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 by 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.

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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, 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 (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 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.


I believe the UBC Campus buildings shown here were, l-r: Agriculture (now Math Annex), Bus Stop, Gymnasium (now Buchanan Tower), Main Library, and Science. UBC Library Open Collections: cdm.arphotos.1-0020893full. 1930. Leonard Frank photo.

Agriculture (now the Math Annex), Bus Stop, Gymnasium (little pyramid shape beside bus stop, now the site of Buchanan Tower), Library, Science

Update: January 28, 2017


Interior of Bus Stop Cafe in the late 1960s. 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 Library Open Collections, 1969: cdm.arphotos.1-0137300full.

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).

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-90s.

Posted in books/reading, libraries, schools/colleges/universities, street scenes, war | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.


Cave-Brown(e) Cave/Tea Room on 3rd floor of UBC Main Library. Crop of “Alterations to the LIbrary, UBC”, John M. Bean, P. Eng., Toby Russell & Buckwell Architects. March 1964. Annotations by author.

The Mysteria Beast


This may have been Mysteria (aka Level 1 Storage room). 1949. cdm.arphotos.1-0140011full.

There seems to be little doubt that Mysteria was a room located in the basement (Level 1) of the Main Library. The basement was originally in large part given over to Men’s and Women’s locker rooms/washrooms and a fan/engine room (which presumably was the building’s electrical and heating plant). That changed over the decades; eventually the locker rooms were removed and the remnant was the fan/engine room, washrooms, a Bindery, and a Storage room. It would have been very unimaginative for librarians to refer to the latter as a Storage room, however. That room became Mysteria!

Mysteria seems to have had its first documented mention as such in the 1952 minutes of a meeting of Library division heads:

Operation Mysteria:  Mr. [Neal] Harlow [Head Librarian] asked Miss Alldritt to report on this project. Miss Alldritt replied that the work was done, except what lurks behind the plywood partition in the cloak room. Everything remaining in Mysteria is shelved and everything that goes into Mysteria henceforth is to be shelved immediately. The room is now in good order….As soon as possible, the plywood partition will be taken down and the material stored behind it examined. Miss Smith believes that a great deal of it is wartime propaganda.

Minutes, Meeting of Library Staff Division Heads – May 1952

The note struck in 1952 seems to have been a bit optimistic. Fully 15 years later, the monster backlog that defined Mysteria was back (or, more likely, it had never left):

New Home for the Backlog: M*Y*S*T*E*R*I*A:  Beneath Circulation [which was on Level 2], lies a large dark hole called the Mysteria, wherein have accumulated government publication duplicates, triplicates, etc. After some negotiation, several institutions were found to be interested in acquiring various sets from the treasures: some were even willing to pay for them. Many will be going to up-state New York University; others to the National Library and other institutions. Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria have already been through the collection from time to time. Packing started last Tuesday….

Library Staff Newsletter, Feb, 1967


Crop of drawing of UBC Library, Level 1. By J. R. McKenna, Revised 7 Nov 1961. Note: I have cropped out all of the drawing except the centre block of the Main Library.

But if library staff had hoped to have slain the Mysteria Beast in 1967, they realized by 1977 that such hopes were the product of rose-tinted eyeglasses:

Living with Books in Storage:  Stack space in the Main Library has been at a premium for many years now. As noted in the annual report for 1971/72, when books were returned en masse at the end of term, “in several areas, books would not fit on the shelves.” The problem of more books than shelf space is still with us – in greater intensity than ever. As a research library, we rarely discard books, a new building is not in the offing, and we continue to add about 50,000 new volumes to the Main Library every year. Like many other North American libraries, we have been forced to store part of the collection.

There are two major storage areas in the Main Library Building: Museum Storage, in the old Museum of Anthropology area, and “Mysteria” on level 1…. “Mysteria” is a holding area for the East Asian and Indic vernacular materials that will eventually move to the new library planned for the Asian Center.

Library News, Dec/Jan, 1977/78

Where’s Dino?

The Dinosaur epithet remained a stubborn nut right up to the last minute before I published this post. I wasn’t able to find any documentary nor oral history sources that mentioned it (with the exception of the very bare reference by Miss Smith in the initial quote from Scrapbook).

Erwin Wodarczak, of the UBC Archives, didn’t know. He did speculate that it might have been a reference to the Fan/Engine Room on Level 1, “maybe because it was bulky and loud?” That made sense. My only guess was that Dinosaur may have referred to the room on Level 1 of Main Library where the Museum of Anthropology artifacts were stored (awaiting construction of MOA as a stand-alone site).

I decided I’d make one final search of UBC’s Open Collection to see if I could find anything more conclusive about the pre-historic epithet. I looked inside a 1959 Totem (UBC’s yearbook) and there it was on page 22:


The Dinosaur was a huge free-standing bookcase located in the Riddington Room. It contained reference books. The Totem, 1959. p.22.



¹There was a Miss Genille Cave-Browne-Cave (note the minor spelling variation) who was a student at UBC around 1938. She may have have had a part-time student job at Main Library; I don’t know.

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Early Submariner Dies in Hospital


CVA 102-26 – Vancouver water works, Capilano water pipe repair. November 1890. Richard T. Llewellyn in diving suit on right. Bailey and Neelands photo.

What an odd assortment of people to see with a work party in Burrard Inlet’s First Narrows! I would expect to see most of the men here pictured, but not the four young women and three kids.

We are able to identify with some certainty only two people in this shot: the diver (“submariner”), Richard Thomas Llewellyn (in the diving suit on right) and his wife, Catherine Llewellyn standing just behind and to the right of the gent holding Llewellyn’s air hose (with RTL’s helmet in front of him). The child between RTL and Mrs. Llewellyn is most likely their firstborn, May, who would have been almost 2 years old. The Llewellyns would have at least four other kids before Richard’s death in 1900 from pneumonia: Selena (1890), John (1892), Mary (1894), and Richard Jr. (1895).

Llewellyn was an employee of the City of Vancouver Water Works. Following the portrait made for posterity by pioneer professional photographers, Bailey and Neelands, the men on this craft would set out with the task of repairing the water main between the north shore and the City of Vancouver. The S. S. Abyssinia, a steamer which plied Georgia Strait and Howe Sound, somehow “sat” upon the pipe, and thereby broke the principal source of Vancouver’s drinking water.¹ Until RTL and his team had made the repair, Vancouver had to make do with water from wells and that which was supplied from more distant sources by horse-drawn wagons.²

One of RTL’s later jobs was to “journey across the Fraser river on foot.” He was contracted to “recover the Telephone Co.’s valuable cable which was swept from its moorings by last year’s [1894] flood, and lost, opposite New Westminster.”³

I wasn’t hugely surprised that RTL died at the early age of 46. I was prepared for that; I did not anticipate that “submariners” in the late 19th century had particularly long careers or lives. So I was taken aback that his cause of death was pneumonia. To put it mildly, Mrs Llewellyn seemed more than surprised when Richard died in hospital. Indeed, she seemed to be in shock, even some months after his passing. Indeed, things got so dire for her and her family that they made headlines in the local newspaper:


 Authorities Have a Heart-Rending Experience

According to the Daily World, one of Mrs. Llewellyn’s children, a “three-year old” (although a child of that age in the Llewellyn home doesn’t fit with birth records for the Llewellyns summarized above) had contracted suspected “diptheria”. In order to rule out or confirm that preliminary diagnosis, however, the child needed to be admitted to the City Hospital (Note: Not VGH, which would be founded in 1906 in Fairview at its current location, but the prior City Hospital – pictured below – which was at the SE corner of Pender and Cambie on which corner there has been a parking garage for several years).

City public health authorities went to the Llewellyn residence, with an ambulance, to remove the child to the hospital. I’ll let the World pick up the tale:

They went into the house, but the child could not be found, and the almost frantic mother admitted that she had hidden it. . . . [Vancouver Medical Health Officer] Dr. McLean had by this time put on a white wrapper, as he expected to handle the child. The doctor’s tragic appearance made things all the more exciting for the idle crowd that soon congregated outside the door. The neighborhood [of Strathcona; the family lived on Prior Street, just a few doors east of Main Street] is a populous one, and almost as soon as the trouble had commenced, a crowd of 150 men, women, and children gathered on the sidewalk in front of the door.

For fully a quarter of an hour, poor Mrs. Llewellyn proved more than a match for the officers. Several times, the latter thought they would have to give up the search, so effectually had the child been secreted. . . . Mrs. Llewellyn was alternately crying hysterically and denouncing the officers. She had a fear of the hospital – inherently believed in all her life, and no doubt deepened from the fact that her late husband had recently died there. . . .

Mrs. Llewellyn seemed impervious to reason, and for some time the search for the missing child was fruitless. But when [Assistant Health Inspector] Mr. Robinson tried to move a certain table, his attempt made the woman frantic. A little attic that could be reached only by standing on the table, was found by Mr. Robinson and the baby was resting on some slats laid cross-wise on several beams. She was either too frightened or too sick to make any noise. The uproar was redoubled when the child was found, for several other people joined in the chorus of protests. The mother tried half-a-dozen times to snatch her little one away, and altogether the scene was what Inspector Marrion describes as about the worst he has ever witnessed. Finally the doctor carried the child out to the ambulance.

Two guards were placed on the house, one at the front and the other at the back door, until the premises can be fumigated today. But the woman, with a second child in her arms, rushed past the guard and was half way across the street when she was caught by Mr. Robinson. She wanted to go to the hospital with the sick child. She fought and screamed again and had to be carried back into the house, and then the doors were locked.

Today arrangements are in progress for the fumigation of the premises.

— Vancouver Daily World. 22 September 1900.

Plainly, this wasn’t a public relations triumph for Vancouver public health authorities.

I couldn’t find any further mention in the Daily World of Mrs. Llewellyn with the exception of a couple mentions (one prior to the “hidden child” ruckus, and one a few months after) of her pleas for the City of Vancouver to purchase her husband’s diving suit. There is no indication from the World as to whether the city chose to purchase it or not.

Catherine moved to the central Kootenays at some point afterwards (the last listing of her in BC directories was 1904). She died and was buried in Burton, BC in 1950.

Interestingly, there is evidence that Catherine’s eldest daughter, May (the one pictured in the water craft with her Mom and Dad above) ended up marrying a physician!


CVA Bu P369 – Man and nurses on lawn in front of the Vancouver City Hospital. 530 Cambie Street (at corner Pender), 1902.


¹Matthews, Early Vancouver. Vol. 3, p. 260.

²Matthews. Vol. 5, p. 145.

³Vancouver Daily World 25 June 1895.

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Ackers’ Shoeshine Shop


CVA Bu P264 – Exterior of Fred Ackers – Tobacconist and shoeshine man – 132 Cordova Street. ca 1895. I believe Ackers appears on the right; the unidentified black man is unknown to me. (Note: The original CVA image has been adjusted by me by cropping and adjusting exposure.)

I like this photo. It has a strong human element but enough contextual content that it isn’t exclusively about the two men who are its subjects. If I’d had my ‘druthers’, I would like to have seen the image in proper exposure (rather than in its still over-exposed condition; I did my best to bring it up to close to well-exposed, after the fact); I’m curious to know what the headlines on the Vancouver World newspapers say, for example!

Fred Ackers was in 1895 a very recent arrival in the city. There is no mention of him nor his tobacco/shoeshine stall, at any rate, in a BC Directory prior to that year. Nor does Ackers’ name appear in a later directory. Perhaps he was much like the Rene Mizonys and had wanderlust in his blood and settled in boom and mining towns only as long as they still appeared to be boom towns. Once they began to look as though they were going to settle into boring “big city” status, perhaps, he moved on!

Ackers’ shop was located on West Cordova between Cambie and Abbott (on the south side of the street) in the block where the Woodward’s condo development now is. He resided at Dougall House, which was a very short walk from his workplace (at the corner of Abbott and Cordova). Within a couple of years of Ackers moving on, his former stall was occupied by Miss Carrie Smith, milliner.

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Lionel Haweis: Artist


Lionel Haweis. cdm.arphotos.1-0020705full. Staff, UBC Library.jpg

Lionel T. J. Haweis (1870-1942) was born in England to Rev. Hugh Reginald Haweis (1838-1901) and Mary Eliza Haweis (nee Joy) (1848-1898). Hugh preached at St James Church, Marylebone in London, but was known widely as a lecturer and author on music topics. Mary was from an artistic family and wrote books for women and children and created pen and ink illustrations for her work as well as that published by Hugh.

Lionel was the eldest of three children born to the couple. The other children were Stephen (1878-1969), an artist, and daughter Hugolin (1881-1957), a writer and singer in England. Lionel ran a couple of photographic studios in Vancouver, was a librarian at UBC, and was known for his poetic and dramatic efforts¹. For a summation of Lionel’s life and work, see here.

To the best of my knowledge, however, Lionel is not known for his illustrations. One reason for that is probably that his brother, Stephen, was “the artist” in the family. Also, I suspect that growing up in the home he did, and in the (Victorian) period, illustrating with pen and ink was considered by him to be a basic skill (sort of like having a rudimentary understanding of the piano and the C-major scale).

I’m including, below, the pen and ink illustrations I found in a booklet that Haweis produced in the 1920s, titled Seeds; it seems never to have been published.² It is a monograph which includes a single-page poem (the poem is not included below) and these several illustrations. The poem and illustrations are assembled loosely within paper wrappers, not as a bound book.

I’m not an expert on illustrations, but I know what I like. Haweis’ ink illustrations strike me as being  very good – especially considering that they are the work of someone who was an amateur in this field.


¹An example of his dramatic writing was The Rose of Persia. One of his poetic pieces was Tsoqalem: The Cowichan Monster (An Indian Legend)which was available for sale “at all book stores” for 75 cents at Christmas, 1917.

²Seeds is included in the Rare Book and Special Collections holdings at UBC Library. It is part of the Vancouver Vagabonds collection.

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The Drifting Mizonys


Crop from the deep background of CVA Str P338. Sign mounted atop the Petrina Block near corner of Cordova and Cambie (north side of Cordova). ca1889. Charles S. Bailey photo.

The original photo from which the above crop was made is the one featured at this recent post. I was zooming into the original shot, during the time that I was writing that post, when I noticed the sign atop the Springer-Van Bramer building (extant, but apparently known today as the Petrina block) at the corner of Cordova and Cambie. Mizony was not a name that I had previously encountered. So I jotted it down, expecting that I’d discover with a little bit of research that the name was widely known by Vancouver historians. However, as it turned out, the Mizonys were in town so briefly as to make relatively little impact on the collective Vancouver memory.

So who were the Mizonys¹ of Mizony & Co. Wines, Cigars, Liquors? There are two Mizonys who have listings in early Vancouver directories: R.T. (Rene Theophile) and Artemus (who appears to have been a junior partner in the firm, and a relative, possibly a brother, to Rene; Artemus doesn’t figure in this post).


CVA Port P41 – Mr. and Mrs. Mizony (Presumably, Rene and Anna). 188-

Rene seems to have been a shortened form of his full first name: Irene. Rene was married to Mary and they had a son, born in Colorado, and the only one to accompany them to Vancouver: Paul (1881-1975). Rene and Mary were both born in France; They seem to have both been (along with Paul) American citizens. (Note: At some point, I presume, Mary died and Rene married again, in 1904 – this time Anna Dunn, born in Kansas).

The Mizony family lived at 714 Nelson Street (near Granville). Paul was enrolled in Sacred Heart Academy (a Catholic school).

Mizony & Co. Liquors was located at 303 Cordova Street, in the Springer-Van Bramer Building (Hoffar, 1888). By 1891, Rene was managing Dougall House, a Hotel at SE corner of Cordova and Abbott; today it’s the building that houses the administrative hq of the Army & Navy Dept Store.

Rene and family came to Vancouver by 1886 (Rene was here in time to be on the first city voter’s list) and left as early as 1892; by 1894 for sure, as Rene’s name was dropped from the electoral list that year, “having left the country.” The Mizonys apparently left Vancouver to return to their home base of San Diego. They later lived in the mining town of Randsburg, CA.


CVA – Hot P34 – Dougall House being moved to the rear of lot on southeast corner of Cordova Street and Abbott Street. A brick structure would replace this wooden one as Dougall House; the wooden structure would become an annex behind the brick building, 1890. Bailey & Neelands photo.

Paul Mizony, in his retirement years, wrote a monograph titled Gold Rush: A Boy’s Impression of the Stampede into the Klondike During the Days of 1898.² In Gold Rush, he says that his parents, “Mr. & Mrs. I. T. Mizony… had always followed gold strikes or boom towns.” He then relates the story of his family’s journey to Alaska in 1898, a few years after their time in Vancouver. He tells how, upon their arrival in Dyea, Alaska, his father counted his cash…

and found that he had just $1.75. By good fortune we met an old family friend that we had known years before, in Vancouver, B.C.  He had a furniture store and gave me a job as a clerk and handy man.

The name of the family friend isn’t provided at this point, but it is shared a couple of paragraphs later when Mizony refers to “Mr. Hart”, who “was also an undertaker.” The friend that they ran into in Alaska who employed Paul Mizony must have been Frank W. Hart (1856-1935), a pioneer Vancouver furniture salesman, undertaker, and the owner of Vancouver’s first opera house.³


¹Various spellings are recorded (e.g., Mizoney). CVA spells it “Mazoni” in one place; “Mizony” elsewhere. Family members seemed to spell it Mizony.

²A copy is available from VPL’s Special Collections department.

³This is confirmed by Vancouver Votes, 1886, p. 348: “In 1894 the Harts sold out in Vancouver and moved to Rossland. . . but during the Alaska gold rush Frank went to Dyea and invested heavily in real estate. . . . In 1908 the couple moved to Prince Rupert where the couple was again in the furniture and funeral business. . . . He died 4 May 1935 in Prince Rupert.

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The Hastings MEATS Puzzle


CVA 180-2739 – P.N.E. Shrine Circus float in 1955 P.N.E. Opening Day Parade. Aug 1955.

The first time I laid eyes on this photo, I saw the prominently displayed “MEATS” sign and immediately assumed I was looking at an early version of the Save On Meats sign – where it is today on the north side of the unit block of W. Hastings.

But, with further study, doubts developed about that conclusion and an internal debate began:

MDM1: Wait a minute… if the MEATS sign was on the north side of Hastings in 1955, as it is today, what is the Army & Navy department store doing opposite it?

MDM2: Well, 1, that isn’t difficult to answer. For many years, the Army & Navy had shops on both sides of W. Hastings, more or less opposite each other (a shoe dept. on one side and all other departments on the other).

MDM1: Ah, but allow me to point out that the address printed beneath the MEATS sign is 46 W. Hastings. Since we kn0w that even numbers are on the south side of east-west streets, that must surely clinch my assertion that Save On Meats was on the south side of the street in the mid-1950s. (And, although my case has been made, a couple of additional pieces of evidence buttress it: (1) The Rex Theatre is the white building adjacent to the main A&N shop (on the north side of Hastings). The Rex building is still there today, but it was swallowed up and greatly remodelled by A&N in 1959, thereby substantially increasing the retail space on the north side and making it unnecessary for A&N to have the Shoe dept. on the south side of Hastings; (2) The Beacon/Majestic/Odeon Theatre is opposite the Rex Theatre, right where it should be – on the south side of Hastings.)

MDM2: Not so fast, 1. Although you’ve successfully settled the question as to which side of the street the MEATS sign is on, you are wrong about it being the Save on Meats sign! In fact, if you’d allow your eyes to take in all of the signage in front of that shop, you’ll see a charming piece of neon with “Front Street” superimposed over a bull’s head. And if you check the BC City Directory for 1955, you’d see that a Front Street Meat Market was located at 46 W. Hastings!

Case closed!

Okay, okay! I think it’s a draw.

And there is a little more to the story.

zezula-joseph-a-ubc-commerce-class-of-1949 The chap whose likeness appears to the left is Joe Zezula¹. He and (his brother?) Walter Zezula were the original owners of Front Street Meat Market. There were two locations of Front Street. The initial location was on the 700 block of Front Street in New Westminster (thus explaining the name). This shop seems to have been started in 1953. The Front Street Meat Market in New Westminster  endured at least until 1963. However, only in 1953 was the New Westminster shop owned by the Zezulas (and starting in 1955, it had been moved off of Front Street to a location a block away, on Columbia). Starting in 1954, it seems that the Zezula brothers left the Greater Vancouver area.

By 1954, Front Street Meat Market (New Westminster) was under new management: Saul l-16191-sonny-wosk(Sonny) Wosk, whose portrait is on the right² (of the Wosks who owned the furniture shop on the south side of Hastings). The timeline seems to be as follows: Sonny acquired the original Front Street Meat Market from the Zezulas in 1954.

In 1955, Sonny opened another Front Street Meat Market at 46 (south side) W. Hastings, which he operated for a couple of years.

According to this history of Save on Meats

When Save-on-Meats originally opened in 1957, the location at 43 West Hastings Street was still serviced by interurban trams that brought customers nearly to its door. Entrepreneur Sonny Wosk founded the business, bringing in a young Al DesLauriers to run the meat department. . . . and when Wosk was ready to sell, DesLauriers bought the business.

So in 1957, it appears that Sonny closed Vancouver’s short-lived Front Street Meat Market on the north side of W. Hastings and opened Save On Meats almost directly across the street.


¹The Zezula photo is from the 1947 issue of The Totem, the UBC Yearbook. Zezula was in the Commerce class of ’49.

²Wosk’s portrait is from the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C.


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Rev. Arthur J. Hadley: “Let’s Go!”

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

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


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

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

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

That will be my enduring memory of Art Hadley.


¹If you are interested in hearing an example of Art’s preaching, there is a sample on Regent College’s audio site (as part of First Baptist Church’s audio archive there). It is his sermon delivered on February 28, 1999 at FBC and is entitled Begrudging Generosity. It’s a free download.

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The Vancouver Vagabonds


CVA 99-5297 – 10th Anniversary Salon dinner. Vancouver Vagabonds Club. Dec. 10 1924. Stuart Thomson photo.

The Vancouver Vagabonds was a men’s club. It didn’t last long (1914-1928), but it was fondly remembered by former members long after it had ceased to exist.(1)

The Vagabonds are generally believed to have been the creation of J. Francis Bursill (1848-1928). Bursill, an art critic with the Vancouver World (who was known by the pen name Felix Penne), was a member of the Vancouver Poetry Society, the Dickens Fellowship, the Shakespeare Society, and was founder of the Bursill Institute and Free Library in the Collingwood neighbourhood.(2)

Lionel Haweis (1870-1942) was responsible for the design of the Vagabond crest (the club motto was “Loaf and Liberty”). His vagabondian role was Scribe (or what would have been known as Secretary, had this been been ordinary club!) for several of the club’s early years.


The club’s crest, designed by Scribe Haweis. Motto of the Vagabonds was “Loaf and Liberty”.

What was the purpose of the Vagabonds? In a word, fellowship. But it was a sort of fellowship that wouldn’t have suited all men; and, indeed, it seems to me that the sort of fellowship promoted by Vags (as they called themselves) was of a sort that would be difficult to sustain in the post-WWI period (thus contributing to an explanation as to why the group petered out in the years after the war; more on that, shortly).

Vagabond John Ridington (1868-1945, UBC’s first head librarian, summed up the point of Vagabond meetings in speaking notes prepared for a Vag Salon at which guests and spouses of Vagabonds were present:

In some respects the Vagabond Club is a unique institution. In miniature it corresponds in some respects to the famous Garrick Club of London and the equally famous Lambs of New York.(3)  Wealth or social position are not in themselves sufficient recommendation for membership….We welcome cranks, but bar bigots. . . . At times, serious and earnest enough, but we decline to take ourselves, or each other, too seriously. . . . We all long for the carefree life – to forget taxes [and] bills. . . – and be like grown-up children, enquiring, joyous, and irresponsible.(4)

At times, serious, but like grown-up children. That seems well to sum up the men who were Vags. Papers of a semi-academic nature were presented at meetings and literary, musical and theatrical efforts were encouraged. But there was also an emphasis on verbal jousting (5), word-play, and the absurd.

