Nominate a site for the Heritage Register!

Just announced and posted a couple of days ago: the public nomination process for new additions to the Vancouver Heritage Register …

In broad terms, the Heritage Register is an information document; as I understand it, owners of properties will not be able to say “no” to a nomination, but they will be notified. You will notice that sites should respond to one of the broad themes of Vancouver’s culture and history – this is an evolution of the old Heritage Register which was more closely focused on architecture and landscape. That said, sites where “something happened,” however significant, may be more difficult to categorize and save than architecturally interesting buildings, but we will see how it works out.

To make sure you’re not nominating a site that’s already on the register, go to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Site Finder Map. It’s the best way to familiarize yourself with the buildings and places that are already recognized.

Being on the Heritage Register is no guarantee, and never has been one, of any sort of protection against demolition or alteration. It does, however, make a place eligible for a process that eventually could confer “designation” – that is, legal protection.

Goad’s 1912 atlas now a VanMap layer

Regular readers of this blog, and researchers of local history, will be aware of the 1912 Goad’s Fire Atlas, which has been available in low-res images on the national archives website for the past few years.

As part of the fantastic digitization efforts undertaken by City of Vancouver Archives, the atlas is now available in much higher resolution as a layer on VanMap, the city’s on-line data pool of everything from lot sizes to zoning to dog parks.

Read this post on the Archives’ blog to find out how to use it!

Next meeting Thursday, May 21st, at 7 pm

As usual, we are meeting this Thursday at 7 in the boardroom of Britannia – in the building with the Information Centre just east of the library. Everyone is welcome.

Items on the agenda:

– Eric Phillips will start the meeting with his “Neighbourhood Scan” – photos and commentary about Grandview since the last meeting.

Century Signs for 2015: we will have a tentative list of houses to approach to display our signs. Penny and Michael gathered up 23 signs last week and have them cleaned and ready to go.

– Eric will present a few slides on paint-stripping techniques, just in time for the summer maintenance season.

– There may be a bit of news about Brookhouse at Parker and Victoria, which has been for sale again during the last month.

Car Free Day on June 21st: should we have a table as we’ve had the last few years?

– Michael Kluckner will give a brief update on the progress of the city’s Heritage Action Plan.

– and, probably, some new business …

Life & Death of Grandview’s Corner Grocery Stores

In an earlier post, we had described the presentation to GHG of the work created by our UBC student intern, Kevin Shackles, on the history, decline, and future of corner stores in Grandview, and their relationship to the development of retail business in the 20th century.

Kevin’s excellent illustrated thesis can now be viewed as a pdf file.

It is full of interesting analysis, photographs, and histories of specific corner stores in our neighbourhood.  We hope you find it as interesting and valuable as we have.

Pictorial History “Fixed”

The Pictorial History of Grandview (available both from the Main Menu and the sidebar) has not been working properly for a while. It was a mystery to us why.  However, it now appears that WordPress has disabled it due to a security flaw, and the original developer of the gallery software is no longer supporting it.

We have not yet found an equivalent gallery software that allows an automatic slideshow.  However, we have adjusted the view that now allows all the images to be shown.  Click on any thumbnail and you should be able to go backwards and forwards through the images.

Sorry for the delay on this; we are historians not technicians!

History of Apartments: June 2nd

Our own Michael Kluckner is giving what sounds like a fascinating talk on the history of apartments and condos in Vancouver.  The following is from the Heritage Vancouver Foundation’s notice:

“A century ago, half of Vancouver’s population rented. Today, that proportion is unchanged, yet the city is so physically different it’s hard to imagine it as the same place. In an illustrated talk, Michael Kluckner takes a look at Vancouver’s apartment and condo history in two parts. Michael begins with the evolution of the apartment building, from humble flats above stores to the luxurious suites of the 1920s, the walk-ups of the 1940s and the high-rises of the 1960s. He also explores the social changes in the city – the passage in 1966 of the Strata Title Act, as well as other forms of collective ownership of buildings – that have turned tenants into owners and investors into landlords.”

The lecture is at Hycroft at 7:30pm on June 2nd.  Please visit the VHF site for full details.

Heritage Reboot: May 23rd

The following is from an email I recieved today:

The City of Vancouver, Vancouver Heritage Foundation, City of Vancouver Archives and Heritage Vancouver will host #HeritageReboot, a fun, hands-on free public event that combines modern technology with heritage conservation.

