries: Private Sector Fills Public Gap

Before there was a network of branch public libraries in Vancouver, the demand for inexpensive reading material was met in large part by the private sector. Not principally by new or used booksellers, but by an entirely different category of for-profit book provider — book lending libraries. We in the 21st century are so accustomed to equating “libraries” with “public libraries” that it takes a while to conceive that a library can be a for-profit venture!

In 1929, there was only one VPL branch in addition to the central library at Hastings and Main: the Kits branch at 2375 W 4th Avenue (today, the site is part of a Safeway parking lot). That was it. If you lived in Marpole or the West End or most any other Vancouver neighbourhood, there was no public library within relatively easy walking distance.

1929 was also the year of the stock market crash that started the Great Depression. For the better part of a decade, most Vancouverites had precious little disposable income for books and other non-essentials. Thus, there was a market niche to be filled by the private library.

The details of how private libraries did business are very sketchy. I suspect many would have had a 1-year membership card (see the Eaton’s card below) which a client would purchase and then have a ‘license to borrow’. Other libraries, like the Spencer’s Lending Library (left), had daily and monthly fees.

It seems that independent private libraries obtained their stock principally from wholesale book distributors and sources of deaccessioned public library books (Province, 26 Oct 1930).

One thing seems certain: the proprietors of these private libraries didn’t become wealthy!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the libraries listed below got started around 1929. And I don’t think it a coincidence that private libraries faded to black, for the most part, by 1955, just when the VPL system had bolstered its network of public libraries to seven branches.

Today, private lending libraries in Vancouver are a thing of the past and alien to most of us.

CVA 303-1 Vancouver Public Library – Kitsilano Branch, ca 1929. At the time, this was the only branch public library in the VPL system. Kits branch was opened in 1928.

A List of Private Libraries

I have attempted to identify as many private libraries as I can, including the rough period during which they were in business, where the library was located (and when) and the names of the proprietors.

Abbott Library (1928-33) – 916 Robson. Proprietor: Mrs. May Abbott (1928-1930). In 1928, the address in the directory was 914 Robson. In 1931, the library became Abbott Book Store.

Blenheim Lending Library (1929-37) – 3353 W. 4th Ave. (1929-34); 3639 W 4th (1934); 2252 W 4th Ave. (1935); Proprietors: Miss D. Millar; R. H. Hague [1896-1958] (1931); H. Martin (1932); Miss M. Richardson (1933-35); Mrs. B. C. Scott and Mrs. M. H. Mason (1936-37).

CVA 1376-521 – The Stanley Library, 2820 Granville. 1933.

Cosy Corner Library (1932-46) – 1307 Commercial Drive; 1830 Commercial Drive (1940-41); 1303 Commercial Drive (1941-42); 1022 Commercial Drive (1943-46). Proprietors: Mrs. M. M. Shoebotham [1888-1958] (1932-39); Mrs. M. J. Henderson (1940); M. W. Corbett (1941-45); F. Carothers (1946).

Dunbar Heights Library (1931-38) – 4311 Dunbar Street. Proprietors: T. Smith (1931-35); Miss E. M. Watson (1936-38 ). Name change to Dunbar Heights Book and Stationery Lending Library (1935-36). Name change: Dunbar Lending Library (1937-38).

Good Companion Library (1933-41) – 1405 Robson. Proprietors: Mrs. Charlotte M. Cole.

Harlequin Lending Library (1929-1940) – 1194 Davie Street. Proprietors: Miss M. Harvey (1929-31); Miss A. Van Kleeck (1932- 33); Miss L. J. Taylor (1934-38); Mrs. F. M. Riddell (1939-40).

15 June 1933 West End Breeze. Courtesy: Neil Whaley*. According to this clip, the VPL system shut down during July and August in the 1930s!

Hudson’s Bay Company Books and Lending Library (1915-ca1949 ) – Granville and Georgia. Part of HBC department store.

