We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things. The only reason we didn’t set up hot-dog stands in the midst of the Egyptian temple of Karnak is because it was out of the way and served no large commercial purpose.” – Ray Bradbury's character, Jeff Spender.
The Senator Grill was built in 1947 and opened in the summer of that year. The owners were Joseph W. Brault and John L. Cameron. Brault, a veteran restaurateur, had run an establishment just a few blocks away from where the Senator was (probably B & L Fountain Lunch). Cameron was new to the restaurant game.
Brault and Cameron appeared to spare little expense on the Senator: architects of the “ultra-modern” building were Watson and Semmons. The furniture was of a “very high quality construction, specially designed to suit the luxury-type interior. In all, the building reportedly cost $55,000 in 1947 dollars (Province, 29 July 1947).
The Senator offered dining room and drive-in/take-away service, with a menu that focused on chicken and steak dinners. Yup, that sounds much like the service on offer by Nat Bailey’s White Spot in the 1940s and ’50s. Small wonder that Nat Bailey wanted to gobble up the Senator before it could become a major competitor.
I suspect that the Senator didn’t come cheap. I couldn’t find any public references to the purchase by White Spot of the Senator or the numbers involved. But judging by what Brault and Cameron paid for the construction and outfitting the place and the apparent fact that buying the Senator was in Bailey’s interest, it seems probable that he had to pony up significant cash.
White Spot retained the Senator brand with their own for about 3 years. Then, in late 1951, they renovated the place to suit a new brand. The White Spot at Cambie and 25th would become the White Spot Garden Spot.
A strike at White Spot in 1988, under then-owner Peter Toigo, led him to close two of the Spot’s locations: the one at Georgia and Cardero (in the West End) and the Garden Spot (Sun, 25 Oct 1988). Today, on the site of the Senator/Garden Spot is an office building.
I’m indebted to my friend, Rod Clarke, one of the proprietors of The Paper Hound Bookshop, for pointing out the book on which this post is based. It is called Where to Eat in Canada: 1971 and is a guide to dining establishments in the nation that were judged by the editors (Anne Hardy and Sondra Gotlieb) to be worthy of note that year. 1971 doesn’t seem so awfully long ago to the likes of me and those of my generation (and earlier), but it was, surprisingly, half a century ago!
Included in this little guide are several listings for Vancouver, only one of which is still a restaurant (with a name that is almost the same, today).  In this post, I’ll pull out a few of the listings for further consideration.
Hy’s Encore, 637 Hornby
Hy’s Encore (today, Hy’s Steakhouse) is the only one of the Vancouver listings in Where to Eat which is still at its location of 50 years ago. The earliest mention of Encore in the local press was in 1962, so that is likely its first year in business. It was located across the street from The Cave nightclub (and, later, was adjacent to Sugar Daddy’s Discotheque).
According to Where to Eat,
The decor is the same the country over: the wall of books (glued in place), the paneling and the mirrors, all designed to give an air of conventional opulence.
Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p.153
The crimes against books appear to have been removed , thankfully, but I suspect that the cave-like entry to Encore looks much the same today as it did in ’71.
Today’s Hy’s seems to have retained its classic feel of a stereotypically dimly lit, darkly and heavily furnished men’s club. It’s a minor puzzle to me how Hy’s has been able to sustain itself at its Hornby location for nearly 60 years. Probably it’s a testament to quality steak and seafood prepared and served well.
La Cote D’Azur, 1216 Robson Street
This French restaurant (which is “french riviera” enFrancais), went out of business in 1995 as it faced demolition that year for redevelopment of the property. 
Where to Eat enthused:
Inside the old converted house, the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed and the service deft and welcoming. The prices are rather high but the food is superb . . . . The menu is in French, and owners, Maurice Richez and Alex Katz, maintain that every dish is a specialty of the house.
Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 151
Iaci’s Casa Capri, 1020 Seymour Street
In the 1970s, this little Italian restaurant (according to one source, the first such in Vancouver) was located directly across the street from The Penthouse nightclub on Seymour (today the furnished apartment complex called “Level” stands in its place). It was open from 1939-1983.
This may well be the most unusual restaurant in Vancouver. In fact it isn’t even a restaurant in the ordinary sense. It’s the Iaci family home and has been for at least 25 years. The family are all still living in the old house, and meals are prepared individually in the family kitchen.The dining-room upstairs will hold 35 people and there’s a basement room for banquets. Mama Iaci’s kitchen is also in the basement, and there she personally supervises the preparation of food, as often as not doing things herself.
Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 154
This place has been written about at length, so I won’t say anything more, here.
Jade Palace, 252 East Pender Street
Where to Eat begins its listing for the Jade Palace as follows:
The manager of this popular Chinese restaurant is a man with a sense of humour and a taste for large and varied menus. C. C. Sun is his name. He says the C. C. stands for Canadian Club and maybe it does.
Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 155.
The C. C., in fact, stood for Chia-Cheng, not Canadian Club. And, apparently, the Jade Palace became known as the first place in Vancouver that served the ever-popular dim sum.
Where to Eat isn’t a hugely humorous work, but there are occasional sentences that cause one to smile, as did this one in the Jade Palace write-up: “Crabmeat over Chinese greens is a good buy at 2.50, but one suspects the crab may have arrived fresh from the sea after a stop-over in the can” (Where to Eat in Canada: 1971, p. 155).
Schnitzel House, 1060 Robson Street
The Schnitzel House on Robson Street was an institution from 1960. It closed in 1985, moving with the new owner (briefly) to 830 W. Pender.
This is as warm and intimate as an Alpine inn. As the name implies, the specialty is schnitzels and they’re first rate. There are ten varieties on the menu, priced from 2.50 for the wiener to 3.20 for the cordon bleu, which is stuffed with Swiss cheese and ham.
Where to Eat in Canada, p. 160
By 1985, Robsonstrasse was beginning its transformation to Rodeo Drive North.
If you’re interested in viewing all of the Vancouver listings in the guide, I’ve reproduced those in a pdf document, below.
To my surprise, Whereto Eat, remains a going concern. The guide continues to be published; it was first published in 1967. The principal editor is today the same person who edited the 1971 edition: Anne Hardy.
When I began researching this post, I intended to focus exclusively on Gail McCance, set designer for Theatre Under the Stars, the Vancouver Opera Association and other organizations. However, one of the first sources I encountered was a 1919 newspaper review of a Vancouver production of The Geisha that referred to the scenery being “specially designed by Mr. J. McCance”. I didn’t know a lot about Gail at that stage, but I knew what year he was born – 1924 – and so either the similarity of name and occupation was a remarkable coincidence, or there was more to Gail’s story than I had thought!
John A. McCance
John Alexander (Jack Sr.) was father to Gail and his siblings. He was born in St. Thomas, Ontario to John and Sarah McCance. He married Mary Teresa McHugh in 1910 after moving to Vancouver in 1900. The McCances had four sons and a daughter together: John Bernarr (Jack Jr.) (1911-1974), Larry Hugh (1918-1970), Edgar Joseph (1920-2005), Frederick Gail (1924-2009), and Theresa S. (Archie) MacLagan.
Jack Sr. was a carpenter by trade and, after coming to Vancouver, began to work as a stage carpenter in city theatres. He joined the Lyric Theatre group in 1903 and over the years constructed sets for the Vancouver Opera House, Pantages, Avenue, Capitol, Empress Theatre, and others. There is evidence that Jack’s “day job” – in the late ‘30s at least – was as an employee of Greater Vancouver Water Board, probably also as a carpenter (Sun 28 Nov 1936).
The first press mention I found of Jack was the review of TheGeisha at the Avenue Theatre in 1919, mentioned in the first paragraph of this post (Province, 16 May 1919). Interestingly, Jack would be responsible again for set design in a revival of The Geisha in the city 21 years later (Province 8 Aug 1940).
Jack was stage manager for the pre-TUTS productions of A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Sun 1 Aug 1936) and Hiawatha (Province 8 Aug 1936) at Brockton Point in 1936. 
Jack was invited to teach in UBC’s extension department in (at least) 1941, 1945 and 1946 where he provided practical instruction in scene construction and lighting. Other note-worthy people who were on faculty there at that time were Beatrice Lennie (theatrical masks), Ross Lort (scene design), and Vivien Ramsay (make-up) (Sun, 31 May 1941; Province 3 May 1945; Sun 14 May 1946).
Jack packed his hammer away for the last time after building sets in 1959 for the Vancouver Opera Association’s production of Carmen (Sun, 1 Feb 1962). He passed away in 1962.
Larry was Jack’s second son. His first son and namesake, Jack Jr., became a coppersmith who also farmed a bit. Another of Jack Sr.‘s sons, Edgar J. became an executive with the Ocean Cement Group.
Larry H. McCance
Larry had the acting bug. The first mention of him in the local press pertained to him acting in 1937 with the Masquers Guild in Silas the Chore-Boy(Sun 21 May 1937). He later performed with the Masquers in The Golden Lady and Our Town. He also acted with the Vancouver Little Theatre Association in Waiting for Lefty, Of Mice and Men, and Full House.
The earliest TUTS performances were held at Brockton Point Oval, not the Malkin Bowl. Because the acoustics at Brockton Point Oval were poor, the director of TUTS at the time, E. V. Young, chose to rehearse two casts — one that would provide dramatic voices that could be amplified by hidden microphone and another cast that would mutely act out the parts.  Larry would play voice role of Quince in the TUTS precursor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In the early 1940s, Larry was working as a broadcaster with CJOR.
By 1947, in addition to acting and broadcasting, Larry had also taken up scenery design (like Dad and youngest brother, Gail) for the [Bowen] Island Theatre Summer Stock Company: “Larry McCance designs and builds all sets for the company”. Plays presented by the company included: George and Margaret, East Lynn, Accent on Youth, Late Christopher Bean, Petticoat Fever, Death Takes a Holiday, and Meet the Wife (Sun 16 July 1947). I suspect that part of the reason for taking on set design for this company was that Larry was under-employed as an actor and possibly as a local broadcaster, hence his decision later that year to move away from Vancouver.
In Autumn of 1947, Larry and his family moved to Toronto. He remained there for the rest of his life with the exception of 1956-1958 when he returned to B.C. to become the Executive Secretary in charge of the B.C. Centennial celebrations (Sun, 6 Jan 1970). In the 1960s, he appeared on early trans-national CBC television broadcasts out of Toronto.
At his death in 1970, Larry was the Canadian Executive Secretary of the Actor’s Equity Association, the union representing theatre actors in Canada.
F. Gail McCance
Gail was born, raised and schooled in North Vancouver (like his siblings). He ‘played theatre’ as a kid and, encouraged by his Dad, kind of fell into set design (Province 28 Jan 1961). Gail’s first job in the theatre was helping his Dad with set construction for A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a 12-year-old in 1936 (Sun 1 March 1963). When he was older, he spent a year in New York working in most of the scenic design shops there. He plainly wasn’t a typical kid.
Gail began his lengthy association with Theatre Under the Stars at Stanley Park’s MalkinMemorial Bowl in 1945 at the tender age of 20. Gordon Hilker, the producer of TUTS from 1940 until 1949, had a tendency, apparently, to hire staff who were known to him.  That may go some ways to explaining why it is that Hilker took a chance on such a young man to take on set design for TUTS. He may have approached Jack Sr., and Jack stood aside in favour of his youngest son, or it could be that Hilker wanted a young man in whom he could invest over several years, and Gail was known to him through his Dad, and so seemed a logical choice.
When Gail began with TUTS in 1945, he wasn’t hired on as the set designer. His task, together with Frank Vyvyan, was to construct and paint sets designed by Adrian Awan of Hollywood, CA. Awan had designed sets for the Hollywood Bowl, on which the Malkin Bowl’s design had been based (although Malkin was substantially smaller) (Sun 9 June 1945). For this first season of Gail’s involvement with TUTS, he and Vyvyan would build sets based on designs by Awan for Vagabond King, Maytime, Red Mill, Rio Rita, and ChocolateSoldier.
In 1946, Gail was sent by TUTS to New York City where he spent 6 weeks studying the construction and painting of Broadway shows in their scenery studios (Sun 25 Feb 1946). This was to become an annual venture for a number of years.
The British Columbia Institute of Music and Drama (BCIMD) was a creation of Gordon Hilker and was a creature of TUTS that had as its purpose “to provide free training to promising young talent throughout British Columbia in all branches of the theatrical arts.”  The BCIMD provided Gail with a teaching outlet very early in his time with TUTS (1945-46). He was in charge of courses pertaining to scenery construction, painting, and the resolution of electrical challenges presented by different productions.
In November 1946, the Parks Board, concluded an agreement with the federal Department of Naval Affairs to acquire the ‘Old HMCS Discovery’ building on Deadman’s Island. This two-storey building would become the TUTS scenery shop and Gail McCance’s work-a-day home for many years.
The first TUTS season in which Gail seems to have earned his set designer ‘wings’ was in 1947: for that season, the local press mentioned that there were “settings by Gail McCance” (Province 26 Aug 1947).
In 1947, Gail began to work for organizations besides TUTS; specifically the Vancouver Little Theatre group, for which he developed scenery for their production of George Washington Slept Here. However, Gail’s fireplace in the play proved to be a little too realistic:
It was the third act and the cue was given . . . acrid dusky coloured real fumes poured from the artificial fireplace. The cast coughed, according to script, but the first-nighters [the audience] coughed too and the keynote was realism.
Province 18 Nov 1947
Gail’s job title was changed in 1948, to “Technical Superintendent”, probably reflecting a promotion. Charlie Baker, who had from 1946 been credited as the set painter is shown in the 1948 season as “Designer”. I take it from these changes in title that Gail was in charge of overall TUTS set design.
Gail married Patricia Mary Gale in 1948.
Gordon Hilker left the TUTS company in 1949 and was replaced in 1950 as producer by William Buckingham. Gail continued as Technical Superintendent until TUTS folded in 1963.
Gail produced the sets for the Steinbeck standard, Of Mice and Men in 1953 at the Avon Theatre (the original Pantages). In 1956, he took on the challenge of set design in the mammoth space that was the Georgia Auditoruim for the Opera Society of B.C.’s. Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe. And in 1958, he was working in a much smaller space, the auditorium of John Oliver high school for a performance of the Vancouver Ballet Society.
In Autumn 1962, Gail created scenery for the Vancouver Opera’s production of Tosca. It cannot often happen that the scenery upstages the actors in an opera, but that seemed to be the case with this opera:
Although there were many beautiful gowns in the first night audience it was Gail McCance’s set in the third act of “Tosca” that stole the show.
For this creation of his was one of the finest displays of the art that I have seen at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Here was the fortress Castel Sant’Angelo set against a morning sky.
In the distance were silhouetted some buildings of Rome and obviously there were more spread out beyond the hill if only we could see over, such was the illusion of distance created by lighting and a large heroic statue set on the battlements.
For me this illusion lasted for minutes, this feeling that we were looking not at a theatre stage but through an archway with the world spread out on the other side.
But the illusion was destroyed by some of the sloppiest acting in the opera.
Province 19 Oct 1962
In 1963, TUTS went bankrupt. The previous year, the Theatre organization as a whole lost $14,000. The only department in TUTS to show a profit was Gail McCance’s scenery department which made $2,960 off an income of $95,814, operating out of rent-free premises (the Old Discovery) (Sun 23 Nov 1962).
Starting in 1964, Gail relied on the Vancouver Opera Association more than before for steady set design work. He had no difficulty filling his days. He designed that year for VOA’s Barber of Seville, La Boheme, The Consul, and The Marriage of Figaro. The following year was likewise busy.
He collapsed from what was diagnosed as sheer exhaustion in 1966 (Sun 9 July 1966). He eased up considerably on his workload after that, producing about one set per year for the VOA ‘til 1973. Beginning in the early 1970s and continuing until his death, Gail painted and exhibited watercolours. He continued to design sets for productions at Marpole’s Metro Theatre through the late 1970s. He seems to have retired by 1980.
In 1997, the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame set Gail McCance’s name in a star along Granville Street near the Orpheum Theatre for his contributions to set design (Sun 24 Nov 1997).
Gail described the job of the set designer as “like the ham in the sandwich — necessary for the art of the theatre and the tastes of the public yet hidden from view” (Province 25 May 1963). Gail McCance died on June 16, 2009.
These weren’t advertised as being TUTS productions, but it is generally acknowledged that they were precursors to the Theatre Under the Stars; TUTS officially became known by that name in 1940 and began holding performances at the Malkin Memorial Bowl in that year.
Richard Sutherland. Theatre Under the Stars: The Hilker Years. A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Arts. UBC. 1993, p.6
CVA 2010-006.007 View from 1220 Homer July 1967 – E H Reksten photo.
This is a view from 1220 Homer (Yaletown) made by Ernie Reksten on a ‘holiday Monday’, July 3, 1967. The holiday was Dominion Day (known as Canada Day since 1982), and most Canadians should be able to deduce from the year this image was taken (and also from the “100” atop the BC Hydro headquarters) that it was the 100th anniversary year of Canada’s confederation.
Yaletown and the area west of the then warehouse district has certainly changed over the intervening 47 years, but some landmarks are still present. The then-Hydro (now Electra) building still stands (background, right side of image), dwarfing the towers of its two neighbouring churches – St Andrews-Wesley United (1933) and First Baptist (1910). The Ramada Inn is on the site of what is today the Holiday Inn Downtown (1110 Howe). The dark structure apparently on Granville near Davie is the Blackstone Hotel (1176 Granville). The Canadian Linen Supply structure has, fortunately, been retained in all of its industrial art deco glory; the anchor of the building, now, is a grocer. The garage in foreground (of a design sympathetic to Canadian Linen) is the Uptown Service Garage, part of the British American Petroleum family of service stations. The street running in front of Canadian Linen and the garage is Davie and the cross street mid-way up the image is Richards. The lovely street lamps are long gone from Davie, sadly, as are the home and the brick building adjacent to it. I haven’t established, yet, what business(es) made the brick building home in 1967.
Whether you grew up (and remain more comfortable with) the Dominion Day designation or if you are a bit younger and have no recollection of July 1st being anything other than Canada Day, may one and all have a good day today celebrating the privileges we enjoy of sharing life in this nation. Care to join me in a rousing rendition of “Canada” (1967)?
George B. Howard (1868-1921) was a well-known figure in Vancouver in the 19-teens and twenties. He got his start in Vancouver at the Lyric Theatre (Pender at Hamilton), moved on to the Avenue Theatre (Main at Georgia) and finished at the Empress (Hastings at Gore). He produced many, many live dramas here and he and his colleagues deserve to be better known in Vancouver today and in the wider world for their work.
Howard was born George Howard Bacchus in Norfolk, Virginia in 1867, the eldest of three boys, to James and Virginia . He married Florence Smith in 1890. Howard and Smith both had a desire to be in theatre work, so they teamed up to become the Howard-Dorset Stock Company ; Smith took the stage name “Flora Dorset”. Starting in 1898, Howard-Dorset stayed pretty close to home, in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Beginning ca1901, they established a circuit of cities and towns in the Midwest states consisting of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin. This continued until 1907, when the company moved out to California and Nevada and then did some performances in Edmonton and Calgary. Interestingly, Howard-Dorset didn’t play Vancouver.
Sometime between 1907 and 1910, I’m assuming, Howard and Dorset divorced. Howard married a Vancouver woman, Theodora Schroer, in 1910 and had a daughter with her in ca1912 whom they named Virginia Betty Bacchus. Dorset/Smith married Lewis Park Kelly of Peoria, Illinois in 1915 (Fort Wayne, Indiana 15 Feb 1915). Bacchus’s marriage to Theodora lasted less than a decade; she divorced him in 1918. Theodora, like Florence, was an actress; her stage name was Betty Jonson.
Lyric Theatre (1908-1910)
Howard began his dramatic work in Vancouver at the ‘cosy’ theatre known as the Lyric . The capacity of this space would have been very limited; perhaps 250-300 people. As is visible in the image below, there was no ‘theatre seating’; the audience was seated on chairs at a single level.
Howard’s company began performing at the Lyric on November 18th, 1907 with the four-act society comedy, “Christopher, Jr.”, with Howard in the title role. This was followed in rapid succession on November 28th by the 3-hour comedy, “Hello Bill!”. Other productions followed with similar frequency. This was typical of the Howard company; they would run a new play every couple weeks. It is staggering to me how the cast was able to memorize lines for a new production so often!
Most of Howard’s productions at the Lyric tended towards the comedic/farce end of the dramatic spectrum . But his company was capable of taking on heavier subjects, too (e.g., “The Young Mrs. Winthrop” and “An Innocent Sinner”). These weightier-themed productions might fairly be called melodramas.
Members of Howard Stock Company at Lyric Theatre 
The Howard company finished their time at the Lyric in 1910 not with a single play, but by putting on four of their all-time audience favourites: The Man From Mexico, Father and the Boys, Other Peoples’ Money, and the very popular, Charley’s Aunt. The last of these was perhaps the most popular of all the Howard productions and could be counted on regularly to pack in sell-out crowds.
Avenue Theatre (1911-1913)
Howard took a break from Vancouver after finishing at the Lyric. He took his company to Alaska (where they had a limited run) and Honolulu (where they spent 3 months). They came back to Vancouver after doing Hawaii where they put on a few old favourites at the Lyric. Then, not to be an idler, Howard took his company to Southern Alberta for a limited run at theatres in Calgary and Lethbridge.
In May 1911, when his new theatre, The Avenue, opened at the SW corner of Main and the first Georgia Viaduct, he started a “new” stock company there, opening with Father and the Boys. Like the Lyric, this theatre was also described in press clippings as being ‘cosy’, but the audience capacity was much greater (World April 11, 1911). The Avenue was estimated to hold upwards of 1200. Unfortunately, construction wasn’t quite finished before the curtain went up:
To the tune of hammering and pounding from the back of the curtain, George Howard came to the front and made a really excellent little speech asking his patrons to be patient with him and all would be well. He also expressed his intention of living and dying right in the theatre if the people of Vancouver would only give him their support.
In 1911-1912, Howard served as lessee and manager of The Avenue. From 1913-July 1917, however, he didn’t have his own stock company in Vancouver and he gave up his position as manager of The Avenue. However, he remained an Avenue stockholder for the rest of his days.
Empress Theatre (1917-1921)
The Empress Theatre was dedicated in June 1908. It had a stock theatre company for a few years that was led by Lawrence and Sandusky.
By 1917, the Empress Stock Company was co-led by “the big three” shown in the first photo in this post: Ray B. Collins, Charles E. Royal, and George B. Howard. The company and its leadership would be among the most successful ever to operate in Vancouver. Indeed, it was believed by some to be the best stock company on the Pacific Coast.
The sheer volume of plays produced at the Empress  and how many of the stock company went on to have film careers (which you can get some sense of by clicking on the links in the lists of members), I find remarkable. Vancouver and the Empress Theatre Stock Company, in particular, was an un-acknowledged nursery for Hollywood in those early years.
In many of the ads for Empress Theatre plays, added to the text can be found “Not a moving picture”, to make it abundantly clear that what were being advertised were live productions.
George B. Howard died from a stroke two hours after playing “Cappy Ricks” on March 17, 1921. It was a sudden and quick end for the 53-year-old actor/manager.
An appropriately theatrical funeral was held on March 22:
Vancouver paused awhile this afternoon while the curtain was being slowly and reverently lowered on the last scene of the last act in the drama of the career of George B. Howard. As the mournful strains of “The Dead March in Saul” floated through the air, and the muffled drum of the B.P.O.E. band heralded the approach of the cortege shortly after 2.30 o’clock from Christ Church, thousands of citizens in the busy downtown section of the city left their places of business, made their way to the streets and stood with bared heads while all that was mortal of the stage favorite passed on to its last resting place in Ocean View burial park.
World. 22 March 1921
But even in death, George Howard took a curtain call.
It seems that he had been on good terms for awhile prior to his passing with Charlotte Sophia (“Dot”) Williams, Percy Williams’ Mom (Percy was the “world’s fastest human” in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games). Whether Howard and “Dot” were romantically involved or not, isn’t clear. “Dot” worked in the Empress Theatre box office, and Howard wrote a codicil to his will, leaving his residence at 196 West 12th Avenue to her. When the existence of the codicil became known, his second wife, Theodora Stoddard (nee Schroer) sued his estate on behalf of their daughter, to whom he’d initially left his Vancouver home. The judge ultimately squashed the suit, as Howard had left Virginia Betty Bacchus very well provided for.
Williams was allowed to keep the home on 12th Avenue and when she died in 1980, her final resting place in Ocean View Burial Park was adjacent to that of George B. Howard (Sun 7 Dec 1922, p.11). 
The Empress Stock Company carried on for several years after Howard’s death. But by 1940, live theatre had been eclipsed by motion pictures and in May of that year, the Empress was dead; demolished, just 32 years after it had been built. 
Howard’s companies of stage players were “stock companies”. By the 20th century, I think “stock” had come to mean “house” players in a particular theatre. In other words, the opposite of a “traveling” company.
This Lyric Theatre shouldn’t be confused with another, later, theatre on Granville Street at the site of the earlier Vancouver Opera House.
Indeed, the tag line on Lyric ads during the time of Howard’s company was “If you want to laugh, go to the Lyric”.
Not all company members served at the same time. This list (and others like it) shows all company members over the period treated.
My thanks to Robert Moen for digging up this info.
For the lists of company members, I have leaned heavily on The Vancouver Daily World, The Province, and the Vancouver Sun.
Thanks to Neil Whaley for drawing to my attention “Dot” Williams’ role in this drama.
The church shown above began its life as Shelton Memorial Christian Church at 505 W 13th Ave (at Cambie Street) in 1927. It was on the site of what today is the former Plaza 500 hotel complex (the lower, four-storey, retail wing).
Unraveling Denominational Identity
Explaining the denomination of the church that worshiped here is a challenge. They identified themselves as a “Christian” church, but acknowledged in early ads that their denomination was known elsewhere in Canada as “Disciples of Christ” or “Church of Christ”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help much in identifying where the congregation was on the ideological spectrum.
What can be said of this church denominationally is that they were part of the US-based Stone-CampbellRestoration movement. If you think you can stand any more detail about this bunch, see the links.
For our purposes, it is enough to know that the movement was very non-denominational. At its core, the Restoration movement was about restoring the earliest Christian church with a highly congregational polity (meaning no dictates from a denominational group above it), an absence of creeds during worship, and a desire for ecumenism (unity among denominations). The churches that were part of this movement celebrated the Lord’s Supper (aka communion; aka the eucharist) on a weekly basis (in contrast, Canadian Baptists celebrate communion once a month).
There were three major denominational groups to emerge from the Restoration Movement: Churches of Christ (which don’t use musical instruments during worship; they sing a cappella), the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the independent (and very confusingly named) Christian Church/Church of Christ churches. (I was a member of the last named denomination while growing up in Alberta).
There was tension between ecumenism and the restoration elements of the doctrine advocated by these groups and the different denominations resolved it differently: the Churches of Christ and the Christian Church/Church of Christ groups resolved it by emphasizing the restoration (or 1st-century church) aspects of the doctrine, and the Christian Church (Disciples) by stressing ecumenism. Shelton Memorial belonged to the last group.
