You’ve heard of Show Biz. This is Biz Biz, the history of business in Vancouver, told through the activities of The Vancouver Board of Trade.

1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893
1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
1906 1907 1908 1909 1910  
1926       1932 1933
1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940


Annual meeting

The Province for March 10, 1926 reported on the annual meeting of the Vancouver Board of Trade held the night before at the Hotel Vancouver. A.M. Dollar, the retiring president, gave an address reviewing Vancouver’s progress in 1925.

“Mayor Louis D. Taylor,” the paper told us, “installed the new president, Mr. F.E. Burke, and the new vice-president, Robert McKee, both of whom were unanimously elected.”W.E. Payne was re-elected secretary.

Members of The Board’s council were elected, too. The results:

Bureau chairmen Responsibility
R. H. Arnott B.C. products
A. W. Blake Insurance, financial and real estate
F.H. Clendenning Shipping
T.S. Dixon Advertising and sales
Victor Dolmage Mining
J.T. Elson Wholesale merchants
H.J. Gagen Retail merchants
J.H. Griffith Civic
R.M. Macdonald Legal and legislative
A.E. Mason Transportation
C.H. Vrooman Health
E.A. Wheatley Engineering
R.D. Williams Foreign trade

and non-chairmen on the council (including several very well-known names):

A.McC. Creery, A.M. Dollar, G.V. Holt, R. Kerr Houlgate, H.R. MacMillan, J.K. Macrae, J.P.D. Malkin, Chris Spencer, Nichol Thompson, J.B. Thompson, W. J. Blake Wilson and W.C. Woodward.

“The report of the retiring president, Mr. A.M. Dollar,” the Province continued, “was a most complete review in summarized form of national, provincial and civic progress. Underlying was a note of optimism for national and municipal prosperity, and interwoven was business advice upon various matters as seen by Mr. Dollar.”

Taxes too high

The gist of Dollar’s message was that taxes were too high, and that was caused because the government was spending too much. “Year after year, the burden is increased,” Dollar said, “until today Canada faces one of the most serious situations ever encountered by any country in the world . . . In a country of nine million people, gentlemen, the burden is too great. I feel that mine is a voice crying in the wilderness, but it is my firm conviction that if, through the Dominion Board of Trade, we can bring pressure to bear upon our federal government to start the work of cutting our expenditures, and cutting to the bone, we will have made a start in reaching the solution.”

He followed this with a great number of statistics, all showing that Vancouver was growing rapidly and prospering as never before!

Important events

“A few minutes,” the paper reported, “were devoted to a survey of some of the most important events of the past year, in which Mr. Dollar referred to the completion of the drydock at North Vancouver, the Second Narrows Bridge [note: not the present structure], the new $2.5 million railway pier, the decision of the B.C. Electric to spend $33 million in developing the Bridge River project, the tram company’s $3.735 million investment in Stave Falls, and the projected new grain elevator on the north shore.

“Speaking of the improvement of harbor facilities at Vancouver, Mr. Dollar paid a tribute to the work the commissioners were doing, adding that he was glad to see that one of the board’s most active members, Mr. K.J. Burns, occupied the position of port superintendent. He placed the amount of wheat that would pass through the port this year at 60 million bushels.”

As a comparison, the Port of Vancouver tells us that in 2006 we shipped through 5,613,565 metric tonnes of wheat. That works out to 206,178,896 bushels.

Retail booming

The Hudson’s Bay was spending $3.5 million on an extension of its store at Georgia and Granville, Spencer’s was building a $4 million store on Hastings Street and Woodward’s was spending $1.5 million on its "programme." What that was isn’t specified.

“The most astonishing development of the building trade, however,” the Province story continued, “was the number of dwellings erected in the Greater Vancouver district. In Point Grey alone the number of houses built during the year was 1,113, valued at $4,446,000. [That’s an average value of just under $4,000 a house.]

“Satisfaction was expressed that the University was now housed in its new buildings at Point Grey, and a pleasing reference was made to the magnanimous offer of Mr. H.A. Stone to provide the nucleus of an art gallery in Vancouver in a gift of $50,000.”

In a day when less than $4,000 got you a good house, a gift of $50,000 was magnanimous indeed! Let’s have a closer look at H.A. Stone.

H.A. Stone

Henry Athelstan Stone had been the president of The Board in 1909 and was very active. In 1931 Stone would become (appropriately!) the first president of the Vancouver Art Gallery Association. The January 23, 1935 issue of the UBC student newspaper, Ubyssey, has an online story about Stone addressing students on ‘Department Store Management.’ There’s a picture of him.

