A Look Back to a Look Ahead to the 1960s


CVA – AM578 – B.C. Hilliam fonds. The Oct. 17-18, 1913 program, “The Queries”, Lonsdale Theatre, North Vancouver. Note: This is one page from the program, the entirety of which appears below.

North Vancouver: ‘1963’

The Queries 1914 - NVA - Acc # 1986-015

North Vancouver Archives. Accession 1986-015. The Queries, 1914. B.C. Hilliam appears in front row dressed in dark “Pierrot” costume (in contrast to white Pierrot costumes worn by other Queries); I think the woman at left from BCH is Florence Hayward. Photographer unknown.

In 1913, B.C. Hilliam was working for the North Shore News and trying to launch a future career as a professional musician/composer and (ultimately) as a notable comedian. Hilliam was still a relative unknown in North Van and, arguably, a complete unknown across Burrard Inlet in the City of Vancouver.

In 1913-14, Hilliam, together with a number of other amateur actors, assembled a vaudevillian group known as The Queries. This group was from North Vancouver. In one of the earliest performances put together by the troupe – in October 1913 – a playlet was performed, written by Hilliam, entitled 1963: A Futurist Comedy with Incidental Music1963 was Hilliam’s first run at a similar idea which he would undertake two years later in the City of Vancouver. More on that in the next section.

1963, by Hilliam and The Queries, seems to have had three parts to it: a prologue and epilogue (both set in the ‘present day’ of 1913), and the bulk of the play, set in North Vancouver’s ‘future’: 1963. Specifically, the ‘future’ of North Vancouver’s civic politics — a very different future from the 1913 reality, in which the civic council was made up entirely of women (Aldermen Grappleshanks, Gusher, and Peanutz) and among whom was a female Mayor, one Mrs. Shingleton-Drake.


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City of Vancouver: ‘1965’

The Queries finished acting together by 1914. By the end of that year, Vancouver’s Pageant of 1914, had been successfully hosted in the City and with Vancouver’s profile had risen Hilliam’s reputation as a local composer with his tune for the City’s ‘Toast Song’, Here’s a Ho! Vancouver.

In 1915, a new vaudevillian group based in the City of Vancouver was launched: the 1915 Follies — a somewhat loose confederation of amateur actors (‘loose’, in the sense that the Follies had a pretty fluid cast, with the exception of B. C. Hilliam, whose name was synonymous with the Follies).

One of the early Follies performances,  held at the Imperial Theatre in February 1915, was a play called Fifty Years Forward, or Vancouver in 1965 (which I’ll refer to simply as 1965). Although there is no extant script available for either 1963 or 1965, to the best of my knowledge, there are two press accounts of which I’m aware in the Vancouver Daily World  — one on February 20th, anticipating the 1915 production (and based, I assume, on a dress rehearsal of the play attended by the reporter; and one on February 23rd, reviewing it).

Without these press accounts, it would be tempting to conclude that the main differences between 1963 and 1965 were the advance of two years in the titles, and the swapping out of North Van for the City of Van. But we would have missed out on a good deal of difference between the two productions.¹

Play vs Playlet

The most noticeable difference is that of the length of the productions. While the 1913 offering in North Van was described as a ‘playlet’ (it was but one aspect of a full evening of varied entertainment), the 1915 Follies production seems to have been devoted entirely to 1965.

Whether this is as substantive a difference as it at first seems, is open to question, however. While the entire evening in 1915 may have been described as Fifty Years Forward, a number of the components of the ‘longer’ play seem not to have been directly related to the plot of 1965. This seems to be a genre feature of vaudeville; what today might be viewed as ‘padding’ was expected as a warmer-upper of the audience of the time. Such numbers included: the singing of “The Little Kerchief” by Miss Anne Lochead,² a duet by Lochead and Edgar Meyrick of “The Keys of Heaven“, elocution by Mr. E. (Ernest) V. (Vanderpoel) Young of Chevalier’s “The [An] Old Bachelor“, Miss Florence Hayward singing a piece of Hilliam’s own composition, “The Daughters of the Empire”³, and songs by Miss Phyllis Davis (“I’m a Nurse” and “I’ll Make a Man of Everyone of You”²). There was also Spanish dancing by Miss Millicent Ward, and recitation by the entire Follies company of the nursery rhyme, “Three Blind Mice”. And all of these performances happened before 1965 got underway!


In both 1913 and 1915 plays, the ‘present day’ mayor was a Mr. Hamilton. However, the 1963 ‘mayoress’ is a Mrs. Shingleton-Drake, about whom nothing is known by me, except that she presumably was not the wife of Hamilton. But in 1965, the ‘mayoress’ of the future was, indeed, Mrs. Hamilton (the wife of the 1915 mayor). Quite how they got around the 50-year aging issue for Mrs. Hamilton, I have no idea.

One of the lady alderman characters from 1913 was retained in the 1915 play: Mrs. Grappleshanks. The other two weren’t mentioned in either 1915 press report.

“Boundy”, the City Hall janitor in 1963, seems either to have been dropped from 1965, or else was not considered worthy of mention in either press report in 1915.

“Jenkins”, the stenographer in 1963, became a female character in 1965 (the character’s name is unknown by me) and was played by Phyllis Davis. She drew the only critical comment from the reviewer: “Miss Davis is there with the goods, as the mayor’s stenographer, but loses a little bit of her charm by overdoing slightly some portions of the part, as for instance, the gum chewing”. That’s her told!


Nearly the entire cast is different between the 1913 and 1915 plays. The only actor in common to the two productions is Florence Hayward. She was feted by the World in its review of the 1915 play as being the “star of the production. . . whose portrayal of the Civic Charlady in the first part of the comedy is an absolute lifelike character study, and is a scream, her every movement calling forth roars of laughter.”

10 Aug 1915-1

From Vancouver Daily World, 10 August 1915. Henry Anstie caricature by B. C. Hilliam. (Anstie is here dressed in a white pierrot costume; it seems a bit dated for the Follies, and more apt for The Queries).

Florence Hayward was the stage name of “Madam (Florence) Norminton” (1882-1958), who was instrumental in getting Hilliam out of his newspaper day-job and into the North Vancouver theatre scene. She participated in The Queries in North Van with Hilliam and later joined him in his 1915 Follies group.

Betty Cherry (“Alderman Gusher” in 1913) was also using a stage name. Her real name was Harriett A. Parker (nee Franklin) (1887-1970).

A noteworthy member of the 1915 production was Henry Anstie, who played the ‘present’ Mayor Hamilton. Anstie was a stage name; his real surname was Chrimes and he was best known for playing comic roles well.


As I reflected upon these plays, it occurred to me that, although there have been female aldermen in Vancouver, we have yet to have a woman in the Mayor’s chair. In that sense, the plays were ahead of their time — and ours!


¹And this, in turn, causes me to wonder how much detail we are missing out on by not having a script of either or both 1913 and 1915 productions. If any readers are owners of  these scripts or other ephemera relating to these productions, may I encourage you to donate it (or them) to a local civic archive, such as the City of Vancouver Archives?

²Lyrics and music by person(s) unknown.

³I’m not aware of an extant copy of the sheet music for this tune. That it was composed by Hilliam (lyrics by someone else, presumably?), comes from the Daily World (Feb 23, 1915, p. 8). It is possible that it was a variation on another of his compositions as a tribute (at this Follies production) to the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E.), specifically the John Jellicoe chapter, to which organization all proceeds from the 1915 production were to go.


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Bridge Tender’s Nightmare Made Worse?

PAN N158 - [View of the reclamation of False Creek Flats showing the reconstruction of Main Street at the bascule bridge] June 30, 1921 W J Moore-2

CVA: PAN N158 – View of the reclamation of False Creek Flats showing the reconstruction of Main Street at the bascule bridge. June 30, 1921. W J Moore photo. Also showing the GNR Trestle Swing Span Bridge. This was the scene of the GNR Trestle and environs about a decade after the accident related in this post. (Cropped, digitally exposure-adjusted, and annotated by MDM.) For a more detailed view, click on image.

Bridge Tenders

There were, once upon a time in early Vancouver, many bridge tenders. Who was a bridge tender? He (I’ve never heard of a female bridge tender in Greater Vancouver) was the person responsible for swinging the span on a swing span bridge or (less commonly in Vancouver), raising the draw on a draw bridge. In the first half of the 20th century, it was more typical than not for a bridge to be designed to accommodate both the traffic that crossed it (be that train, horse-and-buggy, automobile, and/or streetcar) and traffic which passed beneath it (boat craft of various sorts). In those days, bridge engineering technology had not advanced to the stage that allowed the span to be high enough that boats could proceed beneath it while not requiring its crossing traffic to wait.

This post isn’t about the lot of the bridge tender, however. Or, at least, only tangentially. It is about how the manner in which a non-fiction story is told can influence readers to think about an event. And about the people involved.

But more on that later.

The story that follows is a ‘ripping’ tale from the January 10, 1911 edition of the Vancouver Daily World and is reproduced here in its entirety.

Vancouver Daily World – January 10, 1911
(Note: Green Text inserted below is MDM’s; it is included to aid contemporary readers in understanding lingo that, presumably, was understood by typical 1911 readers.¹)

G. N. R. Engine Plunges Into False Creek

Engineer and Fireman of Freight Had Miraculous Escape from Death at Open Drawbridge

In a desperate, heroic effort to save his train this morning just as it struck the open draw on the False Creek Bridge, Great Northern Engineer Doris Baker in charge of engine No. 519 applied the air brakes and the next moment plunged with his engine to the water below and sank from sight.

The water at this point is twenty feet deep. The accident was witnessed by a crowd of people who were on their way to work. Bertram Carroll, on a Fraser avenue car [presumably the ‘car’ was a BCER car crossing on Main Street Bridge], saw the engine go over and yelled to the other passengers on board. Women in the car turned an agonizing glance at the awful sight and uttered up a fervent prayer.

As the engine struck the water with a terrific splash those who were held spellbound at the awful sight caught a last look at Engineer Baker. His jaws were set and he was seen exercising every ounce of muscle as he set the air [brakes] and tried to throw the reverse.

The accident occurred at a quarter to nine o’clock. As the ponderous freight locomotive hit the water a mountain of hot sizzling steam arose enveloping everything in sight as the water struck the fire box.

Human Chain Rescue

“My God, he’s been killed,” went up the cry from railroad men doing track duty. As the engine keeled over Fireman Frank Varrell who was on the other side of the cab leaped to the trestle in safety.

He jumped to his feet and ran to the edge of the draw where the engine had gone down. Suddenly he yelled in ecstasy “He’s alive, he’s alive. Get a rope.”

A score of men clambered to the draw. Baker was seen weakly swimming. A human ladder was formed and he was dragged to the bridge more dead than alive and then rushed to the caboose of his own train. There he was quickly undressed before the roaring fire in the stove in the caboose while oil begrimed “shacks” [slang term for occupants of the caboose] rushed to the nearest drug stores for restoratives.

“Go home,” said Baker faintly, “No, it’s just the chances we take. My back feels terribly wrenched but I’ll be all right tomorrow and I’m going to stay here.”

But a cab was called and he was sent to his home. His injuries are not as yet fully known and many believe he has been internally hurt.

Just how the accident occurred is still a disputed question. “I was on the other side of Engineer Baker,” said Fireman Varrell. “We had been working back and forth, cutting ‘in’ and ‘out’ cars and were bound for our daily run for Blaine [In other words, ‘shunting’ or ‘switching’ cars; selecting rail stock that was to go through to Blaine from that which wasn’t]. Suddenly I heard a whistle. I looked up and saw a boat coming down. I looked ahead and saw there were no flags out [which would have indicated whether the train had the right of way], and so I thought everything was all right.

“Just as the front of the engine struck the draw I felt the draw move. Then the bridge began to move. “Good God, Doris,” I said, “They’re moving the draw. Jump.” I turned a look at him “I’m going to stick and save her,” he muttered.

“Just then there was a crunch of steel, a sickening breaking of timber and I leaped. Just as I did so I was horrified to see the engine off the track, totter and apparently hesitate. Then she listed. It was all happening as fast as lightning plays. Then came a break of iron as the engine parted from the tender [the coal car which is immediately behind the locomotive; it carries the engine’s fuel], and the next second the engine, with Baker at his post, went down to the water and out of sight.

Escape Miraculous

“As I struck the bridge, I slid on the heavy bank of snow and narrowly escaped going into the water myself. A terrific gust of steam arose as the hot coals struck the water. I have never known of such a miraculous escape in my life, and too much credit cannot be given to Baker. His act in sticking by the engine and doing his best to stop the accident is the most heroic act I have ever known of. If he hadn’t put on the air the whole train would have gone into the water. He is the bravest man I know, and I have known a good many. But one thing is sure, it was all the fault of the bridge tender. He evidently didn’t see us and his whole attention was taken up by the boat that was whistling for the open draw.

The bridge was in charge of Sidney Woods, a young tender who is regarded as very careful. His version is that he had two red flags set [in other words, signalling “stop” to the train] and that the engineer and fireman may not have seen them owing to the storm. He asserts the flags will be found in the water. But this the engine crew stoutly deny.

The entire line was blocked and a wrecking crew sent for from Blaine to open up the line. A great crowd congregated and the excitement was intense as the rumor had gotten about that a whole trainload of passengers had been killed.

Contrast: the Province’s Account

The World reporter who wrote the account above seems to me to have focused on composing a good drama – and he has done a great job of that – while being less concerned with having a balanced account of events. The story seems to be tilted to favour the railwaymen and against the bridge tender.²

This becomes more apparent when the World article is contrasted with a report (excerpted below) by a reporter for the Province. While the Province, like the World, acknowledged that the cause of the accident wasn’t wholly clear, the ‘theory’ advanced in the Province seems to me far more balanced than that in the World:

The Daily Province – January 10, 1911

(An excerpt of a Province article about the same accident…)

The freight train which started south at about 8.30 o’clock . . . had been shunting on the trestle for an hour or more. Several times it came almost up to the draw span and on each occasion backed again. About [9.30, I think; the text isn’t clear] a tug was seen approaching the bridge through the haze and in answer to his whistle the [bridge] tender turned his attention to the boat, to give it passage through the draw. At the same time the train approached again but, evidently thinking it was only shunting, the man in charge of the swinging machinery of the span threw it open to allow the tug to pass. When he saw the draw moving out and the break in the tracks looming ahead, Engineer Baker jammed on his air, but, though the wheels responded, the track was too slippery to hold the heavy train of cars and they slid forward, shoving the engine over the brink and dropping it into twenty feet or more of water.

The impression created in the Province report is quite different from that in the World’s account, don’t you think?

In my judgement, this wasn’t a case of one reporter telling ‘the truth’ while another told ‘porkies’.³ The facts seem to be present in both accounts. I suspect that it was a case of the World reporter being perhaps younger, and less-experienced than was the reporter with the Province.

The World reporter directed the blame at the bridge tender by:

  • directly quoting Frank Varrell extensively (including his claim that the accident was “all the fault of the bridge tender”);
  • naming the bridge tender in his report (“The bridge was in charge of Sidney Woods, a young tender . . .”), thus, effectively, publicly shaming the tender.
  • Not giving the bridge tender’s perspective on the accident much ‘time’ in his report (aside from a single brief paragraph at the end of the article).

A Moment of Terror

It seems to me that the oft-cited quote attributed to an anonymous wag about the Great War — that life in the trenches was “boredom punctuated by moments of terror” — would be an apt description, also, of the occupation of bridge tender. And, although no lives were lost in this accident, such an outcome was certainly not out of the question.

I imagine the bridge tender’s heart must have stopped briefly as he saw the engine tipping over the swing span. The account of the accident presented in the World may well have added insult to injury, making the bridge tender’s nightmare that much worse.

This strikes me as an instructive case for the virtue of exercising care before we as consumers of various media reach hasty conclusions about what ‘obviously’ happened during a reported event. Furthermore, this demonstrates the danger of accepting well-told dramatic accounts of events as being ‘true’ while the more ‘boring’ report is assumed to be, somehow, less so.

New Westminster Swingspan Trestle Open (looking beneath the Patullo Bridge)

Recent view of one of the last of the Swingspan Trestles in Vancouver area – New Westminster/Surrey rail crossing of the Fraser – Viewed from beneath the Pattullo and Skytrain Bridges. December 2017 (MDM photo).


¹Most of the railway lingo definitions were sourced from this useful site.

²Mention was made in subsequent World articles on the accident of a forthcoming ‘investigation’ by the G.N.R. into the affair, but I couldn’t find a report pertaining to it nor conclusions reached. There was certainly no indication that there would be an inquiry by any sort of quasi-governmental or independent body. None of the later World articles touched on the question of who (if anyone) was at fault in the accident. Instead all articles I found dealt with the mechanics of the protracted raising of the locomotive from the bottom of False Creek.

³Neither the reporter of the World article nor that of the Province piece was identified.

Posted in bridges/viaducts, railways, W J Moore, water scene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

One of the Largest Organs West of Winnipeg

Pipe Organ in the former St. Andrew's Presbyterian (New West) and, today, Emmanuel Pentecostal Church, ca1920.Russell Photo Studio

Pipe Organ in the former St. Andrew’s Presbyterian (New Westminster) and, today, Emmanuel Pentecostal Church, ca1920. Russell Photo Studio. (Note: The seat for the pastor is, curiously, raised in this image. This struck me as odd, as it puts the pastor (or pastors – there is room for more than one, here!) well above the pulpit). (MDM Collection)

I purchased this photo at The History Store a couple weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been on a quest to know which church it is/was that housed the amazing-looking pipe organ that appears in it.

What I Knew (or Thought I Knew)

The clues I had to work with were:

  • The photographer was the Russell Photo Studio of New Westminster. Vincent Russell had his New Westminster studio only from 1918-21. (He later established a photo studio in Penticton in the 1930s and in the City of Vancouver in the 1940s).¹ This led me to suspect strongly that the image was made in a New Westminster church.
  • The organ pipes appeared to be distinctive. In all of the images that I’ve perused of church interiors in Greater Vancouver, I never saw another set of pipes with a similar design. The closest set I saw was at St. Paul’s Anglican in Vancouver.² The design on the pipes in my image was similar to that of St. Paul’s, but definitely different.
  • I was pretty sure that this sanctuary wasn’t any of Olivet Baptist’s several structural incarnations. I saw no sign of a baptismal tank behind the choir loft (where Baptist churches normally would have situated it) nor the tell-tale curtain that would typically be drawn across when the tank wasn’t in use.

I looked at every online archive of photos that I could think of and spoke with everyone whom I thought may have some knowledge of where the organ pipes were located. No dice.

Then it occurred to me to contact New Westminster historian, Jim Wolf. And Jim knew! Apparently, the church in question was formerly St. Andrew’s Presbyterian (New Westminster), and today is home to Emmanuel Pentecostal Church.

What I Now Know (or Think I Know)

Emmanuel - Organ Pipes3

Emmanuel Pentecostal Church Sanctuary. February 2018. MDM Photo.

Here are a few bullets about the organ and the building in which it resides:

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian seems to have been one of the roughly 70% of Presbyterian congregations that joined the Church Union movement. Rev. A. C. Wishart was called to St. Andrew’s in 1931 and it seems to me that he must have been the last Presbyterian pastor called to that church. Ultimately (sometime in the 1932-35 period, I’m guessing), St. Andrew’s joined Queen’s Avenue United Church and later sold the St. Andrew’s buildings.

I was told today by the Emmanuel Pentecostal congregant who kindly granted me admission to their sanctuary, that Emmanuel has been worshipping in the former Presbyterian building since the 1940s. Although the pipe organ is rarely used by the church, sadly, I must give considerable credit to the congregation (and to the City of New Westminster) for preserving both Old and New St. Andrew’s buildings.

Here are a few other images made today of the organ and the church building:

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¹Camera Workers.

²Tom Carter suggested that St Paul’s organ pipes might be a match for my ca1920 image. See here for the organ at St. Paul’s.

³Indeed, the design harkens (for me) to the maple leaf that was part of Lester Pearson’s preference for the Canadian flag (initially). A similar maple leaf is also part of Ontario’s provincial flag, today.

Posted in churches, new westminster, Russell Photo Studio, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘The Smallest Building’ in Vancouver

Commercial Hotel (Churchill Arms:Pub 340), the little former Barber Shop, and the Cambie Street arm of the Flack Block (MDM Photo, 2018)

Commercial Hotel (Churchill Arms/Pub 340), the tiny former barber shop, and the Cambie Street arm of the Flack Block. As it appeared in early 2018. (MDM Photo, February 2018).

As I spent a recent evening paging through the various editions of Exploring Vancouver (1st ed, 1974, 2nd ed., 1978, and 3rd ed., 2012) by Harold Kalman, I noticed an entry that I must have read at some point in the past, but which I had not really paid attention to. The write-up pertained to the tiny structure which nestles between the Commercial Hotel and the Flack Block on Cambie, just north of Hastings Street.

I’ll allow Mr. Kalman to speak from his 1st and 2nd eds.  He is writing about the Commercial Hotel and only incidentally about the un-named little building² adjacent to it (neither made an appearance in his 3rd ed., for some reason):

This ruggedly textured brick and stone building was long known as the Commercial Hotel¹; the name used to appear on a pointed gable at the top. Ponderous ground-floor arches are now mostly concealed by the new front. The tiny barber shop next door, probably the smallest building in the city, has occupied the gap between the two large structures ever since the beginning of the century. (Exploring Vancouver, 2nd Ed. (1978), UBC Press, p, 36. Emphasis mine.)

A Brief History of Occupants

According to Kalman’s 1st and 2nd eds., the Commercial Hotel was erected in 1896 and was designed by an unknown architect. However, the Biographical History of Architects in Canada identifies the architect as being the same person who designed the Flack Block (which was built later, in 1899), William Blackmore.³

The first mention of the Commercial Hotel in Vancouver directories seems to have been in 1898. Over the years, the street numbering systems along this stretch would vary and different numbers would be assigned to the hotel and to the small structure between it and the Flack Block. In 1898, the Commercial was 338 Cambie. There is no evidence of any building adjacent to it on the south side at this time: neither the tiny building nor the Flack Block. As is shown in the photo below (which is roughly dated by CVA staff as being ca1895), aside from the Commercial, the only other structure on the Cambie/Hastings corner is the first YMCA (located roughly where the Ormidale Block would be built not too many years later, and remains today).

Str P67 - [View of the corner of Hastings Street at Cambie Street] Bailey Bros. ca1895

CVA Str P67 – [View of the corner of Hastings Street at Cambie Street] Bailey Bros. ca1895. (Note the ‘pointed gable’ on the Commercial Hotel, as mentioned by Kalman).

By the time the photo below was taken sometime in the first decade of the 1900s, however, the Flack Block was standing on the corner and so was the tiny building between Commercial and Flack. And, as M. Guibord points out in his comment below, there appear to be three barbering poles out front.

M-3-27.5 - [Flack Block, northeast corner of Hastings and Cambie] 190-?

CVA M-3-27.5 – [Flack Block, northeast corner of Hastings and Cambie] 190-?

There is a difference in how the wee building appeared at this early photographed date and how it appears now. If you refer to the first image in this post, you will note that a curved gable feature is evident atop the wee shop. This wasn’t present in the 190- image, nor indeed, in any of the other photos shown below. (There is a photo taken in the 1980s or ’90s that seems to show it for the first time, however). To look at that feature today, you’d swear it was original to the shop, as it is covered with moss and seems to have generally aged far more than its actual, perhaps, 35 years. Just what function the upper storey performed isn’t clear to me. But I suspect that it was built with the intention of creating a bit of storage space.

In the 1910 directory, there is mention made of Morris Levine, who apparently was the first barber to occupy the little building. In the 1930s and ’40s, the shop was identified anonymously as the “Commercial Barber Shop”. No proprietor was mentioned in the directories that I viewed over these years. And by the ’50s, it was known as the Lux Barber Shop.

Bo P365.5 - [Officers of the Chilean training ship Presidente Pinto at cenotaph wreath ceremony] 1952 Charles Wishart

CVA Bo P365.5 – [Officers of the Chilean training ship “Presidente Pinto” at cenotaph wreath ceremony] 1952 Charles Wishart. Note the signage for the Lux Barber Shop is just visible behind the heads of the Chilean officers.

By the 1970s (probably starting in the 1960s), the “Rose Bros.” had taken over the tenancy of the barber shop. The Rose Bros. appear to have been, probably, father, Samuel (1881-1973) and son, Joseph (1913-1978) — both of whom were born in P.E.I.

Former entry to the smallest bldg in Vancouver on Cambie near Hastings

Gated and locked former entry to the ‘smallest building in Vancouver’. MDM Photo, February 2018.

It isn’t clear to me whether there were other barbering tenants of the small shop after the Roses died.

The building patently is unused today for much of anything except possibly storage. The entry is thoroughly gated and locked to prevent anyone from thinking it might be a suitable place to bed down.

It is even less clear why the little structure was created in the first place. Was there a deliberate decision to allow this space to stand as a “buffer” between the hotel and Flack? Why? If not a deliberate act, was it accidental? Did an early civic surveyor neglect to measure the lots twice (or thrice) and so got either the Commercial or the Flack lots a little smaller than they ought to have been?

We can only speculate. Whatever the actual reason, it seems to have been lost in the mists of time.


¹I’m guessing that the space within the structure is perhaps 100-200 s.f.

²In the 1970s, the Commercial Hotel was renamed the El Cid Hotel and at some later time, it became known as the Churchill Arms/Pub 340. It remains so, today.

³Oddly, the Biographical History identifies the source of this information as being Kalman’s 2nd ed., and claims that the Commercial was built in 1895.

Posted in Bailey Bros., Charles Wishart, hotels/motels/inns, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Remarkable Images of the Springer Album


UL_1449_0103. “Harry [Henry Babington] Cambie and Ruby Springer Walking Together”. UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections, Uno Langmann Collection. [Springer] Family Photo Album, ca1900-1910. Photographer unknown.

The image shown above is a fine example of what seem to me to be the quite ‘modern’ images that comprise the Springer family album that is part of UBC’s Uno Langmann Collection. The photograph above, which probably was taken at Harrison Lake, shows one of the Springer sisters (almost certainly) and, less certainly to me, Henry (Harry) Babington Cambie – Henry John Cambie’s son (HJC is the namesake for one of the major streets and a bridge crossing False Creek in Vancouver) – walking along the waterfront with their backs to the camera. In these early years of photography, it was pretty uncommon for camera operators (either amateurs or pros) to make images of people that were anything other than ‘face on’ and posed. This portrait has neither of those qualities.¹

The Springer brood consisted of three boys and three girls. The children of Benjamin Springer (1841-1898) and Fannie Nias (1854-1874) seem to have arrived roughly every two or three years beginning with Mabel, the eldest, and followed by Eva, Frank, Hugh, Ruby and, lastly, Robert.

Given the number of photographs in which Ruby Springer is identified in this album, it seemed to me possible that a suitor of Ruby’s may have been the principal photographer of family/friends in this album.² The only suitor of Ruby’s of whom I’m aware was the man who ultimately married her — William Alfred Bauer; he wedded Ruby Maud Eliza Springer in December 1907.

My theory that W. A. Bauer was the main photographer of the Springer album fell apart, however, upon discovering that there was another album in the Uno Langmann Collection attributed to Bauer. The photographs in Bauer’s album seem to me to be very different from those in the Springer album. Bauer seems to favour landscape shots, versus the people-dominated images of the Springer album. And Bauer also seemed to bring a greater technical expertise to his shots than could be said of the sometimes blurry and often under- or over-exposed shots taken by the mystery shooter of the Springer images. The images that made it into Bauer’s album were pretty consistently sharp and appropriately exposed. Composition-wise, however, Bauer’s shooting couldn’t hold a candle to the images made by the Springer shooter!

Having rejected Bauer as the primary shooter of the Springer album, I turned to the possibility that Ruby had taken the shots herself (Note: Upon marrying Bauer, she seemed to revert to one of her middle names as her ‘first’ name: Maud. To prevent confusion, however, I will continue to refer to her in this post as Ruby). We have access to Ruby’s shooting style, thanks to the presence in the Langmann Collection of an album attributed to her. A browse through Ruby’s photos in this album, however, reflect such a different style as to make it very unlikely that she was the shooter of the photos in the Springer album. Ruby Springer Bauer tended to shoot wide landscapes with teeny-tiny people in the middle distance or background of the shot, as opposed to the emphasis in nearly every image in the Springer album on people as the main subject.


UL_1449_0089. “Man and woman with a baby.” UBC Rare Books and Special Collections, Uno Langmann Collection. [Springer] Family Photo Album. ca1900-1910. Photographer unknown. Note: This image seems to me to be more typical of a shot made in the 1950s or ’60s than one made in the early years of the 20th century. The dominance in the shot of the baby and the proud parents is remarkable, in my opinion.

