GHG Meeting Minutes, April 19th

Regular Monthly Meeting, Britannia Centre Board Room, 7:00-9:00

1. We began with a lively slide show and presentation by Michael Kluckner, a teaser for his new book, Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years, which he is launching on May 3 at People’s Co-op Books on The Drive. We also got to see a sneak preview of the gorgeous book itself, Michael’s own advance copy.

2. We agreed to apply for a $500 Neighbourhood Small Grant to get start-up funding for our Century signs. Michael and Jak filled out the form and Penny will take it in to Kiwassa.

3. We agreed on dates for two GHG Heritage Walking Tours over the summer. Details to follow  (which will include cost and publicity plans … Erick said he would advertise the tours on the Spacing Vancouver site.)

Jak will conduct a walking tour of Commercial Drive on Saturday, June 9, 10-noon, and

Michael will conduct a walking tour of the area just east of the Drive (including Jeffs Residence) on Saturday, July 7, 10-noon.

4. We will set up information tables at some or all of the following Grandview events: Stone Soup (May 12), Italian Day (June 10), Car-Free Commercial Drive (June 17, which is also Father’s Day and the East Van Garden Tour)…

5. We agreed to set up an account at Vancity, with two cheque-signers per cheque and five signing officers (Jak, Bruce, Michael, Judith, Penny). Signers will meet at Vancity Friday April 20th at 1:00.

6. There were inquiries about “Paint the Drive” campaign. It turns out that no one seems to know much of anything about it; the only place it’s mentioned is on the Commercial Drive BIA Web site, and the coordinator there, Rolando Cardeno (, knows nothing about it.

7. We discussed the York Theatre (and how little of its heritage is being preserved in its renewal). We also talked about the possibility of getting a second opinion re the viability of the trees at the Robertson Church site, which are slated for demolition.

Meeting adjourned at 9:00.

March 25 letter from GHG to Mayor and Council

The photo at the top of this website was taken in about 1920 by Edward Faraday Odlum from the top of the very tall flag pole in Victoria Park. The fire hall at Salsbury and Charles is gone, but pretty well all the original houses you can see in the photo are still here today.

Attached is a PDF letter our group sent to Mayor Robertson and Councillors about the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Grandview Community Plan process. The TOR were scheduled to be presented to Council March 28. In our letter, we ask that the report be deferred in order for the TOR to be revised and expanded with regard to heritage and the neighbourhood context. We request that information in the TOR includes maps, zoning bylaws, design guidelines, and existing zoned capacity. We also request that the GHG be recognized as an official Working Group with standing in the Community Plan process.

GHG-Plan Mar 25-2012-1

Fred Herzog show at the Equinox Gallery Project Space extended to the end of March

If you have time before the end of March to visit the Equinox Gallery’s Project Space (525 Great Northern Way) on the Great Northern Way campus, there is a splendid and enormous show of Fred Herzog’s photos of Vancouver (and a few of other places, but primarily Vancouver), most from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, that is well worth seeing. It’s open Thursday-Saturday from noon – 6 p.m.

There aren’t many that pertain specifically to Grandview, but so many of the photos of Vancouver are iconic and memorable … and his sense of colour is uncanny.

Here’s one of my favourites!

Cheers, Penny

More about "$300 a lot"

Jak’s post below shows an ad offering the block bounded by Garden, Parker, Nanaimo and Napier for sale. Six houses had been completed by 1912 when the Goad’s Atlas (mentioned in a previous post) was published. The great real-estate boom continued for another year or so before collapsing just before the beginning of the First World War. The three houses on Napier marked by red dots have since been demolished.

The interesting dwelling is the one third from the left facing Napier Street (at the bottom of the map), with a modern address of 2317 Napier. It was probably just a cottage/shack, built for a few hundred dollars and set near the back of the lot, maybe to give more south-facing garden space for growing vegetables. Regardless, the owners built a new house in 1929, which is still there.

You think about the economics of it: $300 for the lot and a couple of hundred more for the structure bought you a piece of security near the city boundary (Nanaimo Street before 1910). And it would have been really modest — a couple of rooms, a wood stove, perhaps not even electricity, but it would have had running water. A labourer made about $600 a year. The parallel a century later would be a labourer making, say, $40,000 a year being able to buy a modest house for about $40,000. Instead, out at the edge (now Langley or Maple Ridge or beyond) a modest house (albeit much more lavish than the cottages of a century ago) costs more like $450,000.

Grandview Subdivision — $300 per lot!

Back in the spring and summer of 1907, Grandview was the hot item both for speculative land investors and working class home-seekers.  Much of the land east of Park Drive (now called Commercial Drive) had barely been cleared; new sub-divisions were arriving on the market all the time.

This ad from an East End broker was typical of the lands being offered for sale:

This advertisement is from the “Vancouver World” 6th July 1907, p.10

Goad’s 1912 fire atlas on line

Library and Archives Canada have recently added a copy of a century-old property atlas (used by the fire insurance industry) to its website — the perfect time-waster for a rainy day. Grandview is in Volume 2. Click on the link above and search on the archives site or use Google to search Goad’s + Vancouver + volume 2 and you should get it.

I was interested to see that, in my neighbourhood, there was an isolation hospital on the block just north of Templeton Park (block 9). There’s no evidence of it left at all (although I will check more closely). Templeton School ended up being built in the 1920s on Block 8, which was subdivided into lots but never sold, it seems.

You can see on the map a couple of early street names: Harris became East Georgia, and Union became Adanac on the section between Vernon Drive and Boundary Road, apparently because property owners in East Vancouver complained that Union Street near Main was notorious for its brothels and bootleggers. Adanac, now the east-west bike route, is ‘Canada’ spelled backwards.

Power, Energy, Change & Continuity

Today is the first day of Heritage Week.  In BC, the theme is Power and Energy.  In celebration, thereof, I offer this 1950 image of BC Electric workers fixing a power pole at Grant & Commercial (VPL 81076):

Here is the same corner, Grant & Commercial, looking northwest in 2011:

The first thing I notice is just how many more trees we have in our streetscapes than we did 60 years ago.   In fact the rebuilt version of F.N. Hamilton’s building on the far side of Grant (which is now Charlatan’s Bar) can hardly be seen through the trees.

Fred Hamilton had moved his hardware and plumbing business into 1447 Commercial in 1945.  In May 1957 they demolished the building that can be seen in the first photograph and erected a new shop in concrete block.  The Hamilton’s (having been in business on the Drive since 1914) sold out to Hillcrest Plumbing in 1969.  Hillcrest closed in 1987 after which the building was taken over by a series of restaurants and bars.

On the nearside of Grant we have 1501-1503 Commercial which was built by Angus Campbell in the spring of 1936.  As the upper image shows, this building was originally a single-storey flat-roofed structure, a signature style for Campbell. However, as can be seen from the modern image this building now has two storeys, a change that was made in 1970s.

What the two images also reveal is the wonderful continuity of the Blue Bird Beauty Salon.  The Blue Bird was an original tenant of 1503 Commercial in May 1936 and they have stayed there ever since. In the image from 1950 I was excited to see their old Blue Bird sign at the far left of the photo.

Finally, and returning to the theme, the electric pole being working on in 1950 is no longer in that position (though the fire hydrant is!)