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Archive - People

Warren G. Harding & Stanley Park

President Warren G. Harding One of the more unusual pieces of outdoor sculpture in Vancouver is the huge, old-fashioned and impressive memorial to U.S. president Warren Harding in Stanley Park. The story of how and why that work was commissioned is interesting. Read more here »


BC Sugar

' The story of Rogers Sugarówhose refinery has been on Vancouverís waterfront for more than a hundred yearsóbegins away back in 1881 with a 15-year-old kid, Ben Rogers. Rogers would begin Vancouverís first industry not based on the forests or fishery, a company worth many millions of dollars today. He was 24 years old when he started it. Read more here »



Robert Clark

' Researching the earliest years of the Vancouver Board of Trade turns out to be more interesting than we’d anticipated. Most of us know at least a little of the history of The Board’s first president, David Oppenheimer (who was also the city’s second mayor), but another figure pops up in those early years whose name has almost vanished into an undeserved obscurity. Read more here »



Mr. Good Evening - Earle Kelly
Guest Column by Gordon Lansdell

'Mr. Good Morning' Earle Kelly Earle Kelly, ĎMr. Good Evening,í was a dashing and debonair bachelor, well over six feet tall, who lived at an exclusive businessman's club on the Vancouver waterfront. On Saturday nights he always delivered his newscasts wearing impeccable evening dress, his white mustache bristling and his hair brushed sleekly back. Read Gordon Lansdellís delightful sketch of this early Vancouver broadcaster here »



Malcolm Alexander MacLean

Malcolm Alexander MacLean His name was Malcolm Alexander MacLean, so itís no surprise to learn that Vancouverís first mayor spoke Gaelic like a Highlander. He was born in Tyree, Argyllshire on Scotlandís west coast, in 1844. He arrived in Granville in January of 1886, three months before it became Vancouver.... more »



Neil Armstrong Visits Vancouver

Neil Armstrong For more than 30 years in Vancouver, starting in the 1960s, a creative fellow named Tom Butler was practicing the art of Public Relations. He was—and, as a newspaper columnist at the time I was around to witness this—everywhere. The visits of Charlton Heston, Billy Carter and Ginger Rogers? Tom handled them. The Belly Flop contest at the Bayshore and the Coach House Inn, which got U.S. TV network coverage? His idea. The unveiling of the sculpture Girl in Wet Suit in Stanley Park? Tom. He was there, too, when Neil Armstrong of first-man-on-the-moon fame came to Vancouver in 1977 to help celebrate the opening of the Harbour House Restaurant.....

We've asked Tom for permission to reproduce the part of his book that deals with Armstrong's visit. We think you'll enjoy it!... more »

James Blomfield

James Blomfield Vancouverís Robert Watt, a stained-glass enthusiast, says that if you stand in Holy Trinity Cathedral in New Westminster on a clear, early morning you will see the three great stained glass windows there on the east wall behind and above the altar begin to glow. “The window on the left as you face the altar is a memorial to the late Dr. A. W. Sillitoe, the first bishop of the New Westminster Diocese. On the right is a pentecostal scene (depicting the descent of the Holy Spirit on to the apostles) . . . and in the middle is a portrait, in rich reds and golds, of Christ in Majesty. The effect as the sun rises behind those windows is extraordinary”... more »

The Life and Times of Foon Sien

Foon SienLargely forgotten since his death in 1971, Wong Foon Sien was perhaps the most influential person in Vancouver’s Chinatown, if not in Canada, in the easing of restrictions of the immigration laws. In the late 1940s, the Chinese in Canada were allowed to bring in from China their spouses, unmarried children under 21, father over 65 years of age and mother over 60. It took Foon Sien eleven years of annual visits to Ottawa to ease the restrictions... more »

Jack Johnson

Jack JohnsonThe late actor Victor McLaglen (an Oscar winner for The Informer, and an unforgettable foe of John Wayne in The Quiet Man) was once a professional boxer. In fact, he once fought world heavyweight champion Jack Johnson in a bout in Vancouver!

The date was March 10, 1909.

The Province of the day described Johnson’s opponent as “Vic McLaglan of Tacoma.” The World identified him as “Arthur McLaglen, a local heavyweight.” The Ring Record has it right: Victor McLaglen. He obviously wasn’t well-known at the time... more »

Lights! Action! Vancouver!

