British Columbia History

British Columbia History 2013

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Publication of the British Columbia Historical Federation | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3 | $7.00
Our Neon Nightmare
The Role of the Civic Arts Committee in Dismantling
Vancouver's Sign Jungle, 1957-1974
Unclaimed ashes lead to
the story of a WWI veteran
Almost a Crystal
A shimmering tower in
early Victoria
One-Eye Lake
Plane Crash
A day off for a kinda green
GP in Williams Lake
British Columbia History is published four
times per year (Spring, Summer, Fall,
Winter) by the British Columbia Historical
ISSN: print 1710-7881 online 1710-792X
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British Columbia History welcomes stories,
studies, and news items dealing with any
aspect of the history of British Columbia, and
British Columbians.
Please submit manuscripts for publication
to the Editor, British Columbia History,
Andrea Lister
PO Box 21187, Maple Ridge BC
V2X 1P7
Submission guidelines are available at:
Book reviews for British Columbia History,
K. Jane Watt, Book Review Editor,
BC History,
Box 1053, Fort Langley, BC VIM 2S4
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ISSN: 1710-7881
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the Goverrnment of Canada through the
Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of
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British Columbia Historical Federation
A charitable society under the Income Tax Act Organized 31 October 1922
PO Box 5254, Station B., Victoria BC V8R 6N4
Under the Distinguished Patronage of
The Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
Honorary President: Jacqueline Gresko
Are you an Undergraduate History Student?
Each year, the British Columbia Historical Federation offers two
W. Kaye Lamb Scholarships for student essays relating to the
history of British Columbia.
Prize for a student in the 1st or 2nd year is $750
Prize for a student in the 3rd or 4th year is $1,000
The essay must be written by a student registered in a university
or college in British Columbia.
Candidates must submit their application for this scholarship by
May 15th, 2014.
See full rules and criteria on the BCHF website:
Our Neon Nightmare
Cover Image: Neon signs of businesses and
theatres on Granville Street in 1959: the White
Lunch restaurant, Allen Hotel, Canadian Bank
of Commerce, Capitol Theatre, Medical Arts
Building, Paradise Theatre, Commodore Cabaret,
Plaza Theatre, Vogue Theatre, and the Orpheum
Theatre. Read the story on page 5.
City of Vancouver Archives, AM1 531-: CVA 672-1
Editorial Advisory Committee
Anne Edwards
Jan Gattrell
Don Lyon
Catherine Magee
Ramona Rose
While copyright in the journal as a whole is vested in the British Columbia Historical
Federation, copyright of the individual articles belongs to their respective authors, and
articles may be reproduced for personal use only. For reproduction for other purposes
permission in writing of both author and publisher is required.
 *_StV  WWds
Published by the British Columbia Historical Federation | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
5       Our Neon Nightmare
by Katherine Hill
Each year, the British Columbia Historical Federation
offers two W. Kaye Lamb Scholarships for student
essays relating to the history of British Columbia.
Katherine Hill is the winner of the $1000 prize for
a student in 3rd or 4th year university or college in
British Columbia.
IE Alexander's Ashes
1_J   by Peter Broznitsky
A report of unclaimed ashes leads to unexpected
connections and the unfolding story of a Russian-
Canadian First World War veteran.
1Q Almost a Crystal Palace
^j   by Robert Ratcliffe Taylor
A shimmering, architectural tower in the middle
of the countryside, the Willows exhibition hall at
Victoria, BC 1891-1907, captured the confidence of an
One-Eye Lake Plane Crash
by Sterling Haynes
A day off for a kinda green GP in Williams Lake in
August 1961 turned into a flight without a map to the
scene of a plane crash.
^ Q The Viaduct that Saved
Lj Commercial Drive
by Jak King
The story of Charles Smith and the First Avenue
Viaduct is the creation story of the Drive, a story
without which East Vancouver's history would have
been markedly different.
Greenwood, BC: Arrival of Nikkei
Photo Essay
by Jacqueline Gresko, images courtesy Alice
In April 1942 1200 Japanese Canadians (Nikkei) were
required to abandon their coastal lifestyles and were
interned in Greenwood, BC, northwest of Grand
41   Archives & Archivists
by Hugh Ellenwood; edited by Sylvia Stopforth
A concern for preservation of the originals and a
desire from genealogists for digital access led to the
newspaper digitization project at the White Rock
Museum & Archives.
48 Cabinets of Curiosities
by Jim Bain
Workmen at the Vancouver post office uncovered a
memorial plaque that had been hidden from public
view for over 30 years.
3 Editor's Note
4 Inbox
Letters from Readers
43  From the Book Review Editor's Desk
K. Jane Watt
Walking In History
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      1
 British Columbia Historical Federation
A charitable society under the Income Tax Act Organized 31 October 1922
PO Box 5254, Station B., Victoria BC V8R 6N4 0 0
Under the Distinguished Patronage of The Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
Barry Gough
Phone 250.592.0800
Gary Mitchell
Phone 250.387.2992
Derek Hayes
Phone 604.541.7850
Judy Lam Maxwell
Phone 604.418.8560
Kerri Gibson
Phone 250.386.3405
Fax: 250.361.3188
Barb Hynek
Phone 250.535.9090
pas tpres ©
Jacqueline Gresko
Marie Elliott
Maurice Guibord
Ron Hyde
William R. Morrison
Sharron Simpson
K. Jane Watt
Ken Wuschke
Andrea Lister, British Columbia
History Editor
K. Jane Watt, Book Review Editor,
British Columbia History
Sylvia Stopforth, Archives &
Archivists Editor, British Columbia
R.J. (Ron) Welwood, Website Editor
Derek Hayes, Online Encyclopedia
Barb Hynek
K. Jane Watt
William Morrison
Ron Hyde
Marie Elliott
Gary Mitchell
Tom Lymbery
Phone: 250-227-9448
Fax 250-227-9449
For awards and scholarship
information see inside back cover.
The British Columbia Historical Federation has been working since 1922 with historical sites, societies, groups, museums, archives, etc. throughout
British Columbia preserving and promoting British Columbia's history.
The British Columbia Historical Federation is an umbrella organization embracing a variety of membership categories which are interested in the
preservation and promotion of British Columbia's history.
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The website Book Store now has over 85 books on its shelves from the British Columbia Historical Federation and member societies. Books can be
purchased through using PayPal. Purchase books about BC history:
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few words about your area of interest!
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 Editor's Note
The Canadian Oxford Dictionary
defines community as a
"fellowship of interests". The
definition of community is
evolving from our traditional idea of
neighbours looking out for each other
and delivering casseroles to include
the idea of social communities.
Through online communities such as
facebook I am able to watch a video
from the Swansea University where
they reconstruct the face of an archer
from the Mary Rose and participate
in conversations about history around
the globe. I am proud member of a
large historical community that has
many neighbourhoods. I belong to
a local family history group where
we compete for who has the most
notorious ancestor but we also share
resources and tips. I have several
friends and colleagues who send me
things they come across that they think
will be of interest. Annette Fulford,
Canadian WWI War bride researcher,
sends me anything she comes across
with the names Dewolf and Edgeworth
as she knows they relate to my family
tree somehow. Marie Elliott, former
editor of British Columbia History and
author of numerous books and articles
about BC history sends me historical
documents she encounters during her
own research that relate to Johnny
Ussher, my first cousin four times
removed, who was murdered by the
McLean Gang in 1879. In May I travelled
to Kamloops for the Historic Grasslands
conference and was able to enjoy the
company of fellow history buffs and
listen to a variety of speakers share
their knowledge.
Community is an underlying
theme of many of the articles in this
issue of British Columbia History.
Katherine Hill's winning essay for
the W. Kaye Lamb relates how the
Community Arts Council of Vancouver's
Civic Arts Committee efforts to control
signage led to a reduction in the
number of neon signs in Vancouver.
Also in Vancouver, Jak King relates
how a community worked together
to convince city council to build the
First Avenue viaduct. This is a timely
story with the Georgia and Dunsmuir
viaducts slated for demolition in 2018.
The community of colleagues
is a key element of Sterling Haynes
story of a plane crash at One-Eye Lake
while our photo essay tells the story
of a community uprooted from their
coastal lifestyles and forced to start
again in Greenwood.
I hope you enjoyed some of
BC's community over the summer by
visiting some historic sites or reading
some history books on your porch.
Andrea Lister, Editor
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Federation assumes no responsibility for
statements made by contributors.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      3
Letters from Readers
Note Annie
Watson wrote in
i ■■■ ■ i
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•L <i
t\<x<- fci%.uf Jt^J- iC^.^m^
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Annie Watson's Notepad
Hello, Andrea,
I'm probably not the first person to
mention this, but on page 41, Annie Watson's
notepad, I'll suggest "internal [illegible]
cause of death 3 hours" is probably "interval
between cause and death 3 hours".
I can't reproduce it in an e-mail, but
the character between cause and death is
similar to an upside-down "4", and was (is?) a
common shorthand for "and".
Great issue, as usual.
Gary Ogle
Enjoyed Graham Brazier's Article
Thank You so much for another great
issue of British Columbia Historyl I've poured
over every page.
I particularly enjoyed Graham Brazier's
article "Annie Watson's Curious Suitcase of
If I may, I'd like to suggest a different
assessment of Annie's handwritten note. On
page 40, Mr. Brazier noted that "Charles...
died three hours after the accident..."
Then, looking at the note [page 41, line 4],
he interprets the word after 'internal' as
illegible, followed by 'cause of death' [my
underline]. However, if you read that first
word as 'interval' then the phrase flows as
'Skull fractured... interval between cause +
death 3 hours.'
Lori James Derry
[retired RN, with 30 years of reading Doctors'
handwritten notes!]
Harry Ferguson an Irishman
Your footer re Harry Ferguson notes him
as an Englishman — poor Harry would be very
miffed as he was Irish!
Peter Heaster
Henry George "Harry" Ferguson was born
4 November 4, 1884 Growell, near Dromore,
County Down, Ireland. The Summer 2013 issue
of British Columbia History incorrectly called
Harry an Englishman.
Send us your
British Columbia History welcomes
reader's letters and emails, while
reserving the right to edit them. Email
your story to:, or
mail it to: Editor, British Columbia History,
PO Box 21187, Maple Ridge, BC V2X 1P7.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 Our Neon Nightmare
by Katherine Hill
Each year, the British Columbia Historical Federation
offers two W. Kaye Lamb Scholarships for student essays
relating to the history of British Columbia. Katherine Hill is
the winner of the $1000 prize for a student in 3rd or 4th year
university or college in British Columbia.
Student's Assignment
This essay was done as an assignment for Professor Robert A.J. MacDonald's History of
Vancouver course (HIST 490). Her essay was inspired by the Museum of Vancouver's exhibit
Neon Vancouver, Ugly Vancouver. The winning entry has been edited, by Hill, to suit British
Columbia History.
In the late 1950s, the city of Vancouver
proudly boasted over 19,000 neon signs
- one for every eighteen residents in the
lower mainland and more per capita
than any other city in North America.1 Tales
are told of the extravagant, flashy signs that
lured crowds of tourists to the city, and of
the "warm glow and jewel-like quality of the
lights, [which] created an aura of glamour and
opulence on the city's streets."2 By the 1960s
though, these glowing beacons had stirred
an impassioned debate, played out in the
chambers of City Council and on the pages
of the city's newspapers, over whether or
not a new by-law should be created in order
to restrict the presence of projecting signs,
billboards and third-party advertisements,
including those that were made of the once-
popular neon, on Vancouver's buildings and
streets. From 1959 to 1974, the Community Arts
Council of Vancouver's Civic Arts Committee
played the leading role in the effort to cut back
Vancouver's "neon jungle," and encountered
relatively marginal opposition from local sign
companies, unions and a few city aldermen.
However, despite the fact that the committee
faced little public or private opposition, and
that it generally enjoyed support from the
media, it took over a decade of lobbying for
the Sign By-law (1974) to be passed and the
committee's demands to finally be carried out.
During the late nineteenth and early
twentieth century the rise of the automobile
led to the rapid and unprecedented
commercialization of public space in North
America. Both national advertising companies
and local businesses took advantage of unused
roadside space to market goods and services,
and industry spokesmen enthusiastically
proclaimed that billboards "cultivated the
'spirit of growth, of development [and] of
economic progress' that 'every city desires.'"3
Many citizens, however, were not so eager
to embrace such a blatant and pervasive
commercial invasion of public space. The
proliferation of outdoor advertising directly
coincided with the advent of the City
Beautiful movement, which emerged among
professional circles of engineers, architects and
surveyors in both the United States and Canada
after the success of the well-planned Chicago
World's Fair of 1893. One of the chief aims
of City Beautiful professionals was gaining
"uniformity along the street,"4 although
most architects and engineers involved in
the movement focused on the architectural
coherence of houses and buildings rather
than on street side advertising. However,
Catherine Gudis notes that a vocal group of
what she calls "roadside reformers," whose
ranks were drawn largely from local level
women's clubs, civic associations and similar
elite organizations, emerged in the 1920s and
1930s and were undoubtedly inspired by
the City Beautiful movement's focus on the
beautification of urban streets. By framing their
opposition in a way that "pitted the beauty
of nature against the beast of commerce,"
as embodied in outdoor advertising and on
billboards, these roadside reformers began
a "national battle over aesthetic rights to the
Katherine Hill
graduated with a
bachelor's degree
in history from
the University of
British Columbia
in May 2012.
While growing up
in Whitehorse,
Yukon, Katherine
spent most of her
summers in the
remote gold rush
town of Atlin, BC,
which sparked
her interest in
the history and
development of
British Columbia.
She is currently
working in
communications for
the Government of
Yukon and working
on grad school
applications. She is
planning to do her
Master's degree in
or education,
but her love for
historical reading
and research will
continue to fill
much of her spare
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      5
 Granville Street
between 3rd
Avenue and 4th
Avenue, Vancouver
BC in 1932. Shows
Ruddy-Duke r
Company billboards
advertising Beach
Gas Ranges, Nugget
Shoe Polish and
others and signs
for Nabob Coffee
and Tea and B. C.
Electric, and Coke
roadside environment...that lasted more than
forty years."5
By the 1920s, roadside advertising
was undoubtedly also a concern of those
Canadian professionals and elites who had
taken up the cause of city beautification. As
Robert A.J. MacDonald notes in his article
on class perspectives of Stanley Park during
the height of the City Beautiful movement in
Vancouver, one of the main arguments of the
elite who fought against development in the
park was that any sign of "artificiality would
clash with the lines and form of the nearby
forest."6 Although there is an absence of
scholarly evidence to show that City Beautiful
supporters in Vancouver were specifically
concerned with outdoor advertising before
the Second World War, it is clear that an elitist
sense of natural beauty was strongly positioned
against any development that "symbolized the
mechanized, bustling world of commerce."7
McDonald's evidence of the existence of an
elite-dominated City Beautiful movement
in Vancouver prior to the Second World War
demonstrates the historical role of the city's lay
elite in successfully opposing City Council's
development plans. While the presence of these
vocal elites in city development was notable
during the City Beautiful movement, the Great
Depression of the 1930s and the Second World
War during the 1940s provided a "crucial
interregnum" that "delayed the ambitions of
planners and elites alike."8 Certainly, the Great
Depression and the Second World War would
have similarly disrupted calls for roadside
beautification and anti-outdoor advertising
in cities across North America, including
Vancouver, until the renewal of city planning
in the 1950s.
Even before World War II had ended,
municipal governments across Canada began
to turn their attention away from the war
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 effort and focused on urban renewal and
reconstruction as a way to avoid returning to
the economic and industrial stagnation of the
Great Depression.9 Fortunately, the end of
the war did not bring stagnation, but instead
unprecedented affluence, and with it, the rise
of a consumerist society, the proliferation of
the automobile, and housing shortages that
necessitated the construction of sprawling
suburbs. Encountering a previously unknown
prosperity and ease of employment, the rapidly
expanding middle-class in Canadian cities not
only demanded homes but also roads on which
to drive their cars to and from work. In order
to keep up with the demand for development,
most municipal governments began to
employ professional city planners to ensure
new developments were carried out in the
most efficient and economical ways possible.
Particularly in Vancouver, city planners came to
occupy a place of privilege in deciding how the
city should both look and function. As in cities
across Canada, "high modernist planning"
became the practice in Vancouver following
World War II. According to anthropologist
James C. Scott, high modernity is "an
exaggerated belief in the capacity of scientific
and technological progress to meet growing
human needs and bestow social benefits."10
When high modernist principles were applied
to city planning in post-war Vancouver, the
effect was to remove citizens, and even City
Council, from the decision-making process
and give professionals the responsibility of
reconciling the existing urban landscape with
rapid new development. Indeed, planners
"believed that they acted as delegates of
the citizenry as a whole, and not on behalf
of the whims and desires of individuals or
groups."11 In Vancouver, this view was largely
unchallenged by both City Council and the
general public until the late 1960s. The advent
of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver's
Civic Arts Committee in 1950/51 coincided
with the rise of high modernist planning in the
city and provided a challenge to the dominance
of city planners in deciding how Vancouver
should be both renewed and developed.
