February 6, 1952
Its Wednesday, February 6, 1952, exactly 54
years ago today. Princess Elizabeth, 25, and her husband, Philip,
30, are in a tree hut in Kenya's Royal Aberdare Game Reserve, watching
big game gather below at a jungle waterhole. Too excited to have
slept during the night, Elizabeth has been constantly popping up
from her cot to watch nocturnal visitors. (A herd of 30 elephants
had lumbered up just before sunset the preceding night.)
She breakfasted on bacon and eggs, tossed bananas
to baboons below. Just before noon the couple left the hut in high
spirits, and in the reserve lodge Elizabeth told Philip that they
must return, next time with her father, the King. Hed
love it, she said.
Early in the afternoon a local newspaper telephoned.
The reporter told Philip that news had been received from England:
King George VI, just 56 and ailing from lung cancer, had died in
his sleep. Philip had an aide call London for confirmation, then,
one report said, gently led his wife down to the river's edge
and told her that her father was dead.
Elizabeth, shaken but in full command of herself,
returned to the lodge on her husbands arm. She had become
Queen Elizabeth II.
February 7, 1946
The great American bass Paul Robeson performed at
the Orpheum February 7, 1946—59 years ago today—and 3,000 fans in
the sold-out theatre kept him coming back for more and more. The
Sun's Stanley Bligh, in a warm review, commented: In
addition to his great success in the artistic field, the eminent
Negro has won an outstanding place in the world by his firm stand
on the question of racial equality, his knowledge of languages,
international economics and his wide sympathy for the oppressed
peoples of the whole globe.”
That sympathy would get him into trouble.
Robeson's knowledge of languages was impressive.
Besides his native English, he spoke Hebrew, Chinese, Norwegian
and Spanish. That came from his extensive travels . . . which included
trips to Russia.
In an interview, Robeson told the Sun: I
deeply believe Russia is now the world's most positive force for
good, if we will help her.” That opinion, and his favorable view
of the Communist Party (although he was never a member), resulted
in a refusal by the U.S. to allow him to return to Vancouver for
another concert in January, 1952. He was stopped at Blaine. A free
union-organized outdoor concert at the Peace Arch attracted 25,000
people on the Canadian side, 5,000 on the US side.
He's now back in favor. The US has issued a postage
stamp to honor Robeson.
February 12, 1912
When The Vancouver Sun came out February
12, 191295 years ago todaythe city and its suburbs were
bursting with vitality. There was lots to report. Two weeks after
the Sun debuted the Pacific Great Eastern Railway was incorporated.
Its BC Rail today. The city of West Vancouver was incorporated
a month after our first issue.
The people in Cedar Cottage voted to be annexed
by Vancouver, and the citys police department hired two women,
a first. UBC held its first convocation in August. Ninth Avenue
was renamed Broadway. Sarah Bernhardt performed at the Opera Housein
The Sun reported June 24 that The roads
are getting crowded: the total number of automobiles . . . in Vancouver
Construction started on the Birks Building at Georgia
and Granville, and on the Vancouver Club at 915 West Hastings. The
beautiful CPR station, the railways third, opened at 601 West
Cordova. The Sylvia Hotel was built in the West End.
And construction started on the World Building at
100 West Pender, home to the World newspaper. The World
eventually folded, but another newspaper would occupy the building
for nearly 30 years . . . and today, more than 40 years after that
paper left, its still known as the old Sun tower.
February 13, 1891
William Lamont Tait arrived in Vancouver February
13, 1891, exactly 115 years ago today. Thats a long time ago,
but he left us a couple of prominent physical reminders of his presence
Thanks to his success in businessstarting
in 1902 he ran Rat Portage Lumber, a shingle and sawmill on False
CreekTait was able in 1910 to build one of Shaughnessys
most imposing mansions, the 18-room Glen Brae, on Matthews Avenue.
He and his wife lived there until his death in 1919. Since November
1995 the big house has been Canuck Place, a hospice for children.
Before Glen Brae Tait built the Orillia Block, a
big apartment complex that went up at the northwest corner of Robson
and Seymour in 1903. (The Orillia, for whom a lot of Vancouverites
had great affection, fell to the wreckers in 1985.)
Then, in 1907, Tait decided to create the best apartment
building in Vancouver. It had features shared by none other in the
city: light wells, an electric elevator and a rooftop restaurant
with full-height windows on all sides, and no tall buildings to
block the views. He called it the Manhattan, and its there
to this day on Thurlow at Robson.
February 14, 1946
ELEVEN 'HUSH-HUSH' TROOPS DOCK HERE was the headline
February 14, 1946—59 years ago today—on a story about the arrival
from Australia of 11 Canadian soldiers who had served in the Pacific
war. The war was over, but these men were still under orders
not to talk about their military activities.”
We know today what four of them had been doing.
They were Chinese Canadian soldiers from BC, and had served with
a secret Chinese Guerrilla unit” in the East Indies. The story
of the fight Chinese Canadians had to wage to be accepted into our
armed forces is too long to tell here. Not one was drafted; they
were all volunteers, and served with distinction.
The four men were Sgt. Norman Lowe and Sgt. Louis
King of Vancouver, Tpr. Douglas Mar of Port Alberni and Sgt. D.
Jung of Victoria. That would be Douglas Jung. He was 22 at the time,
went on to become the first Chinese Canadian veteran to receive
a university education under the auspices of Veteran's Affairs,
and the first Chinese Canadian lawyer to appear before the BC Court
of Appeal. In 1957 he became Canada's first Chinese Canadian MP.
