Earliest Public Rooftop Gardens in Greater Vancouver

CVA 1399-390 – Photo of Leonard’s Cafe on West Hastings near Granville St. 192- A1 Commercial photo. Leonard’s Coffee Palace had by this time (the 1920s) become Leonard’s Cafe and the roof garden apparently had been filled in.

Until I began to research this subject, I’d assumed that the first and only public rooftop garden was the one atop the Hotel Vancouver #2 at the SW corner of Georgia and Granville.

But I was quite mistaken.

Leonard’s Cafe

The business which has the distinction of having the first rooftop garden in the city wasn’t a hotel — it was a cafe; or to describe the establishment as the proprietor did in the City Directory, it was Leonard’s Coffee Palace near the SW corner of West Hastings and Granville. They had another outlet at the Hastings Arcade (at the NW corner of Hastings and Cambie; the Dominion building stands there today). The Leonard’s outlet with the rooftop garden was established in 1906.

The Province blew the city’s ‘horn’, along with Leonard’s, with a ‘call and response’ introduction to their article on the opening of the roof garden:

“Come, let’s go to the roof garden.”

“Roof garden? Where? Didn’t know Vancouver had one.”

“Oh, yes, Vancouver is a city of progress; has everything that any of your cities in the East have, and the latest of these is the roof garden.”

Province, 12 May 1906

Indeed, the newspaper made so bold as to borrow from Babylon in describing the cafe as having the “hanging gardens of Vancouver.”

For all of this presumed hyperbole, however, very little was said about the decor on the roof. Nothing was said of the types of plants in the garden. In fact, the only thing that was said of the roof garden pertained to the view. It evidently had a northern outlook, as the “excellent view of the inlet” was extolled (World, 11 May 1906).

Most of the description was given over to detailing the various beverages which were available on the roof: everything, apparently, from punches, frappes, egg drinks, and “fancy beverages” (which included such exotic-sounding delights as “Cupid’s Idea” and a “Maringo Flip”). Most of these were 10-15 cents a serving.

Leonard’s cafe rooftop garden seems not to have lasted long. I suspect this was due to questions of efficiency. Patrons were likely to sit and order drinks from the uncovered roof only on warm, sunny days. The number of such days in Vancouver are relatively few.

David Spencer’s

CVA 7-4 – Mrs. Catherine Quiney, her family and friends on David Spencer’s roof garden. ca 1910 James Luke Quiney photo.

Next to jump on the roof garden band wagon, in 1908, was Spencer’s Vancouver department store, just a couple blocks up Hastings from Leonard’s. From what is visible in the photo of Spencer’s roof above, their garden appears to have been rather underwhelming. All that is visible are a few planters filled with somewhat ragged-looking plants.

The World said of the new roof garden:

There are two passenger elevators and one freight lift. The Elevators will travel to the roof where, according to present arrangements, a roof garden will be installed where ladies can leave the children in safety while shopping.

World, 2 May 1908

Vancouver’s Edwardians had different notion than today’s post-millennial parents as to what was “safe” for kiddies, I think. Sticking your bairn on the roof, with little in the way of fencing to keep them safe from taking a tumble probably wouldn’t be embraced today!

Spencer’s roof garden seems to have been mothballed by sometime in the 1930s. The final ad mentioning the garden was in 1929 (Province, 10 June 1929).

Interestingly, a rooftop garden was never set up at the downtown Vancouver Hudson’s Bay Co. department store. And it seems to have been the 1940s before Woodward’s established a “sun deck” on their Vancouver store’s roof (see below).

CVA 586-4026 – Woodward Stores Limited sun deck on roof of store on the corner of Hastings Street and Abbot Street. 1945. Don Coltman photo.

The Palace Hotel (North Vancouver)

CVA 371-778 – Exterior of the Palace Hotel (2nd Street, 1 block from Lonsdale Ave.), North Vancouver. ca1911. Roof Garden appears to be located on the back side of the Hotel, where the wooden superstructure appears.
Province, 23 May 1910. Grand Opening of the Roof Garden. In this photo, folks appear to be seated on the front edge of the roof. Whether the garden extended this far is unknown.

The Palace Hotel in North Vancouver was the next in line [1]. The North Vancouver structure was under construction by ca1906. But it wasn’t until 1910 that the roof garden was finished and ready for opening (Province, 23 May 1910). The roof feature was described in ads as being a “very special added attraction and “brilliantly lighted” at night.

In June 1909, a reception was held to formally celebrate the opening of the Palace. Most of the celebration seemed to be focussed on the roof garden. There was a live orchestra on the roof: Harpur’s Orhcestra, a band described in an earlier post (Province, 22 June 1909).

The Palace (after 1949, the Olympic) Hotel was demolished in 1989. [2]

Hotel Vancouver #2

PAN N120A – [View of the second Hotel Vancouver’s roof garden] July 1916. W. J. Moore photo.
VPL 21578 – Hotel Vancouver roof garden. 1923. Dominion Photo Co.

The 1916-established Hotel Vancouver roof garden was by no means the first roof garden in Greater Vancouver, but there was no debate that as far as bling per square foot was concerned, it was unrivaled. This was a real garden. There were impressive trellises on which were vines and there were also (in season) roses. In its ads, the hotel wasn’t satisfied describing the roof garden as being the best in B.C. nor even the best in Canada. No, it was touted as nothing less than the “finest Roof Garden on the Continent”. And who could challenge such an undefined claim?

The Hotel Vancouver, briefly evidently, even had rooftop golf links! It was announced in June 1916 that

Outside of New York city, there is probably no other town in America that has a roof-garden golf links. Winnipeg had an indoor golf links and so has Vancouver. The local indoor golf links are located in the basement of the Hotel Vancouver, but the management is now considering installing an apparatus similar to the one used for indoor golf on the roof of the Hotel Vancouver. The added advantage[s] of having the links on the roof are many, but the chief one is that the players will be out in the open air.

Sun, 3 June 1916

I am not aware of any photographs (nor press articles) pertaining to either the HV’s basement nor its rooftop links (if ever management decided in favour of establishing roof-based golf). I have to wonder about insurance issues should players on the roof have balls go over the edge and land on pedestrians and automobiles below!

The rooftop garden of Hotel Vancouver was demolished with the rest of the structure in 1948.

Notes

  1. There was a Palace Hotel in Vancouver at one time, too. It was located where the Merchant Bank later was — at the NW corner of Carrall and Hastings. The Vancouver Palace later moved down Hastings a bit, just a couple doors west of the Rex Theatre.
  2. The claim was made in the North Shore News in 2020 that the Palace had B.C.’s “first rooftop garden”. We’ve established above that that claim was mistaken. However, it may have been the province’s first hotel roof garden.

Posted in cafes/restaurants/eateries, hotels/motels/inns | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Few Photos Showing Changes to Our Urban Landscape Over the Past Decade

Happy New Year!

I’m not going to devote much text to this post; it is a slideshow, for the most part. The photos are my own made in Greater Vancouver over the past ten years. The photos have a story to tell; the story is about rapid redevelopment in the Metro area.

Some for better, some not so much.

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The Shack

CVA Bu P315 – Exterior of the Ferguson Building – S.W. corner of Hastings and Richards Streets. ca1889. C S Bailey photo.

There was a time, evidently, in Vancouver’s distant past, when office space wasn’t at a premium in the downtown core. The building shown above was developed by and named in honour of A. G. Ferguson in late 1888. When I first saw this photo, I assumed that both of the upper stories of the block were always for office space. But I had reason to change my mind — slowly — over the course of several days of research.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

What caused me to look into the Ferguson Building were three words that I noticed while browsing the 1889 city directory: “res, The Shack”.

Reference to a “shack” in early city directories was typically derogatory and was often accompanied by the word “Chinese”. Also typically, buildings so described were of wood frame construction and weren’t meant to endure for long.

But The Shack seemed to be a residence that was quite different — mainly because of the residents. My search for listings of residents of The Shack revealed that they seemed typically to be of “occidental” heritage (versus oriental) and that they were all gainfully employed in good jobs, in several instances by the CPR. Here is a list of the residents of The Shack with their occupations:

  • G. McL. Brown, Ticket Agent, CPR
  • A. H. Buchanan, Accountant, Bank of Montreal
  • Allan Cameron, Clerk, General Freight and Passenger Department, CPR
  • H. E. Connor, Local Freight Agent, CPR
  • Albert John Dana, Purchasing Agent, CPR
  • A. O. Leask, Leask & Johnston
  • S. O. Richards, Barrister, Innes & Richards
  • H. B. Walkem, Assistant Engineer, CPR
  • Samuel McLean, Steward of The Shack (the manager of the residence?)
  • Ote’ Ki, Assistant, The Shack (an Asian person — judging from the name — who was assistant to the manager?)

Where was 419 Richards? I needed a photo of the place, preferably ca 1889 for this “Photo-Historical Journey”! This proved difficult. The odd-numbered side of the 400 block of Richards was evidently close to the SW corner of Richards and Hastings. But the only structure at that corner in 1889, as far as I could tell from City of Vancouver Archives photographs, was the A. G. Ferguson building. That couldn’t be the site of The Shack, could it? After all, it appeared to be constructed of brick? Weren’t shacks in Vancouver typically wood frame and of impermanent appearance?

It turned out that The Shack had to be part of the Ferguson block. There were no other logical contenders. I believe the entry to The Shack at 419 Richards was a few steps up Richards from Hastings (see annotation to the photo above).

But some sort of proof that The Shack was located at the Ferguson would be nice. I finally found the nearest thing to proof that I could get from the World:

On the corner of Richards Street, is the elegant A. G. Ferguson Block, approaching completion . . . . The building has a frontage of 78 feet on Hastings and runs back 73 feet on Richard[s]. It consists of three stories, with a fine entrance in the centre, the entrance to the offices and rooms upstairs being on Richard[s] Street. The height from the floor level to the ceiling on the ground floor is 16 feet. The first floor offices have a height of 14 feet from the floor level to the ceiling, the next flight above being so arranged as to be used for sleeping apartments.

Daily World, 31 December 1888 (emphasis mine)

So, if I’m reading the newspaper account accurately, I take it that The Shack was located on the top floor of Ferguson.

The Shack seems to have lasted for just a single year (1889). By 1890, I assume, the demand for office space had ramped up and the floor which had housed The Shack was renovated to be suitable for the working lives of office dwellers.

The Ferguson building was demolished sometime between 1904 and 1910. It was sold by A. G. Ferguson’s estate the year after his passing in California in 1903. The Weart Building (which still stands) was constructed in its place in 1910-11.

Posted in Charles S. Bailey, homes/apts/condos | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vancouver’s David Spencer Department Store

Merry Christmas, faithful VAIW readers! Today, I’m reaching back in the VanAsItWas archives to 2018. There are links in the notes at the conclusion of this post to the Spencer’s Toyland Parade. I encourage you today to view that motion picture (in two parts).

May you have a peaceful, blessed, merry Christmas, one and all.

****

This post is about David Spencer, Ltd.  This was a now-long-gone but once much-loved B.C. department store chain with a store located in downtown Vancouver, which most residents of the city today know as the locations of Harbour Centre tower and Simon Fraser University’s first downtown Vancouver campus.

I make no pretence to present anything approaching a complete history of the store. I’m just ‘noodling around the edges’ of the Spencer’s story in an effort to present a few details that were unknown by me until recently; some of which, perhaps, were unknown to you, too.¹

What’s in a Name?

Spencer’s, as it was typically called, was formally known as “David Spencer, Ltd.” David (1837-1920) was president of the firm when it was established in Vancouver; it had existed in Victoria for several years prior to its 1907 debut in Vancouver. Spencer’s would continue in business until it was bought by T. Eaton Co. in 1948.

Spencer’s was known by a couple of other handles during the years it was in Vancouver. In the 1907 city directory, it called itself “David Spencer’s Dry Goods Merchants and Manufacturers, Home and Hotel Furnishers”. So originally, it didn’t describe itself as a “department store”.

By 1910, it was referring to itself a bit differently. In the city directory of that year it described itself as: “General Merchants, Home and Hotel Furnishers” and also referred to the shop as being a “Departmental Store”. By that year, their property had also grown to include a good deal of the south side of 500-block Cordova St. in addition to the healthy chunk of the north side of Hastings which it had originally bought. They then also owned 516-536 Cordova.

Van Map with 1912 Goads Insurance Map overlaid.

There is a reproduction of this block from Van Map below which shows, overlaid, the 1912 Goad’s Fire Insurance Map. It isn’t completely clear to me whether the Cordova and Hastings properties were connected at that time through some sort of of upper-story bridge, as has been the case over the years with other downtown properties (e.g., the Orpheum Theatre), or whether it was necessary for customers to exit one property and re-enter another (as with the Army & Navy store on East Hastings).

By the time the 1920 city directory was published, the way that Spencer’s referred to itself had changed to simply “Departmental Store”. But as their name became shorter, their appetite for real estate increased. By that year, they had grown to include much of the city block: 507-541 Hastings and 520-530 Cordova.

CVA 789-76 - [Hastings and Richards after heavy snowfall] 1916
(CVA 789-76. Hastings and Richards. 1916.) 500-block of West Hastings.

There was another name associated with Spencer’s of which I was unaware until informed by my friend, Gordon Poppy²: it was also known as the “Diamond S”. I’m unsure of the origin of this name or how/when exactly it came to be applied in reference to the store. But it is clear that it was in use in external communication with customers as early as 1926 (see the first image in the next section of this post). It seems to have been a public relations tool employed by the store to speak of the “diamond” quality standard customers could expect of their wares and service. The cover of the Fall/Winter catalogue, 1928-29, shown immediately below speaks to this.

Spencer's fall and Winter Catalogue 1928-29
Spencer’s 1928-29 Fall/Winter Catalogue. (Courtey: Gordon Poppy).

Re-Development ‘Eyes’ Exceed Capacity?

By 1926, Spencer’s had acquired all of the property it needed to redevelop their several buildings into a single, mammoth ‘new’ building. An artist’s conception of what management had in mind for this new structure appears below on the front cover of the 1926 Spring/Summer catalogue.

spensers spring summer 1926 magazine
Spencer’s 1926 Spring/Summer Catalogue, front cover. (Courtesy: Gordon Poppy). Showing an artistic rendering of the anticipated “new Vancouver store now under construction.” Spencer’s never actually looked as it appears above.

By the time construction of the new building was finished at the end of 1926, the artistic conception of the structure and reality clearly were different. Compare the image above with the one below (a photograph made in the 1930s).

CVA 1495-32 - [David Spencer's Department Store building on Hastings Street] 193-
(CVA 1495-32. 193- ). The actual ‘new’ building on the corner of Hastings and Richards.

Why did the managers of Spencer’s choose to scale down their 1926 ambitions for a full-block Spencer’s emporium? That isn’t clear to me. Gordon Poppy has suggested (and this was my original thought, as well) that it was due to the stock market crash and the consequent Great Depression that followed. The problem with that hypothesis, however, is that the timing doesn’t work. Construction on the new building began in early 1926; it was finished (with a smaller structure than originally planned) by the end of 1926 or (at latest) early 1927. The stock market crash, however, happened in October, 1929; that puts the crash a good two years into the future from when Spencer’s managers had to have decided to go with a smaller building. So it seems safe to rule out the stock market crash as the stimulus for downsizing Spencer’s ambitious 1926 plan.

My best guess is that management decided that the cost of linking all of their properties under a single roof was simply too expensive.

CVA 99-2271 - Taken for Duker and Shaw Billboards Ltd. [Hastings Street looking east from Seymour Street] ca 1926 Stuart Thomson
(CVA 99-2271. ca 1926. Stuart Thomson photo). This is the only image I could find that shows the new Spencer’s building under construction (on north side of Hastings at Richards).

Native Figure ‘Standing’ on Hastings Canopy

The native ‘welcome’ figure shown below was fastened atop the canopy at the Hastings entry to the new building in 1936 (beneath the vertical Spencer’s sign), during Vancouver’s Diamond Jubilee. Today, the figure is part of the collection of the Royal BC Museum (Victoria). At the feet of the figure there is a note that an “Indian Exhibit” was located on the 5th floor of the store in that year.

scan20180528
(Courtesy: Gordon Poppy. Photographer unknown). [1936]. Note the “S” enclosed in a diamond at the bottom of the vertical Spencer’s sign above the arcade canopy on Hastings St. The first “S” in the name (not visible above) was likewise enclosed in a diamond shape. (Note: VPL has a photo that seems to be identical to this one. That photo identifies the photographer as Leonard Frank).

Neo-Roman Speculations

The view shown below is looking at the NE corner of Spencer’s, at Seymour and Hastings. There is a building just beyond the Molson’s/Seymour block which has a neo-Roman appearance.

CVA 586-4015 - Street scene [outside David Spencer Limited - 515 West Hastings Street] Sept 1945 Don Coltman
(CVA 586-4015. Sept 1945. Don Coltman photo). This is a view of the NE corner of Seymour at Hastings (of the Molson’s block of Spencer’s, in the foreground), taken in the days immediately following the end of WW2.

According to the city directory for 1945, there are only two candidates that could then have occupied this building: an ice cream shop or the Spencer’s flower shop. The building looks like too serious a structure to have housed an ice cream shop; so I’m concluding, tentatively, that it was home to Spencer’s floristry department, in this period.

I’ve noticed that this building is just visible in shots made as early as 1906 on VPL’s historical photo site. There are no hints in city directories of that time as to what the building was; this caused me to speculate whether, early in the history of the Molson block, this may have been a Seymour St. entry to Molsons (sort of a back door?)

If anyone can add any facts regarding what the neo-Roman structure was, I’d appreciate hearing from you via a comment to this post.

VPL 5196 - Molson's Bank at NE Seymour & Hastings. 1906. P T Timms photo.
(VPL 5196. Molson’s Bank at NE Seymour & Hastings. 1906. P T Timms photo).
CVA 180-0401 - Spencer's Flower Shop floral display 1932
(CVA 180-0401. Spencer’s Flower Shop floral display at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). 1932).

Window Displays

Displays produced by Spencer’s for their windows were, in my opinion, the best around, bar none. (Compare with a window produced by one of their competitors, Hudson’s Bay Co., here, for example). In terms of creativity, material, and time invested, it is difficult, even today, for me to look at Spencer’s windows with anything but awe.

CVA 1495-12 - [Spencer's Department Store ] arcade [window display] 1926 Harry Bullen
(CVA 1495-12. 1926. Harry Bullen photo). The “arcade” below the vertical “Spencer’s” signage on Hastings St. (at the ‘new’ building.

For natural displays, like the Easter scene shown below, “we used real landscaping: grass, flowers, etc.,” said Gordon Poppy. He also noted that their mannequins were wax, eyes were made of glass, and eyebrows were composed of human hair.

CVA 1495-36 - [Spencer's Department Store window display] 193- Dominion Photo
(CVA 1495-36. 193-. Dominion Photo). A view into the short side of the island window.
part 2 garden window
Easter Scene at Spencer’s. Dominion Photo (Colour). n.d. A view through a long side of the island window. Courtesy: Gordon Poppy.

 

Notes

¹For a little more info pertaining (indirectly) to Spencer’s on VAIW, see here and here. For more about Spencer’s from other sources, consider viewing Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s page on the store, this Dunsmuir Street segment of a movie of the 1927(?) Spencer’s Toy Parade, and this concluding segment of the same parade following Santa up Hastings to Spencer’s Hastings Street canopy and entry (in which Santa enters the store by unconventional means that would definitely NOT be applauded by the Worker’s Compensation Board, today).

²Gordon began his working life as a Spencer’s employee. I’ll allow him to tell the story of his early working years: “I started working for David Spencer, Ltd. on July 3rd, 1945 as a summer job. I had been taking a course on display and sign-writing from Frank Vase at the Vancouver School of Display at nights, while I was at high school attending Vancouver Technical School. As Spencer’s had always had the reputation for the best displays in the city, I was glad to get this opportunity to work there. VE Day had just passed, and one of the first windows that I was involved with was the VJ Day displays. I was asked if I would consider staying on in the fall. As I needed two more years of high school, I stayed on at Spencer’s and completed my schooling by attending King Edward School (at Oak and 12th) at night, while working in the daytime. . . .  I continued with David Spencer’s until the chain was bought by the T. Eaton Co. in late 1948. Most of the employees continued on with the new owners. I stayed on until 1991 with Eaton’s.”

Posted in department stores, Dominion Photo, Don Coltman, Harry Bullen, street scenes, stuart thomson, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Yaletown’s Grocery Hall of Fame

207-43 – “Grocery Hall of Fame” 1241 Homer Street. Nov 1982. Elizabeth Walker photo.

In 1979, a Grocery Hall of Fame was established in Yaletown at 1241 Homer Street. The founder was Bill Spaner. He was then (and, evidently, still is) a food broker with a business called Tempo Sales. The Curator of the Hall was Cal McLeod. Tempo Sales and the Hall shared the site, with the Hall being open at no charge only on Sundays, initially, and Tempo being Spaner’s for-profit concern on other days of the week.

The Hall of Fame was a museum of grocery-related artifacts. These included (to name just a few) labels, tins, advertisements, posters, magazines, wartime ration books and coupons, kitchen utensils, and soft drink dispensers.

The Homer Street site opened in May 1979 after Spaner convinced the City not to demolish the 70-year-old rooming house on the property, called the Glenholme. The Hall of Fame had earlier been located at a decidedly poor location: Annacis Island! (Province, 10 July 1983). He bought the Homer Street building and land for what today seems like a phenomenal bargain: $175,000! It cost him twice that to remodel the building (Sun, 24 September 1979).

CVA 207-44 – Elek Imredy (sculptor of the iconic “Girl in a Wetsuit” at Stanley Park) and old time clock during Vancouver Historical Society tour of Grocery Hall of Fame. Nov 1982. Elizabeth Walker.

Spaner grew up in Winnipeg and came to Vancouver when he was 16. He worked as a displayman for Canada Packers and later became promotions manager for Puritan Foods. He and a partner began Tempo Sales in 1967 and he bought out his partner’s share of the business in 1972 (Sun, 15 May 1981).

CVA 207-46 – Frank Williams and Jill Rowland during Vancouver Historical Society tour of Grocery Hall of Fame. Nov 1982. Elizabeth Walker.

There are a number of images in the City of Vancouver Archives of members of the Vancouver Historical Society visiting the Grocery Hall of Fame in November 1982 (three of which are reproduced here). The photos were made by Elizabeth Walker, former President of the Vancouver Historical Society (1962-63), former head of the local history division at Vancouver Public Library, and author of the invaluable Street Names of Vancouver (1999).

It isn’t completely clear what it was that motivated Spaner to move the Hall of Fame out of Yaletown, but move it he did by 1990. I suspect that he was offered a lot of money by the condominium development that is today on the site of the former museum.

The Grocery Hall of Fame moved initially (in 1990) to 9500 Van Horne Way in Richmond and later to the rear of Spaner’s residential property at 6620 No. 6 Road. As of 2014, Tempo Sales was still in business at No. 6 Road. There is some evidence that the Hall of Fame continues to operate today at the same location, but it is hard to be sure whether it has survived COVID-19.

If any VAIW reader can confirm the current status of the Grocery Hall of Fame, I’d appreciate it if you would comment below.

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The First VAIW Post (February 2014): 1885 Brockton View

1885 Wat P38 - [View of Brockton Point from the foot of Thurlow Street]  L A Hamilton

This photograph (CVA Wat P38) was the work of Lauchlan A. Hamilton. In my judgement, it is one of the most attractive early images available from the digital collection of the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA).

Mr Hamilton lived in Vancouver for fewer than five years, but those years were important, as was his contribution. He was Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) land commissioner during a period in which the CPR had a lot of authority and he became one of the first aldermen of Vancouver’s Council. As land commissioner, he surveyed and named Vancouver streets in the central business district and the West End (including, immodestly, Hamilton Street).188- Port P147.2 Hamilton

Where was Mr Hamilton standing when he made this image, vis-a-vis today’s Vancouver? If you walk behind the Vancouver Convention Centre to the seaplane terminal at the far western end of the pedestrian walkway and look toward Brockton Point at Stanley Park, you are probably as close as you can get today (without getting wet).

There were some surprises for me in this image of Brockton Point. The first was that it is attributed to Mr Hamilton. This is one of only two digital photos in the CVA collection (other than a couple of family snapshots) that are attributed to him. I believe he made several drawings and watercolours that are in the CVA’s non-digital collection. So he was an amateur artist, evidently, but not a recognized amateur photographer. There are a good many un-attributed photographs in CVA’s digital collection from the period that Mr Hamilton lived in Vancouver, however. So who knows how many of those ought rightly to be attributed to him?

Another surprise was that there were so few mature trees in what would become Stanley Park (in 1888). I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, however, as it is well known that in the pre-Park years (1860s-1880s), it was logged aggressively.

There also appears to be evidence of settlement of some sort in what would become the Park. It is pretty far in the background and so is quite fuzzy, but there appear to be temporary (tent-like?) structures along the shore. I believe a military reserve was established there during the 1860s, and there was likely still some native settlement there in the 1880s.

Hamilton managed to convey with his camera a scene that might very well have been painted. And the age of the image (nearly 130 years, now) has done the image a favour; with the passing of time, the emulsion near the surface of the photo has begun to break down a bit, thereby creating what would be referred to in complimentary terms, in antique painting circles, as a “crackle finish”.

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What Do CNR Depot and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden Have in Common?

The Chinese Tennis Club was at both locations!

2008-010.2265 – Chinese Tennis Club group portrait at their first location just south of the CNR Railway Depot (now known as Pacific Central Depot). The gent seated in front row, center, wearing a clerical collar is presumably Rev. Ivan Wong, Club secretary in 1940 (and pastor to the United Church Chinese Mission at East Pender and Dunlevy). Photo made 1939.

A brief chronology of the Chinese Tennis Club:

  • 1936: Chinese Tennis Club was established. The Club was affiliated with the B.C. Lawn and Tennis Association. The Club played other clubs in that association (including Jericho and Stanley Park clubs) and also played other pacific coast clubs (including cities in the so-called tri-cities (Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland). Original membership of Club was about 20-25.
  • 1937: Club had 63 members.
  • 1938: Club had four clay courts just south of the CNR Depot; the court site was presumably leased from Canadian National Railway. The courts seem to have been located roughly where long-distance buses park today at Pacific Central Depot. The Vancouver Chinese Tennis Club was the only Chinese tennis club to have its own courts among Pacific coast cities.
  • 1939: Membership: 80
  • 1941: New courts and clubhouse at 550 Carrall Streeet were ready in July. According to the Charles Louie interview cited below, all of the funds for materials were raised by the Club and the labour on the courts and clubhouse was done by Club members.
  • 1946 (Vancouver’s Diamond Jubilee Year): Pacific Coast Chinese Tennis Championships were held in June at the Club courts on Carrall Street. Players from San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle participated. The tournament was officially opened by Chinese Consul-General to Vancouver, Hon. Li Chao and Vancouver Mayor Jack Cornett (Sun, 29 June 1946).
  • 1949: Late in the year, the Club was disbanded. This was due to City of Vancouver expropriation of the land on which the clubhouse and courts were situated in order to extend Keefer Street through to Carrall Street. (I suspect, but cannot prove, that a contributing reason was the development of part of the site by the new Marshall-Wells wholesale hardware). The Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden was situated approximately at the same location as the Chinese Tennis Club when it was opened in 1986.

One of the great constants among those on the executive of the Chinese Tennis Club was Charles E. Louie (1908-1977). He was President of the Club from its inception until it disbanded. Jack Chan was another regular member of the executive. He was for several years the Club’s tennis instructor.

The Club would each year hold a season opening and closing dinner/dance, often at the White Rose Ballroom, and occasionally at the Peter Pan Ballroom (both on West Broadway).

2008-010.2271 – Second (and final) Chinese Tennis Club site at 550 Carrall Street. Near the site of the future Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden (578 Carrall Street, 1986-present). ca1941.

Sources:

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Ernest Augustus Muling, French Chef

Update

Vancouver Tourism Guide 1905 Ad
Ad in Tourists’ Guide of Vancouver, BC. 1905. This illustration of Muling is the closest thing I could find to a photographic portrait.

Ernest Augustus Muling (1861-1949) was a Frenchman by birth (in Blumenau), an Englishman by nationality, and a chef by profession.

He came to Vancouver from Brisbane, Australia where he seems to have spent his twenties and early thirties and where his first two children were born (May and Madeleine, also known as Madge); Ernest’s wife, Annie (1868-1942) was born in England.

His career in Vancouver was on-again-off-again. He would work for a year or more at a hotel or hotel restaurant, and then he would be described for a year or two subsequently (in the Vancouver directory) as a “caterer” — restaurant lingo, I presume, for “self-employed”.

His first experience of the restaurant business in Vancouver was at the Strand Hotel‘s King Edward Silver Grill (ca1905-06). The Strand was mid-way down the south side of the 600 block of West Hastings. He was catering (and traveling in Europe for a few months in 1907) during the 1907-11 period. (A June 1912 clipping noted that Ernest Muling had recently “assumed charge of the Wigwam Inn” (World, 17 June 1912); however, this seems to be the only claim in the local press of this and so I’m assuming it was either a very short-lived appointment or was a press error).

In 1912, Ernest was the proprietor of the Trocadero Grill. The Trocadero was on the south side of the 100 block of West Hastings (at 156 W. Hastings). He catered in 1913.

He was the proprietor of the Langham Hotel at 1115 Nelson Street in 1914. The Langham was what we’d call today a “boutique” hotel. Located just west of Thurlow on Nelson, the charming little hotel building (and its single family dwelling neighbours) is no longer there; in its place today is a concrete multi-residential behemoth.

Starting in 1915, Ernest had moved on to the Grosvenor Hotel Cafe. The Grosvenor was at the SE corner of Howe at Robson. He remained there until 1917/18.While he was working at the Grosvenor, the Mulings lived there. In 1919, he catered again.

CVA 780-415 - [Buildings along Nelson Street at] Thurlow [Street]1966-2
CVA 780-415 – Buildings along Nelson Street at Thurlow Street, including the Langham Hotel (the three-storey brick building in foreground). 1966.

In 1920, Ernest was a chef with the Canadian Pacific Railway. What precisely this meant is opaque to me. Whether it meant he was cooking for the staff of the CPR, working in one of the CPR’s public eating establishments, or cooking on a train, isn’t clear.