In an October 7, 2006 story by Kevin Griffin in The Vancouver Sun, Griffin writes about Stone: “Born in London, he came to Canada in 1882 and made his money in a dry goods store called Gault Brothers. When his only son died in the First World War, he decided to establish a memorial that would benefit the whole city. In 1925, Stone and Jonathan Rogers devised a plan that called for Stone to contribute $50,000 and Rogers and nine other supporters $5,000 each. The money was offered to the city to purchase works of art along with a request for a site and building to house the collection, according to a history compiled by VAG. The city declined the initial offer and refused a second time two years later. Finally, after the start of the Great Depression in 1929, the city accepted $130,000 to cover the art, the building and furnishings.” Griffin’s entire story can be read here.

There is another interesting—and heartwarming—sidebar to the H.A. Stone story. Those of you who visit the West Vancouver Memorial Library will have seen a magnificent stained glass window there. Titled Harmony, it was created in 1931 by John Henry Dearle. The Stones commissioned the window as a memorial to their son, Lt. Horace Gordon Stone. Lt. Stone, a naval officer, died during the First World War.

The window’s inscription reads: To the Memory of Lieut. Horace Gordon Stone, only son of Henry A. and Beatrice H. Stone of the city, who died on Active Service December 15, 1918

The Fight Goes On

Back to outgoing President Dollar’s farewell address. He promised that The Board would continue to fight for fairness in freight rates (a sore point for virtually all of the 40 years of The Board’s existence!), and for development of the Peace River country. Locally, there had been work on “the embargo on cattle moving into this country infected with the foot and mouth disease,” on the principle of preference given to trade between the dominions of the Empire, “the modification of the city’s straw and fodder order,” and the plans The Board had in view for the development of Capilano Park.

Burrard Bridge

The same issue of the Province (March 10, 1926) from which the preceding comes also included a short report on the proposed Burrard Street Bridge. Mayor Louis D. Taylor would be meeting with representatives of the provincial government, Canadian Pacific Railway, B.C. Electric Railway and the Harbor Board.

And here’s an interesting excerpt: “Alderman G.H. Worthington told the delegation he would endeavor to obtain action on the paving of Broadway west in that section, where only one side of the road is paved. He declared there was a possibility the Provincial Government would assist as Broadway was a principal route to the University site.”

Red Ties

The August 30, 1926 Province had a funny Page One story about a voyage made to Trail by five members of The Vancouver Board of Trade. They were the guests of the Trail Board of Trade, and they determined to play a prank on the guest speaker, Mayor L.D. Taylor of Vancouver. “Mayor Taylor’s custom of wearing a red tie is well known,” the paper reported, “and Donald McDonald, the president of the Trail Board, was made a party to the conspiracy.

“In introducing the mayor, Mr. McDonald said it was not necessary to mention his name as he was well known by reason of his red tie. ‘Gentlemen, I now call on the mayor of Vancouver,' he said.

“Mayor Taylor stood up . . . and so did five others scattered around the hall, each wearing a red tie. They all began to speak at once, thanking the citizens of Trail for the welcome extended. Mayor Taylor and the other members of the Vancouver party were taken by surprise, while the Trail men looked on in puzzled wonder, not knowing which was the real mayor.

“L.D. rose to the occasion, and remarked he did not know Vancouver had grown to such an extent that six mayors were necessary. ‘However,’ he said, ‘despite their red ties I think they are counterfeit. So I will sit down and let them do their stuff.’

“President McDonald thereupon called on the mayor of English Bay, the mayor of Chinatown, the mayor of False Creek, the mayor of Kitsilano and the mayor of Stanley Park. The jokesters all made humorous speeches, and then cleared the track for Mayor Taylor, who made a thoughtful address on cooperation between the various parts of British Columbia.”

Off to the Okanagan (Kootenays, too)

The Province for August 21, 1926 told of a 41-man delegation from The Vancouver Board of Trade leaving that night to tour the Okanagan and Kootenay districts, with a projected return date of Sunday, September 5. “The trip is in line,” said the paper, “with the practice of the board during the past eight years in sending groups of its members to various parts of British Columbia to become better acquainted with provincial conditions and to cultivate a better understanding between Vancouver and other portions of the province.”

Then the paper lists the name of every member of the delegation. (We counted just 40 names.) One of them was F.E. Burke, The Board’s current president.

The Delegates Astounded

That Board delegation—said a story by C.A. Sutherland on Page One of the Province for September 1, 1926—was “astounded” by the Sullivan mine at Kimberley, “one of the greatest silver-lead-zinc producers in the world.”