The reasoning of the previous paragraphs has led me to the not-very-remarkable conclusion that the Springer album shooter was one of the Springer siblings. Perhaps a little more remarkable, however, is my personal belief that the photographer was one of the two sisters: either Mabel or Eva (rejecting Ruby from contention, as we’ve done, above). The predominance of women and children in the Springer shots is one of the features that leads me to this conclusion. But the other feature is the very relaxed nature of the subjects of the photos; they seem (women and men alike) to truly ‘let their hair down’ in these Edwardian photos in a way that seems improbable to me had the photographer been male (as was the norm at the time).

A good example of the remarkably relaxed subjects is the photo below of a woman (Ruby Springer?) with her back — not to mention her backside — facing the camera whilst adjusting the sail on a boat!


UL_1449_0110. Man and woman adjusting sail. UBC Rare Books and Special Collections, Uno Langmann Collection. [Springer] Family Photo Album. ca1900-1910. Photographer unknown.


¹Whether it is “Harry Cambie,” as identified by UBC as the male subject of the first photo, seems to me to be open to question given that the gent walking along the waterfront seems to have darker hair colour than other images of “Harry Cambie” identified by an album owner with black grease pencil. See, for example, this image from the Springer album.

²Not all of the images in the album are family/friends shots. Toward the back of the album, the ‘feel’ of the images changes quite abruptly, apparently in time and also with a change in the principal camera operator. There are at least three images of groups trudging through and camping in the Chilkoot Pass that were made by Eric A. Hegg, a pro photographer associated primarily with images of the Gold Rush. A long-format postcard of a BC Electric Observation Car taken by local pro, Harry E. Bullen, is also included in the album. Other professional images near the back of the album include one made by the Gidley Studio of Duncan, BC and a couple made by J. A. Brock (a  Vancouver professional photographer from 1886-1890s). For more information on these (and virtually all other) major early photographers in B.C. and environs, please see David Mattison’s fine photographic directory for BC, Yukon, and Alaska, Camera Workers: 1858-1950.

Posted in Eric A. Hegg, Gidley Studio, Harry E. Bullen, J. A. Brock, Photographers, UBC, Uno Langmann Collection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Poodle Dog

CVA 371-865 - [Exterior of The Rustic Dining Rooms Lodging (house) at 318 Cordova Street] c 1901

CVA 371-865 – Exterior of The Rustic Dining Rooms and Lodging House at 318 Cordova Street, ca 1901. Note: There is a ‘reassuring’ note on the window that they have “white cooks only” (presumably; the Asians, blacks and others of colour in the city at that time can’t have found this to be overly comforting!).

This image caught my attention when I was browsing through CVA’s photos recently. The Rustic was located at 318 Cordova St., just a couple of doors west of the extant Arlington Hotel (at the corner where Cordova meets Cambie), today an SRO, I’m assuming.

The Rustic seems from the exterior view to be pretty rustic. I couldn’t imagine what it must look like inside! But, to my surprise, a little more research gave me a pretty good idea of what it must have looked like just a couple of years earlier. I wasn’t expecting to see an interior photo, as it was uncommon for ‘flashlight’ images to be made this early, but there it was: the Rustic’s predecessor at this location, the Poodle Dog Hotel!

Hot P5 - [Interior of Poodle Dog Hotel bar on Cordova between Cambie and Abbott Streets] ca1898

Hot P5 – Interior of Poodle Dog Hotel bar on Cordova between Cambie and Abbott Streets, ca1898. Note: I brightened this exposure digitally a bit, so that we could better see the interior details.

The name of this drinking establishment wasn’t by any means unique. There were other Poodle Dog dining rooms and bars in the B.C. at this time. I found evidence of a Poodle Dog in Nanaimo, for example, and a dining room of long-standing in Victoria. The Victoria restaurant specialized in French cuisine and was owned and operated by a Monsieur Louis Marbeouf.

But the Poodle Dog Hotel on Vancouver’s Cordova Street was decidedly not a French restaurant. Indeed, the image above shows only a bar room. But it was a bar with interesting details. According to a note in CVA’s collection:

The unique Poodle Dog Hotel bar was made of almost every kind of bark, cedar bark, vine, maple twigs, moss and fungus, etc., was built by George Cary for Bert Burton….The owner’s name was spelt out in big letters of maple branch twigs along the front…. [It] was illuminated with coal gas.

Perhaps your eyes are younger than mine and you are able to see Burton’s name spelled out with maple twigs on the front of the bar; but neither my eyes nor my imagination is up to the task, I’m afraid! Some of the detail that I can make out, however, are small pieces of indigenous leather work (in foreground) and (in background) the head of a big horn sheep.

If there are other details that you notice, please comment below.

Posted in cafes/restaurants/eateries, hotels/motels/inns, street scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Views of CPR Right of Way: Before and After 1932

Re-Posted February 2018
(First Posted Jan. 2016)

I was recently struck (again) by what excellent images these two are of 1930s Vancouver. How exemplary of how I often have thought of the ’30s in this city, and how great an exposure in nearly every respect, technically, as well. This was W. E. Frost at his best!

So I decided that I would take the unusual step for VAIW and re-post this two years after it was originally posted. I hope you appreciate and enjoy these Frost photos as much as I do!


CVA 447-285 – Canadian Pacific Railway tracks and Carrall Street. ca 1930 W. E. Frost photo.


CVA GF N3 – C.P.R. right of way between Cordova and Carrall Streets] 1935. No photo credit attributed by CVA. (VAIW Note: This image is so similar to the photo above – in composition, exposure and sharpness – that I’d speculate that it’s also a W.E. Frost photo.)

These two images of the CPR right of way in Vancouver’s downtown east side have features in common. Both photos were made in the midst of the Great Depression, all of the people in the photo are men, all wearing dark suits. (I get the sense from these images of both an economic and an emotional depression). I’d speculate that the photos were made by the same photographer.

But there are differences in these photos: they were made from locations about 1.5 blocks and – more importantly, about five years – apart.

In the first photo, the photographer seems to have stood near the intersection of Carrall and East Hastings and faced north. I reached this conclusion because Lind’s Cafe (330 Carrall, a couple of lots north of the corner of Hastings at Carrall) is to the right in foreground and the Gordon & Belyea building (101 Powell, near the northeast corner of Powell and Columbia) is to the right in background.

Goad's Fire Insurance Map, 1912 superimposed over City of Vancouver's VanMap. Showing the CPR right of way slicing through blocks of downtown eastside.

Goad’s Fire Insurance Map, 1912 superimposed over City of Vancouver’s VanMap. Showing the CPR right of way slicing through blocks of downtown east side.

Both of the photos were taken in a northeasterly direction, but the second one was taken about 1.5 blocks northeast of the first one – from a spot near East Cordova St, between Carrall and Columbia Streets. The Gordon & Belyea building is in the background of this image, too, just visible behind another building near the right frame.

There are rail tracks visible in the first image, but not in the second. Indeed, in the first image, there is even a sign nagging pedestrians “not to walk and trespass on the railway”. (Notwithstanding the caution, a couple of gents are walking along and across the tracks). There isn’t a similar warning visible in the second image; nor are there level crossing signs in the lower one. But, then, neither are there tracks visible in the second image.

The reason there is no track in the second photo is that it was made later (ca1935) than the first one (ca1930); the CPR removed some of the track from the right of way once the Dunsmuir Tunnel was installed in 1932.

Trains henceforth travelling from the main line to English Bay entered the tunnel at a portal drilled in the bluff below Hastings near Thurlow. The track then looped around and travelled directly east along Dunsmuir, veered southeast under the Beatty Street Drill Hall and emerged onto the False Creek flats. For forty years the tracks connected with the railway’s marshalling yards and Roundhouse. (Vancouver The Way it Was. Michael Kluckner, 87).

Part of the Dunsmuir Tunnel was repurposed in 1983 as a component of the Skytrain system. The photo below has not yet been fully catalogued by CVA, but it appears to me to be a scene of the Dunsmuir Tunnel, ca 1983, as it was being modified for the Expo Line of Skytrain; the photo would have been taken somewhere between Waterfront station and Stadium/Chinatown station.

CVA 800-2575 - [Description in Progress] n.d. Alan J. Ingram photo. (DUns tunn?)

CVA 800-2575 – [Description in Progress] n.d. Alan J. Ingram photo. (VAIW Notes: The image appears to me to be the old Dunsmuir Tunnel being repurposed for Skytrain’s Expo Line downtown, ca1983. I have digitally modified the photo to improve the exposure.)

Posted in Al Ingram, Photographers, public transit, street scenes, W. E. Frost | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

NOT a K-Tel Record(*)!


I recently picked up this recording made by Social Credit, Vancouver Centre MLAs, Herb Capozzi (1925-2011) and Evan Wolfe (1922-2009) as part of their joint campaign¹ for the 1969 General Election. The recording was cleverly called The Record of [fill-in-the-blank]. The candidates were introduced on each side, in turn, by self-described phone-in host, Jim McDonald.² I’m assuming that Wolfe and Capozzi were the only two Social Credit candidates to produce such an album. I so assume because theirs is the only one I’ve encountered.

When I listened to each side of the record, I was under the impression that Wolfe was the incumbent and Capozzi was a new candidate in this election. The reason I so concluded was that, while Wolfe mentioned his experience on legislative committees (e.g., the Public Accounts Committee), Capozzi’s background was cast solely in terms of  his non-parliamentary “business management” experience (e.g, as General Manager of the BC Lions, the first person in that position to bring a Grey Cup “home” to B.C.).

In fact, both men were successful candidates in Vancouver Centre in the previous general election (1966) and in 1969!

These Social Credit gents made some pretty predictable remarks: Wolfe, for instance, warned electors of the dangers that would come from “operating under the heavy hand of state socialism” in the event the Socreds were unsuccessful in forming another government; Capozzi, similarly, commented that, when it came to welfare policy, he favoured “self-help” rather than continuing to support families who had been receiving payments “generation after generation”. (One wonders just how long Capozzi believed that the welfare system had been in place!)

But there was also at least one surprise in The Record. Capozzi advocated that street parking be removed from all major downtown streets. This seems to me the sort of error that a rookie candidate would make³ — thus reinforcing my (mistaken) assumption that Capozzi hadn’t yet served in the provincial legislature.³


*K-Tel records are a Canadian phenomenon of the 1970s. In case you weren’t alive (or were not living in Canada) at that time, here is a page where you can get a taste of K-Tel ads. Go to the 16 minute, 55 seconds point to see the ad for Emotions. And if your blood sugar levels haven’t gone through the roof after that, then Let’s Disco! (immediately after Emotions!) (Note: The scenes in this ad look as though they were shot in Vancouver at English Bay and Stanley Park.)

¹At the time, dual-member electoral districts were common in B.C. With such a system, the two candidates who won the greatest number of votes were elected. This typically meant that whichever party was favoured in a riding won double the seats that would have been the case in a single-member riding. This worked to Social Credit’s advantage in the late 1950s and 1960s. But the tide would turn in favour of the New Democrats in this riding beginning in the next General Election (1972) and would continue to favour the NDP through the 1986 election. Redistribution would result, in 1991, in the disappearance of Vancouver Centre and at the same time, in the practice of dual-member constituencies.

²As of 1970, McDonald hosted a 2-hour show, weekday mornings on CKVN, called “Open Mind with Jim McDonald.” What exactly he was doing prior to 1969 isn’t clear to me.

³This is a jurisdictional mistake. City parking is a municipal responsibility.

Posted in politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grace & Claire Corbould

Grace & Claire Corbould, New Westminster. ca 1905? MDM Collection

Grace (left) & Claire (right) Corbould, New Westminster. ca 1905 (?) Note: Grace’s portrait was made by New West Japanese photographer, Paul L. Okamura, Each portrait is identified with handwritten notes – Grace’s apparently by herself on the face of the card; Claire’s on verso.

I recently came across the cabinet card of Grace Milwood Corbould (1886-1969) at Vancouver’s History Store. A week later, upon returning to the shop, I found the smaller card of her elder sister, (Marion) Claire Corbould (1884-1966).¹

These girls were two daughters of legendary New Westminster figure Gordon Edward Corbould (1847-1926) and his wife, Arabella Almond Down (ca1853-94), whom Gordon married in 1877. Sadly, Arabella died in 1894 at the relatively young age of 41. GEC married widow Charlotte M. E. Wright in 1901.

The G. E. Corboulds were a large family: Gordon Bruce, Lillie May (who predeceased her father in 1922)², Nella Alma, Grace Milwood, Marion Claire, Monica Vera, and Charles Edward B. The girls outnumbered the guys in the brood by a ratio of about 2:1. All the kids were by GEC’s first wife, Arabella.

A quick bio of Dad Corbould (GEC) seems in order. He was born in Ontario and first practiced law there in 1872. He was admitted to the B.C. bar in 1882. Two years later, he entered into partnership with Angus John McColl, who later was made chief justice of B.C. One-time B.C. Premier, Sir Richard McBride, served his articles with GEC. Plainly, Gordon Edward had a talent for making connections. In addition to that (or because of it, more likely), he went on to have a political career at the federal level, successfully contesting a New Westminster by-election in 1890; he was returned to the House of Commons in the 1891 general election, and remained a Conservative MP until 1896.

Children of G.E. Corbould. - [ca. 1895]. S J Thompson. Grace C is sitting at far right with dog on her lap. Record ID 18282 New Westminster Archives

Record ID 18282 – New Westminster Archives. Children of G.E.and Arabella Corbould. [ca. 1895]. S J Thompson, photographer. Shown from left to right are: Lillie May, Alma (standing), Vera, Claire. Bernie (Charles Edward B., I presume) is shown sitting on stool, Gordie B., Grace, with “Mickie” the dog in her lap.

Grace M. Corbould married a gent with the improbable name of Vyvyan (sometimes spelled Vivian) Chard Brimacombe (1881-1949) in 1907. (I’m assuming that the cabinet card of Grace was made prior to that, since she signed it with her maiden name). VCB was a banker and was the manager of a branch of the Bank of Montreal upon his retirement. He served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the Great War and, when he was demobilized in 1919, had the rank of Lieutenant. The Brimacombes had three boys: Robert Douglas, Edward Chard Corbould, and Rafe Sherme.

Sp P12 - Old Time Cricketers gathered at Brockton Point, Vancouver, B.C. during Vancouver's Golden Jubilee Cricket Week July 4-9 1938 Stuart Thomson

CVA Sp P12 – Old Time Cricketers gathered at Brockton Point, Vancouver, B.C. during Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee Cricket Week July 4-9 1938 Stuart Thomson photo. V. C. Brimacombe is on far right.

Claire marrried Frederic (later, he changed the spelling to the more conventional “Frederick”) William Anderson (1883-1955) in New Westminster in 1910. Anderson was a civil engineer. Like his brother-in-law, Vyvyan (and most other young men), he served in the Great War. What remains unclear to me is when exactly he was demobilized. According to his wartime personnel records, it was in 1918. But it seems also that he was elected to the provincial legislature for  the riding of Kamloops during the 1916 general election.² Whatever the explanation for this apparent discrepancy [see Ken’s comment below], he was re-elected in 1920 and continued as a Liberal MLA (and as Government Whip) until 1924. After his political career was over, he took on federal government employment for the Harbour Commission, serving as Resident Engineer in ca1927-30 on a North Vancouver “subway” project which resulted in the Pacific Great Eastern railway line (now the CNR) being submerged beneath the traffic of Lonsdale and St. George’s avenues. Where exactly the Andersons went after leaving North Vancouver in the early 1930s isn’t clear to me, but there are a couple of clues that they settled in the Ladner district (Frederick died in Boundary Bay in 1955; Claire died in Ladner a decade later).

While in North Vancouver, the Andersons lived in what appear to have been pretty tony digs: 1617 Grand Boulevard (what today still looks very nice – the Gill Residence). They had two kids: a girl, Frances Marion, and a boy, William Patrick.


I’d hoped in this post to be able to find enough information to give a more complete treatment of the lives of Grace and Claire Corbould. One of the chronic frustrations associated with writing this blog is the woefully scant number of women whose lives  have been fully explored. The fact remains that if you were a Canadian woman born in the 19th or early-to-mid 20th centuries, and didn’t have a remarkable parentage and/or do pretty remarkable deeds (one exception which comes to mind is E. Pauline Johnson), there isn’t much of a publicly-available historical record remaining for researchers to explore and share.

This proved to be true of Grace and Claire. Although the women in the Corbould clan patently outnumbered the men, the guys in the family got what ‘press’ was available. We are left with little more than the gazes from the photographs of these sisters with their remarkably voluminous Corbouldian hair.


¹The portrait of Grace looks to be untouched and is in pristine condition. It has Paul L. Okamura’s signature mark beneath it. I suspect that Claire’s portrait was likewise made by Okamura, but I think the card has been cropped with scissors for some reason, either by Claire or the receiver of the card. As a result, the signature mark is lost. If you are interested in seeing other photos by Okamura, see here. If you are interested in learning more about Okamura’s story, see here for a very good article written by Jim Wolf for British Columbia History.

²Lillie May, like Grace and Claire, made a good marriage. She was wed to a man named E. O. S. Scholefield, the second B.C. provincial archivist.  He predeceased Lillie May in 1919. There is an interesting little connection between the Scholefields and the Andersons, however. While an MLA, F. W. Anderson had a copper beech tree planted adjacent to the provincial library on the grounds of the legislature in memory of Scholefield and also ensured that EOSS’s widow received a provincial government pension. See this article by Terry Eastwood for B. C. Studies, p. 60.

³Anderson’s Great War records are available online here. 1916 B.C. General Election results are here at p. 366.

Posted in Photographers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Historical Corner: Terminal & Main

CVA 1184-1734 - [Al Deeming Union Oil dealer service station] 1940-48 JAck Lindsay-2

Terminal & Main THEN: CVA 1184-1734 – Al Deeming Union Oil dealer service station, ca1940-48. Jack Lindsay photograph.

I encountered this image in CVA’s online holdings a couple of months ago. I was initially puzzled as to where this service station was located; but it didn’t take too long for me to realize that this was the SE corner of Terminal Ave. at Main St. and that the buildings just behind the filling station were the structures that remain there today, in the heart of the  former False Creek flats. I have later realized that the industrial buildings are on Heritage Vancouver’s  2015 “Top 10” Watch List and are part of what that organization considers to be historically threatened in the city.

Al Deeming’s Union 76 gasoline franchise is long-gone and last year was replaced with an experimental move toward modular housing. The industrial buildings in the background once housed Neon Products’ site (260 Terminal), BC Valve Company (250 Terminal) and Massey Harris’s agricultural implement showroom (242 Terminal). The structures continue to stand today, although all with different tenants. Today, only Neon Products maintains a business presence in Vancouver (at 1865 Clark Dr.) with its 1940s name.

Van now Terminal and Main

Terminal & Main NOW: 2018, MDM Photograph.


Posted in Jack Lindsay, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

B. C. Hilliam, Music Man


Bentley Collingwood Hilliam (1890-1968). Portrait from BCH’s autobiography, Flotsam’s Follies. London: Arthur Barron, Ltd., 1948.

B. C. Hilliam immigrated to Canada in 1911 from England, with his mother, when he was 21. Although they initially stopped in Calgary, they moved quickly from there, briefly to Fernie, and finally settled in North Vancouver.

Hilliam had some experience writing for a newspaper in England and he was soon hired by the North Vancouver bi-weekly paper. He worked at this for a couple of years. In 1914, however, Vancouver was in the midst of promoting its first city “Pageant” and Hilliam’s composition, “Here’s a Ho! Vancouver” (aka “A Toast to Vancouver”) was chosen to be included on the program of the Pageant concert in June. “Here’s a Ho!”, with lyrics written by Pauline Johnson (Vancouver’s well-known native daughter who died the year prior to the Pageant), was a hit among Vancouver residents of the time:

Then here’s a Ho! Vancouver in wine of the bonniest hue,
With a hand on my hip and a cup at my lip and a love in my life for you.
For you are a jolly good fellow with a great big heart, I know;
So I drink this toast to the “Queen of the Coast!”,
Vancouver, here’s a Ho! (1)

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 4.56.53 PMIt must be said that Johnson’s lyrics don’t travel well into the early 21st century!

But it isn’t an exaggeration to claim that Hilliam’s melody for “Here’s a Ho!” made his name in Vancouver. (2) Scarcely six months after the Pageant, the Chilliwack newspaper was advertising Hilliam as “British Columbia’s foremost entertainer.” Furthermore, a full-scale musical comedy which was written by Hilliam and set in Greater Vancouver would be presented over the 1914 Christmas holidays at the Imperial Theatre (on Main near Georgia Street): “The Belle of Burrard” was met with rave reviews by drama critics and Vancouver residents alike. Hilliam composed  the music and wrote the script for “The Belle” and a local man, Bernard Tweedale, was stage manager.

There were some musical numbers introduced in “The Belle” which were later recycled by Hilliam for use in later productions. One of these poked a bit of fun at the red-hot real estate market in Vancouver at the time. It was called “Lottie Has Lots and Lots of Lots”:

Lottie has lots and lots of lots in all the most outlandish spots;
It takes her a week by motor-car to find out where the new ones are;
In Kitsilano she’s two for sale, and in Lulu Island and Kerrisdale;
At Jericho Beach she owns some sites
and in Fairview, Burnaby, Shaughnessy Heights;
In Newport, Hollyburn, English Bay, in North Vancouver and Point Grey;
Oh — gee whiz! It’s driving ’em fairly dotty,
Scouring the place at a terrible pace
Looking for lots for Lottie! (3)

The Courtney Review Apr 29.1915 UBC

The Courtney Review Apr 29, 1915.

In 1915, Hilliam wrote and composed a series of productions called the “1915 Follies”. The cast of “The Follies” changed somewhat over the course of the year, but Hilliam remained a central figure in each of them and probably was the primary draw. Later in 1915, the company even went on tour across British Columbia, with stops in such locations as Victoria, Courtney, and Kelowna. When they attempted to take the Follies on a trans-Canadian tour, however, they proved less successful, and pulled the plug on the tour after getting no further east than Calgary.

The Follies included a number of noteworthy musical pieces. One of these was a war-themed, patriotic number, with words and music by Hilliam, entitled “The H’Allies H’Owe A H’awful Lot to H’Us”:

Do you want to see a patriotic picture?
Peep into our parlour any night.
See h’our little family h’assembled
Workin’ for the boys who’ve gone to fight.
Mother’s in command of the proceedings,
Lizzy is a kind of h’aide-de-camp.
I collect the h’articles and pack them,
H’assisted by the twins and little Tom.
Sally’s sendin’ cigarettes fot sergeants,
Flora’s sendin’ flannel for the French;
Papa’s busy packing pipes for privates,
Tobacco for the tommies in the trench.
Nelly’s knittin’ nighties for the Nivy,
Never seen the folks in such a fuss,
Though I says it now as didn’t oughter,
The h’Allies ‘howe a h’awful lot to h’us.

Talk about the cleanin’ in the springtime,
Nothin’ to the mess we’re in today!
Sleepin’ helmets dangle from the chair tops,
H’and on the floor a wonderful h’array.
Mother’s in the middle of the debris,
Only head and shoulders can be seen,
Clicking of the scissors and the needles
Minglin’ with Penelope’s machine.
Clara’s sendin’ cholera belts to corporals,
Susan’s sendin’ sweaters to the Serbs,
Gwen is givin’ garments for the gunners,
H’and many of the shirts are brother ‘Erbs.
Ruth is rustling rubbers for the Russians,
No one ever dreams of feedin’ puss.
Though I says it now as didn’t oughter,
The h’Allies h’owe a h’awful lot to h’us. (4)

I know that there was a much more potent connection in Canada with England at the time than is true today. But I have difficulty believing that there were very many Canadians who spoke with this thick, h-ridden, ing-absent (was this a sort of visual cockney?) accent. Vancouver residents, however, seemed to overlook this flaw (if, indeed, they so perceived it), embracing anything produced by Hilliam with great enthusiasm.

In July, 1915, Hilliam was a participant in a Great War fundraising event, sponsored by the Vancouver Daily World, to collect funds for guns for the British Empire and her allies.


“Me” – a drawing from the book, “Chuckles: This Nonsense”, by J. C. Alden, 1920. Drawing of and by the book’s illustrator, Hilliam.

In September, H. Sheridan-Bickers organized a number of local artists, including Hilliam, to perform in aid of the Canadian Patriotic Fund.   The name given to this group of entertainers was “The Smart Set”. The group would perform again in December to benefit the Red Cross Society.

In February, 1916, Hilliam enlisted in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force and was made, initially, a Lance Corporal. He was part of the Canadian Engineers (according to his wartime personnel record, his trade was “registered carpenter”). He was soon given a commission, however, and Lieut. Hilliam was given responsibility for recruitment concerts and Canadian camp entertainment for troops stationed in Canada before they were sent overseas. For this task, he was stationed in Ottawa.

There were at least a couple of occasions during the war when Hilliam was in Vancouver: for concerts in 1916 to benefit the Returned Soldiers Club. One of these was in January (“Y’Olde Time Mastodon Minstrels” concert held at the ‘old’ Orpheum – when it was in the former Opera House on the west side of Granville) . I don’t know what it was that persuaded Hilliam to choose a Minstrel theme for a Canadian wartime fundraiser. The first part of the evening consisted of “Back to Dixie Land”, followed by “I Long to Lay My Head on Mother’s Knee”, and rounded out with “Alabama Jubilee” and “My Little Gray Home in the West”! The other numbers that were performed prior to the intermission were more traditional fare. They included “Looking for Lots for Lottie” (Hilliam) and “Take Me Back to Canada”. Things got weird again after the intermission, though, with music featuring The Coon Band Orchestra!

Perhaps word came down from on high subsequent to the January Minstrel event that the December 1916 fundraiser should be tamer. The December concert (held at the Dominion Theatre at Granville near Nelson) was certainly more like a typical “1915 Follies” or “Smart Set” event: The evening kicked off with “Here’s a Ho, Vancouver!” and concluded with a “Piano Revue (including suggestions of Rubinstein, Mendelssohn, Liszt and Tchaikowsky)”, doubtless with Lieut. Hilliam at the piano.

Following the armistice, Hilliam moved to New York City. He had been introduced to that larger and, presumably, more-critical audience towards the end of the War in a concert presented in NYC’s Hippodrome. He was a huge hit there, too, and he decided to make his home in Manhattan for about six years after the War. Later, he returned to Mother England where he ultimately teamed up with Australian, Malcolm McEachern, to form the musical comedic duo of Mr. Flotsam (Hilliam) and Mr. Jetsam until McEachern’s death in 1945. Hilliam died in 1968.

It is striking to me that Hilliam was able in such a brief period (about two years) and at such a young age (about 25) to captivate the City of Vancouver, an at-the-time relatively unsophisticated town and then continue, from strength to strength, elsewhere in British Columbia, in other parts of Canada, at NYC, and then, together with McEachern and the magic of the wireless, onto the international stage.

I wonder whether Hilliam would have had such a meteoric rise in popularity if he hadn’t moved to Vancouver when he did, where he could get his start in an environment in which there was much less competition for attention than in England.


(1) From: Book of the Pageant of Vancouver. Vancouver Summer Festival Association, June 1914. The Vancouver Pageant was held in June 1914, complete with a concert at the Horse Show Building near Stanley Park and a full-scale parade with many floats). The exuberance shown by Vancouver residents for the city’s first official “summer festival” was muted somewhat by August when Canada joined the Great War. It isn’t clear to me if Vancouver ever repeated her first Pageant in subsequent years (as seems initially to have been the plan).

(2) The full sheet music of “Here’s a Ho!” may be found here. Also on this site there is a midi file of the tune. Parts of the midi seem okay, but part way through for some mysterious reason, the pace of the music slows quite dramatically.

(3) Flotsam’s Follies. by B. C. Hilliam. London: Arthur Barron, Ltd., 1948, p.22. This volume is available in Vancouver Public Library (it is a reference book, however, and so cannot be borrowed; it is retrievable, however, for reading at the Central Branch, with staff assistance, from compact shelving). I highly recommend it as a very good read. Although some of Hilliam’s early recollections seem to me to be less than wholly historically accurate, he is a very good storyteller!

(4) Victoria to Vimy: The First World War Collections of the University of Victoria Libraries: Florence Westman’s scrapbook. This is an amazing mine of Great War recollections collected by one person. Ms. Westman’s scrapbook (see link at the bottom of the webpage) runs to well over 300 pages! Included among those pages are several Hilliam photos, a few of his sketches, wartime programs, including a couple of Vancouver theatre programs from that period, and several newspaper articles in which he is mentioned.