The CPR job seems to have been his final one in Vancouver. There is no further record in the city of Ernest, Annie, May (or the two boys who came later: Edward, who apprenticed with BC Electric Railway for a couple of years and who seems to have gone to California, dying in San Francisco; and Richard, who took up work as an electrician while in Vancouver).

Mrs. Muling, for at least a couple of their early years in Vancouver (1908-09), seems to have been the first manager of the Gresham rooming house at SW corner of Granville and Smithe. The rooming house was built in 1907-08 and began operation in late 1908 (Province, 12 December 1908). The Gresham is still known by that name and is at that location, today.

While living here, the Mulings participated in dog shows with their dachshund, “Tackle”, on at least one occasion winning best in show for that breed (Sun, 11 Oct 1912).

By 1921, the Muling family seems to have pulled up stakes.* They ended up in Australia again. Whether they went there directly or took a more circuitous route, isn’t clear to me. But most of the family, including Ernest, appear to have died in Camberwell (a suburb of Melbourne, today).

vpl-7601-grosvenor-hotel-at-howe-robson-streets-1915-pt-timms-photo-2
VPL 7601 – Grosvenor Hotel at Howe & Robson Streets. 1915. P. T. Timms photo.

Notes

*Madeleine (aka Madge) married Charles Simpson Scott in Vancouver. She seems to have been the one Muling to have “stuck” here. She died at the ripe age of 93 in 1989 in North Vancouver.

Posted in cafes/restaurants/eateries, hotels/motels/inns, stuart thomson, timms, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kolster’s Radio Musicians

Publicity Postcard: Kolster Musicians – CKWX Radio, Vancouver. n.d. (1929?) K. G. McKenzie (619 Granville) photo. The announcer standing at the microphone is CKWX manager/announcer, Harold W. Paulson. MDM Collection.
Publicity Postcard: Kolster’s Musicians (rear of postcard shown above with notes).

The eight-person musical group shown above is Kolster’s Musicians. They were a group of Vancouver people who were assembled to play music on CKWX Radio (Vancouver) for their principal sponsor, Kolster Radios. Kolster was a U.S. brand radio, distributed in B.C. by the Canadian Fairbanks-Morse Company, Ltd.

The program always includes a bright march, an overture, a late popular release as well as a group of popular numbers of a few years ago . . . . [T]he listener is therefore treated to a splendid variety of music . . .

Sun, 14 Sept 1929

An identifiable member of Kolster’s Musicians seems to be pianist and band leader (later the musical director of CKWX’s Concert Orchestra), Harold A. Copley (ca1893-1941) (Province, 6 July 1930). Copley was was formerly the organist at St. Saviour’s Church (Sun, 14 Sept 1929).

The host pictured at the CKWX microphone was Harold W. Paulson (1899-1983), “director and chief announcer” at the radio station (Sun, 25 Aug 1928).

The others shown in the photo are not identifiable by me. If readers of VAIW recognize someone pictured, please let me know by commenting below.

CVA 99-3810 – Fairbanks Morse – Kolster Radio Window ca1930 Stuart Thomson.
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Ancient Mariners of Carrall Street

CVA 586-1578 – Captain J. H. Palmer, the founder of The Ancient Mariner Rope and Canvas, engaged in making what appears to be a scramble-net or cargo-net. 1943? Don Coltman photo.

It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. First stanza. Text of 1834.

As far as I know, none of the proprietors of the Ancient Mariner Rope and Canvas shop had long grey beards, but I’m not so sure that they didn’t all have glittering eyes, especially when the time seemed apt to spin a seafaring tale.

Captain J. H. Palmer, the founder of the Ancient Mariner shop at 225 Carrall Street (near ‘Blood Alley’ and Maple Tree Square in Gastown) established the business ca1941. He lived in the back of the shop. He was a “master craftsman” at rope splicing and in his shop he made ship’s bumpers, rigging, ladders, lifebuoys, and nets.

James Harvey Palmer was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia [1] ca1870 to Jacob Nelson and Naomi Allan Palmer. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, according to Palmer, were also sea captains. Palmer first went to sea at age 15 (ca1885) and by age 19, “he became the youngest second mate in sail on the east coast” He got his master’s ticket (his first captaincy) in Seattle in 1906 (Province, 8 June 1949).

2009-005.462 – Ancient Mariner Rope Works, located in Gastown during World War II 1939-45. W. M. Seivewright (right) and Captain James Palmer (left).

When Palmer established Ancient Mariner Rope and Canvas during WWII, he had at least one assistant. Captain D. J. McDonald was among the earliest. Another was William M. Seivewright, who became a local journalist.

Captain Dan McDonald. The Province, 26 November 1962. Gordon Sedawie, photo.

Palmer had an injury to one of his hands in 1955 and no doubt found that cramped his style as a rope-maker (Sun, 31 December 1955). He sold the business ca1956 to William H. S. Wilson and Captain R. G. Lawson [2]. Lawson died in 1958. By 1962, the Ancient Mariner had adapted to the changing market and was then producing nylon helicopter nets which could handle 2-ton loads of supplies dropped at remote forestry camps. Captain Dan McDonald was still helping out at the Ancient Mariner in 1962 (and, of course, sharing his shipping yarns with whoever would listen; there are a few examples of McDonald’s seafaring tales below).

The business seems to have faded to black by the mid-1960s. Bill Wilson died in 1969.

Steve Roper, Publishers Syndicate. Province, 12 April 1958. Here is a Rime of the Ancient Mariner allusion in comic form. By the way, for those of you who think that the ‘bad guy’, Twitch, is handing Steve a mini-TV, that is actually a camera (a little larger than an iPhone)! (As for the hint as to how the camera could be used as a weapon, I suspect that had to do with the flashbulb that was part of it; to temporarily ‘blind’ Twitch.)

Notes

  1. Palmer’s early years are a bit mysterious. In the 1909 U.S. Census he claimed that he had dual citizenship and shows both his parents as being born in Maine. In a 1918 US Passport application, Palmer claims that he was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1870. He was at the time, according to this application, a “Constructing Engineer” in Lima, Peru with “Conchos Temstine Co.”
  2. Lawson was formerly with the Malahat Shipping Co., Ltd. Lawson, in his capacity with Malahat, made an offer in 1954 to the Canadian federal government to blast Ripple Rock (Province, 23 September 1954). Their offer was not accepted. Ripple Rock was exploded by another firm in 1958.

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Flying Saucer Clubs

CVA 180-5942.12 – Flying saucer contactees need french fries, too! Flying Saucer concession stand on P.N.E. grounds. 1964, Franz Lindner.

The 1950s and ’60s were prime time for flying saucer enthusiasts. There were at least two UFO-related Vancouver clubs at that time — one called the Vancouver Area Flying Saucer Club (1956-ca1979) and another at UBC known as the Varsity Flying Saucer Club (1957-ca1963).

MOV H2001.25.23. Vancouver Area club patch.

The first president of the Vancouver Area Club was Margaret Fewster (1917-1986), a gifted contralto and respected music teacher in the city. She described the club as being “not political, subversive or religious, but composed of good, honest and loyal subjects” (Province, 4 July 1956).

Fewster seems to have been the legitimate face of the club. It was founded by Herbert D. Clark (1901-1986), a retired electrical contractor, who sounded a wee bit kookier than Fewster. Clark remarked that the next ‘night watch’ (for spotting locally appearing flying saucers) would be held in September, “unless the solar system brothers advise against it” (Province, 4 July 1956).

In another press report, Clark claimed that the occupants of flying saucers would be in contact with earthlings soon:

They will speak English perfectly, look and dress like any local young businessman and may offer free rides to interested believers in their fantastic planetary vehicles.

Province, 21 June 1956

Clark had a public fit when The Invaders television series was first aired. Instead of accepting that the series was fiction (which was plain; like the later Cannon and Barnaby Jones, it was a Quinn/Martin production), he chose to take it as a (false) commentary on the flying saucer folks:

“It’s absolutely deplorable that they depict (the flying saucer men) as ray gun murderers . . . . They’ve been around our universe for as long as we’ve had recorded history.” Clark said he was so incensed about the series . . . when it was first shown last fall that he wrote a nasty letter to the show’s producers in the U.S.

Sun, 2 May 1968
MOV H2001.25.25. Membership card for UBC club.

The UBC Club was founded by Stuart Piddocke and Gareth Shearman (d. 2013). Piddocke said that the purpose of the club was to investigate and “to find the facts”. Shearman was the president of the club for awhile. “Humor will . . . be included on the agenda.” he said (Ubyssey 4 October 1957). A. T. Babcock (1937-1993), who ultimately became a B.C. teacher, was the club’s Intelligence Officer.

It seems to me that the members of the UBC club were less doctrinaire and, on the whole, took themselves less seriously than did the Vancouver Area club members.

Crop of photo of students signing up for UBC Varsity Flying Saucer Club Totem yearbook, 1958, p 269.

The clubs had a couple of interesting speakers. Daniel W. Fry (1908-1992) was one of the earliest. The Sun reported on Fry’s talk to the Vancouver club:

The stocky associate of men of outer space told [his] tale with a straight face . . . . Not one person in the crowd that jammed two rooms in the Art Gallery laughed. They didn’t even smirk. . . . A room was reserved for 150, but half an hour before his lecture began the crowd overflowed into a second room and into the halls. People shared chairs, sat on the floor, jammed into every inch of standing space, to hear and see ‘the man who touched a flying saucer.

Sun, 29 June 1956
VPL 64238 American flying saucer contactee and metaphysical author, George Hunt Williamson (on right), Feb 1958. Province, Gordon F Sedawie.

Another big-name speaker was George H. Williamson, who spoke to the Vancouver group in 1959. His topic was “The City That Existed Before the Moon.” Williamson’s talk was advertised as being presented by the Chairman of Anthropology at a completely fictitious university: Great West University.

The kind of public enthusiasm for flying saucers that would fill two rooms at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1956 had dissipated substantially by the late 1970s. The Vancouver Area club seemed to fold around 1979. Notwithstanding this, a recent CTV News item claims that Vancouver today is the UFO capital of Canada. Apparently the city has more sightings of flying saucers than any other part of the country.

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Civil Defence Training HQ on Granville Street

Crop of CVA 228-545 – N 13, N 14. May 1953. Lew Parry Film Productions. Shows the current Granville Bridge under construction in 1953 and Vancouver Civil Defence Training HQ in its temporary location (1396 Granville) adjacent to and south of the Continental Hotel at the foot of the Bridge.

The property identified in the image above as Vancouver’s Civil Defence Training HQ was originally occupied by NeoLite — a neon sign company. [1] The space was only a temporary site for the civil defence HQ from 1951-1953 mainly because the real estate was needed by the new Granville Bridge (some of the concrete of which is visible in the foreground of the photo).

What was its Function?

The civil defence training group was committed to keeping Vancouverites and British Columbians as safe as possible in the event of an act of a war or national emergency. [2] A major component of CD was the training of an auxiliary police force. The force was made up of of volunteers who were trained by regular police officers. The auxiliary police had a slogan: “If we never need what we learn in civil defence we lose nothing, but if we never learn what we need, we may lose everything” (Sun, 6 Oct 1951). The civil defence HQ also trained volunteer fire personnel.

By 1961, the range of CD training available had broadened beyond training auxiliary police and fire personnel to include training in first aid, home nursing, and rescue survival (among other courses) (Sun 18 Sept 1961).

In the early years (1951-55, say), civil defence was able to draw a healthy number of volunteers, and was seen as a very important task. This was mainly because WW2 was such a recent memory. Not only were there many former ARP (Air Raid Precautions) volunteers in the city from that conflict, but there were many WW2 veterans living in Vancouver then who had seen with their own eyes what destruction was wrought in European cities in the recent war. These people did not need to be persuaded of the importance of preventing a similar outcome in Vancouver.

Civil Defence Takes a Dive

By 1966, however, civil defence had declined significantly in the city’s priorities. Typically, precious few volunteers could be found in the HQ (by then it had moved to Howe). The civil defence head in Vancouver, Group Captain Alexander Lewis, had this to say:

The public shows no interest during periods of peace. They are like an ostrich — they like to keep their heads in the sand; they prefer to forget war….At the time of Cuba [missile crisis] we were inundated with calls about radio activity and fall-out shelters….I sometimes wonder if the amount of money that is spent and the amount of work we put in is not out of all proportion to the number of people we train.

Sun, 2 Aug 1966
CVA 1184-2733 – Exterior view of the Neolite Co. building with a Perfex bleach neon sign on the roof (prior to it becoming Vancouver Civil Defence Training HQ). 1943. Jack Lindsay.

Group Capt. Lewis wasn’t the only one thinking such thoughts. Such questions had occurred to city aldermen, too. By 1966, the city’s civil defence outlay seems to have been principally for the rental of the HQ at Howe: $600 a month. But even that modest sum was considered by City Council to be too much to pay for civil defence and within a year, the headquarters had been vacated and became the new Vancouver City Police Academy (which had moved from, apparently, an unsatisfactory site on the PNE grounds).

‘Civil Defence’ to ‘EMO’ to ‘Search & Rescue’

In the mid-’60s, the civil defence function performed by the Training HQ and other related groups in the province had changed its name, collectively, to the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) — a group that seems to have been a creature of the federal government. The EMO seemed not to have much continuing relevance in the City of Vancouver after the late 1960s. But it was relevant in the mountainous area of North Vancouver. In 1972, for example, the following EMO action was reported in the press:

A North Vancouver Emergency Measures Organization rescue crew led three people to safety Sunday night after three were stranded on a ledge on Grouse Mountain.

Sun, 22 Nov 1972

You could be forgiven if you concluded that the reported rescue by EMO volunteers sounded a lot like the sort of thing you hear reported today of North Vancouver search and rescue teams. Indeed, the function of the EMO in North Vancouver seemed gradually to morph into the search and rescue organization that exists today in North Vancouver.

The Continental Hotel being demolished ca 2015. MDM Photo

Notes

  1. NeoLite moved to a location at the corner of Burrard and 2nd Avenue after leaving the Granville site. NeoLite was one of several neon sign companies operating in Vancouver at this time. The most famous (and extant) of these firms was Neon Products, which was located on Terminal Avenue.
  2. While the CD Training group was focussed on educating volunteers, another major organization, the Ground Observer Corps, with direct ties to the RCAF, was a more hands-on bunch. The observer corps – a BC-wide, indeed a nation-wide, group of volunteers – were to watch the skies and report in to HQ descriptions of any planes they spotted. The corps headquarters would then check the ground-observed flight info against the flight manifests submitted by each legitimate pilot prior to them taking off. If the airplane reported by the corps didn’t have a manifest and/or it seemed to be suspicious, the RCAF would be ordered, potentially, to ‘scramble’ its fighter planes (Sun, 6 Nov 1954). The headquarters of the corps was at 1363 Howe Street, the same address as the CD Training HQ was moved to after leaving its Granville location — so the two arms of civil defence in Vancouver were at the same site. The Ground Observer Corps folded by 1960, when the same functions it had performed with human observers could be more efficiently carried out electronically. The CD Training arm was mothballed a few years later, in 1967 (Province, 3 May 1960).

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Rev. Arthur J. Hadley: “Let’s Go!”

Update

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

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

fbc-archive-2_0572

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

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

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

That will be my enduring memory of Art Hadley.

For a more complete obituary, see below:

A J Hadley Obit


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

November 2020 Update

Here is an excerpt from a 1951 First Baptist Vancouver minute which I recently unearthed from a number of images I made at the FBC Archives a couple of years ago. It is a copy of a letter written by FBC’s Clerk to the Ordination Council at Cameron Memorial Baptist (Regina) – Art’s first post-seminary charge. The original letter was to have been hand-delivered to Regina by his dad, Frank Hadley.

1951 FBC Minutes. First Baptist Church (Vancouver) Archives.
1951 FBC Minutes. First Baptist Church (Vancouver) Archives.

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Change and the UBC War Memorial Gym

The War Memorial Gym is one of the few buildings on UBC’s campus that has withstood the plans of developers and administrators to demolish and replace structures that show the least age.

As you will see in the photos below, however, there were changes to the plans for a Memorial Gym in the years following WWII. And changes otherwise touched the Gym.

How much longer can the Memorial Gym continue to stand?

A very early artist’s impression of the exterior of UBC War Memorial Gym. From UBC Visitors’ Day brochure. March 2nd 1946. MDM Collection.
A very different artist’s impression of the War Memorial Gym, this time showing an attached enclosure where an envisioned pool, office space, bowling alley etc. were envisioned. The enclosure would not be built when the auditorium was constructed in 1951. The Empire Pool would occupy that space starting in 1954. From UBC’s The Alumni Chronicle, Dec 1948. UBC Open Collections,
Floor plan, War Memorial Gym. Sept 1950. UBC Open Collection.
VPL 43668 British Empire Games outdoor swimming pool (to be known simply as Empire Pool) and War Memorial Gym at UBC. 1954. Province Newspaper.
Aerial View of War Memorial Gym. 1962. Peter Holborne photo. Memorial Hall is clear above. It is the slightly lower attachment to the auditorium adjacent to Empire Pool.
View of War Memorial Gym and General Services Admin Building. 1973. GSAB was built in 1969 and stood until ca2017. GSAB was demolished to make way for new residences for students.
Remembrance Day at War Memorial Gym. 1977. Jim Barnham photo. This shows part of Memorial Hall. There are plaques in this space which show the names of students who fought and fell in WWI and WWII.
Laying a new floor in War Memorial Gym auditorium. 1980.
Student Registration in War Memorial Gym. 1980. Jim Barnham photo.
View of Audience in War Memorial Gym during Billy Graham’s Crusade at UBC. 1984.
Convocation ceremony: Congregation procession leaving War Memorial Gym. Between 1980-1989.
Eastern perimeter of War Memorial Gym (with storage rooms beneath auditorium seats for gym equipment etc.). Jan 2016. MDM photo.
Empire Pool (viewed from Memorial Gym) emptied and ready for demolition. 2016. MDM Photo.
Demolition of the General Services Admin Building with War Memorial Gym in background. ca 2017. MDM Photo. A final concrete vertical pillar had temporarily been converted into a public announcement display and a bench. Later, the land would be re-developed into new student residences.

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Barron/Belmont Hotel

There is a hotel on the SE corner of Granville and Nelson that has stood there for nearly 110 years. It has been known for most of that time as the Hotel Belmont. During its early years, however, it was called the Hotel Barron.

Hotel Barron (1912-1925)

The 6-storey hotel block (with, initially, retail space occupying much of the ground floor) opened in February, 1912. It was a hotel with 120 rooms and was of brick construction.

It was co-owned by Colonel Oscar G. Barron, an American millionaire hotelier, his wife, Jennie Barron (nee Lane), Mr. T. S. Brophy and his wife, Mrs. Brophy (who was Mrs. Barron’s sister). The Brophys were active partners in the Barron Hotel venture, managing the business and living in Vancouver, while the Barrons took a less active role in the Vancouver hotel business and lived in New England (World 6 Jan 1913).

Hotel Barron postcard (n.d.). Courtesy Neil Whaley’s Collection. Note: The person who created the image on this postcard, added a couple of extra stories to the structure. Here, the 6-storey building is shown as having 8 stories.

Oscar Barron died in 1913 from blood poisoning which cost him part of a foot and then a leg due to amputation and, ultimately, his life. “He had served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and on the staff of the New Hampshire governors, hence his title of colonel.” (Rutland Daily Herald (Vermont), 8 Jan 1913). Brophy (who also had the — presumably honorary — title of colonel) and Barron had a hotel partnership near Vancouver dating prior to the establishment of the Barron Hotel. It was the Hotel Fairfield in Seattle at 6th and Madison (currently, the site of the Renaissance Seattle Hotel complex).

There was a second building under Barron/Brophy ownership, a block south (1161 Granville) of the main hotel property (1002-1006 Granville) called — unimaginatively — the Barron Annex. The 5-storey Annex was sold in 1917 and became known as the St. Helen’s Hotel. Today, St. Helen’s is a single room occupancy rooming house.

Barron Hotel Restaurant ad. UBC Totem. 1920. UBC Open Collections.

The Barron Hotel was originally named in honour of two of the owners — Oscar and Jennie Barron. But the Barron Restaurant (a component of the hotel), as part of an early marketing campaign, hinted broadly in its ads that its name had European roots and that it was named for the famous “Le Baron” restaurant in Paris, France. As with many ad claims, this just wasn’t so.

Hotel Belmont (1925-ca1971)

Hotel Belmont Brochure. Inside pages. n.d. (1920s?) MDM Collection.

In 1913, following Col. Barron’s death, Col. Brophy left the Barron. William D. Wood became the manager. In 1916, the Barron/Brophy interests were sold, and by May 1925, the hotel was bought by the Belmont Hotel Company, of which Wood was part. At that time, the name of the hotel was changed to the Belmont.

CVA 99-1507 – Barron Hotel Radio Station ca 1924. Stuart Thomson photo.

By 1922, William Downie Wood, confusingly the 19-year-old son of Belmont manager, W. D. Wood, had made a name for himself as an amateur radio operator at the hotel. Wood Jr., a native of Santa Cruz, CA, was granted a special experimental amateur radio operator’s license by the Canadian federal government (Santa Cruz Evening News [California] 8 March 1922).

The presence of an existing radio station at the Barron/Belmont was likely central to the eventual broadcast on CNRV radio (which would ultimately become part of CBC’s radio network) of the Belmont Orchestra from the Rose Room. By the 1930s, the orchestra would be broadcast from the Belmont over local commercial station CJOR (Sun, 30 April 1930).

A Guest Goes Missing

Shortly after the hotel opened as the Belmont, it became the fulcrum of a missing person case that made headlines in local papers for 7 months. Clarence Peppard was a 45-year-old businessman from Minneapolis. He came to Vancouver in December, 1925 to visit his brother who lived in Chilliwack. On December 10, he left the Belmont, where he was a guest, ostensibly on a BCER interurban train bound for Chilliwack. He never arrived at his destination (Sun 16 Dec 1925). The last he was seen was leaving the Belmont and later at a Vancouver telegraph office where he sent a wire to his brother asking that he meet his train upon its arrival in Chilliwack. Someone matching Peppard’s description was seen near Marpole, which borders on the north arm of the Fraser River, on the day he went missing (Sun 23 Dec 1925).

For months, police searched for Peppard or his body, without success. Then, in June, 1926, a body was found just off Kirkland Island on the North Arm of the Fraser. The build of the dead man seemed to match that of Peppard, but decomposition was so advanced that it was nearly impossible to be certain of identification (Province, 28 June 1926). In the end, however, the body was confirmed as Peppard’s (as closely as police technique would permit identification in 1926) (Chilliwack Progress, 8 Sept 1926).

Other Identities and Return of the Belmont

The Belmont Hotel became Nelson Place Hotel in the early 1970s and remained so until it was re-named the Dakota in 1997. It became a Comfort Inn in the 2000s and, in 2017, it was again branded the Belmont Hotel as part of a $12 million renovation by new owners. The new Belmont seems to be aiming to attract, primarily, a millennial demographic, judging from the gallery at their website.

Exterior and Interior images of Nelson Place Hotel (aka Belmont). Postcard. n.d.

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’10 Commandments’ for Church Ushers

First Baptist Church Archives Collection. n.d.

I ran across this wee item in the archival collection of First Baptist Church when I was in the Archives a year or two ago researching another subject. I took a quick photo of this page and then forgot about it until I stumbled across it today.

There is no date associated with the ’10 Commandments’. I suspect that it was regularly reprinted, perhaps with updates, over several years, possibly as early as the 1930s and perhaps as late as the 1980s. I doubt that these commandments were distributed to ushers beyond the ’80s, however. Why? Mainly because of antiquated vocabulary. The periodic references to ‘strangers’, in particular. This was language that was understood (by longtime church members) to refer to non-members of the church. By the time we joined First Vancouver in 1991, strangers were referred to (arguably, less offensively) as ’adherents’. ’Strangers’ had probably been out of vogue in church language for some years before that.

I have never been a church usher, but these ‘commandments’ seem to me to speak of older ushers I have known who took their responsibilities very seriously. One who comes to mind is the late Mr. Lenfesty.

It would be nigh-unto impossible to enforce these rules in the loosie-goosie, do-what-you-like environment that has been present in church services in recent years.

Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver | Tagged , | 8 Comments

70 Years of FBC Organists

Update

fbc choir 1915
First Baptist Church Choir, 1915. With the BC Music Festival cups in front of T. Bonne Millar, Choirmaster and Organist of the Church (1911-1921). Courtesy, First Baptist Church Archives.

The early organists at First Baptist Church (1905-1975) are an intriguing collection. One was willful and arguably bad-tempered; another had an unusual name which the press messed up; one was on staff when the Sanctuary and organ burned to a crisp; another was a talented young person whose term was cut short by tragedy; and one formed a folk choir and coaxed a tuneful voice out of the last of the church’s pipe organs.

Not dull at all!

Earliest Days

There was no organ in the tiny chapel building, which was FBC’s first permanent home (just off Main at East Pender). So, the earliest congregational accompanists at First Baptist Church Vancouver weren’t organists, but volunteer pianists. One of the earliest of these was Laura Carlisle (wife of J. H. Carlisle).

The congregation’s first organ — a pump pipe organ, evidently — was donated by a Mr. Jesse Williams when the church moved into its first proper worship building (SE corner of Hamilton and Dunsmuir).¹ I couldn’t find in press reports nor in the church archives much of a description of this first organ. Early FBC organists were paid $15 per month for their services. But this first organ wasn’t, strictly speaking, a solo instrument; the boy who pumped air into the organ — the pumper — was a critical member of the team, although organists and their listeners tended not to remember that, much less pay him anything for his services (W. M. Carmichael. These Sixty Years: 1887-1947, p. 18).

John Alexander (1905)

The first organist/choirmaster identified in FBC’s records was John Alexander, a Scot. He was born to John Alexander Sr. and Isabella McCulloch in Edinburgh in 1865.2 He married Geraldine Boyd in 1891.

Alexander had been the organist for Candlish Presbyterian Church in Edinburgh. He and Geraldine arrived in Vancouver in 1893. He began by offering his services in the city as a vocal trainer and piano instructor (Province, 18 Aug 1903).

Alexander began working at FBC sometime in 1905. The story of his ultimate departure from First is told here. He made his exit by September 1905. After leaving FBC, he took over organ-playing and choir-leading responsibilities for the Congregational Church. He resigned from there in September 1907 to take up a post with a North Vancouver church (Province, 21 Sept 1907).

Aexander had a working life outside the church. He was a North Vancouver municipal councillor and later was an assessor of the municipality (Province, 10 Jan 1918). He died in January 1918.

Georgina M. Malkin (nee Grundy) (1906-07)

Georgina Maude Grundy was appointed to replace Alexander in June 1906 (Province, 2 June 1906). She was born in 1884 in Winnipeg. She married John Philip Davy Malkin shortly after accepting the organist’s job at FBC.

The quality of Mrs. Malkin’s playing, is described in a 1907 feature about the church, as nice, though unambitious — faint praise, to be sure (Province, 6 Apr 1907). She resigned as FBC organist three months later. She died in April, 1967.

Frank R. Austen (1907-08?)

Mrs. Malkin was replaced as FBC organist, briefly, by Frank R. Austen. He apparently had “wide experience” as an organist “in both the United States and Canada” (Province, 5 July 1907). Austen married Miss Burritt in 1909 (Province, 10 April 1909). Mr. Austen seems not to have lasted long at FBC, seemingly leaving within a few months of accepting the post.

T. Bonne Millar (1910-1919; 1920-1921)

fbc-choir-1915-2

T(homas) Bonne (pronounced Bonnie) Millar, began as FBC’s organist/choir director in November 1910. (He must have been frustrated with the local press who couldn’t seem to cope with his middle name; in one press account, a caption under his photograph identified “T. Bone Millar”).

He was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland and, according to a Province article, his uncle, George Taggart, was “the leading musical citizen of Glasgow” (Province, 4 November 1910). Millar was organist of John Street Presbyterian Church, Glasgow, for eight years and served as organist/choirmaster of Mt. Pleasant Methodist, in Vancouver for about three years prior to hiring on at First.

Millar must have been pleased to be employed at FBC when he was, as he took the job just before the congregation moved into their new structure at Nelson and Burrard — with a new (although relatively modest, I suspect) pipe organ. Unhappily, there is very little detail that I could find about the specifics of the instrument, save that it was expected to cost about $7,200.

Millar remained at FBC until 1919, when he accepted a job at the organ for Central Methodist Church in Calgary. The Daily World, in a retrospective piece published on the occasion of his departure from Vancouver, claimed that his place in Vancouver’s music scene “will not be readily filled”:

During his regime at the First Baptist Church the choir has been brought to a high state of efficiency, for two years in succession carrying away the highest honors, in the shape of the Fromme and Steuart [sic; Stewart, actually, I think] challenge cups from the B. C. [Music] Festival, held at Lynn Valley 1915-16…

Daily World. 4 January, 1919, p. 9.

Alas, his time in Calgary which seemed so promising in January, was abandoned in June of the same year, probably due to poor health. He returned to Vancouver where he resumed playing for Mt Pleasant Methodist Church (where he had been organist for a few years prior to taking on the job at FBC in 1910).

It wasn’t long before he was back in the Baptist saddle, though. First Baptist re-hired Millar as its organist and choirmaster sometime in 1920. But his health soon took a negative turn and he was forced to take a 6-month leave of absence from First, which he spent in California. Millar ultimately decided that his health was too fragile for him to continue as organist at First and he resigned again in 1921.

By 1923, to help keep body and soul attached, presumably, he took on the organist’s job at (the less demanding?) Fairview Baptist Church. He also led the Men’s Musical Club (1919-20).

T. Bonne Millar died in 1942 at age 60.

Wilbur G. Grant (1921-1928)

Grantt FBC Organist

During Millar’s health-related ‘to-ing and fro-ing’, Wilbur G. Grant was acting FBC organist/choirmaster. He was confirmed in the job in 1921 upon Millar’s departure for Calgary. Grant was from Toronto, where he trained under organist/conductor, Augustus Vogt. He served as organist at Broadway Tabernacle, Toronto, for a few years. Grant headed west ca1913 and settled in Edmonton where he worked as organist/choirmaster of First Presbyterian Church and later as musical director at Alberta College (later known as the University of Alberta).

