Notes From November Meeting

We had a very large turnout for last Thursday’s Grandview Heritage Group monthly meeting. So many in fact we have begun to think about alternate locations; but we’ll let that lie until the new year.  Welcome one and all!  Again, as usual, we had a wide-ranging discussion.

  • Michael gave a presentation on basements. Typical early Vancouver housing styles had a residence above an at-grade crawl space. This led to fully designed basements. He showed some 1961 design ideas for basements. He also discussed the securing of heritage homes to foundations.
  • Eric then gave the latest in his ongoing series Mechanics and Materials. This month’s subject was manufactured wood. He presented on plywood, hardwood, Beaver Board, and Glulam.
  • Jak previewed the December 1st release of the GV Database. Almost a thousand new data points have been entered since the ortiginal release.
  • Penny outlined her idea for rewarding new buyers in Grandview who decide not to demolish a heritage house. This led to a brief discussion on rezoning the RT zone to better defend against demolitions.
  • Michael discussed the current state of the City’s Heritage Action Plan.  He noted there seems to be no appetite at City Hall to create further Heritage Conservation Areas like First Shaughnessy. He also presented on the change to heritage evaluation criteria, moving to a “value based” approach.
  • The Shelly’s Bakery Plaque: Penny discussed the history of the sign and the plaque. The replacement plaque is fading rapidly already and needs to be replaced.  Still thinking of alternatives.
  • 2016 Student Intern: Michael discussed the history of our encounters with GEOG 429 students over the last few years, culminating in Kevin Shackle’s excellent work on Grocery Stores. We have been offered a student for 2016. It was agreed we would say yes. Penny, Michael and Jak will work on suggested topics.  Some of the ideas offered at the meeting were: basement history. barners and beauty shops, dairies, the shift from stables to garages, older apartment buildings, the range of “party hat” decoration.
  • Next meeting wlll be 21 January 2016.

Next meeting Thursday, May 21st, at 7 pm

As usual, we are meeting this Thursday at 7 in the boardroom of Britannia – in the building with the Information Centre just east of the library. Everyone is welcome.

Items on the agenda:

– Eric Phillips will start the meeting with his “Neighbourhood Scan” – photos and commentary about Grandview since the last meeting.

Century Signs for 2015: we will have a tentative list of houses to approach to display our signs. Penny and Michael gathered up 23 signs last week and have them cleaned and ready to go.

– Eric will present a few slides on paint-stripping techniques, just in time for the summer maintenance season.

– There may be a bit of news about Brookhouse at Parker and Victoria, which has been for sale again during the last month.

Car Free Day on June 21st: should we have a table as we’ve had the last few years?

– Michael Kluckner will give a brief update on the progress of the city’s Heritage Action Plan.

– and, probably, some new business …

Pictorial History “Fixed”

The Pictorial History of Grandview (available both from the Main Menu and the sidebar) has not been working properly for a while. It was a mystery to us why.  However, it now appears that WordPress has disabled it due to a security flaw, and the original developer of the gallery software is no longer supporting it.

We have not yet found an equivalent gallery software that allows an automatic slideshow.  However, we have adjusted the view that now allows all the images to be shown.  Click on any thumbnail and you should be able to go backwards and forwards through the images.

Sorry for the delay on this; we are historians not technicians!

Next meeting this Thursday the 16th of April, 7 pm

Another action-packed GHG meeting on the horizon, as always in the Britannia Boardroom (go into the info centre just west of the lane on the north side of the Greenway – the continuation of Napier Street west of The Drive). Everyone is welcome.

Agenda items will include:

•Eric Phillips’s Happenings in the ‘Hood – what’s been going on in the past month;

•Kevin Shackles will present the results of his study of Grandview grocery stores of yore – Kevin is a student in the UBC Geography 429 course and undertook a project for the GHG on the history of grocery stores not on either The Drive or Hastings Street.

• We will put dates on the calendar to begin our Century Signs campaign for 2015; the 20+ signs in the neighbourhood need to be rounded up and cleaned and a set of new houses must be found and researched.

Everyone is welcome!

Eric Phillips on Asbestos in Older Houses…

Almost any house built prior to the 1990s will contain some asbestos. This WorkSafe BC link will show you some of the more common places and give an overview of asbestos in the home.
It is interesting that the diagram uses a relatively modern house as its example. Asbestos, as the miracle do-anything product, came into full prominence after our houses were built, but there will still be some asbestos used either during original construction or during subsequent renovations/maintenance. The most common places to find materials which may contain asbestos are in vermiculite insulation (one common brand name is Zonolite, which looks like small brown popcorn), “popcorn” textured ceilings (sometimes called Spray-Tex), duct tape (asbestos tape was used to seal joints on hot-air ducts and also on furnaces and fireplaces), asbestos-board siding, flooring, drywall & fillers, and electrical boxes. We had a local Grandview example where asbestos was found in the plaster as well but it was not clear if it was in the original plaster or came from post-construction renovations (filler with asbestos). The reason for the asbestos concerns is that once disturbed, the fibres will stay airborne for a long time and the long-term consequences of inhaling them will not be immediately evident. To confirm I was not misleading you, I talked to a carpenter friend who has been through the working-with-asbestos course and he gave a few examples. He had a job of re-placing some old flooring. The 9×9 tiles and the adhesives almost certainly contained asbestos. To avoid the cost of dealing with their removal, the tiles were left undisturbed and were covered with floor-leveling compound and then with sheet flooring with the edges sealed. An engineered wood floor could also have been used with the same sealing precautions.
How do you know for sure if there is asbestos in a material to be removed during renovation? Testing in the only way to know for certain. For example, I have some vermiculite insulation in my attic. If I simply wanted to increase the amount of insulation, I could have added more insulation on top but since I needed to move some to get access to wiring, I took some samples to a lab and had it tested. Although my insulation does not look any different from any other vermiculite I have ever seen, it did not contain appreciable amounts of asbestos. While on that topic, if you are planning a renovation, someone in our ad hoc group is completely renovating their house and therefore had samples analyzed but found the City would not accept self sampling and required sample collection by a certified testing group. This is contrary to the information provided on the City’s website.

