History & Heritage
April 15, 2016

Thank you, Archives

From the City of Vancouver Archives:

Over 2100 more maps are now online

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Thanks to funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program, we’ve recently completed a project to digitize over 2100 maps and plans and made them available online for you to use and re-use. We’ve tried to digitize these maps with enough resolution to support future types of re-use and processing, including optical character recognition and feature extraction.

These maps and plans hold quite a variety of information. We have put a small selection of images on flickr as a sample.
Want to see how the city was reshaped? You can see the before and after of a section of Point Grey in 1925, before it was part of the City of Vancouver.

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Click to enlarge

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More here from the Archives blog.

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“Tales From the West End” is an evening to explore and experience our community through stories about our common past. The event is held at one of Vancouver’s intriguing historic sites, formerly known as “Maxine’s Hideaway” and now home to a JJ Bean coffee shop.

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Tuesday, February 16
5:45 – 7:30 pm; storytelling from 6 – 7:00
JJBean Coffee Shop, Bidwell & Davie
Admission: Free, Complimentary coffee and tea thanks to JJBean

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This month museum educator, researcher and tour guide, Isaac Vanderhorst is our featured story teller. Isaac has many tales to tell about his ancestors, the Abbott family, who lived in the West End.
People are encouraged to listen, sketch and bring their own stories and historic photographs of the West End to share with the community.

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February 15 – 21 is Heritage Week in B.C., with a theme of ‘Distinctive Destinations: Experience Historic Places,’ honoring the vibrant tourism history of our province and the heritage places that make Vancouver a distinctive destination today.
To purchase tickets or for more information visit here or call 604 264 9642.

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Monday, Feb 15: National Heritage Day and Official Launch of Heritage Week 2016
Join us for this fun, free public event where Deputy Mayor, Councillor Heather Deal, will read the official City of Vancouver proclamation celebrating Heritage Week. Take a short walking tour of the Roundhouse area with civic historian John Atkin. (Sign-up for the walk will begin at 12 pm and will be first-come, first-served for 30.
Roundhouse Community Centre, Turntable Plaza. 12 noon – 1 pm, Free.

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Tuesday, Feb 16: Selling Vancouver to Tourists: 1890 – 1960
Author and Artist, Michael Kluckner will explore how Vancouver was marketed by the Canadian Pacific Railway and others as a tourist destination in an illustrated lecture at beautiful Hycroft Manor. He will look at the influence of natural attractions and how people traveled, the rise of tourist hotels and later “auto-court” hotels as well as how First Nations culture was first represented.
Hycroft Manor, 1498 McRae. 7:30 – 9:30pm, $15 or $9 with valid student ID

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Saturday, Feb 20: Spending the Night: Vancouver’s Historic Hotels
John Atkin leads this walking tour of downtown Vancouver hotels, past and present, to discover the history and architecture of these storied buildings. Vancouver’s historic hotels speak of the way early travelers experienced our city, and how design was integral to the type of clientele the hotel was hoping to attract.
Downtown Vancouver. 10am – 12 noon, $15
 
Sunday, Feb 21: Historic Stanley Park: From British Enclave to Urban Oasis
Historian Maurice Guibord leads a walking tour and illustrated lecture on Stanley Park. After centuries of use by local First Nations, Stanley Park was transformed into an ode to British gardens, where Vancouver’s settler population could feel at home. We’ll explore elements of the park’s First Nations history along with some of the sites that launched the park as a British enclave. From there we’ll enjoy the comfort of the Vancouver Rowing Club with warm beverages, a short introduction to the history of the Club from General Manager Keith Jolly and an illustrated talk on other aspects of the park’s fascinating history by Maurice.
Stanley Park and Vancouver Rowing Club. 9:30am – 12pm, $20 or $15 with valid student ID
 

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I thought your readers would enjoy these two NFB productions.

The first is “Whistling Smith.” A beat cop in the Downtown Eastside in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s a four-decade-old production. The Hastings Street buildings and cafes are there, but 40 years older.

The criticism of this film is that it patronizes women – especially First Nations women – something I agree with but we’ll let your readers decide.

After Smith retired, he became driver/body guard for Bill Vander Zalm when he was Premier.

