British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1986

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 Published by the British Columbia Historical Federation
Volume 19    No. 3
Member societies and their secretaries are responsible for seeing that the correct addresses
for their society and for its member subscribers are up-to-date. Please send changes to both
the treasurer and the editor whose addresses are at the bottom of the next page. The Annual
Report as at October 31 should show a telephone number for contact.
Member dues for the year 1984-85 (Volume 18) were paid by the following member
Alberni District Historical Society, Box 284, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M7
Atlin Historical Society, P.O. Box 111, Atlin, B.C. VOW 1A0
BCHF — Gulf Island Branch, c/o Mrs. Ann Johnston, RR 1 Mayne Island VON 2J0
BCHF — Victoria Branch, c/o Zane Lewis, 1535 Westall, Avenue, Victoria, B.C. V8T 2G6
Burnaby Historical Society, c/o 6349 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C. V5E 3P3
Chemainus Valley Historical Society, P.O. Box 172, Chemainus, B.C. VOR 1K0
Cowichan Historical Society, P.O. Box 1014, Duncan, B.C. V9L 3Y2
District 69 Historical Society, P.O. Box 3014, Parksville, B.C. VOR 2S0
East Kootenay Historical Association, P.O. Box 74, Cranbrook, B.C. V1C 4H6
Galiano Historical and Cultural Society, P.O. Box 10, Galiano, B.C. VON 1P0
Golden & District Historical Society, Box 992, Golden, B.C. VOA 1H0
Ladysmith New Horizons Historical Society, c/o Mrs. V. Cull, R.R. #2, Ladysmith, B.C. VOR 2E0
Lantzville Historical Society, c/o Susan Crayston, Box 76, Lantzville, B.C. VOR 2H0
Nanaimo Historical Society, P.O. Box 933, Station 'A', Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
Nanooa Historical & Museum Society, RR 1, Box 5, Kinghorn Rd., Nanoose Bay, B.C. VOR 2R0
North Shore Historical Society, c/o Mrs. Elizabeth L. Grubbe, 623 East 10th Street, North Vancouver,
B.C. V7L 2E9
Princeton & District Pioneer Museum and Archives, Box 687, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
Qualicum Beach Historical & Museum Society, c/o Mrs. Cora Skipsey, P.O. Box 352, Qualicum Beach,
B.C. VOR 2T0
Saltspring Island Historical Society, P.O. Box 1487, Ganges, B.C. VOS 1E0
Sidney and North Saanich Historical Society, c/o B. Peirson, 9781 Third Street, Sidney, B.C. V8L 3A5
Silvery Slocal Historical Society, P.O. Box 301, New Denver, B.C. VOG 1S0
Trail Historical Society, P.O. Box 405, Trail, B.C. V1R 4L7
Valemount Historical Society, P.O. Box 850, Valemount, B.C. VOE 2A0
Vancouver Historical Society, P.O. Box 3071, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X6
West Vancouver Museum & Historical Society, P.O. Box 91785, West Vancouver, B.C. V7V 4S1
Affiliated Groups
B.C. Museum of Mining, P.O. Box 155, Britannia Beach, B.C. VON 1J0
City of White Rock Museum Archives Society, 1030 Martin St., White Rock, B.C. V4B 5E3
Fort Steele Heritage Park, Fort Steele, B.C. VOB 1N0
The Hallmark Society, 207 Government Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 2K8
Nanaimo Centennial Museum Society, 100 Cameron Road, Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2X1 BRITISH COLUMBIA
Volume 19   No. 3
What Manner of Man was Captain Vancouver
by W. Kaye Lamb       5
"The Landing of Captain Vancouver"
by Leonard G. McCann     7
Writing Competition        9
Our Town
Compiled by Esther Birney    10
Vancouver from the Lower Valley—A Personal View
by Morag Maclachlan      13
Early Squamish Indian Settlement in the Vancouver Area
by Helen Akrigg   14
"Aristocratic" Granville Street
by Robert A.J. McDonald     15
The Ship That Saved Vancouver
by David Wynne Griffiths      ■'
B.C. Studies Conference   19
Elek Imredy—Vancouver Sculptor
by Esther Birney     20
Mildred Fahrni—The Making of a Pacifist
by Irene Howard     21
Frank Hart, His Opera House, and Other Frontier Ventures
By Doug McCallum     24
News and Notes
History and the Japanese Canadian Citizen      30
Fort Langley National Historic Park   30
Sooke Story on Screen     30
Vancouver in Print    • •■  31
Vancouver Short Stories, ed. Carole Garson; review by Brenda McGillveray  32
Samuel Maclure, Architect, by Janet Bingham; review by Susan Pookey     32
New Entries in the 1985 B.C. Historical Writing Competition     33
Vancouver Centennial Bibliography     34
Second-class mail registration number 4447.
Published fall, winter, spring, and summer by the British Columbia Historical Federation, P.O. Box 35326 Station E
Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5. Our Charitable Donations number is 0404681-52-27. Printed by Dynaprint, Victoria!
Manuscripts and correspondence for the editor are to be addressed to 1745 Taylor St., Victoria, B.C. V8R3E8. Send all
other correspondence, including changes of address, to the Vancouver address given above.
Subscriptions: Institutional $16.00 per year; Individual (non-members) $8.00 per year.
The B.C. Historical Federation gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the British Columbia Heritage
Trust. Cover Story
Our cover portrays a relaxed Major J.S. Matthews with
his beloved chinchilla cat Jack. It was taken on March
18, 1950, the day of Jack's 20th birthday. The Major
(1878-1970) was 72 at this time.
Vancouver owes a gread debt to this redoubtable
man who, with stubborn energy and despite little
encouragement, overcame the obstacles he encountered in his drive to save the physical evidences of
Vancouver's past. In so doing he laid the foundations
of Vancouver's excellent public archives.
His memory and the gratitude his accomplishment
evokes remains ever fresh in the minds of those who,
in any way, are involved with the Vancouver City
Deadline for the next issue of the B.C. Historical News
is June 1,1986. Please submit articles and reports to:
The Editor,
c/o Box 35326, Station E
Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4C5
How does one write a first ever editorial? I suppose by
recalling editorials enjoyed in the past and emulating
them. I have liked best those in which the editor
spoke directly to the reader, communicating his
hopes and fears for the work he has sent on its way.
After flailing around like a peculiarly ill-adapted
sheep in a snowstorm, I realised that my ambition was
way ahead of my experience and that my task was not
to outshine Braudel in bringing a timeless opus to
fruition, bu to assemble a few articles relevant to
Vancouver at this time. Now my efforts are in your
hands. Braudel rests unchallenged and I humbly
express the hope that what has been assembled will
be of interest.
Finally, I have learned to appreciate all editors who
undertook to motivate others; theirs is a formidable
To those who responded my grateful thanks; to you,
the reader, forgive the errors and omissions. I did my
Esther Birney
I wish to subscribe to B.C. Historical News. I enclose a cheque or money order payable to the
B.C. Historical Federation, P.O. Box 35326, Station E, Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5.
Individual ..
Four issues for $8.00 (_
Four issues for $16.00 (.
Page 4
British Columbia Historical News W. Kaye Lamb
What Manner of
Man was Captain
Very few of the half million words comprising Captain
Vancouver's published journal are devoted to
anything of a personal nature, but in spite of this it tells
us a good deal about the man himself. To begin with,
both the journal and his letters show a literary
competence that is remarkable in a man who went to
sea at the age of fourteen and had no opportunity for
any formal education thereafter. The journal is much
more than the "plain unvarnished relation" that
Vancouver warned his readers to expect; it is a highly
competent narrative, as detailed and conscientious as
the survey it chronicles.
Now and then quirks and fancies appear briefly. In
his tastes for scenery Vancouver was a man of his time;
he preferred his landscapes trim and tidy. Thus when
he climbed to the top of Protection Island he was
delighted to find a landscape "almost as enchantingly
beautiful as the most elegantly finished pleasure
grounds of Europe." But the rugged scenery along the
Northwest Coast, which now attracts tourists by the
tens of thousands, had no appeal. As his great survey
was ending he informed the Admiralty that his journal
for the season was "mostly a repetition of describing
the dreary and inhospitable countries, similar to what
has already been noticed in my journal of our
excursion during the summer of last year."
It is more difficult to judge whether Vancouver
subscribed to the concept of the "noble savage" that
was current in his day. Prudence dictated that he
should try and establish good relations with native
chiefs, but in some instances, notably in the case of
Pomurrey in Tahiti, Kamekameha in Hawaii, and
Maquinna at Nootka, warm personal friendships
developed. One of Vancouver's biographers comments upon his "uncanny ability for sifting out the
various ranks and relative importance of the native
chiefs, and treating each with the deference due to his
rank and position." Nootka was the only place on the
British Columbia coast where Vancouver tarried for
any length of time, and he was fortunate there to be
able to build upon the good relations that Quadra, his
Spanish counterpart, had established with Chief
Maquinna and the Indians. Mozino, the Spanish
botanist who was at Nootka in 1792, commented in his
journal: "The English commandant was no less
humane toward the Indians than the Spanish had
been. Both left an example of goodness among them.
'Cococoa [like] Quadra,' they say, 'Cococoa
Vancouver,' when they want to praise the good
treatment of any of the captains who command the
other ships."
Away from Nootka, Vancouver was much less
inclined to trust the Indians, and with good reason. He
was much disturbed by the fact that almost
everywhere they had secured guns from trading ships,
and they offered a constant threat to the ships' boats
(the largest of which was no more than twenty-four
feet in length) which did most of the detailed
examination of the innumerable inlets along the
coast. Indeed, Vancouver was convinced that his
survey was being carried out just in time — even one
year later he thought the dangers might have become
too great. Even as it was, he was often worried about
the safety of boats. It so happened that those that
carried out the last survey were much overdue in
returning to the ships, and as the days slipped by
Vancouver's anxiety for their safety became acute. He
feared that he "had at length hazarded our little boats,
with the small force they were able to take for their
defence, once too often."
This would tend to contradict the charges that
Vancouver was brutal, tyrranical, bad tempered and
given to violent language. There is some evidence to
support the charges, but it is only fair to remember
two circumstances. First, his health was failing; his
irritability can be ascribed to the myxoedema from
which he was suffering to an ever increasing degree,
and which would cause his death only two and a half
years after he returned to England. Secondly, he was
experiencing for the first time what has been well
described as the loneliness of command: he was far
from any superior authority to whom he could appeal
for support in case of need. Discipline was of crucial
importance. True, floggings in the Discovery were
relatively severe and frequent, but it is also true that
the crew included a hard core of offenders who were
punished time after time. And punishments in the
tender Chatham, commanded by Peter Puget, were
equally severe.
There is no doubt that Vancouver indulged in the
baiting of midshipmen, which was then common in
the Navy. Possibly it was regarded as a way to toughen
up the youngsters. We are told that none of the dozen
middies in the Discovery would dine with Vancouver
except one who was the son of the agent in London
who looked after his affairs in his absence. One
common punishment was to send a midshipman to
the masthead and neglect to order him down for a
lengthy period. Restrictions on shore leave, and on
visiting between the ships, even after a long spell at
sea, were naturally resented. But there is another side
to this coin. Not all the midshipmen were models of
good behaviour. Those in the Discovery included
Thomas Pitt, who in the course of the voyage
British Columbia Historical News
Page 5 succeeded to the title of Baron Camelford, a likeable
but undisciplined youth who irritated Vancouver
almost beyond endurance. In the end Vancouver
seized an opportunity in Hawaii to discharge him and
send him back to England. Later young Pitt was to
make much of this, but it is seldom noticed that Puget
suffered from a like affliction in the Chatham in the
person of midshipman Augustus Boyd Grant, a most
unsavoury youth. Puget was happy to send him
packing, along with Thomas Pitt.
The most critical comments about Vancouver were
made by another midshipman, Thomas Manby.
Writing to a personal friend from Monterey in January
1793, he charged that the Captain had "grown
Haughty, Proud, Mean and Insolent" which had "kept
himself and Officers in a continual state of wrangling
during the whole of the Voyage." This was certainly an
exaggeration and was probably prompted by an
unfortunate incident when Manby was temporarily in
command of the launch that accompanied Vancouver
in the cutter when he explored Jervis Inlet. Darkness
fell and this prevented Manby from seeing that
Vancouver had changed course. Left without compass
or food, Manby and his crew had a quite desperate
experience finding their way back to Discovery at
Birch Bay. Vancouver, probably torn by anxiety about
the fate of the launch, returned in a fury. "His
salutation," Manby recorded, "I can never forget, and
his language I shall never forgive, unless he withdraws
his words by a satisfactory apology." But Vancouver
did not hold a grudge; he appointed Manby Master of
the Chatham only two months after the Jervis Inlet
mishap, and he made him 3rd Lieutenant of the
Discovery before the voyage ended.
Neither Manby nor any of the other midshipmen
had any cause for complaint about Vancouver's
concern for their future after the expedition returned
to England. They had all served more than sufficient
time to entitle them to sit for the examinations for
lieutenant (Manby's appointement during the voyage
ranked only as acting rank), and Vancouver took pains
to see that they were promoted without delay. It is
interesting to learn that his recommendations carried
so much weight that they were promoted without
being questioned, as Robert Barrie related to his
mother: "When we appear'd before the great men to
pass out examinations, they tould us they thought it
would be presumption in them to ask any questions so
they pass'd us bye wishing us all a speedy promotion."
Of the several personal and unofficial journals of
the expedition, the most valuable is that of Archibald
Menzies, who had served in the Navy as a surgeon but
sailed with Vancouver as botanist and naturalist.
Strictly speaking, he was thus not accountable to
Vancouver, but in the course of the voyage the
Discovery's surgeon became incapacitated, and
Vancouver insisted that Menzies take over,
Vancouver was indifferent to the claims of botany,
and in particular to those of the midget greenhouse
that had been built on the quarter deck to enable
Menzies to bring back rare plants for the Royal
Botanic Gardens at Kew. Bad luck and bad weather
cost Menzies many specimens, but the most
exasperating loss came when the Discovery was within
six weeks of the end of her very long voyage. Without
warning Menzies, Vancouver removed the seaman
who was supposed to guard the greenhouse, it was
left uncovered, a heavy downpour of rain happened
along, and most of the delicate specimens in it were
ruined. Understandably upset, Menzies complained
to Vancouver, who promptly accused him of having
treated him with "great contempt and disrespect" and
placed him under arrest. The matter was settled
amicably after Vancouver and Menzies reached
London, and in spite of this and other lesser incidents,
Menzies recognized Vancouver's remarkable
qualities as a marine surveyor. In his old age, recalling
the voyage, he paid a tribute to Vancouver that ended
with the words: "He was a great captain."
Contrary to appearances, there was a softer side to
Vancouver's nature. Though he saw them seldom, he
was much attached to his family. He named Mary
Point and Sarah Point, on opposite sides of the
channel between Cortes Island and the Malaspina
Peninsula after his sisters, and the Lynn Canal, Berners
Bay and Point Couverden recall King's Lynn, where he
was born, his mother's maiden name and the ancestral,
home of the Vancouver family in Holland. He had a
special affection for his brother John, who was to
complete the text of his journal for publication after
Vancouver's death. One personal letter to John
survives. It was written at Nootka in September 1794,
just after Vancouver had completed his great coastal
survey. Its closing salutation reads: "I am My Dearest
Van Unalterably your ever affectionate & Sincere
friend and Brother". Crew members had been strictly
forbidden to give any indication in their letters as to
where the Discovery had been, and Vancouver held
strictly to the rule himself, even in this personal letter
to his brother. "You must therefore," he wrote, "be
content in being informed of my welfare so far..."
