A note to readers: This is a first draft of the 1957 chapter proposed for the book. It was completed June, 2008. By the time the book appears in 2010 it may be much altered.


1957 (Sample Chapter)


White Rock [Photo: White Rock and South Surrey Chamber of Commerce]

Traffic patterns in Vancouver changed dramatically in 1957. On July 1 the four-lane Oak Street Bridge, on Route 99, opened. Some 1,839 metres long, it became a vital link to Vancouver for Richmond, and vice versa. Says Richmond's civic web site: “With airplanes beginning to replace trains and ships as the preferred mode of travel, the Vancouver Airport on Sea Island increased in importance.” The new bridge would speed traffic to and from the airport.

And it provided an early instance of recycling: steel plate girders salvaged from the recently dismantled second Granville Street Bridge were used to make barges in the construction of the new bridge's foundations.

After the bridge opened, traffic migrated several blocks to the east, and the business districts along Hudson Street and Marine Drive began a slow decline. The new span replaced the old Marpole swing bridge over the North Arm of the Fraser. The Marpole Bridge, with its tendency to open for boats at inconvenient times (7,015 times in 1954!), was familiar to users of Vancouver AMF (Air Mail Field) on Sea Island, now the airfreight and seaplane terminal. The Marpole span was dismantled this same year.

1957 was an active year for bridges: on January 21 a contract was let for construction of a new one across the Second Narrows.

There was activity at the airport itself: more land was acquired to the north for further expansion, and a new West Terminal with a new control tower was opened November 4 to handle increasing passenger and cargo traffic.

White Rock

The Metropolitan Vancouver map changed in 1957. In April a 14-square-kilometre chunk of South Surrey seceded and became the city of White Rock. A local web site says that dissatisfaction with how the growing community was governed by Surrey had been aggravated in 1947 when Surrey increased its areas of political representation from five wards to seven-with White Rock becoming Ward 7. There was dissatisfaction with what was seen as favoritism to North Surrey. “Secession from Surrey was already a political issue at this point,” says the site, “but a plebiscite included on the ballot in the 1948 election failed to gain a majority. Movers and shakers in the community never let go of the idea, however, and seizing opportunity to gain formal blessing from Victoria, they were able to orchestrate incorporation of White Rock as a city April 15, 1957.”

Thanks to its scenic place on the waters of Semiahmoo Bay and its eight-kilometre-long beach, Ward 7-already known as White Rock-had become a very popular place to live, especially for retirees. The boundaries of the ward became the boundaries of the new city. The first mayor was Ontario-born William Tickner Hodgson.

White Rock was named for a large (486 tons) granite rock on the beach, a relic of the Ice Age. Sandra McKenzie, in The Greater Vancouver Book, wrote: “According to romantic legend, the boulder was tossed onto the beach by the son of a Salish sea-god who fell in love with a Cowichan princess. When both mortal and immortal parents objected to their union, the angry scion threw the boulder across the waves, then, with his bride in his arms, followed it to the shores of Semiahmoo Bay, where they subsequently made their home. Actually, the last ice age deposited the great granite landmark, which owes its distinctive coloration to layers of sun-bleached guano and several coats of white paint-at least four a year, with regular touch-ups after grad parties.”

Bookish pursuits

A new main branch of the Vancouver Public Library opened November 1, 1957 at Burrard and Robson. The location was criticized by some at the time because “there isn't enough foot traffic.” The sleek, modernist structure was Vancouver's first glass curtain building, designed by architects H.N. Semmens and D.C. Simpson. In 1958 it would be awarded the Massey Medal, Canada's highest architectural honor.

Concerns about the level of foot traffic were eased quickly.

The move to the new building had been a long time coming. Away back on December 12, 1945 the city's electors had passed the first money by-law for library buildings in the history of the province. Says the library's web site: “A majority of 83 per cent voted to provide a new central library and three branches. The location for a central library still had to be chosen.”