[Click here for “Whistling Smith.”]

The second film is about the construction of housing for the wartime effort (WWII). Terrible narration. One could not imagine documentary dialogue like that these days, but those were the times.

There are also a few scenes of wartime housing construction in B.C. It appears to be war-time housing for the shipyard workers in North Vancouver.

[Click here for “Wartime Housing.”]

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Some weeks ago I received a request from Abrielle Chan to use an image from Price Tags (even though it was in public domain) for a history project she was working on.  Not only has Abrielle got a great name, she has a cleverly named website and blog: justbecauseIam.ca(nadian).  (Check out the speech bubbles).

Here are the results of her project, posted on “Canada’s History for Kids.” It’s revealing in many ways: for the story of Hogan’s Alley, for how comfortable kids are with a variety of media, and for an insight on the Canada of both yesterday and today.

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If you like it, you can vote for it (there’s a button on the right) – and help send Abrielle on a trip to Ottawa.

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“West End Memories Project: Growing Up in Vancouver’s West End”

Nadine Jones grew up in the West End in the Depression Years with the kind of spirit that allowed two girls and their young mother to survive and go on to lead very productive lives.  

Here is Part 3.  Part 1 here, part 2 here.  (To contribute a story, check below the fold below.)

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Times really change, nowadays girls spill out of their clothes and pretend to be upset when boys make lewd remarks but when my age group were young, if we walked down English Bay and men didn’t whistle or call out we wondered what the hell was the matter with us!

I was boy crazy and one of the young men I remember particularly when I was about fifteen was called Trevor Knox.  His family, I think, owned Jordan’s Persian Rugs.  I lived in two horrible rooms in Morton Lodge and his home was a castle in my eyes.  I think it was located at the corner of Chilco and Gilford and had Topiary in the garden.  He took me home to meet his mother one day and I was terrified and proved it by falling over the door mat when his mum opened the front door.  She was very gracious but I still blush to this day when I think of it!

I was married very young (18) to a sailor who lived (ugh) east of Main St.  Nobody who was anybody lived east of Main St., in those days.  He was shipped overseas four months later and didn’t come back for almost three years.  He was the father of Lynne my eldest of four girls.  His name was Leonard Jako. (now deceased).

Davie and Burrard, with Embassy Ballroom (now Celebrities)

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I adored dancing and the whole time he was gone I spent every evening I could at the Embassy Ballroom on Davie or the Alexandra ballroom with the spring floor above the liquor store at Hornby and Robson.  (it was called the  gonorrhea racetrack but I never went home with anyone it didn’t matter to me)  I was offered drugs at The Alex many times (which I always declined) so it isn’t just today that kids are offered drugs.  In retrospect I was an idiot but not that much of an idiot.

Then there was the Vancouver edition of the Stage Door Canteen next to Christ Church Cathedral on Burrard which was popular but I didn’t want to meet anyone I just wanted to dance.

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Gary Pennington welcomes your contribution:

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“West End Memories Project: Growing Up in Vancouver’s West End”

This project initiated by three old classmates from the area aims to collect stories and letters from old West Enders – a history of the people and by the people rather than a more traditional historical piece.   
Nadine Jones grew up in the West End in the Depression Years with the kind of spirit that allowed two girls and their young mother to survive and go on to lead very productive lives.  
Here is Part 2.  Part 1 here.  (To contribute a story, check below the fold below.)

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English Bay 1933

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Other memories of living on Morton Avenue was watching the fishermen at night with flashlights in the little triangle park at the foot of Davie St., looking for long fat dew worms.  And a man who had a tropical animal called a Kinkajou on a long leash and it used to go up into the street car overhead wires and crawl around while we watched.

