Meeting Notes: October

We had another fine gathering this evening. There was a short agenda but we managed to fill the time with interesting discussions.

  • Eric presented his latest Neighbouthood Update.
    • Land assembly is going on around Broadway and Garden in preparation for the changes allowed under the new Community Plan
    • Work is continuing on the Green House on Venables; it is looking better than it has for more than a decade;
    • We looked at the work going on at the Westerdale apartments at Adanac and Victoria; at First & Victoria, and both the Bosa building and The Frances site on Victoria.
  • Notices about Upcoming Events included:
    • various lectures at Hycroft
    • Navigating City Hall for Heritage owners on 10/25
    • Friends of the Archives fundraiser this Sunday with a presentation on Vaudeville in Vancouver
    • Next Thursday’s Vancouver Historical Society lecture at MOV is on activism in the 1970s.
  • Jak gave a short presentation about the original grand plans for the building that eventually became Joe’s Cafe. This will be subject of a post on this site.
  • We had a report on both the sign and the plaque at the Via Tevere restaurant.
    • The plaque has once again fallen victim to the sun fading the words untikl they are illegible. It was agreed we will replace the plaque and this time Steph has agreed to build a frame that will incorporate a laminated glass so as to reduce this problem;
    • The owners of the building have pointed out that some of the paint restoration work we did on the Shelly’s sign is shifting. It was agreed we will contact the artist, Victoria G, survey the situation and come up with a budget to improve the sign.
  • Eric presented two more very entertaining Heritage Life Hacks:
    • The trials and tribulations of mending old locks;
    • Dealing with roots in old sewer lines.
  • We discussed the upcoming Complete Streets policy decisions, and how this may affect heritage buildings on the Drive.
  • Finally, we briefly discussed the uses of and their complete run of Vancouver World.

Next Meeting: 20th October

It’s that time again; the monthly meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group will take place at: 7:00pm Thursday 20th October in the Britannia Boardroom, Napier Street.

The agenda this month will include:

  • Neighbourhood Update;
  • A brief presentation on “What might have been” instead of Joe’s Cafe;
  • Two heritage house hacks from Eric
  • Complete Streets — effect on heritage?

As usual, our agenda is always open to any items of interest to the group that you may want to discuss.

Hope to see many of you there on Thursday!

Venables and Victoria

While researching the previous post, I came across this image of the Methodist Church at Venables and Victoria.


The quality of the image is not great (old newspaper + microfilm + online) but I am sure this is the earliest image of the church as it was taken before the dedication ceremony in March 1909, and was published in Vancouver World 1909 Mar 6, p.13.

This is, of course, now the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

A Lost Church Refound

“You have a very nice, bright little church here — even if it is out in the stumps,” declared Rev. Merton Smith as he preached the afternoon sermon of the Park Drive Methodist Church on Sunday 26th June, 1904. (1)

The brand new Park Drive branch of the Princess Street Methodist Church had been erected “on the fringe of the City’s populated district” standing “almost alone in the midst of what remains of a one-time huge forest. Burned and charred stumps, an undergrowth of green shoots, and a rough newly-opened road” surrounded the building. Though there were very few houses within shouting distance of the new church, there “poured forth a goodly number of persons who filled the new building to overflowing both at the morning and afternoon services.”

The idea for a new church had arisen the previous fall. At a meeting of the Quarterly Official Board of the Princess Street Methodist Church in November of 1903, it was noted that “the far east [of Vancouver] is so rapidly building up that it will ere long boast a not inconsiderable population.” They were already overcrowded at Princess Street, and had moved their Sunday school into rented space at the old Episcopal church building on Campbell Avenue. However, the Board members decided the rent money would be put to better use paying for another church that would be their own property, and realtor J.B. Mathers was contacted to assist them in this endeavour. (2)

Mathers secured for them two lots on the northeast corner of Park Drive and Barnard Street. After some delay while the property owners were contacted in England, the lots were purchased for $350 which was advanced by eight church members. Robert Clarke, secretary of the Princess Street church, then wrote to the Vancouver Board of Works (BOW) requesting that Park Drive be opened from Venables Street north to Powell. The BOW wouldn’t go that far, but agreed to open the street from Venables to Barnard. Later, the BOW also approved the laying of a sidewalk from Venables to the new church. (3)

On 14th April 1904, the Church was issued a building permit. They had secured a contract with builder A.E. Carter who agreed to construct the building for $1,000. A few weeks later, two dozen members of the Princess Street congregation “took a holiday” and cleared the lots. (4)

By June, the building was ready, with workers busy until nine o’clock the night before the dedication completing the final touches. Even after that late hour, Trustees William Raine and J.W. Burns had worked to clean up and decorate the interior with “a mass of flowers gathered by the children of east end families.” (5)

The 11:00am dedication service was supervised by Rev. J.F. Betts, chairman of the Vancouver Methodist district. He arrived ten minutes late, “mopping his brow” with heavy perspiration, having walked through the hot morning all the way from Greer’s Beach in Kitsilano where he and his family were currently camping. Notwithstanding his exertions, Betts was “in one of his happiest sermon moods” and the service, enliven by the Princess Street choir, was “thoroughly enjoyed” by the congregation of about 175 people. A similar number came for the afternoon service given by Rev. Smith.

