Category Archives: stuart thomson

Kids’ Hospital on Haro Street

The children’s hospital shown above was the Infants’ Department of Vancouver General Hospital. It was at this location from about 1917 until about 1950. (For a couple of years prior to 1917, there was something called The City Creche at … Continue reading

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‘Zip Line’ to Wreck Beach for Construction of Early UBC Buildings?

When I first saw this image, my initial thought was “Gee, did they build a ‘zip line’ at the Point Grey campus as early as 1923?”. Then common sense kicked in. There was precious little development at Point Grey, then. … Continue reading

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Sir John and The Russian Prince

Sir John Martin Harvey had a reputation as a Shakespearean actor on the stage and (later) as a silent film star in the U.K. and in the wider world, not least in Canada. The Russian Prince pictured above with Sir … Continue reading

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The Vancouver Vagabonds

The Vancouver Vagabonds was a men’s club. It didn’t last long (1914-1928), but it was fondly remembered by former members long after it had ceased to exist.(1) The Vagabonds are generally believed to have been the creation of J. Francis Bursill (1848-1928). Bursill, … Continue reading

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Polar Pan?

Here are Royal Lifesaving Society members, Peter Pantages and Miss E. Robinson. (Sadly, we don’t know Miss Robinson’s first name; she looks like she was quite a character. Although Peter and Miss Robinson appear in the photo to be friendly, … Continue reading

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Thomson’s Cowboys

I purchased the image above last week from a friend. It shows a number of men dressed as cowboys. The location of the image, I quickly concluded, was indeterminate; there are no visible landmarks. The photographer was Vancouver professional, Stuart … Continue reading

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English Bay Theatre

Players When I happened upon the photo shown above in CVA’s collection I said to myself, “That looks like a theatrical company in costume for Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado!” I could find no mention in local newspapers in 1912 for any … Continue reading

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The Empire Cruise Comes to Town

What was the Special Service Squadron of 1923-24? Here is how the official site of HMS Hood (1915-41) sums it up: This epic journey, known to the public as the ‘Empire Cruise’ or ‘World Cruise’ (but called the ‘World Booze’ by the … Continue reading

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Use Your Head (With IBM)

Updated September, 2016 This is an exterior shot of IBM’s Vancouver presence on Georgia Street in 1936. Their monosyllabic motto of the time, evidently, was ‘Think’ – which also was the name of an employee/customer magazine that published its first … Continue reading

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Unsolved Photo Mystery

I recently purchased the print from which the above scan was produced. It was made by one of my favourite early Vancouver professional photographers, Stuart Thomson. The photo seems to have been taken in a commercial food/drink establishment, somewhere in Vancouver … Continue reading

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A Five-Hour Tour

87 years ago this month, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester,** came to Vancouver for a few days of R & R (or, rather, G & P . . . Golf and Polo) before a planned itinerary that was to include a stop … Continue reading

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Dr. Trevelyn Sleeth, Vancouver Vet

Dr. Trevelyn Elston Sleeth (1890-1987) first showed up in Vancouver as the proprietor of B. C. Dog and Cat Clinic in 1914 (in his first year in the business, however, the hospital was called the “Canine and Feline Hospital”; perhaps too many … Continue reading

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Mudge the Poultry Man

William Mudge’s business was known in early Vancouver as Mudge & Son and (probably better) as Mudge the Poultry Man. As indicated in the latter name, he specialized in providing chicken products to hard-working, hungry Vancouverites. He hung his shingle … Continue reading

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Lest We Impress

It is all too easy to impress the present onto the past. Especially in cases where there has been an attempt made by contemporary architects to ‘nod’ to a prior building that once occupied a lot. A good example of this … Continue reading

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The Lesters and their Dance Schools/Halls

It’s Hazy in Detroit There isn’t a lot known about the proprietress of M. Lester Dancing Academy. Maud was an Ontario girl (although exactly where in Ontario she was born and raised or what her maiden name was isn’t clear to … Continue reading

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Church Parades and Church Street

I think I may have a reasonable explanation as to why Church Street (the north-south lane between Seymour and Richards and Georgia and Robson) was so named in the early years of the city. It seems to me that the name … Continue reading

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325 Howe

The Name Game The building shown above has been known as the “Welton” Building (1912-1919), the “Pacific Coast Fire” Building (1920-?), and recently, probably, simply as good old 325 Howe. Who decides what a building shall be called? It is usually safe to … Continue reading

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Jean Fuller, Entertainer

There was a nightclub on Seymour Street in the 1930s popularly known by those who went there as “Nigger Jean’s”. Ivan Ackery, in his memoirs, Fifty Years on Theatre Row (1980), had this to say about the club and its proprietress: … Continue reading

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1936 Commissioned Image of Granville

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 … Continue reading

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Ernest Augustus Muling, French Chef

Ernest Augustus Muling (1861-1949) was a Frenchman by birth (in Blumenau), an Englishman by nationality, and a chef by profession. He came to Vancouver from Brisbane, Australia where he seems to have spent his twenties and early thirties and where … Continue reading

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Sir Charles Tupper the Object of ‘Fearless Loathing’!

