A note to readers: This
is a first draft of the 1929 chapter proposed for the book.
It was completed June, 2008. By the time the book appears in 2010
it may be much altered.
1929 (Sample Chapter)
The big story in 1929 for Vancouver was not the
Great Depression. The first ominous effects of the crash would begin
to be felt by the end of the year, but we wouldn’t begin to
feel the real effects until 1930. No, for Vancouver in 1929 it was
an explosion in size. On January 1st the amalgamation of Point Grey
and South Vancouver came into legal effect, and overnight Vancouver—the
southern boundary of which had been 16th Avenue—became Canada’s
third largest city. The new population: 240,000. It had been 117,000
at the 1921 census.
The first mayor of the larger city—he’d defeated the
incumbent, L.D. Taylor, the previous November—was W.H. Malkin,
whose name since 1896 had been most visible on the labels of the
jams and jellies his company packed. At the first meeting of the
new city council January 2nd Malkin paid a gracious tribute to Taylor,
giving him credit for the work he had done in pushing for the amalgamation.
A bigger city needed a bigger city hall. Since 1897 a sombre,
dark red, somewhat dumpy building immediately south of the Carnegie
Library on the west side of Main Street had served as city hall.
It had once been a public market, later an auditorium. Now a move
was made from that overcrowded place into the Holden Building at
10 East Hastings. This handsome ten-storey structure would serve
as city hall until the present one opened in 1936. (Later, in May,
1929 Vancouver voters would approve 14 of 20 money bylaws presented
to them, but reject a new city hall, so the ‘temporary’
Holden Building served much longer than had been planned.)
In June the old red building would become an annex to the adjacent
The school population of Vancouver also grew, of course: to its
existing 22,000 students were added nearly 9,000 pupils from South
Vancouver and more than 6,000 from Point Grey.
Building, building, building . . .
A great deal of building went on in Vancouver in 1929, highlighted
March 13 when Mayor Malkin blew a blast from a golden whistle, setting
in motion a steam shovel that began an excavation for the construction
of the Marine Building. This 25-storey beauty, designed by the architectural
firm of McCarter & Nairne—who became one of its charter
tenants—and built by E.J. Ryan Contracting, would open in
1930. Read more about it in that chapter.
The Georgia Medical-Dental Building, the first art deco-style
building erected in Vancouver, went up this year at the northwest
corner of Georgia and Hornby Streets. It was richly embellished
with whimsical ornaments like plump little terra cotta owls and
other birds, lions and horses. The building was adorned with medical,
religious and mythological symbols around the main door. Most of
its tenants were doctors, dentists and the like. Easily the most
famous distinguishing features on the building were three 11-foot-high
terra cotta statues of nursing sisters in First World War uniforms,
one perched on each of the building’s three visible corners.
A local gag—inspired by the medical use of the building—was
that they were the three Rhea sisters: Gono, Dia and Pyo. The building
was designed by McCarter and Nairne, whose more famous Marine Building
would soon follow. Sixty years after its opening the dignified old
structure would be demolished—Sunday, May 28, 1989—by
a controlled explosion (viewed by a huge throng in the surrounding
streets), following an intense but unsuccessful public campaign
to save it. Replicas of the nurses can be seen at Joe Tinucci’s
Ital Decor location at 6886 East Hastings Street.
Another city landmark, the Royal Bank building at the northeast
corner of Hastings and Granville, edged into print this year: on
June 17 the Journal of Commerce reported that tenders had
been called by the Royal Bank for the property. That famous corner
had been occupied for many years, first by jeweler George Trorey,
then in February 1907 by Birks. The Journal also reported
that the Bank of Nova Scotia would build a new branch at the northeast
corner of Granville and Davie Streets. Today that building is Vancouver’s
Dance Centre. In June the Sun told us that the proposed ‘Canadian
National Hotel,’ the present Hotel Vancouver, would be expanded.
One hundred extra rooms would be added, and the hotel would be 16
storeys high. Several such reports would appear during the hotel’s
construction. It kept getting bigger and bigger—on paper.
Then the Depression came along.
