Centenary Signs 2015–16

Here is our map for the set of houses, at least 100 years old, we have chosen this year. There is a large cluster of them on Ferndale Street, reflecting the legacy of builder George Tyson more than a century ago.

This is the fourth year of our project to celebrate Grandview’s Edwardian-era heritage buildings. Links to the other three years are on the navigation bar at the top of this page.

Click here
2015houses
Click here

We thank the owners for their stewardship of the houses and their willingness to share them, through the display of the signs, with the community!

At our next meeting on September 17th, there will be a review of the houses and a modest celebration (i.e. cake!), along with our usual presentations and discussions.

Meeting Notes: April 2015

We had another exciting and stimulating meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group last night, with about 20 folks in attendance.  The topics we discussed were as wide-ranging as ever.

  • Ann presented information about a film screening and an art show, both of which will be of interest to Vancouver urbanists.  At the Grunt Art Gallery right now, until May 16, is an exhibition of photographic work by Henri Robidaux called “Eraser Street”, a take-off on Fraser Street.  Also, on Friday 24th April, Julia Kwan’s documentary exploring the changes in Chinatown and called “Everything Will Be” is being shown at the Hasting Community Centre.
  • Eric presented the latest in his series of monthly “Happening In the ‘Hood” guides. We looked at a number of older buildings that have been sold recently. There was a discussion about the City’s long term plans for the north side of E.1st by Clark Drive where they have owned the block for many years now.  This led to an interesting side-bar on the effect moving St Paul’s Hospital to the East End may have on local development and traffic patterns.  The future of the Bosa Grocery building on Victoria was discussed, as was the development right opposite that site. Eric also pointed out the deterioration in the Grandview Smoke Shop “Star Weekly” sign on Commercial.  Perhaps GHG could assist in the restoration.
  • Eric also reported on his visit to a workshop by Nickel Brothers on how to move a heritage house.  The average cost to move a house off-lot is about $35,000, and trolley lines are the biggest obstacle.
  • Our 429 Geog UBC student Kevin Shackles gave us his excellent prresentation on the history (and possible future) of the corner grocery stores in residential neighbourhoods, featuring Grandview. He covered the history of small retail merchandising and then examinded the histories of several local stores.  He noted the almost universal change to Chinese owners since the War.  In addition to his presentation, Kevin has produced a 20+ page XLS spreadsheet covering the entire range of stores in residential Grandview; a fabulous resource.  He also outlined a number of future research ideas for the future. It was an excellent exercise working with Kevin this year, and I know we all wish his the very best in his continuing education and future career.
  • Jak presented the idea (suggested by many others) that thereshould be Grandview Museum/Archives component in the Britannia Renewal planning that is currently ongoing. Jak will draft a letter giving GHG’s support to the idea.
  • We briefly discussed the 2015 Century Signs campaign, and whether or not to participate in Car Free Day this year.  These two events will be discussed in detail at the May meeting.
  • We also broefly discussed the current state of the Grandview Community Plan Citizens’ Assembly, which is now getting close to formally endorsing their recommendations.  Some cynicism of the process was still expressed.  The next, possibly final, Public Roundtable event is on 5th May.

All in all, another worthwhile event from GHG!

Our June 19th meeting

About 20 people showed up at the boardroom at Britannia Community Centre for the monthly GHG meeting.

the launch party for the 2014 Centenary Signs, with cake and refreshments, will be at 11 am Saturday June 28th at Mosaic Park at the corner of Charles and McLean in the heart of the “west of The Drive” area we’ve highlighted with this year’s set of houses. There will be an email reminder to everyone and we hope that the occupants of the houses who have agreed to host the signs this year can come along.