It was a tour, said Sutherland, “that inspired in all who made it a new realization of the extent of the mineral possibilities of British Columbia . . . Located in 1892, the Sullivan mine met with the usual vicissitudes of mining ventures until 1909, when the Consolidated Mining & Smelting Company took it over. [That would be Cominco. There is an interesting history of the company here.

“In 1910,” the paper continued, “310,000 tons were shipped, and in 1925 the total reached 1,163,705 tons. By 1914 the Sullivan had become the largest producer of lead ore in Canada, and in 1925 the largest in the world.”

Many of the processes involved in extraction of the various ores at the Sullivan had been developed by Canadian technicians. There is a description in the web site just cited. “In the operations at Kimberley and the other holdings controlled by Consolidated,” the Province commented, “it is satisfactory to learn that young Canadian technical men are occupying all the important positions, and judging from the results, making an immense success of their work.”

Never-to-be-forgotten visit

"The Vancouver visitors had a never-to-be-forgotten visit into the heart of the Sullivan mine. Equipped with miners’ lamps . . . they boarded electric cars and rode at a depth of 700 feet underground for two miles through the tunnel into the mine. A marvellous tunnel it was, splendidly ventilated, well lighted, and with very little timbering, so firm is the rock through which it is cut.

“Arrived at the end of this journey, thrilling to the layman, they were given a practical illustration of mining methods in the Sullivan. Passing through a crosscut into one of the stopes [a 'stope’ is the excavation left after the ore has been extracted], they learned that nearly all the mining operations are carried on by machinery. After the ore is blown down it is mechanically hauled to the chutes on cars by a scraper, an invention of one of the blacksmiths in the mine. Where loading is necessary a mechanical mucker is employed . . .”

600 Men

“There are approximately 600 men employed in the mine, and the best of relations exist between employer and employee. The men are paid a flat rate plus a metal bonus, and also an efficiency bonus . . . [He doesn’t give any numbers.] The mine is one of the safest on the continent, and it is doubtful if there is another on the continent that has had as low a death rate for several years. In the last two or three years but two fatalities have occurred.”

After a tour of the powerhouse the delegation were guests at a luncheon hosted by the Kimberley Board of Trade. Following that they visited “the immense concentrator . . . Portrayal of this wonderful giant beggars description. An hour’s time was occupied in going through the various buildings and in that space there is just time to pause a moment at a few of the hundreds of intricate pieces of machinery and marvel at the ingenuity and skill of the men who designed and fashioned it.

“Here again one is informed that men in the employ of the Consolidated carried out the work. Nearly every piece of machinery is Canadian made, not a little of the equipment being turned out at the Consolidated shops at Trail.”


The town of Kimberley had grown immensely because of the success of the Sullivan mine. “More than 4,000 persons reside there. The growth of the town was a revelation to those in the party who had not visited the camp in recent years.”

And the prospects for further growth were great: “Near the Sullivan mine are the Stemwinder and the North Star mines, promising properties which are being steadily developed. The Sullivan has a body of ore blocked out that will take a lifetime to mine, and the other mines are also said to have deposits that are equally as extensive and rich.

“Kimberley residents,” the Province’s report concluded, “are wont to poke a little fun at Cranbrook on account of the rapid growth of their community, but Cranbrook citizens are not disturbed. They know that the greater the development at Kimberley the greater the development at Cranbrook, the distributing point for the entire area and but nineteen miles distant.”

The Board party next reached Fernie, “where they are being showered with hospitality by the citizens of the coal centre of East Kootenay.”

Fernie to be the “Pittsburgh” of the West

In a follow-up to the preceding story, the Province, on September 2, 1926 (Page One) ran a story about the Board’s delegates visiting Fernie in the East Kootenay.

Bear with us as we reproduce, in full, the 89-word sentence with which the paper’s C.A. Sutherland begins his report: “Fernie as the centre of great industries, employing thousands of Canadian-trained experts, and giving employment to many thousands of workmen, and also Fernie as one of the largest shippers into the port of Vancouver, where she would market her steam and domestic coal, was foreshadowed in an announcement here on Wednesday night by W.R. Wilson, president of the Crows Nest Pass Coal Company, in an address at a dinner tendered by the Fernie Board of Trade to the members of the Vancouver Board of Trade now touring East Kootenay.”

Wilson declared, the paper continued, “that there was lying within a short radius of Fernie sufficient iron deposits to start and support industries equal to at least 50 per cent of the immense operations conducted at Pittsburgh.” [The paper misspells it as Pittsburg.]

Unfit for Commercial Use?

