Our Racist Past

Ninety-eight years ago today, the Grandview Chamber of Commerce, supported by the Grandview Ratepayers Association, held

“an enthusiastic gathering of merchants and prominent men of the district, gathered to unite their efforts to drive out of the district of Grandview the Oriental … Speakers said they did not want Grandview to be overrun with Orientals, and they intended to see that it was not … Efforts are being made to induce the real estate dealers and owners who have already rented their premises to Orientals to give them notice to vacate, otherwise the names of those preferring a few dollars to the welfare of their district will be made public” – World 1919 Jan 14, p.12

It is often hard to interpret history without using the guiding views of our own age. It has to be remembered that discrimination against the Chinese, Japanese, and others was rampant throughout BC in 1919 across all classes and political beliefs. Less than a dozen years earlier, Vancouver had witnessed huge riots against immigration and the Komagata Maru incident was only five years before.

From today’s perspective, most of us would find this unacceptable. But in 1919?

Townsend & Townsend

Here is an interesting post from Scout magazine about the architects Townsend & Townsend and the “diapering” design they became known for during the golden age of Vancouver building before the First World War.

Although they are not mentioned in the article, the Drive has three Townsend & Townsend buildings, none of which have the famous design.  In fact, only one – the Alvarado Block on the corner of Commercial & Graveley — is in the their usual block style. The other two — 1511-1517 where the Shoppers Drug Store now is, and Joe’s Cafe — are very different creatures.

Good to know more about these folks.

 

Character House Review

To assist with some important work between now and the next GHG meeting, why not join Caroline Adderson in studying the City’s proposals for “character houses.”  Here is what Caroline has to say:

I just want to make sure you all know about the Character Home Rezoning review open houses which are winding up next week.  Rezoning is powerful tool that could save some of our remaining original housing stock; we only have 24% of it left.  In short, the reason these beautiful, enduring houses are being destroyed is that the lot they stand on is zoned for a bigger house.  Reduce the size of the new build, then the folks looking for a redevelopment site may look elsewhere, as currently happens in our RT zones.  As an added incentive to retain, and to balance the economics, the city proposes to offer “extras” for retention in the form of additions, infill, extra suites, etc.

The details of the open houses are below.  You can also fill out the survey on-line, though the implications of what they are asking are not always clear.  I found it helpful to be able to ask questions of staff in person.  There are also PDFs on the website to refer to.

Here are two recent articles that you may also find informative:

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/opinion-city-hall-must-act-quickly-to-save-vancouver-heritage-homes
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/stop-the-clear-cut/article33052442/

It is crucial that the public support these changes or they will not happen.  Please, please, please participate.  Feel free to share this email with concerned friends.  No need to reply to this email.

Sincerely,

Caroline Adderson

Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, 5 – 9 pm 
PNE Hastings Room, 2901 East Hastings St. (Gate 2, Forum Gate)
 
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, 5 – 9 pm 
Town Hall Hellenic Centre, 4500 Arbutus St

ONLINE SURVEY FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO JOIN THE MAILING LIST
A survey will also be available on our website starting November 21. vancouver.ca/characterhomereview

Soundscapes

This morning I received the following email from BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly regarding a call for soundscapes and associated materials. I thought it would be of interest to some readers:

“BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly is seeking sound clips, soundscapes, or other types of audio accompanied by a written component (article, essay, poem, story, etc.). Contributions will be peer reviewed and published online and in print. They should engage with sound studies, anthropology of sound, musicology, ethnomusicology, urban studies, storytelling, communication or any other disciplines / approaches that engage with the topic of sound. Projects may be approached from various perspectives (environmental activism, phenomenological, historical, sociological, political, ethical, etc.) and through various forms (narrative, storytelling, sounds of the environment, noises, urban sounds, etc.). Sound clips may be submitted in raw and/or processed form(s). Yet, they should all be connected to sonic expressions, phenomenon and explorations in/about/of British Columbia.

Sonic components (wav. format) will be published on our Soundcloud page. Written components (max 1500-2000 words) should relate directly to the soundscape(s) / sound clip(s) submitted.

Please send questions and submissions to Dr. Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier (alexbf@uvic.ca).

 

BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/bcstudies

Meeting Notes: November

Another good gathering last Thursday, and more fascinating discussions.

  • We looked at various property assemblies being created in the south end of the neighbourhood; we also noted the falling state of the RE market; and then we were still surprised to find 1976 still priced at less than $1 million;
  • There was a fine discussion regarding the plans for the lot immediately behind the Florida Building/. It appears that what the developer wants is so close to what is already allowed that it is small change in exchange for guaranteeing the protection of the Florida Building itself,
  • It was noted a potential good use had been found for the Urban Empire storefront at 1108 Commercial which has now been vacant for more than three years. Unfortunately the agent listing the property has not returned any messages.
  • Eric reported on the renovations being made to the heritage apartment building at Adanac and Victoria;
  • There has been some, though slow, progress on the Bosa Building on Victoria;
  • The Shelly’s sign at Victoria & Williams which GHG salvaged some years ago, is now showing signs of disrepair and weather damage. Between now and the spring when the work could be done, Penny, Michael, & Victoria O., will come up with a repair plan and budget;
  • The replacement heritage plaque that we have at the sign is also in the process of being replaced and improved to better stand up to the UV damage;
  • We looked at the twin heritage houses at 1962 and 1968 Turner. Both built by Joseph Barlow with building permits dated 1912 but still vacant at time of Goad’s map at the end of that year. They were, I assume, built in 1913 when Barlow was building other houses on Turner and Harris Streets.
  • We examined the deterioration of vacant building during this winter. Brookhouse, for example (process delays), and 2145 Parker (no known reason);
  • Eric showed some information on the Haney Brick Works, from which came many of the bricks used in Grandview;
  • Future events noted included:
    • Open house re: Safeway site (11/19)
    • VHS lecture on the Kits Indian Reserve (11/24)
    • Open houses for Community Plan zoning (11/26 and 11/30)
    • Vancouver Heritage Christmas Party (12/6)
    • VHS lecture on Civic Politics (1/26)

What Might Have Been

Anyone who knows Commercial Drive knows Joe’s Cafe on the corner of William Street.

joes-cafe

It is an unprepossessing single-storey flat-roofed structure, not unlike many other similar buildings along the Drive.  This one has been that way since Harry Evans had it built in 1910:

  • Building Permit issued 9th November 1910
  • Owner: Harry Evans
  • Architect: Townshend & Townshend
  • Builder: Mr. Lauger
  • Value: $3,550
  • single storey, three storefronts

But this is not what Harry Evans had really wanted. In fact, a year before he had announced something completely different for that site. In the 3rd March 1909 edition of the Vancouver Daily World, we find this:

harry-evans-dream

I can only surmise that, even in the hyper-ballooning real estate market of 1910-1912, he couldn’t raise the $10,000 and had to settle for a less ostentatious addition to Commercial Drive.