Across the street at the English Bay bath house there was a small aquarium owned by Ivar of “Ivar’s Acrs of Clams” fame in Seattle.  The aquarium didn’t last too many years.  Down on the beach were the two very good looking Economy boys, Jimmy (the Shadow) and Bill (both deceased) who were lifeguards and had a great female following. …
Across the street was a den of iniquity according to my mother called Alex the Greek’s.  A small restaurant and what went on there I never found out because mum would never allow me to even peek in the door.
Every summer the huge raft with it’s slide called Big Bertha was towed from her winter quarters in Coal Harbour to English Bay for summer fun.  “I’ll meet you at the raft” as just as common a saying as “meet you under the Birk’s Clock” (Granville and Georgia).
We lived at English Bay but Second Beach and the muscle men, Tommy Bradko, Lucien Roy (Frenchie) and Al Reid and others showed off on the high bars and rings and were a great attraction to me. I was very tall in that era, (five foot eight and a half inches) and was very popular until a little cutie called McKinnon … I forget her first name … moved in on me, and the boys liked her because she was so small and feminine.  I hated her.

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Gary Pennington welcomes your contribution:

Read more »

“West End Memories Project: Growing Up in Vancouver’s West End”

This project initiated by three old classmates from the area aims to collect stories and letters from old West Enders – a history of the people and by the people rather than a more traditional historical piece.   The result: a book about living and growing up in the West End, and an archive of stories and information about the area for researchers and the public. 
Many stories and letters have been received from former students and residents dealing with events and relationships in the 1940’s and 1950’s, with a few coming from even earlier times – including colourful stories about bootlegging, gambling, sports, hangouts, school days, and the risks and adventure of living in and around the downtown core. 
One  particularly poignant story was written by Nadine Jones who grew up in the West End in the Depression Years.  Hers is a tale of the struggles and joys of two sisters and their single-parent mother trying to survive in the most difficult circumstances.  It is also an account of the kind of spirit that allowed two girls and their young mother to survive and go on to lead very productive lives. 

– Gary Pennington

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West End 1930s

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I am now ninety years old so when I write of my memories of growing up in the West End I am going back seventy five years so please allow for omissions and mistakes.

There were three of us, my sister, Jackie and our mum, Helen Jones.  We were dirt poor.  In retrospect I realize my mother was a heroine.  She had been raised as an English “lady” not being allowed to mix with the “common” folk and here she found herself living in dumpy rooms with two kids to support … and she survived!  It was in the middle of the depression.  Mum had a pittance of an income working as a stenographer in downtown Vancouver on Pender St., which she  walked to and from twice every day.
Rental rooms were hard to find and nobody seemed to want to rent to people with kids.  If a landlady (and they were a special brand of awful) allowed children, there were a hundred dos and don’ts posted in hallways.  We walked on tiptoes so we didn’t bother anyone.  “No music, no pets, no guests, no running in the hall”… 
I don’t’ know why we moved so often but we seem to have lived in every attic and basement and on every street in the West End…..Davie, Robson, Thurlow, Bute, Denman, Bidwell, Pendrell, to name a few.  When mum had a few dollars we used the Bay Transfer, who charged $2 a move, and who knew us well, to move us or we moved at the dead of night in a wheelbarrow.
My first memory of living in the West End was in Morton Lodge (long gone) on Morton Avenue just down from Sylvia Court with its blue Dine in the Sky neon sign.   Morton Lodge was a comparative luxury, we had two rooms and only shared a bathroom with a few other people.  There was a family called Legge living there with a son, Kenny and a daughter, Thelma.  And in the suite below us was a family called Duda with two kids, Gerry and Olga. 
Mr. Duda had an upholstering business in the basement of the Sylvia Hotel.  The chesterfields and chairs from the hotel were sent down to him to fix and he allowed Olga and I to delve behind the cushions where we often pricked our fingers on pins and sharp things but also sometimes came up with nickels and dimes … it was always a treasure hunt.  I remember particularly Mrs. Duda banging hard on our floor with a broom handle to stop my sister and I from noisily fighting and wrestling on the floor.
Three other memories from Morton Lodge.  Someone always plugged the pay phone return cavity with paper and if you happened to get there first and retrieve the paper, a few nickels would sometimes tumble out. 
The second memory is sharing the bathroom where people never seemed to hurry if you were late for school. 
And the third is that I got my first kiss at aged fourteen. 