• Michael described the recent policy changes the city has instituted as part of its Heritage Action Plan: a one-year moratorium on demolitions of pre-1940 houses in First Shaughnessy; a new, interim checklist to determine pre-1940 “character houses” that the city is using while it formalizes an inventory of them; suggestions by city staff for carrots and sticks that would encourage house owners to retain character houses rather than demolish them; and, the implications of the city’s deconstruction and recycling policies that will force demolishers of character houses to divert 90% of the material from the landfill into salvage and re-use. There was a lot of discussion and questions. The policies, although city-wide, are specifically targeted to try to reduce the numbers of demolitions on the big lots of west-side neighbourhoods like Point Grey and Kerrisdale, where there is a considerable business opportunity (i.e. the ability to construct a much larger house) compared with that available on the standard 33 x 120 foot lots of Grandview and other east-side communities; the implications for communities like Grandview will, hopefully, be an increased awareness of the value of the smaller 1920s-1930s houses and more flexible city regulations to encourage their retention.

• There was a brief report on the plan, in abeyance for several months, to create permanent plaques for Grandview heritage houses and offer them to the 74 owners/occupants of the Centenary houses from 2012, 2013 and this year. More effort will go into finalizing research on the houses for the wiki and sourcing a plaque that will be durable (more so, at least, than the one installed at the Shelly’s sign at Victoria and William, which has faded badly after a year).

• Penny showed slides and offered hilarious commentary on her recent trip to Kansas’s depopulated towns of fine old buildings standing vacant under The Big Sky. And Eric, self-described “Amateur House Mechanic,” gave a brief presentation on the stone walls and foundations of vintage Grandview, including demonstrating how to split granite blocks with hand tools, part of his fascinating series of talks on the inner workings of early Vancouver houses.

The next meeting will be at 7 pm on Thursday, July 17th (the third Thursday of the month, right?) in the boardroom at Britannia Community Centre.

The 2014 set of Centenary Signs houses

1749napier

For the third year in a row, we have celebrated two-dozen Grandview houses that are at least 100 years old.

This year’s set focuses on groups of historic houses and includes, for the first time, a number of houses west of Commercial Drive – a sometimes overlooked historic area that has been infilled with quite a number of apartment buildings. It also features an apartment building for the first time: the one at Salsbury and Parker, built in 1911 when about 52% of Vancouverites were tenants – a proportion, incidentally, that is the same today.

We will be celebrating in our usual way this set of houses on the morning of Saturday, June 28th: mark your calendars and check back here to confirm time and location.

Open the map with this link.

Meeting Notes: April 2014

There was a heavy rainstorm and a wintry wind last night, but still the came out for the latest of our regular monthly meetings.  As always, the meeting was full of erudite and fun stuff:  We discussed:

  • The student program, working with UBG Geog.  It didn’t work very well for us this year.  In fact, it is reasonable to say that we got nothing out of it at all — not even a look at the final paper so far.  The student met with us once and then declined to meet with us again.  It should be no surprise then that Michael, who attended the class project presentations, said her paper veered off track from what we had hoped.  It was agreed that we review the situation again next year if the offer comes up.
  • On a more positive student note, Jak mentioned that SFU’s John Ngyuen‘s piece on Commercial Drive and the Community Plan should be available late this week.  In the meanwhile, his class project on youth estrangement from politics is now available.
  • We then discussed the fact that Commercial Drive as a whole was put on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Endangered List this year.  Several of us disagree that the development pressures that may be leaning on the Drive today are anything to do with heritage.  The debate drifted into the current situation in Shaughnessy One and Dunbar.
  • It was noted that the owners of several heritage properties on the north side of the 1800-block Venables have received letters from a developer seeking to assemble lots there.
  • Michael then took us through the situation with our plaque on the Shelly’s Wall.  It is deteriorating quite quickly, fading.
  • This led us to the 2014 Centenary Celebration House Signs project. We have 39 houses on the shortlist and 24 signs.  We will launch again in June with a cake-in-the-park party.
  • Penny and Bruce will be talking to the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group about setting up a centenary signs project of their own.
  • Which brought us to the main event of the night.  Eric’s latest episode of this Heritage Mechanicals and Materials. This one was on glass.  He entertainingly took us through the history of glass making and its use in houses.  He had illustrations on slides and brought along a fine collection of artifacts for us to see and handle. Another excellent episode.
  • We finished the evening by talking about and sampling the ware’s of Bomber, the only brewer in the main part of Grandview.  A fine end to a fine evening!

Our Next Meeting Is On Thursday

As many of you will know, we meet on the third Thursday of each month, at 7:00pm in the Britannia Board Room in the Info Centre (Commercial & Napier) and the next meeting is rapidly approaching — this Thursday.

