Murray and His Book Store

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

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

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

An ad indicating part of Murray’s strength in technical subjects. Sun. 9 March 1967.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vancouver’s Hippodrome Pipe Dream

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

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

London Hippodrome exterior (as it appeared ca 1900).

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

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

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

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


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

But there were a couple of other motives, apparently.

Yates claimed in an early press report in 1911 that:

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

Ottawa Journal. 23 Nov 1911 (Emphasis mine).

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

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

Begins to Unravel

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

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

Ottawa Citizen. 28 June 1912 (Emphasis mine).

Endures in Vancouver

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

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

‘With a Whimper . . .’

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

UBC Archives. Sedgewick Library entrance. 1965.

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

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

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

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

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


UBC Archives. 1978. Student in Sedgewick Library.

UBC Archives. Student in Sedgewick Undergraduate Library. 1978.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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J. W. Freeston, Photographer


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Crèches (1912-1932)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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The Wild West: Early Shooting Galleries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danger to Neighbours

Fraser’s Missiles

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

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

World, 15 Jan 1910

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

Lee Sing’s Close Call

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

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

World, 5 March 1918

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

Danger to Employees

The Troubling Case of Millicent McGregor

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

Province. 21 August 1915.

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

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

Province, 9 April 1924

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

1930s and Later

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A recent photo of the Cadillac appears below.

1907 Cadillac in Greater Vancouver, 2020. MDM Photo.

Posted in Artray, automobiles, First Baptist Church, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Orpheum Quartet

Orpheum I (55 West Cordova): 1904-05

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

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

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

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

Orpheum II (805 West Pender): 1905-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orpheum III (761 Granville Street): 1913-1927

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orpheum IV (884 Granville Street): 1927 –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Mistaken Assumption . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sun. 7 Sept 1960.


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

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

Fowler’s Rose

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

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

Text on plaque beneath carving.

Provenance Questions

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

Tudor Rose?

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

William Clark, Welshman?

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

Duke of York’s Tomb at Tewkesbury Abbey?

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

Major Charles Busteed Fowler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rose

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


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

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

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Nabob’s ‘Harmony House’ on CBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver Sun 23 Aug 1952

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

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

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

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


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

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

Smoking Prohibited at this Smoker!

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

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

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

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

CVA 780-39: 535 Homer Street, 1975.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Mysterious Joseph Langer

Update (June 2020)

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

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

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

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

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

South Africa

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

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

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

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

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

San Francisco/Vancouver/England

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

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

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

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

Vancouver Again

Setting Up House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building Theatres

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

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

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

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

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

Final Years

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. McCallum, p9.

13. Ackery, p.90.

14. McCallum, p.9.

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

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

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Analog Craig’s List, 1967

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Bingarra/Sun Doo Rooms

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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver Sun. 5 July 1921.

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


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

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Dr. Ray Starr Goodwin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Green died in 1989.

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Granville Street on the Verge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No ‘Social Distancing’ Going on Here!

Original post published in 2015

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

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

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

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A Variant of Vancouver’s SECOND Coat of Arms?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ladybug Tours

By Maurice Guibord, Guest Blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before and After Bug-Driven Tours in Stanley

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

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

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

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

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

Ladybug Tours was on the scene from 1949 to 1955.

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

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

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

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


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

Vancouver Sun 25 May 1940

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover art: John A. Radford.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Province 28 May 1940


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

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Vancouver’s Monarchs of the Bronze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suntanning: A ‘Sea Change’ Begins

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

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

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

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

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

Policeman on Horse Visits Beaches

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

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

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

Vancouver Sun 1 June 1933


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

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Maison Henri: Vancouver’s Forgotten Parisian House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Province. Apr 8 1909.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barry Glass, Star Photographer

Barry Glass. Vancouver Sun, 7 January 1966.

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

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

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

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

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

Marlene Dietrich, 1960s. Barry Glass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fun Facts: The Signal Station Atop Lions Gate Bridge

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

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

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

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

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The Age of the Searchlight

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canadian Diamond Jubilee

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

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

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

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

Hudson’s Bay Co. / Vancouver Airport

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

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

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

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

Searchlights as Metaphors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A South Richards Street Survivor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lobbers ketchum help, bandits!” screamed Mock.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Madras, India

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Ted’s ‘Voice’

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

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

1320 – 11 Ave. East
Vancouver, B.C.

March 10th, 1933

Dear Father,

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

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

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

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

Love from us all,


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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver Sun. 16 Nov 1993.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Province. 10 April 1976.

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

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

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

This online version brought back some memories.

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1948 Exterior Views of Vancouver’s Grand Old Lady

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

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

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

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

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

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William Fowler: Early Orchestra Leader in an Innocent Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Province. 5 February 1910.

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

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

World. 17 December 1915.

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

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

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

By 1918 and beyond, the party was definitely over.


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

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A Block of Libraries


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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He resisted the urge, however, and died of heart failure in 1955 at the age of 67.

Earle Hill and His Cave Men at the Winnipeg establishment of the Cave Supper Club. 1937. Source.


(1) Hill’s first wife, Leona, died in 1934 at the age of 38. He married his second wife, Marion, in 1942.

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Former U.S. President Tours Vancouver…in About 30 Minutes

CVA 99-1276 – Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left, lifting hat) with Mayor L.D. Taylor (right, hat in hand) walking west on Cordova Street, outside CPR Depot. (Note: The boy who is right up against the coattails of TR reminds me of the newsboys in this image featured in an earlier VAIW post). July 18, 1915. Stuart Thomson photo.

When former U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt, came to Vancouver on July 18, 1915, he was in town for about half an hour. The Roosevelt party, according to press accounts, consisted of three people: Colonel Teddy Roosevelt, Mrs. Roosevelt (Edith Kermit Roosevelt), and Teddy’s secretary, W. J. McGrath (a Dalhousie University graduate). The group was on the way to Seattle where they would attend the Panama-Pacific Exposition. They had come via Banff, where they spent two days. The Vancouver stop was truly a ‘whistle-stop’; his train had arrived in the city from Banff at 9.25 a.m. and he had to be on his Seattle-bound ship at 10.00.

Although Teddy was in Vancouver scarcely half an hour, he managed to fit into that time an impressive schedule of hat-raising, glad-handing, speech-making, autograph-signing, and motorcading! One could be forgiven for thinking he planned to run for office north of the 49th parallel!

The image above, made by Stuart Thomson, in my judgement is a brilliant piece of camera work. It deserves to be more widely acknowledged as such. The boy approaching Roosevelt and Taylor (from the right foreground) is dressed in a suit which appears to be a match for that worn by TR (how, by the way, were these guys able to tolerate three-piece suits in mid-July — even if they were summer weight?). The boy’s hat is a bit different from TR’s, but it is a junior sized version of an adult hat, not like the soft caps worn by other boys in the image. The boy seems to be captured in the process of raising his hat just as TR is raising his own head gear! And the look of bemusement on TR’s face caught by the camera is classic, brilliant Thomson timing. It would be challenge enough to get this scene right today, much more in 1915. Bravo!

The quote which follows is taken from the Revelstoke Daily News. It is a more succinct recounting of Vancouver happenings than anything that appeared in Vancouver papers regarding TR’s time here (local accounts included far more info — of a picayune sort — than a present-day blog reader would wish to slog through. Trust me).

VANCOUVER, BC, JULY 18 — Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt was welcomed here this morning by about 3,000 citizens. Wearing a summer suit and a big panama hat, the big Bull Moose stepped off the train jauntily when he was greeted with rounds of cheers. He was met at the depot by a large committee of prominent businessmen as well as Mayor Taylor (1) and members of the city council. For a few minutes he was busy handing out autographs and in reply to Col. Worsnop’s (2) greeting said:

“I am proud at the showing that Canada has made in the way of helping Great Britain. Will you see that my regrets are expressed to the soldiers in the city that I could not stay and see them and express my appreciation of Britain’s noble work in the great war [Ahem, umm Teddy, I think you mean Canada’s noble work].”

Passing to the automobile that was in wait for him and which whisked him round the city at 40 miles an hour for 20 minutes — for he had only 25 minutes to stay [some accounts say 35 minutes] — he met a number of Highlanders, whom he saluted….

“Men of this country,” he said, “at the front have fought and died honorably. It is lamentable that they should die but the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church and I say that no national fabric can be built until it is cemented by the blood of those willing to make the sacrifice of their lives for an ideal. Every man will walk with head higher with pride when thinking of the manner in which the Canadian sons have responded to the great call,” a statement which was received with cheers….

Revelstoke Daily News, July 19, 1915 (By Daily News Leased Wire from Vancouver, BC) – Emphasis mine.

This raises a couple of questions in my mind.

First, what was the nature of the 40 mph, 20-minute whiz around Vancouver? Where did Roosevelt’s motorcade go? Well, it seems pretty clear that it didn’t get anywhere near the 100 block of West Hastings, as is implied by information accompanying the final photo below from CVA. A paragraph in the Vancouver Daily World maintains that the motorcade went only to Stanley Park:

A few moments later Colonel Roosevelt was in Alderman Kirk’s car in which, accompanied by Mrs. Roosevelt and the mayor, he took a trip around Stanley Park.

Vancouver Daily World, 19 July 1915

Secondly, why on earth did Roosevelt engage in his loquacious (and to my 21st century mind, insensitive) remarks pertaining to Canada’s contribution to the ongoing Great War? I’m referring to his comment about how “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” (Note: This is a misappropriated quote from early church father, Tertullian. . . a pacifist! This was spotted by my friend, Tim. Thanks, Tim.) Almost as shocking as the fact that he said this is the response of the crowd. . . they cheered?!

This, indeed, was a different time.

Crop of CVA 99-1277 – Teddy Roosevelt speaking to crowd, evidently outside of the CPR Depot. July 18, 1915. Stuart Thomson photo.
CVA 99-1278 – Teddy Roosevelt standing in back seat of car, speaking to crowd in front of CPR Depot. July 18, 1915. Stuart Thomson photo. Classic auto expert, Peter Findlay, has identified the car shown above (with its distinctive windscreen design) as being a 1914 Cadillac. The steering wheel is also distinctive — known as a ‘fat man’ variety.
CVA 1477-652 – “Part of motorcade during Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Vancouver. August 1914.” This description is the one given by CVA. I don’t think this is accurate for a number of reasons: (1) according to VDW, the 20-minute motorcade of TR went through Stanley Park; (2) early automobile expert, Peter Findlay, in reply to a query from me, maintains that the vehicles shown in this image look more like 1910 than 1915 models; (3) early fashions experts puts the clothing worn by the people in this image at closer to 1910 than 1915. (The autos in this photo are proceeding in a westerly direction down the 100 bock of West Hastings — they are just passing the Ormidale and Fleck Blocks.)


(1) Members of the committee included the following (according to The Province):

Mr. Jonathan Rogers, president of the Vancouver Board of Trade; Mr. George E. Graham; Mr. W. A. Blair, secretary of the Vancouver Board of Trade; Mr. Justice Morrison; Col, C. A. Worsnop; Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper; Mr. F. W. Peters, General Superintendent of the C.P.R.; Mr. I. N. Miller, Jr., president of the American Club; Mr. C. E. Tisdall, M.L.A.; Mr. A. H. B. Macgowan, M.L.A., Mr. H. H. Watson, M.L.A.; Mr. H. H. Morris, president of the Vancouver Bankers’ Association; Mr. J. M. Bowell, collector of customs; Dr. F. F. Wesbrook, president of the University of British Columbia; Mr. F. Carter-Cotton, chancellor of the University of British Columbia.

