Archive - Events
CPR - A Movie Star!
In 1937 movie stars Richard Arlen (American), Lilli Palmer (German) and Antoinette Cellier (British) starred in a filmed-in-and-around-Revelstoke production called Silent Barriers. (The original title was The Great Barrier.) It's about the building of the CPR through the Rockies. There are a lot of familiar names portrayed: William Van Horne, Sir John A. Macdonald, Major Rogers, James Hill . . . the movie plays fast and loose with the facts, but it's fun to watch.. . . Read all about it here »
The epoch that wasn't
In 1930 Paul Whiteman's band was a very big deal. A Vancouver Sun story April 2 on his impending arrival from the States to play in the Vancouver Theatre referred to the April 4 visit as an “epoch . . . one of the outstanding events of Vancouver's musical history.” The visit “is being looked forward to by thousands of lovers of music. Booking is going ahead merrily at the box office . . .” . . . Alas, it was not to be. . . Read all about it here »
The Tobacco Road Incident
The novel Tobacco Road had been out for 21 years, a play based on it ran on Broadway for 3,182 performances, and a movie had appeared in 1941, but when the stage production of the book by Erskine Caldwell (photo) on life in the southern USA hit Vancouver in 1953 there was one hell-thumpin’ ruckus in these here parts. Read all about it here »
Sliced Bread Makes its Appearance
1937 was an active year in Vancouver: the Vancouver Sun was burned out of its 125 West Pender headquarters and moved across the street..., we elected our first woman alderman (Helena Gutteridge), the Pattullo Bridge opened, construction started on the Lions Gate Bridge, we celebrated the coronation of King George VI, the Cave Supper Club began and the Lougheed Highway was opened to traffic. But all of these events pale into insignificance compared to the introduction of . . . wait for it! Sliced bread. Read more here »
Bridges in Vancouver
The big new Golden Ears Bridge, connecting Surrey and the south shore of the Fraser to Maple Ridge, opened to vehicular traffic on June 16 and my wife Edna and I drove over it that day just to say we had. It’s a big, handsome structure, a kilometre long, and cost $800 million. We stopped for an ice cream treat on the north shore, then turned back. Read more here »
Live from Vancouver
On April 23, 1944 Jack Benny did his famous NBC radio show live from Vancouver to be broadcast all over North America. He brought his regular cast up from New York: Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Rochester, Dennis Day and announcer Don Wilson. What made the show particularly notable was that Mary Livingstone (real name Sadie Marks), although born in Seattle, had grown up in Vancouver. Read more
The Klondike Gold Rush
I’ve been working on some research for the Association for Mining Exploration British Columbia (AME BC), and came across a book by Ernest Ingersoll (1852-1946) titled Gold Fields of the Klondike. It’s a fine little book, originally published in 1897 as Gold Fields of the Klondike and the Wonders of Alaska. Read more
1944 marks the dramatic entry into local history of New Westminster’s
Ernest Alvia Smokey Smith. On October 21 Smokey, a Seaforth
Highlander, aged 30, won the Victoria Cross for bravery in action
in northern Italy. Read his story and more
1951 census showed that Metropolitan Vancouver had a population
of 584,830, just barely squeaking past 50 per cent of the province’s
total of 1,165,200. These figures are a reminder of how rapidly
the citys suburbs have grown since 1951, when the population
of the city totaled nearly 60 per cent of the metropolitan area.
In 2007 the percentage was more like 27 per cent.... more
Looking Through CBC's Film Archives
says the Vancouver Historical Society, seeing King George
VI and Queen Elizabeth being driven down Georgia Street in 1939
as thousands line the sidewalks and cheer . . . and all in colour!
Thats just one of the rare chunks of film shown February 22
at the Vancouver Museum. Colin Preston (left), the CBC's Vancouver
archivist, has a fine collection of film clips from the past, so
this was one of the VHS's more enjoyable events of the year....
Vancouver Fire and Rescue: Early Days
May 28, 1886, Vancouver's first fire department was formed. Sixteen
days later, the little city burned to the ground. In the 45 minutes
it took for the town to burn that day, Volunteer Hose Company No.
1 was helpless—it had no fire engine. City council had ordered equipment
from the John D. Ronald Co. of Brussels, Ont., but it hadn't arrived
yet. The two dozen volunteers were equipped with nothing but axes,
shovels, buckets and enthusiasm. Sadly, it wasn't enough.... more
The Pacific Cable
Vancouver Board of Trade marked with real enthusiasm the completion
October 31, 1902 of the Pacific Cable, which in the words of the
Province, was an epoch-marking event in the history
of the British Empire. Vancouver would now be able to communicate
instantly with places as far-flung as Great Britain and Australia
over the 7,200 miles (11,500+ km) of the cable.... more
Empress of Japan
of people who see the dragon figurehead of the Empress of Japan
in Stanley Park think it's the real thing, but what you see in the
park today is a fibreglass copy of the original, whichbattered
by the elements for 80 yearswas tenderly restored by conservationists
at Vancouver's Maritime Museum.... more
certainty of war in Europe in 1939 had an early effect, even in
Vancouver, some 5,000 miles away from Berlin. The Page 1 headline
in The Vancouver Sun for January 13 read: TWO GUNS TO BE
PLACED AT FIRST NARROWS.