In short (and to greatly oversimplify), I’d say that the Christian Church (Disciples) had more in common with the United Church than they did, say, with the Baptists.
The Early Years (1906-1927)
The First Christian Church (Disciples) in 1906, initially worshiped downtown at Pender Hall (Howe at Pender). There was, apparently, no designated pastor of the church in this very early period. In 1910, they moved to another rental space: Lester Hall (Davie and Granville) and hired a pastor, Rev. N. A. Davis. By 1911, they had moved to 1168 Seymour.
By 1923, they had moved to the East End (Woodland Drive and E. 14th) and hired a new pastor, Rev. Claude V. Stainsby. But Woodland Drive didn’t seem to suit the congregation; it was too far off the beaten path to attract new members. So they built Shelton Memorial. Stainsby submitted his resignation to the church board several months before Shelton was ready to be occupied on the understanding that when the new building was dedicated he would step down.
Shelton was dedicated in March, 1927 and was called “Shelton” in memory of Dr. A. L. Shelton, a pioneer missionary of the Disciples in Tibet, 1903-1922. He was murdered in Tibet by bandits.
After leaving Shelton, Stainsby moved to Fernie where he directed the Sunday School of the United Church there. His day job was as “shop” instructor at Fernie High School. He later moved to Mission, where he worked in a similar job and finally took a teaching job at Ladner High School. He died in 1948 at the age of 59.
Rev. Frank T. Carter was Stainsby’s replacement at Shelton. He didn’t last for more than a year.
Rev. William G. Kitchen (1928-1938)
Carter’s replacement was Rev. William G. Kitchen, who came in 1928. He came to Vancouver from Saskatoon, where he had been the pastor at a Disciples congregation from ca1917.
In 1938, Shelton began broadcasting its services over radio CKMO (1410khz).
After a decade at Shelton, Kitchen accepted a call to go to a Disciples church in Guelph, ON.
Rev. G. Hayden Stewart (1939-1943)
Hayden Stewart came from Calgary where he’d been directing youth work for Disciples churches. He introduced a new evening service plan. It would be called the School for Christian Living and would frequently have guest speakers — not all of whom would be considered by other protestant churches in the city to be strictly appropriate. One such was Arnold Webster in 1941, then a failed CCF federal candidate and later a successful BC MLA for the same party. In 1943, Grace MacInnis, another CCF member, was also asked to speak at the School. Another speaker was Edna MacCullie, a co-founder of Narcotics Anonymous.
It is clear that, under Stewart, Shelton Memorial was putting a significantly greater emphasis on the Social Gospel. On the other hand, the ecumenism of Shelton was also evident, as they brought in pastoral speakers for morning services from such places as First Baptist Church and their near neighbor, Chown Memorial United Church.
In 1943, G. Hayden Stewart decided to pack it in at Shelton. In the same year, Shelton had a name change. For some reason (unadvertised as far as I can tell), the church became Central Christian Church.
Kenneth S. Wills (1945-1951)
In 1945, Central Christian (formerly Shelton Memorial) hired Kenneth Wills to take over the pastoral reigns. Wills came to Vancouver from Windsor, ON, where he’d been the director of athletics at a local high school and the managing director of Windsor city playgrounds (Province, 13 Jan 1945). In 1951, Wills returned to Ontario where he took a job as Secretary of Christian Education with the Canadian Council of Churches in Toronto.
G. Hayden Stewart (1952-1957)
Stewart made a return to the pulpit of Central in 1952 and remained there until the church wrapped up its time at Cambie and 13th. It closed its doors in 1957.
Postscript: Community Christian (1957-1960)
But by September, Stewart had started a new church at the same site. It would have another name change: this time to Community Christian Church. The congregation was founded by Stewart on the belief that “people are fundamentally religious.” Said Stewart: “‘We want to give the non-church going people of Vancouver the kind of church that will help them find straight-forward answers to their problems'” (Province 14 Sept 1957).
In March 1958, Stewart created a Community Christian Foundation. The Foundation’s purpose was to secure financial support for ecumenical work to be done through his church.
But neither the foundation nor the church lasted long. By 1960 both seem to have been wrapped up. Stewart went on to start his own Christian counseling organization with a focus on teenage group counseling (Sun 5 Oct 1963). He died in Vancouver in 1998 at the age of 91.
Shown in the photo above are some of the contestants in the Canadian Legion Celebration Popularity Contest, gathered around the Auburn vehicle that was promised to the winner of the competition.
Although the Legion referred to the contest as being a “popularity” and a “beauty” contest, it was in fact neither. It was principally about how skilled the various women were at distributing tickets in large numbers and in a strategic fashion.
In 1927, the Legion sponsored a carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds and the Drill Hall from May 24 (Victoria Day) to May 30th. What was being celebrated was Confederation’s Diamond Jubilee; its 60-year anniversary. In order to gain admission to the carnival, folks needed a (free) admission ticket. The ladies who were in the “popularity contest” would distribute tickets to friends, acquaintances, anyone really who they could persuade to accept a ticket (or more than one) to the carnival. Presumably, the name of the “popularity girl” would be written somewhere on the ticket, and that part of the ticket would be submitted to the Legion. That way, the Legion could track who was leading in ticket distribution and, ultimately, determine who gave away the greatest number of tickets and thereby won the contest.
Enrollment criteria were pretty straightforward: Females between the ages of 16 and 21; unmarried; of “unimpeachable” character; residents of Greater Vancouver; and sponsored by a reputable businessman, the chief executive of a fraternal group, a social service, or ex-service organization (Sun 1 April 1927).
Ticket distribution began in early May and continued until midnight on May 30th (the final day of the carnival).
What would “Miss Vancouver” win, exactly? It was widely reported in the local press that she would be given an Auburn coupe automobile (provided by Duplex Sales Ltd.) and she would earn the right to represent Vancouver through a “free trip” to the Inter-City Beauty Contest to be held in September in Atlantic City, N. J. (this was the Miss America pageant).
The number of contestants, initially, was 22, but the number enrolled had dropped (for reasons unknown) to 20 by May 9th and to 18 by May 19th.
The woman who would ultimately win the contest and become “Miss Vancouver” was Velma Rogers. Watch how her name bounces around the standings. She begins in 6th place (May 9); then she dives to 15th (May 19); then she made a dramatic move into first place (May 26) and by the day before the final count she was in third place (May 30). The final standings were 1st: Velma Rogers; 2nd: Kitty Salmon; and 3rd: Gertie Preston. It took the counters until 5am to finish the tallying (Sun May 31, 1927).
The contest proved to be about not only having a large number of folks to whom you could go and beg to accept tickets. It was also about knowing when to pull out the stops. You didn’t want to ‘peak’ too early. So it was partly about strategizing.
The Real Contest
But ticket distribution, in the whole scheme of things, seems to have been a side-show. The real contest began after the counting was done; the forum was the law courts of British Columbia.
Scarcely had the votes been counted when Mrs. Letitia Salmon, mother of 2nd-place winner, Kitty Salmon, filed an injunction in BC Supreme Court on her daughter’s behalf, claiming that Kitty had been declared the winner, but that after the closing hour, votes and money had been exchanged and that Velma Rogers was then declared the winner. How it was that Mrs. Salmon obtained this information, let alone how she hoped to prove it in a court of law, wasn’t reported. The judge granted her an interim injunction, however, restraining Rogers and the Legion from “handling or dealing with the awards”, at least until June 30th (Edmonton Journal 23 June 1927).
By mid-July, Salmon’s injunction was dissolved and it looked like Rogers would be free to claim the Auburn and her forthcoming Atlantic City expenses. But her legal struggle wasn’t finished, yet.
At the end of July, a new character entered the legal fray: Joseph J. Diamond. He applied for an order that would prevent Rogers from removing the Auburn from Greater Vancouver. Diamond had a written agreement with Rogers, which his lawyer produced in court, which stated that he would be given the car in exchange for his financial aid to Rogers during the contest, in the event that she should win. (Sun 28 July 1927). By early August, the court ordered that the car be sold so that her lawyer could be paid and so that the balance would be available to the court for Diamond’s suit. (Sun 4 August 1927).
A couple of weeks later, and “Queen Velma” (as she was coming to be known in the local press) was on the legal offensive. She had been deprived of her car; there was noway she was going to be denied her right to go to Atlantic City — expenses-free — for the pageant in September!
She threatened to file suit against some 70 individuals who were “patrons” of the Legion celebration, including Mayor L. D. Taylor and Vancouver city aldermen to get enough cash so that she could travel to Atlantic City, unburdened by expenses. Apparently this was the only avenue open to her, since the Legion Celebration Committee was an unincorporated group (Province 19 August 1927).
The 70 didn’t capitulate to Rogers’ threat of bringing suit, however, so she had to actually do so. She sued the 70 for $1500 (including the costs of five evening gowns, sport and afternoon dresses, bathing suits and other apparel) (Province 21 August 1927).
Rogers won the battle, but she lost the war.
It was February 1928 before the suit wended its way though the system — and so, five months after the Atlantic City event, the Legion paid her $1000 for the Atlantic City expenses.
Velma Rogers was married a few months after claiming her $1000. She married Gordon W. Dalgleish, a theatre manager in Nelson. A few years later, Velma was back in Vancouver. She had been made the head of a new hosiery department at Rae’s Clever Shoe Store on Granville Street (Sun 4 April 1934). Not long after that, Velma and Gordon were divorced. Velma married Christopher Beute and moved to California where she worked as an accountant. According to her death notice, during WWII she was employed by Hughes Aircraft and later worked for Samuel Goldwyn Productions. She died in 1996 at the age of 90. (Desert Sun 15 October 1996).
When I was initially piecing this story together, I just assumed that the Legion would have charged for the tickets to the carnival. But they didn’t. And I think that was a mistake. To charge would have meant that the women would have had the opportunity to show off their sales savvy (or lack thereof). And there would have been some money in the ‘kitty’ for prizes. As it turned out, Velma Rogers didn’t seem to win much that she really wanted (her dream of a new car and an expense-paid trip to the New Jersey beauty contest were a total loss). The Legion was damaged by negative publicity. Perhaps the only real winners were the lawyers who represented the parties to the disputes!
When Frank Stuart-Whyte wrote to the Vancouver Parks Board in 1911 asking for a meeting to discuss whether his “Versatile” players from England could have a license to perform at English Bay in the summer, he almost certainly had no clue that he was starting an enterprise that would continue — in one form or other — for a decade and become an institution in many cities and towns in Canada.
First Season: 1911
Stuart-Whyte arrived in Vancouver from England in early 1911 when he was 34. In England and Scotland, he had been involved with the production of “1643”, a historical drama that had played those nations to positive reviews.
When he got to Vancouver, Stuart-Whyte didn’t let grass grow under his feet; he soon got in touch with the Vancouver Parks Board with a proposal that he and his company of players perform at English Bay in the summer months of that year. He referred to the company as the “Versatiles”. In 1911, they consisted principally of Stuart-Whyte’s wife, whose stage name was “Miss Zara Clinton” and who was known for her impressions of English male impersonator, Vesta Tilley, and Clinton’s brother, comedian Harry Hoyland. “Harry Hoyland” was also a stage name, evidently; his marriage certificate shows his name as Harry Hoyland Young.
The form of entertainment that would be offered by the troupe was English “Pierrot”. Pierrot seems to have been, in this context, a form of vaudeville: musical numbers, comedy sketches, and brief theatrical performances offered over the course of a couple of hours. A difference between Stuart-Whyte’s Versatiles and vaudeville elsewhere in Vancouver, is that it would be performed al fresco on the beach of English Bay in the summer.
The Parks Board granted Stuart-Whyte a license for the Versatiles to perform in the summer of 1911 for the sum of $150; he would assume the costs of erecting the stage on the beach. The Versatiles had consistently good turnouts at English Bay in 1911.
In June, Stuart-Whyte asked the Board if the Versatiles’ lease at English Bay could be extended for another three years. The Board initially denied this request, preferring to deal with the Versatiles’ lease on a year-by-year basis, but they ultimately agreed (Province 26 September 1912). This proved to be a good move, as the Versatiles through 1916 had strong turnouts at the beach.
By Autumn, the Versatiles had finished their summer schedule of performances at English Bay. The troupe (Zara Clinton, her brother Harry Hoyland, and manager-husband, Stuart-Whyte) boarded the CPR steamer, Zealandia, bound for the Hawaiian Islands, where they would perform (World, 1 November 1911). They were also scheduled to perform that Winter in California, New Zealand, and Australia.
Second Season – Market Experiment: 1912
In late May 1912, the Versatiles were back at English Bay with an expanded cast that included Emylin Berryman, Will Conley, Lora Churchill, Frank Healey, Will Lochrane, George Bret, Walter Charles and, of course, Zara Clinton and Harry Hoyland (World, 23 May 1912). The English Bay enterprise had another great summer in 1912.
Beginning in the off-season of 1912, the Versatiles dipped a metaphorical “toe” into a new market; Stuart-Whyte booked the Versatiles into bricks-and-mortar theatres across Western Canada (including the Opera House in Chilliwack, the Sherman Grand Theatre in Calgary, the Empire Theatre in Edmonton, the Empire in Saskatoon, and the Orpheum in Regina). This experiment proved to be a great success and fueled later work by Stuart-Whyte and his company. The main vehicle for the Autumn/Winter tour was a playlet written by Stuart-Whyte called “In the Camp-Fire’s Glow”, a “cowboy musical comedy” set along the Fraser River in B.C.
Third Season – Stadacona Park (Victoria): 1913
By Summer 1913, the Versatiles had established themselves in Victoria in an al fresco setting not unlike Vancouver’s English Bay. They were granted a lease by the City of Victoria to the recently established Stadacona Park. The blue-bloods in the area weren’t impressed with the Versatiles performing in ‘their’ park, but plans went ahead and the general public of the city seemed to soak it up. They would remain at Stadacona Park in Victoria for the summer months of 1913 and 1914.
How did the Versatiles manage to perform in Vancouver and Victoria at the same time? I think the answer is found in a few classified ads that Stuart-Whyte put in Victoria and Vancouver newspapers. He announced that he was looking to “augment his well known companies of London Entertainers . . . .Comedians, tenors, baritones, sopranos, contraltos, pianist” (Victoria Daily Times 12 February 1912). It seems likely from this that a small contingent of Versatiles veterans would seed both the Vancouver and Victoria companies and be augmented by some of the locals hired as a result of ads like the one quoted.
In 1913, Stuart-Whyte added popular Scot, Billy Oswald, and sisters Edith and Harriet Fawn to the Versatiles gang. In the off-season tour, the Versatiles premiered “The Canadian Express”, a playlet depicting the woes of tenderfeet on their first train journey in the Canadian West (Saskatoon Star-Phoenix 22 November 1913). The 1913 tour saw a modest expansion on the tour of 1912. They hit all of the spots of the previous year, in addition to some smaller towns in B.C. (including Revelstoke) and at least as far east as Ottawa.
Fourth and Fifth Seasons: 1914-1915
By 1914, the Versatiles had added to their headliners with Wilfrid Brandon, Fred Reynolds, KItty Clifford, Ida Hart, Thiel Jordan (Victoria Daily Times 1 May 1914). The Autumn/Winter tour featured a ‘re-run’ from 1913, “The Canadian Express” and the premiere of “Scottie in Japan”, a musical comedy “depicting a stranded vaudeville company in the flowery kingdom” (Saskatoon Daily Star 29 October 1914). There was a noteworthy difference to the touring locations in 1914, however: the troupe moved south of the 49th Parallel for at least one stop in Minnesota, in the city of Bemedji. There, “The Canadian Express” became “The Honeymoon Express”, presumably with a few other Americanizing edits to the script to make the train journey more recognizable to a U.S. audience.
In September 1915, Vancouver was the opening city for a new Stuart-Whyte musical comedy, set in a department store, called “The Girl from Nowhere”. “The Girl” was staged again at the Vancouver Avenue Theatre in January 1916 and then in late February, a new production, “Floradora,” was at the Avenue “with a brilliant cast of twenty-five”. Each of these productions opened in Vancouver and then later was taken on the road to the usual Canadian locations. There seem not to have been any American locations on the 1915 tour.
Sixth Season – End of English Bay Versatiles: 1916
Summer 1916 was the final season of English Bay performances in Vancouver. It was an abbreviated season at English Bay, said Stuart-Whyte, due to conscription being imposed in England, causing several of those he would have included in his outdoor cast to be recruited for WWI service (Sun 10 August 1916).
Autumn/Winter 1916 was notable for a couple of reasons. It marked the start of a string of hit pantomimes written/produced by Stuart-Whyte. And it marked his first production opening in a city other than Vancouver. In September 1916, “Alladin and His Wonderful Lamp” opened in Winnipeg at the Walker Theatre. This production was touted by Stuart-Whyte – accurately or not – as being “Canada’s first ‘old country’ pantomime” (Edmonton Journal 7 October 1916). Zara Clinton, in true English panto fashion, played the principal boy, Alladin; Harry Hoyland played the Widow Twankey.
Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Seasons: 1917-1919
Autumn/Winter 1917 saw the premiere of Stuart-Whyte’s “Robinson Crusoe”. Zara Clinton played the title role, supported by a cast of 40. Stuart-Whyte “followed the original text in large measure and then added a series of incidents that Daniel Dafoe probably never dreamed of” (Edmonton Journal 3 October 1917). For composition of the music for “Crusoe”, Stuart-Whyte called upon no fewer than three composers: Pierre Bayard, Clive Hamilton, and Sydney Blythe, all of England.
1918 saw the most ambitious touring schedule of Stuart-Whyte’s troupe, to date. In addition to the usual Canadian locations, the 1918 tour included a great many U.S. sites, including: Buffalo, Rochester, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnatti, Streator (Illinois), Davenport (Iowa), Madison, Des Moines, and Sioux City (Iowa). Why did Stuart-Whyte choose this year for such an expanded U.S. tour? There are a couple of reasons, I think. First, the production that they were showing in U.S. cities – “Robinson Crusoe” – was one that was familiar to American audiences. Second, it appears that Stuart-Whyte had a deal with the American theatrical syndicate, Klaw and Erlanger, that year and so had access to a large number of theatres in many cities, probably at reduced cost (Streator Times 27 March 1918). The summer months of 1918 saw the Versatiles at their al fresco location in Winnipeg at Portage and Vaughn. But, although it was advertised as having “the famous Versatiles”, it was, in fact just a single Versatile performing: longtime member, Billy Oswald.
The Autumn/Winter of 1918 saw the Versatiles touring Canadian cities again, this time with the musical “Cinderella”. Zara Clinton played Prince Charming and Sue Parker was in the title role. Other principals included John Barrett-Lennard, Harry Hoyland, Herbert Sydney, T. Clifden Corless, Kitty Arthur, and Blanche Young. This played in 1918 and through to March 1919.
Tenth Season – Final Successful Panto: 1920
Starting in January 1920, Stuart-Whyte produced yet another panto: “Red Riding Hood.” Dorothy Mackay played the title role. Other principal parts were played by Zara Clinton (“Boy Blue”), Johnny Osborne (“Mother Hubbard”), Will Hallet (animal impersonator), and John Barrett-Lennard (“King Cole”) (Saskatoon Daily Star 13 January 1920).
In October 1920, Stuart-Whyte launched “Babes in the Wood”, with Dorothy Mackay again in the title role. Other cast included George H. Summers (“Capt. Kidd”), R. N. Hincks (“semi-wicked baron”), Victor Dyer (“very wicked baroness”), Tom Ellis (“Dick Turpin”), and Mona Warren (“Robin Hood”).
Running concurrently with “Babes” was a revival by Stuart-Whyte of “San Toy: A Chinese Musical” which also toured a number of urban centres. San Toy was a departure from Stuart-Whyte’s spate of panto hits. It was musical comedy, but not a pantomime.
In December 1920, he spun out another theatrical revival, this one Sydney Jones’ “The Geisha”, “a love story of old Japan with an adorable musical setting.” These two revivals seemed to be, in part, vehicles for a number of Stuart-Whyte’s adult actors who had been strong performers in his earlier successes but who didn’t really fit in his juvenile pantos such as “Red Riding Hood” and “Babes in the Woods”. In “The Geisha” there would be 50 actors, including Zara Clinton (“Molly”), Kitty Arthur (“the little Jap Geisha girl”), and Fred Walton.
Eleventh Season – Prince Charming (Not): 1922
September 1922 saw a new musical from the pen of Stuart-Whyte: “Prince Charming, Jr.” (sub-headed in the ads “Girls, Gowns, and Gorgeousness”). It was based loosely on a recent tour by the Prince of Wales. Some of the music in the play was by B. C. Hilliam (Ottawa Citizen 26 September 1922).
The Citizen reviewer was quite critical of this production: ” . . . the composition has no intelligible story which, of course, is not necessary for its success. It has color and girls, one or two good songs, and some novelties in the way of gags and scenic tableaux . . . It has at least five good wheezes [jokes] and a number of others not so good.” (Ottawa Citizen 26 September 1922). And the reviewer at the Montreal Gazette damned “Jr.” with faint praise: “[I]t has sufficient good points to make it, on the whole, good entertainment . . . . On the other hand, the production scarcely has the freshness and vigor of some of its predecessors, particularly insofar as the plot and the musical setting are concerned” (Montreal Gazette 21 November 1922).
Never with any of Stuart-Whyte’s previous productions did I see a “discouraging word” in any review. But it isn’t really surprising, is it, that after 10 seasons of successes, he might lay an egg?
Nothing appeared about Stuart-Whyte in Canadian press reports for four years after the flop that was “Jr.”
What had become of him?
Evidently, he had transformed himself from a producer of theatrical productions into a producer of movies. In Australia, according to one press source, he produced four films, all of which were financial successes (Sakatoon Daily Star 19 November 1927). There seem today to be records of only two Stuart-Whyte films made in Australia: Painted Daughters (1925) and Sunrise (1926). Zara Clinton starred in “Painted Daughters”. Sunrise is considered a lost film.
Stuart-Whyte spun colourful tales to the writer of a Canadian newspaper piece that was syndicated in various Canadian papers about how he was involved in producing movies in Hollywood, South Africa, the West Indies and India (Saskatoon Daily Star 19 November 1927). But, oddly only one movie title was mentioned; it was claimed by the writer that his name appeared among the “directorial staff” of Douglas Fairbanks’ “Thief of Bagdad“. Today, no movie credits for Stuart-Whyte remain except for the two Australian films.
The Cat Came Back (Briefly)
By 1928, Stuart-Whyte had returned to Canada to produce another panto; this one was “Dick Whittington and His Cat”. “Dick” had pretty positive reviews, but I’m guessing that in terms of success that matters – bums in seats – it was found wanting:
(TORONTO) Stranded, though in their home town, four or five members of the defunct F. Stuart-Whyte pantomime, “Dick Whittington and His Cat,” which closed unceremoniously in Brockville [Ontario] several weeks ago, watched disconsolately while the entire outfit, slightly shopworn, was purchased by P. G. Gadsby of Toronto for $400 at the sheriff’s sale.
All one corner of a huge garage was occupied with a miscellaneous collection of theatrical goods and equipment. Seven changes of costume for 17 girls, two changes for four comedians, and large and valuable backdrops, as yet untouched with the painter’s brush, formed part of the collection. The equipment was said by the auctioneer to be worth $5000.
Regina Leader 1 May 1928
Just what became of Stuart-Whyte following the demise of “Dick” isn’t clear to me. I could find no newspaper accounts of later ventures (or even reports as to whether he’d retired), nor could I find an obituary for either him or his wife, “Zara”(Sarah, off-stage).
He died in England in 1947.
I’m very appreciative of Vancouver collector, Neil Whaley, for his treasure trove of ‘real photograph post cards’ and snapshots he has collected and permitted me to show here.
Late-breaking news: “F. Stuart-Whyte” was also a stage name! He appears in a couple of ship manifests as Frank Hardwick White (1877-1947); and “Zara” as Sarah Nellie White (nee Young) (1882-1950). Frank and Sarah were married in England in 1903. They had a son born 1904 called Geoffrey Hoyland White and another born 1906 by the name of Dennis William White.
In 1936 the Versatiles made a return to English Bay for Vancouver’s jubilee year. The 1936 group was entirely Canadian, as far as I can tell. The cast included Sidney Dean, Frank Dowie, Linda Dale, Frank Vyvyan, Gladys Symmonds, Ruby Chamberlain, Agnes Harrison, Allan Roughton, Hazel McDonald, Lorna McDonald, Gus Dawson, Charles Courtier, and Bertha Strang.
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).
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.
For the first several years (1915-22), Society performances were almost invariably held at The Avenue Theatre (at Main and Georgia). However, TheCingalee (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.
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.
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).
I’m reliably informed that this story has been told before, more than once. But it was new to me, and so, working on the assumption that others likewise may be unaware of the tale, I’m sharing it below.
The story has its beginning in July 1905. The wood frame bathhouse shown above had recently been erected at First Beach on English Bay. A letter was written by “The Odd Man Out” to the editor of the Vancouver Daily World informing citizens that
the glass in the windows of the bathhouses (sic) is so transparent that all the “beauty” (?) of the male bathers and the entire angelic form of the female can be seen to perfection by all outsiders on the beach . . . .
World, 11 July 1905
Apparently in the mornings, when the sun hit the changing room windows just right, those inside the bathhouse who were changing were visible to those outside.
More than a fortnight passed, and nothing had been done about the non-opaque windows, so “Modesty” picked up his pen and wrote a letter to the World notifying Vancouverites of the inaction of civic authorities. This writer speculated, very presciently, upon possible future legal ramifications:
. . . . The question arises as to what would happen if the police took action against the bathers. Would the mayor and aldermen or the members of the board of works, or all of them, be responsible? And in the event of a conviction for indecent exposure, would they be open to conviction as accessories before the fact? One can understand how easy it would be for an innocent person to get brought up before the police court; and, in such a case, would not the authorities be the most criminal of the parties? A few hours work and a few pounds of paint would be all that is necessary to put the matter right.
World 24 July 1905
Fully a year passed, and still nothing was done by the City about the bathhouse windows.
And then, a series of events very close to those speculated upon by “Modesty” came to pass:
. . . . [A] young man, apparently refined and well educated . . . was arrested by [Special] Constable Joe Fortes for indecent exposure at the Beach last Friday. The defendant claimed that if he had committed the crime it had been done unwittingly, and was due to the condition of the glass . . . . [The Magistrate] . . . . dismissed the charge. It was now up to Park Commissioners to act. If they desired the present conditions to continue, well and good, but he believed some change should be made.
Province 9 July 1906
By July 12, the Parks Board had finally acted. The exteriors of the windows were given a coat or two of opaque paint. Problem solved.
Imagine the expense (to the legal system) and embarrassment (to the young man unfairly charged with indecent exposure) that could have been avoided if the Parks Board had applied opaque paint back in 1905!
The 150-foot dragon (“painted in an Indian motif and floating on oil drums”) was installed in Lost Lagoon by the B.C. Centennial (1858-1958) Committee in June 1958 (Sun 19 June 1958). The Chinese junk, which was to be part of the art installation was added in July (Province 11 July 1958). The dragon was named “Centennial Sue”. The dragon was constructed of B.C. plywood and it and the junk were illuminated at night (Province, 19 June 1958).
