A note to readers: This is a first draft of the 1931 chapter proposed for the book. It was completed July, 2008. By the time the book appears in 2010 it may be much altered.


1931 (Sample Chapter)

The city’s links to the outside world strengthened in 1931 with the opening of the Vancouver Airport and Seaplane Harbour July 22—a welcome bright spot during the Depression. Premier Tolmie officiated, and a crowd of 55,000 turned up for the four-day opening ceremonies. The complex covered 192 hectares (474 acres).

Aubrey Roberts, aviation editor for the Province, reported that “Vancouver this week celebrates an important and a memorable occasion—official opening of the $600,000 first unit of her airport, which, because of the city’s geographical position at the gateway to the Orient, is destined to play an increasingly effective role in international and interempire communication.” One of the features that most delights visiting airmen, Roberts wrote, “is the combination of facilities for land planes and sea aircraft—an asset which many other cities seek in vain.”

One story tells of how William Templeton, the airport’s first manager, saved thousands of dollars by laughingly declining the services of an American airport design firm and doing the job himself for about $14. One reminder of his 1931 work: Cowley Crescent, which circled the first terminal: Templeton laid a light bulb down on the plans and traced around it with a pencil. That’s why Cowley, still there today, looks the way it does. (Templeton had shown initiative before: with his brother and a cousin to help, he built and flew a home-made biplane at Minoru Park race-track on April 28, 1911, our first local plane.) His tireless promotion got the airport off to a strong start.

A present-day writer, Sean Rossiter, who writes frequently on aviation, says “Unofficial airport statistics for its first year show the overwhelming majority of passengers, 2,652, were there to embark on sightseeing flights. (Another 536 arrived there from other points on 309 incoming flights.)”

309 incoming flights. That's nearly one a day!

One of our favorite stories about the opening tells of a group of local dignitaries taken up for a celebratory flight over the area. One passenger, a prominent alderman, became violently airsick and threw up in the police chief’s hat.

In other aviation news this year, Elizabeth “Betsy” Flaherty, a buyer for Spencer's department store, got her flying licence. She was 53, making her the oldest female pilot in Canada.

Ground Level

Transportation was making news down on the ground, too: the Province headline for January 10 read: New Record for Number of Autos. “Motor tourist travel into British Columbia from United States,” the report read, “showed a big increase in 1930 over 1929, according to reports from the Greater Vancouver Publicity Bureau.” (The bureau was a forerunner of Tourism Vancouver.)

“Entering British Columbia through the ports of Pacific Highway, Douglas and Huntington,” the story continued, “came 128,856 cars, carrying a total of 417,581 passengers. This was an increase of more than 7,000 cars and more than 26,000 passengers over the previous year . . . It is estimated that the auto tourist makes an average stay here of three days. In more prosperous years it was figured each one spent $30 a day in the country. But even with the spending figure of the visitors decreased, British Columbia’s tourist trade in 1930 from the dollars-and-cents standpoint, was an important and flourishing one.”

January was also the month that work began by the CPR on a tunnel under downtown Vancouver to keep the railway’s trains off the city’s streets. The tunnel would open in 1933 (and is used today by SkyTrain).

More people, more cars

According to the census of 1931, the total population of Canada on June 1, 1931 was 10,376,786, of whom 5,374,541 were males.

The census showed that the population of Vancouver city was 246,593.









Fraser Mills


Langley Township


Maple Ridge


New Westminster


North Van City


North Van Dist


Pitt Meadows


Port Coquitlam


Port Moody








West Vancouver


A reminder that Belcarra, Langley City, Lions Bay and White Rock did not exist as separate entities in 1931.

Major Matthews and other historical matters

This was a major year in the history of the city’s history: James Skitt Matthews, 53, became Vancouver’s unofficial archivist. He would become the official one in 1933. His methods were chaotic, his research was occasionally shaky, and his temper was terrible, but Vancouver’s first city archivist amassed a body of work on the city’s past that is quite simply titanic. We owe him an incalculable debt. His second wife, Emily, helped him in his tireless efforts to collect city memorabilia and reminiscences. He will appear often in these pages, and is the focus of the 2008 book The Man Who Saved Vancouver, by Daphne Sleigh.