Eric Phillips
“Amateur House Mechanic”, Grandview Heritage Group

Meeting Notes from November 20th

A full house of about 25 for our November meeting…

• Our Geography 429 student, Kevin Shackles, introduced himself to the group. He will be working on a project in the Spring to map the old grocery stores and other commercial storefronts of “back-street” Grandview (that is, not The Drive, not Hastings Street) and investigate their histories to try to determine the ethnicity of the owners, the length of their tenures and any other information that can be gleaned from archival sources. At the end of the project, we should have a complete picture of this largely vanished aspect of our community.

Realtor David Campbell, who has lived and worked in Grandview for about 35 years, talked and answered questions about the real-estate market here, focusing on the heritage buildings that are in such high demand from new buyers. He noted the shortage of supply of new listings because people are staying put in the neighbourhood, resulting in bidding wars for the few old buildings that come on the market. He described how people who bought into Grandview wanted to reside here – i.e. they aren’t investors living elsewhere – and how many buyers have good incomes and little fear of the huge mortgages they have to assume. The current “tear-down value” in the neighbourhood is around $900,000, he said, making most old houses that come on the market too valuable to be bulldozer-bait; the exceptions are dilapidated rooming houses, such as the one we highlighted in the summer on Napier Street, where the cost of upgrading exceeds any final value that a renovator or owner could attain. He also noted that the high cost of new half-duplexes, about $900,000 or so, was making the area’s cottages and interwar bungalows attractive to some buyers, who reckon they can get an entire lot in fee simple with a needy house on it for the same price as a small place with modern bells and whistles on a strata lot. He noted that buyers were willing to go through the city’s heritage process to save significant houses, such as the Georgian at 2185 East 3rd that was on our agenda last month, and that neighbours appeared to be supportive regardless of the added infill density that the projects will trigger.

Michael Kluckner gave an update on the city’s Heritage Action Plan, explaining some of the intricacies of the character-house policy that is being developed for RS3, RS3A and RS5 areas on the west side of the city, and suggesting that the policy might eventually be extended into the RS1 areas of East Vancouver (including the southeast part of Grandview). He also noted that there will be a public nomination process in the Spring for additions to the heritage register.

Dorothy Barkley talked about an art show fashion project with the Museum of Vancouver involving models in vintage costumes staged in front of vintage houses. Grandview is a logical spot for Edwardian and some interwar tableaux. There will be an opportunity for interested members to get involved.

• We had a brief discussion about land assembly on The Drive and the need to work with the city zoning regulations to ensure that change there respects the fine detail and architectural diversity of the street. Comparisons were made with the long strips of shopfronts below condo/apartment blocks that are homogenizing Hastings around Nanaimo and Main Street south of 16th.

Eric Phillips presented more information about the hazards and horrors of early houses, drawing on material from a British series on Victorian homes. Arsenic in English wallpaper, dangerous early electrical wiring, nutbar-quality products like electric tablecloths and hairbrushes, and odorless coal gas stoves were among the items he talked about. Time was tight so he will present more material at the January meeting.

No meeting in December, eh? Merry Christmas to all…. We will meet again on Thursday, January 15th.

Next meeting October 16th, 7 pm.

Another full agenda for our upcoming monthly meeting, held as always in the Britannia boardroom from 7 to 9 pm. All are welcome!

• Progress on heritage presentations to the Citizens Assembly

• The sale for $1,750,000 of 2185 East 3rd at Garden Park, one of only two Georgian-style houses in Grandview; it sits on two lots and could be demolished, but evidence would seem to suggest that the new owner will go for a Heritage Revitalization Agreement and infill the lots behind the heritage house ….


• Update on the Brookhouse house at 1872 Parker, which has become terribly derelict since its new owner kicked out the tenants and set to redeveloping the double lot with duplexes. The photo below is from a year ago…


• A report on an interesting research project to track down the location of this house …


… occupied a century ago by Samuel Howe which, according to the family story related to us by Judy Webber, his great granddaughter, stood at Venables and Victoria.

Bruce Macdonald will present his slide show on Grandview history with the planning process in mind. This is important in the effort to preserve Grandview’s heritage buildings, and in the effort to ‘keep Grandview the way it is,’ the comment that Garth Mullins made last year which got the biggest response at the big public meeting on the new Community Plan.

A rooming-house funeral and other events


4 pm today, Sunday, September 7th, at 1723 Napier. Dress: funereal

A piece of performance art to celebrate the history of and bemoan the loss of one of Grandview’s historic houses, at 1723 Napier, as much for its cultural history as its architecture. With all of the problems involved in keeping old rooming houses going, in keeping them maintained, safe and affordable (often mutually exclusive goals for landlords), our neighbourhood is evolving away from the diverse, arts-friendly, densely populated, weird vibe that drew many of us here in the first place. This old house will be replaced by a duplex.

A Mount Pleasant event: the Heritage Lounge, Sunday, September 12th


A vintage film: My House is Your House, Saving the Salsbury Garden

A 10-year-old film by Ian Marcuse describing the efforts to save the informal garden at Salsbury and Napier which occupied the sideyard of two BC Mills cottages and became a neighbourhood sanctuary; two duplexes now occupy the site.

It’s on YouTube here.