Historians generally situate the
emergence of a "new ideology of liveability
in urban development" in the context of the
late 1960s.12 With regards to city planning in
Toronto, however, Keith Brushnett points
out that "[m]any of the same issues, ideas,
sentiments, and even personalities, which
occupied community organizations during the
1960s can be traced back to the [reconstruction]
movement during the post-war period."13
Writing about Vancouver, Historian David
Ley asserts that an emergent professional,
technical and administrative elite would
oversee its transition from an industrial,
growth-centred city to a service-oriented,
"liveable city" with "a landscape in harmony
with human sensibility."14 The emergence of
this elite vanguard actually occurred over a
decade earlier, immediately following the war.
The first Community Arts Council in North
America was established in Vancouver 1946,15
and over the course of the 1950s and early 1960s
the Community Arts Council of Vancouver
(CACV) was an unfaltering voice on matters of
city planning and development.
Following the creation of the CACV in
October 1946, Dr. Ira Dilworth, the CACV's first
President, proclaimed that "the organization
would 'act as a clearing centre for various
cultural fields, [would] offer cultural advice to
struggling groups' and would ensure proper
publicity for the activities of all its (group)
members."16 However, by the beginning of
the next decade, the CACV had taken on a
much more active role in defining the aesthetic
character of the city, becoming the chief voice
of dissent to a complacent City Council and
ignorant public that allowed privileged city
planners to single-handedly determine the
course of the city's development. In 1950/51,
the CACV established a Civic Arts Committee
("the committee") in order to press city hall
for the "improvement of the appearance of
downtown Vancouver."17 According to a
statement by early council member Frank
Low-Beer, committee members seem to have
seen themselves as occupying the same role as
advocates of the citizenry at large with regards
to urban planning and city development as
city planners believed themselves to hold.
As Low-Beer put it, "[a]t that time we were
the only people around. I think it's fair to say
that the Arts Council and what the Civic Arts
Committee stood for was the conscience of the
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 While Low-Beer's claim that the
committee stood for the conscience of the city
may have been inflated and elite-centric, it is
true that the CACV was the only organization
interested in challenging the authority of city
planners in determining the appearance of
Vancouver in the post-war period. Historians
Laura Madokoro and Donald Gutstein concur
that other groups in Vancouver, specifically the
large Chinese population of Strathcona, did
not play an important role in city development
issues until the "Great Freeway Debate" of
the late 1960s and early 1970s.19 Furthermore,
research by both David Ley and William
Langford confirms that it was not until the
late 1960s that any significant number within
Vancouver's citizenry became aware of, as
Langford puts it, "the dehumanizing and
undemocratic nature of high modernist
planning expertise."20 According to Ley, the
doubling of white-collar professional and
technical employees in Vancouver between
1951 and 1971 predicated mass interest in city
planning, but their "new ideology of urban
development" would not be articulated until
the late 1960s.21 In contrast, however, Low-
Beer's assertion establishes there was in fact
a small group of existing white-collar citizens
in Vancouver who had been interested and
involved in matters of city development for
well over a decade by the late 1960s - the Civic
Arts Committee.
Initially concentrated on beautifying
the city's streetscape, it seemed a natural step
that the committee would eventually turn its
attention to the "clutter of commercial signs
[that] dotted almost every building" on the
city's downtown streets.22 However, it is crucial
to note that although historians and journalists
today blame the "civic beautifiers" of the Civic
Arts Committee for the loss of the thousands of
neon signs that once lined Vancouver's streets,23
the eventual removal of such a great number
of the city's neon signs was not a stated goal of
the committee. Instead, the committee simply
wanted Vancouver's major streets to emulate
those architecturally pleasant boulevards
and pedestrian "malls" in the great cities of
the United States and Britain.24 These cities
provided examples to committee members of
how much more pleasing streets could look
and feel if garish, projecting advertisements
and billboards were swapped for tasteful
street furniture, landscaping and unobstructed
vistas. Therefore, it was not neon signs that
the committee was to target specifically, but
rather any and all large, projecting signs, roof
signs, billboards and advertisements that were
responsible for much of the perceived visual
clutter and disorderliness of the downtown
In 1957, in response to Section VI on Civic
Design of the Technical Planning Board's 1956
"Downtown Vancouver Development Plan
Report," the Civic Arts Committee first began
to push City Council for "an improved plan
for the downtown area which would include
open spaces, trees on Georgia Street and street
furniture in better design."26 Despite the fact
that Section VI of the Downtown Report stated
that the design and structure of roof signs and
blank wall signs should be improved, very
little was done by City Council to clarify or
follow through on this recommendation in
the late 1950s and early 1960s. By 1960, the
committee noticed that its demands for action
with regards to Section VI had not been acted
upon. In a 31 March 1960 letter from the CACV
to Mayor A.T. Alsbury and City Council,
CACV President Ian S. McNairn wrote "with
regret [about] the number of projecting signs
which [had] recently appeared on Georgia
Street...[and with] fear that the tardiness
in implementation of recommendations for
these amenity streets [would] prevent their
distinction from any other street." McNairn
continued by referring to a number of cities
across Europe and North America that "today
contain streets in the downtown areas where
projecting and roof signs are prohibited," and
finished by urging City Council to carry out the
recommendations of the Downtown Report,
especially with regards to the designated
"amenity streets" of Georgia and Burrard.27
Over two months later, at a 21 June
1960 meeting, the committee discussed the
fact that the Mayor's office did not receive, or
perhaps chose to ignore, McNairn's letter, and
determined that simply mailing letters to the
Mayor and Council was not having the desired
effect.28 Following a number of meetings in
1960, the committee decided to pursue other
strategies besides merely pressuring City
Council to follow through on its promises of
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 almost five years earlier. Perhaps in recognition
of the powerful role of the Technical Planning
Board, which was comprised of expert city
planners, the committee decided that it would
solicit the support of more "lawyers, architects
[and] designers...who would be able because
of their experience to tackle the problem
efficiently."29 The decision to use expert
opinion to bolster their argument for the need
to regulate signs on the downtown streetscape
shows that the committee was well aware
of the privileged place that the expert held
with regards to city planning in the post-war
period. However, it also demonstrates that the
committee, while recognizing the privileged
place of planners, was not satisfied with
allowing all responsibility for the appearance
of the city to be placed in the hands of those
experts employed at city hall. Indeed, many
of the members of the committee and the
larger CACV were professionals themselves,
their ranks including lawyers, University of
British Columbia faculty members, architects,
and the wives of professionals.30 As members
of the professional elite that emerged in
post-war cities across Canada, the weekday
professionals/weekend community organizers
who made up the CACV and the Civic Arts
Committee saw themselves in a similar role to
that of the city's expert planners and believed
that "by virtue of their expertise [they] knew
the correct path, and because they operated
from 'general principles' their solutions
could be depended upon to represent the
public good."31 Interestingly, it seems that the
professionals who made up the ranks of the
CACV may have been more perceptive towards
the actual desires of Vancouver's citizenry, at
least when it came to sign regulations, than
were the employed experts at City Hall.
In order to garner more support for
sign regulation in Vancouver, the Civic Arts
Committee revamped its strategy in 1961 and
1962. While it continued to lobby City Council
Imperial Bank of
Commerce (819
Granville Street),
and buildings
and businesses
including the
Coronet Theatre
(851 Granville
Street), and the
Western School of
Commerce (712
Robson Street)
circa 1967.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3     9
 Metal nameplate
for Neon Products
signs, baked
enamel paint.
Neon Products was
one of the largest
neon signmaking
! companies in
'■ Vancouver.
to act on Section VI, as well as to uphold its
subsequent pledge to start regulating signs on
the city's amenity streets, the committee also
began writing letters to architects, lawyers,
and other community organizations in the
city asking for support.32 Elizabeth Lane, who
chaired the committee from 1960 until 1962,
recalls that members at the time also found new
inspiration in a film produced by the British
Civic Trust called Magdalen Streets Filmed in
Norwich, England, Magdalen Street was "the
story of a highly imaginative but simple plan
to restore a decaying downtown core by use of
paint, minor architectural alterations, planting
and street furniture."34 The film gave the
committee an idea of how they would like the
amenity streets of Vancouver to look, absent
of projecting billboards and flashy signs. Now
aware of the fact that City Council did not
intend to follow through on sign regulation in
an expedient fashion, the committee realized it
would once again need to expand its campaign
With the streets of Norwich in mind,
the committee began a two-pronged attack
on signs that included both public education
and private condemnation. Starting with the
latter, the committee wrote letters to private
businesses in Vancouver. Letters were sent
to the Hotel Vancouver in February 1962 and
the Granville Street Canadian Imperial Bank
of Commerce (CIBC) in March 1964 in order
to express the committee's dislike of the
businesses' choice of signage, to ask that the
signs be removed, and to notify the businesses
that City Council would be contacted regarding
the offending signs. To the committee, the sign
erected on the historic Hotel Vancouver was
particularly offensive because it was a third
party advertisement for the Vancouver Sun that
defaced the imposing building and obstructed
views for no other purpose than to make both
the hotel and the newspaper more money.35
Although such personal appeals to
businesses did not work and the
signs remained, the continued
construction       of       offensive
signs on buildings and amenity streets like
Georgia motivated the committee to accelerate
its opposition campaign. By April 1964, the
committee had failed to convince the CIBC to
remove its Granville Street sign and thus also
"decided to include bridge approaches as well
as the amenity streets" in its future briefs to
City Council requesting action on the proposed
sign regulations.36 This was a key moment
in the sign debate that had an important, if
somewhat accidental, effect on the provisions
eventual Sign By-Law. Indeed, were it not for
the committee's decision to push for regulation
of signs near bridge approaches, perhaps the
Sign By-Law would not have included the
incredibly restrictive provisions for signs in all
of those areas,37 including on Granville Street,
which was home to many of the now legendary
neon signs and advertisements.
The lack of response from both private
business and industry also moved the
committee to try another approach to rally
support for their cause - public education.
Emulating an exhibit that it had shown at the
Vancouver Art Gallery in 1959 to promote
good design in street furniture (i.e. bus
shelters, telephone booths, litter bins), the
committee set up a photo exhibit, called "Signs
of Our Times," on sign control at Vancouver
Public Library branches in Kerrisdale, Dunbar
and East Hastings.38 The exhibit ran for a few
months and encouraged visitors to "write
personally in support of sign control" to City
Council.39 Although it is difficult to quantify
how much public support the committee
received as a result of the exhibit, it is clear that
the attempt did begin to attract media attention
to the group's efforts in an unprecedented way.
A few months after the "Signs of Our
Times" exhibit was erected, Province writer
and humourist Eric Nicol became the first
Vancouver journalist to write about the sign
debate in any meaningful way. Prior to his 2
December 1962 article called "Cutting Back the
Jungle," very little had been written on the topic
besides basic reporting on the aforementioned
city zoning plans that promised to restrict signs
on amenity streets.40 Following the publication
of Nicol's article and the committee's exhibit,
however, journalists embraced the cause of
waking up from "Our Neon Nightmare."41
Finally, public and media backlash against the
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 "hideous jungle of signs" seemed to awaken
at least some members of the sign industry
to the fact that, as President Colin T. Martin
of Neon Products of Canada Ltd. put it in a
1963 interview with the Vancouver Sun, '"small
areas of not particularly like the
product.'"42 While Martin was confident that
merchants, who would pay higher taxes if a
more restrictive sign by-law were in place, as
well as citizens' pride in bustling commercial
streets like Granville,43 would prevent a sign
by-law from ever being passed, it seems his
assumptions about the power of business and
the wants of the public were increasingly out of
touch with reality.
In the years following Martin's 1963
interview, while the over-confident sign
industry ignored the supposedly "small areas
of people" that wanted stricter sign control, the
Civic Arts Committee worked hard to increase
support for the cause of their little group. In
the spring of 1966, the committee organized
another successful campaign that involved
distributing 1,400 pre-typed postcards to
"interested citizens" who then signed and
sent the postcards to City Hall to show their
support for a new sign by-law. About 600 of the
cards, which stated, "I support the enactment
of a bylaw for regulating the position, size and
aesthetic suitability of commercial signs on
amenity streets,"44 were mailed to City Hall.
Although most of the postcards mailed in were
representative those already involved in the
sign control effort — almost half of the cards
printed were sent to members of the CACV for
signing — and not the general population of
Vancouver,45 the campaign was nevertheless
successful in garnering media support. Indeed,
following the postcard campaign, to which the
sign industry failed to produce any response
or defence, Vancouver media coverage became
heavily weighted on the side of sign control.
46 While the effect of this increase in media
coverage in favour of a sign by-law on the
public is difficult to determine, it is clear that
the committee's expanded campaigning efforts
and the resulting media attention had finally
attracted due attention by City Hall.
The committee immediately followed
the postcard campaign by delivering a ten-
page brief to City Council "showing what
other cities [were] doing to control signs" and
demanding that advertising in Vancouver "be
carried out with a great deal more taste."47 The
brief reportedly earned the consideration of
city planning director Bill Graham and most
of the eight aldermen present but Graham
nevertheless maintained that sign control was
not a priority of the Planning Department at
that time. Instead, Alderman Bob Williams
suggested that the committee undertake its
own survey "on which the city could base
a bylaw."48 Williams' suggestion indicates
that both City Council and the Planning
Department had become not only receptive,
but also accommodating to the committee's
demands by the late 1960s.
Certainly, the committee's tireless
campaigning efforts, along with an increase
in media attention to the cause of sign
control, would have influenced City Council's
newfound willingness to work with the
committee in the late 1960s. However, the
coincidental rise of the heritage movement,
which was aimed at preserving historic areas
and buildings in the city, and the Great Freeway
Debate, must not be overlooked. The greater
issues of urban renewal and development in
the late 1960s, under which questions over
heritage and freeways both fell, contributed to
a view in City Hall and among the citizenry in
general that, as former CACV council member
Peter Oberlander put it, "[planning [was]
too important to leave to the professionals."49
According to William Langford, Oberlander's
observation was indeed correct, since "the
lack of political decisiveness...[and] problems
with deference to planning experts and the
centralized exercise of authority towards high
modernist goals were increasingly evident"
by the mid-1960s.50 Instead, both City Council
and ordinary citizens turned to community
organizations like the CACV as an alternative
to city planners.
While CACV president Ralph Flitton
still believed that drafting a new sign by-law
was "something that [had] to be done by the
planning department,"51 throughout the late
1960s and early 1970s the committee continued
sending letters and presenting briefs to City
Council suggesting measures to be included
in the eventual legislation.52 Although the
planning department would not have the new
Sign By-law prepared until 8 October 1974, the
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      11
 CACV and Civic Arts Committee continued to
be involved and provided many suggestions
that would eventually shape the provisions
of the by-law. For example, in an 8 April 1970
letter from the CACV to Mayor Tom Campbell,
City Council and Bill Graham, President
Frank Low-Beer told the council that a new
or amended sign by-law should include "a
restriction on animated or flashing signs" on
the amenity streets of Georgia and Burrard and
that all "third party signs be removed at the
expiration of the contract."53
The influential role of the CACV in
shaping the provisions of the 1974 Sign By-
Law is clearly reflected in By-law 4810 ("Sign
By-law") itself. An information brochure sent
out to interested stakeholders and industry in
October 1974 stated that the Sign By-Law was
not only the result of "many months of study
and research [in which] the sign industries
in Vancouver co-operated with the civic
authorities,"54 but also was created in "the
interest of the community."55 The Sign By-Law
provided for most of the measures demanded
by the Civic Arts Committee throughout the
1960s, including limits on how far signs could
project beyond a building face, provisions on
the aesthetic appearance and maintenance of
signs, and a clause that restricted all third party
advertising except in a few specified locations.56
The Sign By-Law also reflected the committee's
concern over signs on major downtown streets,
like Georgia and Burrard, and at bridge
approaches, such as the aforementioned CIBC
sign on Granville Street.57 An entire schedule
was included in the legislation in order to
restrict the size and messages of signs in these
areas, and no third-party advertising was
It is important to note, however,
that the committee only want to see third
party advertisements and projecting signs
removed from the sections of Granville Street
immediately on either side of the bridge,
and that they did not specifically call for the
removal of neon signs further down the street.
