- 1884] [1885 - 1891] [1892
[1900 - 1905] [1906
- 1908]  
  
This year is sponsored.
You'll note that this year includes events listed under "Also
in . . ." These are events for which we don't have a specific
date. If YOU know the
specific date of an event shown there, please
notify us . . . and cite the source! Many thanks!
January 6 Vancouver's longest wet spell began.
It ended 29 days later. There had been recorded rain on every one
of those 29 days. (On the same subject: believe it or not, no fewer
than five cities in Canada have an average annual precipitation
higher than Vancouver's paltry 1,113 mm. Every major city from Quebec
City eastward to St. John's gets more annual precipitation than
January 9 Peter Armstrong, who has made a
smash success of the Rocky Mountaineer train excursions, was born
in Vancouver. See this
January 16 The trial featured a parade of witnesses — “ordinary people”, university professors, clergy, and even author Erskine Caldwell himself — debating whether Tobacco Road was “lewd and filthy”. Tom Dohm, later QC and president of the Vancouver Stock Exchange, took the case as a public service. Director Dorothy Davies took the stand for a two-hour, emotional testimony in which she argued that the play did not pander to baser instincts but portrayed an aspect of life — a particularly ugly aspect, but life, nonetheless.
At the end of it, though, Magistrate WWB McInnes found the cast, director and theatre owner Charley Nelson guilty. Sydney Risk, manager of the Everyman Theatre, was let off on a technicality. Vancouver County Court overturned the verdict on appeal, but the BC Court of Appeal reinstated the verdict, when City Prosecutor Gordon Scott successfully argued that, among other things, County Court Judge James McGeer (brother of former Mayor Gerry McGeer) had been “unduly influenced” by witnesses. There was no further appeal.
January 17 From the Sun: Ivor Neil,
General Manager of the Transportation Division of B C Electric,
was re-elected president of the Vancouver Tourist Association. Re-elected
as VP was CKWXs F. H. Tiny Elphicke, head of the
Western Canada Broadcasting Association. Also elected VP was Ralph
Baker, Past President of the Vancouver Board of Trade. The associations
office was at 596 West Georgia at Seymour.
February 2 Mabel Ellen Boultbee (née
Springer), Sun columnist, died at the Ritz Hotel in Vancouver, aged
77. The first white child born on Burrard Inlet, she was the daughter
of Mary Frances Miller (sister of Jonathan Miller) and Benjamin
Springer, manager of Moody's Sawmill. A divorcee, she briefly ran
a school with her sister, Eva, in the 1890s. A journalist for 30
years, she wrote the Vancouver Sun's womens pages until
just before her death. A prominent citizen and member of the Georgian
Club, her apartment (shared with Eva) was a gathering place for
the citys social elite of the 1930s and 1940s.
March 29 CBC Radio newsman Terry Donnelly
April 14 Rick (Richard Alan) Watson, disabled
rights activist and writer, was born in Bowmanville, Ont. Disabled
by cerebral palsy, he came with his family to BC, was a Province
columnist from September 1991, pecking out one letter at a time
with a wand attached to a headband. He died April 30, 1994 in Vancouver.
His funeral was heavily attended by many friends.
May 5 Future film director Phillip Borsos
was born in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. He would move to Vancouver
at age 5. His most well-known film was the delightful The Grey
Fox (1982), about train robber Bill Miner. Borsos died of leukemia
May 20 CKNW commentator Jon McComb was born.
May 22 BC Electric opened the Dal Grauer Substation
on Burrard Street. Architectural historian Harold Kalman describes
it as uncompromisingly modernist, with the brilliantly-colored
workings exposed behind a transparent glass wallwhich was
replaced with opaque glass, following a minor explosion. (Architects:
Sharp and Thompson, Berwick, Pratt).
May 29 Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay became
the first to reach the top of Mount Everest, the worlds tallest
May 31 Chris (Christopher) Spencer, department
store executive, died in Vancouver, aged 84. He was born May 17,
1869 in Victoria, the son of David Spencer. He joined his
fathers firm in 1882," writes Constance Brissenden, "and
in 1907 established the Vancouver branch. After his father's death
in 1920, he was president until purchase of the Spencer stores by
the T. Eaton Co. (Dec. 1, 1948). Mr. Chris was known
for his public spirit and generosity. An early supporter of UBC,
he was appointed to the board of governors (1921-36). In 1950 he
established the Chris Spencer Foundation to assist worthy students.
