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.

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: October

Excellent meeting last night with a number of new people in attendance, including two from Mount Pleasant who have been inspired to start a heritage group in their neighbourhood — that’s what we want to see all over the City!  There were a number of interesting items on the agenda:

  • We started with an announcement of a heritage/history walk:  Maurice Guibord will be conducting a tour of the area west of Commercial Drive on Saturday 9th November.  Meet at Mosaic Park (Charles & McLean) at 10:00am sharp.  Suggested donation is $10.  Maurice — an excellent and experienced tour leader — has found some fascinating material from that area and the tour is bound to be of interest.
  • The wonderful Brookhouse at 1872 Parker seems doomed.  Subject to a few conditions, the City has informed the owner — Ernie Ho of FuHo Design — that his permit to demolish and rebuild will be issued in early November. They have completely disregarded the letters sent from GHG and GWAC. Only direct pressure on the owner can save it now.
  • As a corollary to the 1872 Parker disaster, it was suggested that both GHG and GWAC write to City Council regarding the Heritage Revitalization Agreement process that seems to be so arduous that it has scared more than one owner away from saving a valuable property.
  • We also discussed the issue of the Astorino’s building at Commercial & Venables which is part of the ongoing Community Plan (CP) issues.  It was confirmed that City Council amended the Jackson Report to allow the potential development of this site (along with the Kettle, Ace of Suedes and the City parking lot) to continue even during the CP process but with “significant reduction in proposed height).  We now await the developer’s proposal.  In the meanwhile, we want to push for a Statement of Significance on the building as a folk-cultural artifact (it was agreed the building itself was not of the highest class) and as a performance space (especially as Britannia is now using it as such).
  • The 2014 Centenary House signs campaign is now officially underway.  Penny and Maria will be organizing selection tours to create a list of potential houses.
  • We also discussed the “permanent plaque” program with reference to the fading that has been noticed on the Shelly’s Sign wall.  Lance will investigate the issue and report back to us.
  • Jak agreed to write a brief guide to adding material to our wiki. This will appear on this website in the next few days.
  • Bruce reported on the Ridge Bowling Pin which he has been trying to secure for the Grandview Lanes roof.  It has been purchased by Yusuf Wosk for $5,000 and is apparently stored in his backyard. Maybe we can still get it if he gets bored with it.
  • It was noted that there is an Opne House for the Trout Lake Masterplan on Saturday. Bruce Macdonald will be giving a heritage overview at the Community Centre that morning.
  • Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed part 4 of Eric’s marvelous series “Mechanicals and Materials“.  Tonight’s was about the Hazards of Old Houses.  He talked about the uses and problems with lead, asbestos, mercury, leaking underground storage tanks (apparently known as LUST to specialists), and other chemicals. Highly informative and entertaining as always.  Thanks Eric!

A fun and entertaining evening.

The Sign Is Truly Celebrated!

If you missed our street party at the Shelly’s sign yesterday then you missed a wonderful event.  Thanks to Ann Daskal the organizer, a good number of hard-working volunteers, and a helping hand from the rain which stayed away until after we had cleared up, this was a street party to remember.

We had music from the always excellent Razzmajazz, vintage cars, lemonade, cake a-plenty, childrens crafts, history tours by Bruce Macdonald, a scavenger hunt and, of course, the dedication of our new plaque about the Shelly’s sign with an excellent short speech by Michael Kluckner. We had a “What is This?” table filled with intriguing objects from the past, and an “Ask the Expert” table where there was lots of talk about neighbourhood history and the current Community Plan.

Shellys party group1

We want to offer our grateful thanks to the sponsors who helped fund the event, supply goods and equipment and/or supplied prizes for the various events.  These include:

  • Hasting North Community Partners Group
  • Britannia Community Centre
  • Via Tevere
  • Turks Cafe
  • Carnegie Community Centre
  • Dana Cromie
  • In the House
  • Fratelli Bakery
  • J.J. Bean
Shellys plaque

The permanent plaque we attached to the building by the sign.