Just a week before the Discovery reached Shannon,
her cutter was accidentally "stove intirely to pieces"
when being hoisted on board. Vancouver's reaction
was noteworthy: "The cutter was the boat I had
constantly used; in her I had travelled many miles; in
her I had repeatedly escaped from danger; she had
always brought me safely home; and, although she
was but an inanimate conveniency...yet I felt myself
under such an obligation to her services, that when
she was dashed to pieces before my eyes, an
involuntary emotion suddenly seized my breast, and I
was compelled to turn away to hide a weakness...I
should have thought improper to have publicly
Sentiment was a not unimportant element in
Vancouver's makeup.
Kaye Lamb is former Provincial Librarian & Archivist
(Victoria), and   former Dominion Archivist & National Librarian.
Page 6
British Columbia Historical News Leonard G. McCann
"The Landing of Captain Vancouver"
From Pier B.C. to the Maritime Museum
An innocuous-sounding title for a commission to an
already established artist from whom, having been
given appropriate historical data, one could expect a
depiction that would fully satisfy all requirements.
Indeed! But then — does the painting of "The
Landing of Captain Vancouver" by Marion Powers
Kirkpatrick really meet all the requirements of its
This rather large mural was recently reintroduced
to its Vancouver public on the occasion of the
opening of the Vancouver Maritime Museum's
exhibition on the C.P.R.'s British Columbia Coast
Steamship Service, entitled The Princess and her
Families on January 21,1986. (Prior to that time it had
made an initial brief appearance in the Vancouver
Museum's Lost Vancouver show but without any of
the following information.)
The puzzlements with the painting start right with
its inception; who commissioned it? But let's go even
further back and start with the artist, Marion Powers.
There the questions are even thicker. We do not
know, at this time, when she was born. We do know
that it was in London, England, of American parents.
She apparently studied at the prestigious Slade School
and also under a teacher, Garrido, in Paris. This took
British Columbia Historical News
Page 7 place sometime in the 1890s. Her first public appearance that we can trace was a notable one; she
exhibited at the Salon at Paris in 1904 and her entry,
Tresors, was bought by the French Government for
installation in the Luxembourg Palace. In 1905 she
exhibited at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool and, in
1906, had two paintings accepted and hung at the
Royal Academy exhibition of that year. In the same
year, she moved to Maine and from thereon
maintained a residence in that state. In 1907 she
exhibited in Philadelphia, winning the Lippincot
Prize. (The only other woman painter ever to do so
has been Mary Cassatt.) In 1908 she married Walter
Arber Brown Kirkpatrick of London, himself a
painter. They set up separate professional identities.
From thereon. Marion Powers Kirkpatrick gained a
reputation for portrait painting and, especially, for
illustrations in periodicals — besides winning awards
in various exhibitions around the continent. In 1915,
she was awarded her first commission as a mural
painter, that of depicting The Landing of Captain
Vancouver for installation in the new Hotel
Vancouver, Vancouver, B.C. (This was the second
Hotel Vancouver — the one demolished in 1949.) In
1919, she exhibited in the Doll & Richards Gallery in
Boston. But, after 1939, her name no longer appeared
in any art directory — nor can any other information
presently be located.
When the painting was first exhibited at the artist's
studio in Fenway Court, Boston, on June 24,1915, the
local critics gave it very high praise for concept,
colour execution and vigorous brush work. Emphatic
comment was made that it was based on correct
historical information forwarded to the artist.
There is no extant clue as to who supplied the
information — or what it consisted of. However, the
interpretation as provided to the critics would
indicate that some rather unusual information was
supplied to the artist. A synthesis of three critics'
columns turn up the following intriguing statements:
1. Captain Vancouver has landed from the Discovery
at Nootka Sound to inform Captain Quadra, the
Spanish Commander of the Island, that he must
give back the Island that the Spaniards took from
the British — or they would go to war!
2. The Spaniards are delighted to hand back the
Island and a friendly handshake is about to seal the
deal. A love feast with fruits of the soil is being
prepared for the celebration of the occasion.
3. The surrender party is on the left in appropriate
military attire. On the right is a group of soldiers,
buccaneers and Indians —which includes Alaskan
Indians watching from the background and an
Indian woman, nude to the waist in the mid-
ground. The blonde baby can certainly be Spanish
in origin.
4. The name of the island is later changed to that of
Vancouver and this surrender site is now where the
city of Vancouver stands.
From George Vancouver's "A Voyage of
Discovery...." the following paragraph possibly
served as the basis for the main historical information
provided to Mrs. Kirkpatrick.
"Agreeably to his engagement, Senor Quadra with
several of his officers came on board the Discovery,
on Wednesday the 29th, where they breakfasted,
and were saluted with thirteen guns on their arrival
and departure: the day was afterwards spent in
ceremonious offices of civility, with much
harmony and festivity. As many officers as could be
spared from the vessels with myself dined with
Senor Quadra, and were gratified with a repast we
had lately been little accustomed to, or had the
most distant idea of meeting with at this place. A
dinner of five courses, consisting of a superfluity of
the best provisions, was served with great
elegance; a royal salute was fired on drinking
health to the sovereigns of England and Spain, and
a salute of seventeen guns to the success of the
service in which the Discovery and Chatham were
However, how bananas, grapes, melons and other
fruits translate into a 'superfluity of the best
provisions' at Nootka in August in 1792, along with
barrel tops and clay jugs passing as "...served with
great elegance", let alone the somewhat distracting
qualities of the servitors, is an interpretation that only
the artist could best answer. Maybe the critics did
have a sort of feeling that something was slightly awry
in the 'historical information' that was forwarded to
the artist.
To return to the commissioning and the painting's
placement(s). As stated, we do not know how or who
commissioned it. It could have come from Francis
Rattenbury, the architect of the first wing of the new
Hotel Vancouver (a bit unlikely, though); more likely
it was from Francis S. Swales, the ultimate architect of
the whole structure who, in a major article in The
Architect for August 1916 (vol. XII, no. 2),commented
on it in the following terms:
"A beautifully composed and richly coloured
decorative picture in the central lunette over the
back bar, painted by Marion Powers Kirkpatrick of
Boston, is comparable with the work of Frank
Brangwyn and gives the necessary glowing note of
colour that prevents what might otherwise be a
sombre effect."
However, some of the publicity released in Boston
on the painting's completion in 1915 indicates that its
destination was the Hotel Vancouver's Main Room (?)
at some eight feet above the floor. There are photos
showing it in both the back-of-the-bar site and in the
Minstrel Gallery of the Main Dining Room in the '30s.
So, where was it really destined for? The advent of
prohibition in 1917 presumably closed down the
operations of the bar so the painting (which by local
newspaper accounts cost $6,000) would certainly have
merited a move elsewhere — though it must have
Page 8
British Columbia Historical News been a rather awkward item to slide around as its
measurements are approximately 16' by 8' and it
weighs in at around 200 lbs.
Its final C.P.R. years were passed in an area where
probably hundreds of thousands of Vancouverites
and others gazed on it without registering much
more than its existence. That was in the lobby of Pier
B.C., the C.P.R.'s base for the fleet of the B.C. Coast
Steamship Service after 1938 — and prior to that, the
home of the trans-Pacific White Empresses. The
painting was installed, and again we do not know
when, over the double doors in the lobby that lead to
the walkway along the roof over the sheds of the Pier.
There it hung until 1980 when, a few days before the
building was demolished, it was presented to the
Vancouver Maritime Museum by the demolition
contractors and by the Pier B.C. Corporation.
I am most indebted to Miss Evelyn McMann for
joyously aiding and abetting in the tracking down of
the elusive Marion Powers Kirkpatrick who, however,
still firmly remains in some partial shadows. But her
chef-d'oeuvre is very much a part of Vancouver City's
visual record. With luck, its travails and travels have
now ceased and it will become a better-known object
of the city's artistic patrimony. But there are still some
unanswered questions!
Leonard G. McCann is Curator of the Vancouver
Maritime Museum.
Don't Forget!
Subscribe now if you're not
receiving the News regularly.
Writing Competition
The British Columbia Historical Federation invites
submission of books or articles for the fourth annual
competition for writers of British Columbia History.
Any book with historical content published in 1985
is eligible. Whether the work was prepared as a thesis
or a community project, for an industry or an
organization, or just for the pleasure of sharing a
pioneer's reminiscences, it is considered history as
iong as names, dates and locations are included.
Stories told in the vernacular are acceptable when
indicated as quotations of a story teller. Writers are
advised that judges are looking for fresh presentation
of historical information with relevant maps and/or
pictures. A Table of Contents and an adequate Index
are a must for the book to be of value as a historical
reference. A Bibliography is also desirable. Proof
reading should be thorough to eliminate typographical and spelling errors.
Book contest deadline is January 31, 1987.
There will also be a prize for the writer of the best
historical article published in the British Columbia
Historical News quarterly magazine. Written length
should be no more than 2,500 words, substantiated
with footnotes if possible, and accompanied by
photographs if available. Deadlines for the quarterly
issues are September 1, December 1, March 1, and
June 1.
Submit your book or article with your name,
address, and telephone number to:
British Columbia Historical Federation
c/o Mrs. Naomi Miller
Box 105
Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
Please include the selling price of the book and an
address from where it may be purchased.
Winners will be invited to the British Columbia
Historical Federation Convention in Mission in May,
British Columbia Historical News
Page 9 Compiled by Esther Birney
Our Town
Vancouver was then only a little town, but it was
growing hard. Almost every day you saw more of
her forest being pushed back, half-cleared,
waiting to be drained and built upon — mile
upon mile of charred stumps and boggy skunk-
cabbage swamp, root-holes filled with brown
stagnant water, reflecting blue sky by day, rasping
with frogs' croaks by night; fireweed rank of
growth, springing from dour soil to burst into
loose-hung, lush pink blossoms, dangling from
red stalks, their clusters of loveliness trying to
hide the hideous transition from wild to tamed
land. I took my classes into the woods and along
Vancouver's waterfront to sketch. We sat on
beaches over which great docks and stations are
now built, we clambered up and down wooded
banks solid now with Vancouver's commercial
buildings. Stanley Park at that time was just seven
miles of virgin forest, three quarters surrounded
by sea.
From: Growing Pains by Emily Carr
Fourteen-year-old Chin had arrived in Canada
registered as a student to avoid the head tax.
Soon he was sweating in his uncle's laundry and
attending night classes. The class seethed with
rebellion. Why learn English when no white
Canadian would speak to a Chinaman? The more
you learned the better you understood their
insults. You didn't need English working in
laundries or canneries. The young rowdies
attended classes only to keep their immigration
records clean.
From: "Mr. Chin and Mr. Goh" — An
unpublished short story by Paul Yee, author of
Lilian Hoo (1986)
Vancouver, the Liverpool of the Pacific, is one of
the municipal wonders of the 20th century. Every
man and woman of intelligence has nothing but
words of praise for Vancouver and her
surroundings. The visitor, the commercial
traveller, the soldier general, the foreign
diplomat, the poet who bursts into spontaneous
song as he views the wonderful possibilities of
our glorious city — all are in unison...people in
search of homes dropped anchor and pitched
their tents for all time in the city of Vancouver.
A feature contributing very materially to the
brilliant effects witnessed on the streets is the
large number of effective "electric" signs seen
on the business houses. These beautiful signs not
only work at night while the owners of business
establishments are asleep and are a source of
profit to the proprietors, but are also a source of
delight and comfort to the throngs of
pedestrians on the City's thoroughfares.
Sign in the window of E.W. Maclean [real estate
"$100 will buy 50 foot lot in North Vancouver.
Terms are easy, 1/4 cash — balance in 6-12-18
From: Greater Vancouver Illustrated —
Published by Dominion Illustrating Co.
Vancouver (c. 1910)
"There is a second way that lies between
Vancouver and New Westminster. It is called the
river road. The river is the Fraser River ... On the
high north side of the road there is still some
forest or large bush, and there is the agreeable
illusion ... that the road will keep its intricate
quality of appearing to be far removed from a
city. But over a ridge that descends to the road the
city of Vancouver is crawling on. Bulldozers are
levelling the small trees and laying bare a pale and
stony soil. The landscape is being despoiled as it
must be on behalf of ... all the amenities of
living, learning, playing, and dying."
From the Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson
"Rachel wrote to her cousin Elise..."lt is so lovely,
Elise, that I feel I've wasted my life in not living
here before...You will hardly believe it but
Stephen drove us, carriage and all, into a hollow
tree where we sat in the carriage and had our
pictures taken...."
Page 10
British Columbia Historical News "If you arrive in Vancouver on a fine day and go
up into a high will come under the
immediate spell of the mountains...and of the
dark coniferous forests. You will see high
headlands sloping westwards into the Pacific
Ocean, and islands beyond. And then you will
turn again and look across the blue inlet at the
mountains which in their turn look down upon
the grace and strength of the Lion's Gate Bridge,
upon the powerful flow of the Narrows, upon
English Bay, upon the harbour, and upon the
large city of Vancouver."
"In the days of tents and shacks by the water
edge, and of Gassy Jack Deighton's saloon, the
settlement had been called Gastown. Then with
a rush of self-consciousness it became Granville.
And then came the perfect name of meaning
and destiny — Vancouver."
From The Innocent Traveller by Ethel Wilson
June 13,1886: "The roar of the fire and the flames
and the smoke going over us was like the
pictures of the bottomless pit that our first
Presbyterian Minister used to cheer us with
when we were children."
Oct. 13,1886: "The first loan obtained by ;the
city was for the sum of $6,900 for the purchase of
a fire engine, hose reel and other equipment."
"I have never felt so distinctly the sense of
approaching a country back to front. Vancouver
is the natural terminus of the long east-west
migration that starts from Europe and crosses the
Atlantic Ocean and the North American
continent...when [the Europeans] reached this
shore with the stagnant waters shaded by pines
and maples, the long westward march was over.
There was nothing more for them to do but sit
down and admire the sunset...The tall wet trees
in Stanley Park are shaking themselves in the
wind, like dogs after a swim, and their woody
smell clashes with the reek of mud and seaweed
rising from the beach. Nowhere else have I
encountered this strange marriage of sea and
The Royal Yacht Club and its next door
neighbor, the Burrard Yacht Club are a brilliant
shopwindow of dainty yachts, of every possible
design and rig, all streaming with lights. But as
you draw nearer the docks the lights grow
sparser and the boats more workmanlike, until at
last the black, tormented shapes of the old
trawlers, still rotting away here after they have
fished their last, loom up in a sinister half-
light...the horror of these boats reminds one of
the wretched fate of the men, the fishermen who
spent their lives in them.
From: Gemini by Michel Fournier —
translated by Anne Carter, Methuen 1981
In May of 1887 the Canadian Pacific Railway had
come to town and, with it, the world...Vancouver
was the Terminal City of the greatest transportation system the world had yet seen...the first easy
round-the-world tours were made possible, and
the "jet set" of contemporary society passed
through the C.P.R. station...So did Rudyard
Kipling who thought "a great sleepiness lies on
Vancouver as compared with an American
town". But he liked it, and commented on the
"Absence of bustle", the unused spittoons, the
free baths in the hotels, the good streets and the
many Englishmen "who speak the English
tongue correctly." The young city was "not a
very gorgeous place as yet, but (he added) you
can be shot directly from the window of the train
into the liner that will take you in fourteen days
from Vancouver to Yokohama." Kipling bought
property in Fairview, some real estate, a town lot
he described as "some four hundred well-
developed pines and a few thousand tons of
granite scattered in blocks at the roots of the
pines, and a sprinkling of earth."
