The Development of First & Commercial

May 16, 2022

I have today published a new research essay on the 15-year fight for the development of the old Grandview High school site at First & Commercial.

The essay can be found at: https://grandviewheritagegroup.ca/2022/05/16/battle-for-the-school-site-1940-1955/

I hope you find it of interest.


Britannia Renewal Open Houses

May 14, 2022

Getting to the nitty-gritty of renewal issues. If you are interested …

There is more information at https://britanniarenewal.org/


Smallpox! Grandview’s Isolation Hospital

May 3, 2022

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I have today published another research essay, this one tells the history of the smallpox Isolation Hospital erected in Grandview in 1892 and which stayed in place until it became part of Templeton Park in 1912.

The essay can be read at https://grandviewheritagegroup.ca/blog


GWAC and CoV’s Head of Planning

April 26, 2022

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A New Socialist Party

April 25, 2022

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On May Day, at Grandview Park at 12:30pm, yet another civic political party makes its entry onto the stage. This time it is a new party with an old name, Socialists.

Everyone is invited to their founding launch.


Grandview’s Parks (1890-1930)

April 19, 2022

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I have today published a brief essay on the history of parks in Grandview from 1890 to 1930.

The essay is posted at https://wordpress.com/post/grandviewheritagegroup.ca/3429 and I hope you find it of interest.


Black Dog Video Closing

April 14, 2022

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I am old enough to remember when there was a video rental store on every street in virtually every city, town and village. Now, they are nearly all gone.

I mention this having just read a newsletter from Black Dog Video, 1470 Commercial, announcing that they too will be closing after more than 16 years on the Drive, driven away by high rents and competition from streaming services.

To be honest, I am one of the reasons they are closing — it is a very long time since I rented a video, content to consume my movies through the internet and the streamers. However, it is always a shame to lose a long-established business from the Drive and I am sure they will be missed by their loyal clients.


The Widening of Commercial Drive

April 12, 2022

Visitors and locals alike often wonder why Commercial Drive south of First Avenue — a wide arterial road — is different than the northern half which is narrower and more intimate. The reason goes back more than 110 years and it all had to do with political intrigue in the Balkans.

Like many streets in Vancouver, Commercial Drive (or Park Drive as it was then called) began as a path through tall stands of timber, or at least the stumps thereof. It was barely wide enough for the interurban tracks that were laid in the early 1890s. As Grandview began to grow in the first years of the twentieth century, and as the Drive developed into the retail and commercial hub of a burgeoning residential neighbourhood, the roadway was widened and improved to a standard width of 66 feet.

As early as 1909, the Grandview Progress Association had written to the Vancouver Board of Works suggesting that Park Drive be widened. But it was not until 1911 that City engineers had begun planning to widen several main thoroughfares, including Main Street and Park Drive. Discussion of this possibility became a matter of concern for developers wanting to erect new buildings and wondering what street line they should plan for. In July of that year G.W. Fuller and other Park Drive property owners approached the Board of Works for clarification. He suggested that the Drive be widened from 6th Avenue south to the City limits from 66 feet to 80 feet. Fuller asserted that 75% of the property owners were in favour of the plan, each to give seven feet on either side of the road. He noted that the southern end of the Drive was not yet built up but would become busier once the tram cars started to make their planned turn at 6th Avenue. It was, he suggested, a good time to make the improvement while local owners were willing to defray the costs. Alderman Williamson moved that the City Engineer report on Fuller’s request. However, Alderman Cameron felt it was “unfair that the residents of one portion of the street should pay” for improvements desired by the other portion; and so the motion was amended to seek the Engineer’s report on widening the Drive all the way from Venables to 16th Avenue.i

Later that same month, the Ward 5 Ratepayers Association wrote to the Board urging that the Park Drive widening be completed as soon as possible. But the Engineer reported that there were issues with the sewer system which needed to be solved before any street widening could take place. The matter seems to have been settled quickly as the Board in August was urging that the widening from 6th Avenue south should be rushed forward “with all possible speed.”ii

The Engineer also recommended that the widening be divided into two parts. He noted that the Drive from Venables to First Avenue was “fairly built up with brick buildings” and was already under contract for pavement. It would be more complex to deal with a widening of that section compared to the barely developed southern section. This recommendation was approved by the Board of Works in September where a budget of $208,772 was agreed for the northern section, and $215,137 for the much longer southern part, to be paid by local assessment. The details were published as a Public Improvement By-Law on October 18th 1911.iii

