- 1884] [1885 - 1891] [1892
[1900 - 1905] [1906
- 1908]  
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January 11 B.C.s Premier Pattullo, in
Ottawa, told the federal government B.C. wouldnt object to
the infiltration of a small number of European refugees
into Canada if they can be readily absorbed.He is, said
the Sun, definitely opposed to any large movement.
January 12 Hedley S. Hipwell was elected president
of the Kiwanis Club for 1939.
January 13 Page 1 headline in the Sun:
Two Guns to be Placed at First Narrows.
January 14 Deputy-Chief Grundy of the Vancouver
Police Department was reported to have been demoted in a shakeup
of the force. The Sun reported War Declared on Vice.
The absolute suppression of prostitution was to be undertaken
January 31 The Harlem Globetrotters were visiting
Vancouver. (The Sun byline on that story: Pat Slattery. He
would become locally well known in the future for his articles on
Also January 31 E.H. Grubbe retired from the
Bank of Montreal at Main and Hastings after 45 years in banking,
40 of them in BC. He was succeeded as manager of that branch by
January 23 Sculptor Charles Maregas
lions were installed at the south approach to Lions Gate Bridge.
Marega was unhappy with the work: he had wanted the lions to be
of bronze, but budget restrictions forced him to use concrete.
February 11 UBC held an Open House.
February 24 The first fireman's dance was
held in Burnaby. Admission was $1 a couple.
March 1 The official inauguration of airmail
March 6 A vehicle testing station opened.
Vancouver Mayor Lyle Telford drove the first car through.
March 24 Sculptor Charles Marega died, just
two months after his most famous work, the Lions Gate Bridge lions,
were installed. He had just finished teaching a class at the Vancouver
School of Art and collapsed while putting on his coat to go home.
He was 68. No one, historian Peggy Imredy has written,
has left such an enduring and visible record of his life in
Vancouver. As was said at his funeral, There is no need to
build him a monumentbecause of his sculpture he will never
be forgotten." Among his other work: the Joe Fortes fountain,
the Edward VII fountain by the Art Gallery, the busts of Burrard
and Vancouver on the Burrard Street Bridge, the statue of Vancouver
at city hall and the bust of David Oppenheimer near the Parks Board
offices. For more on Marega, see Peggy Imredys longer
May 24 The CPR bade a musical farewell to
the second Hotel Vancouver as . . .
Also on May 24 The present Hotel Vancouver
opened. Writes architectural historian Harold Kalman on Canadas
chateau-like hotels, Inspired by the picturesque castles of
France and Scotland, the steep-roofed hotels cater to our fantasies
of palatial living. Vancouver's version, resplendent in its gargoyles,
Renaissance detail, and fine relief sculpture, was built by the
CNR. Delayed by the Depression, it was rushed to completion in 1939
for the Royal Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The rival
CPR co-operatively closed its own, earlier, Hotel Vancouver (two
blocks east), lent the name, and entered into a joint management
While visiting here, the King and Queen stayed overnight
at the new Hotel Vancouver.
May 26 Their Majesties, King George VI and
Queen Elizabeth officially opened the Lions Gate Bridge.
May 27 A Chinatown street dance celebrated
the visit of the royal couple.
Early June Carson Manzer, who played cornet
in one of the Vancouver boys bands that Arthur Delamont conducted,
travelled to Europe with the band. He has written a short and lively
description of that trip, which you can read here.
They had to leave Europe sooner than expected: war clouds were gathering.
(The Mister D referred to is Delamont.)
July 3 The second charter granted to a credit
union in British Columbia, researcher Bruce Constantineau writes,
was to the Amalgamated Civil Servants Credit Union of Vancouver.
(It was renamed Vanfed before it became part of Burnaby Credit Union
in 1982. That organization was renamed Harbour Savings in 1985 before
it was merged with North Shore Credit Union in 1986.) The first
B.C. charter, by the way, was awarded to Powell River Credit Union
on June 9, 1939 and that credit union still exists under that name.
The already-existing Common Good Credit Unit, formed in 1936, was
July 4 Lou Gehrigs luckiest man
on the face of the earth speech at Yankee Stadium.
June 5 From the Vancouver Sun: JOE
GONSALVES, PIONEER, DEAD
Joe Gonsalves, 82, who came to Vancouver when
it was known as Gastown 65 years ago, died Saturday night [June
3] in St. Paul's Hospital, to which he was admitted several weeks
Mr. Gonsalves' home was at Pender Harbor, where
he had lived for the last 35 years. He came to Vancouver in 1874,
when he was about 17. At 12 he had left his home on the Island of
Madeira after he had prevailed on a sea captain to let him travel
on his ship.