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Today there will be a celebration of Mayor Art Phillips life at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.  To understand why, here’s a fine retrospective by Rod Mickleburgh in The GlobeAnd on a more personal note,  here is a memory of the mayor by author and heritage advocate Michael Kluckner: . I went late in ’72 or early ’73 to City Hall for an interview on behalf of Terminal City Express, a brief competitor of the Georgia Straight, with the newly elected mayor – a very cordial, friendly man.  The two comments I recall were that “you wouldn’t have gotten this interview with my predecessor” (Tom Campbell, whom I finally managed to interview in 2001) and “the future will look something like Kerrisdale.” . We were talking about development and the controversies surrounding projects like the “All Seasons Park” proposal at the edge of Stanley Park (15 towers, I recall, by William Zeckendorf and partners). It had only just been killed by the federal government that year (1972). There was also the Ben Wosk highrise on Cornwall (VV25 p. 204) that was still on people’s minds.  (More background here.) . Phillips said he thought Kerrisdale had developed into an ideal community: a mix of houses, low-rise and mid- (12 storey-ish) rise apartments around a street of shops. They were almost all apartments, with a few market co-ops, as strata was only beginning to come in then. . I don’t recall who took photos of the mayor but the caption or subhead for the article had a phrase (I think by Ken Lester, the editor) that noted Phillips’s good looks were akin to those of a Sears underwear model, which got picked up and used in the Sun, to our great glee. We were all pretty juvenile. . What also stuck in my mind was Phillips’s assistant, a bright-faced young man in a white shirt and tie and short hair. I was very long-haired and shabby and might have been wearing my lumberjack shirt, and I asked myself, how can this guy who’s not much older than me be so straight? Of course, it was Gordon Campbell, and what did he do with his life? Not much, eh? . I met Art Phillips and Carole a number of times subsequently, did a painting for them, thought they were a magical couple of people. When we lived in Kerrisdale in the ’80s, I often took the Knight Street bus downtown if I was going to put in a day researching at the library, and on several occasions watched Art Phillips, in his suit with his briefcase, get on at 31st – he would have walked over from their Barry Downs-designed house on the escarpment edge.
So he didn’t just ride the bus when he was a politician – his values went deeper than that. Read more »

“Paradigm shift” is a hackneyed phrase, but if there was a moment in urban history when one happened, it was in the early 1970s.  That time in Vancouver is associated with the Great Freeway Fight; the rejection of these massive arterials into the core of our city was ‘the most important thing that never happened.’
But that resistance to Motordom was happening in a lot of cities in North America: Toronto, San Francisco, even Washington, D.C. – typically a consequence of upper-income neighbourhoods using their power to stop the roadbuilders and their plans.  (The coalition that formed in Vancouver, sparked by Strathcona residents and Chinese merchants, is an exceptional part of our narrative.)
These times were also associated with the emergence of new leadership at the local level (TEAM in Vancouver), generational change, social liberation movements, less willingness to accept the word of authority and more willingness to entertain new ideas.
In Portland, Oregon, those forces came together with a remarkable group of new leaders, some of whom are still active.  But it was long enough ago to be, in a sense, ‘historical’ – and documents from that pre-digital age are taking on new meaning and importance as their relevance becomes more apparent.
Like this one – “a fascinating memo penned by a City Hall staffer in 1971,” just posted by BikePortland.  While not directly relevant to Vancouver, it’s still worth reprinting here as a document important to its time, when it might be said that the Age of Post-Motordom began.

The memo, titled, Disincentives to the Automobile (PDF), was written by Alan Webber, a staffer to then City Commissioner Neil Goldschmidt. Webber (bio) went on to have a notable career in journalism and is most well-known as being founder of Fast Company magazine. Today he’s an author and speaker considered an, “Expert on change and innovation in the knowledge economy.”
Webber’s six-page memo was created to “stimulate discussion on the role of the automobile” in Portland’s Downtown Plan. At the time the memo was written, cities around the country were being tasked by the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about high levels of urban air pollution (The “Anti-Planner” Randal O’Toole shared more historical context for the memo on his blog in 2008). The tone and content of the memo reveals a deep understanding that car overuse has a negative impact on the creation of a vibrant, livable city. Far from being simply “anti-car,” the memo reads like something you’d hear espoused by an advocate or planner at a modern-day active transportation conference.

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