Opposition to the plan emerged in November 1911 when a number of Drive ratepayers met at Grandview Hall under the chairmanship of realtor A.E. Tregent who was secretary of the Property Owners Association. They were concerned about what if any compensation would be paid for losing seven feet of their land. Moreover, many of them claimed that the Drive was already wide enough for the amount of traffic they were seeing. The majority attending believed, following an address by Professor Edward Odlum, that if the widening was to go ahead either the City or the BC Electric Railway should pay as the streetcar operators woud be the main beneficiaries. In a sumbission to the Court of Revision, they complained again about what they considered the excessive costs of the project.iv

Whether it was this opposition or simply pressure of other work for the engineers, the widening project took a long time to get started. In September 1912, almost a full year after the meeting in Grandview Hall, propery owners had taken to complaining that they still did not know the street line against which they should be building. A letter from the London and British North Amerca Company noted that some buildings had been erected seven feet back from the old street line, and other owners didn’t know whether they should move their buildings back or not. They complained that they could not get the City to make the necessary arrangements to acquire the strip required for the widening nor, indeed, get confirmation that the widening was actually going to happen. Meanwhile, they were unable to rent their stores and houses due to the uncertainty and had lost considerable revenue. Land Agent J.B. Williams said the problem had been caused by “the mixed-up condition” of papers at the Land Registry Office which was delaying the surveying of road widening across the city. He thought that another four months would be needed before the work on Commercial Drive could begin.v

By January 1913, the sidewalks south of First Avenue had been laid on the new streetline, but only one building had been moved. Property owners led by Charles E. Smith appealed to the Board of Works to allow them to move the buildings themselves if the City was unwilling to proceed even though the work had been contracted with McCain Bros. The Board ordered the Purchasing Agent, the City comptroller and the City solicitor to report on the situation by the next meeting.vi

Two weeks later, the Purchasing Agent reported to the Board that only 101 of the 175 property owners had signed their approval to accept the assessment. He suggested that support for the widening scheme was flagging with each delay. Board chair Alderman Crewe agreed that the whole matter was a “muddle,” but promised that the removals would begin just as soon as final terms had been agreed.vii

To the relief of just about everyone, the work began in earnest in early February 1913. A total of nineteen buildings were to be moved back between First and Fifeenth Avenues, and Messrs. McCains planned to set a second gang of men to work by the middle of the month. They anticipated completion by April.viii

We are fortunate to have photographic evidence of one of the building moves.

In the 1900-block of Commercial, the Frederick Block was erected in March 1911 along the former streetline. In the photograph above from 1912 it can be seen as jutting forward compared to the Allen Block next door which was built several months later along the new streetline. The right-hand image shows the same blocks today, with the Frederick Block having been moved back seven feet to align with its neighbour.

The work of moving buildings actually took longer than anticipated but, by the middle of August 1913, the final building to be moved was dealt with. This was the Halse Block at 1729-1735 Commercial which had been built in 1910 at a cost of $14,000.

The Vancouver Daily World covered the unusual move in great detail and their report is worth quoting at length: ix

“Complete success attended the moving back of the large two-storey brick building on Commercial Drive, between First and Second Avenues, which undertaking was carried out this morning in connection with the Commercial Drive widening scheme. This was the first time that such a thing had been attempted locally and the task was watched by a large crowd of interested onlookers. The structure contained three stores on the ground floor and seven suites of apartments on the upper floor. Many of the latter were occupied during the time of the setting back of the building, but so gently was the work carried out that the movement  was all but imperceptible.

The building weighed, at a careful estimate, 550 tons, and the whole of it, from the very foundation, was set back seven feet. During the operation, the water supply and the sewerage system was not interfered with for a moment, the occupants of the apartments being able to continue their domestic duties without let or hindrance.”

The work may have been completed successfully but the building’s owner, George Halse, was not happy. He successfully sued the City, seeking $7,000 compensation for the seven feet of property he lost. After protracted negotiations, the City settled by paying him $4,200 plus $300 costs.x

The moving of the Halse Building turned out to be the final act of the Commercial Drive widening saga. Not unlike today, Vancouver’s growth before the First World War was driven in large part by foreign money. In the early 1900s it was British funds that drove the market. However, in late 1912 a serious crisis erupted in the Balkans and, cautious as money managers tend to be, they decided to hoard their cash in London rather than invest in Canada. By March 1913, the financial market situation in Vancouver was grave, leaving the City with a large amount of unsold municipal improvement bonds. The City was obliged to cease all local improvement work for the balance of the year. xi