The Province, 19 July 1915

Mayor L. D. Taylor was not included among the wealthy/influential types who composed the Roosevelt welcome committee. So LDT, ever crafty, met TR’s train at Mission, and rode with TR into the City, thereby beating the committee at their own ‘welcome’ game!

(2) Colonel Worsnop had written to TR inviting him to meet with him and his Vancouver Seaforth Highlanders and deliver a speech. TR, however, sent a reply expressing his regret that his brief time in the city would not allow it.

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Avon Theatrical Productions: A Checklist

Crop of CVA’s LGN 999 – Night scene showing ‘old’ Pantages on 100 block East Hastings — what would become, in 1952, the Avon Theatre. 191- BCER.

The Avon Theatre was originally known as the Pantages, from its opening with that name as a vaudeville house in 1908 (on south side of East Hastings between Columbia and Main). It was identified less formally as the ‘old Pantages’ with the opening in 1917 of a ‘new’ Pantages (on south side of West Hastings between Carrall and Abbott; demolished 1967). With the opening of the ‘new’ Pantages, the ‘old’ theatre was known variously as the Royal, the State, the Queen, and the State again.

CVA. Avon business card given to Major Matthews.

In 1952, a repertory group under the leadership of Sydney Risk (1908-1985), Everyman Repertory Co., leased the former State Theatre building from landlord Jack Aceman (1910-1989) and it was re-named the Avon Theatre. Risk’s company, prior to moving into the Avon, was located at 2237 Main Street (Main at 7th). Everyman put on a total of 13 productions until Risk and his group parted company with the Avon in April 1953.

Jack Aceman and Charles Nelson produced 12 plays from June 1953 until they packed it in at the end of 1955. After that, the theatre was no longer known as the Avon. It was, initially, the Fairview Branch 178 Canadian Legion Social Club, which leased the space from Aceman Investments to stand bingo events. In 1956, the Canadian Chinese American Theatres Ltd. took over the old Avon to present mainly Chinese language films.

The Pantages/Queen/State/Avon Theatre was demolished in 2011.

What appears below is a checklist showing the theatrical productions staged by Risk and by Aceman & Nelson. Only shows put on by these appear below.* In most instances, I have shown the name of the play and the playwright(s), the opening date, the director’s name, the headliners (stars); and supporting cast (probably incomplete, in some cases). In the few instances when I’ve had access to a play’s programme, I’ve been able to add staffing information, as well.

(1) “MacBeth” (William Shakespeare): September 29, 1952

  • Director: Sydney Risk
  • Headliners: Dean Goodman (1920-2006), Dorothy Davies (1920-2002)
  • Supporting cast: Juan Root
  • MacBeth marked the beginning of the 7th season of Everyman Theatre since it was formed in 1946. Prior to this production, Everyman had been playing at 7th and Main Street
“MacBeth” – Avon Theatre, 1952. Tom Carter Collection.**

(2) “The Importance of Being Earnest” (Oscar Wilde): October 13, 1952

  • Director/Producer: Sydney Risk
  • Headliners: Richard Litt, Alma Thery, Ronald Siddons
  • Supporting cast: James Onley, Ted Babcock, Joanne Walker, Gwen Arntzen, Myra Benson, William Hernon

(3) “The Late Christopher Bean” (Sidney Howard): October 20 1952

(4) Double bill: “Down in the Valley”, a folk opera (Kurt Weill and Arnold Sundgaard); and “A Phoenix Too Frequent”, a 1-act play (Christopher Fry) : November 3, 1952

  • Director: Sydney Risk
  • Headliners: Dorothy Davies, Ed McCurdy,
  • Supporting cast: Natalie Minunzie, Andrew Snider, James Johnston, Jessie Richardson, John Emerson, Lee Butcher, Tom Wright, Len Haymen
  • Laurence Wilson (conductor of CBC Orchestra) conducted a 15-member pit orchestra for DITV. A Vancouver News-Herald article pointed out that some of the Avon’s best seats would be sacrificed for the inclusion of the pit orchestra in DITV

(5) “The Play’s the Thing” (Ferenc Molnar): November 17, 1952

  • Director: Dean Goodman; Co-Producers: Sydney Risk, Dean Goodman
  • Headliners: Dean Goodman, Doris Sheridan
  • Supporting cast: Ted Babcock, Stan Jones, Ron MacDonald, Norman Newton, and Juan Root.

(6) “Murder Without Crime” (Lee Thompson): November 26, 1952

(7) “Androcles and the Lion” (George Bernard Shaw): December 10, 1952

  • Director: John Thorne
  • Headliners: James Onley, Georgia Nelson
  • Supporting cast: George Murphy, James Peters, Glyn Jones, Myrna Benson, Russ Crossland, Len Lauk, Andy Snider, Renee Gordon

(8) “Little Women” (Louisa May Alcott): December 26, 1952

  • Headliner: Doris Buckingham
  • Supporting cast: Wendy Cox, Arthur Keenan, Angela Wood, Earl Baerg, Ted Babcock, Andrew Snider, Renee Gordon Eleanor Nicholls

(9) “Tobacco Road” (Erskine Caldwell): January 7, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies.
  • Cast include: Babs Hitchman, Doug Haskins, Louise DeVick, Ross Mortimer, Ted Babcock, Tamara Dlugo, Douglas Hellier, Jean Robb, James Peters, Russ Crossland, Andrew Snider and George Barnes.
  • TR was described as “adult entertainment”; no matinee performances.
  • There were two special matinee productions of “Rumpelstiltskin” on January 10 and 17 (and probably also on the 24th due to the postponement of Tobacco Road because of the associated public relations fracas).
Program cover from Avon Theatre re-staging of Tobacco Road, 1953. Tom Carter Collection.

(10) “Hamlet” (William Shakespeare): January 28, 1953

  • Director: Dean Goodman.
  • Headliners: Dean Goodman, Mary Matthews
  • Supporting cast: George Murphy, James Onley, Dodd Dalsgaard, Ron MacDonald, William Lawson (among a total of 20)

(11) “Light Up the Sky” (Ross Hart): February 11, 1953

  • Director: Sydney Risk
  • Headliner: Dorothy Davies
  • Supporting cast: Babs Hitchman, Andrew Snider, Bruno Gerussi, Cathy Graham, Frank Lambrett-Smith, Ted Babcock, George Barnes, Don McManus,  Angela Wood, George Barnes, David Jones, Derek Ralston, Bob Haskins, and Jean Robb

(12) “The Hasty Heart” (John Patrick): March 4, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies.
  • Headliners: Bruno Gerussi, Vivien Brooke-Harte
  • Supporting cast: John Haddy, Harry Mossfield, Doug Haskins, Len Gibson, Alec Denbigh, Guy Palmer

(13) “The Passing the Third Floor Back” (Jerome K. Jerome): March 25, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies.
  • Headliner: Bill Buckingham.
  • Supporting cast: Jessie Richardson, Frank Crowson, Janet Bragg, Alma Thery, Noel Barrie, Ted Babcock, Bruno Gerussi, Jack Ammon, Dorothy Fowler, Vivien Brooke-Harte, Myra Benson

(14)  Re-opening of “Tobacco Road” (Erskine Caldwell): April 11, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Cast: Ted Babcock, Doug Haskins, Georgia Nelson, Babs Hitchman, Eleanor Nicholls, Doug Hellier, John Leslie, Cathryn Graham, Jean Robb, George Barnes, Jack Ammon
  • Company Manager: Bruno Gerussi; Stage Manager: Dave Jones; Stage Designer: Gary Ness
Program from Avon Theatre re-staging of Tobacco Road, 1953. Tom Carter Collection.

(15) “The Drunkard” — a musical comedy (Timothy Shay Arthur): June 13, 1953 

  • This had earlier been playing at the Cave Supper Club with same cast: John Watson, Cora O’Day, Dorothy London,  Alice Hulet, Elmer Cleve, Maryline Cleve.
  • ALSO on Avon’s Stage were to be 10 vaudeville acts that would include singing, dancing, musical and comedy routines

(16) “Of Mice and Men” (John Steinbeck): October 5, 1953.

(17) “Mr Roberts” (Thomas Heggen): November 30, 1953

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Craig Stevens
  • Supporting cast: Bruno Gerussi, Stan Jones, Art Keenan, John MacDonald, Roma Hearn
  • Set design: Gail McCance
“Mr. Roberts” – Avon Theatre, 1953. Tom Carter Collection.

(18) “You Can’t Take it With You” (George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart): January 4, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies.
  • Headliner: Charles Coburn
  • Supporting cast: Verlie Cooter, Art Keenan, Margot Conine, Eleanor Collins, Wally Marsh, Otto Lowy, Tom Shorthouse, Howard Fair, Eve Newitt, Les Wagar, Bob Woodward, Sam Allman, Nancy Graham, Alma Thery, Rosemary Deveson, Andy Snider, William Gordon, John Maunsell
  • Stage Manager: Les Wagar; Lighting: Tommy Lea; Assistant Lighting: Andy Snider; Properties: Margot Conine; House Manager: Tom Buchanan; Sets: Sydney Risk

(19)  Jan 25 1954 “Moon is Blue” (Hugh Herbert): January 25, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Peggy Ann Garner
  • Supporting cast: Juan Root, John MacDonald, Allan Roughton
  • Sets: Andy Snider; Artist: Victor Miles; Lights: Tommy Lea; Props: Margot Conine; Stage Manager: Les Wagar

(20) “For Love or Money” (Hugh Herbert): February 15, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Victor Jory
  • Supporting cast: Lillian Carlson, Doris Buckingham, Wally Marsh, Margot Conine, Les Wager, Bud Slater, Molly Bellamy.

(21) “Kiss and Tell” (Hugh Herbert): March 8, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Margaret O’Brien.
  • Supporting cast: Lillian Carlson, Doris Buckingham, John MacDonald, Barry Cramer, Derek Ralston, Bruno Gerussi, Hilda Browne, Bobby Johnston, Bud Slater, Rosemary Deveson, Andy Snider, Art Keenan
  • Stage Manager/Sets: Andy Snider; Lights: Tommy Lea; Sound: Bruno Gerussi; Costumes/Props: Margot Conine

(22) “Country Girl” ((Clifford Odets): April 2, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Teresa Wright
  • Supporting cast: Bruno Gerussi, Derek Ralston, Wally Marsh, Barbara Desprez, Lee Butcher, Howard Fair, Al Factor, Bud Slater

(23) “Springtime for Henry” (Benn W. Levy): April 19, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Edward Everett Horton
  • Supporting cast: Mary Matthews, Jack Ammon, Patricia Leith
  • Stage manager/Sets: Andy Snider; Properties/Costumes: Margot Conine; Lighting: Tommy Lea; Set Decorator: VIctor Miles; Doorman: Tommy Buchanan.