Posted in vaudeville | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

HNY from BC Electric (and VAIW)!

CVA 260-777 - [The B.C. Electric Building at 425 Carrall Street illuminated at night] 1937 James Crookall

CVA 260-777 – The B.C. Electric Building (and Interurban terminus) at 425 Carrall Street illuminated at night. 1937. James Crookall photo.

This 1937 night shot of the BCER Interurban terminal on Hastings at Carrall is, as usual, well done by James Crookall. He was an ‘amateur’ photographer in the sense that he wasn’t a ‘professional’ (i.e., not typically paid to shoot stuff or people), but Crookall was a professional in the looser sense of being one heck of a good shooter! In this image, he makes the best use of the limited light available from neon signs and other ambient light sources.

Today, this building is extant and is home (not inappropriately) to a shop called LightForm. The one big difference in this structure, however, is that the street-level has now been enclosed. No longer do interurban trains coast into and out of there. This is probably just as well, as the traffic entanglements at the junction of Hastings and Carrall, with interurbans leaving and entering the area were significant even in 1937; imagine how little patience today’s drivers would have if there were still a BCER terminus there!

Happy New Year to all my faithful readers!

Thanks for your support in 2017! I look forward to learning more about Vancouver’s past with you in 2018 . . .

Posted in James Crookall, public transit | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A. E. Beck, Pioneer Lawyer

Albert Edward Beck and his mother, Mary Beck (nee Cooper)

Handwriting on the verso of these portraits reads “Albert Edward Beck” and “Mary Beck (Cooper)”. MDM collection.

I recently added these two portrait photos to my collection. When I saw them at the vendor’s shop, I thought that the handwriting on the backs of each looked the same; and I was pretty sure that the surnames scrawled upon each were the same. A little bit of research revealed that the male, Albert Edward Beck (1860-1940), was the son of the female, Mary Beck (nee Cooper).

Pinning down the dates the photos were made was trickier. Vancouver Photographic Company was in business (according to Camera Workers) from 1887-1892; Wadds Bros. from 1892-ca1900. I am guessing from her image, that Mrs. Beck was about 65 when her photo was taken. Since I know from the 1901 census that she was 75 in 1901 (and living in Vancouver with her son and his family), I’m guessing that her portrait was taken ca1892. A. E. Beck’s portrait was made a bit earlier, I think. He was born in 1860 and apparently arrived in Vancouver in 1886 (although his name wasn’t included in the first Vancouver voter’s list, created October, 1886). I’d say from his image above that he wasn’t much older than 25 when it was made, so I’m guessing that his portrait was made ca1888. This guess is bolstered, I think, by an image of him with the Vancouver Eleven Cricket Team which was made the same year. In this image, he appears to be about the same age as he is in the portrait (although his beard is gone; of his facial hair,only the moustache remains).

Sp P6 - [The Vancouver Eleven Cricket Team on the Cambie Street Grounds on Dominion Day] July 1, 1888 (incldg - I am pretty sure - Al Larwill (NOT Larwikk)_

Sp P6 – [The Vancouver Eleven Cricket Team on the Cambie Street Grounds on Dominion Day] July 1, 1888. Beck is in the front row (seated) on the far right. (And Al Larwill makes an appearance, too. Although CVA made a typographical error when inputing Larwill’s name in their online collection. He is standing, second from left).

Beck was a local lawyer in Vancouver’s early years (1888-1907; 1914-33); during the 7-year interim from 1907-14, he worked for the B.C. Electric Railway as their solicitor and claims agent. After his stint with BCER, he returned to private practice until retiring in 1933. Shortly after beginning his practice in Vancouver, he was appointed the Registrar of the B.C. Supreme and County Courts for the Vancouver district. In 1900, he was made Queen’s Counsel (QC).

He did his legal training at Osgoode Hall (Toronto) before he and his wife moved to Vancouver. There is evidence that he articled for local attorney, John Boultbee. He also served as clerk to famous pioneer judge, Sir Matthew Begbie.

In 1887, Queen Victoria’s jubilee year, Beck was appointed to the improbable position of the “Music and Dancing” committee of Vancouver festivities. It’s my suspicion that he was told by John Boultbee (who was also on a jubilee-related committee) that Beck should get involved with this as a way of mixing with others in the community and bringing his name to the fore.

Beck’s early office was at 15 Cordova (adjacent to where the Boulder Hotel would be constructed within a few years) – near the NW corner of Cordova and Carrall. His daughter, (Marion) Elma, would, in Beck’s later years, join him in his practice (his son, Marshall, would take another professional route: accounting). Elma married Henry Lindsay; she died at 80 years of age in 1976 at Ganges, Salt Spring Island.

Str P77 - [F.X. Martin's groceries and provisions, A.E. Beck Law Office and a building society in the Unit Block Cordova Street] ca 1890

Str P77 – A.E. Beck’s Law Office on second floor, ca 1890. (According to early city directories, the address of his practice in this period was 15 Cordova).

A. E. Beck was married to Esther Louisa Marshall, prior to coming west from Ontario. The two of them were both born in that province (he in Sarnia; she in Port Hope). Esther died in March, 1940 and A. E. passed in November of the same year.

Mr. Beck’s parents were John Beck (b England) and Mary Jane Cooper (b New Brunswick). Mary lived with A E Beck’s family in 1901, and presumably continued to do so until her passing. John, I’m assuming, died in Ontario and subsequently Mary came west to stay with AEB and family.

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Boys at the World

CVA 1477-169 - [Large group of boys with lunch bags standing in front of building] 19--3

CVA 1477-169 – Large group of boys with lunch bags standing in front of building, 19-

This photograph by an unidentified photographer is, without a doubt, taken in front of the Vancouver World building (aka the Bekins building and still later the Sun Tower). The date of the photo is unknown, but I’m willing to bet that it was made shortly after the World Building was erected in 1912.

The boys (and young men) in the image look to me like newsboys (no doubt, employed by the Vancouver World newspaper) who had gathered for this photo in the morning shortly before or after delivery of the early edition, with their lunch sacks in hand. The gent at left foreground seems to be trying to gather the lads into good photo-formation. I suspect he is the photographer’s assistant. Poor guy, it looks like a case of trying to herd cats! It’s fun to zoom in on the boys at different places. They look like a bunch of characters!

At one time, there was an eating establishment on the ninth floor of the building called the “Nine Maidens” cafeteria, named for the maidens (aka “caryatids“, creations of the great and prolific Vancouver sculptor, Charles Marega) which enhance the exterior appearance of the building. I have no idea if there is a cafeteria today in the building, but I rather doubt it.

CVA 70-32 - Sun Tower, exterior [Beatty Street facade] detail, 1973. Art Grice-2

CVA 70-32 – Sun Tower, exterior [Beatty Street facade] detail, 1973, cropped by mdm. Art Grice photo.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Alan Beech’s Final Illusion

Update: December 13, 2017

Alan Beech magician - Eaton's Coastal Currents magazine. R Cobbett photo

Alan Beech, pulling the proverbial rabbit out of a hat. T. Eaton’s Stores “Coastal Currents” (Dec. 1955) magazine. R Cobbett photo. From Gordon Poppy’s collection. Used with permission of Mr Poppy.

Alan Beech was a photographer and photo finisher for Spencer’s and (after Spencer’s sold up) for T. Eaton’s Co. department stores in Vancouver. He was also an amateur magician.

CVA 447-97 - Molson Bank Bldg [N.E. Corner Seymour and Hastings Streets] 1973 Walter E Frost

CVA 447-97 – Molson Bank Bldg. 1973 Walter E Frost.

Alan was in Eaton’s Advertising and Sales Promotion/Display department which was located in the former Molson Bank Building at the NE corner of Hastings at Seymour (the site, today, of Harbour Centre) across Seymour from the Empire Building. Beech’s job was to take photographs of store merchandise for newspaper ads and other promotional organs. He was also responsible for finishing the photos he took in the dark room. But his longtime hobby  was magic.

Alan Eccles Beech was born in Maidenhead, England in 1918 to Dr. Stuart Beech and his wife, Muriel Scamander Clark.¹ Both of Alan’s parents were born in India and his dad was a physician with the rank of captain in the Canadian Army Medical Corps during the Great War.  According to Stuart’s wartime personnel records, he was slight of build (119 pounds!) and “went sick” a month after the Battle of Vimy Ridge in May 1917. There are indications in his records that he was at Vimy for the battle and was “exposed” to something (mustard gas?) which caused a shadow to appear on X-ray images of his lungs. He was sent to London for three months of “home service” in the summer of 1917, which, presumably, is when Alan was conceived. Stuart was demobilized in 1919 and returned with his small family to British Columbia (where he had practiced medicine before the war), settling in Ashcroft for awhile before moving to Salmon Arm in 1924, where he practiced until his death in 1939. Later that year, Alan married Helen Mills and the two of them later settled in Vancouver in the early 1940s.

Alan first became interested in magic when he was a kid, growing up in Salmon Arm. Said Coastal Currents (an Eaton’s corporate magazine with a focus on BC Eaton’s employees), in a December, 1955 profile about Alan:

While still a youngster in Salmon Arm, B.C. Alan staged shows for the neighbourhood children. He moved to Vancouver and here his interest in this pastime was enhanced after seeing a magician perform. He bought all the books he could on the subject and began a diligent practise of the art. He observed ever prestidigitator’s act he could take in, fraternized and compared notes with many amateur magicians.

Alan gave his first magic show in front of an audience on November 18, 1944. Between then and 1976 (the last date for which information appears to be available regarding Alan) he must have performed on several hundred occasions.

He was a member of the local magic club, Vancouver’s Magic Circle, which was (and is) composed exclusively of amateur magicians who hold full-time jobs doing other things and perform only as magic hobbyists. Alan won at least three of the trophies offered by the Magic Circle to its members: in 1952, he won the William Shelley Trophy “for the best stage presentation”; in 1966 he won the Cecil Ackery Comedy Trophy; and in 1976, he was awarded the Wilf Rutherford Trophy for the “best children appeal show”.

I have searched high and low for some indication in the public record of Alan Beech’s death year. But I have turned up nothing. I’m almost prepared to conclude that Alan’s final illusion was that of dodging death. After all, in our world of documentation, if a vital statistic isn’t confirmed in written form, did it really happen?


Extra! Extra! I heard from Robert at WestEndVancouver that he’s been successful in tracking down the date of Alan Beech’s passing: Alan died on September 2, 1998 at age 80. Many thanks, Robert!


¹Our Alan Beech had an uncle who, like Alan’s father, Dr Stuart Beech, was also a physician, and who, confusingly, was also named Alan.

Thanks to Gordon Poppy for sharing this post idea and for filling in some of the blanks pertaining to the life of Alan E. Beech.

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B.C. Maternity Hospital

4430 Beatrice Street - Former site of BC Maternity Hospital and the Butters:Wedgbury home

4430 Beatrice Street (Near Kingsway), as it appears today. Former site of B.C. Maternity Hospital (1922-1930) in Cedar Cottage (East Vancouver) neighbourhood. MDM Photo, 2017.

I’ve recently made the acquaintance of Gordon Poppy. He is 89 years old and he shared with me that he was born at the B.C. Maternity Hospital in the community of Cedar Cottage (in what was then within the Municipality of South Vancouver but today is part of the City of Vancouver). When I told Gordon that I’d never heard of that hospital before, he said it is still standing, although it seems currently to be a single family dwelling.

This called for a field trip to Beatrice Street to photograph the property and not a small amount of desk research. At the end of the day, however, I don’t have much to show for my work on this project. Here are the facts I’ve been able to dig up:

  • In 1920, 4430 Beatrice St. seems to have been the residence of Samuel J. Brown. (The building was vacant in 1921).
  • B. C. Maternity Hospital was initially listed in the Vancouver directory in 1922 and was shown for the last time in the 1930 issue (at 4430 Beatrice St. for all of the hospital’s 8-year lifespan).
  • Mrs. Mary Ann Butters (1861-1946) is listed in the 1920s issues of Vancouver directory as the “Matron” and as resident at “B. C. Maternity Hospital”.
  • After the hospital evidently closed sometime in 1930 (Mrs Butters would have been just shy of her 70th birthday that year), it was occupied by members of the Wedgbury family (Lily Wedgbury was Mary Butters’ daughter) and by Mary Butters for the rest of her days. She died in 1946 at the age of 85.
  • I hunted for a long time to find an ‘official’ mention of B. C. Maternity Hospital. Neither staff at the City of Vancouver Archives nor librarians at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library had heard of the institution nor had they any record of it in their holdings.

Finally, today, while doing a last bit of due diligence, I happened across a mention within the Proceedings of the 30th Annual Convention of the B. C. Hospitals’ Association, August 19-22, 1930. On p.193 of this document in the “List of Licensed Private Hospitals” in the province, Mrs. M. Butters appears as the “licensee” of “B. C. Maternity Home” (note: not shown here as “Hospital”). The list is interesting not only for its inclusion of B. C. Maternity Home, but also for listing several other institutions which were new to me (see below), such as Fairview Convalescent Home and Chatham House Private Hospital (these two were located within a block of each other on West 15th Avenue).

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 5.47.14 AM

It looks like 4430 Beatrice was a single family dwelling before becoming B.C. Maternity Hospital (according to some accounts, the house was built in 1905, at which time, this section of Beatrice Street was called Banks Avenue). Evidence suggests that as of the early 1930s, the former hospital reverted to being a private residence. As of 1955, the Wedgbury family was still showing in the Vancouver directory as occupying the property (Mrs Butters daughter, Lily Wedgbury, died that year).

Posted in hospitals/health care | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fuel-Based Buses

CVA 586-4372 - Canadian Street Car Advertising bus shots 1946 Don Coltman

CVA 586-4372 – Canadian Street Car Advertising bus shots 1946 Don Coltman.  The bus was painted in olive or grey (it’s hard to be sure which in this black and white photo). CVA doubtless arrived at the year for this photo from the poster applied (with tape!) to the rear of the bus above: a March of Dimes campaign poster for 1946. The poster at the front of the bus (apparently purposely obscuring the “B. C. Electric Railway” logo) seems to be anti-littering propaganda.

The buses shown above and below¹ are some very early examples of transit that was powered by fuel (rather than electricity, as with the electric railway or trolleys). According to Kelly & Francis in Transit in British Columbia: The First Hundred Years, by the start of WWII, the bus fleet in Vancouver numbered 25:

Transit was so heavily used during the war that the government’s war allocations board in Ottawa became responsible for new bus orders for all Canadian cities. The board was headed by Sig Sigmundson, who later became transportation manager for the BCER. Buses began arriving in Vancouver painted their wartime colours of olive green or grey, and were quickly placed in service. (p. 89)

The location where the buses were parked seems to have been the Cambie Garage which was situated on Cambie between 14th and 16th Avenues (thanks to Angus McIntyre for his comment below which made note of this and other details).

CVA 586-4371 - Canadian Street Car Advertising bus shots 1946 Don Coltman

CVA 586-4371 – Canadian Street Car Advertising bus shots 1946 Don Coltman. The poster at the rear of the bus appears to be for a popular drink: Kik. The poster at the front of the bus seems to be for Vaudeville performances by Lili St. Cyr. Tom Carter has shared with me that, at this time, St. Cyr was playing at the Beacon/Odeon Theatre (on Hastings). Thanks, Tom!


¹These images may be the same bus, photographed from different angles.

Posted in Don Coltman, public transit, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Empire Building

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early vs Later Tenants

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

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

Frank Haines

Frank Haines

Frank Haines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Empire was demolished in the late 1970s. In about 1985, it was replaced with a glassed-in, circular public structure as part of the Grant Thornton complex (adjacent and to the north), which was located where the St. Francis Hotel once was. The structure isn’t long for this world, however. The corner is due for redevelopment along the same lines as the NE corner of Georgia and Howe: more retail space will be the result.

NW Corner of Seymour and Hastings where Empire bldg once stood

NW Corner of Seymour and Hastings where the Empire Block once stood. 2017. mdm photo.


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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized, W. E. Frost | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Cenotaph Before Victory Square

Update: This was initially posted October 27, 2017

CVA 99-895 - Cenotaph 11 Nov 1920 Stuart Thomson (South Vancouver)

CVA 99-895 – Cenotaph, 11 Nov 1920. Stuart Thomson.

This makeshift-looking, wooden cenotaph was located at the South Vancouver Municipal Hall – formerly SW corner of Fraser St. at 41st Ave.; across from Mountain View Cemetery; today, it is the site of John Oliver School. (There were distinct municipalities of Vancouver, South Vancouver, and Point Grey until 1929 when the three municipalities were merged into a single City of Vancouver).

Victory Square was still four years from being ready for its unveiling for its new purpose as a memorial to ‘the boys’ lost in World War I (and, later, those Canadians who died in other major conflicts).

Apparently, post-WW1 memorial construction was slow in happening and so it was left to the Women’s Auxiliary of the South Vancouver branch of the Great War Veterans’ Association to fill the gap created by tardy municipal leaders¹:

[T]he auxiliary met and unanimously decided that if other organizations appeared to be forgetful they were not. . . . [A] suitable spot was chosen and plans were at once decided on for erection. Owing to the short time left before Armistice Day, November 11, a temporary cenotaph will be erected and the permanent structure will be put up later. The idea of the cenotaph is that on each anniversary of the death of of a South Vancouver hero the auxiliary will place a wreath in his memory on the memorial. His name, rank and date of death will be duly inscribed thereon.
(Vancouver World. November 6, 1920)

The more permanent memorial was erected in 1926 at South Vancouver Municipal Park (just a few blocks away at Ross St. and E. 41st Ave.)

A friend pointed out that the creator of the temporary cenotaph shown above made a singular/plural grammatical error. It looked that way to me, too (We thought it ought to read “their names shall live forevermore.”) However, I then noticed that this ‘error’ was also on the Victory Square Cenotaph, where it claims – in slightly more King James-y English – that “their name liveth forevermore”. Hmm.

Upon doing a bit of research, I have learned that “Their name…” is a direct quote from the King James version of the apocryphal Book of Sirach 44:14 (quoted below, along with verse 1, to provide some context):

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us….

Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.
(Emphasis mine; why it is that ‘bodies’ is shown in the plural form while ‘name’ is translated as singular, I don’t know.)

Presumably, South Vancouver leaders of the ’20s didn’t feel free to edit the King James version of the apocrypha!²


¹I’m indebted to Robert at WestEndVancouver for correcting my conclusion in the original version of this post that the location of the cenotaph was Mountain View Cemetery. Thanks, Robert!

²The more contemporary versions of Sirach 44:14 use ‘names’ instead of ‘name’.

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1972 BC Progressive Conservative TV Ads

Update: October 19, 2017 (First Posted October 4th)

Derril Warren in BC PC 1972 Ads

Derril Warren in BC PC 1972 Ads. This head shot is set against a background of a herd of wild (I’m guessing) horses. Was this how BC Tories wanted to imagine themselves in 1972?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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Turn On Your Headlights for Car Service

CVA 1376-17 - White Spot [drive in] restaurant [850 Burrard Street] 1952? Werner Leggenhager

CVA 1376-17 – White Spot Drive-In Restaurant with Lunch Counter at 850 Burrard Street. 1952? Werner Lenggenhager photo.

This is an unusual photo.

I’ve seen other photos taken from Smithe or thereabouts on Burrard Street (such as the one that appears below) with the White Spot neon signage displayed. But this is the only image I’ve seen of the actual lunch counter and parking lot where folks could switch on their headlights and receive ‘car service’.

This outlet of the now-ubiquitous restaurant chain seemed to have been located where the Scotiabank Theatre is today. The image above was taken with the camera facing northeast (you can make out the Hotel Vancouver in the background).

The photo was made by Werner Lenggenhager (1899-1988), who, according to CVA’s very brief bio, was a Seattle man who once worked for Boeing. The photo bears the marks of a non-resident. It just isn’t the sort of shot which most Vancouverites in the 1950s would have taken the trouble to make.

Thanks, Werner!

Crop pf CVA 2008-022.045 - [Downtown Vancouver street scene with BC Hydro building] 1958

Crop pf CVA 2008-022.045 – Downtown Vancouver street scene with BC Hydro building and neon White Spot signage. 1958.

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Chinatown & Strathcona, 1890s

LGN 1052 - [View of Mount Pleasant looking north from Ninth Avenue (Broadway) near Quebec Street] 1892-1896

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Kids’ Hospital on Haro Street

Update (First Posted: August 2017)

CVA 99-225 - Children's Hospital - Haro Street 1919 Stuart Thomson

CVA 99-225 – Children’s Hospital at 1154 Haro Street. 1919. Stuart Thomson.

The children’s hospital shown above was the Infants’ Department of Vancouver General Hospital. It was at this location from about 1917 until about 1950. (For a couple of years prior to 1917, there was something called The City Creche at 1152/1154 Haro. I have no idea what this was.)

I assume the reason the Infants’ Department was located here – quite distant from the main campus of VGH in Fairview – was due to space limits. The Fairview site was, until 1925, sharing space with UBC. The Eburne Annex was probably situated in Marpole (across from the Marpole Interurban station – the Marpole Loop, today) for a related reason.

I have stumbled across this entry (while seeking something else) in J. S. Matthews’ Early Vancouver (Volume 7, p.149; Matthews was the City of Vancouver’s first archivist), where he comments on the early VGH (incorporated 1902). After detailing the capacity of the Fairview campus, he remarks:

In addition, there was the Maternity institution in a separate building somewhere up towards Burrard Street. Beginner nurses trained there. I do not know how many beds.

I suspect it was the Haro Street building to which Matthews was referring.


Centre Plaza (at 1160 Haro St). 1154 Haro is adjacent to this residential tower and is today a parking garage servicing the residents of the tower. 2017. Author’s photo.

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Annotated Georgia at Hornby (and Environs)

CVA 677-528 - Clearing site for Court House on Georgia Street ca 1904 P T Timms

CVA 677-528 – Clearing site for Vancouver’s 2nd Court House at Georgia and Hornby, ca 1904. Philip T Timms. Annotations by MDM, 2017.

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Maple Leaf Flying in Vancouver Nearly 40 Years Before Becoming National Flag!

The screen grabs that appear above are taken from this film. CVA describes part of the film as showing “the Georgia Hotel, the Court House (now Vancouver Art Gallery), a parade in downtown Vancouver, [and] various scenes with automobiles…”¹

The feature of each of the shots above to which I wish to draw attention is what appear to be Maple Leaf flags. They are all over downtown at the time the film was made, evidently. They were affixed to the rear end of the automobiles driving away from the camera; there was one draped over the hotel entry; and they were vertically oriented for display on street standards.

The maple leaf illustrations are not the standardized/simplified versions to which Canadians have become accustomed to seeing on our national flag since it became such in 1965. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, the highest profile advocate for what became the Canadian flag, wanted the leaf to be readily drawn by children. The leaves on the flags that appear in the film are, perhaps, nearer in appearance to actual leaves of the maple. They bear an unfortunate resemblance, however, to the modern eye, to the leaf of the Cannabis plant.

When was the film made? I’m inclined to believe it’s a 1927 film (CVA claims it was produced ca1926). There are a couple of things that led me to this conclusion: (1) 1927 was the diamond jubilee (60th year anniversary) of confederation; (2) the presence of at least one royal symbol – in the image of the car parked in front of the hotel (look at the top left corner at the banner with a crown) – would tie in well with 1927, as Edward, Prince of Wales, visited Vancouver that year.

There is a CBC archive video here that touches on the national flag debate in 1964 and its controversial conclusion using the ‘closure’ tactic.

CVA 160-26 - City Hall; New Flag - Spread Out 1965 William O. Banfield-2

CVA 160-26 – City Hall; New Flag – Spread Out 1965 William O. Banfield photo. VAIW note: Mayor William Rathie (1963-66) is pictured raising the national flag to the left of the image.


¹Tom Carter has pointed out that the exterior (and, I think, interior) shots were taken at the then-adjacent, now-demolished, Hotel Devonshire.

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Wreck Beach’s Opposite

I-63128 - Crowds turned out for an event; possibly at English Bay ca1895. Royal BC Archives

I-63128 – Crowds out for an event; possibly at English Bay. ca1895. Royal BC Archives. Photographer unknown.

This scene is most likely the beach on English Bay, ca 1895. The ladies and gents who appear here are dressed to the nines! The image, from the Royal BC Archives, seems to suffer from double exposure, but remains a good example of Victorian beachwear in Vancouver.

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J. H. Carlisle: A Man of Firsts


First Posted July 2015

CVA - Port P193 - [Fire Chief John Howe Carlisle awarded the 'Good Citizen' medal by the Native Sons of B.C.] 1922 Stuart Thomson

CVA – Port P193 – [Fire Chief John Howe Carlisle awarded the ‘Good Citizen’ medal by the Native Sons of B.C.] 1922 Stuart Thomson. (Note: The lady holding the bouquet and standing next to JHC is almost certainly his wife, Laura Carlisle).

J. H. Carlisle (1857-1941) accomplished several “firsts”. He was the first Sunday School Superintendent of First Baptist Church (FBC), before it was formally organized; his name was the first listed among the charter members of FBC when the church was organized; he was the first clerk of FBC; he was the first person honoured with the Good Citizen medal (in 1922), see photo above; and he was the first BC resident to be honoured with the King’s Police Medal (in 1923), see photo below. To my surprise, I’ve recently discovered that Carlisle also was FBC’s first formal “President” of the choir — whatever duties that post involved (VDW February 10, 1890). Mrs. Carlisle was the fist FBC organist of record.

Ironically, the “first” attributed to JHC most often – ‘first Vancouver Fire Chief’ – actually wasn’t. That honour went to Samuel Pedgrift (1886); he was followed by J. Blair (briefly); JHC became chief after Blair in the autumn of 1886 until 1888 (Carlisle’s term as chief began after the Great Fire of June 1886). Wilson McKinnon followed JHC’s initial 2-year term. But then Carlisle became chief again — this time for a period unmatched by any chief since: 39 years (1899-1928).

Chuck Davis’ website notes that in 1911 the VFD was ranked by a committee of international experts as among “the world’s best in efficiency and equipment”; and in 1917, it became Canada’s first completely motorized department.

Appropriately, the city’s first fireboat was named in honour of the man: the J. H. Carlisle.

For a photograph of JHC as a relatively young man, see the image and post here.

CVA - Port P140 - [Former Fire Chief J.H. Carlisle after receiving the King's Police Medal from His Honour W.C. Nichol, Lieutenant governor of B.C.] April 1923 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA – Port P140 – [Former Fire Chief J.H. Carlisle after receiving the King’s Police Medal from His Honour W.C. Nichol, Lieutenant governor of B.C.] April 1923 Stuart Thomson photo. (Again, Laura Carlisle, JHC’s wife, is the lady standing next to the chief).

CVA 99-1709 - %22J.H. Carlisle%22 fireboat test run 1928 Stuart Thomson photo. (Note- Carlisle the man is standing amidships upon Carlisle the fireboat)

CVA 99-1709 – “J.H. Carlisle” fireboat test run 1928 Stuart Thomson photo. (Note- Carlisle the man is standing amidships upon Carlisle the fireboat).

J H Carlisle

Chief J. H. Carlisle in younger days. From: Souvenir of the Vancouver Fire Department, 1901. 0024_Page 18_L. University of British Columbia Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Published by Evans & Hastings for Firemen’s Benefit Association (Vancouver, BC). Photographer unknown.

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Cowan & Brookhouse Printers


CVA 677-503 - Front office, Cowan and Brookhouse [Printing and Publishing], Labor Temple [411 Dunsmuir Street] ca 1919 Canadian Photo Co.

CVA 677-503 – Front office, Cowan and Brookhouse (Printing and Publishing). 411 Dunsmuir Street. ca 1919. Canadian Photo Company. (The two leftmost people pictured are Arthur A. Brookhouse – standing – and (now, the widow) Mrs. Carrie Cowan – seated behind him. George Bartley – Mrs. Cowan’s brother – is the gent posed standing at the desk to right of Brookhouse).

CVA 677-504 - [Printing room] Cowan and Brookhouse Printing and Publishing [411 Dunsmuir Street] ca 1916

CVA 677-504 – Printing room. Cowan and Brookhouse Printing and Publishing, 411 Dunsmuir Street. ca 1916. Canadian Photo Company.

The photos above were made by a photographer with Canadian Photo Co.; the photographer isn’t identified on the prints (nor by CVA), but they seem likely to have been made by gifted photographer, W. J. Moore

The first image looks like the ‘upstairs’ component of  (Harry) Cowan & (Arthur) Brookhouse printers and publishers.  It was made in ‘management-land’, where fingernails are unstained by printer’s ink and work surfaces are tidy and spotless. The second image, on the other hand, appears to be taken ‘downstairs’. The workers appear hot and sweaty, and are doing the hard, dirty work of a printing establishment in the early years of the 20th century.

