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.


Next Meeting: 15th November 2012

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group (GHG) will be on this coming Thursday, 15th November, at 7:00pm.  As usual, we will meet at the Britannia Board Room on Napier Street.

This will probably be the last formal meeting of the year and items that may be discussed are the GHG proposal to the Grandview Community Plan, Jak King’s talk on December 8th on Grandview 1890-1915, the list of possible houses for the 2013 Centenary Birthday Signs campaign, and the formal handover of our The Highland Echo tapes to the Vancouver Public Library.  Who knows what else might come up?

Please come and join us for an enjoyable and interesting evening of heritage and history!


Remembrance Day 1930

On Remembrance Day 1930, the flagstaff and cairn to the memory of the Grandview lads who had fallen in the First War were dedicated in Grandview Park by Archbishop DePencier.

The memorial had been the idea of Catherine Bufton who, with her husband Hubert, ran the very popular Bufton’s Florists on the Drive. She had made the war memorial the primary project of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Chamber of Commerce for several years and her efforts had finally paid off.

Thousands turned out for the dedication. Mayor Malkin gave a brief but “stirring” speech and massed choirs sang “O Canada”, “For All The Saints” and “O God Our Help In Ages Past.”  Finally, the solemn ceremony was completed with two minutes’ silence.

Hubert Bufton organized Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Park for several years thereafter.  When the Grandview Branch of the Canadian Legion was formed in 1945, they took over responsibility.

[See King 2011, p.28; Province and Sun, 11/11/1930; and News Herald 1/7/38]

Heritage and the Community Plan

As part of the ongoing Grandview Woodland Community Plan exercise, the Grandview Heritage Group has submitted a 14-page document to City Planners regarding the protection and enhancement of heritage buildings in our neighbourhood.  Note that 50% of all buildings in Grandview were built prior to 1929: Grandview is heritage.  The Executive Summary for this document is posted below:

“The GHG is keen to see heritage/character preserved in Grandview as part of the Community Plan process and, to that end, would like to make a series of suggestions about preserving heritage/character.  Please consider this letter and attachments as a formal submission to the plan process.  We look forward to consideration of the suggestions by planning staff and adoption of them.  As you will see, the GHG would like to see some of its suggestions adopted in the upcoming plan workshop on heritage and character, and also other workshops such as housing.

During the Community Plan process, the GHG would like to see the final plan document include the following: 

  1. Wording that frames Grandview as a heritage/character area and that heritage/character has an influence on other plan themes (such as housing) and on the development of policy about Grandview and its geographical subareas.
  2. Retention of all existing land use and development zoning schedules, policies and guidelines that apply to Grandview (e.g., within RM, RT, RS, and C zones), since the heritage/character of the neighbourhood would be threatened by changes thereto, and increased development pressure from upzoning would threaten the loss of the large amount of existing affordable older housing and rentals within heritage/character buildings.  The GHG also notes that the City has not demonstrated that existing zoning cannot serve anticipated growth.
  3.  Wording to ensure there is vigorous application of guidelines that apply to zoning in Grandview (notably, Britannia/Woodland and Broadway Station Area RM-4/RM-4N; RS-1, RT-4 and RT-5), especially regarding the heritage/character nature of buildings and streetscapes.
  4. New “First/Commercial C2-C Guidelines” modelled on the Broadway/Commercial C2-C and C-3A Guidelines, covering Commercial Drive from Parker Street to East 6th Avenue. 
  5. The view that future growth in Grandview should be predominantly provided through the retention, adaptive reuse and/or upgrading of existing buildings with infill where appropriate, at a scale consistent with the existing heritage character of Grandview, to avoid speculative land inflation and to protect public/private views of the mountains and city centre.
  6.  Policies that encourage the preservation and discourage the demolition of existing heritage/character residential buildings in Grandview.
  7. The implementation of city-wide policies that undermine the heritage character of Grandview (such as the Interim Rezoning Policy) should be suspended for the duration of the plan.
  8. Zoned capacity information about Grandview should be introduced immediately into the plan process, with the raw data and assumptions about the data made available on the plan website, and publicity produced about the availability of the data. 
  9.  The theme of heritage/character should be included in events (such as workshops) about or including other themes, notably housing.
  10. Maps by Bruce Macdonald and data and maps by Jak King should be immediately introduced into the Community Plan process and maps of theirs should be used in displays and other materials at plan events about heritage/character and housing, including workshops about these themes, and should inform the final document.

The full document (available here) expands on some of the preceding suggestions.