A note to readers: This
is a first draft of the 1911 chapter proposed for the book.
By the time the book appears in 2010 it may be much altered.
1911 (Sample Chapter)
The city grows . . . fast
The city got bigger on New Years Day. Hastings
Townsite, the residents of which had voted the year before to be
annexed by Vancouver, officially became part of the city on January
1st. The townsite was a big chunk of land. Superimposed on a map
today, it would stretch from Burrard Inlet to East 29th Avenue between
Nanaimo Street and Boundary Road. As well, a small chunk of CPR
property called No Mans Land was annexed by the
The city might have become even larger this year after South Vancouver
ratepayers voted 1,914 to 200 in favor of annexation, but the provincial
government refused to okay it, saying Vancouver was already over-burdened
with administration problems. Not until 1929 would South Vancouver
A second enlargement came with the opening of new buildings. They
came thick and fast this year with the citys astonishing growth,
and many of these 1911 structures are with us yet. (And so is a
company that built many of them: Dominion Construction, created
this year by Charles Bentall.)
The most well-known of the 1911 buildings was an imposing new courthouse
on West Georgia, replacing a much smaller building that stood just
south of todays Victory Square. The architect was F.M. Rattenbury,
who was famous for having designed the legislative buildings and
the Empress Hotel in Victoria. Today that courthouse is the Vancouver
On June 9 the handsome First Baptist Church was
dedicated. Situated at the northwest corner of Burrard and Nelson,
the church replaced a smaller 1887 building that stood at Hamilton
and Dunsmuir. An interesting fact about the new church is that when
funds for its construction were first sought in 1904 the first person
to step forward was John Morton, a Baptist lay person and one of
the Three Greenhorns, the earliest Vancouver settlers.
He donated $1,000, a full quarter of the money needed. Morton also
laid the cornerstone for the church in 1910.
On September 11 the Vancouver Rowing Club opened in the building
it occupies to this day. The Club had been formed in 1886 and opened
its first clubhouse the following year. They had a rival in the
Burrard Inlet Rowing Club, but in 1899 the two amalgamated. Not
far away is the Stanley Park Dining Pavilion, also built in 1911,
and home today to the Dubrulle Culinary Institute.
More to come
Many more well-known local structures got their starts in 1911,
would be open for business the following year. They include the
World Building (known today as the Old Sun Tower), Chalmers Presbyterian
Church at West 12th and Hemlock (now the Anglican Holy Trinity Church),
the current Point Atkinson Lighthouse, Brock House, Bnai Yehudah
Synagogue, the Sylvia Hotel, the Rogers Building and the second
Cambie Street Bridge.
Hockey Night in Vancouver
On December 20 Lester and Frank Patrick opened the worlds
largest artificial ice rink on West Georgia at the corner of Denman.
Known as the Denman Arena, it would be home to hockey (and, in the
basement, the Vancouver Curling Club). Some 10,500 people could
be packed into the Arena, and often were. The Patricks, helped by
money from the familys lumber business, also formed the Pacific
Coast Hockey Association this year. Lester and Frank had been hockey
stars in Ontario, and they promptly began raiding the eastern-based
National Hockey Association for good players. The league began with
three teams, all of which they owned: the Vancouver Millionaires,
the New Westminster Royals (who also played in the Denman Arena)
and the Victoria Aristocrats.
The Patrick brothers would create a lot of todays hockeys
rules and features, including unrestricted passing in the central
zone, the penalty shot, the play-off series . . . they put numbers
on players sweaters and allowed their skaters to kick the
puck. The PCHA credited players with assists and introduced the
blue line to reduce offsides and speed up the game. They even changed
the rule that said a goalie must stand at all times. See 1915 to
learn how the Millionaires snagged Vancouvers only Stanley
Cup, helped by a dynamo named Fred Cyclone Taylor.
The PCHA would fold in 1924.
