By Constance Brissenden
With additional research by Larry Loyie
The History of Metropolitan
Vancouver Hall of Fame represents nearly 500 of the thousands of
people who have contributed to the history of the lower mainland
of BC. They come from all walks of life, all cultural backgrounds
and all occupations. All of the Hall of Famers are now deceased,
and we are proud to include a brief record of their accomplishments
here. For the first time, Metropolitan Vancouver has a biographical
directory that includes many individuals from communities overlooked
in the past.
If you have suggestions for inclusion (remember
the person must be deceased), please contact us HERE.
R S T
For Mayors of Vancouver,
Michael Saba Silk merchant b. c. 1861, Beirut,
Lebanon; d. July 10, 1955, Los Angeles. The Saba family arrived
in Nanaimo, B.C., in 1888, then moved to Vancouver. Mike opened
Saba Brothers on W. Hastings with younger brother Alexander (b.
c. April 7, 1881, Beirut, Lebanon; d. 1970, Vancouver) in November
1903. Two years later, the store moved to the 500 block Granville.
Mike retired in 1921, selling his shares to Alex. By 1940, Saba's
was the largest retail house in Western Canada specializing in silks.
Although hit by shortages in WWII, the business survived. In 1942,
there was a riot when 500 women stampeded the store to buy 300 pairs
of nylon stockings (no one was hurt). In 1947, the company built
a new five-storey $250,000 store at 622 Granville. In 1954, opened
a Victoria outlet. Alex's three sons, Edgar, Clarence and Arnold,
later managed the business.
William Ferriman Salsbury Railway executive,
alderman b. Feb. 16, 1847, Surrey, Eng.; d. Jan. 5, 1938, Victoria.
Came to Canada in 1870. Worked with railroads from 1861. A manager
of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada until 1881, when he joined
CPR's financial staff. Moved from Lachine, Que., arriving July 4,
1886, aboard the first overland train to Port Moody. Treasurer,
CPR Pacific Division (1886-1921) when he retired. A prominent Vancouver
figure, he served as alderman for Ward 1 (1893-94). An advocate
and charter member of the Vancouver General Hospital (1901).
(Sandy) Sanderson, Journalist. He was born June 24, 1914 in
Winnipeg, died August 20, 1988 in Vancouver. Moved as an infant
to Pitt Meadows, attended Burnaby South High and Vancouver College.
He started as a carrier for the Vancouver Province then joined
the Canadian Press as writer for 14 years. He then joined the Province
news staff, later held major editorial positions with several BC
newspapers: Victoria Colonist; Vancouver News Herald
(1950-52); Prince Rupert Daily News (1952-54). He returned
to Vancouver as provincial editor for the Canadian Press in 1955
and was appointed Director of News and Special events for CKWX Radio.
He traveled the Orient in 1959 for two months. He was the founder
of Sounding Board, the newsletter of the Vancouver Board
of Trade. In 1961 he was editor of the Vancouver Times. Instructor
of journalism at Vancouver City College, and editor, Lions Gate
Times (1967). Sandy was the publisher and editor of Hospitality
Canada 1970. He was a founding member of the Toronto Press Club,
and president of the Newsmans Club of BC. (Teresa
Sang (aka Yip Chun Tien) Chinatown pioneer b. Sept. 6, 1845,
Canton, China; d. July 21, 1927, Vancouver. An orphan, he sailed
at 19 by junk from Hong Kong to San Francisco's gold rush. Worked
17 years as dishwasher, cook, cigar maker. Came to Canada in 1881,
settling in Vancouver's Chinatown. Established Wing Sang Co. (1888).
In early 1900s, as a CPR contractor, supplied laborers in B.C. and
Alberta and sold rail and steam tickets. In 1889, built Wing Sang
Building (51-67 E. Pender), the oldest standing structure in Chinatown.
Married Lee Shee in China (1886). After her death, he remarried
three times. His family included 19 sons and 4 daughters, and is
now in its seventh generation in B.C. Father of Kew Ghim Yip and
Yip Mow (b. 1890 on Chinese New Year, Canton, China; d. Nov. 17,
1951, Vancouver), who took over his father's business. Yip Mow chaired
the Vancouver branch of the Chinese Nationalist League. Chiang Kai-Shek
sent a message of condolence on his death. Biblio: Biography of
Yip Sang by the Yip Sang Family.
Darshan A. Sangha (aka Darshan Singh Canadian)
Activist b. 1917, Langeri, Punjab, India; d. Sept. 25, 1986, Punjab,
India. After arriving in Vancouver, his uncle lobbied to get him
a job at Dominion Sawmills. As a result, the uncle was fired and
Darshan hired at 5 cents less an hour. In 1942, he was the first
person in the Hindustani community to be drafted. As an organizer
of the International Woodworkers of America (1942-46), he fought
for the rights of B.C.'s East Indian woodworkers. Led IWA strikers
on a march to Victoria in 1946. After 11 years in Canada, returned
to India (1948) and changed his surname to "Canadian."