In fact, the committee actually wanted the
large, flashy signs, which advertised cultural
and historical landmarks such as the Vogue
and Orpheum theatres, to remain as a feature
of the city's theatre row, providing for a single
"Great White Way" like London's Piccadilly
area or New York's Times Square. Since the
committee aimed to model the streetscapes
of Vancouver after those found in cities in
Europe and the United States, they would have
undoubtedly wanted to follow the advice of
planners like London's Desmond Heap, who
visited Vancouver in 1968 and spoke of the
wonderful effect that restricting and removing
signs had on that city's aesthetic. While
advocating for the removal of most signs,
Heap also reminded Vancouverites that neon
signs did have a place in a city's entertainment
district, such as they were found in London's
Piccadilly area.59 It is not a stretch then to
believe that the committee wanted the existing
theatre row, Granville Street north of the
bridge, to remain as Vancouver's own modern,
flashy entertainment district. Indeed, Elizabeth
O'Keily, author of The Arts and Our Town:
Community Arts Council of Vancouver, 1946-
1996, attests that "[t]he Arts Council [actually]
encouraged the use of colourful neon signs in
the intensely commercial areas of Broadway,
Kingsway, Granville and Chinatown" while
advocating that they be regulated elsewhere.60
With this to consider, the 1974 Sign By-Law
was certainly successful in achieving the
committee's goal of restricting and removing
offending signs from amenity streets like
Georgia and Burrard and from the entrances to
bridge approaches. With regards to Granville,
however, the new regulations were too strict
for even the sign control champions in the Civic
Arts Committee, who wanted to leave Granville
as Vancouver's solution to the modern city's
need for a glowing entertainment district..61
Although the Sign By-Law did include
special provisions to allow "flashing and
animated signs" on Granville Street,62 after
1974 many of the street's neon signs and
billboards nevertheless disappeared. While
most of the signs that vanished from Granville's
streetscape were third-party advertisements
and billboards clustered on rooftops and
building walls around the approach to the
Granville Street Bridge, many of the flashy
neon signs that lined the remainder of the street
were also taken down. With their removal,
Granville's aesthetic character was strikingly
changed.63 It is difficult to determine which
provisions within the Sign By-Law would have
specifically led to the removal of so many of
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 the street's neon signs, but it is certain that the
disappearance of these signs was not the intent
of the Civic Arts Committee in their efforts for
sign regulation in the city.64 However, in recent
exhibits at the Museum of Vancouver and in
related articles in newspapers across Canada,
blame for the disappearance of neon on
Vancouver's streets was placed on the "neon
haters" in the CACV and the supporters they
earned in the media and City Hall.
The city wide dismantling of Vancouver's
"neon jungle" was, in fact, not the intent of the
CACV or the Civic Arts Committee in their
campaign for sign control. While contemporary
journalists and historians like John Atkin
bemoan what they see as the result of a
"debate" won by "[o]pinon-makers and civic
leaders,"65 the almost complete disappearance
of neon signs from the city's intensely
commercial streets, including Granville, was
in fact an unintended outcome of an onerous
Sign By-Law written by the City of Vancouver
Planning Department. The true conflict over
sign control in the city was not between those
for versus against neon signs, as the Museum of
Vancouver has claimed in two recent exhibits.66
Rather, it was a power struggle for control
over the city's aesthetic development between
privileged planners and a group of concerned
professionals and patrons of the arts who
made up the Civic Arts Committee. While the
Planning Department did eventually consider
the recommendations of the committee with
regards to provisions that should be included
in the 1974 Sign By-Law, the committee did not
intend for provisions that would lead to such
a dramatic reduction of neon signs on all of
the city's streets. In truth, the almost complete
removal of neon signs from all Vancouver
streets, including Granville, seems to have
been an unintentional yet clear consequence of
this larger power struggle. As such, it is unfair
and untruthful for contemporary journalists,
historians and museum curators to blame the
disappearance of Vancouver's "Great White
Way" on the "civic beautifiers" of the Civic
Arts Committee.*
1. Michael Scott, "Bright lights,
grey city: In its neon heyday,
Vancouver was all aglow and
abuzz," National Post, March 24,
2. Mary Vincent, "Vancouver
Electric," Canadian Geographic 119,
no.7 (1999): 50.
3. Quoted from "Economic Utility
of Poster Panels," OAA News 15,
no. 4 (1924): 17 in Catherine Gudis,
Buyways: Billboards, Automobiles, and
the American landscape (New York:
Routledge, 2004), 153.
4. Walter Van Nus, "The Fate of
City Beautiful Thought in Canada,
1893-1930," in The Canadian City:
Essays in Urban History, ed. Gilbert
A. Stelter and Alan F.J. Artibise
(Toronto: MacMillan Company of
Canada, 1979), 166.
5. Catherine Gudis, Buyways:
Billboards, Automobiles, and the
American landscape (New York:
Routledge, 2004), 163.
6. Robert A.J. McDonald, "'Holy
Retreat' or 'Practical Breathing
Spot'?: Class Perceptions of
Vancouver's Stanley Park, 1910-
1913," Canadian Historical Review
65, no. 2 (1984): 134, DOL10.3138/
7. Ibid.
8. William Langford, '"Is Sutton
Brown God?' Planning Expertise
and the Local State in Vancouver,
1952-1973," (M.A. thesis, UBC,
2011), 8.
'Is Sutton Brown
9. Langford,
God?," 8.
10. Ibid., 3-4.
11. Kevin Brushnett, "'People and
Government Travelling Together':
Community Organization, Urban
Planning and the Politics of Postwar Reconstruction in Toronto,
1943-1953," Urban History Review
27, no. 2 (1999), http://search.
12. For example, see David
Ley, "Liberal Ideology and the
Postindustrial City," Annals of the
Association of American Geographers
70, no. 2 (1980): 238, and Langford,
"Is Sutton Brown God?," 6.
13. Brushnett, "People and
Government Travelling Together."
14. Ley, "Liberal Ideology and the
Postindustrial City," 238-39.
15. Elizabeth O'Kiely, The Arts
and Our Town: Community Arts
Council of Vancouver, 1946-1996,
eds. Janet Bingham, Joanne Cram,
Elizabeth Lane (Vancouver, BC:
The Community Arts Council of
Vancouver, 1996), 1.
16. Ira Dilworth quoted in
"Introduction," in Frank Appelbe
and Judith Jardine, The Community
Arts Council of Vancouver Through
the Years, Vancouver, BC: The
Community Arts Council of
Vancouver, 1979, 3.
17. Elizabeth O'Kiely, The Arts and
Our Town, 29.
18. Frank Low-Beer quoted in
Elizabeth O'Kiely, The Arts and Our
Town, 29.
19. Laura Madokoro, "Chinatown
and Monster Homes," 17-24 and
Donald Gutstein, Vancouver, Ltd.,
20. Langford, "Is Sutton Brown
God?," 6.
21. Ley, "Liberal Ideology and the
Postindustrial City," 239-244.
22. Elizabeth O'Kiely, The Arts and
Our Town, 29.
23. Scott, "Bright lights, grey city,"
March 24,1999.
24. "History of the Community
Arts Council of Vancouver 1958-
1959," in Frank Appelbe and
Judith Jardine, The Community
Arts Council of Vancouver Through
the Years. Vancouver, BC: The
Community Arts Council of
Vancouver, 1979,1-2.
25. LS. McNairn to A.T. Alsbury,
March 31,1960, CVA, 529-D-5,
CAC, file 12, correspondence,
26. "History of the Community
Arts Council of Vancouver 1958-
1959," in Frank Appelbe and
Judith Jardine, The Community
Arts Council of Vancouver Through
the Years. Vancouver, BC: The
Community Arts Council of
Vancouver, 1979, 2.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      13
 27. LS. McNairn to A.T. Alsbury,
March 31,1960, CVA, 529-D-5,
CAC, file 12, correspondence,
28. "Sign Committee Meeting on
June 21,1960," CVA, 529-D-5, CAC,
file 10.
30. Elizabeth Lane (former
Civic Arts Commitee chair) in
a telephone interview with the
author, March 29, 2012.
31. Brushnett, "People and
Government Travelling Together."
32. For examples of
correspondence between the Civic
Arts Committee and a number
of Vancouver architectural
firms, community organizations
and planning associations, see
CVA, 529-D-5, CAC, file 12,
correspondence, 1956-1963.
33. Elizabeth Lane, telephone
interview with the author, March
29. 2012.
34. "History of the Community
Arts Council of Vancouver, 1962-
1963," in Frank Appelbe and Judith
Jardine, The Community Arts
Council of Vancouver Through
the Years. Vancouver, BC: The
Community Arts Council of
Vancouver, 1979,1.
35. Personal records of Elizabeth
Lane, "Annual Report of the
CVAC," April 15,1962, 2.
36. Italics added, "Minutes of the
CAC, April 15,1964," CVA, 529-D-
5, CAC, file 6.
37. VCC, By-law no. 4810.
38. "Signs of Our Times" brochure,
February 26,1962, CVA, 529-D-5,
CAC, file 11, campaign.
39. Ibid.
40. For example, see Frank Walden,
"Council orders neon jungle ban"
Vancouver Sun. June 6,1961.
41. Tom Ardies, "Down with signs:
Let's Wake Up From Our Neon
Nightmare," Vancouver Sun, August
42. Colin T. Martin quoted in
Vancouver Sun, "City too quiet,
needs its signs" August 15,1963,
43. Vancouver Sun, "City too quiet,
needs its signs" August 15,1963.
44. Community Arts Council of
Vancouver, "Postcard," CVA, 529-
D-5, CAC, file 11, campaign.
45. Vancouver Sun, "Billboard
Protest Set," April 30,1966.
46. For example see The Province,
"Vancouver's hideous spectacle,"
April 22,1966; Vancouver Sun,
"Billboard Protest Set," April 30,
1966; Mac Reynolds, "Signs: Look,
the Park, Over the O," Vancouver
Sun, May 10,1966.
47. Dave Albert, "Garish-Sign Fight
Just Fizzles Out," Vancouver Sun,
May 11,1966.
48. Ibid.
49. Peter Oberlander quoted in
Elizabeth O'Kiely, The Arts and Our
Town, 35.
50. Langford, "Is Sutton Brown
God?," 39.
51. Ralph Flitton quoted in Dave
Albert, "Garish-Sign Fight Just
Fizzles Out."
52. "History of the Community
Arts Council of Vancouver, 1968-
1969," in Frank Appelbe and
Judith Jardine, The Community
Arts Council of Vancouver Through
the Years, Vancouver, BC: The
Community Arts Council of
Vancouver, 1979,1.
53. Frank Low-Beer to Mayor
and City Council, April 8,1970,
CVA, 529-D-5, CAC, file 13,
54. City Planning Department,
"Sign Control: Summary of
Responses," March 1974, CVA, City
of Vancouver Fonds, Series S623 -
City Planning Commission minutes
and other records.
55. City Planning Department,
"Signs in Vancouver" brochure,
October 1974, CVA, City of
Vancouver Fonds, Series S623 -
City Planning Commission minutes
and other records.
56. VCC, By-law no. 4810.
57. "Minutes of the CAC, April 15,
1964," CVA, 529-D-5, CAC, file 6,
minutes, 1964-1969.
58. VCC, By-law no. 4810, 52.
59. Dave Hardy, "U.K. Plan Expert
Says: Vancouver Can't See Trees
For The Forest of Neon," Vancouver
Sun, May 3,1968,12.
60. Elizabeth O'Kiely, The Arts and
Our Town, 31.
61. Elizabeth Lane, telephone
interview with the author, March
29, 2012.
62. VCC, By-law no. 4810, 35.
63. For a visual example of
billboards, advertisements and
neon signs on Granville Street in
the late 1950s, see Fred Hertzog,
"Granville/Smythe," photograph,
1959, accessed April 18, 2012,
fred-herzog/art/90230, and Fred
Hertzog, Fred Hertzog, "Granville
Street from Granville Bridge,"
photograph, 1966, accessed April
18, 2012, http://equinoxgallery.
64. Elizabeth O'Kiely, The Arts and
Our Town, 31.
65. John Atkin, "Neon!," in The
Greater Vancouver Book: An Urban
Encyclopedia, ed. Chuck Davis
(Surrey, BC: Linkman, 1997).
66. "Neon Vancouver, Ugly
Vancouver," Museum of
Vancouver, last modified
2011, accessed April 18, 2012.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 Alexander's Ashes
by Peter Broznitsky
A report of unclaimed ashes leads to unexpected connections
and the unfolding story of a Russian-Canadian First World
War veteran.
This detective story begins, as many do,
while reading the morning newspaper,
April 10th. Except it was in 2006, and
I was reading an electronic NewsDesk
on a computer. An item and a location caught
my eye. "Princeton RCMP releases list of
names with 39 unclaimed remains." Princeton:
I've been there, a little town in the Okanagan-
Similkameen, driven through it many times,
filled up with gasoline, eaten there, even had
a beer there.
I read on. A defunct funeral home
was under investigation for fraudulent
bookkeeping. The probe discovered fifty-one
remains still in the home, cremated ashes. A list
followed, in the hope that family members or
anybody who knew how to contact the families
would contact the Princeton Detachment.
My eyes scanned down the list. Infant
twins — what was the story there? Somebody
from 1953. Finally, the last name. Zubick,
Alexander — 1985. I straightened, no doubt
my eyes widened, my nostrils flared. Zubick.
Alexander. A couple of weeks earlier, I had
purchased his Great War service medals! Or at
least, I purchased medals that had been issued
to a man of that name. What was he doing in
Flashing back (as detective stories
often do), an Internet acquaintance
had emailed me about a month before.
A medal dealer he knew in London,
Ontario had First World War
medals for sale, amongst them some
to Russians who had served in the
Canadian Expeditionary Force. No,
I couldn't email the dealer, or check
his web site. He was old school, did
everything over the telephone, even
used postage stamps!
So I phoned him. Crusty, gruff. Yes
he had some medals. A single British
War Medal, and a pair, BWM and
Victory. Yes, I could have them. No, he
wouldn't move on the price. Yes, they
included service records from Library
and Archives Canada. Okay, he would
combine the shipping. He said he would
ship the next day. Trusted me.
And the next day, I handwrote and sent
a cheque. In an envelope, with a stamp.
Old school. And shortly thereafter,
a package appeared; the medals and
records as promised. I looked through
the records. No Russian heroes here.
One fellow got over to England, but
no farther. And Zubick? He had made
it to France, but promptly fell ill, and
spent the rest of the war in and out of
casualty clearing stations, hospitals,
and convalescent depots. Ah well, at
least he survived the Great War. I put
his file into my cabinet, to wait a time
for further research.
Peter Broznitsky
is the Chair of
the Western
Front Association
- Pacific Coast
USA). Genealogical
research into
his Russian-born
grandfather led
to his 2008 article
"For King, Not
Tsar: Identifying
Ukrainians in
the Canadian
Force, 1914-
1918," published
in Canadian
Military History.
Peter is also an
and moderator
of the respected
CEF Study Group
Forum (www.
He serves on the
Heritage Advisory
Commission for
the Corporation of
JMexander Zubick's ™
medals: British I
War Medal and a |
Victory medal. s
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      15
 That April night I retrieved Zubick's file
from the sedimentary layers in my office. Born
in Russia in 1897, he was living in Dreamwold,
Saskatchewan when he was conscripted in
January 1918. He left for England in April
and spent time in a reserve battalion. In July
he reported for duty with the Is' Battalion.
Canadian Railway Troops, who were working
around Etaples and Boulogne. A week later
Zubick was ill, with eczema so bad he was
hospitalized. He served a total of about four
weeks with his unit, the rest of the time being
treated in the war-time medical system. He
returned to Canada in May 1919 and was finally
discharged as medically unfit in September in
Quebec. The address given on the Medal Index
card was Denzil, Saskatchewan, but this was
crossed out, and Okeefe Avenue, Vernon, BC
written over. Vernon. Was this the Princeton
In the olden days, I would have worked
the phones or driven around the province in a
'52 Mercury Meteor. Now, I began Googling.
No Zubicks in Princeton. Next, British
Columbia Vital Statistics. Ah, here we go. On
October 12lh 1985 Alexander Zubick, aged 88,
had died in Vancouver.2 If this was my man,
how did his ashes wind up in Princeton? More
searches. A Bertha Zubick, aged 79, had died in
1981, in Princeton.3 Were they married? More
searches. In 1921 Alexander Zubick married
Bertha Skaley in Vernon.4 Had to be a match,
right? He left the army, moved to Vernon,
married this Bertha, they moved to Princeton.
After his wife's death, a sad Alexander left
Princeton for the big city, maybe for medical
treatment. My story was coming together.
I phoned the Princeton RCMP
Detachment the next day and spoke to the
clerk. No, nobody had claimed Zubick's ashes.
About all she could tell me was that Zubick
was 89 when he died. Not quite a match. Three
angles now. Was my man, the Russian Zubick
who said he would be living in Vernon, the
same as the fellow who died in Vancouver aged
88, and the same as the box of ashes with the
name Zubick aged 89 reposing in Princeton?
More Googling. I found an earlier
newspaper article in The Vancouver Sun that
described a Princeton woman receiving the
wrong ashes from the funeral home, but
nothing about Zubick. Then a Penticton Herald
article, even earlier, that had broken the story.
A reporter's name. Find the Herald's website,
get his email address. He's busy but flips me
to his colleague. That night, the reporter calls
on the phone. We talk, I describe my story as it
stands so far. The next day, an article appears in
the Herald. I'm quite pleased that the journalist
got everything just about right.5
But I needed to keep moving. The
minimum details provided by Vital Statistics
weren't enough. I would have to go to
Cloverdale. Yes, Cloverdale, famous for the
rodeo and Superman's Smallville. But also
home to the Cloverdale Branch of the Surrey
Public Library, with large genealogical
holdings and microfilm readers.