May The Duke of Westminster, one of Britain's
wealthiest peers, unveiled plans for a multi-million dollar industrial
project on Annacis Island. It occupied just over 445 hectares. In
1955 it would be joined by a causeway to New Westminster. Prior
to the development of industry the island had been used for farming
June 2 Coronation in London of Queen Elizabeth
Spring A Women's Institute convention in Cloverdale
passed a resolution calling for a National Health Scheme to give
complete coverage for all Canadians.
Spring KVOS (Your Peace Arch Station)
signed on in Bellingham, but had its real audience in Greater Vancouver.
Rogan Jones little shoestring station launched
its programming with kinescope coverage of the coronation of Queen
Elizabeth II. By the end of the year sales of TV sets in Vancouver
(at about $500 a pop) were in the tens of thousands and residents
with a $50 aerial or a pair of rabbit-ear antennae could
watch three U.S.-based stations: KING (Channel 5), KVOS (Channel
12) and KOMO (Channel 4). See the December 16 entry below.
June 9 The Community Information Service,
managed by Elaine Keene, opened its door and its phones. The background:
the Community Chest and Council (now United Way), recognizing that
it had become increasingly difficult to know where to turn for help
with a problem, had determined that Vancouver needed an Information
and Referral Service, a place where trained professionals would
help people assess their situation and identify appropriate services
to meet their needs. A first year budget of $7,300 was established.
The Rotary Club promised $2,500 and there was a personal donation
of $200. The Junior League provided the remainder. Today, the organization
is known as Information Services Vancouver. See this
July 9 The Davis Cup tournament, the world
championship of tennis opened at the Vancouver Lawn and Tennis
Club. The club was chosen because the Japanese team insisted on
playing on grass courts, and none were available in the U.S.
July 11 Bramwell Tovey, music director of
Symphony Orchestra since September 2000, was born in
Ilford, Essex in the UK.
July 29 The Korean War ended.
August 30 Vancouvers Doug Hepburn was
relatively small in the world of heavyweight weight-liftersonly
5'9 (1.75 m) and weighing just 280 pounds (127 kg). Irans
Hossein Rezazadeh, for example, who won gold at the 2000 Olympics,
weighed 323+ pounds (147 kg).
But on August 30, 1953 Hepburn, 26, won the world
heavyweight weight-lifting championship in Stockholm. He was the
only Canadian entry, and he did us proud, breaking the world record
for the press. (A press is a lift in which the bar is
brought to the shoulders, then after a pause is lifted overhead
using only the arms.)
Hepburns three lifts (the press, the snatch
and the jerk) totalled 1,030.25 pounds (467 kilos), and brought
him the title of Worlds Strongest Man, a triumph for a guy
who had to wear corrective footwear for a deformed foot, and who
was teased cruelly as a kid because of his limping gait and his
Surgery fixed the eye problem, his prodigious discipline
in training (he was totally self-taught) and his immense strength
stopped the taunting.
A year later he would win another gold at the British
Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver.
Hepburn died November 22, 2000.
September Vancouver alderman Anna Sprott became
the first woman to serve as Vancouvers acting mayor.
October 12 Tilly Rolston died, aged 66. Tilly
Jean Rolston was born in Vancouver February 23, 1887. She entered
politics as a Progressive Conservative MLA in 1941. In 1951, she
sat as an Independent for the remainder of the session. In the 1952
B.C. election in Vancouver-Point Grey, she was elected as a Social
Credit candidate and named education minister, the first Canadian
woman to hold a cabinet post with portfolio. She frequently
blasted the government and said she would not be bound by party
Also October 12 Frank Ogdenbetter known
these days as Dr. Tomorrowestablished the Canadian light-plane
altitude record by flying a Mooney M-18 Scotsman to an altitude
of 19,400 feet. With a conventional internal combustion engine,
he set this impossible record by flying up until he
ran out of gas and then gliding back. It took place,
Ogden once elaborated, out of the Toronto Island Airport.
The record has never been broken. Mainly, I suspect because most
pilots are sensible enough to want 20 to 30 gallons of gas left
in the tanks to get back. I flew up until I ran out of gas and glided
back to the same airport. With that plane that was not a problem.
Ogden lives and works in Vancouver today. See this
October 17 The Trans Mountain oil pipeline
from Edmonton to Vancouver was completed. The line was designed
to transport up to 120,000 barrels a day, with more than 50,000
barrels required to meet the daily needs of B.C. The $93 million
pipeline stretched, the Province reported, through 718 miles
(1,155 kilometres) of rugged country from the oil fields of Edmonton
to a big tank farm in Burnaby.
October 23 The Burnaby Lake interurban tram
linethe route of which roughly correlates with the Trans-Canada
Highway todayclosed after 42 years, replaced by a bus service.