Represented Communist party for three terms in the Punjabi state
legislature. After speaking out against Sikh extremism, he was murdered
by unknown attackers.
Koichiro Sanmiya Cowboy, entrepreneur b. c.
1880, Sendai, Japan; d. March 11, 1931, Vancouver. Arrived in Vancouver
in 1907 and rode the range, herding cattle. Owned the Strand Hotel
restaurant; established K. Sanmiya Co. (importer/exporter of Japanese
goods) and Canada Daily Newspaper, a Japanese-language paper published
until 1921. In the 1920s, started Vancouver Malt and Sake Co., and
was issued the only distiller's license in B.C. Sponsored the Asahi
baseball team. A founder and president of the Canadian Japanese
Association (Nipponjin Kai, now the Japanese Canadian Association).
Sold war bonds to raise the War Memorial in Stanley Park, donated
on April 9, 1920.
Tsutae Sato Educator b. 1891, Tanekura, Fukushima-ken,
Japan; d. May 23, 1983, Vancouver. Arrived in Canada July 2, 1917,
to teach at the Nippon Kokumin Gakko, Japanese Citizens School on
Alexander. Married Hanako Awaka (d. May 4, 1983, Vancouver), a teacher,
in 1921. Together, they ran the Vancouver Japanese Language School
(1906-1942). Due to the growth in number of Japanese residents in
Vancouver, the Japanese Hall was built at 475 Alexander and dedicated
March 19, 1928, for community activities and the school. In 1979,
the Satos established scholarships in Japanese studies at UBC. Tsutae
was awarded the Order of Canada (1978).
Alphonse E. Savard Photographer b. 1864, Quebec
City, Que.; d. May 1, 1934, Vancouver. Trained in Quebec City. A
commercial portrait photographer, his studio (Imperial Photo Studio)
was located in Vancouver c. February 1896-1916. He later worked
at Britannia Mines.
Nicolai C. Schou (pronounced "scow")
Burnaby reeve b. c. 1857, Manchester, Eng.; d. Dec. 25, 1903, Burnaby
(or Victoria). An English solicitor, he arrived in Burnaby area
in early 1890s. Editor/feature writer for News-Advertiser; writer
for Commonwealth, a New Westminster-based farm journal. An up-and-coming
politician, he moved on July 25, 1892 that Burnaby be the name of
the new municipality. It was carried unanimously. First reeve (mayor)
of Burnaby elected by ballot (1893-1903); also a Vancouver alderman
(1896) while serving as reeve. Had just accepted a job with the
Victoria Colonist when he died suddenly.
Garnett Gladwin Sedgewick CBC broadcaster,
English professor b. May 20, 1882, Musquodoboit, NS; d. Sept. 4,
1949, Vancouver. After attending Dalhousie College (1898-1903),
he taught high school in Nanaimo (1905-07) and Vancouver (1908-10),
before attending Harvard to study English (MA, 1911; PhD, 1913).
From 1918-48, taught at UBC. In 1920, named head of English. A popular
teacher, acclaimed for his Shakespeare and Chaucer lectures. CBC
broadcasts and a weekly column spread his influence. The UBC undergraduate
library and the Sedgewick Lectures, sponsored by the English department,
are named for him.
John Wesley Sexsmith Richmond reeve b. May
10, 1830, Lennox, Ont.; d. c. Sept. 22, 1920, Richmond, B.C. After
running a cheese factory in Ontario, he came to Moodyville in 1876.
Crossed the Fraser and settled in what is now Richmond. Built a
cheese factory and expanded land holdings to 1,900 acres. Ran a
boat service on the North Fraser to New Westminster, a salmon cannery
and flour mill. Responsible for building the first bridges connecting
Marpole, Sea Island and Lulu Island. In 1877, John Wesley Sexsmith founded the North Arm School District and was a trustee. His daughter Alida Margaret Sexsmith was the teacher in a church on the north side of the Fraser River. The John Wesley Sexsmith Community School, built in 1912 at 7455 Ontario St. Vancouver, was named for him.
Frederick Seymour B.C. governor b. Sept. 6,
1820, Belfast, Ire.; d. June 10, 1869, Bella Coola. Spent his time
as governor (1864-69) "blithely going his own way, entertaining
lavishly, generally drifting." Given the cold shoulder by the
upright citizens of Victoria. A bachelor at 43, he went to England
in 1865 to marry, returning with his bride. Obstructed Confederation
"by stalling and subterfuge." Preferred New Westminster
to Victoria but when Victoria was made the capital in 1868, he was
forced to move there. Died suddenly, cruising aboard HMS Sparrowhawk
off Bella Coola as he was about to be replaced as governor. Mt.
Seymour is named for him. He pronouced his name "seemer."
Thomas George Shaughnessy CPR president b.