Debate about that location went on for more than five years. Then, in July of 1951 the northeast corner of Robson and Burrard was selected, and the City bought the property. Not everyone was happy with the choice. “As late as 1954,” the site continues, “backers of the other sites were pressing the Library Board and City Council to reverse their decision."”They didn't, and Harry Boyce, Chairman of the Library Board, turned the first sod for the new building on April 18, 1956.

Tragically, the city's chief librarian since 1924, Edgar Stewart Robinson, who had campaigned for the new library for many years, died October 24, 1957, a week before it opened.

Almost from the beginning the building was too small. “There was never any serious question that a new central library was in order for Canada's most literate city,” Sandra McKenzie wrote in The Greater Vancouver Book. “The old facility was designed to accommodate 750,000 volumes, with seating for 300 patrons. In the intervening years the VPL's collection, which numbers more than 1.4 million items, and public demand for the library's services, swelled well past this capacity. Despite seconding the auditorium, several meeting rooms and much of the seating space to shelf space, nearly a third of the collection was stored in the basement, while more than 5,000 patrons a day scrambled for scarce chairs.” Despite those problems, the Burrard Street library would be in use for 39 years, until April 22, 1995, when it would close in preparation for the move to the current location.

Meantime, the Vancouver Museum-itself hungry for more space-moved into the old, and now vacant, Carnegie Library building at Main and Hastings.

Book lovers have a double reason to recall 1957 fondly. It was in that year that Weston, Ontario-born Bill Duthie opened the first Duthie Books in Vancouver. Duthie, as Alan Twigg has written, had joined the book trade in 1947 as a sales rep for Macmillan of Canada in rural Ontario and Quebec. “He became the first full-time western book rep,” writes Twigg, “when in 1953 he offered his services first to Macmillan and then to McLelland and Stewart as well. Once in Vancouver, according to his wife Macie, he decided he wanted to sell books to people who wanted them, rather than to reluctant stores. He opened the first Duthie Books on Robson Street at Hornby in August of 1957, taking care to locate his store near the Vancouver Public Library.” Duthie's speedily became the most well-known bookstore in western Canada. An innovator, Duthie turned the basement of the store into the Paperback Cellar. The Cellar, with people like Binky Marks, Dave Kerfoot, Bill's daughter Celia and others was, quite simply, paradise for readers. They knew and loved books themselves, and that made shopping there a fine experience.


One of the great stories in B.C.'s history began January 24, 1957 when 214 Hungarian refugees (200 students and 14 faculty members) arrived at the Matsqui train station. They were from the Forestry School in Sopron, Hungary. Two months earlier Sopron, and other Hungarian cities, had been invaded by Soviet troops. “Attempts to resist the approaching Soviet tanks,” Professor Antal Kozak wrote, “were futile. About 450 students and 50 professors and their families left Sopron fleeing across the open borders to Austria. Of these, about 250 were from the forestry school. This was not a planned departure . . . The Faculty of Forestry at UBC offered to 'adopt' the Sopron University of Forestry and guaranteed its maintenance for five years until the current students graduated.”

By May 1961 the last Sopron class would graduate. (They had started their classes in Hungarian, gradually upped the English content as they progressed.) Most of the 140 graduates decided to stay and work in Canada.

The Sopron faculty and students were not, of course, the only Hungarian refugees here. At one point there were 1,500 housed at a camp at the Abbotsford airport. One well-known Hungarian who arrived in Vancouver in 1957 was sculptor Elek Imredy, born April 13, 1912 in Budapest. His sculptures have been exhibited in Canada, the US and Europe, including a life-size statue of prime minister Louis St. Laurent at Ottawa's Supreme Court. Imredy's most famous work is Girl in Wetsuit in Stanley Park, commissioned in 1972 by Vancouver lawyer Douglas McK. Brown. Imredy created the impressive bust of archivist J.S. Matthews at the City of Vancouver Archives, and a sculpture of Judge Matthew Begbie (Begbie Square) and Lady of Justice at the Vancouver Law Courts. See The Sculpture of Elek Imredy by Terry Noble.


