Winter on Davie at Homer

2010-006.175 - Snow from Office at 1020 Homer 1968
CVA – 2010-006.175 – Snow from office at 1020 Homer 1968 Ernie Reksten photo. (Note: I am sure that “1020 Homer” is an error; I believe it should be “1220 Homer”.)

A zoomed image on the same (December) day in 1968 appears below. For a summer scene made from what appears to be the same window (or a nearby one) and with notes about the area, see this VAIW post.

2010-006.174 - Snow 1020 Homer 1968 Ernie Reksten photo-2
CVA – 2010-006.174 – Snow 1020 Homer 1968 Ernie Reksten photo. (See note in first image re address error in CVA).

George Marsden, Early Photographer

George Marsden was a young Vancouver photographer with his own local business, for a brief time.  There are just two images in the City of Vancouver Archives online collection (none in Vancouver Public Library’s historical photos) that are attributed to him, both of them made in the 1907-08 period. Very little seems to be known today of George’s early life.

George (who had no middle name, as far as I know) was born in Wales in 1886. He first showed up in Canadian official records (in the federal census) in 1891. It seems the Marsden family emigrated to Canada around 1890. The family consisted of Henry (a butcher), Sarah, and ten kids, mainly girls, but with three of the youngest boys: Henry Jr., 7; William, 5; and George, 4.

The first time George showed up in BC City Directories was 1902, when he was 16 and working as a clerk with the Vancouver law firm Davis, Marshall & McNeill. His career with legal eagles was destined to last for just a year, however. From 1903-06, George had a position as clerk at Wadds Bros. Photographers (337 W. Hastings) – a firm that specialized in making portraits. George’s time at Wadds Bros. appears to have been a turning point for him. Everything he did occupationally from then until his death in 1966 would be related to photography.

In 1907, after leaving his photographic apprenticeship with Wadds Bros., George struck out on his own, establishing Marsden’s Photo Studio (544 Granville) as a sole proprietorship. Oddly, at about the same time as George was setting up his photo studio business, his two older brothers – William and Henry Jr. – teamed up to create Marsden Brothers Photographic Supplies just a block up the street (665 Granville) from George’s studio. Neither the studio nor the supply shop would last long.

Ad placed in An Elite Directory of Vancouver, ca 1908.
Ad placed in An Elite Directory of Vancouver, ca 1908.

By 1910, both corporate establishments had vanished from Vancouver’s directory. And so, indeed, had George and his two brothers. At this stage, I lost track of the other male Marsdens, but happily not of George. He struck out for America where, presumably, he hoped to establish a reputation as a portrait photographer and to make his way in the world.

LP 269 - Vancouver Police Department 1907-08 George Marsden photo.
CVA – LP 269 – Vancouver Police Department 1907-08 George Marsden photo.

‘If You Can Make it There . . .’

George moved from Vancouver to Seattle in 1909. It would be a brief, but professionally crucial, stop for him. According to Broadway Photographs, he spent less than a year in Seattle, coming to the attention of vaudevillian Billy Gould, who funded the relocation of George from Seattle and the creation of Gould & Marsden Studio in New York City. “Marsden, a Canadian art photographer who first founded a studio in Vancouver, won a regional reputation by placing in several Seattle exhibitions. He relocated to Seattle [from Vancouver] in 1909 and his great success as a Society portraitist convice [sic] Gould that [Marsden] should join the galaxy of celebrity photographers in Manhattan.” The life of Gould & Marsden studio was brilliant but brief. It lasted only until early 1914, as “[n]either Gould nor Marsden had much head for the financial end of running a gallery, and they had the misfortune of setting up business at a bust period on Broadway.” After the dissolution of Gould & Marsden, George accepted another NYC position as chief operator at Davis & Sanford studio (which, although the company’s heyday had passed, was still regarded as a good position). He remained there from 1914-19.

Shortly after leaving Davis & Sanford, George partnered with Omaha, Nebraska photographer, Frank A. Rinehart and married Helen, one of Rinehart’s daughters; there don’t appear to have been any children produced by the union.