Oct. 6, 1853, Milwaukee, Wisc.; d. Dec. 9, 1923, Montreal. An American
railroader, he was recruited in 1882 over a glass of beer as general
purchasing agent for the CPR. President of CPR (1898-1918). Knighted
in 1901. In September 1909, bought property in Shaughnessy Heights,
named in his honor, to build his mansion. Became the first Baron
Shaughnessy of Montreal in 1916.
Charles R. Shaw First Burnaby reeve b. Aug.
20, 1834, Great Grimsby, Eng.; d. 1916, Ann Arbor, Mich. After a
college education, he immigrated to Toronto in 1869 with wife and
two children. A Wesleyan Methodist preacher, he declined ordinance.
In 1889, moved to New Westminster, building a home at 4th St. and
3rd Ave. Worked as a decorator, paperhanger and painter. On Oct.
8, 1892, local property owners unanimously voted him first reeve
(mayor) of Burnaby (pop. under 200). With his ailing wife, he moved
to Kamloops in 1894. After her death, moved to Ann Arbor.
Kosaburo Shimizu United Church minister b.
Sept. 13, 1893, Tsuchida, Shiga-ken, Japan; d. June 29, 1962, Winnipeg,
Man. Immigrated to B.C. c. 1906. At Royal City HS in New Westminster
(1910-11), he won a gold medal for the highest average of a first
year student. Entered UBC (1915-19); later Harvard (MA, 1924). Ordained
by the United Church (1927), serving Vancouver's Christian community.
Committed to bridging first and second generation Japanese Canadians
and Anglo-Saxons and Japanese Canadians. During WWII, relocated
to Kaslo, B.C., internment camp. In 1945, transferred to Toronto
and organized Japanese United Church work. Received DD from Union
College (now the Vancouver School of Theology). Died while chairing
a conference of Japanese ministers.
Shin Shimotakahara (née Kusama) Community
leader b. c. 1891, Japan; d. Sept. 12, 1972, Toronto, Ont. A prominent
woman in the Vancouver Japanese community before WWII. With husband,
Dr. Kozo Shimotakahara (b. c. 1886, Japan; d. Nov. 30, 1951, Kaslo,
B.C.), she ran a TB hospital and clinic for Japanese immigrants.
Kozo arrived in Vancouver in 1900, and lived in the Japanese Methodist
Church dormitory. He enrolled in Strathcona Elem. at 14; later studied
medicine at U. of Chicago. Met Shin in Seattle while studying for
his medical license exams (passed with first class honors). They
corresponded in English until their marriage June 5, 1916. During
WWII, the family was interned in Kaslo, B.C., where they remained.
He practised medicine until the day of his death. From the late
1950s, Shin lived with her daughter in Toronto.
Jack (John Richard Collister) Short Racing
broadcaster b. Dec. 28, 1908, Victoria; d. Aug. 4, 1992, Victoria.
At 15, rode bush tracks from Vancouver to Tijuana. "Too tall,
too lanky," he failed as a jockey. In 1933, announced race
results on CFUN radio. From 1934-76, called nearly 50,000 races
at Exhibition Park and broadcast live for CJOR radio. He invariably
signed off his broadcasts with the famous catch phrase, "Adiós
amigos!". Lifetime member, B.C. Thoroughbred Breeding Society;
member, B.C. Racing Commission. Promoted Native Indian sports through
the North Shore Totem Athletic Club. Broadcast Performer of the
Year Award (1976). Named to B.C. Horse Racing Hall of Fame (1980)
and Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame (Nov. 4, 1988).
Gordon Merritt Shrum First SFU chancellor
b. June 14, 1896, Smithville, Ont.; d. June 20, 1985, Vancouver.
Grew up on a farm. Attended Hamilton Collegiate with Lester Pearson.
Fought at Passchendale. Graduate, U. of T (BA, math, 1920; PhD,
1923). At 29, crossed Canada in a Model T to teach at UBC. Head
of UBC physics department (1938-61); dean of graduate studies (1956-61).
As SFU chancellor (1962-68), pushed through construction of "Berkeley
North" in 18 months. Forced to retire at 65, he chaired the
B.C. Energy Board under W.A.C. Bennett. Oversaw projects such as
Vancouver Museum/Planetarium complex, the courthouse, and waterfront
convention centre. OBE (1946); LL.D (UBC, 1961); Order of Canada
James Sinclair Federal cabinet minister b.
May 26, 1908, Banff, Scotland; d. Feb. 7, 1984, West Vancouver.
An outstanding UBC athlete. Attended Oxford (Rhodes Scholar, 1928)
and London U., studying math and engineering. Taught at West Vancouver
HS, then studied at Princeton. In 1935, appointed assistant to education
minister G.M. Weir (see bio); later secretary to B.C. mines minister.
At 31, elected Lib. MP (Coast Capilano), later Vancouver North (1940-58).
During WWII, enlisted in RCAF. On his return in 1945, he was re-elected.
Fisheries minister in St. Laurent government (1952-57). Daughter
Margaret married Pierre Trudeau in 1970.