Sometime in 1921, he left Edmonton. It may have been for health reasons, as an early Edmonton press report indicated that Grant suffered from asthma. He opened a piano studio in the Fairview district of the City of Vancouver while he and his family resided in the West Vancouver community of Ambleside. Presumably, the Baptists came calling on Grant to serve as acting organist/choirmaster in the wake of Millar’s departure for Calgary (and later, during Millar’s leave of absence). Upon Millar’s final resignation, Grant took over.

Grant played for FBC until 1928.

After leaving First, Grant became organist for St. George’s Anglican Church. He also led the UBC Musical Society (1921-23+), the North Vancouver Choral Society (1925-27), the Point Grey Choral Society (1926-27), and the David Spencer Choir (ca1934).

He died a very young man in 1935 at age 54, after a “lingering illness”.

Evan Walters (1928-1956)

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 3.21.48 PM

Evan Walters filled the organ/choir director’s position upon the resignation of Grant. Walters was a Welshman who had recently arrived in the city. He had earned a degree from the Royal Academy of Music, London and led a choir of over 200 voices in one of the largest churches in Swansea, Wales (Sun, 28 Sept 1928).

Walters’ period at FBC saw him play many organ recitals and lead the choir from strength to strength. But after he’d been on the job for about three years the church entered a period of loss and transition. Much-loved pastor, J. J. Ross, resigned the pastorate at the end of 1929 to accept a call to Trinity Baptist, Winnipeg. That sparked an unsettled two-year search for a new senior minister.  But perhaps the greater loss, from Walters’ point of view, occurred on Tuesday, February 10, 1931, when FBC’s sanctuary burned to the ground; the organ went with it.

FBC was determined to build a new and even better sanctuary, quickly. And included in the plans was a new pipe organ. So there was hope amid loss. The organ would be a big-ticket item: $15,000. The sanctuary was completed and the “Mother’s Memorial Organ” was installed in time for the re-dedication service in November of the same year — just 9 months after the fire. Why the “Mother’s Memorial” organ? It was a clever means of fund-raising to name the new organ in honour of congregants’ mothers who had ‘passed on’.

When rooting around FBC’s archive for information on the organ, I discovered (in an unmarked banker’s box beneath a bookshelf) a special book that was prepared during the fund-raising period, showing the name of each donor (on the left page of each two-page spread) and that person’s mother (on the right). A PDF of the book has been created.

The Mother’s Memorial Organ is described in the following blurb in the Dedication bulletin:

It is a three-manual, thirty-six stop instrument, thoroughly modern in construction. It is a model of mechanical skill, quick and reliable, instantaneous response. . . . There are nearly 2,200 speaking pipes in the instrument of wood and metal of various shapes and sizes, and make a rare combination of tone. The organ reflects great credit on the skill and efficiency of the builders and is another tribute to the high reputation of the Woodstock Pipe Organ Builders [which local pipe organ aficionado, Tom Carter, has pointed out was once part of the older firm of Karn-Warren Organ Co., which closed in 1895] (Emphasis mine).

Walters called it quits at First in 1956, having served there for 27 years.

In addition to his work for First, Walters was the conductor of the Burrard Male Choir (1931-44), the Hudson’s Bay Company Choir (1933-40), the Brahms Choir (1935-38), the CPR Male Choir (1934-37), and the Welsh Choral Society (1947-51).3 He also led a mass choir of 1,500 voices, accompanied by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra on the occasion of the 1939 Royal Visit to Vancouver. He was on retainer at Mount Pleasant Chapel undertakers for 34 years (1928-62).

He died in 1965 at age 74, apparently of Leukemia.

Sherwood Robson (1956-1966)

Screen Shot 2019-05-03 at 3.09.24 PM

Sherwood Robson took over the organist’s post at FBC in September 1956. He was well-known around the city as a successful leader of school choirs and of the Vancouver Teachers’ Choir. He also led the Bach Choir (1948-50), the Night School Ladies’ Chorus (ca 1947), and the South Vancouver Olympic Girls’ Choir (ca1937).

Robson finished a 10-year term at FBC in June 1966.

A decade later, Robson conducted a special combined Easter choir of FBC, St. Andrew’s United (North Vancouver), and West Vancouver Baptist churches, singing selections from Handel’s Messiah (Province, 10 Apr 1976). On this occasion, past and present music staff were brought together on a project: Former FBC organist Robson led the mass choir, and past and future FBC organist Carol Barker (formerly Williams) was their organist/accompanist.

Sherwood Robson died in December 1995.

Carol Williams (1967-1968)

Screen Shot 2019-01-10 at 10.53.23 AM
Garth Williams, Violin, Curtis Williams, Cello and Miss Carol Richardson (later, Williams), Piano. (Province. 30 April 1955).

FBC’s Music Committee’s Annual Report in 1967 stated that after interviewing many applicants for the organist/choir director’s position, “we engaged on November 1 [1967], the services of Mr. Curtis Williams and his wife, Carol. We are confident these two competent young people will rapidly develop a progressive approach to our music ministry tradition in a happy and capable manner.” This was a departure for FBC, as the two tasks, which had for so long been taken on by a single person, would now be split: Curtis would assume the job of choir direction while Carol would be the organist.

The Williams’ were evidently keen in their new posts at First and the church was likewise delighted with their work. Then, tragedy. A boating accident in the summer of 1968 claimed the lives of Ed Richardson (Carol’s father) and Curtis Williams. Carol Williams stepped down from the organist’s position.

But Carol was not finished at First — not by a long ways. She would return following her marriage to Larry Barker, as Carol Barker, for numerous appearances on the organ and harp starting in the late-1970s and continuing through the ’80s, and ’90s.

She died in April, 2018.

Darryl Downton (1969-75)

Darryl Downton Organist FBC1

Darryl Downton was selected as the new FBC organist/choir director in May 1969. He came to First from the Canadian Memorial United Church, where he had been the organist. He was offered a one-year contract and began playing at FBC in September, 1969. His contract would be enthusiastically renewed and Downton would remain at FBC for six years.

In 1970, the Sun reported on a noon-hour concert which included Downton playing the Mother’s Memorial Organ. He received a very good review; the organ did not. The MMO was showing her age, some 40 years after being installed.

The concerts are the brainchild of First Baptist’s organist, Darryl Downton, who was one of two soloists on the program. A musician of talent and, as became apparent, considerable courage, Downton wheedled the church’s decrepit 36-rank organ — which he compared to a 1934 Chevrolet — into a fair-sounding performance.

Sun, 9 Dec 1970

An innovation of Downton’s at First was the creation of a folk choir known as the Sunday Singers. Imagine what earlier organist/choir leaders at FBC would have had to say about ‘folk music’ at a Baptist church! According to Mr. Downton, a number of the Sunday Singers remain today in friendly contact with each other.

In 1975, Downton resigned his post at FBC. He picked up the organist’s position, again, at the Canadian Memorial church for a number of years, until retiring.

Darryl Downton still lives in Vancouver, with his wife, Carol.

Pipe Organ Fades to Black

In 1971, an Organ Committee was established at FBC to evaluate the Mother’s Memorial Organ and whether it had a future at the church; and if so, at what cost. When the committee reported a year later, they concluded that the expense of maintaining the old organ was nigh-unto prohibitive. But, as they hadn’t been charged to make recommendations on buying a new organ, their report took a conservative tack, suggesting that the church spend the dollars necessary to do the most necessary work on the organ (the sort that couldn’t wait any longer) and that church leaders bear in mind that within about 5 years they would need either to do a major overhaul of MMO or buy a new instrument, preferably an electronic organ without pipes.

View of FBC Sanctuary taken from behind the 'Pipe' Screen where pipes were housed at one time - not at the time the photo was taken, howeverr. MDM photo ca 2012
View of FBC Sanctuary taken from behind the ‘Pipe’ screen where pipes were housed at one time, but not at the time the photo was taken. ca2012. MDM Photo.

By the late ’70s, FBC decision-makers had accepted the Organ Committee’s view that the MMO was too expensive to continue with and an electronic Baldwin organ was purchased to replace it. This decision wasn’t exactly embraced by long-term members at First. But it was ultimately understood to be financially necessary.

The Baldwin organ which was bought by First Baptist in the late 1970s, in its turn, was replaced in the early 1990s with the current electronic organ.

The pipe organ had had its day at First; there was no turning back.

Notes

¹Jesse Williams had moved to North Vancouver by the time the organ was installed; his membership was transferred to a Baptist congregation in that municipality (which congregation he moved to wasn’t specified in First’s membership book).

2I’m grateful to Robert Moen for his research assistance in tracking down details on the careers of Alexander, Malkin, and Austen.

3Dale McIntosh, History of Music in British Columbia. Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1989, pp. 88-90.

My thanks to Mary Cramond, Linda Zlotnik, Erika Voth, Darryl Downton, Anita Bowes, Tom Carter, and Edna Grenz for responding with generosity to my questions related to this subject.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Ay-Laung Wang,
Organist at First Baptist Church for more than 20 years.

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CONSECRATION Day?!

VPL 17587: Consecration Day procession. Aug 4 1915. Stuart Thomson photo.

August 4, 1915 was declared by Vancouver’s civic authorities to be Consecration Day. It would commemorate the one-year anniversary of Canada declaring war against Germany and thereby entering the Great War. In the words of those who were contemporary to the event, the purpose of Consecration Day was “to invoke divine blessing upon our efforts.” (World 29 July 1915).

Local church denominations were asked to hold religious services from 2 until 3 p.m. After that, there was a parade which began at Main /and Hastings and ended at the Cambie Street Grounds. There was a long list of gents invited to speak at the Cambie Grounds (from Charles Hibbert Tupper to the Japanese Consul Abe). Each speaker was asked to speak for no more than 10 minutes. I counted about 27 in the list of invited speakers. If each of them spoke for an average of 10 minutes, the audience would be sitting for about 2.5 hours (World 29 July 1915). That is considerably longer than most sermons — even in 1915!

Proclaiming a day as “Consecration Day” doesn’t seem to me something that would be done today in the event that (God forbid) there were a major war involving Canada as a combatant. The largely Christian demographic of the city has changed, probably permanently, to one that is not.

There is a strong element of blessing associated with consecration [1]. Since blessing is, ultimately, something that comes from God, it seems clear that at least one purpose of Consecration Day was to claim (dubiously?) God’s blessing on our side in the war.

Note

  1. I am appreciative of Nancy Nelson for her help in interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the use of the English word consecrate. And also of Tim Kuepfer for his help with New Testament use of the word. I should point out that I pulled out a very small part of their responses to me. Thank you both for your help!

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Murray and His Book Store

A Murray’s Book Store printed bag. MDM Collection.

I was delighted when my friend, Jason, presented me with the bag shown above, a year or two ago. Murray’s Book Store wasn’t then known to me. It had gone out of business a few years before I’d started to visit or live in Vancouver.

Murray Gordon Hughson (1908-1971) was born in Harrow, ON to Gordon Hughson and Ethel Duncan. His first career was as a school teacher in the Windsor area. He later was appointed as inspector of schools in Kitchener (Windsor Star, 2 July 1942).

This bookmark was a generous gift from my friends at The Paper Hound Bookshop, Kim Koch and Rod Clarke.

Hughson’s marital history is a little hazy. He married Mary Letitia Isabel Bradish, another school teacher, in London, ON in 1935. Together, Mary and Murray had a daughter in 1943, Nora Kathleen. She died just two years later. Murray and Mary were divorced in January 1970. Assuming his divorce was according to Hoyle, he must have married his second wife, Edith Annie (1914-2009), sometime in the 1970-71 period (I cannot find any documents pertaining to his second marriage; I’m relying on the grave marker for Edith Hughson which is next to Murray’s in Mountain View Cemetery, and on Murray’s death year, 1971).

Hughson’s first appearance in Vancouver was in 1952 (in the City Directory). That same year, he bought the Scenery Shop, a book and souvenir shop at 856 Granville. The Scenery Shop had been in business since the 1920s under different ownership. He owned/managed the Scenery Shop in 1952-53. In 1954, Hughson changed the name and nature of the Scenery Shop to Murray’s Book Store, a ‘new book’ shop.

The following year, Hughson bought Pender Stationery and Bookstore (728 W Pender for most of its life, but at the time Hughson bought it, it was at 810 W Pender), a shop that had been in business since 1915 (Province 26 July 1955). The Pender shop wouldn’t last long. By 1960, the stock in that shop was moved to Hughson’s Granville store and Pender was closed (Sun 23 Jan 1960).

Murray’s advertised itself from the outset as catering to “unusual reading tastes.” In fact, it claimed to have “a tremendous stock of non best sellers” (Province. 30 Jan 1954). Murray’s Book Store became notable for having a strong section of books on technical subjects.

Hughson and Bill Duthie (of Duthie Books) were named directors of the national Canadian Booksellers Association in 1961 (Sun 17 May 1961). 

Murray Hughson died in 1971 in London, England. What he was doing in England isn’t clear, nor is it clear how/why he died at such a relatively early age — he was about 62. It is possible that he was there to marry Edith, as he had received the divorce from Mary the year prior. In any case, his early death in England made for a very brief marriage to Edith.

Murray’s Book Store continued in business for about a decade after his death. In 1972, Peter C. Lawrence became the new owner of Murray’s.

In 1973, there was a fire at the Commodore Cabaret (a business nearby Murray’s) and the books in the shop had some smoke damage. In 1974, Lawrence announced that the shop would be moving from 800 block Granville south to 942 due to rent increases. Murray’s rent at 856 Granville had nearly doubled — from $6/square foot to $14 (Sun 11 Feb 1974).

The shop closed its doors for the last time during the final quarter of 1980. Pity. I feel sure that I would have enjoyed browsing Murray’s.

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Vancouver’s Hippodrome Pipe Dream

Exterior drawing of the proposed Hippodrome for SE Corner, Granville & Pacific.
Province. 25 May 1912.

The drawing above is of the planned Vancouver Hippodrome. [1] It was to have been located on the SE corner of Granville and Pacific at the north end of the Granville Bridge #2 (see image near the end of this post for an attempt to show the Hippodrome in geographical context). [2]

London Hippodrome exterior (as it appeared ca 1900).

The Vancouver Hippodrome was to have been one of several similar theatres across Canada (including — depending on which press account you believe — St. John, Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Port Arthur, Moose Jaw (huh?!), Regina, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria and Vancouver). But the Hippodrome was never built in Vancouver, nor in any of the other cities in which construction was planned. [3]

The Canadian hippodromes were together to form a circuit for the exclusive use of English production companies to get Canadian eyes on English-produced plays. The plays would originally have been on English stages, so there were no additional set-up costs for the plays. Once the theatres were built in Canada, there remained the costs associated with travel and shipping. Captain Montague Yates was the Canadian representative of Canadian Hippodromes Ltd. (or, as it was later known, British-Canadian Amusement Co.).

The financing of the scheme was to be borne primarily by un-named English ‘capitalists’. Three-quarters of the capital necessary would be provided by them. (Ottawa Citizen 23 Nov 1911). The balance would come from the city in which the theatre was to be built.

Hippodrome decision-makers would also be English. William Holles, a big name on the English stage, would be the stage manager of the Vancouver theatre. Although Montague Yates was the Canadian connection in establishing theatre sites, he doesn’t appear to have had much of a role in the operation of theatres, once they were constructed.

Motives

The primary motive of the Hippodrome project was, of course, profit. But profit for whom? The way that the scheme was set up, the bulk of the risk was on the shoulders of the English capitalists. Thus, so was any profit (or loss).

But there were a couple of other motives, apparently.

Yates claimed in an early press report in 1911 that:

[M]any of the best people in Canada do not attend the theatre. . . because they can never be sure whether or not they will have to submit to smut on the stage. We shall give the people the clean English play.

Ottawa Journal. 23 Nov 1911 (Emphasis mine).

I question whether there was anything inherently clean about plays that originated in the Old Country (or, for that matter, anything inherently smutty about Canadian productions)!

According to a later newspaper report, another motive of the Canadian Hippodromes was to prevent the domination of Canadian theatres with American productions (Province 25 May 1912). I find this claim more believable. The number of American plays coming across the 49th parallel was increasing steadily by this time. I doubt that the Hippodrome project was intended to do Canadians any favours, however. I suspect this was more a case of the English capitalists identifying a market niche and attempting to fill it.

Begins to Unravel

Initial signs of the unravelling of the Hippodromes project first became evident in central Canada. An Ottawa paper reported that negotiations by Yates for a theatre site in that city had fallen through:

In Ottawa, as in Montreal and other cities Captain Yates visited, [the plan] called for the investment of Canadian as well as British capital he was supposed to have behind him and this is understood not to have been forthcoming readily. Negotiations for a site therefore have been discontinued . . .

Ottawa Citizen. 28 June 1912 (Emphasis mine).

Endures in Vancouver

In Vancouver, however, the hippodrome plan still had life after the wheels had come off in the major centre of Montreal and in Ottawa (and “other cities”). More than a month after the Ottawa report, the Vancouver Sun was crowing with considerable hyperbole, that the city would soon have, in our hippodrome, “the handsomest playhouse in America”. Details about the theatre that were included in the Sun included (Sun 30 July 1912):

  • Construction: to begin in early August 1912 (it didn’t begin then; indeed, it didn’t get underway at all);
  • Completion: 9 months after work begins;
  • Exterior: Terra cotta;
  • Capacity: 3000 people;
  • Features: 1 royal box; 16 private boxes; promenades; lounging rooms for patrons; ladies’ retiring rooms and sitting rooms; gentlemen’s smoking room;
  • Stage: Dimensions 42 feet wide, 72 feet deep;
  • Estimated cost: $500,000;
  • Architect: Monsieur de H. Duval (London);
  • Managing director: William Holles (London); Holles was a big name in London theatrical circles; he produced and directed many plays there in 1880s-1930s;
  • Productions: Only English theatre companies.
  • Actors anticipated: Sir Herbert Tree (chairman, Theatrical Managers Association, England in 1912; owner of His Majesty’s Theatre, London) was expected to open the Vancouver Hippodrome. Others included: Martin Harvey; Cyril Maude; Fred Terry; Sir George Alexander; Laurence Irving; Mary Forbes; and others.
Crop of CVA 99-2245 – The older (1909) Granville Bridge (north end), ca1926. Stuart Thomson photo. Image adjusted by author with pasting-in of drawing of exterior of Vancouver Hippodrome roughly where it was planned to be built: at SE corner of Granville & Pacific.

‘With a Whimper . . .’

Yates had secured an “option” on the SE corner of Granville and Pacific and was negotiating for the purchase of the property soon thereafter (Province 25 May 1912). It isn’t clear to me whether money ever changed hands for the Granville/Pacific property.

It seems doubtful that any headway was ever made on the construction of the Hippodrome in our city, however. In Spring of 1913, Yates finally admitted that the circuit plan in Vancouver (and thus elsewhere in the nation) was dead. Inscrutably, Yates blamed “Montreal interests” for the failure of the Vancouver theatre. Montreal seems to me to have been a convenient scapegoat. As we have seen, the bulk of the financing came from England; and the balance of capital was to be provided by fundraising in the city in which the theatre was to be located. I can’t see what Montreal funds (or lack thereof) would have to do with the failure of the Vancouver Hippodrome (World 25 March 1913).

My suspicion is that the English investors had developed a severe case of cold feet. Frankly, I doubt that the Canadian Hippodromes scheme would have worked even with several of the major Canadian cities still onboard. The capital outlay for the theatres, plus the shipping and travel and other costs across this very large country would have been staggering. I suspect that this aspect was underestimated by the capitalists.

When all was said and done, the whole scheme seems to have been a pipe dream.

Notes

  1. What is a hippodrome? 19th century references were primarily to circuses or to equestrian events or places where such events were held. By the early years of the 20th century, however, the meaning had shifted to refer to a live theatrical location — a playhouse. This was the meaning attached to the Vancouver Hippodrome (and other planned Canadian hippodromes). There was, in addition to the London Hippodrome, a Bristol Hippodrome and a New York Hippodrome (and these are just two examples).
  2. Since the construction of the new (current) Granville Bridge in 1954, Pacific has run beneath Granville (the two streets no longer cross one another on the same level as they did when the older, lower, bridge was still standing).
  3. The drawing of the Vancouver Hippodrome shown at the beginning of this post is the only one of which I’m aware. None of the other Canadian cities seem to have got to the drawing stage.
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Professor Garnett Sedgewick: To the Fourth Power

Update

UBC Archives. Main Library - Akrigg, G. Philip V.; Eagles, Blythe Alfred; Robbins, William; Daniells, Roy. 1965, College library renamed Sedgewick Library.

UBC Archives. “College Library” renamed “Sedgewick Library”, 1965: G. Philip V. Akrigg (left); Blythe Alfred Eagles; William Robbins; Roy Daniells. These gents (all of whom were professors of English except for Blythe Eagles who was Dean of Agriculture for several years) are standing beneath a portrait of Prof. Sedgewick.

In these times when the dollar is king, the norm in development circles is that he/she/they who donates the largest wad of cash to the construction of a building gets it named after him/her/them.

This appears not to have been the case at UBC in the relatively recent past, with two libraries, a reading room, and a lecture series named in honour of Professor Garnett Sedgewick (1882-1949). Prof. Sedgewick was the first head of the English department and he lectured on Chaucer and Shakespeare. There is no evidence available online that he left a substantial sum to the university upon his passing.

The first image (above) is of “College Library” at its renaming as “Sedgewick Library“. This original Sedgewick Library was located in the east(ish) wing (exterior shown below) of the Main Library.  This space was occupied by the Special Collections Division of the library when I was at UBC in the early 1990s. (And, if memory serves, was where graduate students deposited completed theses).

UBC Archives. 1965. College Sedgewick Library entrance Main Library.

UBC Archives. Sedgewick Library entrance. 1965.

The next two images show the Sedgewick Undergraduate Library (exterior and interior) as I knew it when I was a student at UBC. The night shot shows a library skylight — one of the few photographable exterior elements of the library, since one of the principal defining features of ‘Sedge’ was that it was an underground library.

There was a 1960s feel at Sedge. This isn’t surprising, given that it was built in the early 1970s and opened in 1973.

Today, the Koerner Library stands where “Sedge” once was.

UBC Archives. 1977. Main Library at night with Sedgewick Library skylight in foreground.

UBC Archives. Sedgewick Undergraduate Library skylight in foreground. 1977.

 

UBC Archives. 1978. Student in Sedgewick Library.

UBC Archives. Student in Sedgewick Undergraduate Library. 1978.

This next image shows the Sedgewick Memorial Reading Room in the Main Library. (Note: Main Libary was at the site which today is known as the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.)

UBC Archives. ca 1953. Sedgewick Memorial Reading Room (in Main Library).

UBC Archives. Sedgewick Memorial Reading Room (in Main Library). ca1953. The portrait of Prof. Sedgewick that appeared later in the first image in this post in the former College Library was in the Memorial Room first, just above the hearth.

There was also a Sedgewick Memorial Lecture series. The first lecturer was Professor A.S.P. Woodhouse of the University of Toronto who spoke on the subject: “Milton: Man and Poet” in 1954. 

The first Sedgewick Memorial Lecture was delivered by A. S. P. Woodhouse in 1954. U of Toronto Archives, 2005-62-2MS.

The first Sedgewick Memorial Lecture was delivered by A. S. P. Woodhouse in 1954. Source: U of Toronto Archives, 2005-62-2MS.

There were several Sedgewick lectures over the years, spanning at least from 1954 until 2005. The lectures were not always annual, however. This must be one of the most, if not the most, enduring memorial lecture series at UBC.

cdm.arphotos.1-0140788full

Garnett G. Sedgewick in his prime. UBC Archives Photograph CollectionUBC 25.1/70. ca1930.

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J. W. Freeston, Photographer

Update

CVA 1504-10 - [An unidentified shoe company's annual family outing] ca1920 J W Freeston

CVA 1504-10 – Emil Olcovich Shoe Company’s Labour Day picnic in Santa Monica canyon, California. 1919. J.W. Freeston, photo.

The panorama image shown above was made by B.C. professional photographer, John W. Freeston (1887-1923) in 1919.

He married Florence Mary Hall (ca1874-1944) ca1904 in England. He and Florence had two daughters (Elsie May and Kathleen Mary) and one son (Eric Walter). U.S. Census records put John and Florence in California during 1920-21. Indeed, Robert Moen has learned that the shoe company of which the subjects of the panorama were employees was the Emil Olcovich Shoe Company of Santa Monica. The photo appears to have been made in the Santa Monica Canyon on Labour Day, 1919, when the company was there for a staff picnic.

Early in May, 1923, Freeston was admitted to the New Westminster Hospital for the Insane (known by locals today by the shorthand, “Woodlands”).  He was diagnosed soon thereafter with General Paresis. He slept poorly throughout his stay at Woodlands; rest was possible primarily through medication. Although his physical condition was considered good when he was admitted, scarcely two months later, it had deteriorated significantly. By the afternoon of July 30th, 1923, he was dead. He was 39 years old. Cause of death was recorded as “Exhaustion of General Paresis”.


Note that Freeston appears at both extremities of the panorama. The images are both of him, but his pose is quite different. In the leftmost portrait, he is holding the umbrella with both hands; however, in the rightmost one, his right arm is raised (in greeting?) while his left arm seems to be supporting the umbrella. I have been asked by a couple of people how Freeston was able to pull this off. I believe the answer is in this link. I think this still applied in 1919, when Freeston made this image. 

Here is another panorama by J. W. Freeston and made, in my opinion, from First Baptist Church tower, looking north.

Note

¹I’m indebted to David Mattison of Camera Workers, Robert Moen of WestEndVancouver and Peter Findlay for their generous assistance with this post.

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Crèches (1912-1932)

VPL7153. 752 Thurlow St. The first site of the crèche. 190-? P. T. Timms

Crèche is an old-fashioned term that referred — in the early years of the 20th century — to a day nursery for the kids of working moms. [1]

Typical husbands were assumed to be in the workforce and women to be working out of the home, caring for kids and keeping ‘the home fires burning’. But by the early years of the 20th century, it was dawning on some people that although this model was typical, it wasn’t universally true. Some husbands were unable to work for physical or other reasons; and some moms no longer had husbands — due to being widowed or to husbands’ drunkenness, abandonment, or other reasons.

Thus, it became expedient, in the period before there was a universal social safety net in Canada, for moms to seek employment. And yet, to do that meant that their kids either must be left at home alone or with a friend or relation who would care for them. Finding a child caregiver who was a friend or relative in a big city was problematic. Many moms came from other places and had few contacts here.

And so some wise and thoughtful people saw the importance of providing a form of institutional help for such moms and their kids. Notably, the Crèche was not initiated by the civic government. It was a creature of groups of people — mainly women’s groups, such as the IODE and the YWCA. The City was an early funder of the Crèche, however, although it didn’t take over the entire project until just before the Crèche moved out of the Thurlow house.

For three years (1912-15), the Crèche was based out of the Vancouver Women’s Building at 752 Thurlow Street. Moms would drop off their kids at the Crèche in the morning and pick them up again on their way home at the end of the work day. The kids would receive two square meals each day at the Crèche — lunch and supper. The Crèche charged 10 cents per day per child or 25 cents for three children — not to cover the real costs for the services provided, but as a way of reducing the sense among the moms that they were accepting charity. The rate of 10 cents/child was maintained at least until 1927. A body known as the Associated Charities (a Vancouver civic body) was at the head of the Crèche.

After the Crèche had been operating for 10 months, a report on its progress was submitted. A total of 4772 children had attended and of that number, there were 114 families and 143 individual kids. Children of working mothers from birth up to school age were admitted. In addition to the day care facility, there was also an Employment Bureau at the Crèche which was available to moms.

At the time of the 10-month report, it was noted that the Crèche had outgrown the Women’s Building. In 1915, the Crèche moved from 752 Thurlow to 1154 Haro. It remained there for scarcely two years. Early in 1917, it was shifted to the former City Hospital building at 530 Cambie (at Pender), putting it nearby other City Relief offices.

CVA 99-225: 1154 Haro Street, 1919 Stuart Thomson. This was the second site of the City Crèche from ca1914-ca1916. In December 1916, this became the Foundling’s Hospital (a sick kids hospital for those under 2 years of age) and the Creche was moved to SE corner of Cambie and Pender.
CVA Re N1.2 – Former City Hospital (530 Cambie at Pender) being used as a relief office, including the third site of City Crèche. July 1932.
CVA Bu P48 – Group portrait of children and supervisors at the third site of the City Crèche – S.E. corner of Pender and Cambie Streets, the site of the former City Hospital. ca1916. W J Moore.

The City Crèche was a press darling, especially as the Christmas season approached. Articles that were dripping in pathos would then begin to appear.

But not everyone was a fan of the Crèche. Various aldermen regularly publicly questioned why Vancouver was supporting it. Typically, city councillors were vexed at the cost of the Crèche.

The Crèche’s cost was the principal reason for its abandonment in 1932. That year saw the establishment of the Vancouver Foster Day Care Association. This put pre-school kids of moms who were working (or looking for work) in Foster homes. This proved to be much less expensive than the Crèche model. In recent years in Canada, day care of various sorts has become the purview of other (non-civic), levels of government.

Notes

  1. A crèche could mean, depending on context, a nativity scene (which is the more commonly used definition today) or a foundling’s hospital (a hospital for orphans, but by the period covered in this post, essentially a sick kids hospital).
  2. The Women’s Building fades to black for the rest of this post. However I should point out that the original wood frame building shown at the beginning of this post was replaced in 1926 with a concrete building which would house the women’s groups until 1940 (the original home wasn’t demolished, it was moved to the rear of the lot). In 1941, the 752 Thurlow Street property was sold to the Salvation Army and later to Oil Can Harry’s cabaret. In fact, the new 1926 Women’s Building stood until it was demolished to make way for the Carlyle condominium building in 1988 (Changing Vancouver).
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The Beers

VPL 1012 Interior of Easthope Brothers (Ernest & Percy) Gasoline Engines Launch and Boat Builders. 1908. PT Timms photo. Easthope Bros seems to have occupied the 1705 W Georgia space just prior to Western Machine Works, so I’m guessing the interior of WMW appeared similar to this.