The monster and sailing junk on Last Lagoon are causing a little embarrassment to the park board. Few people like them and most everybody wishes they would go away — but the board is stuck with them till the centennial committee takes them away. . . . Park superintendent Phllip B. Stroyan explained it this way:
“We gave the centennial committee permission to put up decorations on English Bay and in the Lost Lagoon. The only snag was that we did not know what they had in mind for the lagoon.
“These things appeared overnight. The monster, whatever it is supposed to be, is bad enough. But then this junk appears, with a ‘for sale’ sign on it. Well, we tore that sign off quickly enough, but the rest is there to stay till Frank Bernard — special events chairman for the centennial committee — takes them away.
“I guess it won’t be too long now,” Mr. Stroyan added.
Province 5 August 1958
I don’t understand why it was that the Province was convinced that the dragon was generally disliked. I quite like it. I’m guessing that the dragon/junk installation wasn’t in the Lagoon for much more than two or three months.
There seemed to be a lack of originality by the various Centennial committees, when it came to naming. In April 1958, it was announced by L. J. Wallace that there would be a “Centennial Sue” who would be the companion to “Century Sam“. These cartoon figures would serve to boost tourism in B.C. (Chilliwack Progress, April 2, 1958).
It isn’t clear which of the “Centennial Sues” was the first, the dragon or the cute/folksy human cartoon character. However, based on the description at the Museum of Vancouver, I’m inclined to put my money on the “monster.”
Century Sam was a cartoon prospector created as a symbol for BC’s Centennial celebrations in 1958. In 1956 Lawrie Wallace created the idea of the character, while illustrator Bob Banks was tasked [with] actualizing the character. Banks had an extensive career in illustration, working on a range of projects including portraiture, Buzzer transit pamphlets, textbooks, magazines, and work for corporate clients including MacMillan Bloedel, BC Rail, and Air Canada. Century Sam, in his iconic hat, checkered shirt, yellow vest, and chinstrap beard, became a symbol for BC’s Centenaries and tourism in general. Banks also created a companion for Century Sam, Centennial Sue. The figures were used in 1958 and again for the 1966 celebrations of the formation of BC as a colony, as well as the 1967 centennial celebrating Canada’s confederation, and the 1971 centennial celebrating BC’s entrance into Canadian confederation.
Aurey, Aury, Owrey, and Awray. I have found all of these mis-spellings of the surname of Peter Alpaugh Awrey (1824-1906). (Oddly, his middle name — which seems to me more challenging — was never misspelled in official documents!) The good folks at the B.C. Vital Statistics branch even managed to get one spelling for Peter (Aurey) and a different one for his wife, Rachel (Awrey)!
Awrey was, before coming to B.C., a farmer in Ontario and later (1880-1886) in Emerson, Manitoba. He and his wife, Rachel, came to Vancouver the year after civic incorporation (1886) to put up their heels after a lifetime of sowing and harvesting to enjoy their retirement. Why Vancouver? Well, it seems that they had a daughter living here: Martha (David) Evans. Perhaps that fact in addition to the more moderate climate of Vancouver served as motives.
Peter didn’t completely relax, though. He was a deacon at First Baptist Church, and later was named the first “life deacon”. He was also on the board of the Alexandra Orphanage.
The Awreys lived for most of their years in Vancouver at 522 Homer Street in the long-forgotten days when there were residences all along that street, before there was a wee parking lot on their former lot, and long before BC Hydro dominated the block.
For the last couple years of Peter’s life, the Awreys lived with daughter and son-in-law, Martha and David Evans, at their home at 724 Robson (the south side of Robson near Granville). Shortly after Christmas in 1905, Peter was out for a walk in their neighbourhood when he spotted a construction site and moved in for a closer view of it. In that period, streets did not have concrete sidewalks, but instead wooden boardwalks. The local newspaper attributed Peter’s accidental fall to his “failing eyesight”, but it could just as easily have been unsteadiness due to his age. But, in any case, he stumbled and fell into the excavated construction pit. When he was discovered some time later, he was unconscious, and was moved to the Evans’ home. He never regained consciousness and died nearly 48 hours later (Province, 2 January 1906). He was 83.
Rachel passed in 1913 at age 85. David Evans (who formed the first Vancouver brass band) died in 1916 at age 65. Martha in 1948 at age 87.
The Awreys had one surviving grandchild from David and Martha: Joy Evans. The Awreys were predeceased by their grandson, Caradoc Evans, who died in 1887 (at age 10 months), who was the first person to be buried in the Mountain View Cemetery.
In the early years of the twentieth century, it wasn’t often that a young woman started her own small business, much less made a ‘go’ of it for nearly 30 years! But that’s exactly what Catherine Pedden did. With help from her sister, Ellen, Catherine’s stenography business endured from 1913 to 1942.
Catherine and Ellen Pedden were two of the daughters of Joseph Pedden and Mary McArthur. Joseph emigrated to Canada from Scotland ca1843 with his family when he was quite young (about 7). He married Mary in 1871 and settled in Middlesex County, Ontario where they farmed. Four kids preceded Catherine and two came in between Catherine and Ellen. Catherine was born in 1885 and Ellen, the youngest child, came along in 1891.
Joseph died in 1910 at age 73 in Strathroy, ON. His passing seemed to prompt the move of Mary, Catherine, Ellen, and one of the brothers to the west coast. It isn’t clear to me exactly why they pulled up stakes in Strathroy to make such a major move, but chances are that it was related to money and the good prospects for making more of it in the relatively new urban centre of Vancouver.
I haven’t been able to find any evidence of what education the two girls received, but I suspect they went to a secretarial college in Ontario after finishing secondary school.
Ellen seems to have been the first Pedden to make the trans-continental journey in 1912. She was employed by the Canadian Credit Men’s Trust Association and was living at the time at 607 East Cordova. The year following, however, Catherine was in town and was working for herself — also as a stenographer — in an office in the Northwest Securities Corp. building (on the site today known as The Lumbermen’s Building). Catherine and Ellen shared accommodation at 120 Cassiar. By 1914, one of their brothers and their mother Mary arrived in town. While Ellen was still working for the Credit Association, Catherine set up shop for herself as a freelance “public stenographer”  in a suite in the Birk’s Building. The following year, another sister, Margaret, was working in Vancouver, too; as a nurse. All of the Peddens were residing at 120 Cassiar.
By 1919, Ellen had left the Credit Association and joined forces with Catherine in working at her small business, which by this time had moved to the Pacific Buidling on West Hastings. The women made it known that they were “public stenographers” operating under the business name of “Vancouver Steno-Typists”. Catherine always appeared to be the “face” of the business.
The Pedden business must have been doing okay, as in 1918 (presumably following the end of Great War hostilities, thus making international steamship travel relatively safe), Catherine left Vancouver for a trip to Asia (HongKong, Shanghai, and Japan). She was there for about two years (Province, 19 August 1920). Much later (after WW2), Ellen took an “extended trip” to New Zealand and Australia, returning via Fiji and the Hawaiian Islands (Sun, 20 August 1952).
Both sisters were actively involved with the Crescent Rebekah Lodge (initially a women’s branch of the Masonic International Order of Odd Fellows; both women and men are now permitted to join).
By the 1930s, the business name had changed slightly to emphasize the stenography element of their services: henceforth it would be simply “Vancouver Stenographers” . The name change seemed to happen about the same time as their final business move to the Stock Exchange building.
Catherine (age 55) and Ellen (49) Pedden retired in 1942.
In her retiring years, Catherine was involved with the leadership of the Vancouver branch of the Business Women’s and Professional Club (she was a past president) and of the Vancouver Women’s Curling Club. She was also a member of the Vancouver Heights Presbyterian Church (this church merged with the local Methodist congregation to become a United Church in 1925 as part of the church union movement; Vancouver Heights United disbanded in 1973).
Catherine died in 1965 at age 79 and Ellen passed in 1976 at age 84.
I tried in vain to determine what exactly was meant/implied by the title “Public Stenographer”. How was a Public Stenographer different from a garden-variety stenographer? Perhaps there wasn’t a difference. I even had a look at what American pop culture in the ’30s had to say about this. There was a movie titled Public Stenographer (starring Lola Lane and Buster Collier, Jr. and a small part played by Jason Robards, Sr., father of later Oscar-winner, Jason Jr.) about two young women on the make in the big city who work as stenographers. These two seem to me not at all like my impressions of Catherine and Ellen; the two starlets seem primarily concerned about maintaining their “girlish figures”. I didn’t get very far in the film before I turned it off, but from the way the job of “public stenographer” was portrayed in the early part of the film, my impression is that there may not have been any real difference between the tasks taken on by “stenographers” and “public stenographers”.
I should point out that, with the exception of the court stenographer (which is a very specialized job), the position of stenographer has today pretty much disappeared. My Dad used to teach stenography (or shorthand) at a Canadian college. He points out that, by the ’70s, with the growing popularity of dictaphone machines, the demand for steno and shorthand skills began to fade and that, by the ’90s, many colleges had scaled back or cancelled their steno programs. By the way, for the benefit of any millennial readers out there, I should note that the steno pad is a creature of the shorthand era.
First Baptist Church is going to be closed to the public for the next two years (2021-ca2023) as it undergoes substantial renovation, seismic upgrading and development. It seems to me appropriate, therefore, to offer a stained glass ‘tour’ of First Baptist here.
If you are interested in seeing all of my posts pertaining to FBC (to date), go to this link.
An excellent ‘farewell tour’ of the current church structure (at Nelson and Burrard), hosted by FBC member Kurtis Findlay, was held on April 30, 2021. If you are interested in seeing the recording of this, go here.
The (I am the Good Shepherd) Nesbit Memorial Window: Sanctuary
This window was dedicated to the memory of John and Bessie Nesbit by their son and daughter on June 1, 1947. It was constructed in Toronto and installed by the Royal City Glass Company.
Mr. Nesbit came from Berwick-on Tweed, England, in 1888. Mrs. Nesbit came from St. Mawgan, Cornwall, England, in 1890. John died in 1936; Bessie in 1943.
The (He Restores My Soul) Joiner Memorial Window: Sanctuary,
This window was installed in memory of William Joiner and Lottie (1894-1988) & Maynard (1894-1990) Joiner, all longtime members of FBC. There is a mini-bio on Maynard and Lottie here. William (1865-1964) was Maynard’s dad. He worked as a printer in Scotland, Boston and Calgary before retiring to Vancouver. He served as FBC’s treasurer in his 80s.
The Joiner window was dedicated in the 1990s by the Joiner family. Mark Laughlin, FBC’s caretaker at the time the Joiner window was installed, had an interesting anecdote. He said that one of the donors was a dentist and when the window arrived at FBC, the dentist was offended by what looked like an overbite on the image of Jesus. So the window was returned to the manufacturer (who is unknown, today) for a re-do of Jesus’ mouth. The amusing thing, to me, is that the revised Jesus still seems to have an overbite!
It is mildly surprising to me that both of the windows on the east wall of the Sanctuary are related to the ‘good shepherd’ theme, and it’s unfortunate that no attempt was made to be consistent in the use of pronouns (“I am the Good Shepherd” and “He restores my soul”).
Cross and Crowns: Vestry
This is among my favourite FBC art glass. It was designed by Sharon Wiebe, a member at First. It shows Christ’s cross as the central feature of the image and His crown of thorns appears beneath the cross and the crown of glory above it. Those three features are connected visually with an artful ribbon.
The window is located in the room at the front of the sanctuary on the west side. That room has been traditionally been referred to as the Vestry (probably inappropriately these days, because Baptist ministers do not wear anything like vestments and they probably never used the Vestry room as somewhere for donning vestments). Today it is, perhaps more accurately, referred to as the “Prayer Room”, the room where the pastor and platform people gather before worship services.
Worship Windows: Pinder Hall
This pair of stained glass windows were dedicated in 2008 and were the result of the vision and collaboration of folks at FBC involved in the Choir and other music and worship ministries. The design for the windows was by Mae Runions. Alf Wiebe, who is an FBC member, was the stained glass artist who constructed the windows.
The project was prompted by the death of a Choir member, Stan Grenz, in 2005, who was a singer, guitar and trumpet player and whose ‘day job’ was Professor at Carey Theological College and Regent College. The windows were not intended to be a memorial or tribute to any individual, however. As the brochure published at the dedication of the windows said:
The two windows remind us that worship is a core value of our congregation. The left panel (Inspiration) suggests downward motion and mimics the ‘organ pipes’ in the sanctuary; the dove at the top is symbolic of God’s Spirit . . . . In the second panel on the right (Response), there is the reverse upward motion of believers lifting up their praises to God. The two birds down below suggest community. . . .This window mimics the brass instruments. Creating a horizontal line from left to right are the stylized square music notes proliferating [at] the bottom of both windows.
From “The Worship Windows Project” Dedication Brochure, 2008
Chapel Windows: Memorial Chapel
The First Baptist Church Memorial Chapel was dedicated as such on January 8, 1958 in a service led by FBC’s minister of the time, Rev. J. Gordon Jones. It has served as a gathering space for tiny services — most often for small weddings and memorial services. The space occupied by the Chapel has been part of the church structure at the northwest corner of Burrard and Nelson since it was built in 1911 and was used for various purposes — as a study for the senior minister, a utility room, a Sunday School classroom, and as a denominational administrative office.
Christ the Carpenter (aka “Christ in the House of His Parents”)
The window shown above, “Christ the Carpenter” or “Christ in the House of His Parents”, is in memory of Wayman Kenneth Roberts (1904-1955), the Senior Minister of FBC at the time of his passing in 1955. This window, quoting from the Memorial Chapel dedication brochure symbolizes “our emphasis upon the Lordship of Christ”.
William Carey: Cobbler, Missionary and Scholar
The William Carey window is in memory of Ester Odella Duncan (1906-1957) and is meant to stress “the authority of the Word of God” for Baptists.
John Bunyan: Tinker, Writer, Preacher
The John Bunyan window is in memory of Esli Powers Miller (1872-1949) and stands for “soul liberty and spiritual freedom” in Baptist belief.
The Armour of God
The west wall of the Memorial Chapel, when the Memorial Chapel was dedicated in 1958, was empty of any art glass. But in the 1958 dedication brochure, it was stated that:
It is hoped that, eventually, in the west wall of the Chapel, three windows will be installed portraying Roger Williams, the Statesman, Charles Haaddon Spurgeon, the Preacher, and Ann Hasseltine Judson, the Missionary.
Memorial Chapel dedication brochure.
But, as of 2021, at least, this dream for the west wall of the Chapel of some of those living in 1958 has not been realized.
There is other art glass at FBC that isn’t perhaps as noticeable, but is every bit as representative of the care and skill of the makers.
Burrard Street Tower Entry
Nelson Street Balcony Windows
A Window in the Balcony
The tower windows shown above received extensive repairs at the skillful hand of Alf Weibe. Alf had this to say in email messages regarding these windows:
In 2005 I repaired all of the windows in the tower, and replicated the windows above the door facing Burrard St to be like the windows prior to the  fire. The windows in the tower were all original windows and were falling apart, so. . . I spent the entire summer rebuilding those windows. Finding matching glass was not possible in Vancouver at the time, but I found a distributor of stained glass in Seattle that worked with samples I had and found matching glass. Mark [Laughlin, FBC’s caretaker at that time] found a picture of the church prior to the fire and, based on those pictures, I also designed windows to replace some that had been replaced by plain glass sometime in the past.
[The tower windows] get smaller with each floor of the tower as you go up. Only people familiar with the tower entrance in the balcony would ever have seen these, and only those who were adventurous enough to climb the very steep set of stairs [from the FBC Archives room up past the chimes to the very top of the tower] will ever have seen them. The smallest upper ones are reproductions because all that was left [of the original windows] were fragments of lead and glass.
Alf Wiebe in email messages to the author.
Burrard Street’s “Rose of Sharon” Window
This window is high above Pinder Hall and the Gym facing onto Burrard Street and is known by those ‘in the know’ as the “Rose of Sharon” window. It is round, like the roses in the tower, but this window was installed in the early 1990s, is much larger, and has a quite distinctive appearance. Before the 1990s, the place where the window is now was filled in with granite stonework. By the ’90s, the space was allowing moisture inside and instead of simply plugging it, the church leaders (at Mark Laughlin’s suggestion) decided to fill the round space with art glass. It isn’t known today who the artist was who created the Rose of Sharon window.
*I’m grateful to each of the following for enduring with patience and good grace my questions and requests in connection with the research and writing of this post: Greg Burke, Edna Grenz, Mark Laughlin, Evelyn Loewen, and Alf & Sharon Wiebe.
VPL 8916. Sir John Martin-Harvey (left) and Russian Prince Volkonsky (right) fencing at the Fencing Academy in Vancouver. 1926. Stuart Thomson.
Sir John Martin Harvey had a reputation as a Shakespearean actor on the stage and (later) as a silent film star in the U.K. and in the wider world, not least in Canada (when he was in Vancouver in 1921, he planted a tree in the Shakespeare Garden in Stanley Park. It is still there, pictured below)². The Russian Prince pictured above with Sir John was, however, at the time this photo was taken (post-Russian revolution), a relative nobody.
In an interview given for the Winnipeg Tribune in November, 1926, Prince Sergeie Alexandrovish Volkonsky claimed that he’d been on a world tour, searching for his parents, from whom he’d become separated during the Revolution. According to the Tribune,
CVA 99-1533 – Prince Volkonsky. Passport photograph. 1926. Stuart Thomson photo.
The last trace he had of them was that they had gone to France. After a fruitless search through the country, the prince went to England and there he spent two years. Since that time he has visited every corner of the globe. He arrived in Victoria, B.C. nine months ago from 1 i New Zealand . . . . On his way to Winnipeg from the Pacific Coast, the prince stayed near Calgary for a few weeks on a ranch owned by a Russian count . . . . Speaking of Canada, the prince termed it as “not a bad place at all. I like Canada and Canadians,” he said, “and would like to stay here, as it reminds me of Russia.” His ambition is to own a sheep ranch. “I want to become a good naturalized Canadian,” he said. (Winnipeg Tribune. November 1, 1926)
It seems to me likely that while his missing parents may have motivated his travels early on, surely by the time he reached Canada nearly a decade later, his motivation would have become, at least, mixed; that the principal reason for his being in Canada was to put down roots.
Caricature of Sir John Martin-Harvey. Maurice Willson Disher. The Last Romantic. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1948.
Of course, after the Russian revolution, the whole Pacific coast was littered with desolate refugees from that unhappy country. Vancouver was full of them . . . . Prince Volkonski . . . was haunting afternoon tea parties for the bread and butter he could unnoticed consume . . . . He had been in turn insurance agent, bill poster, waiter and actor. When my wife and I met him he was trying to teach the youngsters of Vancouver the elegant accomplishment of fencing — with scant encouragement. He thought that if I would visit his salles d’armes and allow myself to be photographed for a picture-paper in the midst of a bout with him, it might help. This I was delighted to do, and found myself credited by the newspaper with the reputation of being the finest swordsman in Europe! The youth of the city, however, were unimpressed, and the school was shortly afterwards closed. (The Autobiography of Sir John Martin-Harvey. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. 1933, pp 435-36).
There is no evidence in Vancouver directories of there being a dedicated fencing academy in the 1920s. (The only sign I’ve seen of there being any school in the city which included fencing on its curriculum was an ad for M. Lester Dancing Academy). But there was a mention of the location of Volkonsky’s fencing studio in the Sun: it was apparently located (albeit briefly, by all accounts) at Robson and Howe in “the Court House block”. (Sun, 20 Mar 1926).
It seems plain from Sir John’s report (and, reading between the lines in the Tribune article, too) that Volkonsky was tired out, hungry, and desperate to establish himself in a new, friendlier nation.
But I’ve been unable to find out what ultimately happened to Prince Volkonsky.¹ I can find no evidence that he ever became a naturalized Canadian (sheep farmer or otherwise). I have not even been able to ascertain where he died and was buried. Indeed, the later years of Sergeie Alexandrovish Volkonsky seem to be every bit as clouded in mystery to contemporary researchers as were his parents’ latter years to him!
¹In Russia’s Rulers Under the Old Regime (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), Dominic Lieven accurately notes: “[A]ttempting to trace relationships in the huge Volkonsky family is a nightmare.”
²Martin-Harvey was in Vancouver more than just the once. He was here in 1913 in “The Only Way” at Empress Theatre (Sun, 31 May 1913); 1914 in “The Only Way,” “The Cigarette Maker’s Romance,” and “The Breed of the Treshams” at Avenue Theatre (Sun, 23 March 1914); 1921 in “Garrick,” “The Burgomaster of Stilemonde,” and “The Only Way” at Avenue Theatre (Province, 23 February 1921); 1924 in (among others) “Oedipus Rex,” and “Hamlet” at Orpheum Theatre (Province, 12 April 1924); 1926 in “The Corsican Brothers” at Orpheum Theatre; and in 1932 in “The King’s Messenger” and “The Bells” at Vancouver Theatre (Province, 21 February 1932). Sir John Martin-Harvey died in 1944 at the age of 81.
A number of VAIW readers have asked me how I get and develop ideas for my posts. This post presents a pretty typical example, so indulge me as I trace the process:
I began with an image (usually a City of Vancouver Archives photo, as in this case, but sometimes an illustration or postcard from another source). Images are nearly always the initial inspiration for my posts.
I then try to verify the location in the city where the image was made. CVA claimed that the image shown above was made at 233 Abbott. But I found evidence (see later in this bullet) that Solomon’s store was actually at 221 Abbott. Solomon’s shop was, therefore, on the site of what would become, in 1907, the Winters Hotel building (rather than the Central City Mission, as CVA had averred; Province. 30 October 1907). I narrowed the year the photo was made to 1906 (from “ca1903?” maintained by CVA) by consulting local newspapers, where I found an ad in 1906 that was nearly identical to the “fire sale” sign posted over the entry to Solomon’s shop: “Three thousand dollars worth of mixed stock, consisting of clothing, boots & shoes, etc., slightly damaged by water, will sell positively at a great sacrifice. Property of H. Solomon & Co., 221 Abbott St” (Province. 28 February 1906).
I began to track down who “H. Solomon” was. I started by looking for some mention of him in BC vital statistics. Here I found two death notices of men named “Harry Solomon”; one had an online-accessible death certificate while the other didn’t. The Solomon with a death certificate, I concluded, couldn’t be our guy, as he been residing in Vancouver for just three days. The other Harry Solomon (our man, I concluded) had lived to age 45, dying in August, 1925. This would put Harry in his mid-20s at the time of the conflict detailed below.
It was disappointing not to find a death certificate online for Harry Solomon, but there were other avenues to explore for information on him. I turned to newspaper listings pertaining to Harry. There weren’t many, but this search led me to the entertaining story that follows.
I found out more about Solomon in Census Canada records, notably that the death record for him in BC Vital Stats that showed his age at death in 1925 as 45 was probably wrong. The 1891 Census shows an H. Solomon born to F. and M. Solomon in Germany in 1868. He was the eldest of three kids. The thing that convinced me that this record was more accurate than the Vital Stats record was that Harry’s Dad (F. Solomon) had the occupation of “peddler” — not greatly different from Harry’s second hand shop proprietorship.
The story below mentions a gent named Leonard Hornett. According to the news story, Hornett was in Vancouver visiting from his home in Red Deer, AB. Other newspaper clippings established that Hornett was actually a farmer from an unincorporated community near Red Deer called Hill End.
On Friday, 2nd February 1906, Leonard Hornett, who was a resident of the Red Deer, Alberta area (specifically, the district of Hill End, where he farmed), was in Vancouver on a visit. He was out for a stroll along the streets of Gastown when he happened across a second hand shop on Abbott Street: H. Solomon’s store. Hornett saw a leather-lined shooting coat in the window that appealed to him.
I’ll allow the person who reported on this story for the World to take up the tale:
He went in and asked the young man behind the counter what was the price of the coat. He answered $3. “Here is your money,” said Mr. Hornett, and the bargain was concluded and the coat wrapped up. . . .
Mr. Hornett did not want [anything else] and started away. He had not got far [down the street] when the fun began. The people on Water street had a view of a man in a wild state of excitement tearing along the sidewalk, shouting a mixture of Yiddish and English as he ran, in wake of a peaceable old gentleman who did not look as if he would harm even an enemy unless forced to, much less steal anything. When the flying man reached the “old un”, he made a grab at the parcel he was carrying, shouting as he did so, “Vat a shame. Vat a shame. He would ruin me. Oh! my peautiful, peautiful goat.”
The old gentleman had hold of the string of the parcel and at the first [jerk] it did not break but after a short tug of war during which the air was filled with Yiddish expostulations and objurgations the string gave way and Mr. Solomon, for it was he, fled back to his store hugging the coat to his bosom like a long lost child. In a few moments he rushed out again and pushed $3 into the old gentleman’s pocket . . . . If Mr. Solomon expected Mr. Hornett to come back and raise his bid he was mistaken. Mr. Hornett told his troubles to Detective Waddell and had a warrant for theft sworn out against [Mr. Solomon]. . . .
Mr. Solomon took his place in the box and removing his hat after being sworn he leaned over and proceeded . . . . “You see it was shoost dis vay, chudge,” said Mr. Solomon solemnly and impressively. “I had to go out for a few minutes and I ask Mr. Kattlefat, he is my frent, chudge, not my glerk, to vatch the store for me. Ven I come pack I fount he had sold the peautiful goat dat I refused seven tollar for day before yesterday for tree tollar! I vent after the goat and give the man back his moneys.”
“What do you value the coat at?” asked the court.
“Eight tollars, your honour.”
“And a man with your accent and in your business refused $7 for it?” asked the magistrate, in a tone of sarcastic surprise.
When the laugh subsided the magistrate decided that Solomon was responsible for what his agent had done. The coat was Mr. Hornett’s property. The $3 belonged to Solomon.
“Here you are, lad,” said Mr. Hornett. “It’s been in my pocket ever since; thou might have had it before if thou’d liked.”
Province. 5 February 1906.
The Hornetts and . . . Kattlefat?
Leonard Hornett Sr. and his wife, Sarah Stockbridge, emigrated to Canada from England in 1891. The couple retired from farming in Alberta in 1919 when they moved to Vancouver. Sarah died in 1931; he married a second time, to Edener Smith, in 1932. Leonard died in 1944. It was noted in local newspapers that at his death at age 93, he was BC’s oldest automobile driver (Province. 3 January 1944).
Hornett’s son, Leonard Jr. lived in Vancouver. It was likely Jr. whom Sr. was in town to see in 1906. Leonard Jr. was a job printer in partnership with. Mr. Bolam at that time. He married Beatrice Andrews in 1905 in Vancouver. Later, he worked for Keystone Press. He died in Vancouver in 1957 at the age of 79. Leonard Sr. and Sarah also had three daughters.
I wasn’t able to track down “Mr. Kattlefat” in the vital statistics records and there is no listing of “Kattlefat” in any local newspaper, except for the article quoted above. Chances are that either Harry Solomon wasn’t able to pronounce the name or the newspaper reporters didn’t hear/spell it correctly; the Province reporter had the “frent’s” name as “Candlewax”!
This brief post is a tour of three odd Victorian words and phrases that pertain to marriage and singleness and that were employed in early Vancouver newspapers.