Photographer George Marsden wearing a hat and trench coat. Negative is part of the Rinehart-Marsden personal collection n.d.
Photographer George Marsden (part of the Rinehart-Marsden personal collection), n.d.

George continued to do at the Rinehart-Marsden Studio what he had done, professionally, in Vancouver, Seattle, and New York: to make very good photographic portraits. There was a difference, however. For the first time since he started out with Wadds Bros. in Vancouver, he was in a pretty stable place, professionally. Although he may have missed the heady days as portraitist to celebrities in NYC,  I suspect that he was also pretty pleased, finally, to be in a job that promised to sustain over the long-term. After joining Rinehart in Omaha, George never moved again.

Photographer or Archivist?

It is one of the ironies of history that the  professional act for which George Marsden is now best known had nothing to do with any photographs he made; indeed, it was more of an archival than a photographic act which is associated with his name.

In 1898, when George was just 12 years old and living in Vancouver, Frank Rinehart was about to reach what would be his career peak as the official photographer of the Indian Congress at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha. This gathering of representatives of many Native American tribes proved to be a photographic watershed for Rinehart. He produced glass negative portraits of each of the Native indians present at the Congress – dressed in all of their traditional regalia.

Frank Rinehart died in 1928 and Rinehart-Marsden Studio passed to his wife Anna and George Marsden to continue to operate. In the early 1950s, according to Royal Sutton who was working for Rinehart-Marsden at the time, “we produced a two volume set of brown toned, 16 x 20 photographs bound in split cow hide. A local artist burned Indian designs on the inside and outside covers. These handsome table top volumes sold for $800 per volume in the mid 1950s.” I have seen, recently, an auction estimate of between $3,000-$6,000 on one of these sets of images printed by George.

Anna Rinehart was bedridden for a number of years before her death in 1955. Care of her meant that debts accumulated and, by the time Royal Sutton was willed the business by George upon his death in 1966, there was “[t]oo much of a burden to turn around” and he closed the business.

An example of one of the images made by Frank A. Rinehart at the Indian Congress and immortalized later by George Marsden in print form. FrankPortrait-indien-reinhart-usa-ancien-01. 1898.

Hammond Furniture

CVA 1184-1988 - [Exterior view of Hammond Furniture warehouse and manufacturing facilities] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.
CVA 1184-1988 – [Exterior view of Hammond Furniture warehouse and manufacturing facilities] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.
The buildings that today house at least three businesses on the NW and NE corners of Clark at Venables were ones that I’ve wondered about each time I’ve gone past. This morning, as I was browsing through online photos of the City of Vancouver Archives, I was delighted to see a 1940s image of the familiar buildings which were then home to the warehouse and manufacturing facility (NW) and showroom (NE) of Hammond Furniture Ernie Hammond was its head. Today, the NW building houses Russell Food Equipment and the NE is home to AquaPaws and Mr. Mattress.

It isn’t clear to me when Hammond Furniture closed, but it was a going concern in the 1940s and was advertising into the 1950s and ’60s. I was pleased to note (from the first image below) that furniture sold by Hammond in the 1940s – and perhaps manufactured as well – was very similar, if not identical, to some of that which my grandparents once owned!

CVA 1184-1986 - [Furniture display at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.
CVA 1184-1986 – [Furniture display at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo. (Presumably, from the showroom building, on NE corner).
CVA 1184-1985 - [Woman cutting wood at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.
CVA 1184-1985 – [Woman cutting wood at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo. (From NW corner manufacturing and warehouse building, I presume).

Nominee for Silliest Pioneer Surname…

While I was riding a city bus across Greater Vancouver this afternoon, I was looking for inspiration for this post at a PDF copy of the ca1908 Elite Directory of Vancouver. Among the items I spotted is my nominee for one of the silliest early Vancouver surnames (at least to my 21st century eyes): Cave-Browne-Cave.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 5.15.13 AM

Edward Cave-Browne-Cave was the manager of BC Assay and Chemical Supply Co. (a mining outfitter), then located at 513 W. Pender (near Richards). By 1920, BC Assay had changed its address to 567 Hornby, just north of Dunsmuir. Edward Cave-Browne-Cave was still the manager. Within a couple of years, 567 was known as “the Cave Building” and was still the business home of BC Assay.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 6.20.22 PM

Following Edward’s death in the early ’30s, BC Assay underwent a name change – to Cave & Co. – and acquired a new manager – C. C. B. Cave. This surely must have been a relation of Edward’s – and most likely a son (probably Clement Cave Browne Cave, who died in 1945; he was 48). He seems to have taken the first two sections of his surname and, for the purposes of business at least, retained them as middle names.