Given the construction or impending construction of all these
lofty buildings, here’s a curiosity: on October 25 the Province
wrote: “Vancouver will have no skyscrapers if the City Council
accepts the advice of its Town Planning Commission . . . This morning
the commission again endorsed the provision of the city charter
which requires all buildings to be within ten storeys in height
or 120 feet.”
The Randall Building, in the 500 block West Georgia, was built
this year. Since being rehabilitated in 1991, it’s now known
as the Cavelti Building, after jeweller Toni Cavelti. The Dick Building,
an ornately decorated structure at the southeast corner of Granville
and Broadway, and the equally ornate Bank of Commerce at 817-819
Granville are also from 1929. All three are heritage buildings today,
preserved for their aesthetic and architectural value.
On June 1st an artist’s conception of the new Stock Exchange
Building in Vancouver appeared in the Sun. The building,
the second of that name, would be at the northwest corner of Pender
and Howe Streets. What an unpleasant surprise they have coming in
about five months!
Out at UBC the Union College Library was okayed in May. The Anglican
Theological College opened October 1st, and the university’s
first gymnasium, built with funds raised by students, finally provided
a proper place for the sports-minded among them to play. Built when
the number of students was about 1,500 it would eventually prove
too small. Still, it would serve until the War Memorial Gym opened
in October of 1951. The 1929 gym stood where the Buchanan Tower
Point Grey Secondary School opened at 5350 East Boulevard in Kerrisdale.
Boeing of Canada opened a plant on Coal Harbour this year. It
had been the Hoffar-Beeching Shipyard at 1927 West Georgia; in 1930
Boeing would begin to build seaplanes there.
Construction began on the East Lawn Building at Essondale (now
The Commodore Cabaret opened December 3rd on Granville Street.
Owners Nick Kogas and John Dillias began a tradition of showcasing
local bands and international touring artists, and the place—known
today as the Commodore Ballroom—is still bringing in big names
Members of the Cambrian Society, named after the Cambrian Hills
in Wales, built a community hall at 215 East 17th Avenue. Wrote
Kevin Griffin, in The Greater Vancouver Book, “This
is believed to be the only hall built and operated by a Welsh society
in North America . . . [The] hall became the home of the annual
Eisteddfod, a competitive singing and reciting festival,
and the Gymanfa Ganu, a hymn singing festival.” The
Hall was officially opened September 1st by Marion Malkin, the mayor’s
wife. Today’s Welsh Society tells us that “the cornerstone
at the front of the Cambrian Hall pays tribute to the members of
the Cambrian Society (as the Welsh Society was then known) who were
donors to the building fund and also to those who had assisted in
erecting the building. Among the donors were prominent Vancouver
citizens, such as Chris T. A. Spencer, a member of the Spencer's
Department Store family, Thomas Edwards, a leading Vancouver businessman,
and Jonathan Rogers from the Ceiriog Valley, a builder and philanthropist
who spent 26 years serving on the Vancouver Parks board. The land
on which the Hall is situated was sold to the Society for one dollar
by Joseph Jones from Prestatyn, the owner of a Vancouver dairy and
a long-term school trustee.”
The intense building activity in the city persuaded city leaders
that some sort of direction was needed. That had prompted the formation
in 1926 of the Vancouver Town Planning Commission, marking the beginning
of formal planning efforts in the city. In 1928 the Commission hired
Harland Bartholomew and Associates, a town planning firm from St.
Louis, Missouri which had designed city plans for many cities across
the United States. On December 28 of this year Bartholomew submitted
his report—which had been modified by the amalgamation with
Point Grey and South Vancouver. The plan was ambitious. His team
had surveyed the city, prepared detailed reports on zoning regulations,
street design, transportation and transit, public recreation and
civic art. They planned for a city of one million people focused
on the “great seaport” of Burrard Inlet. The Fraser
River banks and False Creek would be industrial. Businesses would
spread evenly over the central business district to “prevent
undue traffic congestion.” The West End would provide apartments
close to jobs. “The Bartholomew Plan,” city planner
Dr. Ann McAfee wrote in The Greater Vancouver Book, “was
never formally adopted by City Council. Nevertheless, over the years,
much of Bartholomew's vision was realized.” The most well-known
visible evidence today is the central boulevard down Cambie Street,
south of King Edward.
