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.
V W X
For Mayors of Vancouver,
George Alexander Walkem Shipbuilder b. July
8, 1872, Montreal, Que.; d. Dec. 13, 1946, Burnaby, B.C. After graduating
from McGill, he joined the Royal Engineers, serving in Egypt and
Palestine. Moved to Vancouver in 1898. President of West Coast Shipbuilders,
Vancouver Iron Works, West Coast Salvage and Construction and Gulf
of Georgia Towing. Reeve, Point Grey (1923-24); MLA, Richmond-Point
Grey (1924-28) and Vancouver from 1933 for a total of nine years.
In 1946, lobbied B.C. to improve the quality of cooking for
public consumption to increase tourism. His ashes were scattered
over English Bay from the tug George A. Walkem.
Andy (Alfred) Wallace Burrard Shipyards founder
b. 1865, Moricetown, Eng.; d. Jan. 1, 1929, North Vancouver. Son
of a master shipbuilder, he first worked in Owen Sound, Ont. In
1894, started a small False Creek shipyard. By 1906, operated on
the North Shore as Wallace Shipyards. By 1910, Burrard Drydock was
well established. In 1921, built Princess Louise for CPR fleet,
the first contract awarded to a local firm. During WWI, built merchant
and naval vessels. Son, Clarence Wallace continued expansion. The
company was one of the largest shipyards on the B.C. coast. In 1928,
built St. Roch, now exhibited in Marine Museum, Vanier Park.
Clarence Wallace Shipbuilder, lieutenant-governor
b. June 22, 1893, Vancouver; d. Nov. 12, 1982, Palm Desert, Calif.
On leaving college, joined family business (see Andy Wallace bio).
Served overseas (1914-16); wounded at Ypres. In 1918, secretary-treasurer
of Burrard Drydock; in 1929, named president. In WWII, built North
Sands and Victory ships and converted vessels for war use. Awarded
CBE (1946). Acquired Yarrows Ltd. of Esquimalt (1946), Pacific Drydock
(1951) and shipbuilding operations of Victoria Machinery Depot (1967).
In 1972, the Wallace family sold Burrard Drydock to Cornat Industries
of Vancouver. Lieutenant-governor (Oct. 2, 1950-55).
Isy Walters Business Entrepreneur/Night Club Owner. b. , 1909, Odessa, Russia.; d. March 7, 1976, Vancouver. Owner of several nightclubs in Vancouver and Victoria, Isy (born Isadore Waltuck) brought many of the largest entertainment acts and revues to British Columbia. Isy was “Mr. Entertainment” after he got hooked on show biz at his first job of selling popcorn at the Empress Theater. At the age of 14 he joined a traveling carnival, years later remained interested in carnivals and was even on the PNE board, as well as operated some carnival entertainment. During WWII he owned and operated Acme Machinery, later sold to go back to his first love – show business. Along with son, Richard, Isy at various times owned the Avon Theatre, the State Burlesque House, The Cave, and Isy’s Supper Club in Vancouver and the Club Sirocco in Victoria from 1949 until his death. Isy tried to revive Vaudeville at the Beacon Theatre, but gave up after 8 months. The Cave and Isy’s were the two largest entertainment venues in the city, and they held the 1st and 3rd liquor licenses ever issued in B.C.
Jack Wasserman Columnist b. Feb. 17, 1927,
Winnipeg, Man.; d. April 6, 1977, Vancouver. Came to Vancouver in
1935. Dropped out of law school to take reporter's job with Ubyssey.
Graduated from UBC (1949); joined Vancouver Sun, becoming a police
reporter. His biggest scoop was the sordid death of Errol Flynn
in a West End apartment. Longtime gossip and self-described "saloon
reporter" columnist. Hosted an open line program with CJOR;
later hosted Hourglass on CBC TV. Fired by the Sun (1967) for hosting
his radio show but rehired 18 months later. A governor of the National
Film Board. Died of a heart attack while speaking at the Hotel Vancouver
during a roast for Gordon Gibson Sr..