(24) “Burlesque” (George M. Walters, Arthur Hopkins): May 19, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliners: Jean Parker, Robert Lowery
  • Supporting cast: Barney Potts, Lorraine McAllister, Wally Marsh, Margot Conine, Les Butcher, Barry Cramer, Bob Reed, Rosemary Deveson, Sam Rosen, Andy Snider, Kitt Copping, Jean Duguid, Joy Lowe, Madelain Matthews, Shirley McCowley
  • Stage Manager/Sets: Andy Snider; Properties/Costumes: Margot Conine; Lighting: Tommy Lea; Sound/Prompter: Barry Cramer; House Manager: Tommy Buchanan

(25) “The Show Off” (George Kelly): June 4, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies
  • Headliner: Joe E. Brown
  • Supporting cast: Doris Buckingham, Wally Marsh, Barry Cramer, Rosemary Deveson, Art Keenan, Hilda Brown, Derek Ralston, Andy Snider

(26) “Time of the Cuckoo” (Arthur Laurent): November 12, 1954

  • Director: Dorothy Davies, Ben Strobach
  • Headliner: Miriam Hopkins
  • Supporting cast: Lillian Carlson, Hilda Browne, Rosemary Deveson, Cyril Slater, Sam Payne, Kitty Dutcher, Art Keenan, Robert Johnston, Brian Warkman

(27) “All My Sons” (Arthur Miller): December 11, 1954

  • Director: Sam Payne
  • Headliners: Edward Arnold, Doris Buckingham
  • Supporting cast: Janet Brigg, Mel Richards



*For example, the plays of the B.C. theatrical festival, which was often held at the Avon in February, are not included. Also, “Rumpelstiltskin” — which was a kids-only play that played two or three matinees is not counted separately (although it is mentioned along with “Tobacco Road” above).

**Thanks to Tom Carter for the idea for this post conveyed at a recent coffee meeting and for offering the scans shown above (with the exception of the first and last photos, which came from CVA).

Crop of CVA 790-2339 – Sun Sing Theatre (Chinese language theatre, as the old pantages ended by ca 1984). The building was finally demolished in 2011. 1985?
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Stauffer’s and Mitten’s Arctic Club

Arctic Club interior. Phone booths, coat check, staff and members, n.d. The man standing nearest to the camera appears to be Robert White (a bartender at the Arctic Club for several years who was a victim of murder in 1959); Ken Stauffer is the other man standing, farther from the camera. Tom Carter Collection.

The Arctic Club was one of several cocktail and supper clubs in Vancouver in the ’30s, 40s, and ’50s (including the Quadra, the World, and Jean Fuller’s). According to recollections of the Arctic Club at the Vancouver Jazz Forum, it was a “suit and tie” joint where you needed to display a purchased membership card and sign in before entering. It was located at 718 W. Pender (south side of Pender, between Granville and Howe). (1)

In October 1934, notice was given in the local press that the Arctic Club, Ltd. would be applying for a provincial liquor license. The Club was co-owned by Bob Mitten, Sr. (1881-1956) and Ken Stauffer (1910-1978); Stauffer and Mitten both came to Vancouver from Saskatchewan — Mitten in 1929 and Stauffer in 1932. By 1935, Mitten and Stauffer established the Arctic Club. I suspect that the two men met while working for the Liberal Party in Vancouver, as both were active in the party (Mitten Sr. would marry Euphemia Stauffer thereby becoming Ken’s brother-in-law). In his obituary, Mitten is described as an “active campaigner” for the party and Stauffer was the Vancouver party president for awhile (Sun, 6 Nov 1948).

Mitten Sr. retired as a Club owner in 1943 due to ill health and his son, Bob Mitten Jr., ultimately took over his Dad’s share of the business. In 1959, Stauffer and Mitten Jr. bought The Cave supper club (626 Hornby) together from Isy Walters, and ran both night spots for a few years. Bob Mitten, Jr. died while in Hawaii in 1971. Stauffer ultimately sold The Cave to auto dealer, Stan Grozina (1937-2014) in 1973. (2) Grozina was the last Cave owner; it was demolished in 1981.

The alley view of the post-fire Arctic Club and Leonard’s Cafe. 1961. This photo was downloaded some years ago (by Tom Carter) from the “Nostalgic and Sentimental Vancouver” group on Facebook. The photo was supplied at that site by Ken Stauffer’s daughter-in-law, Barbara? Stauffer.

In December 1961, fire destroyed the Arctic Club, which took up the top floor of two buildings (together with a Leonard’s Coffee outlet and the Arctic Barber Shop, which were at street level). In the Club, 40 jobs were lost. Stauffer speculated shortly after the blaze that the Arctic might be rebuilt, possibly on the same site. But that didn’t happen. (3)

A napkin from the Arctic Club. n.d. Tom Carter Collection.

Odds and Ends

  • When the Arctic Club first opened, it had a reputation as a gambling joint with a major poker game. The Arctic Club’s gaming associations seem to have been exclusively during the 1930s (Sun, 19 Mar 1947).
  • Robert White, a bartender at the Arctic, was murdered in his West End apartment in 1959. A Romanian sailor was later extradited from Hawaii and charged with White’s murder. He was found guilty of the reduced charged of manslaughter; he served just a few months of his 3-year sentence in B.C. and then was deported to West Germany (Montreal Gazette, 17 Sept 1959). White appears to be included in the photo featured above, standing next to Ken Stauffer.
  • Legendary local jazz pianist Chris Gage (1927-1964) was a fixture at the Arctic Club after his first night there in 1957. By 1959 he was being described in the local press as the Arctic Club’s pianist”. I believe he continued in that capacity until the 1961 fire. The Arctic Club had a reputation for being supportive of all sorts of local music talent.
  • Australian, Rolf Harris, had one of his first major gigs at the Arctic Club in 1961. And a “live” LP recording was made of “Rolf Harris at the Arctic Club” (possibly a year or two later). Following Stauffer’s passing, this quote was attributed to Harris: “Kenny’s death is a big loss. . . I owe virtually everything to him” (Victoria Times-Colonist, 11 Dec 1978).



(1) The Arctic Club on Pender Street was not the first club of that name; another club, the full name of which was the Arctic Brotherhood Club, was often referred to in abbreviated form as “the Arctic Club”. The Brotherhood met in the offices of senior members of the club, until taking rooms near the corner of Main and Broadway (World, 20 Jun 1908). One of the principal requirements of membership in Vancouver’s Arctic Club was that you had resided north of the 54th parallel for at least a year. Whether the Arctic Brotherhood Club had any substantive connection to the Arctic Club on Pender Street remains an open question. However, to me that appears doubtful.

(2) In 1963, Stauffer branched out beyond The Cave by purchasing the Cock ‘n Bull restaurant on West Broadway (today, adjacent to Jordan’s). He renamed the restaurant The Lulubelle (a gay-nineties-themed family spot) and in 1975 changed the name to Charmaine’s, transforming it into a discotheque for the younger set. When the Lulubelle opened, Stauffer took at least two of his former Arctic Club staff with him: Bert Williams (manager) and Samuel Mee (food services) (Province, 16 Jan 1963).

(3) In 1947, Mitten Sr. reportedly bought the the Arctic Club property for $50,000, however by the time of the ’61 fire, the Club property was owned by F. A. Menzies, who was also a part-owner of Leonard’s Cafe.

I’m indebted to Tom Carter for making much of his Arctic Club ephemera available for reproduction in this post.

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Vending Before Food Trucks

CVA 800-843 "Description in progress". n.d. Al Ingram photo. Note: The image shown here has been cropped and enhanced. See CVA online for original.
Crop of CVA 800-0843. Food vendor on Granville Street, just south of Commodore Lanes. I am guessing this was taken sometime between 1975-85. Al Ingram photo.
CVA 1184-753 – Woman and small child at a street vendor’s popcorn cart. Probably taken in or near Stanley Park. 1943. Jack Lindsay.
Crop of CVA 7-152 – Street vendor’s bicycle (tricycle?) cart, vending lemon sodas and Almond’s ice cream. Dunsmuir Street, looking east towards the Drill Hall on Beatty Street. ca1914. J L Quiney.
Still showing a really goofy Expo ’86 Hot Dog Stand made from video produced by Yaletown Productions (CVA).
CVA 586-1339 – Appears to be a Stanley Park concession stand with girls participating in a Canadian Youth Hostel bike hike. I have deliberately not included most images of concession stands (excluding, primarily, PNE concessions), but this Stanley Park concession is just too iconic to leave out. 1943. Don Coltman.
CVA 99-4559 – Woman using pineapple juice vending machine at the Hudson’s Bay store. This photo isn’t, strictly speaking, of a traditional food vendor, but I couldn’t resist including it, as it represented a technology shift and it is simply such a cool image.1933. Stuart Thomson.
My all-time favourite food vending image. Woman with umbrella walking dogs past popcorn stand. Made along English Bay during the Sea Festival. July 20, 1967. English Bay. (230 of 245, CBC/Franz Lindner)
Posted in Al Ingram, people, street scenes, yesterday & today | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Flying Was Still Exotic


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

This image is one of several available online at VPL showing Clancy’s Sky Diner Cafe. This unusual cafe took clever advantage of the long, narrow interior space to create the impression of a DC-3 aircraft fuselage. The Sky Diner seems to have been established in the late 1940s and continued to be in business at 776 Granville (near the former Birks building and the Vancouver Block) until, I believe, the 1960s. The Sky Diner was part of a local restaurant food chain which included the various White Lunch establishments.

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

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

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

I’ve noticed recently that Clancy’s was one of a few restaurants at that location. A 1940 photo taken by Joe Iaci of Kandid Kamera Snaps (Foncie’s first employer, made after Foncie had left the firm), shows in the background a neon sign for Chanticleer Lunch with a rooster mounted over the name. A 1946 image (a Foncie/Iaci-like photo but unattributed to them or anyone else) shows in the background the old Chanticleer rooster sign, but the name beneath had been changed to Rooster Lunch. There are no interior shots of which I’m aware showing the interior of the cafe under its Chanticleer/Rooster management, but it seems safe to assume that the decor was not of an aircraft, nor very likely of a barnyard! (“Chanticleer”, by the way, apparently is a reference to a male vocal ensemble, such as the U.K. group, The Kings Singers, or this group. It is also – probably more pertinently – a literary reference to a rooster who appears in the fables of Reynard the Fox).

vpl 21401 Stores on Granville Street. 1923. Dominion Photo.
VPL 21401. Stores on Granville Street. 1923. Dominion Photo. (Note: Chanticleer Lunch, as it then was, appears to have been on far right of the image).

There was another Clancy’s eatery, the “Clancy’s Downtown Restaurant” – from at least 1955-65 – located in the Roger’s Building, adjacent to O. B. Allan Jewellers. See below:

CVA 1385-3 - [O.B. Allan store, corner of Granville and Pender Streets] 1965 or earlier
CVA 1385-3 – [O.B. Allan store, corner of Granville and Pender Streets]. The sign for Clancy’s Downtown Restaurant is adjacent to the Jewellers and seems to be pointing down the stairs which led (and lead) downstairs to the basement. 1965 or earlier.

Posted in cafes/restaurants/eateries, Foncie Pulcie, people | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Crowd Welcomes Kilties at Union Depot/Thornton Park

CVA 99-1170.1 – Seaforth Highlanders returning to Vancouver from WW1. The gents in the automobile appear to be Lt-Gov. Ballard and General Leckie. In this image, the camera seems to be pointing northeast. 1919. Stuart Thomson photo.

The photos above and below are identified by the City of Vancouver Archives as being a “large crowd gathered around automobile, men in military uniforms” and the date shown for the photos is “ca1915.”

I had doubts about the attributed date when I saw the Great Northern Freight warehouse in the scene. Vancouver’s Union Depot, of which the GNR Freight Warehouse was part, was not completed until June 1917. The site of the photo is confirmed in the first photo with the presence of the Ivanhoe Hotel: the crowd clearly is gathered on what would be known within a couple of years as Thornton Park (the green space that is in front of what today is known as Pacific Central Station (originally the Canadian Northern Railway depot, which was adjacent and south of Union Depot; Union Depot was demolished in 1965).