William James Beer and Fannie Philips lived at 623 Richards Street — across Richards from the Holy Rosary (Roman Catholic) Church (as it then was), roughly on the land occupied later by the Dunsmuir Hotel. The neighbourhood was a ‘churchy’ one. In addition to Holy Rosary at the northern end of the 600 block Richards, there was St. Andrew’s Presbyterian anchoring the southern end of the block. The Congregational Church was a couple of blocks southwest of there. And First Baptist Church was then nearby at Hamilton and Dunsmuir.

William was a machinist by trade, and co-founded, with A. H. Thatcher, Western Machine Works at 1705 West Georgia Street. Fannie worked ‘at home’. The couple had come to Vancouver from Ontario; they were married there in 1890 [1]. They had two children in Vancouver, boys: Lyle (born 1893) and Leland Harold (born 1895).

On January 14, 1902, Fannie died at home of causes unknown to me [2]. She was 33 at the time. Her funeral was taken by Rev. L. Norman Tucker, Rector of Christ Church Cathedral. (Fanny was Anglican; William, Methodist).

A little over 13 years later, on July 13, 1915, William was struck by a “jitney” (an unlicensed taxi automobile) and died “almost instantly”. While nothing was said in the press about how Fannie died, William’s death was covered in detail.

Stepping from the curb to catch a Fraser avenue street car at the corner of Pacific and Granville street near the north end of Granville Bridge yesterday morning, William Beer . . . was killed almost instantly by a jitney driven by R. W. McClellan . . .

According to eye-witnesses the victim stepped from the curb on the west side of the bridge approach [this was the Granville bridge that preceded the current structure] to board a [street] car that was going north and was about to turn east along Pacific. A jitney had drawn up near the sidewalk and stopped. Mr. Beer stepped out from in front of this towards the standing street car, but just as he reached the open roadway between the standing jitney and the street car the motor car driven by McLellan came through. Mr. Beer endeavoured to go back but the car struck him fracturing his skull, and according to one witness carried him some distance before it was stopped. Dr. R. C. Boyle passing at the time ordered the man to the hospital and although G. Vaner in another automobile raced to that institution [VGH, presumably], the unfortunate man passed away before reaching the south end of Granville Bridge.

Sun. 14 July 1915
Crop of CVA 99-2234 – North end of the Granville Bridge. The site of William Beer’s demise in 1915. ca1925, Stuart Thomson photo.

If the description above strikes you as confusing, don’t feel badly. It was unclear to the jury, too. They had to go to the site where the death occurred and be shown exactly what had happened and where. However, it seems to me that Beer had been trying to catch a waiting street car and, when stepping into the street to do so, was struck by a jitney that was dodging the street car.

Mr. McClellan, the jitney driver, was found “not guilty” by the jury of the manslaughter charge brought by the Crown.

William was 40 at the time of his death. Leland was “living in the city” at the time of his father’s passing; Lyle was in the Army Medical Corps in Esquimalt. So, mercifully, the boys were not youngsters at the time of their Dad’s death; although when they lost their Mom, they were just 9 and 11.

Lyle and Leland both enlisted in the Great War. Leland, however was spelling his surname with an ‘s’ at the end. Leland succeeded his Dad in running Western Machine Works on Coal Harbour. Lyle was shown in he 1945 Vancouver directory as being “retired” (age 52), but from what, isn’t stated.

Leland died in 1937 (age 43). Lyle outlived Leland, dying at home (723 Hamilton, a rooming house) in 1950 (age 57) of a heart attack. There was no obituary in the local papers at Lyle’s death. Indeed, the “informant” for Lyle’s death certificate was an anonymous bureaucrat at the vital records office. Evidently, there were no next-of-kin to fill in the blanks as to Lyle’s life. Lyle never married.

Leland married Constance Graham in 1923 and together they had a daughter: Louise Elizabeth Beers, born in 1926. She became a nursing student at the University of Oregon. In December 1951, she married Neville Clegg Jones in Seattle (he was a medical student at U of O whose parents lived in Kelowna). Louise died in September 2004 in West Vancouver (Sun, 21 Sept 2004). Neville died in November 2017. Louise and Neville had two sons: Owen and Ian, both of whom married.

Notes

  1. My thanks are due to Robert of westendvancouver.wordpress.com for his help tracking down the marriage certificate for W. J. and Fannie and for help with other details in this post.
  2. Fannie’s death certificate is not available online and, as the microfilm section of VPL is currently closed (due to COVID restrictions), I’m unable to view it.

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The Wild West: Early Shooting Galleries

CVA Sp P74 – The interior of a shooting gallery on Cordova Street ca 1901.

A shooting gallery in late 19th and early 20th century Vancouver was a quite different place than is conjured by that term 100 years later. A shooting gallery in early Vancouver had nothing to do with illicit drugs. It was a commercial establishment where men could fire guns at targets.

Shooting galleries were sometimes incorporated into penny arcades. Penny arcades typically had penny- or nickel-operated machines for viewing “moving pictures” (which were called mutoscopes), strength testers, and automated musical instruments like player pianos or automatic banjos. If a shooting gallery wasn’t, strictly speaking, a penny arcade, many of them also had at least a player piano to create a bit of background music to the din of gunfire.

I did a rough survey of where most shooting galleries were located over the years between 1890 and 1930 and found that they were principally in the 100 blocks of East Hastings and East Cordova and the unit blocks of West Cordova and Water Streets. To help put this in context, allow me to cite some of the other businesses in a couple of these blocks in 1912.

On the 100 block of East Hastings there were three theatres (Rose, Crystal, and Pantages), at least three good hotels (including the Irving), the public library, several restaurants, a shoemaker and a couple of billiards halls. And on the unit block of West Cordova there was a theatre (the Grand), two booksellers (Cordova and Peoples), several shoe and clothing shops, and various restaurants. I share this to make it clearer that these were not down-at-the-heels blocks (as is true today, to a degree); this was a neighbourhood in which people of the time would regularly stroll without giving a second thought to their safety. [1]

Shooting galleries were lumped into the same category as bowling alleys, as far as civic licensing authorities were concerned. License fees were $10 annually. These were the fees in 1892, and it’s possible they rose in subsequent years. But even in the context of 1892, they seem to me to be low.

Licenses issued by City of Vancouver. 1892 Williams Illustrated Official BC Directory, p. 573.

It isn’t clear to me what criteria were used by the City in determining how much to charge a business for its license. But it is plain that the criteria did not include threat of injury or possible loss of life. You’d look a long time in local press accounts to find a case of a bowler who was hurt or killed inside an alley ($10) or at a junk dealer’s establishment ($100), to say nothing of a theatre ($100) or a pawnbroker’s shop ($300).

But the risk of loss of life or limb at or nearby a shooting gallery was very real, as I hope to show below.

Danger to Neighbours

Fraser’s Missiles

Percy Fraser, in 1910, had a business that occupied part of the ground floor space that was shared with a shooting gallery on Cordova, not far from Abbott. Fraser filed an injunction against shooting gallery owner, Valentine Straube.

[I]t was stated that a stenographer in [Fraser’s] employ had been nearly shot by bullets coming through the wall and when Mr. Fraser was sitting at his desk on Thursday the plaster from the wall fell upon it as the result of a missile coming through.

World, 15 Jan 1910

The injunction was granted by Mr. Justice Gregory; it restrained Straube from carrying on a shooting gallery at his premises on Cordova Street. (This wasn’t Straube’s first scrape with the law; he’d been convicted on at least three previous occasions for running a gaming house having slot machines).

Lee Sing’s Close Call

In March 1918, Lee Sing, a Chinese resident, was sleeping in his residence at the rear of 113 East Pender. He was woken by a bullet which went past his bed and into the wall. The police were informed of this.

Investigations were made by a representative of the law and the hole made by the bullet was found, but on its probable course being traced, it was found that it had come from a shooting gallery which is operated near the home of the Chinaman. A few words with the proprietor of the gallery resulted in steps being taken to eliminate the possibility of stray bullets in the future, and Lee again retired in safety to his couch.

World, 5 March 1918

The casualness with which this incident was treated by police of the time is remarkable. This may have been partly due to the race of the victim (not that that is any excuse).

Danger to Employees

The Troubling Case of Millicent McGregor

I imagine that 99% of the clientele at shooting galleries was male. Thus, it isn’t surprising that these establishments typically wanted to hire girls as a way of attracting punters.

Province. 21 August 1915.

An ad similar to the one above probably attracted the attention of a young girl who had been raised in Victoria and was looking to make some “good wages” in the big city of Vancouver. Millicent (Milly) McGregor got herself hired at the Wellington Arcade at 106 East Hastings Street. On August 26, 1923, the following episode happened:

A Russian named Andrew Karpensko and several companions were said to have entered the place with the intention of engaging in target practice. In some manner one of the target rifles was discharged, and the bullet lodged in the neck of Miss McGregor, who was the attendant in charge of the place. Karpensko was arrested and was held by the police for several days, but was released later. It was expected at first that Miss McGregor would recover.

Province, 9 April 1924

But Milly didn’t recover. She succumbed to her injury, caused by a .22-calibre bullet, eight months later while at Vancouver General Hospital. She was 19 when she died.

1930s and Later

By the mid-1930s, it seems, shooting galleries in the downtown core were falling out of fashion and falling afoul of civic decision-makers, probably partly due to the McGregor mess.

From the 1930s through the 1970s, shooting galleries seemed to be restricted to midways at exhibitions such as the PNE (the Straube family had a corner on Hastings Park’s shooting galleries for a number of years). Live rounds were still in use, mind you, and it wasn’t unheard of for someone to be hurt in shooting gallery incidents. By the 1980s, with the advent of more sophisticated video technologies, it became less important to have guns that fired real (versus electronic) bullets.

Reflections

During the 19-teens, there were some merchants who were vocally opposed to having shooting galleries in their neighbourhoods. But their rationale had nothing to do with public safety. The reason given by those who were opposed was that the galleries often included player pianos in them and this “hurdy-gurdy” racket was an offence to their ears.

In the late 1920s, presumably partly in response to the McGregor incident, there was some talk of banning women from working in shooting galleries. But, even if this idea had “legs” (and it didn’t), it wouldn’t have been a solution to the real problem. The gender of the attendants wasn’t the issue. The real problem was the fact that live ammo was being fired in a pretty densely populated area — and that the civic authorities didn’t have the guts to do anything about it.

Notes

  1. There was also a shooting gallery (and a bowling alley) included in the basement of the Beatty Street Drill Hall when it was under construction ca1900. There was also a shooting gallery at the Vancouver squad HQ of the B.C. Provincial Police.
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Gordon Poppy

I regret to report, for those of you who are not already aware of it, that Vancouver’s gentleman-artist-historian, Gordon Poppy, has passed away. Gordon has had several mentions in VanAsItWas over the years, including this one which featured Gordon’s window displays in 1954 in which the B.C. Lions were featured.

As a final tribute to my friend, this post will share some other images which he was generous enough to allow me to produce while I was visiting him at his home about a year ago. These are of other Eaton’s window displays with which he was involved over the years.

This display was evidently intended to encourage onlookers to “Look Your Best This Easter”. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
I’m not sure whether or not this was part of the same year’s display above. But it certainly emphasizes bunnies! n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
As does this one! n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
The handwritten caption says it all. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
I’m not sure whether this one was also part of the Eaton’s “British Promotion” or if this was a Christmas display. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
This is the first in a series of four photos showing the results of vandalism at Eaton’s windows. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
Tidying up the mess left by vandals. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
Sweeping up. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
“Come on, me dearie, this is no place for you to hang about.” n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
This toadstool display (with mice and the ubiquitous bunny) was another Easter window. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
This window was probably meant to celebrate the onset of spring (and spring fashions). n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
I’m assuming this one was a Christmas window. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
Probably not celebrating any special season. Likely just to advertise the clothes on these hip chicks. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
A window featuring some of the technology which Canada brought to the war theatre? n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
I think this was one of Gordon’s favourite displays. The characters in the window were composed principally of handkerchiefs. n.d. Gordon Poppy Collection.
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Wilson’s 1907 Cadillac

CVA 180-1546: Old automobiles in 1949 P.N.E. Opening Day Parade passing in front of partly demolished Hotel Vancouver #2 at Georgia near Granville. Note: The middle vehicle shows the McAdam family driving the 1907 Cadillac. 1949, Artray photo.

Dr. Thomas Haddow Wilson was the first owner of the 1907 Cadillac which I was privileged to view, recently.

Wilson was born in Kitchener, ON in 1869. He graduated from medical school at the University of Manitoba in 1897 and the next year went to Vancouver where he practiced medicine. Thomas was a Presbyterian and his bride, Clara May Mitchell (an American) was a Baptist. They were married in First Baptist Church at Hamilton and Dunsmuir in August 1898 by the first real minister there, Rev. W. T. Stackhouse. Wilson died in 1927 at the early age of 58. His funeral service was taken by Rev. J. J. Ross (First Baptist) and Rev. J. S. Henderson (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian). Clara May died in 1962 at Trail, BC, where she lived from 1937. (Both Thomas and Clara May were buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver).

During some of his early Vancouver years, Wilson lived at the NE corner of Hastings and Dunlevy until the Patricia Hotel was built by him on that site. He moved to 1142 Chilco Street (aka ”Chula Vista”) in 1913 (which he also built), where he lived out his days. Clara May and Thomas had two kids: Anna Marjorie and Frank Lloyd. Frank became a physician living in Trail. Frank died in Trail in 1982. Marjorie died in Vancouver in 1983.

Wilson first registered his 1907 Cadillac in September 1908. He then renewed its registration in 1909, 1910, and in 1911. Where Wilson bought the car isn’t clear, but presumably it came from a local dealer. There were a limited number of Cadillac dealers in Vancouver in 1907-08. Terminal City Garage was one, located at 300 Howe, across the street from Orpheum II. Another was W. M. Stark’s Vancouver Auto and Cycle (108 E. Hastings).

Wilson seems to have sold the Cadillac sometime between 1910-14. The second owner, David McAdam, registered the Cadillac in 1914. McAdam lived in Murrayville, which vintage car expert, Peter Findlay, describes as “a very long drive for this car.” It has remained in the family since that date, being passed down from David to his son, Quinton, who worked hard to get the Cadillac up and running in time for the 1949 PNE (it is Quinton, his wife and daughter who appear in the middle vintage car shown above).

The Cadillac runs on a single cylinder, so it sounds unlike any other automobile I’ve ever heard. There is a clip of the Cadillac running here.

A recent photo of the Cadillac appears below.

1907 Cadillac in Greater Vancouver, 2020. MDM Photo.

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Orpheum Quartet

Orpheum I (55 West Cordova): 1904-05

Opening of first Orpheum at the former Crystal Theatre. Province. 28 Sept 1904.

The first Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver opened on October 3, 1904. [1] It had formerly been the Crystal Theatre (1903-04) at 55 West Cordova (there is a parking garage there, today). The proprietors of Orpheum I were Evenson & Russell.

At the opening of the first Orpheum, vaudeville acts included the Anderson sisters (child comedians), The Rustics with a sketch titled “Fun on the Farm” which included “lifelike mechanical animals”, and vocalist Joe Bonner singing “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder” (Province 3 Oct 1904).

Little else is known of the Orpheum’s first location and as far as I can tell, no photos still exist. It ceased to operate as the Orpheum by the summer of 1905.

Orpheum II (805 West Pender): 1905-13

Crop of CVA 73-2-Vancouver, B.C., 1911, H. O. Dodge photo. Aerial image of Orpheum II at NW corner Pender & Howe. (Formerly People’s Theatre and Alhambra Theatre). This is where the Stock Exchange Building is located today.

In late 1905, there was a deal worked out between (Timothy D.) Sullivan & (John W.) Considine Vaudeville Syndicate and a rival syndicate, the Western Vaudeville Managers Association, whereby the former People’s Theatre (earlier, the Alhambra Theatre) at NW corner of Pender and Howe would become the ‘new’ Orpheum Theatre.

The name of the former People’s Theatre was not settled at that time, however. It was initially announced by Sullivan and Considine that the former People’s would be named the Grand Theatre. However, they ultimately changed their minds about that since another of their properties (on Cordova) was already so-named and they didn’t want to create confusion among the public as to which theatre was being referred. So, it was decided to name the Pender property the Orpheum Theatre (Province 11 Aug 1906). [2]

In March 1906, S&C announced plans to rip down the former People’s Theatre and to build a brand new theatre building for an estimated $100,000 (Province 16 March 1906). Considine announced that it would be constructed of steel, brick and concrete (as opposed to the wood frame construction of People’s) and that it would have a seating capacity of about 2000 (Province 16 March 1906). Considine optimistically claimed that with the new house “There should be no quibbling with the building inspector or the civic authorities…for it will be made just as thoroughly fireproof and as safe as modern ingenuity and [C&S architect] Mr. [J. J.] Donnellan’s long experience in designing buildings of this kind can suggest” (Province 15 March 1906). [3]

But sometime between March and August, S&C changed course. A decision was made not to demolish the former theatre and build a completely new one. A “bunch of contracts in connection with the remodelling of the Orpheum were awarded today by Architect Donnellan” (Province 11 Aug 1906; emphasis mine). Plans for the remodelling included no fewer than 15 exits from the theatre (not including fire exits), and seating capacity of over 1000 (Province 11 Aug 1906).

City of Vancouver Building Inspector, George McSpadden said at the time that he was “well pleased” with safety features planned for the theatre (Province 11 Aug 1906). But a month later, McSpadden had changed his tune. He complained the theatre was 5 inches out of plumb and that there was a significant bulge at the centre due to the removal of an iron tie rod (20 Sept 1906).

There seemed to be a growing personal rift between Donnellan and McSpadden, as it was reported days later that Donnellan was “impatient at the delay in opening the theatre, and says rather sarcastic things about Building Inspector McSpadden” (Province 25 Sept 1906).

These ‘shots’ from McSpadden and Donnellan were the first of many from S&C and the City for about 3 months. While there was much talk about fire escapes and the bulge in the Howe Street wall, the basic issue in my judgement seems to have been that the principals — McSpadden and Donnellan — rubbed one another the wrong way, thereby turning what should have been a ‘mole-hill’ into a ‘mountain’.

By early December 1906, the City decided it would allow the Orpheum to open conditionally upon the following (none of which, as far as I can tell was ever disputed by S&C):

  • installation of 2 iron posts; and a tie-rod;
  • substitution of an iron fire-escape for a wooden one;
  • a promise that the wall facing Howe Street would be made as plumb as possible;
  • and an illustration (”for a few doubting aldermen”) of the rapidity with which the theatre could be vacated (Province 11 Dec 1906).

Finally, 12 months after S&C took over the Orpheum on Pender, it was allowed to open to the public on December 17, 1906.

Interestingly, the Pender building operated as the Orpheum for seven years without a public safety incident. George McSpadden eventually left his job as City Building Inspector to become a city alderman. The Pender building was demolished in 1913 or 1914. In its stead, there was an auto supply house for some years, followed by the Stock Exchange Building in 1929.

Orpheum III (761 Granville Street): 1913-1927

CVA 99-5150 – Interior of Orpheum III. Flashlight of audience, Feb 1918. Stuart Thomson photo.

On St. Patrick’s Day, 1913, S&C put on their first vaudeville performance in the space that had once housed the Vancouver Opera House. Presumably, Sullivan & Considine were hoping that a little Irish luck would rub off and that the City building inspector wouldn’t create a big stink akin to that at their previous theatre. (The city inspector — who by this time was not George McSpadden — gave S&C thumbs up!)

Before I began the research for this post, I had thought when the Orpheum moved over to the Opera House, that very little was changed. But I was mistaken. Said the World upon the Orpheum’s opening, “Very little of the old structure now remains, with the exception of portions of the two side walls…” (World 8 March 1913).

Cross-section of the S&C re-building of the old Vancouver Opera House into Orpheum III. Courtesy: Tom Carter Collection.

Orpheum III was the first Orpheum (and perhaps the first of any theatre in Vancouver) which was built to house services in addition to the theatre. The Orpheum ‘office building’ (751 Granville) was “a modern five-storey steel, concrete, terra cotta and brick office and store building known as a class “A” fireproof structure” (World 8 March 1913). This served as a mortgage helper since the lease payments from other businesses in the Orpheum Building would help pay down what must have been substantial debt incurred by S&C in building the theatre.

The architect of Orpheum III was J. J. Donnellan (who, reportedly, also designed local theatres such as the Lonsdale, Panama, National and Columbia (and, of course, did the rebuild on the Pender Orpheum). The sum spent by S&C on Orpheum III varied widely depending on which newspaper you read. One claimed they spent upwards of $250,000; another said $400,000; and yet another claimed $750,000!

For a couple of years, starting in 1914, there was considerable to-ing-and-fro-ing in the ownership of the Orpheum. A little over a year after Orpheum III opened, it was bought from S&C by Marcus Loew (Sun 17 June 1914). During the period that Loew owned the building, it would be known as “Loew’s Theatre (Formerly Orpheum)”; while it was Loew’s Theatre, it remained a vaudeville theatre. A year later and the Orpheum had been bought back from Loew by Sullivan & Considine (Province 17 May 1915).

No sooner had the local press reported that S&C was owner once again of the Orpheum, however, than there was another report (a month later) that the Orpheum Theatre & Realty Co. of San Francisco had bought out S&C’s interest in the Theatre (Province 29 July 1915). [4]

The Orpheum III adopted a mixed format with a few months of each year dedicated to vaudeville and the balance of the year to concerts, speakers, and motion pictures. This policy was adopted for awhile in Orpheum IV, as well.

The theatre underwent several name changes over subsequent years: Vancouver Theatre (1928); Lyric (1935); International Cinema (1947); and again Lyric Theatre (1960). Sometime after 1960, the former lobby even opened as a branch of the Royal Bank (leaving the auditorium/stage marooned behind) (Province 8 March 1969). The building was demolished in 1969 to make way for a series of department stores: T. Eaton’s, then Sears, and most recently, Nordstrom’s.

Orpheum IV (884 Granville Street): 1927 –

CVA 791-1148 – The fourth (and current) Orpheum Theatre on the east side of Granville Street (884 Granville). January, 1986.

On April 3, 1926, local entrepreneur Joseph F. Langer and the Orpheum Theatrical Co. announced their agreement to build the fourth Orpheum for an estimated cost of about $1 million and would have a seating capacity of about 3000 (Province 3 April 1926).[5] Langer would build it and the Orpheum Circuit was to lease it for 20 years but, as is explained in my related post about Langer’s life — linked above — he received some poor advice and sold the Orpheum in 1929. Marcus Priteca was architect on the project.

The fourth Orpheum opened to the public on Monday, November 7, 1927. There was a mixture of vaudeville acts (including juggling, comedy, and dancing) and a feature film (The Wise Wife). During many of the fourth Orpheum’s years, it was a Famous Players movie cinema.

For details of the history of Orpheum IV, I’d recommend consulting Ivan Ackery’s Fifty Years on Theatre Row, his memoirs of managing that theatre (1935-69).

There are many jaw-dropping features of the theatre, even today. My personal favourite is the dome above the auditorium. But there was no painted mural on the dome in 1927. It wasn’t there until 1976, when Anthony Heinsbergen was commissioned to paint his “valentine to the romance of music” (Province 24 June 1976). Province writer, Roy Shields, was apparently part of a vocal minority who, by the 1970s, believed the Orpheum was in “bad taste”, “high camp”, and a “monument to kitsch”.

But I disagree. I join the majority (I suspect) of those of Vancouver as it was in 1927 and beyond who have beheld with admiration and great affection the Fourth Orph!

The dome in Orpheum IV’s auditorium (as viewed from the stage).

Notes

  1. Long-time Orpheum IV manager, Ivan Ackery, in his memoirs Fifty Years on Theatre Row, claimed that “Vancouver’s first Orpheum was in the 900 block Main Street [Westminster Avenue at the time, presumably] in what later became a secondhand store and where, for many years, the original proscenium continued to exist in the back of the store. The first vaudeville act to ever appear there was “Power’s Elephants”” (Ackery, p. 128). I regret to say that I was unable to find any evidence to support Mr. Ackery’s claim as to the location of the first Orpheum. I could find no newspaper clippings to support the Westminster Ave. address for any theatre. And I couldn’t find any Orpheum advertised or noted in any way earlier than the inheritor of the Crystal Theatre locale. Ackery was born in 1899 and arrived in Vancouver from the U.K. after WWI, so he couldn’t have been a witness of the first Orpheum. Chances are that he was shown the “proscenium” in what was considered by the owner (and perhaps others) to have once been the Orpheum and was thereby led down one of history’s many ‘garden paths’.
  2. “Orpheum” was not exactly a novel name. It had been applied to theatres in many other cities (Seattle and San Francisco, for instance, both of which were part of the Orpheum Circuit for a time). Within the City of Vancouver, there were several non-theatrical businesses which tied their fortunes to the Orpheum name: There were Orpheum Cafes across the street from both Orpheums II and III; there was an Orpheum Hotel for a time on West Hastings (prior to that, the hotel was called Hamilton House; later it was called the Invermay Hotel); there was an Orpheum Poolroom on Pender, an Orpheum Cigar Store, and an Orpheum Barber Shop.
  3. James J. Donnellan (architect) was a native of Chicago, Illinois.
  4. Local theatre expert, Tom Carter, succinctly describes the fall of S&C: “Mr. Sullivan apparently had been borrowing money to build theatres against other theatres he didn’t actually own (had mortgages on) so it had become a bit of a pyramid scheme. He was also losing his mind – in fact was declared insane in 1913 –  and wandered into a railroad yard and, some say, committed suicide by walking in front of a train. After that, S&C kept their Empress vaudeville circuit but divested themselves of their theatres – the two vultures who picked them up at fire sale prices were Marcus Loew and Alex Pantages. Pantages was already intent on building the new Pantages Theatre at 20 West Hastings so passed on the Orpheum, but Loew swept in.” (Email: Tom Carter to mdm, July 26, 2020, 10.01 a.m.)
  5. Ladies who have taken in a performance at the Orpheum IV will be bemused by the claim that restrooms would be “spacious” (Province 3 April 1926).
Posted in stuart thomson, theatre/vaudeville/cinemas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mistaken Assumption . . .

CVA 447-334: Tip Top Tailors at 314 West Hastings Street (near Hamilton). Adjacent to (west of) the former Commerce Bank (now SFU’s Charles Chang Innovation Centre). 1955. W E Frost.

There’s a building on West Hastings near Hamilton about which I’ve had a long-standing misconception. It’s sweeping facade reminded me so much of a 1940s-style movie theatre that I’ve always assumed that that was the original occupant. [1]

But I was wrong. This building was constructed for Tip Top Tailors in 1948, in the days when Tip Top provided not only clothing for men (as it does today), but also catered to women who wanted to have a “mannish” appearance.

CVA 371-1150: The corner of the Canadian Bank of Commerce at 300 West Hastings; and showing scaffolding for future site of Tip Top Tailors at 314 W, Hastings. 1948, G. Clarke.
Province. 10 Feb 1949.
Province. 26 Jan 1949.

Tip Top Tailors was established in 1909 in Toronto. The first Vancouver shop was at 137 West Hastings (north side of Hastings between Cambie and Abbot) in 1920. The shop moved to the Flack Block (at Hastings and Cambie) and later to 301 West Hastings before building its shop at 314 W Hastings in 1948.

CVA 586-7781: Tip Top Tailors interior. Style (fashion) Show. 1949. Don Coltman.
CVA 586-7779: Tip Top Tailors interior. Style (fashion) Show. 1949 Don Coltman.
CVA 586-8837: This is apparently the mezzanine floor of Tip Top at 314 West Hastings. 1949. Don Coltman.

The first two of the three photos above show a 1949 “Style Show” of some of the women’s wear options available from Tip Top at that time. All three photos show off the truly unusual and exceptional interiors that were at 314 West Hastings.

More than 5000 square feet of aluminum was used on the facade and interior of Tip Top. Anodizing (to prevent rust and corrosion) was done by Western Bridge and Steel Fabricators (Province, 18 Dec 1948).

By 1955, Tip Top had moved out of 314 Hastings. (Tip Top continued at a Granville Street location and, today, continues to exist in several lower mainland locales). By 1960, 314 W. Hastings was home (briefly) to “Drug King Self Serve Supermarket”. From ca1961, after Drug King faded to black, the space has been subdivided for use by various offices. Today, little has changed: 312 is currently an empty office rental, and 314 is a cafe. [2]

It is a shame, in my judgement, that the amazing interior space that once was home to Tip Top Tailors should be, effectively, lost.

Sun. 7 Sept 1960.

Notes

  1. It resembles the Vogue Theatre (on Granville Street) with its grand exterior and the sweeping curves of the interior design. I was stumped as to how to refer to the architectural style of Tip Top. However, “Streamline Deco” seems to me to cover off the transitional aspects of the style. For more on this, see here. Thanks to Wes for this link.
  2. Following Tip Top’s exit from this location and the subsequent subdivision, the street address was also subdivided to 312 and 314.

Posted in Don Coltman, interiors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fowler’s Rose

The ‘Tudor Rose’ wood carving (together with provenance presumably provided by C. B. Fowler on the plaque below) is encased in a very heavy box made of oak and glass. This was generously given to the author a few years ago by his friend, Gordon Poppy, who acquired it sometime following the closure and demolition of the York Hotel (1929-1969), previously the Hotel Vancouver Annex (1911-1929). Author’s photo.

This carving of a Tudor Rose was taken from the tomb of the Duke of York, Tewkesbury Abbey, England, in the year of 1881 when repairs were being made to the tomb. The same year it was given to Major C. B. Fowler, FRIBA., now of this city, but at that time an architect of renown in Cardiff, Wales, by William Clark of Llandaff, Wales, one of the best known wood carvers in England and Wales in that period. The carving is now the valued property of The York Hotel, Ltd.

Text on plaque beneath carving.

Provenance Questions

The provenance offered for the wood carving shown above is provided by the accompanying plaque beneath it. I am assuming that the text for the plaque came, largely, from then-Vancouver architect and giver of the Rose to the York Hotel, Major C. B. Fowler.

Tudor Rose?