Rebecca Belle Watson Community activist b.
c. 1911, Kitsilano; d. April 7, 1976, Vancouver. Taught in the Cariboo,
then trained as a nurse at Vancouver General Hospital. In 1958,
as spokesperson for Save Our Parklands Association, rescued the
Shaughnessy Golf Course from development. Ran unsuccessfully as
independent alderman (1961, 1962). Elected to Vancouver park board
(1968). Executive member, TEAM; president, PC Party of B.C. (1971).
A West End resident, she was active in its community associations.
Named to City of Vancouver Civic Merit Board of Honor (The 22nd
inductee in its 34-year history).
Rick (Richard Alan) Watson Disabled rights
activist, writer b. April 14, 1953, Bowmanville, Ont.; d. April
30, 1994, Vancouver. Disabled by cerebral palsy, he was a Province
columnist from September 1991, pecking out one letter at a time
with a wand attached to a headband. Won a Canada 125 medal for his
work for the disabled and a B.C. Newspaper Award for a column critical
of telethons, one of which he'd appeared on as a child. Assigned
to write on services for the disabled for The Greater Vancouver
Book, but died suddenly. Active in B.C. Coalition of People with
Disabilities (BCCPD) as founding editor. Also wrote poetry. "His
sense of humor offset the rage and despair he occasionally felt."
Agnes Watts Telethon angel b. 1899, Bunzlau,
Germany; Oct. 30, 1989, Vancouver. At 19, came to Victoria to work
as a nanny. Married a logger, and moved to Powell River; later divorced.
Moved to Vancouver, married Isaac Watts in 1944 (d. 1952). First
female employee of Scott Paper's New Westminster mill, "rolling
toilet paper" for 22 years. Noted for frugality, she became
a millionaire from stocks and real estate investments such as West
End rooming houses. A patron of the Variety Club of B.C., she donated
over $500,000 to children's projects. Received Variety Club Humanitarian
Award from Prince Philip in London, Eng., in 1987. "Children
were her great love."
William Watts Boat builder b. 1862, Collingwood,
Ont.; d. May 8, 1954, West Vancouver. Came to Vancouver in 1887
with partner, Edward Trott. For three summers, they ferried miners
up Harrison Lake. In 1889, opened a boat building business, Watts
and Trott (later Vancouver Shipyards). Their firm built the city's
first steamboat. A record-breaking rower, sailor, sport fisher and
driver. In 1890, he won the B.C. rowing championship in a shell
he built himself. "One of B.C.'s most colorful personalities
since the turn of the century."
Gertrude Weinrobe First Jewish child born
in Vancouver b. May 12, 1893, Vancouver; d. Aug. 9, 1975, Vancouver.
Daughter of Barney Weinrobe, a Russian, and Sara Sarbesky, a German
(m. Montreal, January 1884). In 1893, the family rode by train to
Vancouver. On Feb. 13, 1893, three weeks after arriving, their eight-year-old
son, Nathan, died of diphtheria, the first child buried in Mountain
View's pioneer Jewish cemetery (Fraser and 37th). Gertrude, the
first Jewish baby born in Vancouver, grew up in Vancouver Island
mining towns where Barney ran stores. She received the 1971 B.C.
Pioneer Centennial Medal. She was also buried in Mountain View.
George Moir Weir Education innovator b. May
10, 1885, Stonewall, Man.; d. Dec. 4, 1949, Vancouver. Entered politics
in 1933 as a Lib. MLA. Named minister of education, serving for
nearly a decade; also provincial secretary. In 1936, he pushed through
health insurance coverage for those living on $1,800 a year or less.
Although not passed because of opposition by doctors, it was the
basis of the B.C. Hospital Insurance Act. Left politics in 1941;
returned as minister of education (Vancouver Burrard, 1946), supervising
radical changes in school curricula. Head of UBC education department.