That sort of light-hearted spirit which evidently was present in Vancouver Vagabond meetings did not (and, arguably, could not) survive WWI and its cost of nearly 61,000 young Canadians. Further, A. C. Cummings (1885-1976), who was Editor of the Vancouver World, maintained that some of the best men associated with the Vagabonds in the club’s early years had later moved from Vancouver (like Cummings himself, who settled in New Zealand), had become weary from old age, or died. According to Cummings, at its end, there were no longer “energetic” men who were still Vagabonds who could hold the club together. Notably, Bursill died in 1928, the year the club wrapped up its activities.

For most of its life, the Vancouver Vagabond Club did not have a fixed address. This was doubtless part of the code of being a ‘vagabond’, a drifter. Among the halls and other spaces that Vags called home were: the University Club (310 Seymour), a room across from Forester’s Hall (at 930 East Pender), Brotherhood House (233 Abbot) and Glencoe Lodge (1001 West Georgia). For the quarterly salons (sometimes referred to as galas), they met variously in the University Club, the Dining Room of Spencer’s Department Store (as shown in the first image above) “the Lodge at Stanley Park”(6), the Hotel Vancouver (No. 2), Hamilton Hall (a former home of First Baptist Church at Hamilton and Dunsmuir), and at the homes of various Vag members.

There was a women’s club, the Comrades in Arts Club, which has sometimes been linked with the Vagabonds as having been a sort of Vagabondian women’s auxiliary. According to correspondence from A. C. Cummings, however, there was never such a link. Apparently a number of spouses of Vagabonds (including the wife of Cummings) were members of the Comrades, and that may have given the impression of a connection, but that was never the intention of the Vagabonds, according to Cummings (Letter from Cummings to Hooper, Nov. 2, 1967).

The Vagabonds played a lead role in establishing the Shakespeare Garden in Stanley Park on the tercentenary of the Bard’s death in 1916 (the quatercentenary of his death was in 2016). This, at least, was the impression in news items of the time.(7)  Cummings recalls events slightly differently. He said that Bursill was “wholly responsible for the creation” of the Shakespeare Garden (Letter from Cummings to Hooper, Jan. 1, 1967). He noted that the opening of the Garden by the wife of the Park Board Chairman at the time, Jonathan Rogers, was “attended by the Vagabonds in force”. Cummings’ claim that Bursill single-handedly organized the Shakespeare Garden strikes me as improbable. There was, after all, a Shakespeare Tercentenary Committee which is (according to CVA) pictured below at the opening of the Garden by Mrs. Rogers (the bearded fellow on the left of the image appears to be Bursill).


Tr P24 – Mrs. Jonathan Rogers plants an oak to commemorate William Shakespeare’s Tercentary near pipeline road in Stanley Park. 1916. Frank Henry Gowen photo.


(1)  I am indebted to Jacqueline Hooper for her research into the Vancouver Vagabonds, carried out in the late 1960s while a part-time VPL librarian and freelance writer. Hooper’s work was funded by the the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation. Since Hooper was working in the 1960s, she had access to the living memories of some who were Vagabonds or spouses thereof. There seemed to be a longer-term plan that her research would be used as the basis for a monograph or book about the Vagabonds (and a MS by Hooper is included with the collection of Vagabond materials held in UBC Library’s Special Collection). To the best of my knowledge, such a document was never published. 

(2) Bursill’s role as Vagabonds founder is mildly disputed by A. C. Cummings. In the opinion of Cummings, as an early Vag himself, the principal mover behind the club’s formation was UBC Library staffer and founder of the Rosetti Photographic Studio, Lionel Haweis (Letter from Cummings to Hooper, January 1, 1967). (There is a brief anecdote relating to Bursill in a letter from Vag Francis Dickie: “There are a great many anecdotes about [Bursill]. The only one I remember you probably don’t want to use: A Hindu acquaintance of mine, speaking of Bursill said ‘He is not very cleanly in his habits.’ A beautiful understatement.” (Letter from Dickie to Hooper).

(3) This is the only reference I’ve seen to the Garrick Club or the Lambs Club of NYC as possible forbears of the Vagabonds. More typically, when casting about for organizational family tree roots, Vags tended to refer to the Savage Club (London).

(4) In the April 3, 2013 issue of the Renfew-Collingwood newsletter, Paul Reid quotes “An Ode to the Vags” (which he seems to have unearthed from CVA’s Vagabonds collection). This poem, which claims to have been written by “Box Car Jimmy”, was probably penned by a Vag.

(5) I’ve noticed from time to time, descriptions of club meetings that borrow from Proverbs (27:17): “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” This suggests that character-building (although of a secular nature; religion and politics were the two subjects that were verboten at Vag meetings) was part of the purpose of the Vagabonds.

(6) It isn’t clear to me whether this was a reference to the Stanley Park Ranger’s Lodge (which doesn’t appear large enough to hold a salon group of the number shown above in 1924) or to the Pavilion behind Malkin Bowl (or to another building?)

(7) Example: Vancouver Daily World. 7 February 1916.

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Freeze, Varmint! (Or ‘Vacant Lot as Window to the Past’)


Str P338 – Vacant lots on the north side of West Hastings street between Homer Street and Hamilton Street. ca1889. Charles S. Bailey photo. Annotation with arrow showing “Arlington Block” added by VAIW author.

This very early Vancouver image by pioneer photographic professional, Charles Bailey, makes me chuckle.

Not only is it a clear and sharp photograph of a time in Vancouver which would be nearly inconceivable today, without such images, but it shows a little slice of life at the time. The gent in the foreground has, apparently, spied himself a varmint of some sort (although it isn’t visible to me) in what must be described as an unofficial midden of the period.

But where on Hastings Street was this photo taken?

There aren’t many structural clues left of the old town to guide us. But there is one: the Arlington Block. Happily, the window configuration at the rear of the Arlington (which faces onto Cordova at Cambie and backs onto the lane between Cordova and W. Hastings) is unique.  The Arlington is shown in the ca1889 image above and in the 2016 one (courtesy of Google) below.


Screen capture made from Google 2D view in December, 2016. Shows retail businesses fronting on the north side of West Hastings between Cambie and Homer. Note: Annotations and arrows in blue added by VAIW author.

The lot that was vacant in about 1889 is vacant today. But during most of the intervening years, it was occupied. The structure on the lot housed, for many years, the Clubb & Stewart clothing retailer. This building was known as the Rogers Block, after the owner, evidently. (Note: the ‘Rogers’ in question was not Jonathan Rogers of Rogers Sugar fame, it was an ‘E. Rogers’, probably Ernest Rogers, who was with B.C. Electric Railway).

The structure on its right (to the east) wasn’t there when Bailey’s image was made, but when it was established a few years later, it became home base for The King (photographic) Studio on the upper floors and R. A. Cambell and Sons (boots and shoes) on ground level. This structure still stands (today it houses Emery’s Cannabis Culture).

The building left (west) of the empty lot appears in the Bailey photo to have been little more than a wooden shack (it also appears in the cropped image below).


Crop of Str P18 – Looking west on Hastings Street from Cambie Street. ca1898. Note and arrow added by VAIW author.

The shack appears to have been a printer’s shop at one time. It didn’t last very long, however; it was replaced within a few years with the tall, brick structure (which is extant) that housed Buscombe & Co. (china and glass) for several years. More recently (1980s-90s), I have confirmed through a query of the current retailer in this building (Vinyl), the space was leased to Bond’s Bookshop (which I remember with fondness from my earliest visits to Vancouver; it had wall-to-wall books on the main floor and in the dimly lit basement. It has been so cleaned and brightened that the Vinyl space isn’t recognizable as the one where Bond’s once was!)

Before we close this post, you may be forgiven a nagging question. What became of the building that housed Clubb & Stewart and which was in 1898, and is again today, a vacant lot?

The building burned in 2004, taking with it, among other things, left-of-wing shop Spartacus Books.


CVA 677-642 – Hastings Street between Hamilton and Homer Streets 190-?. P T Timms photo.

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Polar Pan?


CVA 99-1783 – Miss E. Robinson and Pete Pantages, Royal Lifesaving Society members pose at snowy beach, 15 Dec 1927. Stuart Thomson photo.

Here are Royal Lifesaving Society members, Peter Pantages and Miss E. Robinson. (Sadly, we don’t know Miss Robinson’s first name; she looks like she was quite a character. Although Peter and Miss Robinson appear in the photo to be friendly, they didn’t marry. Peter married a girl three years later who was, like him, of Greek extraction, Miss Helen Antonio Sarantis).

Peter Pantages wasn’t associated directly with his uncle Alexander’s theatre empire in Vancouver or elsewhere. Pete’s claim to fame was the establishment of the Polar Bear Club in 1920, shortly after arriving here from Greece and for being the proprietor of Peter Pan Cafe (adjacent to the Hotel Martinique at 1180 Granville) and Peter Pan Hall (at 1636 W. Broadway).


CVA 371-836 – The Polar Bear Club about to go for a swim on New Years Day. Jan 1 1939. Pete Pantages appears to be the left foreground in the photo.

I stumbled across a December 19, 1949 newspaper article recently (from the Lethbridge Herald, no less), which reported that:

Ten human polar bears took a ‘cool but refreshing’ dip in the chilly waters of English Bay Sunday. 

Peter Pantages, president of the Polar Bear Club, will complete a 20-year record of a ‘swim every day in the Pacific Ocean’, New Years’s Day.

The temperature was 30 degrees above [Fahrenheit] as Pantages and his ‘Bears’ splashed in the bay. Specatators, bundled in overcoats, watched from a snow-speckled beach.

It was a trial round for the annual New Year’s Day swim when 50 club members are expected for a dip in the icy bay.

Today, the Polar Bear Swim attracts in excess of 2500 folks every New Year’s Day. With references to it as a “tradition” and a “crazy baptismal”, the Polar Bear Swim today may be one of the most faithfully attended events in Vancouver. I doubt that Pete Pantages ever imagined himself the founder of a local religion!

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Pet/Person Fountain . . . Gone.


Fountain donated by Theresa Galloway in 1986. Was on Robson St near Hornby St until 2016. Author’s photo.

On October 1, 1986 – in Vancouver’s centennial year – this fountain was established on the north side of Robson street, a half-block east of Burrard (in front of the retail space that at that time housed the main store of Duthie’s Books and today is home to Tesla electric automobiles). It was developed as part of the Vancouver Legacies Program. The fountain was sponsored by Mrs. Theresa Galloway.

I noticed earlier this year that the fountain had disappeared from its location. I think it had been a number of years since it was connected to water services and so hadn’t been functional for awhile. But it was doing no harm and was still in good condition, not sullied by graffiti or otherwise marred.

My (unproven) theory is that it was no coincidence that the fountain was spirited away about 30 years after its unveiling. I suspect there was a clause in the agreement between Mrs. Galloway and the City that would ensure the fountain would be maintained for a 30-year period. If I’m right about this, I’d conclude that the City chose to take that contract literally (and negatively) and removed the fountain in 2015 or early 2016.

Theresa Galloway, who was not widely known for suffering fools gladly – whether they be government officials or otherwise – died in 1992, so she wasn’t around to raise a ruckus when the fountain vanished. And judging from what I have been able to discern, there was little fuss raised by others, either.

There are additional photos available on CVA’s site from the October 1986 fountain unveiling day.


CVA 775-189.28 – Unidentified woman, Theresa Galloway, Constable Rob Bosley and police dog Sport at drinking fountain inauguration. October 1, 1986.

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Fate’s Temptress


BC Archives H-05550

Mary Warburton (ca1871-1931) was a Vancouver nurse with a penchant for walking where she needed to go, regardless of distance or season. Two of her trips were reported in the news – one from Hope to Princeton in 1926; the other from Squamish to Princeton in 1931. Both trips were made in autumn.

On August 25, 1926, Warburton, age 56, left Hope for Princeton, a 65-mile journey. On foot. According to the account of Warburton’s trip as related by Michael Kluckner, she had finished a lengthy nursing stint with a terminally-ill patient and was heading to the Okanagan to take a working vacation as a fruit picker. She set out wearing a light khaki hiking outfit and supplied with food which would last four days: “4 packets of RyeCrisp, a half pound each of bacon, butter, and cheese, a pound of raisins, 2 oz. of almonds and some tea. . . . A frying pan, a billy [cooking pot], a spoon and a single-bladed pocket knife, plus a sketch map of the area and a compass, completed her kit.”

On the second day of her hike (and having travelled about 25 miles), Warburton  took a wrong turn. On Day 3, she stumbled and lost nearly all her food in a mountain stream, except what remained of the half-pound of butter. She conserved the butter by eating only a small portion morning and night; but in a few days, it was all gone. From then on, the only nourishment Warburton got came from chewing leaves and fungae, which she did not swallow. She claimed that after the first week, she didn’t feel hungry.

Warburton was reported missing before the end of August and a search party was launched. By September 21, however, the search was all but called off. A final effort at finding Warburton, was undertaken, however by BC Provincial Police Constable Daugherty and a guide by the name of “Podunk” Davis.

“Shortly after pitching camp in Paradise Valley on Monday the[y] heard a faint ‘hello’, and after a search Davis came upon the nurse, who, supported by a stick, was tottering in the direction of the camp-fire smoke. She was in an emaciated condition and her clothing was in tatters. All that was left of her shoes were the soles, which were bound to her feet with pieces of rope.

‘You’re an angel from heaven,’ was the woman’s greeting as she collapsed at Davis’ feet.”

Warburton was transported by pack horses and automobile to Princeton , and “after arriving at the hospital, insisted on taking a hot bath, unaided, before she was put to bed.”

Warburton Peak, near Princeton, is named in her honour.

Five years later, and by then 60 years old, Nurse Warburton was again missing – this time, walking from Squamish to Princeton.

From the start, however, Warburton’s prospects on this trip seemed grimmer. The search seems not to have been initiated until 9 weeks after she left Squamish. And by the time of the search, it was the first week of November and accumulated snow would have been a factor along mountain trails. The length of her planned trip was also substantially greater (although for some reason the searchers confined the scope of the searches to the area between Squamish and Indian Arm.)

The initial search for Warburton was launched by BC Provincial Police Constable W. Gill and he was accompanied by trapper Jack Haysburg. On that first search, a note from the nurse was found, along with other “traces” of her. Gill and Haysburg set out on a second search the week following the first search. The searchers were hoping against hope that the nurse had taken refuge within a cabin along the trail between Squamish and Indian Arm.

Neither Warburton nor her body was ever discovered and she was presumed dead.

Questions arise when I think about Mary Warburton. Questions like: “How many other times did she undertake walks to outrageously distant locales?” and “Was Mary mentally ill? Or did she simply enjoy really long walks – alone?” Or perhaps Mary was just an early version of that multitude of contemporary hikers who keep North Shore Search and Rescue crews so busy by taking on the mountains of the North Shore, ill-prepared for Mother Nature’s nasty side and/or their own lack of fitness for the area.



• “The Search for Mary Warburton.”

• “Old Hiking Stories/ Hiking Characters.”

• “The Search for Mary Warburton” (Video).

• Winnipeg Tribune (21 Sept 1926; 1 Oct 1926; 9 Nov 1931; 11 Nov 1931; 13 Nov 1931).

• Chilliwack Progress (14 July 1927; 29 Apr 1942)

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Unsung Local Artist: Hans Lankau

Updated: November 22, 2016

The image from 1972 was added.

CIBC Bronze at Birks2

Bronze formerly located at entry to Canadian Bank of Commerce (SE corner, Granville and Hastings). Today it is what appears to be a little used tiny foyer leading to a staircase in the Birks building (not the main entry to Birks; one door east of the main Hastings entry). 2016. Author’s photo.

Hans Gottfried Edita Lankau (1897-1971) was born and raised in Germany. He immigrated to post-war Canada in 1951 when he was in his mid-50s, settling in West Vancouver. His principal work in Canada consisted of casting large coats of arms in metal. The Bank of Commerce example which appears above (the only work of his of which I’m aware that is extant in Greater Vancouver) appears to be a coat of arms plus. It seems to me to be similar to a piece of jazz music: the straight-ahead theme is in the coat of arms (encircled in the middle of the work), with improvisations surrounding it. It is, in my judgement, a brilliant piece of relief sculpture.

There was another, later (1965), coat of arms in Vancouver by Lankau, commissioned by the former Bank of Canada at 900 West Hastings. But Lankau’s specialization of coats of arms tends to lead to even more speedy disappearance of the art than happens with other kinds of public artwork in Vancouver. Once the corporation leaves the site of the coat of arms, the arms, generally speaking, are doomed. (This wasn’t the case, technically, with the Bank of Commerce work, but it was squirrelled away into such a non-travelled corner of the new Birk’s headquarters as to be gone in all but fact).

Lankau’s other work is listed here. Just how much of it is extant, I don’t know. Little, I suspect. A giant piece of biographical mystery is his pre-Canadian training and works.

One of Lankau’s sculptures that remains  in B.C. is the Canadian Coat of Arms at Confederation Court in Victoria. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists tries to make a case for Lankau’s Victoria work being deserving of the highest marks. The Confederation Park work may have been the more technically challenging of the two works. But in my opinion, the Bank of Commerce bronze is by far the most visually stunning of Lantau’s work in the province he adopted as home.]


CVA 70-23 – Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce building, 640 West Hastings Street, doorway. 1972. Art Grice photo. Here is the artwork in a more deservedly prominent location above the main entry to the building (when it was a CIBC structure).

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Lads and Strays BENEATH the Platform, Please!


Crop of CVA 586-1313 – A.R.P. District No. 16 Celebration. 1943. Don Coltman photo. (The “Queen” appears fourth from the left in front row: Viola Balzer).

The photo above was made in 1943 on the occasion of (among other things, perhaps) the crowning of the Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.), District 16 “Queen” Viola Balzer from among other contenders for the crown (some of whom, I assume, are on the platform with her, in addition to her younger “attendants”).

The most interesting aspects about this image, however, are not the fact that it was considered advisable to have such a thing as a “Queen” of the A.R.P., nor the names of the other folks on the platform (most of whom are not known to me), nor even the location of the coronation (although it’s probably Stanley Park or Hastings Park).

Most intriguing to me are characters in this photo who, I suspect, were never intended to appear in the final (public) crop: the stray dog, and the three young male ragamuffins (one of whom appears to me to have been of East Indian ancestry) beneath the platform! I suspect that this image was made by professional photographer Don Coltman mainly for his own entertainment.

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Pacific Centre Rotunda to be Demolished for Denser Commercial Space? REALLY?


Pacific Centre rotunda. 2016. Author’s photo.

In the nearly 450 posts I’ve produced for VanAsItWas over the past two years, I’ve typically focussed on Vancouver’s past. I will continue that practice. But today I will pause to reflect and comment on a news item which I didn’t see until recently.

On August 10th, Vancouver Sun journalist, Bethany Lindsay, reported that…

The familiar glass rotunda and public square that welcome shoppers to Vancouver’s Pacific Centre mall may soon be gone, replaced by three storeys of new retail stores.

Cadillac Fairview’s plan for the corner of Georgia and Howe streets was presented to the city’s urban design panel at the end of last month, but the proposal requires the approval of Vancouver’s director of planning before it can become reality. If the application is approved, the site would see 31,603 square feet of new, glass-fronted retail space, including an outdoor restaurant deck on the third floor and a “green” roof with planters arranged in a geometric grid, as well as a new mall entrance on Georgia.

The design comes from the Vancouver office of Perkins+Will Canada Architects, and follows negotiations between the city and the mall’s owner that began more than a decade ago. The mall was rezoned to allow more retail space in 2006, after Cadillac Fairview agreed to take on some of the costs for building the Canada Line entrance inside its plaza at Granville and Georgia.

This densification plan seems to me to be just dense. Why?

First, the result will be another wall of commercial space added to a corner that already has plenty. The Hotel Georgia on the NW corner and the TD Building on the SE already present pedestrians with a very vertical geography of concrete and glass. Adding another wall to those already on that corner will do nothing to make the corner more inviting to pedestrians. (To experience a corner with a similar feel to what the redevelopers are proposing for this corner, walk just a couple of blocks to Dunsmuir at Hornby. Not attractive, is it?)

Second, Pacific Centre mall has precious few architecturally redeeming features, in fact I can’t think of any, besides the rotunda. It has effectively created a place where passers-by and mall shoppers can gather and rest their feet for a few minutes either in the area just outside the glass rotunda or inside. The rotunda accomplishes what no other part of the mall does: it allows the sunshine (liquid or otherwise) to be visible inside the ‘Pacific Cave’.

Third, this corner has ALWAYS been low-rise and low-density; and, except for a period from the ’30s til the rotunda was built, it was a public park/square. As I’ve illustrated below with historical photos from the City of Vancouver Archives, from its earliest years, this corner of Vancouver has been relatively under-developed. It is one of the very few downtown street corners of which that can be said. Indeed, only from 1932-c.1972 was there any real commercial development of the corner. Before then and since then, the site has been a public space.



The corner in Vancouver’s early years was a park: CPR Park. Above, the East Indian Tea Co. (801 Georgia St) was using the elbow room that the park afforded to dry out a shipment of tea.



A gazebo graces CPR park in the photo above. An inspiration for the rotunda?


A (decidedly low-rise and low-density) service station was on the site before 1932. c1930 Leonard Frank photo.


Until the Paciifc Centre rotunda replaced it in the 1970s, the McLuckie Building was on the corner from 1932.

In conclusion, it would be a great pity, in my opinion, if Cadillac Fairview and the City of Vancouver decide to demolish the rotunda and replace it with commercial space: You got one thing right with the development of Pacific Centre. Don’t mess up that one truly positive element 40 years later.


Sign in front of the Rotunda advertising the new building proposed for the site. Sadly. 2016. Author’s photo.

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John Goss: Baritone, Art Advocate, Politician, and Marxist

Winn Tribune Jan 28, 1933.jpgJohn Goss (1894-1953) was an Englishman by birth, but for most of his later years, he made Vancouver his home. In the 1920s and ’30s, Goss toured in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada as a recital singer, gradually building a reputation as a world-class baritone.

Shortly after the outbreak of hostilities at the beginning of the Second World War, Goss was in Canada and found himself stuck here for the war’s duration. During those years, Goss toured across the country, but Vancouver was his home base.

He opened the John Goss Studio at 641 Granville Street and built on his reputation as a baritone to become a notable singing instructor. A choral group performed in the Greater Vancouver area under the name of the John Goss Studio Singers. screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-7-35-18-pmHe also received positive reviews for roles he played in local theatrical productions (playing the composer Schubert, for example, in the Theatre Under the Stars production of Blossom Time in 1942). In 1949, in fact, Goss accepted a verbal offer from the principal of the BC Institute of Music and Drama (BCIMD) – which was connected with the Theatre Under the Stars – to join BCIMD as a faculty member.

Goss was also political. As early as 1941, he spoke out at the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations, urging amateur musicians to “organize to avoid this ‘sweated labor’ by various well-meaning organizations which offer artists nothing more than a cup of tea in return for their services” (11 July 1941 Lethbridge Herald).

In 1944, he ran as a candidate for the Parks Board as a member of the Labour-Progressive Party (the legal political party of Canadian Communists from 1943 to 1959). His platform advocated that a civic centre be built, that city parks be beautified, and that more libraries be established. He came in dead last among candidates. He ran in the B.C. provincial election the following year (in the posh Point Grey riding no less), and while he didn’t come in very last that time, he garnered less than 1% of votes cast.

