Chronology Continued

[1757 - 1884] [1885 - 1891] [1892 - 1899]
[1900 - 1905] [1906 - 1908] [1909] [1910]
[1911] [1912] [1913] [1914] [1915] [1916]
[1917] [1918] [1919] [1920] [1921] [1922]
[1923] [1924] [1925] [1926] [1927] [1928]
[1929] [1930] [1931] [1932] [1933] [1934]
[1935] [1936] [1937] [1938] [1939] [1940]
[1941] [1942] [1943] [1944] [1945] [1946]
[1947] [1948] [1949] [1950] [1951] [1952]
[1953] [1954] [1955] [1956] [1957] [1958]
[1959] [1960] [1961] [1962] [1963] [1964]
[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970]
[1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976]
[1977] [1978] [1979] [1980] [1981] [1982]
[1983] [1984] [1985] [1986] [1987] [1988]
[1989] [1990] [1991] [1992] [1993] [1994]


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 The Nine O’Clock Gun in Stanley Park, which had been in the open for six decades, was housed in a granite and wire-mesh cupola.

February 4 The present Granville Street Bridge opened, replacing one that had served since 1909. A million cars would cross over the bridge in its first month. Mayor Fred Hume told a special luncheon at the Hotel Vancouver on opening day, “We’re celebrating the official opening of the largest single project ever attempted by the city. As citizens of Vancouver we are entitled to crow a bit because we have accomplished this feat single-handed.“ He told the luncheon there had been “no formal assistance given by any other government body.“ At the end of the luncheon Ald. Birt Showler presented bridge worker Charles Geisser with the silver shears Geisser had used to cut the ribbon at the formal opening of the bridge a few hours earlier.

The eight-lane structure was built on the same alignment as the first (1889) bridge, but longer and higher (27.4 metres above False Creek). Steel plate girders salvaged from the second (1909) bridge made barges for constructing the foundations of the Oak Street Bridge.

The first “civilian” to drive over the 1954 bridge was the same woman who was first to drive over the second bridge in 1909. She had been widowed in between the two openings, and so had a different name . . . but both times she was at the wheel of a brand-new Cadillac!

March 2 The Chinese Free Press began to publish in Vancouver.

March 8 John Lawson, West Vancouver's first permanent white settler, died in Vancouver, aged 93. He was born April 15, 1860 in Cheltenham, Ont. Lawson arrived in B.C. in 1887. After 21 years as a railroad worker he bought property in the West Vancouver area in 1903. He planted holly trees by a “burn” (stream) on the property, coining the name Hollyburn. He was the second reeve of West Vancouver (1913). Lawson developed a ferry service to Vancouver in 1909, with the 35-foot launch, West Vancouver. He later replaced it with the Seafoam, a 60-footer. He established the first school at Capilano, was first postmaster and telephone agent. “The history of West Vancouver,“ it has been said, “is the history of John Lawson.”

April 1 The first families moved into the Little Mountain housing project.

April 16 “Professor Francis” died. He was an eccentric, erudite and cultured, and crashed parties of all kinds, less than elegantly dressed, speaking at length (and with real knowledge) about any number of subjects. He became a fixture on the city’s social scene.

May 8 William Watts, boat builder, died in West Vancouver, aged about 92. “He was born,” writes Constance Brissenden, “in 1862 in Collingwood, Ont. He came to Vancouver in 1887 with partner Edward Trott. For three summers, they ferried miners up Harrison Lake. In 1889 he opened a boat-building business, Watts and Trott (which later became Vancouver Shipyards). Their firm built the city's first steamboat. Watts was a record-breaking rower, sailor, sport fisher and driver. In 1890, he won the B.C. rowing championship in a shell he built himself. He was described by a contemporary as ‘one of B.C.'s most colorful personalities since the turn of the century’.”

May 12 A 24-year-old Sun reporter named Jack Wasserman began a new column on “the second front page” of the afternoon paper. Wasserman’s column, often detailing the city’s underbelly, would become a hugely popular feature.