In one of the early posts to this site (May 2014), I remarked on what now seems to be a companion photo of the one above*. The City Archives (the source of both images) do not identify the central male, adult, figure … Continue reading

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From a Photographer Some 80 Years Ago: ‘Happy New Year’!

This corny Christmas/New Year photo was a ‘selfie’ creation of Vancouver professional photographer Stuart Thomson, made sometime in the 1930s (the later 1930s, in my opinion). May this year be a peaceful one on the Earth and in our neighbourhoods.

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Early Development of 1000 Block Georgia Street

A Very Modest Undertaking (Telfords) A building permit was issued to the Telford brothers in 1912 to build an apartment block at 1018 Georgia Street (architect was W. M. Dodd & Co.). According to the permit, it would be a 10-storey structure made … Continue reading

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Granville Bowling Before Commodore: LaSalle Recreations

These gents, who appear to be pretty pleased with themselves, were apparently in a bowling tournament held in 1929 at LaSalle Recreations at 945 Granville St. This was a year before Commodore Lanes came along (on the other side of … Continue reading

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Shipcraft on Human Scale

This photo is of the hull of a small pleasure craft under construction at Vancouver’s Shipyards at the opening of the 1930s (and located then at the corner of Georgia and Thurlow, near where the Shangrila building is today). A decade later, … Continue reading

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Salon as Clinic . . . Enduring Myth

This ’30s image is a reminder to me of the myth (which endures today, albeit in different form) of an implied near equivalence of hygiene standards between the purveyors of beauty products and those of medicine. Witness, above, the white … Continue reading

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Need Chicks for Your Backyard? Get ‘Em This Week at Woodward’s!

This stack of brooding cages full of young chicks was apparently in the basement of Woodward’s Department Store in East Vancouver. My suspicion is that these chicks were sold to the only-partially-urbanized residents of Vancouver, some of whom kept a couple … Continue reading

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Fur Vault

The first and second image in this post were apparently commissioned by Nelson’s Laundry to local pro photographer Jack Lindsay to demonstrate the secure fur coat storage service offered by the launderer. It is difficult to recall/conceive in this day when fur … Continue reading

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Handsome Garage

Ah, these were good days; when architects and automotive dealers/mechanics cared enough to make even a garage appear as though it were a work of art! This was one of two Fred Cheeseman garages in Vancouver at this time. This one was … Continue reading

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Neilson’s Chocolate – Almost Makes Being Ill Seem Like a Treat

The sweetest drug of all – chocolate – brought to you by Neilson’s at Burn’s Drugs Co. Burns Drugs was in a building adjacent to the Vancouver Block (sharing space in 1920 with West End Nurseries). Neilson’s is a Canadian dairy success story.

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Sea of Hats

This is a somewhat unusual view of the Cambie Street Recreation Grounds (for some later years, the site of the long-distance bus station, later still – optimistically – dubbed Larwill Park and serving as a City car park with aspirations to become … Continue reading

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Early Tech for “Readin’, ‘Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic”

Most of the school supplies in this office building are recognizable to me. The 1930s version of the Remington typewriter, of course (with that almost unheard of technology, carbon paper inserted), variations on early document copiers (which I’m tempted to refer to … Continue reading

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Jubilee Methodist Men in Drag

This amusing photo may be one of the final images made (and certainly one of the last professional photos made) at Jubilee Methodist Church in Burnaby before it became Jubilee United Church later in 1925. Jubilee Church was located on Kingsway near Imperial … Continue reading

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B. C. Equipment Company

The image above was the site in 1934 of BC Equipment Company, a heavy equipment/machinery dealer from as early as the 19-teens (although they came into their own, it seems, in the 1930s) until 1985, when its remaining assets were … Continue reading

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First Avenue Viaduct

The very small grade change associated with the bridge once known widely as the First Avenue Viaduct contributes to its near-invisibility to the modern eye. The principal function of the pre-WWII viaduct was to allow motor traffic to travel over the rail yards … Continue reading

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J. H. Carlisle: A Man of Firsts

J. H. Carlisle (1857-1941) accomplished several “firsts”. He was the first Sunday School Superintendent of First Baptist Church (FBC), before it was formally organized; his name was the first listed among the charter members of FBC when the church was organized; he was the … Continue reading

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. . . It’s a Doozy!