Hayden Christensen with George LucasIt turns out there are lots of performers, past and present, born in Metropolitan Vancouver, who have made their mark on TV and in the movies. (One of B.C.ís most famous names is Pamela Anderson, but she was born in Ladysmith, on Vancouver Island, so she doesnít qualify for this list. Mind you, her entry into showbiz has a Vancouver connection: she was at a BC Lions football game, dressed in a Labatt's Beer T-shirt. Her image popped up on the stadium's wide screen. The fans cheered.... more »

Flying Seven

The Flying Seven (photo:ís a cold misty morning in November 1936. On the tarmac at Vancouver airport sits a motley collection of small aircraftóa couple of Fairchild biplanes, a Golden Eagle, two Fleets, two Gypsy Moths. Standing by them, shivering in the coolness and looking up into the sky, seven women wait. The first faint trace of light appears in the east and someone says, “Well, letís start.” Itís 6:16 a.m..... more »

Lauchlan Hamilton

Downtown VancouverLauchlan Hamilton was the CPR land commissioner who, starting in 1885 as a young man of 33, surveyed much of Vancouver and named many of its streets. (A plaque commemorating his work is on the building at the southwest corner of Hamilton and Hastings, once a bank.).... more »

The Impresario

A Guest column by Crawford Kilian

Ernie FladellErnie Fladell died in Lions Gate Hospital on Friday, Dec. 8, aged 81. Many Vancouverites have never heard of him, even when he was brightening their lives year after year. Not many others have done so much for this town's performing arts—and for its residents—as Ernie achieved.... more »

The Grey Fox

The Grey FoxBill Miner, the man who committed Canada’s first train robbery, was unfailingly polite as he stuck up his victims. That earned him a description as “the gentleman bandit,” and it may have been his success in escaping prison that led to his being remembered as the Grey Fox.... more »


Vancouver Art GalleryIf you live in British Columbia you’ve been looking at the work of Francis Mawson Rattenbury all your life. He was an architect, a supremely confident man in his youth, a hugely successful man in his middle life but, finally, a pathetic victim of a famous crime.... more »

Errol Flynn

Errol FlynnWhat an astonishing life he led. We can be absolutely sure of just a handful of facts. He was born in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia on June 20, 1909 and died in Vancouver October 14, 1959. He claimed to have been, in his life before film, a police constable, sanitation engineer, treasure hunter, sheep castrator, shipmaster for hire, fisherman and soldier. At age 24 he got into movies, acted in 61 of them, and became a superstar in his seventh, the 1935 swashbuckler Captain Blood, a role he got when the original star, Robert Donat, was laid low by asthma.... more »

Charlie Crane

Charlie Crane and his teacher Miss ConrodOne of the most remarkable people in Vancouver history, Charles Allen Crane, who died in 1965, was both blind and deaf. He couldnít see anything, he couldnít hear anything. Yet he attended UBC for two years, worked as a reporter for the Ubyssey, wrote for the Province, became a star varsity wrestler and worked as a “translator” for blind students, converting books into Braille.... more »

Leonard Schein

Leonard ScheinIn 1977 Leonard Schein decided to buy a movie theatre.

Schein has made himself part of Vancouver's entertainment history with his years-long dedication to bringing us good movies. He arrived here in 1973 from Los Angeles after a two-year detour through Saskatchewan, where he studied at the University of Saskatchewan in Regina..... more »

Top Cop

Top CopWalter Mulligan, who got to be Vancouver's chief of police on January 27, 1947, looked like a cop. He was six foot two, beefy at 230 pounds, tough, seasoned and confident. He sounded like a cop. Even his name was a perfect cop name: Mulligan..... more »

Marie Lloyd

Marie LloydEnglish music hall queen Marie Lloyd's reputation for doing “blue” material was well established by the time she got to Vancouver. It got her into trouble here.

From Ivan Ackery’s book of reminiscences, Fifty Years on Theatre Row, he quotes an oldtimer, Teddy Jamieson, who recalled a visit to the (old) Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver by Marie Lloyd in early February, 1914...... more »

J. Williams Ogden

Capilano Canyon, by J. Williams OgdenA letter many years ago from Canon Stanley Higgs, the well-known (and since deceased) Anglican priest, set me off on the trail of the late J. Williams Ogden (1858-1936). “There are some old paintings at Fairview Baptist Church in Vancouver,” Canon Higgs had written. “I think you might be interested in them.”

That letter helped to bring back into the light of day an obscure early B.C. artist, the Rev. J. W. Ogden, whose paintings and illuminations, I later learned, are scattered all over Vancouver and beyond...... more »

Dr. Sun Yat-sen

Dr. Sun Yat-senHe is revered by Communists in China—and by Nationalists on Taiwan. His name is Dr. Sun Yat-sen and he's considered the Father of Modern China. Sun played a leading role in the overthrow of the oppressive Ch'ing dynasty (the famous Manchus) in 1911 and was the first president of the Republic of China.

That revolution was financed by Chinese living outside China, many of them right here in Vancouver...... more »

Art Jones and the Birth of CHAN-TV

Art JonesFrom The Vancouver Sun of January 30, 1960: “Arthur Frederick Jones, photographer, was having lunch in the PNE’s Terrace Room when he was called to the telephone in the kitchen.

Leaning over a stove with a big bubbling tureen of hot soup just under his nose, and with the receiver to his ear, Jones heard a voice from the Sun’s editorial staff, Barry Broadfoot. ‘Let me be the first to congratulate you,’ Broadfoot said...... more »

Charles Kingsford-Smith

Charles Kingsford-SmithWhy is an elementary school in Vancouver named for the Australian aviator Charles Kingsford-Smith, the first man to fly across the Pacific Ocean, and the first to fly across both the Pacific and the Atlantic? The answer: he and his family once lived in Vancouver.