The Holden Building at 10 East Hastings went up
this year, a fine 10-storey brick structure named for a prominent
city realtor, William Holden. His extensive realty dealings led
the newspapers of the day to write that he made Granville
Street. It was Holden who bought the terminal lands on False
Creek for the Great Northern Railway. (In 1929 the Holden Building
would become our city hall for seven years, and in 1988 would be
converted to residential use. Its name today: the Tellier Tower.)
If youd like to see what sorts of houses were
being built this year you can satisfy that curiosity by looking
on the east side of Macdonald Street, south for a block or so from
West 5th Avenue. Theres a long row of them there. Michael
Kluckner, in his invaluable Vanishing Vancouver (1990), tells us
that these Craftsman-style houses were all built by Lockie and Miller
in 1911. William Lockie was a carpenter, Kluckner writes,
his partner, Miller, was probably also a carpenter . . . The
men had no office other than their current jobsite, and they must
have employed a large crew, as witnessed by the number of houses
they built in a short time.
Another indication of the explosive growth of the city this year:
the CPR added 12 more stalls to the original 10 in its roundhouse
in Yaletown. And construction started on the Connaught Bridge.
Burnaby built a new municipal hall this year. So did North Vancouver
District. On a smaller scale on the north shore, next to the Capilano
Suspension Bridge, William Farrell built a tea house (now the Capilano
Trading Post) using cedar timbers stacked one on top of the other.
So much timber, it was said, that eight tea houses could have been
built. And still on the north shore, the Lonsdale Theatre opened;
today its a bank.
Long Live the King!
On June 22, 1911 with the death of Edward VII, George V became
On October 13 Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, became Canadas
Governor General, succeeding Earl Grey. The duke would leave his
name on the Vancouver map when he visited us in 1912.
Farther west on the north shore the first elementary school opened
in what in 1912 would become West Vancouver in, says one source,
the Presbyterian tent. There were 14 pupils. (Speaking of West Vancouver,
a real estate boom there this year saw waterfront lots advertised
for as much as $4,500.) We have 1911 as the date for the opening
of a one-room school in the White Rock area of Surrey. In Vancouver
Henry Hudson school, named for the explorer, opened at Cornwall
and Cypress, and Walter Moberly Elementary opened, named for the
explorer-engineer who surveyed the Canadian Pacific Railway's path
through the Rockies.
In South Vancouver, not yet part of the city, Collingwood Heights
Schoolwhich had started life in 1896 as Vancouver East Schoolwas
renamed for Sir Guy Carleton. (South Vancouver had held a contest
in 1910 to rename its schools, and the students at Cedar Cottage
School won, suggesting the names of famous Canadians. Carleton,
born in Ireland, was the soldier who commanded the British troops
in Canada during the American Revolution and repelled General Benedict
Education of another kind took root in Steveston this year. It
had its origins in a little town in southern Japan called Mio-mura.
A man named Gihei Kuno from that village came to Steveston in 1887
and was excited by the potential of the local fishing industry.
Mio-mura was a fishing village, but it was going through hard times,
losing much of its fishing grounds to Osaka. Kuno went back to his
village and persuaded many young men to join him on his return to
become fishermen here. By 1911 there were 649 Japanese from Mio-mura
in Steveston (473 men, 176 women). There were enough kids to start
a Japanese school, and one was established by the Japanese Fishermen's
Benevolent Society in Steveston. It had instruction in Japanese
and a Japanese curriculum. More than 4,000 descendants of those
original Mio-mura people live in Canada today, a full 10 per cent
of all Japanese-Canadians. (By the way, the money sent back to the
village by the small Japanese contingent here pulled Mio-mura out
of its doldrums.)
The provincial government set aside 175 acres of land in Point
Grey this year under the University Endowment Act for the projected
University of British Columbia. But it would be another fourteen
years before classes started there, and the amount of land granted
would be greatly increased.
