Back on June 28, 2004 I began a series of mini-articles for The Vancouver Sun. Every other Monday, on Page B2, alternating with Red Robinson, I’d write 200 words on an event in the region's past that occurred on the same day as the article appeared.
What appears below is some of that collection of articles. At about 200 words each they're not going to give you the whole story, but you may find them interesting. They are grouped by month.
January 2, 1929
There was a time when the southern boundary of Vancouver
was 16th Avenue. To the south was, appropriately, the huge municipality
of South Vancouver. In 1908 a big chunk of South Vancouver seceded
and called itself Point Grey.
The two places were quite different. South Vancouver
could be called a "blue collar" suburb, whereas the Canadian
Pacific Railway owned a third of Point Grey and intended to make
its property as posh as possible. So when a local real estate boom
collapsed about 1913 the fates of the two towns were different.
South Vancouver ran into severe financial difficulties and from
1918 to 1923 had to be administered by the provincial government.
Point Grey struggled through.
A push for amalgamation with Vancouver (which had
been tried before) began and was approved by both South Vancouver
and Point Grey. On January 1, 1929 the new citywith a population
of about 240,000was born. And on January 2exactly 77
years ago todaythe first meeting of its city council was held.
The new mayor, W.H. Malkin, was now the head of Canadas third
Malkin paid a warm tribute to his predecessor, Mayor
L.D. Taylor, giving him credit for the amalgamation.
January 3, 1949
The Sun's next-day Page One headline about
the January 3, 1949 police raid on three local establishments is
great: POLICE OPEN WAR ON NIGHT CLUB DRINKING.
Imagine! People drinking liquor in a nightclub!
Next thing you know, they'll be dancing! Chief Constable Walter
Mulligan warned that his dry squad men are definitely going
to tighten up on liquor drinking in cabarets.” Detectives swooped
down on three cabarets and confiscated 13 bottles of liquor from
underneath tables. Five were seized from the Cave Cabaret, two from
the Palomar (one of the men summonsed at the Palomar was well-known
entertainer Fran Dowie), and four more at the Mandarin.
The B.C. Cabaret Owners' Association blamed rabid
These attempted curbs on drinking,” they added, will
only drive drink into vice dens, autos and hotel rooms.”
Much has changed in 56 years, and we can thank the
officials of the COA, among others, for that. Figuratively
rubbing their hands,” the Sun reported, the COA said
'Good! At last we can fight a test case out in the open over B.C.'s
ridiculous liquor laws.”
January 9, 1862
On January 9, 1862exactly 144 years ago todaythe
Fraser River froze over from Lulu Island to Hope. You could walk
from one side of the river to the other. In fact, the first reference
to hockey being played in British Columbia notes the game was played
on the frozen surface of the Fraser during this brutal cold snap.
Hockey sticks were fashioned from cedar, writes John
Cherrington in The Fraser Valley: A History, and the
male portion of the populationbureaucrats, parsons, storekeepers,
woodsmen and Indians alike were all engaged in this exciting game
upon the broad river. The local native people said it was
the coldest winter in their history.
Cattle and horses died along the upper river,
Cherrington tells us, and some settlers starved to death.
In his memoirs, the Reverend John Sheepshankswho
had taken part in that hockey gamewrote: "I cannot easily
comb my hair, for it is frozen together. All the bed clothes near
my mouth are stiff with ice. When one proceeds to breakfast, the
cups and saucers are stuck hard to the cupboard. The bread is frozen,
and must be put into the oven before it can be eaten." Feel
January 10, 1970
A new phenomenon in passenger aviation arose back
in 1970 and the Sun sent business writer Phil Hanson down
to Seattle to report on it. Almost 30 huge Boeing 747 jumbo
jets,” Hanson wrote 35 years ago today, painted in the colors
of half a dozen world airlines line the apron at the Boeing Company's
new complex at Everett, Wash.
These jets, first of 192 in Boeing's order
book, will trickle into airline service during the next few months
to pioneer a new era in mass air travel.” The first airline to use
the 747, Pan American Airways, introduced them January 22 on its
New York to London service. A year after its launch nearly 100 of
the planes were being operated by 17 airlines and the number of
passengers had increased to seven million. (Air Canada had them
by the spring of 1971, CP Air by 1973.) The 747 changed air travel
forever, made it affordable to millions of people who'd never flown
But that was then. Today, the amount of fuel it
gulps is too expensive and the number of 747s has gone away down.