A trend that was already common in the U.S., in which for economic reasons competing newspapers agreed to share their physical assets (buildings, presses, etc.), came to Vancouver on May 24 this year. The formal agreement to create a company called Pacific Press was signed. Pacific Press would own the physical assets of the Vancouver Sun and the Province. The papers would continue with independent editorial content.

Another change in the local newspaper world was the death of the Herald. It had been the News-Herald, founded in 1933 by-as writer Marc Edge put it—“journalists from several failed dailies.” (See that year for more.) The paper, Edge told the Western Journalism Historians Conference at the University of California in Berkeley, “had struggled financially since its inception and was bought by the Sun in 1951 for its newsprint quota and sold off to the Thomson chain the next year. Its circulation dwindled throughout the decade to slightly more than 30,000 when it published for the last time June 15, 1957.”

Two days after the Herald's demise the Province became a morning newspaper. (Incidentally, it began running the comic strip Blondie on the same day, still runs it more than 50 years later.)

On August 17 The Vancouver Sun reported that American tourists were griping about the money exchange rate: they lost 5 1/2 cents every time they cashed in a dollar!

J.V. Clyne, 55, a judge on the BC Supreme Court, was named a director of MacMillan Bloedel, the province's largest forest products company. (Clyne would later become its chairman and CEO until his retirement in 1973.)

A new source of energy came to (and through) the city this year. In her invaluable book, The West Beyond the West, Dr. Jean Barman, the doyenne of BC history, writes: “Geologists in British Columbia long believed that the northeast, geographically an extension of Alberta where major oil and natural gas finds had occurred after the war, also contained these valuable resources. Commercial quantities of natural gas were found near the border at Pouce Coupe in 1948 and the first productive wells sunk three years later. Demand for cheap energy in the rapidly industrializing cities of the American Pacific coast led to the construction, later in the decade, of a natural gas pipeline from the northeast to the coast to complement the earlier oil pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver. The main gas pipeline was completed in 1957 . . .” That 680-mile pipeline was constructed, at a cost of $170 million, by Westcoast Transmission, a company started in 1949 by the legendary Frank McMahon. McMahon had been obsessed for years by the prospect of getting natural gas to this area: he was drilling for it in the Fraser River delta in 1930! On October 8, 1957 McMahon joined with BC premier W.A.C. Bennett and others in the Hotel Vancouver for a celebration of the completion of the line.

The Union Steamship Co. closed its hotel, the Bowen Inn, on Bowen Island this year. Some called it the end of an era.

The 19-storey Burrard Building, still towering over the southwest corner of West Georgia and Burrard at 78 metres, was completed this year. It was the city's second modern skyscraper after the BC Electric Building, three blocks to the south. The architect was C.B.K. Van Norman. Ontario-born Charles Burwell Kerrins Van Norman had been in Vancouver since 1928, had designed a great many buildings here, including mansions for General A.D. McRae, H.R. MacMillan and F. Ronald Graham. Besides the Burrard Building, he designed Customs House, the Maritime Museum and Eagle Crest Lodge at Qualicum Beach. (In 1952, Van Norman designed an ultra-modern 10-storey library building which, needless to say, was never built.)

There was a change in management at Plimley Motors this year. Basil Plimley, 33, took over the company started in Victoria by his grandfather Thomas. (Thomas Plimley sold the first car in Victoria, a 1901 tiller-steered Oldsmobile.) Plimley Motors had been in Vancouver since 1936, when Horace, Thomas' son, opened a British car dealership here. Basil would run the company, one of BC's largest dealerships, until 1986, one of a very few third-generation executives of a B.C. business. The Plimley companies would close in 1991, after 98 years.