Louie Gim (Gum) Sing (aka Loy Sum Sing) Pioneer
Chinese builder b. June 6, 1850, China; d. January 1958, Vancouver.
Left job in Hong Kong to work as foreman of a CPR Chinese crew.
Arrived in Victoria on June 25, 1884. Helped lay the last track
into Vancouver, survived the Great Fire, and helped rebuild the
city. Noted for his great strength and education. Fought to preserve
the rights of Chinese workers before the courts. Cleared land and
planted gardens on Vancouver Island. In later years, took up truck
farming on Lulu Island before settling in Chinatown. He was the
oldest Chinese resident of Canada when he died at 107.
Gurdit Singh Komagata Maru organizer b. India.
In 1890, to challenge an unfair federal immigration law that stopped
immigration to anyone from India, Gurdit chartered the Komagata
Maru, bringing with him to B.C. 376 South Asian passengers. The
ship arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. Only 20 of the passengers,
those who already had resident status, were allowed to disembark.
The rest were sent back on July 23, 1914. Back in India, a riot
following the ships return resulted in the deaths of over 50 Sikhs
and imprisonment for 200 more.
Jagdish Kaur Singh Trucking company president
b. July 12, 1912, Mesopor, Punjab, India; d. Aug. 5, 1991, Chilliwack,
B.C. She arrived in Canada on Nov. 19, 1929, settling in Abbotsford,
B.C., at a time when fewer than 2,000 E. Indians lived in Canada.
Her husband, a Sikh priest, Giani Harnam Singh (d. 1956), ran a
pioneer lumber business and helped found the Akali Singh Sikh Temple.
After his death, she started a gravel truck business in Chilliwack
(G.H. Singh & Sons Trucking). Director of Dhillon Holdings and
owner of several dairy farms and land holdings in Chilliwack and
Langley area. A staunch supporter of Sikhism, she donated to charities
Mewa Singh Sikh martyr b. Punjab, India; d.
Jan. 11, 1915, New Westminster. After the 1914 Komagata Maru incident
(see Gurdit Singh), tensions arose among members of Vancouver's
Sikh community. They blamed William Hopkinson, formerly with the
Calcutta Police Force, sent to B.C. by the British in 1908 as a
spy. Mewa, a supporter of India's independence movement and the
Komagata Maru, shot Hopkinson to death at the Vancouver provincial
court house in 1914. He was sentenced to hang and is revered as
a Sikh martyr. The langar hall of the Ross St. Sikh Temple is named
in his honor.
Teja Singh Teacher, community leader b. India.
Educated at Punjab U. and Harvard (MA). Taught at Khalsa College
in Amritsar, Punjab. Invited by the Sikh community to assist their
fight for human rights. Arrived in 1908 in Vancouver from the US
where he taught. His wife and two children came with him, possibly
the first Asian family to come to Canada. He emerged as a community
leader, presenting a public image that contradicted media stereotypes.
Dealt with many levels of government, including Ottawa.
Bob (Robert Norman) Smith Columnist, broadcaster
b. Jan. 15, 1920, Winnipeg, Man.; d. May 16, 1989, Vancouver. Heard
first jazz recording at 13, a clarinet piece from a Noel Coward
play on the British Empire program on CKMO (later CFUN). Attended
King Edward HS. Joined RCAF, later served with US forces in South
Pacific. For more than 30 years from Saturday, Feb. 1, 1947, he
was host of Vancouver's longest-running jazz radio show Hot Air.
From 1954, hi-fi columnist; from 1962, Vancouver Sun jazz columnist.
From 1971-79, host of Vancouver edition of CBC's That Midnight Jazz.
"An encyclopedia of jazz, jazz musicians and records."
Janet Smith Murder victim, b. June 25, 1902,
Perth, Scotland; d. July 26, 1924, Vancouver. Employed in the home
of a wealthy Shaughnessy businessman, she was found shot to death
there. The Point Grey municipal police badly botched the investigation,
claiming she had committed suicidealthough a dozen clues showed
that that was impossible. The citys Scottish community refused
to accept that verdict, and demanded an investigation. A sensational
case followed involving the city's elite, political corruption
and widespread racism. A Chinese houseboy in the same home,
Wong Foon Sing, was under suspicion, was even kidnapped and beaten
by a group of menincluding the head of the Point Grey municipal
police force!!!until they realized he could not have been
the killer. A book by Ed Starkins, Who Killed Janet Smith?,
details the case thoroughly and follows the sensational media coverage
from start to finish: the case was on the front pages literally
every day for months, and reached right up to the provincial governmental
level. The killer was never found.
Mary Ellen Smith (née Spear) Politician,
feminist b. Oct. 11, 1863, Tavistock, Eng.; d. May 3, 1933, Vancouver.
First female B.C. MLA and the first woman cabinet minister in the
British Empire. As an independent, she won the January 1918 Vancouver
by-election called after the death of her husband, Ralph Smith,
finance minister in B.C.'s Liberal government. Re-elected as a Liberal
in 1920 and 1924. Served as minister without portfolio, March to
Nov. 1921. An advocate of B.C.'s first mothers' pensions and Female
Minimum Wage acts.