For more, see his April 6 obituary in the 1977 Chronology.

May 13 George Harvey Worthington, drug store chain founder, died, aged about 78. He was born c. 1876 on a farm near Guelph, Ont. An Ontario College of Pharmacy graduate (1898), he spent a year in New York as a drug clerk, then opened pharmacies in Guelph and Toronto. He graduated in medicine (U. of T, 1908). Worthington, Constance Brissenden writes, “came to Vancouver in 1909, working as a doctor to 1919 when he established the Vancouver Drug Co. He was an alderman for Ward Six from 1924 to 1926. He ran for mayor in 1926, but lost to L.D. Taylor. He was an alderman from1940 to 1944. He ran again for mayor but lost to J.W. Cornett. He retired in 1939, sold his 23 drugstores to Cunningham Drugs. In memory of two sons killed in WWII, he willed $100,000 to UBC.”

May 17 The US Supreme Court ruled that segregation was illegal in US public schools.

June 1 Vancouver acquired the pioneer McCleery farm for a golf course.

June 7 Future BC Lions great Lui Passaglia was born in Vancouver, two months before the Lions played their first-ever game.

June 23 Vancouver voters okayed 6-day shopping.

July 2 Vancouver's first cocktail bar opened on the first floor of the Sylvia Hotel.

July 15 A switch was thrown sending power from Kemano to the huge aluminum works at Kitimat. The project cost $275 million.

July 21 With landscaping on the largest quarry at the future Queen Elizabeth Park completed, Mayor Fred Hume buried a time capsule beneath Centuries Rock in the park. It is to be opened in 2054. Mark your DayTimer.

July 30 The fifth British Empire Games opened at brand-new Empire Stadium, Canada's largest sporting facility. (History would be made there eight days later: see the August 7 entry.) We can thank Jack Diamond for the stadium: there wasn’t enough money to finish the project. Diamond assumed the role of organizer to raise the money privately to pay for the stadium's roof. He enlisted the help of many of his business and social friends, raised $360,000 and the project was completed. One casualty of the construction: Hastings Golf Course.

August 1 Journalist Tom Hawthorn writes that “Cabbie Dave King, driving for B.C. Radio Cabs, was taking a young woman to West Vancouver. When the cab slowed in traffic on the Lions Gate Bridge, she jumped out and, to King's horror, began climbing the railing. He raced over, dragged her to safety, shoved her in the car, and raced back to her West End address. The would-be suicide paid her fare, he told police later that day, and even tipped him 50 cents.”

August 7 The “Miracle Mile” at the British Empire Games at Empire Stadium. Roger Bannister of England, a medical doctor who had set a world record earlier with a sub-four-minute mile, beat John Landy of Australia in the first race in which two racers ran the mile in under four minutes. This was also the first televised sports event broadcast live to all of North America. The race lived up to its billing: It was a thriller. Visit the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in BC Place Stadium to see a film of the event. Even after more than 50 years, the sight of those two men pounding down to the finish line is a pulse-pounder. And here's an historical curiosity: The Province's publishing schedule was such that, even though the paper had a great full-page Bill Cunningham shot of the racers, it didn't publish the name of the winner! It hadn't been officially confirmed by the time the paper went to press! (As everyone knows, it was Bannister.)

The knowbc web site describes it nicely: “Once the historic Empire Games race got underway, Landy surged to the lead and remained there for the next three laps. Bannister was content to fall into place a few yards back. The dramatic turning point of the race occurred as the leaders made the final turn into the homestretch. Landy glanced over his left shoulder to see where the other runners were. At that precise moment, the crowd of 35,000 rising to its feet, Bannister flashed past on the right, and drew away to win the race. The final times were: Bannister, 3:58.8; Landy, 3:59.6. For the first time, two runners in the same race had broken the four-minute mile. (Not to be forgotten is Rich Ferguson, from Calgary, who finished third in a time of 4:04.6, a Canadian record.)”