LL.D (UBC, 1948). George M. Weir School is named for him.
Frank Fairchild Wesbrook Bacteriologist, founding
president of UBC b. July 12, 1868, Brant County, Ont.; d. Oct. 20,
1918, Vancouver. Graduated from U. of Manitoba (1890), followed
by studies in London, Dublin and Marburg. Awarded a studentship
at Cambridge (1892). At 27, he was asked to head the U. of Minnesota's
pathology department; later dean of medicine (1906). Published hard-hitting
papers on medical and general university education. A forerunner
of F.G. Banting in diabetes research. Founding president of UBC
(1913-18). Suffered a recurring illness attributable to Bright's
Thomas Moore Whaun Political activist b. Oct.
22, 1893, Toisan, Canton, China; d. March 5, 1985, W. Vancouver.
One of the first Asian residents of West Vancouver; second Chinese-Canadian
graduate of UBC (BA, 1927). Emigrated to Canada from China in 1907.
Worked in the newspaper industry as advertising manager for Canada
Morning News and New Republic Daily, two of Vancouver's Chinese
newspapers. Known for his nationwide letter-writing protest against
the Chinese Exclusion Act. An altruist, he was committed to helping
others. He became a Canadian citizen in 1950.
Edward White Pioneer Methodist cleric b. Nov.
11, 1822, Philadelphia, Penn; d. June 16, 1872, Montreal. Arrived
from Smithville, Ont., on Friday, April 2, 1859, on the steamer
Elisa Anderson. On Sunday, April 3, preached his first sermon, by
the Fraser in Queensborough (New Westminster), with "The Lord,
our God made a covenant with us in Horeb" as text. One woman
(Mrs. James Kennedy) and 50 men were present. An "expert axman,"
Rev. White built a shack at Sixth and Carnarvon, site of Queen's
Ave. United Church. Served as minister (1859-62, 1865-67). His son,
Newton Arthur White was the first white child born in New Westminster
(b. July 29, 1859; d. July 31, 1899, New Westminster).
Arthur Bryan Williams Game and forest warden
b. c. 1867, County Clare, Ire.; d. Feb. 16, 1946, Vancouver. Came
to B.C. in 1888 from London, Eng. In 1905, became a game and forest
warden. Later, as game commissioner, he formulated B.C.'s game preservation
and hunting laws, including one copied worldwide that protected
a trapper's personal trap line from encroachment. Published Game
Trails of British Columbia and Rod and Creel in B.C. and wrote a
series of articles for the Vancouver Daily Province, c. 1926. An
expert guide and dean of B.C. hunters.
Williams (Merton Yarwood Williams), professor of geology, was
born near Bloomfield, Ontario June 21, 1883.
He graduated from Queen's University at Kingston
in 1909 with a B.Sc. degree in mining engineering. He was granted
the Ph.D. degree in 1912 and that same year joined the regular staff
of the Geological Survey. In 1921 Dr. Williams accepted an appointment
as associate professor of paleontology and stratigraphy at UBC.
Together with Dean R.W. Brock, Dr. S.J. Schofield, and Dr. W.L.
Uglow he helped to build UBCs Department of Geology.
His teaching duties did not prevent M.Y. from continuing
his work with the Survey, taking him to the Mackenzie River, the
Franklin Mountains and the western great plains. In the mid-1920s
he made a geological study of Hong Kong. He worked in the West Cariboo,
West Lillooet Black and the Peace River area and published extensively.
He was elected Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 1916,
followed in 1926 by election to Fellowship in the Royal Society
(of which he became president for 1960/1.)
In 1926, Dr. Williams became full professor of paleontology
and stratigraphy at UBC, and in 1936 was appointed head of the Department
of Geology and Geography. He remained at this post until his retirement
in 1950. He was a kind and understanding teacher and many
of his students owe him not only the grounding in geology, but also
support and encouragement in their later work in the graduate school
and professional life. See this
site for more.