Ken Sotvedt conducts the Kitsilano Boys
Band July 21, 2003 [Photo: www.kitsband.com]
Ken Sotvedt Musician, teacher, band leader,
d. Surrey, July 28, 2003, aged 66. Kenneth Henry Adair Sotvedt was
born April 28, 1937 in Wells, B.C. He was a graduate of UBC and
Western Washington University, and devoted 38 years as a teacher
and principal, mainly to the Delta School District. He joined the
Boys Band when he was 13, and a few days before his
death conducted the band at its 75th anniversary concert. He was
also conductor of the Vancouver Firefighters Band for more than
30 years, and was a well-known figure in the Lower Mainland band
scene. There is a fine eulogy by his son David here.
Dorothy Somerset Theatre director b. June
9, 1900, Perth, Australia; d. Aug. 11, 1991, Vancouver. Studied
at Radcliffe College (BA); moved to Vancouver in 1921. Actor/director
with Vancouver Little Theatre; director, University Players' Club
(1934-38). In 1937, joined UBC's extension department; in 1938,
founded its Summer School of Theatre; in 1946, taught UBC's first
theatre credit courses. Received Canadian Drama Award (1952). In
1958, helped found UBC's drama department. The Dorothy Somerset
Scholarship Fund was set up in 1965. D.Litt (UBC, 1965). In June
1991, she won a Jessie Award for "humanity, integrity and encouragement
of young talent in the theatre."
Law A. Soong Merchant b. Jan. 2, 1880, Canton,
China. Arrived in New Westminster in 1889. Attended school for six
years before being hired by Ying, Tai and Co., first as secretary,
then as manager. Appears in British Columbia >From the Earliest
Times to the Present (Vol. IV), published in 1914, the only Asian
included in this series of biographies.
Jung Jin Sow (aka g Jin Few) Inventor of a
Chinese perpetual calendar b. c. 1889, Canton, China; d. Oct. 2,
1948, Vancouver. Taught math in a Chinese high school for two years;
later in Nanaimo and Vancouver. In the 1930s, ran a restaurant.
Active in Chinese Benevolent Society (elected president in 1939).
Grand Master, Chinese Freemasons. Superintendent of Kwong Chee (or
Gee) Chinese school. As a youth, he began analyzing a possible Chinese
perpetual calendar, eventually developing one from 1 BC to 9999
AD, the first of its kind. A copy of the calendar was presented
to the Vancouver Archives in 1937. Publisher, Chinese Times (1940-48).
Frederick Hubert Soward Historian b. April
10, 1899, Minden, Ont.; d. Jan. 1, 1985, Vancouver. Smart enough
to enter high school at 10, he had to wait two years. Won scholarship
to U. of T but after two years, went overseas with 48th Highlanders.
After WWI, studied at Oxford where he began a lifelong friendship
with Lester Pearson. The "boy wonder" of UBC's history
department, he taught from 1922-66. During WWII, adviser to external
affairs and assistant to the secretary of state. Head, UBC history
department (1953-63); LL.D (UBC, 1964); dean of graduate studies
(1961-65). Famed on campus for his international affairs lectures.
Biblio: Empires and Nations, essays by 14 Canadians published in
his honor (1969) with a preface by Lester Pearson.
Chris (Christopher) Spencer Department store
heir b. May 17, 1869, Victoria; d. May 31, 1953, Vancouver. Son
of David Spencer. Educated at Victoria HS. Entered David Spencer
Ltd. in 1882. In 1907, established the Vancouver branch. After his
father's death, he was president until purchase of Spencer stores
by the T. Eaton Co. (Dec. 1, 1948). "Mr. Chris" was known
for his public spirit and generosity. An early supporter of UBC;
appointed to board of governors (1921-36). LL.D (UBC, 1952). Established
Chris Spencer Foundation to assist worthy students. The first awards
were made in Oct. 1950.
David Spencer Sr. Department store founder
b. Aug. 9, 1837, St. Athan, Wales; d. March 3, 1920, Victoria. A
farmer's son, he apprenticed to a dry-goods merchant in Wales and
came to Victoria in 1862. After selling books and stationery, he
bought a dry-goods store in Victoria (1873) which became David Spencer
Ltd. Established branches in Nanaimo (1889), Vancouver (1906) and
other B.C. centres. A lay preacher for the Methodist Church, he
co-founded first temperance society on Vancouver Island. A benefactor
to Victoria's Protestant Orphanage and other philanthropies. His
son, Chris Spencer, the eldest of 13 children, continued in the
Tim (Rochfort Henry) Sperling Electrical engineer
b. Feb. 9, 1876, Yorkshire, Eng.; d. July 5, 1956, Vancouver. Studied
at Eton and Faraday House. Came to B.C. in 1896 and joined BCER
(1897); general manager (1905-14). General manager of Vancouver
Gas, Victoria Gas, Vancouver Power, and Vancouver Island Power.
