The images above and below show the Gulf of Georgia Towing Co. from different angles. The one above is looking from west of the second Granville Bridge (the swing-span bridge that crossed false creek prior to the construction of the present one in 1952-53) on the north side of False Creek. The image below is a head-on shot of the towing company, made possibly from the south shore of False Creek a bit west of where Granville Island is located (the top of the Hotel Vancouver can be seen in the deep background, to the left). The images show the towing company’s repair yard where it maintained its fleet.
The towing firm was founded by George Walkem during WWI, supplying scows on daily rentals or monthly charters to other tugboat firms. In 1977, Gulf of Georgia Towing was acquired by Seaspan.
The ship at dock in the image above is the first of five (to date) ships known as HMCS Vancouver. It had recently been decommissioned and was about to be scrapped in the year these images were made (1937).
The image above was not taken too many years ago (relative to many images that appear here), and it is difficult to determine if the original wood frame structure has been demolished or given a new ‘skin’. It served as the home of Universal News (and source of multiple entertainments – from games (snooker, billiards) to reading (pocket books, mags). Today, it is home to Acme art studios. There is a larger-format, similar image from 1956 available here:
Work on the Fir Street off-ramp for the most recent Granville Bridge (construction 1952-53) has just begun in the image above and is at a more advanced stage in the photo below. The question that was most pressing for me was: What is that church that would soon have a drive-by ministry!?
This question was not answered by CVA’s online archival records and the answer attempted by VPL’s historical photo department proved to be mistaken. VPL indicated that the church on this site was St. George Greek Orthodox Church. The problem with this, however, is that the address of St George ca1952 was 2305 W 7th Avenue… and that address put the church a very long way west of the Fir Street off-ramp of Granville Bridge.
If it wasn’t St. George, what church was it? It definitely had an orthodox appearance. So I called upon my good friend, Wes, theGoogling Genius, to find another orthodox church that was near Fir Street in 1952-53. True to form, he found the church in about 5 minutes. It was Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church at 1570 W 7th Avenue. That address put it exactly where it appears to be in the CVA and VPL images. I’ll allow the authors of the church’s website to explain:
By early 1928, the community began thinking about building a new church. In 1924, only 20 families were members, but by 1928, the parish already numbered 80 families….The new church was built on 7th Ave and Fir St….[After WWII,] [t]he City Council decided to construct the Granville Bridge. The end of the off ramp edge interfered with the Church site. The City offered to appropriate the property from the [church] Society and to provide for a new building site on 43rd Ave. The new church was designed and built at… [33 East 43rd Avenue] during 1953-1954.
This image reminds me of growing up in church, as I did in an Alberta town in the 1960s-70s. Our church was much smaller than the one pictured above (which was, in turn, probably considered ‘small’ for its time in Vancouver). But even in my day, most of the ladies wore hats to church (at least in our quite conservative town) and the gents wore two-piece suits or sport coats with neckties. (To wear denim jeans in our church in the 1970s would have been considered by most to have been ‘on the fringe’ of what was considered proper Sunday attire).
The crowd above look as though they are ‘my’ people. This was definitely not a ‘high’ church. These people seem, to my eye at least, to have been hard-working folks who were ‘comfortable’, but not by any stretch ‘well off’. This was the middle class of the 1920s, I suspect, dressed in their Sunday best. The church building, likewise, appears to have been an unpretentious single-storey affair; the congregation may even have shared this space with another organization during the week.
My favourite aspect of the image, however, is the detail shown below of the youngster in the crowd who was curious to know what Stuart Thomson, the photographer on that day, was up to at the back of the church. (She was bored with counting the ladies’ hats, evidently!) I also find it interesting that others (adults!) were also sneaking peaks over their shoulders. It makes me think that Mr. Thomson’s camera must have been making some ‘un-holy’ noise – gasp! – as pre-digital cameras would!
The building still stands, today, but it has a new ‘skin’. Today, the structure is clad in what appears to be corrugated steel.
What’s the history of the place? The building does not appear to have existed prior to about 1966 (the year the two CVA images were made). Given all of the work that went into creating the distinctive “Hector’s” brand on one of the exterior walls, it is a pity that Hector’s Restaurant had a brief lifespan (1966-ca1967). By ca1970, the former Hector’s was home to Daisy’s Cabaret and in 1971, Teepee Recreational Centre had taken over the site. From 1975-77 Teepee Rec Centre was sharing the space with Teepee Sporting Goods (which still exists today on Commercial Drive) and with Super Sport Manufacturing. The site became home to the Royal Canadian Legion (Pacific 282),Newgate Branch, from ca1979-1997. And beginning ca1998-present, the catering outfit, The Lazy Gourmet, has been at the site.
