I was looking through old copies of the Vancouver Sun on the Google News Archive (actually, looking for Shelly’s 4X advertising to try to confirm the vintage of the Via Tevere sign) when I stumbled upon the pages of Tax Sale Properties, in this case the November 1, 1934 edition. It’s relatively common knowledge that large numbers of people lost their homes for unpaid taxes during the Great Depression, and rumoured that some great Vancouver fortunes have their roots in such properties bought at the tax sale auctions (although I’ve never been able to tie any names to that). The city eventually responded to the homeowners’ plight by implementing a Work for Taxes program that allowed them to do manual labour on city projects (Fraserview Golf Course, for example) until the tax bill was paid.
Here’s the first page (of 6 or so) at the back of that day’s paper…
… and a close-up of properties in DL264A: the heart of Grandview south of Venables. The first two columns are block and lot number, followed by the tax arrears and a ‘penalty’ column, the sum of which is the ‘upset price’ in column 5 that would stop the auction. The final column indicates the further payment required to regain title to the property.
Maybe readers can find their own houses on the list? It must have been easy to get a Grandview house for $500, if you had that kind of savings. A typical annual wage might be $800 and credit was almost impossible to obtain, but if Aunt Maisie suddenly croaked and left you with a cashable legacy, you could be on your way!