Everything was in disarray. They were
under reconstruction, water dripped into a
bucket on the stairs. The boxes of microfilm
were all over the place. I couldn't find the
deaths for 1985. Finally, I had to be a man and
ask for directions. "Oh, we don't have them
yet," the librarian replied. "Victoria says we
should get them any day." Arrgghh.
Move on, let's try Deaths for 1981. Yes,
there she is. Print it off. Born in North Dakota
in 1902, Bertha's parents were from Russia.
She was married at the time of her death,
to Alexander Zubick. Getting closer. The
informant on the certificate, whose name I will
change here, was her daughter Edna Korner,
also living in Princeton.
Next, the City Directories. Princeton
1940, a Mrs. Bertha Zubick. Princeton 1956,
Mrs. Bertha Zubick, Proprietor Home
Laundry. Mrs. Edna Korner, widow. If Bertha
was Alexander's wife and Edna their daughter,
why hadn't Edna picked up her father's ashes?
And was the Princeton Alexander the same
as the Vancouver Alexander? And was the
Princeton Alexander my Russian Alexander? I
had to link the two.
Let's try Marriages for 1921. Bingo, print
it off. Alexander Zubick, born in Russia, aged
24, had married Bertha, born in North Dakota.
His signature. It looked like the signature on
his conscription attestation and other military
records. Everything is so close now, everything
almost matches perfectly. Why can't I get his
death certificate to confirm date of birth and
next of kin?
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 I Google Edna Korner. Yes, she still lives
in Princeton, at the same address as given on
her mother's death certificate. She's involved
with the Royal Canadian Legion. But if she is
Alexander's daughter, why hasn't she claimed
the ashes? I don't want to contact her, in case I
stir up something.
Days pass. Nothing. No call from the
Penticton Herald reporter, telling me our article
has busted the file wide open. No call from
the Princeton RCMP, asking me for further
information. Finally I crack. I email the noncommissioned officer in charge Princeton,
asking him if anybody has claimed the Zubick
ashes, as I believe I have the Zubick medals,
and that the Last Post Fund could step in to
properly honour the remains. He replies that
somebody has claimed the ashes!
Okay, now what? A letter, with a postage
stamp and a Princeton address. I respectfully
tell Edna that we may both know something
about Alexander Zubick, and if she so desires,
she can contact me. If she doesn't, I will
A few days later, a phone call. Yes, Mrs.
Edna Korner had claimed the ashes. No, she
didn't know her father very well. He was born
in Russia and had been in the Great War. He
left her mother and her in Princeton in the
1930s, when she was 7. She saw him next at
age 19 at her wedding, and then at the George
Derby care home in Vancouver. He was living
in Vancouver, she thought, with his mother.
He suffered from a rare skin disease. So the
untreatable eczema that may have saved his
life by keeping him out of the front line in 1918
was misdiagnosed back then by the Canadian
When he died in 1985, Edna was in Greece
on holidays, and her daughter handled things.
She must have arranged for the ashes to be sent
from Vancouver to Princeton, and then, for
whatever reason, they sat in the funeral home,
to be forgotten for twenty years. Edna doesn't
bite when I mention I have his medals. Where
were the ashes now? Edna had sprinkled them
on her peony bush in the garden.
Postscript 2013
In 2009 a distant relative found my
website with Zubick's name and provided me
with a picture of Alexander in George Derby in
In 2012 I did go back to Cloverdale and
locate his death certificate. He had died at
Shaughnessy Hospital, at the time a Veterans
care centre. On this form he was aged 89, born
on April 11, 1896. He had been suffering from
Chronic Brain Syndrome (dementia) leading to
malnutrition. Poor guy had wasted away.
Recently, I contact Edna again who
replies with the name of the disease and a photo
of Alexander from 1918. Three generations of
Zubicks suffered from Hailey-Hailey Disease,
which was not discovered until 1939.
It's almost time to close the file, but like
in all good detective stories, some threads will
be left dangling. How did his medals wind up
in London, Ontario? Some Zubicks live there,
run a scrap metal business. Are they related to
Alexander? Maybe a connection to his brother,
John James Zubick, from Omsk, Siberia, who
enlisted in Saskatchewan in May 1916?*
1. Alexander Zubick,
Soldiers of the First World
War: Attestation Papers,
Regimental number
126377. http://www.
100.01-e.php. His
complete service record
can be found at Library
& Archives Canada
Record Group 150,
Accession 1992-93/166,
Box 10682 - 61.
2. Alexander Zubick,
Certificate of Death 1985-
09-017979,12 October
1985, Vancouver, British
Columbia. (British
Columbia Archives).
3. Bertha Alvina Zubick,
Certificate of Death
1981-09-010035, 20 June
1981, Princeton, British
Columbia. (British
Columbia Archives).
4. Alexander Zubick
and Bertha Skaley,
British Columbia
Vital Statistics
Agency, Certificate of
Registration of Marriage
1921-09-236973, 21
December 1921, Vernon,
British Columbia. (British
Columbia Archives),
microfilm B12907.
5. John Moorhouse,
"Mystery of unclaimed
ashes remains
unsolved," Penticton
Herald, Thursday, April
13, 2006.
Alexander on left in 1918 with unknown
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      17
 Almost a Crystal Palace
by Robert Ratcliffe Taylor
A shimmering, architectural tower in the middle of the
countryside, the Willows exhibition hall at Victoria, BC 1891-
1907, captured the confidence of an era.
Raised in Victoria
BC one city block
from the Willows
Fairgrounds, Robert
Ratcliffe Taylor
has degrees in
History from UBC
and Stanford. At
Brock University
in St. Catharines,
Ontario, he taught
History for thirty-
four years and
supported the
movement. His
publications include
studies of German
local Ontario
architecture and
the history of the
Welland Canals.
From 1891 to c. 1948 in the municipality
of Oak Bay in Victoria, an autumn
agricultural and industrial exhibition
was held, at a complex of buildings,
including a race track, grandstand, and later
a riding academy. During World War I, these
fairgrounds were used as a military camp. In
the 1930s and '40s they housed a film studio.
The most striking element in their history,
however, was the first main exhibition hall
which, said a contemporary, was "almost a
Crystal Palace".1
The "palace" was the brainchild of the
British Columbia Agricultural Association
which for several years had sponsored fall fairs
at Beacon Hill Park. Here, the exhibitions were
held "in a ram-shackle, barn-like structure,
affording neither accommodation nor light at
all suitable."2
For several years, moreover, attempts
were made to have an annual fall show in New
Westminster, alternating with Victoria. To this
end, in 1889 New Westminster built a large
exhibition building.
Victoria was not to be outdone. 1890s
confidence in the local economy was high
and more than one million dollars' worth of
buildings was erected in the city in 1891 alone.3
Many locals agreed with the journalist who
wrote that "the Capital City of the Province
should be the capital in reality as well as in
name" and so should have an annual fall fair.4
At a meeting on October 9, 1890, the city
council discussed the need to hold a permanent
annual exhibition starting the following year
in Victoria. The "Driving Park" (race track)
in Oak Bay was suggested as a site. (Still
unincorporated as a municipality, Oak Bay
was mainly rural and agricultural in nature.)
Inspired by the city coundl's support, in 1891
the Agricultural Association purchased 2.42
hectares (6 acres) of land just south of the track.
On this property, at the end of Willows Road,
near what is now the junction of Haul tain Street
and Eastdowne Road, the main exhibition hall
would be built. Costing $45,000, the enterprise
was supported by a city by-law through
which the council borrowed $25,000, ratified
by public vote.5 Like most yearly exhibitions,
Victoria's offered local producers the chance
to exhibit and advertise their fruit, vegetables
and livestock as well as manufactured items.
The exhibits in the "palace", of course, did
not include livestock which were housed
elsewhere on the grounds. The fairs were held
in late September and early October, lasting
about one week.
The success of London's Great Exhibition
of 1851 with its stunning "Crystal Palace"
inspired the construction of similar buildings
throughout Canada, the United States and
Europe. The new availability of sheet glass
and (in the case of the English structure) cast
iron for construction meant that such buildings
could have transparency and lightness, well
lit on the interior and often dazzling in the
exterior sunlight.
In the Victoria Daily Colonist in June
1891, the architect Cornelius Soule called for
tenders for "Agricultural Exhibition Buildings"
to be constructed at what would become the
Willows Fairgrounds in time for the September
event.6 The contractor was William Lorimer
who "lost no time in rushing forward his work
to completion" in sixty-five days. Some locals
had "doubts about his sanity" in accepting
the contract to build the hall so quickly.7 Such
fears were justified because the structure was
actually not fully ready when the exhibition
opened on September 29 and was completed
only by October 30 1891. It would have to be
"renovated" in time for the 1892 fair.8
Before the construction of the provincial
Legislative Buildings, the Willows Exhibition
Hall was the most imposing building in Victoria
or even in British Columbia. Understandably,
local people were deeply impressed by
Cornelius Soule's creation. The city directory
for 1892 described this "magnificent exposition
building   ...   [as]   an  ornament  to  the  city,
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 ... [and] of inestimable value to the entire
Province."9 Reminiscing in 1908, the Colonist
opined that it was "generally admitted to be the
most handsome building of its kind in western
Canada".10 Perhaps local pride inspired this
praise, but such opinions have been buttressed
by those of architectural historian Fern Graham
who calls the structure "remarkable".11 On
the other hand, some writers have stressed
the incongruous appearance of the new hall
in what was primarily agricultural land. The
setting was "fit for The Brothers Karamazov in
19th century St Petersburg" said a journalist
in 1975.12 Clearly, the "palace" was impressive
and, in retrospect, remains so.13
The hall was distinguished by its
towering verticality. The structure was of
wood, which appears brown or black in early
photographs but after 1901 was painted a
lighter shade with a green trim. The shingled
exterior walls reflected the popular "Stick
Style" with rectilinear gridwork and latticing.
The ground plan was that of a Latin cross;
i.e. a long nave and a shorter transept (two
projecting wings) at the middle. This "nave"
was over 18 m (60 ft.) wide by over 54 m (180
ft.) long; the wings each extended 7 m (25 ft.)
from the crossing. The roof rose over 17 m (56
ft,)14 and was surmounted by an octagonal
tower with a dome on top of which was a
cupola. At either end of the "nave" was a turret
The Willows
"Crystal Palace"
as it looked new in
1891, showing the
public entrance in
the porch at the
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      19
 1. BC Legislature (1898)
2. Empress Hotel (1908)
3. Government House (1890)
4. Royal Jubilee Hospital (1865)
The street layout
above is from a
later era, but
the map clearly
shows the Willows
Fairgrounds as
remote from
downtown Victoria
in rural Oak Bay,
accessible mainly
via Fort Street.
or open cupola. At the four corners of the base
of the dome's platform were four smaller
towers capped with cupolas. Each of these four
towers was connected to the dome structure
by a walkway. Windows wrapped around the
base of each tower. The dome itself had six
windows. Around its outer edge was an open
balcony, reached by an exterior staircase. From
here, fairgoers enjoyed magnificent views of
the countryside, the Olympic Mountains and
the Sooke Hills — and the games and races on
the grounds to the north. Flags and banners
flew from the towers and from poles on each of
the building's twenty-two gables.
Most visitors approached the fairgrounds
from the southwest at Willows Road, passing
under a large wooden pedimented arch at
the main or western entrance to the hall.
Flower beds, lawns and shrubs flanked the
building.15 Porte cocheres — one at each end
of the building — marked the entrances to
the hall. The western one had a staircase for
public access, while the eastern one had a ramp
to facilitate the entrance and exit of heavy
In the centre of the ground floor stood
a fountain surrounded by exotic ferns and
flowers. Above it rose two arcaded galleries
which were used for lighter-weight exhibits.
A wide staircase at each of the hall's corners
drew visitors to the upper floors.
"One of the best features" of the hall,
wrote an observer, was "the large and airy
windows". There were "no dark or shady
corners" inside.16
The fifty-two large plate glass windows
appeared to extend almost uninterruptedly
from the floor to the roof. Those on the ground
floor were tall, narrow and rectangular. Those
above were arched. Bull's-eye windows were
set under the four gables of the main cross-
wing and half-moon windows were set into
the gables on the side of each wing. At either
end of the "nave" were large almost square
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 windows. In the daylight hours, therefore, the
interior was indeed well lit and occasionally
stunningly illuminated. "The setting sun,"
wrote a local journalist, "shimmering through
the haze of the warm October sky, shed an
orange-tinted lustre through the large glass
windows of the exhibition, on the faces and
attire of the throng."17
By 1890 electric lighting was to be found
in many of Victoria's offices and in some well-
to-do homes", but at night the artificially
illuminated hall was a revelation to many,
"like a scene from fairyland".18 When the hall
opened in 1891, twenty electric lamps were
installed on the ground floor and a further 25
on each of the galleries. R.B. McMieking, who
was the electrician in charge of Victoria's street
lighting system, supervised the installation.19
In 1903 a searchlight was mounted on the
dome, sweeping the countryside each evening
for several hours  during the fair. In 1907,
the entrance to the hall was outlined with
coloured lights. On the ground floor, a three-
horsepower gasoline engine provided power
for the illumination and for the machinery in
the exhibits.
Inside the Palace
A visit to the Willows hall was a feast
for senses other than the visual. Entering the
buildings, fair-goers were confronted with
the various fragrances of the floral exhibit. In
several years, they inhaled the aroma of hot
coffee and freshly baked biscuits prepared by
one of the exhibitors. As well as the splash
of the fountain, there was much to hear as
well. The bandstand was often occupied by
"Professor" Emil Pferdner's orchestra20 and
occasionally by groups such as the Nanaimo
Cornet Band and the Fifth Regiment Band.
Looking south, the
"Palace", circa
1901, looming
up out of the
countryside like a
Hollywood fantasy.
Between the
Chinese market
gardens in the
foreground and
the hall is the
racetrack with the
grandstand on the
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      21
 In its inuagural year the "palace" interior
was "artistically attended to by Mr. McNeill"
of the Victoria Theatre. Later, J.C. Richards, an
upholsterer, was in charge21 of the decoration.
Determining the look of the hall could become
a family affair. In 1894, the "sisters, wives
and daughters of the contestants" made
"pretty decorations" and the bandstand was
decorated with "lovely specimens of Japanese
In this year, the Agricultural Association
had shields painted, one for each part of the
province (including one for Washington State)
that were hung about the hall. In 1902, Japanese
lanterns, flags of the nations, and coloured
bunting were affixed to the balustrades of the
Within the Willows "palace", wrote the
Agricultural Association, "the products of
the Province of every conceivable kind will
have ample room and light for exhibiting
their various excellencies".23 Indeed, at least
in its first year of operation, the hall attracted
many exhibitors. On the day before the 1891
fair opened, "more room was the cry heard
on every hand".24 Several would-be exhibitors
who had neglected to reserve space were
turned away. In most years, the main floor of
the hall housed the displays of manufactured
and agricultural products. Two businesses
perennially exhibiting their "excellencies"
were Victoria's Albion Iron Works and the
Pendray Soap Factory. Local farmers presented
their fruit and vegetables as did occasionally
producers from the Fraser Valley. There were
many and various exhibits. The BC Mining
Association often showed examples of coal
and other ores. In 1903 on the first gallery
the local Manual Training School displayed
several boys working on projects. On this and
the second gallery were usually the exhibits of
crafts and art, including, in two years, the work
of Emily Carr.
Some of the exhibits document how
much has changed over the past century. On
one of the galleries was shown "ladies' fancy
work", deemed to be "an exemplification of the
virtues of the careful house-wife."25 In Victoria,
by the 1890s, the "machine for writing" was as
new and fascinating as the computer a century
later and provided a challenge to "muscular"
calligraphers. Over the years, typing contests
were held in the "palace", with the contestants
judged on speed and accuracy. In 1904, the
second gallery saw "a special exhibit of
Palmer's system of muscular penmanship".26
Some exhibits may surprise 21st century
readers. In 1894, for example, R. P. Rithet and
Co. ("wholesale merchants, ship and insurance
agents") put up an arch "of peace and plenty",
under which stood a lifesize plaster cast of
Aphrodite, the work of Edwin A. Harris. The
goddess of love was shown with a bow and
arrow and an expression "sweet, pleasing
and dignified, with a typical Greek nose,
rounded cheeks, and well-carved lips". The
Times reported that she stood in an "attitude
somewhat like that of the Venus de Milo ... the
drapery of course being omitted."27
Plagued by Problems
An impressive piece of architecture,
the hall was beset with problems from the
start. The electrical plant was unreliable, even
dangerous. On one evening in 1892, all the
lights went out. After a few minutes, some
were made operational but none functioned
in the art gallery all that evening. A standby
generator was to be set up but, in October
1894, the power failed again. Renovations to
the hall's fabric were undertaken in winter of
1892-93 but, in 1894 the dome leaked when it
rained, damaging the exhibits. In that year, too,
the floor of one of the galleries began to sink
and had to be shored up while the observation
towers, deemed unsafe, were closed to the
Between 1896 and 1900, the Palace was
abandoned and seems not to have been used
at all. The Colonist lamented that "this fine big
building ... was allowed to fall into a state of
premature decay, while the grounds were
neglected".28 In a 1900 response to a petition
to revive the annual fairs in the following year,
however, Mayor Charles Hayward raised the
issue at a city council meeting on 9 October.