The carving appears to me to my Canadian eyes to resemble a Tudor Rose (see link for criteria), although there is no crown denoting the rose as being of the House of Tudor.

William Clark, Welshman?

There was a Welshman by the name of William Clark who lived in Llandaff in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and who, by the time of the 1911 census identified his occupation as a Sculptor Builder.

Duke of York’s Tomb at Tewkesbury Abbey?

It appears very doubtful that the rose came from the tomb of a Duke of York, although it’s possible that it came from Tewkesbury Abbey. I say this because I cannot find any online evidence that any of the (several) Dukes of York were buried in Tewkesbury Abbey. There is evidence that Tewkesbury Abbey underwent renovations in 1881, however. So it’s possible that the carving came from the Abbey at that time.

Major Charles Busteed Fowler

VPL 21042: Portrait of Major Charles Busteed Fowler. 1920. Dominion Photo.
Drawing of Grandview Drill Hall (not built). Province, 7 Aug 1915.

C. B. Fowler (1849-1941), FRIBA (Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects) was born in Cork, Ireland. He trained at the School of Art in Cork. Much of his early architectural career was spent in Wales. He was apparently having a hard time finding commissions by about 1900 and left Wales (and his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Martin) in 1904 to move to London to search (not very successfully) for work.

In 1904 and again in 1907, Fowler was charged in Wales on a warrant for neglecting to monetarily support his wife (who was living – apart from Fowler – in Wales) (Cardiff Evening Express 4 Nov 1904; Cardiff Weekly Mail, 7 Dec 1907).

It isn’t entirely clear if Fowler ever completely disentangled himself from his money and spousal issues, but in 1908 he sailed for New York on the Adriatic. Fowler spent five years in America, getting the occasional commission. Finally, in 1913, he filed a petition to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. His petition was denied for “lack of prosecution.”* Fowler married his second wife, Lillian S. sometime around 1909 (she was mentioned in his 1910 US Census record). It isn’t clear whether she came to the U.S. with Charles; according to the Census, she was born in Wales. She was 25 — half his age.

The Fowlers came to Vancouver in 1913. Here, he entered into partnership with R.T. Perry, a local architect who had articled with Fowler in Wales.

Fowler designed the Oddfellow’s Hall at 1433 West 8th Avenue (it is still there) (Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada). He and Perry also submitted a drawing for the Harding Memorial competition in 1924, but his submission wasn’t chosen (local sculptor, Charles Marega, won the competition) (Province, 9 Dec 1924). Fowler and Perry also submitted drawings for the Grandview Drill Hall in 1914. But, although this submission was accepted, the Federal Government ultimately decided not to build the Hall and the land was turned over to the City of Vancouver which developed it into (extant) Grandview Park on Commercial Drive.

It isn’t clear in what year Fowler made his gift of the Tudor Rose to the York Hotel. There is no record of that in local press accounts that I could find. However, it would have been sometime between 1929 (when the former Hotel Vancouver Annex became the “York Hotel”) and 1941 (the year of Fowler’s death). Probably shortly after the Annex became the York, so that would be in the early 1930s. It is pretty clear that the rationale for the gift of the Tudor Rose to the Hotel was the Duke of York connection, which in the light of what I was able to find, today, seens pretty doubtful.

Major Fowler lived to be 91 and he was a press darling, especially in his later years. He had the vanity that sometimes accompanies very old age. But there is no question that the man was fit. A few days before his 80th birthday, he hiked the Grouse Grind (although it wasn’t then called that). And he was known for competing in Vancouver Sun walking marathons. In his 80s, he came in fifth in one of those races.

Lillian married William H. Martin in 1960; she died in 1964.

The Rose

It Seems to me as though C. B. Fowler had a somewhat muddled understanding of some of the history of the carving which he gave to the York Hotel. It is possible that the rose was removed from Tewkesbury Abbey in 1881 and acquired by William Clark either in Wales or in Tewkesbury. Clark may well have passed the carving onto Fowler in Wales, when Fowler was working there in the mid-1880s or later. The only aspect of Fowler’s story that certainly seems to be wrong is that the rose came from the tomb of a Duke of York at the Abbey.

Note

*Robert, of WestEndVancouver.wordpress.com, looked into Fowler’s money and spousal troubles and his life in America.

Robert has said that “want of prosecution generally means a failure to take legal steps within a certain period of time…The term may have different meanings based on the specific geographic jurisdiction, area of law, or the context in which it is being used.”

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

Nabob’s ‘Harmony House’ on CBC

CVA 1184-2104: An audience at the Orpheum Theatre watching Nabob’s Harmony House broadcast over CBC. 1940-48 Jack Lindsay.

The “Harmony House” radio variety show was the first commercial radio program originating in the West to be put on CBC’s network. It was broadcast live from the Orpheum Theatre, starting in September 1943 [1]. The corporate sponsor of Harmony House was Nabob. Nabob Tea and other products were manufactured and distributed locally by the Kelly Douglas Company (the head office of which was located just east of the CPR deport in the building known today as The Landing and where Steamworks is located) [2]. Harmony House ran on radio from 1943-55 and then on CBC Television for the 1955-56 season.

CVA 586-5270 – Richmond (“Ricky”) Hyslop and his Harmony House Orchestra. 1944. Don Coltman photo.

Richmond (“Ricky”) Hyslop led the Harmony House Orchestra throughout the radio years and the television season. Hyslop, it seems to me, is one of the unsung and, today, pretty much forgotten, music men of Vancouver’s past. He began as a violinist, was a writer and arranger and, of course, a band leader. The Sun gave some idea of his working life on Harmony House:

For 39 weeks through the winter, Hyslop leads 17 musicians, two soloists, Pat Morgan and Suzanne [Sysak], and a vocal group of five through their paces on Harmony House. The program goes on the air Tuesday evenings and gets as far east as Fort William [Ontario] on the Dominion [CBC] Network.

But before the show hits the air he has to arrange the music, handle rehearsals, soothe the temperamental characters, calm down the excitable ones, ginger up the guys who are half a beat behind and generally set the tone for the operation.

A band leader these days is businessman, musician, trainer, father confessor and idea man all rolled into one.

Vancouver Sun 23 Aug 1952

Hyslop had other responsibilities concurrent with those on Harmony House. Not least, he worked on the production of “Here’s Juliette”, also on the CBC Network, which featured Suzanne’s sister, ‘our pet’, Juliette (Sysak). (Both women preferred to use only their first names, professionally).

The Master of Ceremonies and principal male soloist of the show was tenor, Pat (“Buster”) Morgan. He had a long career, and was known when Harmony House moved to TV, as “the best vocalist in Canada.”

CVA 586-3040 – Pat (‘Buster’) Morgan, M.C. and Soloist for Nabob’s Harmony House. 1944. Don Coltman photo.
CVA 586-3044: “Suzanne” Sysak, soloist of Nabob’s Harmony House (sister of another CBC singer, ‘Our Pet’ Juliette). 1944. Don Coltman photo.
CVA 586-8895: An incarnation of the Nabobettes Trio: Margaret (“Bunty”) Wishart, Marion (“Mamie”) Wishart (sister of Bunty), and Vera Zimmerman. 1945. Don Coltman. [3]

The Nabobettes was a girl group composed of different people at different times. They included Mamie Wishart, Bunty Wishart, Vera Zimmerman, and Thora Anders. Thora Anders had a long music career in Vancouver and sung with many groups, including several productions for Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS). She was also closely associated with Barney Potts and his orchestra, ultimately marrying him.

Note

  1. One of the broadcasts, however, on June 5, 1944, was made from the Vogue Theatre.
  2. A reader of this blog has remarked that she can recall the words to the advertising jingle adopted by Nabob. Apparently, they were (in part): “N-A-B-O-B : The very best coffee and tea.” I tried to find an online source of this with the tune, but had no luck. Nabob Tea was sluggging it out in the 1980s with some serious competition (principally, although not exclusively, from Red Rose). As you will see from the links, this slug-fest was carried out by gently mocking the Mother Country. “Pity.” The Nabob brand was ultimately purchased by Kraft. The Nabob character – which isn’t particularly politically correct – has been abandoned in favour of simply including part of a Nabob’s imagined head gear).
  3. Thanks are due to Robert of WestEndVancouver.wordpress.com for his help in identifying the Nabobettes portrayed here.

Posted in Don Coltman, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Smoking Prohibited at this Smoker!

CVA 586-1588: 201st Battery Smoker, 1943, Don Coltman.

This is a very brief post to point out a couple of interesting aspects of this WWII-era “Smoker” (a social gathering that typically included tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking) of the 201st Battery, held in downtown Vancouver.

First, I should point out that I am not a smoker, but I am inclined to salute these fellows who are smoking in a hall in which it is clearly marked above them “Fire Regulations Do Not Permit Smoking in This Room”. I count at least five in this bunch who are holding cigarettes. I’m feeling a little rebellious these days, so I wanted to point that out!

Second, the room in which these gents were having a cigarette and a beer is no longer in existence. It was known during WWII as “Victory Hall” (The Province, 24 Sept 1943) and was on the property where Salvation Army’s Belkin House is today: 535 Homer (half a block north of Dunsmuir on the west side of the street). How the building appeared in the mid-1970s is shown below. According to Changing Vancouver, the building was demolished in 2001.

CVA 780-39: 535 Homer Street, 1975.

An interesting feature of the room in which the smoker was held (which seems to be the top floor, judging from the Italianate-style windows) is apparent in another photo of this smoker at CVA’s online photo holdings, shown below.

CVA 586-1587: 201st Battery Smoker, 1943, Don Coltman.

No, I’m not referring to the hula dancers.

The items that caught my eye were the paintings on the wall. This was something not uncommon in the 1930s and ’40s. There are examples of wall paintings of this sort of fantasy coastal scenery in other Vancouver buildings of this period. The only remaining such paintings that I can think of, however, are at Commodore Lanes on Granville Street.

These paintings at 535 Homer probably didn’t last into the 1970s, I’m guessing. They don’t appear to have been very high quality even in 1943.

And all of that illicit smoke must have taken its toll!

Posted in Don Coltman, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Mysterious Joseph Langer

Update (June 2020)

Information on [J. F.] Langer is . . . difficult to find. There’s nothing on him in the City of Vancouver Archives, nothing in the Special Collections Division of the Vancouver Public Library, precious little elsewhere.
— Chuck Davis, “A Palace of Entertainment: Vancouver’s Orpheum Turns Seventy-Five”.  British Columbia Historical News. Vol. 36, No. 2 (Spring 2003), p. 17.

IMG_20180620_0002
Photo from Doug McCallum’s Vancouver’s Orpheum: The Life of a Theatre. Here, Langer appears to be upon his stallion, Salvador.

I was re-reading Ivan Ackery’s memoirs, recently, when I came across mention of one J.F. Langer. He was the man who built the present Orpheum Theatre (B. M. Priteca, architect) and several Vancouver suburban movie theatres (none extant, except the Orpheum).

Why hadn’t I heard of this guy before, I wondered? Surely there must be more to his story. So I began to dig. And dig. And I discovered what Chuck Davis had learned earlier: that the smallest detail about Langer is hard won (1).

I make no claim to have written the ‘last word’ on Mr. Langer, but I think I’ve filled in a couple of public blanks about his life and career.

South Africa

Joseph Francis Langer was born in Langendorf, Silesia, Prussia (now a village known as Bozonov, located in southern Poland near the Czech border) in March, 1872 to Eduard and Caroline Langer. Joseph was born into a Church of England family (although the family was registered in a Catholic parish). The Langer family didn’t stay in Prussia long after Joseph was born, however. By the time he reached 6 years of age, the family was settled in South Africa in the territory of Transvaal. Eduard owned Langlagate Royal Gold Mining Co. in Johannesburg.

Joseph Langer. Photo courtesy of Susan Oddy. Date unknown.

During his time in South Africa, Joseph apprenticed as a bricklayer and began to take construction jobs. In 1891, Joseph (age 19) went to London where he established his own construction company. By 1893, he returned to Johannesburg where he continued in the construction business. Many of his jobs consisted of home-building. But there were other projects that supported the South African mining industry, including construction of a cyanide plant. I wasn’t able to find any details about this job, but then (as now) gold cyanidation was an important means of extracting gold in mining operations.

Henrietta Van Coller Langer. Photo courtesy of Susan Oddy. Date unknown.

Langer married Henrietta Maria (Hattie) Van Coller in 1893 (1869-1932) in South Africa. She bore 9 kids. They were: May Helena, who was known as “Daisy” (1894-1995); Cecil Edward (1896-1962); Ivy Elaine (1897-1899); Dorothy Ivy (1901-1986); Clarence Basil (1902-1979); Elaine Bertha (1904-1937, who died from lymphnoma; an unnamed child who died at birth; Ivan Clifford (1906-1950s?); Dora Caroline (1912-2002). Dora was the last of the children born to Hattie and Joseph; she was the only child born in Vancouver.

San Francisco/Vancouver/England

In 1908 (when Langer was 36), he left South Africa for the San Francisco/Oakland area. There, he continued to build homes for a living. Sometime in 1909, he moved to Vancouver.  He worked as a general contractor, principally on residential builds.

Shortly after the Great War began, Langer left Canada for England. He said of his financial status upon leaving for England in 1914: “I had no money when I went back” (3). Langer seems to have been telling a ‘porkie’ here. It’s true that Langer left several creditors in the Vancouver area. (4) But, according to his grand-daughter, Susan Oddy, “My mother [Dora Langer] said that the family lived in wealth until the stock market crash [1929]. Joseph may have had some financial ups and downs before that, but nothing serious. Certainly, he retained some of his wealth in his London investments.”

Langer claimed that he was ‘robbed’ by certain Vancouver interests while working here the first time (5). Precisely which firms Langer was pointing at with this claim is unclear, with one exception: he made it pretty plain that he held the architectural firm of Townsend & Townsend to blame for at least some of his financial woes (6). He doesn’t get into any detail about precisely how these architects ‘robbed’ him. It could well be that his antipathy regarding the firm was an extreme case of the not unusual ‘oil and water’ situation between architects and builders. It strikes me as odd that he lashed out at the Townsends, however, as there is no record in the online list of early Vancouver building permits of any projects on which Langer was builder on the same jobs as the Townsends were architects. Possibly, the online record is incomplete. It just isn’t clear.

Langer’s next nine years were spent in England earning, by all accounts, a lot of money in the construction business; his net worth, by his own admission, was in the vicinity of $2 million toward the end of his time in England (7). According to Douglas McCallum, he was a “pioneer in developing planned suburbs, which included sidewalks, gutters, sewers and street lighting.” (8). Presumably that was what he was what he was up to in England.

Vancouver Again

Setting Up House

Joseph Langer. Photo courtesy of Susan Oddy. Date unknown.

By August 1923, Langer turned 51 and that year he took his millions and re-settled in Vancouver. It seems that his plan upon returning to the Canadian west coast was “not to do anything at all” (9). He was ready to put down tools and enjoy an ‘early retirement’ in the land of the Lotus.

Upon returning to Vancouver, Joseph and Hattie took up residence at 1715 Woodland Drive (near East 1st Ave. in the Grandview district); Woodland Drive was one of Langer’s planned communities.

A 5-minute walk from Woodland Dr., at Commercial Dr., lived a couple named Jennie and Harold Farley. Jennie and Hattie Langer became friends. Joseph and Jennie became something more than friends.

Shortly after arriving in Vancouver for the second time, Joseph married Jennie Louise Farley (nee Inns). Jennie had just divorced her husband, Harold Farley, with whom she’d had four kids: Jack (1904); Barbara (1906), Harold Jr. (1908), and Frank (1920). Hattie and Joseph were separated in 1924. Jennie and Joseph were married by a Justice of the Peace in Washington State in December 1925, and he divorced Henrietta on July 2, 1926.

Henrietta died from cancer January 15, 1932 and is buried in Acton Cemetary.

In 1924, Langer bought a new home for himself and his bride-to-be at 3290 Granville Street (in the tony Shaughnessy Heights district). This was a single family dwelling at the time (in recent years, it has been converted into condominium units). Langer bought the house from  Mr. and Mrs. West, fully furnished. And judging from the value placed on the furniture by West and paid by Langer ($10,000), it wasn’t furnished cheaply (10).

Building Theatres

Bu N332 - [Windsor Theatre at 25th Avenue and Main Street] 1927? W J Moore
CVA Bu N332 – Windsor Theatre at 25th Avenue and Main Street ca1927. W J Moore

According to McCallum, during Langer’s second time in Vancouver, he retained his very fruitful business in England. Apparently, among his assets (not necessarily located in the Vancouver area) were “a gravel pit, a cement plant, real estate and mining interests,” his home at 3290 Granville, a black stallion named Salvador that was so impressive that he’d lend it to the City Police for use in parades, and two cars: a Rolls Royce and a maroon Daimler complete with a matching maroon-liveried chauffeur (11).

By 1925-26, despite his later claim that he had intended to “do nothing” in Vancouver, he had built several (cookie-cutter) suburban theatres: the Kerrisdale, the Alma, the Victoria, the Fraser, the Grandview, and the Windsor. These theatres together, briefly, comprised the Langer Circuit. (12) He built the Orpheum in 1927 and leased it to the Orpheum Circuit.

In 1929, on bad advice, Joseph sold his theatre interests to Famous Players Canadian Corporation and invested in a gold mine. Susan Oddy says: “At the time, gold was the standard currency, so when the stock market crashed, the price of gold dropped way down, too.” He returned to England shortly thereafter in financial ruin.

Bu N331 - [Kerrisdale Theatre building at 2136 West 41st Avenue] 1927 W J Moore
CVA Bu N331 – Kerrisdale Theatre building at 2136 West 41st Avenue] ca1927. W J Moore

Final Years

In 1932, there was a report in the Oakland Tribune that Jennie Langer was filing suit against J. F. Langer for “separate maintenance” of $400/month against him. She said that they had been separated since November, 1931.

In describing her husband’s ability to pay for her support, Mrs. Langer states that Langer owns a $50,000 home in Vancouver, B.C., a $20,000 interest in the Bonanza mine in Amador county, $60,000 worth of stocks and bonds bought during the last year, mining machinery in Canada worth $12,000 and the annual income from England of $100,000. (15)

Langer died in 1948 at age 76 in circumstances that hint at suicide (as far as I know, there was no autopsy). Langer’s body was found beneath the bedroom window which he’d apparently leapt from; it was in the home of his son Basil in England.

Jennie lived until 1954. During her final years alone, her accommodation in Vancouver changed every couple years, evidently slowly declining in quality — from 4911 Blenheim St. (1938) to 1400 W. 8th (1940) to 1465 W 14th (1942) to 1006 W 16th (1943) to apartment living on the east side at #7 – 111 E 26th Ave. (1947) and then back to the west side at 1336 W 13th (1951) and to 4151 Rumble in Burnaby (1954) then to 7042 Bellcara Dr (with her son, Frank) in 1954 and, finally, to the Home for the Aged in Coquitlam, where she died later that same year.

Notes

1. I am indebted to Robert of westendvancouver for contributing to research for this post, and I’m very appreciative for her many memories and family records to Susan Oddy, one of Joseph Langer’s grandaughters (born to Dora Caroline Langer and Gerald Oddy in 1948). I’m also appreciative of the notes and records kept by Ken Royston, great-grandson of Joseph, and those kept by Barbara, grand-daughter of J. L. Langer.

2. There is an odd twist to Langer’s life during this period in B.C. which I haven’t been able to fit into the narrative. The source is a single paragraph in the Omineca Miner (a Hazelton, BC publication) of January 10, 1914. It reads as follows: “J. F. Langer of the B.C. Contracting Co. has returned from a business visit to Vancouver accompanied by Mrs. Langer. They have taken possession of their new residence opposite the Anglican Church. ” There are at least a couple of interesting features in this brief blurb: First, it seems from this that Langer had a home in Hazelton which he shared with “Mrs. Langer” — presumably not Jennie Farley at this very early stage. Second, it strikes me as odd that  Langer would be buying a property in Hazleton presumably while owning his Vancouver lot at 1715 Woodland, given his story some years later of being stone broke by the time he left Vancouver in December 1914! (In a follow-up note from Susan Oddy, she notes that Joseph and Henrietta did live in Hazelton for a time. No details were provided, however).

3. Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) Joseph Francis Langer v. McTavish Bros. 1931, Record of Proceedings, p.121. This appeal by Langer to the JCPC of a BC court decision in favour of the McTavish Bros. is a treasure trove of testimony in Langer’s own words. The details of the case aren’t particularly germane to this post, but if interested, they can be found in the early pages of the Record of Proceedings.

4. They included: Everett Sash & Door; Cullen builders’ Supplies & Equipment, Clarke Bros. Hardware; Kydd Bros, Hardware; Wright-Cameron (don’t see this firm in the 1913 city directory); Williams & Co. (this might have been the A. R. Williams Machinery Co.; and Northern Electric.

5. JCPC Langer v. McTavish Bros. 1931, Record of Proceedings, p.122. Note:  Upon returning to Vancouver in 1923, he made a deal to pay his creditors; this wasn’t for the full amount owed, but for some fraction of that amount.

6. JCPC Langer v. McTavish Bros. 1931, Record of Proceedings, p.123.

7. JCPC Langer v. McTavish Bros. 1931, Record of Proceedings, p.123.

8. Douglas McCallum. Vancouver’s Orpheum: The Life of a Theatre. City of Vancouver, 1984, 9.

9. JCPC Langer v. McTavish Bros. 1931, Record of Proceedings, p.123.

10. BC Reports Langer v. McTavish Bros. 1932, p. 494.

11. McCallum, p9. Ivan Ackery, Fifty Years on Theatre Row, Hancock House, 1980, p. 84.

12. McCallum, p9.

13. Ackery, p.90.

14. McCallum, p.9.

15. “Wife Sues for $400 a month,” Oakland Tribune 4 Non 1932, p.12.

16. Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2007.


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Analog Craig’s List, 1967

Screen Capture from the video: Ron Morrier, hosting “The Trading Post”. CVA – LEG188.7 – The trading post, 1967.

Given that Ron Morrier is best remembered today as the host of All-Star Wrestling, it may be a bit surprising to watch him hosting this 15-minute program. He comes across as a calm, well-spoken, and good-humoured gent.

Joseph Roland DeLorme (“Ron”) Morrier was born in Prince Albert, SK in 1914 to Joseph Eldege Morrier and Marie-Josephine-Emma Gravel. In his youth, he was a soprano singer and a Golden Gloves boxer. At age 14, he went to St. Boniface, MB where he studied at a Jesuit college. Upon finishing there, he re-joined his parents, who had since moved to Montreal. His folks later moved to Edmonton, where Morrier worked in his Dad’s printing shop.

Morrier married Jean Hobson in Edmonton on April 15, 1942 (Edmonton Journal, 16 Apr 1942). *

He got his first radio job in Edmonton. He worked at various radio broadcasting jobs for 26 years. In ca1944, he was a producer with CBC Radio in Winnipeg. From ca1946-1952, he was with new radio station CJAD (800) in Montreal. He did primarily sportscasting there: Blow-by-blow commentary for boxing, play-by-play for football and hockey matches, and Golfing with Ron Morrier. Other radio jobs were in Waltrous, SK and Kingston, Jamaica.

In ca1952-53, Morrier took a brief break from broadcasting, establishing Ron Morrier Radio-Television, a retail sales business.

In 1956, he moved to Vancouver, where he signed on with new radio station CKLG (730), Vancouver’s ‘Good Music’ station. Here, for the first time in his broadcasting career, Morrier wasn’t principally in the role of sportscaster (that job was filled by Al Pollard). He was the morning show man from 8-10a.m. and his show was called — prepare to groan — The Morrier the Merrier.

He worked in Vancouver radio until 1960, when CHAN-TV got its licence and he joined them. With CHAN and later BCTV, Morrier did bingo, travel, and hobby shows, as well as TV auctions and kids’ shows. And, of course, he was the host of All-Star Wrestling.

Oddly, however, his time hosting The Trading Post didn’t receive any local press that I could find. That leads me to conclude that the program wasn’t long-lasting.

There were three things which could not be offered on The Trading Post: clothing, automobiles, and housing. Otherwise, the products on offer seemed to be the same as you’d see advertised in the classified ads in local newspapers. That might explain why The Trading Post didn’t seem to endure: It was duplicating a service offered more efficiently by print media.

Ron Morrier died at 67 in August 1981. He was survived by his wife, Jean, a son, Kit, and a daughter, Michelle.

Notes

  • Thanks to Robert of westendvancouver.wordpress.com for spotting an error in the original version of this post. I was showing “Jean White” as being Morrier’s wife. This error was one I carried forward from Morrier’s death certificate.

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Bingarra/Sun Doo Rooms

CVA 203-9 – 800 – 804 Main Street (and 208 Union Street) aka the SE corner of Main at Union. 1968.jpg

The commercial and residential building (shown immediately above and below) has been absent from the Vancouver landscape for about 50 years. It (and most of Hogan’s Alley to the south and east of this corner) were demolished to make way for the new (1972) Georgia Viaduct which would come barrelling through at this point on two gigantic concrete slabs. (In case you aren’t aware of what Hogan’s Alley was, see here for a little of history on the neighbourhood.)

When the apartment first was established in 1910, it was known as Bingarra Rooms [1]. The first proprietors were James and Mary Quinn who had come to Canada from Ireland in 1894. It remained the Bingarra until the mid-1940s, at which time it took a more Chinese name: Sun Doo Rooms.

CVA 203-11: View of the Sun Doo Rooms (the latest name of the apartment) from the rear (on Union Street). 1968.
CVA 216-1.23 – Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaduct concrete ramps running over Main St. (near Union St) looking NE, 1971.
CVA 203-18: 800 block Main Street, 1969. The view from the end of the 800 block Main up to the Sun Doo Rooms/London Drugs shop.
CVA 586-6105 – The view from Union Street rooms in the Sun Doo. You would have looked out at Luck Man Rooms (I think “Black Cat” was an ad for tobacco), on the NE corner of Union and Main Streets and the BC Electric Substation (as it then was) on the NW corner. 1945. Don Coltman.

J. W. Bailey, who bought the Bingarra after James Quinn died in 1922 (or perhaps just prior to his death), relied heavily on print advertisements to get the message out that the apartment was an economical, safe and clean place to live.

Vancouver Sun. 5 July 1921.

In March 1969, the City announced that it would expropriate the land that was home to many blacks and Chinese (and others of various ethnicities), including the land under Sun Doo Rooms. The residents had 4 months to find alternative accommodation.

Notes

  1. The source of the name “Bingarra” could be Irish, Australian, or American. It is the name of a townland in Galway; it is the name of a town in NSW in Australia; and it is the name of a well-known stallion in the early 1900s (owned by William Russell Allen of Massachusetts). Given that the first proprietors, James and Mary Quinn, were from Ireland, I’m betting on the Irish connection. (Many thanks to Robert of WestEndVancouver.wordpress.com for digging up this info.)

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Dr. Ray Starr Goodwin

Ray Starr Goodwin with a group of First Baptist Church Young People (predominantly women), 1904-05. First Baptist Church (Vancouver) Archives.

According to handwritten information on the back of this photo, it is an image of First Baptist Church young people on an outing to Deep Cove ca1904-05. The only person named is “Ray Starr Goodwin”, but he isn’t identified except with an “x” on the back of the image and the additional description of being a “16-yr-old boy”. Judging from the apparent ages of people in the photo and the location of the “x”, I conclude that Ray is probably the boy reclining at far left.

Ray Goodwin was born in Port Elgin, New Brunswick to Charles Hadenbroeke Goodwin and Sarah Amelia Lusby on April 12, 1888. In 1891, the family moved west to Kaslo, B.C. in the West Kootenays. Charles was one of the earliest settlers in Kaslo and continued to live there with Sarah until her death in 1934 and his in 1935. Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin hailed from the Maritimes. Ray had two elder sisters: Flora and May.

M-1-66 – A Vancouver, Westminster and Yukon Railway Company train crosses New Westminster bridge. July 1904.

In 1905, Ray Goodwin was living and working in Vancouver (thus, explaining his appearance with the FBC folks on their Deep Cove trip). He is shown in the ‘05 city directory as being a stenographer for the V. W. & Y. R. (Vancouver, Westminster and Yukon Railway). He was only with the Railway for that single year, as far as I can tell. It may have been just a summer job. In any case, I assume that he returned to Kaslo to finish high school after that.

Ray trained for a career in dentistry at the North Pacific College of Pharmacy and Dentistry (a private college in Portland, OR). He moved to Vancouver, BC soon after graduating in 1914. Following his examination and a “full pass” by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia, he began to practice in Vancouver in 1915 at 2190 West 4th Ave (near Yew), and resided at 1922 Venables (near Victoria).

In November 1916, Ray married Emma Augusta Brune, an American. They were married at First Baptist Church in Emma’s hometown of Vancouver, WA. They settled in Vancouver, BC. In ca1918, the Goodwins moved into their new residence at 4485 West 7th Avenue (near Sasamat), where they lived for the rest of their lives.

At about the same time as they moved house, Ray gave up membership at FBC Vancouver and became a member at Fairview Baptist (located at 5th Avenue and Arbutus, at the time). Although their home was situated deep in the West Point Grey district, Fairview Baptist was probably the nearest Baptist church to their home at the time; in any case, it was certainly closer than downtown First Baptist.

When I was looking at photos made by Ray in Kaslo, I noticed that there was a “Howard Green” who was identified in a few of them. I concluded, provisionally, that Green was a boyhood friend of Goodwin’s. But as I was looking for more info on exactly who Green was, it dawned on me that the two were more than friends — they were related.

Ray Goodwin was an uncle (by marriage) to Howard Green. Green’s parents were Samuel Green and Flora Goodwin (Ray’s sister). There was only a 7-year difference in their ages, however. Their fathers had similar careers. Both started life in Kaslo as contractors/builders — Charles Goodwin’s as a general contractor, while Samuel Green was attached to the CPR and so designed their depots, and other structures for them; he later became the proprietor of the the Kaslo general store and postmaster for the area).

Samuel Green family of Kaslo, children are Howard (left), Rowland and Edith Ray. RBCA ca1904. Ray Goodwin photo.

Howard Charles Green was a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1935-63, and for some of that time, he was a minister (of External Affairs and of Public Works) in John Diefenbaker’s government.