Margaret Ormsby, born in Quesnel in 1909, earned an MA in history at UBC this year. She will go on to become the doyenne of British Columbia history. She “legitimized the study of British Columbia history as a scholarly endeavor.” Her 1958 book British Columbia: a History is a standard work.

On January 10 Lt.-Gov. Robert Bruce officially opened the old Hastings Mill Store Museum at its location in Pioneer Park, north foot of Alma. The little building had been barged to the park in 1930. The store was one of the very few buildings in Vancouver to survive the Great Fire of 1886. Today it’s a museum on summer weekends, operated by the Native Daughters of British Columbia.

The book Spanish Explorers of the British Columbia Coast by Dr. W.N. Sage, head of history at UBC, appeared in 1931. An excerpt: “Vancouver . . . had come around the Cape of Good Hope and had crossed the International Date Line without taking off a day.” If this is correct, Vancouver’s date of June 21, 1792 for his meeting with the Spaniards, for example, was actually on June 22. And he would have entered Burrard Inlet on June 12th, not 13th.)


A lot of physical changes to the city happened this year, some of them still visible. One prominent and handsome 1931 addition to the city’s skyline was the Royal Bank Building at the northeast corner of Hastings and Granville. The first tenants moved in on May 1, the official opening was June 5. This was the bank’s main branch back them, and its vast main hall is still one of the great rooms in the city. There is a legend that, because of the restricted size of the lot, the bank put up a building that was one-half (the left half) of its main branch in Montreal.

The original building isn’t around anymore, but on October 5 the Vancouver Art Gallery opened at 1145 West Georgia, a few blocks west of its current location. Construction on the building, designed by Sharp & Thompson, had started in April.

In 1973 the gallery’s registrar, Wylie Thom, wrote an excellent brief history of its early years, accessible on the gallery’s web site. We learn from it that in 1926 “after years of striving toward the founding of an art gallery in Vancouver by the many art societies that had existed in the city since its incorporation that the Gallery's founders, a dedicated group of art enthusiasts headed by H. A. Stone, first offered to donate [money] towards the purchase of a collection for a civic art gallery if the city of Vancouver would build a suitable gallery to house it.

“Unfortunately for the founders there was little public support in the mid 1920s for the creation of a civic art gallery . . . and this first proposal was rejected by the city's taxpayers. [T]he founders persisted year after year in their efforts to convince this city that it should co-sponsor a Vancouver Art Gallery.” In January 1931 an amended proposal was finally approved. It called for the city to supply only the site on which the gallery would be built.

“The donations of the founders would pay for the building and furnishing of the Gallery in addition to providing funds for the purchase of objects . . . [T]he founders wisely chose to limit the area of concentration to an historical collection of British paintings from the 18th century on, and an historical collection of Canadian paintings. This decision was based on the realization that the purchase of ‘old masters’ was beyond the limited resources of a small gallery and the fact that in the early 1930s it was still possible to find paintings by minor masters of the English school which were within the Gallery's means. Canadian paintings were of course reasonably priced at that time.

Conservative tastes

“It is appropriate to remember,” Thom’s article continues, “that in common with the rest of Canada in 1931 tastes in Vancouver were essentially conservative. The Group of Seven were still considered rather far out by many of the city's art lovers. It must also be remembered that at this time a considerable proportion of the city's population still retained strong ties with Britain and there is much evidence to suggest that the taste of a surprising number of the city's older artistic cognoscenti had been moulded by the more conservative elements of the Royal Academy in the early years of the 20th century. With these facts in mind it is easier to understand some of the first accessions to the permanent collection.”