(It occurred to me that the Cave Supper Club was on Hornby. Could the two businesses have been related in some way other than proximity? Nope. The supper club (621 Hornby) and the Assay/Cave building (567 Hornby) were a block apart and on opposite sides of the street).

I felt I had to dig a bit further into the Cave-Browne-Cave name matter. Was the hyphenated handle merely an affectation of Edward which was dropped by the next generation? Or was there more to it? Having no experience rooting about in the family histories of English Lords and Baronets (and having no wish to begin today), I’ll leave this an open question on which someone may wish to comment. I’ll merely direct readers to this link.

Str P15 - [View of Lord Roberts School from the corner of Davie Street and Cardero Street] ca 1901.
CVA – Str P15 – [View of Lord Roberts School from the corner of Davie Street and Cardero Street]. ca 1901. (Note: This section of the West End had apparently just been ‘cleared’ of what remained of forest here. I believe the residence of the Cave-Browne-Caves was on this corner – at the nearer, Davie Street, end of the Cardero block from Lord Roberts School).

Shack to ‘Monument’

Str P256 - [Looking north on Homer Street from Georgia Street] 1948 Otto F. Landauer photo
CVA – Str P256 – [Looking north on Homer Street from Georgia Street] 1948 Otto F. Landauer photo.
The shack-like home of Hopps Sign (and everything else on this block – residential and commercial) is where, today, the International-style, monumental structure dedicated for many years to the sorting of mail is located. We are looking north on Homer Street up the block which was the Main Office of Canada Post for five decades (from its completed construction in 1958). The Alcazar Hotel may be seen at the end of the block on NE corner Homer at Dunsmuir, where BC Hydro’s building (333 Dunsmuir) stands today.

If the signage on Hopps Sign Co. is to be believed, the sign-maker was a survivor – having existed from the turn of the century. (There is no indication of any “Hopps” – person or corporation – in BC City Directories in 1900; however by 1902 there was an “F. W. Hopps, painter”.)  The sign company continued to draw corporate breath after it was turfed out of its home by the start of Canada Post’s construction in 1953. Hopps still existed in 1955, having moved north to the 300 block of Homer.

Canada Post has now moved out of its downtown building to a new home in Richmond, closer to YVR. Heritage Vancouver in 2013 put the building on its list of Top 10 Endangered Sites list. Rumours about the future of the building have been bandied about but, as far as I know, no decisions as to zoning or other related matters have yet been taken by the City.

For an interesting side-bar to the subject of the now-old Post Office, see here.



The Gifted Mr. Bradbury

CVA - SGN 1534 - [View of Hastings Street, looking west from Carrall Street] 1915? C Bradbury photo.
CVA – SGN 1534 – [View of Hastings Street, looking west from Carrall Street] 1915? C Bradbury photo.
A real pleasure for me in this photo-historical adventure I’ve called VanAsItWas is in discovering and re-discovering crisp, well-exposed images that speak of an attention to detail and a real concern (whether consciously or not) for issues that would ultimately be considered ‘historical’. I have found those qualities to be present in most of the Stuart Thomson photos available from the CVA, VPL, and UBC archival collections. I am similarly drawn to many of the Vancouver photographs taken by Charles Bradbury who is typically considered to be an ‘amateur photographer’. Mr. Bradbury’s corpus – that which is available in digital form, at least – is much more modest in quantity than is that of Mr. Thomson. But Bradbury’s choice of images and his care in producing them make his photographic ability, in my judgement, a close match to Thomson’s.

