GHG Zoom meeting on Thursday, April 16th, 7:00

Hi dear GHG people,

We’re going to try doing a GHG meeting on Zoom this Thursday. If you would like to participate, please send an e-mail to You will receive an invitation with the link and password just before the meeting.
We won’t have our exact usual format because we’ll be online.
Here’s our agenda:
  1. Introductions and a few minutes of getting everyone oriented and comfortable with Zoom
  2. Eric’s “Around the Neighbourhood” (which we didn’t manage to get to at our last face-to-face meeting)
  3. Michael’s short presentation about banks
  4. Neville’s historic images with Celtic Cannery & Shipyards
  5. Other business

Drugs and Booze: The Rowdy History of 1761 Grant Street

The one-and-a-half storey house at 1761 Grant was built under a $2,250 building permit  issued to W.H. Creitz at the beginning of January 1910. By May it was on the market, described as having seven rooms “with every up-to-date convenience built in.”  It was “not an ordinary house; come and see it; if you see it, you will want it.”[1]

It was still on the market the following January when the owner’s ad pleaded that “it must be sold this week”, and again in March.[2]  However, by the time of the census in July 1911 the house was occupied, mainly by the Jessiman family. Alfred Jessiman was a clerk at the Bank of Vancouver, William was also a clerk, while Norman worked at a hardware store on E. Cordova. They had a housekeeper, Agnes Chino.  But the Jessimans didn’t stay long and by the following year the house was vacant again.[3]

A year or so later, 1761 Grant – along with 1749 which becomes an integral part of the story that follows – was occupied by “Chinese” and “orientals” as the Directories chose to call them.  In 1914, the “oriental” was named as Jim Lem.  According to the 1921 Census, Lem was the owner of the property and lived there with his wife, Gin Shee, three daughters and three sons. He was described as a merchant.[4]

The 1700 block of Grant was a residential street of impeccable character; after all, world-travelling historian, social reformer, and former City Councilor Prof. Edward Odlum had his Queen Anne mansion there, on the corner lot with its lawns flowing down to Commercial Drive.  With the racist tinge that was so prominent in its day, the Province described 1761 and 1749 Grant as having windows that were “nicely curtained, the front yards unusually neat”, so you wouldn’t even know a Chinese family lived there. [5]

For several years, we hear nothing about what the Lem family is up to. In court reports in 1918, Jim Lem is described as “a type of up-to-date Chinese who drives a motor car” and had a position with a bank.  Suddenly, following “information that was obtained,” the house – or more particularly, the garage – of 1761 Grant was raided by Deputy Police Chief Don Leatherdale and three detectives on the evening of 17th October 1917. [6]

Donald Leatherdale CVA AM54-S4-: Port N3 1

When the police arrived, the garage door was wide open, and crates of liquor could clearly be seen.  In the end, 12 barrels of Chinese whiskey, each containing 36 gallons, and 52 cases of Chinese wine worth $4,000 were confiscated under the new Prohibition Act.  Two horse-drawn drays were needed to move the booze to the Police Station. Jim Lem was arrested and charged with keeping liquor in an improper place.[7]

Lem protested that he had purchased the liquor for his own use “for cooking purposes,” and that the police were mis-interpreting the Act.  The police contended that a garage is not a “dwelling place” under the meaning of the Act. Magistrate Shaw agreed with the police, fined Lem $100 plus costs, and confiscated the liquor.

It would take until a hearing in the following February, but Lem was eventually to get his booze back.  He and his father sued the police for the return of their goods and proved that they had laid in the liquor “with characteristic Chinese foresight” to see them through the introduction of Prohibition. Two days before the Act came into force, Lim borrowed $500 from his wife, and $1,700 from his father. He used the money to pay for the liquor from the Western Canada Liquor Company. Lem’s father was known throughout Chinatown, apparently, as a heavy drinker.  Judgement in their favour was issued by Justice MacDonald who declared that Lem was correctly fined under the Act but that the Act did not allow for subsequent confiscation. The police were obliged to return the barrels to 1761 Grant. [8]

Just a year before the liquor bust, a new Chinese resident appears at 1749 Grant. He is J.W. Mang, and given subsequent events, one wonders if this timing is not related.

