1936 Commissioned Image of Granville

CVA 99-4856 - Sidewalk in front of [Eastman Kodak] store [at 610 Granville Street] 1936 Stuart Thomson photo for Travellers Insurance co-2

Crop of CVA 99-4856 – Looking up the east side of 600 block Granville St (roughly from the intersection with Dunsmuir). 1936 Stuart Thomson photo commissioned, according to the City Archives, by Travellers Insurance Co.

I very much enjoy the image above, made by one of my favourite local photographers, Stuart Thomson. I like the gentle blur of the strolling crowd. And I especially like the lady caught in profile looking into Saba Bros. Silk shop window. She appears to have been warming her hand with her breath, or perhaps covering her mouth due to an oncoming or just-finished cough or sneeze. I’m also pleased that the sign for the Lyric Theatre is just visible in the photo, far right in the background. That theatre was originally known as the Orpheum – not the first local theatre of that name, nor the last (today’s Orpheum, for a number of years known as the “New Opheum” would move across to the east side of Granville, and a bit south, in 1927). The older Orheum would have its name changed to the Lyric around the time this photo was made. In the late 1940s, it had another name change, becoming the International Cinema. In 1960, it became part of the chain of Famous Players Theatres, with a final name change to the Vancouver Theatre, until meeting the wrecker’s ball a decade later as part of the City of Vancouver’s apparent determination to demolish anything of any historic value over two or three blocks so that Pacific Centre Mall could develop, unimpeded by the older buildings of our relatively recent past.

The image above, however, despite my love of it, has been cropped by me. The odd thing about Stuart Thomson’s original image, is that he included so much sidewalk in the foreground. The only explanation that makes any sense to me is the fact that this image was commissioned by the Travellers Insurance Co. Perhaps Thomson’s idea was that this image could be used as part of advertising copy, with text overlaying the foreground. But this is speculation.

CVA 99-4856 - Sidewalk in front of [Eastman Kodak] store [at 610 Granville Street] 1936 Stuart Thomson photo for Travellers Insurance co.

Un-cropped version of the same image shown at the beginning of this post (CVA 99-4856).

This entry was posted in Photographers, street scenes, stuart thomson, theatre/vaudeville/cinemas and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 1936 Commissioned Image of Granville

  1. andy1076 says:

    I love old photos of the city, still searching for the ones of false Creek when it was a mill, Two years ago some construction guys dug up a wooden wagon wheel and that was really cool 🙂

  2. jmv says:

    I think the inclusion of the sidewalk is more of a perspective effect; advertisements didn’t overlay text over photographs as commonly as they do today, and it could be he intended to crop out some of the sidewalk from the image. But it’s also a bit strange he included the telephone pole too – it makes the image look more spontaneous than the typical street portrait, taken with a tripod. Actually, it just struck me, he’s practically channeling Foncie with this image; he just needs someone to step over the crack on the sidewalk, and poof! Instant street portrait!

    I also love the detail in the shop window for the Eastman Kodak store at 610 Granville Street, with all the photos and frames on display. And note, the $2500 cash prizes offered for the Pictures at Night contest! A surefire way to get folks to shoot rolls and rolls of long exposures at night! Oh, to see more work from an early Vancouver photolab!

    You can step back even earlier and see another Vancouver Photo Studio storefront some 33 years earlier; here is the front of Edwards Brothers across the street at 621-623 Granville Street. Their studio operated in Vancouver from 1891 all the way to 1920.


  3. Dave 2 says:

    Minor Correction

    Orpheum 1913
    Vancouver 1927
    Lyric 1935
    Interntional Cinema 1947-60
    Lyric December 1964- March 1969

    There are a number of chronological histories of the various names of the.1891 Opera House,

    • mdm says:

      Thanks for this. I’m in the middle of verifying the details. I appreciate your interest and for caring enough to comment.

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