Sculptor Charles Marega was commissioned to create large busts of Michelangelo and DaVinci to flank the entrance, and a frieze of medallions showing famous artists. (When the gallery moved to its present location in 1983 and the old building was demolished, researcher Peggy Imredy discovered, the busts and medallions were discarded and sent to a garbage dump. Luckily word got out, and they were rescued. The busts now rest in a secure location with a private collector in the Fraser Valley. The medallions are in gallery storage.) Today, the VAG is the fifth largest gallery in Canada and holds the world's largest collection of works by Emily Carr.

A building that made the news in 1930 did it again this year. But this time, thanks to the Depression, the news was not good: just a year after it opened, the Marine Building was up for sale. Its owners were willing to sell it to the city for its new city hall for about the same as, and maybe even a little less than, it had cost them to build. But that deal fell through.

More building

On July 1 the cornerstone was laid for St. Andrews-Wesley United Church at 1012 Nelson at Burrard. Construction had started in 1927, just two years after the United Church of Canada had been created. It was the successor of two congregations, Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian and Wesley Methodist. The building would be finished in 1933.

A prosaic little building went up this year when the Vancouver Fire Department’s Fire Dispatch Office opened at West 20th Avenue and Cambie. It would serve in that capacity until the new Fire Dispatch Centre at #1 Fire Hall on Heatley Street opened in 1980. (On the subject of fire, the first annual convention of BC fire chiefs was held in the Hotel Vancouver on May 29 this year.) Another little building went up in 1931 when the UBC golf clubhouse opened at 2545 Blanca. Today, it has Canada's only provincial golf museum, housing classic clubs, old trophies and prints from early days of golf. And an even tinier structure went up this year when Mount Seymour's first ski mountaineering hut was built.

Not every building in the news this year went up: St. Andrews’ Church, at Richards and Georgia, built in 1889, was torn down. But then, St. Augustine's Church in Kitsilano was built.

And not everything that was built was a building: on August 15 we marked the official opening at Kitsilano Beach of the Kitsilano salt-water swimming pool, the largest of its kind in North America. Kits Pool was 200 by 60 metres [660 x 200 feet], cost $50,000 to build, and was greeted in perfect weather by a crowd of 5,000 who waited impatiently for the inevitable opening speeches before diving in. The original pool would be replaced in 1979 by a gigantic saltwater tank, 150 metres across and filled with heated water. Kits Beach is in an area originally known as Greer's Beach, named for the pioneer who unsuccessfully challenged the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) takeover of his homestead here in 1891. (See that year for more details.)

Harvey Hadden

A man whose name in Vancouver was associated with building for many years, Harvey Hadden, died in London, England February, 1931. He was 79. A wealthy Englishman (he was a Nottingham textile merchant, big in hosiery), born in Nottingham September 29, 1851, Hadden first visited Vancouver in 1891, became a major property owner here before 1913. He was said to have made more than $1 million on his real estate holdings. He owned the Birks site, then at the northeast corner of Hastings and Granville. He once bought 160 acres in Capilano Canyon, sight unseen, from architect S.M. Eveleigh. He built Hadden Hall there in 1903, “a sort of Garden of Eden in the forest,” with attractive gardens with piped-in water for fountains and pools. He sold the property in 1926; it is now Capilano Golf and Country Club. Hadden Park at Kitsilano Beach, popular today as an “off-leash” park for dog owners, is on land purchased by Hadden from the CPR (in either 1928 or 1929) and donated to the city. In his will, he bequeathed $500,000 to Vancouver parks. In 1957, parks at Georgia, Adanac, Woodland and McLean were purchased with his bequest. Hadden is well remembered in Nottingham. There is a stadium named for him there.


Homelessness was a problem all during the Depression. A web site called Squatting in Vancouver reports that in 1931 “about 1,000 homeless people occupied four east-end hobo jungles. One jungle bordered Prior Street, close to Campbell Avenue and the Canadian National Railway yards. Another existed under the Georgia Street Viaduct, a third was located on the harbour at the end of Dunlevy Avenue, and the fourth was situated at the Great Northern Railway sidings. Shacks were built from boxes, boards and old cars.”