Involved in all of this was J. Alexander (Sandy) Walker, who began
this year what would become a long stretch as Vancouver’s
town planning engineer. He would serve to 1952. The City of Vancouver
Archives has a hand-written letter to Walker, written October 4
this year. Carefully inscribed, it came from Lauchlan Hamilton,
the man who had laid out most of the city’s downtown streets
more than 40 years earlier. Hamilton, 77 at the time he wrote the
letter, had been the CPR’s land commissioner here. He was
re-visiting the city.
“I cannot say that I am proud of the original planning of
Vancouver,” he writes, after explaining that the shortness
of his visit precludes a personal meeting with Walker. “The
work, however, was beset with many difficulties. The dense forest,
the inlets on the north and False Creek on the south, the pinching
in of the land at Carrall Street . . .” and so on, and so
If you look at a map of Vancouver, you'll note that east-west
streets crossing Burrard often do not line up. In his letter to
Walker, Hamilton complains of a severe problem. His “original
plan” for the streets in the city's downtown peninsula had
to be altered. It seems a property owner named Pratt refused to
go along with Hamilton's design. Local historian John Atkin explains:
“Pratt was one of the large land owners in the West End who
refused to allow Hamilton to replot the area, hence almost all of
the streets going east-west across Burrard don’t match up.
Hamilton was quite angry about this. The West End streets were drawn
up on a plan and registered in the 1870s, but were never surveyed
on the ground. Hamilton had to fit his work to the registered plan,
which is why the lot sizes in that area are so odd.”
The Archives has a collection of field survey books used by Hamilton
and those working for him. It's fascinating to leaf through those
brittle, yellowing pages and see the pencilled notes and drawings
made more than 120 years ago as the surveyors decide to cut a “Granville
Street” through here and a “Nelson Street” through
there. The pages are covered with scribbled computations and little
memos, each street plan carefully dated: the survey of Granville
south of Nelson, for example, began March 15, 1885. The corner of
Cambie and Hastings was laid out on April 30, 1886. If you're a
surveyor or interested in the subject and you haven't seen these
little books, by all means visit the Archives and ask to have a
Not all the building in Vancouver this year was ‘important.’
To the delight of local kids, the Pacific National Exhibition opened
its first permanent amusement park, with rides and games. It was
near the race track and was dubbed ‘Happyland.’ It would
last to the end of the 1957 season, then be replaced by the bigger
In June it was announced that Kingsway between Knight and Broadway
was to be widened from 66 feet to 99. And there was a name change
for a well-known building at the eastern end of False Creek. Known
as Union Station from 1917 to 1928—housing the Great Northern
and the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, a precursor to the CNR—it
became the Great Northern Station. The building would be demolished
Over in North Vancouver, the North Shore Hospital opened May 30,
and on June 28 bids were called for a bridge over the Capilano River
in West Vancouver.
Can You Hear Me Now?
The GN/CN station just cited was home to radio station CNRV, one
of a network of stations CN had set up across the country for its
passengers. Radio was still young, and the city—if the city
directory is to be believed—had just seven stations (there
are 19 today), and some of those were on for just a few hours a
day. Besides CNRV they included:
CHLS Province Commercial, 198 West Hastings
CJOR Commercial Broadcasting Service, 212-1040 West Georgia
CKCD Vancouver Daily Province, 198 West Hastings
CKFC Radio Station, West 12th Avenue at Hemlock
CKMO Sprott Shaw 336 West Hastings, and
CKWX Sparks Co., 801 West Georgia
One of the local broadcasting phenomena of those early years was
a fellow at CKCD named Earle Kelly, 50, a night editor at the Province.
Chosen for his authoritative voice and crisp enunciation he began
broadcasting newscasts this year for the newspaper’s station,
CKCD, and became known as “Mr. Good Evening” for his
lugubrious introduction to those programs. (He never identified
himself on these broadcasts.) Kelly, born Michael Aloysius Kelly
to Irish parents in Australia, became known as Canada's first personality
broadcaster. He would carry on his broadcasts seven nights a week
for 17 years and become famous throughout western Canada. “Mr.