The photo above shows a bachelor’s hall in Vancouver in 1890. This seems to have been, in the earliest years of the city, a type of doss house. The early bachelor’s halls were frequented by seasonal workers, of which Vancouver had its fair share (forestry workers, especially).
I’ve found evidence of bachelor’s halls at: – 935 Hornby St. — Province 19 Nov 1898. – 1041 Robson (corner of Thurlow) — Province 11 Aug 1904. – 544 Burrard (also the Hewton School of Music) — Province. 17 Dec 1906. – East side of 5th (today’s Selkirk) Street, north of Moosomin (today’s W. 73rd) Ave (in Eburne/Marpole) — 1916 Henderson Directory. – 2118 W. 41st Ave (updstairs) — 1920 Henderson Directory.
Most of the above locations were not, I suspect, halls in the sense of the initial photo (with two or more men to a bed). I got the impression that most of these had one bachelor per room.
”Keeping Bachelor’s Hall”
This was a phrase used in Vancouver, which could be a longer way of saying that so-and-so is a bachelor; could also be a way of saying, in today’s colloquial, “I’m batching it for awhile.” For example: “My family are away on a visit at present, and I am keeping bachelor’s hall out at the house” (Province, 24 Feb 1900).
A benedict is “a newly married man, especially one who was previously a confirmed bachelor.” An example of this: “Surely Cupid himself . . . [w]ill be present to wish every maid a matron and every bachelor a benedict . . .” (World, 8 Feb 1907).
“Goin’ to the Hymeneal Altar, and We’re . . .”
A hymeneal altar pertains to a wedding or marriage (since this is a family blog, I won’t get into other etymological sources of this phrase). A usage example from the Vancouver Daily World: “Speaking of a doctor getting married, calls to mind the fact that a certain well-known Granville Street disciple of Aesculapius [Greco-Roman god of medicine], who has dabbled considerably in provincial politics, is soon to lead his betrothed to the hymeneal altar” (World. 3 Aug 1893).
Why the author didn’t simply say “A Granville Street physician is getting married soon,” I don’t know. He/she must have been paid by the word!
Prof. Milton Clay his wife, Amy and their boys, Percy, Harold, and Reginald made quite a splash during their time in Vancouver. Milton, who was an unabashed promoter of himself and his family, made sure that from their arrival in Vancouver, the Clays were widely known as “The Musical Clays”.
The Clay family  emigrated to Canada from England, settling in Vancouver in 1905. It was widely reported for many years that the Clays had had a large audience in the ‘motherland’ and, specifically that eldest son, Percy (who was scarcely 7 when they arrived in Vancouver), was known in England as the ‘World’s Wonder’ for his ability to play several instruments (4 at that time; 10 by the time they began performing here). These reports seem to have been largely fictitious, encouraged by Prof. Clay’s public relations juggernaut. I was unable to track down any reports in newspapers published in England of Percy performing there, nor, for that matter, of any of the Clays doing so.
Within a few months of their arrival, the Clays were living in their home, 850 Helmcken Street, which also served as the HQ of the English Academy of Music, of which Milton was principal. According to a later report by Reginald, his father had as many as 110 pupils per week, with the first arriving at 6am and the last leaving at 10pm (Sun, 13 September 1952). Clay’s English Academy would be one of two local institutions (the Vancouver College of Music was the other) that was certified to train students for music exams set by Trinity College, London.
In 1906, Milton launched a “musical carnival and diorama” of the Russo-Japanese War. Central to this was Clay’s 18-piece banjo, mandolin, and violin orchestra and songs with questionable titles, today, such as “Happy Jappy Soldier Man” and “Soldier Boys are Only Toys” (World. 15 Sept 1906). According to the Vancouver News-Advertiser:
“There was not a single vacant seat at the Opera House” for the first performance and that “traffic was snarled [by horses and buggies, presumably, as this was prior to there being automobiles in the city] between Robson and Georgia on Granville by the attending throng.”
Vancouver News-Advertiser 30 Sept 1906 quoted in Vancouver Sun 13 Sept. 1952.
By 1909, it occurred to the ambitious Prof. Clay that the Musical Clays may find a new and appreciative audience in the northern regions. In the summer, the Clays set their faces north via steamship from Vancouver. They played such places as Whitehorse, Granville (north of Dawson City) and Port Essington (between Terrace and Prince Rupert; now a ghost town).
If Vancouverites had seemed hungry for music, the miners, loggers, and fishermen of the North were starved for it . . . . [T]he concerts put on by the Clays were jammed. After each performance the family was showered with gifts, including a fair number of gold nuggets.
Sun. 13 September 1952.
Once back in Vancouver, Amy became active in several groups noted for their “women’s work”, including the Daughters of England (of which she was president for awhile), the Red Cross Society, and the women’s auxiliary of the Great War Veterans Association. She seemed gradually to be stepping away from public appearances with the Musical Clays as the boys grew older.
Meanwhile, most of Milton’s time, seemed to be dedicated to his English Academy and the musical instruction of other people’s kids, and the presentation of regular “musicales” where his students showed off what they’d learned. When he wasn’t kept busy with the Academy, he had purchased a summer resort property sometime around 1920 that was situated 3 miles north of Horseshoe Bay. It would become known as “Clay’s Landing”.
Around the time of the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco (1915), the earlier craze for the mandolin and banjo was starting to fade and was replaced by a new fad: a love for Hawaiian and Spanish guitars. Reginald was an early convert to the Hawaiian guitar and he and his brothers started a dance band that featured that instrument. The boys appear also to have had a short-lived Saxophone orchestra (Province 16 October 1920).
Percy and Reginald were married on the same day in 1923 — a double wedding. Percy married Bertha Tribe; he indicated on the marriage certificate that his occupation was “musician”. Reginald married Helen Nelson; he showed his occupation as “music teacher”. Harold married Muriel Epps in 1924.
On 28 October 1924, in the Province newspaper, there appeared this shocking notice:
I hereby give notice that I, Milton Clay, 1249 Davie Street, am not responsible for any debts contracted by my wife, Amy E. Clay, who has left her home without just cause. — Milton Clay
Province. 28 October 1924.
It is pretty clear from this that Mr. and Mrs. Clay were having serious marital problems and that Amy had moved out of their home. There was no other public announcement or legal action (such as divorce) taken by either of them.
The next mention of Amy in the local newspapers was on March 31, 1927.
She died on March 29, in her 50th year, at Vancouver General Hospital. Her death certificate is not available online and the cause of her death was not specified in her obituary. The obituary did show her address at the time of death as 2510 Marine Drive East. At that time, Milton was living at #5-1035 Granville Street.
Things went from bad to worse for the family. On December 24, 1927, Milton went missing after heading out on the water with a rented rowboat:
The Vancouver music teacher is believed to have been drowned Christmas Eve about 3 miles from Horseshoe Bay [Clay’s Landing, I presume], which point he left in a rowboat for Sunset Beach. The boat, with its oars and a club bag was later found adrift off St. Mark’s Summer Camp beach, a short distance from the professor’s objective, and it is presumed that while attempting a landing at the small wharf he lost his balance and was drowned.
Victoria Times Colonist. 2 January 1928.
Milton Clay’s body was never found and there was no public funeral, as far as I can tell. The only pubic statement was one made by someone whose initials were B.B.C. It was published in a local newspaper a year after he was presumed drowned. (Poetry wasn’t B.B.C.’s strength).
IN LOVING AND AFFECTIONATE MEMORY of Prof. Milton Clay, who passed out of my life on December 24, 1927. “There came a mist and a blinding rain and life was never the same again.” — B.B.C.
Province. 24 December 1928.
But fate wasn’t finished with the Clays yet. In 1956, Gwendoline (1907-1956), the “unmentioned Clay” who had seemed to be more interested in sports than music, passed away from breast cancer (she’d been married to Wallace Parker since 1937). And a year later, a few months after he moved to Kelowna after a career as a postal carrier, Percy (1897-1957) committed suicide — by, of all things, drowning in Okanagan Lake.
Reginald (1898-1985), of all of the family, was the only one of the kids who stuck with music as a full-time career. He was a music teacher for many years, dying at the age of 86. Harold (1900-1986) was the last of the Musical Clays. He also died at age 86 after having had a career as a sign writer in Vancouver.
The idea for this post came from Neil Whaley, who saw potential in the Clays for a good story. Good eye, Neil!
This is an atypical VAIW post. It consists largely of an extended verbatim quotation from a long-forgotten West End Vancouver newspaper, called the West End Breeze. The subject of the quote is the junkmen of the 1930s who, with horse and wagon, went through the back lanes of the West End collecting and buying junk for the purpose of selling it to junk dealers. These junkmen were, in fact, early recyclers in the city.
The Breeze was a weekly community newspaper, edited by former Vancouver Sun reporter Myrtle Patterson Gregory (1898-1981) and published in 1932-33. Vancouver collector Neil Whaley has the only known copy of the paper, a bound edition from Gregory’s family. He has graciously made his copy of this article available for use on VAIW.
Myrtle Patterson Gregory started the Breeze as a way to work from home while raising two children. The book Women Who Made The News, by Marjorie Lang, says that Gregory was reputed to be the highest paid female reporter in Canada in the 1920s — at $25 a week. When the Sun started Edith Adams Cottage, Myrtle headed it with a staff of university-trained home economists.
”Any Joonk?” Call Europe-Born Junkmen Who Ride West End Lanes Day After Day
“Any oldt clothe’, any oldt shoe’, any oldt bottl’ — Any Joonk? –“
Vibrant foreign voices from Russia, Poland, Germany — sing-song this cry of wares-to-buy along our West End lanes to an accompaniment of scraping wagon wheels and plod-plodding of horses’ hoofs – minor notes in the rich symphony of West End life and so familiar that we lend to them only a subconscious ear, overlooking entirely the possibilities for human interest. Human interest in sordid “junk”? Human interest, even drama!
“Ja, this garten,” a German junkman said longingly one Spring day as he looked at table and chairs under a blossoming tree. “Ja, this garten, it iss like mein home in Bavaria. Meine frau and my little girl are there. I work to bring them here . . . .two years I work . . . . but now,” a despairing shrug, “hard times.”
Depression hits even the junkmen. Not so many bottles. People are not entertaining so lavishly. Not so many old shoes or old clothes — people are wearing them, not selling them. Even things which in the old days they were glad to have carried away for nothing, they are trying to sell to the junkman for as many pennies as possible.
Ben Gold refuses to be downcast. You’ve heard him in the lanes. He cries his “Any old junk?” call as do the others, but three or four times every block he breaks into a curious chant — “Doo, doo, doo-doo, doo-do-o-o!” (After four years, the words are still unintelligible to this writer).
“Gold, he like fon,” explains one of his contemporaries. “He get tired of same old call, so he put “You Hoo Hoo Hoo” after it — for fon.”
Not two or three junkmen, but ten or more, ply their trade through the West End lanes. Imagine never seeing the West End streets except where they intercept the lanes, briefly. Riding all day on a high wagon seat through lanes — eight miles of lanes a day. Four times towards the Park, and four times east towards Granville. Lunches, wrapped in brown paper, are eaten along the way. On short winter days, a red lantern beside the driver’s seat is lighted for the last couple of miles.
Every junkman, or practically so, owns his own horse and wagon. Harry Halperin [Halpern], on the West End “beat” for 2 years, drives “Baby,” who has been traveling though our lanes for 4 years. “Maggie” is another old faithful. On fine days, junkmen and horse start very early in the morning to make their daily round — for the early birds get the best junk!
Any old clothes? A junkman will buy a good suit for $5 and he will sell it for $7.50 at his special market. He pays 1c a pound for rags. Any old shoes? They are worth 50c a pair to the junkman, allowing him to make a small margin of profit. Any old bottles? Fifteen cents for a dozen is the standard price offered to private vendors in the West End and the junkman will re-sell them to the International Junk Company on Main Street, allowing himself a percentage. Earnings of the junkman average about $3 a day, although they may range from a few cents on a poor day to $10 on a lucky day when women are selling their husbands’ old suits.
Bottles are thus started on their return trip to breweries, wineries and manufacturing concerns. Rags become “wipes,” “shoddy” and material for making into fine papers, wallpaper and roofing. Iron goes back to the foundry, and other metals are gathered up for re-smeltering. Rubber can be re-used. So can farmers’ sacks. The junkman is the important link in the reclaiming of these materials.
Among the best known of the junkmen, in addition to Ben Gold and Harry Halperin [Halpern], are M. Hammer, Jerry [Joe?] Sapoznick, E. Schwartz, T. Jacobson, Ben Baltman, F. Kurtz, S. Kurtz, A. Fagan.
Heat does not deter them from the daily grind . . . . nor wet weather.
“Rain?” asked one younger man with expressive hands, “What does eet matter? We mus’ mak’ de leeving!”
West End Breeze. July 8, 1932
Most of the men listed in the article were of Jewish ancestry. There were a couple of non-Jewish gents. Jacobson was probably from a Slavic country (possibly Finland). But, judging from the death certificates I was able to find, most of the others were “Hebrews”. Benjamin Gold (1884-1949) spent 20 years as as a “junk dealer”. He came from Russia. Joe (I couldn’t find any indication of a Jerry) Sapoznick (1897-1973) was also from Russia. The other three junkmen for whom I was able to find death notices were all from Poland. Max Hammer died in 1947 at age 91. Benny Baltman (1879-1955) lived to 75. And Harry Halpern (not Halperin) (1902-1980) lived until he was 78.
This need hardly be said, perhaps, but none of these junkmen lived in the West End in 1932. They lived, principally on Powell, Union, and Jackson streets. In other words, they lived in the East End and worked in the West End.
I was thrilled to find the photo of Harry Halpern shown above at the Jewish Museum & Archives site. And also the following blurb about his early life, published in the Vancouver Sun in the year of his death:
Harry Halpern was born in Poland in 1902, worked as a butcher, then came to Canada in 1930.
” . . . . I saw an old man driving a horse and a wagon. And I said to him, “What are you doing for a living?” He said “I buy shmatas“. That means rags in Jewish, old clothes. He knew I noticed he was Jewish, and I was Jewish. I said, “Listen, can you take me in your wagon, and show me the town?” He said, “Oh I don’t want partners.” I said, “I don’t want to be a partner, just show me the town. I’ll sit with you in the wagon and you go around.” He said, “Okay. But I promise you I’m not going to give you nothing.”
I went with him to Twelfth Avenue, to the lane. And you know what he did? The first thing he said was “Junk! Rags! Bottles!”
I said, “You’ve got to do that?”
He said, “Well, if I’m not going to do that, nobody will know I’m a junkman.”
Mein Gott, I said to myself, I’ve come to Vancouver to do things like that!”
Vancouver Sun. 4 January 1980 (Halpern’s was one of the Sun’s “Voices from the East End”). (Note: This quotation is from the first few minutes of Harry Halpern’s contribution to the Jewish Museum & Archives Oral History Project. For Halpern’s full interview, contact the Jewish Museum & Archives of BC.)
William Tansley (1859-1951) was a UBC janitor starting in September 1916, in the period when the school was located in the Fairview district (at what is today Vancouver General Hospital). When Tansley accepted his position at UBC, it was another in a succession of several jobs that he’d held. Doubtless, he didn’t suspect that he would retire from UBC as the Curator of its museum.
A Varied Resume
Bill Tansley was born in England at Stoke-on-Trent, the son of a pottery maker, William Sr., and Emma Stanway. His grandfather sent him to a branch of the School of Science and Art in Hanley, England for a couple of years. His love was art. Unfortunately, he didn’t have too much additional formal training. But I suspect he would say that he had all the training he needed to get along. Much of his later learning was self-taught.
His resume of jobs was varied (Province 14 Jan 1939), to put it mildly:
1870s: Left England for North America. Spent a couple years at Cranford, NJ working as a terracotta worker, a printer and felt maker.
ca1878: Contracted malaria and spent some time in St. Luke’s Hospital, New York. Once he recovered, he shoveled coal and loaded pig iron on the docks at Perth Amboy, NJ. When dock workers struck for higher wages, he returned to NY where he worked as a decorator of toys.
1886: Returned to England, working at Milton where his family was living, as a house painter and decorator. Married Annie Elizabeth (1866-1930). (Bill married his second wife, Bessie, a year after Annie’s passing).
1890: Worked for a greenhouse manufacturer and was later made foreman of the glazing department.
ca1891: Went to London where he worked for a bicycle manufacturer. He lived near the Hugh Myddleton School, which offered university extension classes. He attended classes in French, economics, geometry, and art.
1903: Left England for Canada, settling in Dundurn, SK where he was a house decorator and taught art at night school.
1904: Left Saskatchewan for Vancouver, where he worked in the carriage works of Tupper and Son and later for Lobb & Muir, blacksmiths, on Westminster Ave. (Kingsway). He left that job after he became ill with lead poisoning.
1910-1914: He next worked for A. M. Ross & Co. Realtors for a while. Realty was booming, so he opened his own office; his health failed again, and he was forced to withdraw from realty work.
ca1915: Worked for awhile for BC Telephone and BC Electric (doing what isn’t known, but it seems likely it consisted of painting — one of the few themes — and one of Tansley’s loves — among several of his jobs).
’Knight of the Brush and Broom’
In September 1916, Tansley took a job at the recently opened UBC. He was a night watchman and janitor in the Arts/Library Building at Fairview. He assumed this job at the age of 57 — an age at which most men would be thinking of retirement.
In 1917, he went onto the day shift. That meant that he could have more contact with the students (and get a decent night’s rest)!
“I enjoy the association with the students here,” he said in answer to a question. “I like the conversation and the discussions which university men often promote when they get together, and I have made many valuable friendships in the course of my work.”
The Province. 4 March 1922.
It seems the sentiment was mutual. Male students referred to him, affectionately, as “Old Bill”. Female students reportedly called him “Mr. Tansley”, with equal regard. At the end of the 1920-21 session, the students took up a collection for Tansley, presenting him with a bucketful of money. He invested the cash gift in a set of books called Original Sources (The Province. 4 March 1922).
Curator of Nascent Museum of Anthropology
In 1927, Dr. Frank Burnett donated his sizable collection of materials from the South Seas to UBC and Tansley was made the curator of the collection. How did Tansley and Burnett connect?
Mr. Tansley had first met Dr. Frank Burnett when he arrived [in Vancouver] from Dundurn [SK] with a letter of introduction to the firm of Burnett, Horne & Co. [Insurance Brokers]. When the doctor left his valuable collection of native curiosities to the University in 1927 what was more logical than that his old friend “Bill” should be placed in charge of it.
The Province. 14 January 1939.
The Burnett Collection was established on the first floor of the Main Library and was formally known as the Burnett Ethnological Museum (sometimes referred to casually as the UBC Museum) The Burnett Collection would later form the core of the Museum of Anthropology (MOA). It consisted of “curious relics, rated as the most complete representative Polynesian collection in the world . . . . Among the exhibits are figures of Polynesian gods, native implements, several skulls, and samples of native dress” (UBC Student Handbook: 1929, p. 73).
Tansley made his own contribution to the UBC Museum. He offered a scrapbook compiled during each of his years at UBC (1916-33) showing newspaper and other information pertaining to students, former students and events at the University over the years. I see that his scrapbook and one of “Old Bill’s” paintings are now part of the William Tansley fonds at the UBC Archives.
In 1941, Tansley retired from UBC after 14 years as curator and 11 years as janitor. He was 83. He died almost a decade later at 92. He was survived by his second wife, Bessie Cox (1884-1963).
The image shown above was encountered by me yesterday when I was researching a forthcoming post. When I saw the photo, I noticed that CVA’s description of the photo’s locale was wrong. It wasn’t “Hastings Street and Beatty Street” as they claimed . It was actually the block on Pender between Cambie and Beatty. The buildings to the left in the image show those of the former City Hospital which, by 1931, was the site of the City’s “relief offices” (where today there is a parkade at the corner of Cambie at Pender). This is not an often-photographed block.
Later, it occurred to me to ask myself where exactly the crowd was looking? If they were accurately described by CVA as “watching baseball results” versus simply “listening” to them over some sort of public address system, then what were they watching? And where were they looking ?
Starting with the World Series of 1925 and continuing for most years after that through World Series 1931, there was an American invention in town called the Playograph. For the first few years (1925-1930), this was the exclusive domain in Vancouver of the Province newspaper. Only in 1931 did the Sun get on the bandwagon and get a Playograph of its own.
The Playograph (shown below) appears to our modern eyes to be a pretty banal thing — basically a scoreboard.
The playograph is one of the latest devices in baseball boards. It shows every play from the time the ball leaves the pitcher’s hands until an “out” is registered or a run scored. It pictures the progress of a runner once he reaches first base, and also gives the running box score.
The Province, 5 October 1925
The Playograph was part of a system that included a special leased telegraph wire to the field in which the game was being played; it also had an audio component. A “baseball expert” would call the game for the fans that gathered before the Playograph board. And they would watch as hitters scored runs. And this audio information would be supplied in up-to-the-minute fashion, almost as quickly as it was seen by folks who were able to attend the actual ball game!
What Held the Crowd’s Attention?
But where were Vancouver ball fans looking in the image above? Where was the Playograph located in 1931?
This is where my brain needed some adjusting. Partly because this city block was infrequently photographed in the 1920s and ’30s, I had a skewed notion of where the Province (and Sun) offices were located. When I think about the Province office, I typically think of it as the 7-storey building at Hastings and Cambie (shown here just above the cenotaph) at the site now occupied by the Vancouver Film School (aka the Carter Cotton building). It is easy to forget that the Provincealso occupied printing offices in the “Edgett wing” — shown here at the 420 Cambie entrance. What I overlooked, however, is that the Edgett wing is a three-dimensional structure with facings on Pender Street, too!
The Playograph was on an upper storey of the Pender side of the Edgett wing (see photos below; note, in particular, the lion gargoyles in common in the photo of the Province Playograph and the Edgett wing. That is where most of the crowd was looking — northwest toward the Province Playograph on the Pender Street wall of the Edgett wing.
What About Those Looking North?
Some people in the crowd (mainly those who appear in the 99-4060 photo below) appear to be looking, principally, to the north (versus the northwest). What was going on there?
Once again, I needed to adjust my brain to the layout of the city in the latter 1920s and early 1930s. When I saw that the Sun jumped onto the Playograph bandwagon in 1931, I assumed that the Sun was located in the Sun Tower (aka, World Tower, aka Bekins Tower). But I was mistaken. As you can see in the 1927 image above, it was the Bekins Tower in the 1920s. The Sun didn’t become the principal tenant of the Tower until 1937, substantially after the Playograph had become a memory in Vancouver.
Where was the Sun office in the late 1920s and early ’30s? Its building is just visible in Str 164 in the left, middle-ground, two buildings west of the Lotus Hotel (where the Pendera residences are today). It is clearer in the crop of that image shown at the right.
So those in the crowd who appear to be looking north were looking at the Sun Playograph which was on the Sun building, located almost directly across Pender from the Tower.
The Playograph had limited utility and attractiveness to Vancouver ball fans and 1931 seems to have been the final year it was featured by either the Province or the Sun. It seems that radio broadcasts of baseball games had become commonplace and, with that, the appeal began to fade of gathering with your neighbours at a central location to watch changes to a glorified scoreboard. It was the first step towards the isolationism that would eventually come with television.
But in the early years of the Depression, and a good two decades before televisions were available for purchase, the Playograph contributed to the entertainment of thousands of Vancouver ball fans.
In conclusion, I’m reminded of another American export (in addition to the Playograph device and the World Series of baseball). Radio journalist, Paul Harvey, used to wrap up his syndicated broadcasts on our local radio station when I was growing up in the ‘70s with a simple sentence that seems apt here: “And that’s . . . the rest of the story.”
Hastings and Beatty is an impossible address. Beatty dead-ends at Pender; it doesn’t intersect with Hastings.
I am indebted to Tom Carter for his help adjusting my thinking about the urban landscape during these years. He lives in the neighbourhood of the World/Bekins/Sun Tower and was very helpful in straightening out my understanding of where the Sun and Province offices were in 1925-31.
First Baptist Church (FBC) had, as one of its early objectives, the planting of daughter churches in the neighbourhoods of the city as it gradually grew. The focus of this post is on the churches of that ‘brood’ and, specifically, the buildings they occupied over the course of their lives. I’m not including the history of First Baptist’s buildings in this post, as I have pretty thoroughly dealt with FBC’s history elsewhere in multiple posts of this blog.
The content in this post was first presented by me at a Vancouver Postcard Club meeting in June 2018. Although the format is different (a post versus a PowerPoint presentation), the information is largely the same.
First Born: Mount Pleasant Baptist
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church (MPBC) had initial, temporary church homes on 2nd Ave (1890) and in the Good Templars Hall (1891). On May 10, 1891, several members were dismissed from the ‘mother’ church, FBC, so they could form the nucleus of MPBC. FBC offered Mount Pleasant Baptist $200/yr (for how long isn’t clear) and a pulpit chair and a pulpit Bible to support the new church’s first pastor, Rev. A. B. Lorimer.
Building 1 (1904-1908): 7th Avenue near Quebec Street
The first building would be on 7th Avenue, adjacent to what, by 1911, would be the Mt Stephen apartment block (today called Quebec Manor). In 1908, this building was sold to the Salvation Army.
Building 2 (1908-1910): Kingsway near Main
MPBC bought their second building from the local Presbyterians. This structure was at 2340 Westminster Road (now Kingsway near Main); this is the site, today, of Mt Pleasant Community Centre and the branch library of VPL. MPBC was at this location for just a couple of years.
Building 3 (1910-1990): SE Corner of 10th Avenue at Quebec Street
In 1909, MPBC approached Toronto architects, Burke, Horwood & White (the firm used by FBC to design their Burrard & Nelson building) to design a new building for them at the SE corner of 10th Avenue and Quebec Street. The building would be of the Tudor Revival style and have a seating capacity of about 650.
The building was destroyed by fire in 2004. But the Baptists had called it quits and moved out by 1990 due to diminishing numbers of attendees and donations. By 1996, a new church (a Pentecostal one) occupied the building. Today, a condo development is on the site of the former MPBC structure.
Second Child: Jackson Avenue Baptist
The congregation that ultimately became a Baptist church in the East End, began as a Sunday School mission of FBC. It started in a carpentry shop, later moving to a space on Powell Street, and finally to Harris Street (today’s East Georgia).
Building 1 (ca1894-ca1898): On Jackson Avenue
The first building occupied by Jackson Avenue Baptist Church (JABC) seems to have been a re-purposed residence (versus a purpose-built church structure). It was somewhere on Jackson Avenue, but exactly where it was is a bit of a mystery.
Building 2 (1899-1952): NW Corner of Jackson and East Pender
By 1898, JABC was growing beyond the capacity of their first building and so JABC bought the former building of the local Presbyterians, Zion Presbyterian (NW Corner of Jackson and Princess (East Pender). JABC, for a while, was known as Zion Baptist.
JABC, like most of the people of Strathcona – the community in which it was situated – was not rich. By the late 1940s, its membership had dropped significantly. Therefore, in 1952, JABC merged with another (also dwindling) Baptist church in the East End, East Hastings Baptist, to form a new church: Ward Memorial Baptist Church (in memory of Rev. Albert W. Ward). It continues to operate today at 465 Kamloops Street
Third Child: Fairview Baptist
Fairview Baptist Church was typical of the offspring of FBC in that it began as a Sunday School. In 1902, Mrs. E. Peck offered her home at Maple and 3rd Avenue for a Sunday School. The school met there for 2 years.