There are no longer any single family dwellings along West Pender Street (according to the BC Directory for 1920, 1325 W. Pender Street was home to Charles V. Ayton), but there is still a substantial elevation change evident below Pender. For comparison, … Continue reading

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Francesco Maracci’s Bluebirds Playing the Lovely. . . Pine Cone Room?

I think that the bandleader pictured above (violinist, centre) is Francesco Maracci, ‘the Venetian virtuoso’ as he was touted in The Oregonian in the early years of the 20th century. Maracci’s Bluebirds was heavily weighted towards woodwinds (saxophones figure prominently in the image). I … Continue reading

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Scads of Humans Watching the ‘Fly’

According to the Vancouver dailies of the time, there were 10,000 people watching as Harry Gardiner, the “human fly”,  climbed the exterior of the World Tower (later, the Sun Tower) without any special climbing equipment, wearing street clothes and his … Continue reading

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Timeless Reminder

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‘My, but you are a wee lass’

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Rectory: Holy Rosary

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Northwest Seymour & Nelson (1920/’26)

These two images were taken by the same photographer (Stuart Thomson), the camera is facing the same direction (northwest), and are of nearly the same locations (Seymour Street at Nelson in the first image; Seymour from a bit south of Nelson in the … Continue reading

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Top Shop – 1930s Style

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I Scream, You Scream…

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418 Georgia

We are looking above at the southwest corner of Homer at Georgia in 1933, where Stonehouse Motors was located for about 20 years (ca1926-45). Prior to that, another automobile dealer was at this site, Knight-Higman Motors (ca1920-25). Before that, for … Continue reading

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57 Varieties: H. J. Heinz in Vancouver

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Telegraphy Class at King George High (1930)

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Western End of First Georgia Viaduct (1915-71)

This image illustrates for me, yet again, the potential of a photograph to help me see things as they once were. I knew from earlier reading that the first Georgia Viaduct (1915) began and terminated at different points than does the current (1972-installed … Continue reading

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Flux and Consistency on Unit Block East Hastings

I’m going to begin today’s post with a tightly cropped version of a CVA Stuart Thomson photo of what looks like a lovely commercial district in downtown Vancouver (the full image appears below). In these three shops, as my wife … Continue reading

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First Baptist Footie Champs

This photo makes me smile. It was taken in 1925 by one of my favourite early Vancouver photographers, Stuart Thomson, at the present site of First Baptist Church (Burrard and Nelson Streets). The young men in the image were apparently a … Continue reading

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933 West Pender

This fine image by Stuart Thomson was made ca1924 at the 900 block of West Pender Street – not the 1100 block of Granville Street. There are at least three clues to the actual location: (1) Abbotsford Hotel (still standing today … Continue reading

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Toronto House Apartments

Toronto House apartments had been around for about a decade when photographer Stuart Thomson made the Vancouver Public Library image above. It later became the Astoria Hotel. The apartment block was built in 1912 for owner R. A. Wallace and … Continue reading

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Corona Salesmen?

On the exterior, this shop looks mostly unchanged today; it houses a barber shop (adjacent to The Paper Hound Bookshop in the Victoria Block).

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“Hap” O’Connor, Umpire

Elroy Joseph (Hap) O’Connor (not O’Conner, as CVA currently has it) was an American baseball umpire for 40+ years. Evidently, he was umping in Vancouver for a game in 1929. He died in San Bernardino county, CA in 1957.

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Wilson’s

This retail corner (SE Cordova and Granville) was anchored by a newspaper vendor called The Checking Depot in the 1910s (I suspect that this image was made in 1914 – the only year I could identify in BC Directories in which … Continue reading

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Banjo King at Tea for Opening of Burrard Bridge

This image puzzled me at first. When I first saw it, I assumed that the people were at the head table of the tea following the opening ceremonies of the Burrard Bridge. But why would world-renowned vaudeville banjoist (centre), Eddie … Continue reading

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You Look So Lovely in Your Rat Jacket!

Imagine having a coat made from the fur of many rats. Okay, a Chinchilla overcoat? As my wife’s Ukrainian Baba used to say, “Sam Ting” (translation: It’s the same thing)! In case you weren’t aware (I wasn’t), over the past 15 … Continue reading

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Early Church Memories

This image reminds me of growing up in church, as I did in an Alberta town in the 1960s-70s. Our church was much smaller than the one pictured above (which was, in turn, probably considered ‘small’ for its time in … Continue reading

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The Murray

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The Workingman’s Store

This is an image from the City of Vancouver Archives which I hadn’t noticed before. It is most interesting. First, it is worth getting oriented. We are looking north on Main Street and Stuart Thomson, the photographer, is standing with … Continue reading

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Burrard Skytrain Station

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Stuart Thomson’s Shop

This set shows “yesterday/today” images of an early shop of one of my favourite Vancouver photographers, Stuart Thomson. It was his shop in the 1910s and ’20s. He later moved up to Robson at Burrard (adjacent to the Toronto Dominion Bank). … Continue reading

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Terminal City Oyster, Fish and Deli

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Look Ma!

