War Dance and Carnival, 1917

There was a four-day fundraiser called the War Dance and Carnival held May, 1917 on the Cambie Street Grounds and the adjacent ‘old’ Georgia Street Viaduct. The Carnival was sponsored by the B.C. Commercial Travellers’ Association in aid of four charities: the Red Cross Material Fund, the return of soldiers from the Great War, the Canadian Patriotic Fund, and the Royal Naval Service Fund. Entertainment at the Carnival included singing, dancing, fireworks, and acts including that by Harry Gardiner, “the Human Fly”.

The “official photographer” of the Carnival was pro photographer, Stuart Thomson (shown below in front of his studio at the corner of Georgia at Richards; he is the one standing on the tailgate of the automobile).

CVA 99-1145 – Truck outside Stuart Thomson’s studio:shop decorated with banners. Stuart Thomson, 1917.

However, we are indebted to James Crookall, an enthusiastic and fine amateur photographer for most of the the scenes of the Carnival itself. I will be showing all of Crookall’s images of the event that are available online at the City of Vancouver Archives and will remark on each.

ca1918 CVA 260-1052 - [Sideshows at a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds] J Crookall

CVA 260-1052 – Sideshows at a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds – James Crookall, ca 1918 [1917].

  • Far left, a person is dressed in what appears to be a Polynesian grass skirt.
  • Beatty St. Drill Hall is in the background at left (the banner hanging from the upper part of the drill hall indicates it’s the regimental home of the DCOR (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles).
  • Few of the banners announcing sideshows are legible. The one on left announces “Taking a Wife” at the top. The third from the right reads “Igorot” at the top . Fourth banner announces “Head Hunters” and seems to say “Dance of Victory” at bottom. None of the other banners are readable by me.
  • There is a sign affixed to the lamp post at far right announcing that there is a “Ladies’ Rest Room” (the smaller print below is not readable by me, although I assume it indicates where the rest room is located). Judging by the cross in the center of the sign, it appears that the rest room was a service offered by the Red Cross. For more information regarding the state of “public conveniences” in early Vancouver, see this fascinating article.
ca1918 CVA 260-1059 - [Entrance to the carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds] J Crookall

CVA 260-1059 – Entrance to the carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds – James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].

  • This is one of two images by Crookall of the entry to the carnival. Tickets were purchased (just out of the frame to the left) and then bills could be exchanged for “change” for rides and other events within.
  • On the far left, there is a sign posted to the wooden fence which announces that the “official photographer” is Stuart Thomson; his business address appears on the sign. What the posted sign says that is adjacent and to the right of Thomson’s sign, I do not know.
  • There appears to be a figure walking on a high wire over the Cambie St Grounds. Could this be Harry Gardiner, “the Human Fly”?

CVA 260-1045 – People heading towards a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].

  • The camera, in this image is facing east (toward the Drill Hall); further evidence is the ‘punny’ “Western Front” sign announcing the carnival’s western gate beneath it. This is a wider view of the ticket gate noted earlier.
ca1918 CVA 260-1048 - [A Red Cross booth at a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds] J Crookall

CVA 260-1048 – A Red Cross booth at a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].

  •  Shows the Red Cross booth. This appears to have been located somewhere on the Georgia Street Viaduct (given the lamp post behind the booth and left); it bears a strong resemblance to Viaduct lamp posts (see also next image for more lamp posts).
  • There is a sign posted on the left side of the booth pertaining to a “university platoon”. What this means, is unknown to me; the other words on the sign are unclear.
ca 1918 CVA 260-1050 - [The Georgia Viaduct decorated and closed to vehicular traffic during a carnival] J Crookall

CVA 260-1050 – The Georgia Viaduct decorated and closed to vehicular traffic during a carnival, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].

  • The camera appears, in this photo, to be facing southwest (the Vancouver Block and Hotel Vancouver #2 are visible to the right of the image; the Beatty Street Drill Hall is nearer to the centre/right of the photo) and looking across the ‘old’ Georgia Viaduct. The viaduct was closed to vehicle traffic during the carnival.
  • Note the streetcar tracks on the Viaduct; they were installed when the viaduct was constructed, but were never used (for safety reasons; the original viaduct was very poorly constructed).
ca1918 CVA 260-1051 - [The Georgia Viaduct closed to traffic during a carnival showing military displays and a refreshment stand] Jms Crookal.jpg

CVA 260-1051 – The Georgia Viaduct closed to traffic during a carnival showing military displays and a refreshment stand. James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].

  • In this photo, the camera is facing northeast; the Georgia Viaduct is visible behind the “Ice Cream and Soft Drinks” sign.
  • Note that the entry to this section of the carnival (with a more military tone to it with military engineering tents dominating the scene) has been decorated, apparently, to create a (sanitized) sense of walking within a ‘trench’, similar to those in which our ‘boys’ were doing in Europe. There are two sentries standing at attention (bottom right) with bayonets unsheathed!
  • There is building with an Asian-styled roof, and a partly legible sign on it indicating that there are Chinese “noodles” and “tea” to be had within.
  • The Main Street (then, Westminster) bridge appears to be visible to the right and in the background of the image.
ca1918 CVA 260-1049 - [Crowds at a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds] Jms Crookall.jpg

CVA 260-1049 – Crowds at a wartime carnival at the Cambie Street Grounds, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].

  •  A sign at center-left announces “Graffort & Burtons Colored Musical Comedy and Minstrel Show”, including the drama of “Madam Eudora Burton”.
  • To the right of the ferris wheel is a sign that reads “Ladies”. Near there, it seems safe to conclude, is where the Ladies’ Rest Room was located.
  • To the far right is a tent with the annoucement on it “Your Picture Made.” This, I assume, was where Stuart Thomson, the “official photographer” of the carnival, was hanging his shingle for the duration of the carnival.
ca1918 CVA 260-1054 - [A ferris wheel during a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds] James Crookall

CVA 260-1054 – A ferris wheel during a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds. James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].

  •  This is a wider perspective of the earlier image showing the ferris wheel. The photographer seems to be standing just outside of the carnival site.
  • The more complete Stuart Thomson sig apparently reads “Your Picture Made: While You Wait” (no small promise in 1917).
ca1918 CVA 260-1060 - [Crowds surrounding a building during a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds] Jms Crookall

CVA 260-1060 – Crowds surrounding a building during a wartime carnival on the Cambie Street Grounds, James Crookall, ca1918 [1917].

  • I suspect that this very well-attended event is the crowning of Miss Vancouver (see below).

A song was commissioned of Wilson MacDonald for the carnival. It was called (unoriginally), “Song of the Carnival”. Josie Siddons was crowned “Miss Vancouver” at the Carnival; her portrait appeared on the cover of the sheet music.

Screen shot 2014-08-28 at 3.15.08 PM

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This entry was posted in bridges/viaducts, city views, James Crookall, people, street scenes, stuart thomson, war and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to War Dance and Carnival, 1917

  1. For photo CVA 260-1048, at the Red Cross booth. The sign entitled “University Platoon” probably refers to the unit raised out at the early UBC. See http://www.ubc.ca/ubc-remembers/born-amid-tragedy.html and checkout the Harry Logan Fonds. I found a number of photos from WWI with him mentioned. He joined the 72nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, and fought beside my cousin WH “Harry” Oatway.

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