The Vancouver Tourist Association changed its name back to the Greater Vancouver Tourist Association.

This is not local, but it's enlightening: in 1957 in King County in Washington State, nearly HALF of all workers in the county were employed in aerospace manufacturing related to the Boeing company!

Broadcast media . . . and Elvis

On August 15 CKWX became BC's first 50,000-watt radio station as it moved its frequency from 980 on the dial to 1130. For a period of time the message, “This is not CKWX. It used to be,” could be heard on the old frequency, advising listeners to change the dial. (980 would be taken by CKNW.)

In April, 1957 CJOR-farther left on the dial at 600-staged a competition to find a local Elvis. “The winner,” Jeff Bateman wrote in The Greater Vancouver Book, “by audience knock-out: Jimmy Morrison. Later that year, Morrison and The Stripes (who originally featured Ian Tyson of Ian & Sylvia fame) recorded Singin' The Blues backed with Your Cheatin' Heart, a 45 that's regarded as the city's first rock'n'roll recording. Other rockabilly contenders included Les Vogt, whose band The Prowlers was named after Jack Cullen's CKNW radio show The Owl Prowl, and Stan Cayer.”

Speaking of rock 'n roll, on August 31st Elvis-the real one-came to Vancouver. He packed a noisy Empire Stadium, but things didn't go smoothly. Elvis performed one song, but left the stage when fans begin to battle with police. Some minutes later, when things had cooled down a bit, he returned to sing four more songs, none of which could be heard over the screaming. The next day, back in the States, Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, gleefully read aloud to the media a local newspaper account of the riot. Red Robinson, who MCed that concert, commented that, as a result of Elvis' appearance, “Vancouver was firmly established as a major destination for every Rock 'N Roll act that followed.”

Robinson, by the way, moved from CJOR to CKWX this year.

In television, locals were pleased when a new TV series, Perry Mason, began September 21. The show starred Raymond Burr as Mason, and everyone knew that Burr had been born in New Westminster. The new series began on CBS-TV with The Case of the Moth-eaten Mink. The show would prove immensely popular, run for nine years. It is still occasionally seen in reruns, more than 40 years after ending. There's another Vancouver connection with Perry Mason. Sacramento-born Ray Collins, who played Lt. Tragg on the show, had established his own theatrical stock company in Vancouver in 1902-at age 14! That eventually led to vaudeville and later to the Broadway stage.

Civic matters

On August 26, 1957 the one-way street came to downtown Vancouver. “Police and city traffic department officials worked feverishly to instal signs, paint traffic lines and tear down the temporary sign covers.” No accidents were reported. The Province predicted a great test of the system “when one of the greatest crowds in city history-100,000-pack Exhibition Park tonight and then heads home on unfamiliar one-way streets. B.C. Lions expect 25,000 for the game with Calgary Stampeders at Empire Stadium. An estimated 50,000 will attend the PNE and another 10,000 will watch racing . . .” No special problems ensued.

On May 22, 2005 some of those downtown one-way streets would revert to two-way.

The Community Information Service realized their comprehensive card catalogue of community services in the Lower Mainland would be useful to many other agencies and services, so began publishing the Directory of Services for Greater Vancouver. Its color led to its being called The Red Book. Today, this famous publication is also on line.

The Vancouver Police Department dog squad began this year with four dogs. Today, all training for the squad is carried out in the city and by their own experts. The team's expertise has been recognized by other police forces in B.C. and the western U.S., which send their dogs and handlers to Vancouver for training.

Four parks in Vancouver were purchased this year through a bequest in the will of Harvey Hadden, who had died in England in 1931. The parks were on Georgia, Adanac, Woodland and McLean.

Burnaby's Historical Society was formed and became the driving force behind the creation of Burnaby's Archives, Museum and Heritage Advisory Committee.