Replaced coal burning plants with hydro-electric systems on Mainland
and Vancouver Island. In April 1912, set a $.05 fare for united
tram lines in South Vancouver-Vancouver-Burnaby-Point Grey. Returned
to England (1914); active in aircraft production. Moved to Drummondville,
Que., as vice president of Canadian Celanese Ltd. Returned to B.C.
(1948) for a visit; later returned to live in Vancouver. Burnaby's
Sperling St. is named for him.
Anna Ethel Sprott Radio school founder, alderman
b. c. 1879, Norwood, Ont.; d. Oct. 9, 1961, Vancouver. Attended
U. of T. Came to Vancouver as a young widow in 1911 and attended
Sprott-Shaw Schools of Commerce, Radio and Telegraphy. In 1918,
married its founder, R.J. Sprott. After his death (1943), became
president. Founder of West Coast Radio School. First woman candidate,
civic Non-Partisan Association. Elected Vancouver alderman (December
1949). Served on council (1949-59), longer than any woman in city
history; first woman alderman re-elected for three terms. First
woman to serve as acting mayor (September 1953). On retirement,
admitted to writing secret letters on council's behalf to those
celebrating 50th and 60th anniversaries and 90th or 100th birthdays.
Edward Stamp Sawmill operator b. November
1814, Alnwick, Eng.; d. Jan. 17, 1872, London, Eng. Arrived in Victoria
in 1858. Operated first export sawmill in B.C. at Port Alberni (1861-63).
In 1865, opened B.C. and Vancouver Island Spar, Lumber and Sawmill
(known as Hastings Mill) on Burrard Inlet, destined to be the city's
largest industrial complex. It began production in 1867 and was
the focus of Granville (later Vancouver). Company was sold in 1869
to Dickson, De Wolf and Co. of San Francisco for $20,000. In 1890,
John Hendry and Associates, owners of the Royal City Planing Mills,
bought the mill. In 1891, it was renamed the B.C. Mills, Timber
Pearl Steen (Mrs. H.H. Steen, née Soper)
Women's activist b. 1893, Victoria; d. 1988, Vancouver. Educated
in Vancouver. President of National Council of Women, Vancouver
Council of Women and Vancouver Women's Canadian Club. Joined Canadian
Federation of Professional and Business Women's Club; president
(1935). President, Point Grey Conservative Association (1936-37).
Spent six years on Vancouver School Board (1947-52); elected chair
in 1950. Member, B.C. Centennial Committee (1958). Sole Canadian
woman delegate to UN General Assembly in 1960. The only woman director
of the PNE (1960-68). Member, B.C. Human Rights Council. Received
Vancouver's Good Citizen Award (1967).
Bobbie (Roberta) Steen Leader in sport administration
b. April 9, 1946, North Vancouver; d. Nov. 12, 1995, Burnaby. A
tireless promoter of B.C. and national sporting opportunities for
women, she was founding chair and executive director of Promotion
Plus (1990), the B.C. organization for girls and women in sport
and physical activity. Chair, Canadian Association for the Advancement
of Women and Sport and Physical Activity; co-chair, B.C. Games Society.
In 1994, she was named volunteer of the year by the Canadian Sport
Council, the first time that the national sport community recognized
an individual for increasing opportunities for girls and women.
Dorothy Gretchen Steeves (née Biersteker)
Socialist b. May 26, 1895, Amsterdam, Holland; d. May 9, 1978, Vancouver.
Law graduate, Leyden U. During WWI, served as legal advisor to Netherlands
government. In 1918, married Rufus Palmer Steeves (b. 1892, Woodstock,
NB; d. June 1960, Cloverdale, B.C.), a Canadian officer and former
prisoner of war. He was later principal of Gen. Gordon HS and co-founder,
Kitsilano Boys Band. Dot was a founder of the Cooperative Commonwealth
Federation (1932), later the NDP. Served as CCF MLA (North Vancouver,
1934-45), one of seven original CCF members in B.C. In May 1948,
elected CCF president (B.C./Yukon). "A fiery member ... in
the headlines much of the time."
Alexander Maitland Stephen Writer b. 1882,
Hanover, Ont.; d. July 1, 1942, Vancouver. In his early years, he
tried ranching and mining, as well as rural teaching. Wounded in
WWI. Back in Vancouver, he opened an engineering company. A well-known
progressive social activist. Nationally known critic and author
of two novels, plays, romances and poetry. His 1934 poem Vancouver
was widely anthologized. Biblio: The Verse of Pan; Land of Singing
Waters; Brown Earth and Bunch Grass; Verendrye: A Poem of the New
Harry (Henry Herbert) Stevens Businessman,
founder of his own political party b. Dec. 8, 1878, Bristol, Eng.;
d. June 14, 1973, Vancouver. Settled in Vancouver in 1902. Clerked
for $12 a week at City Grocery (Main and Pender). Alderman, Ward
5 (1910). PC MP (Vancouver, 1911-30) and later for Kootenay East.