Kerrisdale Book Nook (1928-1955+) – 2166 W. 41st Avenue. (1928-40); 2176 W 41st Avenue (1941-51); 2135 .W. 41st Ave. (1952-55+). Proprietors: W. S. Bosworth (1928-31); Mrs. H. Blair (1932-34); J. A. Henderson (1935-39); H. M. Jewell (1940-47); Mrs. C. T. Crossing (1948-55+).

The Lending Library (1933) – 2425 E Hastings Street. Proprietor: C. C. Backhus.

“Western House [Private] Library” stamped over “Collingwood Public Library Association”.* Image made from the fly leaf of a book at The Paper Hound Bookshop with permission of the proprietors.

The Library (1925-51) – 2820 Granville Street (1925-1933); 2830 Granville (1934-35). Proprietors: Mrs. J. R. Davidson (1925-36); Mrs. D. M. Kirby (1937-51). This library was named “The Library” perhaps with the vain hope of exclusivity!

E. D. Macfarlane’s Circulating Library (1933-47) – 2606 Granville. Proprietor: Erle D. Macfarlane.

Mayfair Library (1932-35) – 1540 W. 41st Avenue; 2166 W 41st Avenue (1935). Proprietor: J. A. Henderson (1932-35).

West End Breeze, 16 Sept 1932. Courtesy: Neil Whaley*

Modern Lending Library (1932-42) – 1009 W. King Edward. Miss Proprietors: Miss P Blake, R. Sidaway (1932-34); Mrs. E. Denton (1937-38); Miss M. A. Baum (1939-42). Name change to Modern Book Shop in 1943. Proprietor remained Baum. Address still 1009 King Edward. No mention of there being a lending library associated with the shop, so assuming the library became a bookstore.

Oak Street Lending Library (1930-41) – 3129 Oak Street (1930-35 ); 3216 Oak Street (1936-41). Proprietors: Mrs. M. McTavish (1930-37); Mrs. M. I. Scott (1938-40); Mrs. E. Cool [1884-1958] (1941).

Oxford Book Shop and Lending Library (1929-54) – 2164 W 4th Avenue (1929-1934); 1039 Granville (1935-37); 1540 W 41st Avenue (1938-52); 5737 Granville (1953-54). Proprietors: Miss D. Dashwood [1881-1950] (1929-31); Mrs. M. I. C. Key [1898-1985] (1932-34); S. B. Farmer (1935-37; Miss G. Carfrae (1938); S. B. Farmer (1939-40); Miss G. Carfrae (1941); G. R. Ellingham (1942-54).

Point Grey Lending Library (1929-55) – 5510 Dunbar Street (1929); 5525 Dunbar St (1931-34; 5691 Dunbar Street (1935-38); 5557 Dunbar (1939-55). Proprietor: F. S. Robinson (1930-55).

Popular Lending Library (1929-42) – 4479 W 10th Avenue (1929-34); 4489 W 10th Avenue (1935-37); 4451 W 10th Avenue. Proprietors: Mrs. M. F. Vulliamy [1886-1963] (1929-36); Miss D. Howden (1937); Mrs. D. Arnott (1938-39); Mrs. N. C. Clarke (1940-42).

Eaton’s Book subscription membership card 1935. I suspect a card similar to this was necessary to borrow books from other private libraries in Vancouver. However, it could not have been a membership card for Vancouver, as Eaton’s didn’t have a Vancouver store in 1935. The department store came to Vancouver in 1948 after buying out David Spencer, Ltd. MDM Collection.

Ridgewell Lending Library (1929-54) – 3494 Dunbar. Proprietors: Mrs. Alice G. Ridgewell [1876-1960] (1929-31); H. Gatenby [1895-1969] (1932-54).

Spencer’s Leading Library (1934-48) – Hastings and Richards. Part of the Daivd Spencer, Ltd. department store. Spencer’s was purchased by Eaton’s in 1948. Presumbably, Eaton’s established their own local library then, although I can’t confirm that.

Stanley Library (1934-44) – 2820 Granville Street. Proprietors: Miss L. J. Leslie (1934-42); Mrs. H. Raymer (1943-44).

Western House Library (1933-51) – 957 Denman Street. Proprietor: Miss Louise Grant (1933-51).