There was homelessness in Stanley Park. A group of native “squatters” in the park, with one exception, lost their appeals against eviction. (The city had launched legal proceedings in 1921.) They were allowed to remain in their homes for a fee of a dollar-a-month until they were finally evicted this year. The Vancouver Fire Department burned down their homes. The Cummings family at Brockton Point had refused to take part in the legal proceedings, upset they had not been consulted when the land had been turned into a park. The Parks Board agreed to let the family stay for a $5-a-month fee. They lived there until their deaths. (Agnes Cummings would die in 1953 at age 69, and Tim Cummings died in 1958 at age 77.) The 2005 book, Stanley Park’s Secret, by Jean Barman, tells the story.

British Pacific Properties

Shacks were not in the future of the north shore of the inlet. In October West Vancouver agreed to sell 4,700 acres to a syndicate called British Pacific Properties for $75,000, just under $16 an acre. (The syndicate was financed with Guinness Brewing money.) There was one condition: $1 million was to be invested in developing the land, initially called Capilano Estates, into a residential area. In 1931 that was a lot of money, especially considering that the West Vancouver property had no access to downtown Vancouver. Development would be slow at first, and even the building, again with Guinness money, of the Lions Gate Bridge, which opened in late 1938, would not be a real spur to growth because of the Second World War. Not until the 1950s would British Properties really begin to take off.

Charlie Crane

Vancouver’s Charlie Crane is one of the more notable of the city’s people: he became the first blind person to attend a Canadian university when he was accepted this year at UBC. His achievement becomes doubly remarkable when you learn that he was also deaf. He willed his private collection of more than 10,000 volumes of Braille books to UBC. After his death in 1965, those books became the foundation of the university’s Charles Crane Memorial Library. His remarkable life is recalled in The Crane Story, by Laurie Bellefontaine.

Arts and Entertainment

On February 22 pianist/composer Sergei Rachmaninoff performed in Vancouver. His appearance brought out all the swells. The large audience included: Mrs. B.T. Rogers, Miss Margaret Rogers, Mrs. Jan Cherniavsky, Mr. and Mrs. J. Edge Malkin, Dr. and Mrs. W.L. Coulthard, the Misses Coulthard, Mr. and Mrs. J.V. Clyne . . .” etc., etc., and etc. (One of the “Misses Coulthard” would have been composer Jean, 23, who had begun writing music at age 9.)

The Orpheum Circuit management finally accepted the decline and fall of vaudeville and sold Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre outright to the burgeoning movie house chain Famous Players. Vaudeville could still be enjoyed for a few more years in Vancouver, mainly at the Beacon Theatre on Hastings, but its glory days were over.

Band leader Mart Kenney, who began his career in the late 1920s with the CJOR Radio Orchestra and with Len Chamberlain at the Hotel Vancouver, formed a group in 1931 called Mart Kenney and the Western Gentlemen for a one-off engagement at the Alexandra Ballroom in Vancouver. The rest is, as they say, history. He and his orchestra would stay for years. (“I was the Bryan Adams of 1944,” Kenney once said). In March, 2000 to mark his 90th birthday, Kenney would release a new CD of original music to mark his nearly 70 years in showbiz.

The Kitsilano Boys’ Band, founded in 1928 under the direction of Arthur Delamont, won first place at the Toronto Exposition.

Actor John Qualen, born December 8, 1899 in Vancouver, appeared in Street Scene, his first movie. He would go on to perform in more than 140 films. His father, pastor of First Scandinavian Church (Lutheran) on Prior Street from 1898-1900, was against his son’s acting career.

Colored comics in the Province in 1931 included Rock-Age Roy, Harold Teen, Smitty, Gasoline Alley, Little Orphan Annie and The Gumps.

This is the year Alfred Butts devised a word game he first called Lexico, but that we know today as Scrabble. The Vancouver connection? Thousands here play it!