Also August 7 It was at that same 1954 Empire Games in Vancouver that one of the more dramatic races in Canadian sport history occurred. British marathoner Jim Peters, who was 15 to 20 minutes—about three miles—ahead of his closest competition, entered the stadium and collapsed just inside the gate. “He staggered to his feet,” the Straight Dope web site reports, “and stumbled on, taking 15 minutes to progress another 200 yards. He fell several more times before crossing the finish line—but it was the wrong finish line, the one used for other track events, not the one for the marathon, which was some distance farther on. The team masseur, acting on the instructions of the team manager, caught him as he fell yet again and led him off the track. Not having crossed the correct finish line, Peters was disqualified and promptly retired from the sport, saying ‘I could never forget what I suffered in the sun--it cost me my killer instinct.’” He had had no water during his run. See a good article on Peters’ career at this website.

August 24 Ian Dobbin was appointed Vancouver Little Theatre’s first full-time director and producer.

August 25 The 45-bed Peace Arch Hospital opened in White Rock after six years of planning and fund-raising by local residents.

August 28 The construction of Empire Stadium allowed Vancouver to win a Canadian Football League franchise, the B.C. Lions. The first Lions game was played today. They didn’t win (losing to the Western Interprovincial Football Union champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers 8 to 6), but Province columnist Jim Kearney wrote that to 20,606 paying customers at Empire Stadium the Lions had proved they could score. The new team had actually led the Bombers briefly, thanks to a touchdown by fullback By Bailey. “Johnny Mazur played the entire game at quarterback and showed his best form to date,” Kearney wrote, and coach Annis Stukus praised his line of Arnie Weinmeister, Laurie Niemi, Chuck Quilter and George Brown. Their early life was rocky: one win in their first 16 games.

September 4 Journalist Roy Brown died, aged about 74. He was born c. 1880 in New Brunswick, came to Vancouver as a small boy. At 11 he was the youngest pupil to enrol in Vancouver High School. In 1898 he worked as an office boy for the News-Advertiser, later as a cub reporter for the World. In 1899, at the World, Brown scooped the Daily Province on property losses from the New Westminster fire. He retired in 1938 as editor of the Province and on September 3 was appointed editorial director and vice president of the Vancouver Sun. His biggest scoop was the 1918 sinking of CPR's Princess Sophia off Alaska, a tragedy that led to the loss of 398 lives.

September 20 The News-Herald began to publish out of 1100 West Georgia. It had been at 426 Homer. On the 30th it would shorten its name to the Herald. Its tenancy in its new home was short: the last issue of the paper—owned for a couple of years by newspaper magnate Roy Thomson—would appear June 15, 1957.

September 24 900 taxpayers in Langley Prairie voted overwhelmingly to secede from the municipality and form their own city. Four square miles, with a population of 2,025, would break away to form Langley City on March 15th, 1955.

September Robert ‘Red’ Robinson, 17 (born March 30, 1937 in Comox), started broadcasting on Vancouver’s CJOR. He played music never before heard on local radio: Rock-n-roll and Rhythm & Blues. “In the Fall of 1954,” Red later wrote, “Al Jordan left the show [Theme for Teens] and program manager Vic Waters, a great Deejay in his own right, asked me if I would like to try to maintain it. I jumped at the chance. Without question the first day on the air by myself was the most hectic and nervous time of my life. I knew this was it, this was going to mean a quick start toward my goal as a career Deejay or I was going to blow it entirely. I hit the air and kept on moving records through a full hour, on nervous energy alone. At the end of the hour the control room door flew open and Waters said the show was mine. He said the telephone reaction was great and he could live with what he had heard. What he had heard was a very immature voice, but a young man whose enthusiasm overcame a lack of announcing ability. I was totally hooked. I skipped school to learn everything there was to learn about broadcasting.”