Good-Evening,” radio researcher Gordon Lansdell has written,
“was a dashing and debonair bachelor, well over six feet tall,
who lived at an exclusive businessman's club on the Vancouver waterfront.
On Saturday nights he always delivered his newscasts wearing impeccable
evening dress, his white mustache bristling and his hair brushed
sleekly back. On his own time, he was often seen playing strenuous
games of tennis in nearby Stanley Park or dancing in white tie and
tails at the elegant downtown Commodore Cabaret.
“He used the editorial ‘we’ or ‘us’
in most of his broadcasts, to the extent that it crept into his
private life and he almost became a plural entity. ‘Excuse
us,’ he would say if he coughed on the air. Every night he
wound down his newscast with good wishes to the elderly, but only
those celebrating birthdays over 90 or anniversaries over 50. Finally,
he would, ‘Wish all our listeners, on land, on the water,
in the air, in the woods, in the mines, in lighthouses, and especially
[a salute to different groups each evening], a restful evening.
Good night.’ One night he wished a good night to ‘the
Ladies of the Evening’ which brought him a great deal of critical
mail from his more sedate audience.”
On June 13, 1929 Vancouver marked ‘Vancouver Day,’
but this would be the last time. Back in 1925 city council had named
June 13 as Vancouver Day—a time of remembrance and thanksgiving,
inspired by the Great Fire of June 13, 1886—and it was arranged
that each year as a part of the Vancouver Day ceremonies there would
be held, “on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the
fire, a service in Stanley Park . . .” At the ceremony this
year a band played a march especially written for the event by Lt.
E.J. Cornfield. The tradition was short-lived: this 1929 event seems
to be the last time ‘Vancouver Day’ occurred. A guess
is that the Depression killed it off. (City archives worker Donna
Jean McKinnon and others revived it unofficially for one occasion
in the 1990s.)
1929 brought changes in the transportation future of Vancouver.
Charles Lindbergh had sparked intense interest in air travel with
his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. In July of this year he
was touring the U.S., speaking in various cities, and when he got
to Seattle a Province reporter asked him if he would consider
coming up to Vancouver. Lindbergh said no. “Your airport isn’t
fit to land on,” he said. That embarrassed Vancouver, and
prompted the push to build one that was! It would open in 1931.
And, still up in the air, some local histories indicate that the
Graf Zeppelin, the most famous airship of the 1920s, visited Vancouver—specifically,
Coal Harbour—on August 27, 1929. Alas, a closer examination
of papers of the day revealed the truth: she never got here. “Plans
of Dr. Hugo Eckener to bring the Graf Zeppelin over Vancouver and
Seattle,” the Province reported, “were upset
by two occurrences. Dense fog in the North Pacific forced the airship
south in order to get her bearings, and a slight attack of ptomaine
poisoning caused the commander to hasten to Los Angeles.”
The huge airship had just completed “one of the most spectacular
flights of all time, a non-stop 5,800 miles across the Pacific Ocean
from Japan . . .”
Down on the ground, the Canadian Pacific Railway began having
‘Hudson’ type steam locomotives built this year by the
Montreal Locomotive Works Company. One of them is B.C.’s well-known
Royal Hudson. Before production halted in 1940 MLW built 65 of these
powerful and marvellously fast engines. The last model produced
had a top speed of more than 144 kilometres per hour. They would
not get the ‘Royal’ designation, by the way, for another
10 years, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother)
rode in them across the country.
The long-sought-after Pacific Highway neared approval, and Canada
and the State of Washington agreed this year to place the proposed
highway and the port of entry near the Peace Arch, erected in 1921—a
rare, perhaps unique, example of a major highway being placed to
provide access to a public memorial. The Douglas crossing is now
used by millions of cars annually.
Out on the water the Taconite, a luxury yacht, was built
for William Boeing. She was all teak and 125 feet in length. The
Taconite was built at the Hoffar-Beeching Shipyard, adjacent to
the Boeing aircraft plant on Coal Harbour. (She’s still in
Vancouver, still looks beautiful, and is used for charters.) The
West Vancouver ferry system, once a drag on the city’s finances,
was now thriving . . . and would continue to do so until the Lions
Gate Bridge was opened.
