Yaletown’s Grocery Hall of Fame

207-43 – “Grocery Hall of Fame” 1241 Homer Street. Nov 1982. Elizabeth Walker photo.

In 1979, a Grocery Hall of Fame was established in Yaletown at 1241 Homer Street. The founder was Bill Spaner. He was then (and, evidently, still is) a food broker with a business called Tempo Sales. The Curator of the Hall was Cal McLeod. Tempo Sales and the Hall shared the site, with the Hall being open at no charge only on Sundays, initially, and Tempo being Spaner’s for-profit concern on other days of the week.

The Hall of Fame was a museum of grocery-related artifacts. These included (to name just a few) labels, tins, advertisements, posters, magazines, wartime ration books and coupons, kitchen utensils, and soft drink dispensers.

The Homer Street site opened in May 1979 after Spaner convinced the City not to demolish the 70-year-old rooming house on the property, called the Glenholme. The Hall of Fame had earlier been located at a decidedly poor location: Annacis Island! (Province, 10 July 1983). He bought the Homer Street building and land for what today seems like a phenomenal bargain: $175,000! It cost him twice that to remodel the building (Sun, 24 September 1979).

CVA 207-44 – Elek Imredy (sculptor of the iconic “Girl in a Wetsuit” at Stanley Park) and old time clock during Vancouver Historical Society tour of Grocery Hall of Fame. Nov 1982. Elizabeth Walker.

Spaner grew up in Winnipeg and came to Vancouver when he was 16. He worked as a displayman for Canada Packers and later became promotions manager for Puritan Foods. He and a partner began Tempo Sales in 1967 and he bought out his partner’s share of the business in 1972 (Sun, 15 May 1981).

CVA 207-46 – Frank Williams and Jill Rowland during Vancouver Historical Society tour of Grocery Hall of Fame. Nov 1982. Elizabeth Walker.

There are a number of images in the City of Vancouver Archives of members of the Vancouver Historical Society visiting the Grocery Hall of Fame in November 1982 (three of which are reproduced here). The photos were made by Elizabeth Walker, former President of the Vancouver Historical Society (1962-63), former head of the local history division at Vancouver Public Library, and author of the invaluable Street Names of Vancouver (1999).

It isn’t completely clear what it was that motivated Spaner to move the Hall of Fame out of Yaletown, but move it he did by 1990. I suspect that he was offered a lot of money by the condominium development that is today on the site of the former museum.

The Grocery Hall of Fame moved initially (in 1990) to 9500 Van Horne Way in Richmond and later to the rear of Spaner’s residential property at 6620 No. 6 Road. As of 2014, Tempo Sales was still in business at No. 6 Road. There is some evidence that the Hall of Fame continues to operate today at the same location, but it is hard to be sure whether it has survived COVID-19.

If any VAIW reader can confirm the current status of the Grocery Hall of Fame, I’d appreciate it if you would comment below.

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2 Responses to Yaletown’s Grocery Hall of Fame

  1. Yaana Dancer says:

    In the early 70’s I worked at a wholesale book business in the 1000 block Homer (the family who owned the book business also owned the Jolly Jumper factory upstairs). I often passed and admired this unusual-looking building. Very interesting to read what was within! Thank you.

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