I was able to pin down the date the photos were made a little more accurately by consulting local newspapers. An article describing the event appeared in the June 20, 1919 edition of the Daily World, reporting that “an immense crowd” gathered at Union Depot to welcome Seaforth Highlanders (aka, “Kilties”) who had rolled into the city after serving in the Great War:

And such a rush there was when the gates were opened! Such a hurrying in search of the son, the father, the brother or the lover! Everywhere were anxious, eager, expectant faces, searching, searching, searching for the face and the form they knew was there. Glad cries, little screams of joy, even tears of keenest pleasure were heard and seen on every hand. The scene was a most affecting one, and even the most unemotional could not help but be affected.

Vancouver Daily World, 20 Jun 1919

There were VIPs present, as well: Lieutenant Governor Francis Stillman Barnard (1856-1936) was there (I think that he is the hatless gent being helped from the automobile in the middle of the crowd), Mayor Harry Gale (1878-1950), and Brigadier-General R.G.E. Leckie (1869-1923) (the gent who is standing behind Barnard, still in the car).

CVA 99-1170.2 – Seaforth Highlanders returning to Vancouver from WW1. The gents in the automobile appear to be Lt-Gov. Ballard and General Leckie. The camera, in this case, seems to be pointing northward. 1919. Stuart Thomson photo.
Posted in military, railways, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getting Nowhere – Fast – in 1901

CVA Trans P52 – Men on bicycle training machines: Harry Hooper, Mr. Burke, and another young fellow. (Note: Hooper is in the front seat of the two-seater; I’m assuming Burke is behind Hooper and that the un-named dude is on the solitary cycle). 1901. Richard Henry Trueman photo.

This seemed like an apt image to post in this season of broken fitness resolutions. The image was made, according to the City of Vancouver Archives, about 120 years ago. My two questions, regarding the photo: (1) Where was it taken? and (2) Who were the guys who were featured in it?

I’m pretty sure that this was taken at Brockton Point. It looks to me as though there was a platform behind the bikes — perhaps intended for an orchestra to gather upon. The floor on which the bikes are situated looks like a dance floor to me; the area to the left of the two-person bicycle looks like a dining room. I found a 1902 Province article pertaining to upgrades to clubhouses of the Brockton Point Athletic Association – including “repairs to the bicycle club training room” (Province, 29 Apr 1902). I concluded from this that the photo was made at the Bicycle Clubhouse of the Brockton Point Athletic Association.

CVA SGN 983 – Men with bicycles assembled on front steps of Brockton Point clubhouse, 1897? William M. Stark photo.

The rightmost cyclist I haven’t been able to identify.

Harry Hooper (who is in the front seat of the two-seater) was a pioneer taxicab driver in the early 19-teens (Frank H. Ellis, “Pioneer Flying in British Columbia”, BC Historical Quarterly, Oct 1939, p. 248). There is an entertaining tale in this article (recounted in a footnote on this page) of how Hooper transported an airplane to Bellingham from Vancouver in 1914 using his “big Winton touring car”.

CVA 84-4 – A Winton car belonging to the Stirtons. Presumably this auto resembled Harry Hooper’s vehicle. 1910-12.

It is unlikely that Hooper was plying the taxicab trade at the time the bike photo was made, however. In Major Matthews’ Early Vancouver Hooper notes that he “learned to drive in 1904 with Dr. Riggs’ two-cylinder Ford” (Early Vancouver, Vol IV, p. 215).

The other fellow on Hooper’s bike, Burke, might be Stanley Burke. He went on to become manager of Pemberton & Son Realtors in the city.

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Shoot the Chutes!

Park P4 – View of buildings, rides and amusements at “Happy Land” (PNE midway) – with the Shoot the Chutes ride in the foreground – at Hastings Park. 193-. Leonard J. Frank photo.

The “Shoot the Chutes” ride at the Hastings Park midway from 1925 through 1957 was among the most popular rides. It had wooden boats into which passengers would climb. The boats would then be released, one at a time, from the top of an incline and, taking advantage of gravity, hurtle down the incline and into a basin of water with a great splash. The chute doesn’t seem to my present-day eyes to have had much of an incline, but judging from accounts at the time, it was plenty exciting!

CVA 260-499 – Shoot the Chutes ride at the PNE midway (Happy Land) at Hastings Park. ca1936. James Crookall photo.

The notion of shooting the chutes didn’t originate with the PNE ride. It seems to have come from the logging industry as a way of moving logs into the water, where they could be stored and towed.

Mi P8 – Logs on chute at Hastings Sawmill. Charles Macmunn. 1888.

Shooting the chute(s) for recreational purposes locally was advanced at English Bay with a slide that took children down to the bay (with or without the aid of a device to ride on — although, judging from photos, it appears that kids mostly slid down on their rear ends).* This was installed in about 1905. It seems to have continued in some form at least as late as the 1960s (Sun 15 July 1960).

There was a proposal for another water-oriented chute-shooter ride that was to be installed at Deadman’s Island as part of the ‘Coney Island’-type amusement park that was rumoured to be under consideration there in 1909. The park and ride were both ultimately non-starters, however.

Shooting the chute even became, for a short time, a way of referring to what today we would call sliding down a playground slide. This reference quickly fell into disuse, however.

Be P1.1 – English Bay Beach showing the Shoot the Chute. ca1900. Edwards Bros.
CVA 1184-88 – Less than happy times at Hastings Park: Vehicles, confiscated from Japanese nationals. Shoot the Chutes looms in the background. March 1942 Jack Lindsay

In 1957, the decision was made to move the midway to a new location within Hastings Park (the current location of Play Land). As part of that move, the Shoot the Chutes ride was demolished.

Bu P536.1 – Demolition of the Shoot The Chutes ride in Happy Land at Hastings Park. 1957.
Bu P536.2 – Demolition of the Shoot The Chutes ride in Happy Land at Hastings Park. 1957.

Apparently, there was at least one later Shoot the Chutes-style ride at Hastings Park, however. In 1990, mention was made in the press of a Wildwassbahn flume ride being a modern incarnation of Shoot the Chutes. It was installed for a sum of $1.4 million. It seems fair to say that that is substantially more than was spent on the original ride (Province 17 Aug 1990).


*However, it should be noted that the Shoot the Chutes slide at English Bay was sometimes referred to as a toboggan slide. Thanks to Neil Whaley for this piece of the puzzle. He is my go-to-guy for all things pertaining to old English Bay! (The photo below seems to me to better illustrate a toboggan slide than does the English Bay contraption!)

CVA 99-2076 – First snow scenes on Grouse Mountain, taken for the Star. 1929. Stuart Thomson photo.

Posted in James Crookall, Leonard J. Frank, Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Lodge Cafe

CVA 99-3424 – The leftmost building is the Lodge Cafe (556 Seymour), on which are birds that I take to be bluebirds. A residence which, by this time, had been converted into commercial space (574 Seymour) is next door. Rexmere Rooms is two doors south of the Cafe (at 568 Seymour). The 3-storey Arts & Crafts Bldg (576 Seymour) is the rightmost structure in this photo; the A&C Bldg was later built up to its current height of 5 stories (ca1928). ca 1922. Stuart Thomson photo.

The Lodge Cafe was an eatery and dancing establishment from May 1919-1924. The original proprietors were Mr. M. B. Fleming and Fred A. Bush. Not much is known by me about these two, except that they were new to the city (and possibly to B.C.). 556 Seymour was occupied earlier by McIntyre’s Cafe (1911-1916); this well-known establishment (proprietors, James A. McIntyre and Herbert M. Rose) was located at 439 Granville before it moved to 556 Seymour, and was afterwards at 720 Pender.

Before it was opened as The Lodge Cafe, the interior was decorated by Southwell & Aiken at a cost of about $9,000:

The whole interior will be beautified with a series of floral and mural and decorative panels, a number of which will comprise well-known local scenes artistically executed. Over 700 yards of fine carpet have already been contracted for and in addition there will be a special, hard, maple polished dancing floor of 30 square feet laid near the orchestra stand for dancing purposes. The new proprietors will…cater to high class trade only.

BC Record Apr 11 1919
VPL 20676. Exterior of the Lodge Cafe. The building to the north of it (left) would become home to Clarke & Stuart Stationers in 1920; C&S purchased the property for $100,000 from the owner of the Virginia Hotel. May 1919. Dominion Photo.
CVA 99-5283 – Interior of the Lodge Cafe (a Victory Loan Lunch, shortly after the Lodge opened). 1919. Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: This luncheon event didn’t have the need of the dance floor, but presumably it was located near the rear of this image back where the band was situated).
VPL 20674. Interior of the Lodge Cafe. May 1919. Dominion Photo. Note the pre-fire murals.

There was a good dance floor at the Lodge. Calvin Winters and his Novelty Jazz Orchestra played there from the opening of the Cafe in 1919 for an indeterminate period. The Lodge introduced four other entertainers to its regular roster by September 1919. In addition to “the Orchestra” (presumably Cal Winters’), there were Harry Belting, Bob Manning, Shirley White, and Neva Latham. Except for Shirley White and Harry Belting (White was apparently a vocalist and Belting a pianist/accompanist), just who these people were is a mystery to me. White went on to be an opening songstress at the Columbia Theatre, after the Lodge closed; White would sing prior to the showing of a film.

In the Victory Loan lunch photo above, there is on one of the pillars these words: “Shimmying Strictly Prohibited”. This sign was directed at dancers. The shimmy had become popular in about 1919 and consisted of dancers shaking their upper torsos (to put it politely). Madame Sonia Serova had this to say about the dance: “It was never a popular dance, if it may be called such….Instead of the ball room it belongs rightfully to the bedroom.” As it turned out, the shimmy was not to die so quickly as forecast. It continues to be a move still used today in modified form.

In February 1921, a fire broke out at the Lodge Cafe (Province 15 Feb 1921). Apparently the blaze began at about 2:30 a.m. in the basement (below the dining room), long after guests and workers had vacated the premises. The cause of the fire was unknown. The worst of the damage was in the kitchen and in the “musicians’ balcony” (although that is how the balcony was referred to in the Province, I have never seen any photos of the interior which shows anyone, musicians or otherwise, in the balcony).

After the fire, the Cafe was closed for about a month. In March 1921, the Lodge was reopened following a complete redesign of the interior. The design work was done by James J. Osborne, assisted by Mr. H. H. Meeker, of the Merchants’ Display Service, located at Cordova near Cambie Street. This re-do included a “beautiful new wall mural design” (Sun March 21 1921). The account in the press as to the nature of the wall mural was vague. But according to it, the ceiling consisted of a painted representation of a summer sky of white clouds with blue peeping through. High above, evidently, bluebirds were discernible, soaring and swirling. By 1921, Francesco Maracci’s Bluebird Orchestra had taken over as the resident dance band at the Lodge.

By September 1922, the Lodge had a new owner. Mr. A. I. Harvie had purchased the Lodge and he wanted it to have a new look and taste. This included a dance floor that had been doubled in area and a new chef — namely, Monsieur Rioual –formerly of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

CVA 778-403: The site (if not the building) of the Lodge Cafe and the earlier McIntyre’s Cafe. The site was the flagship of A&B Sound until it went belly-up in 2008. 1974. (These days, the Lodge Cafe site is occupied by a nightclub at a slightly different address, 560 Seymour).

Despite Mr. Harvie’s efforts, the Lodge Cafe evidently folded in 1924. The site went on to house the flagship store of A&B Sound from ca1970 until it folded in 2008. Most recently, it has been a nightclub.