Aviation was exciting people all over the world. The Wright brothers
flight had occurred less than eight years earlier. On April 28 William
Templeton, who would later (1931) become the first manager of the
Vancouver Airport, built and flew a home-made tractor biplanethe
propellor was in frontat Minoru Park race-track. This was
the first plane built and flown in Greater Vancouver. (Can you imagine
what it would have been like to look up and, for the first time
in your life, see an airplane buzzing by far overhead? It must have
Down on the ground, the CPR announced plans to pull
its marshalling yards out of Vancouver and create a major complex
at Westminster Junctionnow Port Coquitlam. The major reason
for the move was that the railways 25-year tax holiday in
Vancouver was about to end. More than 600 acres of land cutting
diagonally through Coquitlam would be needed to hold 180 miles of
track, roundhouses, coal docks, repair shops, etc.
It was, by the way, New Westminsters grumpiness at being
bypassed by the CPR in 1887 that led to the creation of Port Coquitlam.
New Westminsterites insisted a spur line be built to run south to
connect with them; it was at the point where that spur line left
the main line that a tiny settlement began. Informally called Westminster
Junction at first, in 1913 it would secede from Coquitlam and become
The big news this year for the other national railway of the time,
the Canadian Northern, was the knighting of its president Donald
Mann. Alas, that honor didnt help the railway. Port Mann,
named for Sir Donald, was originally intended to be the road's Pacific
terminus, but the railway would run into financial difficulty and
go bankrupt. It would become part of the Canadian National Railway
On June 12 the Burnaby Lake interurban line was activated by the
B.C. Electric Railway. It had a vitalizing effect on Burnabys
growth that continued until the province-wide economic collapse
of 1913. The line roughly correlated with todays Highway #1,
ended in Sapperton on Columbia just north of where Royal Columbian
Hospital is today. The last run was October 23, 1953. (But the New
Westminster terminal building is still standing, renovated for a
Salvation Army thrift store.)
One of Vancouvers most cherished characters
was streetcar spieler Teddy Lyons. He began his famous
career this year aboard BC Electric car #124. This was an open-air
streetcar, and Teddy would describe the town to visitors. He pointed
out interesting sights as the car rattled along, told corny jokes
and passed along local history. At one point during the journey
Teddy would point up at a certain building, the passengers would
all look up, a photographer inside the building would snap a photo
. . . which magically became available at the end of the trip. There
are literally thousands of these photographs extant today.
Teddy would conduct his tours for 39 years! Someone
calculated he had travelled half-a-million miles through the city
during his extraordinarily long tour-guide career. (A sample Teddy
Lyons joke: See that seagull flying up there? Thats
the richest bird in Vancouver. This morning he made a deposit on
a brand-new Cadillac.)
At street level one of the citys most famous thoroughfares
was created. It had been the old North Arm Trail, then it became
River Road. Its name was changed this year to Marine Drive, when
Point Grey municipal council straightened and blacktopped it. The
road was planned as a scenic loop around the Point Grey peninsula.
It still is.
Transportation was the obvious theme of the citys
first Automobile, Motor Boat and Accessory Exhibition, which opened
Out on the water, on February 27 North Vancouver
Ferry No. 3 was launched from Wallace Shipyards, the first self-propelled
boat of any size to be built in North Vancouver. In June the Sea
Foamdescribed as slow but sturdywas
added to John Lawsons West Vancouver Transportation Company's
ferry fleet with a capacity of 40 or 60 passengers (weve seen
both figures). Sometimes the Sea Foam towed freight barges
hauling West Vancouver residents' furniture and effects. Lawsons
other craft was the 34-passenger West Vancouver No.1 which,
writes Phil Collings, had started life as a Columbia River
fish boat called the Eileen. The ferries left from
the foot of 17th Street and across the inlet to the foot of Columbia
A company called Harbour Navigation began operating small ferry
boats on the Fraser River this year. The company is still around
under the name Harbour Cruises Ltd.
Construction news became a lot easier to get starting
in 1911 with the appearance of the Journal
of Commerce. Still extant, this is Vancouvers
oldest magazine. It provides an unparalleled record of construction
in this area over the past century.