The kids went nuts for Red’s music, and in a year he had 54 per cent of the audience. He MC’ed countless rock-n-roll shows (with Bill Haley and the Comets, Elvis and the Beatles the three biggest), co-ran an ad agency, and MCed Timmy’s Telethon for 22 years. His Red’s Classic Theatre on KVOS-TV ran for 600+ occasions. He was elected in 1995 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, one of just three Canadian DJs; inducted in 1997 into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and in 2000 into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. See this article.

October 12 The RCMP ship St. Roch returned to Vancouver after being the first ship to circumnavigate North America.

October 14 Frank Everett Woodside. “Mining's Grand Old Man,” died in Vancouver, aged 79. He was born December 8, 1874 in Hamilton, PEI. He left home at 16 to mine in Colorado and Rossland, B.C. As secretary of the Western Federation of Miners he helped pass B.C.'s eight-hour-day bill (1898). Woodside came to Vancouver in 1903. In 1910 he lobbied to end Hastings Townsite's ties with Burnaby and to join Vancouver. The vote (which resulted in a ‘yes’) was held at 2598 Eton, adjacent to the Woodside home (2594 Eton, now a heritage site). He was the first alderman for the Hastings Townsite area, served from 1911 to 1928. A charter member of the B.C. Chamber of Mines (1912), he was elected president in 1920. In 1922 “Big Frank” began a winter night school for prospectors. On retirement, he had been in mining for 60 years. A mountain in the Fraser Valley is named for him.

October 21 Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper spoke at the Vancouver Sun’s Fashion and Beauty Clinic.

October 24 Future Vancouver Canucks star Harold Snepsts was born in Edmonton. He will join the Canucks in 1974 and be with the team for 10 years. The fans loved him.

October 25 A fire heavily damaged UBC’s Brock Hall. It took three hours for the university’s fire brigade and five trucks from Vancouver to quell the blaze. Before the fire forced them out and the roof collapsed, students swarmed into the building to haul out whatever they could. Dick Underhill (now running a law office on Bowen Island) was president then of the Alma Mater Society, which had its offices in the building. “We were actually having a meeting at the time,” he recalls, “and everyone pitched in to save things. There were some valuable paintings by B.C. Binning that we rescued, and I recall dashing into the AMS office to save some of the Society’s records. Then all we could do was stand outside and watch the fire burning merrily.”

Brock Memorial Hall, which opened January 31, 1940, was named for Geological Engineering Dean R.W. Brock and his wife, both killed in a float plane crash at Alta Lake July 31, 1935. The Hall was home to dances, debates, concerts, banquets, meetings and plays. Students immediately started a drive to raise funds to fix the building. It was successful.

The event would spark agitation for a metropolitan fire department, one that would coordinate fire-fighting services for the whole lower mainland.

October 26 In Bill Dunford’s Province column this appeared:

“A couple called Odlum look after a lighthouse in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Recently they were expecting a child and figured that one way out of the name difficulty—and in keeping with their background and the tradition—was to call the babe after the first ship to pass their light after the blessed event.

“The babe arrived. Father, replete with binoculars, kept a vigil; a ship appeared. It was the John F. Schwellenback.

“They will try again.”

November 8 The Province reported on Page 1 that there was deep discontent with Police Chief Walter Mulligan. Many cops were quoted.

November 19 In dense fog, the Cleveland Dam was officially inaugurated. The dam, a $10 million project on the Capilano River, was “the tallest of its type in Canada.” The Province reported that “the giant concrete structure, and the natural valley facing toward the Lions, will control enough clean mountain water to supply the future needs of a 1,500,000 population. It towers 325 feet from the bottom of the gorge to the two-lane roadway which traverses its crest . . . Cleveland Dam will hold back an artificial lake 31/2 miles long. In it will be 161/2 billion gallons of water.” The Capilano River twists and turns through canyons and deep pools for eight kilometres below the dam, before emptying into Burrard Inlet.

Ernest Albert Cleveland was our first water commissioner and so highly regarded that when it came time for his retirement in 1940 (he had turned 65), special legislation was passed allowing him to continue on the job, which he did until his death in 1952. He died two years before the opening of the dam named for him.