"Saw threat in Asia's millions" and lobbied for the Oriental
Exclusion Act. Member of Arthur Meighen's cabinet in the 1920s.
Controversial politician in 1930s; founder of Reconstruction Party
which failed with voters, ending his political career. Succeeded
in getting improvements to Vancouver Harbor, False Creek and Granville
Island. LL.D (UBC, 1932).
Manoah Steves Lulu Island settler b. Dec.
18, 1828, Coverdale, NB; d. Dec. 7, 1897, Steveston, B.C. Arrived
in B.C. in 1877, purchasing 300 (later 400) acres on Lulu Island.
In 1878, his wife and six children arrived, the first white family
to permanently settle the area. In 1879, Manoah was one of 25 Lulu
Island residents to petition for incorporation of Municipality of
Richmond. Elected to first council. In 1881, imported B.C.'s first
purebred Holsteins. His second son, Joseph Moore Steves (d. Sept.
1, 1934, Steveston), developed B.C.'s largest Holstein herd, supplying
milk for Vancouver until the cattle were sold during the Depression.
The farm is now run by Harold Steves (b. May 29, 1937, Vancouver),
fourth generation on the original site. He lives in Joseph's 1917
house which replaced Manoah's house built in 1877. Biblio: Salmonopolis
by Duncan Stacey.
William Herbert Steves Steveston founder b.
1860, NB; d. May 27, 1899, Victoria. Eldest son of Manoah Steves.
Began buying land on Lulu Island in 1880. In 1887, purchased Steveston
townsite and by 1889, laid out a portion of "Steves" in
lots. In 1890, the southwest corner of Lulu Island was renamed Steveston.
Started the Steveston Enterprise newspaper to promote investment
in his development as a potential major seaport terminal. In 1890,
built Steveston Opera House. When the fishers were in town, up to
10,000 people strolled the boardwalks above the mud on a Saturday
night. Died of heart disease at 39 years.
John William Stewart Railway builder, general
b. 1862, Assynt, Sutherlandshire, Scotland; d. Sept. 24, 1938, Vancouver.
Arrived in Canada in 1882. Surveyed line of Granville St. in 1885.
A partner in Foley, Welch and Stewart, the largest North American
railway contracting firm. Built much of Grand Trunk Pacific Line.
Began Pacific Great Eastern and parts of CNR. In WWI, commanded
13 battalions, organized railway troops and built railways in France.
Sponsored J.W. Stewart Cup for pipe bands. "Shy and retiring
... nevertheless one of the most powerful and wealthy men in B.C."
Ardvar, his home on Angus Dr. was visited by the dukes of Windsor
John Malcolm Stewart Police chief b. c. 1838,
PEI; d. July 15, 1906, Agassiz, B.C. Vancouver's first official
police chief, appointed after the Great Fire of June 13, 1886 for
a one-year term, along with a sergeant and two constables. Between
1897-1900, he was engaged in logging.
Edith McConnell Stewart-Murray Journalist
b. 1900, Montreal, Que.; d. Nov. 22, 1965, Victoria. Lived in Vancouver
from 1904-58 when she moved to Victoria. Her father, John P. (Black
Jack) McConnell, with brother-in-law R.S. Ford, founded the Morning
Sun, the forerunner of the Vancouver Sun (1912). A columnist
and women's page editor of the Sun and Vancouver News-Herald
for 40 years. Her best known column was Let's Go Shopping.
Life member, Canadian Women's Press Club.
Randy Stoltmann Environmentalist b. Sept.
28, 1962, Vancouver; d. May 22, 1994, Kitlope River area, B.C. Over
a 12-year period, made a painstaking exploration of mountain country
within 200 kms of Vancouver. In April 1994, drew up a formal proposal
to preserve the Elaho-Upper Lillooet wilderness under the B.C. government's
protected area strategy. The 260,000-hectare roadless area is known
as the Randy Stoltmann Wilderness. Killed in an avalanche skiing
through remote ranges west of the Kitlope River. Biblio: Written
by the Wind by Randy Stoltmann.
George Frederic Strong Heart specialist b.
Feb. 22, 1897, St. Paul, Minn.; d. Feb. 26, 1957, Montreal, Que.
Graduate, U. of Minnesota (MD). Interned at Vancouver General Hospital
(1922-23), then served on staff for 34 years. Known internationally
as a heart specialist. Chair, VGH medical board; a founder of B.C.
Cancer Foundation, Western Society for Rehabilitation, B.C. Medical
Research Institute, Vancouver Community Chest & Council and
Family Welfare Bureau. A clinical professor and founder of UBC's
faculty of medicine. LL.D (UBC, 1954). In 1955, named president,
American College of Physicians and Surgeons. Died en route to a
meeting of the National Heart Foundation. G.F. Strong Centre is
named for him (May 1957).
Elizabeth Chang Suey First Chinese girl born
in B.C. b. May 5, 1871, New Westminster; d. Feb. 8, 1951, Vancouver.