Although the bond markets would quickly recover once the Balkan crisis was over, this recession was followed almost immediately by the start of the First World War, and the Commercial Drive widening scheme was never resumed, leaving the section north of First Avenue at its original width. In November 1915, the Improvement By-Law for the northern half of the Drive was repealed.xii


i  GPA request: Daily News Advertizer 1909 Dec 21, p.8. The discussion at the Board of Works meeting is covered in Vancouver Daily World 1911 Jul 12, p.9; Province, p.7

ii  Vancouver Daily World 1911 Jul 26, p.8; Daily News Advertizer 1911 Aug 3, p. 5. Discussion of the sewer issue can be found at Province 1911 Jun 15, p.13, Oct 13, p.7

iii  Engineer’s comments reported in Daily News Advertizer 1911 Aug 9, p.10. Approvals: Vancouver Daily World 1911 Sep 20, p.3

iv  Vancouver Daily World 1911 Oct 31, p.8, Nov 1, p.11; Province Nov 1, p.11; Daily News Advertizer Nov 14, p.7

v  Sun 1912 Sept 12, p.11; Vancouver Daily World, p.16

vi  Daily News Advertizer 1913 Jan 22, p.2, Province, p.9; Vancouver Daily World p.7

vii  Vancouver Daily World 1913 Jan 29, p.13; Daily News Advertizer, p.3

viii  Vancouver Daily World 1913 Feb 5, p.4; Mar 7, p.14; Province Mar 8, p.40

ix  Vancouver Daily World 1913 Aug 15, p.24. This is now known as the Brandon Block. Building details from the building permit dated 8th November 1910.

x  Daily News Advertizer 1914 Jan 24, p.7; Province Oct 6, p.2; Sun, p.2, 1915 Aug 13, p.8

xi  Province 1913 March 19, p.22; Vancouver Daily World, p.17. The financial crisis affected the private market, too, causing bancruptcies among local developers such as James Guinet in Grandview

xii  Province 1915 Nov 18, p.15


Shoot Out at First & Commercial

April 8, 2022

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It was the spring of 1949 and Commercial Drive — after two long decades of Depression and War — was reveling in the first flush of postwar prosperity: the stores were full and people finally had money to spend.

No doubt, it was this very prosperity that drew Robert Harrison to the corner of First & Commercial that 8th April.

Harrison, a 29-year old with a criminal record stretching back to before his 16th birthday, and who had already served eight years for armed robbery in a federal penitentiary, was a short stocky man with a round face and high cheekbones. He was well dressed in a tan topcoat over a leather jacket and a sports shirt, as he stood outside the Commerce Bank building after parking his car just around the corner on First Avenue. It was 10:30 on a sunny morning and Commercial Drive’s sidewalks were already crowded.

Harrison, who had stolen $6,000 in an armed robbery of a bank in Victoria just two months previously, used a band-aid to attach a white handkerchief across the bottom half of his face. He then pulled a Canadian Army-issue 9mm pistol from his pocket, and strode into the bank, following behind an older woman.

Once inside, Harrison roughly pushed the customer aside and started shooting wildly, firing six times. Every shot missed the customers waiting in line, but others weren’t so lucky. Bank manager Charles Scanlon was grazed in the thigh, while another of Harrison’s bullets passed through an office door and hit accountant Arthur Pearson in the shoulder, damaging his lung.

Harrison took his time. He stuffed three thousand dollars in mixed bills into his pockets and then ran back to the door.

By this time, everyone out on the street knew a robbery was in progress and an alert Fraser Transfer truck driver had already blocked off Commercial to the south with his vehicle. After being alerted by a Mrs. Clarke who rushed into his shop, Lloyd McWilliams called the police from his drug store on the southeast corner of the intersection while his clerk, standing on a chair, could see people with their hands up through the bank windows.

A cashier who had been returning to the bank from her morning tea break but had been stopped at the door by the noise inside, ran in a panic into the Quality Shoe Store next to the bank. Thirty-nine year old manager William Bishop and his father Arthur had already heard the gunfire next door. Encouraged by the cashier, Bishop ran out into the street to flag down Constable Cecil Paul, who he knew was on motorcycle patrol that day. Looking back as he ran, Bishop saw Harrison leaving the bank, gun in hand, and the gunman immediately saw him. Bishop just managed to duck behind a parked car as a bullet crashed through the side of the engine hood and came out under the fender, a few inches from where Bishop crouched.

Harrison shouted “Stand back!” to the world in general and moved toward the corner where his car was parked. A number of elderly women happened to be gathered on the corner and at least one of them attacked him with an umbrella as he tried to push through. Harrison, realizing that his car had been blocked by the Transfer truck, grabbed one of the women to use as a shield and began to cross Commercial heading west. But the woman proved too awkward to carry and he dropped her. Just at that moment, five year old Ian Erlandson, not understanding the danger, ran by and was grabbed by the gunman to use as a shield instead.

By this time, 26-year old Constable Cecil Paul, a veteran of six years active service in the war, had arrived on the scene and dropped his motorcycle. He pulled out his gun and deliberately fired a shot over Harrison’s head. Harrison fired back, almost hitting 26-year old housewife Gloria Groome who was standing on the west side of the street. She felt the bullet graze her hair.