The councillors were unanimous in favour of
the project, but the Association had found that
the building's fabric had deteriorated and was
in need of repair. The fact that Victoria was to
host a royal visit in 1901 was an added impetus
to renovating the structure.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 Consequently, the City allotted $4500 for
improvements. Two coats of white paint were
applied on the outside and one on the interior.
Over a period of ten weeks, the hall's fabric was
"strengthened" and brace rods were installed
in some areas, so that the city engineer could
pronounce the hall "perfectly safe".29
Royal Event
The work was completed mere days
before the most impressive event to occur in
the hall took place on 1 October, 1901, when
the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York,
later King George and Queen Mary, visited
the Willows Fair.30 Accompanied by Prime
Minister Wilfrid Laurier, Lieutenant-Governor
Henri-Josephe Joly de Lotbiniere, Mayor
Hayward, as well as their own retinue, they
were greeted tumultuously. Also present were
directors and the board of management of
the Agricultural Association and their wives,
friends and invited guests.
A band played patriotic music and a
crimson carpet was laid out from the main
floor to the first gallery. From the ceiling hung
a banner emblazoned with the words "The
Secret of England's Greatness" and the image
of a Bible. Two four year-old girls dressed in
white, strewed flowers in the royal couple's
path. On the gallery, the Duke thanked the
Mayor for the gift of a gold medal and declared
the Exhibition formally opened "in a fine loud
voice that could be distinctly heard at quite a
distance from him".31 On a brief walk-about,
the Duke and Duchess paid special attention to
the exhibit of the British Columbia and Alaska
Bazaar (a local collection of aboriginal art),
where an "Indian chief" give the Duke a stone
carving. The royal party also admired the work
of a local taxidermist and the exhibit of applied
art. After just under one hour, the visitors left
the "palace".
The renovated
and repainted
"Palace" during
the Fair of 1902
with the horseraces
underway. The
large shed in
front of the
hall exhibited
machinery. The
turreted structure
on the left housed
in different years a
maritime exhibit,
a creamery, and a
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      23
 Questionable Wiring
Three days after the royal party had been
through the hall, on the evening of 4 October
1901, a fire broke out. Several hundred fair-
goers were still "promenading" on various
floors of the structure when someone noticed
flames and smoke coming from the southwest
window of the hall's ground floor, near the
entrance steps. The flames were reaching up
to the first gallery. A stampede ensued but no
one was injured. A young employee of one
of the electric companies "made a desparate
[sic] effort to check [the fire] by getting
under the stairway and was nearly burned in
Provincial Constable Daniel Campbell
and one F.G. Hall identified the source of the
blaze as a small room under the stairway.
Campbell raced up to the top floor "three steps
at a time" to get the fire extinguishing chemicals
stored there. There he found a fireman already
unreeling the necessary hose. They threw the
hose down to the main level and turned on
the fluid, which extinguished the fire almost
immediately. A "bucket brigade" was also
formed to pour water on the smoldering
woodwork. By the time the Victoria fire brigade
arrived, they were not needed.
The blaze resulted from the crossing
of wires and the lack of proper insulation on
certain wiring. Damage turned out to be slight
and repairs were made during the night.33
Eventually, the city Fire Department, headed
by Chief Thomas Watson maintained a "squad
of men on duty night and day" at the hall
during the fairs. Also present was "the old
Tiger engine with steam up on hand". The fair
authorities would maintain "an ample supply
of watchmen ... night and day".34
Despite these problems, Victorians
continued to praise the beauty and
magnificence of their "Crystal Palace". In 1907,
for example, the Colonist exulted, "the main
building never looked as well as this year".35
Moreover, safety precautions seemed to have
been intensified. By 1907, the authorities had
stipulated that "articles will not be admitted
[in the exhibits] which by reason of their odor,
appearance combustible or explosive nature
are injurious, offensive to health or destructive
to life and property".36
Demise of the Palace
The demise of the "palace", however, was
near. Around 8:00 pm on December 26 1907,
the superintendent of the Old Men's Home
on nearby Cadboro Bay Road noticed smoke
and flames pouring from the front windows
and notified the fire department. Meanwhile,
the windows shattered, admitting the strong
southeast wind which fanned the fire.
By this time of year, the equipment and
men present during fair days were long gone
and only one fire hydrant stood in the grounds.
Fire Chief Watson, upon receiving the alarm,
arrived at the site in his horse-drawn buggy in
fifteen minutes, but could do nothing. He was
followed by the department's hose cart which
made "a fast run" but the men found that the
aforementioned hydrant gave only a "feeble
stream of water" and "proved of little value".
On its way to the fire, a "combination chemical
and hose cart" became "mired and stuck in
the roadway" leading up to the exhibition
entrance. Soon a "big four-ton steamer was
also mired". It took until 11:00 pm to extricate
these vehicles from the mud.
At 9:00 pm, the roof and upper floor of
the hall fell in and half an hour later nothing
was left but smoking ashes. From the southeast
corner of the building (where the blaze started)
the fire sent showers of sparks through the
air to the nearby restaurant, machinery and
poultry halls which were also destroyed. "The
central part of the city was lit up as by day",
while thousands of citizens", said the Victoria
Daily Times, came to watch the blaze. Upon
seeing the red glow in the sky, some thought
that the Royal Jubilee Hospital was on fire. The
blaze was said to be visible from Seattle.37
The fairgrounds caretaker, J. Bothwell,
who lived in a small house near the grandstand,
said that the building had been safely locked up
and that he had seen no "suspicious characters"
lurking about the hall. Unfortunately, when
Bothwell looked for a hose to attach to the only
hydrant near the building, he found none. If he
had been provided with one, he said, he might
have been able to quench the blaze before the
firemen arrived.38
The exact cause of the fire was unknown,
although the Colonist speculated that the blaze
was the "work of incendiaries",39 which seems
possible given the fact that the structure was
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 unused at the time and that unexplained fires
were the fate of the later exhibition buildings
in the 1940s.
The demise of Victoria's "Crystal Palace"
was not greeted with universal dismay. Mayor
Alfred J. Morley found the fire to be a "blessing
in disguise", because the building, he said, had
always been " a sort of white elephant, as the
cost of repairing it was so great", adding that
"it cost almost as much to put up a scaffold
as it did to do the work". He looked forward
to the erection of "modern buildings".40 This
was accomplished in time for the 1908 Fair
— including a main exhibit hall — but none
of them had the confident bravura of the first
Willows exhibition hall.
And none of them survived the mid-
twentieth century. Today no trace of Cornelius
Soule's masterpiece or its successors can
be found, for the whole area is covered in
suburban housing. In fact, few Victorians have
ever heard of their "crystal palace". •
1. Williams' Illustrated Official British Columbia City
Directory ... (Victoria: R.T. Williams, 1892), 194.
2. Victoria Daily Colonist, 1 October 1891,1.
3. Christopher Hanna, William Wilson: Pioneer
Entrepreneur, (Victoria: Trafford, 2002), 192.
4. Victoria Daily Times, 30 September 1891.
5. $1 in 1891 converts to approximately $25 in 2010
money. $45,000 ~ $1,110,000.00. $25,000 ~ $618,000.00.
Lawrence H. Officer and Samuel H. Williamson,
"Purchasing Power of Money in the United States
from 1774 to Present, accessed June 10, 2013. www.
6. Cornelius John Soule (1851-1939) studied architecture
at the South Kensington School of Science and Art where
he excelled. After articling with a London architect, he
emigrated to the United States c. 1871. In Boston and
Cleveland, he partnered with other architects before
settling in Ontario. Drawn to the west coast, he designed
a residence in Victoria in 1890 and St. Paul's Presbyterian
Church in early 1891. After designing the Willows hall, he
partnered with Robert Day on the Point Comfort Hotel on
Mayne Island and North Ward School in Victoria in 1893.
7. Colonist, 30 September 1891,1. Glasgow-born Lorimer
(1846 -1918) later described himself as a carpenter,
patternmaker or mechanic.
9. Williams'Illustrated
Official British Columbia
Directory, ... 104. "One
of the handsomest
pieces of architecture on
the Pacific coast", said
an 1891 publication,
Victoria Illustrated (32)
published by W.H.
Ellis who, incidentally,
was president of the
Agricultural Association.
10. Colonist, 1 September
11. "The Crystal Palace
in Canada", Society for the
Study of Architecture in
Canada. Bulletin. (March
1994):Vol. 19, no. 1,11 .
R.H. Soule (the architect's
great-grandson) notes
that the hall was
"hailed as a significant
landmark in the history
of exhibition architecture
in Canada." (Building the
West: the Early Architects
of British Columbia,
(Vancouver: Talonbooks,
2003), 183.) On 5 October
1891 (2), the Vancouver
Daily World published a
description (which may
have been inspired by
Victoria opinion): the
building was "one of
the finest agricultural
buildings in Canada and
by far the handsomest
edifice west of Toronto".
12. The Brothers Karamazov
is the final novel by the
Russian author Fyodor
Dostoyevsky, completed
in 1880.
13. The hall "dominated
the pastoral scene like
a gothic mansion."
Ab Kent, "Weep for
Willows", Times, 12
February 1965, 6.]
14. Williams' Illustrated
Official British Columbia
Directory ... 104.
Colonist, 28 September 1892,1.
15. But later photographs
show cattle grazing in
front of the building.
Early in the hall's history,
a wooden fence about
nine feet high surrounded
the building but by 1901
it no longer appears in
16. Times, 28 September,
17. Colonist, 2 October
18. Colonist, 28 September
1892, 5.
19. McMicking (1843-
1915), from Queenston,
Ontario, was also
manager of the Victoria
and Esquimalt Telephone
Company and, later, an
20. Pferdner (1856-1923)
emigrated from Germany
to the U.S. and thence to
Victoria, where he was a
military bandmaster and
later music director for
the Royal Victoria Theatre
as well as a piano teacher.
21. Colonist, 29 September
22. Colonist, 27 and 30
September, 1894, 2 and 3.
23. B.C. Agricultural
Association: review of
its history, what it has
accomplished: the new
grounds and Crystal Palace,
(1891), 4.
24. Colonist, 29 September
1891. Colonist, 28
September 1892,1.
25. Colonist, 28 September
26. Colonist, 28 September
1904, 8. Developed in the
United States in the 1890s,
the method focussed
on shoulder and arm
movements, rather than
on the fingers.
27. Colonist, 2 October
28. Colonist, 2 October
29. Times, 26 September
1901, 2.
30. They were touring the
Empire at the time. The
Duke was actually Prince
of Wales but had not yet
been invested with the
31. Colonist, 2 October
1901,1. No public address
system was in effect yet.
32. Colonist, 5 October
34. Colonist, 28 September
35. Colonist, 25 September,
36. Ibid, 8 September
37. 27 December 1907,
1; Colonist 27 December
38. Times, 27 December
1907 1.
39. Colonist, 27 December
40. Times, 27 October
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      25
 One-Eye Lake Plane Crash
by Sterling Haynes
A day off for a kinda green GP in Williams Lake in August
1961 turned into a flight without a map to the scene of a
plane crash.
Sterling Haynes
received his
medical degree
from the University
of Alberta. He
served as a colonial
officer in Nigeria
and practiced
medicine in the
Cariboo, Alberta
and Alabama.
In 1961, on Tuesday my day off in August,
I was called to go to One-Eyed Lake in
the Chilcotin region, a few miles from the
Puntzi U.S. Air force Base. A light plane
had crashed with three people aboard and
Cappy Lloyd, the radio-telephone operator at
the One-Eye Lake Lodge asked me to go to the
wreck immediately. I gathered my bag, Thomas
splints, yards of bandaging and dressings and
16 pints (10 L) of IV fluids and soon I was at the
dock by Colonel Joe's float plane on Williams
Lake. Joe, a southerner, had been a U.S. fighter
pilot on the Burma Road in WWII. Joe was
getting ready for the trip and was gassing
up his Cessna 180 by hand from a 45 gallon
drum of high octane fuel when I arrived.
I was in my second year of frontier
practice in Williams Lake with four other Docs
when I got the call about 9 on a sunny morning
to fly on a mercy flight into the Chilcotin. I was
33 years old country Doc and 'kinda green' but
was big, strong and ready to go. I drove down
to the Lakes' dockside and located the 'bush
pilot' Colonel Joe and his Cessna 182.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 "What do ya no good Doc? Don't want to
hear no troubles - jist give me the positives,"
said Joe."Here, I'll help load your stuff in the
back of my plane. Then we'll be off like a dirty
shirt to One-Eye Lake."
Once we were in the air Joe asked me to
find the section of the maps that showed One-
Eye Lake. I searched the back of the plane but
that topographical map section was gone. In
the hazy, smoke from forest fires we searched,
flying at 300 feet (100 m) west of the Puntzi
Mountain US airbase until we heard and saw
a man on a small lake firing shotgun shells. It
was Cappy. He waved us in and we landed on
One-Eye Lake.
With the U.S. sergeant medic and a PFC
soldier from Puntzi Mountain and two young
First Nations lads we set down the trail with
Cappy in the lead. We walked about half a mile
(800 m) and heard screaming, and then we saw
the front end and the prop buried in the mud. I
was first one there and the boys followed with
all the medical equipment. The sergeant carried
the Thomas splints and mesh metal stretcher. I
managed to pry open the door and found Jack,
the pilot dead. Kenny Huston was still strapped
in the co-pilot's seat and Jack's 'teen age son
was sitting on sleeping bags at the back of the
plane nursing his ankle. Kenny's scalp was on
the dashboard. I remember throwing Kenny's
bagged tomato sandwich on the floor and
stuffing Kenny's scalp in the brown bag and
putting it in my pocket. All five of us managed
to gently get Kenny onto the padded metal
wire stretcher and I placed one leg in a Thomas
splint for his badly fractured femur. Then I
threaded two intra-catheters into each broken
arm's veins. The two young men carried the
bottles of saline. Cappy assisted the young lad
out of the plane and helped him hobble back
to the lodge. A few hundred yards along the
trail Kenny stopped breathing and I intubated
him on the muddy path.1 Then his stertorous
breathing reassured me as we carried Kenny
along the swampy lakeshore.2
While we were away Colonel Joe had
gassed up the plane in anticipation of flying
the injured back to Williams Lake.
Left on page 26:
A tranquille scene
at One Eye Lake,
Numbers between asteriks along Hwys 97 and 20 represent distances in miles (kilometres)
Map of the Cariboo Chilcotin.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      27
 Lt. Col. Hammy
Boucher in full
military regalia
in the Canadian
Medical Corp, 1962.
"Doc, what say we strap
Kenny to one of the
pontoons? We don't have
room in my plane."
"Colonel Joe, are you out of your mind?
I'll get the RCMP's large Beaver aircraft to fly
down from Prince George. When you get back
to Williams Lake notify the hospital matron,
Doreen Campbell, of our problems, we'll be
back in three or four hours."
"OK, Doc."
We had a great trip back in the Beaver.
Once back at War Memorial hospital in
Williams Lake, my partner, John Hunt, and
I in the splinted some of the 43 fractures and
transfused Kenny with six units of blood. I
retrieved the scalp from my brown sandwich
bag and re-attached Kenny's scalp with many
stitches. At dawn the next day Kenny was
transferred by an "Air-Sea Rescue's" Grumman
flying boat to the Richmond docks and then to
the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) under
the care of Hammy Boucher. Kenny was to
remain a patient in VGH for three years. Kenny
returned to town with no crutches and after a
long 40 months, married Doreen Campbell, the
hospital matron. Ken's recovery was due to the
great treatment provided by Hammy and Hec
Gillespie and the resident staff of VGH.«
A version of this story titled Hammy and Hector was
published in the BC Medical Journal, Vol. 52, No. 8,
October 2010.
1. intubate: insert a tube into (a person or a body part,
especially the trachea for ventilation). The Canadian Oxford
Dictionary, (Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1998.
2. stertorous: (of breathing) noisy and laboured. The
Canadian Oxford Dictionary.
In the Winter 2013 issue of
British Columbia History
Emory Creek Revisited
Emory Creek: The Environmental Legacy of Gold Mining on the Fraser River - Revisited
by G. B. Leech and Joan Cardiff
The White Sultan of Victoria
The Extraordinary Adventures of Brigadier Sir James Timothy Whittington Landon KCVO
by Paul G. Chamberlain, PhD
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 The Viaduct that Saved Commercial Drive
by Jak King
The story of Charles Smith and the First Avenue Viaduct is
the creation story of the Drive, a story without which East
Vancouver's history would have been markedly different.
effect on the people and households in
Grandview. Hundreds of lots in the district
were surrendered to the city for failure to pay
taxes. With the vast number of empty lots and
the consequent lack of any need to provide
reasonable transportation to those sections, the
City had not felt it necessary to spend any of
their limited resources on grading, paving or
servicing many of the streets running east of
Victoria Drive.
As the economic conditions of the
Depression were slowly alleviated, the
eastside was being left behind in the recovery.