The two photos were taken in the Labor Temple (note: the correct spelling of Labor in this case is the American spelling, rather than the Canadian, “labour”). The Labor Temple still stands today at 411 Dunsmuir Street. (Past Tense has a good history of the Labor Temple, which had been known by the slightly less exalted name of Labor Hall when it was in the former Homer Street Methodist Church. Why the name was changed from hall to temple isn’t clear.)

Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 7.07.47 PM

Ad in BC Federationist

Cowan & Brookhouse printed B.C. Veterans Weekly and Vancouver Blighty, a periodical that served readers associated with local military hospitals (my thanks to L., of  Past Tense, who commented below, for his sharp eyes in identifying the Blighty in the second photo).  It also looks likely (given the image below) that Cowan & Brookhouse printed The Independent (which appears to have been a labour organ, 1900-03).

CVA 677-828 - Jos. Niles, H. Geo. Bartley, and H. Cowan [standing outside office of] the Independent, 312 Homer Street 1900

CVA 677-828 – Jos. Niles, H. George. Bartley, and Harry Cowan [standing outside office of] the Independent, 312 Homer Street 1900.

Harry Cowan died in July, 1915 from complications associated with abdominal surgery. Cowan & Brookhouse continued to operate for a number of years after Cowan’s death, finally wrapping up by about 1925. Arthur Brookhouse continued to work at the printing business. He worked for various printing outfits as a composer (including Clarke & Stuart, A. H. Timms Printers, and The Sun). By 1945, he also edited The Shoulder Strap, the periodical of the B.C. Provincial Police. Brookhouse died in 1948.

It was thought, for awhile, that another local printing firm, Rose, Cowan & Latta, may have been an amalgam of Cowan & Brookhouse and Latta & Co. But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of that. The Cowan who hooked up with Rose and Latta was John Bruce Cowan; and there is nothing to suggest that John Bruce was a direct relation of Harry Cowan.


¹David Mattison’s Camera Workers site here notes that “W.F. McConnell managed the Canadian Photo Co. (1916-19__) along with William J. Moore (1916-1917)” and later remarks of Moore that “He operated under his own name from 1913-1915, then worked for the Canadian Photo Co. (1916-1917). He established a successful operation under his name around 1920. One of his specialties was taking panoramic photographs.”


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The First First

A couple of posts ago, I presented an artist’s sketch by Reginald Blunden of the first permanent structure of First Baptist Church. But I didn’t say very much about that structure, how it came to be, where it was located, nor what ultimately happened to the building after the church vacated it late in 1889.

In late 1886, two lots were secured from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) on Westminster Avenue by FBC (although it wouldn’t officially be “First Baptist Church” until after it formally organized a few weeks before the congregation began meeting in the chapel). The building, which was built in part by congregants, was a wee frame structure measuring roughly 24×35 feet. The pews were of rough wooden construction and the interior was lit by “humble oil lamps” which illuminated the place, but only just. According to FBC’s principal historians, there was no baptismal font (the first baptism of Robert Palmer in May 1887 was held in False Creek roughly where the Pacific Central Station stands today) nor was there a pulpit, per se. All told, the building is thought to have cost about $700. And – in sharp contrast with FBC’s anticipated financial situation upon completion of the current building project – the first Vancouver Baptist structure left the congregation with no debt

Pinning Down the Chapel’s Location

Vancouver’s first archivist, J. S. Matthews, reported from an interview with early Baptist, Rev. P. C. Parker, that the church was on Main “on the east side between Hastings and Dupont [now East Pender] streets. (Early Vancouver, Vol. 5, p.158). But the Chapel lots did not not face the street. They were located on the back lane behind Main.²

The map below is Sheet 13 of Goad’s Vancouver Fire Insurance Map of 1897. In the top left corner, is the block that interests us: that of the east side of Westminster (Main St.) between Hastings to the north and Dupont (later known as Princess St., and, ultimately, as East Pender) to the south. Carmichael identified the lot on which the building stood as being on “the back of [the] lot, now 432 Main St.” I’ve annotated the map with “FBC Chapel” on the rear of the lot which was 432 Main St.

Sheet 13 Goads 1897

Goad’s Fire Insurance Map, 1897. From Sheet 13. An annotation is made by the author showing the lot on which I believe FBC’s chapel was located.

Post-Chapel Applications

The church occupied the chapel from early 1887 until late 1889. Within a year after FBC vacated the chapel to take up occupancy in its new, much larger building (at the corner of Hamilton and Dunsmuir), the little one-storey structure was sold.

The buyer seems to have been the Malvina Coudron Hardware. Said Mrs. J. D. Cameron in J. S. Matthews’ Early Vancouver: “I remember the first church the Baptists had, quite well; I have attended service there; it was on [near?] the northeast corner of Dupont and Westminster Avenue. I remember them raising it; raised it high on stilts, and built a hardware store under it.” (Emphasis mine).³

Ch P95 - [Exterior of Malvina Coudron hardware (formerly First Baptist Church) on Westminister Avenue] ca1890 Harry T. Devine

Ch P95 – Exterior of Malvina Coudron hardware. The upper storey was formerly the Baptist Chapel), ca1890. Harry T. Devine photo.

The photo above shows the Malvina Coudron hardware shop around 1890, shortly after the main floor had been built in beneath the former chapel.

The photo below shows the block a few years later. Malvina Coudron is no more; it had been replaced with another hardware: Lewis & Sills. By 1910, it had become McPherson & Sons Gents furnishings. By 1919, the property had begun to embrace its place in the heart of Chinatown and 432 Main was occupied by Yick Co. Produce.

CVA 166-2 - Street Scene in Vancouver showing block of shops at 432 Westminster Avenue (Main Street) PTTimms ca 1908

CVA 166-2 – Street Scene in Vancouver showing block of shops at 432 Westminster Avenue (Main Street), ca 1908. P T Timms photo.

The east side 400 block of Main Street appears as shown below, today. “FBC Chapel” is shown on this image to illustrate where I believe the chapel was situated in 1887-89.

View from above the 400-block east side Main Street. Courtesy Google Maps

View today from above the 400-block east side Main Street. Courtesy Google Maps.

The chapel was located just behind where Propaganda Coffee is today on 209 East Pender.


¹ W. M. Carmichael, These Sixty Years: 1887 -1947. Leslie J. Cummings. Our First Century: 1887-1987.

²Cummings, 12.

³J. S. Matthews, Early Vancouver: Vol. 4, p.86.

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Jean Fuller & Don Flynn, Entertainers


First Posted: February 2016

CVA 99-691 - Central Garage, Seymour Street ca1918 Stuart Thomson photo (Jean Fuller's >>? 1142)-2

CVA 99-691 – Central Garage, Seymour Street, ca1918. Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW note: I believe the home that is only partly visible in this shot is what was Jean Fuller’s business and home at 1124 Seymour Street. Neither that building nor the one which housed Central Garage in 1918 is still standing. The 6-storey apartment block remains on the corner. It was known at the time as “Hollywood Apts”, today it is called “Brookland Court”).

There was a nightclub on Seymour Street in the 1930s popularly known by those who went there as “Nigger Jean’s”. The proprietress (a black lady, originally from Texas) was known locally as Jean or Jeannie Fuller (ca1897 – ?); her full formal name, however, was Imogene. Ivan Ackery, in his memoirs, Fifty Years on Theatre Row (1980), had this to say about Jean’s club:

Jeannie’s place was full of well-known people. It was THE place to go and all the well-to-do met there. A lot of them used to get drunk and stay overnight. When you’d go in she’d whisper, “Don’t make too much noise now… I’ve got General So-and-So or Governor So-and-So asleep upstairs.” Jeannie sang the blues in the club and she used to bring in black entertainers – girls whom she’d find work for in various clubs around town. (Ackery, 120)

I’ve tracked down the location of the club (and Jean’s home). It was at 1124 Seymour Street (from 1933-40, in the name of Miss J. Fuller; and from 1941-50 in the name of Don Flynn). It was located south of Helmcken, near the apartment block known today as Brookland Court (what was known in Jean Fuller’s day as Hollywood Apartments). Today, the location of Jean’s home/club is near the northern end of Emery Barnes Park.

Jean married Don Flynn (1900-1948) in 1940, although they were probably a couple for years before that. The two seem to have been a mixed race couple.

Don was born in Mountain Station, ON and lived for some of his early years in Calgary. He tried to enlist in the Canadian armed forces in 1916, but was quickly discharged for lying about his age (he claimed he was born in 1897). He identified his occupation as early as age 16 as “musician”; he played piano. It isn’t clear to me what Don was doing between 1916 and

VDW 30 December 1922

VDW 30 December 1922.

1922, but he was in Vancouver by 1922. An ad in an issue of the Vancouver Daily World indicates that Don was playing that year (along with “Don Flynn’s Novelty Orchestra”) at the Patricia Dansant – a dancing joint attached to the Patricia Hotel in East Vancouver. The 1927 Vancouver Directory indicates Don spent at least part of that year as a musician playing for the Empress Theatre. But there is no mention of Don in directories again until 1935, when it was noted that he was playing for the Commodore Cabaret. In the late 1940s, I gather he was playing piano for the CPR Orchestra (this was the reported occupation on his death certificate).

Don died very early and tragically in November 1948. His death certificate indicates he died by “misadventure”; the principal cause of death was poisoning by methyl alcohol.  He was buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

It hasn’t been possible, so far, to locate a photo of Jean Fuller. The cropped image shown below, however, may be of Don Flynn playing piano with the Commodore Cabaret Orchestra.

CVA 99-4293 - Commodore Orchestra Jan 12, 1933 - Stuart Thomson

CVA 99-4293 – Could this be Don Flynn, the pianist with the Commodore Cabaret Orchestra, Jan 12, 1933? – Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: This is a crop of the original image which shows the whole orchestra).

Jean gave up her club at some point (when that was, isn’t clear). According to Ackery, she ended her career in Vancouver as “Aunt Jemima” at the PNE and, finally, as a women’s room attendant at a local cabaret. He noted that she returned to “her home” in the States (to Texas, presumably) where she later died. (Ackery, 120).

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The Cowboy Evangelist

Artist's sketch of First Baptist Church, Westminster Ave., which was bujilt at the bakc of lot, now 432 Main St occupied until Fall, 1889

Artist’s sketch of First Baptist Church, Westminster Ave. It was built at the back of the lot (where the back lane is, just behind the lot occupied today by Propaganda Coffee (209 E. Pender St). This is the building (occupied until Fall, 1889) in which the Cowboy Evangelist would have preached. Courtesy: These Sixty Years: Being the Story of First Baptist Church, Vancouver BC. W. M. Carmichael. 1947. Artwork was by Reginald A. Blunden (d. 1953 at the age 53), a Vancouver commercial artist.

Rev. James B. Kennedy, the minister at First Baptist Church, invited self-styled Cowboy Evangelist, George W. Rasure, to preach at the evening service on Sunday, November 18, 1888.¹ He preached at FBC every evening for at least two weeks; perhaps as long as three weeks.

Kennedy became a big fan of Rasure and not only invited him to return to FBC’s pulpit on other occasions (in 1889), but he came to Rasure’s aid with publicly supportive comments when Rasure came under negative scrutiny in the press.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.


Rasure was born in 1847 in Boone County, Kentucky and was raised in Louisville until he turned 14.² He joined the Union Army and fought in the U.S. Civil War. Following his discharge in 1866, he returned to Kentucky, where he was involved in a shooting incident with old army acquaintances. He was acquitted, however, as he’d acted in self-defence. He travelled to Texas where he became a herder on a ranch. He was promoted to ‘regular cowboy’ and spent the next 17 years of his life doing that. He was known throughout the area as being one of the wildest of cowboys.

In 1873, he went to Wyoming where he took charge of a cattle ranch. A band of outlaws headed by rogues known as ‘Parsimonious Bill’ and ‘Colorado Jack’ attacked the ranch and robbed him of nearly everything he owned. In 1883, he went to the home of his people who lived in Kansas. There, he was forced to sleep in a stable. 

He claimed he got became very ill in that stable and during that time became convicted of the wickedness of his past life.  He prayed that if God spared his life, he would dedicate his remaining years to His service. He shook off his illness and, true to his word, began to preach in the evenings.

He said goodbye to the cowboy life and real estate became his new day job. In the first year of buying and selling, he claimed he was worth $20,000 (which is roughly US$482,000, in 2017’s inflated money). And by 1887, according to the former-cowboy-now-realtor, he’d accumulated about $1 million of property in Wellington, Kansas.

The Many ‘Day Jobs’ of the Cowboy Evangelist

According to an interview Rasure gave to the Vancouver Daily World, he had come to B.C. to stay. Indeed, he planned to leave for Tacoma within days to pick up his boxes which had been sent there via the Northern Pacific Railroad (from Kansas, presumably).  “From what he has already seen of Vancouver and district, he has come to the conclusion to settle here, and is trying to buy out Tiffin’s Mill, at the head of the Inlet…” (VDW 25 October 1888)

Within two weeks of the interview, the World reported that Rasure had “just about completed” arrangements to purchase the lumber mill, which was located near Port Moody. It also reported that he had taken a house in the east end of Vancouver. (VDW 2 November 1888)

This plan to purchase the lumber mill seems to have come to naught. In a World column called “Port Moody Jottings”, just two years subsequent to the Rasure interview, no mention was made of him in connection with the mill (VDW 30 May 1890). And I could find no mention in any Vancouver city directory of Rasure having a residence in Vancouver. (He may well have owned or rented a home in the east end for a time, but it could be that his time in that residence was so brief as to not be included by directory staff).

By 1889, his attention seemed to shift from lumber in Port Moody to limestone in Yale (which is located about 240km east of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley). An April issue of the World reported that Rasure had “struck it rich” in a limestone quarry near Yale. “He is going into the burning business extensively.” (VDW 20 April 1889) It wasn’t long before the limestone business landed him in a spot of bother. There was a report in August that Rasure had been attacked by a knife-wielding employee in Yale, Michael Finnegan by name, who was distressed that Rasure hadn’t paid him back wages owing to him. Rasure was injured slightly in the incident. Finnegan was locked up and charged with assault. (VDW 17 August 1889)

By the end of 1889, Rasure started a ‘stable’ business in Vancouver located on Oppenheimer Street (now Cordova), between Carrall and Columbia. His ads for the business claimed “A fine lot of Carriage, Driving, and Saddle Horses” were available for sale. This business lasted less than 6 months. It was reported on March 5, 1890, that Rasure had been charged with violation of By-Law No. 97, which required him to have a license before engaging in business. (VDW 5 March 1890). There were no more ads for the stable business after March 1890. Presumably, Rasure decided that if he had to pay for a license and pay the fine for not getting one in the first place, that he couldn’t make an adequate profit.

Near the end of Rasure’s time in Vancouver, the World tartly commented that “Geo. W. Rasure, the renowned cowboy evangelist, was in the city to-day. His patriarchical hair is growing to such a degree that it is with difficulty that he was recognized.” (VDW 13 Aug 1891).

It surprises me that Rasure sought ‘day jobs’ in Vancouver in areas other than the one in which he had (by his own account) done so well, and which was a lucrative one for so many other men in Vancouver: real estate!

First Baptist Church

First Baptist had a longish period of admiration for Rasure. He spoke many times at FBC in 1888 and again in 1889.

In late 1888, a notice in the Detective indicated that Rasure was wanted in Kansas for embezzlement:

Fifty dollars reward – G W Rasure is wanted for embezzlement. Will pay the above reward for his arrest and detention. He is about 5 feet 11 inches tall, weight about 160 pounds, dark auburn hair, red face, full cheeks, sandy moustache, quick in action and a great talker. Is a member of the M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] church and of the order of Knights of Pythias. Preaches when he can. Operates under cloak of religion; is a great traveller, claims to be wealthy, loves fast horses and fast women, gambles. He is known as a reformed cowboy.

Cy Brookover,
Sherriff, Greenwood County, Kansas³

This notice is not a shining example of objectivity. There is plenty of loaded language, including: “the cloak of religion” and “loves fast horses and fast women.”

Rasure denied publicly that he had embezzled anything. And Rev. J. B. Kennedy came to his defence. He stated, after a long meeting with Rasure and others that “he himself is convinced of Mr. Rasure’s innocence of the charge, and that his pulpit is still open to him.” It isn’t clear to me what was the outcome of the suit. (VDW 17 December 1888)

Whether he was invited to preach at First Baptist after J. B. Kennedy had moved on to another church in January 1890, isn’t clear. But it seems doubtful to me. In September 1889, the congregation had moved out of the wee chapel off Main Street just south of Hastings, and into their much more commodious structure at the corner of Hamilton and Dunsmuir. Kennedy had been the principal advocate for the Cowboy Evangelist, by all accounts.  With the move into the newer, larger, and more orthodox-looking ecclesiastical structure, I’d argue that FBC had moved on from its rustic, pioneer beginnings and had outgrown the charms of the vernacular preacher.

Another Stage and Final Curtain

The last report pertaining to the cowboy evangelist in the Vancouver Daily World was in November 1891: “G. W. Rasure, the renowned cowboy evangelist, whose antics while in this city were somewhat erratic, has developed another stage. He crossed the Atlantic last month to Liverpool with a woman he stated here [in Vancouver, presumably] was his sister, but whom in England he passed off as his wife, giving their names as Mr. and Mrs. Kenwick.” (VDW 23 November 1891). What exactly this was all about, and what source the World had for this mildly outrageous claim, I don’t know.

His wife in 1891 seems to have been Joanna Pierson (m. 1884). There were two previous marriages: to Helena Ehlester (m. 1863) and Merilda McReynolds (m. 1877).

There was a notice placed, I assume, by Joanna Rasure in The People’s Voice, a newspaper of Wellington, Kansas, stating that she was tying to locate an insurance policy which Rasure was supposed to have held at the time of his death in Los Angeles, California. According to this article, he died in L.A. in 1896. There is no other more official record that I could find of Rasure’s death. (TPV, 16 November 1899)

George Rasure was, without a doubt, a colourful figure around whom no little controversy swirled. The Vancouver Daily World seems to have taken a view of his time in the city as being worthy of a cocked eyebrow.

Kansas newspapers, however, were less charitable. The Anthony (Kansas) Republican described him as being someone who “preached and prayed while he kept one eye open for business.” They summed up his character as being an “oleageneous aggregation of hypocrisy” (The Topeka State Journal, 27 January 1890).



¹Rasure was neither the first nor the last person to describe himself as a “cowboy evangelist”. Among others who were contemporaries of Rasure were Sam Jones, S. W. Wesley (a Baptist who claimed to be a direct descendant of John Wesley, a founder of Methodism), and “Lampasas Jake”. An excerpt from a sermon by Jake which appeared in the Baltimore Sun on April 6, 1886, gives some idea of the flavour of his ‘vernacular preaching’ style: “How many of you’s ready to die with your boots on? Where’d you be to breakfast? Don’t any of you drunken, swearing, fighting, blaspheming, gambling, thieving, tin-horn, coffin-paint,  exterminating galoots look at me ugly, because I know ye. I’ve been through the drive. You’re all in your sins. You know a fat, well-fed, well-cared-for, thoroughly-branded steer when you see one, and you can tell whose it is and where it belongs. There’s a man that owns it. There is a place for it to go. There’s a law to protect it. But the maverick — who’s is that? You’re all mavericks and worse. The maverick has no brand on him. He goes bellering about until somebody takes him in and clasps the branding iron on him. But you whelps,  you’ve got the devil’s brand on you. You’ve got his lariat about you. He lets you have rope now, but he’ll haul you in when he wants firewood.” (Baltimore Sun 6 April 1886).

Lampasas Jake’s style reminds me of the fictional “Rev. Little Ed Pembrooke” of the Church of the Mighty Struggle, made famous on WKRP in Cincinnati (got to the 8 min. mark for  the intro of Little Ed).

There have been more contemporary fellows who have described themselves as cowboy evangelists, including Lou Eilers (“Cowboy Evangelist; Trick Rope Artist; Plays the smallest mouth organ in the world.Guitar expert”) in the 1950s, Andy Stan (“Famous Cowboy Evangelist; Radio Singer and Guitarist”) in the 1960s, and Jack Jackson (“Singing Cowboy Evangelist”) in the 1990s.

²Many of the details in this section came from an interview given by Rasure to the Vancouver Daily World (VDW 25 October 1888).

³Genealogy Trails. See heading: “Rasure Wanted for Embezzlement”. Note: Although this is cited in Genealogy Trails as being in an issue of Detective published in early 1889, it seems that it was first published in a late 1888 issue. 

Posted in churches, Cowboys, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

W. J. Cavanagh: Acquitted of Bigamy

Westward Ho! 1907

William J. Cavanagh. From Westward Ho! 1907.

Early Years

William James Cavanagh (c1862-1915) was a complex man with a complicated life. He was born in Leeds County, ON (near Brockville). He left there for Western Canada by about 1887. He stayed in Manitoba for a number of years where he worked for a couple of shoe companies as a travelling salesman and later as a bookkeeper. Towards the end of his time in Manitoba, he tried his hand at being a realtor – a career which apparently he was well suited for. He made his way circa 1902 to a larger and more lucrative realty market: Vancouver.

He continued to ply the realty trade here. He worked first for Baker, Leeson Company, then he opened a real estate office on Cordova (opposite the Grand Theatre) which was called Cavanagh, Baker & Leeson. In 1906, he dissolved his partnership with Baker and Leeson and established a new partnership, this time with William M. Holden.

In 1907, Cavanagh was elected by acclamation to City Council (Ward 3) and was re-elected for another one-year term in January, 1908.¹

Ideas Man?

I wasn’t able to see much evidence that Cavanagh was a big ‘ideas’ man, and many of his views that have been preserved in the public record were not to his credit, in my opinion.

He wanted to allow the Vancouver Driving Club to build a speedway around the Brockton Point end of Stanley Park (VDW² May 14). This was set aside by Council, fortunately.

After his 1908 re-election, Cavanagh included, in his “thank you” letter to Vancouver residents, the following remark: “Now that the elections are over, I wish to state that there is not a man in the city more opposed to the influx of Asiatics than I am, and I will do all in my power to put a stop to them entering this part of our fair Dominion.” (VDW 11 Jan 1908). In holding these anti-Asian views, he was by no means unique in the Vancouver of his time.

But Cavanagh also held at least one forward-thinking notion (and one which, in part at least, was put into practice, although that happened after his death):

Ald. W. J. Cavanagh who has just returned from a tour of the eastern cities in Canada and the States will henceforth be an enthusiastic advocate of public parks in the center of the city….  The whole of the two blocks from Hastings to Dunsmuir, on which the courthouse and the Central schools stand, should be acquired at once and a new site be found for the schools. These two blocks would make an ideal site for a central park. (VDW 15 June 1908)

This is the earliest proposal I’ve seen for a park where Victory Square would be established following the Great War. (And Victory Square only takes up one block; if Cavanagh had had his ‘druthers’, it would also have included the land on which VCC’s downtown campus presently resides).

Cavanagh’s Downward Slide

The latter part of 1908 seems to have marked the beginning of William Cavanagh’s unhappy end.

Cavanagh liked to play the ponies; he held posts as vice-president and president of the Vancouver Jockey Club. I cannot prove that it was his love of horse racing and the gambling associated with it that led him to bankruptcy, but it seems probable. He was said to have lost “a fortune” in 1908.

His bankruptcy in 1908 led to his disqualification for holding his seat as a city alderman. There was a property qualification associated with aldermanic service at that time and all of his property was in the hands of his creditors by late 1908.

In April 1909, it was alleged by a Mr. Anderson, that Cavanagh had attempted to dispose of a piece of property (all of which, by then, in his creditors’ hands), and thereby defrauded his creditors.

Finally, on June 27, 1911, Cavanagh was arrested on a charge of bigamy. It was alleged that he married Lillian (Lilly) N. Campbell of Vancouver, while still married to Mary E. Cavanagh.

Greed of the Campbell Brothers

Lilly Campbell’s mother was Laura Campbell. Laura died in January, 1908. I don’t know what the terms of Laura Campbell’s will were, but whatever they were, it is clear that her two sons (Lilly’s brothers), Douglas and Graham, were not satisfied with them. The brothers wanted a bigger slice of Laura’s estate than she had left them. Apparently, Douglas and Graham had tried to negotiate a larger slice with their sister, Lilly, but she wasn’t having it.

Sometime in 1908, W. J. Cavanagh, on the advice of his physician, went to California. Lilly Campbell accompanied him. After they had been in California for about a week, they were wed.

Family War

The bigamy case against Cavanagh was not a civil suit. Bigamy was a crime, although I get the impression that even by this time, it was largely a dead-letter law; more often ignored than prosecuted, especially in cases such as this where the husband and his first wife had been living apart for a considerable period of time (according to one account, William and Mary had been living separately for 12 years).

It seems likely that Douglas and Graham Campbell had some influence with the Crown Prosecutor and persuaded him to bring the bigamy charge against Cavanagh. Press accounts of the bigamy trial contended that the Campbell brothers had instigated the trial to pressure their sister, Lilly, to come to their terms regarding their mothers’ estate. Indeed, Graham claimed during his testimony at the trial that he had considered bringing a charge of murder (of Laura) against Cavanagh — presumably to apply even more pressure on Lilly. (Campbell’s murder allegation seems not to have been taken seriously by the authorities).

Judge McInnes, the presiding judge at the bigamy trail, acquitted William Cavanagh of bigamy on a “technicality”. Cavanagh was plainly married to Mary Cavanagh when he married Lilly. But the Crown failed to prove that Cavanagh intended to marry Lilly when he set out for California with his soon-to-be-second-spouse. Because intent wasn’t proven,  the judge found that the Canadian court didn’t have jurisdiction over the second marriage.

A Casualty of Labelling

William Cavanagh left Vancouver shortly after the trial (probably for Seattle, where he died four years later). He no doubt felt that his reputation had been tarnished by the trial, even though he was acquitted. But I don’t feel too sorry for Cavanagh. He knew he was taking the risk of a bigamy trial when he married Lilly.

The person I feel bad for is Lilly. She, Douglas, and Laura were all members of First Baptist Church in Vancouver. The letter reproduced below was written by the Church Clerk, on behalf of the officers of the church to a Mrs. Brooks who seems to have been a member of First’s membership review committee.

The clerk explains Mrs. Brooks’ task to her:

“A short time ago Mr. Cavanagh was in court for bigamy and althought (sic) he was acquitted we think Mrs. [Lilly] Cavanagh should explain why she does not attend church and if she can give good and sufficent (sic) reasons why her name should not be dropped [from the membership roll].

This letter, it seems to me, finds Lilly guilty of bigamy by association with William (even though he was acquitted). Furthermore, the clerk places the onus on Lilly to explain why she should not be dropped from church membership. The grounds for dropping her from membership, seem to be her lack of attendance, recently, at worship services. But the label “bigamy”, earlier in the sentence, had already poisoned the apple


A letter from the Clerk of First Baptist Church to Mrs. Brooks (a member of FBC). Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver. March 23, 1912.

I had a look at the membership roll for this period, and confirmed that, sure enough, Lillian Campbell was dropped from membership in March 1912. And the reason given for the decision was not lack of church attendance, but “misconduct”. Douglas Campbell was also dropped from membership at FBC. But no reason was given in his case.

This wasn’t First Baptist’s finest hour, in my opinion.


¹Most of the details of WJC’s early life came from Westward Ho! magazine, 1907.

²VDW: Vancouver Daily World newspaper.

Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kim Campbell on Brentwood Float?

2008-022.175 - 48th Grey Cup Parade, on Georgia and Howe, Brentwood Centre float 1960 L F Sheraton

CVA 2008-022.175 – Grey Cup Parade, on Georgia and Howe, Brentwood Towne Centre float. Early 1960s. Leslie F. Sheraton photo.

Could the blonde young woman on this float advertising Brentwood Towne Centre shortly after its opening in the early 1960s be Canada’s 19th Prime Minister, Kim Campbell? I think her age would be roughly right (she was born in 1947), and the resemblance is certainly remarkable. Perhaps one of her friends or she herself would care to comment as to whether this is an image of an early Kim?

If you are interested in some of the history of Brentwood, this is a good place to start.

Posted in L. F. Sheraton, parades | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Forgotten Maestro: George P. Hicks

A Funny Thing Happened . . .

A funny thing happened at a pizza party I held recently for some of my friends (whom I’ve taken to referring to, collectively, as the History Five).