Most importantly, on December 17, 1929 the Empress of Japan
II was launched in Glasgow. She would begin service on the
Pacific August 30, 1930. This famous liner was fast, with a top
speed of 23 knots: in 1931 she would set the pre-Second World War
speed record for a Pacific crossing from Yokohama to Victoria of
seven days, 20 hours and 16 minutes. Unfortunately, the Depression
would impact badly on both passenger and cargo numbers for the Empress
line and the service would end in a few years. (After the war with
Japan began her name was changed—albeit somewhat belatedly,
on October 16, 1942—to Empress of Scotland.)
Colored motion pictures (without artificial tinting) were shown
for the first time in 1929 in Vancouver at Kodak's store on Granville
Street. On June 3 the Orpheum Theatre (the present one) ran an ad
for a new Mary Pickford film: Coquette, “her first
100% Talking Picture, and the usual big bill of Radio-Keith-Orpheum
Vaudeville.” The theatre was now called the RKO Orpheum. Vaudeville,
incidentally, was on the way out. It was drawing smaller audiences
all across North America. On September 1st the operation of the
Orpheum began to be shared by former competitors Orpheum Circuit
and Famous Players, and by 1931 the theatre would begin to show
movies only. (Vaudeville would still be enjoyed for a few more years
in Vancouver, mainly at the Beacon Theatre, but its glory days were
Still with entertainment, it’s not local, but irresistible:
1929 is the year the “Oscars” began in Hollywood.
George Godwin’s acclaimed novel The Eternal Forest under
Western Skies, set in Whonnock, appeared. It would be reissued
in 1994 by Godwin Books as The Eternal Forest. A British-born
Province staff writer named Lukin Johnston gave us an illustrated
book titled Beyond the Rockies: Three Thousand Miles By Trail
and Canoe Through Little-Known British Columbia. A review says:
“he had opportunity to travel widely the province of British
Columbia and write about its beauty and character. He used his newspaper
material as basis for this book, a snapshot of a beautiful province,
the way it was before the outbreak of the Second World War. He later
returned to England.” The provincial Public Library Commission
this year applied for, and received, a grant of $100,000 from the
Carnegie Corporation to test an idea for five years: providing library
services to a rural population. The result, still active: the Fraser
Valley Public Library.
In sports, Davey Black, the club pro at the Shaughnessy Golf Club,
teamed with Duncan Sutherland to beat world-famous Walter Hagen
and Horton Smith at the Point Grey Golf Club. On August 7th the
first annual B.C. High Schools Olympiad opened at Hastings Park.
This is the year the Tyee Ski Club was formed on Grouse Mountain,
making it one of the oldest ski clubs in Canada. By the mid-1930s,
the mountain had its first rope tow. Since then, organized skiing
and ski racing have flourished at Grouse. The Alpine Club of Canada
conducted a ski tour of Mount Seymour this year, and vigorous development
followed. Out on the water, the Lady Van, a racing yacht
affiliated with the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, won the 1929 Lipton
Cup, defeating a Seattle crew.
In business news, on March 12 the Vancouver Board of Trade chose
W.C. Woodward by acclamation as its president for the following
year. A couple of months later newspapers reported that the Board
of Trade was prominent among the bodies pushing for a Commerce faculty
at UBC. They got it.
A US-based chain of grocery stores, Safeway, arrived in Canada
this year, just three years after its 1926 birth. The major grocery
chain in Vancouver in 1929 was another US-based company, Piggly
Wiggly, which had 28 locations in the city. Safeway would eventually
take over the Piggly Wiggly chain.
Ben Wosk, future furniture merchant, born March 19, 1913 in Vradiavka,
Russia, arrived in Vancouver with his family in 1929. London, England-born
William George Murrin, who had joined the B.C. Electric Railway
in 1913 as mechanical superintendent, became president this year.
He would hold that office until 1946. James M. McGavin became president
of McGavin Bakeries, and he would hold that title until his retirement
in 1947. And it was reported in June that Jones Tent & Awning
had just started to manufacture, for the first time in Canada, Venetian
As an indication of the growing importance of visitor dollars
the Vancouver Publicity Bureau (precursor to Tourism Vancouver)
announced that “money expended to advertise the tourist attractions
of the city brought better returns than that expended on advertising
for new industries.”
