Lunch With Royalty

May 25, 2013

Earlier this week I had a delightful lunch with JoAnn Bufton, granddaughter of Catherine Bufton who was such a force in the development of Commercial Drive. The Buftons, through three generations, operated a highly successful florist shop on the Drive from the 1920s to the 1980s, and were thoroughly engaged in the social development of our neighbourhood.  If the Drive had royalty, it would be the Buftons.

JoAnn Bufton grew up in the neighbourhood in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, living for some time with her family above what is now Havana’s and was then Fera’s Heating.  She attended Templeton and Britannia School and was a genuine local girl.

0111-1She and her younger brother Hugh would go to the Grandview Theatre where a ticket cost 15c and popcorn was a dime.  On other days, between the time Grandview School of Commerce at First & Commercial was closed and when it was demolished in the early 1950s, they would play in the empty old “eerie” building.  JoAnn told me that the ice cream at the Crystal Dairy (where Wonderbucks is now) was just as good as they promised, and she remembers the horses that delivered milk who were stabled behind the Dairy.

In an earlier book I had written about how she took a long trip with her grandmother, the “formidable” Catherine. I had assumed they travelled together but, in a sign of the times, I guess, old Mrs. Bufton travelled first class on the boat to Europe while JoAnn was in economy and had to get special dispensation to visit her grandmother.

It was a marvelous lunch, at Fet’s of course, and we talked for a couple of hours, full of questions. The joy of being a historian!


The Past As Future

May 24, 2013

Here is the article based on the interview I gave yesterday morning.

It is well done and I thank the Courier for their feature coverage of our neighbourhood this week.

Red Tulips 2

May 24, 2013

red tulips II

East Feast 2013

May 23, 2013


Here is another excellent event for your calendar, an event on June 2nd that can directly assist artists in our neighbourhood.  As the Britannia notice says:

The EAST FEAST is a community meal that raises funds through ticket sales to the event which in turn directly funds an artist or artist group.  The decision on the distribution of funds is given to the community through a democratic voting process.  This FEAST is grassroots micro-funding at its best, relying on community engagement to be successful.

I’ll be interested in looking at all the artists seeking funds but, to be honest, I’ll be leaning toward a piece called “Three Rings: An East Van Big Top Extravaganza” produced by Trish Mitchell with the support of Famous Empty Sky and Avenue for the Arts which recently put on the fabulous “Clockwork Universe” event last month.

Hope to see you there!

Busy Morning

May 23, 2013

bread2Well it has been a busy and productive start to the day.

I baked bread, did laundry, handled a dozen emails, and conducted an interview with the Vancouver Courier about the Grandview Heritage Group.    And all this before 8:30!

I clearly deserve breakfast out today — Skylight here I come!

A Brief Hiatus

May 22, 2013

There I was, blogging madly day after day and suddenly I stopped!  Well, I have been working hard on an important historical project that hasn’t gone public yet.  While the ever-loving is visiting family, I took advantage of the batch lifestyle to spend countless hours day and night pounding material into this project.  I have come up for air now, and it is still raining!

I did take time out to be at the latest Grandview Heritage Group meeting which was fun and highly informative.  In particular, Michael Kluckner gave a long presentation on the evolution of house styles in Vancouver that was absolutely fascinating.  We are working on ways to make that kind of material more readily accessible (see project mentioned above).

I’ve also been busy with GWAC activities, pushing forward the work of the new action-oriented committees we have put in place, and talking to the press about arson in the district.  I spent last evening at the first meeting of our Planning Committee and it was remarkably energizing to be in a room with folks who are keen to get things done and support the community.  I also spent some time last week meeting senior City staff along with members of the Strathcona Residents and the RayCam Centre group.  That, too, was usefully productive in helping the neighbourhoods work together as a group toward common aims.  I will have a lot more to say on that when the time comes.

Busy, busy times — thank God I am retired!

The Big Bang

May 18, 2013

Thirty-three years ago today, early on a Sunday morning, I was in North Vancouver at a friend’s house with a bunch of other folks recovering from what had been a major party the night before.  My eyes hurt, my head hurt, and I was sure that the big bang I heard, and the small tremors that swept up my legs, were all part of the painful recovery process.  But I wasn’t the only one to hear and feel those things, and we began to wonder.

There was no internet or 24-hour news stations then, and it was probably a while before we learned what had gone on south of us.


Mount St. Helens had blown its head off, and for hours we sat around watching KOMO or KING, gazing in awe as dust settled on towns for miles around, gazing in awe at the power of the mountain.

This was not a day to easily forget.