At 3pm on Saturday 8th December, the Grandview Heritage Group will sponsor an illustrated talk by Jak King on “The Birth of Our Community: Grandview 1890-1915.” It was this quarter-century that turned Commercial Drive and Grandview from a raw forest to one of Vancouver’s primary residential and shopping centres.
The talk will take place at the CFEC Room upstairs at Family Place at the south end of Britannia Community Centre facing Grandview Park (1655 William Street.)
Seats are limited and so we would welcome a note in advance to email@example.com to let us know you will be coming. We will be asking for a $10 donation to assist the work of the GHG.
We look forward to seeing you there!
What could be better — GHG’s own Michael Kluckner and beautiful Kodachrome photographs!
I’m sorry I didn’t post about this earlier, but tomorrow afternoon (Sunday) is the date — 2:00pm at Vancouver Archives — for Michael’s lecture on behalf of the Friends of the Archives. Go to it — it will be raining anyway — and you’ll have a master storyteller talking about Vancouver’s commercial photographers. Good stuff!
Update: This turned out to be a sold-out affair with a heap of good money raised for the Friends of the Archives. Great presentation and good to see at least one of the featured photographers (Dan Propp) there to talk with us.
In a previous post about photographs, I mentioned that the Drive had rarely been without a photographer and associated services. Following up, here is a list of all those artists and stores from the founding of Commercial Drive through to 1999:
- Philip Timms (1912)
- Merchants Photo Co. (1912)
- Grandview Studio (1915-1918)
- Vancouver Photo Finishing (1921-1978)
- Grandview Photo Finishing (1922-1930)
- Fox Studio (1934)
- Jay’s Photographic Studio (1938)
- Beardmore Studio (1938-1939)
- Vincent Studio Photography (1942-1954)
- Illustra Photography (1955-1956)
- McKenzie Photography (1955-1964)
- Bowman Photography (1957-1968)
- Zonta Photo Service (1960-1962)
- Western Photo Service (1961-1962)
- Philip Timm’s Workshop (1962-1968)
- Grandview Studio (1965-1968)
- Photo Monte Grappa (1965-1981)
- McKenzie’s Grandview Studio Photography (1966-1967)
- Tivoli Photo Services (1968-1971)
- Album Photo Services (1968-1973)
- Perfect Photo Finish (1976-1977)
- Creative Portraits (1977-1978)
- Winkler Photo Technology (1978-1981)
- Vancouver Photo & Hobby (1980-1999)
- Parmar Photo Finishing (1981-1989)
- Photo Salon (1987)
- Photo Shop (1987-1988)
- Golden Crown Photo (1989-1990)
- Photo Franco (1989-1991)
- Ming Photoland (1990-1999)
Data from “The Encyclopedia of Commercial Drive“.
We had a marvelous meeting last night, with lively discussion on a wide range of topics. These included:
- our Centenary Signs project (the signs will be ready next week);
- the age of the buildings on the 1200-block Lakewood Drive (1909 and 1910);
- wallpaper stylings in early heritage homes;
- the large number of “party hats” (or conical roofs) on the Queen Anne houses in Grandview (and how we can encourage their return on buildings that have lost them);
- the development of radio and its impact on Commercial Drive retail;
- early electricifation for homes and businesses; and
- the history of bay and oriel windows (a signature style in Commercial Drive, for example)
We also determined on a series of walking tours for the fall and a lecture series in the winter. More details on these will be forthcoming shortly.
It’s amazing how quickly two hours goes by! Our next meeting is on the 16th of August and, as always, everyone is welcome.