Starting in 1944, he co-founded and later became president of a new organization called the Labor Arts Guild. The Guild was intended to promote interest in the arts among labour and interest in labour’s struggle among artists. A number of the members of the first executive of the Guild were members of the Labour-Progressive Party.


“Aircraft Worker”. 1st Prize in BC at Work exhibition (1944?). This sculpture is still on display at the Museum of Vancouver. Author’s photo.

The Guild sponsored a number of ‘people’s concerts’. Its most notable achievement, however, was the mounting of two juried art exhibitions (in 1944 and 1945) titled British Columbia at Work. There was a single criterion for inclusion in BC at Work: the celebration of labour.

In 1949, Goss was evicted from the U.S. while in New York at a peace conference. The FBI made noises about Goss being a Communist sympathizer. He returned to Vancouver where he was under the impression that he had a job with the BCIMD faculty. Wrong. The BCIMD, together with many others in the city were not interested in a ‘Communist’ joining the staff of the Theatre Under the Stars group. There was no written contract between the board and Goss, and the Board made it clear that he could forget about working with BCIMD.

Goss left Vancouver for England the following year, with his reputation in tatters. He died there in 1953.

Selected Sources

  • Vancouver Art Gallery. Vancouver: Art and Artists 1931-1983, pp. 72-78.
  • Sutherland, Richard. Theatre Under the Stars: The Hilker Years. M. A. Thesis. 1993.


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Thomson’s Cowboys


A. D. “Cowboy” Kean (with huge hat; front row, center) and a troupe of cowboys. Stuart Thomson photo.

I purchased the image above last week from a friend. It shows a number of men dressed as cowboys. The location of the image, I quickly concluded, was indeterminate; there are no visible landmarks. The photographer was Vancouver professional, Stuart Thomson (as confirmed by his right/bottom corner mark). As for when it was made, I’m inclined to put it in the 19-teens or early 1920s. Thomson began shooting professionally in Vancouver in 1910 and this photo looks to me like one of his earlier ones.

Upon closer inspection of the men shown in the photo, I noticed that the man in the biggest hat greatly resembled Arthur David “Cowboy” Kean (1882-1961). Kean had a life as a rodeo competitor and organizer and he later had a film-making career (followed by a career in radio).

My initial suspicion was that the photograph was made in connection with Kean’s involvement with Range Days, which was a component of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in the 1920s. The following clipping from the Vancouver Daily World (August 13, 1923) describes it:


Kean’s role as the organizer of Range Days in 1923, however, got him into trouble with the city folks in Vancouver, some of whom were disturbed by alleged “cruelty” to animals. It isn’t clear to me whether Kean was ever brought to book in conjunction with this, or if the charge was ultimately withdrawn:


I continue to lean toward PNE’s Range Days being the occasion on which my Stuart Thomson image was made.

There is another possibility, however. In 1924, Kean made a silent film titled “Policing the Plains” (based on the book written by R. G. MacBeth). It was shot in Vancouver, the interior of B.C., and Southern Alberta (notably in the Ft. Macleod area). The film had a limited release in 1927, had mixed reviews, and today is considered lost. There is no evidence that I could find that Stuart Thomson shot any of the stills for “Policing the Plains”. There is at least one other cowboy image which was made at a rodeo (probably somewhere in the Vancouver area; possibly at the PNE) in the 1920s. It is the image shown below from the VPL’s collection of historical photographs.


VPL 18159. Cowboys at Rodeo. 192-. Stuart Thomson photo.

More information about the life and careers of “Cowboy” Kean, is available here. There is also a series of still photos made in connection with “Policing the Plains”. There is also an extant silent film made by Kean to help Ft. Macleod celebrate its Jubilee year (during the time he was there filming PTP). (Note especially the “exhibition football played from horseback” by the Mounties in Macleod starting at about 8.42 in this short feature. Worth checking out if only for that segment!)

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Franklin Hall


CVA Trans N87.08 – [Taxicabs on Granville Street at Robson Street] 191-? VAIW Note: Franklin Dancing Academy was on the upper floors – see banner notices. The Hall itself may have been on the 2nd or 3rd floor. (The over-exposure of this image has been corrected somewhat).

I was recently browsing through a Vancouver newspaper which was new to me: The Greater Vancouver Chinook. The Chinook seems to have run from 1912-15, then briefly (1915-16) as the Saturday Chinook, and still later as The Standard (1916 and later). The principal readership appears to have been people living in the Cedar Cottage area in East Vancouver and east of there (as far east as Edmonds in Burnaby). The Chinook is available in digital form at UBC Library’s Open Collections.

While reading through the entertainment section (typically called by the Chinook, “Music and the Drama at Vancouver’s Leading Play Houses”) of the January 18, 1913 issue, I came across this reference under the headline “Sensible Sundays”:

The meeting at Franklin Hall,  Granville Street, corner Robson Street, on Sunday night was a magnificent success. Over 300 people attended in spite of the bad weather, and the program of orchestral music given by an orchestra numbering 20 included selections from Mayerbeer, Haydn, Gounod and others. . . .

My initial surmise from this report was that Franklin Hall might have been part of the recently-renovated “old” Orpheum complex (formerly the Vancouver Opera House at NW corner of Granville and Robson); it seems from the write-up as though Franklin Hall had been suitable for smaller, more intimate performances and audiences. But I was wrong about its location.

Franklin was actually the building kitty-corner to what had been the Opera House, located on the SE corner at 640 Robson (Lennox Pub and Payless Shoes are on the site today). I’m not certain what year the building shown above was constructed, but I suspect it was in the late 1890s. It seems to have been demolished in the 1920s to make way for the two-storey that is there today. CVA maintains that the two-storey was “demolished” in about 1972, but I think that the work which they interpreted as demolition was, in fact, renovation. The give-aways are the window casings which appear the same today.

“Franklin Hall” was known by that name for a remarkably brief time; roughly 1912-1919. Before then, it was called the “Elks Hall” (presumably named after the men’s fraternal group of the same name) and post-1919,  the space was occupied by the dancing school called in some sources “Vancouver Dancing Academy” and in others, “Franklin’s Dancing Academy”.

Just who was the “Franklin” in “Franklin Hall”? That is one of those niggling historical questions that may never be fully resolved. For what it’s worth, though, I’m going to lay my money on “Franklin” being W.E. Franklin (WEF). He (typically only males were referred to in city directories of that time solely with their initials) was shown as a “music teacher” at 640 Robson in the 1913 city directory. In 1917, WEF appeared in the “names” section of the directory as the instructor of the dancing academy at that address (the Dance Academy didn’t appear at 640 Robson in the “streets” section until 1920). Just who WEF was, I have no idea. He was shown as residing at 640 Robson, in addition to working there, around 1919. So if he was, as I suspect, the chap after whom Franklin Hall was named (albeit, briefly); it seems unlikely that he was a wealthy Vancouver ‘mucky-muck’.

I suspect it was a matter of convenience to refer to the hall after Franklin.  If you are going to be having events that feature music by the likes of Haydn and Gounod, it must be admitted that “Franklin Hall” sounds higher class in advertising copy than “Elks Hall”!

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Guide to Secondhand Bookstores in 1987-88 (3rd Edition)

3rd ed (1987-88) Vancouver Guide to Secondhand Bookstores-1.jpg

3rd ed (1987-88) Vancouver Guide to Secondhand Bookstores-2.jpg

A copy from my collection of the 3rd Edition (1987-88) of this useful pamphlet.

The Guide

This is the first in a series of a posts I plan to write that will make public my collected editions of this Guide to the Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookstores & Antique Map Print Shops of Vancouver. My reason for making my editions of the Guide available is that, as far as I can tell, nobody else has*. I wish I could say that I had all of the editions of the Guide. The earliest edition I own is the one shown above, the 3rd (1987-88); I have all editions after that up to and including the 13th (2000-01), with the exception (frustratingly) of the 5th edition (1989-90).

There is a recent edition of a guide to Used and Antiquarian Bookstores of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley available online here**. It plainly has as its ancestor the Guide shown above. This more contemporary pamphlet, however, bears the marks of the widespread North American rejection of books that have genuine covers and paper pages and, likewise, of bookstores that sell such things (with doors and walls, and booksellers within!)

Yesterday and Today

There are relatively fewer secondhand booksellers in the City of Vancouver today than when I began coming to this city from Edmonton on book buying trips in 1988. A few giants continue to roam, however.

Bernard Spring of Antiquarius, which in 1987-88 was located in New Westminster; later, on ‘book row’ – Pender Street – in Vancouver; today, Spring continues to offer books and ephemera for sale online.

Lawrence Books of the Dunbar district, also continues. In 1987-88, though, it was under the management of the endearingly grumpy Joe Lawrence. Since his passing a number of years ago, it has been operated by his daughter, Ann.

MacLeod’s Books is the only shop, I believe, that continues today to operate at the same location (455 West Pender) and under the same management (Don Stewart) as in 1987-88.

Michael Thompson had a charming shop full of unusual detective and science-fiction novels on Pender Street in the late 1980s. In 1987-88, his shop was located at the address occupied today by Criterion Books. I recall spending quite a few dollars in Thompson’s Vancouver shop and at least two of these volumes I still own. (My recollection of Thompson’s store site, though, is at a location not shown in any of the Guides in my collection. I remember him occupying the space at 343 West Pender, where Pender Grocery is today, adjacent to Finch’s Tea House). He continues to run a shop today on Hornby Island.

Joyce Williams Antique Prints & Maps operates today in Yaletown, but in the late 1980s did business out of a shop on West Pender adjacent to the space occupied today by another fine bookshop, The Paper Hound.


*It seems to me that I once found older editions of the Guide in UBC’s archival collection. But upon searching that site in preparation for this post, I wasn’t able to see any sign of the Guide there.

**The online edition that was present when I wrote this post, unfortunately, did not continue the practice of dating, and was not current. Indeed, there were shops listed – for example, Characters, formerly in Marpole, and Booktown, formerly in New Westminster – which have been out of business (to my continuing regret) for at least two years.

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English Bay Theatre


CVA 99-47 – [Group photo of the Corinthians Amateur theatricals]. 1912. Stuart Thomson. VAIW Note: If this image was made in 1912, as asserted, I suspect it was not an amateur production by ‘the Corinthians’, but rather a professional production of The Mikado by a NYC company. If I’m right about that, the theatre where this production was held was the English Bay Theatre (a later incarnation of what was the Imperial Roller Rink at English Bay).


When I happened upon the photo shown above in CVA’s collection I said to myself, “That looks like a theatrical company in costume for Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado!”

I could find no mention in local newspapers in 1912 for any performances by a “Corinthians” theatre group (indeed the only source I found that mentioned a “group of amateurs” by that name indicated that they were an English amateur football team – a soccer team as North Americans today would call it).

But my search for performances of The Mikado in Vancouver in 1912 was more productive. There was a professional production in September of that year by Shubert and Brady’s NYC Gilbert & Sullivan Festival Company.


The Mikado (and other G&S operas) was initially advertised to be held at the “Imperial Theatre”, but within days of that initial announcement, the ad copy was quietly changed to read the “English Bay Theatre”. The confusion was likely caused by the introduction of a new theatre in Vancouver which opened at about the same time: the Imperial, located on Main Street. The English Bay Theatre was a short-lived tenant in the former Imperial Roller Rink building (see photo below). The similarity in name between the Imperial Theatre and the Imperial Roller Rink was doubtless the source of the brief confusion in the ads.

The fact that G&S productions were held in the former roller rink, instead of in the far more commodious (and theatrically suitable), 1200-seat, Vancouver Opera House, was because the Opera House was closed for renovations in 1912 by the new owners, Sullivan and Considine (the CPR had sold the house in 1909). The closure of the Opera House must have accounted for the moaning in the press by the business manager of the G&S Festival Theatrical Company, Mr. Dillon, about the “distressing conditions” in which the Company would be forced to play. “We will not be able to use a great part of our scenery, but the people will understand the conditions.” The Mikado players shown in the image above, do indeed, seem to be crammed onto a tiny stage.


Crop of LGN 467 – [Crowds at English Bay in front of bathhouse and Imperial roller skating rink]. 1909? Richard H. Trueman photo. VAIW Note: The Roller Rink would later become, albeit for no more than a couple years, the English Bay Theatre.

Theatre Management

The ad for the G&S operas indicates that E. R. Ricketts was the manager of the English Bay Theatre. Ricketts had been the lessee of the Vancouver Opera House (on Granville) from 1902-1912. When the CPR allowed his lease to expire at the Opera House (as part of their plan to sell the house), Ricketts failed to get a new theatre house, at the corner of Pender and Burrard, any further than “the foundations”.

Robert Todd notes that “[t]he fall of 1912 found the manager [Ricketts] booking touring companies into the English Bay Theatre, the name he gave to the Roller Rink at English Bay; this was a thoroughly unsuccessful venture, producing houses of only a half and quarter capacity. He soon moved over to the newly built Imperial Theatre on Main St. which the Province reported, would be ‘the home of the best travelling companies until the new opera house is built – some months hence'”**. What was the capacity of the English Bay Theatre is anybody’s guess. But it was plainly substantially less than that of the Opera House.

Reviews of Play and Playhouse

Yes, and no. According the Vancouver Daily World, the production of The Mikado by the American theatrical company was “perfect”.

But the review of the ‘house’, the English Bay Theatre, was much less glowing. The Daily World reported that, after taking multiple curtain calls,

Mr DeWolf Hopper [the lead actor in the production; he played Ko Ko, better known perhaps as ‘the Lord High Executioner,’ in The Mikado] paid compliments to Mr. Ricketts for looking after the comforts of the artists and his allusion to the theatre being only a “temporary house” evoked a storm of applause which, being translated into coherent speech meant, “May we have a real good opera house soon – and may we have many such delightful entertainments as we have had tonight.”

The review concluded with a note that the G&S operas presented in 1912, “with two additional ones”, were scheduled to play in the renovated Opera House in the last week of September, 1914. (In fact, in October 1914, the G&S “Opera Co.”, as it was by then known – still with Brady, but sans Shubert – with DeWolf Hopper and the rest of the company would play in the Empress Theatre. And The Mikado was not among the operas that they would stage that year).***


*I am grateful to Vancouver theatrical history guru, Tom Carter, for this insight and for putting me onto the Todd article cited below which confirmed the Imperial Roller Rink as the later site of the English Bay Theatre.

** Robert B. Todd. “Ernest Ramsay Ricketts and Theatre in Early Vancouver,” Vancouver History, Vol. 19, No. 2 (February 1980), pp. 14-23.

***The 1914 productions were Trial by Jury, Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance, and Iolanthe.


Multnomah County Library. Program – The Mikado (The Heilig Theatre. Portland. G&S Festival Co. 1912). VAIW Note: This looks like a similar list of cast & crew to that which may have been used in Vancouver in September 1912. The Company was evidently on a North American tour in the autumn of that year.

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Lithoprint of skyline of downtown Vancouver from Burrard Inlet. 1912. Bullen & Lamb photographers. University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. The Chung Collection. CC-OS-00178.

1912 was a significant year in the development of Vancouver’s skyline. Among the structures under construction that year were:

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Where W.E.C. Shopped?

Updated October, 2016


CVA 1399-494 – [Photograph of Acme Novelty B.C. Ltd building, 7832 6th St., Burnaby B.C.(VAIW Note: See photo and comment below: This was not located in Burnaby, as CVA asserts, but in Vancouver at – see the printed address on the rear of the ANC van below – 428 West 8th Ave). 197-?

This image appears to have been made sometime in the 1970s; right around the same period when the hapless Wile E. Coyote was entertaining fantasies of terrorizing the nameless Roadrunner using machines built from products made by Acme.

The company portrayed in the image, however, could not have been the same “Acme”; this one included “Novelty” in its corporate name – a word which would rarely be associated with the products produced by the fictional company portrayed in the Warner Brothers cartoon – and never with the cartoon’s plot.



CVA 1399-495 – [Photograph of Acme Novelty B.C. Ltd building] at 428 W 8th Ave., Vancouver. 197-?

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The Empire Cruise Comes to Town

What was the Special Service Squadron of 1923-24? Here is how the official site of HMS Hood (1915-41) sums it up:

This epic journey, known to the public as the ‘Empire Cruise’ or ‘World Cruise’ (but called the ‘World Booze’ by the Squadron’s men), was a highly successful public relations victory for the Empire. It served as a subtle [?] reminder to friend and foe alike that Britannia still ruled the waves. The squadron logged over 38,152 miles and visited numerous foreign countries around the globe. During the course of this cruise, over one million visited the entire Squadron, with Hood getting approximately 752,049 visitors alone.

The Squadron in Vancouver consisted of battle cruisers HMS Hood and HMS Repulse and of light cruiser HMAS Adelaide (of the Royal Australian Navy). A number of light cruisers were left in Esquimalt (where the Cruise had docked prior to making its Vancouver stop). For a complete list of the Squadron’s ports of call, see here.


This image appears to have been made somewhere along the City of Vancouver waterfront, roughly between the foot of Howe Street and Stanley Park. The photographer is looking out to Deadman’s Island in the deep background and one of the battle cruisers (the Hood or Repulse) in the middle distance. Passing just this side of the battle cruiser is what appears to be a civilian watercraft (it looks a bit like a North Vancouver ferry, to me) of which, by all accounts, there were many, darting about as the battleships prepared to dock. The spectators in foreground appear to be perched (precariously) on felled tree stumps on the shore. MDM’s Bottomley Collection.


















Scott O’Connor, author of The Empire Cruise, who was aboard the Hood during the Cruise, had this to say about their arrival in Vancouver on June 25, 1924:

The reception given to the Squadron at Vancouver was of an enthusiastic character, and only the welcome at Sydney [Australia] affords a parallel to the extraordinary scenes which marked its entry into Burrard Inlet. Tens of thousands of cheering crowds lined both shores, while the Squadron was escorted and followed in by literally hundreds of small craft which had come out . . . to meet it. . . . At Brockton Point the Squadron was received with a royal salute of 21 bombs [bombs? really?]. The escorting planes followed through the smoke of the bursting bombs and close behind them a shower of rockets was sent up giving birth to flags which fell slowly attached to parachutes. On landing, the Vice-Admiral was presented with an Address by the Mayor [William Reid Owen]. . .  

It was, presumably, during Mayor Owen’s speech that a bison’s head (shown in the CVA image below) was presented to the Hood. I don’t know what possessed the City to choose this as a gift to a bunch of mariners. To the best of my knowledge, bison never roamed in the very forested area that had become Vancouver!


CVA 99-1211 – [H.M.S. “Hood” visit] dignitaries with bison’s head. 25 June 1924. Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW note: Mayor Owen is standing just behind the bison’s head – he is the balding, hatless gent).

The Squadron was docked at Vancouver from June 24 – July 5. That allowed time for the federal government to host 20 officers and 200 crew members of the Repulse on a train journey inland for six days. They took the CPR from Vancouver  through Revelstoke into Banff and Calgary, and then took the CNR from Edmonton to Jasper and back to Vancouver.

This ’round-the world trip was by no means an inexpensive enterprise for the British Navy. The Hood alone had a complement of well over 1000 crew. She was finally sunk in WWII off Denmark in 1941. All hands, save three, were lost in her sinking. The Hood was found and explored for the first time since its sinking in 2001 and in 2015, the ship’s bell was retrieved.

There are a couple of excerpted pages available from the log of the HMS Hood during its period in Vancouver for the Empire Cruise.

The following images came from this site (for more photos of the Empire Cruise arriving in Vancouver, please see this sister site of VAIW).

Posted in Bottomley, Navy, stuart thomson, water scene | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Bunch of Characters


CVA 1376-509 – [The Daily Province delivery boys in front of the building at 420 Cambie Street] ca1925.

These newsboys are a charming lot. The very few adults in the frame are in the background and in most cases, largely obscured by the boys. I spot only one boy who is a visible minority – the black boy apparently resting one of his arms on the mutt. I don’t see any Asians. One boy, in the back row, near the centre, is pointing at the (unknown) photographer with his index finger; he and his colleagues seemed to have had a significant dose of attitude! Small wonder that certain eateries in town made it clear that newsboys were to “Keep Out!”

This entry to the Daily Province building (420 Cambie) appears to be the entry to the Edgett wing of the newspaper complex – named after Edgett Bros. grocers, for whom the building was originally constructed; the other wing, across the lane, was known as the Carter-Cotton building – named for the publisher of the News-Advertiser newspaper which originally was in that structure. It looks to me like today’s entry to the former Edgett building is located roughly where this entry to the Daily Province was (where the Architecture Centre is today – 440 Cambie), albeit with a much less grand entry than the archway that was there when this image was made.


VPL 40055A. Pacific Press Building. 1966. David C. Paterson photo.

The Province used the Carter-Cotton/Edgett buildings until it shifted over to the custom-designed Pacific Press building at 2250 Granville (along with the Sun) in 1965. That building, in turn, was closed in 1997 and the newspaper headquarters were moved north to the foot of Granville Street (200 Granville).

Posted in newspapers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Use Your Head (With IBM)

Updated September, 2016

CVA 99-4954 - I.B.M. [International Business Machines Company store (515 West Georgia Street) at night] 1936 Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-4954 – I.B.M. [International Business Machines Company store (515 West Georgia Street) at night] 1936 Stuart Thomson photo.

This is an exterior shot of IBM’s Vancouver presence on Georgia Street in 1936. Their monosyllabic motto of the time, evidently, was ‘Think’ – which also was the name of an employee/customer magazine that published its first issue the previous year. Also in 1935, the company marketed the first commercially successful electric typewriter (and it would continue to sell them until 1990). One of the portraits on the wall (flanking THINK) is undoubtedly of Thomas J. Watson (CEO, 1914-1956); the other may be of Charles Ranlett Flint, who consolidated four other smaller companies into Computing-Tabulating-Recording company (CTR), which was renamed International Business Machines in 1924. IBM’s Vancouver presence was apparently that of a branch office; the site of the Canadian factory and head office was Toronto.

I’ve had help from a reader of VAIW, recently (see comment), who recognized his Dad and a couple of other local IBM sales and service gents in the photo shown below. The commenter’s father was the local head of the International Time Recorder division. In case you are curious (as I was) about what that division was responsible for, see this link.


CVA 99-4785 – I.B.M. personnel. 1935. Stuart Thomson photo. The fellow sitting at the desk (in the corner) is Bob Nelles, manager of the EAM (Electronic Accounting Machines) division; Ferris Stricker, manager of the International Time Recorder division is the next person (moving clockwise and sitting under “Be of the TIMBER that produces PLANKS); the gent next to him is unknown to me; Harry Kitely, service manager, is seated on the right at front (sitting under the sign that reads “Turn plans into planks!”)


Posted in businesses, street scenes, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Department Store Dining

Updated September, 2016



CVA 809-27 – Woodwards Dining Room [at Hastings Street and Abbott Street] ca 1910.

This is an early Vancouver interior shot of the Woodward’s dining room in what is today East Vancouver, but at the time was considered by most residents to be ‘downtown’.

The Bay (Hudson’s Bay Company)

CVA 99-4070 – Hudson’s Bay Company [interior of store at 674 Granville Street]. 1931. Stuart Thomson photo.

This is how the Hudson’s Bay Company dining room appeared in the 1930s. I have now confirmed (with the helpful tip from a reader of VAIW; see comment below) that this 1930s location was on the top floor of The Bay (the 6th), but that it was in a different section of that floor than the dining room which I recall (before it was closed in 2013). The dining area which I remember looked out on Holy Rosary Cathedral and other such structures to the north and east of The Bay. The 1930s photo above, however, is located in the northwest corner of the 6th floor. The key to identifying where the photo was taken is the skylight (which is still on that floor; currently, men’s jackets and slacks are located beneath the skylight.)


View of the northwest corner of The Bay (Men’s Wear, today). The 1930s location of the Dining Room on the 6th Floor. Author’s photo.

The skylight is visible from above in the Google Street View shown below.


