Notes From The March Meeting

We had another interesting meeting last Thursday. Thanks to our logistics wizard Eric and others we weren’t thrown too much by a last minute change of venue.

  • Donato gave an illustrated report on the refurbishment of a heritage fireplace in the oldest house in Grandview;
  • Eric presented some fascinating material on the use of bricks as street pavement, covering cobble stones, special bricks to assist horses on hills, and wood blocks;also discussed were the various brickworks on the Lower Mainland;
  • We were joined by Daniele of the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group who explained their use over the years of posters, signs, and colouring pages for Heritage Week and similar events; there were some excellent ideas for us to follow next year;
  • Maria reported on a list of possible houses for this year’s Centenary Signs project; following an idea from MPHG, Jak will contact our BIA about signs on Commercial Drive retail building this year;
  • Jak presented a number of number of photographs illustrating changes on the Drive and in the neighbourhood between 1985 and today;
  • Neville gave a good interim report on the historical work he is researching on the 1800 block of Parker Street and, in particular, the house at 1829 Parker;
  • We had a brief Neighbourhood Update which included news on the paiting of Brookhouse, and the history of the Wonderbucks building which is now for sale;

We look forward to seeing many of you at our next meeting on 19th April.

The Wonderbucks Building

In the most recent Changes On The Drive, I reported that the building at 1301 Commercial, which most of us these days know as the Wonderbucks Building, is now for sale after lying empty for more than a year. The building has a fascinating history which I thought I might relate here.

The Fraser family built 1301 Commercial in 1927 to house their Crystal Dairy. Founded in 1922, Crystal Dairy was the largest independent dairy in Vancouver by 1936. Most of the building was essentially a milk delivery depot and stables, but some of the frontage along Commercial Drive had served retail.

The retail space was completely renovated in 1939 to be the finest soda-and-ice-cream fountain in East Vancouver. This was a title they fought over with Louis Toban’s Toots Restaurant at Commercial and Broadway. For more than a decade the two competed mainly in a series of renovations, using new chrome, glass, and lighting, each trying to outdo the other in popularity with the teen crowd.

In those pre-feminist days, girls would vie for positions as waitresses at Crystal Fountain as it was the best place to meet eligible boyfriends and husbands.

The Frasers sold the dairy a few years after the War and by 1954, the new owners had consolidated operations elsewhere and the dairy and fountain were closed. For the next 15 years, the building served as the offices and warehouse of the Select Music Company, a division of Acme Novelties.

In 1968, the building, damaged from two recent fires, was purchased for $90,000 by Carlo Gallo and Giuseppe Padovano, and renovated into the Italian Melodi Dance Hall. When it opened, the Echo called it “fabulous, new”, and described it as “in the style of old Venice with a terrazo floor, beautiful pictures on the wall,and a statue complete with fountain in the foyer.”  Dinner and dancing for New Years Eve that year was $15.

It was a success for a while but in 1974, the same owners closed the hall and remodeled the store into G & P Food Market.

From 1995 to 2001, the building was used first by a liquidator and then by a haulage company.  Wonderbucks took over the space in 2001 and stayed until the size of the rent forced its closure in early 2017.

Now it is for sale, and we are ready for the next chapter.

 

Sources:  “Highland Echo” 1936-1960; City Directories; GHG Database

 

Next Meeting: 15th March

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is this coming Thursday, 15th March, at 7:00pm.  We meet in the Britannia Boardroom on Napier Street.

This month’s agenda will include, in no particular order:

  • the restoration of a heritage fireplace in Grandview’s oldest house;
  • heritage brick, including those used for street paving;
  • a visit from the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group regarding their use of posters in Heritage Week and how we might follow next year;
  • A trip down nostalgia lane: photographs from 1985;
  • a teaser perhaps on the ongoing history work taking place regarding Parker Street;
  • the monthly neighbourhood update.

Plus any other topic that attendees would like us to discuss. Everyone is welcome to attend and we look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

Grandview Database v.20

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

We were obliged to take a few months’ rest from working on the Database this winter. Now we are back, starting in a small way. This version incorporates about 100 new and amended data points since the previous release:

  • Another 60 entries have been added from the 1914 City Directory;
  • Another 40 entries have been updated to reflect current MLS sales and listings.

In March we will once again be concentrating on completing the data available from the 1921 Census.