Daughter of B.C. pioneer Won Luen Cumyow; sister of Won Alexander
Cumyow. Born in New Westminster after parents moved from Fort Douglas
at head of Harrison Lake. As a child, saw gold miners leaving Fort
Douglas to prospect in the Cariboo. Family moved back to New Westminster
where she went to school. From 1908, lived in Vancouver. Her husband
Charles (d. 1947) was active in the Chinese community.
Anne Sugarman (née Wodlinger) b. Organizer
b. 1895, Winnipeg; d. May 1973, Toronto. Daughter of pioneers, she
attended a Winnipeg college. Married Ephraim R. Sugarman, a lawyer,
in 1916. They lived in Vancouver from 1919-42, founding the Reform
Jewish Sunday School (1922). First president, Vancouver Council
of Jewish Women (1924). The couple founded Congregation Beth Israel
(1932). During WWII, she founded and chaired the Red Cross Salvage
Scheme, copied across Canada. She was responsible for the first
seeing-eye dog program in North America. During the Canadian Bill
of Rights hearings, she presented a brief on women's rights. Biblio:
Pioneers, Pedlars, and Prayer Shawls by Cyril E. Leonoff.
Erwin Michael Swangard Sports reporter, PNE
president b. May 11, 1908, Munich, Germany; d. May 5, 1993, Vancouver.
Emigrated to Canada in 1930. As a freelance sports reporter, covered
the 1936 Olympic Games. Province foreign editor for five years (.
1944-49). Worked his way up in Vancouver Sun; appointed managing
editor (March 1959). Founded Tournament of Soccer Champions for
juvenile soccer. Promoted British Empire and Commonwealth Games
in Vancouver (1954) and first Grey Cup final outside Toronto (1955).
One of seven founders of B.C. Lions. Raised almost $1 million to
build Swangard Stadium, opened in 1969. "Mr. PNE" was
appointed president in January 1977, a position held for 13 consecutive
annual terms. Member, Order of Canada (1989).
Robert Eugene Swanson Steam engineer, poet
b. Oct. 26, 1905, Reading, Eng.; d. Oct. 4, 1994, Vancouver. Arrived
in Vancouver as a child. Trained as a steam engineer; worked in
logging camps and wrote popular folksy poems about logging life.
Born Robert Swanson, he added Eugene because it sounded dignified.
After inventing the air horn for trains, he became internationally
known as a maker of tuned whistle systems. Designed the horn that
played O Canada at noon in downtown Vancouver. Called The
Bard of the Woodsfor his poetry. Biblio: Robert Swanson: Rhymes
of a Western Logger.
Leo (Michael Leo) Sweeney Cooper b. April
17, 1886, London, Ont., d. Sept. 18, 1977, Vancouver. Came to Victoria
in 1888, where his father founded Sweeney Cooperage, a barrel-making
firm. Named managing director (1912). Two years after buying Canadian
Western Cooperage (1921), he moved to Vancouver. Served on many
civic boards and committees. As president of the Vancouver Tourist
Association, he wore a straw boater when it rained "to prove
it was liquid sunshine." The company operated at the foot of
Smithe until 1981, when the land was expropriated for B.C. Place
and the cooperage, one of the oldest industries in False Creek,
Violet Pooley Sweeny Golfer b. Dec. 18, 1886,
Victoria; d. March 19, 1965, West Vancouver. "The Queen of
Northwest Golf" first played at eight. In 1905, she won the
first of seven Pacific Northwest and nine B.C. championships. Moved
to Vancouver, and in 1915 married Bimbo (Sedley Campbell) Sweeny
(b. Oct. 16, 1888, Vancouver; d. Feb. 12, 1966, West Vancouver),
a famed rugby player and rower. She sold cars for Consolidated Motors
on W. Georgia, then demonstrated the basics of the golf swing at
McLennan, McFeeley & Prior sports and hardware store. "She
didn't hesitate to raise eye brows and hemlines ... she simply did
her own thing." B.C. Sports Hall of Fame (1974). Biblio: Backspin,
100 Years of Golf in B.C. by Arv Olson.
Lulu Sweet Actress b. c. 1844. On a performance
tour to Victoria with the Potter Troupe, the 16-year-old performing
star toured the Fraser River with a smitten Col. Richard Clement
Moody on . 12, 1860. After asking Moody the name of a particular
island, he replied that since it had no name, he would call it Lulu
Island in her honor. Little else is known of Miss Sweet's career
Georgia Sweney Hastings Mill's first teacher.
d. Sept. 4, 1940, Santa Paulo, Calif. Graduate of girl's seminary
in Victoria. An accomplished musician and artist, her admirers noted
that she could also "milk a cow." Her pencil sketches
are in the Vancouver City Archives. Taught classes at Hastings Mill
School in 1872. The school was also used as a city church. Taught
until 1872, when she left for San Francisco. Married John Franklin
Cummings in the early 1880s.
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