From: Vancouver Observed — The First Ten
Years; by Gordon Elliot — Vancouver
Historical Society — Newsletter, Vol. 16, No. 4,
p. 5 — Jan. 1977
Our souls have their own geographical loyalties,
quite distinct from such tastes as we ourselves
may have cultivated...
Give me...the Desert or the Mediterranean or,
better still for a long stay, our exquisitely
temperate southern England. But this is not what
my soul says. It is when we cross latitude 55 and
reach the North that my soul, quite without any
prompting from me, cries out in delight. I
remember such a cry when we had been
travelling as far south as Tahiti and had seen all
that is lushest on this earth...and then had flown
north, to find ourselves in British Columbia. And
at the sight of the cold peaks there, the slopes of
pine and fir, the streams that looked as if they
came from springs of creme de menthe ... the
infinitely hopeful green of the valleys, the pale
hollow of the sky, it was not I, who have no
particular taste or fancy for these things, but the
soul within me that sent up a shout of delight. As
British Columbia Historical News
Page 11 if at last I had brought it home. But why, when I
have never lived in such places nor choose to
make holiday in them, my soul should behave
like this is a mystery to me.
From "Seeing the North", Delight by ,J.B.
Priestley (New York, 1971), p. 141.
This excerpt from an editorial in the Mainland
Guardian, was a response to a speech by John
Robson claiming that he and David Oppenheimer
were the fathers of Vancouver.
Surely the large audience that listened to Mr.
Robson, when making that statement about the
joint paternity of Vancouver must have cheered
to the echo. They must have felt proud of a man
who, while being paid by the people to carry on
their business, could be able to spare the time
and thought to evoke a great city from the
wilderness, in conjunction with the civic chief of
Vancouver. Some people may object that the
local Government went beyond their proper
field of duty when they gave six thousand acres
of public land to a railway company to induce
them to extend their line, even when the
extension gave aid and comfort to Messrs.
Robson and Oppenheimer in the work they had
entered upon the creation of the city of
Mainland Guardian, October 3, 1888, page 2.
It is evident that the pictures, lent to us here in
Vancouver, some by that coterie of Canadian
artists known as the "Group of Seven", and some
by the National Gallery of Canada are stirring up
a great controversy. People are writing letters to
us about them and some of these letters are very
scornful and indignant. Rev. J. Williams Ogden,
for instance, who is a doctor of divinity says that
most of these pictures should be taken out and
burnt — which is pretty strong language for a
divine, it seems to us. Dr. Ogden says these
pictures are freaks, grotesque in color and in
drawing. He thinks they should never have been
admitted to a representative exhibition of
Canadian art in Vancouver at all. In fact Dr.
Ogden is so worked up by these provocative
pictures that he almost suggests that the people
responsible for bringing them here should be
taken out and burnt as well.
Da/7y Province, August 15, 1928, page 6.
CITY LOTS — "Come buy of me!"
The oddly cautionary verse which appears below
was published in the New Westminster
Mainland Guardian. We are indebted to Angela
McClarty, one of Professor Gresko's history
students at Douglas College, for it and for the
following remarks which we have taken from her
study of the contents of the Guardian for Aug. 14,
"Realizing the value of mass-communication
through the newspaper, the businessmen of
New Westminster, Vancouver and even Victoria
advertised in the Mainland Guardian. Some of
the major advertisers were real estate men...of
the ads listing land for sale, most of the land was
located in downtown New Westminster along
Columbia Street. However, despite the
availability of these city lots (at good prices,
even!) the public preferred to avoid the
downtown core. The overall sentiment of the
public regarding the purchase of city lots was
captured in a poetic advertisement entitled..."
Tom to the lady —
My dear old lady will you buy
A charming city lot?
She answered with a heaving sigh
My darling, I will not.
Boss Tweed, my lord, and Bailie Ross
Shall never tax my cot:
'Tis safer to play pitch and toss
Than trust this precious lot.
I will not buy, I will not build
Because I cannot trust
The Councillors who are all skilled
In making gold of dust.
The sawdust trick has sealed my purse
I'll keep my cash secure;
A city lot is like a curse —
It makes a rich man poor.
Boss Tweed, the Bailie, and my lord
Shall not be my trustees,
The lots which they have power to tax
Are not worth two baubees.
By W. Norman Bole, Mainland Guardian,
August 14, 1886.
Page 12
British Columbia Historical News Morag Maclachlan
Vancouver from the
Lower Valley —A
Personal View
A few years ago I was shopping in downtown
Vancouver one Friday evening and overheard two
saleswomen discussing the Canada Day celebrations
planned for the following Monday.
"I was born in Canada," declared one.
"So was I," said the other. "I was born right here in
B.C. — in Salmon Arm."
"Then I'm more Canadian than you," triumphed
the first. "I was born in Vancouver!"
Salmon Arm said nothing. I did not find this very
funny, but neither did it make me unduly resentful. I
thought of the typical hinterland response — the
Canada-wide "hate Toronto" syndrome; the distrust
in the Okanagan, the Kootenays, the Cariboo and
other diverse regions of the economic dominance of
Vancouver. I thought of past bitterness, still traceable,
in Victoria and New Westminster, both established
before the upstart city that mushroomed with the
coming of the railroad.
But I grew up in Chilliwack, which, in my youth was
the business centre for a flourishing dairy industry.
Although my family lived in the town, I knew that the
farmers in the surrounding municipality had always
had access to markets. The grandparents of the Kipps,
the Chadseys, the Reeces that I went to school with
had come from Upper Canada with an understanding
of the conditions of frontier farming. In the Chilliwack Valley they found areas which required little
clearing and provided crops of "prairie hay" that
brought instant cash returns. The demand for hay,
vegetables, butter and tobacco in the gold fields, and
the availability of a labour force of Indians experienced because of the agricultural operations of the
Hudson's Bay Company, meant that these pioneers,
far from enduring a long period of subsistence
agriculture, were engaged in agricultural industry
immediately. They were on an industrial frontier with
markets, first in the gold fields, then in mining,
logging and construction camps, and, with the
growth of Vancouver, they had access to a large
metropolitan market.
During the 1920s, the decade of my childhood,
farmers in the lower Fraser Valley were organizing a
valley wide co-operative based on earlier joint
ventures. The Lower Mainland Milk and Cream
Shippers' Association was formed to enable dairy
farmers in Langley, Pitt Meadows and on the deltas of
the Fraser to negotiate with retail dealers in
Vancouver whom they believed took advantage of
them. They joined with members of the Chilliwack
Creamery to form the Fraser Valley Milk Producers'
Association. Through this co-operative, valley farmers
built a milk plant at Sardis, a condensary at
Abbotsford, and established a retail outlet in
Vancouver. In this way they controlled the surplus
milk by directing it into manufactured products and
thus maintained stable prices in the most lucrative
market, Vancouver, where the demand for fresh milk
increased with the rapid population growth.
Nowhere in North America were dairy farmers, as far
from a large urban centre as the Chilliwack producers
were from theirs, able to gain a share of that market.
Although the dairy farmers' co-operative, the
Fraser Valley Milk Producers' Association, fought
bitterly with independents, it was a successful venture
which allowed producers to farm independently
while marketing co-operatively. Through the FVMPA
dairy farmers had a powerful mechanism for political
lobbying, for controlling their market and for fighting
opposition. The political and economic alienation
which led to the growth of farm politics elsewhere in
Canada, did not exist in the valley.
The co-operative movements among Prairie
farmers were highly successful but farmers went into
politics because of their grievances against freight and
tariff policies developed in central Canada. Ontario
farmers elected a farmers' party in 1919 because the
rapid industrialization in Ontario created problems.
The growth of Toronto and other manufacturing
centres obliterated small farm centres and gobbled
up agricultural land, creating despair over the
disappearance of a way of life that farmers idealized as
wholesome and good. The proliferation of farm
literature stressing these values and picturing city life
as evil and debilitating had no equal in the lower
Fraser Valley. Valley farmers could distinguish
between those in the city who opposed their interest
and the customers on whom they depended. No one
from Chilliwack, where everyone depended on
dairying, could be resentful of Vancouver, even when
a Vancouverite exhibited smugness.
As a child, I frequently visited the city with my
family, travelling the long road over the newly
drained Sumas Prairie, through the Green Timbers,
which shut out the summer sun, and along Kingsway
to the appropriate turnoff. But we rarely felt like
country cousins. One of my uncles lived at 57th and
Oak and his children had more bush to play in than
we did, and my aunt was more "bushed" than my
mother. From their place a trip downtown seemed
British Columbia Historical News
Page 13 interminable as we rattled on the street car through
miles of wilderness until we came to Shaughnessy
Hospital. Another uncle had an acreage and twenty-
five cows at 54th near Elliot. When we stayed at the
"ranch" we played in the hay and waited our turn for
meals while four hired men ate heartily, we came to
the city to experience country living. Now I realize
that Vancouver had expanded into the wilderness,
much of its growth was controlled by the real estate
policies of the CPR. There was no cause for the bitter
nostalgia over a disappearing way of life so evident in
the farm literature of Ontario.
So the saleslady's suggestion that those born in
Vancouver are more Canadian than the rest of us left
me contemplative but unperturbed. I can never be an
old timer in Vancouver but that is nothing new. My
family arrived in Chilliwack in 1924 and I went to
school with children whose grandparents had come
with the gold rush. Down at the end of Wellington
Avenue on the Indian Reserve were children whose
people had been on the land much longer. Myfamily
members were newcomers in Chilliwack all their
lives, and though I love Vancouverand have lived and
worked here for more than fifteen years, I cheerfully
accept the fact that I am a newcomer. That is, after all,
one of the most common ways of being Canadian.
Morag Maclachlan, M.A., M.Ed., is a former
instructor, History Department, Vancouver
Community College, Langara Campus.
Helen Akrigg
Early Squamish
Indian Settlement in
the Vancouver Area
Although the Musqueam Indians (who had their
permanent villages around the north arm of the
Fraser River), like the Squamish Indians, also utilized
the resources of the Burrard Inlet on a seasonal basis,
the Squamish were the dominant group and the
following discussion is restricted to them.
The Squamish Indians, a group of the Coast Salish
Indians who speak the Squamish language, had their
permanent villages on both sides of the Squamish and
Cheakamus Rivers, and in the Howe Sound area.
Salmon was the mainstay of their diet, and this area
provided excellent salmon fishing — in tact, the
meaning of the Squamish Indian word from which
Cheakamus is derived is 'salmon weir place'.
It appears that in pre-contact times the Squamish
Indians utilized the Burrard Inlet primarily on a
seasonal basis for resource exploitation — clams in
February, herring spawn in March, eulachon run in
April and so on. Another good source of food were
the large herds of elk which lived around False Creek,
Jericho and Point Grey. The Squamish would travel
down Howe Sound in their larger, deeper saltwater
canoes which were about 20 feet long; they had
smaller, flat-bottom canoes for river use. A favourite
camping spot was Horseshoe Bay (cha-high, meaning
For certain periods in pre-contact times there had
been permanent villages around Burrard Inlet, but
smallpox epidemics in the late 1700s and raids by the
feared Lekwiltok Indians had decreased the Indian
population and they had withdrawn to the greater
safety of the Squamish valley. However, with the
coming of the first white settlers to Burrard Inlet,
more and more Squamish Indians moved permanently to Burrard Inlet.
The main Squamish Indian village sites in the
Vancouver area are:
sen akw (meaning possibly 'inside at the head') is on
False Creek and is now known as Kitsilano I.R. #6. The
Indian houses extended from the Maritime Museum
to the new Pennyfarthing development in South False
schilhus ('high bank') is at the end of Pipeline Road in
Stanley Park, where the waterline crosses from
Capilano. August Jack's grandfather, xats'lanexw
(anglicized as Kitsilano), settled here around 1860.
xwayxway ('place of sxwayxwi mask') was a very
important village at a place we know as Lumberman's
temtemixwtn ('place of lots of land') is at Belcarra.
Village was abandoned in the 1830s-1840s.
xwmelch'stn (likely a Squamish pronunciation of a
Musqueam term derived from word referring to fish
'finning' or 'rolling' on the water surface). Located at
original mouth of the Capilano River, east of Lions
Gate Bridge. The word Capilano is the anglicization of
the name of a famous Squamish Indian, ku-yap-LAN-
slha an ('against the edge of the bay') is at mouth of
Mosquito Creek. This Mission I.R. #1 is only a recent
village, coming into existence after the Roman
Catholic Church established a mission about 100years
I should like to acknowledge the great help of
Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy, of the B.C.
Indian Language Project in Victoria, in giving me the
detailed information in this article. Many thanks.
Helen Akrigg is past president of the B.C. Historical
Federation, and with her husband, Philip Akrigg, is
the author of British Columbia Place Names.
Page 14
British Columbia Historical News Robert A.J. McDonald
Granville Street
Time has obscured from historical memory the
unique origins of north Granville Street, one of
Vancouver's most important thoroughfares. Laid out
by L.A. Hamilton, the Canadian Pacific Railway
Company's first land commissioner in Vancouver, the
street acquired a distinctive personality in the late
1880s through the CPR's enthusiastic pursuit of real
estate profits in the coast city. The company's practice
of developing townsite lands was not unique to
Vancouver — urban land sales across the west offered
the CPR an important source of income. But Vancouver provided an unusual opportunity to maximize real
estate returns, for here the provincial government in
1884 had granted the company a magnificent land
bonus of 6,458 acres — "some ten square miles".1
Whereas the CPR, through an agreement with a
separate company, received only one-half the net
proceeds from land sales in Prairie towns, in
Vancouver, where the railroad administered land
directly, profits accrued entirely to the corporation.
Vancouver furnished the CPR's "most spectacular"
and most "profitable" venture in townsite promotion.
So rapid was Vancouver's growth that by 1889 the
proceeds from property sales exceeded land-
generated revenue "in all other company towns
combined."2 Granville Street centred the 480-acre
block between Burrard Inlet and False Creek that
provided the bulk of these early returns.
The company spared no expense of money and
energy to pull commercial development westward
towards its townsite and away from Gastown, the
former business centre that remained, along with
newly opened lands to the east, the city's residential
and commercial core. To encourage construction, the
CPR adopted a policy of offering generous discounts
of 20 to 30 percent "on condition of building".3 Upon
Vancouver's incorporation in April 1886, the
corporation quickly assumed governmental functions
in the westside area. It spent $235,000 in nine months
clearing, grading, and constructing streets. Aided by
interlocking corporate directorships, the rail
company "influenced" the Bank of Montreal to
accept a bank site on Granville Street.4 CPR officials in
Montreal and Vancouver, as well as company friends
in Britain, were encouraged to invest along Granville,
and by 1889 eastern executives Sir Donald Smith and
William Van Horne had completed the city's two
largest privately owned structures. At the height of
land on Granville the CPR erected a $200,000 hotel, for
many years Vancouver's "principal building".5 Next
door it placed an expensive opera house, costing, at
$100,000, double the community's finest brick and
masonry commercial block of the period. The opera
house was "far ahead of the actual requirements of
the town" and like the hotel served primarily to
advertise the company's site.6 Both by their presence
expressed the unlimited faith that CPR vice-president
(to 1888, then president) William Van Horne held in
Vancouver's future.