More than 100 are parked,” unused.
By the way, the Sun's Phil Hanson was one of the first Canadians
to fly in a 747. Boeing flew him and a few other reporters down
to Seattle in one.
January 15, 1974
The Knight Street Bridge opened to traffic January
15, 1974 33 years ago today. This is one of the busiest,
noisiest stretches in the city, which did a traffic survey four
years ago to discover that anywhere from 38,000 to 55,000 vehicles
cross the bridge every working day.
Nine per cent of those vehicles are trucks. So if
you spent, say, ten daylight hours tomorrow counting trucks crossing
the bridge you could tally more than 400 an hour. One every 10 seconds
or so. For ten hours.
Why so many? The Clark Drive/Knight Street corridor
runs eight kilometres from the Port and industrial areas in the
north of the city, then crosses the North Arm of the Fraser, connecting
Vancouver and Richmond, and feeds onto Highways 91 and 99. Thats
a recipe for heavy industrial traffic.
Away back in 1929 the city tabbed Clark/Knight as
a six-lane arterial route, but the corridor didnt really get
busy until the Knight Street Bridge was built. (It replaced the
old Fraser Street Bridge (1893-1974)). It took five years to build,
cost about $15 million. Part of that money paid for electric heating
cables in the deck to minimize the use of de-icing salt.
January 16, 1953
The novel Tobacco Road had been out for 21 years,
a play based on it ran on Broadway for 3,182 performances, and a
movie had appeared in 1941, but when the stage production of Erskine
Caldwells book hit Vancouver in 1953 there was one hell-thumpin
ruckus in these parts.
Tobacco Road was about the trials and tribulations
of Jeeter Lester and his family, folks for whom the phrase poor
white trash was invented. The language was crude (for the
time) and at one point Vancouver actor Doug Haskins, with his back
to the audience, appeared to be peeing into a cornfield.
Someone complained to the police and on January
16, 195353 years ago todaynine members of the Vancouver
Police walked out on stage at the Avon Theatre during the third
act and arrested five members of the cast on obscenity charges.
The audience, nearly 1,000 strong, protested loudly, thenafter
brief remarks by the director, Dorothy Daviessettled back
into their seats to wait.
Ninety minutes later, bail of $100 each having been
paid, the five performers returned and finished the play. The charges
were later dropped.
The Avon Theatre, at 142 East Hastings, is still
around and, under its original name, the Pantages, is slated for
January 17, 1933
On Tuesday, January 17, 1933—72 years ago today—the Sun turned
its newsroom over to students from the University of British Columbia.
Staff of the Ubyssey, the student newspaper, took over the
layout, placement of stories, the editorial and sports pages, and
The Page One story with the most space devoted to
it asked several distinguished citizens whether a university education
gave a person an advantage in the workplace. The answer, not surprising
given that all the people interviewed were UBC faculty, was that
it did. Number two story, in terms of space, told how the university
was still managing although its budget had been cut. (We were in
the depths of the Depression.) Other Page One stories told of a
holdup at the Mount View Beer Parlor, a pending visit to the Chicago
World's Fair by the Kitsilano Boys' Band, the funeral of Premier
Tolmie's wife, name not given, and the return from Europe of lumber
executive H.R. MacMillan, who saw better days ahead.
Familiar names pop out of the list of 30 Ubyssey
people who worked on the paper that day: Norman Hacking, Dick Elson
and 19-year-old Stu Keate, who would become the Sun's publisher
31 years later.
January 23, 1939
Charles Maregas work is all over town: the
statue of George Vancouver at City Hall, the bust of second mayor
David Oppenheimer and the Harding Memorial, both in Stanley Park,
the caryatids on the Old Sun Tower, the heads of Vancouver and Harry
Burrard on the Burrard Street Bridge . . . and the lions that stand
at the southern entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge.
The lions were installed January 23, 1939, 67 years
Marega researcher Peggy Imredy has a copy of a letter
he wrote about the commission. Thank God I have work now.
I am modelling a lion for Vancouver's suspension bridge. I had much
trouble to get the work. The engineer is from Montreal and wanted
the lion to be modelled in Montreal. But the president of the bridge
committee, a long friend of mine . . . finally assigned the work
to me. I would have preferred the lions to be in bronze or stonebut
it has to be cheap, so they will be done in concrete, which annoys
me, as I could have otherwise have made both lions from one model.