Mr. Bradbury: A Couple of ‘New’ Personal Details

There is not much information known today about Charles Bradbury (1871-1950). Much of what is known is summarized in the earlier VAIW post titled Precursors. Peter Grant, in his bio sketch of Bradbury that appears in his out-of-print volume called Wish You Were Here: Life on Vancouver Island in Historical Postcards (2002) – noted that “the record is silent as to whether [Bradbury] married or had children.” To my delight, I’ve been able to coax the record to ‘speak’ a little bit on this matter, as I’ve found Bradbury’s marriage certificate and also death certificates for both him and his wife (the certificates are reproduced at the end of this post).

Charles Bradbury married Dorothy Allison (whose image is in CVA’s digital collection, and which appeared in an earlier VAIW post). The two were married in December 1907 at Christ Church in Vancouver when he was 36 and she was a “spinster” school teacher of 27. The two were both born in England (he in Staffordshire, she in Essex). I’m assuming, for now, that the couple did not have children given that Dorothy’s death certificate (she died in 1968, some 18 years after CB died) was signed by her nephew, a Mr. D. Allison of West Vancouver, and that Charles’ death certificate was signed by another nephew, Mr. W. J. Allison, also of West Vancouver.

CB’s death certificate also reveals some intriguing information about his occupation. His “kind of work” was shown on his certificate as being “commercial photographer” which he worked at this as his “own business”. Furthermore, the “total years spent in this occupation” was entered as “20” and the “date deceased last worked at this occupation” was entered as “1935”. So, put differently, Charles’ nephew described his career in his later years as being that of a professional photographer (rather than as an amateur, as had previously been assumed). And that he worked at this career from about 1915 until 1935, at which point, I assume, he retired.

Columbia Theatre: 1916 or Later

City Archivists have identified the beautifully detailed image above as being taken in “1915?”. That seems doubtful to me, as the silent film playing at Columbia Theatre at the time the image was made was (as we can see in the image) “Sporting Blood”, starring Dorothy Barnard, which was released in 1916. Given that fact, it seems probable that the image was taken sometime in that year, or perhaps in the year following.

I am reminded by this image of a brief slideshow I compiled a year or two ago of what I believe are some of the best archival images of the old theatres in the Hastings area back in the day when Hastings Street was one of the most-flocked-to areas in downtown Vancouver for entertainment and other commercial enterprises.

Royal BC Museum Archives. Charles & Dorothy Bradbury (nee Allison) Marriage Certificate.
Royal BC Museum Archives. Charles & Dorothy Bradbury (nee Allison) Marriage Certificate, 1907.
Royal BC Museum Archives. Charles Bradbury Death Certificate, 1950.
Royal BC Museum Archives. Charles Bradbury Death Certificate, 1950.
Royal BC Museum Archives. Dorothy Bradbury Death Certificate, 1968.
Royal BC Museum Archives. Dorothy Bradbury Death Certificate, 1968.

Reg Rose

UBC Archives. Reg Rose at Sod-Turning for International House. 1957.
UBC Archives. Reg Rose at Sod-Turning for International House. 1957.

Reg Rose was born in England in 1901 and came to Canada in 1912. After serving in the Royal Canadian Volunteer Reserves, 1916-19, and taking several short-term jobs, he began working for the YMCA, serving in CalgaryLethbridge and Edmonton as the Secretary of that organization. In 1943, he became Manager of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, and in 1946 moved to Vancouver where he became Executive Secretary of the Vancouver Board of Trade. He later became the General Manager of that body, retiring in 1967.

Reg was a member of various Rotary Clubs. He joined the Vancouver Rotary in 1946 and became President in 1957-58. In a speech he gave at the opening of International House at UBC in 1959 (much of the funding for which came from Vancouver’s Rotary), he remarked that the initial, primary motive of Rotary was fellowship: “Just getting together”.

When Reg, his wife Jean, and their family moved to Vancouver, they joined First Baptist Church, where he served as Moderator, Chair of the Deacons Board, and in many other positions. But his work for Baptists extended beyond First. He was President of the B.C. Convention of Baptist churches from 1969-70 and was an officer of the Baptist Union of Western Canada (the regional denominational body with which FBC was affiliated) for many years. Reg’s role was vital in the gradual establishment of Carey Theological College on UBC campus from its origins as merely a Baptist student residence (Carey Hall). Dr. Don Anderson’s account of the development of Carey indicates that Reg played an important diplomatic role in ensuring the development of the school.