A nasty sectional fight between the CPR and
eastside businessmen over where to locate the city's
post office revealed the corporation's determination
to promote Granville Street. Company documents
show that the federal government's decision to locate
the public facility on Granville did not ensue from a
careful assessment of the relative merits of competing
locations. Rather, it resulted from the rail company's
behind-the-scenes lobbying. In the spring of 1886
"'CPR' member of Parliament"7 A.W. Ross convinced
the federal government to locate a temporary office
on railroad land, west of existing settlement. To quote
the Manitoba M.P., "I made the arrangements to
move the P.O. up on the company's property after the
fire, and had to use all my influence at Ottawa to keep
it there against the wishes of the citizens."8 A storm of
controversy accompanied the post office decision,
prompting petitions from both eastside critics and
westside supporters.9 Opponents presented a solid
case; they argued that the new Hastings Street site was
relatively inaccessible to most residents. But the logic
of numbers in Vancouver proved insufficient to
counter corporate pressure in Ottawa. As discussion
turned to a permanent site, the CPR gained a tactical
advantage by offering seven choice lots at Granville
and Pender. It did so for a nominal fee, foregoing
large real estate profits.10 Once more both sides
organized massive petitions and large public
meetings, generating in the city an intensely fractious
political climate.11 Considering a permanent post
office on Granville to be "of very great importance to
the CPR,"12 Van Horne spared no effort to win a
favourable hearing. To silence local opponents he
instructed Vancouver CPR superintendent Harry
Abbott to intervene directly, and uncharacteristically,
in civic politics. At one point Abbott organized
westside forces to capture a potentially hostile public
meeting and have those present pass the company's
"own resolutions."13 But ultimately Van Home's
intervention with federal officials, rather than west
coast pressure, swayed Ottawa's judgement in the
CPR's favour.14 In May 1890 the Postmaster-General
British Columbia Historical News
Page 15 announced that a large and expensive structure
would be built on Granville Street, in the heart of the
company's townsite. For "patriotic" reasons, Board of
Trade president R.H. Alexander reluctantly accepted
the government's decision. So did Mayor David
Oppenheimer, the leading eastside promoter. But not
everyone met defeat so graciously. According to Dr.
Stevenson, the post office decision could have no
other object than "to please the CPR." "Clearly," he
continued, "the Dominion government was
However, it was not the quest for profit which alone
determined the rail company's land policy, for an
additional set of assumptions served to give Granville
Street and the surrounding area a distinctive social
character. Primarily responsible for this social bias was
William Van Horne, who saw Granville as a high status
commercial centre surrounded by an elite residential
neighbourhood. To achieve this goal company
officials carefully monitored architectural plans to
ensure that buildings in the CPR block appeared
stylish and sophisticated. Subsidized land prices for
charitable and social institutions provided an opening
for company influence, which Van Horne exercised
personally with such organizations as the Vancouver
Club, the Young Men's Christian Association, and
Whetham College. When Vancouver Club members
objected to the dormer windows that his Montreal-
based architect had proposed, Van Horne reluctantly
conceded the requested changes; although in his
opinion the alternative was "a very commonplace
objectionable looking building."16 Particularly
distressed by the building plans for a new YMCA, for
which the company had given a 50 percent land
subsidy, Van Horne urged the CPR's land commissioner, J.M. Browning, to insist on a "better looking
front"; the first design had a "cheap and nasty look
resulting from over-ornamentation", giving it the
appearance of a "pretentious building in a small
country town."17 Van Horne also closely examined
design details of the company's opera house, which
he was anxious to make "as perfect as possible."18
Granville Street received more than architectural
attention. After land had been sold and buildings
constructed, Browning maintained company control
by managing most of the street's major rental
properties. Careful to let space only to a good class of
tenant who carried first class stock, Browning
prevented any two north Granville stores from selling
similar merchandise.19 Capitalists with links to the
upper levels of the class system in Britain and Canada
were encouraged to invest on Granville. Indicating
the policy's success, a December 1888 survey of major
privately-held Granville Street buildings listed as
owners two knights of the realm, two English lords,
and two professors.20 As one disgruntled investor
complained after being thwarted in her attempt to
buy Granville Street land:
You may have heard that I have dared to think of
creating a block on aristocratic Granville Street, but
having failed to prove a very long Pedigree and
being only a Canadian without a title, they put up
the price of (the) lots....21
When the CPR announced in 1894 that it would
close its Vancouver land office, fire its local land
commissioner, and shut the opera house as the result
of a severely depressed real estate market and the
diminishing amount of downtown land that remained
for the company to sell, a distinctive phase in the
history of Granville Street came to an end. Market
forces and city planners, rather than an eastern
railroad corporation, would guide Granville's future.
Robert McDonald is an Assistant Professor, Dept. of
History, University of British Columbia.
1. Norbert MacDonald, "The Canadian Pacific Railway
and Vancouver's Development to 1900," B.C. Studies,
35, Autumn 1977, pp. 7-14.
2. James B. Hedges, Building the Canadian West: The
Land and Colonization of the Canadian Pacific Railway
(New York 1971 (1939)), pp. 86-87.
3. Canadian Pacific Railway Archives, Montreal (CPRA),
RG1, W.C. Van Horne Papers (WCVHP), File 13087, H.
Abbott to W.C. Van Horne, 2 June 1886.
4. Robert A.J. McDonald, "City-Building in the Canadian
West: A Case Study of Economic Growth in Early
Vancouver, 1886-1893," BC Studies, 43, Autumn 1979, p.
11; CPRA, RG1, WCVHP, File 13240, L.A. Hamilton to
W.C. Van Horne 19 May 1886 (telegram); and Public
Archives of Canada (PAC), Microfilm M2274, Canadian
Pacific Railway Collection (CPRC), Letterbook 36, W.C.
Van Horne to J.M. Browning, 17 Dec. 1890.
5. Mrs. Algernon St. Maur, Impressions of a Tenderfoot
During a journey in the Far West (London 1890), p. 35.
6. CPRA, RG1, WCVHP, File 23329, J.M. Browning to W.C.
Van Horne, 7 Feb. 1889 and File 77949, H. Abbott to
W.C. Van Horne, 17 Sept. 1894 (enclosed memo from
O.G. Evan Thomas).
7. Vancouver City Archives (VCA), Major J.S. Matthews,
"Early Vancouver: Narrative of Pioneers in Vancouver,
B.C.," typescript, II, p. 235.
8. CPRA, RG1, WCVHP, File 13087, A.W. Ross to W.C. Van
Home, 30 Aug. 1886.
9. PAC, RG3, Post Office Department Records, Series 6,
British Columbia Inspectors' Reports VIII, Files 418,585,
596, and 597, petitions concerning the post office site;
and Vancouver News, 16 October 1886, p. 1.
10. PAC, Micro. M2266, CPRC, Letterbook 25, W.C. Van
Horne to H. Abbott, 22 March 1888; CPRA, RG1,
WCVHP, File 19918, A.W. Ross to W.C. Van Horne, 21
March 1888; H. Abbott to W.C. Van Horne, 29 March
1888; and Da/7y News-Advertiser (hereafter N-A), 7
March 1890, p. 4.
11. Ibid., 10 Sept. 1887, p. 1; 23 Oct. 1888, p.1; and 8 Nov.
1888, p. 8.
12. PAC, Micro. M2266, CPRC, Letterbook 25, W.C. Van
Horne to H. Abbott, 22 March 1888.
13. CPRA, RG1, WCVHP, File 27608, H. Abbott to W.C. Van
Horne, 28 Feb. 1890; and H. Abbott to W.C. Van Horne,
19 March 1890.
14. PAC, Micro. M2271, CPRC, Letterbook 32, W.C. Van
Horne to J.M. Browning, 11 Oct. 1889; Letterbook 32,
Page 16
British Columbia Historical News 15.
W.C. Van Horne to J.M. Browning, 8 Nov. 1889; and
CPRA, RG1, WCVHP, File 27608, F.S. Barnard to W.C.
Van Horne, 6 March 1890.
N-A, 19 March 1890, p. 8.
CPRA, RG1, WCVHP, File 60081, H. Abbott to W.C. Van
Horne, 25 July 1891; and PAC, Micro. 2276, CPRC,
Letterbook 38, W.C. Van Horne to H. Abbott, 20 Aug.
PAC, Micro. 2268, CPRC, Letterbook 29, W.C. Van
Horne to J.M. Browning, 8 Feb. 1889. For Whetham
College see PAC, Micro 2280, CPRC, Letterbook 42,
W.C. Van Horne to J.M. Browning, 15 January 1893.
PAC, Micro. M2271, CPRC, Letterbook 32, W.C. Van
Horne to J.M. Browning, 11 October 1889.
CPRA, RG1, WCVHP, File 22851, J.M. Browning to W.C.
Van Horne, 22 Dec. 1888.
Loc. cit.
Ibid., File 23709, H. Abbott to W.C. Van Horne, 2 April
1889, and A.(?) Abbott to W.C. Van Horne, 18 April
Don't let your subscription expire.
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David Wynne Griffiths
The Ship That Saved
The Robert Kerr in Vancouver Harbour
Thinking of Publishing?
A seminar on publishing local history, given by
Helen Akrigg, may be arranged for your
historical society. Please contact Leonard G.
McCann, #2, 1430 Maple Street, Vancouvei,
On the morning of June 13, 1886, just to the west of
the infant city of Vancouver, a number of small fires
were set in order to burn off some brush. This was a
regular occurrence in and around a community that
had just been wrested from the coastal rain forest and
had been officially incorporated only two months
before. As the fires caught, a freak squall from the east
fanned the flames toward and amongst the collection
of summer-dry wooden buildings. In short order;
Vancouver was afire — in the words of one
eyewitness, "The city didn't burn, it exploded!"
Pursued by a raging wall of flame, terrified
Vancouverites had but one route of escape — the
waters of Burrard Inlet. As the frantic throng began to
arrive on the shore, the flames were already
blackening and scorching the pilings and docks along
the waterfront. Boats, barges, canoes, indeed,
anything that would float was being used to escape
the advancing inferno. At the city wharf desperate
townspeople were pulling the very dock itself to
pieces and throwing themselves into the water;
others milled hopelessly about on the beach.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 17 Aboard the ship Robert Kerr, at anchor in the
harbour, the watchman, Captain Dyer, feverishly
lowered a boat and pulled toward shore. Within an
hour more than 200 survivors crowded the decks of
the Robert Kerr, staring forlornly toward the
smouldering ruins of their homes and businesses —
there was simply nothing left to burn.
With typical pioneer spirit and literally before the
smoke had cleared, Vancouverites began the task of
reconstruction. A new and vibrant city emerged from
the charred waste and the Robert Kerr secured a
place in the hearts of the survivors of the 'Great Fire'
as 'the ship that saved Vancouver'.
Built as the Buffalo at Quebec in 1866 by N. Rosa
and Sons, for Robert Kerr and Sons of Liverpool, she
took the name of the company's principal before she
slipped down the ways. The Robert Kerr was
originally registered as a barque, measuring 191 feet
in length and weighing 1120 tons. During the 1860s
the Robert Kerr traded between Britain and India
where the Kerr family had business interests. In 1876
the vessel was sold to Kerr's brother-in-law David
Fernie. Fernie refitted her as a schooner in 1879. The
vessel's final British owner was H.K. Waddell, also of
Liverpool, who once more re-fitted and re-registered
her as a ship in 1881. Under the command of Captain
Edward Edwards the Robert Kerr entered the
northwest trade between Britain and the Americas. It
was under Edwards that the Robert Kerr commenced
her seventh and final voyage around the Horn from
Liverpool on the morning of October 2, 18B4.
The journey proved to be one fraught with
misfortune for commander, ship and crew. Battered
by storms and becalmed in the equatorial heat, the
ship finally anchored at Panama on February 28,1885,
after a five month voyage.
The crew fought amongst themselves and with
their officers. The ship's log, now held by the
Vancouver City Archives, testifies to the persistent
strife and violence of that last voyage:
'November 12, 1884 — at 4 am whilst talking to
Eleazer Riley for muttering whenever he got an
order William Anderson A.B. called out to Riley
to hit me on the head with something. I reported
it to the Captain.'
'February 79, 7885 — William Anderson
threatened to hit me on the head with a capstan
bar. I reported it to the Captain.'
'May 20, 1885 — Seraphim Fortes came aft and
reported that William Anderson had stuck a
cotton hook in his cheek.'
Crew member Anderson certainly seems to have
been a most unsavoury character; however, it
appears that the writer of the log, first mate John
Richardson, had his subtle revenge. A later entry
describes him as making a gift of a jar of pickles to
Anderson who shortly afterwards was confined to sick
bay suffering from some mysterious stomach
Thankfully not all of the Robert Kerr's crew were
rogues as is evidenced by able seaman Seraphim 'Joe'
Fortes, who, upon arriving in Vancouver, became the
legendary 'lifeguard of English Bay', until his death it,
the early 1920s.
For the Kerr the shores of English Bay were still a
thousand miles of sorrow and hardship away. On
August 10, 1885, first mate Richardson made the
following log entry:
At 9.15 am. the Captain died...Everything that
could be done has been done according to his
wishes... The Captain was conscious to the last and
speaking 5 or 6 minutes before he died, he asked
me for a drink of water. To the best of my belief
his complaint was dropsy and inflammation of the
The destiny of the Robert Kerr might never have
become entwined with that of the young city of
Vancouver had it not been for one further mishap on
an already luckless voyage. While sailing through the
San Juan Islands the vessel ran aground, sustaining
enough damage to have to be towed to Vancouver
for inspection and repairs. On September 7, 1885,
Robert Kerr dropped anchor in Burrard Inlet, 11
months out of Liverpool.
The underwriters for the Kerr's owners decided
against repairing the vessel and early in 1886 Captain
William Soule, superintendent of loading at the
Hastings Mill, purchased her and set her to anchor
with Captain Dyer aboard as watchman.
On April 6, 1886, flying her signals and ringing her
bell the Robert Kerr took a prominent part in the
celebrations of Vancouver's official incorporation —
two months later the vessel would witness the city die
and see a new one rise in its place.
During the fire Captain Soule lost his residence
ashore and while another one was being built, he and
his family took up residence aboard the Robert Kerr.
Mrs. Soule seems to have carried on a fairly normal
Victorian lifestyle; she was seen rowing to the shops
and markets and often held afternoon teas for her
friends in the captain's cabin. When the Soule family
moved into their new residence at Dunlevy and
Powell they decided to hold a raffle for the ship.
Eighty tickets at $100 apiece were sold but the draw
was never held as the Canadian Pacific Railroad
apparently made Soule a better offer and purchased
the vessel to use as a coaling tender for their growing
fleet of steamers.
In 1888 a stripped and re-fitted Robert Kerr entered
the service of the CPR. For twenty years her coal-
blackened form was towed unceremoniously by a
succession of straining tugs from the coal ports of
Vancouver Island to Burrard Inlet in order to service
the great trans-Pacific liners of the day such as the
Empress of India, Empress of Japan, Abysinnia, Parthia
and Batavia. During this period many a coastal seaman
or towboatman learned his trade aboard the Robert
Kerr. In countless turn of the century photographs
Page 18
British Columbia Historical News the sad drudge that she had become can be seen
forlorn at anchor or alongside some wharf amidst the
thriving city that had once owed her so much.