He won the Burma Star in the war. You can learn
more at this
site, and at the Chinese-Canadian War Museum at the Chinese
Cultural Centre in Vancouver.
February 20, 1833
On February 20, 1833173 years ago todayJames
Murray Yale, 36, whod been with the Hudsons Bay Company
half his life, took command of the companys Fort Langley.
But it wasnt the Fort Langley we know today. When Yale took
over the fort it was four kilometres downriver. Under his supervision
the fort was moved to its present location in 1838.
And burned to the ground April 11, 1840. Heres
an indication of Yales independent spirit: When colleagues
James Douglas and John Work offered him help after the fire, Yale
had only two requests to make, that they would supply me with
six good Axes, and be off out of our way as quick as possible.
So the present site is the third Fort Langley. Under
Yale the fort thrived, shipping salted salmon to Hawaii. A lot of
the men who worked at the fort married women from the Kwantlen nation.
Yale was one of them: he and his native wife had two daughters.
The town of Yale was named for him as a reward for
long and loyal service. So when CPR workers at Yale were sent down
to Vancouver to work on the lines extension into the city
they nicknamed their little settlement here . . . Yaletown.
February 21, 1924
A ship that had a long and colorful career in British
Columbia, the Lady Alexandra, was launched in Scotland February
21, 1924—81 years ago today—and arrived in Vancouver harbor June
21. She became famous for her moonlight cruises” to Bowen
Island, taking as many as 1,400 passengers to the island for dining
The Lady Alexandra,” writes historian Rob
Morris, was the 'Excursion Queen' of the Union Steamship Company
fleet, carrying well over a million vacationers and daytrippers
over her lifetime, mainly to resorts and vacation spots at Bowen
Island and along the southern BC coast.”
Union Steamship had bought Capt. John Cates' resort
complex on Bowen in 1920. But the excursion business began to peter
out in the 1950s, and by 1959 the Lady Alexandra had been
sold and converted to a floating restaurant, moored at the north
foot of Cardero Street, next to the Bayshore Inn. She made lots
of money in the summer, lost lots in the winter. In 1972 new California-based
owners towed her down to Redondo Beach, where she was turned into
a floating gambling hall. A storm damaged her badly in 1980 and
she capsized. The Lady was patched up, towed out to sea between
San Pedro and Catalina Island, and sunk.
February 26, 1907
When Arthur Sallows joined the Post Office in Vancouver
on February 26, 1907 exactly 100 years ago today his
area as a letter carrier was big, a sizeable chunk of the citys
east end. By the time The Vancouver Sun celebrated him in
1947 as the longest-service letter carrier in B.C.,
and still on the job, his coverage area had shrunk to one building
in the downtown. But he delivered mail to that building four times
a day. His first trip to the 15-storey Standard Building, said the
Sun in its December 20, 1947 magazine section, had him delivering
2,500 letters, magazines and small packages. The three subsequent
trips were less burdened.
The Standard Building is still there on West Hastings.
Sallows salary in 1907 was $54 a month. By
1947 that had climbed to $137. (Today a carriers beginning
wage is about $3,500 a month.) Sallows, 61, told Bernard Russell
of the Sun he wore out four pairs of shoes a year, at $12.50
a pair, wearing them until theyre almost ready to fall
apart. He worked six days a week, never had sore feet, and
had been off ill precisely once and that briefly in
those forty years.
February 27, 1912
On February 27, 191294 years ago todayThe
Vancouver Sun carried a major story on a big new office structure
in town, the Rogers Building, named for its developer Jonathan Rogers.
He had been the first person to step down from the first CPR passenger
train to pull into Vancouver in 1887.
The handsome building named for him is still there
at the northeast corner of Granville and Pender, clad in white terra
cotta. Structural work, the Sun reported, had been completed.
The building was unique: it was the first major structure in Vancouver
built of reinforced concrete; no steel was used.
That enamelled terra cottafifteen carloads
of ithad come from Chicago. The ornamental iron was purchased
in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Five elevators with all the latest
improvements had been purchased in Toronto. In England
nearly sixty thousand feet of cork flooring and about sixty thousand
feet of linoleum was bought . . . The building used eight
thousand barrels of California cement. The interior was finished
in oak and bronze.
It will be seen, said the Sun,
that it takes a good bank balance to erect a building of this
kind. In later years Rogers used his good bank balance for
a lot of fine philanthropic work here.
February 28, 1910
Before The Vancouver Sun there was The Vancouver World,
and on February 28, 1910—95 years ago today—the World was
saying hello to a big new post office opening that day at the corner
of Granville and Hastings Streets and bidding a farewell to the
old one a block to the south at Granville and Pender. The
old building,” wrote an unnamed reporter, has ceased to be
the sorting house for tidings of good and ill, and soon its associations
with the curt business letter and the scented billet doux will be
forgotten . . .” The World welcomed its replacement, the
palatial building . . . a landmark, a monument of chiseled stone
and massive rounded pillars, that caused the visitor to be impressed
with Vancouver's power and prosperity.”
Today that chiseled monument is a part of Sinclair
Centre. It took five years to build it, five years during which
the population of the city had ballooned to more than 100,000. The
result was described in 1973 by a retired postal worker named Archibald
Selwood, then 92. It was always overcrowded when letter carriers
came in at 7 a.m. for the bags of mail,” he said. There was
never enough room for anything. Right from the beginning it wasn't
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