Reg died in 2003, after a very full life of 102 years.

The topic Reg was given for his speech at the opening of International House was sweeping in scope (but strangely appropriate for the optimistic 1950s): “Can World Government Prevail in a Space Age?” In the talk, Reg argued persuasively that our world needs a wider inclusiveness in our concept of ‘neighbour’. “[W]e must lay aside that spirit of smug satisfaction which is willing to ignore the rest of the world,” he said. Such an attitude will lead to “narrowness, pettiness, and bigotry.” Indeed, he said, “Even if a group of visitors from the space world should come upon us, we shall have to get along with our next door neighbour on this earth.” That, it seems to me, sums up Reg’s message to the 1950s gathering at UBC and to our world today – much changed, to be sure, but with many of the same challenges.


– Reg Rose bio – International Rotary Website

– Reg Rose’s speech at opening of International House, 1959, UBC Archives

– “Reginald T. Rose – 100 Years.” By Ken Atkinson, FirstPEOPLE (former news magazine of FBC)

– Not By Might Nor By Power: The Story of Carey Hall 1960 to 2005. 2006. By Donald O. Anderson.

UBC Archives. International House. n.d.
UBC Archives. International House. n.d.

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

Scenic Subterranean Studio 20

CBC Archives. Jurgen Gothe , n.d. (CBC Still Photo Collection). Photographer unknown.
CBC Still Photo Collection. Jurgen Gothe , n.d., Photographer unknown.

The above portrait is of gently eccentric Jurgen Gothe (1944-2015), during his years as CBC Radio’s host of DiscDrive. He died in April. DiscDrive was produced from what Gothe regularly referred to on-air as “Scenic Subterranean Studio 20” in Vancouver’s CBC building at 700 Hamilton. There is a tribute to Gothe on Michael Enright’s Rewind.

CVA 784-092 - CBC Plaza, 700 Hamilton Street, Vancouver. 1986.
CVA 784-092 – CBC Plaza, 700 Hamilton Street, Vancouver. 1986. Photographer unknown.

When Flying Was Still Exotic

VPL 27452 Waitresses-stewardesses at the Sky Diner Cafe 1947 Province photo.
VPL 27452 Waitresses-stewardesses at the Sky Diner Cafe 1947 Province photo.

This image is one of several available online at VPL showing Clancy’s Sky Diner Cafe. This unusual cafe took clever advantage of the long, narrow space to create the impression of an aircraft fuselage. The Sky Diner seems to have been established in the late 1940s and continued to be in business at 776 Granville (near the former Birks building and the Vancouver Block) until, I believe, the later 1960s.

The following charming vignette about the Sky Diner was offered by Harvie Davidson, in response to a very detailed and helpful history of local eateries written by Mia Stainsby for the Vancouver Sun: “[The Sky Diner] had the tail section of a commercial sized aircraft jutting out from the restaurant and partially protruding over the sidewalk. Inside along the walls, moving scenery passed by rectangular portholes.” I take it that the ‘rectangular portholes’ mentioned by Mr. Davidson are those that appear along the two long walls in the image above.

Remarkably, given the atypical neon signage attached to the structure, there are no exterior images available (at least, none that I could find), solely of the Sky Diner. However, there are some Foncie photos of various Vancouver residents and visitors, collected courtesy of the Knowledge Network, which show the Sky Diner sign in profile, in the background. Here is one:

Foncie’s Corner, Knowledge Network. “May Shopping” 1956. Foncie Pulcie photo.

Zukerman’s Bassoon

Jewish Museum & Archives of BC. Item L.00112 - George B. Zukerman, internationally acclaimed solo bassoonist 1951.
Jewish Museum & Archives of BC. Item L.00112 – George B. Zukerman, internationally acclaimed solo bassoonist 1951.

