Happy Birthday GHG!

May 5, 2020

Today is the 9th anniversary of the first meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group.

As a founding member, I am genuinely proud of the work the group has managed to accomplish in that period.  Anyone taking the time to scour the archives on the website will find perhaps the best collection of materials available for any neighbourhood in the city outside of the formal city archives.

Here’s to another 9 years (and more) of identifying, preserving, and celebrating the history and heritage of Grandview!

We Need TMH at Commercial & Adanac

May 5, 2020

Regular readers of this blog may remember that I have been pushing to have Temporary Modular Housing (TMH) built at the virtually-unused City-owned parking lot at the corner of Commercial & Adanac. This is an idea supported by many residents.

When approached, City staff have nixed the idea, saying the site is unsuitable on the grounds of size. I believe that is just nonsense.  Steve Bohus has been studying the layout of the TMH at 220 Terminal Avenue as has produced this image showing that an exactly similar-sized unit is perfectly feasible for the property we have suggested.


Image on left is 220 Terminal; image on right is a rendering of the proposed unit at Commercial & Adanac


Given that we have here a neighbourhood group requesting a TMH in their district (contrary to the City’s experience in some other neighbourhoods) along with a genuine need for such housing, and a suitable property already owned by the City, we believe it is incumbent on City staff to explain what their plans are for this site and why those plans would be better for our residents than a TMH; and it is equally incumbent on each Councillor to demand those answers.

Image: And The Trees Danced

May 5, 2020

Grandview 5th May 1920

May 5, 2020

Sun 19200505, p.2


Kirkham’s Grocery — operated by H.O. & Mrs. H.T. Kirkham — was a presence on the Drive from 1919 to July 1936, first at 1678 Commercial, and later at 1417 Commercial and 1605 Commercial. In the 1930s they served lunches. In July 1936 they sold the business to Mark Johnson, a recent arrival from Lethbridge, Alberta, but the business seems to have closed very soon thereafter.


All previous Grandview 1920 clippings

What’s So Special About The Drive?

May 5, 2020

As we approach the end of the covid-19 crisis we will, no doubt, see a number of additional vacancies on the Drive as businesses that failed to survive the shutdown shut down for good.  I strongly suspect that this will tempt some building owners and developers to run roughshod over the commercial heart of our neighbourhood. Therefore, I thought it worthwhile to remind them of why the Drive is so successful and how it got to be that way.

From its founding in the early years of the 1900s through to the Second World War, the Drive was a rather staid and boring street, dominated by a population that was 85%+ Anglo. By the mid-1950s, the Drive was collapsing as an economic unit and Grandview was undergoing what the City called “slumification.” However, the area was saved by two circumstances:  Italians who had previously lived in Strathcona decided to move East; and Federal immigration laws were relaxed, allowing many more southern and eastern Europeans to settle in Grandview.

Perhaps surprisingly — but certainly an important marker for the future — the Anglo elite welcomed these newcomers because they added a vitality and prosperity to the Drive that had not been there for a generation.

Since that time – for some 60 years – the Drive has been the scene of continuous change. We have had a constant change of people on the Drive – starting with the Italians and the Portuguese and some East Europeans, followed by Central Americans, Jamaicans, those from the Middle and Far East, and a variety of Africans. Not only different cultures and nationalities and languages, but also different sexualities and those of various economic circumstances were welcomed to the neighbourhood.

Each of these groups have left their mark on the patina that is the glory of the Drive today. They have changed building styles, grocery options, street art, food availability, everything; and they have done this over and over again.

And all of these continuous changes have been welcomed, indeed encouraged, by most Drive residents.  And that is because these changes have been subtle, incremental, and evolutionary within the general envelope of what the Drive is – which is a place of low-rise buildings, 25′ store fronts, and, importantly, local business ownership.

That is how we got to today, and it this same velocity and style of change that will maintain the Drive that we all love. I believe that neighbourhood change can and should be managed in an incremental and Drive-appropriate manner. Introducing rapid and intrusive change can only damage what is a highly successful and well-loved neighbourhood. 

I hope that developers eyeing the Drive as their next big opportunity take this to heart. If they don’t they’ll have a heck of a fight on their hands.