For example, while almost 1400 houses
and apartments were built in the west side
of Vancouver in 1935, fewer than 300 were
constructed east of Ontario Street that year.
Most of the houses in Grandview were already
considered older stock and many were run
down and dilapidated, causing locals to
campaign often about what they called the
"slumification" of East Vancouver.
A City Engineer had contemptuously
described Grandview in these years as the
City's "back door": it wasn't that important in
the scheme of things and could be allowed to
become shabby in a way that a front door never
would be. The Highland Echo was no doubt
accurate when it editorialized that westside
and downtown interests, including the daily
metropolitan newspapers, saw Grandview
as an unpleasant sort of place inhabited by
an unpleasant sort of people, namely the
working classes. By 1935, Grandview had
become identified, in one newspaper's words,
as "the Cinderella in the family of Vancouver
Part of the problem stemmed from the
urban planning consequences of Grandview's
geography. Grandview and Commercial
Drive sit on the high ground just east of the,
then-undeveloped, False Creek Flats. Trapped
behind this barrier, Commercial Drive was cut
off, in a material way, from the developing
city. Motivated partly by the need to detour
July Is' 2013 was the 75th anniversary of
the opening of the First Avenue Viaduct,
an event that rescued and re-invented
what was then a failing Commercial
Drive suburb and linked it firmly once and
for all to the growing city of Vancouver.
The boom for building in Grandview,
of which Commercial Drive is the retail and
social heart, was in the decade before the First
World War, and by 1914, the neighbourhood
was filling out and thriving. Unfortunately, the
impact of the War and the business downturns
immediately after, left the Drive without much
opportunity for further development and
expansion. These difficulties were exacerbated
a decade later by the economic disruption of
the Great Depression which had a devastating
Jak King is an
historian who
has lived in the
Commercial Drive
neighbourhood for
more than 20 years.
He has published
two books on
the history of
the Drive and is
currently working
on volumes three
and four. He is a
founder member
of the Grandview
Heritage Group
which works to
identify, preserve
and celebrate the
history and heritage
of this East Van
Charles E. Smith,
the man behind
the grand plan for
Commercial Drive.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      29
 - vJfcN&COUVE
around the Flats, city planners had developed
the primary east-west routes to and from
downtown Vancouver north of Grandview
along Hastings Street and south of Grandview
along Broadway. Traffic coming along
Kingsway was also prevented from visiting
the district because Commercial essentially
ended at Clark Park, leaving no direct road
connection from Kingsway to the Drive.
This configuration left Commercial
Drive stuck in the middle of nowhere, and it
seemed quite possible to some that the suburb
might simply disappear as an independent
business centre. But there were ways out of
this transportation trap. In fact, a grand plan
had been proposed by Charles E. Smith since at
least the early 1920s.
Smith was an Australian who landed
in Vancouver in 1907. He arrived in steerage
and with a tourist landing permit, but within
two years he held many thousands of dollars'
worth of property on Commercial Drive.
Between 1909 and his early death in 1948, there
was little of importance that went on around
the Drive that Charles Smith did not have a
part in. As a realtor, building manager, legal
advisor and insurance agent, Smith was the
consummate insider and he covered all the big
Smith's grand plan included a major new
east-west thoroughfare right across Vancouver
with First and Commercial as a primary
intersection. He proposed that the newly
constructed Lougheed Highway bringing
traffic from the east and the south be linked
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 to First Avenue at Boundary Road. The traffic
would then be carried through the centre of
Commercial Drive's shopping district, and
onto a viaduct or bridge over the False Creek
Flats from First & Clark to Terminal Avenue,
and thence down to Main Street. From there,
he suggested another viaduct that would take
this traffic downtown to Georgia Street. The
Fraser Valley would thus be linked through
Commercial Drive and Vancouver to the
new Lions Gate Bridge by an almost straight
At the same time, Commercial Drive
would be extended south to connect with
Kingsway in an attempt to divert some traffic
away from an already clogged Main Street
and, not incidentally, to divert that traffic from
downtown to Commercial's retail interests.
If such a plan could be achieved then
riches indeed would flow to the merchants
of Commercial Drive. However, looking back
from today it is difficult to understand just how
much a leap of the imagination was needed for
this vision. The very idea of First Avenue as a
major east-west thoroughfare was a fanciful
idea in the 1920s and early 30s. The First Avenue
of those years was an unimpressive roadway
at best; from its intersection with Commercial,
it traveled five blocks west down the steep hill
to Clark Drive, where it simply stopped as it
had nowhere else to go, with the cliffs and the
Flats in the way. Gravel-topped and with grass
verges where the sidewalks should be it could
have been a country lane.
Traveling east from Commercial, First
Avenue wasn't fully graded, it was narrower
Charles Smith's
Grand Plan.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      31
 than standard, and travel east beyond Victoria
Drive was very uncomfortable over a series of
short, sharp hills all the way to Rupert Street.
There were few cars on that route and
the intersection with Commercial had no traffic
control of any kind; it didn't need any so long
as you watched out for the streetcars. It took
a strong dose of imagination — and probably
a pro-Commercial Drive bent — to see First
& Commercial as a thriving urban centre,
let alone as the hub of a miles long highway
corridor linking the eastern borders of the
metropolis with downtown Vancouver.
This was a desperately ambitious
program and the barriers to success were very
high. In order to have any chance of success
at all, the boosters of Commercial Drive
needed to tell a really good story, to develop
a master narrative within which they could
position their proposals, a background against
which the proposals made some sense. The
master narrative that Commercial Drive's
boosters chose was a story of neighborhood
They launched claims of a constant
discrimination against the east end of the city
in general, and against Commercial Drive
in particular, in favour of downtown and
westside interests. They positioned Grandview
as the neglected colony of the indifferent
Vancouver empire, and they pitched their
demands as reasonable requests for deserved
equal treatment.
A man with aristocratic bearing and a
fine voice, the grand plan's author Charles E.
Smith was happy addressing an audience. He
spoke often and eloquently to anyone who
would listen on the discrimination he claimed
Vancouver and its civic bodies had shown
against Commercial Drive. He ran for alderman
in 1930 on this very program, claiming that he
and Grandview should not suffer another two
years of stagnation and vacillation.
The First Avenue Bridge or viaduct
was the key component of Smith's grand
plan to free Commercial Drive from its
transportation trap. The viaduct would make
it easy for traffic to cross the False Creek Flats
and access Commercial from First Avenue,
which itself would become a thoroughfare
from Commercial to Main. Crucially, once
First Avenue had been thus established at its
western end, pressure could be brought to
extend it eastward toward Boundary Road and
the Lougheed Highway.
The history of this project fed directly
into the narrative of the neglected suburb:
Commercial Drive merchants, following
Smith's lead, had demanded the viaduct
for years without any satisfaction, and
this had bred resentment. The target of all
that resentment tended to be City Council.
However, it has to be said that Vancouver City
Council had on three separate occasions put all
the money needed for the First Avenue Bridge
to the electorate as part of City Council's overall
plans for the following year. And on all three
occasions — in 1930, 31 and 32 — the bylaws
had been defeated by the voters. Apprehensive
for the future in troubled financial times, and
not seeing any advantage for themselves, the
majority of voters elsewhere in the city had
pulled tight the drawstrings on the public
purse and denied the Drive its desires.
However, the discrimination narrative
was useful; a monumental spin for effect, and
successful, too, in many ways. Whenever an
occasion arose, speakers from the eastside
continued to harp on the terrible conditions
that, they said, were the result of a cumulative
process of deterioration due entirely to neglect
by the civic authorities. By mid-1938 it had been
said so often that the Vancouver News Herald, at
least, seems to have bought into the story. They
wrote that "the people of Grandview have
been very patient, and repeated defeats would
have daunted less courageous people."2
The abolition of the Vancouver City
ward system in 1935 removed the most
obvious political avenue for a local party of
municipal discontent. But the group of leaders,
Charles Smith and his friends, that emerged
on the Drive in the 1930s and 40s were in
general independent merchants and salaried
professionals who were far more interested in
commerce than they were in ideology. In fact,
they were stridently agnostic when it came to
party politics. However, without an alderman
of their own, the purveyors of Commercial
Drive's grand plan and the narrative
that supported it needed to find another
institutional base from which to launch their
proposals They also needed a propaganda
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 outlet not controlled by the downtown
The Grandview Chamber of Commerce,
originally founded in 1917, and its mouthpiece
the Highland Echo, a successful weekly
neighborhood paper, neatly filled both roles.
The Grandview Chamber of Commerce
had had a number of high points in its history.
In 1928, for example, it led the fight to create
Grandview Park on Commercial and they
managed to persuade City Council to invest
$10,000 in new park facilities. Two years later,
this time led by Catherine Button and the
Ladies' Auxiliary, the Chamber had a War
Memorial built in the Park and consecrated by
Archbishop Depencier. On both occasions, the
events were concluded with large and popular
street dances.
At the height of the Depression, Mrs.
Button, Charles Smith, and the Chamber of
Commerce were front and center in turning
Victoria Park into the greens and clubhouse
for the new Grandview Lawn Bowling Club.
They managed to persuade both provincial
and municipal governments that this was a
work relief program and many local craftsmen
got useful employment as the park was rebuilt.
And as recently as the summer of 1936, the
Chamber organized a popular weekend long
event — with a parade, the selection of a
neighbourhood Queen, and a party in the Park
— to celebrate Vancouver's Golden Jubilee.
But, like many local organizations, the
Chamber was reliant on the interest of unpaid
volunteers to keep it going, and there were
times over the years when the organization
almost ceased to exist. After the success of the
Jubilee celebrations that summer, the Chamber
entered one of these periods of quiescence. But
these were important and difficult times and
some thought the Chamber was needed now
more than ever. A small group of businessmen
with definite plans for the future, and strongly
supported by the Highland Echo's weekly
editorials, gathered around Charlie Smith,
"Pete" Brown of Brown Bakeries, and Alf
Higgins of the Commercial Drive Garage.
Their nominations got Brown elected president
of the Chamber in November 1936, along, of
course, with Higgins and Smith.
Looking back a couple of successful
years  later,  Higgins  would  claim that  the
new Chamber had worked to a pre-planned
program so that they could "tick off the
achievements one by one".3 That was, no
doubt, an over-statement of their pre-planning,
but at least they were awake and active. Their
renewed agitation about the slowness of the
Lougheed Highway construction, for example,
was already being noticed by the Province
newspaper in April 1937. More directly, they
were keen to see progress on the First Avenue
When the flamboyant lawyer and
monetary theorist Gerry McGeer was elected
Mayor of Vancouver at the end of 1934, a
deputation from Commercial Drive led by
Charles Smith took pains to visit the new
mayor and discuss their issues, most notably
the First Avenue Bridge. Smith and his allies
were careful to pitch their arguments to include
benefits to sections other than Grandview. For
example, they claimed that such an artery as
they proposed along First Avenue would be
of tremendous assistance in helping to solve
the daily problem of incoming and outgoing
commuter traffic that had already resulted
in what everyone agreed was a serious
aggravation of traffic conditions on Kingsway,
Broadway, and Main Streets, with a consequent
high accident rate at the points where those
thoroughfares converge. But it would not
have been missed by anyone hearing the
proposal that the area most benefited by it was
Commercial Drive. No matter. McGeer gave
his immediate and enthusiastic support. He
declared that he would have the bridge built
before the end of his first term in office.
Unfortunately, by January 1936 there
had been no movement on the project and the
financing the Mayor had said he would use
for the construction appeared to have been
"diverted to other uses," as stated in the Echo*
Annoyed, the Grandview Chamber passed
a resolution of complaint and sent it off to
the Mayor. The resolution noted McGeer's
previous assurances that the First Avenue
Bridge project was second in importance only
to the new City Hall. The resolution and the
resulting press coverage seemed to do the
trick. McGeer came to Grandview and gave
a rousing speech confirming his assurances
about the viaduct, and a Council committee
was struck straightaway.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      33
 First Avenue
Viaduct, Dominion
Company Limited,
showing work
horses looking east
from bent No. 15
(foundations for
pedestals of steel
bents). May 26,
In February 1936, the committee
members visited, some for the first time, the
site of the proposed crossing. After the visit,
during which the Councilors were educated at
length by Charles Smith, the Echo recorded the
impression that "opinion is veering towards
the view that the bridge is vitally needed" .5 The
only problem, of course, was funding. Under
the circumstances of the Depression, and after
three failed plebiscites, no funds from general
revenues could be expected. No matter. Mayor
McGeer was sure his baby bonds could be
stretched to fit the need.
Baby bonds were a controversial
municipal financing measure that McGeer was
pushing through to pay for the new City Hall
and for other civic work projects. At the time
of the Council Committee's visit to the bridge
site, provincial authority for the bonds had
not yet been granted and so the Committee
could not make a final decision. But that spring
"baby bonds" were approved in Victoria, and
the Mayor's enthusiasm for the viaduct cleared
away all other delays.
The preliminary surveys and test holes
were completed that summer and contracts
were signed with the Dominion Construction
Company in January 1937. The lump sum
bid for the work was $208,000. Substantive
construction work began that March and the
building would take a year to complete. In
anticipation of the new traffic from the Bridge,
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 the City Board of Works approved $5,500 in
improvements to First Avenue from Clark
Drive to Commercial, and the widening of First
Avenue by three feet between Commercial and
Victoria at an additional cost of $1,000.6
Charles Smith's history with the Town
Planning Commission in the 1920s, and his
negotiations with Mayor McGeer, along with
whatever motives crossed the mercurial mind
of the Mayor himself, probably had most to
do with getting the bridge built. However, in
a mighty gesture of self-congratulation, the
Grandview Chamber of Commerce hosted
250 residents and friends at a banquet in the
Masonic Hall on First Avenue. Guests included
Reeve Solomon Mussallem of Haney and
Reeve J.B. Leyland of West Vancouver. These
two individuals symbolized the two ends of
the string that the grand plan's boosters saw
linking Lougheed Highway with the brand
new Lions Gate Bridge.
City Council gave $3,000 to help celebrate
the opening of the viaduct that took place on
Dominion Day 1938, and tens of thousands
thronged to witness the opening of the bridge
and the subsequent revelry. There was a
parade that stretched 12 blocks and included
huge animal balloons that bounced along the
route. Bands included contingents from the
American Legionnaires and the Kitsilano Boys
First Avenue
looking west from
east abutment
showing general
August 19, 1937.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      35
 First Avenue
viaduct under
construction, 1938.
Band. When the parade arrived at the central
span of the bridge, the dignitaries disembarked
and at 9:45 am, Mayor Miller cut the twisted
strands of blue and yellow ribbon with a special
set of golden scissors presented to him by
Charles Bentall of the Dominion Construction
Company. There were cheers all around.
Alderman John Bennet declared the day
to be "the dawning of a new era for Grandview
and the city. It is the realization of a dream of
twenty-five years of a thriving community."7
Many in the crowd held placards proclaiming
"This Is Grandview's Great Day - Watch
Grandview Grow." The crowds stayed
throughout  the  day,   enjoying  the   carnival
games that lined the bridge. In the evening,
at 8:00 pm, the crowd sang O Canada and the
dancing began. Fun was had until the rain
started about 10:30 pm; this was Vancouver
after all.
There were differing views as to the
purpose of the First Avenue Bridge and they
depended on where you were standing.
Downtown and on the west side, the bridge was
seen as a way for people on Commercial Drive
to have direct access to Vancouver's shopping
centres. They also saw it as an exit from the city
to the Fraser Valley: a "valuable new artery,"
as Mayor Miller called it.8 On Commercial,
however, it was seen as making the Drive an
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 easy destination for the growing numbers of
Vancouver's car-driving shoppers. The Echo
prophesied that "once traffic has discovered
this new convenient route more vehicles will
cross at First Avenue & Commercial in a day
than crossed it in a week before."9 In addition,
realtors were sure there would be a general
increase in property values as a result of the
tremendous amount of home building they
expected to take place.
The immediate success of the First
Avenue Bridge was confirmed as early as
February 1940 when a survey from the Town
Planning Commission showed that in one two-
hour period 565 vehicles had used First Avenue
east of Clark Drive. In 1937, three years earlier,
a similar survey had shown only 17 vehicles on
that same stretch. In the hindsight of just a few
years' use, it became clear that routes to and
from downtown Vancouver and the westside
had changed significantly to take advantage of
the improved connection the bridge afforded.
It is hard to imagine today Vancouver traffic
without the First Avenue connection and that
the building of the Viaduct turned First and
Commercial into a well-known and popular
intersection is clear.
Perhaps more importantly, the very
existence of the First Avenue Viaduct and its
obvious success gave the Grandview Chamber
of Commerce and others the confidence to push
for more changes — the improvement of First
Avenue east, for example, more transit links,
and the extension of Commercial to Kingsway.
When these were finally achieved, the Drive
thrived and I would argue that the success of
the campaign to build the First Avenue Viaduct
created the very foundation on which the
modern Commercial Drive was built. •
1. "back door": Highland Echo 30 July 1936; "Cinderella"
Highland Echo 13 Feb 1936.