She’s not local, but the death of Anna Pavlova made headlines here. The world-famed ballerina, who had so thrilled Vancouver audiences in 1910 and in two subsequent visits here, died in a bedroom of the Hôtel des Indes in The Hague in the early hours of January 23. She was nine days short of her 50th birthday. Pneumonia.

Sports and Recreation

Vancouver won rugby’s McKechnie Cup. The Ubyssey, the student newspaper at UBC, for February 18, 1931 had promised its readers a great game when the university’s club met Vancouver on the 21st at the Brockton Point oval. “Varsity is staging a plucky uphill fight for B.C.’s major English rugby cup, and deserves the undivided support of the student body . . .” Alas, for UBC it was not to be: town beat gown.

Canada’s first baseball game played under lights took place on July 3, 1931 at Athletic Park in Vancouver.

A man named George Burrows began to supervise Vancouver's beaches and pools. He would hold that job to 1971, a remarkable 40 years. A cairn donated by lifeguards and dedicated to Burrows is near the bathhouse at Kitsilano Beach.

Victoria-born William John “Torchy” Peden, 26, won Vancouver's first six-day bicycle race. A “flame-haired youth who led the pack like a torch,” he was famed during the Depression as “a six-day immortal” bicycle racer.

Winnipeg-born Jim Coleman, 20, who would become the doyen of Canadian sports writers, and spend his final years in Vancouver, got his first job this year with the Winnipeg Tribune.

Curling was introduced to the Forum in 1931. The arena's 10 sheets of curling ice made it the biggest curling rink in the world at the time. The dues at Vancouver Golf Club, which had been $6 a month, were reduced during the Depression to $1 a month and 20 cents each time you played. Caddies earned about 75 cents for four hours work. The entrance fee stayed at $100.

Percy Norman, 27—locally famous as a marathon swimmer—became the head coach of the Vancouver Amateur Swim Club at Crystal Pool. He would hold that title for 24 more years.

On August 28 Jack Dempsey, 36, came to Vancouver on one of his many comeback tours, and boxed three two-round exhibitions at the old Vancouver Arena, at Georgia and Denman. Some say Dempsey was the greatest heavyweight champion of all time. Twenty-six of his opponents were knocked unconscious during round one. He’d been champ from 1919 to 1926, losing the title to Gene Tunney. A rematch with Tunney on September 22, 1927 —the famous ‘long count’ fight — led to another loss and Dempsey’s “retirement.”

Andy Lytle of The Vancouver Sun wrote that “Dempsey stopped Frank Sawyer in less than a round, ruined Tiny La Marr in one, and just about wrote off Del Wolfe in two at the arena last night . . .” Wolfe, Lytle wrote, had been telling people “just how he was going to throw that right hand of his and knock Dempsey out when some son of a buck pinched the Wolfeian grip and went south with the big Bellinghammer’s shoes and trunks.” Translation: someone stole Wolfe’s gear, and he had to borrow someone else’s.

And a Sun writer named Kate Wiltshire, “tingling with curiosity,” interviewed Dempsey and liked him. She liked him a lot. You could practically hear the heavy breathing.

Political and related doings

Louis D. Taylor, mayor of Vancouver from 1910 to 1911, and in 1915, and then from 1925 to 1928, was elected yet again. This stretch, which lasted to 1934, would be his last.

C.E. Edgett became Vancouver’s police chief, succeeding W. J. Bingham. Edgett will serve to 1933. He’s the same man cited in the March 18 story below when he was warden of the B.C. Penitentiary. Incidentally, the Police Department got a new armored car this year, built in Vancouver.

Oscar Orr became city prosecutor for Vancouver.

The Earl of Bessborough became Governor General in 1931, succeeding Viscount Willingdon. Being GG seems to be an almost inevitable path to having your name put on the map. The Bessborough Armoury in Vancouver was named for the Earl, and his predecessor had a major street named for him in Burnaby.