Mang appears as resident of 1749 Grant from 1916. However, he does not appear in the Names section until 1919 where he is listed as owner of J.W. Mang & Co, a grocery store at 2652 Main.  That same year, he ran an ad in the Vancouver Daily World — “Best quality, small profits. Give me a try” — where the grocer was listed at 532 Kingsway. [9]

During the winter and early spring of 1920, the two houses on Grant Street had been linked by the police to a network of cross-border drug smugglers. It was believed that a building on Columbia Avenue was being used as a storehouse for the drugs. An automobile number plate was tied by surveillance to both the Columbia Avenue and Grant Street addresses. The Grant Street premises had been watched by police for some time before, on the morning of 1st May, a raid took place, the houses were searched, and Mang was arrested.[10]

The raid was led by Vancouver Police Inspector Jackson, along with three other Vancouver officers and an Inspector from each of the Inland Revenue and Customs Departments.  One hundred and fifteen tins of No.1 opium, worth about $12,000, was seized along with seven parcels of morphine and cocaine, valued at about $50,000 retail, and several thousand cigarettes; all imported from China.  The opium, the largest quantity seized up to that time, was found in the living room of 1761 Grant after Mang, who had the key, let the police into the house.

“In premises at the rear, the detectives found implements for ‘cooking’ crude opium for smoking purposes, and several photos of white girls were also discovered.”  [11]

The name of the putative owner of 1761 Grant, Jim Lem, never came up in the first reports of the raid. Mang claimed that he was merely looking after the house and that the goods had been left there that morning.  He appeared at Police Court on May 3 and was remanded until the 7th. [12]

Before that hearing, the police struck once more. On May 5th they again raided 1761 Grant Street and tore it apart using hammers and axes in their search for more drugs. After removing flooring and paneling they found another $10,000 worth of cocaine, heroin, and opium. The police believed that the new drug haul had been secreted into the house since the raid just four days earlier, “the owners thinking that it would be hardly possible that the officers would visit the premises so soon after the last raid.” The press was alive with claims that a major continent-wide drug smuggling operation had been broken. [13]

Justice was swift in 1920. On May 10th, less than two weeks after the raid, J.W. Mang was up before Magistrate Shaw.  He presented a highly involved story. He claimed the owner of 1761 was his son-in-law who had been visiting China for the past two years. Before leaving for his visit, he had asked his father-in-law to allow a certain Chinese man to come and go in the house.  On the Saturday morning an unknown oriental delivered packages of grapefruit which he stored in 1761.  Mang claimed to be as surprised as anyone that drugs were found beneath the fruit. Shaw didn’t believe a word of it and sentenced Mang to one year in jail, along with a fine of $500 and costs.  He was fined a further $250 for possession of illegal cigarettes. [14]

Mang was allowed out on $5,000 bail while he appealed the conviction. Mang’s counsel J.A. Russell negotiated a plea on account of Mang’s age, which was 65. It was agreed he would return to China and not return to Vancouver. However, Mang returned to the city in April 1921 and “had no difficulty in passing the immigration authorities.”  He is still listed in the Directories at 1740 Grant until 1923, after which time he drops off the map. [15]

In 1924, the residents of 1749 and 1761 Grant Street are back to being “orientals”. But the reversion to gentility is completed later that decade when all the names associated with the houses are anglo once again.

1749 Grant was demolished in 1940 and replaced. But 1761 Grant is still with us. It has been altered, but is clearly the same house that Creitz was selling back in 1911.

Image: Google Street View

* * * *

These raids and their coverage reveal details of the drug trade in 1920 that are otherwise hard to find. Opium was reported to retail in tins costing $110 per; cocaine was sold at $250 per adulterated ounce; while heroin pills were two for a dollar. I would assume that these are prices to a middleman who would break down the product for sale on the street. [16]



[1] Image: Vancouver Daily World, 1911 March 31, p.30; description: Province, 1910 May 4, p.26;

[2] Vancouver Daily World, 1911 March 8, p.28; see also World March 14, p.23 where the price is listed as $3,300 with $600 down;

[3] City Directory 1911; Canada Census 1911;

[4] City Directories 1912-1925; Canada Census 1921; “merchant”: Province 1917 October 18, p.20;

[5] Province 1920 May 1, p.25;

[6] Province 1918 February 25, p.1; 1917 October 18, p.20; Vancouver Daily World 1917 October 18, p.9;