2. News Herald 1 July 1938.
3. Ibid.
4. Highland Echo 16 January 1936.
5. Highland Echo 20 February 1936.
6. $208,000 CDN in 1937 converts to approximately
$3,366,315 CDN in 2013 money; $5000 ~ $80,920; $1000 ~
$16,180. "Inflation Calculator," Bank of Canada, accessed
July 8, 2013,
7. Vancouver Sun 2 July 1938.
8. Highland Echo 30 June 1938.
9. Ibid.
Highland Echo
News Herald
Vancouver Sun
King, Jak: The Drive:
A Retail, Social, and
Political History of
Commercial Drive to
1956. Vancouver, 2011.
Limited quantities of back issues of British Columbia History as far back as the
1980s are still available. Order now while supplies last.
Historical News
'" r '«%»'
,t^/B/.,..£. HISTORY
rtP*L* m%
Vol. 37 No. 4 - 2004
Vol. 38 No. 3 - 2005      Vol. 39 No. 1 - 2006      Vol. 43 No. 1 - 2010
Vol. 44 No. 3-2011
Contact, or BCHF c/o Magazine Association of BC
201-318 Homer Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2V2, or by phone 604.688.1175 or fax 604.687.1274.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      37
 In April 1942 1200 Japanese Canadians (Nikkei) were
required to abandon their coastal lifestyles and were
interned in Greenwood, BC, northwest of Grand Forks.
Greenwood, BC: Arrival of Nikkei Photo Essay
by Jacqueline Gresko, images courtesy Alice Glanville
Alice Glanville
attended school
in Greenwood and
Grand Forks and
taught school in
Brown Creek (1939-
1941), Greenwood
and Grand Forks.
Her Schools of the
Boundary: 1891-
1991 covers south-
central B.C. from
Anarchist Mountain
on the west to
Paulson on the
east. She has long
been active in the
Boundary Historical
Jacqueline Gresko
is the honorary
president of the
British Columbia
Andrea Lister, Editor of BC History
asked me for help writing captions
for these 1942 photographs from
Alice Glanville's collection. They
were printed as postcards but other than "1942"
on the back there was no information on them.
From research on schools for the Japanese
Canadians during World War II, I knew that
evacuees from the Coast were sent to mining
"ghost towns" in the Interior, like Greenwood.
Would it be possible to identify the people and
the buildings in the photographs? I suggested
we contact Linda Kawamoto Reid, archivist
at the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby.
She consulted Chuck Tasaka, the museum's
Greenwood expert, and Todd Belcher, whose
mother and grandmother appear in the pictures.
We would like to thank Alice Glanville and her
sister Sheila Rosen for the use of the images, and
Linda, Chuck and Todd for contributing living
memories  to  accompany  the  photographs.*
The term Nikkei Nikkei means Canadian of Japanese
descent and is used to discuss the history of Japanese
emigrants and their descendants.
Late in April 1942 the first group of Nikkei families arrived at Greenwood and waited to be
assigned to accommodation. Below is Building No. 7 or the Hallett Block. Chuck Tasaka says
he does not know the name of the RCMP officer in the photograph. He thought the other
men might be Mayor McArthur, the BC Security Commissioner Mr. Leonard Cowdrill, and Dr.
Burnett. "The crowd was too small" for him "to spot people's faces but David Hamaguchi's
family [was] right in front."
Todd Belcher corroborates that this scene is of the Hamaguchi family arriving "that is my
mother, Maryanne Asako Hamaguchi, in the white coat smiling at the camera." However, she
was unable to identify the girl beside her, with the hand to her mouth.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 To the right of the
pole, Grandson Todd
Belcher says "you can
see my grandmother
in the white hat. She
is holding the hand
of her son, Thomas
Hikaru Hamaguchi."
According to Chuck Tasaka families waited in front of No. 7 Building, the Hallett Block, for their assignments to
buildings. This image shows buildings No. 5, 7 and 11. Mr. Tasaka also noted that these buildings had indoor plumbing,
and Ichio Miki stated that No. 11 Building had an indoor toilet. Greenwood had the infrastructure whereas places like
Lemon Creek and Popoff did not have tap water and electricity at the beginning. Although in later years families were
able to get larger living spaces. In 1942 they "were squeezed into these buildings so it must have been hectic and
chaotic at the beginning. They had to make schedules for cooking, cleaning and using the sink."
The old Armstrong
Hotel in Greenwood.
It was called No. 2
Building in the 1940s
and was turned into a
hospital. The laundry
hung on the porch here
gives a sense of the
difficulties of daily
life, especially during
the first years.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3      39
 Japanese Canadians who arrived at the Greenwood train station in April 1942 were met by Franciscan Sisters and
Friars of the Atonement. Mitsuo Yesaki's Sutebusuton: A Japanese Village on the British Columbia Coast (2003), p. 120,
says that Sisters Koppes and Kelliher and Father Benedict Quigley, all Franciscans of the Atonement, made the 18 hour
rail trip from Vancouver to Greenwood ahead of the Japanese Canadian families so as to assist them on their arrival.
Chuck Tasaka identifies the Sisters in this photograph as Sister Jerome Kelliher and her taller companion Sister
Eugenia Koppes. Mr. Tasaka says "the little kids behind them are the Miki family. Mary (Miki) Nomura is the little girl
carrying a doll. Ichio Miki is holding a bag. He was 10 when he arrived in Greenwood."
Todd Belcher says that a different photograph of the same scene appears in Toyo Takata, Nikkei Legacy, (1983) p. 124,
"is a well known picture". In it, Todd explains that "the woman with the white hat and her hand to her face is my
grandmother, Ruth Hamaguchi, nee Ruth Martha Oyama. The nuns supposedly sought out my grandmother on arrival in
Greenwood because they knew grandmother Ruth was born and raised a Christian in Cumberland, Vancouver Island."
Ruth Hamaguchi is not visible in the not as "well known" image above shared by Alice Glanville.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 Archives & Archivists
by Hugh Ellenwood; edited by Sylvia Stopforth
Sylvia Stopforth
is a Librarian and
Archivist at Norma
Marion Alloway
Library at Trinity
Western University.
Hugh Ellenwood
is the Archives
Manager at the
White Rock Museum
fr Archives. The
WRMA has been
located in the
former Great
Northern Railway
station on the
waterfront in
White Rock since
1976. The archives
contain 20 metres
of textual material
and approximately
A concern for preservation of the originals and a desire
from genealogists for digital access led to the newspaper
digitization project at the White Rock Museum & Archives.
From 2004 to the present, the White Rock
Museum & Archives has been engaged
in a project to digitize our collection of
local newspapers dating from 1940 to
1986. We are currently digitizing the year 1971,
with 1940 to 1970 available to view on our web
site (
archives/newspaper archives .php).
The idea for the project was formed in
2004 when we became concerned about the
amount of handling of some of our older and
more fragile newspapers. Our newspaper
collection is a very popular resource and signs
of wear and tear were beginning to show. Also,
there was increasing pressure from researchers
such as genealogists who wanted electronic
copies of obituaries or articles emailed to them
if they were unable to visit our archives in
Since the early 2000s the WRMA has
had a digitization policy in place for small
photographs (decreasing the amount that
they are handled to almost zero, and greatly
increasing their accessibility), but any item
larger than our scanner bed (30 x 22cm.) was
not being digitized.
We decided to take a digital photograph
of each page of a newspaper to see how that
would turn out. First results were poor, until a
local photographer donated a vertical camera
mount which we attached to a platform.
Finally, based on advice from the Archives
Association of BC and the Cultural Resources
Management Programme at the University of
Tom Saunders,
volunteer at the
WRMA digitizing a
page of the White
Rock Sun.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3     41
 Victoria, we designed a pilot project to digitize
several newspapers.
After the trials of the pilot project we
began work in earnest with the following
work plan: the photographer creates an image
of each page of a newspaper; the images are
then transferred to a computer where they
are given a unique, purely numeric file name
representing the publication title, date and
page number of the newspaper; the images are
then saved on the hard drive of the computer
and onto CDs which are stored in our archives
vault; a second set of CDs is stored at an off-
site location.
The work proceeded well, employing
volunteers trained by the archives staff.
By 2005, we had created over 3,000 images
digitizing the Semiahmoo Sun from 1940 to
1955. That year we received a grant from the
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC to
digitize the years 1956 to 1966 and make them
available on the internet. We completed the
requirements for the grant within a year and
posted the images on our website using flickr.
Digitization has continued in subsequent
years. Since all of the equipment was donated,
or already in place, and the labour is done
mostly by volunteers, the cost of the project
is very low. A new addition to our volunteer
team, someone with web design experience,
recently created a page on our website posting
the entire collection of digitized papers from
1940 to 1970, about 18,000 images. This means
we no longer have to use flickr, which was not
as efficient, cost us a small annual fee, and
limited the number of images we could post.
The image quality is not as good as
scanned images would be, but the purpose
of the project was not to replace the paper
originals with digital surrogates, but rather
to provide access to the information in the
newspapers without having researchers
handle the paper originals.
As a parallel but separate project we
are indexing the newspapers by subject using
Inmagic DBtext software. Currently, the
newspapers on our website are not indexed by
subject. It's something we hope to achieve in
the future.
With the digital alternative available,
the paper originals are hardly ever handled,
and stay safe in our climate controlled vault.
The only time we access a paper original is
when we digitize it, or when the scope of
someone's research falls outside the date range
of digitized newspapers.
For more information about the White
Rock Museum & Archives, visit us online at, or in
person on Marine Drive in White Rock.*
One of the
available online
at the WRMA's
The Semiahmoo Sun
& White KodiWeday,
Hotel BuilitoS
Report Denied
By Jarvis
Suncil FormaUv **" !■
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No.3
 From the Book Review Editor's Desk
K. Jane Watt
Walking In History
I am writing in the height of
summer — and together with
my family, I have been enjoying
the work of the Hope Mountain
Centre in gathering a coalition of
people - including Spuzzum First
Nation, New Pathways to Gold
Society, the Ministry of Transport,
and Recreation Sites and Trails BC
- to get historic trails signed and
passable for the public. We have
taken tentative steps along part of
the Tikwalus trail, an ancient route
of the Nlaka'pamux (Thompson)
First Nation, from the waters of the
Fraser up - and a way around the
sheer canyon walls around today's
Hell's Gate. It was used for a short
time by the HBC in 1848 and 1849
- with brigades of up to 400 horses
and perhaps 50 men, but lack of
forage for pack horses and the sheer
difficulty of the route meant that
it was abandoned by the HBC in
favour of a route eastward out of
Hope from 1850 onward. Later in
the 1850s and 1860s, it was used
by gold miners seeking to avoid the
arduous canyons on the Fraser, and
has continued to be used through
time by the Nlak'pamux. Our new
favourite is the Hope Mountain
Trail, a climb to a rewarding lookout
over the town of Hope, the Fraser
River, and Kawkawa Lake. The
folks at the Hope Mountain Centre
have also been working hard on
historic trails leading eastward from
Hope into Manning Park. The HBC
brigade trail is one such example.
Developed in the 1850s from its
more humble origins as a wildlife
trail and First Nations corridor, it
was used officially by the HBC to
move furs from diverse northern
posts southward to Fort Langley for
transhipment — perhaps to London,
perhaps to Hawaii, perhaps to
China — part of BC's early resource
extraction economy that serviced a
network of HBC sales points around
the globe. Unofficially, the brigades
were also well used as an annual
holiday for the families of northern
traders who converged at Fort
Langley for a month each summer
before travelling home again with
new outfits containing trade goods,
agricultural implements, seed, and
"luxury" items such as tea, sugar,
ribbon, and rum. These brigades
became so large that Company brass
found itself having to restrict family
access to the brigades.
We have travelled on some
pretty busy trails this summer,
and much of this travel and the
information offered trailside or on
View from partway up Tikwalus
the web, has been made possible by
hard-working volunteers who tell the
stories of the past through interaction
with a changing landscape. It is
humbling and inspiring to see the
breathtaking breadth of work being
produced that tells the many histories
of British Columbia in profound and
wonderful ways.
Such pathways into the past
are explored by Castlegar writer
Walter Volvosek in his historical work
as well as his Trails in Time website
"dedicated to the contemplative
walker." His latest work, on visionary
and developer Edward Mahon is
called The Green
Necklace: The
Vision Quest of
Edward Mahon
^(Castlegar: Otmar
Publishing, $25).
vA a h o n
^migrated to
PBC in 1890 to
seek out business
opportunities for his Irish
family interests. He was an active
player in the Slocan mining boom,
and the founder of the Kootenay
city that would commemorate his
Irish roots - Castlegar. Although
his vision for Castlegar was not
realized, he achieved immortality
with his legacy of greenways in
North Vancouver, collectively known
as the Green Necklace. The book is
based on exclusive family records
and photographs, which provided the
basis for complimentary exhibits in
North Vancouver and Castlegar.
North Vancouver has recently
revitalized its plans for Mahon's
Green Necklace — a system of
parks within walking distance of
a dense urban core — adopted in
1906 by the council of the time. In
Volovsek's work, Mahon's interest in
the benefits of green space sounds
strangely   modern.   "Completion   of
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3   43
 Book Reviews
Books for review should be sent to:
K. Jane Watt, Book Review Editor, British Columbia History
Box 1053, Fort Langley BC V1M 2S4
this great public way [called the Grand
Boulevard]," he writes just after the
turn of the twentieth century,
with supporting parks and
gardens, will perpetuate health
areas and pleasure grounds
within a short distance of
every resident of the present
city of North Vancouver, and
our municipality will have the
distinction of possessing the most
spacious boulevard contained
within the limits of any city in the
world — a great artificial lung,
compassing the central town,
breathing, pressing, forcing it
into health and vitality with that
concomitant physical tone the
normal expression of which is
sound-bodied cheerfulness.
By the time you receive this
issue, you will be feeling the turn of
the seasons, maybe a crisping of the
air, certainly the drawing in of night.
It will be a perfect time to stoke up
the fire and read.
Fishing the River of Time — A
Grandfather's Story.
By Tony Taylor
Greystone, 2013)
One of my favourite reads this
season has been this memoir. At age
eighty, palaeontologist Tony Taylor
returns from Australia to retrace his
steps around the Cowichan River — a
formative place he has not visited for
many years. Here he hopes to connect
with his grandson, Ned, whom he has
never met (and his son, I think) — and
teach him the importance of fishing.
But fishing is more than simply casting
a line into moving water — it includes
the lore of the tackle and flies, the
natural history of place, the human
connections the past and with the
changing world around him. And,
unexpectedly, information flows both
ways: "My small grandson had got my
brain working," Taylor writes, "We
were each good for the other."
He tells young Ned, "The next
best thing to fishing ... was reading
about it, and reading was marvellous
because there were so many great
Beyond books, Taylor's intimate
observations about the nuances of the
world he returns to and remembers,
are  heartfelt  and  carefully crafted
and remind us of the vast changes that
have taken place in our wild spaces
over a couple of generations. "When
I  first started  fishing  near Meade's
cabin," he writes,
it seemed that the fish from each
of the local rivers were slightly
different: the giant coho in the
river I called the Chief and the
long, lean athletic steelhead in
the Lost. The steelhead that I
had caught in the Cowichan was
plumper and I took it for salmon.
I suppose I was beginning to
recognise that each river had its
own unique population of fish. I
hesitate to use words like race
or nationality but steelhead in
the Lost River were excitable and
friendly in the way I remember
Italians, and the steelhead in
the Cowichan were more distant
and reserved like the English.
Their characters were just a
little different but whether it
was due to their environment or
genetics I was unable to decide.
Nevertheless, after a while I
could just look at a fish and make
a fairly good guess about its
The trails Taylor travels through
time and memory, through the
geography and natural history of a
corner of the province, are linked
by his stories of people he has met,
fish he yearns to catch, and those he,
sometimes miraculously, is able to
lay his hands on. His work eloquently
extends local history into the realm of
the personal.
He Moved a Mountain: the
Life of Frank Calder and the
Nisga'a Land Claims Accord.
By Joan Harper
2013) $21.95
This biography of
Dr. Frank Arthur Calder begins with
his birth into the Nisga'a nation on
the Nass River. His father declared
before an assembly of the Nisga'a
that Frank would be educated "to
move the mountain" preventing the
Nisga'a from obtaining land title. He
was a hereditary chief of the Hose of
Wisinxbitkw from the Killerwhale
Tribe. In August 1924, at the age of
nine he travelled by Union Steamship
Cardena from Nass Harbour down
the coast to Vancouver and took the
Interurban to Coqualeetza School
in Sardis and stayed there until he
graduated from Chilliwack High
School in 1937. His education stuck
with him, and during his political life,
he remembered, "What I learned of the
English language at Chilliwack High
enabled me to read law books later in
life." He returned home to fish in the
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 summers and graduated from UBC
before becoming MLA in 1949, the first
aboriginal person to be elected to any
Canadian legislature. He served as
the MLA for Atlin until 1979. Calder
founded the Nisga'a Tribal Council.
