Notes From The May Meeting

We had another lively, informative, and well-attended meeting last Thursday evening. After introductions:

  • We took note of our fifth anniversary on 5th May
  • Centenary Signs Campaign
    • All the previous year’s signs have been collected
    • Maria and Donato have assembled a number of possibilities on the west side of Grandview
    • It was agreed we will look for other potentials to tie in with the route of this year’s Eastside Garden Tour
    • Penny, Dorothy, and Donato volunteered to collect more addresses
    • Michael and Jak will do write ups
  • Neighbourhood Update
    • The continued upward pressure on house prices was noted
    • Also noted that Commercial Drive is on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Endangered List again this year
    • 1102 Commercial was discussed
    • A number of renovations on Graveley were examined
    • A number of sales and demolitions in the neighbourhood were discussed
  • Gastown Historic Area was noted
  • A number of upcoming events were noted, including
    • 5 June: Heritage House Tour
    • 11 June: Heritage Vancouver Garden Tour
    • 18 June: Architectural Salvage Sale
    • 19 June: East Van Garden Tour
    • various walking tours from the Vancouver Heritage Foundation
  • Eric reviewed a number of Vancouver Heritage Brown Bag lectures, including the old Remand Centre in DTES, Taylor Manor, and St George’s School
  • The debate on What’s So Special About The Drive which took place the previous evening was discussed, as were some of the ideas for density and affordability
  • We discussed Car Free Day 2016 on 19th June.  It was agreed we would not have a table this year as many members were involved with other tables and activities that day.  We will request that the GWAC table hold some basic materials for us.  It was agreed we will definitely have a table in 2017 and that some effort this year will go toward producing materials and displays for that table.
  • We discussed the idea of having as a regular part of each month’s meeting a short presentation on the history of one house in the neighbourhood.
  • It was noted that this year’s student, Claire Shepansky, has produced an excellent report on the displacement of residents during the establishment of Britannia Centre. As soon as possible we will put up a link on our website to the report.

Getting To Today On The Drive

During a recent debate on the future of Commercial Drive, Jak King briefly described the historical/social processes that have created the Drive of today. These remarks may be of interest to our readers:

“From its founding in the early years of the 1900s through to the Second World War, the Drive was a rather staid and boring street, dominated by a population that was 85%+ Anglo. There were always a few Italians, a few Germans, some Chinese and, until 1942, a substantial Japanese population. But the English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh dominated.

By the mid-1950s, the Drive was collapsing as an economic unit and Grandview was undergoing what the City called “slumification.”  The area was saved by two circumstances: the Italians who had previously lived in Strathcona decided to move East; and Federal immigration laws were relaxed, allowing many more southern and eastern Europeans to come to Canada, many of whom settled in Grandview.

Perhaps surprisingly — but certainly an important marker for the future — the Anglo elite welcomed these newcomers because they added a vitality and prosperity to the Drive that had not been there for a generation.

Since that time – for some 60 years – the Drive has been the scene of continuous change. We have had a constant change of people on the Drive – starting with the Italians and the Portuguese and some East Europeans, followed by Central Americans, Jamaicans, those from the Middle East, and a variety of Africans. Not only different cultures and nationalities and languages, but also different sexualities and those of various economic circumstances were welcomed to the neighbourhood.

Each of these groups have left their mark on the patina that is the glory of the Drive today. They have changed our building styles, grocery options, street art, food availability, everything; and they have done this over and over again.

And all of these continuous changes have been welcomed, indeed encouraged, by most Drive residents.  And that is because each of these changes have been subtle, incremental, and evolutionary within the general envelope of what the Drive is – which is a place of low-rise buildings, 25′ store fronts, and, importantly, local business ownership.

That is how we got to today, and it this same velocity and style of change that will maintain the Drive that we all love. Introducing rapid and intrusive change can only damage what is a highly successful and well-loved neighbourhood.”

The May Meeting

Wow!  Time just zips by when you’re busy saving the world; and here we are already at the next GHG meeting.

The meeting is on Thursday 19th May at 7:00pm in the Britannia Boardroom as usual.

The agenda will include the Neighbourhood Update, and also a discussion about our participation in No Car Day this year.  I’m sure there will be plenty of other things to keep us busy.

As usual, everyone is welcome, so come on along!

Human Scale Urbanism On The Drive

As mentioned in the minutes to the last meeting, GHG and GWAC are co-sponsoring one of this year’s Jane’s Walks (named for famed urbanist Jane Jacobs).

The walk along the Drive — with the theme Human Scale Urbanism — will be led by Lewis Villegas and Steve Bohus. Jak King will tag along to offer an historical and heritage perspective.

The walk begins at 1:00pm on Sunday May 8 and we will be gathering outside Bump n’Grind Cafe near Commercial & Venables.

More details can be found at the Jane’s Walk page.