Windsor Lending Library (1932-33) – 916 Robson (1932); 1056 Robson (1933). Proprietors: Gwendolyn P. Jones (1932); Percy James (1933). Windsor library was sold to Percy James of Kensington Arts in 1933. The library seems not to have been retained with a distinctive identity following the merger, however.

Ye Booke Nooke (1929-55+) – 1063 Denman Street (1929-32); 1187 Denman St. (1933-57) Proprietor: Mrs. Elsie W. Beach [1888-1969] (1929-55+). Claim made in 1932 ad that non-members could borrow books for 3c/day, with a minimum charge of 5c. “The monthly [membership?] charge for adults is 65 cents,and for children, from 6 to 14 years, 25 cents.” (West End Breeze, Sept 16 1932)*. “….Mrs. Beach has 5000 new and proven books upon her shelves.” (West End Breeze 6 Oct 1933)*.

Yew Lending Library (1931-55+) – 1508 Yew. Proprietor: Miss O. A Wilde (1931-55+).


*Neil Whaley has very kindly granted me permission to reproduce clippings and information from the West End Breeze , a four-page community newspaper published between 1932 and 1933. Neil has a bound edition of the Breeze — quite possibly the only such copy extant — which was the editor/publisher’s copy. “The format was that there was one real story of a reasonable length (perhaps 500 words) and then everything else was one-paragraph blurbs which talked about businesses in the West End — who not so coincidentally advertised in the WEB.” (Email message from Neil Whaley to MDM).

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John Jenkinson: Photographer

CVA 242-02: Portrait of John Jenkinson, ca1902.

John Jenkinson (1871-1936) described himself on his marriage certificate as an electrician. His occupation in the early years of the 20th century was as a lineman for the CPR and later for the BCER (BC Electric Railway). He worked his way up to a meter reader, and then as a meter inspector for the BCER. By the time he died in 1936, he had been promoted to superintendent of the metering department. He was a player of lawn bowls, and he loved to sing with the choir at Christ Church and with the Western Triple Men’s Choir. But I believe Jenkinson’s legacy lies in none of these occupations and activities. It was as an amateur photographer that Jenkinson shone and, in my opinion, continues to shine.

CVA 242-04: Portrait of Ellen Jenkinson, ca1910, wearing one of the voluminous hats which she seemed to favor.

John Jenkinson was born in Lancashire, England to William and Priscilla Jenkinson. I presume he trained as an electrician in the Motherland. He came to Canada in 1898, settling in Vancouver and here he married Ellen Johanne Anderson, who was a native of Copenhagen, Denmark (1875-1951), in 1902. The couple had one child together, Olga (1904-1980).

For a couple of years before he was married, John boarded at a home on Eveleigh Street. But soon after he and Ellen were wed, they moved to 992 Howe (Howe and Nelson). This seems to have been a house with a couple or more suites within it (by the time the photo below was taken by Yates in 1959, the main floor was a retail space and the space above it was residential).

Bu P508.6 – [Exterior of building at the North East corner of Nelson and Howe Street] 1959, A. L. Yates photo. Oddly, there are no Jenkinson images online at CVA of this home when they were living there.

From what I can tell, John and Ellen were never wealthy. It seems likely that they enjoyed a middle-income lifestyle, but nothing extravagant. A meter reader’s job was to check the amount of electricity used by a household as recorded on the meter attached to each home. It was the job of the meter inspector to certify electricity meters were functioning accurately.

I’m assuming (pretty safely, I think) that the photographer in the family was John. Olga was too young to have made most of these images, and I doubt that Ellen would have been the photographer, given the relatively sexist attitude to the hobby in its early days.

Many of Jenkinson’s photos were exteriors and interiors of homes that he didn’t own. I am very impressed, in particular, with how he was able to get ample light in his interior shots. That would have been among the biggest challenges of his day.

CVA 242-11 – Exterior of 1260 Barclay Street, ca 1901.

The residence shown above and below was 1260 Barclay Street, at the time, the home of F. F. Burns, son of John Burns, Sr., who also seems to have lived there. F. F. Burns was a metal merchant in the city.