A Google view of the exterior The Bay from above (looking from the northeast). The skylight is visible near the top right corner. Google Maps, 2016.

T. Eaton Company (Formerly Spencer’s)


The Marine Room in Eaton’s when it was in Spencer’s former location at West Hastings and Richards. Postcard from author’s collection.

Outlook onto Burrard Inlet and the North Shore from the Marine Room, the dining room of the T. Eaton Company’s flagship store in Vancouver. This was formerly Spencer’s (at the site of today’s Harbour Centre) from 1907-48. Eaton’s took over this location when Spencer’s closed in 1948 and remained here until 1972 when it moved to its final Vancouver location at the corner of Robson and Granville (anchor of Pacific Centre Mall) until 1999.

Posted in cafes/restaurants/eateries, department stores, interiors | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Elva Selman Drowns at 2nd Beach

Elva Selman, a 24-year-old member of First Baptist Church, died in the waters off Second Beach on Friday, August 21, 1908 at around 11am. She was the daughter of Samuel and Clara Selman. Samuel was a realtor in the City at the time of Elva’s death.

Elva apparently was wading in English Bay, using crutches to help her remain upright. She had had surgery about a year earlier (for reasons not explained in the Vancouver Daily World).

The scene of Elva’s death was evidently never treated as anything other than accidental. According to the Daily World:

“Miss Selman was somewhat crippled, and went into the water on crutches. None of the party saw the accident, but it is presumed that she must have lost her balance. Her absence was noticed and a quick search in the water resulted in the body being found within fifteen minutes. It was hoped that life might not be extinct and several men worked willingly for over an hour in a vain attempt [at] resuscitation. Immediately the accident was reported the police patrol, with a doctor, was hurried to the scene, and was later used to convey the body to the family home on Nelson Street.” (Vancouver Daily World, August 21, 1908).

I assume there was no autopsy, since the funeral service was held the next day, on Saturday the 22nd.

Elva’s death happened between senior ministers at FBC. Dr. J. Willard Litch had left FBC a year prior, and it would be almost another year after her passing before H. Francis Perry would take up pastoral duties at First.
img_20160919_0001Her Saturday service was, therefore, led by Rev. P. Clifford Parker (of the long-gone Central Baptist Church, Vancouver at Laurel and 10th) with assistance from veteran B.C. Baptist pastor, Rev. Peter H. McEwen, and another pastor who was in the city to supply the pulpit at First for a couple of Sundays, Rev. T. T. Shields. Albert E. Greenlaw  was also on hand to render a solo. Following the service, a special B.C. Electric train car was commissioned (at no small cost to the family, I suspect) to convey mourners from FBC to the graveside at Mountain View Cemetary.

The funeral service on Saturday, however, apparently was not enough. According to the Daily World column from the Monday following, “[t]he Sunday morning service conducted by T. T. Shields and A. E. Greenlaw in the First Baptist Church, took the form of a memorial service to the late Miss Selman, of which church she was a member.”


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

T. T. Shields ‘Second Fiddle’ to A. E. Greenlaw… Who?

This article appeared in the screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-8-53-53-amVancouver Daily World on August 17, 1908. An intriguing aspect of the piece, to me, was that Shields, who was near the beginning of his career as an Ontario Baptist preacher of note (later, pastor at Jarvis Street Baptist in Toronto, and, ultimately, a leader of the Canadian Baptist fundamentalist movement who would contribute to the mid-1920s strife that would split the denomination), was given much less attention (in terms of column-inches) than the to-me-unknown singer, A. E. Greenlaw, who is described as “one of Canada’s greatest singers”!

Albert E. Greenlaw (circa1880-1953) was an American bass singer who (judging from his many concerts in Baptist churches) was probably of that denominational stripe.

Greenlaw also was a black man. He was apparently an original member of the Nashville-based, African-American group known then (and now) as the Fisk Jubilee Singers (consisting of students at Fisk University).


T. T. Shields

Greenlaw apparently had a pretty busy solo career, post-Fisk, touring in North America; his popularity (and, to some extent, that of Shields) pulled 1,800 people into the Vancouver Opera House a week after this Daily World article appeared.  It cannot truly be said that Greenlaw was “one of Canada’s greatest singers”, however; indeed, it seems improbable that Greenlaw cast himself as a ‘Canadian’. By 1925, he was described in the Ottawa Journal as the “well-known bass of Detroit, Michigan”.

I have found an early recording of the Fisk Singers (1909); although Greenlaw would have been long-gone by the time this recording was made, it conveys something of their a cappella musical style. If you are wondering how Greenlaw sounded as a soloist, I suspect that he may have sounded quite similar to the late George Beverly Shea (1909-1913). An example of Bev Shea’s musical style is here.

A remarkable thing about Greenlaw and Shields is how they have almost completely disappeared from the historical ‘radar’ of most Canadians (and, I’d venture to guess, likewise of Americans). Neither is a household name. To borrow from Isaiah 40, reputations and notoriety wither and fade along with grass and flowers.

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

“What the…?”


CVA – Air P73.2:  Hoffar H3 Seaplane in Coal Harbour, 1919. (Exposure adjusted slightly by author).

I think this is a terrific shot made by some (today unknown) soul with enough spunk to see the potential of the shot and to just shoot it (in a day when camera technology didn’t often reward such spontaneity)! A pilot appears to be taxiing the Hoffar seaplane into Hoffar Shipyards (1927 W. Georgia Street), which backed onto Coal Harbour, pictured above. (For a decidedly less happy occasion in the career of Hoffar and his shipyards, see this dramatic post).

Hoffar Shipyards (later, Hoffar-Beeching) was ultimately bought by Boeing and became part of Boeing Canada where they built seaplanes and also more conventional seacraft. Boeing maintained the Hoffar site on Georgia Street until World War II when it was moved to a much larger facility at Sea Island.

There is a fact about James Reid Hoffar (1890-1954) of which I wasn’t aware until recently. He was the son of pioneer Vancouver architect, Noble Stonestreet Hoffar (1843-1907) and Sarah Hoffar.

Posted in boats/ships, water scene | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Peter Thomas, Pender & Homer Portrait, 1972

vpl 86489C Parking lot attendant at the corner of Pender and Homer  1972 Peter Thomas

VPL 86489C Parking lot attendant at the corner of Pender and Homer. 1972. Peter Thomas photo.

Peter Thomas is not a photographer with whom I’m familiar. But upon stumbling upon some of his work at VPL’s online historical photos site, recently, I have to say I like his style.

The image above was apparently made at the northwest corner of Pender and Homer, where, roughly from the 1960s until the 1990s, Downtown Parking Corp. (DPC) had a small parking garage. The image is one of four similar photos made by Thomas of the attendant. I like this one best.

The exterior of the attendant’s hut is visible here a couple of years later (in 1974) beneath the wall ad for the Niagara Hotel:

CVA 778-194 - 400 Homer Street west side May 1974

CVA 778-194 – 400 Homer Street west side. May 1974.

In this perspective image (made in the same year), it is clear that the DPC lot wasn’t much of a garage. Two levels, evidently.

CVA 778-193 - 400 Homer Street west side May 1974

CVA 778-193 – 400 Homer Street west side. May 1974. Cropped slightly and exposure adjusted by author.

The parking garage replaced longtime resident of this corner, Ellesmere Rooms.

CVA 1184-699 - [Oldest boarding house in Vancouver, corner of Homer and Pender Streets] 1943 Jack Lindsay photo

CVA 1184-699 – [Oldest boarding house in Vancouver, corner of Homer and Pender Streets]. 1943. Jack Lindsay photo. Slightly cropped and exposure adjusted by author.

Posted in art, Parking Garages, Peter Thomas | Leave a comment

Langara School for Boys

CVA M-11-62 - A West End home [probably on the 1100 block of Georgia Street] 191- Richard Broadbridge photo

CVA M-11-62 – A West End home [probably on the 1100 block of Georgia Street] 191- Richard Broadbridge photo. This was the temporary quarters of Langara School for Boys (1913).

The Langara School for Boys was one of two private schools (the second was a school for girls known as Braemar) that were under the authority of Western Residential Schools. Principal McKay (of Westminster Hall) was president of Western Residential Schools and Rev. E. D. McLaren was the superintendent.

The photo above shows the temporary quarters of Langara. The school was at this downtown location on the corner of Bute and Georgia streets, apparently, for the best part of 1913. The principal of the School for Boys at this time was A. R. Tait.

vdw 7 Aug 1915

Vancouver Daily World. Ad. 7 August 1915.

Sometime in 1914, the school moved into its permanent quarters which had been under construction during 1913. This new location was located on 15 acres of land “adjoining the Shaughnessy Golf Course between Bodwell [33rd Ave.] and Whitehead [37 Ave.]”. The main building was situated at the corner of what is today 33rd and Heather.

vpl 20311 Langara School for Boys 1917. Dominion photo

VPL 20311. Langara School for Boys 1917. Dominion photo. This is the ‘permanent location’ of the school at 33rd and Heather.

The ‘permanent’ site of the school proved to be less than stable. By 1917, Langara was asked to shift out of its building so that a military hospital could be established there. Langara would move to Kitsilano to one of the corners at Larch and 2nd Ave. Residency was to be located in a separate building across from the school. I couldn’t find a photograph of the school at its Kitsilano location.

CVA 99-5096 - Patients and Staff - Langara Military Hospital June 1917 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5096 – Patients and Staff – Langara Military Hospital (aka Fairmont Hospital). (Formerly Langara School for Boys). June 1917 Stuart Thomson photo.

By 1920, Western Residential Schools was in the hands of the liquidators and negotiations were underway with the federal government to buy the Fairmont Hospital (formerly Langara school). It isn’t clear to me exactly why Western Residential Schools faced liquidation less than 8 years after establishing the schools. But I would speculate that being moved from their custom-built quarters near the end of the Great War probably didn’t help.

The federal government converted the former Langara property into a Vancouver barracks for the RCMP. The former Braemar would have a wing added to the Shaghnessy Hospital as a training site for Great War veterans (to be known by the awkward bureaucratic title: “Soldiers’ Civil Re-Establishment”.

CVA 780-288 - [Canadian Government RCMP Fairmont Barracks at] 4949 Heather [Street]. 1976.

CVA 780-288 – [Canadian Government RCMP Fairmont Barracks at] 4949 Heather [Street]. 1976.

The RCMP barracks have now moved off the former Langara School site to a location in Surrey. In October 2014, the Heather Lands were acquired by the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations and Canada Lands Company “in an historic joint venture. The agreement will see the joint venture partners working side-by-side with local communities and municipalities to establish new visions for this site.” The former Braemar school for girls site is today Braemar Park at corner of Willow and 27th Avenue.

Posted in Dominion Photo, education, Richard Broadbridge | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charles Schooley: City Paymaster and Prominent Baptist

Charles Abraham Schooley - FBC LIfe Deacon and COV Chief Paymaster

Charles Abraham Schooley. n.d. First Baptist Church (Vancouver) Archives.

Charles Abraham Schooley (1850-1931) was born in Port Colborne, Ontario. He studied law for a couple of years but ultimately withdrew from that course of study due to illness. He then was one of the first men to enter into the moss trade (of all things) while in Florida for a few years. He returned to Ontario where he began working with the Hobbs Hardware Co. of London until he came to Vancouver in 1889 with his recently-wed wife, Kate Eastman Schooley (nee Samons, of Hamilton). When he got to Vancouver, he worked at first as an agent with Imperial Oil Co. and later as a wholesale produce dealer. Finally, in 1905, he became a City employee, working initially with the Treasury department and, two years later, being promoted to the post of Chief Paymaster.*

Schooley became a member of First Baptist Church shortly after establishing his residence here. He served as a Deacon and as Church Clerk for many years. In January 1925, he was made an Honorary Deacon in recognition of his many years of exemplary service.**

When the Schooleys first came to the city, they lived on Howe Street between Smithe and Nelson. By 1908, they’d moved to 2020 Beach Avenue – a home on the south side of Beach near Chilco Street. By 1911, however, the City wanted to create a string of parkland east of Stanley Park and so, as part of that plan, Schooley’s beachfront property was purchased by the City’s Land Purchasing Agent for $13,513.60.

S-5-15 - English Bay [and Beach Avenue West of Chilco Street looking east]  ca1896

CVA S-5-15 – English Bay [and Beach Avenue West of Chilco Street looking east]. ca1896. The Schooley residence at 2020 Beach Ave. would have been along here.

The Schooleys moved to their final residence at 2057 Pendrell Street in 1914.

VW 29 Sept 1922-1

Schooley’s job as City Paymaster wasn’t without drama. On September 29th, 1922 at 10.15am, Schooley and his aide, Bob Armstrong, “were slugged by three auto[mobile] bandits and relieved of a civic payroll of $75,000, while a crowd of terrified Chinese, who were standing by, scattered from a fusillade of three shots fired by the robbers.” (Vancouver Daily World, September 22, 1922). (We will leave to one side the question of whether three shots may be accurately called a fusillade.)

Neither Schooley nor Armstrong seem to have suffered serious injury. City Hall, at that time, was in the Old Market Hall. The two City employees were returning to City Hall from the bank, where they had picked up the payroll.

To the best of my knowledge, the robbers were never brought to book for this crime.***

Kate Schooley pre-deceased her husband in 1927. Schooley died in 1931 at the age of 84.

Charles and Kate Schooley seem to have been childless. I had initially wondered whether Jennie Schooley, a teacher at Strathcona School from  1928-1959, might have been their daughter, but I later learned that she was the daughter of another local Schooley: William Francis Schooley.


*These early details of Schooley’s life were found in British Columbia From Earliest Times to the Present: Biographical. Volume IV. 1914. S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., p. 819.

**Mrs. Schooley was a devout member of a different church: St. John’s Presbyterian (just a few blocks from First Baptist).

***There was a report on November 1, 1922 that Tacoma, WA police had two men in custody on suspicion of being parties to the Vancouver robbery. It was established pretty quickly, however, that the two who were detained were in no way responsible for the theft.

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

‘That Old [Herzogian] Feeling’

CVA 780-41 - [Houses along] Helmcken St[reet] 1966

CVA 780-41 – Scene on Helmcken Street. February, 1966. City of Vancouver Planning Dept. (Photographer unknown).

This image is a powerful reminder, to me at any rate, of a Fred Herzog image. I make no claim at all that this is a Herzog photo (it isn’t; it is one taken for the Vancouver Planning Department by a photographer for whom no attribution was attached). But it does have a few elements that remind me of Herzog’s published prints: 1) the mid-20th-century hint of smog in the air (most evident in the background near the BC Electric HQ on Nelson at Burrard); 2) the palate of blues, greens and rusty red; 3) the overall tone of the image that cannot be truly captured by a digital camera (nor with post-processing software); it comes only with images made around the mid-century period with traditionally-processed film.

At the same time, there is a major clue that this wasn’t a photograph made by Herzog. There doesn’t seem to be any artistic point to the photo. What do I mean by ‘artistic point’? This is where things get fuzzy and harder to relate in prose; but I’ll try. A huge part of it is that there are no people in this image (except for the part of a shoulder in the lower right corner). Not all of Herzog’s photos from the 1950s/60s were populated, but I’d guesstimate that at least 70% or more captured at least one individual that contributed to the ‘story’ of the photograph. For the Herzog images of this period – with and without people (for one without, see Blue Car, Strathcona) – there generally seemed to be a ‘story’ that he wanted to tell about life downtown (or in Vancouver generally) at this time. As with most art, however, the interpretation of that story is left to the viewer.

Although I’ve made the claim that the image above doesn’t have an artistic point, it certainly had a pragmatic point. It was taken by a photographer for the Vancouver Planning Department with a purpose in mind. I’d speculate that the point of this image was to be a ‘record shot’ of the three rooming houses.

Where on Helmcken Street was this image taken? It seems to have been made on the 500-block between Richards and Seymour. The CVA image below claims to be an image of the north side of that block in about 1981. It is remarkable how much remained unchanged between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s. The single-level commercial structure seems still to be present, as are the three rooming houses (by the 1980s, probably, looking worse for wear, although that is less obvious in a black & white image).

CVA 779-E08.28 - 500 Helmcken Street north side 1981 Vancouver Planning Dept Photo (Unknown photographer).

CVA 779-E08.28. 500 Helmcken Street north side. 1981. Vancouver Planning Dept Photo (Unknown photographer).

Although the roughly twenty-year period from the 1960s to ’80s left the buildings on this side of the 500-block remarkably unchanged, the subsequent 30 years have been less ‘kind’. The north side of that block has been wholly given over, now, to residential towers.

Helmcken west of Richards north side of block

Helmcken between Seymour and Richards. North side of block. 2016. Author’s photo.

Happily, however, the next block (the 400-block between Richards and Homer) includes a few vintage homes that have been re-done for commercial purposes, but still retain something of the ‘early-Vancouver home’ style.

Helmcken east of Richards north side of block

Helmcken east of Richards. North side of block. 2016. Author’s photo.

The title of this post was inspired by lyrics by Lew Brown (melody by Sammy Fein) of a tune by the same name. For the record, I prefer Diana Krall’s rendition to that of Sinatra (who had a hit with this song in 1960).

Posted in city, Electric Power, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Gasoline ‘Strike’ of April ’40

CVA 1495-33 - What We Have We'll Hold! [David Spencer's Ltd. employees and unidentified man during gasoline strike of April 1940]_

CVA 1495-33 – David Spencer’s Ltd. employees and unidentified man during gasoline strike of April 1940.

The week-long, so-called ‘gasoline strike’ of April 1940 should probably more accurately be called an embargo or boycott. This wasn’t a withdrawal of labour, thus inconveniencing management and pressuring the latter to negotiate with labour’s trade union representatives (the common meaning of ‘strike’). Rather, this was an act of the oil companies of the day to pressure consumers to bring pressure to bear on their elected representatives. This episode had that effect, but probably not quite as the oil companies had in mind.

According to Vincent Bladen, in his Introduction to Political Economy, a central factor leading to the 1940 embargo was BC’s geography. He quotes Stephen Enke from an article written shortly after the embargo:

With a former base price at Vancouver of 27 cents an imperial gallon for ‘regular’ grade gasoline… retail prices in interior parts are in most cases 35 cents, and sometimes in excess of 45 cents. In the smaller towns retail margins are usually 7 cents and frequently more. Such spreads are not always a reflection on high retailing costs, however, but of collusion between a handful of dealers who know that the next settlement is 80 miles away. (Enke’s article from Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 1941 and quoted in Bladen)

The province of B.C. appointed a Coal and Petroleum Products Control Board in 1938; the Board issued an order fixing the retail price of gas.

That ‘tore it’ as far as Big Oil was concerned; an injunction was sought and a legal tussle was begun. The Supreme Court of Canada, in April 1940, ruled that the province was able to establish the Control Board.

Having failed to defeat the legislation in the courts, the oil companies decided to “strike”. On April 26, they agreed to furnish no gasoline to dealers in British Columbia. Stocks quickly ran out. (Bladen)

B.C. Premier, Duff Pattullo’s government took a surprisingly tough and activist stance vis-a-vis the oil companies. The Assembly amended the Act to allow the Province to

take over existing plants in the event of another emergency. Amendment after amendment proposed by opposition ranks went down to defeat as division after division revealed the government and C.C.F. members voting together against Conservative and individual Liberal support. (Chilliwack Progress, May 15, 1940)

A compromise agreement was reached between Big Oil and the Control Board. In most regions of the province, the consumer would enjoy a two-cent per gallon cut in gas prices. The retail dealers and wholesale distributors would each be expected to eat 1 cent of this cut.

The Gasoline ‘Strike’ of 1940 was over.

It isn’t clear to me whether the amended B.C. Act was ever proclaimed into law. It seems to me that it would have been vulnerable to legal challenge. The Supreme Court of Canada was not until 1949 the highest court of appeal. At this time, the oil companies could have sought leave to appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the U.K.

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An Audi Baritone: Update

Originally published October 2014.


CVA 1184-2072 John Charles Thomas signing a drum while group of people watch in music store. Jack Lindsay photo. 1940-48? (Probably 1946).

Who is the apparent rock star above? A fellow who, in his day, was a household word: American opera baritone, John Charles Thomas.  Today, his vocal stylings are not quite forgotten (although his name is all but so); his English rendering of Johann Strauss’s “Open Road, Open Sky” was used in Audi’s 2011 advertisement for its A6 Avant automobile (featuring robotic bird animation).  In the image above, he appears to be in Kellys Appliances shop (Georgia at Seymour).  Thomas was well known and appreciated by Vancouver music lovers; most notably, he drew some 15,000 to an outdoor concert at Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl in 1939. I cannot imagine a crowd of that size at the Bowl!

August 4/16 Update:

Here is a shot I recently stumbled across on CVA that cracks me up. It shows John Charles in his pinstripes mugging as though he had something to do with the construction of the Brockton Point grandstand being built for Vancouver’s Diamond Jubliee at the time (1946).

St Pk N105 - [John C. Thomas and Mrs. Gordon Hilker during the stage and stands construction for Vancouver's Diamond Jubilee celebration at Brockton Point] 1946

CVA St Pk N105 – John Charles Thomas during the stage and stands construction for Vancouver’s Diamond Jubilee celebration at Brockton Point. 1946.

And here is another chuckle: John Charles in full costume as Captain Geo. Vancouver (and an unknown young Vancouver resident, I presume). As I recall, the Diamond Jubilee pageant was organized by an American who didn’t take Vancouver’s tendency to dampness into account. The pageant was not the roaring success that had been hoped for, as a result.

St Pk N103 - [John C. Thomas playing Captain George Vancouver at a pageant to celebrate Vancouver's Diamond Jubilee at Brockton Point] 1946.

CVA St Pk N103 – John Charles Thomas playing Captain George Vancouver at a pageant to celebrate Vancouver’s Diamond Jubilee at Brockton Point. 1946.

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Classic Images: Update

1936 John Vanderpant. The Silent City

John Vanderpant. The Silent City. 1936.

H. Mortimer Lamb Mine Buildings, BC

Harold Mortimer Lamb. The Silent City. Mine Buildings, BC,

These two images are, in my judgement, outstanding examples of pictorial photography (or camera work as art). Both were made by Vancouver photographers: Harold Mortimer-Lamb was an amateur; John Vanderpant a professional. But when looking at these two lovely images, such labels become irrelevant. They speak only to how a person earns their daily bread, rather than to skill or compositional eye.

The first photograph reminds me of the former Britannia Mines, but I have no way of knowing whether that was where the image was made. The second, I’m pretty sure, was made in the City of Vancouver.

August 3rd, 2016 Update

I’ve just noticed an image made by Leonard Frank in the same year as Harold Mortimer-Lamb (from what appears to be an identical vantage point – although with Frank’s quite different, ‘sharp and shiny’/f64, photographic take on it). The photo is identified as Premier Mine (near Stewart, Portland Canal, BC). This is a much more distant and remote location from Vancouver than is Britannia Mine. For more information about the Premier Mine, see here.

Premier Mine near Portland Canal, BC 1927. Leonard Frank photo

Premier Mine near Portland Canal, BC 1927. Leonard Frank photo. From An Enterprising Life: Leonard Frank Photographs 1895-1944. Cyril E. Leonoff. Vancouver: Talon Books, 1990, p. 120.

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Charles van Sandwyk


From Canadian Content. By Charles van Sandwyk (with an introduction by Waisiki Doughty). 2009.

Today’s post is a bit of a detour from the usual for VAIW.

I was reminded today, by a couple of events, of these wonderful illustrations. I was engaged this morning in the happy task of re-arranging the volumes in our bookcases and in so doing, I re-discovered the monograph (Canadian Content by Charles van Sandwyk) from which these two scans were made. Second, the book was a gift from my wife and me to ourselves on the occasion of an anniversary (the number of which neither of us can recall). It will be our Silver Wedding Anniversary in a couple days.