The White Rock area of Surrey (then still a part of Surrey) experienced
a financial setback when the local lumber mill closed because of
a log shortage. And there was trouble on the water: in 1922 fishing
licences to “other than white, British subjects and Indians”
had been cut by up to 40 per cent. Local Japanese fishermen took
their case to court and won, but the provincial government enacted
legislation to allow the discrimination to continue. The case went
to the Privy Council in England this year. The fishermen won, but
only half of them were still around by the time the decision was
Located at 140th Street and 96th Avenue in Surrey, the 640 acres
of Green Timbers have become a memorial to what once was a larger
natural forest of giant evergreens soaring to 200 feet and more
in height. Writes Terri Clark of the Vancouver Parks Board in The
Greater Vancouver Book, “Green Timbers was, at the turn
of the century, the only remaining stretch of virgin forest between
San Diego and Vancouver. Tourists would come from all over to view
these cathedral-like groves in a 5,000-acre refuge. Despite proposals
to have the forest declared a park, Green Timbers was clear-cut
in 1929, the entire population of trees lost to feed a local sawmill.”
For business the year ended horribly. In late October the New
York Stock Exchange collapsed and launched a severe economic crisis
in the USA. Canada and the rest of the Western world would not be
immune. The Great Depression had begun. Volume on the Vancouver
Stock Exchange was 143 million shares this year, would drop to 10
million in 1930. But, again, except for people directly involved
in the market 1929 itself did not seem that ominous. For those who
were involved, it was a different story. Vancouver accountant Pat
Dunn recalls: “I got a position with the brokerage firm Branson,
Brown and Company on October 23, 1929, the day of the great financial
crash. Branson, Brown and Company was the largest brokerage firm
in town and was a correspondent for Logan and Bryon in New York.
It was the most traumatic day, because I saw the whole financial
world fall in. I can even today recall seeing men crying at the
door, saying: "I'm destitute. I can't go home and tell my wife
that all the money is gone.”
By December the extent of the debacle was beginning to be clearer.
The Vancouver Unemployed Workers’ Association had been formed,
and on December 17 unemployed men raided the city relief office.
There was much worse to come.
There was still some money in the civic kitty: on May 30 the city
bought Little Mountain—now Queen Elizabeth Park—from
the CPR for $115,270, and a couple of months later it was announced
that Vancouver’s brand-new chief constable, W.J. Bingham—he
had been a District Supervisor with London’s Metropolitan
Police—would be given a three-year contract and an increase
in pay to $6,000 a year. The Police Department had grown larger
with the absorption of the police forces of Point Grey and South
Vancouver. (One of Bingham’s chief concerns in the Vancouver
of 1929 was Chinatown gambling. He said, however, that gambling
was the “natural instinct” of the Chinese, and could
never be repressed.) Over in the Fire Department, a familiar face
was going: after an astonishing 42 years as chief of the department,
John Carlisle retired. He was succeeded as chief by C.W. Thompson.
Annie Jamieson was first elected to the Vancouver School Board this
year. She would be elected again and again, and serve to 1946. An
elementary school in Vancouver is named for her.
Two fires made more than average news in 1929: in July there was
a serious fire in Ladner’s Chinatown. The settlement stretched
along the river front and consisted of more than a dozen buildings.
Half were destroyed in the blaze, which was reported in the Ladner
Optimist newspaper: “Fanned by a tremendous wind, the
fire burned like lightning through the dry wood and the damage was
all done before firefighting equipment from Vancouver could reach
the scene. Calls for help came soon after the blaze was discovered.
Its origin is unknown.” And also in July the provincial exhibition
buildings in New Westminster—the fair was due to open in September—burned
down. They would use big tents instead.
The disappointment of the exhibition’s organizers at losing
the buildings was ameliorated somewhat by a special invited visitor:
Winston Churchill. On September 2 Winnie—described as “the
former chancellor of the exchequer and holder of a dozen other cabinet
positions in Great Britain”—arrived in New Westminster
to open the exhibition. Some 40,000 people turned out to see him.
