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
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
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.
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
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.”
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
The Quilchena Golf Course was opened to provide
a place for Jewish golfers to play. They had been denied entry to
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
[Photo: BC Book Prizes]
Elected in 1957, Douglas Jung
served two terms as Canada's first
member of Parliament
of Chinsese descent
[Photo: Canadian Archaeological Assn.]