However, I have to content myself to get work at all.
Two months later, at the age of 67, Charles Marega
was dead of a heart attack.
January 24, 1957
One of the great stories in BC's history began 48
years ago today—January 24, 1957—when 214 Hungarian refugees (200
students and 14 faculty members) arrived at the Matsqui train station.
They were from the Hungarian 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 graduated. (They
had started their classes in Hungarian, upped the English content
as they progressed.) Most of the 140 graduates decided to stay and
work in Canada. That picture, taken at UBC December 3, 2001 by George
Draskoy, was taken during the UBC forestry faculty's 50th anniversary.
The people shown are singing the Hungarian Foresters' Hymn. The
Hymn,” says Professor Kozak, obscured in the back row, describes
briefly the wonderful life of the young foresters in the
January 29, 1891
Just two weeks after B.T. Rogers oversaw the first
production of sugar at his brand-new plant on the Vancouver waterfront,
he proudly guided a number of local notables through the place.
That tour happened January 29, 1891 116 years ago today
and the Vancouver Daily World gave it extensive coverage. The prominent
citizens on that tour included just about everybody who was
anybody in the not-quite-five-year-old city. Mayor David Oppenheimer
led the party, which included six aldermen, CPR officials, the US
consul, bank managers and others.
Benjamin Tingley Rogers had performed an extraordinary
feat. At age 24 this ambitious Philadelphia-born man had persuaded
Vancouver city council to give him a $30,000 subsidy to build his
refinery. Rogers father, Samuel, was a professional sugar
maker and B.T. had learned the trade early. When he discovered that
Canada was building a railway to the Pacific, putting it in easy
reach of the Philippines, source of most of North Americas
sugar at the time, he acted quickly.
The story is told, thoroughly and colorfully, in
John Schreiners excellent 1989 book, The Refiners.
Incidentally, the first sugar produced was purchased by Mayor Oppenheimer
for his Oppenheimer Brothers wholesale food firm. Both companies
are still around.
January 30, 1960
From The Vancouver Sun of January 30, 1960,
exactly 46 years ago today: Arthur Frederick Jones, photographer,
was having lunch in the PNEs Terrace Room when he was called
to the telephone in the kitchen. Leaning over a hot stove with the
receiver to his ear, Jones heard a voice from the Suns editorial
staff. Let me be the first to congratulate you.
Why? said Jones.
You just won the television licence.
Oh, no, said Jones.
That was how Art Jones, 34, learned he and his partners
in Vantel Broadcasting had been given the okay by the Board of Broadcast
Governors, the predecessor to the CRTC, to launch Vancouvers
first private television station. (CBUT, the CBC outlet, had signed
on December 16, 1953.) Jones was genuinely astounded that his group
had won the bid. I knew we had a chance, he said, but
I certainly wasnt confident.
They would call the new station CHAN.
On October 31, 1960 at 4:30 p.m., Art
told me, we went on the air from 1219 Richards. We put our
dish on the roof of a two-storey building next door. We had to lease
Art turned 80 a few days ago. Hes still in
television, hosting a weekly interview show. (Note: Art died at
80 April 7, 2006, a little over two months after this item appeared.
January 31, 1947
The centennial of Congregation Schara Tzedeck will
happen in 2007, but the building associated with it—the synagogue
at Oak and West 19th—got its start January 31, 1947, just 58 years
ago today, when Vancouver mayor Gerry McGeer officiated at the sod-turning
Schara Tzedeck (SHAW-ra TZED-ek) was known
in 1907 as B'Nai Yehuda (Sons of Israel), and worshippers—there
weren't many—had to meet in rented halls or private homes. By 1911
the Jewish community here had grown large enough to warrant building
a 600-seat synagogue at the corner of Heatley and Pender. In 1917
they changed their name to Schara Tzedeck (Gates of Righteousness”).
They would be in that building for more than 30 years. By then many
of the city's Jews were living near and around Cambie and Oak Streets,
so this new synagogue was built to be closer. By the end of
World War II,” historian Cyril Leonoff writes, the Jewish
community had completely deserted Strathcona.”
Vancouver lawyer Jack Kowarsky wrote a history of
the congregation in 1984, its 77th anniversary (the number 7 is
considered especially lucky), and says Schara Tzedeck was the largest
synagogue west of Montreal. It's still the largest Orthodox synagogue
in Vancouver, and was dedicated as a memorial to Jewish war veterans.
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