[7] Vancouver Daily World 1917 October 18, p.9; Province 1917 October 18, p.20;

[8] Province 1918 February 25, p.1;

[9] City Directory 1919; Vancouver Daily World 1919 June 20, p.17;

[10] Province 1920 May 1, p.25; Vancouver Sun 1920 May 2, p.4;

[11] The police also noted that both garages and basements were regular storehouses of liquor, piled high with goods.  Province 1920 May 1, p.25;

[12] Province 1920 May 1, p.25; Vancouver Sun 1920 May 2, p.4; May 4, p.1;

[13] Vancouver Daily World 1920 May 6, p.15; Vancouver Sun, 1920 May 6, p.1;

[14] Province 1920 May 10, p.15; Vancouver Sun 1920 May 11, p.14; Vancouver Daily World 1920 May 10, p.13; May 12, p.3;

[15] Vancouver Daily World 1920 May 12, p.3; Vancouver Sun 1921 May 21, p.5; Vancouver City Directories 1921-1923;

[16] Vancouver Sun 1920 May 6, p.1

GHG meeting for February — This Thursday, Feb 20th

Our next Grandview Heritage Group meeting is Thursday, February 20th.
We meet in the Britannia Board Room at 7:00 p.m. and will have our usual wide-ranging and open agenda, which this month will include:

  • Introductions
  • The creation of the chateau-style railway hotels across Canada – Michael Kluckner
  • Two BC Mills houses – Neville Hogsden
  • A primer on double-hung windows – Eric Phillips
  • An update on the GHG website – Penny Street
  • Changes around the neighbourhood – Eric Phillips

Our discussions are always educational and entertaining … And, as usual, our agenda is flexible, and we are always happy to add items that you might want to discuss.
Everyone is welcome! Do come and join us!

GHG Meeting for January – This Thursday, Jan 16th, 7:00

Our next Grandview Heritage Group meeting is Thursday, January 16th, 2020.
We meet in the Britannia Board Room at 7:00 p.m. and will have our usual wide-ranging and open agenda, which this month will very likely include:

  • Introductions
  • Agenda additions?
  • Meeting room renewal & Britannia Sponsorship Agreement – Penny
  • Why does “Character House Designation cut-off at 1940? – Michael
  • History update for St. Clare’s Convent (1967 Napier) – Neville (tentative)
  • Around the Neighbourhood – Eric
  • Car-Free Day participation?
  • Double-hung window primer – Eric (tentative)
  • Changes around the neighbourhood – Eric

Our discussions are always educational and entertaining … And, as usual, our agenda is flexible, and we are always happy to add items that you might want to discuss.

Everyone is always welcome! Participation is FREE! Do come and join us!

VHF Places That Matter Celebration


As part of Heritage Week (February 17th – 23rd), we at Vancouver Heritage Foundation invite you to our third Places That Matter Community Celebration. Join VHF to hear stories about significant places in Vancouver from the people and organizations who brought their history forward.

The Places That Matter Community History Resource is an ongoing project that shares stories and information on the local, cultural and lesser-known history of Vancouver. To learn more about the project, visit the website:

This free celebration includes displays related to Places That Matter sites and local history (6 pm – 7 pm), a “heritage week proclamation” and a short program of storytelling (7 pm – 8 pm). The event is free and open to the public, and takes place at Heritage Hall at 3102 Main Street from 6pm to 8:30pm on Wednesday, February 19th.

The event poster is attached with the full details. You are welcome to share and help us spread the word. For more information please email Jessica Quan, VHF’s Special Projects Manager at or call 604 264 9642.

Although RSVPs are not required, you are welcome to reply to this email to confirm your attendance. Thank you and we hope to see you there!

Kind regards,


Claire Vulliamy

Heritage Resources Assistant

Vancouver Heritage Foundation

604-264-9642 #306

Suite 402 – 510 West Hastings Street

Vancouver BC V6B 1L8


twitter @vanheritage

instagram @VancouverHeritageFdn

Grandview Heritage Group Holiday Party, December 19th


Grandview Heritage Group invites you to a little holiday celebration at Maria Hindmarch’s house, 1750 Parker St. (in the first block east of the Drive), at our regular meeting time — Thursday, December 19th, at 7:00 p.m. 

Bring a holiday snack to share and whatever you’d like to drink. Maria will provide tea and coffee.