Building 1 (1904-1909): Maple and 4th Avenue
In 1904, 20 members of First Baptist ‘got their letters of dismissal’ and formed the nucleus of Fairview Baptist; they also built their first building at the corner of Maple and 4th Avenue. FBC’s historian William Carmichael claims that the first building was built for $500. But the Vancouver Heritage Building Permits site tells a little different story. The building permit indicates an estimate of $1000. The architect/ builder was R. E. Scarlett.
Building 2 (1909-1924): Fifth Avenue and Arbutus
In 1909, Fairview pulled up stakes. It isn’t clear why. FBC historian, William Carmichael, claims it was “because of the laying of the street car tracks on Fourth Avenue”. This doesn’t further my understanding much, however. Was there a safety concern for the kids?
Fairview built a new structure on 5th Avenue at Arbutus. It was designed/built by Samuel Buttrey Birds for about $5,500.
With the move to Arbutus and 5th, Fairview Baptist seems to have undergone a period of identity crisis, given subsequent name changes. In ca1913, after being near Fifth Avenue for a few years (although the address was actually 2029 Arbutus), it started calling itself “Fifth Avenue Baptist Church”. In 1918, scarcely five years later, the name was changed to “Kitsilano Baptist Church”. The church building address didn’t change with either of these name changes.
In 1922, following a tumultuous period for “Kitsilano Church” (there was at least one significant split of the Kits congregation), Kits amalgamated with Central Fairview Baptist to form, wait for it . . . “Fairview Baptist”!
Building 3 (1924-1951): 12th Avenue at Fir
In June 1924, Fairview moved into a brick building at 1605 W 12th (NW corner at Fir). In 1949, Fairview briefly and temporarily joined with Chalmers United Church (Hemlock at 12th).
Building 4 (1951-present): 16th Avenue at Pine
In 1951, Fairview opened the building which houses the church today, on W. 16th Avenue near Pine.
Fourth Child: Ruth Morton Memorial Baptist
Rev. J. Willard Litch, ca1910, approached the prominent (and generous) Baptist, John Morton, about endowing a new church in the Cedar Cottage district of Vancouver at 27th Avenue and Prince Edward. Morton agreed. Litch wanted to name the church after Morton, but Morton demurred. He instead suggested it be named after his second wife, Ruth Morton (nee Mount). Three weeks after Morton made his endowment to Ruth Morton Memorial Baptist Church (RMMBC), he died (April, 1912).
In 2014, RMMBC amalgamated with 19th Avenue Christian Fellowship (formerly the Metropolitan Tabernacle) to form a new congregation that meets at the former Ruth Morton building. It is known as Mountainview Christian Fellowship.
RMMBC/Mountainview has continuously met in the same building from the start.
Fifth Child: South Hill Baptist
Building 1 (1908-1909): South Vancouver Municipal Hall
As usual, this church plant had its start as a Sunday School. It began in the home of the Frank Birketts in 1908. Later, it moved to the South Vancouver Municipal Hall.
Building 2 (1909-1912 ): East 50th and Frederick
In 1909, a small building was erected (to which FBC donated $200) at the corner of East 50th and Frederick Street (just a block off Fraser). There don’t seem to be any publicly-available photos still existing of this building.
Building 3 (1912-1970): East 50th and Frederick
The small building was replaced with a more substantial one that was dedicated in October 1912 (same site).
The Sixth Child: Broadway West Baptist (Collingwood and 7th)
Due to a greater population density in western Kitsilano by 1913, a Sunday School was started in a small store at 3417 West Broadway. In March, 1915, 25 FBC members helped form the nucleus of Broadway West Baptist Church (BWBC). BWBC met in the store until their building was finished ca1923 at Collingwood and 7th Avenue.
Broadway West considered changing their name since they were no longer located on Broadway. The new name they decided on was a mouthful: “Broadway West Baptist Church Seventh & Collingwood.” That remained the legal name for the balance of the church’s life (which seemed to end by the mid-1990s).
The former Baptist Church building still stands today. It is occupied by a Pentecostal congregation, Redemption Church.
The Last Kid: West Point Grey Baptist (11th Avenue near Sasamat)
In December 1926, 12 members of FBC met at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Wilbur Watson to plan the formation of a church in their neighbourhood of West Point Grey. The initial temporary home of the church was a Presbyterian building on 4th Avenue east of Sasamat. The first pastor was a former FBC assistant pastor, J. R. Turnbull.
On September 10, 1932, dedication services were held celebrating the move of West Point Grey Baptist (WPGBC) into their building located at 11th Avenue near Sasamat. The FBC choir presented the special music, and then-FBC pastor Rev. Elbert Paul gave the address.
In 2020, West Point Grey merged with Lord’s Peace Chapel (formerly located in Marpole).
WPGBC has been at the same site since 1932.
There was nothing at all pejorative about the word ‘dismissed’ when used in this context; dismissal simply meant that members were free to request membership at another Baptist church. For more on Baptist membership transfer, see here.
CVA 447-322: Empire Building [601 West Hastings Street] 1951 W E Frost, photographer
The Empire Building (C. O. Wickenden, architect) was located at the NW corner of Hastings at Seymour from 1889 until the late 1970s. It was initially known as the LeFevre Block, as the structure was built for CPR physician, Dr. James R. LeFevre.
A question which often arises in my mind with such structures is “Who were the tenants who occupied it?” It seems to me that the type of tenants (e.g., lawyers, realtors, doctors, accountants) must surely have created a certain sort of building; a certain sort of atmosphere within.
So I dug into Vancouver directories. Most of the early directories in the pre-privacy-obsessed world of the millennial age helpfully showed not only the name and first initial of the occupants of buildings, but also their occupation. If there was no gender/marital designation (e.g., Miss or Mrs), it was safe to assume that the occupant shown was male (although, whether the person was a bachelor or married was left to the reader’s imagination).
I was curious whether the dominant occupations of tenants in the building remained roughly static or varied over time. Therefore, I divided the Empire’s past into two periods: Early (1891-1933) and later (1934-1954).¹
Early vs Later Tenants
In the early years of the LeFevre Building (as it evidently was known until about 1897) it wasn’t as easy as it became a little later to determine the occupations of those who were tenants; the Vancouver directory did not consistently show occupations in the earliest years. However, some could be deduced. For example, Dr. LeFevre and his physician partner, Dr. Octavius Weld, had offices in the building. Likewise the architect of the block, C. O. Wickenden, the B. C. Chamber of Mines, the Vancouver Board of Trade, and the New Westminster & Burrard Inlet Telephone Co., Ltd. (which by the mid-1890s apparently became the B.C. Telephone Co.) rented space there.
What became evident pretty quickly is that the nature of the tenants in LeFevre/Empire changed considerably between the 1890s and the 1920s and ’30s.² In short, it went from being a block that catered primarily to professions and services to one that was dominated by music-related businesses (e.g. teachers, drama schools, elocutionists, and dancing studios). If pressed, I’d say that the single most common occupation in the Empire in the 1920s and ’30s was the music teacher.
One of the Empire’s tenants from 1931 until the mid-’40s was Frank Haines (1879-1944).
Haines was born in England and was a musician, and saw himself as such from his teens onward. He was sent to a school of music in London by his parents at age 12; he graduated at age 18. His instrument was the piano. For the first couple of years after completing his studies, he was pianist to a tenor who spent much of that time touring Europe. Apparently, the pianist and tenor had a major disagreement over something (just what was the subject of their disagreement is long ago forgotten) so Haines quit that job and returned to England.
Shortly after, Haines fell in love with a lady called Alice Alexander. The two ultimately became engaged to marry. But Alice left Frank at the altar – quite literally. Naturally, Frank was angry and heartbroken by this and he left England for the New World, vowing never to return to England.³
It isn’t clear just what Haines was occupied doing when he first came to Canada. There is some evidence in Alberta records that he homesteaded near Medicine Hat in 1910. There are unsubstantiated family tales about him working in the U.S. and Canada. He spent some of the war years in the Canadian forces. He was injured in an automobile accident in France and was subsequently discharged. In 1917, there is evidence that he was conducting Winnipeg’s Imperial Theatre Orchestra (which, in later years, became the Majestic and, later still, the Rialto). Whether he remained in Winnipeg during the ’20s or was elsewhere, isn’t clear. But it is plain from the Vancouver directory that in 1931, he had ‘gone west’ and was living in Vancouver at 905 Davie; and he had a studio in Room 211 of the Empire Building.
Frank married Nancy Marshall in 1932. In 1935, they welcomed their daughter, Nancy Haines, into the family.
Nancy spent several early years (approximately age 5 to 8) in the Empire Building. Part of the time during those years was spent in her father’s studioº (either for her Saturday morning piano lesson or at her Dad’s ‘music evenings’ when his students would perform and she would attend – sleeping on someone’s lap, more often than not – to save the cost of a babysitter); part was spent in elocution training with a ‘Mrs. Thompson’.
Nancy describes the Haines studio: He had an “upright piano shoved against the far wall. The studio would hold four or five people in a pinch. No desk. And he had a key to the common bathroom on that floor. There was a radiant electric heater on the floor of my Father’s studio in the winter; I remember the bright red filament glowing and reflecting on the curved metal case on the back. I also remember a single large pull-up window that looked out on the ‘well’ between the Empire’s wings. Dad didn’t have a street view from his studio.”
She also has described some of the sights, sounds, and odours of the building, in general:
From the Hastings entrance, there were stairs up from the street to the 2nd floor — the hallway at the top went straight north to the other end of the building AND to the west – with studios along both hallways on both sides. The ceilings were high (I recall pipes running along the tops of them), causing sounds to be sort of lost up there. There was a glass panel in the upper part of each of the studio doors. The panels were not transparent; you could see light and movement through the glass, but no clear image of anything or anybody. There was lettering on the glass. The floor in the building creaked a lot — so much so that I can still ‘hear’ it in my memory. There was a ‘walking’ runner down the middle of the wooden floors in the hallways. The Empire elevator was at the north end of the building. The stairs wound around the black iron cage that housed the clanking elevator and cables.
The smell of the building was ‘old’; it was similar to the smell of a building I would later spend time in — that of Lord Roberts School (I believe the janitors oiled the wooden floors in the hallways to prevent them drying out).
You could hear ‘hollow’ sounds emanating from the studios – a cough, a piano playing, a singing voice – as you walked past them. I can’t imagine – with all the sounds I heard every Saturday for 3+ years – that there was anything resembling sound-proofing in the Empire. The Empire was a busy ‘people’ building, with long-remembered sights, smells and sounds that are dear to this old lady.
Frank Haines died at age 64 in 1944 of a heart attack.
The Empire was demolished in 1980. In about 1985, it was replaced with a glassed-in, circular public structure as part of the Grant Thornton complex (adjacent and to the north), which was located where the St. Francis Hotel once was. The structure isn’t long for this world, however. The corner is due for redevelopment along the same lines as the NE corner of Georgia and Howe: more retail space will be the result.
NW Corner of Seymour and Hastings where the Empire Block once stood. 2017. mdm photo. In the Summer of 2018, this public meeting place in turn was destroyed, sadly, to make way for additional commercial space.
¹I didn’t take the research beyond the mid-1950s as I didn’t have access to Vancouver directories beyond that period. At the time this research was underway, the Special Collections department of VPL (where post-1950s directories are held) was closed for construction.
²In 1942, John Goss had space at the Empire, apparently prior to establishing himself and his studio on Granville Street. And for the better part of the 1920s-1940s, Miss M. P. and Miss B. Cave-Brown-Cave hung their music teaching shingle at the Empire.
³ As is often the case with things we vow never to do, he did return to England on at least two occasions: in 1915 when he was hospitalized due to a wartime injury; and for a visit in 1922.
ºI’m delighted to report that a photo of an interior of a music studio in the Empire is available in SFU’s Digitized Collection here. It shows the studio of Dr. Albert Gittins, whose studio was on the same floor as — and looked quite similar to that of — Frank Haines’ studio, according to Haines’ daughter, Nancy.
This post pays tribute to used and antiquarian bookshops (and their booksellers) which existed between 1970 and 2020 and are no longer operating in Vancouver. It will not include existing shops such as The Paper Hound, MacLeod’s, Albion, People’s Co-op, Lawrence, Stillman’s, Spartacus, Antiquarius, Michael Thompson, Wilkinson’sAutomobilia*, etc. In order to qualify for inclusion in this post, the shops listed need to be out of business and to have been located within Vancouver’s city limits.
Each listing shows the shop’s name, the approximate dates it was in business (in decades), the shop’s proprietor (if known) and its address(es).**
A-Aabaca Book Bin (1970s-1980s) – Proprietor: Lloyd Cartwright. 1247 Granville. By 1988, it was purchased by SkipMabee. See: Fraser Book Bin and ABC Book & ComicEmporium.
Aardvark Books (1970s-1980s) – Founder proprietor: Albert Eddy. Started in business ca 1971 at 4185 Main. By 1979, it was at 4331 Main. By 1982, ownership had changed to Fred Miller. By 1989, the name of the shop had changed slightly to Aardvark Books & Comics. There were several video machines in Aardvark by Miller’s time.
ABC Book & Comic Emporium (1990-2010s) – L. Skip Mabee, proprietor. 1247 Granville. It was bought by Mabee in 1988 after it was sold a couple of times after Ted Fraser sold it. By ca2000, the shop had a date with re-developers and it was moved over to the east side of Granville (1200 block). Within a short time, it was moved yet again by Mabee to Broadway just west of Granville, where it remained until 2012. See: Fraser Book Bin.
Acorn Books (1980s-1990s) – DonStewart, proprietor. (CatrionaStrang managed it for Stewart for about a year and then ReneeRodin took over). 321 W. Pender. Acorn was a low-end version of Stewart’s main shop, MacLeod’sBooks.
Ahrens’ Books – John Ahrens (1960s-1980s), proprietor. The shop was located at 756 Davie. It had a reputation as a chaotic (book-wise) meeting place of book people.
AinsworthBooks (1930s-1990s) – A. J. Ainsworth established his shop at 321 W. Pender in 1939. He was the third generation of his family to be in the book business; he had learned the business from his father in England. A.J.A. died in 1950 at age 75. One of his daughters, Doreen Crombie, took over the business. Crombie sold the shop in the 1980s. Russ Cunningham took over from Crombie; the shop continued under the Ainsworth name and at the same location until ca1995, when it apparently folded.
Arcanum Books (1990s-2000s) – Kevin Dale McKeown, proprietor. Was open in Vancouver from 1998-2006. Location: 317A Cambie Street (one of the retail spaces beneath the rooms of Danny’s Inn). Arcanum was originally opened in Burnaby in 1969 with Everett Foley, proprietor. It had several locations just east of Boundary on Hastings, the last being where Brown’s Books is today until McKeown bought the business and moved it to Vancouver. Specialties: Religion, philosophy, metaphysics, miscellaneous conspiracy theories and inexplicable phenomena.
Belly Button Books and Novel Cafe(1980s-1990s) – Collectively owned, but according to his obituary, James C. Campbell was “very involved” in the business. He died of AIDS in 1994 and, from what I can tell, the bookshop didn’t outlive him by long. 109 W. Cordova. Generalist shop.
Better Buy Books (1960s-1990s) – Ron Webber, proprietor. 4393 W. 10th. A UBC-area source of used books. I recall finding many supplementary, out-of-print books there when I was working on my M.A. at UBC in the early 1990s.
Bidwell Books (1980s-1990s) – Dalia Sinius (later Dalia Dargis), proprietor. 824 Bidwell. This wee shop felt to me very much like a West End neighbourhood bookstore (at a time when the West End was more truly a neighbourhood). Specialties: architecture, boating, cooking, philosophy.
The Blue Heron (1980s-90s) – Alma McIntyre, proprietor (Stephen McIntyre‘s wife). At 8321 Oak St. in 1990. By 1992, at 3516-A Main. Specialty: books about antiques/collectibles. Not sure how long this shop lasted, but it hasn’t been in business for at least a decade. Alma McIntyre died in 2005.
Black Sheep Books (1990s) – Trent & Denise Highnell, (later, George Kroller), proprietors. 2742 W. 4th Ave. When Renee Rodin decided in 1994 to sell R2B2 Books Books, the Highnell’s bought it and renamed it Black Sheep Books. It was operated by them for 4 years, after which George Kroller bought it and ran it for another 3 years under the same name. Black Sheep’s specialties: alternative literature, poetry, drama.
Bond’s Bookshop (1930s-1990s) – A generalist shop run by Francis Carradice (originally) and later by Ed Bowes. In the 1930s, it was located at 575 Dunsmuir. Gordon Bowes bought the Dunsmuir shop and put his son, Ed (Ted) Bowes, in charge; he was then 20. By 1969, it had moved to 523 Dunsmuir. In the late ’70s, it had moved to 579 Richards. By the 1980s, it had moved to 319 W. Hastings. It was in business there until the early 1990s, I believe. Ed Bowes died on January 21, 2021.
The Book Basket (1960s-1970s) – Ted Fraser. 1070 Robson.
The Bookends (1970s-90s) – Proprietors: Gwenne and Earle Huston. 937 Davie.
The Book Mantel (1990s) and Coffee Bar – Bonnie Murray, proprietor (1990); Cynthia Brooke (1994). At 1444 Kingsway (1990); 1002 Commercial Dr. (1994). Specialities: feminist lit, poetry, philosophy.
The Book Mantel (1980s-1990s) – Was co-owned by Frank Davis, who also owned Frank’s Records next door. The Mantel had two locations: one at 2551 Alma (near 10th Ave., approximately where Buntain Insurance is today); the other in Kerrisdale at 2065 West 41st. The shop seems to have closed ca1990. Davis died in 2017. Specialties: Classics, art, music, theatre, poetry, philosophy, natural history and science.
Busy ‘B’ (1920s-1970s) – George Biswanger, proprietor. The shop started in 1926 at 706 Seymour and advertised itself as selling “2nd hand goods”; books were not specified. It moved by 1927 to 540 W. Pender. By 1955, it had expanded to become two shops, both called “Busy B Book and [postage, presumbaly] Stamp” store at 445 W. Pender and 508 Richards. Biswanger died in 1966 (after which Don Duggan seemed to be proprietor, at least for awhile). Busy ‘B’ carried on through the mid-1970s; it seems finally to have folded by ca1975.
Carillon Books (1990s) – George Carroll, proprietor. 1926 W. 4th Ave. (1994). 822 Howe St. (1996). In 1998, the shop moved across the inlet to North Vancouver. I patronized Carroll’s Howe shop. I remember being on a Tchaikovsky kick in the late ‘80s and purchasing from his shop the full orchestral score of one of T’s piano concertos.
Chef Bell Cookbooks (1980s) – Lionel Bell, proprietor. The shop was located at 335 W. Pender in 1982. In 1983, he moved his “2000 cookbooks” to 434 W. Pender. He custom-built bookshelves for this space which I’m certain are the ones still in CriterionBooks, the succeeding shop in that space (which is now also defunct). Bell died in 1989.
Collectors’ Books and Records (1980s-1990s) – David Grannis, proprietor (later, Andy Stone). 648 Kingsway.
Colophon Books (1980s-1990s) – James F. McIntosh, proprietor. This shop was located at 407 W. Cordova. It was an excellent general shop. I remember with fondness browsing through the stacks in his second-floor shop. McIntosh died in 2019.
Connoisseur Art Books (1980s-1990s) – Proprietor, Charles Anderson. 5957 W. Boulevard. Specialties: art, collectables.
Criterion Books (1990s-2000s) – Lance McCaughran, proprietor. 434 W. Pender. I suspect that the custom bookshelves in this shop were the same ones constructed by Lionel Bell when he owned ChefBellCookbooks at this location in the 1980s. McCaughran retired ca2015 and sold most of his general stock to DonStewart (of MacLeod’sBooks). Stewart took over the space as one of his book storage locations.
EP Books (1990s) – Ed Peasgood, proprietor. 4495 Dunbar. Specialties: mystery, children’s, Christian studies/spirituality.
Evelyn’s Book Shelf (1950s-1970s) – 3075 W. Broadway. This was the self-proclaimed “largest bookshop in Kitsilano“ during its time. That claim was probably quite exaggerated. See comment below from Gordon Watson. I have had Gordon’s general impressions confirmed (privately) by someone else.
A. H. Falstaff Books (1970s) – Co-owned by WilliamHoffer and Van Andruss. 4529 W. 10th Ave. The shop opened in 1972 and closed after a year.
The Fiction Co. (1990s) – Gordon McRae, proprietor. 425 Abbott. Generalist shop.
Fraser Book Bin (1940s-1970s) – TedFraser, proprietor. 6184 Fraser; also at 1247 Granville. The 1247 Granville location first became Fraser’s in 1946. In 1963, Fraser and his manager were charged with “possession of obscene material for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation.” Fraser appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, but was ultimately convicted and fined $3,400. Skip Mabee took over the 1247 Granville site in 1988 and changed the name from A-Aabaca Book Bin (the interim name of the shop between Fraser’s and Mabee’s proprietorships) to the ABC Book & Comic Emporium.
Fraser Book Bin (No. 2) (1990s) – Brian Wright & Gerri Ironside, proprietors. 4750 Main. By 1996, the name of the shop had changed to Fraser Books.
Margaret Gabriel, Bookseller (1990s) – 3036 W. Broadway. Gabriel ‘packed it in’ with a closing out sale in 1995. Specialties: religions of the world, children’s, and 12-step books.
Hermit Books (1990s-2000s) – Sharon & Eileen Hansen, proprietors. 2509 W. Broadway. Specialties: poetry, eastern and western religion/philosophy, fine arts, women’s studies.
William Hoffer Books (1960s-1990s) – Hoffer (1944-1997) had his first bookshop on Water Street in Gastown in 1969 while he was an SFU student (Province 25 Oct 1969). Hoffer had a shop at 3293 Dunbar, briefly, in the early ’70s. In the mid-1970s, he opened a shop with Van Andruss called Falstaff Books, at 4529 W. 10th Ave. His fourth location was on the second floor (#104) of 570 Granville (in retail space directly above The Love Shop). His final bookselling location was at 58/60 Powell St. Hoffer had a reputation as a ‘difficult’ person. But he could be charming and generous as well. He left Vancouver and his book selling business for Russia. He married Marsha there (his first wife was Pat; he left her in the early 1970s). Hoffer died on Vancouver Island from lung cancer. There is an amusing Hoffer quote that pertains to his Dunbar shop: “It was an unnerving experience, trying to operate a bookshop in a largely working class neighbourhood in a short terrace of shops. Across the street there was a small cafe, the owner of which had a son who had been aboard an alien space craft. Very few people came into the shop, but occasionally I would notice faces pressed like snails’ feet against the plate glass windows.” (From Hoffer’s book catalogue, STIGMA #80).
Hummingbird Books (1970s) – Proprietor: Albert Eddy (the same person who founded AardvarkBooks ca1971). 337 W. Pender (second floor) starting in ca1978.
Kirkwood’s Fine Used Books (1990s-2000s) – Carol Kirkwood, proprietor. Was established in Marpole in about 1994 at 8662 Granville. By 2000, it became Characters Fine Books and Coffee Bar and moved to the west side of Granville at 8419 Granville.. The shop ultimately was the victim of high rent charged by the landlord and they called it quits ca2008. I lived in Marpole when Carol Kirkwood started Kirkwood’s Books and I faithfully returned to the neighbourhood shop after it became Characters (and we’d moved to Burnaby).
Kitsilano Bookstore (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. 2887 West Broadway.
Stephen McIntyreBooks (1940s-1980s) – Was involved in the used/antiquarian book trade from the 1930s until his death from lung cancer in 1984. Initially, he was a book scout, but by the 1940s, he was a book dealer. The first of his shops of which I am aware was at 340-B Cambie; where the 340 Pub is today. In the 1970s, he was at 833 Davie. Later, he moved to a shop at 319 W. Pender. He traded in the occult and science fiction, but was best known as a generalist.
Makara Books (1990s) – Barbara Draskoy, proprietor (later Barbara Stefan). 2868 W. 4th. Specialties: metaphysical and oriental philosophy.
William Matthews, Bookseller (1980s) – His shop was at 434 W. Pender in the early ’80s, presumably before Lionel Bell took over the space in 1983. Bill was Terry Rutherford‘s business partner in the 1970s. He has been on Vancouver Island for several years. He recently bought The Haunted Bookshop in Sidney.
Brendan M. Moss, Esq. (1980s-2000s) – Moss was formerly an auctioneer. He had an antique map and print shop. In 1986, his shop was at 402 W. Pender (#804). In the late 1980s, the shop was at 101 W. Pender. By 1990, the shop had moved to a basement unit at 332 Water Street (formerly, Cloth Hall; today known better as (Le Magasin). I am not certain when his Water Street shop closed, but was probably ca2005.
Murray’s Books (1950s-1980s) – Murray Hughson, proprietor. 856 Granville (1954-1974). Hughson died in 1971. The shop carried on for about a decade after his death under the management of Peter C. Lawrence. The shop moved to 942 Granville in 1974 due to high rent. It closed in late 1980.
The Mystery Merchant Bookstore (1990s) – Proprietor: Christa Pritchard. 1952 W. 4th Ave. Specialties: Mystery, true crime, detective, espionage fiction (used and new).
Narnia Books (1990s) – David & Joanne Anderson. 5585 Dunbar. A small generalist shop with a specialty in Christian literature. I recall my wife finding a couple of unusual John Buchan-related items for me at Narnia.
Octopus Books (1970s-1980s) – P. R. Brown (“Brownie) and Juils Comeault, proprietors. The two proprietors bought Octopus Books on the 2200 block of West 4th from Bill Fletcher in 1977. 2705 W. 4th Ave. Specialties: literature, journals. Comeault died in 1983 and shortly after that, Brownie sold West to Renee Rodin and poet Billy Little. The new owners changed the name of the shop (at the same address as West was at) to R&B Books.
Octopus Books East (1980s-1990s) – P. R. Brown (“Brownie) and Juils Comeault, proprietors. Brownie and Comeault bought this second store in 1980. Both East and West stores were popular literary and social centres. Comeault died in 1983 and Brownie decided to focus on Octopus East. It traded in used and new books and magazines and was a regular site of readings and workshops. Finally, after 17 years of running East, 11 years on her own, Brownie closed the shop in 1994. 1146 Commercial Drive. Regular poetry readings were held at Octopus Books. CVA has an hour-plus-long recording of one such reading in August 1987 at East; it is good way to get a flavor of the place.
Paul’s Books (1970s) – Proprietor unknown. Denman and Robson. Became the Sunset Book Exchange in mid-70s.
Richard Pender Books (1970s) – Van Andruss, proprietor. 445 W. Pender (1974); 438 Richards (1975-76). It appears to have closed ca1976.
