100 Years Ago Today in Grandview

On 27th February 1915, while the world settled in to a major European War, the following ads were run in “The Vancouver Daily World” (p.16):

  • “$75 cash, $20 monthly, inclusive price only $1,550, buys a new well-built modern bungalow on First Avenue, close to Commercial Drive; has full basement, bath, toilet, open fireplace, best electric fittings on full garden lot, 32 x 122 to lane.”
  • “1948 2nd Avenue, 3-room house, 66′ lot all fenced, $660 easy terms.
  • “Modern 5-room house, Napier Street, full plumbing, furnace etc and in good repair; $6 per month to a responsible tenant.”


Daring Hold-Up In Grandview!

I was researching something this morning and came across the following story from “The Vancouver Daily World” of 10th January 1910 which illustrates what parts of Grandview and Vancouver were like at that time:


“A daring attempted holdup was made on a laundry driver Saturday night at 6 o’clock, when three men pointed three revolvers at S. Robinson and ordered him to hold up his hands. The driver’s presence of mind stood him in good stead, and whipping his horse, drove off at a furious gait amid a fusilade of revolver shots.

The driver was accosted by three masked men as he was proceeding along Third Avenue, Grandview. Robinson had been delivering parcels in the 1900 block when he saw two men approach the rig while another stood on the sidewalk about 10 feet away, also flourishing a gun. As soon as he found out the nature of the visit, Robinson drew his whip and applied it stealthily to his horse with good effect. A secfond command to stop was given which was also unheeded. Then the three opened fire on the wagon and its single occupant. Two bullet holes, one below the driver’s seat and the other in the side of the cover, remain to show what a close call the driver had and the desperate characters implicatedair.in the affair.

At the time of the attempted holdup Robinson had $87 on his person, much of it in silver. It is evident that the would-be highwaymen had been following the movements of the rig and its driver for some time, as at this particular point most of his parcels had been delivered and consequently he carried more money. The point of the hold up is at a dark place on Third Avenue, and is frequented by pedestrians but very little.

Owing to the darkness and in his hurry to escape, the driver was unable to learn much regarding the description of the men. He states that the three men are of medium height and build, while one of the men wore a brown slouch hat. Later on in the evening as Robinson was finishing delivering his load of laundry on Park [Commercial] Drive he saw three men who looked very much like those implicated in the attempted holdup get into a buggy and dfrive rapidly down Park Drive towards Venables Street.  Owing to the snow, which was falling thickly at the time, Robinson was unable to state whether the rig turned east or west when reaching Venables.

Within twenty minutes the police were at the scene of the holdup, and although they searched the neighbourhood thoroughly, no trace of the men could be found … The theory advanced by the police is that a band of desperate characters are camping in the vicinity of the city in Hastings making nightly visits to the city while they spend the day in seclusion in the fastness of the forest somewhere in Hastings townsite.

This is the fourth occurence of this nature within the city within the past three weeks.Two were unsuccessful, while $8.75 were taken from a young man on Victoria Drive under a street light last month, and more recently two masked men succeeded in robbing a street car conductor at the point of revolvers at the terminus of the Powell Street line last week.”


The Maritime Mural

Thanks to Blair Redlin who has pointed out a story in the Vancouver Sun regarding the need for a new future for the wonderful 1947 mural that currently decorates a wall in the Maritime Labour Centre at Victoria and Triumph.

muralThe  magnificent mural was painted in 1947 by Fraser Wilson and was carefully moved from its original site at the old Marine Workers and Boilermakers Hall at 339 W. Pender in the mid-1980s.   Now, the 85′ artwork needs to be moved again for its own safety.

Mark Gordienko of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union thinks it’s time to put out “feelers” to find a new home for the artwork. “People want to be sure that the mural will be looked after,” said Gordienko. “And I think it would be. I’d like to see it someplace along the waterfront, myself. It is limited where it could be. The (grain) terminals wouldn’t make any sense, but Canada Place or the Convention Centre would be great. It’s a snapshot of resource development in B.C. and the Vancouver waterfront.”

If you have never seen this extraordinary piece of labour and Vancouver history, make some excuse to go to the Centre and take a look.  You will not be disappointed.


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.

Next Meeting, Thursday 19th February

Happy Heritage Week! We invite you to celebrate with us on Thursday night by coming to the Grandview Heritage Group meeting, 7:00, in the Info Centre Board Room at Britannia.

We have a few good things planned for the agenda, including:

*  A short installment in Eric Phillips’s talks on old houses and changes in the Grandview neighbourhood over the decades.

*  Bruce Macdonald has been interviewing some of Grandview’s old-timers, and he will be showing us an interview he did recently with Jack Burch, who was owner/editor of the Highland Echo for many years.

*  We’ll also be reporting on the gradually-vanishing Shelly’s sign plaque on the side of Via Tevere.

Please bring your questions, concerns, heritage issues, and ideas… Tell your friends and neighbours. And we’ll see you on Thursday night!

York Theatre Anniversary

Seventy-five years ago today, the then-newly renovated theatre in the 600-block of Commercial Drive was opened and re-named as the York Theatre.

The theatre, previously called the Palace, had been operated by the Vancouver Little Theatre Society since the 1920s. During the late 1930s, the group had fundraised enough money for a complete refurbishment of the building, including a new street-facing front. The work was completed in February 1940 and the new York Theatre was re-opened.

This building is not to be confused with the modern York Theatre put up on the site a couple of years ago; a building that has no relevance to the design of the heritage structure.