His father, William, who had been a bank manager in Melbourne, ran an import-export business..... more »


Celebrities in Vancouver

Charlie ChaplinEven when Vancouver was very young and very small, famous people began to drop by. Sometimes they weren’t famous yet: on May 8, 1911, when Fred Karno’s entertainment troupe from England began a week-long engagement at the Orpheum Theatre (not the present one) at Pender and Howe Streets, one of the performers was a hugely gifted 22-year-old Charlie Chaplin. Three years later he’d start his fabled movie career. There is a legend that Hollywood movie maker Mack Sennett was in the Vancouver audience and..... more »


Rudyard Kipling in Vancouver

Rudyard KiplingIt’s not widely known, but three or four chunks of land in Metropolitan Vancouver were once owned by the famous English writer, Rudyard Kipling.

When Kipling first visited Vancouver in June 1889, (during a tour of North America), he was, at 23, just beginning to be famous. When next he came around in April 1892, he was very much more well-known..... more »


Foncie Pulice

Foncie PuliceOn September 27, 1979 street photographer Foncie Pulice took his last picture. Foncie and his Electric-Photo camera had been a familiar sight on city streets for a jaw-dropping 45 years. He’d begun as a 20-year-old away back in 1934 as an assistant to street photographer Joe Iaci, and had taken millions of photographs since. (It is possible Foncie Pulice photographed more people than anyone who ever lived.) “I said I’d retire at 65, and I kept my word,” he said in a November 21, 1979 interview in the Province..... more »

Alvo von Alvensleben

Alvo von AlvenslebenThis page, and a dozen as long, wouldn't be enough to tell you the full story of the fascinating Gustav Konstantin “Alvo” von Alvensleben, a German nobleman described in his Oct. 22, 1965, obituary in the Province as a man who “built one of the largest financial empires in the history of British Columbia.” He began that empire in 1904 painting barns in Agassiz..... more »

Charles Marega

Lion's Gate Bridge Charles Marega was an Italian-born sculptor who arrived in Vancouver with his wife Bertha in 1909. He was about 38. The Maregas had planned to settle in California, but Bertha was so smitten by the North Shore mountains—they reminded her of her native Switzerland—that they changed their minds and stayed here.... more »


Malcolm Parry In the Fifties the adult world looked upon us as a rebellious generation. As a part of that rebellion we had discovered the merits and talents of black singers. To buy a record by Lloyd Price, Ruth Brown, Wynonie Harris or Laverne Baker you had to go to a record store and ask for it by title and artist. The record clerk would bring it from the back of the store or from under the counter in a plain brown sleeve. They were called “race records” and were not featured on the racks along with all the nice lily-white recording artists of the day. ..... more »


Yvonne De Carlo

Yvonne De Carlo
On September 1, 1922 Mrs. Marie De Carlo Middleton, minutes away from giving birth, was at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver being attended to by two nurses because the doctor hadn’t arrived yet. The nurses said later that, as Mrs. Middleton was being shifted onto the delivery table, she was shouting, “I want a girl. It must be a girl. I want a dancer!”.....more »

Major James Skitt Matthews and the Vancouver City Archives

Major James Skitt MatthewsMajor J. S. Matthews, adventurer, innovator, and first archivist of the city of Vancouver was born September 7, 1878 in Wales. He was a natural archivist, keeping meticulous track of his activities and of those around him who he thought were making an impact on society. It was a short step for him to start collecting general historical material from others in Vancouver. As the collection grew, he developed his own cataloguing systems, in the end amassing more than 500,000 photographs and hundreds of civic records and personal papers..... more »

David Oppenheimer

David OppenheimerVancouver's oldest company is older than the city itself. The story began in Germany in the last century when four young brothers, Godfrey, Charles, David and Isaac Oppenheimer left their native Frankfurt "to help in building a new continent." They left in 1848 and settled first in New Orleans. In 1853 they moved to a California just beginning to burn with Gold Rush fever, but by 1857 the fever was beginning to cool, so..... more »

Anna Pavlova

Anna PavlovaAnna Pavlova, the most famous woman dancer who ever lived, came to Vancouver November 17, 1910. She would visit us twice more, but that first visit made the greatest impression locally. The audience went gaga.... more »

The American Page

William Cornelius Van HorneAmericans have had a major influence on the history of Metropolitan Vancouver.

An American gave Vancouver its name! William Cornelius Van Horne, of Chelsea, Illinois, was the man who headed the CPR, the Canadian Pacific Railway that opened up the Canadian West. During one of Van Horne’s visits he was rowed around the area by Lauchlan Hamilton, the CPR’s local land commissioner, and told him, “Hamilton, this is destined to be a great city!” ......more »

The Scottish Page

Explorer Simon FraserScottish influence in metropolitan Vancouver was important from the very beginning of our post-native history . . . and that’s not counting the statue of Robert Burns in Stanley Park, nor our first purpose-built library, the Carnegie, paid for by Scotland-born U.S. industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie......more »