For more about van Sandwyk and his illustrations, see this site.


From Canadian Content. By Charles van Sandwyk (with an introduction by Waisiki Doughty). 2009.

Here is a link to Van Sandwyck reading from the volume from which these pieces were scanned.

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The ‘Heebie Jeebies’

CVA 180-1636 - Darlyne Slenderizing Glamour Salon device demonstration 1950 Artray Studio

CVA 180-1636 – Darlyne Slenderizing Glamour Salon device demonstration. 1950. Artray Studio.

When I first ran across this image in the City of Vancouver Archive online images, I was inclined to be scornful. Until I remembered some of the ads I’ve seen in recent years for so-called ‘body sculpting solutions’ and a wide variety of other ‘cures’ for a couple surplus cookies. Vanity of vanities.

Darlyne Slenderizing Glamour Salon was located at 1009 Nelson – adjacent to First Baptist Church (where FBC’s parking lot is today).


Posted in Artray, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, people | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Unsolved Photo Mystery


A scan of a Stuart Thomson print showing what appears to be a restaurant/lounge space. n.d. Author’s image.

I recently purchased the print from which the above scan was produced. It was made by one of my favourite early Vancouver professional photographers, Stuart Thomson. The photo seems to have been taken in a commercial food/drink establishment, somewhere in Vancouver I’m assuming. There is no year on the print, but I’m guessing it was a fairly early Thomson image, made in the 1920s, perhaps.

After buying the print, I did quite a lot of hunting for a similar image. I didn’t have much success.

The closest I came in my search was the interior shot shown below of the Peter Pan Cafe also made by Thomson (in 1929). I thought the space shown in my print might have been an earlier incarnation of the Peter Pan at 1138 Granville Street.

VPL 8927 Interior of Peter Pan Cafe (1138 Granville St) 1929 Stuart Thomson Cafe

VPL 8927 Interior of Peter Pan Cafe (1138 Granville St). 1929. Stuart Thomson photo.

This image has some features in common with space shown in my print, but there are a number of differences, too (not least, that the space in the print appears to be wider than in the Peter Pan). At the end of the day, however, I eliminated the Peter Pan space as a possible contender by the fact that there is no evidence that it was ever a restaurant prior to it becoming the Peter Pan.*

Ultimately, after pursuing the photo search for several more days, I said “Enough!” and decided to let the mystery rest in my subconscious for awhile.

This week, I was reading an excellent volume of oral histories by Vancouver old-timers .** I was reading David deCamillis’ early recollections, when I came across these sentences:

My father rented the basement of the Lotus Hotel and called it the Lotus Cabaret, with a partner who used to own a taxi company here. I was about 18 [1931] and I went down to see my father….It was fixed up real nice with these booths on the side with curtains, and we had a five-piece orchestra up on a stage that was built-in. (Opening Doors: Vancouver’s East End, p.82)

I allowed myself a muted and internalized “Eureka!” after reading (and re-reading) these lines. I couldn’t find evidence of a drinking establishment at the Lotus Hotel known as the “Lotus Cabaret”.  Indeed, as far as I can tell, it was known at the time – in city directories, at least – as the “Lotus Hotel Beer Parlour” – a much less mysterious/sexy name. But the description of the place offered by Mr. deCamillis was enticingly similar to what appears in my scanned print.

I should emphasize that I don’t consider the case closed.

I’m not convinced that my print is actually of the Lotus Cabaret. On the other hand, I’m not convinced that it is not. More digging is wanted. I’ll pursue this with the staff at today’s Lotus Hotel (an SRO, currently) and see if they have any photos that show something akin to the scene in my print.

Researchers tend to be optimistic. I continue to hope that I or someone else will eventually find a matching photo and/or some other clinching piece of evidence as to the location of the Thomson print. Perhaps not this month or this year. But eventually.

If it turns out that you figure out the location of the image, I’d appreciate hearing from you!


*B.C. Electric and Vancouver Gas Co. appear to have been occupants of the space for several years prior to it becoming the Peter Pan Cafe.

**It is called Opening Doors: Vancouver’s East End. Part of the Sound Heritage series (Vol VIII, Nos. 1 & 2). n.d. (c1980).

Posted in stuart thomson | 6 Comments

Frank Hart’s Harangue

Port P1449.2 - [Frank Hart speaking to other pioneers gathered for the Maple Tree Monument unveiling on the southwest corner of Carrall Street and Water Street] - incldg Charles Gardner Johnson, K. SIlverman, Peter Larson - 1925

CVA Port P1449.2 – [Frank Hart speaking to other pioneers gathered for the Maple Tree Monument unveiling on the southwest corner of Carrall Street and Water Street]. Including 1. Frank W Hart (c1857-1935), 2. Charles Gardner Johnson (c1855-1928), 3. Kalman Silverman (c1857-1926), and 4. Peter Larson (c1859-1934). (I cannot find any source that identifies the gent with the long beard at far left; he appears also in the final image in this post – likewise unidentified). Image made 1925.

The photo was made to commemorate the Maple Tree Monument at the corner of Carrall and Water streets. The monument was created by prolific Vancouver sculptor, Charles Marega, originally as part of a drinking fountain in 1925. In 1986, with the establishment of the sculpture of “Gassy” Jack Deighton (artist, Vern Simpson, working from a drawing by Fritz Jacobson), the monument was incorporated into it instead. It isn’t clear to me when exactly the drinking fountain was removed from the site, but probably during the renovations to the Maple Tree Square/Trounce Alley section of Gastown in the early 1970s.

The gent who is apparently haranguing his fellow Vancouver Pioneers from atop the chair is Frank W. Hart. I suspect this was a bit of fun, staged for the camera. But it was probably not wholly outside of his personality to give others their marching orders; he was a funeral director/embalmer.* I expect he was used to getting his way and having his say; his customers couldn’t talk back!

Mon P77.2 - [Charles Marega unveils Maple Tree Memorial]  1925 Stuart Thomson photo

Mon P77.2 – [Charles Marega unveils Maple Tree Memorial]. 1925. Stuart Thomson photo. It appears to be Pete Larson (Prop., Hotel North Vancouver) on the far left of the photo.

A larger gathering of the pioneers present for the unveiling of the drinking fountain monument in 1925 appears below.

Port P1449.1 - [Pioneers gathered for the Maple Tree Monument unveiling on the southwest corner of Carrall Street and Water Street] 1925

Port P1449.1 – [Pioneers gathered for the Maple Tree Monument unveiling on the southwest corner of Carrall Street and Water Street]. 1925. Selected individuals are identified by CVA (the occupation of each person has been added by the author): 1. John S.Rankin (Accountant, Customs Broker, Commission Merchant); 2. Captain E. S. Scoullar (Tinsmith); 3. Unidentified; 4. Unidentified; 5. Peter Righter(Engineer, CPR); 6. “Pete” Giles Shenston (Occ. Unknown); 7. Mrs. Carson (Delegate, Council of Women); 8. Mrs. Emily Eldon (Widow of Harry Eldon, former Parks Commissioner); 9. Mrs. J. W. McFarland; 10. J. W. McFarland (Mgr, Real Estate Dept., Ceperley Rounsefell); 11. Andy Linton (Boatbuilder); 12. Kelman Silverman (Pawnbroker); 13. Captain C. H. Cates (Master Mariner); 14. George Munro (Railway Builder); 15. W. S. Cook (Dealer in Lime, Sand, Brick and Soil); 16. Pete Larson (Prop., Hotel North Vancouver); 17. Harry Hoffmeister (Automobile Dealer).


*Hart was also the owner of Hart’s Opera House located on Carrall St. It had the distinction of being the first opera house in the city, but by all accounts there was substantially less to see, architecturally, than the name suggested.

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When a Rake Was a Component of Pole Vaulting?

805-43 - St. George's School - Sports Day May 1939 Dominion Photo

CVA 805-43 – St. George’s School – Sports Day. May 1939. Dominion Photo.

This is something I don’t recall seeing in recent track and field days: a dude standing next to a pole vaulter with a rake at the ready! Gotta love those stripy jackets with short pants! (Presumably, the rake was to smooth out the soil after a vaulter had finished his turn).

Posted in Dominion Photo, sport | 2 Comments

Bow-Mac Supermarket

99-29-15 - [Bowmac sign at 1154 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.] Barbara Elizabeth Wilson 1982-82

CVA 99-29-15 – [Bowmac sign at 1154 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.]. Sketch by Barbara Elizabeth Wilson 1982-83.

The 80-foot Bow-Mac sign at 1154 West Broadway, has been a landmark in the neighbourhood since it was erected in 1958.

There were a couple of aspects about Bow-Mac’s history of which I wasn’t aware until today: (1) the lot was originally called the ‘Bow-Mac (Used Car) Supermarket’; and (2) that it was the used automobile lot associated with Bowell-McDonald (later, Bowell-McLean) Pontiac, Cadillac, and Buick (and, later, Vauxhall) new auto lot located at 615 Burrard Street (roughly where the Burrard Skytrain Station is located today).

For more info pertaining to the sign, this page is pretty detailed.

Crop of CVA 586-2130 - Victory Loan parade [on Burrard Street] 1942

Crop of CVA 586-2130 – Victory Loan parade [on Burrard Street], 1942. Bowell-McDonald new car lot on Burrard Street appears on the left of the image.

Posted in automobiles | 6 Comments

Mr. Rockefeller Regrets


Correspondence written June 19, 1911 by Starr J. Murphy (Attorney to John D. Rockefeller) to Dr. Lachlan N. MacKechnie of First Baptist Church, Vancouver. Source: FBC Vancouver Archives.

This letter was written by John D. Rockefeller’s attorney, Starr J. Murphy (1860-1921), in response to a now-lost letter sent by Dr. L. N. MacKechnie (1864-1926) of First Baptist Church (Vancouver). It seems reasonable to conclude from the context that the letter from FBC was a plea for financial support from Rockefeller (1839-1937), to which Murphy replied in the negative on JDR’s behalf.

Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, was a noted philanthropist and well-known Baptist. He attended and supported (in both deeds and dollars, apparently) Erie Street Baptist Mission Church (later known as Euclid Avenue Baptist Church)  in Cleveland.

MacKechnie was a major mover and shaker at FBC in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was prominent in the building of FBC’s current structure at Burrard and Nelson streets.

In June 1911, First Baptist was on the verge of moving into their brand new ‘fortress’ church at the corner of  Burrard & Nelson (the dedication service was on June 9, 1911). Exact figures are hard to come by, but there is no question that the new church building had set the congregation back by an unanticipated amount. So much so that the FBC ‘powers that were’ had been in contact with the architects (Burke Horwood & White) and Heard (of Matheson & Heard, general contractors) about getting them to reduce their charges, which were in excess of the original estimates. Burke, apparently, was prepared to accommodate FBC. But Heard was more uncompromising. According to a minute from March 28, 1911, a committee had had “several interviews” with Heard “regarding the suggestion made by the Committee, that in view of the excessive cost of the buildings over the estimates, particularly the Contracts under Mr Heard’s charge, some reduction might be made in Heard’s charges by the way of commission or otherwise.” According to the minute, Heard was prepared to make “some reduction”, but not nearly enough to satisfy the committee: $100.

MacKechnie, who appears to have been the de facto chairman of the church board at this time, must have been at his wits end and in desperation thought to invite the richest Baptist of the day to make a donation to FBC’s financial mess. There is no mention in any FBC minutes that I’ve been able to unearth of the church instructing MacKechnie to approach JDR.

A few years subsequent to the Murphy/MacKechnie communication, JDR would give $10,000 to the Western Canadian denominational regional body (the Baptist Union) to support missions work in the area.*


*John Byron Richards. Baptists in British Columbia: A Struggle to Maintain Sectarianism. M.A. Thesis. UBC, 1964.


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Baptist Missionaries in Shaughnessy


The Baptist Union of Western Canada: A Centennial History 1873-1973. J. E. Harris, p. 148. The photo shows Florence Pletch [correct spelling of her name: Pletsch)* at 1492 West 33rd, the home donated by Mrs. F.R. Stewart to the Canadian Baptists. Photographer unknown.

In 1953, a member of First Baptist Church, Mrs. Francis Stewart, moved out of her home in Shaughnessy district at 1492 West 33rd Avenue (at Granville) and donated it to the Baptist overseas mission board.

The home was used as the Vancouver Missionary Furlough Home for missionaries who were taking a break from service abroad. According to the history of the regional Baptist body, written by J. E. Harris, the home “served that purpose well for several years. Then, due to traffic increase on Granville, the house was sold and the money used to buy a duplex in a quiet area” at 2337 W. 10th Ave., which was used as the Mission Home going forward. (Harris, p. 134).

It isn’t clear to me just how long this real estate service was provided by the denomination to its missionaries. But it appears to have lasted through the 1970s for sure, and quite possibly into the ’80s.

The original Mission House seems to be extant. It is difficult to get an image of it from street level, though, due to the tall hedge that surrounds it. However, on Google, one can see the house from above, and it appears to be the same structure. The more recent house on W. 10th is decidedly not extant, being recently replaced with a new duplex structure.


*Florence Pletsch died in Revelstoke in 2008 at age 86. She grew up in Calgary and trained as a nurse, later serving as a missionary nurse in India for Canadian Baptists for over 40 years. (Obituary, Calgary Herald, September 2008).

Sources: I’m indebted to Linda Zlotnik, Phyllis Metcalfe, and Nancy Scambler, in addition to the above-mentioned volume by J. E. Harris, for information and memories pertaining to the Baptist Mission Houses. 

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Local Shutterbugs: ‘The Bees’ Wings?’


Camera Craft. May 1923. p243. (VAIW note: John Vanderpant’s name is misspelled in the caption).

Camera Craft was a long-running monthly periodical published by the Photographers’ Association of California which (thanks to Internet Archive) is easily accessed today. There are interesting articles of enduring interest to a camera-savvy readership. But our attention here will focus on  a few mentions made of the Vancouver/New Westminster branch of the association in the 1920s.

The photo above puts faces to the names of some of the photographers featured in VanAsItWas. W. H. Calder is one, so is George T. Wadds and W. J. Moore. Some of the gents in the photo above have not, up to now, appeared in VAIW. Why? Most of those whose work isn’t included in VAIW were principally studio photographers (e.g., Chapman, Bridgman, Rowe, and McKenzie) and this blog tends not to show many studio images (street photography is my emphasis). John Vanderpant was a landscape and a studio photographer, but unfortunately none of his landscape work is included among the City of Vancouver Archives or VPL Historical Photos collections.

There are a number of prominent photographers who were active in the 1920s who were not on the executive committee of the V&NWPA (locally/informally known, I believe, as the Vancouver Camera Club). Stuart Thomson and Leonard Frank leap to mind as two examples. It could be that they were members of the club but not on the executive. Or they may have been too busy making their careers at the time (for Thomson, the 1920s were certainly his most prolific decade).

In a 1927 issue, the following list of photographic sub-genres appeared in a Camera Craft description of a Vancouver area show of photographs:

[It] occupied two spacious floors with its 2500 prints. These came from twenty-three countries besides the local contributions and comprised a variety of branches of the art and the craft: aerial, criminal investigation, finger prints, astronomical, pathological, X-ray and the usual portraiture and commercial work. (Camera Work, December 1927, 596)

In addition to the ‘branches’ mentioned – a couple of which tried my imagination – please note one category which got no mention at all in this list: street photography.

cameracraft321925phot_0667  p587 Dec 1925 CC

Camera Craft, Dec 1925, p587. “Too Early on the Job”. John Helders photo.

Helga Pakasaar, in her article titled “Formulas for the Picturesque: Vancouver Pictorialist Photography 1930-45” says:

Vancouver photographers saw the work of Edward Weston and Imogene Cunningham at the Vanderpant Galleries [at 1216 Robson] in 1931 and followed the ‘great debate’ in the pages of Camera Craft where the ‘fuzzy wuzzies’ railed against the “sharp and shinies” in an extended dialogue that lasted from 1934 to 1941. Vancouver photographers… participated in these discussions through their involvement in the the journals and the exhibitions. (Pakasaar, Vancouver: Art and Artists 1931-1983, Vancouver Art Gallery, 49).

John Helders (1888-1956) was a Vancouver amateur photographer. His image above of workers waiting for their work day to begin, seems to be evidence that Helders was of the ‘fuzzy wuzzy’ school. For a Camera Craft image from a Vancouver photographer that is a bit closer to the ‘sharp and shiny’ (aka f64) category, see this one by Hugh Frith.

cameracraft331926phot_0262-2 May 1926 p242

Camera Craft. May 1926, p242. This photo, made for Camera Craft by an unknown photographer, was taken at the annual banquet and dance of the V&NWPA, “held at Princess Cafe”. (VAIW note: I think the location was actually Prince’s Cafe – located at 560 Granville).

Posted in Photographers, W J Moore, W. H. Calder, Wadds Bros. | 1 Comment

A Five-Hour Tour

CVA 99-2008 - Visit of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, polo game (Saddled Up) 1929 Stuart Thomson

CVA 99-2008 – Visit of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, polo game. 1929 Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW note: Henry appears to be closest to the photographer).*

87 years ago this month, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester,** came to Vancouver for a few days of R & R (or, rather, G & P . . . Golf and Polo) before a planned itinerary that was to include a stop (among others) near High River, Alberta at the Prince of Wales Ranch and points east of there.

As it turned out, the Prince ended up spending most of his visit in Vancouver. And nearly all of his time here was spent in his suite in the Hotel Vancouver. In bed. Convalescing.

He fell from his polo mount onto his head and fractured his collarbone. That happened on June 4. According to press accounts, he left Vancouver to return home to Britain on June 27. His Canadian tour (with the exception of a couple of days in Victoria before arriving in Vancouver aboard the Princess Mary) was a washout due to the polo incident.

Journalists of the day were remarkably discreet on the question of how, precisely, Henry came to be off his horse and wrong-end-up. Even several years after the Princely Tumble, one press account blamed the Prince’s horse, not the rider: “The pony slipped.”***

Prince Henry was in Vancouver for all of 5 hours before his fall. There was, evidently, no opportunity for a round of golf.

The prince’s polo match took place at the Vancouver Polo Club which was located, at the time, at Brighouse Park in Richmond.

CVA 99-2638 - Building at Brighouse Horse Racing Track 1929 Stuart Thomson

CVA 99-2638 – Building at Brighouse Horse Racing Track. 1929. Stuart Thomson photo.


*All of CVA’s Stuart Thomson images of Prince Henry at the Vancouver Polo Club may be seen here.

**Prince Henry was the third son of King George V and Queen Mary; he was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria. Henry married Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott (later, Princess Alice) in 1935. He was Governor-General of Australia from 1945-47. He died in 1974.

***The Spartanburg (South Carolina) Morning Herald. Sept 20/35.

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Designated Alien Landing Zones?

Real estate in Vancouver is at a premium. That is a truism. It has nearly always been the case in this city. Sure, there have been periodic and relatively short-lived dips. But only rarely has the real estate market here been seriously “off”.

If we accept that as valid, why are there some lots that seem to be chronically undeveloped (or nearly so)? Here are three that I can think of in the downtown area off the top of my head: the NW corner of Robson at Broughton (vacant for at least 50+ years; the North side of Hastings, just west of Hamilton (vacant from the late 1990s); and the lot near the NE corner of West Pender and Cambie (vacant since the 1950s, as far as I can tell).


I’m going to look at the last address in a bit of detail. I can find only one photograph in the City of Vancouver Archives or the VPL Historical Photos collection where there is a building on the lot in question (the lot is between what today is known as Architecture Centre – on the corner of Cambie and Pender – and the SRO known today as the Avalon). It is the building shown in the image below. The building number in this decade was 181 W Pender. (The street numbering along this stretch changed a bit: the number of the building – or the vacancy where there should have been one – was 189 in the 1920s).

vpl 80604A A T Rowell's Used Mags store now vacant 181 W Pender 1948  Art Jones photo

VPL 80604A A T Rowell’s Used Magazines store now vacant 181 W Pender 1948 Art Jones photo.

Here is the lot in 1910:

vpl 13676 Looking north at 100 Block West Pender 1910 R Broadbridge photo Savoy 167 W Pender

VPL 13676. Looking north at 100 Block West Pender. 1910 Robert Broadbridge photo.

Adjacent to the lot on the left is the Vancouver News-Advertiser building (which would later be occupied by the Province). To the right of the lot (east) is Avalon Rooms.

And here it is in 1981:

CVA 779-E16.12 - 100 West Pender Street north side 1981

CVA 779-E16.12 – 100 West Pender Street north side.1981. (VAIW Note: The empty lot in question is the one adjacent (to the east of) what today is known as the Architecture Centre – the 3-storey structure at the corner of Cambie and West Pender.

Nothing much has changed between 1981 and 2016 with respect to the vacant lot. It’s still empty. (Note: A narrow residential space has gone up adjacent to the Avalon since the 1910 image was made and that is still there today; it seems to have become part of the Avalon property; it is the lot to the west of there that remains vacant).

I don’t know what to make of lots like this one. They are islands of non-development amid a vast sea of lots which (if we listen to our civic officials) must not only be developed, but re-developed to appease the great idol known as Densification.

If, as Conan Doyle’s fictional detective is reputed to have maintained, once everything else is eliminated as a possible explanation, whatever remains must be true. . . then perhaps my ‘alien’ headline isn’t completely goofy!

Posted in Opinion, street scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Lumberman and His Boy

Str P221 - [A horse-drawn lumber wagon at the corner of Hastings Street and Cambie Street] 1888

CVA: Str P221 – [A horse-drawn lumber wagon at the corner of Hastings Street and Cambie Street]. 1888. Photographer not shown. CVA’s record indicates “Donated by Mr. and Mrs. William Blais in 1944 from the collection of Dr. A.M. Robertson” (the city’s first medical officer of public health).

This is one of my favourite early photographs of Vancouver, the condition of the negative, notwithstanding. I love it for the usual reason for love . . . just because! But also for compositional and historical reasons.

It seems to me all but certain that this was professionally produced, although there is no credit associated with the image as it has come down to us today. The image bears the compositional marks of a professional hand, in my opinion. The lumberman standing atop the cut lumber on the wagon is balanced by the young lad (his son, perhaps?) standing next to the rear of the wagon. Also, the angle at which the wagon is positioned – this is not a normal or natural way to ‘park’ a wagon. In my opinion, the vehicle was posed. It was arranged by the photographer so that the lumber in all of its amazing length was clearly visible, along with the horses and the two human figures.

If I were pressed to name a photo company that seems to me to be the producer of this image, I’d speculate that it was J. D. Hall of the Vancouver branch of the Vancouver Photo Co. Hall would have been in Vancouver for about a year by the time this image was made and his office was just a couple blocks away on Cordova Street.

In addition to the compositional strength of the image, I also love it for what the photo points to historically, today, about a crossing of streets which would become of some importance to the city over the decades ahead and into the 21st century. The four corners of Hastings at Cambie tell different stories. I will highlight just a few of them below:

  • SW:  To the left of the heads of the horses, is what today is (the un-square-like) Victory Square (1924), where the Cenotaph is located. At the time this image was made (1888), however, the first Provincial Courthouse was either under construction or would be very soon on this site. It wouldn’t last long, being torn down ca 1911; it would be an empty lot until Victory Square was established following the Great War (with a notable exception; in the 19-teens, the site served as the home for significant Christian evangelistic meetings). The courthouse would move to the site of today’s Vancouver Art Gallery (at Georgia and Hornby). Some of the buildings visible behind the heads of the horses would give way within the next decade to the Inns of Court building (1894) at the SW corner of Hamilton and Hastings and where the “Hamilton plaque” once was. The plaque commemorated where the CPR’s first land commissioner in Vancouver, L.A. Hamilton, first pounded a stake into the earth and laid out a significant proportion of the streets which are part of Vancouver today.
  • SE: The corner that the horses are facing is the one where the Vancouver News-Advertiser offices once were and which was HQ for a great part of the 20th century to Vancouver’s print journalism offices. Today, the building on that corner is the Architecture Centre (home to the Architectural Institute of B.C.). The building that would have been on the site at the time of this photo, however, was a wood-frame structure.
  • NE: To the right of the wagon, by 1900, would be another architectural landmark: the Flack block (William Blackmore, architect). This building had a substantial, but historically sensitive, re-do in 2008 by Donald Luxton.
  • NW: And, finally, behind the wagon would be, from ca 1895-1910, a shopping mall of sorts. Not by contemporary standards, perhaps, but the Arcade was an early version; it housed 13 shops. By 1910, the “tallest building in the British Empire” (as it would briefly be known), would replace the Arcade. It is the Dominion building and stands there today.


