- 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 The Nine OClock 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, Were
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
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 citys 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. Wassermans column, often detailing
the citys underbelly, would become a hugely popular feature.
For more, see his April 6 obituary in the 1977
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
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
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 wasnt
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.)
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 minutesabout three milesahead 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 linebut 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
August 24 Ian Dobbin was appointed Vancouver
Little Theatres 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
August 28 The construction of Empire Stadium
allowed Vancouver to win a Canadian Football League franchise, the
Lions. The first Lions game was played today. They didnt
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
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 paperowned
for a couple of years by newspaper magnate Roy Thomsonwould
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 Vancouvers
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 Reds music, and in a
year he had 54 per cent of the audience. He MCed 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 Timmys
Telethon for 22 years. His Reds 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
October 12 The RCMP ship St. Roch returned
to Vancouver after being the first ship to circumnavigate North
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 Suns 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 UBCs
Brock Hall. It took three hours for the universitys 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 Societys 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 Dunfords 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 difficultyand in keeping with
their background and the traditionwas 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 dams
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 Dronewas 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 squatters 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
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 its 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. Todays 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.
The Department of Asian Studies, a key component
of UBCs 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.
Baseballs Western International League folded,
but at least the WILs 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
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
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.
Challengers ashes were in a small urn concealed by a plaque
on the maps 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
Baltimore-born (1921) Alvin Balkind, who will become
a very influential figure in the citys art world, came to
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 Ontarios 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
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
- 1884] [1885 - 1891] [1892
[1900 - 1905] [1906
- 1908]