This is a very brief post to point out a couple of interesting aspects of this WWII-era “Smoker” (a social gathering that typically included tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking) of the 201st Battery, held in downtown Vancouver.
First, I should point out that I am not a smoker, but I am inclined to salute these fellows who are smoking in a hall in which it is clearly marked above them “Fire Regulations Do Not Permit Smoking in This Room”. I count at least five in this bunch who are holding cigarettes. I’m feeling a little rebellious these days, so I wanted to point that out!
Second, the room in which these gents were having a cigarette and a beer is no longer in existence. It was known during WWII as “Victory Hall” (The Province, 24 Sept 1943) and was on the property where Salvation Army’s Belkin House is today: 535 Homer (half a block north of Dunsmuir on the west side of the street). How the building appeared in the mid-1970s is shown below. According to Changing Vancouver, the building was demolished in 2001.
An interesting feature of the room in which the smoker was held (which seems to be the top floor, judging from the Italianate-style windows) is apparent in another photo of this smoker at CVA’s online photo holdings, shown below.
No, I’m not referring to the hula dancers.
The items that caught my eye were the paintings on the wall. This was something not uncommon in the 1930s and ’40s. There are examples of wall paintings of this sort of fantasy coastal scenery in other Vancouver buildings of this period. The only remaining such paintings that I can think of, however, are at Commodore Lanes on Granville Street.
These paintings at 535 Homer probably didn’t last into the 1970s, I’m guessing. They don’t appear to have been very high quality even in 1943.
And all of that illicit smoke must have taken its toll!