A Connection To Nanaimo, V.I.

In June 1902, the Vancouver City authorities published a long list of the lots on which property taxes had not been paid (see, for example, “Vancouver Daily World,” June 11, p.18).  This list included the names of the last-known owner of each lot, making it a highly useful set of dta for the GV Database.

While working on this list, I noticed that one company — McBain & Hardy — were listed for a significant number of the lots (more than 50). I decided to map the M & H lots to see if there was any pattern to their purchases. I also looked up the company, without much success in Vancouver. However, I did notice that George A. McBain took trips to an from Vancouver Island and so I started looking there, eventually finding them in Nanaimo.

I had also noticed that John D. Foreman was the next most prolific owner in the lists and, sure enough, he too was based in Nanaimo. More research revealed at least another half dozen listings for Nanaimo-based owners.

1902 Nanaimo Connection

Two other matters come to mind. First, virtually all of these Nanaimo-based purchases are contained within Blocks 146, 147, and 148, from Commercial Drive to Garden Drive and from Third to Sixth Avenue (McBain & Hardy also owned a half-dozen lots in Block 136 from the Copp estate). Moreover agents George McBain, Charles Hardy and John D. Foreman all flourished in the early years of the 1890s and essentially disappear thereafter.

My preliminary conclusion therefore is that, during the 1891-1892 speculation period [see Birth of a Community, Part 2), Vancouver land interests sent these blocks to a Nanaimo broker (possibly McBain and Hardy) who then sold them on locally. There was, as we know, no land rush for settlement and these lots were left idle until the accumulated property taxes became too burdensome.



Michael Kluckner Exhibition

GHG’s own Michael Kluckner, watercolorist, author, and heritage expert, is having his first exhibition in Vancouver since 2006. The exhibition will include watercolours, oils, and drawings “mainly about Vancouver”.

The show is at the VanDusen Gallery Gallery on Oak Street, between April 29th and May 27th. Admission is free. An opening reception will be on Saturday 29th April from 2:30 to 5:30pm.

Michael is also streaming a complete virtual show at his website.

Don’t miss it!

The Birth of A Community — Part 3

The third part of my brief history of early Grandview covers the earliest residents of Grandview, those that settled between 1891 and 1901.

Select link to read the pdf for Part 3 — Birth_John Mason and His Neighbours

Part 4 will get into the nitty-gritty of developing the neighbourhood through 1909.

Parts 1 and 2 of this series are available at Birth_One_Two

Comments, suggestions, and corrections are welcomed and encouraged.

Meeting Announcement

The regular monthly meeting for April has been cancelled.  We will meet again on Thursday 18th May.  A reminder and a review of the agenda will be published closer to that date.

We have cancelled the April meeting in order that members may attend what we believe will be a very interesting talk on “Learning and Community Growth” given by Asa Kachan, head librarian at Halifax Public Library.  The talk is part of the Britannia Renewal Speakers’ Series and will take place in Britannia Library at 7:00pm on Thursday 20th April.

Hope to see you there.

When A Housing Market Crashes

There is much talk in Vancouver these days about how the “housing bubble” may have burst, that the astonishing rise of house prices over the last couple of years is coming to an end and that, perhaps, prices may actually fall.  Given this background, I was interested to have access this week to a few pages of the City of Vancouver property tax assessment register for the years 1933 to 1939.

The pages cover Block 67 in Grandview; a residential block enclosed by Clark Drive, Graveley Street, McLean Drive, and First Avenue and consisting of 24 separate lots. Nine of these lots were occupied by dwellings during the period 1933-1939, while fifteen were vacant.  The period covers the depths of the Depression before eastside Vancouver’s housing market improved with the influx of wartime workers from 1940.

Using 1933 as the baseline (100%) value for the assessment, the following two charts show the fall in assessed values through 1939.

Vacant Lot Assessments

Property Assessments

In 1933, the vacant lot assessments ranged from a low of $500 to a high of $630.  The property assessments in the same year ranged from $1,280 to $3,500.

As a further indication of how housing markets can fall from dizzying heights, lots 15 and 16 in this Block which were together assessed at $1,155 in 1933 and $795 in 1939 had been offered for sale during the crazy boom year of 1910 at $7,250.

