B. C. Equipment Company

CVA 99-4677 - Basement of B.C. Equipment [at 551 Howe Street] 1934 Stuart Thomson photo
CVA 99-4677 – Basement of B.C. Equipment [at 551 Howe Street] 1934 Stuart Thomson photo
The image above was the site in 1934 of BC Equipment Company, a heavy equipment/machinery dealer from as early as the 19-teens (although they came into their own, it seems, in the 1930s) until 1985, when its remaining assets were sold. The basement (pictured above) appears to have been the parts department. I’m assuming that the head offices for the white collar types were upstairs. By the 1950s, the head office remained at this site, but the warehouse, shops and tractor division had been moved to a new property on Industrial Avenue on Granville Island. BC Equipment, by the 1960s, had become one of the major dealers in industrial equipment in the province, and it seems that by the mid-1960s, their workers had become organized. The company offered a wide range of products: from pneumatic picks to bulldozers, from cranes to lathes. The 551 Howe property, today, is occupied by a restaurant at street level and the basement appears to have been leased out for storage.

Street level restaurant at 551 Howe St. 2015. Author's photo
Street level restaurant at 551 Howe St. 2015. Author’s photo
Basement of 551 Howe St. 2015. Author's photo
Basement of 551 Howe St. 2015. Author’s photo

Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company in Vancouver

CVA - Port P1375 - [The Pollard Liliputian Opera Company on the steps of the Badminton Hotel] ca 1905 R. H. Trueman photo
CVA – Port P1375 – [The Pollard Liliputian (sic) Opera Company on the steps of the Badmington (sic) Hotel] ca 1905 R. H. Trueman photo
The troupe appearing above was one of the touring groups of the Australian theatre company called Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company. The company was made up of actors under 14 years of age, and most of them were female. They specialized in offering comic/light operas (what are often called, today, operettas). I could find no documented indication of what production they offered in Vancouver in 1905. But a theatre listing in Nebraska at roughly the same time showed the group staging Romeo and Juliet. The man in about the third row, right appears to be Tom Pollard, the well-respected leader of the group.

The troupe was posed in front of the Badminton Hotel (southwest corner Howe and Dunsmuir). The image below shows what the interior of the Vancouver Opera House (adjacent to Hotel Vancouver #2 on Granville Street) might have looked like around the time that Pollard’s Lilliputians were in town.

CVA - Bu P7 - [Interior of the Vancouver Opera House - 733 Granville St.] ca 1891 (Note: The original image at CVA has been modified here by cropping out tears and missing parts of original image as well as making the yellowed original into a b/w image).
CVA – Bu P7 – [Interior of the Vancouver Opera House – 733 Granville St.] ca 1891 (Note: The original image at CVA has been modified here by cropping out tears and missing parts of original image as well as making the yellowed original into a b/w image).

First Avenue Viaduct

CVA - M-13-36 - First Avenue Viaduct - Dominion Construction Company Limited, Contractors 1937 Stuart Thomson photo
CVA – M-13-36 – First Avenue Viaduct – Dominion Construction Company Limited, Contractors 1937 Stuart Thomson photo

The very small grade change associated with the bridge once known widely as the First Avenue Viaduct contributes to its near-invisibility to the modern eye. The principal function of the pre-WWII viaduct was to allow motor traffic to travel over the rail yards in the false creek flats basin, thereby gaining swifter access to the Grandview/Commercial Drive communities. Unlike its nearby cousin, the current Georgia/Dunsmuir Viaduct, this bridge has not had to struggle with negative public relations associated with motives behind its birth. Instead, it has been apparently completely accepted by the general Vancouver public as a near-‘natural’ part of our urban landscape. High praise, indeed, for any bridge.

Today's First Avenue Viaduct viewed from below it, looking upwards and to the northeast (from near the entry to the Home Depot store). 2015. Author's photo.
Today’s First Avenue Viaduct viewed from below it, looking upwards and to the northeast (from near the entry to the Home Depot store). 2015. Author’s photo.

Pierre Berton (1920-2004) at UBC

UBC Historical Photo Collection Pierre Berton at typewriter.  Reproduced from 1941 Totem Yearbook.
UBC Historical Photo Collection Pierre Berton at typewriter. Reproduced from 1941 Totem Yearbook.
UBC Historical Photo Collection  Pierre Berton sits at typewriter at the Great Trekker dinner 1990 Larry Scherban photo
UBC Historical Photo Collection Pierre Berton sits at typewriter at the Great Trekker dinner 1990 Larry Scherban photo

For a pretty good summation of Berton’s life and accomplishments, see this CBC television news broadcast on the occasion of his death.