In February a fellow named George Torrance Cunningham
opened a drug store in the citys West End. Cunningham was
born, writes Constance Brissenden, on an oxcart trail in North
Dakota in 1889. His family arrived in New Westminster in 1891. In
1904 he was hired as an apprentice druggist at Woodward's, later
worked at William M. Harrison's classy drug store/post
office. He graduated from the Ontario College of Pharmacy in 1909,
studied in New York and Chicago. At age 21, in February 1911, he
opened his No. 1' Cunningham Drug Store at Denman and Nelson.
He bought the Vancouver Drug Store chain in September, 1939, building
his own chain from 12 to 35 stores. He would eventually command
a 52-store empire. In 1970, five years after Cunninghams
death, the chain would be sold to Shoppers Drug Mart.
Another long-lived Vancouver company, Broadway
Printers, began this year. It was founded by German-born
Friedrich Richard Blockberger and incorporated as the Canada Post
Publishing Company November 11. It would change its name soon after.
A company history says that during the early years of the firm Friedrich
would leave the company in the capable hands of his five sons as
he headed off into the wilds of British Columbia looking for gold,
returning only for the winter months when he would publish and print
many mining related newspapers.
Borden Gervais, one of Vancouvers major law firms,
had its origins this year when Leon Johnson Ladner began the practice
of law. Born in Ladner, a community named after his father and his
uncle, Leon Ladner went to school there and in New Westminster.
After completing the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Laws degrees
at the University of Toronto, he was admitted to the Bar in 1910.
The major employer on the north shore, Wallace Shipyards, at the
foot of Lonsdale Street, suffered a tremendous blow July 11 when
it was destroyed by fire. It rebuilt quickly, however, under its
vigorous founder, Alfred (Andy) Wallace, and would continue for
more than 80 years.
Two of the countrys major banks opened second branches in
the city this year, an indication that eastern Canada was taking
notice of the citys remarkable growth. (The two institutions,
the Bank of Toronto and the Dominion Bank, would merge in February,
All this growth demanded more electrical power,
and it came this year from a 52.5 megawatt powerhouse located at
the outlet of Stave Lake, north of Mission City. The Mission Museum
tells us: By the end of 1911 a contract was secured to supply
power [from the Western Power Co.] to Vancouver, New Westminister,
Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Mission and Bellingham, Washington.
Power sales in 1911-12 were brisk. Smaller customers were supplied
with their own transformers on site, while the bigger customers
had to maintain an electrician and manage the electrical power supply
at its delivery point. Western Power would eventually be taken
over by BC Electric.
New PM, new wards
On October 10 the Conservative Party, led by Nova
Scotia-born Robert Borden, won the federal election, defeating Sir
Wilfrid Lauriers Liberals. Borden would be the countrys
12th prime minister. One of the successful local candidates was
H.H. Harry Stevens, who had been elected to city council
just a year earlier, and who now became the Member of Parliament
for Vancouver City. Stevens would prove to be very influential in
On the local political scene, the city increased
the number of wards to eight. With two per ward, there were now
16 aldermen. The mayor was Louis D. Taylor, he of the famous red
tie, serving his second one-year term. (See Biz
Biz for 1926 on this site for a funny story about Taylor
and his tie.)
The citys first suffrage convention was held
at OBrien Hall this year, with Mayor Taylor as chairman. We
can be positive that one of the prominent women at that meeting
would have been Vancouver News-Advertiser reporter Lily Laverock,
a crusader for votes for women.
Another woman who would later become prominent in
local politics was London-born Helena Gutteridge. She arrived in
Vancouver this year, aged 32, found work as a tailor, butfinding
the local suffrage movement here too politewould
later (1913) go on to organize the B.C. Womens Suffrage League,
and beginning in 1917 fight for and win passage of B.C.'s first
minimum wage act. (It varied by industry, but $13 to $15 a week
was the range.) In 1937 she would become Vancouvers first
Sports and Recreation
The opening of the Denman Arena was just the most spectacular sports
event of the year. There was lots going on elsewhere. The first
nine holes of the Vancouver Golf Club (situated, curiously, in Coquitlam)
were opened for play. The club house was the old Austin farm house,
with a dormitory for golfers who missed the last tram back to Vancouver
or New Westminster.