Howard Green with Lockly McLean (I’m assuming McLean was a friend of Green and/or Goodwin) at Revenue mine near Kaslo. RBCA, ca1920 (I question the date; it seems likely to me to have been made much earlier, around the 1904 period). Ray Goodwin photo.

Ray Goodwin was on the executive of the West Point Grey Conservative Association. In fact, in 1939, he was the 1st Vice-President. Green’s riding at the time – Vancouver South – included WPG. From 1949-63, Green’s riding was Vancouver Quadra which also included Point Grey, where Ray Goodwin lived.

Green did not mention his “Uncle Ray” Goodwin in CVA’s audio interview of Green made in 1985 regarding his early life in Kaslo. He did mention his “Uncle Bob”, Robert F. Green, his Dad’s brother, who had been very active politically (he was the first mayor of Kaslo, went on to serve in Sir Richard McBride’s provincial cabinet, and later served in the federal House of Commons and the Senate).

Emma Goodwin died relatively young at age 59 in 1947. Dr. Ray Goodwin died in 1984 at the ripe old age of 96.

Ray‘s and Emma’s kids were: William Charles (who died in infancy in 1918), Walter H., and Martin B.

Charles Green died in 1989.

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Granville Street on the Verge

CVA 228-633 – “Retaining wall north of 22.” Taken from a retaining wall on what would become the current Granville Bridge, ca 1954. Lee Parry Film Productions. (Image edited somewhat by author.)

I was trolling through CVA’s online photographic holdings this morning when I came across this image. It wasn’t the first time. Once again, I was struck by how much it appeals to me.

The appeal of this northward shot of downtown Granville Street is that it’s an image of the street at the end of an era.

Although neon is in evidence, it would, within very few years, be considered “ugly” and would gradually disappear from the street that was once known as “the great white way”. (If you’re interested in seeing a video of Vancouver neon, there is a pretty good one here (if I do say so myself).

The new bridge would permanently alter traffic (and retail) patterns with Howe and Seymour each becoming one-way streets. And the bridge would invite more automobiles than ever before into the downtown district. That, in turn, would result in the construction of the many parkades still dotting downtown today, as well as a great many service stations (I count 50-some on the 1960 map below).

In short, Granville Street and downtown generally were on the verge of major change at the time the 1954 photo was taken.

PD 2086 – Existing service stations, retail shopping centres and commercial zoning – a basis for regulating location of service stations, ca1960.

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No ‘Social Distancing’ Going on Here!

Original post published in 2015

CVA 1184-3450 - [Crowds at Georgia and Burrard Streets] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo
CVA 1184-3450 – [Crowds at Georgia and Burrard Streets] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.

These crowds were dispersing up Georgia Street from watching the parade for Vancouver’s 60th Anniversary of civic incorporation (our Diamond Jubilee, 1886-1946). Thanks are due to JMV for the detailed comment and links below.

As to landmarks, there is a Standard Oil service station on the NW corner of Georgia at Burrard – just a slice of it is visible on right, on the lot where the Glencoe Lodge/Hotel Belfred once was. On the SW corner, to the left, you can just make out the Palomar Supper Club, on the lot where the Wesley Methodist Church once was. The Ritz Apt/Hotel is visible about a half-block down Georgia from the Palomar.

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A Variant of Vancouver’s SECOND Coat of Arms?

Crop of CVA 789-16 – Labour Day Parade. 1914.

This brief post is just to notify my readers that I have stumbled across what may be a hitherto unknown variant of Vancouver’s second coat of arms (1903-1969). For a history of the city’s three coats, see here and here.

Jason at Illustrated Vancouver points out that the second coat of arms was designed by James Jervis Blomfield and that the design was “first made in 1901, adapted in 1903, and presented to the city in 1945 in the form of a memorial plaque.” An image of the 1945 plaque is reproduced below:

Memorial drawing (1945) on white. From Illustrated Vancouver.

Note some of the differences between the Labour Day, 1914 image of the coat and the 1945 drawing:

  • 1914 logger appears to be clean-shaven (versus moustache), is wearing a hat (versus hatless), and the branch is (for the most part) behind him (versus in the crook of his arm and beside him);
  • 1914 fisherman is also clean-shaven (versus moustache), has his coat hood up (versus hat), has a warmer jacket on (versus a rain slicker), and his oar is behind him (versus being beside him and in the crook of his arm). His footwear appears to be more appropriate for a fisherman in the 1945 drawing (rubber boots).
  • The nets and hatchets also appear to be different.
  • I can’t read the motto on the scroll beneath the 1914 drawing. However, I don’t imagine it’s different from the 1945 “By Sea and Land We Prosper”. (The motto was changed when the entire coat of arms was overhauled in 1969 to “By Sea, Land, and Air We Prosper”).
CVA 789-16 – Labour Day Parade. 1914.

The 1914 version of Vancouver’s coat of arms was probably unofficial. It may have been painted from memory onto the fabric attached to the float. However, there is another coat of arms that is less legible, but very similar (if not exactly the same) in this other 1914 Labour Day image.

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Ladybug Tours

By Maurice Guibord, Guest Blogger

Postcard (face). Maurice Guibord Collection.
Postcard (verso). Maurice Guibord Collection.

Years ago, I came across this postcard (above) and then a pamphlet (below) touting “Ladybug Tours” offered in Stanley Park.

I got the two pieces years apart, so it was nice to put them together. I showed the postcard at a display of Stanley Park items held at Vancouver Public Library several years ago. Nobody had heard of these tours nor seen the postcard before.

The image from the postcard tells most of the story: a tour wagon was pulled by a vehicle (a tractor?) disguised to resemble a large ladybug and described on the pamphlet as “something different”. Cute! We weren’t always afraid of monster insect infestations in this town.

Ladybug Pamphlet (front cover). Neil Whaley Collection.
Ladybug Pamphlet (back cover). Neil Whaley Collection.
Ladybug Pamphlet (page 3). Neil Whaley Collection.
Ladybug Pamphlet (page 2). Neil Whaley Collection.

Albert Edward “Ab” Portman (1913 Calgary – 2002 Surrey) owned Tally Ho Tours and founded (and presumably owned) Ladybug Tours starting in 1949. Portman ran Ladybug Tours until sometime in 1951 [1].

Verne Christian was the original driver/commentator on Ladybug Tours. Christian (who lived in the Clover Block at 2237 Commercial Dr., just north of Broadway) was a professional driver [2].

The second Ladybug operator was Fred Rexstrew (1952-53). Fred and his wife, Anna, were involved with the Stanley Park Saddle Club in the early 1950s.

There was a slightly mysterious pair with the surnames Crowe and Salisbury who were listed in the 1954-55 city directories as being associated with Ladybug Tours [3].

I love how the pamphlet suggests “Why not enjoy refreshments at the Hamberque while you wait for the return of the Lady Bug.” The Hamberque! What was that? Perhaps the concession at Prospect Point? (I couldn’t find mention in local newspapers for hamberque, hamburque, hambercue, or hamburcue) [4].

The original initial boarding place for the Ladybug was beside the Georgia Auditorium on Georgia Street; the boarding point was later moved to the main entry of the Park. The Ladybug seems to have operated on the ‘Hop On, Hop Off’ principal, which is a selling point on some of today’s city tours.

You paid at the end of the tour “if satisfied”, “so you can’t lose”.

Before and After Bug-Driven Tours in Stanley

The coleopterological mode wasn’t the first way humans were transported around the park. The tally-ho, a horse-drawn carriage, was the main mode of tourist transport from late 1800s until recently.

The Hotel Vancouver ran a tally-ho tour around Stanley Park in the 1890s, at one time driven by dog breeder, Norman D. McConnell (Sun, 28 June 1950), and at another time by Joe Reynolds (Sun, 11 Aug 1845). The Vancouver Transfer Company also ran a large Tally-Ho in the 1890s which included a tour of the Park (Sun, 6 June 1965).

St Pk P326 – A sightseeing horse-drawn vehicle operated by Vancouver Transfer Company in front of the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park. ca1900. (Note: CVA identifies this vehicle as a “car” but there are plainly reins at the front of the carriage.)

In 1905, Steve White, a Victoria liveryman, launched a Vancouver-based tally-ho. His vehicles seated between 25 and 30 people (Sun, 30 Aug 1945). According to the Vancouver Sun, there was a horse-drawn tally-ho company touring visitors around the City and the Park, which was discontinued in the 1930s.

Given the popularity of the Victoria tally-ho, however, the tour company was started anew in July 1947 by Len P. Mason, an ex-Royal Canadian Artillery sergeant who bought the Stanley Park Riding Academy after returning to the city from 3.5 years of service overseas [5]. I am fairly certain that the ‘wagon’ used with Ladybug Tours is the same one originally used with this 1940s incarnation of tally-ho tours.

Ladybug Tours was on the scene from 1949 to 1955.

In 1969, the tally-ho returned to Stanley Park. It was driven by Art Shannon. The tour had been shrunk to 20 minutes with a set fee. It was based at Prospect Point. It tooted in its ad copy: “Just horse and trees. No cars or concrete” (Sun, 23 May 1969).

It isn’t clear what happened to the ’69 tally-ho tours. But since Victoria was eliminating their tally-hos, a Sun correspondent suggested in 1974 that Stanley Park acquire them (Sun, 14 May 1974). This sentiment was repeated in another letter fours years later (Sun, 17 April 1978) and again four years after that.

AAA Horse and Carriage transported visitors around the Park from 1985. Many of AAA’s horses were Shire horses imported from England. It isn’t clear to me whether AAA was the final horse-drawn tour company in the Park, but it seems so.

Horse-drawn tours in Stanley were discontinued in 2019, I believe, due to concerns over the welfare of the horses.

Notes

  1. Ab Portman had his moment of fame when he was buried alive for three hours in December 1955 under tons of gypsum while working as superintendent of Columbia Gypsum Mines in Invermere. Having sunk into the quicksand-like pile of ore, he was able to attract the attention that saved his life by moving the one foot that was free of the ore (Sun, 1 Dec 1955).
  2. Verne Christian had been at the wheel of a Pacific Stages bus at Broadway and Cambie in November 1945 when he ran into a fire engine; he hadn’t heard the siren. His bus was empty, so no passengers were hurt and neither was he, but three firemen were injured in the accident (Sun, 26 Nov 1945). Someone with Christian’s name was selling boats and yachts at Vancouver Marina Centre in West Vancouver in the 1960s.
  3. It is difficult to be certain when Ladybug Tours ceased operating. Online city directories are available only through 1955.
  4. Please comment if you have evidence as to what was the Hamberque!
  5. However, a Province article states that RCAF Sergeant M. Brown applied for permission to establish a tally-ho for park tours. Competition or misprint?
From [Vancouver] Tourist and Shopping Guide: 1951-1952. Angus McIntyre Collection.
Ladybug Tours Float at P.N.E. Parade (early 1960s). CVA movie by Harry Lin Chin at 9’28”.
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John A. Radford: ‘Artistic Dean’ . . . Who?

Vancouver Sun 25 May 1940

When John Radford died, the Vancouver Sun hailed him as “dean of Vancouver artists and famous throughout Canada as an architect, water-colorist and art critic”. Today, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in Vancouver (even in art or local history circles) who would twig at the mention of his name.

John Alfred Radford (1860-1940) was the third child born to Isaiah and Jane Radford in Devonport, England. He was a life-long bachelor.

Radford came to Canada in 1882 on the Polynesian, settling in Port Arthur and later in Toronto and Montreal. In 1888, he collaborated with J.W. and E.C. Hopkins on the design of the Montreal Ice Palace. He freelanced on various other building projects in central Canada. He studied at the Ontario College of Art while he was in Toronto; presumably, he trained as an architect in England.

According to one source, he left Toronto for Vancouver in 1902 (Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada: 1800-1950), other sources put this move a bit later: 1911. 

VPL 21079. Statue of Pauline Johnson by artist (not accepted). John A Radford (1860-1940). Dominion Photo. 1921.

Radford was invited by the Women’s Canadian Club to submit a memorial for the grave of poetess Pauline Johnson (ignoring Johnson’s explicit wish that her grave not be marked). Although sculpture wasn’t his forte, Radford complied with the invitation. His submission was turned down, however, as his memorial was considered too expensive [1]. Instead, the selection committee chose the James A. Benzie design that is in Stanley Park today.

There are a couple of records of Radford working as an architect on local projects (for example, this one in Chinatown). There is also a report that Radford designed a number of early gas stations in the city (Province, May 17 1960). But most of Radford’s time in Vancouver seems to have been spent painting, sketching, and writing.

During the pre-war years, Radford kept body and soul together by painting cover art for periodicals such as British Columbia Magazine. He was also an illustrator and art critic for Saturday Sunset.

Cover art: John A. Radford.

There is a very brief press report which suggests that during the Great War, he worked in Seattle with a shipbuilding company (Vancouver Sun 17 March 1918). The 1918 Seattle directory shows John A.Radford as “draughtsman”.

One of Radford’s enduring legacies was the promotion of and establishment of the British Columbia Art League. The League was incorporated in 1920 and had as twin principal objectives the founding of an art school in Vancouver and the establishment of an art gallery. The Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts opened in 1925 and the Vancouver Art Gallery opened in 1931. Radford was a founding member of the League.

From about 1927 until the week before his passing in 1940, Radford had a column in the Vancouver Sun. He had considerable scope in his column, covering “art notes” from around the world, to art critiques nearer to home. A favourite target of Radford’s were members of the Group of Seven. About A. Y. Jackson, for example, Radford had this to say: “[Jackson] is one of the notable coterie of artists in the Group of Seven who seem to be painting little better than when they started years ago” (Sun, 10 December 1932).

One Sun columnist described Radford as having the appearance of “an irascible old Moses of art”. His temperament seems to have been aptly captured in that description, too. Following his death, the Province had this to say about him:

River Landscape in Winter (9.5″x14.5″) 1928. J. A. Radford. From a 2020 auction record online.

He was an artist and proud to be one, and his paintings of coast scenery and his frank and often breezy criticism helped give Vancouver folk an appreciation of art.

John Radford’s strength lay in his independence of spirit, his capacity as a draughtsman and his talent for colour. He had been trained as an architect and had a keen eye for balance and proportion. He had an eye for beauty too, and was contemptuous of pictures that were ugly or faulty in composition or draughtsmanship. The members of the Group of Seven came frequently under his lash because of their henpecked trees and dreary landscapes.

John Radford’s independence was his weakness too. It made it difficult for him to work with others. So some of his best efforts came to naught. It made him more of a lone wolf, and so restricted his resources and his range.

He did much for Vancouver, but Vancouver never fully appreciated him either as a critic or as an artist. For that, he never blamed it, though he was wistful about it sometimes. On the whole, he got more satisfaction out of being John Radford, out of his lonely holidays on the Coast fjords and out of his one-man salons [exhibits] and his quiet generosities than he could ever have got out of being lionized.

Province 28 May 1940

Notes

  1. I am pretty sure of my facts, here. However, I have been unable to find the document where I read this information.
Rocky Ridge and Snowdrifts J. A. Radford. Reproduction in Vancouver Sun, 25 May 1937.

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Vancouver’s Monarchs of the Bronze

CVA 99-4244 – Walter Leek, President of Exhibition Association is shaking the hand of Sun Tan Queen, Iris Palethorpe. Next to Leek is Dr. E. H. Funk, one of the ‘finals’ judges. Next to Palethorpe is Sun Tan King, Henry Lund, shaking the hand of J. K. Matheson, Exhibition manager. Standing to Matheson’s right is Jack Devaney, the other ‘finals’ judge. And at the far right of the photo is Calvin Winter, conductor of the Home Gas Orchestra, some members of which are in the background. Shot at Vancouver Exhibition. Sept. 1 1932. Stuart Thomson photo.
Van. Sun July 7, 1932

In 1932 the Vancouver Sun newspaper teamed up with a number of suburban Famous Players theatres, as well as a few ‘country’ theatres across the interior of B.C. to have a “Sun Tan Contest”. [1]

The ‘contest’ would actually consist of regional events held at the various theatres (in several ‘classes’: Boys and Girls, ages 6 to 10; Boys, 10 to 17; Girls, 10 to 17; Men 17 and up, and Ladies, 17 and up) and also two nights of finals held at the Vancouver Exhibition (now known as the Pacific National Exhibition).

Although there were 5 age classes, greatest attention was given to the two adult classes, from which would be crowned Sun Tan King, Henry Lund (Vancouver), and Sun Tan Queen, Iris Palethorpe (Burnaby).

The sole criterion, initially, for successful contestants was that they had a ‘good’ tan. However the contestant chose to define that was up to him/her.

Crop of CVA 99-4246 – Sun Tan Queen, Iris Palelthorpe, wearing seal fur coat at Vancouver Exhibition. Sept 1 1932. Stuart Thomson photo.

But just as the application deadline was nearing, another criterion was added: “Because of the unusual lack of sunshine this month, it has been decided to include personality as a factor in the contests…” (Sun, 29 July 1932). If the terms for judging suntans were vague, try to imagine those for judging personality!

There were $1000 worth of prizes. It was impossible to be a complete loser, as even those who were not among the bronzed chosen received an unspecified ‘consolation prize’.

The majority of the $1000 was for the Queen. Besides the trophies that the King and Queen received, there were gifts from various corporate sponsors (such as Associated Dairies, Swift Canadian, and Piggly Wiggly). But the most valuable prize was a seal fur coat supplied by New York Fur Company for Queen Iris, valued at $350. Presumably, the fur was intended for wearing when the sun was more often hidden!

Suntanning: A ‘Sea Change’ Begins

Suntanning began in Vancouver in the 1930s as a fad. Until then, there was only the smallest possibility of the sun’s rays getting past the torso-covering swimwear.

The 19-teens. CVA 99-5112 – V.A.S.C. – Vancouver Athletic Swim Club. May 1917, Stuart Thomson.
Late 1930s. CVA 371-836 – The Polar Bear Club about to go for a swim on New Years Day. Jan 1 1939.

But by the 1930s, the notion of swimsuits had changed some. Local swimwear manufacturer, Jantzen for example, was advertising a new feature of women’s swimsuits: deeply cut ‘sun-tan’ backs! We certainly aren’t talking about the skimpy two-piece bikinis of the 1960s, here, but this one-piece novelty let at least some sun reach the human body, thereby making suntanning above the waist a possibility.

To the best of my knowledge, after 1932, there was never another Vancouver Sun Sun-Tan Contest. The reason for the contest being a ‘one-of’ isn’t entirely clear. There was considerable enthusing by Sun writers about how well the event had gone and how probable that it would become an annual affair. To the extent that there can be any single explanation for the contest not being repeated, it may have been due, at least in part, to civic censorship.

Just one year after the tanning contest was held, the Sun published this report:

Policeman on Horse Visits Beaches

Vancouver police have taken literally and seriously the onerous duty thrust upon them by the Parks Board as censors of sun-tan[ning]…on Vancouver’s beaches.

So seriously, in fact, that in their first foray in the bright sunshine at English Bay and Second Beach this morning, they took no chances on foot in the shifting sand but let a horse do the floundering while a couple of dozen young men reclined with rolled-down bathing suits, under the beneficent rays.

There were no arrests, but there may be if the warning is not heeded, the officer told the sun gods as they reluctantly pulled shoulder straps over torsos that were just beginning to show signs that after all the sun can shine in Vancouver if it does not get discouraged.

Vancouver Sun 1 June 1933

Notes

  1. The local theatres where regional contests were held were: Alma, Broadway, Fraser, Grandview, Regent, Kerrisdale, Kitsilano, Victoria, and Windsor (none of these cinemas are still standing and in service for their ’30s purpose). The B.C. interior theatres that participated were: In Kamloops, Capitol; in Vernon, Empress; in Kelowna, Empress; in Penticton, Empress; and in Nelson, Capitol. For a look at a number of the great interior theatres, I highly recommend viewing the film produced by friends, Curtis and Silmara Emde called Out of the Interior.

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Maison Henri: Vancouver’s Forgotten Parisian House

Maison Henri interior. This looks to me like Maison Henri’s 550 Granville St location. ca 1930s. Importex (Postcard) Co. Leonard Frank photo. Author’s collection.
The Province. 7 November, 1936.

Henri Gautschi’s Vancouver hairdressing business, Maison Henri, lasted for over 35 years. But today the business and its proprietor are generally unknown.

Henri Edward Gautshci (whose surname sounded Italian) was born in 1875 in Paris, France. His father came from Switzerland.

Henri married May Phoebe Philips (born in 1882 in England). Together, they had two kids: Nancy May (1908-2008) and Edward Henri (1913-1999). May died in 1931.

Henri arrived in Vancouver ca1907. In 1908, he opened the first location of Maison Henri hairdressing and perfumery in the 300 block of West Hastings Street. 

By the 19-teens, Maison Henri was located on the 600 block of Granville, and they had a hairdressing school across the street (the Henri Maison School of Beauty Culture at 619 Granville would remain there through ca1943; at that time, the hairdressing school was sold, apparently, to Maxine’s “University of Beauty Culture”.) By the late ‘20s, Maison Henri had moved to its final location at 550 Granville.

VPL 15916 Shops on Granville Street – Maison Henri at 550 Granville, ca1940 (flanked by Polar Furs and Betty’s Hats and Gowns). Frank Leonard.

Gautschi was a bit peculiar when it came to his identity. He advertised his business as being run by “Mr. Henri” instead of by “Mr. Gautschi”. Why he chose to be known by his first name instead of his surname isn’t entirely clear.

It could be that he had little confidence in the sophistication of early Vancouverites; that he didn’t think the average resident would be able to cope with the pronunciation of “Gautshci”.

Or perhaps ‘Gautshci’ didn’t sound ‘French’ enough to him. The Maison Henri, after all, advertised itself as “the only Parisian House in Western Canada.”

Province. Apr 8 1909.

Or it could have been that the reason for the first/surname ‘switcheroo’ was related to his banking practices. In 1916, there were a pair of creditors to whom Gautschi owed just over $600. The pair tried to garnishee Gautschi’s Royal Bank account, but the bank would not process the garnishee, as the Royal had nobody with that name with an account. It seems Henri had his account at RBC in the name of ‘Gautschi Henri’ and he signed his cheques by the same name. The court (oddly) upheld Gautschi’s right to have an account in another name and for his assets in that account to be protected! He continued with the name switch in ads at least until 1933.

A Maison Henri ad showing Henri Gautschi’s name switch. Vancouver Sun. 20 May 1933.

Gautschi wound up in the law courts on other occasions. These pertained to him allegedly paying one of his hairdressers less than the provincially-mandated minimum wage. After the case bounced around in appellate courts, he was found, ultimately, to be in the wrong and had to pay the hairdresser the sum of wages she had owing her.

In 1940, Maison Henri opened a branch shop (in addition to the main shop at 550 Granville), in south Granville (2543 Granville; at Broadway). The plan was that the South Granville shop, in addition to offering hairdressing services, would also carry a full line of costume jewelry.

Maison Henri closed its doors in 1944, when Gautschi was 71. He planned to spend much of his time on his Bowen Island property. Henri died in 1951 at the age of 76.

The principal building in which Maison Henri was located for most of its life, 550 Granville, has had some distinguished tenants: In the 1950s and ’60s it was Foncie Pulice’s street photo headquarters; and in the ’80s, it was home to the much-missed Marks and Spencer department store. Today, it is Grand & Toy stationers.

CVA 677-377 – Storefront window of Maison Henri perfumery and hairdresser, 630 Granville Street. 1919.

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Barry Glass, Star Photographer

Barry Glass. Vancouver Sun, 7 January 1966.

Barry William Glass was born in North Vancouver in 1933 to William Glass and Winnifred Marr. He went to Britannia High School, where he was a member of the MacMillan Club of Fine Arts. During his years at Britannia, the school staged Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance; he played the sargeant of police. His post-secondary education was at the Vancouver School of Art, from which he graduated in 1958. 

He married Audrey Jean Reimer in 1960 and together they had two children: Wendy Lynn and Brenda Janet. (Wendy, sadly, died in 1979 at the age of 19 in an automobile accident). Audrey took a bachelor’s degree from UBC and was a member of the Vancouver Bach Choir and also of her church choir for a number of years.

Glass’s job was Assistant City Planner with the City of Vancouver. His choice of career was a bit peculiar, given his interest in the arts in high school and at VSA. His career choice was probably motivated by a desire to eat regularly.

But his hobby, as a photographer, became a sort of second job. He got his start with his hobby in 1957 during a recital by Jan Peerce held at the Georgia Auditorium. Glass practiced on this occasion what would become his trademark when shooting opera singers; he would use just available light; no flash. He took the photo of Peerce on the sly — without the subject’s permission or awareness.

Glass sent the best of his prints to Peerce in New York City. He responded to Glass with a letter in which the singer invited Glass to look him up next time he was in NYC. Glass did just that and Peerce connected him with Lily Pons, who wanted him to do her photographic portrait in character for what would be her last time playing Lucia in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.

Marlene Dietrich, 1960s. Barry Glass.

The first Vancouver International Festival was on at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in 1958. Glass was at the Vancouver School of Art just across the street from QET. He would skip afternoon classes to take in rehearsals at the theatre. This is Glass speaking for a profile in the Sun:

’Since the Festival was new then and there were all kinds of new faces, one more didn’t seem to matter so I wasn’t thrown out. When I showed people what I had taken at the rehearsals, they all seemed impressed so I decided to show Festival director Nicholas Goldschmidt too. From then on I had no trouble. I got a pass and permission to do what I wanted, provided I wasn’t on the stage when the curtain went up.’

Vancouver Sun 7 January 1966
Joan Sutherland in orange cloak for Norma, 1963. Barry Glass.

Glass’s involvement with the Opera Association (with which he became the official photographer) consumed a great deal of his time. So much so that his wife joined the association in order to see Glass more often. She had a good singing voice and began to get prominent parts in VOA productions. “‘I would like to do this photography full-time . . . but Vancouver isn’t big enough,’” said Glass. (Vancouver Sun, 7 January 1966). (Audrey, who died in 2006, would have a very full career as an opera singer, performing in most opera houses in Canada).

When he saw Joan Sutherland at QET in 1963 in Norma, wearing an orange cloak, Glass knew that a photo of her in the cloak would make a great image for the cover of her forthcoming album. That image by Glass of Sutherland has been re-used many times since it appeared on that album.

Marlene Dietrich was more of a challenge, as she had a strict “no photographs” policy. But he snuck a few shots of her during encores while she was singing in Vancouver, and hoped for the best. She threatened to sue Glass when she learned of his sneaky photos; but she changed her tune when she saw them. Not only did she drop the lawsuit — she personally interceded with Columbia Records to ensure that the photo appeared on the cover of her next album, Dietrich in London (Vancouver Sun, 23 December 1965).

Barry Glass’ life was cut short by a perforated ulcer in 1968 when he was just 34. There is no telling to what heights his photographic portraiture hobby might have taken him had he lived longer.

“Carmen” by VOA. ca 1960. UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies scan of Gail McCance’s set design photos and drawings. Tom Carter’s Collection. Barry Glass photo.

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Fun Facts: The Signal Station Atop Lions Gate Bridge

Crop of CVA 265-70 – Looking NE at the Lions Gate Bridge Signal Station located midspan above the bridge. 1938. David Loughnan
  • The signal station that serviced Burrard Inlet before the bridge was built was the Prospect Point station (1893-1939); the old signal station was located atop the cliff above the Prospect Point lighthouse.
  • Lions Gate bridge station (formally known as “First Narrows Signal Station”) was in operation, 1939-1974. Beginning in ’74, Burrard Inlet was served from Park Royal in West Vancouver. It was then referred to as “Vancouver Vessel Management Centre” or “Vancouver Centre”, for short. The Park Royal station had equipment piled “ceiling-high” (Vancouver Sun, 9 Jan 1974).
CVA 260-974 – View from the Lions Gate Bridge of Prospect Point signal station, above the lighthouse and boathouse. 1938 James Crookall.
  • The purpose of the signal station, was to monitor shipping traffic in and out of the harbour. Signallers were also to keep watch on weather (e.g., wind speed, visibility due to fog) and advise vessels of same. Other tasks (not included in the signaller’s job description, I assume), included assisting rescues of people attempting suicide from the bridge (this was in the period before anti-suicide netting had been installed).
  • Signallers at the LGB station included: W. J. Mooney, Wilfred “Tug” Wilson, and Danny Parkins.
  • The 9 o’clock (p.m.) gun located at Brockton Point (Stanley Park) was, for a while, fired by the signaller on duty at LGB station pressing a button; the gun would then fire by remote control.
  • The Lions Gate Bridge was a provincial responsibility. But the signal station was a federal one (it was run by the National Harbours Commission until the LGB station was closed. The Park Royal station was run by the federal Ministry of Transport).
  • There was a flush toilet in the LGB signal perch:

The bridge biffy was pointed out by Dr. J. E. Balmer, president of the B.C. Yachting Association and vice-president of the Canadian Yachting Association. “Men in the signal station receive orders when and when not to flush,” said Balmer. He told the Sun he had never visited the signal station, but he believes that flushing directions are determined by wind strength and frequency of shipping traffic under the bridge.

Vancouver Sun, 28 September 1968
  • The chief signaller had a residence provided by the National Harbours Commission at the south end of the bridge, and just west of it). It was built in 1938 (at which time the former Prospect Point signal station — west of the new residence — was destroyed). I don’t know when the residence was demolished, but I imagine it happened in the mid-70s.

The residence for the LGB Chief Signaler. It was located about 200 feet west of the south end of the bridge. Vancouver Sun. 14 Oct 1938.
  • How did signallers get to work? This isn’t a fact; more of an educated guess. I figure they walked across the bridge deck, using the ped-way the way any other pedestrian would cross the bridge. When they were beneath the signal station, I’m guessing that they climbed the ladder visible in the first image in this post.
Lion’s Gate Bridge, 1938. Fund-Raiser for Theatre Under the Stars, 1994.

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The Age of the Searchlight

The late 1920s and 1930s was the age of the searchlight in Vancouver.

Port P1153.2 – Mr. E.C. Dawe, Point Atkinson Lighthouse Keeper, with his light. 1951.

Searchlights were not a new thing. They had been in use in 19th century Europe. Indeed, they were not new to Vancouver, either. Searchlight technology was in use in B.C. coastal applications from before Vancouver’s incorporation — as lighthouses.