For several years he was a squatter in Stanley
Park and his five daughters and one son were all born at Brockton
Point. As he lay in the hospital, his mind still alert, despite
his age, he recalled early days of Vancouver and the British Columbia
Requiem mass will be sung for Mr. Gonsalves
in Holy Rosary Cathedral at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Burial will be in
Ocean View Park. Surviving is one son, Alfred, and five sisters
[Note: they mean daughters], Mrs. G. Duncan, Mrs. E. J. Myers, Mrs.
T. Dames, Mrs. N. McDonald and Miss Theresa Gonsalves.
August 3 Radio telephones were installed in
Vancouver's police cars.
August 26 Local militia stand by guns at First
Narrows in North Vancouver as world war threatens.
September 1 Hitler invaded Poland. The Second
World War had begun.
September 3 Britain and France declared war
September 10 Canada declared war on Germany.
In Vancouver, German-speaking citizens pledged their loyalty to
Canada at a mass meeting in Moose Hall.
September Vancouvers harbor was put
under the control of the Royal Canadian Navy. All shipping passing
into the harbor must stop and report to naval launches.
September Granville Island, the industrial
heart of the city, began working around the clock, producing defence
equipment such as anti-torpedo nets, minesweeping equipment and
rigging ropes for the merchant fleet. And, for the first time, women
were hired at the factories.
October 11 Dr. Leonard Klinck, UBC President,
opened the city's first public aquarium at the old English Bay bathhouse.
The star was Oscar the Octopus. Manager of the aquarium
was an American named Ivar Haglund, who later moved to Seattle and
opened a restaurant called Ivar's Acres of Clams. (A restaurant,
eh? Anyone here seen Oscar?) The facility closed in 1956.
October 18 A committee of prominent men from
the Lower Mainland approached Surrey council, and successfully petitioned
to rename the Peace Arch Highway. The new name: the King George
November 18 Author Margaret Atwood was born.
November 21 A 50th anniversary banquet was
held to celebrate craft unionism in the Lower Mainland.
December 2 Vancouver welcomed its first dial
Mid-December The first contingent of the Canadian
Active Service Force left for Europe. The second contingent will
leave January 2, 1940. Wartime security measures forbid an indication
of where they left from.
December 18 Winston Churchill, First Lord
of the Admiralty, spoke to the world today in a broadcast from London.
The First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force,
safely escorted across the Atlantic by the main battle fleet, was
disembarked at a British port. Churchill revealed the progress
of the Canadian soldiers in the course of his report on the sinking
of the German battleship Graf Spee.
Also in 1939
The Boeing plant on Sea Island was built for the
production of Canso and Catalina and later B-29 superfortress aircraft.
At the peak of production it employed 6,000 people. See this
UBC students provided nearly $80,000 to build the
university's first student union building, a memorial to the late
Dean of Applied Science, Reginald W. Brock and his wife, killed
in a 1935 airplane accident. Brock Memorial Hall originally housed
a main lounge, snack bar, Alma Mater Society offices, club rooms,
a committee room seating 200 people, and general offices including
the Mildred Brock Room for women students.
Eric Hamber received an honorary doctorate of laws
Steelhead Lodge in Coquitlam, a secluded getaway
for Hollywood stars, was built by Canadian movie stunt man Karl
Jacobs. Some of the present streets in the River Springs neighborhood
were named for famous visitors: Gable, Novak and Flynn. (Wed
like more detail on this item: Kim Novak didnt get into movies
until the 1950s.)
One of the odder railway stories in B.C. history
happened this year. First, you need to know that one local result
of the Great Depression was that Grouse Mountain had become home
to a small colony of squatters. They built a small village of log
cabins up therenearly 100 of themand that little settlement,
as the economy improved over time, began turning into what the locals
called Ski Village. Enter a fellow named Kent Ford,
who proposed a sprocket railway from Mosquito Creek up to the village.
Fords proposal ran into a vexing problem: with
exquisitely inconvenient timing, the Second World War started after
construction had begun and Ford was unable to get enough steel.
He must have been a formidable optimist: without even pausing for
breath he continued to build his railway with one track of
steel, the other of wood. It didnt work.
Curiously enough, an attempt nearly 30 years earlier
to build a railway up Grouse had foundered for exactly the same
reason: a lack of steel because of a world war!
Steveston voted to stay dry.
Soon after the start of World War II, Richmond's
Japanese residents, among others, raised money for the National
A herring reduction plant was installed in the Gulf
of Georgia Cannery to produce fish meal and fish oil, used for many
industrial and agricultural purposes.
The B.C. Electric Railway ended its daily milk run
for Fraser Valley farmers.
The North Vancouver Youth Band was founded.
George Adams was a contractor who built the Carnegie
Library at Main and Hastings, early parts of the Vancouver General
Hospital, and the W.H. Malkin warehouse, now the Old Spaghetti Factory.