The following day he travelled to Haney “for an inspection
of British Columbia’s lumber industry.” His host was
Nels Lougheed, provincial MLA and an executive of the Abernethy
Lougheed Logging company, who gave him a demonstration of B.C. logging
methods. He later gave a talk at the Vancouver Theatre on Granville
Street. Next on his agenda: a trip up Grouse Mountain where he dined
at the chalet. Churchill, who was on a tour of North America, was
accompanied by his son Randolph, his brother Jack and Jack’s
A lot of notable people left us in 1929: the most well-known was
architect Samuel Maclure. He died in Victoria,
aged 69. Maclure was born April 11, 1860 in New Westminster. The
son of a Royal Engineer, he was a brother of newspaper publisher
Sara Anne McLagan. He is considered the most gifted of early B.C.
architects. Maclure designed some 150 buildings either alone, with
his firm, or in partnership with others. He designed many Shaughnessy
Heights homes before the First World War. Janet Bingham and Leonard
K. Eaton have each written a book about him.
Also well-known was Henry Tracy Ceperley, realtor.
He died December 14 in Coronado Beach, Calif. at 79. He was born
in Oreonto, NY, arrived in Vancouver around 1885. Ceperley Rounsefell
& Co. (est. 1886), became one of B.C.'s largest real estate/insurance
firms. In 1887 the company was renamed Ross and Ceperley Real Estate,
Insurance and Financial Agents, with Ceperley in partnership with
Arthur Wellington Ross. It was Ceperley who encouraged the CPR's
William Van Horne to promote the idea of Stanley Park in Ottawa.
Ross and Ceperley controlled much of the land near the park, promoted
it heavily after it was converted from a military reserve. Ceperley’s
Deer Lake home is now the Burnaby Art Gallery.
Thomas Plimley, pioneer Vancouver auto dealer,
died in Victoria, aged about 58. He’d started a bicycle business
in Victoria in 1893, the year he arrived from England. He sold the
first car in Victoria, a tiller-steered Oldsmobile, in 1901. Plimley
Motors on Howe Street was one of B.C.'s largest dealerships. His
grandson Basil (born in 1924 in Victoria) was one of the few third-generation
executives of a B.C. business. The Plimley companies would close
in 1991, after 98 years.
Peter Righter, the man at the throttle when the
CPR’s first passenger train, #374, pulled into town in May
of 1887, died at 77. For several years after that adventure, Righter
served on the CPR line between Vancouver and Kamloops. In 1901,
at age 49, an injury forced him to retire. In 1918, at age 66, he
married. He was survived by his wife and a daughter.
Another man who died in February was Daniel Loftus Beckingsale,
Vancouver’s first port doctor. He died in London England,
at 82. Beckingsale was born November 18, 1846 on the Isle of Wight,
came to Vancouver in June 1886, became the first port doctor and
an early health officer. He was involved in the establishment of
the Vancouver Reading Room, predecessor of the public library.
Vancouver’s first solicitor also died in February. Alfred
St. George Hamersley, 80, died in Bournemouth, Eng. He
practiced law in New Zealand, arrived in Vancouver in 1888. He became
legal advisor to Vancouver City Corporation and the CPR. Hamersley
was active in local business and athletics, once sold some Mt. Pleasant
property—the southeast corner of Fraser Street and East 11th
Avenue—to fellow Freemason, writer Rudyard Kipling. He returned
to England in 1906.
Our first city treasurer, G.F. Baldwin, who had
also been a school trustee, died in June. He’s visible in
the famous City-Hall-in-a-tent photo, standing at the far right
in the back row.
A New Brunswick-born Point Grey pioneer, Francis Bowser,
died in Vancouver at age 71. He had served as a reeve of Point Grey
when it was a separate municipality.
Finally, pioneer John Hess Elliott died in February,
aged 65. He’s remarkable because when the First World War
began he enlisted with the 242nd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary
Force. At the astonishing age of 53 he chose to fight in the trenches
of Europe alongside men less than half his age. He was severely
wounded in battle and, shell-shocked, was unable to remember his
own name. Evacuated to a hospital in England, Elliott remained unidentified
until a fellow soldier recognized him and sent word home to his
wife and family that he was alive. He was brought back to Vancouver
on a stretcher, a decorated veteran.