Neil brought with him a gift for the host and hostess that wasn’t a libation, but was instead a piece of Vancouver historical ephemera: a postcard with an apparent connection to First Baptist Church (he knows of my interest in Vancouver church history). It appears (front and verso) below.

The postcard was addressed to G. P. Hicks. From the postage mark, it seems it was sent in July, 1903. And the address shown for Hicks was his business address at the time: that of The Hicks & Lovick Piano Co. The message reads: “Special meeting local union executive. Thursday [evening] at First Baptist Church. Business very important. Come.” Signed A. E. Rigg (or perhaps Riggs), Sec. [Secretary].

The meeting on Thursday evening seems not to have been religious in nature. Why do I say that? First, the only Rigg I could find living in Vancouver around this time was a Prebyterian; and G. P. Hicks was a dyed-in-the-wool Methodist.¹ Second, there was reference in the message to the meeting being one of a “local union executive”. I think it’s safe to conclude that the union in question was a trade union. But which one? My conclusion is that it was the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners. I reached that conclusion because the principal thing in common between Rigg and Hicks – as far as I can tell – is that they were both carpenters, at this time. That is the extent of what I know about Alex Rigg. Fortunately, there was more to be learned about George Hicks.

To my surprise, research into the postcard didn’t lead to insights about a Vancouver church, this time, but instead led me to discover a long-forgotten and yet important Vancouver maestro.

From ‘Builder of Objects’ to ‘Builder of Vocal Skills’

George Peake Hicks (1855-1919) was a carpenter in his early years. He probably retained his membership in the Carpenters and Joiners union even after he went into the business of piano sales with his brother, Gideon. The business was based in Victoria and, shortly after it started (by around the turn of the century), included a Vancouver shop at Hastings near Cambie.

While Gideon would continue in piano sales for several years (until 1922), George, by 1904, at age 49, had hired on with the Vancouver School Board as their first supervisor of music. The VSB job would prove to be critical in the rest of his career.


His task for VSB appears to have been one of teaching teachers the basics of music instruction so that they could be effective in presenting musical subjects to the primary and secondary students in their charge. In one of Hicks’ reports to the School Trustees, he explained that he had been presenting musical theory as conveyed in William H. Cummings’ Rudiments of Music (1877) to the teachers and that most of them had passed an exam on the content of the book. The School Board seemed tangibly to appreciate Hicks’ work. In 1906 he was making $100/month; that was raised to $150 by 1911 and to $175 by 1915.

Within a few years of taking on the task of musical leadership within Vancouver’s public schools, Hicks decided that it would be a good thing to establish a Vancouver Musical Society.² The point of the society, initially, was to provide a place for former secondary students to have somewhere to advance their musical skills after they left school. He was the conductor. By 1919, the membership of the group had swollen to two hundred (plus) choristers and musicians.

On August 4, 1919, the Vancouver Musical Society presented what had become their annual Messiah concert. At the conclusion of the oratorio, Mayor Gale presented Hicks with a baton as a token of the appreciation of the people of Vancouver for all of his musical efforts on their behalf. Hicks’ claimed “My prayer has been answered. I have reached my ambition in my musical career.”³ By August 22, he was dead.

Today, George P. Hicks is a name that, sadly, has been largely forgotten by most of the people of Vancouver. He quietly went about his task of increasing musical appreciation and skill among regular folks. And he trained others who had special musical talent (such as Olga McAlpine, who graduated from Vancouver High School at Dunsmuir and Cambie to earn concert applause in New York City and on the Orpheum Theatre concert circuit).

CVA 243-1 - Vancouver Festival Choir and Orchestra - G P Hicks leading - Aug 1919 Stuart Thomson

CVA 243-1 – Vancouver Festival Choir and Orchestra (I suspect that, in fact, this was the Vancouver Music Society or perhaps the Peace Choir and Orchestra). Maestro: George P. Hicks (front row, with what appears to be a corsage above his ribbon). August, 1919. Stuart Thomson photo.



¹ George’s brother, James was the pastor at Sixth Avenue Methodist (Vancouver) for a number of years; brother John P. Hicks was editor of the Methodist Recorder (based in Esquimalt).

² This group has been known variously as the “Vancouver Festival Choir (and Orchestra)” and as the “Vancouver Choral Society”.

³ Vancouver Daily World. August 23, 1919.

Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, music, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hammond Furniture

Update (Originally Posted November 2015):

CVA 1184-1988 - [Exterior view of Hammond Furniture warehouse and manufacturing facilities] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.

CVA 1184-1988 – Exterior view of Hammond Furniture warehouse and manufacturing facilities. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo.

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

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

CVA 1184-1986 - [Furniture display at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.

CVA 1184-1986 – Furniture display at Hammond Furniture. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo. (Presumably, from the showroom building, on NE corner).

CVA 1184-1985 - [Woman cutting wood at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.

CVA 1184-1985 – Woman cutting wood at Hammond Furniture. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo. (From NW corner manufacturing and warehouse building, I presume).

CVA 1184-1992 - [Workers outside the Hammond Furniture warehouse] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay

CVA 1184-1992. Workers outside the Hammond Furniture warehouse. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay. (Note: This is a crop of the original image).

CVA 1184-1987 - [Man sewing cushions at Hammond Furniture] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo

CVA 1184-1987 – James Harold (Jimmy) Reid sewing a mattress at Hammond Furniture. 1946-48. Jack Lindsay photo. (Pleases see comments below from Brent Reid for more details).

CVA 180-3821 - Marching band in 1959 P.N.E. Opening Day Parade Graphic Industries photo. (Hammond ad atop former Oxford Motors then later the ARP bldg - NOw PArk Place park Adjacent to C

CVA 180-3821 – Marching band in 1959 P.N.E. Opening Day Parade. (The Hammond Furniture ad is atop the former Oxford Motors on Burrard Street; it later became the ARP HQ. Today it is the green space between Christ Church Cathedral and Park Place on Burrard Street). Graphic Industries Ltd. photo.

CVA 371-1626 - Ernest Charles Hammond. 1948.

CVA 371-1626 – Ernest Charles (“Ernie”) Hammond. 1948.

Posted in advertising, businesses, Jack Lindsay, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Oops! NOT Vancouver’s Greyhound Depot


Artwork (apparently for use in a newspaper ad) based on photo of a downtown Greyhound Bus depot, n.d. (I’m guessing ca early 1970s, judging from the appearance of fashions and of the automobiles in the image), no photographer credited.

I ran across this photo at a flea market about 6 months ago. I bought it because it looked to me to be an image of the Vancouver downtown Greyhound Bus depot when it was located at the current parking lot (which is slated to be the future site of Vancouver Art Gallery) bounded by Dunsmuir (north), Georgia (south), Beatty (east), and Cambie (west); the lot which has sometimes been called “Larwill Park“, and more often, “Cambie Street Grounds”.

MAP 748 - Plan of Cambie St. grounds 1915 J S Matthews

MAP 748 – Plan of Cambie St. grounds, aka Larwill Park. 1915. (Note: False Creek “tidal water” came up to a point parallel with the Beatty Street Drill Hall at the time this was drawn (and just under the first Georgia Street Viaduct).

But closer inspection led me to conclude that this wasn’t Vancouver’s depot. The evidence in the photo in fact led me to believe that this was an image of Edmonton’s former depot.

I had thought when I first saw the image that it was shot toward the southwest corner of Beatty and Dunsmuir. But I saw, upon examining the street signs at the corner of the image, that it was, instead, 102nd Street and 102nd Avenue.

EdTel11Another clue that this was an Edmonton photo was the logo on the telephone booth. Edmonton had its own municipally-owned phone company until it was swallowed by TELUS in 1995: Edmonton Telephones. (This gently amusing ad was made for EdTel made by Leonard Nimoy in 1981). The corporation had a distinctive logo which was quite different from that of BC Tel. The logo on the phone booth seems to match EdTel’s logo.

There are a couple of other contextual clues that the photo is of Edmonton. First, the coffee shop of the depot seems to have been called “Mickey’s” (see window in front of street signs). There are references to Mickey’s at this Edmonton forum. Second, the reflection in the large window above the main sign on the depot suggests that that there were large office buildings on the northeast corner of Beatty and Dunsmuir at this time. But even today, there are no large office towers on that corner. The tallest building in that general direction would have been The World (aka The Sun) building; and the reflected building is plainly not The World/Sun.


The Vancouver depot was established at the Cambie Street Grounds in the 1950s and remained there until 1992, when it was moved to the Pacific Central Station (formerly known as the CNR Station).

For an excellent post on Vancouver’s Larwill Park depot site, read this.

Posted in Buses | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sheila Buchanan’s Little Known Career

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 6.14.04 PM

Sheila Claire Buchanan in her role in the office of UBC President, Norman Mackenzie (1955-65). From UBC Chronicle, June 30, 1965.

Sheila Buchanan (1917-2009) was known to the congregation at First Baptist Church as an 18-year veteran missionary to Bolivia; as the Church librarian for a number of years; and as a regular volunteer in the church office.

But what wasn’t widely known was her ‘secular’ career which pre-dated all of these later activities for her church.¹

She was admitted to UBC at age 16 in 1933 where she studied Classics², receiving her B.A. in 1937. While working on her undergraduate degree, she served on the staff of the student newspaper, The Ubyssey.

With her B.A. under her belt, Sheila then took a business course and applied her training at a New Westminster business called Pacific Veneer (which later was part of Canadian Forest Products). She served as the company’s first stenographer.

A few years later, Sheila was back at UBC pursuing a degree in Agriculture with a specialization in soil microbiology. She graduated with her BSA degree in 1946. After finishing this second degree at UBC, she moved to Montreal where she worked for three years with a pharmaceutical company. Following her stint in Montreal, she returned to UBC where she took a post for 6 years in the office of the Dean of Agriculture.

Then, in 1955, Sheila was transferred to the office of the UBC President, Norman MacKenzie. With that job came her posting as the Clerk to the UBC Board of Governors and the Clerk of the UBC Senate.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 7.59.47 PM

Totem 1957 (UBC’s Yearbook).

The Clerk prepared the bulky dockets for meetings, drafted resolutions arising from the agenda, took minutes, saw to follow-up correspondence, and attended sub-committee meetings.

According to a former UBC Senator during Sheila’s time as Clerk: “Senate meetings only made sense to me…when I received my copy of Sheila Buchanan’s minutes.”

In 1965 she ‘retired’ from the President’s office to go to Bolivia as a missionary with the Canadian Baptist Overseas Mission Board (CBOMB). Regarding her mastery of Spanish, it was noted in the UBC Chronicle in 1965: “Her Spanish studies started when she was first living alone and wanted something easy to do while waiting for the kettle to boil.” She served in Bolivia until 1983.

Sheila wasn’t finished with academic pursuits, just yet. She graduated from McMaster University in 1995 with a Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.) at the age of 78.

Sheila was also active for many years in the Vancouver Natural History Society.

She was one amazing lady!


¹An invaluable source for this post was an article published in the June, 1965 issue of the UBC Chronicle, written by Elizabeth Blanche Norcross, which profiled the career of Sheila up to that time.

²Sheila was, apparently, a huge fan of the teaching and inspiration offered by the founder and head of the Classics department, Lemuel Robertson.

Posted in First Baptist Church, Vancouver, UBC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

J. W. Freeston and a California Shoe Company Outing?

Update: First Posted April 2014

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

CVA 1504-10 – An unidentified shoe company’s annual family outing. ca1920. J W Freeston, photo.

The panorama image shown above was made by B.C. professional photographer, John W. Freeston, sometime in the 1920s or perhaps earlier. I’m not certain where it was made, but there is some evidence to conclude it was somewhere in California.

From what I’ve been able to determine¹, Freeston had a brief and unhappy life. There is some evidence to indicate that he lived in California; one account maintains he had an early marriage that ended in divorce in that state. He seems to have been married to Florence circa 1906 (although there is no evidence of a B.C. marriage certificate). He and Florence had three daughters.

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 pretty quickly with General Paresis. He slept poorly throughout his stay at Woodlands and 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”.

The City of Vancouver Archives (CVA) has identified those in the image as employees of “an unidentified shoe company”. There are two placards in the image above, but unfortunately attendees blocked the parts of the signs identifying the group. There are two US flags hanging in the vehicle visible in the panorama image. That, together with what appears to be a California license plate and the large number of employees makes me wonder whether this was a California-based shoe firm. There is a sign behind the group (which is just detectable at the left of the panorama) which also makes me wonder whether the image was taken in a southwestern state: “Scenic Drive Through Beautiful … (Word(s) obscured) … Mesa Country”. In addition, the background of the image doesn’t appear to resemble the “wet coast” of Vancouver (nor the landscape of much of Washington state). The image is made in front of a Texaco gas station, adding more weight to my suspicion that it is shot in the U.S. somewhere. In the Lower Mainland, at this time, it was very unusual (unheard of?) to encounter a Texaco station; it was far more likely that one would see a Home Oil or Imperial Oil service station.


¹I’m indebted to David Mattison of Camera Workers for his generous help with primary research into the life of J. W. Freeston.


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Oddball in Buckram (Part the Fourth/Final)

This is the conclusion of my multi-part post about my purchase of The Book of Roberts, which came with a much-signed pamphlet advertising a lecture by a member of the Roberts family.

The author of the book was William Harris Lloyd Roberts (1884-1966) the eldest son of the so-called ‘Dean of Canadian literature’, Sir Charles G. D. Roberts (1860-1943).¹  The book is a reflection on Lloyd’s growing-up years and includes his impressions of his father and of Sir Charles’ cousin, the so-called ‘Dean of Canadian Poets’, Bliss Carmen (1861-1929) — who is referred to in the book as ‘Uncle Bliss’ and ‘Blissy’.


Mention is made in The Book of Roberts of the novelist/poet brother of Sir Charles, Theodore Goodridge Roberts (1877-1953) — referred to in the book by his family nickname, ‘Thede’. He had “almost as precocious a beginning as his eldest brother [Sir Charles]. Before he was twenty years old, he had published several poems and short stories” (Adams, 77). But he had the mixed destiny to forever be in the literary shadows cast by brother Charles and cousin Bliss. This wasn’t altogether misfortune, though, in my opinion. He may not have been blessed with the same creative genius that Bliss and Charles had, but Thede also didn’t seem to have the same kinds of trouble they had. Charles and Bliss were both lonely men (Bliss never married; Charles made an early and unwise choice of mate whom he ultimately left) and neither had much in the way of ready cash; forget about savings. Thede, on the other hand, to all appearances, had a happy marriage and, while not wealthy, seems not to have been in the poorhouse during his last years. For Thede’s bio note and bibliography, see the inside pages of the pamphlet below.

Inside pages of the pamphlet advertising Theodore Goodridge Roberts’ Lecture Recital


Mary Eunice Barr was, apparently, the original owner of my copy of The Book of Roberts. It seems to have been a gift to her from A. M. Pound, judging from the inscription by Pound in the book’s flyleaf²:


This sort of quasi-opaque inscription makes me crazy! Why “etc, etc”? Why not be a little more explicit as to the relationship/connection between Mary Eunice and the Roberts clan?

Mary Eunice seems to have been born shortly after the century turned, so that would put her in her late 20s or early 30s by the time Pound presented this to her. She was a dress pattern-maker in Vancouver at the time.

Not only do I not know what connection there was between Mary and the Roberts family, I don’t know how Pound came to be aware of the connection, nor indeed how he came to know Miss Barr. I can speculate a bit on the Roberts-Barr connection, though. In the authorized biography of Sir Charles, written by Elsie Pomeroy, it is noted that

During [Charles’] first year in Toronto a portrait of [him] was painted by J. W. L. Forster, and in the following year by Alan Barr, son of his old friend, the novelist, James Barr, best known in England for his book, The Gods Give My Donkey Wings. James Barr was the brother of Robert Barr — now, in the opinion of Roberts, so undeservedly forgotten both in England and America. (Pomeroy, 303-4)

CVA 125-04 - Portrait of Sir Charles G.D. Roberts ca 1925 Simon Rackleman

CVA 125-04 – Portrait of Sir Charles G.D. Roberts. ca1925. Simon Rackleman

As far as I can tell, no other mention is made of any Barr in the biographies of Sir Charles nor any other Roberts reference of which I’m aware. But it could be that Mary Eunice was related in some way to Alan, James, or Robert.


This scrawl makes my struggles to make sense of Mary Eunice Barr seem like a cake walk! I cannot make out what the name is. I’ve tried, without success, to find in the Vancouver Directory for 1932 a plausible name. Of course, my assumption that the person was a resident of Vancouver may be incorrect!

There is one other signature on the pamphlet cover that has faded to the point that my scanner cannot pick up any of it: it is the signature of Margaret Fewster.

Margaret’s surname was familiar to me from my reading of the Roberts biographies. Her dad was medical doctor Ernest P. Fewster who, together with his wife, Emma, was a big mover behind the Vancouver Poetry Society. The Fewsters were also fans of Bliss Carmen and of Sir Charles Roberts.

There is evidence from a U.S. border crossing record for Mary Eunice Barr in 1938 that ‘Margaret Ewster’ (Fewster, I’m assuming) was a friend of Miss Barr.



As I prepared to wrap up this extended post on The Book of Roberts, I wondered how many other people have read the book in recent years. There is no way of knowing that, of course. But surely there must be a way of tracking recent public library borrowings.

Vancouver Public Library has no fewer than three copies at its Central Branch location; two that circulate and one that doesn’t. I was surprised by that, given that it is an obscure little family bio/essay regarding people who aren’t exactly household names, these days! So I emailed VPL to ask if there was any way to track the regularity with which The Book of Roberts had circulated, lately.

A staffer replied:

I can tell you that the History Compact Shelving copy has gone out once since it was added to our Horizon circulation database in 1990 and that the Literature Compact Shelving copy has not circulated since it was added to the database in 1993. There is no way of telling how often either circulated before those times. (Emphasis mine)

Put a little differently, in the past quarter-century, one of the two circulating copies of the book was checked out once.

You may be surprised to learn that I actually find this reassuring. Not that the books have been checked out so infrequently, but that VPL has chosen to retain the copies it has of The Book of Roberts. It is a well-written little book about a family that was significant in the literary history of Canada — and with connections that reached into Vancouver, too.

CVA 125-03 - Group portrait of members of the Vancouver Poetry Society May 1929 George T Wadds

CVA 125-03 – Group portrait of members of the Vancouver Poetry Society (and guests – I don’t think this portrait is very representative of the local poetry society; left (seated) is Bliss Carmen; left (standing) is Charles G. D. Roberts). Right (standing) is Dr. Fewster. May 1929. George T Wadds.


¹References on the life of Sir Charles and his circle of family/friends include Sir Charles G. D. Roberts: A Biography. E. M. Pomeroy. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1943. (This is an authorized biography and Sir Charles was a virtual co-author). For more of a ‘warts-and-all’ treatment of these folks, see Sir Charles God Damn: The Life of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts. John Coldwell Adams. U of T Press, 1986.

²Pound died suddenly just a few months after making the inscription.


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Oddball in Buckram (Part the Third)

In this post and the next, I’ll reveal some of the characters associated with The Book of Roberts and, especially, those whose signatures appear on the little pamphlet that was tucked into my copy.

Alfred M. Pound: An Important Character

I need to begin with Mr. Pound, as I did him an injustice in the first part of this post. I was working from his signature on the pamphlet, and to my eye, initially, it looked like his first two initials were A. W. That got me precisely nowhere.

It was only after becoming increasingly frustrated trying to learn anything about a poet of even minor note who came from St. John and had those initials that it occurred to me that I might have misread one or both of the initials. Sure enough!


From the much-autographed pamphlet inserted in my copy of The Book of Roberts.

When I began searching for A. M. Pound, a St. John poet (once upon a time), things began to click. In fact, it looked like Mr. Pound might just be a key to unravelling other related mysteries.

cdm.chungpub.1-0056092.0195,cdm.chungpub.1-0056092.0196_full (1)

A.M Pound as seen in British Columbians As We See ‘Em. 1910-11. Caricatures of prominent BC Residents. A volume that is part of UBC’s Chung Collection. Note that among the volumes shown at Pound’s feet is one by ‘Roberts’ (probably Sir Charles).

Alfred Myrick Pound (1869-1932), as it turns out, was, in his early years, on the staff of the St. John Telegraph. Around 1900 he moved from Atlantic Canada to the Pacific, settling in Vancouver where he ultimately partnered with a chap called Champion to form the law firm Champion & Pound. He was later a Vancouver Harbour Commissioner.

Pound, it seems, was never much of a poet (certainly not in terms of quantity of output; I’m not in a position to pass judgement on the quality of his poems). But Pound was a Canadian literature aficionado at a time when such folks weren’t exactly thick on the ground, and he had the resources to assemble an impressive collection of poetry and other literary forms produced by Canadians up until his death. In 1945, his daughters presented UBC Library with his collection.

Notably, Pound specialized in collecting the works of his friends, Sir Charles G. D. Roberts and Sir Charles’ cousin, Bliss Carmen (two of the top stars within the Canadian galaxy of poets). These two will undoubtedly pop up again later!

Next time, more characters will be revealed…

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Oddball in Buckram (Part the Second)

In Which I Read the Book of Roberts

It has been a couple of days since I updated this blog on the volume picked up at The Paper Hound bookshop, recently. It seemed fitting that I ought to attempt to read The Book of Roberts.

Readers of the first part of this post will not be surprised, given my guess as to the dollar value of the book, that I was somewhat negatively disposed toward it from the perspective of the book’s perceived usefulness to my writing for VAIW.

But reading isn’t all about usefulness. In fact, I’d say that reading for pleasure doesn’t have much at all to do with utility. (Reading from textbooks, of course, is reading for utility, almost by definition. But I wouldn’t class textbook reading or any school-based “required reading” as being principally reading done for pleasure.)

How would I summarize my personal review of The Book of Roberts?  This way: as with many books that have found a temporary home on my bookshelves, it was a surprise! A good surprise.

It was, as I’d guessed in the bookshop, a biography of a family with the surname Roberts who lived in ‘the sticks’ of the Atlantic region of Canada. But at the same time, it was about much more than that. It also served as an aide memoire for me, stimulating recollections of my growing-up years in rural (and semi-rural) Western Canada.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the book, I would say, is also one of its great virtues: the author’s reluctance to fill in the blanks for the reader as to pieces of assumed knowledge. One of these gaps between what the author knows and seems disinclined to spell out to readers pertains to the settings that change from chapter to chapter within this brief book. In an early chapter called “My Father”, the author refers to a place called Kingscroft as the setting where most events transpire. In the subsequent chapter we have apparently moved to a (neighbouring?) location to which he refers as the woods of ‘King’s College’. In yet another chapter called “Uncle Bliss”, we move through both space and time from what seems to be the author’s first home, Kingscroft, to New York City, and from the “present” (by which he seems to mean his youth) to “ten years later” (which I take to be when he was approaching adulthood).

So you can see from the preceding paragraph that if readers are going to get much from the book as a family history, they must either bring some knowledge of the Roberts clan and their environs to the venture of reading the book or else have a pretty good ‘imaginer’ on his or her shoulders!

As I said at the beginning of this mini-review, however, by the time I was nearing the conclusion of the book, I was thankful to Lloyd Roberts for approaching his subject in this way, with somewhat opaque references to settings. In this way, I think, he proved (to me, at least) to be successful in perhaps his more creative objective of transforming The Book of Roberts from a book about the Roberts family into a book that pertains to the reader’s growing-up experiences, too.

Herein lies the magical aspect of this little volume, in my opinion. The author was able to take his personal life experiences as a boy growing up in the Atlantic region of Canada (during its early years as a nation) and leave enough room for the readers (most of whom would be complete strangers to the writer and who most likely had very different growing up experiences) to enter into the author’s joy¹ with the book serving as a stimulant to the reader’s memories of childhood.

That, my friends, is some pretty skillful and truly creative writing!

The book is not consistently great, by any means. Indeed, it seems to trail off rather aimlessly near its end. The absence of an explicit setting at times does not lead one to cheer but to carp at the author for not yielding some vital details for understanding what is going on. And as a bio book of the Roberts’, it fails to deliver most of the facts  sought by historians.

But, if I ever were to encounter the now-long-dead Lloyd Roberts, I’d thank him for stimulating, with The Book of Roberts, some forgotten recollections of my growing up years that brought a smile and, in a couple of cases, a blush to my now-adult face.

I will conclude by quoting from the beginning of Roberts’ first chapter, “Toys”. I think that this serves to sum up well what I have taken as the author’s principal purposes: not only to present his family to readers (albeit, somewhat amorphously), but also to present readers with a mirror of sorts with which they may also reflect on their own life experiences in those early, tender years of life:

Toys! Wipe the slate of your mind clean of grown-up facts and figures, shockingly commercial and calculating, and let the delicate traceries of first impressions slowly reappear. What do you see? First, the very first, a cluster of tiny green bells on a handle. The object is so bright that it seems to flood the room until you can see a big bed filled with children. It is evidently Christmas morning. . . You have had an excessive fondness for little painted bells ever since. (The Book of Roberts, p. 13)

Next time, we plan to move back from the realm of reviewing creative non-fiction to our original project of figuring out where The Book of Roberts and its inscribed ephemeron and assorted characters fit into the history of the place I now call home: Vancouver.



¹Joy is something quite different from happiness, in my view. Joy is not dependent on circumstances that are happy.

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Oddball in Buckram

This post will be a little different. My standard procedure with VAIW has been to become enchanted with a photo of earlier Vancouver, see if there is anything new to say about the image and/or the image-maker, do as much research as I can on it, and then write up my findings here, assuming there is anything to tell.

This time, I’m going to begin with a book that enchanted me. But I’m not going to wait until the end of the process to write up my findings, Instead, I’ll take the slightly riskier approach of presenting my findings as I find them, in the form of a log.

Wednesday, July 5
Whereby I am Enchanted

At the end of a morning of photo-making downtown with my photo pal, I stopped in at The Paper Hound bookshop – something I do at least once a week. I was rooting around the stacks, looking for something I hadn’t before seen. Something that might inspire a post for VAIW, or simply renew my enthusiasm for reading and learning new things.

I wandered down to a section that I’d never looked in before. It was provocatively named “Oddballs, Eccentrics, and Singularities”, if memory serves. Something like that, anyway.

I didn’t see much in the single-shelf section that was of interest to me. I had pawed through most of the volumes and was about ready to move on to another section. But before I did, I pulled out a pale brown volume. From the spine, I could see that the book was called The Book of Roberts. Author: Roberts. Nothing more, except for a little ornament indicating the publisher was Ryerson Press.

“Hmm,” I said to myself, “Probably just a variation on Roberts’ Rules of Order that somebody’s misfiled.”

But I opened it up, anyway, to be sure. The title page read as follows:


Comprising certain small
incidents as recalled by
one of them and here set
down for the first time


With a foreword by
Basil King, an intimate of
their haunts




Okay. Plainly not Roberts’ Rules. It looked to me like a family’s biography as told by a member of that clan. According to the overleaf page, it was published in 1923.


So far, I wasn’t remotely interested. A book about a family called Roberts and that lived, in all likelihood, in Toronto or somewhere east of there was unlikely to have much grist for Vancouver As It Was.

I flipped through the slender volume (only 147 numbered pages; it felt to me like someone had only recently cut the pages, and as though it had never been read from cover to cover. Not a good sign!

Then my page flipping yielded something else. There was a little pamphlet that had been inserted in the book at some time. I will reproduce the pamphlet’s cover here in situ, as i found it within the pages of The Book of Roberts.



Pamphlet as and where I found it within The Book of Roberts.

A glance at the pamphlet told me that it had been designed for “lecture recitals” in Toronto that had been presented by Theodore Goodridge Roberts (presumably one of the Roberts clan described in the book). The front of the pamphlet was a bit of mess. There was TGR’s signature, apparently, another signature of a “St. John poet” called “A. W. Pound”, and yet another of someone called “M. Eunice Barr”. The reference to The Vancouver Art Gallery (in its earlier location in the 1100 block of Georgia Street) scrawled on the pamphlet’s cover, had me doubly intrigued. It looked to me as though T. G. Roberts had spoken at Vancouver in addition to Toronto (and perhaps in other locales), but that the Vancouver sponsor did not have enough cash to justify printing a location-specific pamphlet.

Yes, I was intrigued. Not ready to buy the book, yet, but intrigued.

I decided to play a silly game which I’ve sometimes played in bookstores in the past. I would guess the figure that the seller wanted for the book, and if I was right, I’d buy it. If not, I’d leave it on the shelf for some other sucker.

I decided that the book was worth very little. I chose a figure of $9. I flipped to the front of the book where I knew the price would appear in pencil. $30?! What the . . . ? My heart sank.