One of our currently vacant storefronts is about to be taken over by, I believe, Pharmasave. Several people have said to me: “Why do we need another drug store on the Drive?” Fair enough question, and it led to me to see how many drug stores we have had on the Drive historically. The following is a chronological list of such stores from the Drive’s beginning until 1999:
- Royal Drug Company (1910-1914)
- Tucker’s Drugs (1910)
- Cochrane & Campbell (1911)
- Vancouver Drugs (1911-1939)
- Brown & Dawson (1913)
- Grandview Drugstore (1915-1928)
- Reliable Drugs (1915-1999)
- Royal Drug Store (1915-1955)
- Cunningham Drugs (1940-1969)
- Docksteader Drugs (1956-1963)
- Druggists Bulletin Service (1956-1967)
- Fred’s Pharmacy (1963-1999)
- Shoppers Drug Mart (1972-1989)
- Tech Drugmart (1977)
- Circle Drugs (1979-1980)
- Pacific Pharmacy (1980-1982)
- Service Drugs Pharmacy (1986-1992)
- Health Point Pharmacy (1987)
- People’s Drugs (1990-1995)
- Commercial Drug Mart (1998-1999)
One of the things that jumps out from this list is that no new pharmacies opened on the Drive between 1915 and 1940. This shows, I suspect, the market dominance of Louis Toban’s Reliable Drug Stores which had four branches on the Drive between Parker and Broadway.
Data from “The Encyclopedia of Commercial Drive“.
March 23, 2012, two hours after the grand opening
On Friday evening, March 23, 2012, Dominic and Giorgio Morra’s Via Tevere PIzzeria Napoletana opened for business, clearly a unique local business and a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. It actually gives the neighbourhood a whole new feel after the vacant, run down storefront that was there for about a decade. And thanks again to them for saving the historic sign! And what a great little vintage car they park out front, the Fiat 500 ‘Cinquecento’ that was introduced back in 1957.
Last fall the workers removing stucco on the old Doctor Vigari building (Victoria Drive at William Street) revealed an amazing 1920s advertising mural. Hidden for decades was a classic cartoon baker flogging fresh 4X bread from the ovens of Vancouver’s successful Shelly Bakery.
By wonderful coincidence the old mural could pass for a mural depicting a chef making a pizza.
Also historically speaking, besides being the original home of Dr. Vigari art gallery (now at 1816 Commercial Drive), this building was the location of the bookstore where the climatic scene of the movie Better Than Chocolate was filmed in 1999. The movie was directed by Anne Wheeler and featured Canadian actors Ann Marie MacDonald (the novelist) and Jay Brazeau. The plot was very Commercial Drive: “Two attractive young lesbians, Maggie and Kim, meet in Vancouver, develop a passionate romance, and move in together…” One scene was based on the infamous lesbian kissing incident at nearby Joe’s Cafe, two blocks down William Street at Commercial Drive.
The bookstore in Better Than Chocolate was a representation of Vancouver’s Little Sisters Bookstore, and the plot covers some of the historic censorship issues that Little Sisters had to content with back in the stone age of the 1980s.
We had a splendid meeting last night, headlined by an excellent presentation from Bruce Macdonald regarding the need for a genuine mapping of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods and, most importantly, the use of historically accurate and functionally useful names for these neighbourhoods.
He noted, for example, that the bureaucratically-defined area of “Grandview-Woodlands” doesn’t meet either criteria. The wide area was always called simply Grandview until an unknown civil servant added “-Woodlands” in the 1970s, and within Grandview there are a number of well-defined neighbourhoods, each of which has an historically valid name. There were lots of maps — and we love maps!
I also presented some preliminary investigations into the history of businesses on Commercial Drive from 1900 to 1999. I am attaching a downloadable pdf of the presentation. I’ll be happy to answer any questions about the data.These two presentations and discussions about the upcoming Community Plan created lively and interesting conversations.
Another member brought along a wonderful interior design handbook from 1907 with colour images that just leapt from the page. Bright and crisp, it is marvelous that such ephemera has survived in such great shape.
Altogether, it was a very worthwhile meeting.
This advertisement appeared in the Vancouver World in January 1908. It is the earliest ad I have yet found for any business on Commercial Drive (then known as Park Drive). This pioneering grocery business operated by E.F. Hepper at 1703 Park Drive in 1908 and 1909 and moved across the street to 1742 Park Drive in 1910 where it lasted until the following year.
And they really were pioneers. I have identified only eleven business that had operated on the Drive by the end of 1908. These included six grocery stores, three hardware stores, one real estate office and a painter/decorator company. Two of the grocers and the realtor had already closed before 1908.
1909 was a slow year for growth but by the end of 1910, the Drive could boast more than 44 businesses. Perhaps Hepper & Lovelace couldn’t handle that much competition.