John Stuart suggests that you bring something that evokes your holiday memories (for show & tell).  For example, John will be bringing some Santa Claus postcards.

Everyone is welcome! Do come and join us!

Next meeting November 21st!

Our next Grandview Heritage Group meeting is this Thursday, November 21st.
We meet in the Britannia Board Room at 7:00 p.m. and will have our usual wide-ranging and open agenda, which this month will include:

  • Introductions
  • Inventory of 1st Avenue historic houses – Commercial to Nanaimo – Neville and Eric
  • The function of double and single hung windows – Eric & group
  • Changes around the neighbourhood – Eric

Our discussions are always educational and entertaining … And, as usual, our agenda is flexible, and we are always happy to add items that you might want to discuss.
Everyone is welcome! Do come and join us!

GHG meeting this Thursday!


Our next Grandview Heritage Group meeting is Thursday, October 17th.
We meet in the Britannia Board Room at 7:00 p.m. and will have our usual wide-ranging and open agenda, which this month will include:

  • Introductions
  • Review of the Sept 28th Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Grandview Tour – All
  • Grandview Database – Jak King
  • A search for a “Tribute to Mining” mosaic – Greg Snider
  • Changes around the neighbourhood – Eric Phillips

Our discussions are always educational and entertaining … And, as usual, our agenda is flexible, and we are always happy to add items that you might want to discuss.
Everyone is welcome! Do come and join us!

A Very Short History of Grandview

I wrote the following for the Vancouver Heritage Foundation in support of their Grandview Heritage Tour (see below).  It has been published today in Spacing, along with photographs.

* * * *

For scores of generations, the wooded hills of Grandview were prime hunting and trapping land for First Nations. Once the Europeans arrived, Grandview was the scene of intensive logging, with skid-roads running down to False Creek and Burrard Inlet. Logging continued into the late 1890s and in the entire district less than a dozen houses were occupied before 1901. In 1891, an interurban railway had been built between Vancouver and New Westminster. The route, including what would become Commercial Drive, formerly Park Drive, owed as much to land speculation as it did to transit economics. The interurban made the area better known but, with no transit stops in the neighbourhood, it did little by itself to add to the growth of Grandview.

The situation changed with the new century, as timber leases gave way to speculative acreage, often owned by British interests, which was gradually released for public sale and eagerly sought by a rampant realtor industry. It was further assisted by the incorporation of Grandview into the City’s extensive streetcar system. Residential and commercial development and sales in Grandview were slow until, after weathering a small recession in 1907, the neighbourhood witnessed a massive building boom for several years, peaking in 1912. Many of the Grandview and Commercial Drive properties that seem so characteristic of the district today owe their birth to this boom, from modest homes to grand mansions.

Education and religion were strong components of the community from the earliest years. ‘Xpey Elementary, at Victoria & Hastings, is on the site of the first public building in Grandview, a school built in 1903 to serve the families in Cedar Cove. The original 1910 Britannia Secondary building can still be found just west of the Drive. Two of the earliest churches have undergone radical restorations but both the Cultch, originally a 1909 Methodist church and the 1910 Robertson Presbyterian Church, now a housing complex at Napier and Salsbury, illustrate how heritage is still woven into the living community.

Grandview continued to grow after the First World War but the neighbourhood was hit badly by the Great Depression. It took another war and significant immigration to kick start Grandview’s economy but the place hasn’t looked back since. Entrepreneurial Italians moved into the neighbourhood in large numbers in the 1950s, and a section of Commercial Drive is now officially recognized as Little Italy. They were followed by waves of immigrants from all over the globe, many of whom settled here. It is now a thriving cosmopolitan stew of a place, as a visit to Commercial Drive will show. The Drive’s architectural mix of Edwardian stores with apartments above, the more utilitarian one-storey buidings of the 1920s and 1930s, and a scattering of modern ones, today house street markets and cafes of increasing popularity.

Grandview, with Commercial Drive at its heart, is a fascinating neighbourhood with an evolutionary story that can be seen in its architecture. Exploring its legacy storefronts, well-utilized parks and community spaces, and leafy side streets can be a journey through over 100 years of history.

Interested to learn more about Grandview? Join Vancouver Heritage Foundation for the Grandview Heritage Tour – September 28th, 12pm – 5pm