I wanted the book now, probably more than I would have wanted it if it had been marked at $9! This is why I referred to my little price game as ‘silly’; I knew that I was perfectly capable of ignoring the rules of the game if I so wished. And I was close to so wishing in this case! Not quite, yet, though.

I walked up to Rod, one of the proprietors of the Hound.

“Rod,” I said, “You need to persuade me that this tiny volume is actually worth $30.”

He reached for The Book of Roberts and began flipping through it, much as I had done moments before. He noticed the pamphlet, as I had.

“I’ve no idea” said he. (This wasn’t going quite as I’d hoped.) “Let me have a look in our computer record and I’ll see if there are any notes there by me or perhaps by Kim.” (Kim is Rod’s business partner). A few seconds and multiple keystrokes passed and he said “I just see an obscure note about autographs inscribed on the pamphlet that’s inside the book.”

Hmm. I’d been hoping that there would be something that Rod could tell me that would make more rational my decision to buy the book (which by then, I now realize, I’d  already made).  But he wasn’t cooperating.

Then Rod added another piece of info: “I see here that the book has been on our shelves almost since we opened.”

“Okay,” I said, withdrawing the cash from my wallet, “It’s time it had a new home.”

The Book of Roberts lies on my desk, now, its secrets still safely tucked up within. But, I hope, not for too much longer!

Until next time.

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Magnifying BC Hotelmen

BC Hotels Assocation Convention. Author's Collection

BC Hotel Association Convention. Photographer Unknown. Author’s Collection.

I bought the snapshot shown above at a flea market a few months ago. It isn’t a great photo; it was taken at a rakish angle that is suggestive that the photographer had been sampling a bit too liberally from the beverages available at this gathering. But it appeals to me as a period photo. It seems candidly to stop the action for a second in a place and among a group in whom I was interested.

So who were these folks?

Judging from the document which was helpfully being leafed through by the seated chap on the right side of the image, it is a group of BC hoteliers at the 25th annual convention of their provincial organization, the BC Hotel Association (BCHA). Judging from the clothing worn, a couple of people who are better judges of such things than I guessed that this photo was probably made in the late 1940s or early ’50s. I have since confirmed that these dating approximations were spot-on. In fact, the image seems to have been taken in 1949.

How can I be so sure of the year of this photo?

With my magnifying glass, I was able to read from the cover of the BCHA periodical, BC Hotelman, that the issue was the one published for the ’25th Annual Convention’.  I then made a trip to the Central branch of Vancouver Public Library to see if I could find this issue of BC Hotelman. Nope; it’s rarely that easy! The earliest issue in the collection was from 1968. I had a feeling from the guesses of my friends that the photo was from an earlier decade than the ’60s. So I then leafed through two or three issues of the Hotelman at VPL to see if I could find mention made of the BCHA convention planned for the current year — mention, preferably, that included reference to how many years the BCHA bad been meeting annually for their conventions. I found such a reference pretty quickly in the 1968 volume: it was an advertisement for the upcoming 44th annual meeting. It then became a simple math problem (even for me) to conclude that the 25th annual meeting was circa 1949.

As to specifically who the gents and ladies are in the image, I have no clue.  Most of the women in this photo, however, seem (to my eye) to have been present principally as the ‘wives of’ the BC hotelmen at the convention. This was 1949, after all. We were still a couple of decades short of women coming into their own as major players in businesses of this sort in significant numbers. Needless to say, the BCHA’s current serial is no longer called BC Hotelman!

Where were they having their meeting that year?

Well, plainly it was in a hotel somewhere in BC. But which location? The interior looked familiar to me. My guess was that it was the current Hotel Vancouver (1939-present). This is really the only local hotel with which I have any interior knowledge, but until yesterday I had nothing with which to substantiate that guess. Once again, I bow to that most useful of devices, my magnifying glass! On the tumblers scattered about on the coffee table in the foreground is printed, very helpfully, “Hotel Vancouver”!

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‘Zip Line’ to Wreck Beach for Construction of Early UBC Buildings?


Temporary Aerial Tramway built at UBC’s Point Grey campus to aid transport of granite stones to such building sites as the Main Library. UBC 1.1/1805. 1923. Stuart Thomson.

When I first saw this image, my initial thought was “Gee, did they build a ‘zip line’ at the Point Grey campus as early as 1923?”. Then common sense kicked in.

There was precious little development at Point Grey, then. The only building that was even partially constructed was the Science building. It seems doubtful that a ‘zip line’ would have been a priority, assuming that such a thing was technologically feasible at the time.

So what was the aerial tramway for? A web page regarding the building of Main Library explains:

“Designed by the architectural firm of Sharp and Thompson the Library was one of the three original permanent buildings on the Point Grey campus. The granite facing stones for the Library were quarried on Nelson Island in Pender Harbour and carried by barge to the foot of the Point Grey cliffs. A temporary aerial tramway and light railway system carried then carried them to the building site.”

The following images make this a bit clearer:


The foot of the Point Grey cliffs where granite from Nelson Island was deposited. It was then hoisted onto ‘cars’ that were attached to the aerial tramway up to the flat lands that constitute the UBC campus above. UBC 1.1./1818. 1923. Stuart Thomson.


At the top of the Point Grey cliffs was the beginning of the temporary rail system. UBC 1.1/1807. 1923. Stuart Thomson.


The cars full of granite stones were loaded onto waiting trains which carried them to the building sites. UBC 1.1/1813. 1923. Stuart Thomson.

But where was this tramway located? I’m not absolutely certain, but it looks to me as though the tramway descended from Marine Drive down the cliff face where today there are the steps down to clothing-optional Wreck Beach.

What caused me to reach this conclusion? The panorama image below (and others that are similar).



The railway track appears to have been just to the right of the original power plant, identifiable from its distinctive tower (the original plant was demolished in 2016). UBC 1.1/1800. 1925. Stuart Thomson.


I suspect that where the track was located (above) is where Agricultural Road is today and which, if one follows it towards Marine Drive (through the trees shown in the panorama), leads one to the vicinity of Wreck Beach. (This conclusion has been confirmed by an image supplied by UBC Library; see comments below).

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Sir John and The Russian Prince

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

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

Sir John Martin Harvey had a reputation as a Shakespearean actor on the stage and (later) as a silent film star in the U.K. and in the wider world, not least in Canada. The Russian Prince pictured above with Sir John was, however, at the time this photo was taken (post-Russian revolution), a relative nobody.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maurice Willson Disher - The Last Romantic 1948

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

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

From the McGill University College of BC Annual - 1913 (p.69)

From the McGill University College of BC Annual – 1913 (p.69). UBC Open Collection.

There is no evidence in Vancouver directories of there being a dedicated fencing academy in the 1920s. The only sign I’ve seen of there being any school in the city which included fencing on its curriculum was an ad for M. Lester Dancing Academy. Judging from Martin-Harvey’s remarks, though, I take it that Volkonsky had established his own studio.

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

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


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

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Ernst’s Cello (NOT Piano) Fingers

CVA 136-460 - Ernst Friedlander, Vancouver pianist c1964 Deni Eagland photo

CVA 136-460. Ernst Friedlander, Vancouver Cellist. ca1964. Deni Eagland, Pacific Press. (Cropped by author)

Any piano student who has ‘short finger syndrome’ can spot a fellow-sufferer in an instant. So one look at the photo above was all it took for me to realize that this chap with stubby fingers could not have earned his daily bread (or at least little more than that) by being a “pianist” (as is asserted as of this date by the City of Vancouver Archives)!

Indeed, the image above is a portrait of Ernst Friedlander (1906-66), a well-known cellist in his day, who settled in Greater Vancouver in 1958 along with his professional pianist wife, Marie Friedlander (née Werbner). He lived here with her until 1966 when he died of heart failure, a relatively young man at 60.

Ernst was an Austrian Jew who studied his art in Vienna and later was appointed first chair of the Vienna Concert Orchestra and was a member of the Popa-Grama String Quartet. Ernst and Marie fled the Nazi regime by emigrating to the U.S. in 1937. They moved around a good deal during their time in America. He seems to have been principal cellist with a symphony orchestra, and/or cellist with a smaller group, and/or a lecturer at a university (or all of these, as was the case in Vancouver) in the following:¹

  • 1937-38 – Pittsburgh
  • 1939-42 – Indianapolis
  • 1943-55 – University of Wisconsin; Pro Arte (String) Quartet (1940-47)
  • 1952-54 – University of Wyoming
  • 1955 – Chicago
  • 1956-58 – University of Oklahoma
  • 1958-66 – Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Vancouver Chamber Orchestra; Vancouver String Quartet (1960-66); lecturer at UBC.

Ernst also wrote “more than 50” compositions, mainly for cello, the most well-known being his Cello Concerto (1950) and Minnelied (1964).²

The Friedlanders felt more at home in Vancouver than they had in America (they became Canadian citizens in 1963). Said Marie: “Canada was so much more like the Old World [than the United States] and we took to it.”³ Marie died in Kelowna in 1995.


¹From Paul Helmer’s Growing with Canada: The Emigré Tradition in Canadian Music. 2009, p. 256; also: http://proartequartet.org/pastmembers.html. Details of EF’s career in Vienna are from: The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois), 14 Feb 1949, p. 2.

²Helmer, 222.

³Helmer, 222.

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Southern View (Pender at Seymour), 1892

Van Sc P38.4 - Looking south toward Pender Street from Hastings Street and Seymour Street 1892 Charles S. Bailey

CVA Van Sc P38.4. Looking south toward Pender Street from Hastings Street and Seymour Street. 1892. Charles S. Bailey.

This view of Vancouver as it appeared to early Vancouver photographer, Charles S. Bailey just six years after incorporation as a city has appealed to me since I first clapped eyes on it a couple of years ago.

Vancouver may have been a city for half a decade, technically, but by today’s standards, it was more town-like. White guys hadn’t put their hands to ‘developing’ the land much south of False Creek and that is pretty evident here (and better, here). You can see the still-standing, forest that constituted what later would be known as the Mount Pleasant and Fairview neighbourhoods. The haze that seems to envelop this scene probably was due mainly to the multiple saw mills in the area. Hastings Mill, for example, was just northeast of where the photographer was standing.

It is also remarkable how many houses of worship are visible in this image (and how little theological variety was represented thereby). I count five Christian churches within about as many blocks of each other: four protestant and one Catholic. Holy Rosary appears to be different from how it appears today for a good reason: it was a different building. Construction of the current structure would begin a few years after this photo was taken – in 1899. The church became a cathedral in 1916.

This photo was probably made from the rooftop of the Empire Building (NW corner of Hastings at Seymour).

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Frank L. Beebe’s Vancouver Aliens


From Alien Animals in British Columbia. G.C. Carl and C.J. Guiguet  BC Provincial Museum. Victoria: 1957 (Rev’d 1972), p. 10,

The charming illustrations shown here prompted me to ‘splurge’ on Alien Animals in British Columbia which was sitting on the $2 cart outside The Paper Hound Bookshop last week.

This volume is an introduction to the non-native animals (“aliens”) that have been introduced into B.C. by various means. Since this is a post about Vancouver, we will concentrate on a couple of creatures that were introduced into the Vancouver area and report on their current status.


The original range of the Opossum “extends along the eastern and southeastern United States, and in the northern part from the Hudson Valley westward as far as the Great Lakes. It is also found in California, where it was introduced between 1905 and 1910.”¹

Two Opossums were killed in the Greater Vancouver area (at Crescent Beach) in 1949. It is thought that they were introduced to the area ca1925 on Camano Island and at Sedro Wooley, Washington. In 1965, it had increased in numbers and range. It could be found south and east of the Fraser river as far as Spuzzum and north of the Fraser at Point Grey. Today, the range of opossums in B.C. is limited to the Fraser Valley as far as Hope.²

Crested Mynah


From Alien Animals in British Columbia. G.C. Carl and C.J. Guiguet BC Provincial Museum. Victoria: 1957 (Rev’d 1972), p. 44. It’s City of Vancouver range (until 2003) is hinted at with the urban background (the Marine Building?) drawn by Beebe. Note: Beebe seems to have signed this illustration “Francis Lyman”; it’s possible that his surname was inadvertently cropped when the illustration was being prepared for inclusion in Alien Animals.

The Crested Mynah is commonly called the Japanese Starling. It is native to Asia and is thought to have been introduced into the Greater Vancouver area either by immigrants from Asia or to have arrived accidentally aboard ships.

Two pairs of Crested Mynahs were first reported in Vancouver in 1904. Between then and 1920, the population grew and the birds were commonly spotted during the 1930s. As of ca1972 (when the book was revised), there were fewer sightings in the City of Vancouver and it was only occasionally spotted in rural areas around the metropolitan area. The last two Crested Mynahs in B.C. are believed to have died in 2003 in Vancouver.³


The illustrator credited on the title page of this small volume was Frank L. Beebe (Francis Lyman Beebe). He was the senior illustrator attached to the Royal B. C. Museum at the time Alien Animals was published. A profile of his life and career may be found in Wild Lands Advocate, the Alberta Wilderness Association Journal, December 2002 (Volume 10, No.6) on p. 19.


¹Alien Animals, p. 11

²Possum Country

³Birding in B.C.

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The New Democracy of William Herridge

RICHARD_B._BENNETT_AT_THE_WHITE_HOUSE with Wm D. Herridge at left of PM R B Bennett 1933

“Canadian Prime Minister arrives at the White House. Prime Minister Richard B. Bennett of Canada at the White House today to take part in the complicated foreign exchange problem.” In the photograph, L TO R: Col. James Ulio, Military Aide; Mrs. Mildred Herridge; William D. Herridge, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary for Canada in the U.S.A.; Prime Minister R. B. Bennett; President F. D. Roosevelt; and Capt. Walter Vernou, White House Naval Aide. 1933. Harris & Ewing photo.

William Duncan Herridge (1886-1961) neither lived in Vancouver nor worked here. In fact, he admits in the speech he delivered here on May 3, 1939 that it had “not been my good fortune often to visit British Columbia.”¹ But, for some reason, he chose Vancouver as one of the principal locations for the launch of his short-lived party – initially a committee – the ‘New Democracy’.

Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary

This mouthful of a title (which has more than a hint of W. S. Gilbert about it) was conferred upon William Herridge in 1931 by Prime Minister R. B. Bennett (1870-1947). He would be Bennett’s envoy to Washington, D.C. (essentially the Canadian Ambassador) until 1935. He was also Bennett’s brother-in-law, marrying R. B.’s sister, Mildred, also in 1931.

To say that Herridge had a close advisory relationship with Prime Minister Bennett (1930-35) would be an understatement.² Indeed, when it came to the attempted import of some sort of mini-New-Deal from the U.S. to Canada, it seems Herridge had few advisory peers.

Herridge was fascinated by the mystique of the American New Deal. He told Bennett that Roosevelt was a leader who ‘in some way not wholly revealed, will lead them out of the wilderness of depression’. . . . Herridge noted: ‘The New Deal is a sort of Pandora’s Box, from which, at suitable intervals, the President has pulled the N.R.A. [National Recovery Administration] and the A.A.A. [Agricultural Adjustment Act] and a lot of other mysterious things. Most of the people never understood the N.R.A. or the A.A.A. any more than they understand the signs of the Zodiac.’ The people did not have to understand the New Deal. . . . ‘Pandora’s Box has charmed the people into a new state of mind.’ If only they could do it in Canada, they could provide the same, ‘the hope and promise of a new heaven and a new earth’. Herridge realized that the moral was to ‘promise all things – a new system, regulation, control, and so forth  – and ask for a mandate to bring them about. But under no circumstances say how you propose to achieve the new order of society, don’t be specific or definite. Stick to generalities.’
(Hoogenraad, 65-66. Emphasis mine.)

Herridge had a two-phase plan for a Canadian New Deal under Bennett: Phase I would consist of a series of radio broadcasts to be delivered by Bennett in which the New Deal would be outlined. Phase II was based on the assumption that the Liberal Party under MacKenzie King would denounce the New Deal in the context of the debate on the Throne Speech which would follow the radio broadcasts and that King would defend laissez-faire liberalism. Bennett would respond to that by dissolving Parliament and going to the people, asking that they choose between the New Deal Conservatives and the status quo Liberals.

Bennett’s five radio speeches, delivered in January 1935, came off all right. He introduced the ideas of a uniform minimum wage, a maximum work week, unemployment insurance, and health insurance. The final line of his last speech promised to “reclaim this land from trouble and sorrow, and bring back happiness and security.”

The plan as conceived by Herridge did not come off, however. For one thing, there was a falling out between Bennett and Herridge pertaining to the drafting of the Speech from the Throne. According to one witness, Herridge defended one of his ideas that he wanted included in the speech so vociferously, that he even questioned Bennett’s authority to draft his own speech. Bennett sent Herridge out of his office and they didn’t have any contact for six months after that.

The New Deal plan did not succeed for another reason: King did not come to the defence of laissez-faire liberalism as Herridge had forecast. Instead, the Liberal leader took Bennett and Herridge by surprise and demanded that Bennett’s government introduce their reforms immediately.

Herridge urged Bennett to drop the writ and seek a New Deal mandate from the people soon after Throne Speech. But Bennett ignored Herridge. He dawdled (probably partly because, by this time, he was having heart problems). The election did not happen until September, 1935. By that time, any influence the Bennett broadcasts had had in the minds of Canadians had faded.

New Democracy Speech, Vancouver, May 1939

In 1935, Minister William D. Herridge became just plain Bill Herridge. With the defeat of Bennett’s government in the 1935 federal election, he resigned his Ambassadorship to Washington and picked up his law practice. His wife, Mildred, died in May 1938,  after a lengthy illness. A year later, Herridge was in Vancouver urging the local New Democracy to field candidates there and across the country in the forthcoming election (which would be in 1940).

His speech was full of code words. One of the most often repeated of these which had a positive connotation was “security”; another was “prosperity” and that, in turn, was contrasted with “profits” (negative). “Production for security” is good; it is how the economy ought to run in the “age of plenty” versus the old economy, aka “the age of profits”. According to Herridge, the “old parties”, by which he meant the Liberals and Conservatives, should be kicked out of Parliament because they represent “reaction”. “Reform” is the contrasting code word to describe, presumably, those who are ‘new democracy’ advocates.

“Totalitarianism” and “fascism” are two negative code words he sprinkled liberally in his speech:

The totalitarian principle works well only when the people act like robots. Be warned. If you want to keep democracy, you must keep it close to the people. He who favours the impairment of provincial rights [one of the ‘bulwarks’ of our democracy], favours implicitly, the totalitarian plan, which is the machinery of fascism. And fascism will strip the people of every right; even the right to live.

During most of the speech, Herridge was careful to speak in the third person singular. But in the section pertaining to “relief” for those who are unemployed, he shifted to the first person singular:

At the moment, among the federal, provincial, and municipal authorities, there is a dangerous shifting of responsibility upon the the question of relief. The people are the victims of it. If I were the head of the federal government, I would assume full responsibility. I would take over relief, unconditionally, one hundred per cent. And it would no longer be called relief. It would be called the right to live . . . . Therefore, I would see that every law-abiding Canadian had the food and housing necessary for health. I would not let our people starve when we have the means to care for them. . . . I would put the whole power of the state between our people and their present suffering. For if the Dominion of Canada cannot give its people health and happiness, of what use is the Dominion of Canada?

I found myself responding to this paragraph with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was struck by how in this paragraph, Herridge seems to be unaware of how government functions in Canada; both that we are a parliamentary democracy and that we are a federal system in which responsibilities for different areas of governance are allotted constitutionally to the federal government and provincial governments.

On the other hand, I found this paragraph to be among the best in the speech. It was full of passion and there were blessedly few code words.

Failure of Herridge’s New Democracy

In the 1940 general election, New Democracy fielded only 17 candidates, and of those, just three were elected (and all of those were incumbents who were first elected under Social Credit’s banner in 1935). Herridge ran for the seat in Kindersley, Saskatchewan, which he lost. In British Columbia, New Democracy won no seats and earned just 1/10th of 1% of the popular vote in the province.

There are at least a couple of factors that come to mind when considering explanations for the failure of New Democracy. First, the timing was plainly wrong. The Vancouver speech was presented on May 4, 1939, just 4 months from when Canada would declare war with Germany. The election itself was a wartime one – never an opportune time for new parties to make an impact.

Another reason for the failure of New Democracy, it seems to me, is that – if his Vancouver speech is indicative of the way he spoke publicly elsewhere of the party and its objectives – it wasn’t at all clear what those party goals were. It seemed in his speech as though he’d swallowed whole the advice he gave R. B. Bennett when he was advising him on how to sell the Canadian New Deal: “Under no circumstances say how you propose to achieve the new order of society, don’t be specific or definite. Stick to generalities.”

This cynical view seemed to be poor counsel for both Bennett’s New Deal and for Herridge’s New Democracy.

Herridge’s Speech on New Democracy (unattributed), Vancouver May, 1939


¹From “Address to be delivered under the auspices of the New Democracy Committee, at Vancouver, Wednesday May , 1939, at 8 p.m.” I recently purchased a copy of this speech. It was marked “Confidential. Released for publication in newspapers not appearing on streets before Thursday morning, May 4, 1939.” It wasn’t attributed to Herridge, but it is plain from at least one newspaper account on May 4th (in the Winnipeg Tribune), that it this was Herridge’s Vancouver speech.

The text of the speech has been scanned as a pdf file and is attached just above these notes.

² Most of the information in this section was gleaned from the third chapter of Stephen Hoogenraad’s Guiding the ship Through the Storm: W. D. Herridge and the Canadian Relations with the United States, 1931-1935. A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research in partial fulfillment of his M.A. degree from the Department of History at Carleton University, 2000.

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Gal: “You are SUCH a ninny!” Guy: “What?”


CVA 1184-3167 – Workers stacking sheets of printed paper at Westminster Paper Company. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay. Photograph taken as part of a series for a publication by the Westminster Paper Co. Ltd. titled “Making paper from British Columbia pulp.”

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The Yoshio Hinatsu Mystery


Cover, Vancouver: A Short History, 1936. Illustrator: Yoshio Hinatsu.


Title page, Vancouver: A Short History, 1936.

I purchased the little pamphlet history shown above at a recent paper ephemera fair. I was taken with the art deco illustrations on the cover and on interior pages and wondered who was Yoshio Hinatsu, the illustrator, and what became of him. (I wasn’t the first local historian to so wonder; Illustrated Vancouver had raised similar questions in 2010).

When the pamphlet was produced in 1936 – Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee year – Yoshio apparently was a student at Templeton Jr. High School and was a member of the school’s Archivists’ Club. The portrait of Club members which appears below is from the City of Vancouver Archives collection.

CVA 371-801 - [Ken Waites and Templeton High School's Archivists Club] ca 1936

CVA 371-801 – Ken Waites (teacher, seated) and Templeton High School’s “Archivists Club”, ca 1936.

The ‘Not-So-Great Leap’

This portrait stumped me for quite awhile. Because it was made around the same time as the history was published and because there were six students pictured (the same number as the authors and illustrator of the history), I leapt to the conclusion that the photo was of Hinatsu and the history authors. That ‘leap’ got me into all kinds of trouble. For starters, although there were six people in the portrait, I had a hard time identifying anyone who had Japanese features. And the list of authors/illustrator shown on the history’s title page indicates there were three girl authors, two boy authors, and illustrator Yoshio. I had initially thought of Yoshio as being male. His art deco illustrations looked to me like something produced by a guy. But my ‘leap’ led me to question Yoshio’s gender. I inquired of Asian friends whether Yoshio was typically a name given to girls or boys. Answer: Boys. I then tried to get the facts to fit my biases by trying on yet another hypothesis: what if Yoshio’s name was misprinted (and ‘Yoshio’ was actually, say, “Yoshiko’ – a girl’s name).

I was in need of more facts and fewer guesses!

Facts from Nikkei Centre

Additional facts ultimately arrived in my inbox. The big break came from an archivist with the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, to whom I’d sent a query early on in my research into Yoshio Hinatsu.

The Nikkei Centre was able to set me straight on a number of things¹:

  1. Yoshio was a guy. No question. This was confirmed by the archivist speaking to a couple of Yoshio’s Templeton classmates.
  2. His parents were Kahei (father) and Mestuko (mother) Hinatsu. Kahei (and presumably, his wife) immigrated to Canada in 1907. Some sources thought that Kahei was an importer/exporter. They apparently lived in Japantown in the 1936-41 period (at 1876 Triumph Street).
  3. Yoshio and his parents (and his sisters: Kimiye and Fumiye) returned together to Japan on November 15, 1941. This was just a couple weeks before the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941 which marked the beginning of the Japanese Internment in Canada.
  4. It was unknown by any of Yoshio’s classmates if he and/or his parents returned to Canada after WWII. (But it seems to me doubtful).
  5. It isn’t known what Yoshio did for a living when he was in Japan.  He was a bank clerk in Vancouver before he left Canada with his family in 1941.

Although there were comments from Yoshio’s classmates about there being at least one group photo in which Yoshio appeared, I have been in contact with the Vancouver School Board’s heritage division and they in turn contacted Templeton School and no images have turned up that include Yoshio.

The Illustrations

The artwork created by Yoshio for A Short History seems to be a combination of realism and fantasy. There are elements of different Vancouver periods (ocean liners, tall ships, automobiles, railways); there appears to be an early sketch of Hastings Mill. And there are far more art deco buildings in the Vancouver of Yoshio’s imagination than ever graced the streets of real Vancouver (even in the most deco-ish 1930s). Finally, the wrestling t-rex dinosaurs in the leftmost cloud formation is an oddity.


Center-fold illustration inside Vancouver: A Short History, 1936. Illustrator: Yoshio Hinatsu. Note: Fighting T-Rexs in the leftmost cloud formation. Odd.


¹Many thanks to Linda Kawamoto Reid, Research Archivist at Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre for tracking down this information.

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Up Granville from Hastings, 1909

vpl 7135 Granville at West Hasting in the snow. 1909. PTT photo

Crop of VPL 7135. Granville from West Hastings in the snow. 1909. P.T. Timms photo.

This is another outstanding scene by early Vancouver photographer, P. T. Timms.

Timms would have been standing with his back to the second C.P.R. station (1898-1914; Edward Maxwell, architect) at Granville and Cordova. His camera was pointing up Granville from the intersection with West Hastings. The shops visible on the right side are on the west side of Granville (400 block) between Hastings and Pender. On the right, nearest the camera (at the SW corner of Hastings and Granville) is the McDowell-Burns Drug Co. Not far from the druggist is a sign identifying the Pacific Coast Steamship office (see pamphlet below). The circular sign just beyond the Pacific Coast sign seems to be advertising passage specifically via the steamship Iroquois Seattle (shown in dry dock in the postcard below). Near the corner of Pender and Granville is McIntyre’s Cafe (439 Granville), James A. McIntyre (1893-1925), proprietor, and the Fairfield Building (445 Granville; 1898-ca1949; William Blackmore, architect). Just across Pender at the time (on the SW corner of Pender and Granville) was where Vancouver’s main Post Office (1892-1926; Fuller/Wickenden, architects) was located before it was moved to a new structure at the NW corner of Hastings and Granville in 1910 (today, part of Sinclair Centre).

Pacific_Coast_Steamship_Cos_Direct_Route_from_Puget_Sound_Ports_Victoria_and_Vancouver_to_Skaguay_Alaska - 1902-06 pamphlet

“Pacific Coast Steamship Company’s Direct Route from Puget Sound Ports, Victoria, and Vancouver to Skaguay Alaska” – 1902-06 pamphlet.

Iriquois Seattle Steamer in Moran Dry Dock, Seattle

Iroquois Seattle Steamer in Moran Dry Dock, Seattle. n.d.

On the left side of the image (behind where the closest trolley is located) is the site where the Rogers Building would be built a few years later (470 Granville; 1912; Gould and Champney, architects). At the time Timms took this photo, however, the lot at the NE corner of Pender and Granville was occupied by C. D. Rand Real Estate, O. B. Allan Jewellers, and Purdy’s Chocolates. Outside of the crop on the left is what then was the newly-finished Canadian Bank of Commerce (1908; Darling and Pearson, architects) – what today is the home of Birk’s.