This portrait shows Greater Vancouver solo bassoonist, George B. Zukerman, in his prime in 1951. There are online bios of GBZ available here and here (and elsewhere). Here is Zukerman playing his “calling card”, Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-Flat Major (First Movement), among a very enjoyable variety of other listenable numbers by him and other artists, as he guest-hosts CBC Radio’s This is My Music. It is worth a listen if only for the pleasure of hearing a master story-teller at work!

Remembrance Services Past at First Baptist Church

VPL 40788 Rembrance Day Service (at First Baptist Church), Nov 6, 1966 The Province - Ross J. Kenward photo.
VPL 40788 Rembrance Day Service (at First Baptist Church), Nov 6, 1966 The Province – Ross J. Kenward photo.

I was browsing through images in the Vancouver Public Library historical photos database this morning; I saw the image above and almost immediately recognized it for what it was (and what had, apparently, been forgotten or mislaid in the institutional memory of The Province newspaper upon donating this image to VPL): that this photo was made inside my home church, in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church. This 1966 congregation (Rev. Dr. S. Arnold Westcott was Senior Minister at the time) was not collectively known to me, as I was worshipping then with my family in a smaller church in Alberta. But this image of the sanctuary is unmistakably that of FBC. It looks as though it was made from the slightly elevated choir loft at the front (north end) of the sanctuary, viewing one of the Remembrance wreaths on the podium from behind and with a view of congregants in the background. November 6, the day that this image was made, was a Sunday. That was the tradition at FBC for many years; to have the church Remembrance Service on the Sunday immediately preceding Remembrance Day (November 11th).

I cannot recall Remembrance Services past without recalling the true force behind those services for many years, Rev. James Willox Duncan (1906-2002). I can readily remember him at the front of the sanctuary on a Remembrance Sunday with the Canadian Red Ensign on the podium (the Canadian flag during both world wars and afterwards until the Maple Leaf became the official flag in 1965). There was a reading, often from John McCrae’s WWI poem, In Flanders Fields, the playing of Last Post and Rouse by a trumpeter and of Lament by bagpipes. And always, always, the very moving reading of the Ode of Remembrance (which is an excerpt from Lawrence Binyon’s poem, For the Fallen).

Padre Duncan’s obituary, reproduced below, sketches in some of the highlights of his life (I had not recalled that he died in the month of November in 2002, but it seems fitting). For an opportunity to hear Padre Duncan’s voice, one of his sermons is free online at Regent College’s Audio site. It is appropriately titled “Vitality for All Ages”.

Padre James Willox Duncan, (n.d.) Jennifer Friesen photo.
FBC Archives. Padre James Willox Duncan, 2000 Jennifer Friesen photo.
Padre James W. Duncan Obituary. Nov 19, 2002.
Padre James W. Duncan Obituary. November, 2002.

It makes me smile today to see the number of lady congregants who were wearing head gear of various descriptions in 1966. Today, such an abundance of hats would be unthinkable (today, neckties on gents is very nearly unthinkable; having a Starbucks coffee in hand is becoming commonplace; and bringing a Tim Horton’s breakfast into the sanctuary to munch on during a worship service – if still widely considered very poor form – is not unheard of. Sadly.)

Congregational Church Picnic?

The image below is an early one from the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA). On the glass positive of the image, there are notes; these are difficult to make out, but I’m pretty sure it reads as follows, starting at the top margin: “Granite Falls. North Arm Burrard Inlet, circa summer 1890. Probably First Baptist Church Sunday School. [And along the bottom, appears the following note:] Rev. W. Pedley and Baptist minister in Vancouver.”

The notes were almost certainly made by the photographer or, if not, then by a person who was much closer to the event portrayed than are we today. But that does not mean that the note-maker was infallible. If my argument presented below is correct, it seems likely that the note-maker made at least a couple of errors, one of which may call into question this person’s conclusion that this was “probably” an assembly of First Baptist Church’s Sunday School.

LGN 506 - [Group of men, women and children from the First Baptist Church assembled for picnic at Granite Falls, Indian Arm] 1890?
LGN 506 – [Group of men, women and children from the First Baptist Church assembled for picnic at Granite Falls, Indian Arm] 1890?

