Archive - People
The great American bass Paul Robeson was to have performed in Vancouver in January, 1952. He had performed at the Orpheum February 7, 1946, and 3,000 fans in the sold-out theatre kept him coming back for more and more. But a hint of troubles ahead could be seen in the Sun’s warm review by Stanley Bligh. Read
on here »
Dr. Reginald Brock
Back in 1915 UBC’s Dr. Reginald Brock was serving as the President of the BC and Yukon Chamber of Mines. But Brock—his term as president barely begun—was asked to join the British Army. It was 1915, World War One was in its second year, and Brock’s expertise in geology was needed in Palestine. He was 41 years old at the time. Read
on here »
Pauline Johnson was ill in 1912 with breast cancer, a patient at the Bute Street Hospital. Her illness was noted in newspapers all across Canada, because she was our most famous poet. The country had never seen (or heard) anyone like her before—her father was a Mohawk chief—and she was an immediate star. Read
on here »
The Vancouver Historical Society had a full house of more than 120 when Shirley Chan spoke to the audience about her late mother, Mary Lee Chan, who was in the forefront of one of the most important movements in Vancouver’s history, the fight to save the Strathcona neighborhood. Read
on here »
At the last meeting of the Surrey Historical Society on May 9, which dealt mostly with the 1948 Fraser River flooding, there was a short presentation by 14-year-old Paul Gill, a Grade 9 student at Tamanawis Secondary in Surrey, who had written for an Historica event a brief account of the life of Zennosuke Inouye. Inouye was one of the thousands of Japanese-Canadians forced into interior camps in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor. But his story ended uniquely... Read
on here »
The Duke of Deception
The speaker at a public meeting (May 28, 2009) of the Vancouver Historical Society was Dr. Jacqueline Gresko, who has just produced a book, Traditions of Faith and Service, that tells the 100-year history of the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Let me share with you one delightful story from that book concerning His Excellency Archbishop Duke of Vancouver. Read
on here »
BC and Olympics Athletes
Percy Williams' astonishing victories at the 1928 Olympics were
just part of a long tradition of BC athletes sharing in Olympic
glory. Sports writer Tom Hawthorn spoke to the Vancouver Historical
Society recently on Williams and other home-grown athletes. Read
more here »
The Paradise Makers
There was no more significant year for Vancouver than 1972, says
Gordon Price. That was confirmed on Friday, September 5, at the
downtown campus of Simon Fraser University when we heard, among
other things, that “Art Phillips and Walter Hardwick changed
the direction of the city.” Read more here
Warren G. Harding & Stanley Park
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
The story of Rogers Sugar—whose refinery has been on Vancouver’s
waterfront for more than a hundred years—begins away back in 1881
with a 15-year-old kid, Ben Rogers. Rogers would begin Vancouver’s
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 »
Researching the earliest years of the Vancouver
Board of Trade turns out to be more interesting than wed anticipated.
Most of us know at least a little of the history of The Boards
first president, David Oppenheimer
(who was also the citys 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
Earle Kelly, ‘Mr. Good Evening,’ 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 Lansdell’s
delightful sketch of this early Vancouver broadcaster here
Malcolm Alexander MacLean
His name was Malcolm Alexander MacLean, so it’s no surprise to learn
that Vancouver’s first mayor spoke Gaelic like a Highlander. He
was born in Tyree, Argyllshire on Scotland’s west coast, in 1844.
He arrived in Granville in January of 1886, three months before
it became Vancouver.... more »
Neil Armstrong Visits Vancouver
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 wasand, as a newspaper columnist at the time
I was around to witness thiseverywhere. 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 »
Vancouver’s 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...
The Life and Times of Foon Sien
forgotten since his death in 1971, Wong Foon Sien was perhaps the
most influential person in Vancouvers 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
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 Johnsons 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 wasnt
well-known at the time... more
Lights! Action! Vancouver!
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.’s most famous names is Pamela Anderson,
but she was born in Ladysmith, on Vancouver Island, so she doesn’t
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 »
a cold misty morning in November 1936. On the tarmac at Vancouver
airport sits a motley collection of small aircraft—a 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, let’s start. It’s 6:16
a.m..... more »
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.)....
A Guest column by Crawford Kilian
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 artsand for its residentsas Ernie
achieved.... more »
The Grey Fox
Miner, the man who committed Canadas 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 »
you live in British Columbia youve 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....
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
of the most remarkable people in Vancouver history, Charles Allen
Crane, who died in 1965, was both blind and deaf. He couldn’t see
anything, he couldn’t 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 »
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 »
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
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 Ackerys 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
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......
Dr. Sun Yat-sen
is revered by Communists in Chinaand 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
The Vancouver Sun of January 30, 1960: Arthur Frederick
Jones, photographer, was having lunch in the PNEs 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 Suns editorial staff, Barry Broadfoot.
Let me be the first to congratulate you, Broadfoot said......
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
when Vancouver was very young and very small, famous people began
to drop by. Sometimes they werent famous yet: on May 8, 1911,
when Fred Karnos 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 hed
start his fabled movie career. There is a legend that Hollywood
movie maker Mack Sennett was in the Vancouver audience and.....
Rudyard Kipling in Vancouver
not widely known, but three or four chunks of land in Metropolitan
Vancouver were once owned by the famous English writer, Rudyard
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
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. Hed 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 Id retire at 65, and I kept my word, he
said in a November 21, 1979 interview in the Province.....
Alvo von Alvensleben
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 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 mountainsthey reminded her of her native Switzerlandthat
they changed their minds and stayed here.... more
GUEST COLUMN - Red's Rock
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
On September 1, 1922 Mrs. Marie De Carlo Middleton, minutes away
from giving birth, was at St. Pauls Hospital in Vancouver
being attended to by two nurses because the doctor hadnt 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
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.....
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 »
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....
The American Page
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 Hornes visits
he was rowed around the area by Lauchlan Hamilton, the CPRs
local land commissioner, and told him, Hamilton, this is destined
to be a great city! ......more
The Scottish Page
influence in metropolitan Vancouver was important from the very
beginning of our post-native history . . . and thats 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