Posted in businesses, cafes/restaurants/eateries, stuart thomson | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gutta Percha and Rubber Ltd.

I love this stiff cardboard window ad concept. Note that “Weather Probs.” is probably an abbreviation of “Probabilists” (see comment below from J. Jones). GP’s fox terrier mascot, “Perky” (aka “Tootsy”), puts in a cameo! The ad is likely from the 1950s. MDM Collection.

Gutta Percha and Rubber Ltd. was a Toronto-based company with regional offices across Canada, including in Vancouver. During the early 1900s (when the Vancouver office was established) the Pacific Division was at 100 W. Hastings Street, where Prado Coffee is today; later the office was in the 500 block of Beatty, just a couple of doors south of the Sun Building.

CVA 99-3450 – Gutta Percha & Rubber Ltd. at 526 Beatty Street. ca 1924. Stuart Thomson photo.

GP was founded in 1883 by H. D. Warren in Toronto. The company endured until 1960 when it went into voluntary liquidation. It struggled with competition from the U.S., in particular, and foreign markets in general, during much of its corporate life.

The name of the company was peculiar, with “Gutta Percha and Rubber” being partly a corporate brand as well as the names of generic products (gutta percha is a product that was similar to, yet different from rubber). It was kind of like the words “toilet paper” being elevated to the status of a corporate brand to become, say, “Toilet Paper, Ltd.”

The firm produced belts for industrial and farming applications, automobile tires, fire hoses, and footwear, including those items which were widely known as “rubbers” during my growing-up years. Such rubbers, sometimes called “toe rubbers”, were intended to keep one’s business shoes safe from the potential harm to leather that comes from rain.

You may well inquire, as did I: “What were Campacs?” Sometimes the additional descriptors “camp shoes” accompany the word “Campacs”. Perhaps these were akin to today’s “runners”, with an emphasis on a relatively thick sole for urban camping/hiking settings?

Near the end of its corporate life, GP specialized in industrial applications, and one of the most notable of these, locally, concerned construction of the Deas Island Tunnel (today’s George Massey Tunnel). GP was responsible for the design of rubber gaskets to keep the Fraser River out of the tunnel during its construction.

Vancouver Sun. 15 Jul 1959.

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Archives Image Corrected by Horizontal Flip



CVA – 2010-006.062:  The back side of B.C Hydro building (today The Elektra residential building). The Clements Block (on south side of Robson between Hornby and Howe) is being demolished in this image. Ernie H. Reksten photo. June 2 1965. Note: This image has been corrected by me flipping it horizontally.


2010-006.062 – CVA’s UNCORRECTED Version.

It can be disorienting when a historical image’s negative is printed from the wrong side. By viewing the image to the right, you can see the way the image appears on CVA as of mid-February, 2017. (That the image was wrongly oriented when printed is apparent upon clicking on the uncorrected version of the image and enlarging it to try to read the ‘No Parking/No Stopping’ sign).

Let’s take a tour of the correctly oriented image.

The photo was taken southbound on Howe Street through the windshield of an automobile. To the right of the car (and outside the photo frame) is the courthouse (1906 Rattenbury; 1912 Hooper – annex)/art gallery. To the right and just ahead of where the car is is some metalwork. That was the above-ground indicator of the courthouse public washroom, which was located underground. The lawn surrounding the couthouse/gallery would later be removed as part of the redevelopment of the block (and replaced with concrete) to make possible the construction of such features as the civic skating rink.

The structure that is under demolition in the photo is the Clements Block (1922-65). Clements (SE corner Hornby and Robson) was home to a number of businesses, not least Danceland. Just behind Clements (facing onto Hornby Street) 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

1972 BC Progressive Conservative TV Ads


Derril with Labourers in Background

Derril Warren in BC Tory ads for 1972. This head shot is set against a background of labourers – similar to how one might expect an NDP ad to appear. Was this how BC Tories wanted to imagine themselves in ’72?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Remembrance Services Past at First Baptist Church


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

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

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

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

Sanctuary Padre's seat

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

Padre James Willox Duncan, (n.d.) Jennifer Friesen photo.

FBC Archives. Padre James Willox Duncan, 2000 Jennifer Friesen photo.

Padre James W. Duncan Obituary. Nov 19, 2002.

Padre James W. Duncan Obituary. November, 2002.


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

Posted in biography, churches, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, jennifer friesen, people, Ross J. Kenward | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Behind This Wall at Hotel Vancouver…



Two of the six public elevators which flank the wall which probably was home to Beatrice Lennie’s Ascension in the lobby of current Hotel Vancouver from 1939-ca1967. March 2017. Author’s Photo.

Behind the wall shown above, in the elevator court of the third (1939) Hotel Vancouver, lies, quite possibly, Ascension, a work of bas-relief sculpture created by Beatrice Lennie (1904-1987) a renowned and very able good sculptor. Doris Munroe, in her M.F.A. thesis (UBC, 1972, p. xix), described Ascension, installed in 1939, as follows:

The theme with its vertical lines, arches, elongated figures, sun and stars was one of ascent. It was finished in tones of blue steel, brass and chromium which harmonized with the cream marble walls and bronze elevator doors. The hotel was opened on May 25, 1939. At the time of the reconstruction of the hotel in 1967 the ceilings were dropped and the artist believes the mural was then boarded up and faced with a new textured facade.

The image reproduced below is the only one I’ve found that shows all of Ascension. (Also shown below is part of Ascension from a Hotel Vancouver publicity brochure.)


Bea Lennie standing with her mural for the Hotel Vancouver c 1939. From First Class: Four Graduates of the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, 1929. Letia Richardson. 1987. The Floating Curatorial Gallery, Women in Focus, p. 40.


This is from a ca1940 Hotel Vancouver brochure (which touts on its cover that the hotel is “one of the most modern hotels in the British Empire”). There appear to be flanking images in the brochure taken from Ascension. Source: Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections (647.94711/V22va).

Ascension and the Artist

In an August 1, 1975 interview for the Vancouver Province, Lennie said:

I used to think your sculpture would outlive you, but they boarded up one of mine, a 12-foot panel in the elevator court on the main floor of the Hotel Vancouver. They covered it with a wooden wall when they lowered the ceiling. It’s discouraging in one’s own lifetime. At the time (1939), the CNR [for whom the hotel was initially built; it later became a CPR property] asked me to do something that wouldn’t be out of date in 30 years.

In another piece published about Lennie, she remarked (with bitterness and some overstatement): “I never go back to see my work because they always do such dreadful things to it” (emphasis mine). To the best of my knowledge, Ascension is the only Lennie work that is ‘lost’.

An article was published, likely in the Sun, shortly after the sculptor’s death in 1987, that recalled Lennie’s body of work and related something of her history and family background in British Columbia.¹  It is interesting that the article noted that Lennie came from a pioneer B.C. family, but there was mention made only of her maternal grandfather, Benjamin Douglas, who arrived in the province in 1862 for the Gold Rush (the Douglas border crossing near Blaine, WA was named in his honour). No mention was made of Lennie’s paternal grandfather, Rev. Robert Lennie, who came to New Westminster in 1884 and established the Baptist church that is still there (although worshipping in a different building than he would have recalled), Olivet Baptist Church. Lennie also served as ‘the first missionary pastor’ to the small body of believers who would ultimately form First Baptist Church, Vancouver.

CVA 1184-1129 - [Sculptor at work] 1940-48 Jack Lindsay

CVA 1184-1129 – “Sculptor at work.” 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo. Although the artist isn’t identified by CVA, I’m certain that this is an image of Beatrice Lennie in her studio.

It seems likely that Beatrice, one of Rev. Robert Lennie’s twenty grandchildren, had grown away from her grandfather’s Baptist roots.² But I wonder whether she may have been subconsciously paying tribute to her dad’s dad with the creation and naming of Ascension.

At one level, of course, the naming of her Hotel Vancouver sculpture was a case of word play. Ascension would be located in the elevator court and was one of the last things which guests would see as the elevator doors closed and they were lifted to their rooms.

But at another level, I cannot look at the image of Ascension without wondering about the prominence of stars and halo-like objects, which taken together, seem to me to speak of Easter, the highest and holiest holiday in the Christian calendar.

HV - Main Floor Plan

Hotel Vancouver – Original (1939) Main Floor Plan. Note that eight elevators appear in this plan. The two elevator shafts closest to what was designated as the porter’s area (no. 4 and no. 8) were, apparently, walled up, presumably by ca1967 with Lennie’s Ascension.

According to a concierge at the Hotel Vancouver with whom I spoke in preparing this post, there are other things buried behind that wall. The original hotel drawings called for eight elevators, but part way through its construction, it was decided that six elevators (three on each wall that flanked Ascension) were ample. The abandoned two elevator shafts remain hidden behind the wall, to this day. Along with, quite possibly, Beatrice Lennie’s bas-relief work.

CVA 1184-1130 - [Sculptor at work in elaborately decorated studio] 1940-48 Jack LIndsay (is this Beatrice Lennie??)

CVA 1184-1130: Sculptor at work in studio. 1940-48. Jack Lindsay. Again, unidentified by CVA, this seems to me to be almost certainly Bea Lennie, probably in her studio. If this is an older photo of her, it probably is of a later than that estimated by CVA.


¹The article referenced here was found in the Vancouver Art Gallery library’s clipping file and no attribution was noted. So I’m guessing that it was a Vancouver Sun piece. (For a detailed list of Lennie’s extant work and biographical info pertaining to her, see this excellent site.)

²I didn’t find in my research indication of Lennie’s religious denominational  affiliation, if any.

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Clement Welch: A Passion for Choral Music

James Clement Welch (1871-1962) emigrated from England to Canada in 1886, the year of Vancouver’s incorporation as a city — and the year of Clement’s 15th birthday. By the time he was in his mid-30s, he would lead what would become, arguably, his greatest legacy: the Vancouver (Amateur) Operatic Society. But that period was still 20 years in his future and nearly a continent apart from where he initially settled with his parents: in the still-tiny, recently-christened Canadian national capital.


Clement arrived on our shores with his parents, Thomas (ca1836-1920) and Mary (ca1843-1925); the family settled in Ottawa. Thomas took on the organist’s job (and for a few years, that of the Choirmaster) at St. Alban’s the Martyr Church (Anglican; today the church is known simply as St. Alban’s).

Daily World. 11 Oct 1924.

It isn’t clear what exactly Clement did for the first few years after his family moved to Canada. Chances are, he did what most teens do: got some sort of training (judging from what came later, I’m guessing that included some accountancy training; I know for certain only that he graduated from Ottawa Normal School in 1894), and likely went through typical teenage rites of passage.

In 1896 (when he turned 25), however, Clement started his first full-time, professional job as a teacher in Ottawa’s public schools. His teaching career spanned 1896-1906 and from what I could find in Ottawa press reports, it appears that he spent most of his teaching career working at the same school.

1895-96 was a red-letter year for Clement, as he would begin a second career (simultaneous with that as teacher) — one that would feed his great passion for choral music. By that year, St. Alban’s Church had scaled back the responsibilities of Clement’s father, Thomas, from Organist/Choirmaster to just that of Organist. The new Choirmaster chosen by St. Alban’s was Thomas’ son, Clement! Two years later, the powers-that-were at St. Alban’s must have been pretty pleased with themselves for this personnel decision. The Ottawa Journal gushed: “[Clement Welch] is a great worker, and the boys esteem him highly — no small thing, mark you, for choir boys are difficult cattle to handle and to get such results as does Mr. Welch needs much tact and a peculiarly endowed temperament” (Ottawa Journal 30 Sept 1899).