J. H. Carlisle: A Man of Firsts

CVA - Port P193 - [Fire Chief John Howe Carlisle awarded the 'Good Citizen' medal by the Native Sons of B.C.] 1922 Stuart Thomson
CVA – Port P193 – [Fire Chief John Howe Carlisle awarded the ‘Good Citizen’ medal by the Native Sons of B.C.] 1922 Stuart Thomson. (Note: The lady holding the bouquet and standing next to JHC is almost certainly his wife, Laura Carlisle).
J. H. Carlisle (1857-1941) accomplished several “firsts”. He was the first Sunday School Superintendent of First Baptist Church (FBC), before it was formally organized; his name was the first listed among the charter members of FBC when the church was organized; he was the first clerk of FBC; he was the first person honoured with the Good Citizen medal (in 1922), see photo above; and he was the first BC resident to be honoured with the King’s Police Medal (in 1923), see photo below.

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

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

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

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

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

. . . It’s a Doozy!

CVA 99 - 3287 - Auto Wreck at [the] 1300 Block, W[est] Pender St[reet] 1920 Stuart Thomson photo
CVA 99 – 3287 – Auto Wreck at [the] 1300 Block, W[est] Pender St[reet] 1920 Stuart Thomson photo
There are no longer any single family dwellings along West Pender Street (according to the BC Directory for 1920, 1325 W. Pender Street was home to Charles V. Ayton), but there is still a substantial elevation change evident below Pender. For comparison, see the next image, made looking up toward Pender from near Hastings Street, one block north of the 1300 block of Pender.

From near the 1300 block of Hastings, looking up the hill towards Pender Street. 2015. Author's photo.
From near the 1300 block of Hastings, looking up the hill towards Pender Street. 2015. Author’s photo.

Francesco Maracci’s Bluebirds Playing the Lovely. . . Pine Cone Room?

CVA 99-3500 - Ambassador Orchestra - Bluebirds 'using Buescher Instruments' on a drum - 1924 Stuart Thomson photo
CVA 99-3500 – Ambassador Orchestra – Bluebirds ‘using Buescher Instruments’ on a drum – 1924 Stuart Thomson photo

I think that the bandleader pictured above (violinist, centre) is Francesco Maracci, ‘the Venetian virtuoso’ as he was touted in The Oregonian in the early years of the 20th century. Maracci’s Bluebirds was heavily weighted towards woodwinds (saxophones figure prominently in the image).

I don’t know what source led CVA to conclude that the band was called the “Ambassador Orchestra”. I cannot find any Vancouver hotel (or any other institution) in 1924 called “Ambassador” and the band’s name appears (as per normal) on the bass drum. The dominant decorative motif of the room seems to be the humble pine cone (see central light fixture)! So, I think I have identified the band, but as to the location where the image was taken . . . no idea!

Scads of Humans Watching the ‘Fly’

CVA - Bu P550 - [Crowd on Beatty Street observing Harry Gardiner (the 'Human Fly' scale the World Tower] 1918 Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: The original image seemed to be to be slightly over-exposed; adjustments have been made to this copy).
CVA – Bu P550 – [Crowd on Beatty Street observing Harry Gardiner (the ‘Human Fly’ scale the World Tower] 1918 Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: The original image seemed to be to be slightly over-exposed; adjustments have been made to this copy).
According to the Vancouver dailies of the time, there were 10,000 people watching as Harry Gardiner, the “human fly”,  climbed the exterior of the World Tower (later, the Sun Tower) without any special climbing equipment, wearing street clothes and his bifocal spectacles. My grandmother would simply have used her multi-purpose word and said that there were, ‘scads’ of people.

Ellesmere Rooms

Bu P141 - [Group portrait on porch of the Ellesmere Rooms at 439 Homer Street (Man in derby hat identified as Frank M. Yorke)] ca 1890 Charles S Bailey photo.
CVA – Bu P141 – [Group portrait on porch of the Ellesmere Rooms at 439 Homer Street (Man in derby hat identified as Frank M. Yorke)] ca 1890 Charles S Bailey photo. (Note: One can see how high the boardwalk level has been raised in this early image by comparing where the crowd is standing above with the comparable location in the 1939 photo below. If one  stumbled coming home to Ellesmere in the night after having a little too much ale, it looks as though it was a fall of a number of feet to street level! In 1890, this boarding house was known by its earlier name: Douglas House with Mrs. J. M. Douglas as the proprietress.)
Bu N125 - [Ellesmere Rooms boarding house, northwest corner of Homer Street and Pender Street] 1939 WJ Moore photo.
CVA – Bu N125 – [Ellesmere Rooms boarding house, northwest corner of Homer Street and Pender Street] 1939 WJ Moore photo. (Ellesmere Rooms was described in J. S. Matthews Early Vancouver (Vol. I), 1932 as ” a tall wooden building…which is now used for cheap stores and offices. It was the first large ‘boarding house.'”)