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Roast Chicken: 40 Cents (or “Newsboys Keep Out!”)

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Direct from the Sea to the Pan

This fish and chip shop is just a couple of doors up East Hastings from where the legendary ‘The Only’ Seafood would later thrive (The Only was at 20 East Hastings). I don’t know whether the Old Country Fish & Chips was … Continue reading

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Chocolate Shop Cafe

The building in which the Chocolate Shop Cafe once was housed has plainly been replaced since the 1920s. The toughies glaring out the window of the second story of the building might have given Stuart Thomson pause! Note: The sign atop … Continue reading

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Empire Hotel and Cafe

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Model Boot Shop

These two images have a number of common features. Most of the buildings in this block have been retained over the years, including the Hotel Strathcona. And the space where the “Model Boot Shop” was located in 1936 today is occupied today by … Continue reading

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White Lunch No. 4

The image above is one of my all-time favourites of Stuart Thomson images (of many made by this consummate pro with a decidedly uncommon eye). I love how he has well captured human feelings and attitudes in this little interior … Continue reading

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Hollywood Cafe

Before this space housed the Hollywood Cafe, it was the Blue Goose Cafe; later (by 1949) the Good Eats Cafe. Still later (1950) – and (if you are inclined to put faith in dates offered by CVA) earlier (1930) – this … Continue reading

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Aimee Semple McPherson in Vancouver

The image above shows Aimee Semple McPherson with a welcoming crowd shortly after arriving in 1930 at Vancouver’s Great Northern Railway Depot (demolished in 1965, the GNR Depot was just north of the CN Rail Depot which still stands and today serves as the long-distance bus … Continue reading

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Hambro Building

The structure shown above from the 1930s was the Hambro block. “Hambro” almost certainly is a reference to the private London (UK)-based bank. Sort of a boring building, you say? I tend to agree. The exterior was quite dull – and the exterior … Continue reading

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‘Crazy’ For a Reason

‘Crazy Crystals’, apparently, were simply the crystals left behind when mineral water was distilled. But judging from the advertising claims made by the company, the crystals had health-enhancing qualities beyond the skin softening and laxative properties that had long been attributed to mineral … Continue reading

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A Few of my Favourite Junk Yards

I confess to a longstanding fondness for junk yards; well, actually it is more accurate to say that I harbour a fondness for the idea of junk yards. This is a holdover, I think, from my pre-teen enchantment with The Three Investigators … Continue reading

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War Dance and Carnival, 1917

There was a four-day fundraiser called the War Dance and Carnival held May, 1917 on the Cambie Street Grounds and the adjacent ‘old’ Georgia Street Viaduct. The Carnival was sponsored by the B.C. Commercial Travellers’ Association in aid of four charities: the Red Cross Material … Continue reading

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Story Behind a Cavity

Behind the real estate cavity shown above, there is the beginning of a story about a Vancouver personality. The cavity is, I’m convinced, the location in the 1920s of the Hotel Martinique Smoke Shop at 1184 Granville Street. Today, the wall on … Continue reading

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Rheumatic Olympian (1928)

 In 1928, at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam, 20-year-old Vancouver native, Percy Williams, won the 100-metre race on July 30th and the 200-metre on August 1. As Ivan Ackery recounts in his memoirs of a life in Vancouver theatres, Fifty … Continue reading

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Radio Cult Sweeps Vancouver! (Ladies Need Not Apply)

This all-male crew paused mid-worship for this photograph taken of the faceless, fearsome radio god posed front and centre (and dwarfing its mere human supplicants)! A publicity stunt, presumably.

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How Odd . . .

This image shows what remains of the Pender Street side of the cornerstone at the Odd Fellows Hall at Hamilton and Pender. The structure was built for the IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows), a secret fraternal society akin to that of the Masons, in … Continue reading

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Fearless Loathing?

The look on the face of the girl looking over her shoulder is, in my opinion, priceless. She seems to be looking toward one of the leaders of this (early girl scouts?) group — a male. And it’s plainly not a look of … Continue reading

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Chevy Motors on Mainland Street

 I love this photograph. There are few photos by Stuart Thomson that I don’t like, to be honest; but this one is special. The natural lighting is wonderful; it takes the viewer’s eye deeply into the background of the image. … Continue reading

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