Clement married Mabel Burtch (1875-1901) also in 1895. Their eldest child, Velma Ann Maud (1896-1925) and a boy was born to the pair, named Clement Bentley (1899-1974). (1)

Clement’s and Mabel’s marriage was destined to be very brief. Mid-way down a long, bleak column headlined the “Death Roll of 1901”, the local newspaper noted that “On Oct. 5th, Mrs. J. Clement Welch died at her residence…” (Ottawa Citizen, 2 Jan 1902). It seems that Mabel died of septicemia — although the circumstances under which she contracted it are unknown to me.

Taste of the West Coast

In July, 1903, Clement took himself on vacation from a probably uncomfortably hot and humid Ottawa for the mild west coast air of North America, specifically (according to local press clippings) San Francisco and Victoria. No mention was made of him stopping at Vancouver, but it’s possible that he spent some time there, too.

In 1904, Clement married his second wife, Minnie Ernestine Budd (1879-1970). Welch brought the two kids from his first marriage (Velma and Bentley); Minnie and Clement also had a son together, Thomas Kenneth (1905-1988).

Clement received a teaching promotion in July 1906 — which took effect in September. He was appointed to the position of musical director of all Ottawa public schools. The starting salary was $900 per year (Ottawa Journal, 6 July 1906). Furthermore, when September rolled around, he received a further promotion to become “relieving principal” and that as of one year later, he would become a full principal of a four-room school. His teaching career seemed to be taking off in an administrative direction. (Ottawa Citizen, 7 Sept 1906).

Interestingly, the September 1906 press report would prove to be the final such pertaining to Clement in Ottawa. Probably during the Ottawa winter of 1906-07 (not the best of seasons in the nation’s capital). Clement decided to pack it in with school teaching there and head for the west coast with his family. They arrived in Vancouver sometime in 1907.


After the Welchs rolled into Vancouver, one of Clement’s priorities was to become connected with a local Anglican church. One of the nearest congregations to where they were living at the time (842 West 7th Avenue) was Holy Trinity Anglican (at 10th Ave. and Pine Street; no longer at that location). Apparently, the Welchs became members there and it wasn’t long before he was invited to become the Choirmaster. As had been the case at St. Alban’s in Ottawa, Clement quickly developed a very positive reputation as leader of the choir at Holy Trinity.

For his first 10 years in Vancouver, Clement was kept busy with music at Holy Trinity and with his non-musical vocation. He maintained a non-musical career (like his teaching career in Ottawa) simultaneous with a musical one. When he left the teaching profession and came to Vancouver, he left it for good, never (to my knowledge) to return to it. When he arrived in Lotusland, he immediately took up an accountancy career. Initially, he operated as a “book-keeper”, presumably freelance, working out of his home. In the 1910s, he served as accountant to BC Market Co.; in the 1920s and ’30s he was accountant to the Vancouver Medical Association Credit Bureau; and in the 1940s and ’50s, before retiring, he was a “collections specialist”.

Vancouver Operatic Society

By the start of the Great War, Clement was inspired to start the group that became the Vancouver Operatic Society (it was known for the first year or two of its existence as the Patriotic Operatic Society) (2). Their first production, in May 1915, was George F. Root’s The Haymakers. Later that same year, they followed up with the first in a string of Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas: Patience (1915, 1921). This was followed by The Pirates of Penzance (1916), and The Yeomen of the Guard (1917). The G&S series was broken by producing Jones & Hall’s The Geisha (1918) and The Country Girl (1920). After that, the Society produced Tanner & Nicholls’ The Toreador (1921) and The Mikado (1922).

For the first several years (1915-22), Society performances were almost invariably held at The Avenue Theatre (at Main and Georgia). However, The Cingalee (1923), The Rebel Maid (1924), and The Arcadians (1925) were performed in the “old” Orpheum Theatre on the west side of Granville Street. Proceeds from the performances of wartime productions went to support soldiers fighting in Europe. Proceeds from post-war productions supported local charities.

CVA 8-07 – “The Geisha”. Vancouver Operatic Society, Avenue Theatre, May 1919.

1926 marked the end of Vancouver Operatic Society productions, although it died with more of a whimper than a bang. There were no announcements of its demise in the press. But, J. C. Welch continued to put up comic operas and light musicals with various other groups.

North Van Operatic Society and Kiwanis and Kiwassa Glee Clubs

A North Vancouver Operatic Society was formed in 1926, with Clement conducting. That year, they performed Florodora. In 1927, Welch teamed up with the Maple Ridge Glee Club in March to produce Iolanthe at Hammond Theatre in Maple Ridge and at the end of the year, partnered with a musical bunch at the YMCA to produce the musical, Tulip Time, for five nights at the Avenue Theatre. In February 1929, Welch again led the North Vancouver Operatic Society in producing Planquette’s musical, Rip Van Winkle at the Lonsdale Theatre. He led the North Shore Operatic Society in 1930 in a production of a pre-Christmas Gilbert & Sullivan offering of The Gondoliers.

Clement had been a chartered member of the Vancouver Kiwanis since 1919. He quickly became involved with the Club’s music side. He organized a Kiwanis minstrel show in 1921, ’22 and ’23. That was followed by a series of annual musical comedies: Pung Chow of Po (1925), Pickles (1926), The Prince of Pilsen (1927), The Attached Attache (1928), The Firefly (1929), The Chocolate Soldier (1930), A Country Girl (1931), Florodora (1932), The Geisha (1933), The Chimes of Normandy (1934), The Red Mill (1935), The Wizard of the Nile (1936), The Toreador (1937), The Arcadians (1938), and A Runaway Girl (1939) (Vancouver Sun 24 June 1939).

In 1941, Welch retired form leadership of the Kiwanis Glee Club (The Province 3 Oct 1941). He turned 70 that year. He spent some of the time during his post-Kiwanis Glee Club years auditing the books of the women’s division of the Kiwanis, the Kiwassa’s and leading their Glee Club (The Province, 7 May 1948). Most of the Kiwassa productions were presented for a limited audience, typically just for Kiwassa Club members.

In 1945, Welch retired from the Choirmaster’s role at Holy Trinity after 35+ years. He led the Kiwassa’s Glee Club from about 1948 until at least 1954. There is no press report of him retiring from the position.

Clement Welch died on January 26, 1962 at the age of 90.


(1) Velma was born Velma Ann Maud Welch. She trained for a nursing career for a period starting in 1916, but ultimately left that course uncompleted due to ill health. Later, she spent some time with the Vancouver News-Advertiser and as society editor of the Vancouver Sun. She married Harold Robert Milner Potter in 1919 in Calgary. She spent a couple of years in Banff as a corespondent for a number of western Canadian newspapers. She died in Calgary in 1925 “after an extended illness”. She seems to have taken a new middle name at some point after marrying Potter and became Velma Albirdie Welch Potter. Following a funeral service in Calgary, her remains were interred in Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery as Velma Potter. (My thanks are due to Robert of WestEndVancouver for his help tracking Velma).

(2) There was at least one previous Vancouver Operatic Society in the city before J.C. Welch’s group was founded in 1915. A Vancouver Operatic Society seems to have been started in 1895 with the production of Dorothy. That group seemed to peter out within a couple of years, however, finishing with The Chimes of Normandy in 1897. Nothing more of the Society was evident in press reports until 1910, with the production of H. M. S. Pinafore at the Vancouver Opera House. This society seems to have fizzled by 1911, however, after the staging of The Mikado.

There was at least one amateur group that followed on from J.C. Welch’s Society after it died ca 1926. This next Society had service club origins similar to that of the Kiwanis Glee Club. It started life in 1950 as an arm of the Lions Club and was known as the Central Lions Operatic Society. However, before long, the name was changed to the Greater Vancouver Operatic Society. This group seems to have been the longest-lived of all, lasting, according to one authority, from 1948-1992 (although there is evidence in press clippings that this organization endured until as late as 2001).

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The Shop at Sich’s Corner

CVA Port P1793: F.V. Bodwell, J.W. Bodwell, C.J. Loewen and H.E. Connon in front of Sich’s Corner “Real Estate & Retail Tobacconists”, 1896.

Sich’s Corner was the name of an early Vancouver tobacconist’s shop located on the southwest corner of Cambie at Cordova. The person who named it and for whom it was named remained at the corner and, indeed, in Vancouver, for scarcely three years. And yet the shop’s name took on wider meaning, for several years becoming synonymous with “Cambie at Cordova”.

Thomas Thrale Sich, ca1890, VDW Souvenir Publication, 1891.

Thomas Thrale Sich (1858-1935; pronounced “sitch”) came to Vancouver from England in 1890. In England, he had been in the tea business for the better part of 10 years and, after that, worked in the hops trade for 4 years (whether he was farming or brewing them, isn’t clear). In 1890, he sailed for Canada, with his wife, Esther, and settled in Vancouver.

He opened his tobacco business at 301 Cambie. He kept in stock, among his cigars a nice variety of Cuban brands, including Havana, Upman, Partagas, Larranagas, La Intimidad, and La Corona. Among the loose tobaccos he sold were the W.D. & H.O. Wills brand and Sich’s Own Mixture (his own preparation). Imported cigarette brands included: Melachrino, Khedive (Egyptian brands), Papadupoula, and Turkish varieties. The Daily World concluded, in a profile of Sich’s Corner, that it was “one of the most prominent [stores] in the city and a very popular resort for all lovers of the weed…” (Vancouver Daily World, 1891 Souvenir Illustrated Publication, p. 18).

Sich had had enough of retail sales by late 1892, evidently, sold Sich’s Corner to other tobacconists and moved himself and Esther out to the Fraser valley. Thomas established himself as a farmer of hops somewhere between the towns of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs. He remained on his farm until 1895, at which time he returned to England. There, he went into business with his brother, H.J. Sich. We know that he returned to the land of the Lotus on vacation with his brother in 1905 (Province, 2 Dec 1905) There is Census evidence that by the 1910s, Sich was acting as a shipping agent in England. Thomas Sich died in 1935.

“Sich’s Corner” became a landmark until the turn of the century for early Vancouver residents — not dissimilar to the Maple Tree of the early (Gastown) townsite and the later Trorey/Birk’s Clock.

Here are a few samples from the Daily World, offering hints as to ways in which Sich’s Corner was perceived and used by early residents:

  • Bulletin Board: This 1892 press ‘report’ suggests that the Corner had a small-town, community bulletin board, with the problems that typically come with community bulletins: If any responsible person has charge of the bulletin board at “Sich’s Corner” he ought to see that reliable news is posted there. For instance some dolt this morning credited the Conservatives with a gain of 15, when the morning papers showed that the net gain was by the Liberals for 16.
    (VDW 7 July 1892)
  • Lost and Found: Lost: Fox terrier dog, black and tan head, evenly marked: black spot at root of tail, making a ring around tail; answers to the name of Fleet. anyone returning him to Buxton & Rodney’s cigar store, Sich’s corner, will receive the above reward [$5.00], and anyone detaining him after this notice will be prosecuted. (VDW 7 April 1893)
  • Way-finder for nearby businesses: NOTICE: Crowder & Penzer’s uptown coal office has been removed to 307 Cambie St next to Sich’s Corner. (VDW 2 Dec 1893)
  • Bicycle/pedestrian concerns (how little has changed, in this regard!): The rule should be rigidly enforced concerning the ringing of bells. A lady was nearly knocked down at Sich’s Corner on Saturday night by a furious [speeding] cyclist. (VDW 29 Apr 1895)

Thomas sold Sich’s Corner in 1892 to Buxton & Rodney, other tobacconists. J.G.V. Field-Johnson opened a realty/brokerage business at 301 Cambie in 1898 and for some years, the two businesses seemed to co-exist at the same address (as shown in the photo at the beginning of this post).