On February 14, 1929 the St. Valentine’s Day massacre occurred
in Chicago, when Al Capone’s gang killed seven members of
“Bugs” Moran’s rival organization. See the 1967
chapter for a later and curious Vancouver connection.
On April 6 (coincidentally Vancouver’s own incorporation
date) the city of Hope was incorporated.
June 1, 1929 was the first day of Uncle Ben’s Sun Ray Club.
This was a “club” for kids whose parents read the Sun.
It would eventually have thousands of members. The author was one
On June 3rd the Peter Pan Restaurant opened at 1128 Granville.
Said the Sun: “Thousands Inspect New Cafe.”
A photo showed the staff lined up out front. This restaurant, soon
to become a city landmark, was started by Peter Pantages of Polar
Bear Swim fame.
John Napier Turner was born in Richmond, Surrey, England on June
7. He would become one of Canada’s shortest-serving prime
ministers: 80 days in 1984.
On October 18 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were,
after all, “persons.” A word of explanation: on April
24, 1928 the Supreme Court of Canada had ruled that women were not
“persons.” The judges expanded on the judgement, ruling
that “by the common law of England, women were under a legal
incapacity to hold public office.” That paternalistic ruling
was overturned, thanks in part to crusaders like Nellie McClung
and Emily Murphy.
On December 18 Burnaby's first street lighting was turned on,
illuminating Hastings Street from Boundary to Gilmore.
A striking Japanese-Canadian War Memorial, designed by James Benzie,
was installed at Stanley Park. It commemorates Japanese-Canadians
who fought in World War I.
UBC's Social Work program began, the third university social work
program established in Canada after Toronto's in 1914.
A kindergarten was renting Glen Brae, the Shaughnessy mansion,
for $75 a month.
Artist Mary Riter Hamilton, aged about 56, arrived in Vancouver
and would teach art here. She had been a battlefield artist during
the First World War. A web site about her tells us: “In 1919
she was commissioned by H. F. Paton’s Gold Stripe,
which was a tribute to those who were killed, maimed and wounded
in the Great War, to produce paintings of the French battlefields
for reproduction in the publication. She spent the years from 1919
until 1922 living in France alone in a tin hut amid Chinese workers
hired to clear the Western Front of the debris of war. The conditions
ran the gamut from uncomfortable to downright dangerous due to gangs
of ‘criminals’ roaming the region.”
Frances Street in Vancouver’s East End was named this year
after Sister Frances, a pioneer nurse at St. Luke's Home and St.
James Church on Cordova St.
Smoky Tom Island was purchased by George C. Reifel, and became
Built from 1889 to 1895, Christ Church, the oldest surviving church
in the City of Vancouver, became a cathedral this year. The cathedral
stands at the northeast corner of Georgia and Burrard.
The Womens' Auxiliary of the St. George Orthodox Hellenic Community
was founded, and a branch of the Slovenian Society was opened in
Vancouver. The Jewish Western Bulletin, a weekly newspaper
on the Jewish community in Vancouver, began publication. So did
the Swedish Press/Nya Svenska Pressen, a bilingual monthly
Mary Louise Bollert, UBC's dean of women, became president of
the Confederation of University Women.
The Essondale Hospital fire department bought a new ladder and
pumper truck in 1929. They would use it for 40 years!
United Church minister Andrew Roddan was appointed this year to
Vancouver's First United Church, “the church of the open door.”
Roddan was an early advocate of low rent and housing projects in
the East End, welfare services for the poor and a fresh air camp
on Gambier Island. He would become locally prominent, partly because
of his radio sermons.
1931 - Sample
One of three 11-foot-high terra cotta statues of nursing
sisters in First World War uniforms on the corner of the Georgia
The entrance to Happyland
[Photo: Vancouver Public Library 7925]
The Great Northern Station
[Photo: Vancouver Public Library 19760]
Mr. Good Evening
Taconite (Old Salt Charters)
Winston Churchill in London in April of 1929 heading for his
last speech as chancellor of the exchequer. Five months later he
will visit British Columbia.