At the services on that day, the church managed to raise $227.45 which was paid to the builder’s account. Church officials stated their hope that “in five years they will have paid every cent of debt on the new building.”  We can only assume that Carter the builder was an amiable chap.

The pastor of the new church, Rev. R. Newton Powell, was a 36-year old Englishman. He had spent seven years on church work in the West Indies where he married. In 1897 they moved to British Columbia on account of Mrs. Powell’s health, and he had served at various locations in the interior before coming to Princess Street. He is described as “a thoughtful, forceful, and flowery preacher with a thoroughly evangelical ring about him.”(6)

Rev. Powell was eventually replaced by Mr. Van Dyke, “a returned missionary from Japan on furlough”, who supervised the church for about a year. He then gave way to Rev. J.J. Nixon.  In 1908, the Park Street Church became independent of Princess Street, and the Rev. R.S. Stillman was installed as pastor, supervising Sunday School attendances of up to 200. It was already clear that a larger building was urgently required and three lots were purchased on Venables Street at the corner of Victoria Drive, where a $5,000 church was dedicated in March 1909, and the Park Drive Church was abandoned. (7)

Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate any photographs of the Park Drive Church. I assume the original building was rapidly dismantled as it does not appear on the 1912 Goad’s map.  The lots have been empty since then, and were partly subsumed beneath the Commercial Drive Diversion that was built in 1931. The remainder now forms part of the parking lot on the west side of the Drive between Venables and Adanac.



(1) Commercial Drive prior to 1911 was called Park Drive. Descriptions of the dedicatory ceremony are from Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3, and the Western Methodist Recorder 1904 July. The author thanks Blair Galston, United Church Conference Archivist for this latter reference.

(2) Vancouver World 1903 November 20, p.6; 1904 June 27, p.3

(3) The intersection is currently known as Commercial Drive and Adanac Street. The lots were DL 183 Block 9D, Lot 1-2. “$350”: Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3. Board of Works: Minutes 3 Mar, and 2 June 1904, CVA, MCR-36 Roll 2; Vancouver World, 4 Mar 1904, p.5, June 3, p.5; News-Advertizer, 4 Mar 1904, p.4, 11 Mar p.5

(4)  “holiday”: Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3

(5)  Other Trustees included Victor Odlum, J. Horner, Alderman Angus MacDonald, and Robert G. Clarke.

(6)  Vancouver World 1904, June 27, p.3

(7) Vancouver World 1909 Mar 6, p.13. The “new” church is now the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.


The House That Wouldn’t Fade

At the last GHG meeting, we reported that Donato Calogero gave a wonderful presentation on the history of his house at 1350 Graveley Street. The research indicates that the house is almost certainly the oldest existing house in Grandview, having been moved twice in its 116 year life.

Donato has graciously allowed us to include his full presentation in the form of a Powerpoint show file: the-house-that-wouldnt-fade.

Note that the file is very large and may take some time to load.

Update:  A smaller version of the file has now been loaded to reduce load time.

Research Methods For Local History

Vancouver is fortunate in having a very fine Library and City Archives (CVA) system that maintains an enormous body of documentary and visual evidence of Vancouver’s history and heritage. There is, in fact, so much data available that it can be overwhelming for both professional and amateur researchers alike. To assist researchers, the CVA has developed an excellent system of identification of its enormous collection and, especially for City of Vancouver records, the big red binders in the reading room that describe each fond are a mandatory first stop for any serious research.

But the ease of access to so much data leads to another problem — how do you maintain your own records of what you find? And how do you find specific information within your own records when you need it?  As my own large collection of data for Grandview has grown over the past many years, I have had to develop (and often, trash and re-develop) systems to handle this problem. I;m still not sure I have it right.

I recently came across an interview with Billy Smith, Professor of History at Montana State University, which addresses this specific issue.  It is an audio podcast of about 45 minutes duration. There are a couple of minutes of introduction before the interview begins, but then we get into the useful material.

Episode 097: Billy Smith, How to Organize Your Research

Select “Episode 097” above and then, when the new page opens, the Listen Now feature can be found with a couple of PageDown clicks.Grab your favourite beverage, settle down into your favourite chair, and listen to some excellent advice from a long-time successful researcher.

Lecture about the Shelly’s 4X sign


The neighbourhood’s ghost sign at Via Tevere Ristorante on Victoria Drive at William is the subject of a Vancouver Historical Society lecture on Thursday, September 22nd. I will be talking about the discovery of the sign, its restoration by the Grandview Heritage Group in 2012 or was it 2013, and the advertising campaign the bakery used in the 1920s. The title is “Selling Bread to Housewives in the 1920s”; there is an article about the talk in Spacing magazine.