Dr. Williams died in Vancouver February 3, 1974,
aged 90. With his passing, UBC says, the university
lost one of its original faculty members and the geology profession
lost a pioneer in stratigraphic and petroleum exploration in western
Canada. (Chuck Davis)
Percy Alfred Williams Sprinter b. May 19,
1908, Vancouver; d. Nov. 29, 1982, Vancouver. Canada's leading track
athlete of the 1920s; only Canadian to win two Olympic Gold Medals
in track. Graduated from King Edward HS. Won 1928 Olympics in 100-metre
and 200-metre races; world record holder 100 metre (1930-40); last
ran in 1932 Olympics. After retirement, he ran an insurance business
in Vancouver until his death by suicide.
Ethel Davis Wilson (née Bryant) Writer
b. Jan. 20, 1888, Port Elizabeth, SA; d. Dec. 22, 1980, Vancouver.
An orphan, she came to Vancouver in 1898 to live with her grandmother.
Taught in public schools (1907-20). In 1921, married Dr. Wallace
Wilson. Began writing in 1937; in 1947, her first novel, Hetty Dorval,
was published. From 1947-57, she wrote four more novels, best known
being Swamp Angel. Mrs. Golightly and Other Stories, her last published
work, appeared in 1961, the year she received a special Canada Council
medal for contributions to Canadian literature. Awarded D.Litt (UBC,
1955); Lorne Pierce Medal (Royal Society of Canada, 1960); Order
of Canada Medal of Service (1970). B.C.'s top fiction prize is named
Harold Edward Winch Politician b. June 18,
1907, Loughton, Eng.; d. Feb. 1, 1993, Vancouver. Son of labor leader
Ernest Winch. Arrived in B.C. in 1910. Elected CCF MLA for working
class riding of Vancouver East (1933-53). Leader of CCF (1938-53).
Leader of the Opposition (1941-53). Came close to being premier
in 1952-53. A bitter rival of W.A.C. Bennett, he coined the nickname
"Wacky." Served as CCF/NDP MP, Vancouver East (1953-72).
LL.D (UBC, 1973).
Richard Vance Winch Cannery pioneer b. 1862,
Cobourg, Ont.; d. July 31, 1952, Vancouver. Ran away from home at
16, herded cattle and worked on CPR, arriving in B.C. in 1893. Established
Canadian Packers Canning on the Fraser. In 1895, shipped first trainload
of canned salmon from B.C. and sold first B.C. halibut in New York.
In 1895, opened Queen Charlotte Fisheries. Owned seven canneries
and a sawmill, valued at $1.6 million. Erected the Winch Building
(739 W. Hastings) in 1909. Wife Isabelle e (b. Cobourg, Ont; d.
Dec. 5, 1939, Vancouver) assisted his business activities for more
than 50 years.
Calvin Winter Orchestra leader, theatre manager
b. Auburn, Indiana; d. Feb. 5, 1946, Vancouver. Arrived in 1919
to play in Hotel Vancouver orchestra. One of the first radio conductors
in the early 1920s. His band, Calvin Winter and His Capitolians,
played for the Capitol Theatre opening in 1924. Operated Nelson's
civic theatre, Vancouver's Music Box and Marpole Theatre in succession
from 1936. Best known as conductor of Home Gas Sunday Symphony Hour
at Malkin Memorial Bowl before WWII. "His death cut another
name from the group whose musical light was bright in the days of
the silent films, when theatres had their own live talent orchestras."
Gordon Sylvester Wismer Lawyer, attorney general
b. March 23, 1888, Sutton, Ont.; d. Dec. 28, 1968, Victoria. Worked
his way west, arriving in Vancouver in 1907. Began law practice
in 1913 with Gerald G. McGeer. From 1922, ran his own firm, becoming
one of B.C.'s best-known criminal lawyers. Elected Lib. MLA (Vancouver
Centre, 1933). Served as attorney general under Pattullo from July
5, 1937; under Hart from April 4, 1946; and under Johnson until
defeat of coalition government in 1952. Established New Haven Borstal
School for Young Offenders (1938) and disbanded B.C. Police Force
(1950), shifting policing duties to the RCMP.