City Archivist Major J.S. Matthews wrote on the dam’s beginning: “The unveiling took place in a fog so dense that the large group of officials and spectators in attendance were completely obscured from sight; those forming the procession onto the causeway of the dam did so by following the person in front of them; the speakers addressed an audience they could not see, and the audience listened to speakers who were invisible.”

November 25 James Hughes was named Executive Director of the Vancouver Tourist Association.

Also in 1954

The stuffed form of the late “No Drone, No. 5H” is presented by the Whiting family to the Langley Museum. “No Drone”was a hen from the Whiting farm in Surrey, who had set a world record in 1930 for the number of eggs laid in that one year: 357.

Writer Malcolm Lowry, who had spent several years in a squatter’s cottage near Dollarton on the north shore, returned to England. He would die there in 1957. While in that cottage Lowry wrote Under the Volcano, considered by many one of the great novels of the 20th century.

Richmond converted to a dial exchange from a manual telephone system.

Land expropriations began on Sea Island as Vancouver International Airport expanded. One of the results: the end of the Frasea Dairy Farm, Richmond's largest. It had been established in 1922 by Jake Grauer, and at one time was home to 500 cows.

Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) introduced a fleet of Lockheed Super-Constellations for its Vancouver to Montreal flights. They carry 63 passengers, as well as mail and freight, and travel at 340 miles per hour.

The Surrey Co-op is now a multi-million dollar business. Other industries in Surrey include Cloverdale Paint, Perlite Industries and Green Valley Fertilizer. The major farm products are vegetables, hay, berries and potatoes. There are mink and nutria ranches, chicken, turkey and dairy farms and plant nurseries.

Vancouver council decided to rezone the slope above Kits Beach for apartments. Few home owners in the neighborhood maintained the old houses, and that led to the deterioration of the neighbourhood. This would have an unforeseen result: “With this affordable housing, the nearby beach, and vacant shops on 4th Avenue,” Michael Kluckner has written, “Kitsilano was the perfect home for Vancouver's hippie community of the Sixties and Seventies.”

The Dal Grauer substation, named for the BC Electric executive, was opened beside the BC Electric Building on Burrard Street. (Today it’s a condominium development.) The building attracted much admiration from architects for its “uncompromisingly modernist” appearance. Designed by Sharp and Thompson, Berwick, Pratt the building displayed brilliantly colored big-scale equipment inside, open to view by passers-by behind a transparent glass wall. That was later replaced with opaque glass.

The Marpole Bridge, built in 1901, was used by visitors to Vancouver AMF (Air Mail Field) on Sea Island, later the airfreight and seaplane terminal. Thanks to marine traffic, it was a real bottleneck: records show that in 1954 the bridge was opened 7,015 times! It would be dismantled in 1957. Today’s Arthur Laing Bridge is built higher and longer on the same alignment.

Valley View Memorial Gardens was opened by Arbor Memorial Services at 14660 72nd Avenue in Surrey.

Japanese-Canadian Buddhists, who had re-opened services at the Hastings Auditorium after the war, moved to a site at 220 Jackson Avenue where the Vancouver Bukkyo-kai continues to operate today. There are more than 30,000 Buddhists in Greater Vancouver. See this website.

The Department of Asian Studies, a key component of UBC’s Pacific Rim focus, was established.

Assets at VanCity Credit Union reached $1 million. They would hit the $1 billion mark in 1980.

A new era in tourism began as the Orient Line included Vancouver in its Pacific itinerary with the ships Oronsay, Orcades and Orsova. The company would eventually be taken over by P&O Lines.

Baseball’s Western International League folded, but at least the WIL’s Capilanos went out as league champions.

Skiing on Mount Seymour was booming. More than 150 cabins were up there by 1954.

Valley Curling Rink was opened in Cloverdale, but well water wouldn't freeze so Vancouver water had to be trucked in!