The North Vancouver Tennis Club held its opening tournament on
its courts at 23rd and Lonsdale, the site of the present Recreation
As for recreation, the Province reported on July 27 that one third
of Vancouvers population had passed through the gates of Stanley
Park during the week of July 10-16, making it "one of the most
popular pleasure resorts the Terminal City possesses."
During the week mentioned "a census of every person entering
the park was taken. A count was also taken of every auto, saddle
horse, bicycle, dog, hack, and in fact every rig or conveyance .
. . Sunday, the final day of the count, was of course the heaviest
day of the week. On that day 21,738 pedestrians, 191 autos, 52 hacks,
367 rigs, 58 saddle horses, 148 bicycles and 173 dogs passed through
A company called the Grouse Mountain Scenic Incline Railway was
formed. It was created to build a 2.5-kilometre-long rail line that
would carry its passengers up the mountain to a lavish ski resort
hotel. But the scheme would collapse as the First World War loomed
and steel became impossible to obtain.
Arts and Entertainment
On May 8 Fred Karnos entertainment troupe
from England began a week-long engagement at the Orpheum Theatre
(not the present one) at Pender and Howe Streets. Among the performers,
a 22-year-old not-yet-famous Charlie Chaplin. Our thanks to site
visitor Robert Ingves for this item. And see this
site set up by A.J. Marriot. "A.J." lists
every appearance made by Chaplin here: May 8, 1911; October 9, 1911;
April 8, 1912; December 30, 1912, and September 8, 1913. Also appearing
on the Karno bill that May 8, 1911 and on the last two dates cited:
Stan Laurel, later to be half of the immortal team Laurel and Hardy.
Sculptor Charles Marega began teaching art for night school students.
In December, Maregas bust of David Oppenheimer, Vancouvers
second mayor, was installed in Stanley Park.
One of the classic Vancouver books first appeared
this year when Pauline Johnson published Legends of Vancouver.
This little gem has been selling ever since. The story behind it
is interesting. In 1910, BC Bookworld tells us, "Johnson
had started publishing prose pieces in the Saturday Province
Magazine, edited by Lionel Maskovski. These were privately printed
as a fundraising initiative on her behalf by the Pauline Johnson
Trust Fund. This project proved to be a runaway bestseller, released
in official and pirated editions, even after it was formally published
in 1911 as Legends of Vancouver."
Perhaps the most famous story in the collection
is the legend of Siwash Rock, which explains its origin: a young
father-to-be was swimming in the entrance to the Narrows, while
his wife was in the forest nearby about to give birth. As
he swam joyously to and fro, a canoe bearing Four Men headed up
the Narrows. These men were giants in stature, and the stroke of
their paddles made huge eddies that boiled like the seething tides.
Out from our course! they cried
as his lithe, copper-coloured body arose and fell with his splendid
stroke. He laughed at them, giants though they were, and answered
that he could not cease his swimming at their demand.
Impressed with his courage and his devotion to tradition (swimming
was a ritual for both parents of a new-born) the Four Menthe
Sagalie Tyeetransformed the young man into a pillar of stone.
His wife and their baby son, for he had now been born, were likewise
transformed into two smaller pillars nearby.
A 1961 edition of the book, published by McClelland
and Stewart, begins with a brief biographical sketch by Marcus Van
Steen in which he says that Johnson wanted the book to be called
Legends of the Capilano. But, says Van Steen,
she was too ill to insist, which is just as well as the present
title is more accurately descriptive. Instead, she inserted a 100-word
foreword telling of her debt to Chief Joe Capilano, his role in
the Legends, and mentioning that most of them were being told in
English for the first time. Johnson was seriously ill with
breast cancer, and would die in Vancouver in 1913, just short of
her 52nd birthday.
On September 15 North Americas biggest bank-vault
robbery to date happened right in little old New Westminster. Five
menor was it three? accounts differbound and gagged
a janitor at the citys sole Bank of Montreal branch and got
away with more than a quarter of a million dollars. (Multiply that
by about a hundred to gauge the impact today.) The men probably
escaped down the Fraser River by a launch or else by automobile
towards Vancouver, but of how they got away there is no direct evidence.