On March 4, 1911 came the final indignity. The
Robert Kerr, under tow by the steam tug Coulti and
loaded with 1800 tons of coal, strayed off course and
piled heavily onto a reef at the north end of Thetis
Island between Ladysmith and Nanaimo. The fully
laden vessel quickly filled and sank stern-first to a
sloping sandy bottom, her bow splintered on the reef.
Veteran diver James Moore inspected the hulk
some days later and declared it a total loss. The
Vancouver Dredge and Salvage Company (a
forerunner of Rivtow Straits) bought the wreck for
salvage but after an unsuccessful attempt at retrieving
the bulk of the cargo abandoned it to the elements
and the curious. For many years the Robert Kerr's
bow clung precariously above water, and in company
with the nearby skeleton of the freighter Miami, it
served as a stark reminder to passing mariners.
Though much of the ship's upper structure was
removed during the original salvage operations or has
been broken up by storms since, a great deal remains
to testify to her sturdy construction. Her holds are
filled with sand and coal, the bow is smashed and
spread across the shallow, sun-lit reef-top. Beneath
the massive, coppered keel lingcod and rockfish hide
while snowy white plumose anenomes soften the
angular decking knees that mark the way along the
starboard side toward the stern. A heavy capstan lies
on the sand; the massive iron masts seem still
suspended and point off into the emerald gloom. The
portside hull amidships forms a cave-like corridor
against a wall of rock at which point one can swim
beneath the heavy timbers of the hull itself and
emerge 40 feet away on the starboard side.
The Robert Kerr now lies in 20 to 60 feet of water
mid-way between Miami Islet and Ragged Island off
Pilkey Point, Thetis Island. During periods of good
visibility in late winter and early spring one can see
portions of the wreck from the surface. It is at this time
of year that divers may also be treated to breathtaking displays by numbers of northern sea lions.
These massive creatures haul out on nearby Miami
Islet during their northerly migration and are very
curious about divers. A diver absorbed with the wreck
or a photographer intent on a subject may look up to
find six pairs of sea lion eyes observing with mildest
interest while others glide and somersault with
consummate grace about the bones of the old Robert
On an April morning in 1886 the Robert Kerr,
draped in flags and streamers, heralded the birth of a
new city. Now, regaled in the living decorations of the
undersea world the ship that saved Vancouver lies in
silence with her memories.
David W. Griffiths is President of the Underwater
Archeology Society of B.C.
B.C. Studies
The Fourth Biannual B.C. Studies Conference will be
hosted by the University of Victoria, November 7 - 8,
1986. The primary purpose is to bring together those
with a common interest in the study of British
Columbia. This year the Conference will highlight
British Columbia's political economy, its past, present
and future.
For further information please contact Dr. Peter
Baskerville, Department of History, University of
Victoria, Victoria, B.C. V9W 2Y2. Phone 721-7381.
Expo '86 to be
Featured on Four
Designs depicting the communications and
transportation theme of EXPO '86, to be held in
Vancouver May 2 to Oct. 13, will be featured on four
stamps being issued to mark the world exposition.
One of the stamps will feature the Canada Pavilion,
the flagship of EXPO '86, inside which visitors from
around the world will witness the giant strides
Canadians have made in transportation, communications, the arts and entertainment.
The Canada Pavilion will be featured on a 34-cent
stamp to be issued March 7 along with a 39-cent
stamp, the rate for first-class mail to the United States,
depicting the communications aspect of the
exposition's theme "World in Motion — World in
Two more stamps will be issued April 28 featuring
the Expo Centre and the transportation aspect of the
EXPO '86 theme. Additional details on these stamps
will be available at a later date.
British American Bank Note Inc., of Ottawa, will
print 15 million of each of the four stamps designed by
Debbie Adams.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 19 Esther Birney
Elek Imredy —
Vancouver Sculptor
Here's one artist who has not had to gain recognition
outside Vancouver before being acclaimed a master
within his own territory.
Elek Imredy came here from Hungary in 1957; he
was forty-five and had been a professional sculptor all
his working life.
Practically from the day of his arrival Imredy has
been fulfilling commissions for private individuals, for
institutions and for different levels of government. He
is equally at home in bronze, concrete, wood or
fibreglass. If it can be cut, chiselled or moulded
Imredy will create with it. And his subjects will be
equally varied: thoughtful madonnas, portrait busts
and statues, animals (a life-size moose and cougar at
the Vancouver Parks Board), abstractions given form,
as in the twelve foot bronze Lady of Justice for the
New Westminster Court House (where Imredy's
statue of Judge Begbie can also be seen), and in
designs for medals and coats of arms.
In 1972 his lovely Girl in a Wetsuit was placed offshore in Stanley Park and became an instant landmark
and tourist attraction. The portrait in bronze of Major
Matthews in the entrance to the Vancouver Public
Archives smiles benignly at all who come to use the
documents stored there. Although the Major was said
to be somewhat stubborn where his archives were
concerned, Elek Imredy has created a portrait that
radiates the intelligence and strength of purpose that
is claimed for Matthews by all who knew him.
On Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Imredy's seated
figure of Louis Saint Laurent is one of that city's most
admired statues. In Guelph a bronze torso, in
Saskatoon nine pieces in bronze and wood, in
Winnipeg a polyester statue, in Edmonton a 17-foot
figure of Christ and in many places in B.C. and
elsewhere in Canada Imredy's work has touched the
hearts and minds of people.
Trends and fashions in sculpture may come and go
but Imredy in his Kitsilano studio fulfills his own inner
vision when he works on his figures. And because he
has great skill and integrity everything he produces
reflects these qualities. He also has the unique ability
of conveying in his portrait busts and statues the best
attributes of his sitters.
Major J.S. Matthews
One of his latest pieces is a bronze reproduction of
Vancouver's coat of arms; it was commissioned by the
Women's Canadian Club and donated to the city by
the club. Look for it when the council's proceedings
are televised; it is on the wall behind the mayor's
chair. Hungary's loss of a fine sculptor has enriched
the cultural life of this city and for this we are indeed
Page 20
British Columbia Historical News Irene Howard
Mildred Fahrni -
The Making of a
February 4, 1986: the monthly meeting of the
Vancouver Fellowship of Reconciliation is having a
workshop on non-violence in the living room of
Mildred Fahrni in West Point Grey.n They talk about
controlling anger and taking a non-violent yet
assertive approach to problems; about respecting and
loving one's opponents; about developing courage to
withstand opposition in pursuit of justice. (One young
man wonders aloud how courageous he would be
withstanding a bulldozer in the Stein Valley, a
wilderness area which environmentalists are trying to
save from incursions by the logging industry.) They
invoke Gandhi and his "experiments in truth."
Mildred Fahrni chairs the meeting. She has just come
back from a conference at Nanoose Bay where five
hundred people gathered to protest further American
testing of military equipment in the area. She also has
news of a travelling peace choir and an update on the
Vancouver Peace Festival planned for Expo '86. Now
eighty-six years old, this tall, slender woman speaks
fluently with quiet authority and great conviction, and
as she speaks the activities of the peace movement,
always struggling for recognition, become legitimate
and credible in this room. Fifty years in the Fellowship
of Reconciliation and one of its Vancouver founders,
Mildred Fahrni has been an active pacifist for most of
her life. In a city sponsoring a week-long Peace
Festival as part of its Centennial celebration, it is timely
to inquire into her life and ask where she learned her
commitment to principle, and her Utopian vision of
peace and brotherhood, in the face of daily witness to
Born in 1900 in the little town of Rapid City,
Manitoba, near Margaret Laurence's Neepawa,
Mildred Osterhout grew up in that Protestant
ambience which the novelist translated into the
Manawaka of her stories. Like the Manawaka
characters and like Margaret Laurence herself,
Mildred early learned the ethic of Christian duty and
of discipline and self-denial. Her father was Abram
Berson Osterhout, from an Ontario farm family of
Dutch and United Empire Loyalist descent. He spent
twenty-three years as a Methodist minister in that part
of southwestern Manitoba, moving every four years
with his family, according to Church practice, to a
new town, a new pastorate, but always enduring the
same rigorous winter sleigh journeys in below zero
weather to the rural communities in his charge. The
snow enters into Mildred's profoundest memories:
carrying it into the house to melt for washing water;
playing in it, falling down to make the imprint of an
"angel"; walking behind her father in the deep snow
and hearing the scrunch of his footsteps as he made a
path for his children. And then, miraculously, the
song of the meadowlark with the coming of spring.
Her mother was Winnipeg-born Harriet Smyth, of
English parents, a hard-working minister's wife and an
intellectually capable woman who took her
husband's place in the pulpit when needed. Mildred
remembers her father and mother as hospitable
people who opened their home to travellers or to
theological students on practicum. For the
Osterhouts this was more than prairie neighbourliness; it was the Christian way. So also was the
acceptance and respect which they accorded a
visiting black minister who preached in their white
and not very broad-minded community. Mildred had
a great regard for her father and mother, strict
fundamentalists, yet kindly folk, imbuing, she recalls,
the letter of Methodist doctrine with the warming
In 1914, the Osterhout family escaped the rigours of
the prairie winter by moving to British Columbia, first
to Victoria and then to Burnaby. Harriet Osterhout
died in 1921, leaving Mildred to be her father's
housekeeper and companion, and, in later years, his
Mildred delayed marriage to remain in the family
home. After her father died in 1940, she married
Walter Fahrni of Vancouver.
Her liberation from the fundamentalist religion of
her father had, however, begun much earlier when
she was a student at the University of British
Columbia, housed then in the Fairview Shacks. In a
science course she was moved to question the literal
interpretation of Genesis, and recalls counting her
ribs to confirm that woman was not, after all, made
from one of Adam's ribs. In economics and political
science with Dr. Theodore (Teddy) Boggs, she was
first introduced to Marxism. The idea of the class
struggle was vividly presented during field trips to
meetings of the Industrial Workers of the World in
Vancouver's East End where Dr. Boggs encouraged
his students to engage in polemics with the workers at
the meeting.
A further loosening of the parental bond came in
Bible seminars with Dr. H.B. Sharman, the first
chairman of the Student Christian Movement. He had
written a "synoptic gospel", reconstructing the
history of Jesus by arranging it in comparative passages
to show that the Bible was a human document with
different gospel versions of the same event, and not
the absolute word of God. For Mildred, as for most of
his students, this kind of Bible study yielded profound
British Columbia Historical News
Page 21 new insights. She was one of many in whom the
charismatic Dr. Sharman inspired a resolve to lead the
dedicated life and a passion for the pursuit of the
After graduating in 1924 from the University of
British Columbia with a Master of Arts in Philosophy
and English, she taught for some years at Queen
Elizabeth Elementary School in Point Grey, where she
and her father now lived. But nature field trips and
canaries and rabbits in the classroom did not provide
scope for her social concerns. She wanted to know
more about teaching exceptional children. In 1931,
arranging a sabbatical from teaching and from her
father, she accepted a scholarship to study at Bryn
Mawr in the department of Social Economy and
Social Research. Case work with families took her into
the slums of Philadelphia. Later that year an invitation
to work as a volunteer for six months at a settlement
house took her to London's East End. Here at Kingsley
Hall she did group work among the unemployed
dock workers and their families.
Here also she met Gandhi. It happened that he was
in London attending the Round Table Conference on
India. He had accepted an invitation to stay at
Kingsley Hall, putting down his thin bedroll in one of
the little cubicles which served as bedrooms for the
settlement staff. Throughout his four-month stay,
Mildred was among staff members who participated
in his daily routine. Meditation from four until five in
the morning was a little too rigorous for her to engage
in often (it was cold sitting on the gymnasium floor).
But between five and six, bundled up in sweaters and
scarf and mittens, she took her turn walking beside
him (he bare-legged and scantily clad in dhoti) for ten
or fifteen minutes at a time and talking with him. By
the end of his stay she was his disciple for life. William
Shirer, who covered the 1931 Round Table
Conference for the Chicago Tribune, in his Gandhi: A
Memoir (New York: Pocket Books, 1982) expresses
similar feelings:
I count the days with Ghandi the most fruitful of my
life. No other experience was as inspiring and as
meaningful and as lasting. No other so shook me
out of the rut of banal existence and opened my
ordinary mind and spirit, rooted in the materialist,
capitalist West as they were, to some conception of
the meaning of life on this perplexing earth. No
other so sustained me through the upheavals and
vicissitudes that I lived through in the years after I
left India.
In 1931 she enrolled at the London School of
Economics where she attended lectures given by
Harold Laski and Sidney and Beatrice Webb. She
returned to Vancouver full of new ideas and ready to
change the world.
The depth and urgency of the economic crisis drew
forth the same ardent resolve in other compassionate
spirits of the time. She herself began by reading a new
book by George Bernard Shaw, The Intelligent
Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism. It was on
the reading list of her study group, which became the
Vancouver branch of the League for Social
Reconstruction2 and then the Reconstruction Party,
one of the founding groups of the Co-operative
Commonwealth Federation (CCF). In the evangelistic
milieu of the new CCF, formed in 1932, she was to find
her metier, and when it met in Regina in 1933 to draw
up its socialist Manifesto, she was there. For the rest of
the decade she threw herself into political work,
believing, with her CCF colleagues, that their party
was about to bring in the new social order. She ran
several times for election to the Legislature, though
without success. She was, however, elected to a two-
year term on the Vancouver School Board (1936-
1937). As a member of the CCF provincial executive,
she helped formulate party policy; as head of the CCF
Education Committee, she conducted study groups
and organized summer camps where Marxian
economics and philosophy were among the staple
subjects. In all this, she took as her exemplar the CCF
national leader, J.S. Woodsworth, the one-time
Methodist minister whose socialism grew out of his
profound conviction that to serve man by eradicating
injustice and suffering was to serve Christ.
But her socialist idealism was severely undermined in
September 1939 when the CCF leadership,
committed to peace and brotherhood in more
theoretic times, now felt compelled to support
Canada's participation in the war against fascism.
Alone among the CCF Members of Parliament, J.S.
Woodsworth stood in the House of Commons to
declare his pacifist opposition to Canada's support of
the war. Mildred had just returned from her 1938 visit
to India where she had renewed her friendship with
Gandhi, six years after those early morning walks with
him in London. Arriving in central India by train,
perched among suitcases and trunks on the baggage
car, she had made the four-mile journey by tonga
(two-wheeled cart) across the desert to his village.
There in Sevagran the chief secretary had brought her
to Gandhi, saying, "Bapu (Father), here is Mildred."
The world-renowned Hindu was sitting cross-legged
on the floor of his mud hut dictating letters, a skinny,
little bald man in spectacles and loin cloth. He rose,
put his hand palm-to-palm in the Indian fashion and
greeted her by name. The warmth of his greeting
supported her when she took her anti-war stand with
J.S. Woodsworth and other pacifists. Disillusioned
with the CCF, she became less active in it, though
remaining a member. She embarked instead on her
own mission for peace, always remembering the
words Gandhi spoke one evening after prayer:
"Though the whole world should turn to war, I will
walk my lonely path of non-violence."
The director of Kingsley Hall in London had been
Muriel Lester, International Secretary of the
Fellowship of Reconciliation, first organized in Britain
in 1914. On her return from London in 1932, Mildred
Page 22
British Columbia Historical News has organized and helped sustain a branch of the
FOR in Vancouver. In 1940 she accepted the position
of National Secretary of the FOR, and for several years
directed its activities from her office in Toronto and
went on speaking tours to major Canadian cities.