Broadcaster and musician Al Reusch acquired sole ownership of Aragon Recording, which had opened in 1946 in a small three-room space at 615 W. Hastings. He will turn it into a larger and more sophisticated operation. (Reusch, who had been a morning deejay on CKMO in the 1940s, was a true recording pioneer in Vancouver. A member of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, he died February 14, 2000 at age 86.) Today, Aragon has become Mushroom Studios.

The architectural firm of Semmens and Simpson were commissioned to design a new library for Vancouver. In 1952 the city had purchased land at Robson and Burrard. The new facility would go there.

Cable television came to Horseshoe Bay.

The Province newspaper commissioned the first composite photomap of the entire Lower Mainland. The scale was 1:63,360.

The Challenger Map was completed. It had taken George Challenger seven years and a million hand-cut pieces of plywood to construct a relief map of British Columbia. The map was on display for years in the Pacific National Exhibition's B.C. Pavilion. Mr. Challenger’s ashes were in a small urn concealed by a plaque on the map’s “Pacific Ocean”. The fate of the map, now disassembled, is at the date of writing (May 10, 2005) in limbo. Many people are working to reassemble it and once again put it on public display.

Baltimore-born (1921) Alvin Balkind, who will become a very influential figure in the city’s art world, came to Vancouver.

Actor/producer John Emerson began to stage popular “capsule musicals” at the Arctic Club.

Medicine Hat-born (1928) actor Bruno Gerussi, who was raised in New Westminster, joined Ontario’s Stratford Festival Theatre. He would become a leading Shakespearean actor in the 1950s.

Sidney Risk (born 1908) began working as field drama supervisor of UBC's extension department, directing plays and teaching across B.C.

CKNW founder Bill Rea moved to California in 1954 because of health problems. He would sell CKNW in 1955. Rea died in Santa Barbara in 1983.

Percy Norman, head coach of the Vancouver Amateur Swim Club at Crystal Pool, coached the 1954 medal-winning British Empire and Commonwealth Games swim teams.

Iroquois, Ontario-born Judge Sherwood Lett was named first Canadian representative on the International Control Commission to oversee the ceasefire and disengagement of French forces in North Vietnam and the country's political stabilization. He would become chief justice of B.C. in 1955.

1954 Jaguar XK 120 Cabriolet
1954 Jaguar XK 120 Cabriolet


[1757 - 1884] [1885 - 1891] [1892 - 1899]
[1900 - 1905] [1906 - 1908] [1909] [1910]
[1911] [1912] [1913] [1914] [1915] [1916]
[1917] [1918] [1919] [1920] [1921] [1922]
[1923] [1924] [1925] [1926] [1927] [1928]
[1929] [1930] [1931] [1932] [1933] [1934]
[1935] [1936] [1937] [1938] [1939] [1940]
[1941] [1942] [1943] [1944] [1945] [1946]
[1947] [1948] [1949] [1950] [1951] [1952]
[1953] [1954] [1955] [1956] [1957] [1958]
[1959] [1960] [1961] [1962] [1963] [1964]
[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970]
[1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976]
[1977] [1978] [1979] [1980] [1981] [1982]
[1983] [1984] [1985] [1986] [1987] [1988]
[1989] [1990] [1991] [1992] [1993] [1994]






































































Jack Wasserman (photo:
Jack Wasserman



















































Roger Bannister (left) passes John Landy to win the Miracle Mile. This famous photograph was taken by Vancouver Sun photographer Charlie Warner.
Roger Bannister (left) passes
John Landy to win the Miracle Mile.
This famous photograph was taken
by Vancouver Sun photographer
Charlie Warner.





























































































A 1954 Burnaby tourism pamphlet
A 1954 Burnaby
tourism pamphlet














Harold Snepsts
Vancouver Canucks star Harold Snepsts
was born in Edmonton

Brock Hall after the fire (photo:
Brock Hall after the fire































































































































Al Reusch
Broadcaster and musician
Al Reusch