I don’t know when the corrugated steel cladding was added to the building. There are also windows that were cut into the originally windowless walls at some point. Both changes were smart moves in adding value to the structure.
The first image was taken on Nelson Street from near the back lane between Granville and Seymour streets. The second image was made on Seymour from Nelson Street looking north toward Smithe. The Vancouver (Ford) Motors building (which today houses Staples on Seymour) is visible in the deep background (left) if you click on the image for greater magnification. The Dufferin Hotel (right) also still stands, but with a new name – today it’s the Moda Hotel.
The building that housed Seymour Billiards has been gone for several years.
The “paint-in” at the court house (which is, today, the Vancouver Art Gallery) in 1966 was apparently a response by artists to B. C. Premier W. A. C. Bennett’s wish to keep the installation of the Centennial Fountain at the court house (see final image in this post) a secret until its official unveiling in 1967 — as part of the celebration of 100 years of Canadian confederation. Bennett surrounded the court building with wooden hoardings and artists responded as artists will do when blank canvas is publicly installed! There is no little irony in the story, as the Centennnial Fountain is apparently due to be removed sometime this year.
In the background of the image immediately below are the Devonshire Hotel (right) and the Medical-Dental Building, both on Georgia Street across from the court house, and both, today, demolished.
This image of the quiet street of Nelson in the heart of West End, Vancouver, seems to be looking east, from the 2000 block (Chilco Street). The home on the right side of the street with the turret (middle distance) appears to he 1966 Nelson St. (I am indebted to Robert Moen for his help correctly identifying where the image was made).
The most remarkable elements of this photo as compared with today’s Nelson Street are that today’s trees were then tiny saplings, and that there isn’t an apartment block in sight in the image.
I have just released the latest in my series of “Vancouver Street Corner History” slideshows. This one shows the chateauesque second Vancouver CPR Station (which was exceptionally short-lived: 1898-1914).
I had a request from a VAIW friend, recently, to show links to the original, un-cropped archival images (all of them from the City of Vancouver Archives online site) for the banners which cycle randomly at the top of VAIW pages.
I have now produced a list of these links. In case anyone else is interested, the links appear at the VAIW About page.
All of the banner images are crops of images that have been featured in VAIW posts at some point.
The image above shows Union Station (serving trains of the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific Railways) to the left and the Canadian Northern (later Canadian National) Station in the center. The land on which these depots was built had been in-filled just a couple of years before the photo was made. Before WWI, False Creek extended well past Main Street (shown on the right of the image above; roughly where Science World is today), as far east as Clark Drive. Beginning in 1914, however, the tidal estuary was filled with land taken from the Grandview Cut.
Because the stations were built on in-filled soil, the CN Station (and possibly the Union Station, although this is not confirmed) was built on pre-cast concrete. This is visible in a close view of the image above.
The Canadian Northern/CN Station still stands. Today, it serves as the long-distance bus station and the site for departures of VIA and AMTRAK trains. Union Station was demolished in 1965. The Great Northern Railway continued to operate Vancouver-Seattle train service from the CN station for about 15 years.
This is the 1000 block of Robson Street (just west of Burrard). A block now full of the mainly American big box shops (e.g., Tommy Hilfiger’s, Levi’s).
But this block in the 1970s was known as Robsonstrasse. There are no U.S. big box shops to be seen in the image above. It is dominated, instead, by mom & pop shops. Near the middle of the photo is one of the famous Robson eateries: the Schnitzel House.
Like many ‘rear views’, this one of the second Vancouver CPR depot is interesting mainly because this angle is not commonly seen. (For a refresher as to what the front view looked like, see here.) From this angle, we can see: the business side of the depot (with passenger and freight trains visible); the then-commercial district of Vancouver (aka Granville, aka Gastown) to left of photo; the substantial rise in altitude between the tracks and the streets, businesses, and homes above (sentimentally recalled by old Vancouver hands as “the bluff”, of which there is no trace remaining today – except at the Waterfront Skytrain station, when the Expo/Millinium trains deadhead at the end of their westward runs before starting to go eastward… if you are sitting on the south side of the train, look up and use your imagination); the home (and attached surgery – not visible) of Dr. J. M. Lefevre, roughly at the northwest corner of Hastings and Granville Streets (where Sinclair Centre is located today).
It is very difficult to remember that events now in the past were once in the future – Maitland's Dictum