Posted in J. D. Hall, people, street scenes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cecil Akrigg and Stan Lowe Go for a Climb


The first of two snapshots “tipped in” on a blank sheet of looseleaf paper inside Cecil Akrigg’s copy (now mine) of the souvenir brochure published on the occasion of the opening of the Lion’s Gate Bridge in 1939. In this photo, the bridge construction appears to be almost complete. However, this image was evidently made prior to installation of Charles Marega‘s lions. ca 1939. Akrigg or Lowe photo.


This is the second (and more vertigo-inducing) snapshot inside the Lion’s Gate Bridge brochure. ca 1939. Akrigg or Lowe photo. (Note: Both photos were a little over-exposed; I’ve tweaked the exposure of each for maximum clarity).


This sentence with the signatures of Akrigg and Lowe appear beneath the snapshots in Akrigg’s former copy of the brochure.

Cecil Akrigg and Stan Lowe were in their 20s when they made these images to remember their adventures in and around the Lion’s Gate Bridge ca 1939.

No mention is made as to whether their climb up the bridge tower (of just under 480 feet) was authorized by the powers that be, but it seems to me very doubtful! In adulthood, both men would have careers that were solidly respectable: Akrigg would become the Registrar of the Supreme Court of B.C.; Lowe would be an accountant.

Akrigg’s wife, Kathleen, died from cancer in 1983. Stan Lowe, who was Kathleen’s brother, also died from cancer two years later.

About a month prior to the publication of this post, Cecil Akrigg’s wartime story* and his wife’s battle with cancer were written up by the BC Cancer Foundation as part of their Leave a Legacy campaign. Akrigg, 99, has left his life insurance to the Foundation. No mention was made in the Foundation write-up of Akrigg’s and Lowe’s adventurous ascent of the Lion’s Gate Bridge, however!

I purchased the Lion’s Gate Bridge brochure from an antiquarian bookseller a few years ago.

CVA 1376-247 - [Fraser Boathouse, west of Kitsilano Pool] 1938 Cecil N. Akrigg photo

CVA 1376-247 – [Fraser Boathouse, west of Kitsilano Pool]. According to CVA notes, the image shows Claude Lowe and his son, Stan. 1938. Cecil N. Akrigg photo.

Upper part of tower

Lower part of tower-2

Tower Diagram 1938. This was included with my copy of the brochure. It was published much more recently, however. Produced as a fundraiser for Theatre Under The Stars. Portfolio Printsellers 1994.


*There is a recording of Akrigg recounting in a bit more detail some of his wartime experience at The Memory Project.

Posted in biography, bridges/viaducts, people | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dr. Trevelyn Sleeth, Vancouver Vet

CVA 99-3465 - Dr. [Trevellyn] Sleeth's [Veterinary] Hospital [688 Seymour Street] - Operation on Dog 1923 S Thomson

CVA 99-3465 – Dr. [Trevellyn] Sleeth’s [Veterinary] Hospital [688 Seymour Street] – Operation on Dog. 1923. Stuart Thomson photo. (VAIW Notes:  There are at least two errors with the CVA record and two potential misdirections: “Trevelyn” is the correct spelling of Dr. Sleeth’s first name; the correct address of the hospital from 1914-1924 was 690 Seymour; the person treating the dog probably should be identified as one of Sleeth’s staff to prevent confusion; finally, it doesn’t look to me as though there is an “operation” underway – looks more like the dog’s paw is being disinfected or perhaps is having a dressing changed.)

Dr. Trevelyn Elston Sleeth (1890-1987) first showed up in Vancouver as the proprietor of B. C. Dog and Cat Clinic in 1914 (in his first year in the business, however, the hospital was called the “Canine and Feline Hospital”; perhaps too many potential clients didn’t know the meanings of those words). Sleeth had his first hospital near the NE corner of Seymour and Georgia, until just a few years before the Hudson’s Bay Co. would entirely re-do that side of the block to create their huge parking garage. He left Seymour in 1924 and seemed to have difficulty for a few years finding a new location for the hospital. Finally, though, he found a central location that stuck for awhile: the south end of Granville street just before crossing Granville Bridge.

vpl 5426A B.C. Veterinary Hospital 1928 1329 Granville St. Frank Leonard

VPL 5426A B.C. Veterinary Hospital (VAIW Note: Presumably, Dr. Sleeth is the middle figure). 1928. 1327/1329 Granville St. Leonard Frank photo.

The hospital remained on Granville at least until 1945. Shortly after, he seems to have concluded that the days at that site were numbered, as the Animal Hospital would need to give way to construction of the new (current) Granville Bridge. He moved his hospital out to Burnaby, the city in which he resided. He had a business already established there (from the 1920s) – Kingsway Boarding Kennels – to which he appears to have added the Vet Hospital around this time, moving it out of the City of Vancouver altogether. The Burnaby kennels/hospital site was located roughly in the Royal Oak area of Burnaby (with Burnaby’s renumbering along Kingsway, it would today be located at 5414 Kingsway). In the 1960’s, Sleeth apparently also had a clinic on Hastings and Willingdon and another one in the Whalley district of Surrey. He retired from veterinary practice in the late 1960s.

156-005Burnaby - Kingsway Boarding Kennels (1925)-2

156-005. Burnaby Historical Society Community Archives Collection. Kingsway Boarding Kennels. 1925. Today, the site of the kennels would be at 5414 Kingsway.

Sleeth was born in Toronto and did his veterinary training at Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), which later became a founding college of Guelph University. He married Isabelle Grace Petrie after arriving in Vancouver in 1914. They had six daughters together, Phyllis, Pauline, Barbara, and Dorothy (two died at or near birth). Isabelle and Trevelyn were later divorced and he later married again (Olive). Isabelle seems not to have remarried and kept Sleeth’s surname until her death in 1967.

Dr. Sleeth spent the 1970s raising thoroughbred horses at the Surrey end of the Port Mann Bridge. He lived until he was 97.

Posted in Leonard J. Frank, stuart thomson | 2 Comments

Not-So-Terrifically Respectful

tom-campbell - Vancouver Sun-2

Mayor Tom “Terrific” Campbell (1927-2012) captured by Vancouver Sun.

Vancouver’s 31st mayor (1967-72), Tom Campbell, was a pro-development, shoot-from-the-lip civic leader.

Campbell is best known to Vancouver heritage advocates and to the communities of Chinatown and Strathcona, as one of the most vocal proponents of the proposed downtown freeway system. Fortunately, community groups prevented Campbell (and others who favoured the freeway) from succeeding beyond the initial stage of that plan – the replacement of the old Georgia (McHarg) Viaduct with the Georgia/Dunsmuir Viaducts (which resulted in the near-total destruction of the predominantly black community of Hogan’s Alley).

In November 1967, a public meeting was called by City Council on the proposed freeway (evidently, Campbell wasn’t able to muster the votes necessary to prevent Council from taking that action).

Campbell responded publicly that the meeting would be “a public disgrace” and “a tempest in a Chinese teapot”.*

“The only purpose of the meeting is so that some politicians at city hall can appease people,”he said.

The Playhouse Theatre (part of the Queen Elizazbeth Theatre complex) was tentatively booked by Council for the meeting .

Campbell said, in response: “Do we have to hire a playhouse to put on a puppet show for objectors? All we’ll hear from are a few groups with vested interests who oppose the freeway.”


Exhibit at MOV: Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver. Photograph illustrates the freeway system envisioned by Tom Campbell and others. 2016. Photo by author.


*All quotations in this post are taken from Vancouver Sun, November 6, 1967, p. 16.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Charles S. Price: Healing in Vancouver?


cdm.chungphotos.1-0219927full Dr. Charlie S. Price evangelist campaign, Vancouver, B.C. May 1923 UBC CHung

CC-PH-00416. Dr. Charlie S. Price evangelist campaign, Vancouver, B.C. May 1923. Chung Collection. UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections. Yucho Chow photo. Note: Mrs. R.’s “she-devil”, Miss Carvell, is second from left in front row. Price is just  to the right of Cavell.

For three weeks in May 1923, Rev. Charles S. Price (1887-1947) held daily (and often twice daily) evangelistic meetings and faith healing services in Vancouver. Price had been in Victoria for several days in April 1923 before coming to Vancouver. According to one source, one-sixth of Victoria’s population went to hear Price speak at Willows Arena at Oak Bay.  Price held meetings in Victoria’s Chinatown, too, and many Chinese-Canadians went forward at his altar calls.

In Vancouver, the Price meetings were held at the Denman Arena, which could seat up to 10,000. Frank Patrick, owner of the Arena had this to say about the Price crowd: “[T]he evangelistic party addressed over a quarter of a million people in the space of three weeks. On more than one occasion, I could feel the very building tremble with the singing of the multitude who were unable to wait for the opening hymn.”

Ministers of Vancouver were more divided than had been the ministers in Victoria on the work of Charles Price and his claim to anoint people with miraculous physical healing. A number of Chinese pastors from Victoria came to Vancouver to lend moral support to Price in light of the less-than-overwhelming support of the Vancouver ministerial.

Price Before B.C.

Charles Sydney Price was born in 1887 in England*. Following completion of high school, he served in the British Navy for a couple of years and attended Wesley College and ultimately Oxford where he studied law. (Note: There is no evidence that the “Dr.” which he regularly used with his name was academically earned. Either it came from him being awarded an honorary doctorate, or it was tacked onto Price’s name by him as a way to seem more learned than in fact he was). In 1906, Price left England for Canada. He sought work with law firms in Quebec and Winnipeg, but to no avail. In 1907, he left Canada for Spokane. Shortly after arriving there, he came upon an evangelistic service at the Free Methodist “Life Line Mission”. He was converted there and took up a career in the Methodist church ministry.

Price drifted into the Christian ‘liberal’ movement known as modernism. “He quickly began to reason away his previous salvation experience, and his minstry from that point would be marked by the absence of altar calls and salvations for several years” (Enloe, 7). He pastored a number of Methodist churches in Washington and later was pastor of even more liberal Congregational churches in Alaska and California.

In 1921, he was pastoring First Congregational Church in Lodi, CA. He was told of revival meetings that would be happening at San Jose, led by Aimee Semple McPherson, which would include “divine healing”. He was determined to attend the meetings with the intention of debunking them from his pulpit. Instead of collecting evidence to condemn the McPherson meetings, however, Price was ‘converted’ to the ‘full Gospel’ of pentecostalism, with its attendant features of anointing with oil, faith healing, and speaking in tongues.

In 1922, Price accepted an invitation from McPherson to travel with her evangelistic troupe. In autumn of that year, representatives of some Ashland, OR churches invited “Sister Aimee” to lead revival meetings there. McPherson couldn’t go, but recommended that Price go in her place.

Price drew huge crowds in Oregon to hear him preach and to participate in his healing services. Price’s Oregon campaign led to Victoria and the Victoria campaign led to the 1923 Vancouver meetings (and to later sequel campaigns in both B.C. cities the next year).

Bill Carmichael’s ‘Search for Truth’

I recalled seeing a file in the Archives of First Baptist Church, Vancouver, labelled “Dr. Charles Price Evangelistic Campaigns”. Upon looking inside the file, I saw what appeared to be a couple of typewritten, contemporary accounts, of the experiences of people who had attended the Price meetings. Upon closer examination, however, it became clear that the two documents were written by the same person about a year apart; one of the accounts was written within days of the 1923 Price meetings; the second was written after the 1924 meetings. The author, it turned out, was  William M. Carmichael (1880-1947), a member of First Baptist Church.**

Carmichael had heard from FBC’s outgoing pastor, Rev. Gabriel Maguire, of Price’s meetings in Victoria and of the “wonderful cure, ascribed to the prayer of faith, anointing and laying on of hands.”

My experience of this reverend gentleman [Maguire] did not warrant me taking his statements at par value; his eggs, as the Scotch say, “had aye twa yokes” or, in other words, he had so developed the gift? of exaggeration that I never really knew, until I had tested his statements afterwards, where fact left off and fiction began.

Thus it was with a very critical but open mind that I first went to the meetings.

Carmichael attended the first meeting on Sunday night (May 6th) and went again on Monday. Carmichael returned on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. He described the message given on each evening as being “plain gospel”, but by the Friday meeting he added that “the address that evening was another plain talk but somehow it thrilled me. Quite unconsciously, I was clapping my hands and shouting ‘Hear! Hear’ [and] others were shouting ‘Amen!’ ‘Hallelujah!’ and ‘Praise the Lord!’

CVA 1399-523 - [Photograph of arena stage construction] ca 1925 Dominion Photo
CVA 1399-523. Denman Arena stage construction. ca 1925. Dominion Photo.

By the Tuesday of the third week of meetings, Carmichael was planning to go forward for healing. He had been hard of hearing in his left ear from an early age.

He received his anointing on Thursday night – the Victoria Day holiday***. He described his experience thus:

[Price] gave me a quiet look of discernment, then he raised his hand and anointed my forehead – that was all that I was aware of. A power came over me and I fell backwards. I felt someone catching me as I fell, I felt someone place something under my head…. As I lay on the floor I was perfectly conscious of the sounds. I was in a blissful state of rest or lassitude and through my mind surged these words, “Thank you Jesus, thank you.” This over and over again….. About a quarter of an hour passed when I opened my eyes and looking up saw Dr [George] Telford [former FBC moderator] standing guard over me. 

 Carmichael seemed to have had genuine restoration of hearing to his left ear.

When I went to the arena [on…] Friday, the second-last day of the campaign…I went to the furthest back and the highest seat in the whole building to test out my hearing; to my joy I heard Dr. Price in every word. 

He summed up his 1923 experience of Price and his campaign as follows:

There were Christians who would have given Dr Price the highest honour the Church could give; there were other Christians who consigned him to the lowest pit of hell where, they said, he belonged….Yet to all, friend or foe, Dr. Price…even in the hottest bombard of venom and criticism, like the Saviour, answered not a word. When he spoke of those who opposed him, it was in the most loving way. “If” as he told us, “you do not see the light as I see it, I have no condemnation for you. All I want you to do is follow the light you have.”


William Carmichael’s very positive reaction to the 1923 campaign was followed by more muted enthusiasm afterwards. He remained convinced that the Price campaign had been a spiritual “uplift” to the church (and not least for his own First Baptist congregation). But he wasn’t sure what to do with his personal ‘healing’ experience. For, although he experienced improvement to his hearing immediately after his anointing by Price, one month later, the deafness had returned.

Carmichael spoke with others of his acquaintance who had received anointing and healing at Price’s meetings. Two of these folks had had similar experiences to his of relapse of ailment (either within a month or within a space of 2-3 months).

I’ll allow Carmichael to relate the response to his inquiry of the third person of his acquaintance, who was more embittered than the others:

[N]ext I met a Mrs. R. “Excuse me, Mrs. R.”, I said, “but you were anointed at the Arena and fell under the power. Did you receive healing?”

She turned on me with a glare of anger, “No,” she fairly hissed. “I believe it was nothing more than that I was hypnotized by the wicked eyes of that she-devil, Miss Carvell.” (Miss Carvell was Dr Price’s singer and assistant.).

And before I could say another word, she shot out the door.

Carmichael went to the second Price campaign meetings in 1924, searching for answers to his questions about his lack of enduring healing.  At the end of it, he could only conclude:

Of Dr. Price’s gospel preaching there is no doubt of his sincerity and earnestness as far as I can see; as for his tenets on healing, while I could not say with certainty he is right, on the other hand I could not with positiveness say he was wrong.



*Background on Price comes mostly from “Dr Charles S. Price: His Life, Ministry and Influence”. By  Tim Enloe. AG Heritage. 2008.

**He was the author of FBC’s first authorized history, in celebration of the church’s Diamond Jubliee: These Sixty Years 1887-1947. Carmichael was the father of Mrs. Edna-May Slade, currently the oldest member of FBC.

***Victoria Day in these years, must not have been designated as falling on the 4th Monday of May, but rather as being on May 23rd – whatever day of the week that should happen to be.

Posted in churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, Yucho Chow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Answers to “Find The Errors”

1. CVA 99-3791

The image is not the Marine Building (which is decorated with terra cotta marine features such as seahorses); it is the Georgia Medical-Dental Building (decorated with healthcare-related features (such as the nurse figure at the very top of the building).  

2. CVA 447-335

I don’t honestly know what is meant by the title wording associated with this image.

The Scope and Content portion of this record claims that the “Photograph shows the Dunsmuir Viaduct.” That is an error. There was no such thing as a Dunsmuir Viaduct in 1949; indeed, not until after the second Georgia Viaduct project was completed circa 1971. Prior to that, the Georgia Viaduct carried traffic both east and west. Only after the 1971 project was there a separate Dunsmuir Viaduct to carry  westbound traffic while the Georgia Viaduct carried traffic eastbound.

The Viaduct in the image is Georgia Viaduct.

3. Str P257

This is pretty clearly somewhere other than Georgia Street. It appears to be an image of Ceperley Playground in Stanley Park’s Second Beach. See a very similar image on CVA here.

Posted in street scenes | 2 Comments

Find the Errors

If you’ve been following VanAsItWas for awhile, you’ll recall that a few months ago, we played Name Those Streets. This consisted of me showing three images which were misidentified by the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA) as to their street locations.*

Today’s post is a variant on that theme. However, the errors pertain more broadly to the info provided by CVA. The archivists may have erred in the street location, or in some other aspect of the photo’s description. I will play fair, however. I’ll provide all of the info that CVA provides so you can make a decision as to what the error is and (if you’re ‘on the ball’) what the correct info ought to be.


  • Title: The Facade of the Marine Building
  • Year: 1929


  • Title: CPR Team Tracks Pender St.
  • Year: 1959
  • Scope and content: “Photograph shows the Dunsmuir Viaduct.”


  • Title: View of buildings in the 300 block West Georgia Street looking East from Homer Street.
  • Year: 1948
  • Scope and content: “Photograph shows Hopps Sign Co. nLtd. (375 Georgia) and a street light.”

Answers will appear in tomorrow’s post.


*As of the date of publication of today’s post – 4 months after Name Those Streets was posted – none of the three errors then identified have been corrected.

Posted in street scenes | 3 Comments

Fine Work by Unknown Artist


Vancouver CPR: UL_1085_0030. Views of British Columbia and Alaska. University of British Columbia Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs. n.d. [1880-90]. Artist and photographer unknown.

I find engravings such as this one in a volume from the Uno Langmann Collection entitled Views of British Columbia and Akaska to be very appealing. Unfortunately, the artist responsible for the work isn’t known. (Update-January 2017: Gary Sim notes that the first image (which he claims is of Victoria; I disagree, it looks to me very an early image of Vancouver’s first CPR station and waterfront) is signed Louis Glaser, Leipzig; the signature isn’t visible to me. Gary left his comment on VAIW’s About page.)

Views was published by M. W. Waitt & Co, an early Victoria bookseller. Marshall Wilder Waitt (1833-1892) succumbed to Smallpox in 1892 and sometime after that, Waitt’s son-in-law, Charles H. Kent, moved the business to Vancouver. The year that Views was published isn’t known, but the staff in UBC Library’s Special Collections department estimate it was between 1880-90.

I’m aware of there being several examples of B.C. publishers publishing their own work anonymously. As far as I know, that wasn’t the case with Views. However, Waitt’s daughter (who married Waitt’s successor, C. H. Kent) Georgina (1866-1933), was a portrait artist and may have been connected to a capable B.C. artist who she brought to her father’s attention (and who was just hungry enough to agree to M. W. Waitt’s terms of publication anonymity).

I take it that Views sold well because a smaller, “best of”, edition was published a few years later (1900?). There were only 20 or so prints in this little volume. The Langmann (188-?) edition – a first edition, presumably – has about 60 prints.

I am no art critic; mainly I know what I like. I like most of the work in Views, and I’m very interested in finding out who the unsung artist was behind the fine images within its covers. Permit me a brief ramble about my assessment of the art (and artist).

The artistic form is Realism (with a capital ‘R’). There is no hint of any abstract influence in this work at all. I’m convinced that the work in Views is by a single artist; it doesn’t look to me like a compilation of work by a variety of artists. That said, it seems to me that there is a difference in the maturity of the artist’s skill among the several examples in Views. I think that the work comes from different periods in the artist’s life – some of them from relatively early in his/her life; others from later periods. This is best illustrated by looking at the artist’s weakest artistic subject: human figures. In the print shown below (which I take to be an earlier one), the figure in the rowboat is rendered pretty crudely.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 4.39.07 PM

The CPR Crossing the Columbia River: UL_1085_0046. Views of British Columbia and Alaska. University of British Columbia Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs. n.d. [1880-90]. Artist and photographer unknown.

But here, in the image called “Indian Groups” the artist demonstrates a skill level vastly superior to that in the rowboat work. The human figures in this image are almost photographic.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 4.43.16 PM

Indian Groups: UL_1085_0028. Views of British Columbia and Alaska. University of British Columbia Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs. n.d. [1880-90]. Artist and photographer unknown.

I wish that there was much hope of me tracking down the artist/engraver who did this fine work. But I’m told that engraved work of this period was typically unsigned and that it is very difficult to pin down who was responsible from this distant remove.

Posted in art, Uno Langmann Collection | Tagged , , , , , , ,

West Cordova Unit Block*

CVA 780-768 - [View of West Cordova Street from Carrall Street] 196--2

CVA 780-768 – A View looking west down the Unit Block of West Cordova Street from Carrall Street. Photographer unkonwn. 196-.

It is a pity that we don’t know who made this photograph. To me, it is one of gems in the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA) collection. Why do I say that? The muted colour tones, for one thing, speak of a decade that was moving away from black and white images in favour of colour. The people in the image also are appealing to me. Nobody seems to be in a rush. Even the automobile traffic seems quiet. It could be a Sunday afternoon if this photo were made in an era when there was a good reason for pedestrians to be strolling in a retail area — Sunday shopping is two or three decades in the future.

The mix of businesses represented in the image is striking. Rainier Grocery is just visible at the southwest corner of Carrall and Cordova; the Army & Navy anchored the block then (as it does now) in the  Dunn-Miller block; there appears to be a loan service on the south side of the street, mid-way down; and, according to the 1969** Vancouver directory, there were assorted other shops plying trade in hardware, lock & safe services, sporting goods, tailoring, umbrella manufacture, and food service.

But if there was a dominant trade on this block, it was the hotel/SRO (single room occupancy) business. On the south side of West Cordova, at least two hotel signs are visible: the Cansino Hotel and the Hildon Hotel (for which, I have to believe, there must have been at least an informal slogan to the effect of ‘If you can’t afford the Hilton, stay at the Hildon!’). And on the north side of the street, there were Boulder Rooms, the Travellers Hotel (also known as the Fortin Building), the Stanley Hotel, the New Fountain Hotel, and Marble Rooms.


The iron fencing that seems discouraging to potential shoppers at retail shops on street level of current Stanley/New Fountain Hotel. 2016. Author’s photo.