Foon Sien Wong (aka Wong Mon Poo) Spokesperson
for Chinese rights b. c. late 1890s, Canton; d. July 31, 1971, Vancouver.
At 10, his family came to Vancouver Island and became well-off Cumberland,
B.C., merchants. In 1911 met and was influenced by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.
Graduated from UBC; worked as legal interpreter and translator.
In 1937, named publicity agent of Chinese Benevolent Association's
(CBA) aid-to-China program during Sino-Japanese War. In 1945, pushed
for vote for Chinese residents after war service. As president of
Vancouver CBA (1947-59), pursued human rights issues, especially
immigration laws. In the 1960s, led fight to stop the bulldozing
of Strathcona's Chinese homes. "The unofficial mayor of Chinatown."
Freddie (Frederic Gordon Campbell) Wood University
Players' Club founder b. Jan. 26, 1887, Victoria; d. June 3, 1976,
Vancouver. McGill graduate (1910). Taught in Victoria, then attended
Harvard (MA, 1915). First B.C.-born educator at UBC when it opened
in 1915, retiring in 1950. Founded and directed University Players'
Club (1915-31). Annually toured a student show across B.C., the
only live theatre seen in many towns. Wife Beatrice (b. Nov. 29,
1899, Vancouver, d. July 18, 1992, Vancouver), was the daughter
of lieutenant-governor John William Fordham-Johnson (1931-36). University
Players' Club disbanded in 1966 after the launch of UBC's theatre
department. D.Litt (UBC, 1971). Co-founder, Vancouver Little Theatre
with E.V. Young. Frederic Wood Theatre is named for him.
George Woodcock Writer b. May 18, 1912, Winnipeg,
Man.; d. Jan. 28, 1995, Vancouver. A literary intellectual in London,
Eng., 1930s-1940s. Moved to B.C. in 1949. Taught at UBC. Founder/editor,
Canadian Literature (1959-77). A prolific author of over 150 books,
including The Crystal Spirit: a study of George Orwell and British
Columbia, A History of the Province. Winner, Governor-General's
Award (1966). D.Litt (UBC, 1977). First writer made Freeman of the
City of Vancouver (1994). With his wife, Ingeborg, a Jewish refugee
from the Third Reich, supported refugee causes and founded Tibetan
Refugee Aid Society. Biblio: Letters to the Past; Beyond the Blue
Steve (Stephen Francis) Woodman Entertainer
b. Aug. 24, 1927, Saskatoon, Sask.; d. March 13, 1990, Vancouver.
The "man of 1,000 voices" on popular radio and TV shows
from CKUA Edmonton to WNBC New York. Interviewed Bing Crosby, the
Beatles and the chimp, J. Fred Muggs. The first Ronald McDonald
in L.A., where he hosted a TV show and performed in movies and award-winning
commercials with legendary Mel Blanc. Moved to Vancouver in 1971.
Appeared on network CBC as "Squeaky the Milk Elf" and
wacky Dr. Bundolo (recorded live at UBC's student union building).
Hosted CKWX's Steve's Place and Vancouver Variety Club telethons.
After a 1974 telethon, a car accident on black ice nearly took his
life and ended his career.
Frank Everett Woodside “Mining's Grand
Old Man” b. Dec. 8, 1874, Hamilton, PEI; d. Oct. 14, 1954,
Vancouver. A sixth generation Canadian, he left home at 16 to mine in Colorado and Rossland, B.C. As secretary, Western Federation of Miners, helped pass B.C.'s eight-hour-day bill (1898). Came to Vancouver in 1903. In 1910, lobbied to end Hastings Townsite's ties with Burnaby and join Vancouver. The vote was held at 2598 Eton, adjacent to Frank's home (2594 Eton, now a heritage site). First alderman for Hastings Townsite area (1911-28). Charter member, B.C. Chamber of Mines (1912); president (1922-28). In 1922, Big Frank began a winter night school for prospectors. A mountain in the Fraser Valley is named for him.