A royal tour of Canada in May was another indication
war was brewing. The timing of the tour was deliberate: it served,
said one commentator, as a gentle reminder to English-speaking
Canadians of their ties to the motherland and their imperial duty....
May 23, 1914 a ship called the Komagata Marunormally
used for transporting coalarrived at Vancouver and anchored
in Burrard Inlet. She carried 376 Indians: 12 Hindus, 24 Muslims
and 340 Sikhs, British subjects all, and people who had come to
make a new life in Canada...... more
was incorporated in 1886.
What else was happening that year outside
Well, the first CPR passenger train from the east
pulled into Port Moody on July 4. (The first passenger train into
Vancouver will arrive in May of 1887.)
Here and elsewhere in Canada, inspectors were assigned
to enforce labor laws that forbade women and children from working
more than 60 hours per week. The Pope named Elzéar-Alexandre
Taschereau the first ever Canadian Cardinal. The whipping of female
prison inmates was abolished...... more
werent many automobiles in Vancouver in 1907 (a five-minute
film taken along several downtown streets this year shows precisely
one), but there were enough for someone in the Vancouver office
of the Imperial Oil Co. to decide that the usual method of fueling
them at the timecarrying a sloshing bucket full of gasoline
up to the vehicle and pouring it through a funnel into the tankwas
somewhat dangerous...... more »
Vancouver a Century Ago
on May 7, 1907 a Seattle movie maker named William Harbeck
came up to Vancouver, attached a movie camera to the front of a
B.C. Electric streetcar and filmed the major streets of the city.
The film is black-and-white, its silent and its only
seven minutes long, but its wonderful. You see Vancouver and
its people of a hundred years ago in motion. Audiences who have
seen the film are delighted and fascinated..... more
Christmas time, 1943, in Ortona, Italy. Capt. William H. Melhuish
of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada is writing a letter to his
It must have been about midnight, he
writes, when I was awaked from a restless sleep. The guns
again! Their deep-throated roar, the whistle of shell overhead,
the whoomph at the end of their journeythat was
nothing new. But there was something else in the air, a most unusual
sound. It took me several seconds to realize I was not dreaming
carols! Good old Christmas carolsboy, did they sound great!......
A 1912 Journey Recreated
1997 Lorne Findlay, the man standing by that beautifully restored
1912 REO Special (above), made an astonishing journey: he drove
the car right across Canada! With him was writer John Nicol. What
the two men had accomplished was to recreate a 1912 journey in which
a freelance writer named Thomas Wilby and his driver/mechanic, Jack
Haney, became the first to drive across the country....... more
Canadas national anthem written in Vancouver? No.
To get the facts, come back with us to a gloriously
sunny day in July, 1908 in Quebec City.
Brigadier-General Lawrence Buchan was in command
of the garrison at Quebec, at the head of 12,000 troops taking part
in ceremonies marking the 300th anniversary of the city's founding.
The Prince of Wales (later King George V) was reviewing the troops.....
Collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge
In 2004 Eric Daichi Ishikawa, one of the students taking part in
that years Historica event (in which students from
elementary schools all across Canada prepare historical exhibits
on topics of their choice), assembled an illustrated report on the
June 17, 1958 collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge..... more
A Stainless Steel Streamliner
A new era in rail travel in Canada began April 24, 1955. The Canadian
Pacific Railway introduced The Canadian, an ultra-modern,
lightweight, highly attractive stainless-steel streamlined train.
The train would offer the world's longest dome ride: 2,881.2 miles.
(4,637 k/m). Postwar Canada believed passenger train travel had
a healthy future, so Canadian Pacific met the demand by introducing
this fancy new service. There were two dome cars (there should have
been more), a handsome dining car with excellent food, and a variety
of sleeping arrangements....
The Greenhill Park Explosion
Vancouver man's deathbed statement, made nearly 50 years ago and
only revealed more than two decades later, throws new light on one
of the great events in the city's history.
If you were here on March 6, 1945, you will remember
the waterfront explosion of the 10,000-ton freighter Greenhill
Park, easily the most spectacular and disastrous event in the
port's history..... more »
Wait For Me, Daddy
October 1, 1940 and Province photographer Claude Dettloff is standing
on Columbia Street at 8th Street in New Westminster, his press camera
up to his eye, preparing to take a shot. He's focusing on a line
of hundreds of men of the B.C. Regiment marching down 8th to a waiting
train. Soldiers of the Duke of Connaught's Own Rifles are marching
past. Suddenly, in the view-finder, Dettloff sees a little white-haired
boy tugging away from his mother's grasp and rushing up to his father
in the marching line . . . click.... more