Numbered streets came to Surrey, consecutively upward from the 49th parallel. There is a “0” (Zero) Avenue in Surrey, right on the US border. Step off into the bush on the south side of O Avenue and you're in Washington State. Lost in the conversion were many Surrey street names of historical interest . . . but it now became a lot easier for people to find their way around this big city: 317.40 square km (122.5 square miles), the largest city in BC's lower mainland, with the second largest population (395,000 in 2006).


A federal election on June 10 saw the Liberals under Louis St. Laurent defeated, and the Progressive Conservatives under newcomer John Diefenbaker elected. It was a cliffhanger, with the result not known for some hours. The final result: PC 112, Liberal 105, CCF 25, Social Credit 19, and four independents. It was Canada's first postwar minority government.

One of the successful PC candidates was Victoria-born lawyer Douglas Jung, 33, elected for Vancouver Centre, who would become Canada's first Member of Parliament of Chinese descent. That word “first” pops up often where Jung is concerned: he had made history in 1955, for example, by becoming the first Chinese-Canadian lawyer ever to appear before the B.C. Court of Appeal. But he would be in the news before that: in 1944, during the Second World War, Jung and other Chinese-Canadian soldiers were sent to Malaya to train local guerillas to resist the Japanese Imperial Army occupying Malaya and Singapore. It was called “Operation Oblivion” because those assigned were not expected to return. They not only returned, but Jung won the Burma Star.

On January 26, 1924 the Red Ensign-bearing the shield of the Royal Arms of Canada-had become Canada's official flag. Its design changed slightly this year when the federal government, under brand-new Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, changed the color of the three maple leaves on the flag from green to red.

Sports and recreation

Vancouver golfer Stan Leonard, who had joined the PGA tour two years earlier, won his first major tournament on that tour: the Greater Greensboro. Later in 1957 he would win the Tournament of Champions.

The Quilchena Golf Course was opened to provide a place for Jewish golfers to play. They had been denied entry to other clubs.

John Prentice, head of the huge forestry firm Canadian Forest Products, and president of the Chess Federation of Canada since 1955, first represented Canada at the world chess federation (FIDE). He would continue to do so for 30 years!

In print

The BCLA Reporter began publishing this year. It was for member libraries of the British Columbia Library Association, and reported on activities of the BCLA, policy and news pertaining to libraries in the province. It included features on information retrieval and technology, library architecture, literacy, management and finance.

The British Columbia Thoroughbred began publishing. It appeared seven times a year, was published by the British Columbia Thoroughbred Breeders Society.

The Coupler first appeared. It was a bi-monthly company newsletter for staff of BC Rail Ltd.

And Paragraphic began publishing. It was a quarterly for members of the Canadian Paraplegic Association, British Columbia Division.


On June 17 the Province reported that a team of UBC students led by Dr. Charles Borden had unearthed “the most remarkable archaeological discovery of all time in BC.” It was a 2,000-year-old skeleton of a large male native. The skeleton was wearing a handbeaten copper breast plate, and had been buried with a hawk and a weasel in a midden at Beach Grove, near Tsawwassen. “'What makes it significant is the copper breast plate,' Dr. Borden explained. 'It is our first discovery of copper artifacts in systematic digging. Copper has been found here before, but we have never known where it was found. This also indicates his wealth.” He added that he did not yet know what tribe or race buried the man. He was found alone about 25 feet from the others, another indication of his importance in rank.


On February 1, 1957 the Province published on Page 25 a photograph taken by Villy Svarre of the Supreme Court of B.C. The court was welcoming Hugh Alan Maclean, QC, to the bench. Others shown were: Justices J.L. Ruttan, Harry Sullivan, Harold McInnes, Norman Whittaker, A.M. Manson, Chief Justice Sherwood Lett, J.O. Wilson, J.V. Clyne, Arthur Lord and Thomas W. Brown.

On February 23 Premier W.A.C. Bennett opened a new school for the blind at Jericho (it was an extension of the existing school).