Proprioception Books (1980s-1990s) – Ralph Maud started the store in the early 1980s (1956 W. Broadway) as a sort of replica of the library of poet, Charles Olson. Lisa Robertson (one of the poets featured on a CVA recording of a 1987 Octopus East bookshop poetry reading) bought the shop in 1988 and moved it to 432 Homer (1993). She closed the store in 1994 after the rent at her Homer location tripled in two years (this is a not-uncommon but disturbing theme among used bookshops and among small businesses generally in Vancouver). The term “proprioception” was a favourite of avant-garde poet, Charles Olsen, thus the name of the shop.
R&B Books; later R2B2 Books Books (1980s; 1990s) – Renee Rodin (and, for a year, with Billy Little), proprietor. Rodin and Little bought the former Octopus West store at 2250 W. 4th Ave. in 1985 and named it R&B Books. There was a bad fire at R&B at around Christmas of that year; the building was destroyed. The shop moved to a small space at 2742 W. 4th Ave. and changed the shop’s name to R2B2 Books Books to convey that it was R&B Books, ’round two’. Little left the store within the year and Rodin carried on until 1994. She sold the shop to Denise and Trent Highnell who renamed it Black Sheep Books. R2B2’s specialties: Art, poetry, literature. (See: https://bcbooklook.com/2008/03/13/bookselling-remembering-r2b2-a-na-f-s-story/)
Terry Rutherford (1990s) – She had her first Vancouver shop with Bill Matthews at the former location of Falstaff Books: 4529 W. 10th. This shop specialized in science fiction. Later, Rutherford worked at Star Treader Books. She later opened a mystery/detective shop at 432 Homer. She then moved to 415 W. Pender before leaving Vancouver for Port Moody where she took on a book and paper restoration business. She later moved to Eastern Canada where she continued her restoration business. Rutherford has recently moved back to B.C.
Secondo Music Store (1990s) – Chris Held, proprietor. 2744 W. 4th Ave. Used and out-of-print classical music and books on music.
Star Treader Books (1970s-1980s) – Was located in the mid-1970s at 4325 W. 10th. It was gone from there by ca1982, moving to 434 W. Pender. Its second location was taken over in ’83 by the shop run by Lionel Bell. Specialties: fantasy/science fiction.
Terminal City Books (1990s) – JudyFraser, proprietor. 231 Main. Specialties: science, trades and mechanical books.
We Call With Cash (1950s-1970s) – Proprietor unknown. The shop first appeared in 1955 Vancouver directory and continued at least until 1977. 3621 W. 4th Ave.
West Coast Books (1990s) – At 3209 W. Broadway. Later, near the 1100 block of Granville (east side). A generalist shop.
Joyce Williams Antique Prints and Maps (1980s-2000s) – From 1984 and into the 1990s Williams had her shop at 346 W. Pender. Her shop later moved to Yaletown for a number of years.
Y’s Books (2010s-2020) – Pam Townsend and David Gagne, proprietors. 4307 Main Street. Y’s opened 2013 on Main at 27th and seems to have succumbed to COVID in Spring 2020, closing its Vancouver space “indefinitely”. The shop was small, but it appears not to have had any specialties; it was a general shop. Shop closed February, 2020.
Yoga Vedanta Metaphsyical Bookstore (1960s-1970s) – Ursula Sylvia Hellmann (founder)and (later) William Balderstone, proprietors. The shop was apparently initially on Robson (opening sometime after 1957) and moved later to Georgia just east of Granville. Balderstone apparently did psychic readings on CFUN radio. Not sure what year it closed.
Zona Arq (or Arc) (1980s) – Proprietor unknown. Was located at Broadway & Alma. It lasted for 1-2 years in the 1980s.
*Wilkinson’s Automobilia (specializing in automotive-related books, magazines and shop manuals) has closed their Main St. warehouse, recently, given the COVID-19 pandemic. They have an online presence, however: https://www.eautomobilia.com/.
**Principal sources for the information in this post are various editions of Guide to the Secondhand & Antiquarian Bookstores of Greater Vancouver, The Province, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver News-Herald, and of course the City of Vancouver Archives photo database. I am appreciative of details provided by Kim Koch, Rod Clarke, Neil Whaley, Jason Vanderhill, Catriona Strang, Renee Rodin, Don Stewart, Kevin Dale McKeown, Angus McIntyre, Erwin Wodarczak, Peter Findlay, Joscelyn Barnard, Doug Sarti, Gary Sim, Bill Reimer, and William V. Lee.
Before there was a network of branch public libraries in Vancouver, the demand for inexpensive reading material was met in large part by the private sector. Not principally by new or used booksellers, but by an entirely different category of for-profit book provider — book lending libraries. We in the 21st century are so accustomed to equating “libraries” with “public libraries” that it takes a while to conceive that a library can be a for-profit venture!
In 1929, there was only one VPL branch in addition to the central library at Hastings and Main: the Kits branch at 2375 W 4th Avenue (today, the site is part of a Safeway parking lot). That was it. If you lived in Marpole or the West End or most any other Vancouver neighbourhood, there was no public library within relatively easy walking distance.
1929 was also the year of the stock market crash that started the Great Depression. For the better part of a decade, most Vancouverites had precious little disposable income for books and other non-essentials. Thus, there was a market niche to be filled by the private library.
The details of how private libraries did business are very sketchy. I suspect many would have had a 1-year membership card (see the Eaton’s card below) which a client would purchase and then have a ‘license to borrow’. Other libraries, like the Spencer’s Lending Library (left), had daily and monthly fees.
It seems that independent private libraries obtained their stock principally from wholesale book distributors and sources of deaccessioned public library books (Province, 26 Oct 1930).
One thing seems certain: the proprietors of these private libraries didn’t become wealthy!
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the libraries listed below got started around 1929. And I don’t think it a coincidence that private libraries faded to black, for the most part, by 1955, just when the VPL system had bolstered its network of public libraries to seven branches.
Today, private lending libraries in Vancouver are a thing of the past and alien to most of us.
A List of Private Libraries
I have attempted to identify as many private libraries as I can, including the rough period during which they were in business, where the library was located (and when) and the names of the proprietors.
Abbott Library (1928-33) – 916 Robson. Proprietor: Mrs. May Abbott (1928-1930). In 1928, the address in the directory was 914 Robson. In 1931, the library became Abbott Book Store.
Blenheim Lending Library (1929-37) – 3353 W. 4th Ave. (1929-34); 3639 W 4th (1934); 2252 W 4th Ave. (1935); Proprietors: Miss D. Millar; R. H. Hague [1896-1958] (1931); H. Martin (1932); Miss M. Richardson (1933-35); Mrs. B. C. Scott and Mrs. M. H. Mason (1936-37).
Cosy Corner Library (1932-46) – 1307 Commercial Drive; 1830 Commercial Drive (1940-41); 1303 Commercial Drive (1941-42); 1022 Commercial Drive (1943-46). Proprietors: Mrs. M. M. Shoebotham [1888-1958] (1932-39); Mrs. M. J. Henderson (1940); M. W. Corbett (1941-45); F. Carothers (1946).
Dunbar Heights Library (1931-38) – 4311 Dunbar Street. Proprietors: T. Smith (1931-35); Miss E. M. Watson (1936-38 ). Name change to Dunbar Heights Book and Stationery Lending Library (1935-36). Name change: Dunbar Lending Library (1937-38).
Good Companion Library (1933-41) – 1405 Robson. Proprietors: Mrs. Charlotte M. Cole.
Harlequin Lending Library (1929-1940) – 1194 Davie Street. Proprietors: Miss M. Harvey (1929-31); Miss A. Van Kleeck (1932- 33); Miss L. J. Taylor (1934-38); Mrs. F. M. Riddell (1939-40).
Hudson’s Bay Company Books and Lending Library (1915-ca1949 ) – Granville and Georgia. Part of HBC department store.
Kerrisdale Book Nook (1928-1955+) – 2166 W. 41st Avenue. (1928-40); 2176 W 41st Avenue (1941-51); 2135 .W. 41st Ave. (1952-55+). Proprietors: W. S. Bosworth (1928-31); Mrs. H. Blair (1932-34); J. A. Henderson (1935-39); H. M. Jewell (1940-47); Mrs. C. T. Crossing (1948-55+).
The Lending Library (1933) – 2425 E Hastings Street. Proprietor: C. C. Backhus.
The Library (1925-51) – 2820 Granville Street (1925-1933); 2830 Granville (1934-35). Proprietors: Mrs. J. R. Davidson (1925-36); Mrs. D. M. Kirby (1937-51). This library was named “The Library” perhaps with the vain hope of exclusivity!
E. D. Macfarlane’s Circulating Library (1933-47) – 2606 Granville. Proprietor: Erle D. Macfarlane.
Mayfair Library (1932-35) – 1540 W. 41st Avenue; 2166 W 41st Avenue (1935). Proprietor: J. A. Henderson (1932-35).
Modern Lending Library (1932-42) – 1009 W. King Edward. Miss Proprietors: Miss P Blake, R. Sidaway (1932-34); Mrs. E. Denton (1937-38); Miss M. A. Baum (1939-42). Name change to Modern Book Shop in 1943. Proprietor remained Baum. Address still 1009 King Edward. No mention of there being a lending library associated with the shop, so assuming the library became a bookstore.
Oak Street Lending Library (1930-41) – 3129 Oak Street (1930-35 ); 3216 Oak Street (1936-41). Proprietors: Mrs. M. McTavish (1930-37); Mrs. M. I. Scott (1938-40); Mrs. E. Cool [1884-1958] (1941).
Oxford Book Shop and Lending Library (1929-54) – 2164 W 4th Avenue (1929-1934); 1039 Granville (1935-37); 1540 W 41st Avenue (1938-52); 5737 Granville (1953-54). Proprietors: Miss D. Dashwood [1881-1950] (1929-31); Mrs. M. I. C. Key [1898-1985] (1932-34); S. B. Farmer (1935-37; Miss G. Carfrae (1938); S. B. Farmer (1939-40); Miss G. Carfrae (1941); G. R. Ellingham (1942-54).
Point Grey Lending Library (1929-55) – 5510 Dunbar Street (1929); 5525 Dunbar St (1931-34; 5691 Dunbar Street (1935-38); 5557 Dunbar (1939-55). Proprietor: F. S. Robinson (1930-55).
Popular Lending Library (1929-42) – 4479 W 10th Avenue (1929-34); 4489 W 10th Avenue (1935-37); 4451 W 10th Avenue. Proprietors: Mrs. M. F. Vulliamy [1886-1963] (1929-36); Miss D. Howden (1937); Mrs. D. Arnott (1938-39); Mrs. N. C. Clarke (1940-42).
Ridgewell Lending Library (1929-54) – 3494 Dunbar. Proprietors: Mrs. Alice G. Ridgewell [1876-1960] (1929-31); H. Gatenby [1895-1969] (1932-54).
Spencer’s Leading Library (1934-48) – Hastings and Richards. Part of the Daivd Spencer, Ltd. department store. Spencer’s was purchased by Eaton’s in 1948. Presumbably, Eaton’s established their own local library then, although I can’t confirm that.
Stanley Library (1934-44) – 2820 Granville Street. Proprietors: Miss L. J. Leslie (1934-42); Mrs. H. Raymer (1943-44).
Western House Library (1933-51) – 957 Denman Street. Proprietor: Miss Louise Grant (1933-51).
Windsor Lending Library (1932-33) – 916 Robson (1932); 1056 Robson (1933). Proprietors: Gwendolyn P. Jones (1932); Percy James (1933). Windsor library was sold to Percy James of Kensington Arts in 1933. The library seems not to have been retained with a distinctive identity following the merger, however.
Ye Booke Nooke (1929-55+) – 1063 Denman Street (1929-32); 1187 Denman St. (1933-57) Proprietor: Mrs. Elsie W. Beach [1888-1969] (1929-55+). Claim made in 1932 ad that non-members could borrow books for 3c/day, with a minimum charge of 5c. “The monthly [membership?] charge for adults is 65 cents,and for children, from 6 to 14 years, 25 cents.” (West End Breeze, Sept 16 1932)*. “….Mrs. Beach has 5000 new and proven books upon her shelves.” (West End Breeze 6 Oct 1933)*.
Yew Lending Library (1931-55+) – 1508 Yew. Proprietor: Miss O. A Wilde (1931-55+).
*Neil Whaley has very kindly granted me permission to reproduce clippings and information from the West End Breeze , a four-page community newspaper published between 1932 and 1933. Neil has a bound edition of the Breeze — quite possibly the only such copy extant — which was the editor/publisher’s copy. “The format was that there was one real story of a reasonable length (perhaps 500 words) and then everything else was one-paragraph blurbs which talked about businesses in the West End — who not so coincidentally advertised in the WEB.” (Email message from Neil Whaley to MDM).
John Jenkinson (1871-1936) described himself on his marriagecertificate as an electrician. His occupation in the early years of the 20th century was as a lineman for the CPR and later for the BCER (BC Electric Railway). He worked his way up to a meter reader, and then as a meter inspector for the BCER. By the time he died in 1936, he had been promoted to superintendent of the metering department. He was a player of lawn bowls, and he loved to sing with the choir at Christ Church and with the Western Triple Men’s Choir. But I believe Jenkinson’s legacy lies in none of these occupations and activities. It was as an amateur photographer that Jenkinson shone and, in my opinion, continues to shine.
John Jenkinson was born in Lancashire, England to William and Priscilla Jenkinson. I presume he trained as an electrician in the Motherland. He came to Canada in 1898, settling in Vancouver and here he married Ellen Johanne Anderson, who was a native of Copenhagen, Denmark (1875-1951), in 1902. The couple had one child together, Olga (1904-1980).
For a couple of years before he was married, John boarded at a home on Eveleigh Street. But soon after he and Ellen were wed, they moved to 992 Howe (Howe and Nelson). This seems to have been a house with a couple or more suites within it (by the time the photo below was taken by Yates in 1959, the main floor was a retail space and the space above it was residential).
From what I can tell, John and Ellen were never wealthy. It seems likely that they enjoyed a middle-income lifestyle, but nothing extravagant. A meter reader’s job was to check the amount of electricity used by a household as recorded on the meter attached to each home. It was the job of the meter inspector to certify electricity meters were functioning accurately.
I’m assuming (pretty safely, I think) that the photographer in the family was John. Olga was too young to have made most of these images, and I doubt that Ellen would have been the photographer, given the relatively sexist attitude to the hobby in its early days.
Many of Jenkinson’s photos were exteriors and interiors of homes that he didn’t own. I am very impressed, in particular, with how he was able to get ample light in his interior shots. That would have been among the biggest challenges of his day.
The residence shown above and below was 1260 Barclay Street, at the time, the home of F. F. Burns, son of John Burns, Sr., who also seems to have lived there. F. F. Burns was a metal merchant in the city.
The home shown below was a near neighbour of the Burns place. This home belonged to Adolphus Williams at 1139 Barclay.
The image below is one of my favourites among those made by Jenkinson. It is an unusual photo of English Bay that clearly shows the slide into the Bay (and the kids climbing back up to the platform)!
And here is another of my favourites, showing the Elders, Stanley Park superintendents, sitting very stiffly in front of their Park cottage.
To conclude, I’ll show an exterior and interior of the Jenkinson home that John owned when he died. It was certainly a few of steps up from 992 Howe, but it didn’t have the pizzazz of the Burns place. This home was on the corner of 15th Avenue and Burrard.
I suspect that Jenkinson’s connection to these home-owners who allowed him access to the interior of their homes was his (and their?) church: Christ Church. I have confirmed that Adolphus Williams was affiliated with Christ Church. But haven’t been able to confirm that either Burns or Elder were.
Of course, it could be that the explanation is simpler. He might have gotten to know these families during his time as a meter reader — reading their electricity meters!
CVA 99-3749 – Georgia Medical Dental Building at Northwest Corner Georgia at Hornby. 1929. Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: The angle from which this image was taken makes the ground level on the right side of the wooden construction zone fence appear to be lower than the street on the left side. But it isn’t. Photographer Thomson was probably inside the construction barrier of the 3rd Hotel Vancouver shooting from near the top of the fence line; Thomson was the official photographer of the hotel’s construction.)
It is all too easy to impress the present onto the past. Especially in cases where there has been an attempt made by contemporary architects to ‘nod’ to a prior building that once occupied a lot (which I consider praise-worthy). A good example of this is the Georgia Medical-Dental Building (MDB, hereafter; 1929; McCarter & Nairne, architects), which was demolished by implosion in 1989, and the Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place (SCP, hereafter; 1991; Merrick, architect), which stands on the lot today.
When I recently happened upon the image above, I was initially disturbed by the apparent narrowness of the old MDB. It appeared to me to be only half as wide as it ought to be.
At first, I thought that perhaps when work started on the structure, the economic downturn of the Great Depression forced the builder to focus on building just the southern slice; that the northern half would be built later to create the square footprint that I assumed was ‘natural’ for the structure.
But that was not the case.
The next image revealed my error: MDB had an ‘L’ footprint, not the square one that I’d assumed it had. My assumption was due, in part at least, to my expectation that the older building would have had the same sort of footprint as today’s SCP has.
VPL 12176 View looking east at the Georgia Medical-Dental Building from Burrard Street; this reveals that the structure had an “L” footprint, not a square one. 1930. Frank Leonard photo.
Features in Common and Differences
There was an attempt made by the architect of SCP (Paul Merrick, 1991) to replicate some features of the Medical-Dental building. Common features include:
‘Nursing sisters’ on the corners of the buildings;
‘Step-backs’ at higher floors;
Use of materials having contrasting colours (on MDB, use of differently coloured brick; on SCP, use of glass and concrete);
There are many more differences between the past and present occupants of the northwest corner of Georgia at Hornby than there are commonalities:
MDB had an ‘L’ footprint, SCP has a square one;
CVA 99-3749 – Georgia Medical Dental Building at Northwest Corner Georgia at Hornby. 1929. Stuart Thomson photo.
MDB had an appended, above-ground, 4-storey garage attached to the Hornby arm. SCP has an underground parking garage;
There was a single step-back at the 10th floor of the MDB. There are several step-backs on SCP;
MDB had 17 floors. SCP has 23;
On MDB, there were just the ‘nursing sisters’ as exterior ornaments and they appeared only at the 10th floor step-back and were of terra cotta. The nurses on SCP appear on the northeast corner just a couple of stories up and also higher on the building at the step-backs; there are other exterior ornaments on SCP, including griffins. The nurses and other ornaments on SCP are made of fibre glass;
MDB had a blunt roofline with lighter bricks near the roof to contrast with darker brickwork below. SCP has a chateaux-style roof (which, together with the griffins, is probably a nod to the architecture of its near neighbour, the Hotel Vancouver).
A griffin and other ornaments (including a rain diverter) on Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place (taken from Hotel Vancouver). c2013. Author’s photo.
In this post, I plan to list all of the ’20s ‘dance bands’ (referred to at the time, typically, as ‘orchestras’) I can identify. These will include Vancouver-based musical groups as well as those that had their base elsewhere. Each listing will include the name of the group (having a minimum of three players), the leader and all the personnel I can identify who played with each group.
The list will not include any of the large orchestras that played in Vancouver (e.g., the VSO, Home Gas Orchestra, Scottish Orchestra) nor will it include any of the theatre orchestras that played in the city (e.g., the Capitolians, Embassy Theatre orchestra).
In short, the post will be a research piece about those smallish groups of musically gifted men and women who entertained their contemporaries while they were enjoying a meal (and, I daresay, tapping their toes to the beat) or dancing up a storm to their melodies.*
The Aitch-Bee Trio (ca1919-28) – E. G. Warne (violin); W. B. McQueen (cello); W. A. Storey (piano). “Playing daily at the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Restaurant.” 1925: By this year, was called “The Hudson’s Bay Trio”. Storey was out; Frank Nichols (piano) was in.
Ambassador Cafe Orchestra (ca1925-26) – Leader: Frank Maracci (violin, sax, trombone); L. Martin (trumpet); Len Wilson (banjo); Martin H. Beliger (sax, clarinet); H. Zweifel (sax, clarinet); F. E. McComb (drums); William Sodeburg (piano). 1925: By this year, Martin, Len Wilson, McComb and Sodeburg were out; Tug Wilson (trumpet); Frank Hamilton (piano), and Harry Hamilton (drums) were in. AKA “Ambassador Cafe Bluebird Orchestra”.
Tom E. Andrews – Leader: Andrews; J. H. Wilson; Fernie Quinn; Art Thomas; Thomas Crawford. Played Cotillion Dance Hall (Davie and Granville).
Arcadians (1920s-1930s) – Leader: Frank Nichols; Bob Levie (sax, voilin); Toby Kent (banjo); Betty Warne (violin); Archie Peebles (trombone, accordion); Johnnie McNair (drums). The band seems to have folded by ca1935.
Belcarra Orchestra (1926) – Leader: Billy Millichip (drums); Jean Goodheart (piano); Don Raino (banjo); Bill McLean (sax).
Frederick Brown and his Orchestra – Leader: Brown; A. W. Delamont (trumpet); Harry Stocker (clarinet); R. S. Ralph (trombone); G. H. H. Keeling (string bass); G. M. Jolley (percussionist); A. Osbaldeston (piano). Played at the “Pan”.
Calvert Trio (ca1925-35) – Joy Calvert (violin); Minnie Beveridge — later Freda Setter — (cello); Una Calvert (piano).
Canadian Pacific Jazz Symphonists (ca1925-29) – Leader: Olive E. Beaton (piano); Ethel Planta (violin); Will Edmunds (cello); Gaston Somny (banjo); Robert Griffiths (contra-bass); Alex Donaghy (sax, clarinet); Paul LaMoureaux (sax, clarinet); Carl Tossell (trumpet); Art Clarke (percussion). Played at the Indian Grill and Ballroom, Hotel Vancouver. AKA: “Ollie Beaton and Her Orchestra,” “Canadian Pacific Symphonists”.
Canadiens – Leader: Les Crane. Lloyd Mansfield, Jean Pomeroy, Bus Totten; La-Vern Walton. Played the Belmont Cabaret. In one of their ads they make the claim that they are “Just five boys trying to get along.” This group seems to have been from somewhere other than Vancouver.
Canary Cottage Orchestra – Leader: Wes Mortimer (trumpet); Jerome V. R. Clifford (piano); Allan H. Rice (sax); Art Strachan (sax, clarinet); Ewart Riedinger Jr. (drums); Fred Ross (banjo); Harry Hills (sax, bass). Played the (Indian) Grill, Hotel Vancouver. AKA: “Erdodys Canary Cottage Orchestra”. Wes Mortimer was a one-armed trumpet player. When Canary Cottage broke up, Mortimer was the concert master for Calvin Winters’ Capitolians for a number of years.
Cassidy and his Orchestra – Leader: Lafe Cassidy (trumpet); Marion Stafford (piano); Forrest Moneingo (sax, clarinet, trumpet, piano); Vernon Dale (sax, piano, violin); Karl Cassidy (sax); Hal Underwood (sax, clarinet, trumpet, banjo); Frank Roach (percussion). Played the Cabaret at Belmont Hotel. 1925: By this year, Stafford, Moneingo, Dale, and Karl Cassidy were out; Buck Dale (piano), Ken Evans (trombone), and Bert McGee (banjo) were in. By 1927, only Lafe Cassidy and Frank Roach remained of the original group. Others were: Harry Spees (trombone, violin); Walter Romerra (sax, clarinet); Harold Gard (piano); Chic Inge (banjo, sax).
The Cavaliers – H. Edwards (banjo); Stanley Robertson (sax), E. A. Griffiths (drums); W. Kenning (piano). By 1925, Edwarads was out; H. Swaboda (banjo) was in.
The Charleston Four (1925) – Leader: Frank Nichols (piano); Eddie Austin (sax, clarinet, violin); Toby Kent (banjo); Art Newman (drums).
Columbia Concert Orchestra – Leader: Walter De Lowe; Mrs. Francis Knight (violin); Marie Armstrong (violin); Ernestine Walters (flute); Enid Kimball (trumpet);Faye Leonard (clarinet); Virginia Barnard (cello); Was Kimball (trombone); Harrie Grether (bass); Lois Carpentier (percussion); Edith Dupree (piano); Gladys L. Collins (vocal soloist).
Columbians – Leader: Harry Hamilton (percussion, sax); West Gilland (sax, clarinet); Harry Karr (sax, clarinet); “Tug” Wilson (trumpet); Charles Pawlett (violin, banjo); Frank Hamilton (piano). Played the Alexandra Dancing Pavillion.
Court Orchestra – Leader: W. Garden (piano); S. Kyall (banjo); George Northey (sax); A. Kingcombe (cornet); Len Holland (xylophone, piano, accordion); A. Peebles (trombone); N. Northrup (drums).
Criterion Orchestra (ca1923-29) – Dick Gardner (percussion); Harry Tarlton (piano); George Bush (banjo); Don McMillan (sax). Played the Hippodrome at English Bay. This group appears to have been one of the most stable bands of the 1920s, in terms of membership.
New Criterion Orchestra (ca1929-?) – Leader: Dick Gardner.
Don Flynn and his Orchestra – Leader: Flynn (piano); Fernie Quinn (sax); Boyd Lewis (banjo); Leslie Hulme (drums); Tug Wilson (trumpet). Played Cotillion Dance Hall.
Frank and his Orchestra – Leader: Frank Nichols (piano, violin); Betty Warne (violin); Toby Kent (banjo, violin): Ernie Anderson (sax, clarinet, banjo); Archie Peebles (trombone, piano, accordion); Eddie Anderson (percussion); Eddie Austin (sax, clarient, banjo).
Charlie Galloway – Leader: Galloway (violin).
Billy Garden and his Orchestra – Leader: Garden.
Get Acquainted Club Dance Orchestra – Leader: Frank Nichols (piano); Carl Tossell (trumpet); E. S. Austin (sax, clarinet); Toby Kent (banjo); Archie Peebles (trombone); Romeo Perry (percussion). Played at Dominion Dance Hall (339 W. Pender).
Earl Gray & his Orchestra – Leader: Gray; Earl Gibson (piano); George Eichhorn (percussion); Kenneth Cramer (bass); Brayton Frankhorner (banjo, violin); Ted Huffin (trumpet, mellaphone); Gale Claggett (trombone, trumpet, euphonium, sax); Paul McCrea (sax, clarinet, guitar); Henry Belland (sax, clarinet). Played the Hotel Vancouver Grill Room.
John Harper’s Hotel Georgia Concert Trio – Leader: Harper (piano); Helene Ainsworth (viola); Freda V.(cello). Freda’s surname wasn’t legible in my source.
Hastings Park Pavillion Orchestra – E. Couling (violin); J. H. Younghusband (cornet); C. Gaunt (trombone); A. G. McLeod (drums); F. Parsons (piano).
Earle C. Hill Orchestra (ca1920-?) – Leader: Hill (violin); George Bush; others unknown. Played Barron Hotel Restaurant and Cafe DeLuxe (147 1/2 West Hastings) 1920. Judging from the photo below, Earle Hill also played the Spanish Grill at Hotel Vancouver.
Hotel Georgia Orchestra – Leader: Harry Pryce (piano, cello); Harry Karr (sax, clarinet); Fernie Quinn (Sax, clarinet); Wes Mortimer (trumpet, sax); Bill Arstad (trombone); George Anderson (sax); Charlie Pawlette (banjo, viola); Harry Hamilton (drums, sax, piano).