Rev. James W. Pedley, Pastor, First Congregational Church

The name of the only clergyman identified by name appears to be in error. There never was (to my knowledge) a Rev. W. Pedley living in early Vancouver. There was, however, a Rev. J. (James) W. Pedley who was the first pastor called to Vancouver’s First Congregational Church. He came to the city just two years after its incorporation in 1888 and remained for 7 years, leaving in 1895 to accept a call to pastor a church in London, ON. For a helpful obituary of Pedley kindly supplied by BC Conference United Church of Canada archivist, Blair Galston, see below:

The Province. May 25 1933 Obit of Rev. J. W. Pedley. Clipping from The Bob Stewart Archives of United Church of Canada (BC Conference).
The Province. May 25 1933 Obit of Rev. J. W. Pedley. Clipping from The Bob Stewart Archives of United Church of Canada (BC Conference).

The error with J. W. Pedley’s name and the absence in the notes of his denominational affiliation suggests that the notes were written by the photographer in a hurry or (more likely, I think) by an assistant who was probably not present at Granite Falls for the making of the image.

Where’s Pedley?

The notes on the image do not indicate where (J.) W. Pedley is located in the photograph. Let me ask you, the reader of this blog: Where would you say that Pastor Pedley is situated among this collection of mainly young Sunday School students?

If you concluded that Rev. Pedley was the gent on the left of the image with high-forehead (revealed by his respectfully removed hat) and dressed in a dark three-piece suit – at a summer picnic! – I believe you’re correct. How do I reach that conclusion? By comparing the fellow in this photo with a couple of portraits in which Pedley is indisputably the sole subject or one of the subjects. The first one of these is a later portrait made after Pedley had left Vancouver:

Port P226 - [Reverend J.W. Pedley] ca 1900 Freeland photo.
Port P226 – [Reverend J.W. Pedley] ca 1900 Freeland photo.
The pastor’s hair is a bit curlier and his forehead a little more elevated than in the 1890 Granite Falls image. But the intense gaze and his prominent nose conspire to give away Mr. Pedley. It seems to me almost certain that this is the same man. But, to be safe, I sought out another image of JWP which was closer to the year in which his image was made at Granite Falls.

Crop of Port P566 - [Sod turning ceremony for the first Y.M.C.A. building on Cambie Street] ca 1889 Bailey and Neelands photo.
Crop of Port P566 – (Identifying Reverend J. W. Pedley at ) [Sod turning ceremony for the first Y.M.C.A. building on Cambie Street] ca 1889 Bailey and Neelands photo.
This cropped image of sod-turners at the construction of the first YMCA building in Vancouver includes identification of JWP just one year before the circa1890 year that Granite Falls was taken. Again, the eyes, nose and hairline betray him. There can be, it seems to me, little doubt as to where Pedley is in Granite Falls.

In Search of… the Elusive “Baptist minister”

Locating Pedley was a relatively simple matter. Finding the elusive pastor of First Baptist Church in 1890 was more problematic. Initially, it seemed to me, that there were two FBC ministerial contenders: Rev. J. B. Kennedy, whose Vancouver pastorate spanned the years 1887-90 and Rev. W. C. Weir (1890-94). J. B. Kennedy may be safely ruled out, however, by a careful reading of the text of First Baptist Church’s first historian, W. M. Carmichael, where he remarks that: “[JBK] bade the people farewell on the last Sunday of January, 1890…” Indeed, if we continue to assume that Granite Falls was made in Summer 1890, we must also eliminate the only other FBC contender in that year, Rev. W. C. Weir, for he (again according to Mr. Carmichael) “entered upon his ministry [in Vancouver] on September 14, 1890.” There seems to have been a period extending over the winter and summer period of 1890 during which First Baptist was without any minister. (There is nothing in FBC’s historical record, of which I’m aware, which suggests the church retained a part-time minister between JBK and WCW. Most likely, Baptist guest pastors from New Westminster and other nearby communities were enlisted to deliver Sunday sermons.)

So, given these facts, we need either to take more seriously the “circa” part of the note-maker’s “circa 1890” OR to call into question whether the gathering is likely to have been one of “First Baptist Church Sunday School”, as the note-maker claims, or some other gathering.