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The Happy Wanderers: Findlater’s Elgar Choir

Snapseed 17

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

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

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

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

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

  • 1934: To Chicago World’s Fair and cities in Eastern Canada (later referred to, collectively – in some texts – as the First Canadian Tour);
  • 1936: Tour to U.K. and Norway (Highlights: World’s Sunday School Convention at Oslo; Bournemouth Musical Festival, and the National Welsh Eisteddfod at Fishguard, Wales) – later called the First British Tour.
  • Early 1940s: Plans for a second British tour were cancelled due to wartime hostilities; instead, the Second Canadian Tour (1941) and the Third Canadian Tour (1942) were arranged. The object of both tours was principally to fundraise for war charities.
  • 1949: Second British Tour;
  • 1950: A local tour (of B.C. and parts of Washington state);
  • 1954/55: Tour of Europe and Britain, including appearances in: Pairs, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Holland, Belgium, and various cities in Britain;
  • 1960: First USSR tour (“the first Canadian cultural group” to visit there);
  • 1963: A Round-the-World tour, with appearances in the following places: Switzerland, East Berlin, Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Rome, Vienna, Paris, West Berlin, and “the British Isles”. Following this, C. E. Findlater apparently decided, briefly, to “retire his baton”;
  • 1971: CEF evidently picked up his baton again to lead another overseas tour by the Choir (Europe and Asia);
  • 1974: Choir’s 50th Anniversary Reunion was held at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church. It was estimated at the time that over 6,000 choristers (boys and girls) had been Choir members during its lifetime. (A 14th overseas trip had been planned for summer of 1974, but that seems not to have happened, presumably due to Findlater’s worsening health.) I suspect that most of the photographs in this post that are courtesy of BC Archives were originally supplied from this reunion.
Snapseed 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Invitation for VAIW Readers Who Were Elgar Choir Members

If anyone who reads this post is a former Elgar Choir member (especially one who was on the 1954 tour with Nancy Haines), would you consider commenting below? Nancy would love to be in contact with you. If you comment on this post, I’ll pass your comment along to Nancy.



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

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

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

³City of Vancouver Archives.

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W Marks the Spot

Van Sc P114 - [The Woodward's Department store beacon] ca 1938.

CVA Van Sc P114 – [The Woodward’s Department store beacon] ca 1938. (The “W” marks where the flagship outlet of Woodward’s Dept. Stores was located at northwest corner of Hastings at Abbott. Originally, as shown here, the W was mounted beneath a tower with a beacon. During WWII, however, this was considered to be a potential target and so the beacon was extinguished for the duration of the war. After the war was over, the W was mounted atop a replica of a substantially-shorter-than-actual Eiffel Tower. More recently, the original W was moved to ground-level as part of the Woodward’s Condominium redevelopment project. A shiny new W sits atop the redeveloped Woodward’s condos).

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 6.52.50 AM

According to a recent lecture titled “A Few Myths About Vancouver: The Real Stories”, by local historian, John Atkin, Woodward’s own brand of peanut butter was at one time produced beneath the beacon shown in the first image. This Woodward’s Peanut butter label (from the period 1973-1986) is at the Museum of Vancouver’s online site. (Thanks to J. Friesen for passing along the peanut butter information from Atkin’s lecture).

This was originally posted July 2015. Updated on April 28, 2017.

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No Bull! The Conversion of Black Motors to Black’s Restaurant

vpl 80449 Black Motors gas station, Georgia & Richards Streets. pumps, cars, sign, Holy Rosary Cathedral 1948 Tom Christopherson photo. Part of a Series 80449-80449D

VPL 80449. Black Motors gas station, NE corner at Georgia & Richards Streets. Service station and parts dept components of Black Motors. Looking north. 1948 Tom Christopherson photo.

The NE corner of Georgia and Richards is currently occupied by an office block (475 W Georgia). The building itself is not remarkable. It is distinguished by a sculpture of a life-sized bull which eyes the property kitty-corner from the building (Telus Gardens).

The first occupant of the corner in the earliest years of the City was St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. The large church building would remain on the site until 1937, when it was demolished and the congregation moved with the congregants of Wesley Methodist Church (SW corner Burrard at Georgia; also demolished) into their new, combined quarters at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (SW corner, Burrard at Nelson).

It isn’t clear to me what occupied the site of the Presbyterian Church in the decade immediately following the church’s demolition. It probably served as a parking lot until the postwar years.

vpl80441 Black Motors auto dealership 1948 Art Jones

VPL 80441. Exterior of Black Motors Parts and Service Depts (at Georgia and Richards). 1948. Looking north (with a steeple of Holy Rosary Cathedral in background). Art Jones photo.

In 1948, the Ford automobile dealership/service station shown above was established on the corner. Black Motors had two locations about a block apart: its sales location at the corner of Dunsmuir & Homer and the site shown above at Georgia and Richards. The dealership continued to do business at Georgia and Richards until about 1952. From that year, it appears that the two sides of the automobile dealer’s business were consolidated at the Dunsmuir and Homer location.

vpl 80442 Black Motors auto dealership parts department 1948 Art Jones

VPL 80442. Interior of Black Motors auto dealership parts department. 1948. Art Jones photo.

Whether the Georgia and Richards property was sold or not, isn’t clear. But the business certainly changed: from car dealership to restaurant: Black’s Restaurant (note the apostrophe-s attached to the restaurant’s name).

VPL 83253

VPL 83253a. Interior, Black’s Restaurant, 686 Richards Street, Counter. 1951 (the date was supplied by VPL, but I think it was probably ca1953; City directories continued to show Black Motors at both locations through 1952). Looking south to an auto dealership across Georgia St. Dick Phillips photo.

Whoever owned the restaurant – whether a new owner or George Black, the president of Black Motors (or a member of his family) – they seemed to have excellent advice on how to convert the dealership into a restaurant. The counter area, in particular, looks like it was a brilliant redesign of the original parts department.


VPL 83253b. Interior, Black’s Restaurant, 686 Richards Street, Dining Room. 1951 (the date was supplied by VPL, but I think it was probably ca1953; City directories continued to show Black Motors at both locations through 1952). Looking south. Dick Phillips photo. (Note: This image was photographed from the negative and was taken while the negative was lying on bubble wrap; hence, the mild distortion in the image).

Behind where the photographer was standing to take the counter photo, was a dining room in what, I’m guessing, was formerly the service department of the dealership.

Black’s Restaurant, didn’t last long. By the early 1960s, the space had become home to an auto upholstery outfit. And by the mid-’60s, the building that had housed Black Motors and Black’s Restaurant had been demolished to make way for . . . (you guessed it) . . . a parking garage!

The office building on the corner today was constructed in 1976. The Bull sculpture (Fafard), “Royal Sweet Diamond”, has been on the site from about 2000.

Posted in Art Jones, automobiles, cafes/restaurants/eateries, churches, Dick Phillips, Tom Christopherson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Orange Meat?!

Str P278 - An H.A. Edgett Company Limited grocery delivery wagon on Hamilton Street 1908

CVA Str P278 – An H.A. Edgett Company Limited grocery delivery wagon on Hamilton Street. 1908. Edgett Grocers was an early Vancouver grocer that carried Orange Meat.

ORANGE MEAT vdw 5 apr 1904

Vancouver Daily World, 5 April 1904.

I came upon this advertisement when looking for something else in a 1904 edition of the Vancouver Daily World. The very peculiar product name compelled me to drop what I was looking for and read the rest of the ad.

The ad copy seems to have been produced by H. A. Edgett & Co., a notable Vancouver grocer; the product was evidently being introduced to the local marketplace at around this time.

From the ad we learn the following:
– No cooking was required prior to consuming Orange Meat;
– It was easily digested;
– It was produced in Canada;
– Cost was 15 cents/package.

But what was this foodstuff with the off-putting name brand (at least to 21st-century eyes)¹?

The ad following, printed by the manufacturer (Frontenac Cereal Co. of Kingston, Ontario) in 1906, was better in terms of its descriptive strength: it was at least clear that the mysterious ‘meat’ was in fact a breakfast cereal. According to the marketing folks at Frontenac, Orange Meat’s combination of ‘crisp flakes’ + ‘spicy malt’ + sugar = ‘fascinating tastiness’. Here, the company made the classical rhetorical appeal to ‘yumminess’! (I’m kidding, they were actually appealing to pathos – of which ‘yumminess’ is merely a subset!)

But they undid their positive work by making the claim “Orange Meat simply grows on you.” Hmmmm . . . I’m not sure that’s quite the word image that the marketers wanted to conjure in the minds of prospective buyers.

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Manitoba Morning Free Press. 18 August 1906.

In the next national ad released in the autumn of 1906, they shifted the appeal to the cleanliness of their manufacturing process (the classical appeal to logos).

Well, sort of. The headline read “Absolute Cleanliness Free.” To me, that sounds like their process was free of cleanliness. Probably not the impression they were going for.

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Ottawa Journal. 20 October 1906.

Finally, the appeal was shifted sightly again (it remained an appeal to logos) by advertising the high food value delivered by Orange Meat. (Call in the scientists!) A Prof. John Waddell of Queen’s University was enlisted to do a series of tests. The outcome? “Orange Meat contains over 45% of wheat sugars. These build up muscles and feed nerves and make people strong and cheerful.” (Winnipeg Tribune, Feb 2/07)

Man Morning Free Press 26 Dec 1906

Manitoba Morning Free Press, 26 December 1906.

The Frontenac Cereal Company seems ultimately to have said ‘uncle’ ca1911 and pulled the plug on the product with the dreadful name which, unhappily for Frontenac, was so damaged at birth that all of their marketers couldn’t put Orange Meat together again!


¹Other breakfast cereal brands of the early 1900s included such winners as: “Hello-Billo’, “Korn Kure’, ‘Tryabita’, “Tryachewa’, Oatsina, and the ever-popular, ‘Malt-Ho’!

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Church Membership Transfers

LGN 484 - [Men and women assembled outside First Baptist Church, at the southwest corner of Dunsmuir and Hamilton Streets] 1889

CVA LGN 484 – People outside the second structure dedicated to First Baptist Church worship (SE Corner, Hamilton & Dunsmuir) from various local churches, probably for interdenominational temperance meetings. 1889?.

Membership transfers (or “letters of dismissal/admission”) were an important aspect of early 20th century protestant churches. This post will explore some of the features of membership transfers, using First Baptist Church, Vancouver as a case study. I will present scans of actual membership transfer correspondence between First Baptist and other churches. The correspondence on which I’ll comment in this post, for the most part, occurred when FBC was in the building shown above.¹


One of the first tasks of a group of believers who wished to form a church was an exchange of letters of dismissal (from their previous church home) and admission (to their new home); this action would be repeated again and again in church meetings as a congregation moved forward.

The following is an excerpt from the earliest document of First Baptist Church: the minutes of the meeting held to incorporate the church (March 16, 1887):

Address by Chairman Rev. R. Lennie on object of formation of churches and qualifications essential for church membership and relationship members should bear each to the other.


Rev. J. W. Daniels then read letters of dismissal and commendation for the purpose of forming church at Vancouver on behalf of the following members, viz.,

Bro[ther] E. J. Peck, Bethesda, B. C. [Baptist Church], La Conner WT [Washington Territory]
Sis[ter] Mary Peck, Bethesda B.C. [Baptist Church], La Conner, WT
Sis J. C. Alcock, Olivet [Baptist Church], New Westminster, BC
Sis Isabella McLean, Calvery [Baptist Church], Victoria, BC
Sis Seraph Crandall, Salisbury, New Brunswick
Sis Nellie Evans, Emerson [Baptist Church], Emerson, Manitoba
Bro Henry A. Morgan, Calvary [Baptist Church], Victoria, BC
Bro J. H. Carlisle, 1st [Baptist Church], Seattle, WT
Sis Sarah E. Hamilton, Calvary [Baptist Church], Victoria, BC
Bro Abram Broulette, Emerson [Baptist Church], Emerson, Manitoba

After reading of letters those present whose letters were read came forward and declared it their desire and intention to unite and be organized into a Baptist Church.

If some of the language above reminds you of phrases you have heard in a marriage service, I’m not surprised. Membership and especially the transference of it to/from other congregations was taken very seriously in First Baptist Church Vancouver in its earliest days.

When Letters of Transfer Were Truly Letters


(A) An example of a “Letter” Style of Membership Transfer. From “Correspondence File 1908”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.

The letter above (A), sent regarding Mr. and Mrs. Waine from the Church Clerk at “Central Fairview Baptist Church” in Vancouver to First Baptist is very typical of the earliest of such correspondence. In what ways?

First, it’s a letter, rather than a standardized form (for an example of a form, see (B)). This was typical of smaller, newer, less institutional congregations.

It is also a typical piece of transfer correspondence in that it was from one church clerk (that is what the “CC” abbreviation following J. S. Brookes’ name stands for) to another (at FBC, the clerk was Mr. Thompson). For a rarer example of pastor-to-pastor communication, see (C) below.

Third, Fairview’s clerk makes makes it plain that he isn’t acting on his own authority in making this request: “I am requested to write for letters of dismissal…” The request was made to him indirectly from the Waines and more directly from his congregation.


(B) An example of a “Form” Style of Membership Transfer. From “Correspondence 1902”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC. Note: This form alludes to ‘this blank’ which is no longer attached to the rest of the form. It would have been completed by Vancouver FBC’s Clerk and sent to San Jose FBC confirming that Mrs. Hickman had formally ‘united’ with the Vancouver church. See (D) for an example of a still-attached blank.


(C) An example of a Pastor-to-Pastor membership transfer letter (versus the far more typical Clerk-to-Clerk style). It is plain from the context of this letter that the Pastor at Temple Baptist in L.A. was a friend or acquaintance of H. Francis Perry at FBC.

Step-By-Step Guide

This was probably roughly the order in which things happened (still relying principally on the case of the Waines, to illustrate):

  1. Mr. and Mrs. Waine had been living somewhere in or near downtown Vancouver and had been members at FBC. They then moved to Fairview, for some reason or other. There wasn’t much choice among Baptist churches in Fairview at that time; and for most Baptists in this period, it would have been quite exceptional for them to consider moving to a non-Baptist church. So choosing a new body of believers with which to unite in their the new neighbourhood would not have been a big decision for the Waines.
  2. They notified the Fairview church, probably through its pastor, that they wanted to make Fairview Baptist their church home. The pastor would pass their names along to Fairview’s Clerk, Mr. Brookes.
  3. This is the stage at which the Brookes/Thompson correspondence was initiated by Mr Brookes.
  4. Upon receiving the request from Fairview, Thompson would have put Mr. and Mrs. Waines on his ‘little list’ of those who had requested letters.
  5. Thompson’s actions at the next FBC congregational meeting (which in 1908 would have happened weekly) would have been recorded in FBC’s minutes in language similar to this: ‘Bro. Thompson presented request from Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Waine to join Central Fairview Baptist Church.’ And, assuming that FBC’s congregants approved: ‘On motion, granted.’
  6. Thompson would send Fairview a ‘letter of dismissal’ from FBC membership. There are no surviving copies of FBC’s dismissal letters, but judging from letters of dismissal sent to First, the letter may have included a proviso that if FBC didn’t receive confirmation that the Waines had ‘united with’ Fairview in membership within a stated period, the dismissal would be assumed null/void.
  7. Upon receipt of FBC’s letter, it would be Fairview’s turn to have a meeting. At the Fairview congregational meeting, the names of Mr. and Mrs. Waine would be raised as desiring to join Fairview. The language used in Fairview’s minute book was probably something like this: “Bro. and Sis. J. T. Waine were received by letter.”²
  8. It was then incumbent upon Fairview to communicate to FBC that the Waines had become members at Fairview – this is the ‘letter of admission’ side of the equation. (A large congregation would likely eventually adopt a form rather than a letter as a way of communicating this membership transfer info between churches. At this stage, if FBC had adopted a form system – and I do not know when/if they did so, though it seems likely – Fairview would have returned the blank at the bottom of the form to FBC confirming that the membership transfer had been finalized. See (D) below for an example of a ‘blank’ attached to another church’s ‘letter of dismission’ form.
  9. Finally, FBC, upon receiving Fairview’s final correspondence regarding the Waines, would make a note in FBC’s membership roll that the Waines had withdrawn their membership and were worshipping at Fairview.

(D) An example of a “Form with Blank Attached” Style of Membership Transfer. From “Correspondence File 1907”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.

No Respecter of Persons (Nor of Congregational Politics)

The membership transfer system was no respecter of persons. All were treated equally, at least on paper. Members wanting to unite with FBC Vancouver who had come from a lonely rural Alberta church followed the same steps as did an incoming pastor and his wife whose previous pastorate had been at Cambridge, Mass. See (E) below.


(E) Membership transfer form completed by the Clerk (probably a Clerk Pro Tem since the name of the clerk was scratched out on this form) at FBC, Cambridge, Mass. for Mrs. J.L. Campbell (wife of the incoming pastor at FBC, Vancouver). From “Correspondence File 1915”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.


(F) I’m including this one because it makes me smile. It was sent to FBC Vancouver, I’m guessing, by error. It is a membership transfer for a former FBC,Vancouver pastor, J Willard Litch whose pastorate was shifting from Broadway Baptist Church (in Vancouver) to FBC, Calgary. This is a fine example of the sort of confusion that can ensue when there is a First Baptist Church in most major centres in North America! From “Correspondence File 1910”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.

Likewise the membership transfer system operated in the same fashion no matter which congregation was involved – even if the congregation was a splinter sub-group of First Baptist Church: West End Baptist Church (see (G)).³


(G) An unusual example of membership transfer from West End Baptist Church, Vancouver. WEBC was a splinter of FBC for a very brief period (ca1904-06). Note that no ‘receiving church’ is stipulated by WEBC’s clerk. It isn’t clear whether that was because the clerk was unsure which Baptist church Ida Hooper would end up going to with her letter, or if it was a case of ‘we’re not speaking’ between WEBC and FBC. From “Correspondence File 1905”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.

Clues for Researchers

Clues to church history abound in membership transfer correspondence. If you should happen across them when assembling documents for a church archive (or under other circumstances), I’d urge you not to pitch them out. They can tell you a great deal about both churches involved in a transfer: hints as to congregational theology (it is not safe to assume that a congregation’s contemporary theological stance was always the same – indeed, it seems to me safer to assume that it was not the same in the past), church governance style, and the background of individuals being transferred. These are among the clues that can be revealed when membership transfers are taken as seriously today by church historians, archivists and others, as were transfers when the transfers were first issued.

Snapseed 3

(H) A clue to the history of an (ultimately) prominent figure in Vancouver and at First Baptist Church, in particular: Charles Bentall. He would become a principal of Dominion Co. and instrumental in rebuilding FBC’s sanctuary following the 1931 fire in our current (Nelson at Burrard) building. He was being transferred from Jarvis Street Baptist (Toronto) in 1909; that is the same year as Dr. H. Francis Perry left Jarvis Street for the pulpit at FBC Vancouver. Notably, Perry would be followed in the pastorate at Jarvis Street by T. T. Shields. Shields would remain there (not without considerable controversy) until his death in 1955. From “Correspondence File 1909”, Archives, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC.


¹Letters of transfer came into play (perhaps obviously) only for those people who had been members ‘in good standing’ at a ‘regular’ Baptist church. Without getting into a detailed discussion of Baptist denominational distinctives prior to the 1920s, suffice to say that non-Baptists could not have their membership from a non-Baptist church transferred to a Baptist church in the fashion described below. They would need, most probably, to be baptized in order to receive Baptist membership. (Today, a person could become a member at First Baptist from a non-Baptist church without being baptized “by experience” if adult immersion baptism was practiced at their previous church).

²I don’t know what Fairview Baptist Church’s by-laws required at this time regarding votes on admission of new members. But the earliest by-laws of First Baptist Church, Vancouver, indicate such a vote must be unanimously in favour in order for the person to be admitted. However, “Should any objection be made the case shall be postponed and the objection inquired into. If the church on inquiry shall regard the objection as unscriptural, it may be overruled.” (Handbook, First Baptist Church, 1889)

³West End Baptist Church was made up of about 50+ former members of First Baptist Church, Vancouver between 1904-06. The members who left the mother church to form WEBC were loyal to the most recent pastor, Rev. Dr. Ronald Grant (who, apparently, had been urged by the FBC powers that be to seek work elsewhere). Grant preached at WEBC for a few months, but left Vancouver soon after. Rev. Dr. M. L. Rugg was called by WEBC to become their pastor and he remained until the members decided in 1906 to reunite with FBC. During its brief life, WEBC met at Pender Hall (SW corner, Pender at Howe) and also in a building on Granville between Nelson and Smythe.

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Behind This Wall at Hotel Vancouver…

Update: March 24, 2017

This post has been revised since it was first published about 10 days ago. The most significant change has been to its scope. It was originally a very lengthy discussion that wandered into topics well beyond Beatrice Lennie’s sculpture at the Hotel Vancouver. This update has carved off the non-Lennie aspects of the original post and created a separate one.


Two of the six public elevators which flank the wall which probably was home to Beatrice Lennie’s Ascension in the lobby of current Hotel Vancouver from 1939-ca1967. March 2017. Author’s Photo.

Behind the wall shown above, in the elevator court of the current Hotel Vancouver (1939- ), lies, in all probability, Ascension, a work of bas-relief sculpture created by Beatrice Lennie (1904-1987) a renowned and very able local sculptor. Doris Munroe, in her M.F.A. thesis (UBC, 1972, p. xix), described Ascension, installed in 1939, as follows:

The theme with its vertical lines, arches, elongated figures, sun and stars was one of ascent. It was finished in tones of blue steel, brass and chromium which harmonized with the cream marble walls and bronze elevator doors. The hotel was opened on May 25, 1939. At the time of the reconstruction of the hotel in 1967 the ceilings were dropped and the artist believes the mural was then boarded up and faced with a new textured facade.

The poor image reproduced below is the only one I’ve found that shows all of Ascension. But, taken together with Munroe’s evocative description, we can imagine how stunning the work must have been. (Also shown below is part of Ascension from a Hotel Vancouver publicity brochure.)

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Beatrice Lennie’s Ascension. This poor image of the bas-relief was found in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s clipping file. The source of the image was not noted in the clipping file. I have not been able to find a better image of the work.


This is from a ca1940 Hotel Vancouver brochure (which touts on its cover that the hotel is “one of the most modern hotels in the British Empire”). There appear to be partial images in the brochure taken from Ascension. Source: Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections (647.94711/V22va).

Ascension and the Artist

In an August 1, 1975 interview for the Vancouver Province, Lennie said:

I used to think your sculpture would outlive you, but they boarded up one of mine, a 12-foot panel in the elevator court on the main floor of the Hotel Vancouver. They covered it with a wooden wall when they lowered the ceiling. It’s discouraging in one’s own lifetime. At the time (1939), the CNR [for whom the hotel was initially built; it later became a CPR property] asked me to do something that wouldn’t be out of date in 30 years.

In another piece published about Lennie, she remarked (with bitterness and some overstatement): “I never go back to see my work because they always do such dreadful things to it” (emphasis mine). To the best of my knowledge, Ascension is the only Lennie work that is ‘lost’.

An article was published, likely in the Sun, shortly after the sculptor’s death in 1987, that recalled Lennie’s body of work and related something of her history and family background in British Columbia.¹  It is interesting that the article noted that Lennie came from a pioneer B.C. family, but there was mention made only of her maternal grandfather, Benjamin Douglas, who arrived in the province in 1862 for the Gold Rush (the Douglas border crossing near Blaine, WA was named in his honour). No mention was made of Lennie’s paternal grandfather, Rev. Robert Lennie, who came to New Westminster in 1884 and established the Baptist church that is still there, Olivet Baptist Church. Lennie also served as ‘the first missionary pastor’ to the small body of believers who would ultimately form First Baptist Church, Vancouver.

CVA 1184-1129 - [Sculptor at work] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay

CVA 1184-1129 – “Sculptor at work.” 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo. Although the artist isn’t identified by CVA, I’m certain that this is an image of Beatrice Lennie in her studio.

It seems likely that Beatrice, one of Rev. Robert Lennie’s twenty grandchildren, had grown away from her grandfather’s Baptist roots.² But I wonder whether she may have been subconsciously paying tribute to her dad’s dad with the creation and naming of Ascension.

At one level, of course, the naming of her Hotel Vancouver sculpture was a case of word play. Ascension would be located in the elevator court and was one of the last things which guests would see as the elevator doors closed and they were lifted to their rooms.

But at another level, I cannot look at the image of Ascension without wondering about the prominence of stars and halo-like objects, which taken together, seem to me to speak of Easter, the highest and holiest holiday in the Christian calendar.

HV - Main Floor Plan

Hotel Vancouver – Original (1939) Main Floor Plan. Note that eight elevators appear in this plan. The two elevator shafts closest to what was designated as the porter’s area (no. 4 and no. 8) were, apparently, walled up, presumably by ca1967 with Lennie’s Ascension.

According to a concierge at the Hotel Vancouver with whom I spoke in preparing this post, there are other things buried behind that wall. The original hotel drawings called for eight elevators, but part way through its construction, it was decided that six elevators (three on each wall that flanked Ascension) were ample. The abandoned two elevator shafts remain hidden behind the wall, to this day. Along with Beatrice Lennie’s bas-relief work.


¹The article referenced here was found in the Vancouver Art Gallery library’s clipping file and no attribution was noted. So I’m guessing that it was a Vancouver Sun piece. (For a detailed list of Lennie’s extant work and biographical info pertaining to her, see this excellent site.)

²I didn’t find in my research indication of Lennie’s religious denominational affiliation, if any.

Posted in art, churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, hotels/motels/inns | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Another Hotel Vancouver ‘Lost’ Artwork

Update: March 24, 2017

This post was originally part of the one about Beatrice Lennie’s lost art at the Hotel Vancouver. I have created this new post for two reasons: (1) the Lennie post was too lengthy and the principal connection with the material below was that both posts pertain to the same site: the Hotel Vancouver. (2) Since publishing my original findings about 10 days ago, I’ve learned things that have caused me to re-think my conclusions.

CVA 586-776 - Bill Morrall, Chair, Advertising and Sales Bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade 1941-43 Don Coltman

CVA 586-776 – Bill Morrall, Chair, Advertising and Sales Bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade 1941-43 Don Coltman. Note the curved wood panelling flanking the art (visible only on the left in this image, but visible on both sides in other CVA images).

The image above is from the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA) online collection. It shows Bill Morall, Chair of the Vanc0uver Board of Trade, speaking at a function held at the Hotel Vancouver (judging from the “HV” on the lectern). He is standing in front of what appears to be a piece of sculptural relief that is somewhat obscured by flags. The subjects of the relief appear to be indigenous, fruit-bearing women.

Who was the artist who created the ‘indigenous women’?

At first, I wondered if it might have been one of Bea Lennie’s. We know that she was commissioned by the Hotel Vancouver architect in 1932 to create much of the art work in the building (including some mouldings and fireplace features). But it seems improbable to me that Lennie would create a piece as large as this one without mention being made at the time it was created or subsequently. ‘Indigenous women’ has not been visible in the hotel for decades, and Lennie never mentioned any of her art being ‘lost’ or ‘boarded up’ except for Ascension.

I was helped by a comment on an earlier version of this post from Ron. He directed me to a link at the Vancouver Sun which displayed the same artwork (unobscured by flags):

The Sun claimed that the artist was Valentin Shabaeff, who is best known today for specializing in ceramic art. This doesn’t look much like ceramic work to me. And it probably wasn’t; I’m guessing it’s a metal relief, of some sort. The Ottawa Journal, in a March 23, 1957 profile, mentioned that Shabaeff went to Vancouver (from his home in Montreal) where he “did murals and bronze relief figures for the CNR’s Hotel Vancouver, in preparation for the [1939] Royal visit.” According to the article, he didn’t seriously take up ceramic art – which became his specialty – until the late 1940s. It seems to me likely that Shabaeff was the artist who created the ‘indigenous women’ relief.¹

But I do have questions around the location of the piece within the Hotel. The Sun claims that it was installed in the “cafe of the Golden Inn, royal suite”. This means nothing to me. I cannot find mention of any such room in any Hotel Vancouver publication I’ve looked at.

CVA, on two occasions, refers to the room in which they believe a photo which includes the artwork was made. In both of these instances, the room they identified was the “Mayfair Room”. I asked a Hotel Vancouver concierge whether a room with this name is extant today. Nope.

But there was such a Mayfair Room in the Hotel’s early years. In fact, I’ve found references to a Mayfair Room at the Hotel Vancouver from the early 1940s until as late as the early ’50s (and reference to a “Mayfair Lounge” dating from 1959). The Mayfair Room was regularly used during the 1940s by the Vancouver Medical Association as what we’d probably refer to today as “breakout” or seminar rooms. It was also used by at least one UBC sorority for its “spring formal” in 1951. ²

To me, the most convincing evidence of the existence of the Mayfair Room in the Hotel’s early years and the likelihood of that being the location of ‘indigenous women’ – is in a Hotel Vancouver document from UBC’s Chung Collection.