Birth of A Community — Part 2

The second part of my brief history of early Grandview covers some aspects of the 1880-1899 period. In particular, it looks at some efforts to open the area to development, including the opening of the interurban railway between Vancouver and New Westminster, and a speculative real estate boom which failed completely.

Select link to read the pdf for Part 2 — Birth_False Starts

Part 3 will look at the small band of pioneer settlers who chose to live in Grandview between 1891 and the 1901 Census.

Part 1 of this series is available at Birth_In The Beginning for web

Comments, suggestions, and corrections are welcomed and encouraged.

On The Value Of Local History

The British historical journal History Workshop has recently published an interesting piece on the value (and lack of use) of local histories.

“Local history takes in a broad range of historical inquiry that can cut across other disciplines and sources including oral traditions, social and cultural practices, ephemera, objects, sites and more. Local history is a powerful tool that contributes to place making and the construction of identity. These histories relate stories of community rituals, traditions and celebrations that are embedded in interpersonal and familial networks. These stories create a dense landscape of meanings that are layered and nuanced.”

Well worth the read.

Grandview Database v.12

We have today uploaded a new and updated version of the Grandview Database.  

This version incorporates almost 900 new data points since the previous release. About 200+ of the new entries are drawn from newspaper articles covering everyday life such as births, marriages, deaths, thefts, accidents, hiring help (search on “girl” for example), and selling household goods.

The other 650 new entries constitute details of households included in the 1911 Census. The completion of the census entries will probably take another two months and will ensure the database contains virtually every person who lived in Grandview in 1911.

The reformatting of both dates and data points continues apace.

Birth of a Community — Part 1

I have been pottering around for yearss now working with various parts of the earliest history of Grandview, and it is time to share some of that research. This will be the first in a series of essays I will publish here as pdfs for comment and improvement. Your ideas, suggestions, corrections, etc will be gratefully received and will help us all understand a little bit better the history of our wonderful neighbourhood.

Many of you will know that the real growth of Grandview took place between 1905 and 1913. However, that growth was an outcome of decisions made decades earlier when lumber was king and Grandview was a forest. This part of the story — “:Birth_In The Beginning for web” — (select link to download the pdf) describes how Grandview came to be in the 1860s and 1870s.

Meeting Notes: March 2017

Another good turn out for our March meeting, and another good session of heritage and history talk.

  • Heritage Renvation Issues:  We were joined by Cynthia who owns a heritage house on Semlin. More than a decade ago, she built a sunroom on her deck and made some changes to the old cottage at the foot of her yard. The City is now claiming these changes are not up to code and there is a hearing to determine what steps whe will have to take to remediate the situation. It was noted that heritage activists have for years complained that work on older but perfectly fit-for-use buildings is too expensive because the city demandss the wholoe building be brought up to code. Cynthia is hoping that her neighbours will support her cause with the city;
  • Neighbourhood Update:   Eric then presented this month’s update on physical changes to the community. This included
    • building plans for the lot at 1138 Lily which was destroyed by fire in January 2016;
    • a discussion about the continued deterioration of Brookhouse while the city delays permits for the HRA;
    • Eric reviewed the few remaining Quonset huts that survive in East Vancouver, and our expectation that they will soon be demolished;
    • A good discussion about the Crystal Dairy building, a solution to where an image of the fleet barn was taken (on Clark between 3rd and 4th), and the delivery of milk in the 1950s;
    • the ongoing development of the REACH building on the Drive, durng which it was confirmed that no social housing units are being built on the site;
    • a quick review of last months RE figures
  • The Grandview Database:   Jak reviewed the progress on entering data into the database, explained the ease with which information can be recovered, and briefly touched on the future entries to be made;
  • The Oldest House in Grandview:  The wording for the plaque to be placed at 1350 Graveley was agreed. It was also agreed we will apply for a neighbourhood grant for the plaque. The final materials for the plaque are still to be determined;
  • Upcoming Course and Lectures:   A number of upcoming events were discussed, including heritage maintenance and repair, a masonry workshop, lectures at Hycroft and from the Vancouver History Society, the Friends of Vancouver Archives AGM, and John Stuart’s presentation at the Scandinavian Cultural Society;
  • Concrete:  We ended with a short video on tips and tricks with using concrete.