Next Meeting: 18th April 2013

It is amazing how quickly the months roll around, and here we are just a week away from the next GHG Public Meeting.  As usual we will meet at the Britannia Board Room on Napier Street at 7:00pm on Thursday 18th April.  We have quite a few things to talk about.

I am sure the highlight of the evening will be the third in Eric Phillip’s excellent series on Historic House Mechanicals and Materials.  This one will be about balloon construction and why it was different from both platform and timber frame construction.

cyclopedia07-p49There are a number of events coming up that we need to discuss:  2013 Heritage Awards (end of May); Heritage Vancouver House Tour (2nd June), which we might have some part of; and CarFree Day on the Drive (16 June), in which we have participated before.

We also have a couple of projects that are ongoing:  the launch of the 2013 Centenary House Signs campaign needs to be arranged; and we have news to share on the Shelly’s 4X Sign renewal project.

Hopefully we will also have time to discuss a summer program of walks and talks, and to discuss the upcoming 75th anniversary (July 1st) of the First Avenue Viaduct.  And, of course, anything else that folks want to raise

It should be a fun and interesting evening, so do please join us in this continuing conversation designed to enhance and protect the heritage of Grandview.

The Signs Are In Place!

Three of us piled into Penny’s Mini this morning — along with signs and stakes and letters to residents — and terrorized the neighbourhood as we swept hither and thither from north to south, from Pandora to E. 7th, delivering and putting in place our 2013 Centenary Heritage signs.  Here are a couple of examples of how they look:

house 1house 2In the next few days we will publish a detailed map (suitable for a walking tour) with architectural and historical details for each of the 25 houses selected this year.


Notes From The March Meeting

Nineteen people jammed the Britannia boardroom for our latest meeting, including first-timers, some of whom had been contacted about hosting a centenary sign on their front lawn. The highlight was Eric Phillips’s excellent talk on the esoterica of knob and tube wiring, early electrical codes and how Grandview houses fitted seamlessly into the modern age a century ago. At the next meeting, April 18th, Eric will continue his series of “house mechanic” talks with one on framing methods for vintage houses.

The group discussed possible upcoming walking tours: Cedar Cove (foot of Victoria Drive) and Venables/Prior would take us away from the familiar “heritage” area around The Drive/Victoria. There was also discussion of the possibility of night-time walks – the best time to observe the leaded glass in a lot of old houses and apartment buildings.

The group heard updates from Michael Kluckner on the progress (slow) toward raising funds to restore the Shelly’s 4X Bakery sign on the sidewall of the Via Tevere restaurant at Victoria and William; Penny Street told the group that 22 homeowners had committed to hosting the 2013 centenary signs on their front lawns. The signs will be distributed within the next few weeks and we anticipate a launch/community celebration, perhaps in May.

Don’t forget!: this Saturday (the 23rd) at 3 pm, at the Eastside Family Place, 1661 Napier Street, just north of Grandview Park, by the playground, Penny Street will be conducting a seminar on how to research the history of your house. All are welcome – we will be asking for a $10 donation to the Grandview Heritage Group at the door.

No Damping Our Enthusiasm

Many thanks to the nine brave souls who joined us this morning — in pouring rain — for the second half of our Centenary House signs walkathon to pick this year’s candidates.

Today we covered a lot of ground, primarily in the south and far east of the Grandview neighbourhood, where we identified a range of beautiful heritage buildings — everything from mansions to workmens’ cottages — that we are keen to celebrate.  Over the next few weeks, we will refine the list and start to contact the owners for permission to place signs on their property.

Thanks again to all those who came for one or both of the walks.  These are the very best way to get to know the neighbourhood.

Notes From The February Meeting

We had a busy, lively and highly productive meeting on Thursday last.

  • The Centenary Birthday House project: We are still exploring options for permanent signs for the Centenary House campaign.  These will be offered to those houses that were celebrated in 2012. We followed up on our walk for the 2013 campaign, and will finish off the second half of our potentials list on Sunday.  We will be meeting at Continental Coffee at 10am if anyone cares to join us.
  • There was a fascinating discussion about the plans for preserving the Shelly’s 6X sign on Via Tevere’s wall. We discussed the pros and cons (and possible availabilities) of various funding sources for the estimated $3,000 cost, including neighbourhood grants, foundations, paint companies, and other.  We will be exploring these options over the next few weeks.  Michael Kluckner will also supervise a small test patch to confirm the methods we hope to use to preserve the sign.  We also discussed the potential for various tie-ins to the project, including the Rose/Lily annual block party, St. Francis Church, and a historical tour.
  • We looked at a number of relevant events that are upcoming:
    • Michael Kluckner is organizing an Art Mob to help save the Mac-Blo building at Van Dusen Gardens.  This starts at noon on Saturday 23rd.
    • The Grandview Woodland Community Plan is holding a workshop on housing on Wednesday 27th from 6pm at the WISE Hall.  This is a workshop that has obvious implications for heritage in the neighbourhood.
    • Eric is attending the Heritage Foundation’s Old School workshop on plastering on Saturday 2nd March.
    • Also on 2nd March, the Rio Theatre is showing the excellent documentary called “The Hollow Tree” about the efforts to save an iconic relic in Stanley Park.  It features our own Bruce Macdonald.
    • On Monday 4th March at 7pm, the monthly GWAC Meeting will include a presentation by the Commercial Drive BIA on their Vision Report for the Drive.  This again has strong relevance to heritage.
    • Finally, on Saturday 23rd March, Penny Street will be presenting her workshop on researching the history of a house.  We will write a detailed post about this at the beginning of March, but we suggest you pencil in that afternoon in your date book.
  • It was noted that Spank on the Drive is looking for vintage photographs.  This led to a discussion about venues where we could display some of the heritage images of Grandview.
  • Eric has offered to present at our March meeting a talk on heritage electrical systems.  His offer was enthusiatically approved.  We’ll have more information on this in a later posting.
  • Bruce Macdonald presented the first draft of a booklet he is preparing on the early history of the Cedar Cove district of Grandview.
  • Jak noted that he is now formally at work on the second volume of his history of Commercial Drive and he is looking to schedule interviews with those who lived or worked on the Drive (and neighbourhood) between 1955 and 2000.

