Jack Burch at Age 92 Recalls Grandview’s 1920, 30s, 40s…


Jack Burch worked at Grandview’s local newspaper, the Highland Echo, from 1949 until he retired in 1994 as the owner and publisher.
This video interview starts with Jack’s experiences in Grandview in the 1920s and 1930s, and covers his experiences overseas in World War II. After the War, Jack describes his work at the Highland Echo and his experiences with the Italian immigrants – who made great soccer coaches.
The interview ends with various images and articles from the Highland Echo over its long history since 1917.
This film was part of a New Horizons grant to encourage people to use their smart phones to record interesting people for the benefit of everyone, and then to encourage the use of free computer software to make the footage into interesting short films. Anyone can do it!

Notes To February Meeting

Once again we had a full house for our meeting on 19th February. We covered a lot of ground and had two very special visitors.

  • Eric began the meeting by taking us through some of the changes in the neighbourhood that we have noticed over the past month or so. These included the sale of a heritage house at 918 Salsbury for $1.6m, along with other houses being sold or modified (or seemingly being abandoned) on William, Kitchener, McSpadden, E. 1st, E.4th, and E 5th. We looked once again at the damage to Beckwoman’s building after the fire there, and the potential loss of the BC Mills House behind it. This section ended with a discussion about the potential for loss in the apartment area west of Commercial due to renoviction.
  • Up next was one of the 25 video interviews that Bruce has completed as part of the Grandview Seniors’ project.  This one was an interview with Jack Burch who was owner, editor and publisher of “The Highland Echo” from 1947 to the mid-1990s. Mr. Burch’s family moved to Vancouver in 1923 when he was one year old, and settled at 3rd and Nanimo in 1928. We were privileged to have Mr Burch, aged 92, and his wife Jean as visitors to the meeting, and it was an especial treat to hear him talk about growing up in Grandview in the 1930s (including meeting with the residents of the Depression hobo camp on Clark) and how he and his family ran The Echo for so long. He presented the group with four beautifully framed copies of The Echo from various times in its history. These will be treasured and, hopefully, will form part of a Grandview Museum at the revitalized Britannia Centre.
  • We talked about the plaque the group had affixed to the Shelly’s Bakery sign two years ago. The sun and elements have made it quite unreadable. It was decided the simplest solution will be to replace the plaque with a new one.  Michael agreed to handle that this during March.
  • A First Nations’ artist Tania Willard is proposing to erect a piece of art at the Grandview Cut. We agreed to meet with her to discuss the proposal during our March meeting.
  • Penny suggested that we prevent the destruction of heritage houses for sale in the neighbourhood by assisting with an historical overview of any such property which we could offer to the agent as a value-add.  Penny and Dorothy agreed to work on a format and Jak agreed to do the research for 2172 Adanac, currently for sale, as a test case.
  • In a brief Q & A session at the end of the meeting, one of the local oweners presented a heritage column base that needs replacement and asked for advice. A number of suggestions were made.

Our next meeting will be on 19th March.

Meeting Notes: November 2012

We had a marvelously lively meeting on Thursday evening, dealing with a wide range of topics.

  • We began by discussing the 10-point proposal that GHG has submitted to the Grandview Woodland Community Plan. This led to an animated debate about the role of public engagement allowed under the Plan’s Terms of Reference.
  • The 1913 version of the Centenary Birthday signs campaign was next up.  It was suggested that we look at a “transition” from the successful 2012 campaign whereby the 2012 householders be offered the chance to purchase a more permanent form of the birthday sign.  This was generally approved and some members volunteered to look into manufacturing options.  They will report back to the meeting in January. As for the 1913 campaign, a list of 106 local houses built in 1913 was circulated and members agreed to check out the ones in their immediate neighbourhood.  We hope to have a shortlist of possibles by the January meeting.
  • The successful completion of the “Highland Echo” project was enthusiastically noted.  Jak will be interviewed on CBC Radio about the project on Friday.
  • Lance made a proposal about creating a wiki for the GHG.  There was a long and interesting discussion about the pros and cons.  It was agreed that we will discus it further early next year.
  • The idea of having a heritage building resources list on the website was debated in some detail.  It was noted that there are potential legal liability issues with “recommending” contractors and suppliers.  We will give this further thought.
  • It was noted that some residents of Cedar Cottage seem keen on establishing their own Heritage Group, similar to GHG.  We encourage this and will be happy to assist them.
  • The idea was proposed that we publish a version of our Pictorial History of Grandview as a book, a fundraiser for the GHG.  We will research the costs and what else is required and report back to the February meeting.
  • We decided not to have a monthly meeting in December, the third Thursday being too close to Christmas.  However, our next event is the talk on December 8th about The Birth of Our Community.”
  • The first event for us in 2013 will be Penny Street’s talk on “How To Research The History of Your House” which is scheduled for Saturday 19th January at 3pm.  We will publish more details on this as soon as the venue is confirmed.
  • It was agreed that we will continue our practice of public meetings on the third Thursday of each month in 2013.

