Next Meeting: 17th May 2018

Time flies, and it is already time for our next meeting. As usual it will be at the Britannia Boardroom at 7:00pm on Thursday 17th May.  The agenda this month will include:

  • issues concerning the physical moving of heritage houses;
  • more on the 1908 panorama image of Grandview;
  • developments at the Hollywood Theatre (as a precursor to possible developments at the Rio);
  • the sale and development of St. Clare’s Convent;
  • 2018 century signs project;
  • Neighbourhood Update

As usual, we are open for, and indeed welcome, any other discussions to do with the heritage and history of our wonderful neighbourhood.

See you there!

Happy Birthday To Us!

Today — May 5th — is the seventh anniversary of the very first meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group!

Modest though we may be, I believe we are all proud of our achievements over this time, including the Grandview Database, the annual Heritage Signs, helping to save the Green House next to the Cultch, advocating, cheering each other on, mentoring other neighbourhood groups, talking and learning.

Here’s to the next seven years!

Grandview Database v.22

We have today uploaded a new and updated version of the Grandview Database.  

This version incorporates more than 2,850 new and amended data points since the previous release

  • More than 2,300 additional entries have been added from the 1914 and 1915 City Directories; 1914 is now complete.;
  • And about 550  miscellaneous entries have been added from the “Highland Echo” (1935-1980), the Encyclopedia of Commercial Drive, and contemporary real estate listings.

In May we will complete the 1915 Directory entries and do more work on the 1921 census.

We hope you find the Database of value, and we encourage and welcome corrections, and additions which should be sent to

Meeting Notes: April 2018

It was another lively meeting last Thursday, with a wide range of topics discussed.

  • After introductions, Eric took us through a 1967 Beaver Kit houses brochure. The brochure loudly proclaimed the use of Zonolite insulation which, today, is the cause of much asbestos distress for those seeking to renovate their older houses;
  • We discussed the maintenance contract required for the GHG website.  We agreed a further two years with GoDaddy hosting, and we authorized a cheque to repay Penny for the expense.  In two years we will review the hosting situation;
  • We reviewed the plans for Car Free Day in July, and made an early call for volunteers to man the booth;
  • Neville presented an excellent piece of research based on a 1908 panoramic image of Grandview. In the image, it is possible to see the most part of Grandview west of the Drive down to False Creek.  Neville has spent considerable time identifying the houses, and has found water permits for many. It was a very valuable presentation;
  • Neville also presented some research on BC Mills houses including a couple of interesting examples that were moved to Odlum Street in the 1940s;
  • For the trifecta, Neville continued his discussion from last month regarding 1829 Parker. He suggests that the architect was Watson who also designed Wilga.
  • Penny discussed the repairs we are prepared to make to the Shelley’s sign which is now showing serious signs of exposure damage. She and Michael presented a plan for restoration to Via Tevere which they accepted.  The work will take place once the weather turns for the better;
  • Maria presented some suggestions for the Centenary Signs project this year.  She has identified a dozen or more houses in areas we have rarely touched in earlier years. It was agreed that a list will be prepared for a walking tour to make final selections;
  • Eric presented a number of upcoming events including the Heritage Garden Tour, the Grandview Garden Club garden tour, various Heritage Vancouver Foundation events, the Vancouver Labour History tours, and Christine Allen’s lecture for VHS next Thursday;
  • We were joined for much of the evening by James Evans who gave us an update on the Brookhouse development.  We also discussed the possibilities for an HRA at the St. Francis convent property.



Next Meeting: 19th April

Another month, another meeting!  The Grandview Heritage Group’s next meeting is this coming Thursday, 19th April, at 7:00pm in the Britannia Boardroom on the Napier Greenway.

We will have our usual wide-ranging and open agenda which this week will include:

  • Beaver Kit homes;
  • A 1909 Panorama image;
  • More on 1829 Parker Street;
  • A look at the Hollywood Theatre plan as a potential precursor to the Rio development;
  • Repairing the Shelley’s sign;
  • An update on GHG website maintenance;
  • Eric’s Neighbourhood Review;
  • Centenary Signs update;
  • Car Free Day update;

We are always happy to add items that YOU might want to discuss.

Everyone is welcome, so come along and join us!

Grandview Database v.21

We have today uploaded a new and updated version of the Grandview Database.  

This version incorporates almost 600 new and amended data points since the previous release

  • More than 550 additional entries have been added from the 1914 City Directory;
  • And about 50  miscellaneous entries have been added from the “Highland Echo” (1935-1980), contemporary real estate listings, and another historian’s interim work on Parker Street.