On August 1 John William Fordham-Johnson, 64, was sworn in as BC’s Lieutenant-Governor, succeeding Robert Bruce. Fordham-Johnson was born in Spalding, England in 1866, came to Vancouver in 1898 to work in a bank here. In 1900 he went to work for the B.C. Sugar Co., and rose in the ranks to become president of the company in 1920. He would serve as Lt.-Gov. until 1936.

On August 2 there was what the Province called a “Communist demonstration” near the Cambie Street Grounds.

In October a plebiscite in North Vancouver City approved sale of beer by the glass.

In the November 8 Province, on Page 10, was a commentary on Adolf Hitler and his appeal to Germany’s disenchanted youth. World War Two was still eight years in the future.

The Statute of Westminster was passed December 11, granting legal and political independence to Commonwealth countries.

Citizenship was granted this year to Japanese in Canada. They could not yet, however—with a very few exceptions—vote. The exceptions were survivors of the Japanese-Canadian soldiers who had fought for Canada in WWI, but only 80 out of the more than 200 soldiers were still living.

Jessie Columbia Hall (née Greer) became president of the Burrard Women's Conservative Club. Her father was Sam Greer. See the Kits Beach item above.

Alexander Duncan McRae, Vancouver soldier and businessman, became a senator. McRae is the man who in 1909 had Hycroft, the Shaughnessy mansion, built for his family.

Health and hospitals

The City of Vancouver granted the Crippled Children's Hospital Society 3.4 acres of land between 59th and 60th Avenues and Manitoba and Columbia Streets.

The Rotary Club joined with IODE (Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, a service club) to begin the Vancouver Preventorium for kids exposed to TB. This was the forerunner of Sunny Hill Hospital.

From the Province for August 2, 1931, one of the more compelling leads to an article we’ve ever seen: “One person in every 300 in British Columbia is insane.”


Jimmy Cunningham, stonemason, was named master stonemason for the Vancouver Parks Board with a special task: to secure Stanley Park's shores. Jimmy was born in 1878 on the Isle of Bute, Scotland. He came here in 1910, served in WWI with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He worked extensively as a stonemason, with work at UBC, at Vancouver homes, pools at Lumberman's Arch, 2nd and Kitsilano beaches, the Empress Hotel and the Banff Springs Hotel. In 1917, he had begun work on the Stanley Park seawall.

Dan Sewell arrived in Horseshoe Bay and opened a marina. Very few families lived in Horseshoe Bay year round at the time.

The park surrounding the Peace Arch at Douglas on the B.C.-Washington border was enlarged to 40 acres, a project made possible with the help of school children from Washington and British Columbia who donated their pennies, nickels and dimes to the project.

This appeared in the Province’s joke column:
“Congratulations, my boy!”
“But you just said that I flunked out of medical school.”
“Ah, but think of the lives you have saved!”

On March 19 the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement began a Mission to Japanese residents of Steveston, and ran a nursery, a Sunday School, and English classes. (When the Steveston Japanese who were interned at Greenwood during the Second World War left, the Mission would go with them.)

On March 18 the Province ran an article that showed that life in the B.C. Pen was, gee, sort of swell. The headline: MEN REMADE IN B.C. PENITENTIARY. Writer Doris Milligan began her tour in Warden C. E. Edgett’s office: “Through opened windows (barred though they are) comes the cheerful sound of men at work.” It seems all the furniture in the office was made by the inmates. “This swivel chair included. And that hatrack with its brass finishing. Yes, and that bronze coal box, too. Splendid work, isn’t it?” Edgett tells Ms. Milligan that “there’s not a convict in the penitentiary but would leave there in an instant if given the opportunity. But he will tell you also that most of them become interested and even happy in their work . . . ” Hi ho, hi ho.

On May 24 West Vancouver celebrated its second May Day and crowned its first May Queen—a tradition that would continue until 1973. Thereafter the celebration— renamed Community Days, and without May Queens—would be held in June.

