Getting Nowhere – Fast – in 1901

CVA Trans P52 – Men on bicycle training machines: Harry Hooper, Mr. Burke, and another young fellow. (Note: Hooper is in the front seat of the two-seater; I’m assuming Burke is behind Hooper and that the un-named dude is on the solitary cycle). 1901. Richard Henry Trueman photo.

This seemed like an apt image to post in this season of broken fitness resolutions. The image was made, according to the City of Vancouver Archives, about 120 years ago. My two questions, regarding the photo: (1) Where was it taken? and (2) Who were the guys who were featured in it?

I’m pretty sure that this was taken at Brockton Point. It looks to me as though there was a platform behind the bikes — perhaps intended for an orchestra to gather upon. The floor on which the bikes are situated looks like a dance floor to me; the area to the left of the two-person bicycle looks like a dining room. I found a 1902 Province article pertaining to upgrades to clubhouses of the Brockton Point Athletic Association – including “repairs to the bicycle club training room” (Province, 29 Apr 1902). I concluded from this that the photo was made at the Bicycle Clubhouse of the Brockton Point Athletic Association.

CVA SGN 983 – Men with bicycles assembled on front steps of Brockton Point clubhouse, 1897? William M. Stark photo.

The rightmost cyclist I haven’t been able to identify.

Harry Hooper (who is in the front seat of the two-seater) was a pioneer taxicab driver in the early 19-teens (Frank H. Ellis, “Pioneer Flying in British Columbia”, BC Historical Quarterly, Oct 1939, p. 248). There is an entertaining tale in this article (recounted in a footnote on this page) of how Hooper transported an airplane to Bellingham from Vancouver in 1914 using his “big Winton touring car”.

CVA 84-4 – A Winton car belonging to the Stirtons. Presumably this auto resembled Harry Hooper’s vehicle. 1910-12.

It is unlikely that Hooper was plying the taxicab trade at the time the bike photo was made, however. In Major Matthews’ Early Vancouver Hooper notes that he “learned to drive in 1904 with Dr. Riggs’ two-cylinder Ford” (Early Vancouver, Vol IV, p. 215).

The other fellow on Hooper’s bike, Burke, might be Stanley Burke. He went on to become manager of Pemberton & Son Realtors in the city.

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