Excerpt from chungtext-1.0228937- Dec 31 1940 - CPR Hotel Vancouver CC-TX-198-5-4 UBC Chung Collection-2

Excerpt from chungtext-1.0228937- Dec 31 1940 – CPR Hotel Vancouver CC-TX-198-5-4 UBC Chung Collection

CVA 586-4596 - Display of Moffat [appliances in] Mayfair Room at the Hotel Vancouver 1946 Don Coltman

CVA 586-4596 – Display of Moffat [appliances in] Mayfair Room at the Hotel Vancouver 1946 Don Coltman. Cropped by VAIW.

The wood panelling which flanks the rather nondescript painting shown in the brochure seems to me to resemble that which is on either side of ‘indigenous women’. The photo seems to have been made at about the time the Hotel opened (ca 1939-40). Presumably, sometime between that time and the first appearance of ‘indigenous women’ in a photograph – in 1942 – the room had a major makeover; the fixed lounge seating was removed (presumably, to make room for longish tables at which Board of Traders and others could munch on lunch), the open ceiling was filled in, and the nondescript painting was replaced with the relief produced by Valentin Shabaeff.

Shabaeff’s ‘indigenous women’ was likely in the Hotel Vancouver from ca1942 until sometime in the 1950s or ’60s. Whether it was sold to a private collector, destroyed, or was simply walled up, a-la Lennie’s Ascension, seems to be unknown today.


¹I haven’t been able to track down what (if anything) Shabaeff called his relief, however. In this post, therefore, I’ll refer to it as ‘indigenous women’.

²Where the Mayfair Room was within the Hotel (even which floor it was on) remains, to me, a mystery.

Posted in art, hotels/motels/inns, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Bolivia Bound: The Story of Howard & Mary Plummer


Howard and Mary Plummer, 1924. In Bolivia (probably on the Pantiel Experimental Farm, there) . Photographer unknown. From: These Sixty Years, 1887-1947. Being the Story of First Baptist Church Vancouver, BC. By: W. M. Carmichael.

Howard’s Early Years

Arthur Howard Plummer (1900-1970) had his first taste of a mission career when he was 8 years old. In 1908, he accompanied his parents from their home in England to Wenchow, China, where his father, Dr. William Edwin Plummer, served as a medical missionary for a year. In 1909, the family returned to England and Howard went to boarding school there.*
It isn’t clear why the family moved to Canada in 1913. They initially moved to New Brunswick and Howard entered a boarding school in Rothesay. In 1917, the Plummers moved west to Saskatoon where Howard finished high school. Following that, he spent two summers on a prairie farm and two winters at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1920, the family moved yet again, this time to Vancouver, where Howard enrolled in the Agriculture faculty at UBC. He graduated in May, 1924 with a B.S.A.

Dr. and Mrs. Plummer joined First Baptist Church in 1921. Howard was baptized and also joined the church in that year. For 2 years, Howard was “Efficiency Superintendent” (whatever mysterious responsibilities that position entailed) of the Vancouver Association of the Baptist Young People’s Union (BYPU).  In 1923, he was President of the Provincial BYPU. And in 1924, was Superintendent of the Hastings East Baptist Sunday School.
It seems that sometime in early 1924, Plummer approached Rev. J. J. Ross (1870-1935), the pastor at FBC, and expressed interest in serving as a full-time Baptist missionary in Bolivia. Whatever it was that inspired him to want to serve in that South American country, he had certainly said the ‘magic word’ among Canadian Baptists at the right point in time to receive a positive reception. He met with an assortment of Baptists (clergy and laity) who gathered at FBC on August 27th to form a council of examination and ordination that ultimately would decide that Plummer had indeed been called of God for service in Bolivia and, indirectly, that he had the ‘right stuff’ for this task.

At the time that Plummer was undergoing his ordination exam, he was also engaged to be married to a young woman who had grown up in First Baptist, Mary Evangeline Pattullo. Not much is today known of Mary. She was one of three daughters born to Mr. and Mrs. James Pattullo, a Vancouver barrister, who had been granted the designation, King’s Counsel (K.C.), and was a senior partner in the firm of Pattullo and Tobin. Mary was baptized at FBC in 1912 and became a member of the church that year.

It isn’t clear how long she had been Plummer’s “bride elect”, but I’d wager it hadn’t been long; probably it had just been from a few months prior to his August 27, 1924 ordination exam. They were to be married a week later, on September 2nd.

The Ordination Council “unanimously and enthusiastically” approved of Howard Plummer’s responses to their questions and was “voted into fellowship” by them. Later that day, during an evening service at First Baptist Church, a congregation of some 1800 packed FBC for the service at which Plummer was formally ordained for Gospel ministry as signalled by the “laying on of hands”. Among those on hand at the service was former FBC pastor, Rev. Dr. J. Willard Litch, Superintendent of Missions in B.C. and Alberta. And, even more notably present was 85-year-old B. C. Baptist “Pioneer” Rev. D. G. McDonald who was present to give “the charge” to the candidate. “Infrequently is such a charge delivered to a young minister or missionary!” enthused the official account of the service in FBC’s minutes. Clearly, great things were expected of Plummer and of his service in Bolivia.

Bolivia and Furlough

It isn’t clear from FBC’s records when exactly Rev. and Mrs. Plummer departed for Bolivia, but it was likely late 1924 or early 1925. Whether they received any formal training for what they would face overseas (and in Bolivia, in particular) isn’t clear. But it seems likely that if they received any preparation or language instruction for their time there, it was minimal, certainly by today’s standards.

There is no information that I’ve been able to dig up pertaining specifically to the contribution of Howard and Mary Plummer in Bolivia. There are accounts of contributions made by a number of Canadian Baptists in that country prior to and around the period of the 1920s.

It isn’t clear whether they had any break during their 5-year term in Bolivia. However, at the conclusion of their first term in 1930, they had earned a furlough. How lengthy a rest period this was to be isn’t clear, but it was certainly a matter of months, perhaps as long as 12 months.

Howard’s name appears in the Vancouver Directory for 1930. At the time, he was living in one of the 5 units in Caroline Lodge (305 W. 12th Avenue; extent), where Mr. and Mrs. Pattullo, Mary’s parents, also resided. His name appeared with the abbreviated honorific, “Rev.”, and with the occupation, “missionary”. It isn’t clear whether or not Mary was living with Howard at the time. Her name doesn’t appear in the listing, but that was more the rule than the exception at the time, when it came to showing the spouse of the “head of household” in city directories. (For example, the listing for Mr. & Mrs. Pattullo appears simply as “Patullo, J M”).

On August 7th, 1931, Mary Plummer went to the roof of Strathmore Lodge (1086 Bute Street; extant; about 3 blocks SW of FBC, as the crow flies) and jumped. The fall would have been one of 8 stories (7 residential levels plus the roof). Death appears to have been instantaneous. She suffered multiple skull fractures.

No autopsy was deemed necessary. The coroner’s investigation (the day after Mary’s fall) seemed to conclude that the underlying cause of death was mental illness that led her to suicide.

Why Mary chose Strathmore Lodge to jump from, I don’t know. Perhaps she knew someone who was residing in the building at the time (although I’ve scanned the names of those living there, as listed in the 1931 city directory, and don’t see any names I recognize). Who can say, especially at this great remove, what was going through her mind when she felt moved to go up to that roof and jump.


Strathmore Lodge, Vancouver’s West End. 2017. Site of Mary Plummer’s 1931 death. Author’s photo.

The obituary for Mary Plummer was very basic. But it suggests an interesting clue pertaining to the life of the Plummers just prior to Mary’s death. Mary’s obituary described her husband as “Rev. Arthur Howard Plummer of Chemainus”. Huh? He’d been living in the same home as his in-laws, presumably with Mary, in Vancouver in 1930. Between then and August 1931, it seems clear from this, Howard and Mary had separated and he’d moved to Chemainus. There is nothing in the Chemainus directory of that year (or subsequent years) to confirm that he had taken up residence in that town. He may have been bunking with a friend.

Life After Mary

Whether he reached the conclusion before or after Mary’s suicide, Howard decided that he didn’t want to return to the mission field in Bolivia. In fact, his mission career was over. He decided to pursue a ministerial career; and so he sought a job as a church pastor.
Openings for Baptist ministers at that time in B.C. were not thick on the ground. The Great Depression was just ending. And there was significant disunion within the  B.C. denomination since the ‘Big Split’ of 1925 into the Regular Baptists and the Convention Baptists.


Oakland Tribune. 4 Jan, 1934.

So it isn’t surprising that Howard looked to the United States for work. He found employment in 1934 with Tenth Avenue Baptist Church of Oakland, CA. That church was looking to expand their staff from a solitary pastor to a pastor and five associate ministers, or ministerial ‘aides’. The position which Tenth Avenue wanted to fill with Howard was one of three ‘pastoral visitation’ ministers. This seems to have been the ideal post for Howard. He had had no real pastoral or theological training as far as I can tell. Nor would he have had much opportunity in Bolivia to hone any sermon delivery skills he might have had. But he could probably swing the job of “pastoral visitation”! He seems to have remained in that job about four years.

By 1938, he’d accepted a call to be the pastor at Visalia (near Fresno, CA) Baptist Church.

Sometime between 1934 and 1939, Howard remarried. Very little is known of his second wife. Her name was Lulu Helen Keizur. She was born in 1902, and before marrying Howard, was a school teacher who lived with her parents.**

By 1959, Howard had accepted a call to become pastor of First Baptist Church in Port Townsend, WA. Sometime after 1965, Howard seems to have retired and the Plummers moved back to the Los Angeles area. He died there in December, 1980. Lulu died in 1983.***


It isn’t certain that Mary’s suicide was directly linked to the prospect of a return to Bolivia. It may have been, or it may have been that Mary despaired over the state of her marriage, or that some other factor was in play that we aren’t privy to.

The Ordination Examining Council plainly didn’t consider Mary to be a full partner with Howard in his ministry work in Bolivia. She received only a single mention after the Council had pronounced “enthusiastically” in favour of Howard: “At the conclusion of the ordination. . . a beautiful bouquet [was presented] by the ladies of the Church to the bride elect, Miss Mary Evangeline Patullo, whose marriage to the Reverend Arthur Howard Plummer, B.S.A. will take place in the church on September 2nd.” This, it seems plain, did a real disservice to Mary. A bouquet would not serve her well during the five years ahead in a wholly foreign country.

Howard and Mary Plummer were ‘green as grass’ when they were sent to Bolivia by First Baptist. They deserved more preparation for what they would face; for the loneliness; for the absence of family and friends and things that they were accustomed to.


*Thanks are due to Dr. Donald O. Anderson. His ‘fingerprints’ are all over this post. Thanks for reading patiently and providing sage counsel as I unloaded on you regarding this one, Don!

**My thanks to Neil Whaley who tracked down Lulu’s surname, date of birth, and occupation.

***Thanks also to Karalu, for correcting the death years of Howard and Lulu. Howard and Lulu were her grandparents.

Posted in biography, churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

A Peculiar Notion: Foot Bridge Across First Narrows, 1909

LEG1709.1 - First Narrows. Proposed Suspension Bridge for Foot Passengers Only 1909 F. Tytler?.jpg

LEG1709.1 – First Narrows. Proposed Suspension Bridge for Foot Passengers Only. 1909. Plans signed by Frederick Tytler.

The plan above appears to have been one of the first proposals for a crossing of the Burrard Inlet at First Narrows (preceding the very different Lion’s Gate Bridge by about 30 years). It was the brain child of William Thomas Farrell¹ of the Burrard Wire Bridge Company and his draughtsman, Frederick Tritely.

In a June 19, 1909 article in the Vancouver Daily World, the proposal was described as follows:

Briefly, the plan is this: To erect on either side of the Narrows a tower of sufficient elevation and strength to maintain at a proper height cables that would carry with safety pedestrians from one side of the Narrows to the other; as a recompense for the outlay a small toll would be charged for the privilege of crossing. . . . To maintain at a height of 240 feet above high water the center of the span, it will be necessary to have the towers at each end of the bridge 335 feet above sea level, which allows for a sag of 66 feet in the center. The towers will be 1280 feet apart, or nearly a quarter of a mile, which will place this third on the list of long spans. . . . To guard against falling or being blown over the side a fine-mesh wire netting, strongly supported, will be placed on either sides of the roadway and will be eight feet high. It will be almost impossible to even scale this fence owing to its peculiar construction. An electric hoist will transport passengers from the base of the level of the bridge. . . . Mr. Farrell, the promoter, states. . . . “From a tourist standpoint I believe we will have something that will add to the fame of our city as much, if not more, than the beautiful natural forest at our western gate….It will be gratifying to learn that Mr. Farrell has been successful in interesting enough capital to erect and maintain the proposed bridge, and he only awaits the consent of the park board to begin its construction.

I’ll enumerate the principal facts of the proposal in summary form:

  1. It would be for pedestrians only. There weren’t many automobiles in the city at the time; indeed, the first BC driver’s licenses would be issued only in 1925.
  2. There would be a “small toll” charged for each individual who chose to cross the Inlet using the bridge.
  3. The towers would have elevators installed within to take pedestrians up to bridge level and down to ground level.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-2-57-40-pmThe advocate of this proposal, W. T. Farrell, had been responsible for the construction in 1903 of the first Capilano Suspension Bridge (450-feet long). It is interesting that the office space of Farrell and that of his draughtsman, F. J. L. Tytler was in the same building (522 West Pender Street). In Room 8 at that address, Tytler maintained his civil engineering consulting office and there he also fulfilled his responsibilities as Principal of the Technical School of Civil Engineering & Surveying. Tytler didn’t have many years left to live following the conclusion of this proposal. In March 1912, it was reported that he “dropped dead on St. Andrews avenue, North Vancouver.” (Chilliwack Progress, 6 March 1912).

Whether it was strictly true that Farrell’s First Narrows proposal had adequate capital behind the scheme is difficult to know. But what was certain was that the Vancouver Parks Board had the power to approve the proposal or nix it. It need hardly be said that nix it they did.

[The proposal was] laid before the board, but the expressions of opinion were adverse to the proposition and Mr. Farrell for the [Burrard Wire Bridge] company asked permission to withdraw the petition for the present without a vote being taken. This was granted. (Vancouver Daily World, 15 July 1909)²


¹The William Farrell referred to in this post was not the William Farrell who was the first president of BC Tel.

²Other decisions taken by the Parks Board at that meeting included the following: The city solicitor would be asked to draft a by-law requiring dogs to be leashed when in the park (the dogs “harried the peacocks and swans and did other damage”); steps were being taken to get another cow buffalo for Stanley Park, as the buffalo resident there until recently had died; and the Board agreed to pay half the cost of fencing between the park and Mr. J. Z. Hall’s property, provided  no barbed wire was used. “Mr Hall’s request for a private entrance to the park was refused.”

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Nina Raginsky’s ‘LIP Grant’ Images

I have recently been introduced to British Columbia photographer, Nina Raginsky. How I have managed to live this long without being aware of her amazing photographic skill and talent, I don’t know!

Raginsky makes her home on Salt Spring Island and was recognized nationally in 2015 for her contributions to photographic art by having a postage stamp made of one of her best known Vancouver photos: Shoeshine Stand.

I’m including in this post some of my favourites by Raginsky from the Vancouver Public Library Historical Photos Collection. These images were all made in 1972 as part of the Leonard Frank Society of Documentary Photographers LIP Grant (Local Initiative Project). Other photos made with support from the LIP Grant may be found at the VPL historical photos link (there are 355 LIP Grant photos at the site).

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Corrected Image by Horizontal Flip


CVA – 2010-006.062:  The back side of B.C Hydro building (today The Elektra residential building). The Clements Block (on south side of Robson between Hornby and Howe) is being demolished in this image. Ernie H. Reksten photo. June 2 1965. Note: This image has been corrected by me flipping it horizontally.


2010-006.062 – CVA’s UNCORRECTED Version.

It can be disorienting when a historical image’s negative is printed from the wrong side. By viewing the image to the right, you can see the way the image appears on CVA as of mid-February, 2017. (That the image was wrongly oriented when printed is apparent upon clicking on the uncorrected version of the image and enlarging it to try to read the ‘No Parking/No Stopping’ sign).

Let’s take a tour of the correctly oriented image.

The photo was taken southbound on Howe Street through the windshield of an automobile. To the right of the car (and outside the photo frame) is the courthouse (1906 Rattenbury; 1912 Hooper – annex)/art gallery. To the right and just ahead of where the car is is some metalwork. That was the above-ground indicator of the courthouse public washroom, which was located underground. The lawn surrounding the couthouse/gallery would later be removed as part of the redevelopment of the block (and replaced with concrete) to make possible the construction of such features as the civic skating rink.

The structure that is under demolition in the photo is the Clements Block (1922-65). Clements (SE corner Hornby and Robson) was home to a number of businesses, not least Danceland. Just behind Clements is the hotel that was known at the time this photo was taken as the Johann Strauss Hotel (and restaurant and cabaret). Later the hotel would be known as the Mayfair.

The church tower to the right of the BC Hydro (1957; Thom/Pratt)/Elektra block is the tower of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (1933; Twizel & Twizel). The building to the left of Hydro (now The  Elektra) is what was Sir William Dawson School (1913-1978; Edward E. Blackmore), the site today of Sheraton Wall Centre.

The other buildings in this image I won’t identify. Suffice to say that the area between Clements and Hydro (Block 61) was made up primarily of ground-level parking lots and would ultimately become the Erickson-designed Law Courts structure.

Posted in businesses, cafes/restaurants/eateries, churches, Ernie Reksten, hotels/motels/inns | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Norris Sculpture a Viaduct Memory


Vancouver Sculptor, George Norris, poses with a model of the liquid-filled glass prism – along with a model of the little park at the western end of the Georgia Viaduct – while pointing to where in the park the prism would be located. Vancouver Sun. Oct 20, 1971. Dan Scott photo.

George Norris (1928-2013) was a Vancouver artist whose sculptures adorn many city spaces. Doubtless the best known is his award-winning Crab at the entry to the Museum of Vancouver. Another one is Mother and Child at UBC near the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

But there is a small subset of Norris’ public art works which have been removed.¹ One of these works is the liquid-filled glass prism which formerly was on the NE corner of Georgia and Beatty Street – at the western end of the current Georgia Viaduct (1972-present). The sculpture and the park in which it would sit were designed to be memorials to the former Georgia Viaduct (1915-72) which for clarity I’ll refer to by its original name, the McHarg Viaduct.

Given that the current Georgia/Dunsmuir viaducts are today marked for demolition, it is interesting to think about why the park was created and the Norris sculpture was commissioned. My suspicion is that this may have been a sop from Mayor Tom “Terrific” Campbell and the Council that was dominated by his fellow-Non-Partisan Association partisans. This may have been intended to mute the outcry of so-called ‘anti-development’ forces who had raised such a stink over the


Looking east on the current Georgia Viaduct sometime after 1971. Source unknown. Photographer unknown. n.d.

replacement of the McHarg Viaduct with the Georgia/Dunsmuir viaducts at the expense of Hogan’s Alley and a number of homes and businesses in the Main Street and Prior Street area. Council spent $13,000 on Norris’ work.


CVA 772-123: Looking north up Beatty at Georgia. Between 1980-97. The Norris sculpture is visible to the south of the Armoury. The former Greyhound and Pacific Coach Lines long-distance bus depot is visible on the west side of Beatty (on the future site of the Vancouver Art Gallery). This is a crop of the original CVA image.

According to an earlier version of an online article written about Norris and his work, the sculpture was removed in 1987. (This date seems too early. I moved to Vancouver in 1991, and I recall seeing the prism at its location in the park after I arrived; the current version of the article has crossed out that year as well as its original assertion that the prism was in storage at the Surrey Works Yard – I have no current information on where the Norris prism is). Note: See comment below from JMV of Illustrated Vancouver for more on the date the sculpture is thought to have been removed.

The reason the Norris sculpture and the park were removed seems to have been pretty straightforward and predictable: the City wanted to develop the land on which they sat.


Georgia & Beatty, Vancouver. There is now a condo housing development on the former site of the Norris prism and park. Google Map, 2017.


¹There has been at least one other Norris sculpture which has been removed from its original site: his pinwheel at Pacific Centre (located between the entry to what then was Eaton’s and the Toronto Dominion building, at Georgia and Granville). It was installed in 1974 and removed in 1988. “In 1996 a section of the steel design was famously mistaken for scrap metal and destroyed; the artist was understandably upset with this revelation (not to mention the work had been worth $50,000).” Source: Scout Magazine profile of Norris.

Posted in art, Bailey & Neelands, politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

First Baptist Church in Disguise?

Update: February 10, 2017


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

This postcard of mis-identification was presented to me about a year ago as a gift by JMV of Illustrated Vancouver. The image appears to have been made between 1911 (when construction of FBC at Nelson & Burrard was completed) and 1921 (when right-side-of-the-road driving was established in the province, as the vehicle passing the Nelson Street doors appears to be on the left side of the road). I have no idea how many of these mis-identified cards were printed, but I’ve never seen another.

For another case of mis-identification (as of February 2017), see the City of Vancouver Archives photo below. Once again, the two churches involved are First Baptist and Christ Church. This time, however, the shoe is on the other foot. The interior of what is plainly (to me) Christ Church Cathedral is mis-identified as First Baptist Church!


CVA 1187-44: Mis-identified by City of Vancouver Archives as “Interior of First Baptist Church.” This isn’t FBC’s interior, but that of Christ Church Cathedral. ca1950. Artona Studios photo.

The sanctuaries of the two places of worship have little in common except their proximity to one another (FBC is at Burrard and Nelson; Christ Church at Burrard and Georgia). For comparison purposes, a photo of First Baptist’s sanctuary, ca1931 (post-fire reconstruction), may be viewed here (the second photo in the post).

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Cafes and Bookshops – Two of My Favourite Things


Drawing by Keith McKellar, www.laughinghand.com. Reproduced with permission.

Paper Hound (344 W Pender) books is located on the site of what was for several decades a cafe in Vancouver’s ‘book row’. Most recently (ca 1989-2002), it was White Rose Cafe (evocatively shown in the drawing above by Keith McKellar). Before that, it was Dixon’s Cafe (ca 1941-87), and before that, very briefly, Pender Lunch (ca 1939-40) and Three Sisters Lunch (ca 1938-39).¹

The number of open secondhand book shops (versus closed shops where books are sold out of the homes of sellers and aren’t open to browsing customers) have thinned out considerably in the digital age. In 1989-90, for example, Joyce Williams Antique Prints and Maps was at 346 Pender (next door to White Rose), and on the north side of Pender in the same block were Stephen Lunsford (341) and Ainsworth (321); two blocks up Pender was the Anglican Bookshop (167) – which had been in the Joyce Williams site at 346 W Pender in the ’60s and ’70s – and Brendan M. Moss (101). On the north side of W Pender in the other direction (west) was the bookstore that has become an institution, MacLeod’s; Michael Thompson (434 W Pender) and Albion were about a block away. And Bond’s (500 block Dunsmuir; later, 319 W. Hastings), Colophon (407 W Cordova), William Hoffer (58/60 Powell), and Reginald Lissel (434 Homer) were within easy walking distance.

Joyce Williams would ultimately move to Yaletown, where it is today. Lunsford would settle into a closed shop in the Dominion Building, until quite recently; Ainsworth remained at its Pender location until finally packing it in circa the mid-’90s; the Anglican Bookshop seems to have called it quits shortly after 1989. Moss moved to his longtime site on Water Street in the basement of Le Magasin until finally closing his shop sometime in the mid-2000s, I believe. The bookshops of Bond’s, Colophon, Lissel, and Hoffer, are but memories. Michael Thompson is a memory of Vancouver bookstore lovers like me who miss his great eye and who can’t readily get to his current shop on Hornby Island.

What remains today of ‘Pender Book Row’ (i.e. of general open bookshops in the vicinity of West Pender)? The way I figure it, as of early February, 2017, just three remain:

Criterion Books (434 W Pender; across Pender from MacLeod’s on the second floor) was formerly an open secondhand shop, but according to signage at its entry, it is no longer an open shop.

I’m pleased to report that scientists so far haven’t found a way to digitize coffee or the purveyors thereof. At least one of my favourite things isn’t under threat of extinction!


¹In its very earliest years (following construction of the Victoria Block, of which it is part), 346 W Pender was occupied by realtors: in the 1910s by Herbert F. Maskill (ca1882-1928); and during the ’20s by Hugh S. Banbury (1886-1963) & Co.

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UBC’s Main Library (aka Barber Learning Centre) as it Was


UBC Historical Photograph: UBC 1.1/1080. “Showing army huts [sometimes referred to by early faculty/students as ‘Hotentot Huts’] south of the Library”. 1948.

If this view of the UBC Main Library (today known as the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre) seems strange, it shouldn’t be surprising. It has been awhile since the library building and environs have appeared this way. The main entrance of the library isn’t visible. The windows on the right side of the photo are where the stacks were located and the windows were on the opposite side of the building from where the main entry was.

If that still isn’t clear, try this: Imagine you are standing near where the clock tower is today; you are facing the library’s main entrance. The wing of the library on your right is where the temporary army huts are located in this image.

Update: January 28, 2017


Interior of Bus Stop Cafe in 1969. It seems to have earned for itself a popular reputation as early as this year. No idea whether the cinnamon buns had been then introduced to the menu! UBC Historical Photograph: UBC 5.2/35

During time spent at UBC in the late 1980s, I recall a faculty member referring new students to “the bus stop coffee shop” not far from the Main Library (roughly where the campus White Spot is located today, inside the David Lam Management Research Centre) as being the source for the best cinnamon buns at the university. And I recall wondering why the coffee shop was so named. There were certainly no buses anywhere near that location. (In the 1980s and until relatively recently, the central bus loop was located adjacent to where the Student Union Building is).


I believe the UBC Campus buildings shown here were, moving l-r: Agriculture  (now math annex), Bus Stop, Gymnasium (now Buchanan Toewer), Main Library, Science building. cdm.arphotos. UBC Historical Photograph: UBC 1.1/308. 1930. Leonard Frank photo.

It wasn’t until stumbling across the image above that this low-grade mystery was solved for me. The structure in the middle of the Leonard Frank photo is the central bus stop in 1930. And, yes, the bus stop appears roughly to be at the same location as the Bus Stop Cafe of the 1950s-1990.

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Miss Jefferd’s Epithets

Miss Jefferd was never at a loss for an apt epithet, often with a touch of malice. Even yet, I hesitate to quote those applied to various professors which were hilariously funny and with enough truth to sting. But I might mention one or two referring to places of things in the [Main Library] building, which for thirty years, were common library terminology, such as the “Cave-Brown-Cave”, “Mysteria,” and the “dinosaur”. All have entertaining stories, now part of our library folklore.

– Anne M. Smith in Scrapbook for a Golden Anniversary: The University of British Columbia Library, 1915-1965, p. 16.


Miss Jefferd. UBC Open Collections cdm.arphotos.1-0028735full. n.d. George Van Wilby photo.

Miss Smith, unfortunately, had nothing more to say in Scrapbook about Dorothy Jefferd’s epithets. Her final sentence was so tantalizing, I found myself internally pleading with her: Tell me one of these “entertaining stories”, please!

Alas, Miss Smith (1899-1990) and Miss Jefferd (1889-1971) have gone to their rewards. And in their absence and that of so many other library staffers for whom the terms ‘Cave-Brown cave’, ‘mysteria’ and ‘dinosaur’ would probably have been assumed knowledge, and with the recent wholesale renovation of the building that once was Main Library (into the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre), it has proven no small challenge to unearth what these terms referred to.

Venturing into the Cave-Brown Cave


Anne M. Smith. UBC Reference Librarian and later Assistant Librarian. cdm.arphotos.1-0020708full. n.d. Gordon Pinkerton photo.

I won’t keep you in suspense. The Cave-Brown Cave was, in fact, much less interesting than the epithet suggests. Indeed, according to Miss Smith’s contribution to UBC’s oral history (at about the 25 minute mark) the ‘cave’ was a windowless area that served as the staff tea room. There is no photograph of the tea room in the UBC Photo Collection, as far as I know. However, given Miss Smith’s verbal description of where it was located, I figure (and Erwin Wodarczak, of the UBC Archives, agrees) that it was probably at or near the Storage room shown in the crop of the 1964 drawing of the 3rd floor of Main (one floor up from the entry floor) shown below. The ‘cave’ element of the epithet is clear enough – since the room would have been a relatively dim space, without any windows. But what of the rest of the label? According to Miss Smith, the room was named after a Miss Cave-Brown-Cave who was a library staff person. It isn’t clear to me exactly who this person was. There is no record of a Cave-Brown-Cave in the list of librarians at the back of Scrapbook. It could be that she was a part-time staffer and/or a student.¹  Just why the tea room was named for this person has also been lost in the mists of time.