A July 12 advertisement announced that the Crescent Hotel in White Rock was selling fresh crab salad for 50 cents. On a larger scale, a brand-new Chrysler Straight Eight sedan was going for $1,950 f.o.b. Detroit.

In October, strikers at Fraser Mills, protesting repeated wage roll backs, were dispersed by mounted police charges.

On November 5, the first Annual Provincial Ploughing Match was held under the auspices of the Delta Farmers’ Institute at A.D. Paterson's farm near Ladner. There was a Horseshoe Pitching contest (Ladner vs Langley Prairie) for the David Spencer Shield. The Banquet and Entertainment cost $1.

In December Greater Vancouver residents formed the Common Good Cooperative Society to engage in a “war against poverty.” A self-help society, it operated a store, grew food on vacant land, and helped many through the worst of the Depression. The Credit Union movement in B.C. is an offshoot of the society.

Burnaby's first Year and Reference Book was published, and Burnaby was extolled in it as the “twentieth largest place in Canada.”

The Community Chest began in Vancouver, modeled after the Vancouver Jewish Community Chest.

The Ubyssey, the UBC student newspaper, was briefly shut down this year over a censorship issue, and printed a fake funeral notice. The memorial read: “Sacred to the memory of Free Speech.”

The British Columbia Catholic, a weekly, began publishing. So did the Langley Advance.

W.S. MacGregor was president of the Vancouver Real Estate Board, and Mayne D. Hamilton, a banker, became president of the Vancouver Board of Trade

Harold Merilees, “Vancouver's first great ad man,” moved from Spencer’s Department Store—where he had worked since 1925—to the B.C. Electric Railway Company, and eventually became the firm's manager of public information.

In Port Coquitlam a Mrs. Struthers donated a chair to serve as the May Queen’s throne. In the nearly 80 years since, the only change to the chair—used every year—has been the trim.


On February 19 Henry Ogle Bell-Irving died at age 75. He was the first of a battalion of Bell-Irvings who figure prominently in our history. H.O. was born January 26, 1856 in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, came to Canada at 27 as a surveying engineer for the CPR. He was briefly an architect in pre-fire Vancouver, then opened a general store in Gastown. By 1891 he was into the canning business, and that made his fortune: he became Canada’s largest exporter of canned salmon. We owe some of our knowledge of the early look of this area from his accomplished amateur watercolors. He left half of his own paintings to the provincial archives.

Koichiro Sanmiya, entrepreneur, died in Vancouver March 11 aged about 51. He was born c. 1880 in Sendai, Japan. Sanmiya arrived in Vancouver in 1907. He owned the Strand Hotel restaurant, and established K. Sanmiya Co., an importer/ exporter of Japanese goods, and Canada Daily Newspaper, a Japanese-language paper published until 1921. In the 1920s he started the Vancouver Malt and Sake Co., and was issued the only distiller's license in B.C. He sponsored the Asahi baseball team. Sanmiya was a founder and president of the Canadian Japanese Association (Nipponjin Kai, now the Japanese Canadian Association). He sold war bonds to finance the war memorial to Japanese-Canadian soldiers in Stanley Park.

In April Rachel Goldbloom, philanthropist, died in Vancouver aged about 66. She was born in New York c. 1865. In the mid-1900s she and her husband William moved to Vancouver, and their home at 540 Burrard became the centre of Jewish community life, with almost every Jewish organization of that time said to have started there. The Hadassah's second Vancouver chapter was named for her during her lifetime. She was described as a “one-woman philanthropic organization.” See the book Pioneers, Pedlars, and Prayer Shawls by Cyril E. Leonoff.