The Sich’s Corner brand was retained until roughly 1900, after which the name gradually fell into disuse.

CVA 810-285: The Townsite Corner – Cambie at Cordova. 1950-68. “Sich’s Corner”, although by this time, the name had long since fallen into disuse.

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One of the Largest Organs West of Winnipeg


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

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

What I Knew (or Thought I Knew)

The clues I had to work with were:

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

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

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

What I Now Know (or Think I Know)

Emmanuel - Organ Pipes3
Emmanuel Pentecostal Church Sanctuary. February 2018. MDM Photo.

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

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

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

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


¹Camera Workers.

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

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

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Forgotten Purcell Hall

(Crop of) Van Sc P15: Vancouver, B.C.from the air looking east from Lost Lagoon, 1931. Annotated by MDM.

Purcell Hall and the B.C. School of Church Music (the two were ‘tied at the hip’ for most of their lives) came into being in 1936 at the SW corner of Georgia at Denman Streets (1808 W Georgia), adjacent to where the Running Room is located today. The Hall/School had two pianos and a Hammond Electric Organ. It was founded and directed by Frederick Chubb with occasional teaching assistance from his son, Arthur Chubb.

It was never publicly stated, as far as I could tell, where the name of the hall originated, but it seems safe to assume that it was borrowed from the late 17th century English baroque composer, Henry Purcell. If this was the origin of the Hall’s name, it was a peculiar choice, for the music that was played there was predominantly modern. Holst, Ravel, and Vaughn Williams were more likely to be played and sung there than were Bach, Handel or Purcell. Indeed, I could find just one occasion when a Purcell work was played at the Hall/School.

One of the major users of the space, in addition to private and Church Music School recitals, was the B.C. Music Festival competition. (It was from the 1937 Festival programme that I first learned of the existence of Purcell Hall).

Province. April 30, 1941.

The School was at pains to portray itself as non-sectarian. “[I]ts help is willingly given to churches which feel the need of fine church music, especially in the case of smaller churches where the musical equipment may be unavoidably crude and undeveloped” (Province, 19 April 1937). Non-denominationalism may have been a goal of the school, but in fact it tended to be dominated by Anglicans (the Chubbs were Anglicans) and by the very nature of the music that was played there, which tended to exclude participation by denominations that were ‘lower church’ in terms of music preference (e.g., Baptists, Pentecostals). The music was simply too high brow, even ‘snooty’ for such churches.

The School of Church Music (Vancouver) seems to have been modelled to some extent on the St. Nicholas School for Church Music (today it is known as the Royal School of Church Music – RSCM). It may be that one or both Chubbs spent time at the English school. At the inaugural recital given at the Vancouver Hall/School in November 1936, a lecture was given by Leonard Wilson (local Anglican church organist and later Sun music critic) about the English school.

Purcell Hall faded to black even more quietly than it had started. By 1943, the Hall/School no longer appeared in the Vancouver directory, and that address was being used as a gathering place by a church called the Christian Institute. By 1946, the Sunday occupants of the former Purcell Hall were Parkway Gospel Hall; they were still there in 1953. By 1955, it had become a coffee shop. (Whether or not it was deemed necessary to demolish and rebuild the site for this new use, isn’t known by me).

Purcell Hall seems to have been widely forgotten, today. It was a very tiny meeting space (I’d be surprised if it could have seated many more than 50 people); the space as it appeared in 1978 appears below. (1)

CVA 786-8.02: 1802 W. Georgia Street, 1978. Annarva (a retail TV shop adjacent to the Royal Bank in the late 1970s) was the location from 1936-1943 of Purcell Hall. It appears to have been a very small space.


(1) Many thanks to Robert, of the very detailed Westendvancouver blog for tracking down this CVA photo of the former site of Purcell Hall and for his help with a couple other details in this post.

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First Baptist Church’s Iron Fence/Notice Board Memorials

Dominion Construction drawings of Iron Fence/Notice Board Memorials. First Baptist Church Archives. Who the draftsman was (V.E.W.) is unknown to me. But the person who was the drawing checker, C.B., was almost certainly FBC Deacon and Dominion Construction Chief Executive, Charles Bentall. (Note: In the drawing, the notice board appears to be situated squarely (at 90 degrees) with the sanctuary wall. In fact, it was placed roughly at 45 degrees across the lawn).

Judging from what I’ve heard and what appears to be the ‘vision’ of the current First Baptist Church building project, upon its completion, there will no longer be an iron fence surrounding the garden near the tower entry. That is, to me at least, a bit of a pity — not only for the loss of the fence itself, but for what it (and the already-gone notice board) represented.

It may come as a surprise to many of today’s FBC members and adherents to learn that the iron fence was donated in 1952 by the Selman family as a memorial to three generations of Selmans in Vancouver, and the notice board in memory of Flying Officer Robert Gilroy (“Bob”) Selman, an FBC member who died in WWII. If you weren’t around the church in 1952, these are the sorts of facts that easily slip away. There is no plaque (correctly, in my view) on the fence, nor was anything affixed to the notice board, as far as I know, that identified these items as donations of the Selmans.

Excerpt from 1952 FBC Board of Management Minutes. First Baptist Church Archives.

For those who are regular readers of VAIW, the Selman name may ring a bell: the story of the drowning death of young Elva Selman at Second Beach in 1908. How was Elva related to these Selmans? She would have been, had she lived, a great-aunt of Gordon Rex Selman (one of the donors).

The wooden notice board, three or four years ago (after serving some 60 years), had decayed to the point where it could no longer function and had to be destroyed. It was replaced with the — patently unsuitable — digital monstrosity which, today, squats across the garden lawn behind the iron fence.

Part of the Iron Fence Memorial and the Notice Board Memorial in the FBC Centennial Garden. From Our First Century: 1887-1987, by Leslie J. Cummings, p.78.
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H.M.S. New Zealand at Vancouver, 1913

CVA 99-1200.5: View of the deck of H.M.S. New Zealand, ca1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

This post will showcase a few of the photos made by Vancouver photographer, Stuart Thomson, in 1913 on the occasion of a visit to the city of H.M.S. New Zealand.

The ship had been funded by New Zealand as a gift to Britain and was launched in 1911. It was a battlecruiser of the indefatigable class. Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1912, it was sent on a 10-month goodwill tour of British dominions in 1913. It arrived in Vancouver on July 27th and stayed here for a week, after which it left for Victoria.

The image above shows Captain Lionel Halsey and other crew on the deck of the New Zealand.

CVA 99-1197: H.M.S. New Zealand at anchor in Burrard Inlet, 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

While Mayor Baxter may have got a little carried away when referring to the visit as epoch-marking, there was no question that the coming of the New Zealand was a big deal. Among the events to help celebrate the arrival: the I.O.D.E. (Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire) had planned a ball; the Thoroughbred Association had organized a day at Minorou Racetrack (in Richmond), the Canadian Club would stand Captain Halsey a lunch (he would pay for his meal by delivering a talk, subsequently), and His Worship himself declared Saturday, August 2 to be a Public Half Holiday, whereby all businesses were to close between noon and 6pm “to enable all citizens to witness the parade of the crew of H.M.S. New Zealand to Brockton Point grounds” and the later sports at Coal Harbour.

Daily World, 29 July 1913. (What, pray, is “Balkan Style” in this context?)
CVA 99-1200: H.M.S. New Zealand forward main armament, 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

Among the countries visited by the New Zealand prior to and after Victoria (not all ports of call were British dominions), were: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Tasmania, Fiji, Hawaii, Panama, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Jamaica, Bermuda, and then back to its home port of Portsmouth, England.

CVA 99-347: H.M.S. New Zealand, Pelorus Jack, Mascot, 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

The photo above shows the New Zealand’s mascot, Pelorus Jack. The bulldog was named for a dolphin that was famous for escorting ships into New Zealand’s harbour. There were two mascots of the H.M.S. New Zealand over its 10 years of service. This was the first one.

CVA 99-1200.6: An officer (Captain Lionel Halsey of H.M.S. New Zealand) and civilians on a small boat at the Coal Harbour dock. Denman Arena is in the background. 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

The images immediately above and below this paragraph relate to the sports that were held on the Public Half Holiday at Coal Harbour. Captain Halsey is rightmost in the photo above; he is also visible in the diving photo below (to the left of the platform wearing his Captain’s hat, as usual). Who was making the attractive leap from the diving board, I do not know. Other sports anticipated for the holiday included: sock race, three-legged race, gun wheel race (that one is a mystery to me), and tug-of-war.

CVA 99-1200.7 – A man diving off a high board with crowd watching, 1913. Stuart Thomson photo.

All of the photos in this post were made by Stuart Thomson, and were probably among his earliest professional images. He arrived in Vancouver from his birth country of Australia in 1910. Within a couple of years of arriving in Vancouver, he had launched his photography business. Already, in evidence is his custom of shooting pin-sharp, well-exposed and composed photos. A video tribute to early Vancouver photographers is viewable here.

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Adult Ed in Technical Subjects in 1930s Vancouver

CVA 99-5427: Women typing, ca1937. Stuart Thomson photo.

This post focusses on a series of photographs made in about 1937 by the great pro photographer, Stuart Thomson, of what appears to be adult education going on in a variety of technical subjects.

The photo above, it may be argued from our 21st century perspective, doesn’t appear to be of a particularly technical subject. After all, the young women seem to be doing what I’m doing now and what nearly all computer-literate people on the planet do on a daily basis. Aren’t they? No, these ladies are doing something quite a bit more complex than typing on a Mac that familiar ode to the fast fox who leapt over the lazy canine!

Let’s begin with a ‘key’ difference between typing on the ’30s-era Underwood Typewriters shown above and a computer keyboard. As any of you who have tried to type on one of these manual machines knows, it is altogether a different experience. Without getting into details, I can testify from early experience learning to type on a 70’s version of these manual typewriters that it is a decidedly wrist-strengthening exercise!

But more is going on in the photo above than merely a physical workout. These women are performing a mentally challenging skill. If you go to the original CVA link of the photo and examine closely the source material they are working from on their desks, you will see what appears to be undecipherable squiggly code. That’s shorthand, a form of stenography. A subject which, if you went to school in Canada when I did (the 1970s), or later, you probably didn’t encounter. I was able to identify the text they were typing from as shorthand because my Dad was a business ed instructor and taught women (and some men) how to write and read in this code.

So the women in the photo are not simply typing “longhand” words, but are doing the more complex task of reading shorthand, translating that in their brains into longhand and then typing those words with their Underwoods. It seems to me likely that the class wasn’t merely a typing class, but a shorthand and typing course! I have new respect for those women and the many others who did these things on a daily basis for many years…skills that are largely lost today (unless you trained as a court reporter to use a steno-type machine).

CVA 99-5439: Men in headphones learning technical skills, ca.1937. Stuart Thomson photo.

For the next photo and the other two shown in this post, I have leaned heavily on the knowledge of my old friend, Wes, who seems to me to have wide-ranging knowledge on all sorts of subjects!

So what were the ‘technical skills’ which the men in headphones were learning? It looks as though they are transcribing another form of code — probably Morse code. Given the period at which this series of photos was made (pre-second-world-war), this would be a useful skill to have learned.