Wilson went on to say that years ago he had been told there were certain chemical properties in the iron deposits of the district that made it unfit for commercial purposes. He had learned, however, that there was iron ore in Montana which, if blended with the Fernie iron, was capable of producing the best iron and steel in the world. “We export many of our natural products to the United States,” he said. “Why should not we import some from the United States also, and help make Fernie what it was intended to be?” He added that he hoped to see the day when crude iron, possibly steel rails, and other similar things, would be manufactured right at Fernie, where lay inexhaustible supplies of coal.

“Fernie,” Sutherland wrote, “has passed through troublesome times in the last few years [citing fire, strikes, mine disasters and other handicaps], but is again getting on its feet. At present the output of the Coal Creek and Michel Mines is about 4,000 tons daily, and 1,400 men are employed . . .” When one realizes that Fernie is situated in a district over which there are rich coal deposits extending over an area of 230 square miles, there is good reason to believe that Mr. Wilson may yet realize the fulfilment of his vision.

Average wages

“During its 26 years’ operations the Crows Nest Pass Coal Company has paid out $65 million in expenditures of various character and, in addition, $18 million to transportation companies in freight rates. It has employed on average 1,800 men and paid more than $2.5 million to the Provincial Government in taxes and $220,000 to the federal government. In 1925 it paid out $3,106,000 and employed on an average 1,460 persons. The average wage to contract miners was $7.05 a shift, and to all employees, both surface and underground, the average was $4.55.”

[We cited Fernie’s “troublesome times” above. They make a grim litany: on May 22, 1902 a Coal Creek Mine explosion killed 128 men, “one of the worst mining disasters in Canadian history.” on August 1, 1908 a vast fire in the Kootenay Valley destroyed three towns: Elk River, Fernie and Michel. More than 80 people perished. Details here. And in 1917 a coal dust explosion at the #3 Michel Mine killed 34.]


The Board of Trade delegation, reported the Province September 3, 1916, next visited Invermere in the Windermere Valley, “the scenic beauty of which is unsurpassed in British Columbia.”

The visitors were the guests of the Windermere Board of Trade and were enjoying a stay at Fairmont Springs, “where they are golfing, motoring and otherwise taking advantage of the many facilities the district provides for recreation.” They heard of modest mining and agricultural advances made in the area, but what they mostly took away were memories of the area’s beauty. “Mr. F.E. Burke, president of the Vancouver Board of Trade,” wrote C.A. Sutherland on September 5, “declares that, from a scenic standpoint, there is no place he has visited on the present trip that surpasses what Windermere has to offer. Other members of the party support this opinion.”

Windermere, wrote Sutherland, “is a district that only poets should describe . . . Perhaps this is why so many literary men have made their homes in the district and why so many writers come here for their initial summer vacation. After two weeks of investigating prosaic industrial and commercial potentialities the Vancouver visitors found Windermere restful, satisfying and soothing. It felt good just to step off the train in the morning, gaze at the glorious view of mountain, lake, and light and shadow, breathe the beautiful air and thank God that one was able to enjoy such charms.”


Sutherland waxes poetically about the area’s agricultural products. Its potatoes had won the blue ribbon at the Provincial Potato Show for three years running. Its garden peas excelled, “and it produces splendid crops of hay and alfalfa. The dairying industry is no mean one . . . Ayrshire cattle are the favorite, although Holsteins are numerous and the Jerseys are gaining in favor.”

The Board of Trade delegates attended the Windermere District Fair to see fine exhibits of poultry and all kinds of vegetables and flowers. “The Dominion Experimental Farm here had an impressive exhibit . . .”

And, reports the Province, many of the delegates paid a visit to Radium. The story says Radium was “formerly known as . . .” but that former name is illegible on the microfilm, and a Google search didn’t help. Anyway, it’s known as Radium Hot Springs today, and it has an interesting history that you can read here. The owner in 1926 was a wealthy Manchester businessman named, says the paper, H.P. Holland. This is likely an error. It probably should be W. Heap Holland, and we cite him only because he reserved one of the hot baths for the local Indian people. (They, of course, had been using the hot springs for centuries for their curative powers.)

The Board of Trade delegates thoroughly enjoyed their visit here!

More on 1926 Biz Biz to come.

What else was happening locally in 1926?

For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.

Next: 1932 »


































































The Hudson's Bay Store today (photo: Wikipedia)
The Hudson's Bay Store today
[Photo: Wikipedia]
























Harmony, by John Henry Dearle
“Harmony,” by John Henry Dearle
[Photo: West Vancouver Memorial Library]






















































Sullivan Mine, Kimberley, 1926 (B.C. Archives Call Number B-05345)
Sullivan Mine, Kimberley, 1926
(B.C. Archives Call Number B-05345)




































































































Photographer M. Chabot captures the beauty of Invermere in 2007 (photo:
Photographer M. Chabot captures the beauty of Invermere in 2007