He was the driving force behind
Canada's decision to grant recognition
of aboriginal land title to First Nations
people (the 1973 Supreme Court of
Canada case Calder vs. Attorney
General of British Columbia, argued by
Thomas Berger). Although he received
many honours in his lifetime, including
the Order of Canada, the one he most
cherished was bestowed by the Nisga'a
Nation: "Chief of Chiefs." He died
in 2006. Harper's research for this
biography was facilitated by Calder's
wife, Tamaki Calder, and members of
his family.
Salmo Stories: Memories of a
Place in the Kootenays.
•5 --*
V By Larry Jacobsen,
1  (Larry Jacobsen,
i 2012). Available
i directly from
^the author
rZ^T**''      —
l   at larry.
This book is a compilation of
family stories and photos from the
Salmo Museum spanning the period
between the late 1880s and the 1960s,
including Jacobsen's interviews of
over 100 people "who were loggers,
farmers, miners, prospectors, and
business people ... who came to the
Salmo area." As Jacobsen notes, "These
stories show just how tough people
had to be to survive in a wilderness
community far from family, friends,
and access to common amenities. This
applies even more so to the women,
for many of them bore a load equal to,
or greater than, that of their menfolk."
Salmo Stories also includes appendices
containing the work of other Salmo
historians, Rollie W. Mifflin's "The
Early Salmo Story and Other True
Stories" (1958) and Cliff Mcintosh's
"Salmo as Remembered" (1978).
For King and Country: 150
Years of the Royal
Westminster Regiment.
By Robert
L Harley, (New
| Westminster
2012) $80.
When I asked Robert about the
beginnings of this book, he replied, "It
was a idea I had back when I was 13
years old. I was always interested in
history. When I was a cadet in 2316,
The Royal Westminster Regiment
Army Cadet Corps, the only book
written on the Regiment was a World
War II war diary, but there was no
concise history, so I always thought I
would like to write that history. This
year marks the 150th year of service
and the regiment is celebrating the
anniversary. What I really want to
accomplish with the book is to give the
citizens of the County of Westminster
(Burnaby border to Boston Bar) a sense
of the rich history of the regiment has
paved and ensure our past is never
The Royal Westminster Regiment
is the oldest active military unit in
British Columbia, Colonel Karen Baker-
MacGrotty of the Royal Westminster
Regiment celebration 150 committee
says, "With a fighting Westie spirit
and incredible record of duty,
tradition and service commencing
before Confederation, the book will
be of interest to readers of all ages and
backgrounds....This book is produced
as a tribute to all our brave men and
women who have served our country
with such distinction."
80 mile Route March from Cloverdale to New Westminster, 1916. From King
and Country: 150 Years of the Royal Westminster Regiment by Robert Harley.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3   45
 The Royal Westminster Regiment
has a long history of community
involvement. When the Great Fire
swept through New Westminster in
1898 and again when record flooding
afflicted the Fraser Valley in 1948, the
Regiment supported the community
through times of crisis. More
recently, the Regiment helped fight
the Okanagan wild fires of 2003 and
provided support to the Vancouver
2012 Olympic and Paralympic Winter
As a fighting force, the Westies
have been involved in every major
conflict of the post-Victorian era.
The Primary Reserve Light Infantry
Battalion has served in the Boer War,
World War I and World War II. It has
also augmented numerous oversees
deployments on UN and NATO
missions in Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus,
the Golan Heights, Sierra Leone, and
Afghanistan. Members are currently
serving overseas in Afghanistan and
the Sudan.
Robert Harley's book can be
purchased at (http://150.royal-westies- and through red tuque books
Gardens Aflame: Garry Oak
Meadows of BC's South Coast.
by Maleea Acker
t New Star, 2012)
Gardens Aflame is a
compelling and wonderfully poetic
discussion of many issues surrounding
the   history   of   southern   Vancouver
Island's Garry oak ecosystems. The
book is a non-judgmental conversation
about our human relationship to
the biotic environment and its
dynamism, both "natural" and
culturally produced. The book jacket
notes that what "newcomers failed
to appreciate is that these meadows
were not the work of nature alone,
but were the result of generations of
cultivation by the Coast Salish peoples
who lived there. The establishment
of a fort at Victoria began a process
of encroachment on these Garry oak
meadows that continues today."
As a plea for maintaining Garry
oak ecosystems in some form, Gardens
Aflame links aboriginal gardens of
camas and meadows of community
and ritual that mark lives with seasons
of growth and rest within the natural
world. Aflame refers to the brilliant
colour of emerging Garry oak foliage
when it buds out in the springtime —
a visual treat usually reserved for the
autumnal turning of other deciduous
A full chapter devoted to the
nomenclature and history of the
Garry oak ecosystems, including a
brief history of taxonomic philosophy,
provides the labels and origins for
a discussion of human emotion and
interpretation surrounding the gardens
and the plants and the spaces beneath
and among the trees themselves.
Further discussion and reference
can be developed from the fabulous
bibliography that includes selections
on aboriginal societies, botany, and
various fields of philosophy.
Through recall, story, and the
consideration of the modified Gary
oak landscape that exists today, Acker
weaves a full circle of aboriginal
husbandry, societal decimation
through disease and occupation,
to land abandonment. Finally, she
closes the circle with the attempt a
few generations later to once again
change a landscape from what it was to
something we perhaps collectively feel
it should be based on our societal bias,
our retrospective vision, our hard-to-
articulate reasons.
Most chapters are prefaced by
the author's diary-like entries of her
thoughts and movements within
a Garry oak meadow. The entries
perhaps describe a certain time of year
or a progression of seasonal growth,
and reinforce Acker's point that beauty
and our perception and recognition of
it are important. How we collectively
create ideals and how we see them as
individuals and within a community
are central discussion points with
respect to why we might wish to
preserve or restore a meadow or forest.
Is it because the place is beautiful to
us now? Are decisions about species
continuity and diversity that favour
stasis themselves shaped by culture?
Gardens Aflame ends, by way
of epilogue, with Acker's summary
of the force behind our societal need
to sometimes preserve, sometimes
restore, or sometimes remake what is
around us. "We love what is beautiful.
We love what is rare and fleeting. And
many of us will work our fingers to
the bone to protect what gives us not
just physical sustenance, but a sense of
emotional or spiritual connection and
belonging to the place we live."
Reviewer Greg Antle is a hardwood
specialist who lives in Fort Langley.
Imperial Vancouver Island:
Who Was Who 1850-1950.
By JF Bos her,
Oxfordshire, UK:
.hardcover by
Lwith author.
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 JF Bosher's tome Imperial
Vancouver Island: Who Was Who 1850-
1950 is now available. Bosher notes
in his preface that, "If the twenty-
first century did not find rambling
Victorian titles intolerable, this
book might have been called Some
Imperial Campaigners and their Friends
on Vancouver Island from the Cariboo
Goldrush and the Indian Mutiny to the
Invasion from Mainland Canada after the
Second World War, 1850-1950. Along
with Bosher's previous volume, the
new Imperial Vancouver Island: Who Was
Who 1850-1950 tells "how settlements
like Victoria, Nanaimo, Duncan and
most of the rest were founded by sea
from England, Scotland, and Ireland,
not overland from Canada." Bosher's
lively style informs his biographical
work, as an excerpt from his entry
on Captain Walter Colquhoun Grant
(1822-1861) demonstrates:
Landing at Victoria on 11
August 1849, he set about
founding a settlement
at Sooke, 25 miles to the
northwest. He stayed for only
about four years and three
months because he was short
of funds, not very experienced,
or committed, and ultimately
daunted — like many others
before or since —by the many
tasks of pioneering life, even
in that benign climate. Nor
was he always on good terms
with the government, the local
tribes, and others he had to
deal with. He is remembered
with sympathy for importing
the yellow-blooming Scottish
broom, which now brightens
many parts of southern
Vancouver Island... "•
Save the Date
HITl   r
Surrey History J
Cloverdale BIA Surrey British Columbia Canada      ••••••
British Columbia
Historical Federation
Annual. Conference
June 6—7, 2014
Historic Centre
Mark your calendars now for next year's conference in Surrey.
This exciting two-day event will be centered in the community
of Cloverdale and will include activities such as: a field trip,
speakers and author programs, rides on a restored interurban
car operating on the original BC Electric route and a visit to the
new vintage truck museum along with walking tours and other
activities of interest to historians.
Registration is open to anyone interested in history; you do not
need to be a member of a historical society or of the British
Columbia Historical Federation.
Registration details will be available in early 2 014.
Presented in partnership with Surrey Historical Society
Image: Cou rtesy of Clo verda leBusin ess Improvement Association
For information contact:
BCHF Conference Coordinator, Barb Hynek
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3   47
 Cabinets of Curiosities
by Jim Bain
Workmen at the Vancouver post office uncovered a memorial plaque that
had been hidden from public view for over 30 years.
In the late Summer of 2009
workmen completing renovations
to the retail lobby of the Vancouver
Main Post Office came across
a memorial plaque dedicated to 14
Vancouver Post Office employees who
volunteered for service in WWI and II
and were lost during the conflicts. The
plaque was cast in 1919 to honour 11
employees and then recast following
WWII to add three additional names.
In 1919 it was placed in the lobby
of the Post Office located in what
is now the Sinclair Centre on the
north-west corner of Granville and
Hastings Streets. In 1958 it was moved
the current Main Post Office and
placed in public view in the lobby.
Renovations to the lobby over the
next decade removed it from public
view and located it in a secluded area.
As part of the renovations Canada
Post placed the plaque back in public
view on a pillar in the south-east
corner of the newly renovated lobby.
Canada Post and the Van-
Fraser Heritage Club, an association
of long service and retired Canada
Post employees, felt that as the Plaque
had been out of public view for over
30 years it would be appropriate
to hold a rededication ceremony to
honour the 14 individuals listed on
the plaque. As part of the ceremony
a short profile was prepared and
printed on each individual. A number
of interesting stories were uncovered
on each individual.
Letter carrier, Matthew Henry
Harlock, serving with the Canadian
Army Medical Corps, was lost at sea in
one of the most infamous incidents of
WWI when a U-Boat sank the Hospital
Ship Llandovery Castle and then
rammed the lifeboats. Postal clerks
Henry Jackson and James Pender and
letter carrier John Jamieson joined the
Seaforth Highlanders on the same day
in 1915. All three fell within days of
each other in 1916. The oldest WWI
volunteer was Alexander F. Quinn
who joined the BC Regiment at the
age of 34 in 1914. He fell in 1916,
has no known grave, and is listed
on the Menin Gate. Of the 11 WWI
honourees, five, including Quinn,
have no known grave. The youngest
volunteer was letter carrier James
Richardson who was just 20 and
recently married when he joined the
Garrison Artillery in 1916. He died of
wounds in August 1918. Perhaps the
most poignant story is that of Letter
Carrier Thomas Morris-White who
died in June 1918 and was survived by
his wife and ten children.
The Van-Fraser Heritage Club
continues its research of Canada Post
employees across Canada serving
in the Great War. To date we have
located over 702 employees, including
Matthew Henry Harlock, killed when
his Hospital Ship was torpedoed
June 27, 1918.
75 who were lost. Our goal is to build
a profile on each individual and find
family members who may be able to
provide us with personal insight and
possibly, photographs.
To honour their service the
Van-Fraser Heritage Club holds a
Remembrance Ceremony each year,
immediately prior to Remembrance
Day inviting family members to
Every object has a story. Do you have an object
of curiosity in your cabinet?
Send me 300 to 400 words together, with a high-resolution image of
the object, telling me the story of the object. Email your story to:
BRITISH COLUMBIA HISTORY | Fall 2013 | Vol. 46 No. 3
 Awards and Scholarship Information
for complete details go to
W. KAYE LAMB Essay Scholarships
Deadline: May 15
The British Columbia Historical Federation
awards two scholarships annually for
essays written by students at BC colleges
or universities, on a topic relating to British
Columbia history. One scholarship ($750) is
for an essay written by a student in a first or
second year course; the other ($1000) is for
an essay written by a student in a third or
fourth year course.
To apply for the scholarship all candidates
must submit (1) a letter of application and
(2) a letter of recommendation from the
professor for whom the essay was written.
First and second year course essays should
be 1,500-3,000 words; third and fourth
year,l,500 to 5,000 words. By entering the
scholarship competition the student gives
the editor of British Columbia History the
right to edit and publish the essay if it is
deemed appropriate for the magazine.
Applications with 3 printed copies of the
essay should be submitted to: Marie Elliott,
Chair BC Historical Federation Scholarship
Committee, PO Box 5254, Station B,
Victoria, BC V8R 6N4
Anne 6t Philip Yandle Best Article
Deadline: To be eligible, the article must have appeared
in the BCHF journal British Columbia History for that
A Certificate of   merit and $250 will be
awarded annually to the author of the
article, published in British Columbia
History, that best enhances knowledge
of BC's history and provides reading
enjoyment. Judging will be based on subject
development, writing skill, freshness of
material, and appeal to a general readership
interested in all aspects of BC history.
BC History Web Site Prize
Deadline: December 31
The British Columbia Historical Federation
and David Mattison are jointly sponsoring a
yearly cash award of $250 to recognize Web
sites that contribute to the understanding
and appreciation of British Columbia's past.
The award honours individual initiative in
writing and presentation.
Nominations for the BC History Web
Site Prize must be made to the British
Columbia Historical Federation, Web Site
Prize Committee, prior to December 31st
each year. Web site creators and authors
may nominate their own sites. Prize rules
and the online nomination form can be
found on the British Columbia Historical
Federation Web site:
Best Newsletter Award
Deadline: March 1
Newsletters published by member societies
are eligible to compete for an annual
prize of $250. They will be judged for
presentation and content that is interesting,
newsy and informative.
- Only member societies of the BCHF are
- Only one issue of a society's newsletter
will be evaluated
- Submit three printed copies of this best
issue from the previous calendar year
- BCHF reserves the right not to award a
prize in a given year should applications
not be of sufficient quality
Submit three printed copies of a single
newsletter issue to: BCHF Recognition
Committee, PO Box 5254, Station B,
Victoria, BC, Canada, V8R 6N4
Certificate of Merit
Deadline: March 1
Group or individual who has made a
significant contribution to the study,
project, or promotion of British Columbia's
Certificate of Recognition
Deadline: March 1
Given to individual members or groups
of members of BCHF Member Societies
who have given exceptional service to their
Organization or Community.
Certificate of Appreciation
Deadline: March 1
Individuals who have undertaken ongoing
positions, tasks, or projects for BCHF.
Any member of BCHF may nominate
candidates for Certificates of Appreciation,
Certificates of Merit or Certificates of
Recognition. Nominations, supported
by a letter explaining why the nominee
is deserving of a certificate, should be
submitted to the Chair of the Recognition
Committee by March 1 of each year.
The Lieutenant-Governor's Medal
for Historical Writing
Deadline: December 31
Each year, the British Columbia Historical
Federation invites submissions for its
Annual Historical Writing Competition
to authors of BC history; and the winning
author is awarded the Lieutenant-
Governor's Medal for Historical Writing.
- To be eligible, a book must be about
BC history and be published within the
competition year
- Non-fiction books representing any
aspect of BC history are eligible.
- Reprints or revisions of books are not
- Books may be submitted by authors or
- Deadline for submission is December
31 of the year in which the book was
Submission Requirements
- Those wishing to enter books MUST
obtain a copy of the entry rules from the
entries chair at
- Authors/Publishers are required to
submit three copies of their book
- Books are to be accompanied by a letter
containing the following:
1. Title of the book submitted
2. Author's name and contact information
3. Publisher's name and contact
4. Selling price
- Books entered become property of BCHF
- Judges' decisions are final and
- By submitting books for this competition,
the authors agree that the BCHF may use
their name(s) in press releases and in its
William R. Morrison: Email: writing®
Judging Criteria
Judges are looking for quality presentations
and fresh material. Submissions will be
evaluated in the following areas:
- Scholarship: quality of research and
documentation, comprehensiveness,
objectivity and accuracy
- Presentation: organization, clarity,
illustrations and graphics
- Accessibility: readability and audience
All winners will receive publicity and an
invitation to the Award's Banquet at the
Federation's annual conference in May
following the year of publication.
Lieutenant-Governor's Medal and Other Awards
The BC Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for
Historical Writing will be awarded together
with $1000 to the author whose book
makes the most significant contribution
to the history of British Columbia. The
2nd and 3rd place winners will receive
$500 and $250 respectively. Certificates of
Honourable Mention may be awarded to
other books as recommended by the judges.
Johnson Inc. Scholarship
Deadline: September 15
Canadian residents completing high school
and who are beginning post-secondary
education. 100 scholarships of $1500 each
for Canada,
 Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to Circulation Department.     Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40025793
British Columbia History Publications Mail registration No. 09835
BCHF c/o Magazine Association of BC
201 -318 Homer Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2V2
1920 by master gardener John Montgomery from unwanted boulders excavated for the adjacent park pavilion. In 2013, the
garden was officially added to the Vancouver Heritage Register as an important landscape resource.
Explore our back issues and read more of the story about the Rock Garden in British Columbia History, Vol 39. No. 4 available
through or online as a PDF through BCHF's partnership with The University of British Columbia
Archives: Photo: City of Vancouver Archives, AM54-S4-2-: CVA 371-2849.


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