CVA 242-13 – Interior and exterior views of 1260 Barclay Street, ca 1901. The decor in this room screams Victorian! Complete with the stag above the fireplace.

The home shown below was a near neighbour of the Burns place. This home belonged to Adolphus Williams at 1139 Barclay.

CVA 242-10.15 – Mr. Williams house at 1139 Barclay Street, ca 1901.
CVA 242-10.16 – Williams’ drawing room, ca1901.

The image below is one of my favourites among those made by Jenkinson. It is an unusual photo of English Bay that clearly shows the slide into the Bay (and the kids climbing back up to the platform)!

CVA 242-14.2 – View of English Bay, ca1901.

And here is another of my favourites, showing the Elders, Stanley Park superintendents, sitting very stiffly in front of their Park cottage.

CVA 242-05 – Stanley Park [with Mr. Elder, Park Superintendent and his wife, in front of their cottage at entrance to Stanley Park.], ca1900.

To conclude, I’ll show an exterior and interior of the Jenkinson home that John owned when he died. It was certainly a few of steps up from 992 Howe, but it didn’t have the pizzazz of the Burns place. This home was on the corner of 15th Avenue and Burrard.

CVA 242-19 – North and west facades of John Jenkinson’s home at 1796 West 15th Avenue, ca1927.
CVA 242-22 – Interior of 1796 West 15th Avenue, far end of living room with piano, ca 1927.

I suspect that Jenkinson’s connection to these home-owners who allowed him access to the interior of their homes was his (and their?) church: Christ Church. I have confirmed that Adolphus Williams was affiliated with Christ Church. But haven’t been able to confirm that either Burns or Elder were.

Of course, it could be that the explanation is simpler. He might have gotten to know these families during his time as a meter reader — reading their electricity meters!

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Lest We Impress: Georgia Medical-Dental Building


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 (which I consider praise-worthy). 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 old MDB. 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 had. 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 (including a rain diverter) on Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place (taken from Hotel Vancouver). c2013. Author’s photo.


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The Golden Decade of Dance Bands (1920s)

In this post, I plan to list all of the ’20s ‘dance bands’ (referred to at the time, typically, as ‘orchestras’) I can identify. These will include Vancouver-based musical groups as well as those that had their base elsewhere. Each listing will include the name of the group (having a minimum of three players), the leader and all the personnel I can identify who played with each group.

The list will not include any of the large orchestras that played in Vancouver (e.g., the VSO, Home Gas Orchestra, Scottish Orchestra) nor will it include any of the theatre orchestras that played in the city (e.g., the Capitolians, Embassy Theatre orchestra).

In short, the post will be a research piece about those smallish groups of musically gifted men and women who entertained their contemporaries while they were enjoying a meal (and, I daresay, tapping their toes to the beat) or dancing up a storm to their melodies.*


The Aitch-Bee Trio (ca1919-28) – E. G. Warne (violin); W. B. McQueen (cello); W. A. Storey (piano). “Playing daily at the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Restaurant.” 1925: By this year, was called “The Hudson’s Bay Trio”. Storey was out; Frank Nichols (piano) was in.

Ambassador Cafe Orchestra (ca1925-26) – Leader: Frank Maracci (violin, sax, trombone); L. Martin (trumpet); Len Wilson (banjo); Martin H. Beliger (sax, clarinet); H. Zweifel (sax, clarinet); F. E. McComb (drums); William Sodeburg (piano). 1925: By this year, Martin, Len Wilson, McComb and Sodeburg were out; Tug Wilson (trumpet); Frank Hamilton (piano), and Harry Hamilton (drums) were in. AKA “Ambassador Cafe Bluebird Orchestra”.

Ambassador Cafe Orchestra – Maracci’s Bluebirds – CVA 99-3500 1942, Stuart Thomson photo.

Tom E. Andrews – Leader: Andrews; J. H. Wilson; Fernie Quinn; Art Thomas; Thomas Crawford. Played Cotillion Dance Hall (Davie and Granville).

Arcadians (1920s-1930s) – Leader: Frank Nichols; Bob Levie (sax, voilin); Toby Kent (banjo); Betty Warne (violin); Archie Peebles (trombone, accordion); Johnnie McNair (drums). The band seems to have folded by ca1935.