Meeting Notes: April 2016

The GHG had another interesting and productive meeting last night with a fine turnout for a warm “early summer” night,

  • After introductions, Jak attempted to show a short video entitled “Living In Gunter’s World” which takes viewers through a short history of surveying measurements and how that has directly affected the shape and history of Vancouver.  Unfortunately, technical issues made the viewing impossible, but the link is included in this post and everyone is encouraged to view the 3 minute presentation.
  • There was a quick review of John Stuart’s interesting and successful industrial heritage walk.
  • The monthly Neighbourhood Update report covered a lot of ground including commercial property changes on Commercial Drive, and sales of properties on E. 7th, Venables, Semlin, Lakewood, William, Napier, and a number on Charles Street — all with typically high prices, and many seemingly slated for demolition and redevelopment.  It was noted that 2088 Charles is being retained by the new owners, using an HRA to include a small infill coach house. Further, work on restoring the Green House at 1985 Venables is moving ahead and should be completed this summer. It was agreed this was a far better use of funds than the Cultch’s original plan to demolish the heritage building and replace it with a modernist and inappropriate box-like structure.
  • We reviewed a number of upcoming Vancouver Heritage Foundation events and workshops, details of which can be found on their website.
  • John Aitken’s “Researching The History of a Building” workshop is part of the Heritage BC event at Granville Island (see 2c on the schedule). A half-day registration for the event is $70. We recommend Penny Street’s excellent seminar on the same topic, her on our website for free.
  • Maurice Guibord’s tour on “Grandview: Places of Worship” is on Saturday from 10am until noon.
  • It was agreed to sponsor a Jane’s Walk tour of the Drive on 8th May. Jak will contact Steve Bohus and Lewis Villagas who are interested in organizing the event.
  • The ongoing Heritage Vancouver series, “Shaping Vancouver” continues on 18th May with a discussion on “What’s So Special About The Drive“. Registration is required.
  • It was agreed that Jak will conduct a history/heritage walking tour of Commercial Drive on 11th June.  More details to follow,
  • Further walking tour ideas were briefly discussed, including the possibility of one focusing on the women of the neighbourhood,
  • We discussed the possibility of a 2016 version of our annual Centenary Signs program.  Maria and Donato have begun to collect potential houses. It was agreed that Penny and Maria will commence the task of collecting last year’s signs (for cleaning and refurbushment) and Penny will write letters of thanks to last year’s recipients.
  • To complete the evening, Michael gave a very interesting illustrated presentation on “The Curious Case of Shaughnessy Heights“. The presentation took us through the history of First Shaughnessy from before the CPR land grant to the 1970s and beyond. Michael noted the curiosity that the single-family nature of Shaughnessy was in its DNA — not to mention the various restrictive legislation and by-laws that have governed the district for good or ill.

Another interesting and full evening.

Next Meeting: 21st April

Time flies, and here we are again almost ready for another monthly meeting.  It is on Thursday 21st April at 7:00pm at the Britannia Boardroom, Napier Street.

This month’s agenda will include:

  • Our regular Changes in the Neighbourhood review;
  • An illustrated talk by Michael Kluckner on “The Curious Case of Shaughnessy Heights“;
  • A short video on how Vancouver is shaped the way it is;
  • A quick review of the Industrial Heritage Walk;
  • A discussion on Jane’s Walks for May;
  • Other walks this summer?

And who know’s what else may crop up?  Our agenda is always flexible.  Everyone is welcome to join us, and we look forward to seeing many of this Thursday!

Walking Tours

First, a reminder that GHG’s first walking tour of the year is this Sunday. It is a walk and talk through the older industrial section of Grandview north of Hastings. It begins and ends at Pandora Park.  Details can be found in this post.

In addition. the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is holding a tour of Grandview’s Places of Worship led by our good friend and colleague Maurice Guibord on Saturday 23rd April from 10:00am to noon. “Grandview is a vibrant neighbourhood dotted with a diverse array of places of worship. Some remain in their original use, some have changed hands while others are in transition … at least five different sites that are at various stages in their historical timeline. Explore the architecture of these historic buildings, and see how the evolution of religious buildings in this neighbourhood reflects the changing dynamic of the area.”  For this tour you need to register, and the cost is $15.

Hope to see many of you this Sunday!

Grandview Heritage Walking Tour

Join heritage expert John Stuart as he explores Grandview’s industrial heritage. 

Sunday 10th April 2016, 11:00am

Free (though donations to GHG are always happily accepted)

Tour begins and ends at the facilities building at Pandora Park, Garden & Pandora

“A feature of recent town planning has been the separation of work and living spaces.  Today communities are building transportation systems that carry huge numbers of people on the daily commute from home to workplace and back.  Grandview offers us a wonderful opportunity to explore the idea that this was not always the case.  Growth was much more organic.  A century ago and more large factories located on the Burrard Inlet waterfront near supply and shipping facilities – the lumber mills, shingle mills, sash and door factories and fish canneries…  The supporting foundries, the pattern shops, the saw makers, the fishing tackle makers, the boat works, the harness and boot makers, the work clothes tailors,… located nearby.  The residential community we know and love appeared with its supporting shopping area, often filling in the gaps between the industrial operations.”