Many thanks to those who came along on Thursday night and helped the conversation.



Walking The Neighbourhood

Many of us of the Grandview Heritage Group took a long walk through the neighbourhood yesterday afternoon. We were looking at the houses we have listed as potentials for the 2013 Centenary House signs and trying to whittle the list down to 25.  The walk started in the 2000-block of Pandora and meandered down to First and Woodland where we stopped for the day.

The weather was perfect; it started sunny and bright and, as the exertion of the walk heated us up, it turned cloudy and cool:  couldn’t have been better.

It was a joy to look carefully at so many of the heritage treasures that decorate our streets.  Even more pleasant was to meet a lot of the residents who were drawn to wonder why a group of people were peering at their houses so intently.  They all seemed genuinely pleased to talk with us and to hear about our efforts to preserve and advertize these glorious Grandview assets.

In a week or so we’ll finish the second half of our list, this time south of First.

Notes from the January Meeting

On Thursday evening we had a grand turnout for our monthly meeting.  It was, I believe, the largest gathering of its kind that we’ve had.  There were lively discussions about a wide range of topics.

  • We began by discussing the Heritage Workshop put on by the Community Planners that many of us had attended during the previous week. It was generally agreed that some useful debates took place there, and the availability of the City’s heritage planners was valuable — hopefully they listened to what was being said.  However, we noted that they seemed to be trying to steer us in certain directions (picking individual sites of value rather than recognising the holistic nature of the neighbourhood, for example).  The general consensus was that the summaries given at the end of the event did not include several of the major points mentioned at the tables.  We look forward with great interest to see how accurately this workshop will be reported out.  It was further noted that heritage plays an important role in the future workshops on Housing and Transportation.
  • Further to the Workshop, it was noted that the Planners’ survey seemed to indicate that the “value” of heritage was not high on respondents’ concerns.  It was agreed that the question was skewed and thus the result is meaningless.  Further, the value of Grandview’s heritage to the rest of Vancouver has so far been ignored in the process.
  • The role that GHG could take in the expansion of the Heritage Register was discussed.  It was noted that the recent “Waldorf crisis” seems to have awakened City Council to a possible expansion of the Register.  GHG could take a role in identifying properties not yet on the Register, and could assist City staff by our contacts with relevant owners.
  • The creation of a Visioning Report by the Commercial Drive BIA was noted.  We will try to get hold of a copy for study and comment.
  • Eric Philips presented a fascinating slide show on the use of concrete blocks in Grandview’s early days.  He also circulated a catalog of early 20th century block-making machines. At a later date Eric will give a further presentation on the local use of concrete foundations.
  • We discussed the wrap up to the 2012 Centenary House project.  Penny has drafted a letter to the 2012 recipients which mentions that she and others will be collecting the signs soon and cleaning them up ready for this year’s project.  At the November meeting we agreed to look into the creation of a more permanent sign that could be offered to participants.  Lance has begun this exploration and he is currently looking at printing moulds on a 3-D printer and casting them in pewter.  It was agreed that our permanent signs should look different than the City’s Heritage plaques.
  • We then moved on to the 2013 House Signs project.  We had a list of about 150 houses we believed were constructed in 1913; however on further research many of these turn out to be earlier or later.  Given this, and the future problem of finding any houses for 1914 through 1916, we agreed to explore a change to our signs that would indicate the houses are over 100 years old rather than a specific age.  A date for a walking review tour of the 30+ possibles on our list was agreed.
  • The City’s 2013 Heritage Awards programme was discussed and we hope to be nominated both for the House Signs project and advocacy/education through the website and walking tours.  Deadline for nominations is January 28th.
  • Planning for the House History Workshop on March 23rd was moved ahead. Penny will present the workshop at the Eastside Family Place at 3pm.  Further details will be posted in the next few weeks.
  • Ann noted that there is a Community Small Grants program for Hastings North ( an area that covers Victoria Drive to Boundary, docks to First Avenue.)  It was suggested that we could apply for a grant to refurbish the heritage advertising sign on the side of the Via Tevere Pizza building on Victoria.  Various options regarding the future of the sign were discussed.  Ann will look into the grant possibility.
  • Michael noted that the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is seeking new locations for its Open House tour in early June.  A number of suggestions were made which Michael will forward to VHF.

It was another busy and productive meeting.

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.