On May 3 the first person to be flown to the heliport atop the (still under construction) new main post office on Georgia Street in Vancouver was James Sinclair, the fisheries minister. He was met by Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent. Alas, the heliport was later closed: the aircraft were deemed too heavy for safety on the roof.

The Albion Ferry began service June 7.

On September 21 Leon Koerner began the Thea and Leon Koerner Foundation. To quote from the Foundation's web site: “The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation provides grants to stimulate and invigorate the cultural and educational communities in British Columbia by enabling institutions, organizations or individuals to undertake programs and/or projects which would not be possible without special assistance. To this end, the Foundation receives and considers grant applications in these four areas: Cultural and Creative Arts; Social Services; Higher Education; Grants in Aid..” There is an excellent article on Leon Koerner and the Koerner family by Rosemary Cunningham in British Columbia History, Vol. 40 No. 1, 2007.

On October 4 the Soviet Union put Sputnik into space and launched the space race.

E.M. Searles, 35, became the first black man called to the B.C. bar. The initials stood for Edsworth McAuley. He was Canadian-born, of British West Indian parents. The undated Sun clipping says his plans are still indefinite. “First on the list is a visit home to Toronto and the wife and three daughters he hasn't seen for a year while he's been studying.” The Law Society tells us Searles moved to Toronto in 1959, and they lost contact. The Sun story lists other lawyers called to the bar at the same time, and two names stand out from the list: Stanley Ronald Basford and Francis Low-Beer. Ron Basford and Frank Low-Beer are well known names in local history. Legal historians would doubtless recognize other names on the list.

Earlier in 1957 Anglican priest Stanley Higgs had told the newspapers that general manager Cedric Tallis of the Vancouver Mounties baseball club would be in contempt of law if he pursued Sunday ball games. Sure enough, the Mounties were found guilty on October 11 and fined for playing baseball on Sunday.

On October 14 Canada's Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The northern end of Highway 99 was moved from downtown Vancouver across the Lions Gate Bridge and, via Marine Drive in West Vancouver, on to Horseshoe Bay. The north shore portion would be called the Upper Levels Highway.

A Mosquito Control Board was formed in Surrey. “The mosquitoes are still fighting back,” says an official.

Westminster Abbey and Seminary was opened at Mission by the Benedictine Order. They had occupied Fairacres in Burnaby, now home to the Burnaby Art Gallery.

Restoration of Fort Langley began as part of the celebration of British Columbia's centennial to be held in 1958.

Killarney High School opened. One famous 1970s alumnus is Canadian comic Colin Mochrie, often seen on television.

Construction started on a new 123-bed Centennial Wing at Burnaby Hospital.

Turner Boatworks, which had started on Coal Harbour about 1897, closed.

The Sandheads #16 lightship at the mouth of the Fraser, there since 1913, ended its service. This two-masted schooner had started life in New York in 1880 as the Thomas F. Bayard, a Delaware Bay pilot ship. (Thomas Bayard was a Delaware senator.) She had an interesting career, which can be read on line. The Bayard would be purchased in 1978 by the Vancouver Maritime Museum, which began restoring her to her condition as a West Coast sealer.

BC artist B.C. Binning's external mosaic decoration was installed on the B.C. Electric Building at Nelson and Burrard. Today that building is called the Electra, and houses condominiums. Binning's delightful work remains. And, speaking of the BC Electric, Dal Grauer, its president, became UBC chancellor this year, and lawyer Leon Ladner was elected to UBC's Board of Governors. He would serve to 1966.

Orville Fisher's mural, featuring the figure of Mercury, god of messages and glad tidings, was completed in the interior of the main post office, by the Homer Street entrance.

Writer and commentator Ben Swankey, born in Steinbach, Manitoba in 1913, moved to Vancouver. “As owner and director of Heritage Biographies,” writes Alan Twigg, “Swankey has devoted much of his life to history and economic analysis from a left-wing perspective. Man Along The Shore is a Vancouver waterfront history. The Fraser Institute evaluates the right-wing think-tank.”


