Meeting Notes: May 2017

The GHG had another fine meeting last night, covering a diverse set of topics.

  • During the 1940s and 1950s, oil heating was marketed across Canada, became a popular alternative, and many people had oil storage tanks buried in their yards. These days, the old tanks are considered a hazard and are generally removed, especially when a house is for sale. Steve Holmes gave an excellent presentation on the removal of the oil tank from his yard. The presentation was illuminated with videos of the action. There was a discussion about the pros and cons of digging up and disposing of contaminated soil as opposed to a biological remediation, which Steve chose. The discussion also encompassed the use of sawdust for heating (very popular in Grandview);
  • The meeting looked at the mock-up of the plaque we are preparing for 1350 Graveley, the oldest house in Grandview. After debate, we agreed the images, the text and the financing.  We are aiming to inaugurate the plaque in July when descendants of the original house-owner will be in town. We were glad to note that Donato’s article on the house has been accepted by BC History Magazine and will be published this fall. Congratulations!
  • The sixth birthday of GHG (May 5th) was duly noted;
  • We discussed arrangements for a GHG table at No Car Day which this year is pushed to 9th July. Jak will prepare a series of maps showing the growth of Granville from 1900-1915, and will also have available a series of 1900s real estate ads enthusing about our neighbourhood. It was also agreed that, if we can secure power, we will have a computer available to perform searches on the GV Database. Eric will help prepare the displays, and will contact the organizers to try to secure a spot away from loud music.  Final details will be completed at the June meeting;
  • Jak gave a short presentation on changes to land values between 1929 and 1955;
  • James Evans, the developer, kindly visited to give us an update on the work moving forward at Brookhouse (1870 Parker). The old building has been moved to its new location (2 feet north and 8 feet west of its original spot) and the new foundations will be poured this week.  Framing for the old house and the new infill building will begin next week;
  • The meeting next looked at a number of housing issues in the neighbourhood, including  the recent Open Houses on changes to the RT zones which will effect heritage (“character”) houses. It was noted that while some ideas seemed positive, there seemed to be little discussion by Planners of how they would work in the GW environment where many lots are not standard 33×100.  It was also noted that the Britannia Renewal housing committee will be meeting on May 29 to discuss housing options for the Britannia site. The unconfirmed report that Boffo is withdrawing from its tower project at Commercial & Venables was also discussed;
  • The meeting closed with a shortened version of Eric’s Neighbourhood Update, during which it was noted that Vancouver Heritage Foundation is still looking for volunteers for its Heritage House Tour on June 4th.

Next Meeting: Thursday 18th May

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group will take place this Thursday, 18th May, beginning at 7:00pm.   We will meet at the Britannia Boardroom in the Info Centre on Napier Street.

As usual, we have an open agenda but we will certainly be discussing the regular Monthly Neighbourhood update, our plans for No Car Day, the plaque for the Oldest house in Grandview, and celebrating GHG’s 6th anniversary. No doubt there will be additional matters to attract our attention.

Everyone is welcome and we look forward to seeing many of you on Thursday!

Postwar Housing Bubble

A month ago, I posted about the housing and land value collapse during the Depression and the lead up to World War Two.  Thanks to the contunued diligent work of my colleague Donato Calogero, we now have a second set of data from property tax registers. This one illustrates the rapid increase in land and property values in the period 1948-1955.

The data this time covers Block 60 in District Lot 264a, a residential block enclosed by Clark drive, Graveley Street, McLean Drive and E. 1st Avenue. It contains 24 lots, of which 9 were vacant, and 15 included buildings.

Using 1948 as the baseline (100%) value for the assessment, the following two charts show the rise in assessed values through 1955.

Housing boom 1948-1955

Housing boom 2 1948-1955

In 1948, the vacant lot assessments ranged from a low of $460 to a high of $645.  The property assessments in the same year ranged from $960 to $2,660.

Birth of a Community — Part 4

The fourth part of my brief history of early Grandview covers the first real growth of our community in the period 1901 to 1907.

Select link to read the pdf for Part 4 — Birth_Creating Grandview

Part 5 will cover the boom from 1907 to 1913

The first 3 parts of this series are available at Birth_One_to_Three

Comments, suggestions, and corrections are welcomed and encouraged.

Grandview Database v. 13

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

This version incorporates almost 1,600 new data points since the previous release. The new entries this month include several hundred more households from the 1911 Census, several lists of tax-default properties in 1902 and 1909, a significant portion of the 1912 City Directory, and a wide variety of entries taken from the Highland Echo from 1935 to 1970, primarily concerned with Commercial Drive.

There is also a complete inventory of the current business occupants of 900-2300 Commercial Drive for the first time.

The reformatting of both dates and data points is almost complete.

John Stuart at the Cannery

One of our regular members and tour leader, John Stuart, is conducting a presentation during an open house at the Gulf of Georgia cannery in Steveston from 11am to 4:00pm on May 6th.  John’s piece is on the contribution of Scandinavians to the fishing history of B.C.

There is a full day of presentations and exhibits called “The Pull of the Net: A Multicutrual Celebration,” and I believe there will also be a fabulous Japanese tall ship in the harbour.

Heritage and the Provincial Election

Many of our readers will have views on the political interface between heritage needs and the Provincial government. Those folks will want to know about the

joint All-Candidates’ Meeting for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Vancouver-Hastings, Monday May 1st in Gym D at Britannia from 6:30pm.

Quoting from the release:

All ten candidates running in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Vancouver-Hastings have said they are coming.

The format for this event is different from All-Candidates Meetings in previous elections.

6:30-7:00 — Everyone is welcome to enjoy socializing over a free light meal (vegetarian soup or chili, buns, butter, salad, and dessert).
7:00-7:45 — Each candidate will have an opportunity to make a 3-minute prepared statement.
7:45-9:00 — Participants will sit at either Hastings or Mount Pleasant tables while candidates in their riding visit their tables to have informal conversations about the issues that concern them — World Café style.

Have your heritage questions ready!

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.