Hitler stormed through Europe, blitzed Britain and
France; Churchill urged blood, sweat and tears. But
Mildred made her quiet way to Calgary, Regina,
Winnipeg, Vancouver with her message of peace and
reconciliation. She was sometimes received
scornfully, but, as she explains, with a national
membership of fewer than five hundred, the FOR was
not large enough to attract downright hostility.
Since then she had devoted her energies to working with the Women's International League for
Peace and Freedom (WIL), the Fellowship of
Reconciliation, the Voice of Women, and other
peace organizations. She again renewed her
commitment to the philosophy of Gandhi when she
attended the World Pacifist Conference in 1948 and,
twenty years later, the War Resisters' Triennial
Conference, both in India. In accordance with one of
the principles of the WIL that peace and economic
development go hand in hand, she worked for fifteen
summers as a director of the village development
program of the American Society of Friends in
Mexico City. In the spirit of international friendship,
she has, over the years, made her house on West
Eighth Avenue in Vancouver a hostel for visitors from
all over the world.
Before he died, J.S. Woodsworth asked Mildred to
be the speaker at his private memorial service for
family and friends. "He felt," explained his daughter
Grace Maclnnis, "that Mildred was the one who most
shared his profound commitment to pacificism."
Peacemakers have never enjoyed the same credibility
as warmakers, nor have the efforts of peace
organizations generally been recorded. But when the
documents have been gathered and the history of the
Canadian peace movement and of organizations like
the WIL and the FOR written, the personal
evangelism of Mildred Fahrni, nourished in
Methodism, matured in socialism and sustained by
the philosophy of Gandhi, will be part of the story.
Irene Howard is the author or Vancouver's Svenskar
and Bowen Island 1872-1972.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation is an international
organization with a strong membership in the United
States where it has flourished for over seventy years. The
Vancouver FOR is now the only Canadian branch.
The League for Social Reconstruction was founded in
Montreal and Toronto in the spring of 1932 by leading
academics and professional people, including F.R. Scott,
Frank H. Underhill, Harry Cassidy, J. King Gordon and
Leonard Marsh. Their book Social Planning for Canada
(1955) strongly influenced CCF policy.
This essay is based largely on interviews with Mildred
Fahrni in 1984.
Additional References
A.B. Osterhout File. United Church Archives,
Vancouver School of Theology.
Allen, Richard. The Social Passion: Religion and
Social Reform in Canada, 1914-1928. Toronto:
University of Toronto Press, 1971.
Gold, Gerald and Attenborough, Richard. Gandhi: A
Pictorial Biography. New York: Newmarket Press,
Maclnnis, Grace. J.S. Woodsworth: A Man to
Remember. Toronto: Macmillan, 1953.
Sharman, Henry Burton. Records of the Life of Jesus.
New York: Harper, 1917.
Shirer, William: Ghandi: A Memoir. New York:
Pocket Books, 1982.
Student Christian Movement. This One Thing....
Toronto: A Group of Friends [of H.B. Sharman], 1959.
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and Irene Brown.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 23 Doug McCallum
Frank Hart, His
Opera House, and
Other Frontier
The furniture business, the funeral business, and
show business seenrvto have little in common besides
wood in general and chairs in particular, but in early
Vancouver they were united in the forceful, frontier
figure of Frank William Hart. He it was who first
developed each of those branches of enterprise in a
city that was born with great expectations, but little
else in the way of civic attributes. It may be difficult to
imagine to what extent the city of the later 1880s was
really a frontier boom town. Even the promising
arrival of the first transcontinental train on May 23,
1887, initially emphasized that Vancouver was literally
and figuratively at the end of the road.
Frank Hart was a quintessential frontiersman, in the
sense of feeling most comfortable in such an
environment. But unlike Gassy Jack, or even the
earlier fur traders, he did not merely adapt to the
realities of that environment; he sought to adapt it to
his own imperatives, to alter and build on it, to
reconstruct and civilize it. He brought with him the
values of a more settled society, along with a yearning
for something better, for the chance to make what he
could of himself and his surroundings, that was social
and personal as well as material, idealistic as well as
opportunistic. In these respects he was more like the
gold seekers of the 1860s who first brought the white
man's civilization to the mainland of British
Even in the youngest community there were
deaths, and a Vancouver that saw itself from its
inception as a city-in-the-making desired more
dignified arrangements than a pine box and an
unmarked grave. By the same token it was already
beyond homemade furniture and the lowest forms of
entertainment. Such concerns began to yield to at
least some degree of expertise. Admittedly Frank
Hart's qualifications amounted to only a nodding
acquaintance with each of these fields of endeavour,
Frank and Amelia Hart
but under the circumstances almost any amount of
natural ability and experience was bound to be
viewed as better than what ws otherwise available,
and there were few of the restrictions or inhibitions of
sophisticated societies. From just such conditions
derive the freedom and opportunity we usually
associate with the frontier. Frank Hart was always
willing to try anything once and usually did. Outgoing
and optimistic, confident and freewheeling, even a
bit reckless, he was, to use an expression of the time,
"the right man in the right place", at least for the first
stages of settlement.
Born in 1856 in Galesburg, Illinois, at a youthful age
Frank followed Horace Greeley's injunction, "Go
west, young man." He first worked as a stable hand,
then as an Indian scout and bronco buster. After
serving in the United States Volunteer Army, he ran
his own livery stable for a time before working for a
man in the furniture and undertaking business. "I
noticed how things were done, and that was how I got
into the same line of business here in the early days."
Page 24
British Columbia Historical News That was a typical frontier apprenticeship: learning by
watching and doing, then improvising on one's own.
It sufficed — if one had the right combination of
quickness, versatility, manual dexterity, and luck.
Frank did.2
Lured by the excitement surrounding the near
completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, in
February 1885 he arrived in British Columbia. With
only a twenty dollar gold piece as capital, he could not
afford the inflated prices of Port Moody, which was
then the intended rail terminus, so he rented a cabin
at Granville, alias Gastown, and began making
furniture to sell. Demand was great enough that after
only a few weeks the shack was too small, and he built
a store and factory on the waterfront at the eastern
edge of the townsite, followed by a still larger
building. When word came that Granville, not Port
Moody, was to be the site of the terminus, Frank Hart
found himself in the right place after all. Business
boomed, and he was among the gleeful band that
petitioned for the incorporation of Vancouver.
Liberal and progressive, he was an active supporter of
Malcolm MacLean, the first mayor. In every sense
Hart was one of the city's true pioneers.3
In the great fire of June 13,1886, he sustained one of
the biggest financial losses: more than $13,000 worth
of goods and property. Down but not out, he
borrowed and rebuilt. Since everyone was now in
need of furnishings, by August the Pioneer Furniture
Factory and the Pioneer Furniture Store were once
again thriving operations, employing more than a
dozen people.4
The new factory stood at the toot of Cambie Street
on the north shore of False Creek. It was a three storey
building with machinery on the ground floor,
upholstery rooms on the second, and finishing rooms
and offices on the third. It was by no means a sweat
shop; Frank Hart was an energetic yet easygoing man
and was popular with his employees, who presented
him, as an 1886 Christmas gift, with a handsome,
silver-monogrammed, Meerschaum pipe. The
newspapers proudly hailed him: "Mr. Hart is the
pioneer manufacturer and deserves his success." His
business was the city's first secondary industry.5
In addition to selling his own products, Hart carried
on an extensive import trade. His two warerooms on
Cordova Street were jammed with crockery and
cutlery, bedding and window blinds, carpets and
curtains, lamps and linoleum, and just about
everything else a fast-growing town might desire in
the way of furnishings for home or office. The Pioneer
Furniture store even supplied the fixtures for the first
street lighting and was the agent for the new, patent,
High Arm Singer Sewing Machine. Throughout the
population growth and building boom of the late
1880s, Frank Hart provided the majority of
Vancouver's furnishings. His staff gradually grew to
more than one hundred. With a firm grip on the
import, manufacturing, wholesale and retail areas, he
had truly got in on the ground floor.6
He got into the funeral business the same way,
initially just supplying coffins as a sideline of his
furniture factory. By the spring of 1886 he had
sufficiently absorbed the mysteries of the profession
from an associate in New Westminster to become
Vancouver's first undertaker. At the time the city had
no official cemetery, and Hart had to lobby city
council first to establish a site, then to prepare the
ground. There were no customers, however, until
November, when Simon Hirschberg, a hotel owner,
committed suicide. Frank dryly informed Mayor
MacLean, "I could not get anyone, but finally got a
His new undertaking remained a branch of the
furniture business. Wearing the customary suits of
solemn black and matching silk hat, Frank Hart
himself drove the hearse, drawn by a team of dark,
plumed horses, to Mountain View Cemetery on the
slopes of Mount Pleasant. Beside him rode the
Assistant Funeral Director, Frank's bookkeeper,
followed in a carriage by several factory hands who
also switched hats when required to serve as
To make a grim business even grimmer, the route
to the cemetery was a steep corduroy road, built over
swampy land. When it rained heavily, as it sometimes
does in Vancouver, parts of the road were under
water and the timbers of which it was made tended to
drift apart. On one memorable occasion — the
Masonic funeral for Alderman Humphries —
everyone except the deceased had to get out and
walk across the swamp. Even then one of the horses
slipped between two of the timbers, the wheels of the
hearse did likewise, and the vehicle became mired in
mud. It made a great story for Frank to tell afterwards,
but at the time he feared that the struggling, kicking
horse would wreck the $1,500 hearse.
By 1889 business was brisk, and Hart purchased a
second hearse. With the store and factory running full
tilt, the funerals were sometimes conducted in a
terrific rush, especially if there were two going on
simultaneously. On one of those days Frank and his
assistant were each driving so furiously down
different streets that they almost collided at the
intersection. "He couldn't stop, and I wouldn't," was
how Hart summed it up. "Nothing ever fazed Frank
Hart," was how people summed him up.a
Perhaps for that reason, and because of his
gregariousness and gargantuan energy, Frank
escaped the stereotype of the undertaker. Popular
and respected, he involved himself in numerous
social and cultural enterprises. Even before the city's
incorporation he was manager of the Coal Harbour
Bachelor's Quadrille Club and was conspicuously
successful at persuading single girls from all over the
inlet to attend the club's dances. He served as the first
secretary of the International Order of Oddfellows,
Granville's earliest fraternal organization, and in 1886
became the first Canadian Commander of the
Knights of Pythias for the Mainland of B.C. He also
British Columbia Historical News
Page 25 helped organize Vancouver's first City Band. Because
of the nature of his businesses, Frank was often called
on to organize decorations and receptions for special
occasions, including the Dominion Day Celebrations,
which were always major events for early B.C.
Communities. When the first train arrived, the
triumphal arch honouring the achievement was built
courtesy of the Pioneer Furniture Factory, though
Hart could not resist a personal plug: large letters at
the top proclaimed, "Frank Hart's Welcome to the
CPR," until Mayor MacLean convinced him to paint
out his name. Some rough edges notwithstanding,
Hart was an important social leader, and his very
brashness was vital to the process of hacking a
community out of the woods.9
All these activities seem to have contributed to
Hart's venture into show business, and even his
funeral directing involved staging events ot a sort. But
ironically the theatrical enterprise also began as an
offshoot of the furniture factory—ironically because
Hart's Opera House, Vancouver's first theatre, came
to overshadow all his other activities and became the
one for which his name has been remembered.
To start with, the building was a roller skating rink that a
man named Kelly had built at Port Moody during that
town's short fling with future greatness. Sometime
during the summer of 1886 Kelly, or a new owner,
dismantled the structure and reassembled it in
Vancouver, on a lot on the east side of Carrall Street
near Dupont, now Pender. The rear portion jutted out
over what were then the flats of False Creek. Jack Levy,
a dealer in cigars and tobacco products, leased the
place for its original purpose, but its commodious floor
space soon encouraged local groups to rent it for
dances and occasionally for performances.10
On September 30, a grand concert and ball took
place as a benefit for the City Band, expressly to raise
funds for better instruments. The program involved
the best of Vancouver's amateur talent, of which the
highlight was Mrs. Eadlands, "a pianist of superior
merit." By request, she played "Emmett's Cuckoo
Song," described as "a pot pourri of brilliant passages
and gleeful melodies." In fact the concert itself was
pretty much a pot pourri. Like those that followed, and
those in most of British Columbia's frontier communities, it was assembled from whatever diverse musical,
acrobatic, terpsichorean and elocutionary abilities
happened to be available. Vancouver rarely showed its
Victorian British side more clearly than in amateur
productions. The content may have been generally of
the "lowest common denominator," but it was always
respectably so. The Queen herself would have
American influences, on the other hand, inevitably
dominated the offerings of touring professionals,
especially since most came from Seattle by way of
Victoria, rather than by the long rail link with eastern
Canada. On November 15, the actress Georgie
Woodthorpe, appeared with her dramatic company
"for one night only" at the building known simply as
"the Skating Rink." The play, "Among the Pines", was
a melodrama with built-in appeal for Vancouverites.
Set in a western frontier town, its heroine was "a
rough diamond," a young tomboy with an
unpolished exterior but plenty of inner potential that
proved a popular dramatic type with socially aspiring
audiences of the later 19th Century. The show also
appealed to a not so positive force simmering
beneath the surface of Vancouverites. One actor
played the role of "Hop Sing," a stereotyped Chinese
immigrant, with exaggerated makeup, gestures and
pidgin English that were "greeted with much laughter
and applause12
On the whole, though, this was a progressive step
for Vancouver. According to the Da/7y News
Advertiser, the Woodthorpe outfit was the first
theatrical company the city had seen. The only
previous record of professional entertainment
consists of musicians and comedians in local saloons,
and none of the increasing number of respectable
women would set foot in such places. There had
simply been nowhere to present a touring
And where did Jack Levy get the seats for these
performances? He rented them from the Pioneer
Furniture Factory, and that is where Frank Hart comes
in. After a few months and a couple more shows, Levy
began to tire of the risks involved while Hart began to
worry about getting his rental fees. Yet Hart also felt
that Vancouverites needed — and wanted — a
regular theatre. So he bought the skating rink,
sometime during the winter of 1886-1887, builta stage
at the rear of it, and began booking shows. In June,
the Pike Opera Company brought productions of
Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado" and other operettas
that were the largest and most elaborate to date, for
which Hart expanded the stage facilities and
renovated the auditorium. This was the building that
people remembered at Hart's Opera House, though
the name did not become current till 1888.13
Even after the renovations the opera house was a
primitive single-story, board-and-batten structure,
about fifty feet wide and one hundred and thirty feet
long, without even a "boom town facade" to conceal
its unpainted wooden walls and canvas roof. Inside,
the walls were lined with white cloth, presumably part
of the remodelling, but there were no other
decorations. Audiences sat on wooden chairs in the
first few rows (reserved seats) or on plain benches
behind (the cheap seats). The theatre held 500-600
people. The stage was a three foot high platform, and
both it and the auditorium were lit by coal oil lamps
and heated by wood stoves. The place must have
been a terrible fire trap.14 "It was more like a barn
than an opera house!" said a member of the Salvation
Army, which nonetheless held its earliest meetings
there. A newspaper reviewer termed it "Hart's So-
Called Opera House."15
Running even a so-called opera house was not an
Page 26
British Columbia Historical News easy task. Hart shouldered the risks in booking
companies. He had to pay them advance money and
handle the advertising and ticket sales. He did charge
rent on the theatre: $33.00 per night for an amateur
group and perhaps twice that for professionals.