There are some big changes in the future for the block. One of the most significant is the redevelopment of the Stanley/New Fountain Hotel. Plans are reportedly in the works for a “facadification” of these old hotels. If reports are accurate, the currently 2-3 storey hotels will be replaced with an 11-storey combo market- and non-market-housing structure. The time is ripe for changes to be made to these SROs and the retail businesses that crouch beneath them (behind a foreboding metal fence). I know that there are critics of the 11-storey profile of the proposed Stanley Hotel. But, frankly, that will put it only three stories higher than its neighbour, the Lori Krill Housing Co-Op.

I’m not sure what is going into the former home of Rainier Grocery, but it looks as though it will be a food service vendor of some description. Across the street, on the northwest corner of Cordova and Carrall, the Bauhous Restaurant has established itself on the main floor of what was once Boulder Hotel/Rooms. But it is pretty clear that there are few, if any, tenants on the upper floors, currently. That will probably change soon.

Meanwhile, there has been at least one change to the block that would have our forebears scratching their heads. The Float House (specializing in “floatation therapy and sensory deprivation”, no less) today occupies the space that once was the manufacturing site of the eminently practical BC Umbrella Co.



*A “unit block” is the block of a street or avenue numbered less than 100.

**I looked to the 1969 Directory because the 1960s are identified by CVA as the likely decade when this image was made. I have my doubts about that, however. I favour an early year in the following decade: possibly 1971 or 1972.

Posted in hotels/motels/inns, street scenes, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada’s First Drive-In Theatre

vpl 81172B - Cascade Drive-in Theatre and two automobiles with rain visors. 1950. Artray Studio. Rain visors to be rented for cars attending theatre at 3960 Canada Way, Burnaby.

VPL 81172B – Cascade Drive-in Theatre at at 3960 Canada Way, in Burnaby. Two automobiles with rain visors (rain visors were rented for cars attending the Drive-In). 1950. Artray Studio.

The Cascade Drive-In in Burnaby was B.C.’s and Canada’s first drive-in theatre. It was started by George and William Steel and Joe and Art Johnson (Steel-Johnson Amusements, Ltd.) in 1946, opening in August of that year. The theatre was built along Grandview Highway. 
Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 5.23.21 PM

Cascade Drive-In. 1951. Vintage Air Photos.

In 1977, the theatre was purchased by Don Soutar, Al Chappell and Norm Green and continued to operate as a drive-in until it closed in 1980 and was demolished two years later. The property was redeveloped into a condominium complex now known as Cascade Village.


Cascade Drive-In. 1946. Heritage Burnaby.

Posted in Artray, theatre/vaudeville/cinemas | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Vancouver Arts & Crafts Association

Bu N135 - [O'Brien Hall, Metropolitan Block and the De Beck Building, southeast corner of Homer and Hastings Streets] 1940.

Bu N135 – [O’Brien Hall, Metropolitan Block and the De Beck Building, southeast corner of Homer and Hastings Streets] 1940. This was the site of the inaugural exhibition of the A&CA, July, 1900. Interestingly, R. M. Fripp, who was later president of the Arts & Crafts Association, was the designer of O’Brien Hall. The Hall was demolished in 1940, presumably shortly after this image was made.

image2-3The Arts & Crafts Association came into being in April, 1900 and lasted little more than a couple of years.* It had as its “chief aim . . . to encourage artistic feeling and knowledge and to bring the designer and the workman or craftsman into closer relationship.” (Brochure, Arts and Crafts Association. Vancouver, B.C., Evans & Hastings [Printer?], n.d. {190-?], CVA Collection off-line).

The Association offered classes in a variety of areas:

  • Painting and drawing
  • Modelling
  • Art Needlework
  • Design and Execution of Furniture
  • Architectural Drawing and History
  • Mechanical Drawing
  • Photography
  • Painting on China
  • Carving

An “annual exhibition” was held in which members were entitled to submit their works for show and sale. The first of these was held in September, 1900 at the Theatre Royal (also known as the Alhambra Theatre), located at Pender and Howe. The second annual exhibit was in 1901 at the Fairfield Building on Granville at Pender. (There was a third exhibit that wasn’t one of the “annual” exhibits. It was an inaugural exhibition at O’Brien Hall (Hastings and Homer) to help celebrate the creation of the association. It was held in July, 1900.)**

Judging from the handwritten list of members held by CVA, about half of the 60+ paid members were women. The gender distribution among the executive was consistent with the time in not being representative of the membership, however the one woman among the ten officers – Mrs. Balfour Ker – was a Vice-President (the other V-P was S. M. Eveleigh). The President and a major force behind the Association was Robert M. Fripp.

Port P552 - [Robert MacKay Fripp] ca1888 J. D. Hall photo.

Port P552 – Robert MacKay Fripp. ca1888 J. D. Hall photo.

After the 1901 exhibit, the Association seemed to run out of steam. Mention was made in the press that the Association came to an end with the move of R. M. Fripp to California (temporarily) and “the scattering of other important members.”

Some of the functions of the Arts & Crafts Association were assumed by the Studio Club***(1904) and by the B.C. Society of Fine Arts (1908).


*The Arts & Crafts Association was birthed from an even more short-lived organization: the Art Workers Guild. Not much is known about the Guild except that it was established in early 1900. It was replaced by the A&CA when it was created about three months later.

**A. J. Davis showed some of his artwork and carving at the inaugural exhibit.

***Emily Carr was hired (briefly) in 1905 or 1906 by the Studio Club to be a resource person for one of their painting classes. William Thom quotes Carr regarding her time with the Club in his thesis: “The [Studio]… Club was a cluster of society women who intermittently packed themselves and their admirers into a small rented studio to drink tea and jabber art jargon” (Thom, 30). It won’t be surprising to anyone familiar with her acerbic wit that Miss Carr was dismissed from her job with the Studio Club after just one month. Her impatience with her students was doubtless exceeded only by her students’ distaste for ‘her’ sort of (decidedly non-Victorian) art!


City of Vancouver Archives. Off-line file on the Vancouver Arts & Crafts Association.

William Wylie Thom. The Fine Arts in Vancouver, 1886-1930: An Historical Survey. M. A. Thesis. UBC. April 1969.

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“What Food These Morsels Be”

Money's Former Slogan-What Food These Morsels Be

Money’s Mushrooms Former Slogan. On Prior Street a couple of blocks east of Main Street. 2016. Author’s photo.

This sign was painted on the side of a building on Prior Street many years ago. A friend, who is in his 70s, claims not to remember a time when the advertisement wasn’t there.

W. T. Money established W. T. Money & Co. (later, Money’s Mushrooms) in 1928. Its headquarters was at 631 Seymour Street; today, it is based in Surrey.

The slogan shown above was apparently adopted by Money’s in about 1940. It was in use by the company at least through the 1950s, and possibly through the 1970s. What Food These Morsels Be is an example of word play; in this case, the slogan plays with a quotation by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s line was “Lord, what fools these mortals be.”* The original Shakespearean line has also been adapted in a blues classic made popular by Etta James and released in 1969.

The elf figure on the left of the ad may be intended to represent the mischievous fairy, Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The first apparent use of the current slogan, Money’s Makes Meals Mmmarvellous, was in an advertising campaign led by Canadian cooking personality, James Barber, The Urban Peasant. He the campaign for Money’s with the current slogan in the 1980s.



A Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3, scene 2, 110–115.

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Risky Swinging in the ’20s


Couple on (Apparently Hand-Powered) Cable Tram (Over Seymour Creek?) UL_1184_03_0058. 1920-30? Photographer Unknown. From Possible Murray Family Album. UBC Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs.

This couple appear pretty relaxed, given that they are suspended by a none-too-sturdy-looking cable over what I believe (but cannot prove) is Seymour Creek in North Vancouver. I’m led to conclude that it is probably Seymour Creek mainly from context. There are a couple other Seymour Creek images in the same album; and the water appears similarly calm in the other Seymour Creek photos. A friend has suggested that another possibility is the Lynn Creek headwaters.

There are three other similar images in the same album in UBC’s Uno Langmann Family Collection of Early B.C. Photos. The subjects in each of the other three photos are all different and they are not all as relaxed as this couple seems to be.

The photographs all appear to be made  by the same (professional, I assume) photographer. I assume that there was a parallel cable car on which the photographer was perched. Either that, or there was a bridge that ran parallel to where our brave pair were.

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Ye Little Brown Inn

xx-2Yesterday, I was looking at a printout of Sheet 16 of Goad’s Fire Insurance Atlas of Vancouver (March 1920) when I noticed the name of a business that was new to me: “Little Brown Inn”. What could that be, I wondered?

The name of the commercial enterprise was, in fact, Ye Little Brown Inn, and appears to have been one of the legion lunch counters in downtown Vancouver in the early decades of the twentieth century (among its near competitors were the 800-block Granville outlet of White Lunch and the Old Country Lunch and Tea Rooms at 641 Granville).

YLBI was first established at 606 Granville in 1915 by three ladies: Anna Fletcher, Agnes McKay, and Mary H. Lawrence. It appears that two of the women dropped out of the enterprise sometime within the first year or so of operation. By the time the 1916 Vancouver City Directory was published, Mary Lawrence was the sole proprietor listed. By 1918, the business had moved a couple of blocks, presumably to somewhat less expensive digs, at 745 Dunsmuir (roughly where Holt Renfrew is located today).*

There is no way of knowing how well YLBI did against its many competitors. But by 1922, the business was finished. Mary Helen Lawrence succumbed to Tetanus and died on March 5th, in her 55th year (just five days after being diagnosed with the illness)**. According to the Immunize Canada page pertaining to Tetanus (aka Lockjaw), after 1920, “[t]he introduction of horse antiserum neutralized the effect of tetanus toxin and improved the care of wounds, leading to reduced cases and deaths in Canada and other industrialized countries.” By the 1940s, the serum was readily available and the practice of immunizing infants for Tetanus began.

However it was that Miss Lawrence contracted the disease (whether as part of her work at YLBI or elsewhere), if it had happened just a few years later, chances are good that she would have survived.


*I was unable to track down any images of YLBI at its Granville or Dunsmuir locations.

**The following details about Miss Lawrence’s life prior to owning YLBI are excerpted from her obituary, published in the March 6, 1922 edition of the Vancouver Daily World“Miss Lawrence, who owned and managed the Little Brown Inn, had resided in Vancouver for the past eight years. She came here from Paris, France, where she had lived for several years. She was born at Niagara Falls, Ont., and at an early age went to New York, where she trained as a nurse. She followed that profession first In New York, later in Paris, then in Rome, Cairo and again in Paris. She was appointed by the Italian government matron in charge of the hospital ship which was sent to Messina at the time of the big earthquake disaster there and was later decorated by King Emanuel for her services. Her only brother lives in Buffalo and her only near relative in this city is Miss M. A. Leith. The late Miss Lawrence was a member of the I.O.D.E. and the Woman’s Canadian Club. The body will be sent to Niagara Falls, Ont. for burial.”

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A. J. Davis, Vancouver Painter

Blackfoot Chief Two Guns White Calf - Painting by A J Davis. n.d.

Portrait of Chief Two Guns White Calf. Painted by A. J. Davis, apparently from a photograph on a postcard (shown below). n.d.

The painting above was purchased by my good friend, Wes, at a thrift store, recently. He didn’t know who the artist was nor anything of his story. He just liked the painted rendering of the portrait. A bit of digging online revealed that the painting was made by Alfred John Davis (a Vancouver artist) – who was unknown to Wes or me – from a photographic postcard of Chief Two Guns White Calf.

A. J. Davis was born in England in 1868. He later immigrated to Canada and settled for a few years in Winnipeg. He came west to Vancouver in 1891, and he married Ellen Ann McCannell here in 1897. His occupation in Winnipeg and in Vancouver was as a railway coach painter for the Canadian Pacific Railway (later on, in Vancouver, he became foreman of the CPR paint shops here).

In a Vancouver Sun profile that was published just a couple of weeks before Davis’ death in 1933, the author noted that

“Mr. and Mrs. Davis are living in a veritable art gallery, wherein beautiful paintings, both in oil and water color, with huge pencil drawings adorn the walls throughout their well-situated home at 3741 39th Avenue West. Indian heads in oil is the chief subject for his brushes and over which has the most absolute control, so much so that he is recognized in artistic circles as the authority in such work.” (A Home Filled with Treasures. Vancouver Sun, January 7, 1933)

The indian subjects appear to have been paintings he did for his own amusement (and probably as an additional income source), although it is possible that his output for the CPR may also have included native american portraits. According to the Sun author, the Davis home was full of wood carvings in addition to oil and watercolour paintings. One of these sounds from the description as though it would have made a lovely piece for a local museum. Whether or not it was donated to the Maritime Museum or the MOV is unknown to me:

“The year 1863 marked the beginning of a new era in the history of British Columbia with the arrival on the Columbia River on March 19 of the first vessel, the historic Beaver, after a passage of 163 days from Gravesend, entirely under sail. Today, all that is left of the vessel* after sinking in the Narrows at Vancouver just forty years ago, is a beautifully carved scimitar and sheath brought to light from a trunk by A. J. Davis…This was carved from part of an inside cupola of the old vessel obtained at low tide after a lengthy scramble over barnacles  and sea refuse in the autumn of 1891 about three weeks before the vessel completely disappeared from sight. The Beaver knife sheath has a perfectly carved scroll-work. The curved blade contains a piece of one of the copper rivets used to fasten the old oak beams of the historic old steamer.”**

Although I’m very appreciative of the Sun for assigning a reporter (albeit, an anonymous one) to write the profile of the today-all-but-unknown artist, if I’d had my ‘druthers’, it would have been helpful to have more detail about A. J. Davis’ work for the CPR, including what exactly his job entailed. Was he responsible for any of the famous CPR posters? Was he responsible for painting scenes in railway coaches (in which case, most of his career art work must surely now be gone) or (more likely), was it his job to see that all CPR property was properly maintained with a fresh coat of paint, inside and out?

CVA 152-1.180 - [Construction progress photograph of the CPR Pier %22A-B%22 extension] July 1913.

CVA 152-1.180 – [Construction progress photograph of the CPR Pier “A-B” extension] July 1913. A worker is painting the exterior of the pier. Was this the sort of painting work with which A J Davis was principally concerned?

A. J. Davis died while still in harness with his employer of 45 years on January 25, 1933. His widow died in 1953 in Burbank, CA. What happened to the treasures in their former home is unknown to me.



AM1052 P-872 – The five Georges (ca 1910)
The above postcard (front and verso) is the only piece of art and information available at the City of Vancouver Archives pertaining to A. J. Davis. The drawing of the “Five Georges” is a reproduction of a painting, according to the note on the card’s face.


*This claim that the Davis item is the sole extant piece of the Beaver isn’t accurate. See here for an image of an auction mallet composed of wood from the craft and a reference to “a number of other such items” from the Beaver, including its boiler which resides outside of the Maritime Museum.

**I appreciate very much the information embedded here in an online request for help with additional details about her grandfather, A. J. Davis. Without the reference in her post to the newspaper article profiling Davis, I would have had very little to say about his life and vocation (and avocations).


April 19/16: I have just found a listing of a few others of AJD’s work; they were on display at the Theatre Royal (aka the first Orpheum Theatre), as part of the First Annual Exhibition of the Arts and Crafts Association, September 25-27, 1900.


Posted in art, biography, Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Another Controversial Subject: Vancouver Housing

Traffic congestion and inadequate housing are subjects which are revisited regularly in Vancouver. The previous post was a look at how the City tried to persuade residents not to be ‘Traffic Peakers’ in the 1940s. This post is a reproduction of a News-Herald ‘Editorial in Pictures’ that deals with the editor’s views on the state of housing in Vancouver during the WWII era.

I have been able to find all of the photos, except one, used in the News-Herald editorial within the City of Vancouver Archives. Except for that missing photo, the content of the article is reproduced here just as it appeared in 1944:

Something Must Be Done

(An Editorial in Pictures)

The authoritative and detailed survey by the Vancouver Council of Social Agencies reveals that more than 2,000 Vancouver families are living in such “shockingly inadequate” housing that ordinary city slums would look like heaven to them.

The City Council has made nine “appeals” to Ottawa for more housing, but has taken no practical steps to deal with the emergency. “I don’t see what more we can do,” says the Mayor.

The Dominion government has accepted responsibility for only a limited amount of housing for actual war workers, and for some financial assistance for post-war housing projects.

The provincial government merely supplies a sheriff to carry out evictions.

But 2,000 Vancouver families – 4,000 men and women and more than 4,000 children – are living from day to day, NOW, as are those pictured here.

Says the Council of Social Agencies: “These conditions . . . are a damning indictment of the failure of the authorities.”


More than 12 families live in this double row of ramshackle and unsanitary tenements on Sixth Avenue in Fairview. They are less than a quarter of a mile from Shaughnessy Heights, but no proud citizens bring visitors to see Vancouver’s “line homes” HERE.

CVA 1184-639 - [Garbage and garbage containers at the slums in the 300 block East Cordova] 1943 Jack Lindsay photo-2

CVA 1184-639 – [Garbage and garbage containers at the slums in the 300 block East Cordova] 1943 Jack Lindsay photo.

Here is a Vancouver child. Here is his playground. Hundreds of youngsters, the hope of our city’s future, spend their waking hours at play in back alleys like this. This lane is one block from police headquarters and the city jail.

CVA 1184-2612 - [Tenement building] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo-2

CVA 1184-2612 – [Tenement building] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.

War industry booms and Vancouver’s busy harbor seeths (sic) with activity less than a block from this row of hutches for human beings on Alexander Street. In such conditions as this live the city’s “pampered workers” – 20 of them and their families in this one ancient building. Notice the pathetic endeavor to grace its  tattered railings with flowers and vines.

CVA 1184-2615 - [View of the rear of a tenement house] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo-2

CVA 1184-2615 – [View of the rear of a tenement house] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay photo.

The city rejoiced when the Japs were moved out of the human rabbit warrens on Powell Street, hailing the end of our worst slum. But it was not the end. These wretched buildings are now filled with white families, in some cases, six and seven persons to a room.

Posted in homes/apts/condos, Jack Lindsay | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

“Traffic Peaker” vs “Polar Cap Melter”?

Vancouver Traffic Peaker (July 19:44 Sports Page)

Downtown Vancouver “Traffic Peaker” Ad. Vancouver News-Herald. Sports page. July 19, 1944.

This 1940s ad, which I’m assuming was a production of the City of Vancouver, makes use of all three of the classical rhetorical appeals. There is ethos in the use of statistics, figures, and a chart to persuade the audience that the persuader is credible. Pathos is applied by attempting to make the audience feel emotions (guilt, primarily). And logos is used to persuade the audience by presenting an argument which the persuader hopes will be seen as logical.

It would seem that there has been little improvement in downtown congestion between the 1940s and the 20-teens.* What sorts of rhetorical appeals are used today in the ‘battle’ to reduce automobile congestion? The same ones as were implemented in the ’40s, as far as I can tell. Only today, the appeal to pathos seems to be in the guise of guilt over contributions to global warming, rather than guilt over slowing down your neighbours’ trips home at rush hour.


*But there appears today to be at least a willingness, on the part of many Vancouver residents, to support alternatives to automobile traffic into downtown (the growing popularity of mass transit Skytrain options, for instance, and bicycles). This is in contrast with the apparent situation in the 1940s. The ad assumes that the automobile is the only viable means of getting into downtown. And this in a decade when streetcars were still an option (albeit, for a very few years more).

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Henry (“Harry”) S. Van Buren

VPL 21209 North West Bldg, Nov 1921 Dominion Photo Co.

VPL 21209 North West Building (8-storey bldg.) and the site (as of 1939) of Western Manufacturers Salvage to the left at 525 Richards (roughly at the location where Albion Books is today; the building shown here is long gone). 1921. Dominion Photo Co.

Henry Samuel Van Buren (1885-1977) was a Vancouver business owner from the late ’20s until the late ’40s.  He seems to have had two principal businesses: VB Grocery (from 1926 until about 1935) and Western Merchandise Brokers (during the 1940s).

Henry Samuel Van Buren (often called “Harry” throughout his life) was born in 1884 in Morden, MB to Henry Cornelius Van Buren and Rosamond Law. He was the middle child of three; Abram and Hazel were his older and younger siblings, respectively. In 1905, Van Buren set out to homestead a piece of land in the area around Macleod, AB (today, Fort Macleod). A few years later, he moved to the Strathmore area (east of Calgary). What his occupation there was, isn’t clear.

Sometime between 1923 and 1925, Van Buren moved to Vancouver. He established his first business here, VB Grocery, at 1509 Commercial Drive. He packed it in as a grocer by 1935 and a couple of years later was proprietor of Western Merchandise Brokers, a salvage firm at 525 Richards (a couple doors south of Pender on the west side of Richards). By the late 1940s, he retired.

Henry Samuel married Clara Mabel Snell. The year they were married and the year of his wife’s death are not clear (one source shows her passing in 1935; another shows 1972). Henry and Mabel had one child, Henry Lloyd, who died in 2003. The Van Burens (at least as far back as H. S. Van Buren’s grandfather) had been Baptists.

Van Buren moved to Vancouver Island after retiring from the salvage business.* In his very late years, Van Buren returned to Vancouver, where he lived out his final days. He died at 92 at Pearson Hospital in 1977. Padre James Duncan (former Pastor Emeritus, First Baptist Church, Vancouver) led Van Buren’s memorial service.


*There is evidence of a Harry Van Buren living in Victoria from 1948. However, the Victoria Directory shows him living there with someone called “Enid”. Because I’ve found no other mention of an Enid in any Van Buren records, I’m inclined to treat this as being someone other than our Harry Van Buren.

Posted in biography, Dominion Photo, First Baptist Church, Vancouver | Leave a comment

Mudge the Poultry Man

Crop of CVA 99-89 - Main Street market 1910 Stuart Thomson

Crop of CVA 99-89 – Close view of a wing of the Vancouver City Market where Mudge the Poultry Man advertised his presence within. The sign reads (in part) “Mudge The Poultry Man”. 1910. Stuart Thomson.

William Mudge’s business was known in early Vancouver as Mudge & Son and (probably better) as Mudge the Poultry Man. As indicated in the latter name, he specialized in Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 4.31.54 PMproviding chicken products to hard-working, hungry Vancouverites. He hung his shingle at Vancouver’s farmer’s market, known then as the City Market which was originally located, from 1908 until before 1925 (when the building was destroyed by fire) roughly where ScienceWorld is today.

vpl 7435 New City Market opened that year at Westminster Ave (Main after 1910), west of Westminster or False Creek Bridge. On south side ofFC. 1908 PT Timms

VPL 7435 New City Market opened that year at Westminster Ave (Main after 1910), west of Westminster or False Creek Bridge. 1908. P. T. Timms.

Mudge was a recent emigrant to Canada from England (1909) and lived near Main and 25th Avenue (King Edward Ave.) with his wife Ethel (nee Tremaine), first son, William, second and third sons Wilfred and Gerald, and his only daughter, Mary Monica (known by the nickname, ‘Queenie’, which may have been an homage to Queen Victoria.)

We don’t know the exact Vancouver address of the Mudges; their mailing address was simply “City Heights”, the name of the local post office which, with its establishment in 1911, was located at 4116 Main Street, George P. Findlay, postmaster.* I should point out that the original structure in which City Heights Post Office seems to have resided is extant; it is the building immediately to the south of the Walden Building (1910), which was known at the time as Findlay Place (Apartments), doubtless named for George the Postmaster.**

LGN 487 - [People entering streetcar on Main Street at 25th Avenue] 1912 ? W J Moore photo

LGN 487 – The camera is facing south down Main St, located approximately at 25th Ave. The Walden Building is the 3-storey structure on the left (extant); Findlay Place Apartments and City Heights Post Office was in the building adjacent to and south of Walden (also extant). 1912? W J Moore photo.