Hotel Vancouver Quartette – Leader: Olive Beaton (piano); Ethel Planta (violin); Will Edmunds (cello); Robert Griffiths (bass). Played the Oval Room, Hotel Vancouver.
Howard’s Orchestra – Leader: Arnold Howard (piano); William McLean (sax); Harvey Nixon (drums).
Tex Howard and his Orchestra – Leader: Howard (drums); Emerald Krantz (piano); John Bowmer (sax, banjo); William Stewart (trumpet, banjo, slide cornet); West Gilland (sax, clarinet); Hollis Rich (sax, clarinet, guitar); Gale Claggett (trombone, sax, trumpet, mellophone, euphonium, banjo); Lucian Gerhardt (sax, trumpet, mellophone). This group was from Seattle.
Hughie’s Colonials– Hughie (piano); Freddy (banjo); Charlie (sax); Jack (drums). Note: Surnames of players are unknown to me.
Dwight Johnson and his Orchestra – Leader: Johnson; Arthur Most (trombone); Claude Burch (trumpet); James Whippo (trumpet); Bob Dickson (sax); Ray Johnson (piano); Alfred Taylor (clarinet, sax); T. W. Porter (sax); Wally Marks (drums); Prentice Gross (banjo); Ralph Dougherty (string bass, tuba). This was an American band, advertising itself as “the Southland’s finest” and “direct from Hotel St. Francis, San Francisco” (he was also reputed to come from Portland).
Ted Lander’s Orchestra (ca1928-29) – Leader: Lander (sax, trombone); Vic Ross (piano); George Hackett (trumpet); Don Raino (banjo); Henry Anderson (sax); Bev White (percussion).
Percy Lee’s Country Club Orchestra – Leader: Lee (piano); Art Griffith (trumpet); Bert White (drums); Harry Hill (Sax); Herb Roach (Banjo); Claude Hill (bass, clarinet, trumpet); Alf. Olson (bass, clarinet); Alex. Pitts (banjo); Billy Duncan (drums).(Note: Not all of these people played together at the same time). Played the Pavilion at Bowen Island and on Union Steamships’ “Lady Alexander”.
Frank Maracci & his Peppy Orchestra – Leader: Maracci (violin, sax, trombone); Roland Tibb (trumpet); Harry Hamilton (drums, sax); Don Flynn (piano); Charlie Pawlette (banjo); Fernie Quinn (sax, clarinet). AKA “Maracci’s Mean Melody Men”.
Frank Maracci’s Bluebirds – Leader: Maracci (violin, sax, trombone); William Sodeburg (piano); F. E. McComb (percussion); H. Zweifel (sax, clarinet); M.Seliger (sax, clarinet); M. Howell (trumpet). Played at Ambassador Cafe.
Melody Boys – Leader: Art Thomas (banjo); Billy Reeves (piano); Fernie Quinn (sax, clarinet); Ronald Tibb (cornet); Romeo Perry (percussion). Played Cotillion Dance Hall.
Morgan’s DeLuxe Players– Leader: Reg Morgan (drums); Carl Nelson (banjo); Ed Sasserville (sax); Bob Koehler (piano). The DeLuxe players probably played the Cafe DeLuxe (at 147 1/2 W. Hastings).
Mark Morgan’s Orchestra (1922-24) – Leader: Morgan. Typically played at the Moose Hall (535 Homer) for dances.
Olympians – Leader: Victor Ross (piano); Leslie Hulme (drums); Jack McLean (sax); Frank Bolney (violin, banjo). 1925: Wally Griffiths (trumpet) and Bill McLean (sax) are then in; Jack McLean seems to be out.
The Originals (ca1929-?) – Leader: George Bush (banjo); Don McMillan (sax); Gil Mullen (piano); Len Inglesdy (violin); Jean Baker (drums); Jack Barlow (trumpet); Newton Keith (sousaphone). Played Lester Court in 1929.
Parker’s Orchestra – Leader: W. E. Parker (trombone); Francis Collins (sax, trumpet, clarinet, banjo); George Jones (sax, clarinet); Sherlie Denhof (trumpet, sax); Polly Butler (piano); Spencer Adams (percussion). Played at the Breaker’s Cafe (556 Seymour).
Patricia Cabaret Orchestra – Leader: E. B. Austin (violin); F. M. Arstad (sax); E. M. Anderson (drums, xylophone); F. Nichols (piano).
George D. Peter and his Orchestra – Leader: Peter (piano); Charles See (sax, clarinet); Wally Griffiths (trumpet); Ernie Whiteside (drums). 1925: By this year, Whiteside was out; Art Clarke (drums) and W. W. Perks (banjo) were in. By later in 1925, Clarke and Perks were out; Billy Millachip (drums) was in.
“Princess Kathleen” Orchestra (ca1928-35) – Leader: Lawrence Crawford (violin); Harry Pryce (cello); George Cratch (piano); Arthur W. Clarke (trumpet). 1925: By this year, Pryce and Cratch were out; J. Kellaway, and W. A. Storey were in.
Fernie Quinn and his Orchestra (1926) – Leader: Quinn (sax, clarinet); Jerry Hughes (piano); Bill Arstad (trombone, sax); Jack Prowse (drums); J. H. Wilson (trumpet, banjo). Played the Cotillion Dance Hall.
The Ramblers – Leader: Al Spencer (piano); Jack Towell (sax); H. Kenney (sax, clarinet); K. Roach (banjo); Les Aves (drums). The studio orchestra of Radio CJOR (which broadcast from their studio in the St. Julien Apartments (which would ultimately become the Ritz Hotel).
The Revellers (1928) – Teddy Duncan; Eddie Camel; George Gossen; Vincent Cashmore; Homer Woodworth.
Society Hoboes (ca1925) – Alf Hall (piano); Harry Coombs (sax); Leroy S. Harvey (percussion); D. Raino (banjo).
The Tickletoes – Leader: Eddie Bressler (piano); Charlie See (sax); Wally Perks (banjo); George Hackett (trumpet); George (Andy) Anderson (bass); Bev. White (drums); Len Chamberlain (sax). 1925; By this year, Hackett and Anderson were out. AKA “The Tickletoe Orchestra.”
Time Kyllers (1926) – Bun Cooper (banjo); Art Wasey (bass); Newt Keith (piano); Nix Nixon (drums).
Bill Tweedie’s Orchestra (ca1927) – Leader: Tweedie (piano); Eddie Morris (sax, clarinet); Nels Griffin (sax, clarinet); Bob Smith (drums); Ralph Johnson (trombone); Bert Prima (banjo); Dick Croft (tuba); Harry Mayfield (trumpet).
Tug Wilson and his Live Bunch of Boys – Leader: H. J. “Tug” Wilson (trumpet, banjo); Bill Arstad (trombone); Jerry Hughes (piano); Jack Prowse (drums); Claude Hill (sax, clarinet). Played the Cotillion Dance Hall.
Calvin Winters Orchestra (1921-22) – Leader: Winters. Played gigs at Cotillion Dance Hall (Davie and Granville). This group pre-dates Winters’ time leading the Capitol Theatre Symphony Orchestra (not included in this list).
*Principal source: BC Musician, a serial of the BC Musicians’ Mutual Protective Union, Local 145 of the American Federation of Musicians. These are available for reading on microfilm in the Special Collections room of VPL (Central Branch). Also consulted: Vancouver Daily World, Vancouver Sun, and The Province, History of Music in British Columbia. Dale McIntosh. Victoria: Sono-Nis Press, 1989. Tom Carter’s images, provided for this post, have been hugely helpful. Additional details provided by Robert Moan and Neil Whaley are gratefully acknowledged.
I didn’t know who Dominic Charlie was when I came across these photos of him in the “incarcerated persons” section of CVA’s files. Here, he was a man in his mid-20s who had been nabbed by the local constabulary.
He had a couple of booze-related charges in the early years of the 20th century. The first charge was in 1905, when he was fined $25 for possessing whisky (a much higher fine than that for actually drinking the stuff) (World, March 7, 1905).  He was charged again in 1910, when he was arrested for drunkenness, but he turned this to his advantage by pointing the finger of blame toward a Chinese gent by the name of Wing Sing who he said supplied him with Scotch. Sing earned three months hard labor on the charge of “supplying liquor to an aborigine.” Charlie got his freedom on a suspended sentence for pointing out Mr. Sing to police (Province, January 17 1910).
It isn’t clear on what charge Charlie was arrested in 1912. But after his 1912 arrest, it seems that Charlie was no longer subjected to liquor-related charges. By the 1920s, he was charged again. But this time, the charge became a test case of the Indian Act. Charlie was charged with spearing salmon in the Capilano River which passed through the land of the Squamish nation, of which Charlie was a member. It was Charlie’s position that the Indian Act superseded the authority of the Fisheries Department in North Vancouver, which claimed that native peoples didn’t have the right to spear salmon out of local waters, whether or not those waters ran through reserves. Charlie was ultimately found guilty of the charge on appeal, but the penalty was just $1.
By December 1948, Charlie had transformed himself into the “first Indian Santa”, impersonating the elderly elf not by putting on a red suit and beard, but instead by donning a traditional headdress and jacket for the St. Paul’s Indian Christmas party (Sun. 8 December 1948).
By ca1952, Charlie was in his 60s and had become a chief of the Squamish people. Legal challenges were in his past, and he seemed content to be involved in native ceremonial events and to do the occasional (and, reportedly, pretty accurate) weather forecast using traditional methods. He worked at sawmills in the area until he turned 73.
There is a “Legend of the Sea Serpent of Burrard Inlet” as told by Charlie (along with other legends by others) here. Charlie was also a gifted artist who sculpted a 7-foot serpent that stood in West Vancouver on Marine Drive for many years.
When he was well into his 80s, Charlie began going to night school to gain some English reading and writing ability.
Charlie was born on Jericho Beach sometime in the 1880s. He died in 1972.
I came across Jean Archibald yesterday when I was at The Paper Hound Bookshop. Not in person, mind you. She died in 1974. But I encountered her through her bookplate on a book that I purchased. Kim Koch, one of the owners of The Paper Hound pointed out the bookplate to me and remarked that Jean might be a worthy subject for VAIW. I headed home and did a bit of research to see if there was enough information about Jean’s life to make it post-worthy; and, to my surprise, there was! There are relatively few biographical notes pertaining to women on this blog, so it is my great pleasure to present this one.
Jean Campbell Archibald was born in 1911 in Vancouver, following the marriage of her parents, Arthur George Archibald and Muriel Mae Smith a year earlier. She was the eldest of six kids. While in Vancouver, A. G. Archibald was a shipper with F. R. Stewart & Co., a grocery supplier, and later a partner with Parkinson & Archibald Wholesale Fruit Merchants. Arthur died very young (age 49) in 1929.
There was a period between about 1915 and 1927 when the Archibalds were in Calgary (where her Dad was working with a dairy firm — possibly Foremost Dairy). Jean took most of her schooling there and in 1927, she was awarded a “gold medal” for achieving the highest marks among high school students in Alberta.
Following Arthur’s death shortly after the family moved back to the Lower Mainland from Alberta, Jean was tasked with raising her younger sibs and so had to abandon her plans of going to university. Her mother went to work raising chickens and selling the eggs.* Later, both women went to work for Bowman Storage. Oscar Bowman, the owner, was Muriel’s brother-in-law. Jean did secretarial and book-keeping work for Bowman; Muriel was a dispatcher. The women shared accommodation at the (still standing) Quebec Manor in Mount Pleasant.
It isn’t clear for certain how Jean met the man that she would marry. But I like to think that they met while serving together on the board of the Co-operative Society for the Visually Handicapped (a precursor to the CNIB?). In 1953, Colin Haynes was vice-president and Jean Archibald was secretary. Colin was blind (brought on by MS, apparently). They were married in Blaine, WA on November 23, 1955.
Jean died relatively young at age 62 in January 1974. Colin lived until 1980. Less than a year before her death, Jean had a letter printed in The Province in response to a query by a reader as to whether there was a local Sherlock Holmes club. I reproduce her letter below. I think it represents a clue as to her true range of literary interests beyond what is available today to an amateur biographer:
I wonder if your reader is thinking of the Baker Street Irregulars, a group formed in the 1920s and, as far as I know, continuing today. The group published the Baker Street Journal from New York. To become a member one had to write a thesis dealing with some aspect of Holmes’ career and these stories were printed in the journal. I don’t believe there is a Vancouver branch but it would be fun to have one.
— Jean C. Haynes, Vancouver
Province, 10 March 1973
*My thanks to Shawna Archibald, niece of Jean for her help in filling in some details pertaining to Jean’s life and for supplying the photographic portrait of Jean shown above.
Until I began to research this subject, I’d assumed that the first and only public rooftop garden was the one atop the Hotel Vancouver #2 at the SW corner of Georgia and Granville.
But I was quite mistaken.
The business which has the distinction of having the first rooftop garden in the city wasn’t a hotel — it was a cafe; or to describe the establishment as the proprietor did in the City Directory, it was Leonard’s Coffee Palace near the SW corner of West Hastings and Granville. They had another outlet at the Hastings Arcade (at the NW corner of Hastings and Cambie; the Dominion building stands there today). The Leonard’s outlet with the rooftop garden was established in 1906.
The Province blew the city’s ‘horn’, along with Leonard’s, with a ‘call and response’ introduction to their article on the opening of the roof garden:
“Come, let’s go to the roof garden.”
“Roof garden? Where? Didn’t know Vancouver had one.”
“Oh, yes, Vancouver is a city of progress; has everything that any of your cities in the East have, and the latest of these is the roof garden.”
Province, 12 May 1906
Indeed, the newspaper made so bold as to borrow from Babylon in describing the cafe as having the “hanging gardens of Vancouver.”
For all of this presumed hyperbole, however, very little was said about the decor on the roof. Nothing was said of the types of plants in the garden. In fact, the only thing that was said of the roof garden pertained to the view. It evidently had a northern outlook, as the “excellent view of the inlet” was extolled (World, 11 May 1906).
Most of the description was given over to detailing the various beverages which were available on the roof: everything, apparently, from punches, frappes, egg drinks, and “fancy beverages” (which included such exotic-sounding delights as “Cupid’s Idea” and a “Maringo Flip”). Most of these were 10-15 cents a serving.
Leonard’s cafe rooftop garden seems not to have lasted long. I suspect this was due to questions of efficiency. Patrons were likely to sit and order drinks from the uncovered roof only on warm, sunny days. The number of such days in Vancouver are relatively few.
Next to jump on the roof garden band wagon, in 1908, was Spencer’s Vancouver department store, just a couple blocks up Hastings from Leonard’s. From what is visible in the photo of Spencer’s roof above, their garden appears to have been rather underwhelming. All that is visible are a few planters filled with somewhat ragged-looking plants.
The World said of the new roof garden:
There are two passenger elevators and one freight lift. The Elevators will travel to the roof where, according to present arrangements, a roof garden will be installed where ladies can leave the children in safety while shopping.
World, 2 May 1908
Vancouver’s Edwardians had different notion than today’s post-millennial parents as to what was “safe” for kiddies, I think. Sticking your bairn on the roof, with little in the way of fencing to keep them safe from taking a tumble probably wouldn’t be embraced today!
Spencer’s roof garden seems to have been mothballed by sometime in the 1930s. The final ad mentioning the garden was in 1929 (Province, 10 June 1929).
Interestingly, a rooftop garden was never set up at the downtown Vancouver Hudson’s Bay Co. department store. And it seems to have been the 1940s before Woodward’s established a “sun deck” on their Vancouver store’s roof (see below).
The Palace Hotel (North Vancouver)
The Palace Hotel in North Vancouver was the next in line . The North Vancouver structure was under construction by ca1906. But it wasn’t until 1910 that the roof garden was finished and ready for opening (Province, 23 May 1910). The roof feature was described in ads as being a “very special added attraction and “brilliantly lighted” at night.
In June 1909, a reception was held to formally celebrate the opening of the Palace. Most of the celebration seemed to be focussed on the roof garden. There was a live orchestra on the roof: Harpur’s Orhcestra, a band described in an earlier post (Province, 22 June 1909).
The Palace (after 1949, the Olympic) Hotel was demolished in 1989. 
Hotel Vancouver #2
The 1916-established Hotel Vancouver roof garden was by no means the first roof garden in Greater Vancouver, but there was no debate that as far as bling per square foot was concerned, it was unrivaled. This was a real garden. There were impressive trellises on which were vines and there were also (in season) roses. In its ads, the hotel wasn’t satisfied describing the roof garden as being the best in B.C. nor even the best in Canada. No, it was touted as nothing less than the “finest Roof Garden on the Continent”. And who could challenge such an undefined claim?
The Hotel Vancouver, brieflyevidently, even had rooftop golf links! It was announced in June 1916 that
Outside of New York city, there is probably no other town in America that has a roof-garden golf links. Winnipeg had an indoor golf links and so has Vancouver. The local indoor golf links are located in the basement of the Hotel Vancouver, but the management is now considering installing an apparatus similar to the one used for indoor golf on the roof of the Hotel Vancouver. The added advantage[s] of having the links on the roof are many, but the chief one is that the players will be out in the open air.
Sun, 3 June 1916
I am not aware of any photographs (nor press articles) pertaining to either the HV’s basement nor its rooftop links (if ever management decided in favour of establishing roof-based golf). I have to wonder about insurance issues should players on the roof have balls go over the edge and land on pedestrians and automobiles below!
The rooftop garden of Hotel Vancouver was demolished with the rest of the structure in 1948.
There was a Palace Hotel in Vancouver at one time, too. It was located where the Merchant Bank later was — at the NW corner of Carrall and Hastings. The Vancouver Palace later moved down Hastings a bit, just a couple doors west of the Rex Theatre.
The claim was made in the North Shore News in 2020 that the Palace had B.C.’s “first rooftop garden”. We’ve established above that that claim was mistaken. However, it may have been the province’s first hotel roof garden.
I’m not going to devote much text to this post; it is a slideshow, for the most part. The photos are my own made in Greater Vancouver over the past ten years. The photos have a story to tell; the story is about rapid redevelopment in the Metro area.
There was a time, evidently, in Vancouver’s distant past, when office space wasn’t at a premium in the downtown core. The building shown above was developed by and named in honour of A. G. Ferguson in late 1888. When I first saw this photo, I assumed that both of the upper stories of the block were always for office space. But I had reason to change my mind — slowly — over the course of several days of research.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What caused me to look into the Ferguson Building were three words that I noticed while browsing the 1889 city directory: “res, The Shack”.
Reference to a “shack” in early city directories was typically derogatory and was often accompanied by the word “Chinese”. Also typically, buildings so described were of wood frame construction and weren’t meant to endure for long.
But The Shack seemed to be a residence that was quite different — mainly because of the residents. My search for listings of residents of The Shack revealed that they seemed typically to be of “occidental” heritage (versus oriental) and that they were all gainfully employed in good jobs, in several instances by the CPR. Here is a list of the residents of The Shack with their occupations:
G. McL. Brown, Ticket Agent, CPR
A. H. Buchanan, Accountant, Bank of Montreal
Allan Cameron, Clerk, General Freight and Passenger Department, CPR
H. E. Connor, Local Freight Agent, CPR
Albert John Dana, Purchasing Agent, CPR
A. O. Leask, Leask & Johnston
S. O. Richards, Barrister, Innes & Richards
H. B. Walkem, Assistant Engineer, CPR
Samuel McLean, Steward of The Shack (the manager of the residence?)
Ote’ Ki, Assistant, The Shack (an Asian person — judging from the name — who was assistant to the manager?)
Where was 419 Richards? I needed a photo of the place, preferably ca 1889 for this “Photo-Historical Journey”! This proved difficult. The odd-numbered side of the 400 block of Richards was evidently close to the SW corner of Richards and Hastings. But the only structure at that corner in 1889, as far as I could tell from City of Vancouver Archives photographs, was the A. G. Ferguson building. That couldn’t be the site of The Shack, could it? After all, it appeared to be constructed of brick? Weren’t shacks in Vancouver typically wood frame and of impermanent appearance?
It turned out that The Shack had to be part of the Ferguson block. There were no other logical contenders. I believe the entry to The Shack at 419 Richards was a few steps up Richards from Hastings (see annotation to the photo above).
But some sort of proof that The Shack was located at the Ferguson would be nice. I finally found the nearest thing to proof that I could get from the World:
On the corner of Richards Street, is the elegant A. G. Ferguson Block, approaching completion . . . . The building has a frontage of 78 feet on Hastings and runs back 73 feet on Richard[s]. It consists of three stories, with a fine entrance in the centre, the entrance to the offices and rooms upstairs being on Richard[s] Street. The height from the floor level to the ceiling on the ground floor is 16 feet. The first floor offices have a height of 14 feet from the floor level to the ceiling, the next flight above being so arranged as to be used for sleeping apartments.
Daily World, 31 December 1888 (emphasis mine)
So, if I’m reading the newspaper account accurately, I take it that The Shack was located on the top floor of Ferguson.
The Shack seems to have lasted for just a single year (1889). By 1890, I assume, the demand for office space had ramped up and the floor which had housed The Shack was renovated to be suitable for the working lives of office dwellers.
The Ferguson building was demolished sometime between 1904 and 1910. It was sold by A. G. Ferguson’s estate the year after his passing in California in 1903. The Weart Building (which still stands) was constructed in its place in 1910-11.
This post is about David Spencer, Ltd. This was a now-long-gone but once much-loved B.C. department store chain with a store located in downtown Vancouver, which most residents of the city today know as the locations of Harbour Centre tower and Simon Fraser University’s first downtown Vancouver campus.
I make no pretence to present anything approaching a complete history of the store. I’m just ‘noodling around the edges’ of the Spencer’s story in an effort to present a few details that were unknown by me until recently; some of which, perhaps, were unknown to you, too.¹
What’s in a Name?
Spencer’s, as it was typically called, was formally known as “David Spencer, Ltd.” David (1837-1920) was president of the firm when it was established in Vancouver; it had existed in Victoria for several years prior to its 1907 debut in Vancouver. Spencer’s would continue in business until it was bought by T. Eaton Co. in 1948.
Spencer’s was known by a couple of other handles during the years it was in Vancouver. In the 1907 city directory, it called itself “David Spencer’s Dry Goods Merchants and Manufacturers, Home and Hotel Furnishers”. So originally, it didn’t describe itself as a “department store”.
By 1910, it was referring to itself a bit differently. In the city directory of that year it described itself as: “General Merchants, Home and Hotel Furnishers” and also referred to the shop as being a “Departmental Store”. By that year, their property had also grown to include a good deal of the south side of 500-block Cordova St. in addition to the healthy chunk of the north side of Hastings which it had originally bought. They then also owned 516-536 Cordova.
There is a reproduction of this block from Van Map below which shows, overlaid, the 1912 Goad’s Fire Insurance Map. It isn’t completely clear to me whether the Cordova and Hastings properties were connected at that time through some sort of of upper-story bridge, as has been the case over the years with other downtown properties (e.g., the Orpheum Theatre), or whether it was necessary for customers to exit one property and re-enter another (as with the Army & Navy store on East Hastings).
By the time the 1920 city directory was published, the way that Spencer’s referred to itself had changed to simply “Departmental Store”. But as their name became shorter, their appetite for real estate increased. By that year, they had grown to include much of the city block: 507-541 Hastings and 520-530 Cordova.
There was another name associated with Spencer’s of which I was unaware until informed by my friend, Gordon Poppy²: it was also known as the “Diamond S”. I’m unsure of the origin of this name or how/when exactly it came to be applied in reference to the store. But it is clear that it was in use in external communication with customers as early as 1926 (see the first image in the next section of this post). It seems to have been a public relations tool employed by the store to speak of the “diamond” quality standard customers could expect of their wares and service. The cover of the Fall/Winter catalogue, 1928-29, shown immediately below speaks to this.
Re-Development ‘Eyes’ Exceed Capacity?
By 1926, Spencer’s had acquired all of the property it needed to redevelop their several buildings into a single, mammoth ‘new’ building. An artist’s conception of what management had in mind for this new structure appears below on the front cover of the 1926 Spring/Summer catalogue.
By the time construction of the new building was finished at the end of 1926, the artistic conception of the structure and reality clearly were different. Compare the image above with the one below (a photograph made in the 1930s).
Why did the managers of Spencer’s choose to scale down their 1926 ambitions for a full-block Spencer’s emporium? That isn’t clear to me. Gordon Poppy has suggested (and this was my original thought, as well) that it was due to the stock market crash and the consequent Great Depression that followed. The problem with that hypothesis, however, is that the timing doesn’t work. Construction on the new building began in early 1926; it was finished (with a smaller structure than originally planned) by the end of 1926 or (at latest) early 1927. The stock market crash, however, happened in October, 1929; that puts the crash a good two years into the future from when Spencer’s managers had to have decided to go with a smaller building. So it seems safe to rule out the stock market crash as the stimulus for downsizing Spencer’s ambitious 1926 plan.
My best guess is that management decided that the cost of linking all of their properties under a single roof was simply too expensive.
Native Figure ‘Standing’ on Hastings Canopy
The native ‘welcome’ figure shown below was fastened atop the canopy at the Hastings entry to the new building in 1936 (beneath the vertical Spencer’s sign), during Vancouver’s Diamond Jubilee. Today, the figure is part of the collection of the Royal BC Museum (Victoria). At the feet of the figure there is a note that an “Indian Exhibit” was located on the 5th floor of the store in that year.
The view shown below is looking at the NE corner of Spencer’s, at Seymour and Hastings. There is a building just beyond the Molson’s/Seymour block which has a neo-Roman appearance.
According to the city directory for 1945, there are only two candidates that could then have occupied this building: an ice cream shop or the Spencer’s flower shop. The building looks like too serious a structure to have housed an ice cream shop; so I’m concluding, tentatively, that it was home to Spencer’s floristry department, in this period.
I’ve noticed that this building is just visible in shots made as early as 1906 on VPL’s historical photo site. There are no hints in city directories of that time as to what the building was; this caused me to speculate whether, early in the history of the Molson block, this may have been a Seymour St. entry to Molsons (sort of a back door?)
If anyone can add any facts regarding what the neo-Roman structure was, I’d appreciate hearing from you via a comment to this post.
Displays produced by Spencer’s for their windows were, in my opinion, the best around, bar none. (Compare with a window produced by one of their competitors, Hudson’s Bay Co., here, for example). In terms of creativity, material, and time invested, it is difficult, even today, for me to look at Spencer’s windows with anything but awe.
For natural displays, like the Easter scene shown below, “we used real landscaping: grass, flowers, etc.,” said Gordon Poppy. He also noted that their mannequins were wax, eyes were made of glass, and eyebrows were composed of human hair.
²Gordon began his working life as a Spencer’s employee. I’ll allow him to tell the story of his early working years: “I started working for David Spencer, Ltd. on July 3rd, 1945 as a summer job. I had been taking a course on display and sign-writing from Frank Vase at the Vancouver School of Display at nights, while I was at high school attending Vancouver Technical School. As Spencer’s had always had the reputation for the best displays in the city, I was glad to get this opportunity to work there. VE Day had just passed, and one of the first windows that I was involved with was the VJ Day displays. I was asked if I would consider staying on in the fall. As I needed two more years of high school, I stayed on at Spencer’s and completed my schooling by attending King Edward School (at Oak and 12th) at night, while working in the daytime. . . . I continued with David Spencer’s until the chain was bought by the T. Eaton Co. in late 1948. Most of the employees continued on with the new owners. I stayed on until 1991 with Eaton’s.”