Many local notables died in 1957.

On February 16, Samuel Patrick Cromie, newspaper publisher, died by drowning in a boating accident at Halfmoon Bay, north of Vancouver, aged 39. He was born January 25, 1918 in Vancouver, the third son of Robert James Cromie. “He worked his way up from circulation department and pressman,” writes Constance Brissenden. “He joined the RCAF in February 1942. After the war, he returned to the Vancouver Sun as mechanical superintendent (Nov. 1, 1945) and was soon made vice president. In 1946, at 28, he was elected alderman (Non-Partisan Association), the youngest in the city's history to that time, and the youngest acting mayor in Vancouver history. In 1955 he became vice president/assistant publisher of Sun Publishing. He was described as 'one of Canada's best-known newspaper men.'”

Eight days later William Culham Woodward, retailer and lieutenant-governor, died in Hawaii, aged 71. He was born April 24, 1885 in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island, Ont. He came to Vancouver with his father Charles Woodward and, at 16, worked as a $15/month Royal Bank clerk. In 1908 he joined Woodward's as bookkeeper. In the First World War he served with the First Canadian Heavy Artillery, then with Occupation forces (1916-18). He was Honorary Colonel of the 15th Field Regiment (RCA), 1932. During the Second World War, he served without pay as executive assistant to munitions and supply minister C.D. Howe. He was BC's lieutenant-governor from 1941 to 1946. William ran Woodward Stores with his brother Percival Archibald Woodward to 1956 when his son Charles “Chunky“ Woodward became president. In 1956 he was named Colonel at Large of the Militia, a rank created for him by defense minister Ralph Campney.

On February 26 G.F. Strong, heart specialist, died in Montreal while en route to a meeting of the National Heart Foundation. It was four days after his 60th birthday. George Frederic Strong was born February 22, 1897 in St. Paul, Minnesota, was a graduate (MD) of the University of Minnesota. He interned at Vancouver General Hospital (1922-23), then served on its staff for the next 34 years. He was chair of the VGH medical board; a founder of the BC Cancer Foundation, the Western Society for Rehabilitation, BC Medical Research Institute, Vancouver Community Chest, and the Family Welfare Bureau. In 1955 he was named president of the American College of Physicians and Surgeons. G.F. Strong Centre in Vancouver is named for him.

John Hart, former BC premier and a financier, died April 7 in Victoria. He was born March 31, 1879 in Mohill, Ireland. He founded Gillespie, Hart and Co. in 1909. He was elected (Liberal) MLA for Victoria in 1916, and won every election he was in thereafter. Hart served as BC's finance minister from 1917 to 1949, except for business reasons in the years 1924 and 1933. In December 1941 he was elected the Liberal premier of a coalition government, a position he held until he retired in 1947. He established the B.C. Power Commission and began building highways, including the Hart Highway from Prince George to Dawson Creek.

Percy Norman, swimmer and swimming coach, died May 26 in Vancouver, aged 53. He was born March 14, 1904 in New Westminster. Norman started his career as a promising marathon swimmer but chose to coach instead. He was considered Canada's top swimming and diving coach for many years. He coached the 1936 Canadian Olympic and 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games swim teams, winning six medals. He was head coach of the Vancouver Amateur Swim Club at Crystal Pool from 1931 to 1955. Norman was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1967. Many of the swimmers he coached are members of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. In 1960, the Vancouver Parks Board named a pool for him at Riley Park.

On June 15 Malcolm Peter McBeath—mayor of Vancouver from 1915 to 1917—died, aged 76. He was born December 2, 1880 in Bruce County, Ontario, arrived in Vancouver in 1907. An alderman in Vancouver from 1912 to 1914, McBeath sat in the mayor's chair for the two years immediately after.

