Ackers’ Shoeshine Shop

bu-p264-exterior-of-fred-ackers-tobacconist-and-shoeshine-132-cordova-street-ca-1895

CVA Bu P264 – Exterior of Fred Ackers – Tobacconist and shoeshine man – 132 Cordova Street. ca 1895. I believe Ackers appears on the right; the unidentified black man is unknown to me. (Note: The original CVA image has been adjusted by me by cropping and adjusting exposure.)

I like this photo. It has a strong human element but enough contextual content that it isn’t exclusively about the two men who are its subjects. If I’d had my ‘druthers’, I would like to have seen the image in proper exposure (rather than in its still over-exposed condition; I did my best to bring it up to close to well-exposed, after the fact); I’m curious to know what the headlines on the Vancouver World newspapers say, for example!

Fred Ackers was in 1895 a very recent arrival in the city. There is no mention of him nor his tobacco/shoeshine stall, at any rate, in a BC Directory prior to that year. Nor does Ackers’ name appear in a later directory. Perhaps he was much like the Rene Mizonys and had wanderlust in his blood and settled in boom and mining towns only as long as they still appeared to be boom towns. Once they began to look as though they were going to settle into boring “big city” status, perhaps, he moved on!

Ackers’ shop was located on West Cordova between Cambie and Abbott (on the south side of the street) in the block where the Woodward’s condo development now is. He resided at Dougall House, which was a very short walk from his workplace (at the corner of Abbott and Cordova). Within a couple of years of Ackers moving on, his former stall was occupied by Miss Carrie Smith, milliner.

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3 Responses to Ackers’ Shoeshine Shop

  1. lhhouben says:

    Interesting! I see a door behind the sitting man, but how was the rest of the stall closed? I noticed when I was last downtown that there is still one shoeshine an left. Do you know where he is located? I wonder if he really is the last one left? I took a picture of him. One of my Dad’s first jobs was a shoe shine boy, I believe near Cordova but I should ask him exactly where, as he is now 87.

    • mdm says:

      I will see if I can figure out your “how did Ackers close his shop” question. No promises, but I’ll try. As for the current state of the shoeshine guy population… no idea. I know there was a lady in the shoeshine biz at yvr last time I was going through a WestJet gate, I think. As for downtown, the last fellow I knew who was in this line, was a guy who used to attend First Baptist. He had his shoeshine stand for many years out of the basement of the Hotel Vancouver. He has been retired for a couple years now, I believe. Last time I was in the basement of HV, there was no sign of any successor shoeshine business there – not surprisingly. I don’t know how my acquaintance was able to keep body and soul together from what he must have earned there.

  2. lhhouben says:

    PS: in y post above, I meant to say “shoeshine MAN” not an!

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