In May we will complete the 1914 Directory entries.  We hope you find the Database of value, and we encourage and welcome corrections, and additions which should be sent to

Notes From The March Meeting

We had another interesting meeting last Thursday. Thanks to our logistics wizard Eric and others we weren’t thrown too much by a last minute change of venue.

  • Donato gave an illustrated report on the refurbishment of a heritage fireplace in the oldest house in Grandview;
  • Eric presented some fascinating material on the use of bricks as street pavement, covering cobble stones, special bricks to assist horses on hills, and wood blocks;also discussed were the various brickworks on the Lower Mainland;
  • We were joined by Daniele of the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group who explained their use over the years of posters, signs, and colouring pages for Heritage Week and similar events; there were some excellent ideas for us to follow next year;
  • Maria reported on a list of possible houses for this year’s Centenary Signs project; following an idea from MPHG, Jak will contact our BIA about signs on Commercial Drive retail building this year;
  • Jak presented a number of number of photographs illustrating changes on the Drive and in the neighbourhood between 1985 and today;
  • Neville gave a good interim report on the historical work he is researching on the 1800 block of Parker Street and, in particular, the house at 1829 Parker;
  • We had a brief Neighbourhood Update which included news on the paiting of Brookhouse, and the history of the Wonderbucks building which is now for sale;

We look forward to seeing many of you at our next meeting on 19th April.

The Wonderbucks Building

In the most recent Changes On The Drive, I reported that the building at 1301 Commercial, which most of us these days know as the Wonderbucks Building, is now for sale after lying empty for more than a year. The building has a fascinating history which I thought I might relate here.

The Fraser family built 1301 Commercial in 1927 to house their Crystal Dairy. Founded in 1922, Crystal Dairy was the largest independent dairy in Vancouver by 1936. Most of the building was essentially a milk delivery depot and stables, but some of the frontage along Commercial Drive had served retail.

The retail space was completely renovated in 1939 to be the finest soda-and-ice-cream fountain in East Vancouver. This was a title they fought over with Louis Toban’s Toots Restaurant at Commercial and Broadway. For more than a decade the two competed mainly in a series of renovations, using new chrome, glass, and lighting, each trying to outdo the other in popularity with the teen crowd.

In those pre-feminist days, girls would vie for positions as waitresses at Crystal Fountain as it was the best place to meet eligible boyfriends and husbands.

The Frasers sold the dairy a few years after the War and by 1954, the new owners had consolidated operations elsewhere and the dairy and fountain were closed. For the next 15 years, the building served as the offices and warehouse of the Select Music Company, a division of Acme Novelties.

In 1968, the building, damaged from two recent fires, was purchased for $90,000 by Carlo Gallo and Giuseppe Padovano, and renovated into the Italian Melodi Dance Hall. When it opened, the Echo called it “fabulous, new”, and described it as “in the style of old Venice with a terrazo floor, beautiful pictures on the wall,and a statue complete with fountain in the foyer.”  Dinner and dancing for New Years Eve that year was $15.

It was a success for a while but in 1974, the same owners closed the hall and remodeled the store into G & P Food Market.

From 1995 to 2001, the building was used first by a liquidator and then by a haulage company.  Wonderbucks took over the space in 2001 and stayed until the size of the rent forced its closure in early 2017.

Now it is for sale, and we are ready for the next chapter.


Sources:  “Highland Echo” 1936-1960; City Directories; GHG Database


Next Meeting: 15th March

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is this coming Thursday, 15th March, at 7:00pm.  We meet in the Britannia Boardroom on Napier Street.

This month’s agenda will include, in no particular order:

  • the restoration of a heritage fireplace in Grandview’s oldest house;
  • heritage brick, including those used for street paving;
  • a visit from the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group regarding their use of posters in Heritage Week and how we might follow next year;
  • A trip down nostalgia lane: photographs from 1985;
  • a teaser perhaps on the ongoing history work taking place regarding Parker Street;
  • the monthly neighbourhood update.

Plus any other topic that attendees would like us to discuss. Everyone is welcome to attend and we look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

Grandview Database v.20

We have today uploaded a new and updated version of the Grandview Database.  

We were obliged to take a few months’ rest from working on the Database this winter. Now we are back, starting in a small way. This version incorporates about 100 new and amended data points since the previous release:

  • Another 60 entries have been added from the 1914 City Directory;
  • Another 40 entries have been updated to reflect current MLS sales and listings.

In March we will once again be concentrating on completing the data available from the 1921 Census.

We hope you find the Database of value, and we encourage and welcome corrections, and additions.