The highlight of the evening will be Eric Philip’s illustrated talk on Glass in his remarkable Heritage Mechanicals and Materials series. Those who were there won’t soon forget last month’s teaser!  Come along and see the real thing.

We will also discuss this year’s experience working with a university student, and compare it to the previous year’s experience, in order to answer the question: Should we keep doing this?

Other topics will include Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Endangered listing for Commercial Drive, a replacement for the Shelly plaque, and the schedule for the 2014 Centenary Celebration house signs project.  And, of course, any other relevant topic that springs to mind..

Hope to see you there on Thursday

Meeting Notes: March

We had about twenty people at our meeting last night, with a couple of new visitors.  I don’t think anyone was disappointed with all that we managed to cover in a couple of hours.

  • Michael Kluckner gave a detailed and excellent illustrated talk that led us through the history of heritage legislation and regulation in Vancouver, starting with the first Heritage By-law (which has its 40th anniversary this year), which was a result of the controversial Birks Building demolition. He then segued into a review of the various housing styles that we can find in Grandview, focusing on the change from a front porch-based culture to one that prefers more privacy in backyards and courtyards.
  • Michael’s talk was by way of a primer for our 2014 Centenary House signs project walk on Sunday.  We will meet at the Britannia library at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday 23rd March.  We will cover the area west and south of Britannia.  Everyone is welcome to join us.
  • We noted that Stephanie Chang, the UBC Historical Geography (GEOG 429) student who has been wortking with us, will present her paper next Tuesday.  Michael and Jak are planning to go.
  • We discussed the situation regarding Brookhouse, 1872 Parker. The news does not seem good, and we may well lose this house to demolition very soon.
  • The meeting that several of us had with the Agnew family was described, and led to an interesting discussion about the value of family papers and photographs.
  • Jak and Bruce described the $25,000 New Horizons grant that has now been received and is to be managed by VCN.  The purpose of the project is to collect as many seniors’ stories as we can.  Interviews should begin in April.
  • Last, and certainly not least, Eric Phillips gave us a teaser about the new edition of his series, Heritage Mechanicals and Materials, that he will present at our meeting next month.  The subject is Glass.  He brought along a number of examples of stained glass and beveled plate, and then encouraged our attendance next month with some fascinating illustrations about the history of glass.

Another great meeting; I think we are really getting into our stride now.

Next Meeting: Thursday 3/20

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is this coming Thursday, 20th March, at 7:00pm at the Britannia Board Room.  The agenda at this point includes:

  • Report on our student intern’s work on Woodland Park area history
  • Michael Kluckner presentation:  “H is for Heritage”
  • Sunday’s walk (see below)
  • Update on 1872 Parker Street
  • Visit with the Agnew Family
  • Teaser for Eric on Glass

Michael’s presentation is a lead up to our 2014 Centenary Signs walk on Sunday.  We will be meeting outside the Britannia Library at 9:30am and we will be exploring the area west of Britannia to Clark and north to Venables.  Please join us on Sunday even if you can’t make Thursday’s meeting!

Centenary House Signs Campaign 2014

After some preliminary work, we are now ready to put together the list of buildings that we will celebrate with centenary signs this year.

We have picked out some spots that we really want to include this time out, but we need to find more possibilities.  The rule is that the building must be at least 100 years old and not changed too much from its original design.  As usual, we will begin the process with a walk (or walks) that often turns into a vibrant educational tour for those who join us.

The first walk this year will begin at 9:30am on Sunday 23rd March and we will gather in the square outside the Britannia Library entrance.  We will be walking through the area west to Clark and probably north to Venables, in an area where many of our earliest builders plied their trade. The walk will be completed by noon and is open to anyone who cares to join us.

Our house styles expert, Michael Kluckner, will be with us to point out interesting architectural details, and no doubt one or more of our historians will be able to supply more details on the history of the area and the builders.

In advance of the walk, at our regular monthly meeting on Thursday 20th March, Michael will give a presentation of a primer he calls “H is for Heritage”.  More details on the meeting will be available next week.