When: Saturday, May 23, 2015 from 1pm to 4:30pm

Where: Roundhouse Community Centre, Engine 374 Pavilion, 181 Roundhouse Mews (Corner of Davie and Pacific)

#HeritageReboot schedule:
1 pm – Event launch followed by cake-cutting
1 pm – 4:30 pm – City of Vancouver Heritage Action Plan Open House
1:30 – 4:30 pm – Public welcome to experience and use the technology
2:45 pm – 4:15pm – Tours of Yaletown and Engine 374

The event will officially launch four initiatives that use digital technology to open up Vancouver’s heritage in new ways for everyone:

  • The City of Vancouver’s new online platform for public nominations to Vancouver’s Heritage Register
  • Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Heritage Site Finder, an interactive map showing over 2,200 sites listed on the Heritage Register. The tool is searchable, filterable and full of images and information about the sites
  • The City of Vancouver Archives’ digital rendering of the important Goad’s 1912 Fire Insurance Plan.  Newly added as a layer on VanMap, construction materials, building footprint, street names and addresses of the time are now easily discoverable.
  • Heritage Vancouver’s Historic Building Permits Database, a searchable online database of over 32,000 transcribed pre-1929 Vancouver building permits

Everyone is encouraged to unearth the past with these newly created digital tools and use the information to nominate a site to the Vancouver Heritage Register using the new online platform.

The City of Vancouver will also be having its open house on the next phase of the Heritage Action Plan there throughout the afternoon.

Free tours will also be available in the afternoon, including:

  • The Canadian Pacific Railway’s Two Yaletowns 1886-1887 and 1910-1914.  Led by historian and author of the award winning book Vancouver: A Visual History Bruce MacDonald.
  • City Building: Yaletown and its Neighbours in the Nineties.  Led by former City Councillor and the current Director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University Gordon Price.
  • A historic tour of Yaletown in French.  Led by the President of the Société historique francophone de la Colombie-Britannique Maurice Guibord.
  • Tours of the Engine 374 Pavilion and the engine to mark the 128th anniversary of Engine 374 pulling the first transcontinental train into Vancouver.  Led by The West Coast Railway Association.

We hope to see you there.

Happy Birthday GHG!


Four years ago on Monday we had our first Grandview Heritage Group meeting in Craig’s kitchen in the middle of his rather chaotic home-renovation project! His lovely home is long-since complete, and GHG has accomplished quite a lot!
So … CONGRATULATIONS! Good on us! Happy Anniversary!

An authentic coal shute

Richard Mackie and Susan Safyan alerted us to a vintage feature of their building: “The Vault” on 1st just east of Victoria Drive. “It is a good story: we had a leak in the basement that finally we traced to a wall. With the condo’s ultimate support we had the wall taken down. The source of the leak was a large patch about four feet up. The cement guys came with a big drill and removed the patch to find the bricked up (and leaking) oval chute, which leads 4-5 feet up at an angle and and almost to the sidewalk.”


So that’s how coal was delivered to the furnace room of the building a century ago.

“The Vault” itself is the former Canadian Bank of Commerce vault building, which is turning 100 this year.


Not surprisingly, it is a solid, substantial building. Even more surprising is its location – 1st Avenue was not a major road until 1938, when the Grandview Viaduct opened across the False Creek flats and much more automobile traffic began to run east-west. Why did the bank build it there? This is the $64 question, ha ha … But really, why did they build it there???

There was a Bank of Commerce building at 1st and Commercial in 1915, the date of the photo below …


… which is probably a partial explanation. That bank building was a prefab, one of the stock designs of the B.C. Mills, Timber & Trading Company which the Bank of Commerce used all over the Canadian West. Notice the vertical battens on its sidewall covering the join of the prefabricated wall panels. Perhaps because it was a wooden building, the bank decided to build its vault nearby?

As for the prefab bank buildings, I know of one still extant (but stuccoed over) in Keremeos, and saw another years ago in Innisfree, Alberta, a whistle-stop on the CNR east of Edmonton. Richard Mackie reminds me of the Bill Hartley Insurance office, a former Bank of Commerce, on Douglas Street in Victoria.


Our Grandview branch was torn down in the 1960s (?) and replaced by a stock modernistic box, now used by a money-mart operation.