Later in life, William and Ethel moved to Cobble Hill, on Vancouver Island (not far from Cowichan Bay). It isn’t clear whether they continued to produce poultry at Cobble Hill, but there is evidence that they remained producers – of seed potatoes.***

William Mudge died in 1932 and was buried in Cobble Hill Cemetery.


*I’m appreciative of the generosity of the gent who blogs at WestEndVancouver for clearing up the mystery of where on earth “City Heights” was. Thank you! Note: By 1919, the Mudges were living at 3115 Quebec (near 15th Avenue).

**Note: The numbers along this block today don’t accurately represent the locations of businesses with the same numbers in 1912.

***Just a couple years before William Sr.’s death, he was elected as an officer of the BC Certified Seed Potato Grower’s Association. (Daily Colonist, November 1929)

Posted in biography, businesses, P. T. Timms, street scenes, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lest We Impress

CVA 99-3749 - [Georgia] Medical Dental Building [at 925 West Georgia Street] 1929 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-3749 – Georgia Medical Dental Building at Northwest Corner Georgia at Hornby. 1929. Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: The angle from which this image was taken makes the  ground level on the right side of the wooden construction zone fence appear to be lower than the street on the left side. But it isn’t. Photographer Thomson was probably inside the construction barrier of the 3rd Hotel Vancouver shooting from near the top of the fence line; Thomson was the official photographer of the hotel’s construction.)

It is all too easy to impress the present onto the past. Especially in cases where there has been an attempt made by contemporary architects to ‘nod’ to a prior building that once occupied a lot. A good example of this is the Georgia Medical-Dental Building (MDB, hereafter; 1929; McCarter & Nairne, architects), which was demolished by implosion in 1989, and the Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place (SCP, hereafter; 1991; Merrick, architect), which stands on the lot today.

When I recently happened upon the image above, I was initially disturbed by the apparent narrowness of the Medical-Dental Building. It appeared to me to be only half as wide as it ought to be.

At first, I thought that perhaps when work started on the structure, the economic downturn of the Great Depression forced the builder to focus on building just the southern slice; that the northern half would be built later to create the square footprint that I assumed was ‘natural’ for the structure.

But that was not the case.

The next image revealed my error: MDB had an ‘L’ footprint, not the square one that I’d assumed it would have. My assumption was due, in part at least, to my expectation that the older building would have had the same sort of footprint as today’s SCP has.

vpl 12176  View looking east on Georgia from Burrard Street. 1930. Frank Leonard photo.

VPL 12176 View looking east at the Georgia Medical-Dental Building from Burrard Street; this reveals that the structure had an “L” footprint, not a square one. 1930. Frank Leonard photo.

Features in Common and Differences

There was an attempt made by the architect of SCP (Paul Merrick, 1991) to replicate some features of the Medical-Dental building. Common features include:

  • ‘Nursing sisters’ on the corners of the buildings;
  • ‘Step-backs’ at higher floors;
  • Use of materials having contrasting colours (on MDB, use of differently coloured brick; on SCP, use of glass and concrete);

There are many more differences between the past and present occupants of the northwest corner of Georgia at Hornby than there are commonalities:

  • MDB had an ‘L’ footprint, SCP has a square one;
    Bu P179 - [Exterior Georgia] Medical and Dental Bldg. Vancouver BC [925 West Georgia Street and parking garage under construction] 1929 Leonard Frank photo.

    CVA 99-3749 – Georgia Medical Dental Building at Northwest Corner Georgia at Hornby. 1929. Stuart Thomson photo.

  • MDB had an appended, above-ground, 4-storey garage attached to the Hornby arm. SCP has an underground parking garage;
  • There was a single step-back at the 10th floor of the MDB. There are several step-backs on SCP;
  • MDB had 17 floors. SCP has 23;
  • On MDB, there were just the ‘nursing sisters’ as exterior ornaments and they appeared only at the 10th floor step-back and were of terra cotta. The nurses on SCP appear on the northeast corner just a couple of stories up and also higher on the building at the step-backs; there are other exterior ornaments on SCP, including griffins. The nurses and other ornaments on SCP are made of fibre glass;
  • MDB had a blunt roofline with lighter bricks near the roof to contrast with darker brickwork below. SCP has a chateaux-style roof (which, together with the griffins, is probably a nod to the architecture of its near neighbour, the Hotel Vancouver).

A Griffin and Other Ornaments on Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place (taken from Hotel Vancouver). c2013. Author’s photo.

Posted in Frank J. Leonard, street scenes, stuart thomson, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Block of Libraries

CVA 1376-517 - [Clearing the lot at 2818 and 2820 Granville Street] 1928_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Posted in books/reading, businesses, street scenes, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Val Quan

IMG_20160114_0001 copy 10Late-breaking information on Val Quan (June 13, 2016): See comment from Bonnie, Val’s grand-daughter. She kindly provided some additional details. The information she supplied has been incorporated below. 

Val Quan (sometimes spelled Quon), his second wife, Pauline, and their family were fixtures around First Baptist Church for a number of years. Val was born in China in 1906, emigrating to Canada in 1921, when he was 15 years old. He settled initially in Moose Jaw, SK, where he worked in the National Café. He later spent time in Shaunavon, SK (pop. today is just over 1700); he was a member of First Baptist Church in Shaunavon.

In 1954, Val moved to Vancouver where he established his own café at the SE corner of Hamilton and Davie streets.* His café was in the heart of Yaletown, just steps from the CPR yards and the roundhouse.

Val and his first wife, May, were married in China. They had three daughters and one son, Robert, all born in China. The Chinese Exclusion Act, 1923-47, prevented Val from bringing his family to Canada. In 1950, when the Act was no longer in force, May came to Vancouver together with their two youngest kids, Jean and Robert.

May died of cancer in Vancouver six years after emigrating. Robert died 10 years later (1966) at age 18, from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.

Val re-married; it isn’t clear to me when he married Pauline. They had a family – Edward, Gordon, and Nancy. Edward (Eddie) is remembered by First Baptist member, Edna-May Slade, as being a “magnificent” pianist; all of the Quan kids are remembered by her as being “brilliant”.

Val died in 1988 at 81; Pauline later.

As is often the the case with immigrant names, Val’s surname did not survive the journey to Canada unscathed. They were known around the church (and by others who were not Chinese, no doubt) as the ‘Thing’ family. Mr. Quan’s given name was not Val. It was Sung Siu. Val was probably his choice of an ‘English’ name.

Although it is not at all unusual, today, to have people who are of Chinese origin (and of other ethnicities) among the members and adherents of FBC, it was a different story in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, the congregation (and the population of Vancouver, generally) was nearly homogeneously white.

Sung Siu Quan and his family truly were pioneers at First Baptist Church.


*It’s possible that he moved his cafe to Smithe Street near Cambie at some point.

The text of this post was written originally for First Baptist Church’s 125th Anniversary (2011), as part of my series of brief biographies of former FBC members, titled Who Was Who in the Pews. It is reproduced here with a number of corrections, editorial changes, and additional details. The author especially appreciates the information provided by Val Quan’s grand-daughter, Bonnie.


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

The Lesters and their Dance Schools/Halls

CVA 789-74 - Davie &amp; Granville [after heavy snowfall] 1916_

CVA 789-74 – Looking west on Davie at Granville after a heavy snowfall. The M. Lester Dancing Academy is advertised on the Davie side of the building, although by the time this image was made, it had almost certainly moved into its new digs at Davie near Burrard. 1916.

It’s Hazy in Detroit

There isn’t a lot known about the proprietress of M. Lester Dancing Academy. Maud was an Ontario girl (although exactly where in Ontario she was born and raised or what her maiden name was isn’t clear to me). At some point, she married American Frederick W. Lester and in 1898 in Detroit, they had their only child, Dorothy.* How Frederick and/or Maud earned their daily bread while they were in Detroit isn’t clear, either. Indeed, it is clear only that they didn’t tarry there for long.

As the century turned, they set out for Victoria, BC.

Victoria: Little Michigan?

Frederick found work as a clerk in Victoria’s Driard Hotel  (facade extant). Their residence during their time in Victoria was, interestingly, at 52 Michigan Street (an homage to their earlier home?)

Maud, meanwhile, established a dancing school in Victoria.**

Lester in Vic 1905 Daily Colonist Jan 18:05

She leased the hall of the AOUW (Ancient Order of United Workmen). The following appeared in the Victoria Daily Colonist on October 31, 1904:

Mrs. Lester’s Dancing Academy – A very enjoyable time was spent at A.O.U.W. Hall Saturday night. The occasion was a grand Cinderella dance given by Mrs. Lester to the members of her Friday night class and their friends. About forty couples tripped the light fantastic over a beautifully conditioned floor to the music supplied by Miss Heater who presided at the pianoforte. Among the young ladies who joined in the various sets were many in their ‘teens, pupils of Mrs. Lester, and their ease of movement and the grace with which they went through the various complicated figures of dances, showing unmistakable evidence of careful training. The main hall of the A.O.U.W. building has undergone a complete metamorphosis since it has been leased by Mrs. Lester for her classes. Gay bunting is tastefully festooned overhead, the side lights are shielded in delicate and effective tints, while the “cosy corners” are neatly and comfortably furnished and draped with Oriental textures. There is ample seating accommodation, abundant floor space, and a happy temperature which is always maintained. The supper room is a model of neatness, as indeed is the whole arrangement. This is the third season Mrs. Lester conducts these dancing classes, and the success which is attending them is proof of their great popularity.

Maud’s dance lessons weren’t held exclusively at the AOUW Hall during their time in Victoria. There was also a period during which the Academy called the Alexandra Royal College ‘home’ (on Government Street, “opposite the new post office”). As well, “parties desiring instructions at their own homes may be accommodated.”

“Lester Hall”: 1205 Granville

The Lesters pulled up Victoria stakes by about 1908 and headed across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver. By 1909, the M. Lester Dancing Academy had hung its shingle on an upper floor of the chemist’s shop at the southwest corner of Davie and Granville (1205 Granville). The Lesters also lived in the building. The didn’t own the building, however. The owner, certainly by 1913 if not before, was local architectural luminary, Thomas Fee.

In the 1909-12 editions of Vancouver Directories, Frederick described his occupation as “Dancing Master”. In the 1909-10 editions, “M. Lester” didn’t get mentioned; and in the 1911 edition, while Mrs. M. Lester received her own listing, she didn’t rate a professional designation. Just before moving out of their Granville location in 1913, however, there had been a remarkable even-ing of self-described designations: both Frederick and Maud were described as “Dancing Teachers”.

In addition to the Dance Academy, the Lesters supplemented income from the business by sub-letting the space to groups that were looking for a hall in which to hold a dance. Thus, the 1205 Granville property was known not only as M. Lester Dance Academy, but also as “Lester Hall”.

“Lester Court”: 1024 Davie

Sometime in 1914 or 1915, the Lesters’ new professional and residential location (designed by Thomas Hooper) on Davie near Burrard, was ready for them to move into.

They chose to call the dance school in its new location what it had always been called. But the dance hall would no longer be “Lester Hall”; it would be called “Lester Court”. What was the reason for the name change? It was probably partly to distinguish the Burrard Street property from the older and probably smaller one on Granville.

CVA 99-5118 - Bazaar at Leister Court, Pro-Cathedral Bazaar - Flashlight 1917 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5118 – Bazaar at Leister (sic) Court, Pro-Cathedral Bazaar. Lester Court – 1024 Davie. Flashlight. 1917. Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-5119 - Allied Nations Bazaar, Leister Court 1917 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5119 – Allied Nations Bazaar, Lester Court – 1024 Davie. 1917. Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5227 - [Unidentified group at a dance]  ca1922 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5227 – [Unidentified group at a dance]. Lester Court – 1024 Davie. ca1922. Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-5231 - [Unidentified group in costume in ballroom] 192-? Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5231 – [Unidentified group in costume in ballroom]. Lester Coury – 1024 Davie. 192-?. Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-5296 - Vancouver Daily Sun Staff 2nd Annual Dance Lester Court [1024 Davie Street] Dec. 13th 1918 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5296 – Vancouver Daily Sun Staff 2nd Annual Dance Lester Court [1024 Davie Street] Dec. 13th 1918. Stuart Thomson photo. (Exposure adjusted by author). Note the fellow in the balcony (centre, rear) holding “Extra” sign.

CVA 99-5250 - Firemen's 25th Annual Ball. Lester Court [1024 Davie Street] Nov. 14th 1923 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-5250 – Firemen’s 25th Annual Ball. Lester Court [1024 Davie Street] Nov. 14th 1923. Stuart Thomson photo. (Exposure adjusted by author). Note the band instruments in the raised area at the rear of the auditorium.


M. Lester Dance Academy ceased to be in Maud’s name in 1923. She would have been about 54, then. From 1923 until 1931, when the school seems to have ceased operations, it was known as Lester’s Dance Academy (F. W. Lester, proprietor).

Maud’s final years are as opaque as her very early years. I don’t know why she apparently withdrew from the dance school. Was she ill? Was she simply tired of the daily grind? I haven’t been able to track down her death certificate, but I know that she died in 1943.

Frederick was retired from the business by 1934. By 1935, Lester Court was no more; it was then known as the Embassy Ballroom and was under new management. Frederick died in 1946.

The building that housed Lester Court still stands today. See here for what it has been called at different times since the Lesters retired.

Bu P508.17 - [Exterior of the building at the South West corner of Davie and Burrard Streets] 1958 A L Yates photo

Bu P508.17 – Embassy Ballroom, sign on side of former Lester Court building. Embassy Ballroom was one of the later businesses at this location. 1958 A L Yates photo.


Celebrities Nightclub (Former Lester Court) at 1024 Davie in 2016. Author’s photo.


*Dorothy died (of cause unknown to me) when she was just 13.

**Note Maud’s professional designation as a Member of the National Association of Masters of Dancing. See here for more about this American organization.

Posted in A. L. Yates, businesses, street scenes, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Church Parades and Church Street

CVA 99-1951 - Police and Fireman church parade 1929 Stuart Thomson photo

CVA 99-1951 – Police and Fireman church parade. The parade is passing the Georgia Medical-Dental building (under construction) with the Devonshire Hotel (later Apartments) in the background (on the site where, today, HSBC is situated). The parade participants were probably on their way to Christ Church, next door to the Medical-Dental block. 1929 Stuart Thomson photo.

I think I may have a reasonable explanation as to why Church Street (the north-south lane between Seymour and Richards and Georgia and Robson) was so named in the early years of the city. It seems to me that the name may have been connected to Church Parades.

Church Parades were parades of military and/or quasi-military personnel (e.g., police, firefighters) with the purpose of attending a service of worship together. In Vancouver’s early years, the official church which would likely have been attended by such a group was an Anglican one – most likely Christ Church (Georgia and Burrard).

The lane that was Church Street, it seems to me, would have been an ideal assembly location for church parade participants to get themselves organized prior to marching west up Georgia Street the few blocks to Christ Church.

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325 Howe

CVA 586-4174 - [Exterior of] Pacific Coast Fire Building [at 325] Howe Street 1946 Don Coltman photo

CVA 586-4174 – A view of 325 Howe looking toward the northwest. 1946. Don Coltman photo.

The Name Game

The building shown above has been known as the “Welton” Building (1912-1919), the “Pacific Coast Fire” Building (1920-?), and recently, probably, simply as good old 325 Howe.

Who decides what a building shall be called? It is usually safe to say that the owner calls the tune. That makes sense when you consider the name which 325 Howe has gone by for the better part of its life. Pacific Coast Fire Insurance bought the building, likely in 1919/20 and from then on (until relatively recently) it was known as the Pacific Coast Fire Building. The name doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. But naming the building after the corporate owner made some sense.

So, you may ask, who was the owner before 1919/20? Was it a Mr. (or less likely, but possibly, a Mrs.) Welton? Ah, gentle reader, that would be too easy.

In truth, the best I can do is guess why 325 Howe was known as the Welton Block in its early years. The original owner of the structure was National Finance Co. (Thomas Hooper, architect). It could be that there was a Welton on the board of National Finance, but assuming so doesn’t get us anywhere, as that is beyond my capacity to research.

I had the idea of checking Elizabeth Walker’s Street Names of Vancouver, to see if there might have been a street named after a Welton. Apparently so! Part of Sophia Street was once, briefly, known (1905-1910) as Welton Steet, named for “James Welton Horne (1854-1922), a pioneer Vancouver realtor who served on Vancouver City Council, 1888-90; chaired the Parks Board, 1888-94; and was an MLA, 1890-4).”

So the Welton building was named after a guy’s middle name? Really? (Well, it’s just a guess.)

A Glimpse of the Pre-Reclaimed Waterfront

CVA 99 - 3307 - Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Building [325 Howe Street] 1920 Stuart Thomson photo (INTERESTING VIEW FROM THE CPR TRACKS)

CVA 99 – 3307 – A view of 325 Howe from the CPR tracks looking toward the south/southwest; the “bluff” (and a retaining wall) is visible on the left of the image. 1920. Stuart Thomson photo.

Probably the most fascinating aspect of 325 Howe and the images above and below is that they afford us a glimpse of Vancouver’s waterfront prior to the “reclamation” of land north of what we know as Cordova west of Granville.*

Until 1952, Cordova didn’t extend west of Granville Street. It went to the CPR Station near Granville Street, and there it dead-ended. Between Granville and Burrard Streets was “The Bluff”. Major  Matthews, Vancouver’s first archivist, defined the bluff as the “cliff elevation” running between Granville and Burrard.

I was born and raised in Alberta not far from the Rockies, so you’ll forgive me if I take issue with the Major’s choice of the word “cliff” to describe what to me is a “hill” (less than 100 feet, I’d estimate from photos I’ve seen). But this minor word quibble aside, there was definitely a vertical drop,during the early years, from the foot of Howe to the CPR tracks.

It is possible, even today, for someone strolling past 325 Howe to get some sense of the bluff. At the corner of Howe and Cordova, there is a railing over which you can lean and see down to the lower floors of 325 Howe. The then-ground floor (as against what we know today as the “ground” floor on the Howe Street concrete platform) was parallel with the CPR tracks.

CVA 6-11 - [Royal Train arrives at the foot of Howe Street for visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth] 1939 W B Shelly photo

CVA 6-11 – A view of 325 Howe and it’s neighbours (including Finch Garage, from up the lane); also shows the Royal Train bearing King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (ultimately the ‘Queen Mother’). 1939. W B Shelly photo.


*The word “reclamation”, by the way, makes no intuitive sense to me (not, at least, in the way it is typically used by city planners and architects). It suggests that the act of reclaiming has, at its primary motive, the act of  putting things back as they once were. But, in fact, reclamation rarely, if ever, has been driven by this kind of historical “purity” (if that is even possible or desirable) as its principal motive or planned result. Rather, it is typically the establishment of a completely new thing, often using materials/technology which were earlier unavailable.

Posted in Don Coltman, street scenes, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Jean Fuller, Entertainer

CVA 99-691 - Central Garage, Seymour Street ca1918 Stuart Thomson photo (Jean Fuller's &gt;&gt;? 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 became Jean Fuller’s business and residential address: 1124 Seymour Street. Neither the residence nor the building which housed Central Garage in 1918 is still standing. The 6-storey apartment block remains on the corner, however, and is today known as Brookland Court).

There was a nightclub on Seymour Street in the 1930s popularly known by those who went there as “Nigger Jean’s”. Ivan Ackery, in his memoirs, Fifty Years on Theatre Row (1980), had this to say about the club and its proprietress:

Jeannie Fuller Flynn was a grand black woman who ran a good club on Seymour Street. Her husband, Don, played the piano at the Commodore, as well as other places around town. 

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. She eventually gave up her place, ending her career in Vancouver as “Aunt Jemima” at the PNE for many years, and finally as the women’s room attendant at a cabaret. She returned to her home in the States, where she died some years ago, but her memory lives in the minds of those of us who shared the thirties with her. (p.120)

I’ve tracked down the location of the club (and Jean’s home). It looks like 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).

VDW 30 Dec 1922 p 14

Vancouver Daily World. 30 Dec 1922.

It isn’t clear when she gave up the club (or, for that matter, when she started it). Today, the location of Jean’s home/club is the northern end of a clearing made for a family playground.

It hasn’t been possible, to date, to find a photo of Jean. If a VAIW reader happens to have an image of her (or knows where one can be located), please comment on this post.

Posted in biography, jazz/blues, music, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

J. Q. A. Henry Declines FBC Vancouver’s Call


The collection of the Online Archive of California.

This post is a footnote to the history of First Baptist Church, Vancouver. Neither These Sixty Years (1947) by W. A. Carmichael nor Our First Century (1986) by Leslie J. Cummings (the two official histories of the church) makes mention of a call from FBC issued to Rev. Dr. John Quincy Adams Henry (1856-1922) to fill the post of Senior Minister vacated in August 1907 by Rev. J. Willard Litch. Both histories note the date of Litch’s departure and then remark in the next sentence that Rev. Dr. H. Francis Perry took up the pastoral leadership at FBC in July 1909 (fully two years later). It doubtless seemed best to the authors, at the times the histories were published, not to mention the call to the then-pastor of First Baptist Church, Los Angeles. But, as all of the principals have been dead for decades, it seems to me that the that this two-year period can safely be sketched in a bit.

Who Was John Quincy Adams Henry?

Who was this man with the singular name whom FBC Vancouver leaders had concluded was the pastor who’d lead First through the pangs of establishing a new church building on the corner of Burrard and Nelson?

JQAH was born in Iowa in 1856, “a direct descendent of Patrick Henry” (Our Heritage and Our Hope). After finishing post-secondary studies at the University of Chicago and Union Theological Seminary, JQAH was ordained into Baptist ministry in 1880. He spent 20 years pastoring churches in cities including Denver, Chicago, and San Francisco; and he spent two years as superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League in New York State. But his greatest passion and evident giftedness was as an evangelist. After concluding his ministry in San Francisco, he spent nearly six years in the UK (he had initially planned to be there for three years), leading an evangelistic and temperance campaign, during which it was estimated he addressed over three million people.

Following a series of evangelistic meetings at First Baptist Church Los Angeles, the L.A. church called JQAH to be their pastor (August, 1907).

FBCLA was known at the time to be a less-than-peaceful pastoral charge. Indeed, as their church history reveals, it was known to have a body of lay leaders who didn’t mind stirring the pot. JQAH was no fool, and he could see from the start that this was going to be a challenge for him: “At his very first Council meeting he ‘made a strong address demanding absolute harmony and devotion to the Church’ by the official board” (Our Heritage and Our Hope). JQAH’s address to his board wasn’t the last word on the back-biting, however. It wasn’t long before there was an uproar over a (very modest by today’s standards) deficit budget,* and other issues.

The Courting of JQAH

In late 1908 or early 1909, JQAH came to FBC Vancouver, at Vancouver’s invitation, to preach. The lay leaders in Vancouver no doubt indicated to JQAH that he was ‘preaching for a possible call’. Whether the larger congregation was aware of that or not, isn’t clear. It is likely that JQAH was also interviewed by the board as part of the calling process during his time in Vancouver.

After JQAH’s visit, FBC issued a formal call for him to come to Vancouver as the new Pastor of FBC. He responded positively. Indeed, it seemed that he’d all but made up his mind to leave L.A. for Vancouver.

Abiding by the Stuff

In mid-February, 1909, a telegram was sent from L.A. to FBC Vancouver: “New difficulty here which forbids my leaving. A thousand regrets. See letter. Love to all.”

The letter (of February 17) to which the telegram referred expanded on the theme:

While visiting you, I was profoundly impressed by the greatness of the opportunity presented by your church and field….[I] left with my mind made up to accept your invitation and become your pastor, provided that I could see my way clear to leave the work in Los Angeles with a reasonable assurance that what I had already done for the peace and and prosperity of the church would be conserved and someone found to carry the work to a still further point of usefulness and power. But on my return [to FBCLA], much to my distr