The Province cartoonist had a field day with
the heist. One of his drawings showed two cops interviewing an elderly
neighbour. Have you seen any suspicious persons? they
ask. Yes, she says, there was two reporters here
In Burnaby, the fight against crime included hiring two mounted
policemen this year and setting aside $250 for the purchase of two
And Bill Miner, the Grey Fox, who had
pulled off Canadas first train robbery near Silverdale in
the Fraser Valley in 1904, was captured in Georgia February 24 and
sent to the state pen. He would die there two years later, having
spent most of his adult life in prison.
Vancouver's population reached 120,847 in 1911, double what it
had been five years earlier. And a study this year found that 34
per cent of Vancouvers population was British.
The first full peal of the bells of
Holy Rosary Cathedral was rung July 1st. They are the only English-hung
(that is, free-swinging) church bells in the city. There are eight
bells, called into use for ceremonial occasions including weddings,
funerals and ordinations. This first full peal commemorated the
coronation of King George Valthough they could also have celebrated
Canadas 44th birthday. A full peal, in which the bells ring
through more than 5,000 changes without a break, takes three hours.
On March 4 the Robert Kerr ran into grief
and foundered. It will be converted to a coal hulk. This was the
ship that served as a refuge in June, 1887 for people fleeing the
The Vancouver Fire Department was deemed by an international committee
to be "one of the world's finest . . . as regards equipment
and efficiency" behind only London, England, and Leipzig, Germany.
The city had 11 firehalls and 191 fire fighters.
The name of Park Drive in East End Vancouverso named because
it ended at the time at Clark Parkwas changed September 25
to Commercial Drive. The name was changed at the urging of real
estate promoters who wanted to bring into prominence what they predicted
would be a great commercial thoroughfare.
The western stretch of Dundas Street in Vancouver was renamed Powell
Street, to honor Dr. Israel Wood Powell who, among other good works,
donated the site of Vancouvers first city hall.
Vancouver's first Italian newspaper, L'Italia
nel Canada, appeared.
The Chinese revolutionary Dr. Sun Yat-Sen made his third visit
Japanese settlers began growing strawberries in
Surrey. The nearby community hall came to be called Strawberry
Hill. The berries were sent to canneries in New Westminster
Wisconsin-born Julius Harold Bloedel began logging in BC.
The first Vancouver Girl Guide Troop was started by Miss P. James.
Colony Farm at Essondale Hospital was considered the best in the
West, yielding 700 tons of crops and 20,000 gallons of milk this
year. The farm provided therapy as well as food for its patients.
A resolution was passed by Surrey Council to close the Serpentine
and Nicomekl Rivers to navigation in order to construct dams for
land reclamation. The era of steam boats and log booms on these
rivers came to an end.
Samuel Brighouse, one of the Three Greenhorns,
left Vancouver for England, where he died in 1913.
Nine-year-old Nat Bailey arrived in Vancouver with
his family from Seattle. Years later he would launch what became
the White Spot restaurant chain.
Many more well-known local structures got their
starts in 1911, would be open for business the following year. They
include the World Building (known today as the Old Sun Tower), Chalmers
Presbyterian Church at West 12th and Hemlock (now the Anglican Holy
Trinity Church), the current Point Atkinson Lighthouse, Brock House,
Bnai Yehudah Synagogue, the Sylvia Hotel, the Rogers Building
and the second Cambie Street Bridge. (By the way, the Sylvia wasnt
built as a hotel, but as an apartment block. It would make the switch
The opening of the Denman Arena was just the most
spectacular sports event of the year. There was lots going on elsewhere.
The first nine holes of the Vancouver Golf Club (situated, curiously,
in Coquitlam) were opened for play. The club house was the old Austin
farm house, with a dormitory for golfers who missed the last tram
back to Vancouver or New Westminster. (A tidbit for buffs of local
golfing history: one of the stops planned for the Burnaby Lake interurban
line was Golf Club! It was near todays Lougheed
Mall. Alas, it was not to be.)
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