Donation of “The Highland Echo” to VPL

The neighborhood of Commercial Drive was served from 1917 to 1995 by a wonderfully quirky local newspaper called The Highland Echo. The Echo was defiantly local, covering no national or international news, but every week detailed the economic and personal stories that animated Commercial Drive and the wider Grandview community.  The Echo is a vital resource for anyone interested in the history of East Vancouver.

The earliest copies of the Echo have disappeared; however, the Special Collections department of the Vancouver Public Library has collected and maintain most of the weekly editions between 1935 and 1969, and these have already provided the primary resource for at least two books on the history of Commercial Drive.  An almost complete set of the editions between 1970 and 1995 – covering important cultural changes on the Drive — are held at the Provincial Archives, but their location in Victoria makes them difficult for Vancouver-based researchers to access.

The Grandview Heritage Group is proud to announce that it has purchased copies of all twenty-one microfilms of “The Highland Echo” newspaper held by the Provincial Archives and has donated them to the Special Collections department of the Vancouver Public Library, thus making them accessible for historians and researchers on the Lower Mainland.

“Community newspapers can provide an unparalleled look at the day-to-day issues and character of our neighbourhoods,” says VPL director Shelagh Flaherty, who oversees the library’s Central branch in downtown Vancouver. “It’s important that communities be able to easily connect with their history, and we are delighted to have these past issues of The Highland Echo as part of our collection.”

Kate Russell, Asst. Mgr. Special Collections, accepts some of “The Highland Echo” microfilms on behalf of the Vancouver Public Library

The Grandview Heritage Group gratefully acknowledges the significant financial assistance of Vancity and the Vancouver Foundation, without whose generous support this project could not have come to fruition. Their recognition of this important community-based project is sincerely appreciated.


Meeting Notes: October

Even the torrential rain couldn’t keep us away from the latest meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group last night!

We began by reviewing the latest news on rezoning following Council’s approval of the recommendations from the Mayor’s Task Force of Housing Affordability.  There was a spirited and articulate discussion that noted the economics of the recommendations are not yet clear.  However, a heritage-dense neighbourhood such as Grandview is at peculiar risk from the upzoned designations now allowed at certain distances from arterial roads and shopping areas.

Maurice Guibord gave us more details on what will be the first ever historical/heritage walk along the slope west of Commercial Drive.  The tour will go ahead rain or shine at 10:00am on Sunday morning.  Maurice promises us that it will finish at the Gelato place at Venables and Glen.

We also discussed dates for the November talk.  In the end (after the meeting) it was agreed Jak King will talk about the early history of Commercial Drive on the afternoon of Saturday 8th December in the Learning Centre at Britannia.

Finally, Jak displayed his now completed database of the building stock in Grandview (some 4,100 lots) and the maps and graphs associated with the database.  There was a long discussion about the uses to which the database can be put, and the additional data that can be added.   The following is an overall map showing the age of the building stock in Grandview: the darker the colour, the older the building.

The maps — which are searchable by decade and lot-by-lot — need some informative and analytical text to make their interpretation as valuable as possible.  Perhaps more immediately useful are graphs produced by an analysis of the database, such as this one:

… which shows that 50% of the current building stock in Grandview was constructed by the end of the 1920s.  Talk about heritage-dense!

Once again it was an excellent meeting with a lot of information and ideas shared.