We hope you find the Database of value, and we encourage and welcome corrections, and additions.

Notes From February Meeting

We had another full house for the meeting yesterday evening, and as usual covered some fascinating topics.

  • We began with a presentation from a group of residents concerned about a proposed 6-storey project in the 1500-block Grant Street (the presentation is covered in more detail here). There were many questions and responses seeking to clarify the position of those opposing the development;
  • Michael Kluckner gave a delightful presentation on the history of the rec room and, in particular of the player piano. More specifically, it was about the player piano he and his partner inherited on buying their house. Very enjoyable.
  • John Stuart then mentioned a player piano concert to be held in Burnaby next week.
  • That segued well into Upcoming Events
    • Friends of Vancouver City Archives AGM 18 March including a presentation on the photo morgue donated by the Province;
    • Various Heritage Vancouver workshops;
    • Heritage Week 19 – 25 February
    • Vancouver Historical Society lectures for 22nd February, 22nd March, and 26th April (the last by our own Christine Allen on the history of gardens);
  • There was an update on the Shelly’s Sign on the Via Tevere restaurant on Victoria. The sign which we restored is suffering again from weather issues. When the weather turns a bit more friendly we will examine the best way to improve and maintain it.
  • Eric had another Heritage Tip, this one about using a tool for removing old trim without damage. This led to a good discussion about respirators to avoid dangerous dust hazards;
  • We discussed the 2018 edition of our Centenary Signs program. We will spend the next short while collecting suggestions for houses to be included. In April or May we will start the tour to check on the houses’ conditions and make final selections. It was suggested that this year we include some houses which are old enough to qualify but are in disrepair; the idea being to contrast and perhaps encourage general renovation;
  • We agreed to participate again in Commercial Drive’s Car Free Day in early July. We had a very good success last year and we are seeking additional ideas for this year’s displays.
  • We finished the evening with a short Neighbourhood Update which included news on a project at Pender & Commercial, the end of the Dairy Queen on Hastings, the Rio Theatre situation, and a reno at E. Georgia & Commercial.

Next Meeting: 15th February

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is on Thursday 15th February at 7:00pm.  As usual, we meet in the Britannia Boardroom on Napier.

This month’s agenda will include:

  • a presentation by Michael Kluckner on player pianos and rec rooms;
  • a discussion regarding the Shelley’s sign;
  • a presentation on a special tool useful for heritage renovation;
  • a presentation regarding threatened houses on Grant Street;
  • the 2018 Centenary House Signs campaign;
  • the 2018 Car Free Day table;
  • Eric’s Neighbourhood Update

We always welcome other items of heritage and historical interest, so come along and add your particular item to the agenda.

Hope to see many of you there!

 

Notes From January Meeting

Last Thursday we had the first GHG meeting of the year, and we had a very large attendance with several new faces; great to see everyone. As usual the discussions were wide-ranging.

  • We first discussed the demolition of the General Paints building on Venables. This was originally the site of Ayers Paint.  Although this is just outside our usual geographic boundaries, it led to a good discussion about lead and other contaminants on older industrial sites;
  • We briefly discussed a flyer aimed at foreign buyers in the Grandview area and how that may affect the neighbourhood;
  • Eric then presented his monthly Neighbourhood Update where we looked at and discussed changes to (mostly) heritage buildings in Grandview.  This included, amongst many other items, a review of the demolition of 1637 Victoria, the use of polystyrene forms at a new laneway house on Odlum, toxic cleanup from a former dry cleaning shop at 1155 Victoria, the closure of the Dairy Queen at Hastings & Lakewood, the rare shared driveway on Grant by Victoria, and the current state of the Brookhouse rebuilding.
  • Eric then led us through a detailed discussion on the use and construction of dry wells in Grandview;
  • Finally, we touched on the need for fundraising at Vancouver City Archives, especially in regard to the newly acquired photo library from the Province and Sun newspapers.

Next Meeting: January 18, 2018

We won’t be having a December meeting — too close to Christmas and holiday season — so our next meeting will be Thursday, January 18th. As usual, we will meet in the Britannia Boardroom at 7:00 p.m.

We’ll post another reminder a few days before we meet.

Our agenda is always flexible and our discussions are always educational and entertaining.  And, of course, everyone is welcome! Do come and join us!