Certainly ticket prices were in that ratio: a touring
show cost $1.00 for reserved seats, 50<t for general
admission; amateur shows charged half as much.
With never more than a dozen rentals per month Hart
could not have made much profit.
What Hart presented was a continuation of the
same sort of fare his brief predecessor had shown.
There were plays like "Davy Crockett", "The Count of
Monte Cristo" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," hoary
melodramas that have nonetheless continued to be
used ever since in movie and television productions.
There were also light farces (rather like T.V. sitcoms),
minstrel and other variety shows, and early musical
comedies. It was a purely popular theatre (no
Shakespeare, Ibsen, et cetera), but it deserves to be
taken seriously, in general because it was the
precursor of the mass entertainment of today,16 and in
the context of Vancouver because at least it was
theatre. One has to start somewhere. Recognizing
that sentiment, Vancouverites supplemented the
peripatetic professionals with local performances,
some of which were ad hoc, mixed-bag concerts for
the utilitarian purpose of fund raising, like the one
already mentioned. Gradually specialized organizations began to give performances for their own sake.
The city's first dramatic association presented its initial
play at Hart's. It was there the city's first orchestra
played, and its new operatic society produced a
pastoral dramatic cantata, "The Haymakers". Hart's
Opera House, like its owner, sowed a lot of early
Probably the worst week in Hart's show business
career was the one commencing January 5,1889. For
that evening many tickets had been sold, but when
the company arrived by steamer, immigration
officials saw symptoms of smallpox in one of the
actors and quarantined the whole ship. The show did
not go on, nor did it several days later when Shelly the
Mesmerist, to whom Frank had sent a cash advance,
turned up dead drunk in Victoria.17 No doubt to
recoup his losses, Frank decided to build some extra
bleacher seating after he learned that "Lena the
Madcap" starring Katie Putnam, was sold out. The
carpenter had hammered just a single nail into each
of the bleacher supports, when Frank, in a rush as
usual, had to put him on another job. He forgot to get
someone to finish the supports, and that night, just
before the curtain went up, the bleachers went down
with a crash. Only one man seemed seriously hurt and
was carried to his hotel room. Despite the mishap, the
actors were cool professionals who gave an enjoyable
performance. But for once Hart was anything but
cool. He feared a lawsuit.
"My goodness," he exclaimed to Katie Putnam,
"what will I do?"
"Alright," replied the unflappable actress, "I'll tell
you what to do. After the show, you go to the hotel
room with a bunch of fruit in one hand and a twenty
dollar gold piece in the other hand. I'll bet you
nothing will come of it."
So he did that, and Katie Putnam went along. The
man was recovering, she gave him a kiss, and won the
In common with his circumstances and character,
Frank Hart's management approach could best be
described as rough and ready. When a company that
performed the famous frontier melodrama "Davy
Crockett", was about to cancel because of an ailing
cast member, Frank wired them to come ahead, and
he would find an actor. What he found was a terribly
British member of his quadrille club, and as soon as
the man opened his mouth in this very American play
the audience recognized the deception and booed
loudly. For the next show the theatre was half empty.
But Vancouver audiences were starved for
entertainment and consequently forgiving, and the
opera house was normally full. At those times Frank's
main worry was the boys who liked to climb up
outside, raise the edge of the canvas roof, and enjoy a
free show. One day Police Chief Stewart's son Hector
was thus occupied when a push from behind sent him
hurtling into the theatre, where his unexpected
entrance was halted by the spectators he landed on.19
Frank Hart had solved another problem. As usual, he
was bold, quick-witted, decisive, but perhaps, like his
opera house, just a bit crude.
Yet both had served their purpose. By 1889 they had
brought Vancouver a vast increase in both the
quantity and quality of theatrical activity. But that in
turn brought competition. On April 25 the Imperial
Opera House, built by William Crickmay, a civil
engineer, opened on Cambie Street with the prestigious Mendelssohn Quintet. It was a sign of civic
changes. Though the Imperial was essentially a
bigger, better barn, it was some improvement, and so
was its location. Hart's was now in the worst part of
town, surrounded by brothels, opium dens, and
gambling joints.20 The city had begun to move
westward and also to move on in many ways, leaving
the Vancouver of Hart's Opera House behind. The
curtain came down for the last time on June 4,1889.
The Imperial filled the gap until it too was displaced
when in 1891 the CPR built the first sophisticated
opera house, heralding another era.
Shortly before his own era ended, at least in
Vancouver, Frank Hart, a widower, married Amelia
Campbell. She was a talented oil painter and prolific
poet. She also write the words and music of what may
have been Vancouver's first published song. "Heart
of Gold" is a conventional enough Victorian love
song, but the obviously intended pun of the title and
its themes of commitment and loyalty indicate that is
specifically celebrated the Hart marriage. It ends:
Sweetheart, thru life's joy and pain,
Thru its sunshine and its rain,
British Columbia Historical News
Page 27 Walk beside me, dear, and see
The heart of gold I keep for thee.-
Amelia Hart kept that promise as Frank Hart's lifelong
The rain fell with the depression of the early 1890s.
Hart hung on too long in several speculative ventures,
after the more sophisticated shareholders had cut
their losses, while his furniture business succumbed
to increasing competition, as his opera house had
done.22 He was not well-equipped for a complex
world of international high finance or a city of the
specialized professional as he was for the informal,
localized economy and amateur versatility of the
frontier boom town, where demands were more
easily satisfied, if less easily supplied. Though crucial
to the development of a pioneering community, his
qualities of boldness, impetuosity and willful tenacity
now seemed sadly out of place.
So in 1894 Frank and Amelia Hart sold out, packed
up and set off — not into the sunset, but to a new and
booming frontier, the gold and copper mining town
of Rossland, British Columbia. There Frank settled
down for a couple of years in his old standbys of
furniture and undertaking, and he had another
theatrical venture with a second Hart's Opera House.
But in 1897 the Klondike Gold Rush proved
irresistible. At Dyea, Alaska, he virtually built the town
in 90 days of whirlwind activity. Mercifully it didn't fall
down. He cornered the lumber trade as well, and
altogether made $250,000, lost it in speculations, then
made it back in Dawson City. At one point Frank fell
gravely ill in a isolated part of the Yukon; like a
melodramatic plot twist, Hector Stewart (whom Frank
had pushed through the opera house roof years
before) happened to be in the area and saved his life
by carrying him to the nearest hospital.23
In 1908 the Harts moved to Prince Rupert, "the
latest frontier," as the writer of Frank's obituary
expressed it. There they stayed. Frank set up one
more time in the furniture and funeral business and
later became a housing contractor, real estate agent
and merchandise broker. Again he took an active role
in civic and social organizations, but not in show
business. In 1934 at the age of 78, he was still working
away, though with rapidly failing eyesight.24 One day
in 1935, Frank Hart, frontier undertaker, finally bowed
to necessity and "volunteered." Amelia Hart
followed in 1949.
Doug McCallum is the author of Vancouver's
Orpheum — The Life of a Theatre.
1 see Doug McCallum, "Barkerville Theatre in
Context," Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1981,
for an extensive discussion of the nature, and impulses
behind, frontier society and culture.
2 Frank Hart, Personal Interview, 13 November 1933, TS,
J.S. Matthews Collection, Vancouver City Archives,
Add MSS 54, Vol. 13, Hart, Frank. All interviews and
correspondence, and written reminiscences by Frank
Hart mentioned in subsequent references are in this
file in typescript form.
3 Hart, Personal Interviews, 13 November 1933, 1
February 1934.
4 B.C. Directory, 1892, Vancouver Biographies, and
Vancouver Daily News, 25 December 1886.
5 News, 25 December 1886.
6 Hart's business cards and letterhead, J.S. Matthews
Collection, list many of the products he carried; so do
his regular newspaper ads in the News and the News-
Advertiser, 1886-1889.
7 The suicide of Simon Hirschberg was reported in
News, 5 November 1886. For Hart's references to it, see
Personal Interview, 13 November 1933.
8 Hart, Letter to J.S. Matthews, City Archivist, 27 August
1934; Richard Geddes Large, Prince Rupert: A
Gateway to Alaska and the Pacific (Vancouver:
Mitchell Press, rev. ed., 1973), pp. 13-15.
9 Hart, Reminiscences, TS, 1934.
10 Hart, Interview, 3 January 1934. Jack Levy, Business
Cards, Matthews Collection. Re. roller rink as "a
popular resort for dancers," see News, 30 September
11 News, 30 September and 1 October 1886. Except
where otherwise noted, all names, dates, places and
other facts and figures concerning performances are
taken from Doug McCallum, "A Vancouver
Entertainment Calendar," unpublished record of
performances in Vancouver, 1886-1905.
12 News, 16 November 1886.
13 Hart, Interview, 3 January 1934. News-Advertiser, 26
and 27 June 1887.
14 Description of the theatre based on: Amelia Hart,
Personal Interview, 19 November 1940, Mrs. H.E.
Greatrex, Personal Interview, 30 August 1943, and J.S.
Matthews, Memo on Hart's Opera House, n.d. All
these sources are in the J.S. Matthews Collection, Add
MSS 54, vol 13, filed by subject under Theatres, Hart's
Opera House. All the accounts are consistent, except
on the nature of the cloth lining the walls. It seems to
have been some form of cottom.
15 Greatrex, source cited above. Vancouver World, 7
October 1888.
16 For the best comprehensive introduction to the
popular theatre of this period, see Robert C. Toll, On
With the Show: The First Century of Show Business in
America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976).
17 News-Advertiser, 4, 5, 7, 8 January, 1889.
18 News-Advertiser, 9 and 10 January, 1889; Frank Hart,
Interview, 3 January, 1934; Amelia Hart, Interview, 19
November 1940.
19 Amelia Hart, Interview.
20 Goad's Fire Insurance Atlas, 1889, City Archives Map
Collection, shows half a dozewn brothels and several
opium factories within a two block radius of Hart's
Opera House; News-Advertiser, 24 June 1888,
describes a police raid on a Chinese gambling
establishment at the corner of Carrall and Dupont;
World, 17 January 1889, discusses the problem of
young hoodlums who hung around outside the
theatre and deterred respectable people from
attending. There were also complaints of a rowdy
element in the "gallery" section of the Opera House:
"Cat calling, rude laughter nd execrable noises are
hardly in keeping with the metropolitan character of
Page 28
British Columbia Historical News Vancouver — they do very well in frontier, towns,
when the annual barn-storming minstrel show or
circus makes its appearance," World, 7 October, 1888.
21 Amelia Hart, "Heart of Gold" (Vancouver: n.p., n.d.);
Frank Hart, Letter to Secretary of the Pioneer
Association, 26 August 1934.
22 Frank Hart, Reminiscences, 1934.
23 First History of Rossland, B.C.: With Sketches of Some
of Its Prominent Citizens, Firms, and Corporations
(Rossland: Stunden and Perine, n.d.), pp. 6-7; Irene
Howard, Vancouver's Svenskar: A History of the
Swedish Community in Vancouver (Vancouver:
Vancouver Historical Society, Occasional Paper
Number One, 1973), pp. 33-44; Frank Hart, Interview,
13 November 1933; Amelia Hart, Interview.
24 Large, Prince Rupert, pp. 13-15; obituary notices for
Frank Hart, 8 May 1935, unidentified newspapers, J.S.
Matthews Clipping File, City Archives; Frank Hart,
Letter to J.S. Matthews, 8 August 1934; Vancouver
Province: 11,17 March 1949.
Daphne Arber of Victoria wins our book prize, Barns
of Western Canada: An Illustrated Century, by Bob
Heinstock (Braemer Books, Victoria, $26.95), by
supplying the answer Puget's Sound Agricultural
Company to the question, "What was the name of the
Hudson Bay Company's agricultural Subsidiary?"
British Columbia Historical Federation
Annual Conference
University of British Columbia
Conference Centre, Gage Towers
May 8 - 11, 1986
Conference Information Available
from your Member Society's Secretary
British Columbia Historical News
Page 29 News and Notes
History and the
Japanese Canadian
The Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian
Citizens Association (J.CCA.) in 1981 organized a
History Preservation Committee that interviewed
older members of the Japanese Community and
recorded their life stories. Assistance through 1983
and 1985 Federal summer work grants and many
volunteers provided the resources needed to amass
134 tapes of 91 interviews and a two volume catalogue
for easy reference. In October 1985 the J.CCA.
proudly donated the tapes to UBC Special
Collections. They are accessible to the public under
call number: SPAV79072S6N.23=1 -134.
Other 1985 History Committee activities included:
1. Investigation of historical leads such as Mr. Den
Boer's "Letters"; these turned out to be the
records of the Pitt Meadows Japanese Farmer's
Association which had been left in the attic of a
building owned by the Free Reform Church of
North America. The congregation donated the
records to UBC Special Collections recently.
2. Lobbying to preserve historic sites such as Kishi
Boatworks, last boat shop in Steveston capable of
handling wooden fishing boats. The committee
twice appeared before Richmond Municipal
Council and emphasizes the boatwork's
importance as an example of the Japanese
Canadian contribution to the West Coast fishing
industry. The structure was saved temporarily but
lobbying to secure a permanent site for it must
3. Support of other historical organizations such as
the Cumberland Museum which needs funds to
preserve 786 glass plate photo negatives dating
back to 1900 and which depict mainly Japanese
Canadian pioneers living in the Comox Valley of
Vancouver Island. News of the museum's fund-
raising effort was spread through the J.CCA.
monthly Bulletin which has a 5,000 household
circulation. At last report the museum was halfway
along to its $2,000 goal.
An activity worth mentioning, which at the moment
is only a dream for the History Committee, is the
building of a Powell Street museum that would record
Vancouver's once large Japanese town. Photographs
and memoirs of this community are scarce.
The J.CCA. History Preservation Committee is
interested in communicating with organizations and
people about Japanese Canadian history.
Dan T. Tokawa, Chairman
History Preservation Committee
Box 2108 Main P.O.
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3T5
Fort Langley National
Historic Park
Fort Langley National Historic Park, in co-operation
with Western Cablevision Ltd., has recently
completed a comprehensive history of Fort Langley
on video tape. Five Decades of Change was written
and researched by park staffer Steve Turnbull, with
narration by Interpretive Officer Bryan Jackson. The
two programs totalling 52 minutes, provide an
excellent overview of the fort's history from its
inception to its eventual decline. Five Decades of
Change is being made available through Western
Cablevision Ltd., in Vi" VHS for $35.00, and Va" VHS for
$60.00 (rates subject to change).
For further information contact Western
Cablevision, 10445 - 138th Street, Surrey, B.C. Phone:
Sooke Story on
A three-year labour of love by Sooke Museum
curator Elida Peers has resulted in the All Sooke Days
Story, a film showing the evolution of logging skills
into the annual sports event. The documentary will be
shown free daily at the Sooke Museum, starting May
Produced at a cost of $90,000, it contains vintage
footage of early All-Sooke Days in the 1940s and 1950s
as well as interviews with older residents. The 1984
All-Sooke Days are the centrepiece of the film.
Page 30
British Columbia Historical News Bookshelf
Vancouver in Print
UBC Press, 1985.
Old and new stories about Vancouver.
Bernard et al. New Star Books, 1985.
An illustrative history of the lives and contributions
of ordinary Vancouverites during the past 100 years.