Charlie Martin, the first conductor on the original 1911 run, came
out of retirement to act as conductor for the last run.
Also October 23 The Vancouver-New Westminster
interurban tram linethe route of which correlates with the
SkyTrain line todayclosed today after 63 years, replaced by
a bus service. Most of the regular passengers were unhappy with
the switch. Garageman William Setter of Cassie Street in South Burnaby
said he'd been going home on the line for 30 years and considered
the switchover to buses organized chaos. Mr. and Mrs.
C.C. Honour of New Westminster came along just for the last ride.
Mr. Honour said he wanted to be the last person off the last
tram into the Royal City. But Mrs. Honour, the Province
reported, was less enthusiastic. I'd sooner ride our DeSoto,
(A shortened service, from the Carrall Street depot
to Park AvenueBoundary Roadcontinued to the following
October 29 Cinemascope made its Vancouver
debut at the Capitol with a showing of The Robe.
November 19 The present New Westminster City
December 2 On Page 1 of the Province:
Bill Stone, 525 East Keith Road, North Vancouver, got his
perfect cribbage hand the hard way Tuesday night. Playing with neighbor
Bob MacKay, Stone had a king, pair of aces and a four in his hand
as well as two fives. So he tossed the fives into his crib. MacKay
had 6-7-8-8 and a five and a jack of spades. He threw the five and
jack into the crib, the five of spades was cut and thus Stone had
his perfect 29 hand.
December 4 A heavily-loaded Canadian Pacific
Airlines airliner touched down at Vancouver International Airport
at 12:42 a.m. to become the first plane in the world to fly non-stop
from Tokyo to Vancouver. The big DC-6B also set a possible second
world aviation record in completing what CPA officials believe is
the longest commercial airlines passenger flight in history. The
4,800-mile (7,723-km) flight, with Capt. James Black of West Vancouver
at the controls, was completed in 13 hours and 51 minutes flying
time. Today, that same flight takes eight hours and 25 minutes.
December 9 The first Chinese Lions Club in
North America was organized in Vancouver's Chinatown.
December 16 Vancouver's first television station,
CBC-owned and operated CBUT channel 2, was launched when CBC chairman
Davidson Dunton pushed a button at the station, a converted garage
at the southwest corner of West Georgia and Bute Streets. CBUT began
with network programming initially tape-delayed from Toronto. It
later would be fed on channel 3 on newly forming cable TV systems.
Also in 1953
Red Robinson began his astonishing radio career.
See this article.
The Vancouver Corporation Act was renamed the Vancouver
Charter. See this
This year, according to the Workmens Compensation
Board (still called that in 1953) the total payroll in BC exceeded
$1 billion for the first time.
A breakwater was installed at the head of the White
Rock Pier, helping to shelter small pleasure craft.
Frederick Hubert Soward was named head of the history
department at UBC. He will head the department until 1963.
The Lady Alexandra, which had arrived from
Scotland in 1924 to become the flagship of Union Pacific's new excursion
fleet, was retired from the Howe Sound to Bowen Island run. (She
had accommodation for 1,400 picnickers.) Moored in Coal Harbour
in 1959 and named Princess Louise II, she would serve as
a restaurant until new American owners towed her to California in
1972 to become a casino. Damaged in a storm, she was scrapped in
Vancouver's Town Planning Commission was formed.
The Benedictine monk's priory at Deer Lake became
an Abbey. Father Eugene Medved was the first Abbott.
Gillnet fishermen on the Fraser object to a government
proposal to close the river to commercial fishing above Pattullo
Bridge by mid-September each year. 650 gillnetters are licensed
to fish above the bridge, many of them Surrey residents. Their livelihood
affects Surrey's economy.
Nylon nets were introduced to the Fraser River fishing
industry. They were stronger, lighter and more durable than the
linen nets previously used.
Black Ball Ferries began service between Nanaimo
and Horseshoe Bay.
Imperial Oil decided to phase out its company townsite
at Ioco as workers retire, die or move away.
Bentall Street was named after Charles Bentall, president
of Dominion Construction.
Construction began on the Little Mountain Public
Housing projectVancouvers first attempt at financing
rental projects for low-income familieswhich reached from
East 33rd to 37th Avenues, between Ontario and Main Streets. Architects:
Sharp and Thompson, Berwick, Pratt.
The traffic department of the Vancouver Police formed
a very popular motorcycle drill team It soon became known as one
of the top drill teams in the northwest, preforming in numerous
cities and municipalities in B.C. and the U.S. The team travels
on its own time and is responsible for all the expenses involved.
