Early Days of Labour

1903 Fl P2 - [The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners with their Labour Day parade float at Seymour Street and Dunsmuir Street] Alfred A Paull

CVA Fl P2 – The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners with their Labour Day parade float at Seymour Street and Dunsmuir Street. Alfred A Paull photo, 1903.

This image appears to have been shot on Dunsmuir Street, facing west towards Granville. The Bank of Montreal building at the time was located on the northeast corner of Granville at Dunsmuir and is the castle-like structure visible behind the float. The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners fought for (and won for its members, during a strike) a 9-hour working day.  For details on the history of the Amalgamated Society (and later representatives of these trades), see this link. For more on Labour Day and organized labour celebrations generally, this is a helpful article.

Note that the sidewalk on Dunsmuir Street in the image above (1903) consisted of wooden plank structures, apparently petering out part way between Granville and Seymour Streets! These wooden sidewalks were the norm in early Vancouver, evidently. This is how Mrs. J. Z. Hall remembered early Granville Street (when speaking with Vancouver’s first archivist, J. S. Matthews, in 1931):

Of course, the sidewalks on Granville Street were three planks, and you had to watch out. At the Hotel Vancouver they were four or five feet above ground, and we had to be careful when wheeling the baby carriages—we wheeled our babies then—or you would tip baby and all, over. We used to hide our things under the sidewalks. Go to church on Sunday, and leave all your stuff under the sidewalk, and pick it up when you came out. (Matthews, Early Vancouver, Vol 1, p. 24)

My curiosity is piqued as to just what sorts of “stuff” Mrs. Hall and others hid beneath the plank sidewalks before Sunday services.

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One Response to Early Days of Labour

  1. Sheila says:

    Wow. They used contrasting coloured bricks to put the date, 1903, into the top of the chimney. Wonder why they left the one side of the house so rough…a storage shed for firewood, gardening tools, etc?

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