CVA 778-193 - 400 Homer Street west side 1974.
CVA 778-193 – 400 Homer Street west side (Pender to the left; Hastings to the right). 1974.  (By this point, the boarding house had given way, in typical mid-century Vancouver fashion, to a modest-sized parking garage.)
Central City Lodge, NW corner Pender at Homer. 2015. Author's photo.
Central City Lodge, NW corner Pender at Homer. 2015. Author’s photo. (This downtown residential care home was opened at the former Douglas House/Ellesmere Rooms location in 1993).

Ajello Piano Co. (Canada)

Detail of Str N52.1 - [Stores on the northside of Hastings Street between Cambie and Abbott Streets] 1923 WJ Moore photo.
Detail of Str N52.1 – [Stores on the northside of Hastings Street between Cambie and Abbott Streets] 1923 WJ Moore photo.
Ajello Piano (ca 1910-28) is shown above in its final home (147 W Hastings) in the Astoria Hotel block (which  formerly was adjacent to the Ormidale Block). The Vancouver-based firm should not be confused with Giuliano Ajello & Sons, a piano manufacturing business based in London (UK). The Vancouver business wasn’t a manufacturer; it was a retailer of brands such as Heintzman & Co. pianos. It was the creation of the grandsons of Giuliano: Arthur Giovanni Ajello (1873-1960) and Louis Robert Ajello (1875-1946), who emigrated to Canada in 1910.

The business had various homes over its two decades: 862 Granville (ca1910-13); 957 Granville (ca1914-19): 412 W Hastings (ca1920-22); and 147 W Hastings (ca1923-28).

Where Was the ‘Overlook’ Subdivision?

Detail of CVA 371-726.2 - [Looking southwest along Cordova Street from Carrall Street] ca 1913.
Detail of CVA 371-726.2 – [Looking southwest along Cordova Street from Carrall Street] ca 1913.
This is a crop of a larger image to clearly show the rooftop sign advertising the subdivision being promoted as “Overlook” by Trites Real Estate. Where, I asked myself, was this ca1913 subdivision located?

Trites Real Estate was owned and operated by Frank Noble Trites (1872-1918). He was from New Brunswick originally and had been in the Vancouver area beginning in 1905. He established a real estate firm operating under his own name until 1909, then as Trites & Leslie, and a few months later as F. N. Trites & Co., Ltd. and finally as Trites, Ltd. (as the firm was known at the time the photo was taken).

An example of one of Trites’ successes is summed up in British Columbia From the Earliest Times to the Present (for which ‘the present’ is 1914): “One such was the sale, in 1909, of the Point Grey lands, owned by the government, a record sale, in which the firm disposed of six hundred and sixty acres for the sum of two million, six hundred and fourteen thousand dollars. At the time the tract was absolutely wild land and the prices  obtained were unheard of for such land. Mr. Trites has always advertised extensively in Canada, the United States and abroad, and during the sale of the Point Grey lands he himself bought property to the value of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars [$250,000]. This land is now subdivided and constitutes one of Vancouver’s most beautiful suburbs, the lots bringing a high figure.” (This expensive-for-its-time property was not, it seems, to have ended up being the Trites’ residence. He moved into what seems to have been his final home in 1912 after apparently unloading his previous one at 779 W 9th/Broadway. Mrs. Trites was still living at their ca1912-purchased home (2385 W 2nd Ave) two years after Mr. Trites died in 1918.

So where was Overlook? I simply don’t know. Trites built a home in the municipality of Point Grey (West 19th at an unknown cross-street), in 1914; he built two other homes on W. 14th Avenue in Vancouver (between Carnarvon and Balaclava) in 1913. I can find no subdivisions named (even provisionally) Overlook at anytime in Vancouver. So, for now, this remains an open question. I’m very open to input from readers of VAIW who have clues as to Outlook’s location.

F. N. Trites died a relatively young man, just a few years after the Overlook image was taken, at age 46. The year of his death (and the fact that there is nothing I can find today showing his involvement in Vancouver real estate from 1915 on) raises flags. But I couldn’t find any evidence that he was a serviceman in WWI. Whether he served, however, in a civilian capacity during the war (he died in Agassiz, oddly ) and subsequently died as a result of that, I’ve not explored.

It is very difficult to remember that events now in the past were once in the future – Maitland's Dictum

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 68 other followers