The popularity of the searchlight during this time was probably due to a number of factors. Improved light technology and the ‘reach’ of searchlights was certainly one.

But it seems to me that the single most important factor behind the popularity of the searchlight at this time was the currency of Art Deco (aka Style Moderne) design.

One of the first things to enter my mind at the mention of searchlights is the very deco-ish visual (and soundtrack) that accompanies movies made by 20th Century Studios. If you need a reminder of what I’m talking about, click on this link.

Woodward’s

Van Sc P114 – The Woodward’s Department Store searchlight atop the tower. ca 1938.

One of the first institutions in Vancouver to make use of a searchlight was a department store — Woodward’s. In 1927, the store installed a searchlight atop its building at Abbott and Hastings.

Puggy [P. A. Woodward] . . . had a giant tower built on the roof of the Store. It stood seventy-five feet high, held a searchlight forty-eight inches in diameter and threw out a two-million candlepower beam which revolved six times each minute and spread its rays far over the Lower Mainland across to Vancouver Island. For many years, the Beacon Tower was a landmark to the people of Vancouver.

The Woodwards: A family story of ventures and traditions.
Douglas E. Harker. 1976: Mitchell Press.

The purpose of this light was advertising. Woodward’s searchlight seemed to proclaim, boldly: “Look at Woodward’s searchlight! Isn’t it time you returned here to shop?”

In 1938, in response to an order from the federal Department of Transport, the Woodward’s light was extinguished. It was believed that pilots who were unfamiliar with Vancouver might confuse the Woodward’s searchlight with the airport landing strip. The searchlight was replaced with a giant “W” (Vancouver Sun, 2 June 1938).

The giant W removed from its perch above Woodward’s for condo development. .Arlen Redekop / PNG.

Canadian Diamond Jubilee

Pete Triance, Superintendant, Grouse Resort, with his light. Vancouver Sun. 4 July 1927.

As part of the 1927 Canadian Diamond Jubilee celebration (marking 60 years since Confederation), a searchlight was installed atop Grouse Mountain. The light shone on various parts of the city, including City Hall, from July 1 for a number of days that year. According to the caption beneath the accompanying photo from the Sun, the light was co-owned by the City of Vancouver and other municipalities in the Greater Vancouver area (Sun, 4 July 1927).

This searchlight served a function similar to that of Woodward’s. It was a form of advertising, celebrating a civic occasion.

There was another event associated with the Diamond Jubilee at which a searchlight was involved. On the day of the Jubilee (Dominion Day), there was a fireworks display over English Bay. As part of that, the H.M.C.S. Patrician “added to the entertainment by playing its searchlight over the water.” (Sun, 4 July 1927)

Hudson’s Bay Co. / Vancouver Airport

CVA 99-2493 – Hudson’s Bay Co. / Airport searchlight. 1930. Stuart Thomson.

A searchlight was installed by a major competitor of Woodward’s, Hudson’s Bay Co. on the roof of its store at Georgia and Granville in 1930. In this case, the searchlight was to serve the brand new city airport by shining a light from downtown, over Shaughnessy Heights, and onto the landing strip at the airport on Sea Island. The searchlight on HBC apparently had the same strength as the one on Woodward’s and the one that had been atop Grouse Mountain in 1927 — a two-million candlepower beam. Indeed, it is likely that the light on HBC was the same light as had been on Grouse (Sun, 4 July 1927).

According to local press reports, the searchlight was to be situated 60-feet above the roofline of the department store. But looking at the photo above, I don’t see how that is possible (unless the photo was taken early in the installation and that it was raised significantly higher, later — perhaps after aldermanic and HBC bigwigs had skedaddled).

I don’t know how long the HBC/Airport searchlight was in use. It seems doubtful to me, however, that it would have continued to operate far into the WW2 period, due to wartime blackout precautions in the City.

Searchlights as Metaphors

VPL 80816A Colliers Motors opening of new showroom, 450 West Georgia Street, night photograph with searchlights, 1949. Art Jones.

Searchlights were popular in this period not only as devices, but also as metaphors. A search through the local press from the later ’20s and ’30s reveals that the term was regularly used in church sermon titles and product ads.

Baptist preachers seemed regularly to reach for “searchlights” when crafting sermon titles. Mount Pleasant Baptist, for example, in 1928 had a sermon series on “Russellism [Jehovah’s Witnesses] Under the Searchlight”, and Rev. Elbert Paul of First Baptist, in 1936, delivered a sermon titled — opaquely, in my opinion — “A Searchlight of Selfishness”.

The Province newspaper in 1929 advertised its ‘lost and found’ service in their classified ads section with the headline: “Like High Powered Searchlights”.

CVA 1184-1615 – View of the P.N.E. at night showing the exhibition buildings, rides and a large searchlight, 1960. Jack Lindsay.

A term often used in this period as a synonym for searchlight was “beacon”. The Beacon Theatre (formerly the second Pantages at 20 West Hastings) was so named in 1930. There was also a local publication in the 1930s called “The Beacon”; I gather that this was a religious pub of some sort, since the editor’s name was Rev. Duncan McDougall (it seems he was as a Presbyterian minister).

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A South Richards Street Survivor

CVA 99-729 – American Laundry, 1339 Richards Street. ca1918. Stuart Thomson.

The very solid brick structure shown above was at 1339 Richards Street and seems to have been built circa 1914. To my surprise, given Vancouver’s record of demo-ing most buildings that stand for more than 50 years, this structure endured for nearly 100 years and many businesses called it home. [1]

Before the building went up, there was a residence at the address, I’m guessing similar in type and size to the building to the right (north) of the brick building. For some reason (a residential fire?), that building was pushed over and the brick structure went up in its place.

The original owner of the brick building was William James Thomas, a local architect and contractor. [2] Whether Thomas ever owned the American Laundry or if he was strictly the landlord for awhile, isn’t clear. By 1913, however, the American Laundry was identified (accurately or not) as being a “Chinese laundry”.

The operator of the business by 1929 (whether he was the owner, then, isn’t clear) was called Mock Sing. The only reason that we know this much is that the laundry was robbed in November, 1929 and the local papers made a tremendous fuss over the police constable who saved the day and booked the rascal who had threatened Mr. Sing and the P. C.

The robber was Lowell Chinn, a person who was identified only as an American recently arrived in Vancouver. [3]

A little Chinese laundryman named Mock Sing gave [P.C. Denis] Johnston his big opportunity. Mock had been having a hard time of it. On October 2, a bandit entered his shop at 1339 Richards street, pressed a gun against him and took $25. One week later, the same raider again victimized Mock Sing [and this time, presumably, Chinn netted little or nothing for his efforts].

The hold-up occurred at 8p.m. After the bandit rifled the till, he ran to the back of the shop while Mock, heaping Chinese maledictions upon his head, darted into the street. He caught sight of husky Denis Johnston patrolling his beat with measured tread.

“Lobbers ketchum help, bandits!” screamed Mock.

“Be asly, me bhoy,” comforted Denis Johnston. “I’ll get your bandit for ye.” [The P.C. was of Irish extraction, in case that isn’t obvious!]

Vancouver Sun 23 Nov 1929 (comments in square brackets are mine).

Chinn threatened P. C. Johnston with a cigarette case which he wielded as though it were a revolver and shouted to Johnston “Stand where y’are or I’ll drill ya.” The constable it seems to me was full of the blarney, knew how to make a good story better, and added a lot of detail about how he felt when Chinn made his threat (which I’ll spare the reader of this post). Chinn was sentenced for six years for the hold-up at American Laundry ($25), robbery of another Chinese gent (50 cents), and another, earlier, Chinese laundry stick-up on Hornby Street ($15). [4]

By 1930, American Laundry had closed its doors. Thereafter, until 1950, there was a pretty rapid succession of businesses in the brick building at 1339 Richards:

  • 1931, Patent Utilities Manufacturing had taken over the space. It didn’t last long.
  • 1932-34, the address was shown in the Vancouver directory as “vacant”.
  • 1935-36, Granolite Paint had its business there.
  • 1937-38 it had become Electrical Sales & Equipment.
  • 1939-40, Vancouver Stone Repair.
  • 1941-43, H K F Machines.
  • 1944-45, the building housed Aero Manufacturing machine shop and D. V. Manley manufacturers agents.
  • 1946-49, T. Woodward roofing had the building for its business.

From 1950-67, the first long-term occupant of 1339 Richards was also the first in a string of restaurants in the building, Monty’s Spare Ribs. (The original proprietor of Monty’s was Max King; he claimed that Monty’s was named for Monty Montaine, the maitre ‘d at The Cave Supper Club during WWII).

Monty’s was followed by the Original Spare Rib House from ca1967- circa1972. From 1973 until the mid-1980s, Edgar’s Dining Lounge occupied the brick building. And that was followed, evidently, by one of the last occupants I was able to track down: a high-end Italian restaurant called Pappa Al Pomodoro in the mid-90s, briefly, at 1339 Richards (which the Sun’s restaurant reviewer, Mia Stainsby, accurately described as “a charmless section of Richards Street”).

CVA 779-E07.29 – 1339 Richards Street (Sir Edgar’s Dining Lounge; formerly the American Laundry building), west side of Richards. 1981.

By the 2000s, 1339 and the rest of the southern end of Richards Street had succumbed to the trend for densification sweeping all downtown districts, and was redeveloped as condos.

Finally, the little old brick building at 1339 gave way to the wrecker.

As I’ve noted elsewhere in this blog, it seems to me that peripheral parts of the city (e.g., East Vancouver, and the southern extremes of Richards and Seymour) tend to be less likely to quickly demolish buildings. The central (downtown) district seems more likely to “re-develop” its property — ironically, as that is today the most touristy area and the one in which there is greater call now for retention of heritage property.

Notes

  1. This community at the south end of Richards has been, for most of the 20th century, a zoning muddle. In 1914, the year the American Laundry was apparently established, among the homes at the south end of Richards were these businesses: Pioneer Laundry (900), Pioneer Carriage & Shoeing (912), Albion Motor Co. (940), Imperial Art Glass (1059), Riggs & Higgins Sash Manufacturers (1067), Sing Lee Laundry (1068), Star Steam Laundry (1115), Berlin Dye Works (1122), Smith Co. Hardwood Lumber (1320), and Belt Line Transfer (1369). By 1929, when American Laundry was nearing the end of its life as a laundry, a much larger operation would be built a block away — Canadian Linen Supply (1200), known today as Choices grocers.
  2. There was a firm called “American Laundry” with a Canadian base in Toronto. They seem to have manufactured steam laundry machines during this period. It is possible that they also invested in some store-front operations like the one on Richards Street, but I could not find any evidence to confirm that.
  3. I find it interesting, that Chinn’s ‘voice’ — as attributed by the Sun — was stereotypically American gangster-ish! I assume this was done to help the reader keep track of the characters.
  4. The Lowell Chinn convicted of these robberies seems to be the same as the Lowell H. Chinn who turned up in Spokane by 1937. He also had some scrapes with the law in that city. He pleaded guilty in 1941, for instance, to a charge of larceny for passing a bad cheque. In 1949, a second-degree burglary charge against Chinn was apparently dropped upon his being arrested in Cheyenne, Wyoming on another (unknown) charge. By 1958, he was serving time in Utah on a larceny conviction. Chinn died in Seattle in 1986.

Thanks to Robert of WestEndVancouver for his assistance with some of the research for this post.

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Ted Lefebure’s ‘Voice’ (in the absence of a photo)

The germ of this post (if one may use such a word these virus-centric days) came from local music/theatre expert, Tom Carter. He found the correspondence that is at the post’s heart in a Gastown antique shop years ago and then forgot about it. Recently, the letter came to his attention again.

Unlike the typical VAIW post, there isn’t a featured photograph showing Lefebure; there simply wasn’t one that I could find. The letter written by E. S. Lefebure — his ‘voice’ — will stand in lieu.

First, however, a few details about Ted Lefebure and his kin.

Madras, India

Edward “Ted” Stewart Lefebure (1895-1946) was born in Madras (today’s Chennai), India to Edouard and Grace.

Edouard was born, studied and spent his early working life in England. Edouard trained in England to become a locomotive engineer. By the early 1890s, he was living in Madras, presumably working as an engineer on trains in that area.

I don’t know where Edouard met Grace. Like Edouard, she was born in England, but the two were married in Madras in 1892. In 1895, Edward Stewart was born to them in Madras; Ted was their only child.

Saskatchewan

When he was about 7, Ted and his parents moved to England. I assume that the reason for moving from India was Grace’s declining mental health. In 1902, Grace was admitted to the mental hospital in Wells, England. Grace died in that institution in October 1931. [1]

When Ted was about 15 (ca1910), he moved with his Dad to Canada. They settled in the vicinity of Biggar, Saskatchewan where Edouard took up a new occupation, that of a farmer.

In October 1917, Ted married Margaret Huggins (of New York State). Together they had two daughters, Rita and Norma. There is evidence that the couple didn’t live in Saskatchewan for all of their married lives. Rita and Norma were both born in Nepanee, Ontario.

The marriage was not to be long-lasting. In 1923, records show that Margaret moved back to the States, together with their two kids. In 1927, she married Theodore Hamilton in the U.S.

Vancouver

About 1929, Ted moved to Vancouver and he was resident at 530 Hornby Street (Hornby Mansions). A year later, he married Phyllis Irene Arnold (on the certificate of marriage to Phyllis, Ted wasn’t entirely honest; he indicated that he had been a “bachelor” prior). Phyllis had been born in England and was working as a maid at the time of her wedding. Ted and Phyllis moved several times over the early years of their marriage, ultimately settling for most of their marriage at 1320 East 11th Avenue.

According to the 1931 BC Directory, Ted’s occupation at the time was “painter”, presumably a commercial painter. But in the final years of his life, he described his occupation as “musician”.

Ted’s ‘Voice’

What instrument did Ted play? Did he perform solo, or was he part of a band? These and other questions will be addressed at the conclusion of this post.

Before we get to those, however, I want to share a letter written by Ted Lefebure to his Dad in 1933. The letter comes from the collection of Tom Carter. He found it in an antique shop several years ago and recently invited me to take a crack at figuring out who the writer was and what was the context of the letter. It offers interesting insights into Depression Vancouver of the mid-1930s and into the lives of the Lefebures.

1320 – 11 Ave. East
Vancouver, B.C.

March 10th, 1933

Dear Father,

I thought I would write a few lines to find out how you are and to let you know we are all well here yet [“all” refers to Ted’s family, I assume: Phyllis, two boys — Phillip and Dennis — and two girls]. We have had quite a hard winter for Vancouver. Had quite a bit of snow and frost, but the weather is improving now and I guess spring will soon be here. I do not suppose you have had any word from Mackinnen’s about the money yet. I have not heard from them for two months now. Well, I’m not fooling around waiting on them any longer. I have turned all my papers and correspondence over to a law firm here to attend to . . . . [He continues on for a couple of pages discussing this apparent family inheritance. Grace died in England in 1930, so it’s my suspicion that this is in reference to Ted’s Mom’s estate].

I am still doing quite a lot of playing, and am busy most every evening somewhere, although the pay is pretty small sometimes. Have great hopes of things being better in the musical line soon. Am getting pretty well known with the professional musicians in the city. Being well known here is half the battle. We are still playing over the air on station C.K.M.O.

The unemployment situation is very serious in Vancouver now. There is rioting almost every week. I have been down amongst them at different times and I think it is disgusting the way the police ride up and down the sidewalks with their horses and trample on people and knock them down with weighted clubs. My sympathy’s with the unemployed people. All they are asking for is a square deal from the rotten government, and they get their heads busted open. Is it any wonder that people are turning red? I’ll soon be a good Bolshevik myself

Well, I guess I had better close for this time. We are still living in hopes of being able to come down and see you sometime in the summer. Hoping you are keeping well. [Edouard would pass away in Edmonton in October 1935; I don’t understand ESL’s reference to his Dad’s location as being “down” relative to Vancouver].

Love from us all,

Ted

Tom Carter’s collection. (Note: I have edited this letter very lightly; mainly editing out Ted’s run-on sentences. Remarks in square brackets are mine).
Nanaimo Daily News. 5 July 1940.

According to the Sun, Ted played the violin. He might have played solo gigs, but I haven’t been able to find any evidence of that. He played with a band, and he was the leader:

Though not a Stadivarius, as violins go, it was a good one.

It once belonged to Ted Lefebure, the “Doc” in Doc’s Old Timers band that played in ballrooms around town in the 1940s.

Doc brought the instrument with him from the prairies in the 1920s. Doc’s son Phil, of Langley, says his dad died in 1946 and his mother, Phyllis, sold the violin to band member, Jack Alexander about 10 years later. [Phyllis died in 1965].

Vancouver Sun. 16 Nov 1993.

“Doc’s Vancouver Old-Timers Band” seems to have been the name of Ted’s band that was most often used. But on at least one occasion (on a gig in Nanaimo), they were known as the “Merry Makers”.

I tried to find photographs which might have included ESL (e.g., CKMO radio orchestras) in various local online archives. But no dice.

There remains for me, one final question: Why “Doc”?

I suspect that the “Doc” sobriquet was to make his surname less of an issue for people to recall. Most local band/orchestra leaders were known by their last names — e.g., Fowler’s Orchestra — and Lefebure doesn’t exactly roll off the Anglo tongue. So I’m guessing that the monosyllabic “Doc” was considered easier for Vancouverites to say and to remember.

Ted died in Vancouver at the young age of 51 in 1946.

Re N2.2 – Unemployed men at Victory Square being dispersed by police. July 1932.

Note

  1. I am indebted to Robert of Westendvancouver.worpress.com for his assistance with some details in this post. He found evidence of Grace’s institutionalization in the Wells mental hospital, as well as other facts.
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When the King was Here and Swinging

CVA 2014-089.0604 – Les Guildermeester (I have no idea who LG is or was), Benny Goodman and Hugh Pickett at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. April 1976.

Benny Goodman (1909-1986) was my musical hero during my high school years. No, those years were not for me the 1930s or 1940s. They were the late 1970s!

Yes, I was and am, perhaps, a bit odd. I was turned on to the musical stylings of the King of Swing some forty years after he made those sounds popular; when he was about a decade from death. But thanks to the magic of LP records, I was able to hear him and his trios, quartets, and other sub-band groups as freshly as when they made those recordings.

Well, I can hear you saying, what has this to do with Vancouver as it was?

I’ve just learned, thanks to the Hugh Pickett fonds at CVA, that Benny and his then-Sextet played Vancouver at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in April 1976, just shy of his 67th birthday. His sextet on this tour that included Vancouver consisted of:

Vache and Tate were added as soloists and weren’t, technically, members of the Goodman group. This version of the Goodman Sextet had been on a tour of North American locations: Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver. Seattle and Portland were next (and last) on the tour schedule.

Province. 10 April 1976.

There is another element that makes the Goodman Sextet worthy of mention in VAIW. According to the Sun, Goodman was the first registered guest to stay in the new Four Seasons Hotel at Georgia and Howe (Sun, 23 April 1976). Apparently, Goodman was arriving in the city the day before the hotel was due to open and that made him “the hotel’s first guest”. Given that the hotel was due to close in January this year, this forgotten tidbit seems worth noting.

Peter Appleyard, the Brit who made Toronto his home, was the principal media spokesperson during the Sextet’s time in Vancouver. It was his voice, rather than Benny’s, that was in local news accounts of the Vancouver session. I think it was Goodman’s preference not to talk a lot with media types. He much preferred to play . . . and I still prefer to listen to the King swing it!

The album cover art adjacent was, as I recall, from one of my favourite Goodman recordings. It was made in 1967 and features such classics as “How ‘ya Gonna Keep ’em Down On The Farm” and “Autumn Leaves”.

This online version brought back some memories.

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1948 Exterior Views of Vancouver’s Grand Old Lady

This is a pictorial post of crops based on some terrific images made of the Old Hotel Vancouver (1916) by Don Coltman in April 1948.

Judging from the titles given the original images, I take it that these were commissioned by T. Eaton Co. — the corporate caretaker of the property (as well as the adjacent York Hotel and International Cinema) until the giant downtown Eaton’s store occupied the space in 1972 (to be succeeded by Sears and then by Nordstrom’s).

There were at least two major major occupants of the Old HV in its final months: the Citizen’s Rehabilitation Council (which housed veterans of WWII) and the National Employment Service (aka the Unemployment Insurance Commission). There was a UIC “women’s entrance” on Howe and a “men’s entrance” on Granville Street (why two entries were considered necessary, I don’t know). The CRC entry seemed to be the former main entry to the Old HV on Georgia Street.

Crop of CVA 586-7067. The principal entrance to Old HV, looking west on Georgia Street. 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7046. Corner of Howe and Georgia of Old HV. 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7056. Men’s Entrance to Vancouver’s UIC office — on Granville. (Note tracks for streetcars on Granville). 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7010. This seems to have been made in the Old HV’s laundry lane, looking out toward the then-Court House (now the Art Gallery). 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7012. This is a view of the Georgia at Granville corner. The building across Granville is the Old Birk’s building. 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7028. A similar view to the one immediately above, but looking south on Granville with the Old HV to the right. 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7056. View of the Old HV to the right on Granville. The International Cinema is on the left. 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7035. Women’s UIC entrance on Howe. 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7043. A gent looking out the window of reception area of the York Hotel (by this time, owned by the same people as owned the Old HV — Eaton’s). 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7037. A UIC clerk? through window on Howe side of Old HV. 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7034. Gents visible through windows on Howe side. 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7068. Looking east on Georgia through the main entry to Old HV. 1948. Don Coltman.
Crop of CVA 586-7063. A gent looking (wistfully?) out of a window on the Georgia side of Old HV. 1948. Don Coltman.

Nine months after the original images were taken on which the above crops were based, the end of January 1949, the wreckers came on site and proceeded to demolish the Old HV.

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William Fowler: Early Orchestra Leader in an Innocent Age

Crop of Mil P183 – William Fowler’s Orchestra at the 1st Annual Ball of F. Company 6th Regiment, D.C.O.R. at Lester Hall (1205 Granville). Note: The orchestra is in the orchestra gallery at the back of the hall. I’m not sure which of the men is Fowler. Vancouver, B.C. Dec 15 1911. Bullen & Lamb photo.

William Fowler (1875-1936) was the leader of Fowler’s Orchestra from ca1902 to ca1915. He was the eldest son of James Fowler and Jane Youngson. His sole sibling was his younger brother, Peter. The Fowlers came to Vancouver from England in 1891.

The first gig of Fowler’s Orchestra seems to have been the grand opening in 1902 of the Colonial Hotel. The Colonial Hotel still stands today, however these days it is known by a different name: the Yale Hotel (1300 Granville).

In 1907, at age 32, Fowler married Ellen Elizabeth Horsfield (age 21) in Vancouver. Like William, Ellen (1885-1952) had been born in England (although she was a much more recent arrival; she came in 1904). William and Ellen would have one child, Jane.

Fowler’s Orchestra played many Masonic [1] events. I assume this was partly because Masonic lodges were in such abundance and had a substantial membership at the time; also partly because Fowler was a Mason. But I should point out that Fowler didn’t seem to discriminate against other groups. For example, he took on jobs for Roman Catholic groups (e.g. the Knights of Columbus ball, and the opening of St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church hall in 1911 in Kitsilano).

Among the many news accounts of the events at which Fowler’s orchestra played, I’ve chosen the one shown below. It is a good example of period language and of the mood and priorities that seemed to prevail in the city prior to WWI.

The second ball of the series given by the Girls’ auxiliary [this seems to have been a group which was fundraising for VGH] in Lester hall last night proved a most delightful affair. The gaily decorated hall presented an almost fairylike scene. The walls and galleries were almost entirely hidden from view by a profusion of delicate paper flowers and blossoms, while from the gold and red draperies festooned from corner to corner overhead, large imitation roses were suspended by fine wire giving them the appearance of having fallen and being caught in mid-air. The hall was comfortably filled for dancing, about 250 guests being present, while the music played by Fowler’s orchestra was excellent. Amongst those present were . . .[a list of what appears to have been most of the ladies present, along with a description of what each was wearing! For example:] . . . Mrs. C. S. Douglas, gowned with white net over satin . . . Mrs. S. S. Taylor, vieux rose satin with handsome steel bugle trimming . . . . [etc.]

The Province. 5 February 1910.

Other groups that Fowler’s orchestra played for included the Sons of Ireland, the Lancashire Old Boys (which typically met in O’Brien’s Hall on Hastings near Homer), Sons of St. George, Sons of England, the Cooks and Waiters of Vancouver (a trade union group), the Jolly Club (!), Musicians Mutual Protective Union (of which Fowler was a life member), and the British Isles Public Schools Association (which seems to have been composed of ‘old boys’ who had attended ‘public schools’ in Britain — what we’d call ‘private schools’ in North America; their wives were welcome at dancing events).

The admission charge (presumably to cover the cost of the orchestra and catering of ‘dainty’ sandwiches) for dances of the sort that Fowler’s Orchestra played during this period tended to be less than $1 per person. There were different rates for different genders: typically at Fowler events it was 50 cents for gents and 25 cents for ladies. I’m not sure why the gender differentiation. Perhaps it was due to there being more guys than gals in the city and the organizers wanting to encourage attendance by ladies so that there would be enough dancing partners to go around.

World. 17 December 1915.

One of the final events that Fowler’s Orchestra played was for the Vancouver General Hospital’s New Year’s reception in 1915. VGH had officially opened in 1906, but the first nurses’ residence wasn’t opened until 1915. Fowler et al set up in the dining room of the nurses’ buildings.

At the end of 1915, it was announced that William Fowler would take on the managerial reigns of the Ross Music Store (334 West Hastings). He didn’t seem to keep this job very long, however; perhaps a single year. After that, it seems, he retired. Despite being a popular early orchestra leader in the city Fowler, it seems, was not well known — at least not by members of the Fourth Estate. In his 1936 obituary, the writer seemed to be at such a loss at what to write about the band leader that he devoted a whole paragraph of the four-paragraph obituary to pointing out that William was the son of James Fowler, who had superintended construction of several CPR Empress steamships.

Little did the citizens of Vancouver then realize that the relatively carefree days that preceded the 1914-18 war would not return. It was inconceivable that the war would claim some 60,000 Canadian lives and that many more would suffer mental and physical disabilities as a consequence.

By 1918 and beyond, the party was definitely over.


Notes

[1] Some of the Masonic groups were known by names that are still recognizable, such as the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), and some that are not, such as the “Sons of Hermann” and “Lodge Merrie England”!

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A Block of Libraries

Update

In 1925, Mrs. A. J. Davidson would start a little bookstore business across the street from the home shown below (later she would move the business next door to the home, later down the block a few doors; it would never be far away). She called the bookshop, perhaps with a vain hope of exclusivity, The Library.

CVA 1376-517 - [Clearing the lot at 2818 and 2820 Granville Street] 1928_
Crop of CVA 1376-517 – Workers clear front of lots at 2818 and 2820 Granville Street (east side of street between 12th and 13th Avenues) for construction of commercial space. One of the businesses at front would be The Stanley Library, not to be confused with The Library, another bookshop, initially located across the street. By the time this image was made, The Library had moved across to the east side of Granville, right beside where Stanley Library would be (note ad on The Library’s wall, cheekily facing the home). 1928.

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

CVA 1376-521 - [2820 Granville Street - the Stanley Library %22June Leslie's store%22] 1933
CVA 1376-521 – The Stanley Library, 2820 Granville. 1933.

Mrs. Leslie and June lived in the home at 2818 Granville for a couple of years, and then moved, presumably preferring to collect rent on the property.

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

image2
Maud and June Leslie’s former home (2818 Granville) poking up behind Black Goat Cashmere and Daniel Chocolates, as it appears today. It isn’t clear to me whether the home is still used as a residence. But judging from a parking sign in the laneway (“Rear Entrance ONLY for Employees and Deliveries”), it doesn’t seem likely (Note: The concrete tower in left background of image is Chalmers Lodge, a seniors residence). 2016. Author’s photo.

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

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

Notes

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

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

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Earle Hill: From ‘Dainty’ to ‘Cave Man’ Music

CVA 99-4556 – Earle C. Hill and Hotel Vancouver orchestra in Spanish Grill Sept 20 1933 Stuart Thomson.

Earle Hill (1887-1955) was a noteworthy orchestra leader in Vancouver in the late 19-teens and the ’30s and ’40s.

Earle Channell Hill was born in 1887 to William and Vella in Vanvert, Ohio. He played the violin. He had his first performance opportunity when he was in high school in Ohio, by playing Brahms in a hotel lobby with a string trio he’d assembled. He later played for vaudeville theatre in various Ohio locations and also joined the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra.

Earle Hill. Cropped image taken from the cover of sheet music for “Sittin’ Around”. Tom Carter collection.

Shortly after that, a friend of Hill’s who’d left Ohio for Canada, wrote to him, suggesting that he come up to Winnipeg where he could probably find performance work. He took his friend’s suggestion, and he went to Winnipeg in about 1912 where he worked at various small music jobs, but then he heard of an opportunity at the Canadian National Railway’s (CNR’s) Hotel Macdonald (1915- ) in Edmonton. Together with his brother-in-law, Calvin Winter (organ) and Frank Emde (cello) they formed the Macdonald Trio and played the hotel for about three years (1915-18). The three also offered studio classes in violin, cello, and piano as well as “orchestral classes” at the Majestic Theatre building on Jasper Ave. in Edmonton.

In late 1918, Hill was offered the job of leader of the Hotel Vancouver orchestra (succeeding Oscar P. Ziegler — the first VSO conductor — who had recently died). Hill’s music stylings were described in the local press as being “tasteful and dainty.” Hill was even vice-president of Vancouver’s Clef Club — an organization which had as one of its aims to eliminate jazz music (World, 5 June 1920).

He stayed at the Hotel Vancouver for just a couple of years; by July 1920, he was orchestra leader at the Barron Hotel (SE corner, Granville at Nelson). A typical programme at the Barron included selections from Grieg, Verdi, and Beethoven. Pretty longhaired stuff.