CVA 99-5436: Group of men soldering (actually, this shows just one man welding – not soldering; he is being observed by someone who appears to be an instructor (standing behind him) and a couple of other students), ca1937. Stuart Thomson photo.

This is a great photo. It really demonstrates Mr. Thomson’s skill at managing available light to great advantage. It looks to me as though he used just a single light source for this image in addition to the light thrown off the welder’s tool. Wes noted that the blackboard drawing shows how to bevel the edges of two pieces of steel where they are to be welded so that you achieve a strong joint.

CVA 99-5437: Men looking at electric machinery, ca1937. Stuart Thomson photo.

The curious machine shown above is identified on the metal plate attached to it as a “spark tester”. But what exactly these gents are testing with it, I cannot say (could it be testing the spark on a motor’s ignition?)


So, do we have any idea where these images were made? It seems to me doubtful that these would have been made at any of the private business colleges in town at that time – although that wouldn’t have been a bad guess if the steno typists had been a stand-alone image. But it seems to have been made as part of the series with the very specialized equipment (and photographed entirely with males in those images). Given the presence of this, presumably expensive, and not-widely-available machinery, my best guess is that these photos were made at the Vancouver Technical Secondary School at night (or perhaps on weekends) as part of the Vancouver School Board‘s adult education program.

The only problem with my guess that this series was made at VanTech, however, is the presence in the first photo of women. According to the VanTech link, females weren’t admitted to VanTech until 1940. The series of photos was made, according to the City of Vancouver Archives, ca1937. So it could be that they were made a little bit later (1940 isn’t far off the ca1937 mark, after all), or, more likely I think, the no-women-prior-to-1940 rule did not apply to the adult education extension program.

(Crop of) CVA – Sch N70.2: Exterior view of Vancouver Technical School, 1938. W J Moore photo.

To see others in the series of fascinating adult ed tech school images by Thomson, go here.

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S.S. Islander’s Forgotten Gulf Ferry Service

CVA – SGN 54: Canadian Pacific Navigation Co. steamer “Islander”. 189-?

The Islander is today known by some as a gold-laden ship that was sunk by an iceberg off the Alaskan coast in 1901. But what seems to have been forgotten (1) is that prior to that unhappy event, it served as the principal ship for transporting Vancouverites to Victoria and Victoria residents to the Lower Mainland. In short, the Islander was a very early B. C. Ferry. The circumstances around the Islander’s sinking have also been forgotten.

The Islander was built in Glasgow, Scotland at Napier, Shanks & Bell shipwrights for the Canadian Pacific Navigation Co. (2) The Islander was designed by the great BC ship captain, then the head of CPN, John Irving (1854-1936). The steamship was finished by 1888 and began its lengthy journey from the U.K., across the Atlantic, around South America at Cape Horn and up to California, from San Francisco to Victoria, and to Vancouver at the end of December. What a Christmas gift to the recently incorporated City of Vancouver!

The Vancouver World described the steamer (somewhat incongruously) as both a “Gulf of Georgia Greyhound” and a “Floating Palace”. It’s status as Greyhound of the Gulf was established in it making the Victoria-Vancouver sailing (from harbour to harbour) in just over 4 hours. (Today, all told, the trip from city to city takes about the same time, when one factors in driving to/from ferry terminals) (Vancouver Daily World, 31 Dec 1888).

Royal BC Archives. Item B-02257 – Part of the interior (dining saloon?) of the SS Islander. 1901

As for its palatial features, according to the World, the dining saloon could seat 76, with the CPN’s monogram carved into the wood of each chair. The linen, silver and plateware were apparently among the best money could buy. The state rooms were fitted out with electricity, a call bell, a lavatory, and “an abundant supply of water”. There were four (four?!) bridal state rooms. The cabins could sleep a total of 130 people. The upholstery throughout the Islander was of “the most recherche [desirable?] description” and the ceilings were “elaborately ornamented with carved work and lincrusta of beautiful design”. Finally, “life boats, preservers, and all such appliances are to be found in suitable places should they be wanted.” (This sentence makes it seem as though any passenger who would insist on having such things handy was just the tiniest bit gauche!) (Vancouver Daily World, 31 Dec 1888).

Royal BC Archives. Item A-06316 – Central staircase aboard the SS Islander. ca1890.

I should pause to remind you that the principal function of the Islander for most of its sailing year was to provide ferry service between Vancouver and Victoria. There would have been no need on that run for cabins, much less for state rooms (bridal ones or otherwise!) I can see why the ship would be so outfitted for the 60-hour Vancouver-Skagway trip, but, that service was offered only from July through September (at least in the earliest years of the Islander’s Alaska runs starting ca1892). So why have a “floating palace” of a ferry including cabins and state rooms instead of offering a somewhat more basic ferry ship with serviceable seating areas (comparable to what is provided today on Gulf ferry runs)? I don’t know. Perhaps the sea traveller of the late Victorian period could not conceive of an ocean journey (no matter how brief) having anything less than cabins and seemingly first-class service.

The Islander would depart Vancouver at 1pm, arriving in Victoria a little after 5.00pm. Travel back to Vancouver was a little less convenient, departing Victoria at 4am and arriving in the Terminal City at sometime around 8.00am.

Sinking and Salvage

The Islander left Skagway, Alaska for Vancouver at 7.30pm on August 14, 1901. By 2.15am on August 15th, the ship was sunk, 20 minutes after having struck an iceberg off the coast of Juneau while travelling in dense fog. The lives lost included: Captain Foote, 16 of the 65 crew, and 23 passengers (two of whom were children) of 107. (3)

The findings of the inquiry into the sinking of the Islander included the following:

[W]e find that no special instructions had been issued by the master [captain] to the pilot, or person in charge of the deck, when he left the bridge, relating to the navigation or speed of the vessel in the event of falling in with floating ice — which was not unexpected in the locality through which the ship was passing. We think that Pilot Le Blanc is open to censure for his action in keeping the ship full speed — at the rate of nearly fourteen knots an hour — after having seen floating ice some ten minutes before the accident.

We would also condemn the custom apparently in vogue in coast waters in leaving the bridge of any steamer at night, and more especially a passenger steamer, in charge of only one officer. (4)

Victoria Daily Times. 23 Oct 1901.

There was a substantial quantity of gold that went down with the Islander stemming from mining activity in Alaska at the time. Attempts (and fantasies) at salvaging the gold began to be considered almost as soon as news of the sinking hit the press. Some of the gold was recovered in 1934, but it wasn’t until 2012 that all legal entanglements (not to mention logistical ones) were cleared away and a substantial quantity of gold was salvaged from the wreck of the Islander.

VPL 42429 Maritime Museum model boat. The Islander, 1967. Province photo.


(1) In contemporary accounts I’ve read of the S.S. Islander, it is noted that she was designed specifically for runs north and south through the inside passage. But no mention is made of her principal function: as the Gulf of Georgia Ferry.

(2) CPN was incorporated in 1883 and endured until 1901 (shortly before the wreck of the Islander) when Canadian Pacific Railway acquired the firm and made it an important part in the basis of CPR’s marine division (later to be known as Canadian Pacific Steamships Ocean Services, Ltd). In 1960, after job action was initiated by employees of CP Steamships, B.C.’s W. A. C. Bennett government decided to create a crown corporation called BC Ferries which has serviced BC’s coastal transportation needs since. CP Steamships got out of the passenger ocean transport business and focussed on container and other forms of ocean cartage.

Paddle-wheelers, the Premier, Yosemite, Princess Louise, and R. P. Rithet were among the ships that filled in for the Islander when she was on Alaska service, was engaged on excursion runs with private groups, or was in dry dock for servicing.

The Charmer would take over the Gulf Ferry run from the Islander after its sinking. Later, the CP Steamships would name their BC coastal ships Princess of _____ (e.g., Vancouver) to contrast with then names of their international ships (the Empress ships).

(3) The children lost in the sinking were the 1-year-old child of Mrs. J. H. Ross and her 15-year-old niece. Mrs. Ross, the wife of Yukon Governor Ross, also perished. It was thought that Mrs. Ross and the two children died in their cabin, possibly (hopefully) still asleep.

(4) The S.S. City of Seattle, only 3 months after the Islander incident, had a very narrow escape near where the Islander was sunk.

Early in the evening she had run among a number of small icebergs, and she was coming down the [Gastineau] channel under a slow bell. The weather was rather dirty [foggy], and it being hard to see any distance, the steamer was almost upon a small berg before it was seen.

The helm was immediately thrown over, and the steamer slipped past only a few feet away from the dangerous floating ice-mountain.

There are four men always on watch at night on the City of Seattle.

The Province. 2 Nov 1901.

One is forced to ask, in light of the Islander Inquiry recommendations and this experience of the City of Seattle later, whether the Islander might not have dodged its grave had it been operating under a ‘slow bell’, instead of going “hell bent for leather” at top speed, and had there been more than just a single set of eyeballs on the bridge watching for icebergs!

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Sea of Hats


CVA 99-1015 - Crowd watching soccer game in progress at Cambie Street ground ca1920 Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-1015 – Crowd watching soccer game in progress at Cambie Street Grounds ca1920 Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: This version of 99-1015 has been cropped and had the exposure adjusted slightly by me. For the original state of the image, see CVA online).

This is a somewhat unusual view of the Cambie Street Recreation Grounds (for ome later years, the site of the long-distance bus station, later still – optimistically – dubbed Larwill Park and serving as a City car park with recent aspirations to become the site of the Vancouver Art Gallery). The image was taken from the SW corner of the block toward the NW corner. The crowd of mainly men was viewing a soccer game. And, remarkably, virtually every head in the crowd is covered. The players were evidently permitted to play bare-headed without social impunity; however, notably, the men in striped jerseys – game officials, I presume – were be-hatted.

The second site of the YMCA is visible in the distance (near mid-photo, at corner of Dunsmuir and Cambie), as is part of the Sun Tower (right) and Vancouver High School (the school’s prominent, pointed tower appears to the left, behind Cambie Street residences).

I won’t pretend to understand fully why hats were such a dominant and lasting feature of men’s and women’s fashion in the 19th and 20th centuries. For extended commentary on men’s hats in earlier years, see here and here. This near-contemporary essay written by the late, great American writer, William Zinsser, is very good.

I cannot resist showing another CVA image of an Australian cricket team visiting Vancouver in 1911 (and including the photographer of this image and of the soccer image above, Stuart Thomson, a former Aussie who emigrated to Canada the year before this image was made and who would make his home and career in Vancouver until his death in 1960). Interestingly, a couple of the gents in the photo seem not to have received ‘the memo’ and appeared hatless (gasp!).

CVA 99-123 - Australian XI [group photo, poss. S. Thomson on right in bowler hat] ca 1911 Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-123 – Australian XI [group photo, poss. S. Thomson on right in bowler hat] ca 1911 Stuart Thomson photo.

A man’s hat was the status symbol that distinguished the white man from the aborigine, the God-fearing from the heathen, the clad from the unclothed. The hat was something to raise to a lady, to remove in church, and to hang in the home. It had the magic properties of the amulet, warding off evil, shielding the wearer at the most vulnerable part of his anatomy: the crown of his skull. — Eric Nichol, Vancouver.

Crop of CVA PAN N14A – Opening Game Base Ball Season 1915, Vancouver vs. Victoria. At Athletic Park (5th and Hemlock). 1915. W J Moore.

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Prof. Ludwig Zimmer, Herbalist . . . and Zimmerton’s Namesake