1860-1985, Anne Kloppenborg, Alice Niwinski, Eve
Johnson, ed. Douglas & Mclntyre, 1985.
An illustrated history of Vancouver.
Twigg. Harbour Publishing Co., 1986.
One hundred literary landmarks, celebrating 100
writers whose lives have touched Vancouver.
Douglas & Mclntyre, 1986. A definitive biography
of Vancouver's best-known mayor.
THE WEST COASTER, Douglas M. Gibson.
MacMillan, 1986.
A historical novel of early Vancouver.
LILIAN HOO, Paul Yee. Lorimer Publishers, 1986.
A historical children's novel about the Chinese
Douglas & Mclntyre.
A collection of memoirs, non-fiction and poetry.
Ganges, B.C.: Horsdal & Schubart, 1985. $9.95.
RESTAURANTS, Ginger Chang. Surrey, B.C.:
Hancock House, 1985. $7.95.
CHEF VANCOUVER. Vancouver: Port City
Publishers, 1985. $14.95.
CHRONICLE, Joyce Diggins. Vancouver: Kerrisdale
Historical Society, 1986. $16.00 hardback; $10.00
Kluckner. North Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 1984.
Toronto: McLelland & Stewart, 1985. $29.95.
North Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 1983. $8.95.
Vancouver: Gordon Soules, 1985. $7.95.
COLUMNS OF JACK SCOTT, Jack Scott. Victoria:
Sono Nis Press, 1985. $9.95.
Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 1985. $8.95.
North Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 1985. $14.95
hard; $7.95 paper.
Vancouver Art Gallery. Vancouver: The Gallery,
VANCOUVER FICTION, David Watmough, ed.
Winlaw, B.C.: Polestar Press, nd. $12.95.
Vancouver: Douglas & Mclntyre, 1985. $9.95.
POINT GREY HANDBOOK: Vancouver, 1985.
Published by West Point Grey Community
Association. 1985. $3.95
THE VANCOUVER BOOK, Chuck Davis, ed.
Published: J.J. Douglas, North Vancouver, 1976.
Patricia Roy is the Book Review Editor. Copies of
books for review should be sent to her at 602-139
Clarence St., Victoria V8V2J1
British Columbia Historical News
Page 31 Vancouver Short Stories, ed. Carole Gerson. U.B.C.
Press, 1985. $9.50
Vancouver Short Stories is a collection of twenty-one
entries, all but two of which have appeared in other
volumes or magazines. Bertrand Sinclair's contribution, a reminiscence of the rum-running days of
prohibition and the dangers of the smuggling game,
has not appeared elsewhere, and Cynthia Flood's
"The Animals in Their Elements", an able story about
the confusions and embarassments of aging, is
original to this collection. Other pieces are reprints
from such sources as The Tamarack Review, The
Fiddlehead, Canadian Fiction, even The Alumni
Chronicle. The unifying characteristic of the short
stories in the book is certainly not thematic, since they
range in subject matter from the overlap of Chinese
cultural heritage with Canadian ("The Jade Peony") to
the girl-l-left-behind-me in Tatlow Park ("Love in the
Park"), to the neat realism of Emily Carr's "Sophie",
which describes the tragic circumstances of semi-
urbanized native Indians. But in all the stories there
are local references which serve to bind them
together into a group, and they are all by authors who
have at least visited Vancouver. There are the
inevitable Pauline Johnson excerpts from Legends of
Vancouver,included I imagine for the sake of Expo
strangers who will no doubt be buying the book to
take away with them, most Vancouverites having
encountered Johnson before, and there is a rather
cryptic Malcolm Lowry piece in which gin seems to
equal salvation. Alice Munro is represented with a
delightful commentary, first printed in McCall's, on
cults; Audrey Thomas is in the book too, accurately
outlining in "Aquarius" the warped balance of power
in a failing relationship. Interestingly enough, there
are four out of the twenty-one authors who were
actually born in Vancouver: William McConnell,
lawyer and editor, who gives a clear shot of a Kitsilano
park, Wayson Choy, who writes of the mystical China-
born grandmother, Joy Kogawa, on the shameful and
frightening Japanese internment, and Frances
Duncan, whose "Was That Malcolm Lowry" is, if over-
long, a very descriptive chronicle of summer cabin life
on the Dollarton beaches. The other writers were
imported, but of course the city's history is of imports,
so that's fair enough.
Ms. Gerson has provided brief biographies for each
writer, with the exception of the first one, Francis
Owen, whose origins must remain a mystery. The
stories are arranged chronologically, so that they
move from the mix of history and legend in Owen's
account of the great fire through layers of settlement
and the war and on to contemporary urban life.
Australian immigrants caught up in the dope-culture,
a European painter garretted on Main Street,
mistreatment and abandonment, cultural imbalance,
rape of the land, problems of integration: all are
somewhere in this fiction; all are part of Vancouver's
or any other city's development. But what makes the
collection unique and truly local is the setting. The
mountains and the rain are here, the dirty streets, the
bridges, the beaches, the East End, the University:
locale is essential and integral to most of the stories,
and is unmistakeably Vancouver, and Canadian.
It is a relief to know that realistic stories with local
references are re-entering the literary vogue, and that
Canadian artists now feel that they are allowed to be a
Canadian without fear of sacrificing the world market.
Ms. Gerson's introduction is orderly and well-
written, perhaps with a textbook trade in mind; one
particular thesis in it, "...[a city's] identity is created by
and reflected in its art and literature," catches the eye.
If we've made it into literature, in other words, we are
no longer imaginary. Fiction is just another way of
recording, and if the facts of history, which have
molded these writers and formed their subject are
what make Vancouver worth reading about, then
fiction derived from history makes that history
available and immediate.
The nicest thing about a book of short stories is that
one need not read it all. Most of these stories you will
enjoy; the rest you may cheerfully abandon.
Brenda McGillveray
Samual Maclure, Architect. Janet Bingham; Horsdal &
Schubert, 1985, $9.95.
If you have spent the bulk of your adult life in an
apartment that looks like the inside of a refrigerator,
you will be thankful for Janet Bingham's latest
contribution to architectural preservation. In Samuel
Maclure, Architect,Ms. Bingham presents a valuable
study of the work of a brilliant British Columbian. In a
very readable fashion, the author identifies his
architectural styles, social and philosophical
influences and illuminates the special Maclure
adaptations. The inventories of his commissions,
along with the Bingham's commentary and collected
reminiscences lend this book an appeal for architects
and laymen alike.
The author sets the stage for Maclure's life and
work by opening for view the pages of the family
album. We meet his venturesome parents, siblings
and other members of the pioneer Maclure family.
Basically self-taught, except for one year in art school
in Philadelphia, Maclure formed his first architectural
partnership in 1890. Until his death in 1929, he
specialized in domestic architecture.
Page 32
British Columbia Historical News Samuel Maclure developed a strong design
vocabulary of historical styles, but interpreted his
mandate freely to produce distinctive and innovative
residences. He selected with taste the historical or
geographic style that suited the particular site and
client. Bingham tells us that some of the houses, with
their harmonious blend of stylistic borrowings and
functional planning, have been "lovingly restored"
and others have been declared heritage buildings.
Still others have been renovated beyond recognition
and many are demolished. Some have even been
demolished since the inventories were prepared.
Fortunately, seven remain in New Westminster and
thirty-seven still stand in the City of Vancouver.
As I read this book, I found that something special
happened. While reading through the inventories, I
found myself mentally walking down streets trying to
remember if I had seen a particular building. Then,
one Saturday while driving to the dry cleaners, I
veered off my pre-planned route in search of those
magnificent Maclures. If anything, I have become
more aware of my chosen city and its special
Samuel Maclure's beautiful houses, their design
and workmanship, the likes of which we'll probably
not see built again in our lifetimes, should be
treasured as part of British Columbia's heritage.
Thank you Janet Bingham for taking us part of the
Susan Pookay
B.A. M.E. Des.(Architecture)
The updated and enlarged edition of 7007 Place
Names of British Columbia, by Helen and Philip
Akrigg, is now available from:
Sono Nis Press
1745 Blanshard Street
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 2J8
Price $14.95
No postage charges on prepaid orders.
Back Issues of the News
Back issues of the News can be ordered at $3.50
each plus postage from the Editor.
New Books:
Entries in
the 1985 B.C
Historical Writing
These books are available at local bookstores or by
mail from the address following the title.
OLD SILVERTON 1891-1930, John Norris. 256 pages.
$12.95 soft cover, $17.95 hard cover. Order from:
Silverton Historical Society, Box 10, Silverton, B.C.
VOG 2B0.
A very well written, nicely illustrated history of a
Kootenay mining community.
***First Prize — Winner of the Lieutenant-Governor's
NATURALIST, Richard Mackie. 234 pages. $19.95
hard cover. Order from: Sono Nis Press, 1745
Blanshard Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W 2J8.
An appealing biography of a man who helped
catalogue Canada's birds and wildlife. He lived in the
Comox Valley from 1922-1982. Illustrations.
"""Certificate of Merit for excellent writing.
Branch #77, O.A.P.A. 431 pages. Hard Cover $35.00
plus $3.50 postage. Order from: Old Age
Pensioners Organization, Branch #77, Box 4658,
Quesnel, B.C. V2J 3J8.
A beautifully bound, carefully edited history of
Quesnel and District.
**Certificate of Merit for Best Anthology.
MEN WITH WOODEN FEET, J.S. Kendrick. 168
pages. Hard cover, $16.95. Order from: New
Canadian Publications Ltd., Box 4010 Station A,
Toronto, Ontario M5W 1H8.
An interesting history of the Spanish influence on
the west coast of B.C.
1891-1982, Anne Pearson. 203 pages. Hard Cover
$20.00 plus $3.00 postage. Order from: Mrs.
Vivienne McConnell, 2406 Central Ave. Victorja,
B.C. V8S 2S6, OR Munro's Book Store, 1108
Government Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W 1Y2.
The history of an institution which has now closed,
it holds appeal for anyone who ever knew any of its
British Columbia Historical News
ALBUM, Jim Kearney. 160 pages, paperback $19.95.
Order from: Douglas & Mclntyre, 1615 Venables
Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5L 2H1.
A lot of sports history presented in Jim Kearney's
breezy manner — short articles on a variety of teams
and individual athletes.
373 pages. Hard cover, $24.95. Order from:
Douglas & Mclntyre, 1615 Venables Street,
Vancouver, B.C. V5L 2H1.
This book tells of the acquiring of collections of
artifacts which have gone to museums around the
world from N.W. Coast communities.
ROLLING WITH THE TIMES, Wallace Baikie. 194
pages. Paperback, $15.00. Order from: Wallace
Baikie, 201 Island Highway, Campbell River, B.C.
V9W 2B3.
A collection of stories which focus on pioneer life
and logging exploits mainly on Northern Vancouver
Mattison. 150 pages. Spiral binding. $18.00
Canadian, $15.00 U.S. plus $3.00 postage. Order
from: Camera Workers Press, P.O. Box 684, Station
E, Victoria, B.C. V8W 2P3.
A directory of 475 of our earliest amateur and
professional photographers.
John C Dubeta, Editor. 569 pages. Paperback.
Order from: Word Processors' Guild, 1368 St. Paul
Street, Kelowna, B.C. V1Y 2E1.
This book covers 190 past and present writers in the
Okanagan with samples of some of their writings. This
book has received commendation on "Canadian
Achievers" program, and is being taped as a talking
book for the blind.
THOMPSON—CARIBOO, Murphy Shewchuk. 176
pages. Paperback, $9.95. Order from: B.C.
Outdoors, 202 - 1132 Hamilton Street, Vancouver,
B.C V6B 2S2.
This hand book for travellers covers highways and
back roads giving the reader a taste of the scenery,
special features, and historic sites which make each
road unique.
John Adams, Editor. 55 pages. Paperback, $6.00.
Order from: Victoria Branch B.C. Historical
Federation, c/o 628 Battery Street, Victoria, B.C
V8V 1E5.
This anthology, compiled after a seminar held in
Victoria, contains some very interesting pictures and
commentary on several contrasting burial grounds.
1984,Pix\e McGeachie. 68 pages. Enquire at your
local Credit Union.
This history is distributed to staff and board
members in B.C. Credit Unions.
SOCIETY, J. Glanville, Editor. 119 pages. $8.00 plus $.75
postage. Order from: Boundary Historical Society,
Box 746, Grand Forks, B.C. V0H 1H0.
A delightful anthology dedicated to all who
operated and serviced trains throughout the
Boundary Country.
HOMEMADE MEMORIES,Ei\een Walski. 171 pages.
Harcover $40.00 Order from: Mrs. E.E. Walski, Box
1241, Station A, Prince George, B.C. V2L 4V3.
The history of the community of Willow River, a
tiny community east of Prince George.
The Vancouver Historical Society reports that its
Vancouver Centennial Bibliography, compiled
by Linda Hale, is now available. The bibliography
focuses on the City of Vancouver, listing works
about the city from the earliest times to the
There are over 15,000 items in the bibliography, arranged in categories: e.g., books,
serials, maps and photographs. There are
indexes by name, title, subject and series.
Major funding for the work was obtained from
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council of Canada, and from the British
Columbia Heritage Trust.
There are four volumes. ISBN 0-9692378-0-4.
Price: $100 to members of the Vancouver
Historical Society and to booksellers. $150 to
non-members (Postage and handling included).
To order a set, please write to the Vancouver
Historical Society, P.O. Box 3071, Vancouver,
B.C. V6B 3X6, enclosing a cheque or money
order made out to the Vancouver Historical
Page 34
Honorary Patron:
His Honour, the Honourable Robert G. Rogers,
Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia
Honorary President:
Col. G.S. Andrews, 116 Wellington, Victoria V8V 4H7
382-7202 (res.)
Leonard G. McCann, #2-1430 Maple St., Vancouver V6J 3R9
736-4431 (bus.)
1st Vice President:
Naomi Miller, Box 105, Wasa VOB 2K0
422-3594 (res.)
2nd Vice President:
John D. Spittle, 1241 Mount Crown Rd., North Vancouver V7R 1R9
988-4565 (res.)
T. Don Sale, 262 Juniper St., Nanaimo V9S 1X4
753-2067 (res.)
Recording Secretary:
Margaret Stoneberg, P.O. Box 687, Princeton VOX 1W0
295-3362 (res.)
J. Rhys Richardson, 2875 W. 29th, Vancouver V6L 1Y2
733-1897 (res.)
Myrtle Haslam, 1875 Wessex Road, Cowichan Bay VOR 1N0
748-8397 (res.)
Mary G. Orr, R.R. #1, Butler St., Summerland VOH 1Z0
Barbara Stannard, #211-450 Stewart Ave., Nanaimo V9S 5E9
754-6195 (res.)
Marie Elliott, Editor, B.C. Historical News, 1745 Taylor St., Victoria V8R 3E8
Chairmen of Committees:
Leonard G. McCann
Historic Trails:
John D. Spittle
B.C. Historical News
Ruth Barnett, 680 Pinecrest Rd., Campbell River V9W 3P3
Policy Committee:
287-8097 (res.)
Award Committee:
Naomi Miller
Publications Assistance Helen Akrigg, 4633 W. 8th Ave., Vancouver V6R 2A6
Committee (not
228-8606 (res.)
with B.C. Historical
Loans are available for publication.
Please submit manuscripts to Helen Akrigg. British Columbia Historical Federation
University of British Columbia
Conference Centre, Gage Towers
May 8 - 11, 1986


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