Let’s consider each option in turn. I cannot establish either way whether the note-maker’s dating of Granite Falls is 1890 or some earlier or (more likely, I think) later date. One way to be certain, as far as I can figure, is if there was included in the image a face of either J. B. Kennedy or W. C. Weir. I can find neither one in Granite Falls.

It seems to me more likely that this is an image of a First Congregational Church Sunday School Picnic rather than one of FBC. What would the pastor of First Congregational be doing, in the normal course of events, at a First Baptist Sunday School picnic? The only way to establish that, with any degree of certainty, would be to compare Granite Falls with a comparable image of First Congregational Church attenders – and even better, of Congregational Sunday Schoolers – around the same time. Is there such an image extant? Yes! There appear to be, at first glance, two Congregational picnic images available from the City of Vancouver Archives (one allegedly from 1891 and the from 1892, both apparently made on the Sunshine Coast at Bucanneer Bay). In fact, the images (CVA’s Ch P136 and Ch P156) are identical.

But even one image of Congregational picnic-ers from the 1890s would, I’d assume, assist us in answering the question as to whether Granite Falls is of a Baptist or Congregational Sunday School. Alas, not to my eyes. Readers of this post are welcome to compare the Congregational image (see below) with the “Baptist” one at Granite Falls, but my eyes are unable to detect close similarities between anyone in the two images.


What may be concluded from all this? A couple of modest corrections (and a question/speculation):

  1. There is no Rev. W. Pedley in Granite Falls, nor serving any Vancouver church.
  2. Rev. James W. Pedley, the founder of First Congregational Church in Vancouver, is in the image, and he appears to be the gent on the far left.
  3. There is no evidence in Granite Falls of a clergyman from First Baptist Church, nor indeed any evidence of which I’m aware that establishes that this is the Sunday School of First Baptist Church. It seems far more probable to me that this is the Sunday School group of First Congregational Church during Rev. J. W. Pedley’s pastorate. That, however, remains unproven and is wholly speculative on my part.
Ch P136 - [Congregational Church picnic] 1891. (Note: The author has enhanced the image a bit to improve its general over-exposure).
Ch P136 – [Congregational Church picnic] 1891. (Note: The author has enhanced the image a bit to correct for its general over-exposure).

Hycroft Towers Service Station

VPL 82310C Hycroft Towers with Gas Pumps at Entrance! 1950, Artray photo.
VPL 82310C Hycroft Towers with gas pumps at entry to the parking garage. 1950, Artray photo.

This is an early 1950s image of Hycroft Towers at the SE corner of Granville and Marpole Ave. Hycroft Towers was originally the “kitchen garden” of Hycroft Manor (which today is across Marpole Ave from HT). It isn’t clear to me how long these gasoline pumps remained at the entry to the parking garage of HT. (It strikes me as a potentially dangerous place to locate pumps.) Neither is it clear to me how payment for gasoline was arranged as I don’t see any sign of an attendant or booth in the image. Robert Moffatt, in a Dec. 1999 article titled “Vancouver Modern“, for the Vancouver Heritage newsletter, pointed out that HT was the first venture into apartment design of Harold Semmens and Douglas Simpson (architects). Moffatt points out that among the features interior to HT were “…space-efficient storage walls and removable party walls which allowed reconfiguration of the units into 1, 2, and 3-bedroom combinations.” Semmens and Simpson were responsible for designing a number of attractive and enduring buildings in Vancouver, including the Burrard Street Vancouver Public Library Central Branch (1957) – now occupied, in large part, by the local flagship of an American-owned women’s underwear store; VPL Central moved in 1995 to a new building at Georgia and Homer, Moshe Safdie, architect – St. Anselm’s (Anglican) Church on the UBC Endowment Lands (1952), and the United Kingdom Building (1960) on Granville at Hastings.

VPL 88323, VPL Central Branch (750 Burrard Street) Business Division librarians at desks, Unknown photographer, 1970s. (This is an interior shot of another building designed by Semmens & Simpson).

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


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