Belcarra Orchestra (1926) – Leader: Billy Millichip (drums); Jean Goodheart (piano); Don Raino (banjo); Bill McLean (sax).

Frederick Brown and his Orchestra – Leader: Brown; A. W. Delamont (trumpet); Harry Stocker (clarinet); R. S. Ralph (trombone); G. H. H. Keeling (string bass); G. M. Jolley (percussionist); A. Osbaldeston (piano). Played at the “Pan”.

Calvert Trio (ca1925-35) – Joy Calvert (violin); Minnie Beveridge — later Freda Setter — (cello); Una Calvert (piano).

Canadian Pacific Jazz Symphonists (ca1925-29) – Leader: Olive E. Beaton (piano); Ethel Planta (violin); Will Edmunds (cello); Gaston Somny (banjo); Robert Griffiths (contra-bass); Alex Donaghy (sax, clarinet); Paul LaMoureaux (sax, clarinet); Carl Tossell (trumpet); Art Clarke (percussion). Played at the Indian Grill and Ballroom, Hotel Vancouver. AKA: “Ollie Beaton and Her Orchestra,” “Canadian Pacific Symphonists”.

Lawrence Crawford “Kathleen” Orchestra – here aboard the “Alice”. Crawford doesn’t appear here (he was the one behind the camera, I think). UBC Open Collections. 1929.

Canadiens – Leader: Les Crane. Lloyd Mansfield, Jean Pomeroy, Bus Totten; La-Vern Walton. Played the Belmont Cabaret. In one of their ads they make the claim that they are “Just five boys trying to get along.” This group seems to have been from somewhere other than Vancouver.

Canary Cottage Orchestra – Leader: Wes Mortimer (trumpet); Jerome V. R. Clifford (piano); Allan H. Rice (sax); Art Strachan (sax, clarinet); Ewart Riedinger Jr. (drums); Fred Ross (banjo); Harry Hills (sax, bass). Played the (Indian) Grill, Hotel Vancouver. AKA: “Erdodys Canary Cottage Orchestra”. Wes Mortimer was a one-armed trumpet player. When Canary Cottage broke up, Mortimer was the concert master for Calvin Winters’ Capitolians for a number of years.

Cassidy and his Orchestra – Leader: Lafe Cassidy (trumpet); Marion Stafford (piano); Forrest Moneingo (sax, clarinet, trumpet, piano); Vernon Dale (sax, piano, violin); Karl Cassidy (sax); Hal Underwood (sax, clarinet, trumpet, banjo); Frank Roach (percussion). Played the Cabaret at Belmont Hotel. 1925: By this year, Stafford, Moneingo, Dale, and Karl Cassidy were out; Buck Dale (piano), Ken Evans (trombone), and Bert McGee (banjo) were in. By 1927, only Lafe Cassidy and Frank Roach remained of the original group. Others were: Harry Spees (trombone, violin); Walter Romerra (sax, clarinet); Harold Gard (piano); Chic Inge (banjo, sax).

The Cavaliers – H. Edwards (banjo); Stanley Robertson (sax), E. A. Griffiths (drums); W. Kenning (piano). By 1925, Edwarads was out; H. Swaboda (banjo) was in.

Criterion Orchestra. Courtesy of Tom Carter’s collection, n.d.

The Charleston Four (1925) – Leader: Frank Nichols (piano); Eddie Austin (sax, clarinet, violin); Toby Kent (banjo); Art Newman (drums).

Columbia Concert Orchestra – Leader: Walter De Lowe; Mrs. Francis Knight (violin); Marie Armstrong (violin); Ernestine Walters (flute); Enid Kimball (trumpet);Faye Leonard (clarinet); Virginia Barnard (cello); Was Kimball (trombone); Harrie Grether (bass); Lois Carpentier (percussion); Edith Dupree (piano); Gladys L. Collins (vocal soloist).