On May 16 Alexander Mitchell, the first farmer in Greater Vancouver, died on Mitchell Island, aged 84. He was born May 8, 1847 in Masham County, Que. Mitchell arrived in B.C. in April 1877; his wife and two small children arrived shortly after. He settled in Moodyville, later took out squatter’s rights as a pioneer resident of Richmond's small Mitchell Island, named for him. He was active in municipal politics, and represented South Vancouver’s Ward 3 as councillor. He was secretary of the school board and later a councillor for Richmond's Ward 5. He promoted the Fraser Street bridge. His first two wives died, but his third wife survived him.

William John Brewer, the first reeve of South Vancouver, died in Vancouver June 24, aged about 90. He was born c. 1841 in Truro, Cornwall, Eng. Brewer arrived in the Vancouver area in 1870 after living in Australia. In 1884 he purchased 10.5 hectares in the Cedar Cottage district. He moved to the South Vancouver area after the great fire of 1886 destroyed his Granville Street business. He was elected a Ward 4 alderman in 1889, and elected the first reeve of the new municipality of South Vancouver on April 30, 1892. (South Vancouver would amalgamate with Vancouver in 1929.)

On June 25 Dugald Campbell Patterson, Burnaby pioneer, died in Vancouver, aged 71. He was born January 2, 1860 in the village of Partick, Scotland, now a suburb of Glasgow. In 1884, aged 24, he came to Canada. By 1894 he had settled in the newly formed municipality of Burnaby where he built a pioneer homestead and farm on what is now the northeast section of Central Park. Patterson was a civil engineer and worked for Armstrong, Morrison & Balfour. In 1903 he established Vulcan Iron Works of New Westminster. He co-founded Burnaby's Central Park, was the first postmaster of Edmonds in 1909, was elected a school trustee in 1912 and developed a plan to preserve ravines for parks. Patterson Avenue and Patterson Skytrain station in Burnaby are named for him. In 1891 he married Frances Mabel Webb of Victoria. They raised seven children. Patterson House, once the family home (which they built themselves), is designated a heritage building in Burnaby. We’re indebted to Raymond Reitsma for this information.

Sanford Johnston Crowe, contractor, died August 23 in Vancouver aged 63. He was born February 14, 1868 in Truro, NS, moved to Vancouver in 1888. He became a contractor (Crowe and Wilson, 1890). Crowe retired in 1909, was elected alderman (1909-15). He was Vice president of the Vancouver Exhibition Association. Crowe was elected Vancouver’s second Member of Parliament in 1917, joining Vancouver's sole MP, H.H. Stevens. He was appointed to the Senate in 1921. Block-long Crowe Street, running off West 1st Avenue a couple of blocks east of Cambie, is named for him.

On November 22 Hugh Boyd, Richmond's first reeve (mayor), died in Bangor, Ireland, aged about 89. He was born in 1842 in County Down, Ire., came to B.C. in 1862, lured by the Cariboo Gold Rush. He failed to find gold. With Alexander Kilgour, Boyd bought Section 19 on Sea Island on March 7, 1865. He was elected Richmond reeve in 1880, served to 1886. He left for Ireland in 1887 to live near Belfast. His farm was purchased by the Mackie brothers in 1890. Boyd crisscrossed the Pacific Ocean 12 times after his retirement. Richmond was named in honor of the Yorkshire birthplace of his wife Mary, nee McColl.

The Chrysler Straight 8
The 1931 Chrysler Straight 8


1942 - Sample Chapter »




Vancouver Airport and Seaplane Harbour
Vancouver Airport and Seaplane Harbour

























Pacific Highway border crossing in the 1920s
Pacific Highway border crossing in the 1920s



























Major J. S. Matthews







































































































































Charlie Crane and his teacher Miss Conrod
Charlie Crane and his teacher Miss Conrod

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff

Mario Bernardi (Victoria Symphony Orchestra)
The New Orpheum, built in 1927,
became a movie theatre this year


















































Multi-mayor L.D. Taylor





John William Fordham-Johnson became Lieutenant Governor in 1931.
John William Fordham-Johnson became Lieutenant Governor in 1931























































































































Dugald Campbell Patterson
Dugald Campbell Patterson