Charles A. Woodward Department store founder
b. July 19, 1852, on a farm near Hamilton, Ont.; d. June 2, 1937,
Vancouver. His first business venture was in a log cabin on Manitoulin
Island, Ont. In 1891, visited Vancouver and bought two lots for
a store, moving west in 1892. Woodward's drug department opened
in 1895. In 1901, he took an option on a lot at 101 Hastings and
incorporated as Woodward's Department Stores. The first store opened
in November 1903. In 1910, it held its first one-price sale day,
25 Cents Day, a forerunner of $1.49 Day. Named to Canadian Business
Hall of Fame (1966). Biblio: The Woodwards by Douglas Harker.
Chunky (Charles Nanby Wynn) Woodward Retailer
b. March 23, 1924, Vancouver; d. April 27, 1990, Vancouver. Grandson
of Charles A. Woodward and son of W.C. Woodward. In 1946, joined
Woodward's Department Store. Fought in WWII with 12th Manitoba Dragoons.
In October 1956, named president of Woodward's B.C. and Alberta
chain. Involved in B.C. Place Stadium and Whistler Mountain developments.
Worked with horses at his 220,000-hectare Douglas Lake ranch; established
rodeo circuits across Western Canada. Received W.A.C. Bennett Award
for sports contributions from B.C. Sports Hall of Fame (1986). Resigned
as Woodward's president in 1988. The firm was purchased by The Bay
William Culham Woodward Retailer, lieutenant-governor
b. April 24, 1885, Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island, Ont.; d. Feb. 24,
1957, Hawaii. Came to Vancouver with father Charles Woodward. At
16, worked as a $15/month Royal Bank clerk. In 1908, joined Woodward's
as bookkeeper. Served with First Canadian Heavy Artillery, then
with Occupation forces (1916-18). Honorable colonel of 15th Field
Regiment (RCA), 1932. During WWII, served without pay as executive
assistant to munitions and supply minister C.D. Howe. Lieutenant-governor
(Sept. 5, 1941-46). Ran Woodward Stores with brother Percival Archibald
Woodward to 1956 when his son Chunky Woodward became president.
That same year, named colonel at large of the militia, a rank created
for him by defense minister Ralph Campney.
George Harvey Worthington Drug store chain
founder b. c. 1876, on a farm near Guelph, Ont.; d. May 13, 1954,
Vancouver. Ontario College of Pharmacy graduate (1898). Spent a
year in New York as a drug clerk, then opened pharmacies in Guelph
and Toronto. Graduated in medicine (U. of T, 1908). Came to Vancouver
in 1909, working as a doctor to 1919 when he established Vancouver
Drug Co. Alderman for Ward Six (1924-26), he founded the Vancouver
Water District. In 1926, ran for mayor but lost to L.D. Taylor.
Alderman (1940-44). Ran again for mayor but lost to J.W. Cornett.
Retired in 1939, selling 23 drugstores to Cunningham's. In memory
of two sons killed in WWII, he willed $100,000 to UBC.
Ben Wosk Furniture merchant b. March 19, 1913,
Vradiavka (near Odessa) Russia; d. Jan. 24, 1995, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Arrived at Vancouver in 1929 from Russia with his family. By 1932,
he was dealing in old stoves from a small shop on Granville. Founded
Wosk's Ltd. which owned and operated furniture and appliance stores,
hotels and apartment buildings. With brother Abram (Abe) Wosk, the
president of Schara Tzedeck synagogue, he chaired the synagogues
Burn the Mortgage campaign in 1953. For his community work with
the B.C. Heart Foundation, Vancouver Epilepsy Centre, Boy Scouts
and other causes, The Native Sons of B.C. named him Good Citizen
of the Year (1975). Member, Order of Canada (1978).
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