Columbians – Leader: Harry Hamilton (percussion, sax); West Gilland (sax, clarinet); Harry Karr (sax, clarinet); “Tug” Wilson (trumpet); Charles Pawlett (violin, banjo); Frank Hamilton (piano). Played the Alexandra Dancing Pavillion.

Harry E. Hamilton who (together with his brother, Frank) appears regularly in this list. Photo courtesy of Tom Carter’s collection, n.d.

Court Orchestra – Leader: W. Garden (piano); S. Kyall (banjo); George Northey (sax); A. Kingcombe (cornet); Len Holland (xylophone, piano, accordion); A. Peebles (trombone); N. Northrup (drums).

Criterion Orchestra (ca1923-29) – Dick Gardner (percussion); Harry Tarlton (piano); George Bush (banjo); Don McMillan (sax). Played the Hippodrome at English Bay. This group appears to have been one of the most stable bands of the 1920s, in terms of membership.

New Criterion Orchestra (ca1929-?) – Leader: Dick Gardner.

Don Flynn and his Orchestra – Leader: Flynn (piano); Fernie Quinn (sax); Boyd Lewis (banjo); Leslie Hulme (drums); Tug Wilson (trumpet). Played Cotillion Dance Hall.

Frank and his Orchestra – Leader: Frank Nichols (piano, violin); Betty Warne (violin); Toby Kent (banjo, violin): Ernie Anderson (sax, clarinet, banjo); Archie Peebles (trombone, piano, accordion); Eddie Anderson (percussion); Eddie Austin (sax, clarient, banjo).

Charlie Galloway – Leader: Galloway (violin).

Billy Garden and his Orchestra – Leader: Garden.

Vancouver Sun. 1928.

Get Acquainted Club Dance Orchestra – Leader: Frank Nichols (piano); Carl Tossell (trumpet); E. S. Austin (sax, clarinet); Toby Kent (banjo); Archie Peebles (trombone); Romeo Perry (percussion). Played at Dominion Dance Hall (339 W. Pender).

Earl Gray & his Orchestra – Leader: Gray; Earl Gibson (piano); George Eichhorn (percussion); Kenneth Cramer (bass); Brayton Frankhorner (banjo, violin); Ted Huffin (trumpet, mellaphone); Gale Claggett (trombone, trumpet, euphonium, sax); Paul McCrea (sax, clarinet, guitar); Henry Belland (sax, clarinet). Played the Hotel Vancouver Grill Room.

John Harper’s Hotel Georgia Concert Trio – Leader: Harper (piano); Helene Ainsworth (viola); Freda V. (cello). Freda’s surname wasn’t legible in my source.

Hastings Park Pavillion Orchestra – E. Couling (violin); J. H. Younghusband (cornet); C. Gaunt (trombone); A. G. McLeod (drums); F. Parsons (piano).

Earle C. Hill Orchestra (ca1920-?) – Leader: Hill (violin); George Bush; others unknown. Played Barron Hotel Restaurant and Cafe DeLuxe (147 1/2 West Hastings) 1920. Judging from the photo below, Earle Hill also played the Spanish Grill at Hotel Vancouver.

Earle C. Hill Orchestra. This photo was made at the Spanish Grill, Hotel Vancouver. Courtesy of Tom Carter’s collection, n.d.

Hotel Georgia Orchestra – Leader: Harry Pryce (piano, cello); Harry Karr (sax, clarinet); Fernie Quinn (Sax, clarinet); Wes Mortimer (trumpet, sax); Bill Arstad (trombone); George Anderson (sax); Charlie Pawlette (banjo, viola); Harry Hamilton (drums, sax, piano).

Harry Pryce

Hotel Vancouver Quartette – Leader: Olive Beaton (piano); Ethel Planta (violin); Will Edmunds (cello); Robert Griffiths (bass). Played the Oval Room, Hotel Vancouver.

Howard’s Orchestra – Leader: Arnold Howard (piano); William McLean (sax); Harvey Nixon (drums).

Tex Howard and his Orchestra – Leader: Howard (drums); Emerald Krantz (piano); John Bowmer (sax, banjo); William Stewart (trumpet, banjo, slide cornet); West Gilland (sax, clarinet); Hollis Rich (sax, clarinet, guitar); Gale Claggett (trombone, sax, trumpet, mellophone, euphonium, banjo); Lucian Gerhardt (sax, trumpet, mellophone). This group was from Seattle.

