Notes from the February 18th meeting

Our February meeting ranged over a number of topics:

• Cynthia Low, the ED of Britannia Community Services Centre, attended the meeting to ask whether GHG would be willing to coordinate a research project on the history of First Peoples in the Grandview area. It would involve consultation with Elders, a review of historic documentation, a study of the landscape and natural history, and suggestions for showcasing the results as part of the Carving Pavilion recently erected next to the community centre. If at all possible, the work would include involvement with students at all levels. We are going to liaise with Cynthia to try to come up with terms of reference and a time line.

• Eric Phillips presented a detailed edition of his Mechanics and Materials series, this time on Seismic upgrading for homeowners. He referenced the SafeStrongHome website for further investigation. It was a good, comprehensive primer on the top handful of tasks homeowners should contemplate to minimize the damage their houses might suffer from the Big One and the Not-Quite-As-Big One.

• Michael Kluckner presented a handful of images and some speculation about the rumours of redevelopment swirling around St. Francis of Assisi School at Victoria and Venables and the possible implications for the church/presbytery at Napier and Semlin (especially its large lawn area) and the other church property, the former “Poor Claires” convent at the northwest corner of Napier and Semlin (now the Church of St. John of Shanghai). He included some informal history of the Italian community in Grandview.

• John Stuart will figure out a time to give his industrial heritage walking tour, sometime in late March or early April, which we will report on this site.

• We agreed to put together a table for Car-Free Day, June 19th. Details to follow.

• Eric Phillips wrapped up the meeting with pictures and commentary of changes in the neighbourhood, including the demolition of the old Bosa’s store/apartment building on Victoria Drive.

Next meeting will be on Thursday, March 17th at 7 pm, in the boardroom of the Britannia Info Centre at 1661 Napier, as always.

August 21st meeting recap

There was a full house again for the GHG’s monthly meeting, held (as always) in the boardroom at Britannia at 7 pm on the third Thursday.

Cynthia Low, the executive director of Britannia, gave a Powerpoint presentation and listened to questions and comments about the ongoing planning process to replace the current Britannia Community Centre buildings. She focused on the desire to increase the visibility of the east and west facades of century-old Britannia school, which are largely hidden by the jumble of buildings, and mentioned the possibility of giving the new centre a presence on Commercial Drive, probably at Napier Street. She urged GHGers to become involved in the planning process and directed us to their website for further details on the Capital Plan and the various consultative stages that lie ahead.

Bruce Macdonald presented two of the interviews he has been filming with senior citizens – specifically those involved in the workforce in the 1940s and 1950s – who have a connection with Grandview and East Vancouver. Marjorie McKeown Agnew, aged 98, spoke of her youth growing up in the blocks around St. Francis of Assisi Church when that property was home to Australian real-estate speculator William Miller, her friendships with the children of the Odlum family of Grant Avenue, and her connection to the recently restored Hawkins-Agnew house on Victoria Drive between Napier and Parker. Several months ago, a few members of the GHG met with Marjorie’s daughters Susan and Barbara and received a lot of information and photographs of the family’s years living in Grandview.

Bruce then presented a brief excerpt of his hours of recordings of Bob Williams, the legendary planner and politician who became Premier Dave Barrett’s right-hand man in the NDP government of 1972–5. Mr. Williams told a fascinating story of his early years, from his birth in the Sally Ann unwed mothers’ home, his childhood rag- and bottle-picking on an old dump site where the Italian Cultural Centre now stands and his summers spent with his grandmother, who lived “a short walk” away in Capitol Hill in Burnaby and who had a cabin/shack on the Dollarton mudflats in North Vancouver near the sometime home of novelist and legendary alcoholic Malcolm Lowry.

Bruce intends to sort out the technology so this set of interviews (25 of which he’s done so far) can be streamed from our website.

Finally, Eric Phillips took a second look at floorcoverings in vintage houses, focusing on linoleum and its numerous imitators and adding new images of linoleum and wood carpets to what he presented last month. He brought a number of samples, including a strip of battleship linoleum and several handmade hooked rugs dating back to his own family’s homesteading and farming days.

Eric also drew everyone’s attention to the large number of upcoming lectures and events pertaining to heritage and history:

•the 5th annual Autumn Shift in Mount Pleasant, taking place on September 14th from 12–6.

autumnshift

•lectures on Heritage and Gentrification (September 30th), architect Samuel Maclure (October 21st) and Vaudeville (November 4th) offered by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation at Hycroft.

•walking tours and other programs offered on August 23rd, September 7th and 27th by Heritage Vancouver.

The next meeting will be held on Thursday September 18th at 7 pm!

Meeting Notes: November 2013

Last Thursday evening, the GHG met for its November meeting. It was another conversation full of interest, with a good turn our and new people attending. In brief, we discussed:

  • 1872 Parker Street.  Craig Ollenberger gave a history of the last few years of Brookhouse, leading to the current situation where we will almost certainly lose this magnificent Queen Anne building in the next few weeks.  The debate widened into HRAs and other mechanisms that might save such houses.  It was agreed that we need to research the additional value of heritage houses for buyers. It was also agreed that we should invite Heather Deal to a GHG meeting to discuss an updated Heritage Register.
  • Penny got us up-to-date on her discussions with UBC Professors about using students to assist us with our projects this winter/spring. It seems that basic research on our Centenary Celebration houses might be the best bet. It was noted the students will need hand-holding.  It was agreed will determine our needs in December for a January start.
  • Britannia is currently managing the Astorinio’s space at Commercial & Venables.  It is part of the proposed Boffo properties development.  It was noted that the EWaldorf and the Hollywood received demolition delays, and we agree that Astorino’s shoild get at least that.  We will be pushing for a Statement of Significance to be completed.  Penny will see if we can get a tour of the property.
  • Eric Phillips gave a presentation that was an update to several of his wonderful Mechanicals & Materials series.  He covered new forms of roofing materials, dealing with tin roofs, textured concrete blocks, and drywall mud.
  • Penny and Maria and others have begun the process of walking the neighbourhood looking for candidates for our 2014 Centenary Signs project.  They have already covered two of ten areas, and other walking tours start each Wednesday at 1pm from the 1700 block Napier.  It was noted that some of the 2013 signs may be missing and may need to be replaced.
  • Jak agreed to call Lance about the Permanent Signs project.
  • Britannia is having an Open House on Thursday 28th November in the greenway.  GHG is sharing a table with GWAC.  Volunteers are needed.
  • Bruce Macdonald reported on the first formal meeting of the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group — the first in what we hope will eventually be a city-wide collections of groups.  A local brewery has agreed to sponsor space for their meetings.
  • Penny reported on our finances, which are in good shape.
  • It was noted that Jak King and Bruce will be making a history/heritage presentation at the COPE meeting on Sunday 24th November.
  • Michael Kluckner is curating a series of historic Vancouver films at the Van City Cinema on Sunday 24th.
  • Michael is also curating a series of Vancouver panorama photographs at the Space Centre on December 4th at 7pm.
  • Finally, Carolyn Lair introduced us to the ASPECT program that mentors organizations on fundraising, and organizational strengths.

Another very full and worthwhile evening.