The Babes in the Woods murder, one of the most shocking
in the citys historyand still unsolved. The skeletons
of two children were found in Stanley Park, covered with the remains
of a woman's fur coat. The bodies were first believed to be those
of a girl and a boy between seven and ten years old, but later study
of their dental DNA showed they were both boys, brothers in fact,
but not twins. (The misidentification hampered the investigation:
reports at the time of missing brothers were discounted.) Near to
the little bodies was a hatchet, later established as the murder
weapon. (The skeletons had been on display in the police museum,
but retired VPD Sergeant Brian Honeybournwho had made this
crime a special studytook the remains to a crematorium. He
then took the childrens ashes to Kits point and buried them
The Babes in the Woods murder remains one of the
city's most disturbing. It figures prominently in Timothy Taylors
highly praised novel Stanley Park.
Portuguese immigration picked up when the Canadian
government encouraged thousands of Portuguese to work in Canadas
farming and fishing industries. Most of those who came were from
the Madeira and Azores islands. Outside the Okanagan, the largest
number of Portuguese live in Metropolitan Vancouver (about 16,000
at last count), with a concentration in the East End of Vancouver.
They have traditionally found work as laborers, carpenters, electricians,
factory and service workers, and longshoremen; some eventually became
small business owners.
Three founding trustees of the Richmond Hospital
Fund met. Their total funds: $1,011. Two months after the meeting,
70 people at a public meeting approved formation of the Richmond
The Canadian Mental Health Association volunteer
services was organized.
The Kinsmen Mothers' March began in response to a
polio epidemic. Its held every January to this day.
Reporter Jack Webster, who'd worked for the Sun from
1947, was lured away by CJOR to do a show called City Mike. Webster
was 35. His pugnacious style won him listeners quickly, and his
hard-hitting daily reports on the Mulligan police scandal in 1955
would make news themselves.
The Chinatown News, a semi-monthly with text
in English, began publishing.
Kal Tire was founded in Vernon. It is, among other
things, Canadas largest retreader of truck tires, and the
sponsor of the year 1953 in The History of Metropolitan Vancouver.
Winnipeg voted no, but Edmonton, Calgary and Reginawho
had earlier balkedagreed to admit BC into the Western Interprovincial
Football Union. What made the difference? A new 25,000-seat stadium
was about to be built in Vancouver to house the 1954 Commonwealth
Games. The football team that would be formed next year to play
there would be called the B.C. Lions.
Skiing was thriving: by 1953 five rope tows were
active on Mount Seymour.
The North Burnaby Cenotaph, at 250 Willingdon Ave.,
was erected in 1953 by Canadian Legion members. The B.C. granite
monument was designed by F.J. Brisdon.
A program from the 1953 Canadian Ballet Festival
carried a photo of a 14-year-old girl from Vancouver described by
New York critics as one of the joys of the festival.
Her name was Lynn Springbett. Shes more well known today as
Cartoonist David Boswell was born in London, Ontario.
He would come to Vancouver in 1977 to contribute cartoons to the
Georgia Straight. His most well-known creation is Reid
Fleming, The World's Toughest Milkman.
Writer David Corcoran was born in Toronto. He wrote
an historical novel for the Vancouver centennial, The West Coasters.
It has a wide range of ethnic and historical characters,
says BC Bookworlds Alan Twigg, and skillfully includes
research into Vancouver's origins.
Russell Baker, 43, a pioneer bush pilot, created
Pacific Western Airlines from various other airlines he had established
in BC and Alberta. It grew to be the largest western regional air
carrier, and in 1987 would buy CP Air to form Canadian Airlines
International. Russ Baker died November 15, 1958 in West Vancouver.
Eburne-born Arthur Laing, Liberal member of parliament
for Vancouver South since June, 1949, resigned to become B.C. Liberal
leader. He was elected MLA. Laing retired as leader in 1959, but
would successfully re-enter federal politics later. The Arthur Laing
Bridge was named for him (on September 9, 1974, his 70th birthday).
Mary Pack, arthritis campaigner, received the Queen's
Loughton, England-born Harold Winch, who had been
a CCF MLA for Vancouver East since 1933and leader of the CCF
from 1938, leader of the opposition from 1941became a member
of parliament for Vancouver East for the CCF/NDP. He would serve
to 1972. (A bitter rival of W.A.C. Bennett, he coined the nickname
Brothers Ben and Morris Wosk, the president
of Schara Tzedeck synagogue, chaired the synagogues Burn the
1953 Riley Convertible
- 1884] [1885 - 1891] [1892
[1900 - 1905] [1906
- 1908]