1921 saw Hill making a departure, both physically and musically. He returned to Winnipeg where he was employed to succeed E. Joseph Shadwick as the conductor of the “Famous Capitol (Theatre) Symphony Orchestra”, where his group would play for the silent films of the day. By about 1925, the name of the group was changed, at Hill’s suggestion, to the “Famous Capitolians”. The new name had such cache that the management group in charge of Western Canadian Capitol Theatres (Famous Players) changed the names of all of the Western Capitol orchestras to match that of the Winnipeg theatre.

Hill led his Famous Capitolians in Winnipeg until May 1931 when he agreed to lead an orchestral group in the CPR’s Royal Alexandra Hotel in Winnipeg. He was at the Royal Alex for just a matter of months.

In autumn of 1931, Hill accepted a return call to Vancouver. His first job was with the Strand Theatre Orchestra. In 1932, he would lead the Orpheum Theatre Concert Orchestra. And in 1933, he would return to the Hotel Vancouver — this time playing the Spanish Grill (see featured photo above), where his group would provide dance music on Wednesday and Saturday nights (from 9.30 p.m. to 1 a.m.; “No cover charge, $1.50 supper included”!) He seems to have been attached to the Hotel Vancouver until ca1935.

Hill took a 3-year sabbatical from Vancouver starting in about 1936. (1) This period seemed to mark a fundamental change in the kind of music on offer from Hill’s orchestras. He accepted a position as the leader of the band attached to Winnipeg’s branch of the Cave Supper Clubs. It would be known as “Earle Hill and the Cave Men”, and it would not be known for its dainty renderings of Greig!

When he returned to Lotusland at the end of 1938, it was to take on the job as the band leader of Vancouver’s Cave Supper Club (626 Hornby). The Vancouver Cave advertised itself as being “Vancouver’s Newest and Most Novel Cabaret. Gay informal dancing and floor shows of distinction. Dance to Earle Hill’s scintillating rhythm.” With his Vancouver Cave position, he left the ‘dainty music’ of his earlier professional life behind for good.

Hill played the Cave from 1938-44 and then, abruptly, stopped performing. In 1945, he took a job as a department manager at Kelly Piano. That was followed by various other posts with music shops in the city.

In a profile on his life written a few years before his death, he attempted to explain why he quit leading bands in the mid-’40s: “If I put my head in a lion’s mouth and I get an idea that it is thinking of closing its mouth, I take my head out, to make it easier for him. But I still get the urge to put it back again.” (Sun, 9 January 1951)

He resisted the urge, however, and died of heart failure in 1955 at the age of 67.

Earle Hill and His Cave Men at the Winnipeg establishment of the Cave Supper Club. 1937. Source.

Notes

(1) Hill’s first wife, Leona, died in 1934 at the age of 38. He married his second wife, Marion, in 1942.

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Former U.S. President Tours Vancouver…in About 30 Minutes

CVA 99-1276 – Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left, lifting hat) with Mayor L.D. Taylor (right, hat in hand) walking west on Cordova Street, outside CPR Depot. (Note: The boy who is right up against the coattails of TR reminds me of the newsboys in this image featured in an earlier VAIW post). July 18, 1915. Stuart Thomson photo.

When former U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, came to Vancouver on July 18, 1915, he was in town for about half an hour. The Roosevelt party, according to press accounts, consisted of three people: Colonel Teddy Roosevelt, Mrs. Roosevelt (Edith Kermit Roosevelt), and Teddy’s secretary, W. J. McGrath (a Dalhousie University graduate). The group was on the way to Seattle where they would attend the Panama-Pacific Exposition. They had come via Banff, where they spent two days. The Vancouver stop was truly a ‘whistle-stop’; his train had arrived in the city from Banff at 9.25 a.m. and he had to be on his Seattle-bound ship at 10.00.

Although Teddy was in Vancouver scarcely half an hour, he managed to fit into that time an impressive schedule of hat-raising, glad-handing, speech-making, autograph-signing, and motorcading! One could be forgiven for thinking he planned to run for office north of the 49th parallel!

The image above, made by Stuart Thomson, in my judgement is a brilliant piece of camera work. It deserves to be more widely acknowledged as such. The boy approaching Roosevelt and Taylor (from the right foreground) is dressed in a suit which appears to be a match for that worn by TR (how, by the way, were these guys able to tolerate three-piece suits in mid-July — even if they were summer weight?). The boy’s hat is a bit different from TR’s, but it is a junior sized version of an adult hat, not like the soft caps worn by other boys in the image. The boy seems to be captured in the process of raising his hat just as TR is raising his own head gear! And the look of bemusement on TR’s face caught by the camera is classic, brilliant Thomson timing. It would be challenge enough to get this scene right today, much more in 1915. Bravo!

The quote which follows is taken from the Revelstoke Daily News. It is a more succinct recounting of Vancouver happenings than anything that appeared in Vancouver papers regarding TR’s time here (local accounts included far more info — of a picayune sort — than a present-day blog reader would wish to slog through. Trust me).

VANCOUVER, BC, JULY 18 — Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt was welcomed here this morning by about 3,000 citizens. Wearing a summer suit and a big panama hat, the big Bull Moose stepped off the train jauntily when he was greeted with rounds of cheers. He was met at the depot by a large committee of prominent businessmen as well as Mayor Taylor (1) and members of the city council. For a few minutes he was busy handing out autographs and in reply to Col. Worsnop’s (2) greeting said:

“I am proud at the showing that Canada has made in the way of helping Great Britain. Will you see that my regrets are expressed to the soldiers in the city that I could not stay and see them and express my appreciation of Britain’s noble work in the great war [Ahem, umm Teddy, I think you mean Canada’s noble work].”

Passing to the automobile that was in wait for him and which whisked him round the city at 40 miles an hour for 20 minutes — for he had only 25 minutes to stay [some accounts say 35 minutes] — he met a number of Highlanders, whom he saluted….

“Men of this country,” he said, “at the front have fought and died honorably. It is lamentable that they should die but the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church and I say that no national fabric can be built until it is cemented by the blood of those willing to make the sacrifice of their lives for an ideal. Every man will walk with head higher with pride when thinking of the manner in which the Canadian sons have responded to the great call,” a statement which was received with cheers….

Revelstoke Daily News, July 19, 1915 (By Daily News Leased Wire from Vancouver, BC) – Emphasis mine.

This raises a couple of questions in my mind.

First, what was the nature of the 40 mph, 20-minute whiz around Vancouver? Where did Roosevelt’s motorcade go? Well, it seems pretty clear that it didn’t get anywhere near the 100 block of West Hastings, as is implied by information accompanying the final photo below from CVA. A paragraph in the Vancouver Daily World maintains that the motorcade went only to Stanley Park:

A few moments later Colonel Roosevelt was in Alderman Kirk’s car in which, accompanied by Mrs. Roosevelt and the mayor, he took a trip around Stanley Park.

Vancouver Daily World, 19 July 1915

Secondly, why on earth did Roosevelt engage in his loquacious (and to my 21st century mind, insensitive) remarks pertaining to Canada’s contribution to the ongoing Great War? I’m referring to his comment about how “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” (Note: This is a misappropriated quote from early church father, Tertullian. . . a pacifist! This was spotted by my friend, Tim. Thanks, Tim.) Almost as shocking as the fact that he said this is the response of the crowd. . . they cheered?!

This, indeed, was a different time.

Crop of CVA 99-1277 – Teddy Roosevelt speaking to crowd, evidently outside of the CPR Depot. July 18, 1915. Stuart Thomson photo.
CVA 99-1278 – Teddy Roosevelt standing in back seat of car, speaking to crowd in front of CPR Depot. July 18, 1915. Stuart Thomson photo. Classic auto expert, Peter Findlay, has identified the car shown above (with its distinctive windscreen design) as being a 1914 Cadillac. The steering wheel is also distinctive — known as a ‘fat man’ variety.
CVA 1477-652 – “Part of motorcade during Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Vancouver. August 1914.” This description is the one given by CVA. I don’t think this is accurate for a number of reasons: (1) according to VDW, the 20-minute motorcade of TR went through Stanley Park; (2) early automobile expert, Peter Findlay, in reply to a query from me, maintains that the vehicles shown in this image look more like 1910 than 1915 models; (3) early fashions experts puts the clothing worn by the people in this image at closer to 1910 than 1915. (The autos in this photo are proceeding in a westerly direction down the 100 bock of West Hastings — they are just passing the Ormidale and Fleck Blocks.)

Notes

(1) Members of the committee included the following (according to The Province):

Mr. Jonathan Rogers, president of the Vancouver Board of Trade; Mr. George E. Graham; Mr. W. A. Blair, secretary of the Vancouver Board of Trade; Mr. Justice Morrison; Col, C. A. Worsnop; Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper; Mr. F. W. Peters, General Superintendent of the C.P.R.; Mr. I. N. Miller, Jr., president of the American Club; Mr. C. E. Tisdall, M.L.A.; Mr. A. H. B. Macgowan, M.L.A., Mr. H. H. Watson, M.L.A.; Mr. H. H. Morris, president of the Vancouver Bankers’ Association; Mr. J. M. Bowell, collector of customs; Dr. F. F. Wesbrook, president of the University of British Columbia; Mr. F. Carter-Cotton, chancellor of the University of British Columbia.

The Province, 19 July 1915

Mayor L. D. Taylor was not included among the wealthy/influential types who composed the Roosevelt welcome committee. So LDT, ever crafty, met TR’s train at Mission, and rode with TR into the City, thereby beating the committee at their own ‘welcome’ game!


(2) Colonel Worsnop had written to TR inviting him to meet with him and his Vancouver Seaforth Highlanders and deliver a speech. TR, however, sent a reply expressing his regret that his brief time in the city would not allow it.

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Avon Theatrical Productions: A Checklist

Crop of CVA’s LGN 999 – Night scene showing ‘old’ Pantages on 100 block East Hastings — what would become, in 1952, the Avon Theatre. 191- BCER.

The Avon Theatre was originally known as the Pantages, from its opening with that name as a vaudeville house in 1908 (on south side of East Hastings between Columbia and Main). It was identified less formally as the ‘old Pantages’ with the opening in 1917 of a ‘new’ Pantages (on south side of West Hastings between Carrall and Abbott; demolished 1967). With the opening of the ‘new’ Pantages, the ‘old’ theatre was known variously as the Royal, the State, the Queen, and the State again.

CVA. Avon business card given to Major Matthews.

In 1952, a repertory group under the leadership of Sydney Risk (1908-1985), Everyman Repertory Co., leased the former State Theatre building from landlord Jack Aceman (1910-1989) and it was re-named the Avon Theatre. Risk’s company, prior to moving into the Avon, was located at 2237 Main Street (Main at 7th). Everyman put on a total of 13 productions until Risk and his group parted company with the Avon in April 1953.

Jack Aceman and Charles Nelson produced 12 plays from June 1953 until they packed it in at the end of 1955. After that, the theatre was no longer known as the Avon. It was, initially, the Fairview Branch 178 Canadian Legion Social Club, which leased the space from Aceman Investments to stand bingo events. In 1956, the Canadian Chinese American Theatres Ltd. took over the old Avon to present mainly Chinese language films.

The Pantages/Queen/State/Avon Theatre was demolished in 2011.

What appears below is a checklist showing the theatrical productions staged by Risk and by Aceman & Nelson. Only shows put on by these appear below.* In most instances, I have shown the name of the play and the playwright(s), the opening date, the director’s name, the headliners (stars); and supporting cast (probably incomplete, in some cases). In the few instances when I’ve had access to a play’s programme, I’ve been able to add staffing information, as well.

(1) “MacBeth” (William Shakespeare): September 29, 1952

  • Director: Sydney Risk
  • Headliners: Dean Goodman (1920-2006), Dorothy Davies (1920-2002)
  • Supporting cast: Juan Root
  • MacBeth marked the beginning of the 7th season of Everyman Theatre since it was formed in 1946. Prior to this production, Everyman had been playing at 7th and Main Street
“MacBeth” – Avon Theatre, 1952. Tom Carter Collection.**

(2) “The Importance of Being Earnest” (Oscar Wilde): October 13, 1952

  • Director/Producer: Sydney Risk
  • Headliners: Richard Litt, Alma Thery, Ronald Siddons
  • Supporting cast: James Onley, Ted Babcock, Joanne Walker, Gwen Arntzen, Myra Benson, William Hernon

(3) “The Late Christopher Bean” (Sidney Howard): October 20 1952

(4) Double bill: “Down in the Valley”, a folk opera (Kurt Weill and Arnold Sundgaard); and “A Phoenix Too Frequent”, a 1-act play (Christopher Fry) : November 3, 1952

  • Director: Sydney Risk
  • Headliners: Dorothy Davies, Ed McCurdy,
  • Supporting cast: Natalie Minunzie, Andrew Snider, James Johnston, Jessie Richardson, John Emerson, Lee Butcher, Tom Wright, Len Haymen
  • Laurence Wilson (conductor of CBC Orchestra) conducted a 15-member pit orchestra for DITV. A Vancouver News-Herald article pointed out that some of the Avon’s best seats would be sacrificed for the inclusion of the pit orchestra in DITV

(5) “The Play’s the Thing” (Ferenc Molnar): November 17, 1952

  • Director: Dean Goodman; Co-Producers: Sydney Risk, Dean Goodman
  • Headliners: Dean Goodman, Doris Sheridan
  • Supporting cast: Ted Babcock, Stan Jones, Ron MacDonald, Norman Newton, and Juan Root.

(6) “Murder Without Crime” (Lee Thompson): November 26, 1952

(7) “Androcles and the Lion” (George Bernard Shaw): December 10, 1952

  • Director: John Thorne
  • Headliners: James Onley, Georgia Nelson
  • Supporting cast: George Murphy, James Peters, Glyn Jones, Myrna Benson, Russ Crossland, Len Lauk, Andy Snider, Renee Gordon

(8) “Little Women” (Louisa May Alcott): December 26, 1952

  • Headliner: Doris Buckingham
  • Supporting cast: Wendy Cox, Arthur Keenan, Angela Wood, Earl Baerg, Ted Babcock, Andrew Snider, Renee Gordon Eleanor Nicholls

(9) “Tobacco Road” (Erskine Caldwell): January 7, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies.
  • Cast include: Babs Hitchman, Doug Haskins, Louise DeVick, Ross Mortimer, Ted Babcock, Tamara Dlugo, Douglas Hellier, Jean Robb, James Peters, Russ Crossland, Andrew Snider and George Barnes.
  • TR was described as “adult entertainment”; no matinee performances.
  • There were two special matinee productions of “Rumpelstiltskin” on January 10 and 17 (and probably also on the 24th due to the postponement of Tobacco Road because of the associated public relations fracas).
Program cover from Avon Theatre re-staging of Tobacco Road, 1953. Tom Carter Collection.

(10) “Hamlet” (William Shakespeare): January 28, 1953

  • Director: Dean Goodman.
  • Headliners: Dean Goodman, Mary Matthews
  • Supporting cast: George Murphy, James Onley, Dodd Dalsgaard, Ron MacDonald, William Lawson (among a total of 20)

(11) “Light Up the Sky” (Ross Hart): February 11, 1953

  • Director: Sydney Risk
  • Headliner: Dorothy Davies
  • Supporting cast: Babs Hitchman, Andrew Snider, Bruno Gerussi, Cathy Graham, Frank Lambrett-Smith, Ted Babcock, George Barnes, Don McManus,  Angela Wood, George Barnes, David Jones, Derek Ralston, Bob Haskins, and Jean Robb

(12) “The Hasty Heart” (John Patrick): March 4, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies.
  • Headliners: Bruno Gerussi, Vivien Brooke-Harte
  • Supporting cast: John Haddy, Harry Mossfield, Doug Haskins, Len Gibson, Alec Denbigh, Guy Palmer

(13) “The Passing the Third Floor Back” (Jerome K. Jerome): March 25, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies.
  • Headliner: Bill Buckingham.
  • Supporting cast: Jessie Richardson, Frank Crowson, Janet Bragg, Alma Thery, Noel Barrie, Ted Babcock, Bruno Gerussi, Jack Ammon, Dorothy Fowler, Vivien Brooke-Harte, Myra Benson

(14)  Re-opening of “Tobacco Road” (Erskine Caldwell): April 11, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Cast: Ted Babcock, Doug Haskins, Georgia Nelson, Babs Hitchman, Eleanor Nicholls, Doug Hellier, John Leslie, Cathryn Graham, Jean Robb, George Barnes, Jack Ammon
  • Company Manager: Bruno Gerussi; Stage Manager: Dave Jones; Stage Designer: Gary Ness
Program from Avon Theatre re-staging of Tobacco Road, 1953. Tom Carter Collection.

(15) “The Drunkard” — a musical comedy (Timothy Shay Arthur): June 13, 1953 

  • This had earlier been playing at the Cave Supper Club with same cast: John Watson, Cora O’Day, Dorothy London,  Alice Hulet, Elmer Cleve, Maryline Cleve.
  • ALSO on Avon’s Stage were to be 10 vaudeville acts that would include singing, dancing, musical and comedy routines

(16) “Of Mice and Men” (John Steinbeck): October 5, 1953.

(17) “Mr Roberts” (Thomas Heggen): November 30, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Craig Stevens
  • Supporting cast: Bruno Gerussi, Stan Jones, Art Keenan, John MacDonald, Roma Hearn
  • Set design: Gail McCance
“Mr. Roberts” – Avon Theatre, 1953. Tom Carter Collection.

(18) “You Can’t Take it With You” (George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart): January 4, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies.
  • Headliner: Charles Coburn
  • Supporting cast: Verlie Cooter, Art Keenan, Margot Conine, Eleanor Collins, Wally Marsh, Otto Lowy, Tom Shorthouse, Howard Fair, Eve Newitt, Les Wagar, Bob Woodward, Sam Allman, Nancy Graham, Alma Thery, Rosemary Deveson, Andy Snider, William Gordon, John Maunsell
  • Stage Manager: Les Wagar; Lighting: Tommy Lea; Assistant Lighting: Andy Snider; Properties: Margot Conine; House Manager: Tom Buchanan; Sets: Sydney Risk

(19)  Jan 25 1954 “Moon is Blue” (Hugh Herbert): January 25, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Peggy Ann Garner
  • Supporting cast: Juan Root, John MacDonald, Allan Roughton
  • Sets: Andy Snider; Artist: Victor Miles; Lights: Tommy Lea; Props: Margot Conine; Stage Manager: Les Wagar

(20) “For Love or Money” (Hugh Herbert): February 15, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Victor Jory
  • Supporting cast: Lillian Carlson, Doris Buckingham, Wally Marsh, Margot Conine, Les Wager, Bud Slater, Molly Bellamy.

(21) “Kiss and Tell” (Hugh Herbert): March 8, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Margaret O’Brien.
  • Supporting cast: Lillian Carlson, Doris Buckingham, John MacDonald, Barry Cramer, Derek Ralston, Bruno Gerussi, Hilda Browne, Bobby Johnston, Bud Slater, Rosemary Deveson, Andy Snider, Art Keenan
  • Stage Manager/Sets: Andy Snider; Lights: Tommy Lea; Sound: Bruno Gerussi; Costumes/Props: Margot Conine

(22) “Country Girl” ((Clifford Odets): April 2, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Teresa Wright
  • Supporting cast: Bruno Gerussi, Derek Ralston, Wally Marsh, Barbara Desprez, Lee Butcher, Howard Fair, Al Factor, Bud Slater

(23) “Springtime for Henry” (Benn W. Levy): April 19, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Edward Everett Horton
  • Supporting cast: Mary Matthews, Jack Ammon, Patricia Leith
  • Stage manager/Sets: Andy Snider; Properties/Costumes: Margot Conine; Lighting: Tommy Lea; Set Decorator: VIctor Miles; Doorman: Tommy Buchanan.

(24) “Burlesque” (George M. Walters, Arthur Hopkins): May 19, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliners: Jean Parker, Robert Lowery
  • Supporting cast: Barney Potts, Lorraine McAllister, Wally Marsh, Margot Conine, Les Butcher, Barry Cramer, Bob Reed, Rosemary Deveson, Sam Rosen, Andy Snider, Kitt Copping, Jean Duguid, Joy Lowe, Madelain Matthews, Shirley McCowley
  • Stage Manager/Sets: Andy Snider; Properties/Costumes: Margot Conine; Lighting: Tommy Lea; Sound/Prompter: Barry Cramer; House Manager: Tommy Buchanan

(25) “The Show Off” (George Kelly): June 4, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Joe E. Brown
  • Supporting cast: Doris Buckingham, Wally Marsh, Barry Cramer, Rosemary Deveson, Art Keenan, Hilda Brown, Derek Ralston, Andy Snider

(26) “Time of the Cuckoo” (Arthur Laurent): November 12, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies, Ben Strobach
  • Headliner: Miriam Hopkins
  • Supporting cast: Lillian Carlson, Hilda Browne, Rosemary Deveson, Cyril Slater, Sam Payne, Kitty Dutcher, Art Keenan, Robert Johnston, Brian Warkman

(27) “All My Sons” (Arthur Miller): December 11, 1954

  • Director: Sam Payne
  • Headliners: Edward Arnold, Doris Buckingham
  • Supporting cast: Janet Brigg, Mel Richards

***

Note

*For example, the plays of the B.C. theatrical festival, which was often held at the Avon in February, are not included. Also, “Rumpelstiltskin” — which was a kids-only play that played two or three matinees is not counted separately (although it is mentioned along with “Tobacco Road” above).

**Thanks to Tom Carter for the idea for this post conveyed at a recent coffee meeting and for offering the scans shown above (with the exception of the first and last photos, which came from CVA).

Crop of CVA 790-2339 – Sun Sing Theatre (Chinese language theatre, as the old pantages ended by ca 1984). The building was finally demolished in 2011. 1985?
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Stauffer’s and Mitten’s Arctic Club

Arctic Club interior. Phone booths, coat check, staff and members, n.d. The man standing nearest to the camera appears to be Robert White (a bartender at the Arctic Club for several years who was a victim of murder in 1959); Ken Stauffer is the other man standing, farther from the camera. Tom Carter Collection.

The Arctic Club was one of several cocktail and supper clubs in Vancouver in the ’30s, 40s, and ’50s (including the Quadra, the World, and Jean Fuller’s). According to recollections of the Arctic Club at the Vancouver Jazz Forum, it was a “suit and tie” joint where you needed to display a purchased membership card and sign in before entering. It was located at 718 W. Pender (south side of Pender, between Granville and Howe). (1)

In October 1934, notice was given in the local press that the Arctic Club, Ltd. would be applying for a provincial liquor license. The Club was co-owned by Bob Mitten, Sr. (1881-1956) and Ken Stauffer (1910-1978); Stauffer and Mitten both came to Vancouver from Saskatchewan — Mitten in 1929 and Stauffer in 1932. By 1935, Mitten and Stauffer established the Arctic Club. I suspect that the two men met while working for the Liberal Party in Vancouver, as both were active in the party (Mitten Sr. would marry Euphemia Stauffer thereby becoming Ken’s brother-in-law). In his obituary, Mitten is described as an “active campaigner” for the party and Stauffer was the Vancouver party president for awhile (Sun, 6 Nov 1948).

Mitten Sr. retired as a Club owner in 1943 due to ill health and his son, Bob Mitten Jr., ultimately took over his Dad’s share of the business. In 1959, Stauffer and Mitten Jr. bought The Cave supper club (626 Hornby) together from Isy Walters, and ran both night spots for a few years. Bob Mitten, Jr. died while in Hawaii in 1971. Stauffer ultimately sold The Cave to auto dealer, Stan Grozina (1937-2014) in 1973. (2) Grozina was the last Cave owner; it was demolished in 1981.

The alley view of the post-fire Arctic Club and Leonard’s Cafe. 1961. This photo was downloaded some years ago (by Tom Carter) from the “Nostalgic and Sentimental Vancouver” group on Facebook. The photo was supplied at that site by Ken Stauffer’s daughter-in-law, Barbara? Stauffer.

In December 1961, fire destroyed the Arctic Club, which took up the top floor of two buildings (together with a Leonard’s Coffee outlet and the Arctic Barber Shop, which were at street level). In the Club, 40 jobs were lost. Stauffer speculated shortly after the blaze that the Arctic might be rebuilt, possibly on the same site. But that didn’t happen. (3)

A napkin from the Arctic Club. n.d. Tom Carter Collection.

Odds and Ends

  • When the Arctic Club first opened, it had a reputation as a gambling joint with a major poker game. The Arctic Club’s gaming associations seem to have been exclusively during the 1930s (Sun, 19 Mar 1947).
  • Robert White, a bartender at the Arctic, was murdered in his West End apartment in 1959. A Romanian sailor was later extradited from Hawaii and charged with White’s murder. He was found guilty of the reduced charged of manslaughter; he served just a few months of his 3-year sentence in B.C. and then was deported to West Germany (Montreal Gazette, 17 Sept 1959). White appears to be included in the photo featured above, standing next to Ken Stauffer.
  • Legendary local jazz pianist Chris Gage (1927-1964) was a fixture at the Arctic Club after his first night there in 1957. By 1959 he was being described in the local press as the Arctic Club’s pianist”. I believe he continued in that capacity until the 1961 fire. The Arctic Club had a reputation for being supportive of all sorts of local music talent.
  • Australian, Rolf Harris, had one of his first major gigs at the Arctic Club in 1961. And a “live” LP recording was made of “Rolf Harris at the Arctic Club” (possibly a year or two later). Following Stauffer’s passing, this quote was attributed to Harris: “Kenny’s death is a big loss. . . I owe virtually everything to him” (Victoria Times-Colonist, 11 Dec 1978).

____________________________________

Notes

(1) The Arctic Club on Pender Street was not the first club of that name; another club, the full name of which was the Arctic Brotherhood Club, was often referred to in abbreviated form as “the Arctic Club”. The Brotherhood met in the offices of senior members of the club, until taking rooms near the corner of Main and Broadway (World, 20 Jun 1908). One of the principal requirements of membership in Vancouver’s Arctic Club was that you had resided north of the 54th parallel for at least a year. Whether the Arctic Brotherhood Club had any substantive connection to the Arctic Club on Pender Street remains an open question. However, to me that appears doubtful.

(2) In 1963, Stauffer branched out beyond The Cave by purchasing the Cock ‘n Bull restaurant on West Broadway (today, adjacent to Jordan’s). He renamed the restaurant The Lulubelle (a gay-nineties-themed family spot) and in 1975 changed the name to Charmaine’s, transforming it into a discotheque for the younger set. When the Lulubelle opened, Stauffer took at least two of his former Arctic Club staff with him: Bert Williams (manager) and Samuel Mee (food services) (Province, 16 Jan 1963).

(3) In 1947, Mitten Sr. reportedly bought the the Arctic Club property for $50,000, however by the time of the ’61 fire, the Club property was owned by F. A. Menzies, who was also a part-owner of Leonard’s Cafe.

I’m indebted to Tom Carter for making much of his Arctic Club ephemera available for reproduction in this post.

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Vending Before Food Trucks

CVA 800-843 "Description in progress". n.d. Al Ingram photo. Note: The image shown here has been cropped and enhanced. See CVA online for original.
Crop of CVA 800-0843. Food vendor on Granville Street, just south of Commodore Lanes. I am guessing this was taken sometime between 1975-85. Al Ingram photo.
CVA 1184-753 – Woman and small child at a street vendor’s popcorn cart. Probably taken in or near Stanley Park. 1943. Jack Lindsay.
Crop of CVA 7-152 – Street vendor’s bicycle (tricycle?) cart, vending lemon sodas and Almond’s ice cream. Dunsmuir Street, looking east towards the Drill Hall on Beatty Street. ca1914. J L Quiney.
Still showing a really goofy Expo ’86 Hot Dog Stand made from video produced by Yaletown Productions (CVA).
CVA 586-1339 – Appears to be a Stanley Park concession stand with girls participating in a Canadian Youth Hostel bike hike. I have deliberately not included most images of concession stands (excluding, primarily, PNE concessions), but this Stanley Park concession is just too iconic to leave out. 1943. Don Coltman.
CVA 99-4559 – Woman using pineapple juice vending machine at the Hudson’s Bay store. This photo isn’t, strictly speaking, of a traditional food vendor, but I couldn’t resist including it, as it represented a technology shift and it is simply such a cool image.1933. Stuart Thomson.
My all-time favourite food vending image. Woman with umbrella walking dogs past popcorn stand. Made along English Bay during the Sea Festival. July 20, 1967. English Bay. (230 of 245, CBC/Franz Lindner)
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When Flying Was Still Exotic

Update

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 interior space to create the impression of a DC-3 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 1960s. The Sky Diner was part of a local restaurant food chain which included the various White Lunch establishments.

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.

I’ve noticed recently that Clancy’s was one of a few restaurants at that location. A 1940 photo taken by Joe Iaci of Kandid Kamera Snaps (Foncie’s first employer, made after Foncie had left the firm), shows in the background a neon sign for Chanticleer Lunch with a rooster mounted over the name. A 1946 image (a Foncie/Iaci-like photo but unattributed to them or anyone else) shows in the background the old Chanticleer rooster sign, but the name beneath had been changed to Rooster Lunch. There are no interior shots of which I’m aware showing the interior of the cafe under its Chanticleer/Rooster management, but it seems safe to assume that the decor was not of an aircraft, nor very likely of a barnyard! (“Chanticleer”, by the way, apparently is a reference to a male vocal ensemble, such as the U.K. group, The Kings Singers, or this group. It is also – probably more pertinently – a literary reference to a rooster who appears in the fables of Reynard the Fox).

vpl 21401 Stores on Granville Street. 1923. Dominion Photo.
VPL 21401. Stores on Granville Street. 1923. Dominion Photo. (Note: Chanticleer Lunch, as it then was, appears to have been on far right of the image).

There was another Clancy’s eatery, the “Clancy’s Downtown Restaurant” – from at least 1955-65 – located in the Roger’s Building, adjacent to O. B. Allan Jewellers. See below:

CVA 1385-3 - [O.B. Allan store, corner of Granville and Pender Streets] 1965 or earlier
CVA 1385-3 – [O.B. Allan store, corner of Granville and Pender Streets]. The sign for Clancy’s Downtown Restaurant is adjacent to the Jewellers and seems to be pointing down the stairs which led (and lead) downstairs to the basement. 1965 or earlier.

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Crowd Welcomes Kilties at Union Depot/Thornton Park