Notes To September Meeting

We enjoyed a wonderfully full and productive meeting last night. There were almost thirty people in attendance, many of them new to the group. They were interested and articulate, and it was great to welcome them all. The following agenda items were covered:

  • Donato Calogero began the meeting with a wonderful presentation on his house at 1350 Graveley. He has conducted considerable research on the property including the collection of a marvellous group of photographs. Donato has discovered that the house was built on the shore of False Creek (then, 1200 E. 1st) probably in 1900. As part of the construction of the First Avenue Viaduct, the house was moved in 1937 to 1726 Clark Drive. In 1956 it was moved again to its present location on Graveley. It is concluded that this is the oldest continuously existing building in Grandview. Over the next short while we will work to put the presentation on this website for all to see. It was also agreed that we will design and erect a plaque noting this important history.
  • Centenary Celebration Houses 2016:  We discussed this briefly. Unfortunately there was an online technical issue and we were unable to show the photographs.
  • Eric gave another of his fine What’s Happening In the Neighbourhood presentations.
    • We noted the replacement of the Heritage Plaques previously stolen on Salsbury
    • We agreed to replace (for a second time) the plaque on Via Tevere building, damaged by sunlight
    • Work on the Cultch’s Green House is progressing well
    • There was a general note that some heritage houses for sale seem to be staying on the market longer than earlier this year
    • It was noted that Brookhouse (1872 Parker) is showing considerable signs of being damaged due to the length of time it has now sat unoccupied
    • Other properties on Victoria, 7th, 5th, Commercial, William, and Venables were reviewed
    • The current state of the maple trees in Grandview Park was also noted, several trees having already been felled
    • It was also noted that a number of development applications on Commercial Drive are asking for very limited or zero parking
  • Eric also took us through a number of Upcoming Events. These include a number of tours via Heritage Vancouver, the Van Hist Society’s lecture on 9/22, and the Friends of Vancouver Archives fundraiser on 10/23
  • Finally we discussed the future of GHG itself.  It was noted that the founders are getting older and several are currently working on projects unconnected to Grandview (and thus not suitable for presentation at the monthly meetings). Younger and active volunteers are needed to ensure that we carry on as successfully as we have in the past. However, tonight’s excellent turnout and program shows that the group clearly does have a promising future.

Next Meeting This Thursday

Our summer break is over, and the Grandview Heritage Group is ready to begin its 6th season of public meetings. The next meeting is on:

Thursday 15th September, 7:00pm at Britannia Board Room, Napier Street

The agenda will include:

  • an important historical presentation about the oldest house still existing in Grandview;
  • our Centenary House celebrations for 2016;
  • what’s happening in the neighbourhood;
  • and an important discussion regarding the Heritage Group and how it moves forward into the future.

We would not be surprised if other matters come up for discussion too.

The meeting is open to everyone and we look forward to seeing many of you there on Thursday evening!

Rise and Fall of the Grandview Market Hall

In the first decade of the 20th century, Vancouver was a tiny outpost of civilization; its 20,000 people linked to the rest of the continent by railroads and steamships. That being said, the city was somehow able to track and follow certain market trends. And Grandview became involved.

According to the vital new work by Frank Trentmann called “The Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from  the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First“, the growth of consumerism and department stores across the world at the end of the 19th century, led to an increase in disorderly and disreputable street hawkers and “cities turned to market halls to bring them under central control.”   Inside these new areas, “spitting, swearing, and shouting were forbidden.”(1)

I have not noticed a call in Vancouver at that time complaining about problems with street hawkers, however that did not stop notary William Astley building the East Side Public Market at 1502 Venables on the corner with Woodland. The hall was built on a 66 x 126 foot lot and was to “serve the same purpose as the recently opened market that has been such a success in the west end.” It cost $45,000 including land (at a time when a store on the Drive could be erected for less than half that) and included 40 separate stalls and offices on the ground floor. The upper floor would be for public entertainments. Mr Wentzy, the manager, had opened previous markets in Seattle, his motto being: “High class merchandise and low prices, courteous treatment and honest weights.” There was a fireproof glass awning along Venables and the building was illuminated by 400 electric lights.(2)

The market opened in May 1911. In 1912, the City Directory listed a cigar store, a grocery, a bakers, a meat store, and Astley’s office as occupying the hall. However, by 1914 the market was vacant and sat unused for several years. Astley moved his real estate offices along the street to 1516 Venables.(3)

In Europe and elsewhere, the craze for market halls had come to an equally rapid halt. AsTrentmann writes:

By 1911, observers began to notice their ‘growing insignificance’ for ordinary people … It could be cheaper to buy from a street dealer who did not carry the extra expense of renting a stall.” (4)

Without more research it would be hard to say if Grandview’s Market Hall failed for the same reasons as those in London and Manchester and Buenos Aires. But the timing of the rise and fall seems eerily coincident.



  1. Trentmann, Frank 2016, “Empire of Things” (Allen Lane, London), p.207
  2. Vancouver World, 24 Jan 1911; Western Call 19 May 1911, p.1
  3. Vancouver City Directories, 1911-1914
  4. Trentmann 2016, p.207-208