In 1979, a Grocery Hall of Fame was established in Yaletown at 1241 Homer Street. The founder was Bill Spaner. He was then (and, evidently, still is) a food broker with a business called Tempo Sales. The Curator of the Hall was Cal McLeod. Tempo Sales and the Hall shared the site, with the Hall being open at no charge only on Sundays, initially, and Tempo being Spaner’s for-profit concern on other days of the week.
The Hall of Fame was a museum of grocery-related artifacts. These included (to name just a few) labels, tins, advertisements, posters, magazines, wartime ration books and coupons, kitchen utensils, and soft drink dispensers.
The Homer Street site opened in May 1979 after Spaner convinced the City not to demolish the 70-year-old rooming house on the property, called the Glenholme. The Hall of Fame had earlier been located at a decidedly poor location: Annacis Island! (Province, 10 July 1983). He bought the Homer Street building and land for what today seems like a phenomenal bargain: $175,000! It cost him twice that to remodel the building (Sun, 24 September 1979).
Spaner grew up in Winnipeg and came to Vancouver when he was 16. He worked as a displayman for Canada Packers and later became promotions manager for Puritan Foods. He and a partner began Tempo Sales in 1967 and he bought out his partner’s share of the business in 1972 (Sun, 15 May 1981).
There are a number of images in the City of Vancouver Archives of members of the Vancouver Historical Society visiting the Grocery Hall of Fame in November 1982 (three of which are reproduced here). The photos were made by Elizabeth Walker, former President of the Vancouver Historical Society (1962-63), former head of the local history division at Vancouver Public Library, and author of the invaluable Street Names of Vancouver (1999).
It isn’t completely clear what it was that motivated Spaner to move the Hall of Fame out of Yaletown, but move it he did by 1990. I suspect that he was offered a lot of money by the condominium development that is today on the site of the former museum.
The Grocery Hall of Fame moved initially (in 1990) to 9500 Van Horne Way in Richmond and later to the rear of Spaner’s residential property at 6620 No. 6 Road. As of 2014, Tempo Sales was still in business at No. 6 Road. There is some evidence that the Hall of Fame continues to operate today at the same location, but it is hard to be sure whether it has survived COVID-19.
If any VAIW reader can confirm the current status of the Grocery Hall of Fame, I’d appreciate it if you would comment below.
This photograph (CVA Wat P38) was the work of Lauchlan A. Hamilton. In my judgement, it is one of the most attractive early images available from the digital collection of the City of Vancouver Archives (CVA).
Mr Hamilton lived in Vancouver for fewer than five years, but those years were important, as was his contribution. He was Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) land commissioner during a period in which the CPR had a lot of authority and he became one of the first aldermen of Vancouver’s Council. As land commissioner, he surveyed and named Vancouver streets in the central business district and the West End (including, immodestly, Hamilton Street).
Where was Mr Hamilton standing when he made this image, vis-a-vis today’s Vancouver? If you walk behind the Vancouver Convention Centre to the seaplane terminal at the far western end of the pedestrian walkway and look toward Brockton Point at Stanley Park, you are probably as close as you can get today (without getting wet).
There were some surprises for me in this image of Brockton Point. The first was that it is attributed to Mr Hamilton. This is one of only two digital photos in the CVA collection (other than a couple of family snapshots) that are attributed to him. I believe he made several drawings and watercolours that are in the CVA’s non-digital collection. So he was an amateur artist, evidently, but not a recognized amateur photographer. There are a good many un-attributed photographs in CVA’s digital collection from the period that Mr Hamilton lived in Vancouver, however. So who knows how many of those ought rightly to be attributed to him?
Another surprise was that there were so few mature trees in what would become Stanley Park (in 1888). I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, however, as it is well known that in the pre-Park years (1860s-1880s), it was logged aggressively.
There also appears to be evidence of settlement of some sort in what would become the Park. It is pretty far in the background and so is quite fuzzy, but there appear to be temporary (tent-like?) structures along the shore. I believe a military reserve was established there during the 1860s, and there was likely still some native settlement there in the 1880s.
Hamilton managed to convey with his camera a scene that might very well have been painted. And the age of the image (nearly 130 years, now) has done the image a favour; with the passing of time, the emulsion near the surface of the photo has begun to break down a bit, thereby creating what would be referred to in complimentary terms, in antique painting circles, as a “crackle finish”.
1936: Chinese Tennis Club was established. The Club was affiliated with the B.C. Lawn and Tennis Association. The Club played other clubs in that association (including Jericho and Stanley Park clubs) and also played other pacific coast clubs (including cities in the so-called tri-cities (Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland). Original membership of Club was about 20-25.
1937: Club had 63 members.
1938: Club had four clay courts just south of the CNR Depot; the court site was presumably leased from Canadian National Railway. The courts seem to have been located roughly where long-distance buses park today at Pacific Central Depot. The Vancouver Chinese Tennis Club was the only Chinese tennis club to have its own courts among Pacific coast cities.
1939: Membership: 80
1941: New courts and clubhouse at 550 Carrall Streeet were ready in July. According to the Charles Louie interview cited below, all of the funds for materials were raised by the Club and the labour on the courts and clubhouse was done by Club members.
1946 (Vancouver’s Diamond Jubilee Year): Pacific Coast Chinese Tennis Championships were held in June at the Club courts on Carrall Street. Players from San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle participated. The tournament was officially opened by Chinese Consul-General to Vancouver, Hon. Li Chao and Vancouver Mayor Jack Cornett (Sun, 29 June 1946).
1949: Late in the year, the Club was disbanded. This was due to City of Vancouver expropriation of the land on which the clubhouse and courts were situated in order to extend Keefer Street through to Carrall Street. (I suspect, but cannot prove, that a contributing reason was the development of part of the site by the new Marshall-Wells wholesale hardware). The Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden was situated approximately at the same location as the Chinese Tennis Club when it was opened in 1986.
One of the great constants among those on the executive of the Chinese Tennis Club was Charles E. Louie (1908-1977). He was President of the Club from its inception until it disbanded. Jack Chan was another regular member of the executive. He was for several years the Club’s tennis instructor.
The Club would each year hold a season opening and closing dinner/dance, often at the White Rose Ballroom, and occasionally at the Peter Pan Ballroom (both on West Broadway).
Audio interview with Charles E. Louie, November 1976 on the Pender Guy radio program (No. 98A). Beginning at the 17.15 point in the program.
Ernest Augustus Muling (1861-1949) was a Frenchman by birth (in Blumenau), an Englishman by nationality, and a chef by profession.
He came to Vancouver from Brisbane, Australia where he seems to have spent his twenties and early thirties and where his first two children were born (May and Madeleine, also known as Madge); Ernest’s wife, Annie (1868-1942) was born in England.
His career in Vancouver was on-again-off-again. He would work for a year or more at a hotel or hotel restaurant, and then he would be described for a year or two subsequently (in the Vancouver directory) as a “caterer” — restaurant lingo, I presume, for “self-employed”.
His first experience of the restaurant business in Vancouver was at the Strand Hotel‘s King Edward Silver Grill (ca1905-06). The Strand was mid-way down the south side of the 600 block of West Hastings. He was catering (and traveling in Europe for a few months in 1907) during the 1907-11 period. (A June 1912 clipping noted that Ernest Muling had recently “assumed charge of the Wigwam Inn” (World, 17 June 1912); however, this seems to be the only claim in the local press of this and so I’m assuming it was either a very short-lived appointment or was a press error).
In 1912, Ernest was the proprietor of the Trocadero Grill. The Trocadero was on the south side of the 100 block of West Hastings (at 156 W. Hastings). He catered in 1913.
He was the proprietor of the Langham Hotel at 1115 Nelson Street in 1914. The Langham was what we’d call today a “boutique” hotel. Located just west of Thurlow on Nelson, the charming little hotel building (and its single family dwelling neighbours) is no longer there; in its place today is a concrete multi-residential behemoth.
Starting in 1915, Ernest had moved on to the Grosvenor Hotel Cafe. The Grosvenor was at the SE corner of Howe at Robson. He remained there until 1917/18.While he was working at the Grosvenor, the Mulings lived there. In 1919, he catered again.
In 1920, Ernest was a chef with the Canadian Pacific Railway. What precisely this meant is opaque to me. Whether it meant he was cooking for the staff of the CPR, working in one of the CPR’s public eating establishments, or cooking on a train, isn’t clear.
The CPR job seems to have been his final one in Vancouver. There is no further record in the city of Ernest, Annie, May (or the two boys who came later: Edward, who apprenticed with BC Electric Railway for a couple of years and who seems to have gone to California, dying in San Francisco; and Richard, who took up work as an electrician while in Vancouver).
Mrs. Muling, for at least a couple of their early years in Vancouver (1908-09), seems to have been the first manager of the Gresham rooming house at SW corner of Granville and Smithe. The rooming house was built in 1907-08 and began operation in late 1908 (Province, 12 December 1908). The Gresham is still known by that name and is at that location, today.
While living here, the Mulings participated in dog shows with their dachshund, “Tackle”, on at least one occasion winning best in show for that breed (Sun, 11 Oct 1912).
By 1921, the Muling family seems to have pulled up stakes.* They ended up in Australia again. Whether they went there directly or took a more circuitous route, isn’t clear to me. But most of the family, including Ernest, appear to have died in Camberwell (a suburb of Melbourne, today).
*Madeleine (aka Madge) married Charles Simpson Scott in Vancouver. She seems to have been the one Muling to have “stuck” here. She died at the ripe age of 93 in 1989 in North Vancouver.
The eight-person musical group shown above is Kolster’s Musicians. They were a group of Vancouver people who were assembled to play music on CKWX Radio (Vancouver) for their principal sponsor, Kolster Radios. Kolster was a U.S. brand radio, distributed in B.C. by the Canadian Fairbanks-Morse Company, Ltd.
The program always includes a bright march, an overture, a late popular release as well as a group of popular numbers of a few years ago . . . . [T]he listener is therefore treated to a splendid variety of music . . .
Sun, 14 Sept 1929
An identifiable member of Kolster’s Musicians seems to be pianist and band leader (later the musical director of CKWX’s Concert Orchestra), Harold A. Copley (ca1893-1941) (Province, 6 July 1930). Copley was was formerly the organist at St. Saviour’s Church (Sun, 14 Sept 1929).
The host pictured at the CKWX microphone was Harold W. Paulson (1899-1983), “director and chief announcer” at the radio station (Sun, 25 Aug 1928).
The others shown in the photo are not identifiable by me. If readers of VAIW recognize someone pictured, please let me know by commenting below.
As far as I know, none of the proprietors of the Ancient Mariner Rope and Canvas shop had long grey beards, but I’m not so sure that they didn’t all have glittering eyes, especially when the time seemed apt to spin a seafaring tale.
Captain J. H. Palmer, the founder of the Ancient Mariner shop at 225 Carrall Street (near ‘Blood Alley’ and Maple Tree Square in Gastown) established the business ca1941. He lived in the back of the shop. He was a “master craftsman” at rope splicing and in his shop he made ship’s bumpers, rigging, ladders, lifebuoys, and nets.
James Harvey Palmer was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia  ca1870 to Jacob Nelson and Naomi Allan Palmer. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, according to Palmer, were also sea captains. Palmer first went to sea at age 15 (ca1885) and by age 19, “he became the youngest second mate in sail on the east coast” He got his master’s ticket (his first captaincy) in Seattle in 1906 (Province, 8 June 1949).
Palmer had an injury to one of his hands in 1955 and no doubt found that cramped his style as a rope-maker (Sun, 31 December 1955). He sold the business ca1956 to William H. S. Wilson and Captain R. G. Lawson . Lawson died in 1958. By 1962, the Ancient Mariner had adapted to the changing market and was then producing nylon helicopter nets which could handle 2-ton loads of supplies dropped at remote forestry camps. Captain Dan McDonald was still helping out at the Ancient Mariner in 1962 (and, of course, sharing his shipping yarns with whoever would listen; there are a few examples of McDonald’s seafaring tales below).
The business seems to have faded to black by the mid-1960s. Bill Wilson died in 1969.
Palmer’s early years are a bit mysterious. In the 1909 U.S. Census he claimed that he had dual citizenship and shows both his parents as being born in Maine. In a 1918 US Passport application, Palmer claims that he was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1870. He was at the time, according to this application, a “Constructing Engineer” in Lima, Peru with “Conchos Temstine Co.”
Lawson was formerly with the Malahat Shipping Co., Ltd. Lawson, in his capacity with Malahat, made an offer in 1954 to the Canadian federal government to blast Ripple Rock (Province, 23 September 1954). Their offer was not accepted. Ripple Rock was exploded by another firm in 1958.
The 1950s and ’60s were prime time for flying saucer enthusiasts. There were at least two UFO-related Vancouver clubs at that time — one called the Vancouver Area Flying Saucer Club (1956-ca1979) and another at UBC known as the Varsity Flying Saucer Club (1957-ca1963).
The first president of the Vancouver Area Club was Margaret Fewster (1917-1986), a gifted contralto and respected music teacher in the city. She described the club as being “not political, subversive or religious, but composed of good, honest and loyal subjects” (Province, 4 July 1956).
Fewster seems to have been the legitimate face of the club. It was founded by Herbert D. Clark (1901-1986), a retired electrical contractor, who sounded a wee bitkookier than Fewster. Clark remarked that the next ‘night watch’ (for spotting locally appearing flying saucers) would be held in September, “unless the solar system brothers advise against it” (Province, 4 July 1956).
In another press report, Clark claimed that the occupants of flying saucers would be in contact with earthlings soon:
They will speak English perfectly, look and dress like any local young businessman and may offer free rides to interested believers in their fantastic planetary vehicles.
Province, 21 June 1956
Clark had a public fit when The Invaders television series was first aired. Instead of accepting that the series was fiction (which was plain; like the later Cannon and Barnaby Jones, it was a Quinn/Martin production), he chose to take it as a (false) commentary on the flying saucer folks:
“It’s absolutely deplorable that they depict (the flying saucer men) as ray gun murderers . . . . They’ve been around our universe for as long as we’ve had recorded history.” Clark said he was so incensed about the series . . . when it was first shown last fall that he wrote a nasty letter to the show’s producers in the U.S.
Sun, 2 May 1968
The UBC Club was founded by Stuart Piddocke and Gareth Shearman (d. 2013). Piddocke said that the purpose of the club was to investigate and “to find the facts”. Shearman was the president of the club for awhile. “Humor will . . . be included on the agenda.” he said (Ubyssey 4 October 1957). A. T. Babcock (1937-1993), who ultimately became a B.C. teacher, was the club’s Intelligence Officer.
It seems to me that the members of the UBC club were less doctrinaire and, on the whole, took themselves less seriously than did the Vancouver Area club members.
The clubs had a couple of interesting speakers. Daniel W. Fry (1908-1992) was one of the earliest. The Sun reported on Fry’s talk to the Vancouver club:
The stocky associate of men of outer space told [his] tale with a straight face . . . . Not one person in the crowd that jammed two rooms in the Art Gallery laughed. They didn’t even smirk. . . . A room was reserved for 150, but half an hour before his lecture began the crowd overflowed into a second room and into the halls. People shared chairs, sat on the floor, jammed into every inch of standing space, to hear and see ‘the man who touched a flying saucer.
Sun, 29 June 1956
Another big-name speaker was George H. Williamson, who spoke to the Vancouver group in 1959. His topic was “The City That Existed Before the Moon.” Williamson’s talk was advertised as being presented by the Chairman of Anthropology at a completely fictitious university: Great West University.
The kind of public enthusiasm for flying saucers that would fill two rooms at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1956 had dissipated substantially by the late 1970s. The Vancouver Area club seemed to fold around 1979. Notwithstanding this, a recent CTV News item claims that Vancouver today is the UFO capital of Canada. Apparently the city has more sightings of flying saucers than any other part of the country.
The property identified in the image above as Vancouver’s Civil Defence Training HQ was originally occupied by NeoLite — a neon sign company.  The space was only a temporary site for the civil defence HQ from 1951-1953 mainly because the real estate was needed by the new Granville Bridge (some of the concrete of which is visible in the foreground of the photo).
What was its Function?
The civil defence training group was committed to keeping Vancouverites and British Columbians as safe as possible in the event of an act of a war or national emergency.  A major component of CD was the training of an auxiliary police force. The force was made up of of volunteers who were trained by regular police officers. The auxiliary police had a slogan: “If we never need what we learn in civil defence we lose nothing, but if we never learn what we need, we may lose everything” (Sun, 6 Oct 1951). The civil defence HQ also trained volunteer fire personnel.
By 1961, the range of CD training available had broadened beyond training auxiliary police and fire personnel to include training in first aid, home nursing, and rescue survival (among other courses) (Sun 18 Sept 1961).
In the early years (1951-55, say), civil defence was able to draw a healthy number of volunteers, and was seen as a very important task. This was mainly because WW2 was such a recent memory. Not only were there many former ARP (Air Raid Precautions) volunteers in the city from that conflict, but there were many WW2 veterans living in Vancouver then who had seen with their own eyes what destruction was wrought in European cities in the recent war. These people did not need to be persuaded of the importance of preventing a similar outcome in Vancouver.
Civil Defence Takes a Dive
By 1966, however, civil defence had declined significantly in the city’s priorities. Typically, precious few volunteers could be found in the HQ (by then it had moved to Howe). The civil defence head in Vancouver, Group Captain Alexander Lewis, had this to say:
The public shows no interest during periods of peace. They are like an ostrich — they like to keep their heads in the sand; they prefer to forget war….At the time of Cuba [missile crisis] we were inundated with calls about radio activity and fall-out shelters….I sometimes wonder if the amount of money that is spent and the amount of work we put in is not out of all proportion to the number of people we train.
Sun, 2 Aug 1966
Group Capt. Lewis wasn’t the only one thinking such thoughts. Such questions had occurred to city aldermen, too. By 1966, the city’s civil defence outlay seems to have been principally for the rental of the HQ at Howe: $600 a month. But even that modest sum was considered by City Council to be too much to pay for civil defence and within a year, the headquarters had been vacated and became the new Vancouver City Police Academy (which had moved from, apparently, an unsatisfactory site on the PNE grounds).
‘Civil Defence’ to ‘EMO’ to ‘Search & Rescue’
In the mid-’60s, the civil defence function performed by the Training HQ and other related groups in the province had changed its name, collectively, to the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) — a group that seems to have been a creature of the federal government. The EMO seemed not to have much continuing relevance in the City of Vancouver after the late 1960s. But it was relevant in the mountainous area of North Vancouver. In 1972, for example, the following EMO action was reported in the press:
A North Vancouver Emergency Measures Organization rescue crew led three people to safety Sunday night after three were stranded on a ledge on Grouse Mountain.
Sun, 22 Nov 1972
You could be forgiven if you concluded that the reported rescue by EMO volunteers sounded a lot like the sort of thing you hear reported today of North Vancouver search and rescue teams. Indeed, the function of the EMO in North Vancouver seemed gradually to morph into the search and rescue organization that exists today in North Vancouver.
NeoLite moved to a location at the corner of Burrard and 2nd Avenue after leaving the Granville site. NeoLite was one of several neon sign companies operating in Vancouver at this time. The most famous (and extant) of these firms was Neon Products, which was located on Terminal Avenue.
While the CD Training group was focussed on educating volunteers, another major organization, the Ground Observer Corps, with direct ties to the RCAF, was a more hands-on bunch. The observer corps – a BC-wide, indeed a nation-wide, group of volunteers – were to watch the skies and report in to HQ descriptions of any planes they spotted. The corps headquarters would then check the ground-observed flight info against the flight manifests submitted by each legitimate pilot prior to them taking off. If the airplane reported by the corps didn’t have a manifest and/or it seemed to be suspicious, the RCAF would be ordered, potentially, to ‘scramble’ its fighter planes (Sun, 6 Nov 1954). The headquarters of the corps was at 1363 Howe Street, the same address as the CD Training HQ was moved to after leaving its Granville location — so the two arms of civil defence in Vancouver were at the same site. The Ground Observer Corps folded by 1960, when the same functions it had performed with human observers could be more efficiently carried out electronically. The CD Training arm was mothballed a few years later, in 1967 (Province, 3 May 1960).
My very good friend, Art Hadley, died on Christmas Day, 2016. He had a special connection with Vancouver, although he and his wife, Edna, spent relatively little time in the Greater Vancouver area, recently. In their retirement, they settled in Mississauga and later in Gravenhurst, ON.
Art was a Baptist pastor who seemed to me born for that career with a preacher’s voice that boomed out of his relatively small body¹. He became a member of First Baptist Church (Vancouver) with his parents (Frank and Nellie) in 1946, after serving in the Canadian Navy in World War II. He spent time at divinity school in the U.S. and then became a full-time minister. He served pastorates in Regina, Fredericton, and West Virginia. He also served long and significant terms in New Westminster (Olivet Baptist) and Vancouver (West Point Grey Baptist).
Rev. Art Hadley and Rev. Dr. Bruce Milne while ministering together at First Baptist Church (Vancouver). Archives, First Baptist Church (Vancouver). n.d.
Later in life, following his retirement from full-time ministry, he served as an interim pastor in Charlottetown, P.E.I. and served two terms at First Baptist Church (Vancouver) as Interim Director of Ministries in 1994-95 and also in 1999-2000. Even in the ’90s, there were still longtime FBC members who remembered Art and his parents with great warmth and he was welcomed at FBC in his largely administrative role, with Rev. Dr. Bruce Milne as the Senior Minister.
It was when Art was at FBC that I first got to know him. I was working in the office at First during his stints there as interim DOM. A memory I have is of knocking on Art’s office door around lunch time. I recall seeing him sitting at his desk with a can of Classic Coca-Cola within easy reach. I can hear his reply to my question as to whether he was free for lunch, as though it were yesterday: “Let’s go!” he’d most often say, and he’d be on his feet in a flash and ready to accompany me.
That will be my enduring memory of Art Hadley.
For a more complete obituary, see below:
If you are interested in hearing an example of Art’s preaching, there is a sample on Regent College’s audio site (as part of First Baptist Church’s audio archive there). It is his sermon delivered on February 28, 1999 at FBC and is entitled Begrudging Generosity. It’s a free download.
November 2020 Update
Here is an excerpt from a 1951 First Baptist Vancouver minute which I recently unearthed from a number of images I made at the FBC Archives a couple of years ago. It is a copy of a letter written by FBC’s Clerk to the Ordination Council at Cameron Memorial Baptist (Regina) – Art’s first post-seminary charge. The original letter was to have been hand-delivered to Regina by his dad, Frank Hadley.
There is a hotel on the SE corner of Granville and Nelson that has stood there for nearly 110 years. It has been known for most of that time as the Hotel Belmont. During its early years, however, it was called the Hotel Barron.
Hotel Barron (1912-1925)
The 6-storey hotel block (with, initially, retail space occupying much of the ground floor) opened in February, 1912. It was a hotel with 120 rooms and was of brick construction.
It was co-owned by Colonel Oscar G. Barron, an American millionaire hotelier, his wife, Jennie Barron (nee Lane), Mr. T. S. Brophy and his wife, Mrs. Brophy (who was Mrs. Barron’s sister). The Brophys were active partners in the Barron Hotel venture, managing the business and living in Vancouver, while the Barrons took a less active role in the Vancouver hotel business and lived in New England (World 6 Jan 1913).
Oscar Barron died in 1913 from blood poisoning which cost him part of a foot and then a leg due to amputation and, ultimately, his life. “He had served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and on the staff of the New Hampshire governors, hence his title of colonel.” (Rutland Daily Herald (Vermont), 8 Jan 1913). Brophy (who also had the — presumably honorary — title of colonel) and Barron had a hotel partnership near Vancouver dating prior to the establishment of the Barron Hotel. It was the Hotel Fairfield in Seattle at 6th and Madison (currently, the site of the Renaissance Seattle Hotel complex).
There was a second building under Barron/Brophy ownership, a block south (1161 Granville) of the main hotel property (1002-1006 Granville) called — unimaginatively — the Barron Annex. The 5-storey Annex was sold in 1917 and became known as the St. Helen’s Hotel. Today, St. Helen’s is a single room occupancy rooming house.
The Barron Hotel was originally named in honour of two of the owners — Oscar and Jennie Barron. But the Barron Restaurant (a component of the hotel), as part of an early marketing campaign, hinted broadly in its ads that its name had European roots and that it was named for the famous “Le Baron” restaurant in Paris, France. As with many ad claims, this just wasn’t so.
Hotel Belmont (1925-ca1971)
In 1913, following Col. Barron’s death, Col. Brophy left the Barron. William D. Wood became the manager. In 1916, the Barron/Brophy interests were sold, and by May 1925, the hotel was bought by the Belmont Hotel Company, of which Wood was part. At that time, the name of the hotel was changed to the Belmont.
By 1922, William Downie Wood, confusingly the 19-year-old son of Belmont manager, W. D. Wood, had made a name for himself as an amateur radio operator at the hotel. Wood Jr., a native of Santa Cruz, CA, was granted a special experimental amateur radio operator’s license by the Canadian federal government (Santa Cruz Evening News [California] 8 March 1922).
The presence of an existing radio station at the Barron/Belmont was likely central to the eventual broadcast on CNRV radio (which would ultimately become part of CBC’s radio network) of the Belmont Orchestra from the Rose Room. By the 1930s, the orchestra would be broadcast from the Belmont over local commercial station CJOR (Sun, 30 April 1930).
A Guest Goes Missing
Shortly after the hotel opened as the Belmont, it became the fulcrum of a missing person case that made headlines in local papers for 7 months. Clarence Peppard was a 45-year-old businessman from Minneapolis. He came to Vancouver in December, 1925 to visit his brother who lived in Chilliwack. On December 10, he left the Belmont, where he was a guest, ostensibly on a BCER interurban train bound for Chilliwack. He never arrived at his destination (Sun 16 Dec 1925). The last he was seen was leaving the Belmont and later at a Vancouver telegraph office where he sent a wire to his brother asking that he meet his train upon its arrival in Chilliwack. Someone matching Peppard’s description was seen near Marpole, which borders on the north arm of the Fraser River, on the day he went missing (Sun 23 Dec 1925).
For months, police searched for Peppard or his body, without success. Then, in June, 1926, a body was found just off Kirkland Island on the North Arm of the Fraser. The build of the dead man seemed to match that of Peppard, but decomposition was so advanced that it was nearly impossible to be certain of identification (Province, 28 June 1926). In the end, however, the body was confirmed as Peppard’s (as closely as police technique would permit identification in 1926) (Chilliwack Progress, 8 Sept 1926).
Other Identities and Return of the Belmont
The Belmont Hotel became Nelson Place Hotel in the early 1970s and remained so until it was re-named the Dakota in 1997. It became a Comfort Inn in the 2000s and, in 2017, it was again branded the Belmont Hotel as part of a $12 million renovation by new owners. The new Belmont seems to be aiming to attract, primarily, a millennial demographic, judging from the gallery at their website.