Hughie’s Colonials– Hughie (piano); Freddy (banjo); Charlie (sax); Jack (drums). Note: Surnames of players are unknown to me.

The Revellers (l-r?): Teddy Duncan, Eddie Camel, George Gossen, Vincent Cashmore, Homer Woodworth. April 1928 at Kent Piano House on Granville Street. MDM Collection.

Dwight Johnson and his Orchestra – Leader: Johnson; Arthur Most (trombone); Claude Burch (trumpet); James Whippo (trumpet); Bob Dickson (sax); Ray Johnson (piano); Alfred Taylor (clarinet, sax); T. W. Porter (sax); Wally Marks (drums); Prentice Gross (banjo); Ralph Dougherty (string bass, tuba). This was an American band, advertising itself as “the Southland’s finest” and “direct from Hotel St. Francis, San Francisco” (he was also reputed to come from Portland).

Ted Lander’s Orchestra (ca1928-29) – Leader: Lander (sax, trombone); Vic Ross (piano); George Hackett (trumpet); Don Raino (banjo); Henry Anderson (sax); Bev White (percussion).

Percy Lee’s Country Club Orchestra – Leader: Lee (piano); Art Griffith (trumpet); Bert White (drums); Harry Hill (Sax); Herb Roach (Banjo); Claude Hill (bass, clarinet, trumpet); Alf. Olson (bass, clarinet); Alex. Pitts (banjo); Billy Duncan (drums).(Note: Not all of these people played together at the same time). Played the Pavilion at Bowen Island and on Union Steamships’ “Lady Alexander”.

This may be the Criterions or perhaps Earle C. Hill’s orchestra. George Bush appears in this as the banjo player. This is probably the Elk’s Hall. Courtesy of Tom Carter’s collection, n.d.
Slides from a light box similar to the one that appears in the photo above beneath the elk’s head. Tom Carter’s Collection, n.d.

Frank Maracci & his Peppy Orchestra – Leader: Maracci (violin, sax, trombone); Roland Tibb (trumpet); Harry Hamilton (drums, sax); Don Flynn (piano); Charlie Pawlette (banjo); Fernie Quinn (sax, clarinet). AKA “Maracci’s Mean Melody Men”.

Frank Maracci’s Bluebirds – Leader: Maracci (violin, sax, trombone); William Sodeburg (piano); F. E. McComb (percussion); H. Zweifel (sax, clarinet); M.Seliger (sax, clarinet); M. Howell (trumpet). Played at Ambassador Cafe.

Melody Boys – Leader: Art Thomas (banjo); Billy Reeves (piano); Fernie Quinn (sax, clarinet); Ronald Tibb (cornet); Romeo Perry (percussion). Played Cotillion Dance Hall.

Morgan’s DeLuxe Players– Leader: Reg Morgan (drums); Carl Nelson (banjo); Ed Sasserville (sax); Bob Koehler (piano). The DeLuxe players probably played the Cafe DeLuxe (at 147 1/2 W. Hastings).

CVA 99-1233.1 – Moroan’s DeLuxe Orchestra ca1925. I assume that the players identified above are the same ones who appear in this photo, although it’s not possible for me to confirm whether pianist Koehler appears here, due to the outdoor location; he may have been one of the two sax players pictured).

Mark Morgan’s Orchestra (1922-24) – Leader: Morgan. Typically played at the Moose Hall (535 Homer) for dances.

Olympians – Leader: Victor Ross (piano); Leslie Hulme (drums); Jack McLean (sax); Frank Bolney (violin, banjo). 1925: Wally Griffiths (trumpet) and Bill McLean (sax) are then in; Jack McLean seems to be out.

The Originals (ca1929-?) – Leader: George Bush (banjo); Don McMillan (sax); Gil Mullen (piano); Len Inglesdy (violin); Jean Baker (drums); Jack Barlow (trumpet); Newton Keith (sousaphone). Played Lester Court in 1929.