Meeting Notes: June 20th

We had another well-attended and very productive meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group last night, dealing with a wide range of matters:

  • We reviewed the Heritage Fair and Car Free Day experiences.  It was agreed that we met a lot of people at those events, answered a lot of questions and, hopefully, enthused a few about our neighbourhood’s heritage.
  • We discussed the fact that one of our 2013 Centenary House signs has gone missing from outside one house.  A range of options was suggested, including marking each sign with which house it was attached to;
  • This led to a continuation of our discussions about offering more permanent ceramic plaques for the houses.  A sub-committee (Lance, Penny, Dorothy) was struck to examine the issues (cost, price, content, attachment strategies, etc) and it will report back to the next meeting.
  • Our big party at the Shelly’s Sign is this coming Sunday; Ann caught us up on the status of the organization and we spent some time finalising the details, filling volunteer slots, etc.
  • Michael Kluckner gave a fascinating presentation reviewing how some developers/home owners are using Heritage Revitalization Agreements to get around the restriction on laneway houses and infill in RT zones. His example was from Kitsilano but he noted that we have similar lot sizes and issues here in Grandview.  We have previously been keen on getting more Grandview houses onto the Vancouver Herirtage Register, but Michael showed how this could be quite damaging to the neighbourhood in the long run.
  • The group discussed some upcoming issues concerning the Grandview Woodland Community Plan:
    • The Historical Context Statement meeting at the WISE Hall on 24th June at 7:00pm
    • Questionnaire responses to the draft Community Plan deadline on 3rd July.
    • The GWAC Public Meeting on 8th July at 7:00pm
  • We had a good discussion about the Grandview Heritage wiki that we are developing.  This will become formally open on the weekend to allow the QR code on the Shelly’s plaque to be made available.  There will be a lot more info on this in the next few days –watch this space!
  • We also discussed the fact that someone — perhaps the Commercial Drive BIA — has had signs reading “The Drive” on street signs placed throughout Grandview.  It was agreed we will contact the BIA to find out how this came about.
  • Bruce discussed his plan to salvage the 12′ bowling pin from the Ridge Bowling Lanes and to place it on Grandview Lanes.  He has had preliminary discussions with the Ridge, with heritage staff at City, and with the Marino family who own GV Lanes. Bruce will keep us informed as to progress.

A Party To Celebrate The Sign

This Sunday at 3:00pm we will have a small ceremony at William and Victoria to dedicate a plaque that will signifiy our work in preserving the wonderful Shelly’s 4X Sign on the outside wall of the Via Tevere restaurant.

This small ceremony will take place during a street party in that same block where cake and lemonade, music and children’s activities, a scavenger hunt and information tables will enliven the afternoon!

shellysposter_smaller

We welcome all of you to come and help us celebrate!

Shelly’s 4X sign restored!

4xfinal2
Kudos all round for the completion of the project to restore the unique Shelly’s sign on the side of Via Tevere restaurant at Victoria and William. The owners of the restaurant paid the lion’s share of the costs; our Neighbourhood Small Grant will cover the balance of the materials costs, and we have money in our “celebration” budget (thank you, Hastings North Community Partners Group) for a proper interpretive sign, which will be unveiled at the neighbourhood party planned for June 23rd. It is one of a handful of authentic painted advertisements remaining in Vancouver, and the only one I can think of painted on wooden siding.

Artist Victoria Oginski led the team of 3 in the restoration, lending her technical skills to the stabilization of the painted surface, which was falling to bits two years after it was exposed to the weather during the removal of the 60-year-old stucco on the side of the old Victoria Drive Grocery …
SSPX0010
She is also the best, fastest colour-matcher I’ve ever seen. I, Michael Kluckner, worked with Penny Street on the preparation and the painting. We finished up today by applying a coat of high-tech acrylic/epoxy sealer that will protect the surface from UV and any sort of graffiti that might happen along.

ns4xfinal

72wcshelly.tiffWilliam Curtis Shelly had a very significant career, including the founding (with his brother) of the namesake bakery, a huge operation for its day, with hundreds of employees and branches in New Westminster and North Vancouver as well as the head office at the northwest corner of 10th and Ash. He also built the first highway and ski chalet on Grouse Mountain in the 1920s, served terms on the Park Board and was provincial minister of finance from 1928-32. Ironically, he is commemorated in Grandview at the misspelled S-H-E-L-L-E-Y Park at 8th and Woodland! The house in Shaughnessy, 1563 Matthews, where he lived for the final two decades of his life, before dying in 1951, is now the American consulate. I will be giving a brief Powerpoint show on him at the next GHG meeting on May 16th, and we have contacted the Park Board to let them know about the spelling mistake.

How old is the sign? Based on surviving examples of 4X advertisements that date from 1939 and the 1940s, we figure the sign’s design is at least as old as 1935. Whether it was touched up later seems unlikely given the systematic way that the company (by then owned by Canadian Bakeries Ltd., founded by Shelly himself) engaged the Stewart-McIntosh advertising agency in 1939 to update its typography and the “happy baker” image. The sign was probably more or less forgotten during the Second World War years and then covered with stucco when the store was modernized, perhaps about 1950. Doubtful we’ll ever know for sure unless some dated photographs of the store have survived somewhere. The Shelly’s 4X brand disappeared in the 1950s.

