Our Next Meeting Is On Thursday

As many of you will know, we meet on the third Thursday of each month, at 7:00pm in the Britannia Board Room in the Info Centre (Commercial & Napier) and the next meeting is rapidly approaching — this Thursday.

The highlight of the evening will be Eric Philip’s illustrated talk on Glass in his remarkable Heritage Mechanicals and Materials series. Those who were there won’t soon forget last month’s teaser!  Come along and see the real thing.

We will also discuss this year’s experience working with a university student, and compare it to the previous year’s experience, in order to answer the question: Should we keep doing this?

Other topics will include Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Endangered listing for Commercial Drive, a replacement for the Shelly plaque, and the schedule for the 2014 Centenary Celebration house signs project.  And, of course, any other relevant topic that springs to mind..

Hope to see you there on Thursday

The Daily World Made Available Online


The Daily World was perhaps the most important newspaper in Vancouver in the first decade or more of the twentieth century.  At one point it claimed to carry more advertising inches than any other newspaper on the continent!  When the paper was owned by Louis D. Taylor (our most-often elected Mayor) the profits were large enough for Taylor to commision the World Tower (now the Sun Tower) which was briefly the tallest building in the British Empire.

Access to The World is a vital resource in the arsenal of historians of early Vancouver.  The Special Collections Unit of the Vancouver Public Library has them all on microfilm, but now they have been made available from 1888 to 1924 online through Newspapers.com.  The site also has most of the run of the Vancouver Evening Sun.  This is a subscription service, but worth every penny for those who enjoy delving into our past.


20,000 Maps Made Available

The New York Public Library has just made available a collection of 20,000 maps in high definition downloadable format.

I am certain there will not be a single map of Grandview there, nor even of Vancouver, but I believe it is important to celebrate and praise the opening up of such material that previously was available only to scholars and those able to visit the NYPL. It encourages others to do the same!

Walking Tour: West Grandview

Next Saturday, 29th March at 10am, historian and GHG’s own Maurice Guibord will be conducting a walking tour concerning the history and heritage of the area between Commercial Drive and Clark Drive.

This is a walk arranged by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation who describe it in the following way:

“This fascinating sub-area has been little explored, straddling industrial, commercial and residential precincts and displaying the transitions that continue to transform its built heritage. You will see how artists have played an important part in making the area more livable, how demographic pressures have transformed the residential landscape, and how some individuals chose this area to make their statement, be it cultural, patrimonial or other.”

Registration can be done online: http://www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org/take-a-tour/walking-tours/ or by calling their office: 604 264 9642.  There is a cost of $15 for VHF tours.

Maurice is an erudite and entertaining tour leader and this is thoroughly recommended.

Meeting Notes: March

We had about twenty people at our meeting last night, with a couple of new visitors.  I don’t think anyone was disappointed with all that we managed to cover in a couple of hours.

  • Michael Kluckner gave a detailed and excellent illustrated talk that led us through the history of heritage legislation and regulation in Vancouver, starting with the first Heritage By-law (which has its 40th anniversary this year), which was a result of the controversial Birks Building demolition. He then segued into a review of the various housing styles that we can find in Grandview, focusing on the change from a front porch-based culture to one that prefers more privacy in backyards and courtyards.
  • Michael’s talk was by way of a primer for our 2014 Centenary House signs project walk on Sunday.  We will meet at the Britannia library at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday 23rd March.  We will cover the area west and south of Britannia.  Everyone is welcome to join us.
  • We noted that Stephanie Chang, the UBC Historical Geography (GEOG 429) student who has been wortking with us, will present her paper next Tuesday.  Michael and Jak are planning to go.
  • We discussed the situation regarding Brookhouse, 1872 Parker. The news does not seem good, and we may well lose this house to demolition very soon.
  • The meeting that several of us had with the Agnew family was described, and led to an interesting discussion about the value of family papers and photographs.
  • Jak and Bruce described the $25,000 New Horizons grant that has now been received and is to be managed by VCN.  The purpose of the project is to collect as many seniors’ stories as we can.  Interviews should begin in April.
  • Last, and certainly not least, Eric Phillips gave us a teaser about the new edition of his series, Heritage Mechanicals and Materials, that he will present at our meeting next month.  The subject is Glass.  He brought along a number of examples of stained glass and beveled plate, and then encouraged our attendance next month with some fascinating illustrations about the history of glass.

Another great meeting; I think we are really getting into our stride now.

Next Meeting: Thursday 3/20

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is this coming Thursday, 20th March, at 7:00pm at the Britannia Board Room.  The agenda at this point includes:

  • Report on our student intern’s work on Woodland Park area history
  • Michael Kluckner presentation:  “H is for Heritage”
  • Sunday’s walk (see below)
  • Update on 1872 Parker Street
  • Visit with the Agnew Family
  • Teaser for Eric on Glass

Michael’s presentation is a lead up to our 2014 Centenary Signs walk on Sunday.  We will be meeting outside the Britannia Library at 9:30am and we will be exploring the area west of Britannia to Clark and north to Venables.  Please join us on Sunday even if you can’t make Thursday’s meeting!

The Value of Family Papers

This morning a number of us met with two sisters who had contacted us because their family had lived in Grandview from the early days. Their grandfather was Dr. Thomas Agnew who practised at First and Commercial Drive from 1916 to his death in 1948, and their uncle was Dr. Glen Agnew who joined his father’s practice in 1945.  He moved his office to the then-new Toban Building at Commercial & Broadway in 1950. They had several other relatives who were prominent in Grandview over the years.

In the course of our conversations we managed to link their family to many other families in the neighbourhood. Bruce Macdonald has called Grandview an Edwardian Village and the linking of families and friends that we heard about this morning was certainly like putting together the social archaeology of a village.

We had a wonderful time as they regaled us with stories and showed us dozens of old photographs and albums and magazines. As time permits, and with their permission, we will be publishing some of the photos and telling their tales. They have, they said, boxes of personal material, letters and photographs stored in their attics and were pleasantly surprised about how excited we were with the material we saw.

For social historians of any period, the personal books, diaries, letters and photographs are foundational to our understanding.  We can read newspapers and City reports, but they only tell a small part of the story.  The real understanding comes from seeing what the people themselves thought and saw.  It is a true joy to realize that this kind of material is still available.  That made this morning very special.

Centenary House Signs Campaign 2014

After some preliminary work, we are now ready to put together the list of buildings that we will celebrate with centenary signs this year.

We have picked out some spots that we really want to include this time out, but we need to find more possibilities.  The rule is that the building must be at least 100 years old and not changed too much from its original design.  As usual, we will begin the process with a walk (or walks) that often turns into a vibrant educational tour for those who join us.

The first walk this year will begin at 9:30am on Sunday 23rd March and we will gather in the square outside the Britannia Library entrance.  We will be walking through the area west to Clark and probably north to Venables, in an area where many of our earliest builders plied their trade. The walk will be completed by noon and is open to anyone who cares to join us.

Our house styles expert, Michael Kluckner, will be with us to point out interesting architectural details, and no doubt one or more of our historians will be able to supply more details on the history of the area and the builders.

In advance of the walk, at our regular monthly meeting on Thursday 20th March, Michael will give a presentation of a primer he calls “H is for Heritage”.  More details on the meeting will be available next week.