Writer Malcolm Lowry (who had written much of his acclaimed 1947 novel Under the Volcano in Dollarton, on the north shore of Burrard Inlet) died June 27, aged 47, in Ripe, Sussex, England of an overdose of sleeping pills. He was buried in the graveyard of the village church. Lowry was born July 28, 1909 in Cheshire, England.

On July 16 the Sun reported the death of Major John R. Grant, designer of the Granville and Burrard Street bridges. No death date was given. He was 78. Grant was born in Elora, Ontario, came to Vancouver after service in the First World War. “In 1910,” says the Sun, “he submitted his first design for a Burrard bridge, but the project was rejected on a civic plebiscite . . . He was designing engineer of the Seymour dam, Vancouver Heights reservoir, Vancouver Block and the Dominion Trust building.” The Burrard Bridge was okayed in 1930, and Grant got the commission. The bridge opened July 1, 1932. “Highlight of the career of the slightly-built, gray-haired designer,” the Sun concluded, “was the acceptance in 1949 of his plan for the new Granville bridge, which cost $16.5 million.” There is an extremely interesting file at the City Archives containing correspondence between Grant and an American friend and colleague of his during the planning and construction of the Burrard Street bridge. In his letters, Grant complains about the efforts of a very well-known Vancouver engineer to get the contract away from him.

Julius Harold Bloedel, lumberman, died in Seattle, aged 93. He was born in March 1864 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin At age 17 he entered civil engineering (U. of Michigan), but left due to money problems. He worked on a Wisconsin railway, then developed real estate in Sheboygan. With a $10,000 profit, he moved west in 1886. In 1890, he started Samish Logging in Bellingham Bay, Wash. In 1911 Bloedel began logging in B.C. He retired in May 1942 as president of Bloedel, Stewart & Welch in favor of his son Prentice Bloedel (b. Aug. 13, 1900, Bellingham, Wash.) but continued as board chair. “His business philosophy was to own timber. It was a passion that dominated his life.” His archives were donated to U.B.C.

On December 8 George Henry Keefer, contractor, died at Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island, aged about 92. He was born in 1865 in Bowling Green, Ont. Keefer was prominent in B.C. railway construction for 50 years. A railway contractor in 1886, he cleared the CPR right of way from Port Moody to English Bay, mostly with the help of Stikine Indians. On June 12, 1886, looking for a camp site near today's Granville Bridge, he decided to clear it of dry brush and set the brush on fire to clean it up. On June 13, the “Great Fire” levelled Vancouver. He admitted his mistake many years later. (Some say his story is apocryphal, and that he had no connection with the fire.) Keefer worked on railway lines in Washington state and B.C. before serving in the First World War with Canadian Foresters (1914-19). He was later a contractor for the Capilano Waterworks. (See the 1889 chapter for the interesting story of how that company supplied Vancouver with water.) Keefer Street in Chinatown is named for him.

William Grafton, a Bowen Island pioneer, died December 9 in West Vancouver, aged 89. He was born February 6, 1868 in London, Eng., came to Vancouver with two brothers in 1885. “One of Bowen Island's first settlers,” writes Constance Brissenden, “he preempted 640 acres at $1 an acre. Farming on Bowen was difficult but salmon was abundant. He boiled cod, shark and dogfish livers on the beach in a 60-gallon sugar kettle to extract the valuable oil, and also sold game to the Hotel Vancouver. About 1887 he launched the first Howe Sound ferry service with a four-ton sloop. From 1917 to 1934, he worked as a janitor. The island's Grafton Lake and Grafton Bay are named for him.”

« 1942 - Sample Chapter







































































Bill Duthie
[Photo: BC Book Prizes]
















































































































































Douglas Jung
Elected in 1957, Douglas Jung
served two terms as Canada's first
member of Parliament
of Chinsese descent


























Charles Borden
[Photo: Canadian Archaeological Assn.]