There’s another interesting piece to the story of the Victoria Drive Confectionery. It was built in 1922, two years after Scott’s Grocery at Victoria and Georgia (the only surviving operating store in the neighbourhood today). There were a myriad of small groceries in Grandview and elsewhere, affiliated with the big wholesalers – Kelly Douglas, Malkin, H.Y. Louie – the little storefronts dotting Victoria Drive and scattered on side streets like Semlin, Venables and McLean. When Victoria Drive Grocery closed it became an art gallery owned by Bill Gotts that looked like this…

drvigari

Simon Kendall, the keyboard player for Doug and the Slugs and a neighbour and friend of Gotts, went up on a ladder one day and started making anagrams with the surviving letters from the store’s sign. The upshot was Doctor Vigari, the name that stayed with the gallery when it migrated to The Drive at 2nd and the former grocery building was sold to its new Via Tevere owners. Patrons of the restaurant will see the old sign mounted on a wall inside.

drvigari2

April Meeting Notes

We had another full and fascinating meeting of the Group last night, welcoming a number of first-time visitors. We began with a series of celebrations and good news.

We have received confirmation that the Group has been selected for an Award of Merit for Heritage Advocacy in the 2013 City of Vancouver Heritage Awards. The award ceremony is at the Georgia Hotel on May 27.  We are very proud recipients.

That was good news, followed by the great news that we now have the funds to complete the revitalization of the Shelly’s 4X Sign at Victoria and William.  The sign has suffered badly in the elements since it was revealed last year when the stucco covering was removed during renovations prior to the opening of the Via Tevere Restaurant.

G016-3We have received a substantial contribution of $2,000 from the Via Tevere Restaurant, for which we are very grateful.  In addition we have received $1,500 from a North Hastings Community Grant which allows us to celebrate the sign and its neighbouring area in a proper way.  Once again we are extraordinarily grateful for their assistance.  We have also applied for additional grants to complete the work but, in the meanwhile, we will top up the budget from our own funds.

Michael Kluckner has already put up temporary protection on the sign and now we just need a stretch of five or six days good weather to dry out the wood and for artist Victoria Oginski to work her magic.  We are hoping to get this completed within a month or so.

Later, early in the summer, we will be having a big celebratory party for the sign and its position within the neighbourhood.  You can expect food and music, a scavenger hunt, history tours and a lot of fun!  As we firm up dates and details, we will post them here.

And the good news just rolled on.  We have now put up all 25 of this year’s Centenary Birthday Signs on a wide range of wonderful houses in Grandview that are at least one hundred years old.  We have established a page on this site where you can find a map of all the houses along with architectural and historical details.  If you happen to have more information about any of these houses, please send it in and we’ll update the map.

For the 2012 Signs campaign, we had a lovely birthday party, and we decided to do another one for the 2013 campaign.  This year’s party will be at 1:30pm on Saturday 4th May on Grandview Park opposite 1636 Charles Street.  More details to follow, but everyone is welcome to join us in this celebration of Grandview’s glorious heritage houses.

Michael Kluckner gave a presentation on some lessons we have learned from this year’s campaign.  As we were preparing the final list of 2013 houses, we were approached by the owner of a house on Woodland and we were delighted to give a sign as we had documentation that the original house had been built in 1907.  However, on viewing the property, Michael and others became suspicious about its actual date.

The 1907 building permit said it was a $750 cottage, in the middle of three other $750 cottages; but, this house was clearly bigger than its neighbour, and far too big for a $750 cottage of that age.  The 1910 and 1912 maps we looked at showed four square little cottages equidistant apart.  However, by the 1927 Fire Insurance map, this house was shown to have grown and moved a lot closer to its southern neighbour.  And aerial photos revealed that the roof had been significantly altered.

So, although there is a 1907 buildng permit, and even though the same owners had the property from 1908 to 1952, it seems certain that between 1912 and 1927 they demolished the original cottage and replaced it with a much larger house.  This goes to show that documentation isn’t everything!

The meeting continued in great style with the third in Eric Phillip’s marvelous Heritage House Mechanics and Materials series. This presentation — with excellent visuals and a lot of hard-won personal knowledge — was about the difference between traditional timber framing, balloon framing, and Western Platform framing. It was fascinating.  We will work on Eric to prepare this series for web access as soon as possible because it deserves a wider audience.

It was agreed that next month our presentation will be Michael Kluckner on house types/styles in Grandview.  That promises to be another fascinating lesson.

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.