He bought lot 492 at Tunstall Bay on Bowen Island, built a house
and moved there with his family this year. The islands Adams
Road is named for him.
Appraised at $75,000 in 1920, Glen Brae,
the William Lamont Tate mansion at 1690 Matthews, sold this year
for $7,500. Today, its the childrens hospice Canuck
Fairacres, a handsome twin-gabled Tudor Revival house,
was built in Burnaby in 1910 for Grace and Henry Ceperley, a Michigan
heiress and a Vancouver realtor. In 1939 the brothers of the Benedictine
Order moved in. (In 1955 they would move to their present home at
Westminster Abbey, Mission. Today, Fairacres is the Burnaby Art
James Lyle Telford, 50, became mayor of Vancouver,
succeeding George Miller. A newcomer to the civic political
arena, Donna Jean McKinnon writes, Lyle Telford was,
however, no stranger to politics, having represented the CCF in
the provincial legislature. In this election he offered help
for the forgotten man, tapping into the frustration of the
voters after nearly a decade of poverty. Once elected, Telford resigned
from the CCF because he felt civic office should be free of party
politics. Despite his obvious working class following, Telford won
the mayoralty with fewer than 2,000 votes in a campaign with six
The spread of venereal disease prompted police chief
W.W. Foster to launch another crackdown by his morality squad.
D. Mackay became chief constable of the Vancouver
Police Department, succeeding W.W. Foster.
1939 was a big year for local Scots. More than
700 Scots crowded into the Commodore, wrote Kevin Griffin
in The Greater Vancouver Book, for the annual feast
[Robert Burns Night] where they heard the haggisa sheep's
stomach stuffed with minced mutton, oatmeal and spicespiped
into the hall and addressed with the words of Burns: Fair
fa your honest sonsie face/Great chieftain o the pudden
race . . . Behind the head table stood a statue of Burns flanked
by the Union Jack and the flag of St. Andrew.
The Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia caused a great
exoduspolitical leaders, businesspeople, professionals, and
intellectuals fled. Theodor, Otto, Leon, and Walter Koerner were
among those who came to British Columbia. With their background
in forestry, the four brothers formed the Alaska Pine and Cellulose
Company. It was Walter Koerners idea to rename western hemlock,
which had not been a popular wood for construction, as Alaska
Pine. Read an interesting profile of Walter Koerner here.
St. Peter's Catholic Church at the corner of Royal
Avenue and Fourth Street in New Westminster was built this year
in the California missions style. The church has statues that survive
from the old St. Peters Cathedral (built in 1886 on Blackwood
Street, damaged beyond repair in 1934): the Blessed Mother and Child,
St. Joseph, and Peter. The crucifix over the altar is also from
the old cathedral.
North Shore Neighborhood House opened.
The Western Canadian Lumber Worker, a monthly
publication of the International Woodworkers of America, began publishing.
The Empress of Japan II, a trans-Pacific liner
owned and operated by Canadian Pacific, and sailing out of Vancouver
since late 1930, was requisitioned as a troop ship. Her name was
changed to Empress of Scotland. After the war she returned to CPR
service in the North Atlantic, then was sold in 1958 and renamed
Hanseatic. After fire damage she was scrapped in 1966.
Rob Morris and Leonard McCann, historians, write
that the Prince Robert, built in 1930 for the Canadian National
Railway's Vancouver-to-Alaska cruise service, carried the King and
Queen from Victoria to Vancouver this year and then was converted
by the Royal Canadian Navy to an armed merchant cruiser. (She would
seize the German freighter Weser off Manzanillo in 1940 and
bring her to Esquimalt as a prize of war, then continue her wartime
service around the world until 1945.)
The discount store arrived. Selling ends of lines,
overstocked inventory and bankruptcy close-outs, the first Army
& Navy Store opened in 1919 at 44 West Hastings and moved to
its present 300 West Hastings location this year.
Queen Elizabeth Park was named for the Queen Mother.
Once a rock quarry, and sitting atop an extinct volcano, this park
is a beauty spot, a riot of color, with flowers, shrubs, rare trees,
and more on every side. The Bloedel Conservatory, Seasons Restaurant
and so on, were added in later years.
The 2850 Hudson locomotive that drew King George
VI and Queen Elizabeth across Canada this year so impressed the
King with its power that he gave his approval for these locomotives
to carry the Royal designation. Hence, the Royal
Hudsons. Incidentally, 2850 carried the royal couple on CPR
lines from east to west, then CNR lines on the return voyage.
The Van Tan nudist club began, the first such club
in the lower mainland.
1939 Packard Six 1700
- 1884] [1885 - 1891] [1892
[1900 - 1905] [1906
- 1908]