It’s A Birthday Party!

Please join us for a little party to celebrate this year’s century houses in Grandview Park on Saturday, May 4th, 1:30 pm.


We’ll be in the middle of the block on the south edge of the park, right across the street from one of this year’s signs (1636/1638 Charles). There will be a few very short speeches.  We’ll have a button-making machine, and you can colour and decorate your own Grandview Heritage Group button (or receive a pre-decorated one).  PLUS we’ll have a delicious Fratelli’s birthday cake!


It also happens to be the second birthday of the Grandview Heritage Group. It’s all free and fun. So … stop by and say hello!


Improvements at City Archives

The good folks at City of Vancouver Archives have made a significant change to the ability of researchers to view digital objects:

Until now, digital objects that were under the copyright of a 3rd party (other than City of Vancouver’s copyright) could only be viewed online as a tiny thumbnail. Now they can be viewed in full resolution in our Reading Room through our online search. This works on your laptop in the Reading Room (using our wifi) as well as at our public computers.


We received feedback that it was frustrating to be tempted by an interesting thumbnail on a list of results only to click through to find that the digital object was not viewable online. We’ve added some language to fix this.  If it says “Digital copy not on web”, then you won’t be able to view the digital object at home. You will still be able to see a more detailed description of the object if you click through to the single description.

Good stuff!

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.

What Might Have Been

As I am sure most of you already know, the present boundaries of Grandview Woodland are Clark Drive to the west, the inlet to the north, Nanaimo Street on the east and Broadway to the south.  These boundaries were established in the late 1960s.

cityvanAs local historian Bruce Macdonald has noted, the City has never produced a real map of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods.  The various “neighbourhoods” — including Grandview Woodland — that are used by administrative agencies today were agreed to by the City in 1969 after a great deal of analysis on social service, health and education delivery by United Community Services (UCS, now known as United Way) in a period when Local Area control was all the rage (quite unlike today).

However, it took the UCS a while to get agreement from the local areas themselves.  That’s because the map they produced was based entirely on theoretical calculations, breaking the city down into almost-equal population packages, with virtually no concern for social and historic considerations. For example, the following is the first map they proposed, in December 1966.

Local Area Proposal Dec 1966Quite a number of areas were eventually changed, but the proposal for Grandview seems the worst of all.  Virtually none of the “Grandview” in this map is in the Grandview of today, taking over as it does what we know as Mount Pleasant.

GW Local Area Proposal Dec 1966The plan to link Strathcona and Grandview had been discussed throughout the 1960s but, luckily, the folks in the Woodland Park Area Resources Council — soon to be renamed the Grandview Woodland Area Council — wouldn’t have it and Grandview was quickly reestablished in its proper position.

Source of the 1966 map is B.W.Mayhew to UCS Local Area Councils, 8 Dec 1966, in CVA, Add Ms 981, 599-A-6, File 1

Former Streams in Grandview

While researching through the old “Highland Echo” editions today, I came across this map of streams and creeks that had formerly traversed Grandview.

GV CreeksObviously I cannot verify the accuracy of this map.  However, it was prepared by Roy Blunden of the Dept of Geological Sciences at UBC in preparation for a geological map of BC.  It was published in the “Highland Echo” of 9th March, 1978.


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.