Constable Paul aimed again and his second shot hit Harrison in the forehead, killing him instantly. Blood spattered everywhere as Harrison crumpled to the ground, the boy still in his arms. The gunman’s Browning automatic still had five live rounds, and there were 32 more rounds in his pocket. The $3,650 he had stolen fell from his jacket and lay scattered across the sidewalk.

Young Erlandson was unhurt and scampered off, to be found later playing with friends near his home on Cotton Drive, seemingly unfazed by his adventure.

The coolness and bravery of Constable Paul was recognized by all and he would eventually be awarded the King’s Gallantry Medal. Immediately after the shooting he had been promoted from second class to first class constable with a pay rise of $21 a month.

Manager Scanlon, though not badly injured, took three months’ stress leave, not returning to work until July. The seriously wounded Arthur Pearson also recovered and returned to the bank well before his manager.

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References: The details of the robbery and its aftermath have been pieced together from reports in the Highland Echo (April 14, June 30, 1949), Vancouver Sun (April 18, 26, 1949), Province (April 8, 9, 19, 1949), and News-Advertizer (Nov 10, 1949)


Catherine Bufton of Commercial Drive

March 31, 2022

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In a belated honour of International Women’s History Month, I thought I’d write a short piece on one of the most dynamic women ever to grace Grandview and Commercial Drive.

Catherine Bufton (nee Drake) was born in Gloucester, England, in 1881.  She emigrated to Manitoba where she met and married Hubert Bufton.  After Hubert’s service in World War One, the couple moved to Vancouver in 1919. Hubert had been seriously injured during the war and during recuperation, he and Catherine learned floral basket weaving.  They put this to use by opening Bufton Florists at 1520 Commercial in 1923, living in an apartment upstairs. The company would be a fixture on the Drive until 1982.

In the late 1920s, Catherine pushed the Grandview Chamber of Commerce to create a Women’s Auxillary branch of the Chamber and she became the Auxillary’s first President. The Auxillary’s first project, devised and organized by Mrs. Bufton, was the War Memorial in Grandview Park which was dedicated in November 1930.  Their next project was the creation of the Grandview Lawn Bowling Association’s greens which took over Victoria Park and the building of a large clubhouse on the Salsbury side of the park. It was opened for the first season in the spring of 1933.  Catherine Bufton helped persuaded the necessary authorities to make this a works relief project and many local artisans suffering in the Depression received useful paychecks while preparing the ground.

Catherine and Hubert had been founding members of the CCF in the early 1930s, and in the 1937 Provincial election, Catherine ran unsuccessfully for the Reconstruction Party.  They were also active in veterans’ issues and helped lead Victory Bond fundraising during the Second World War.

When Hubert died in 1944, Catherine continued with the business, being joined by their son Frank. However, in early 1950 she retired to her new home and garden in West Vancouver.  She returned briefly when Bufton’s Florists moved to the new Bentholme Building on the corner of First and Commercial, but spent much of her retirement traveling the world with her daughter.  She died in West Vancouver in May 1967.

The image is taken from the Highland Echo of May 27, 1937.


A Church Lost, then Found

March 19, 2022

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Last night, at the monthly meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group, I presented my research on an early church in Grandview. The following is a version of that presentation (1).

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This story began with a mystery. In the 1905 Vancouver City Directory, there are just a few listings for Park Drive, the original name of Commercial Drive. One of those listings, with no address given, was for a Methodist Church. By 1907, the district was established enough to have blocks and street numbers; and the Methodist Church is listed as 900 Park Drive.

As I was the compiling my Grandview Database at the time I found this, I was keen to locate the Church properly but my original researches showed nothing at all about a church in the neighbourhood and, by 1910, it had also disappeared from the Directory. As I knew what was on the eastside of the 900-block around 1912 (or, rather, what was not there as the lots in that block were listed as vacant on maps), I began to believe that the Directory makers had made an error.

However, much later, and while researching something else, I came across a brief article in the Vancouver Daily World of June 26th 1904, describing the dedication ceremony for what they called the Park Drive Methodist Church. With a name and a date, I was then better able to direct my research.

The idea for a new church had arisen during the previous year. At a meeting of the Quarterly Official Board of the Princess Street Methodist Church in November of 1903, it was noted that “the far east [of Vancouver] is so rapidly building up that it will ere long boast a not inconsiderable population.” They were already overcrowded at Princess Street, and had moved their Sunday school into rented space at the old Episcopal church building on Campbell Avenue. However, the Board members decided the rent money would be put to better use paying for another church that would be their own property. (2)

Realtor J.B. Mathers secured for them two lots on the south east corner of Park Drive and Barnard Street. After some delay while the property owners were contacted in England, the lots were purchased for $350 which was advanced by eight church members. (3)

Robert Clarke, secretary of the Princess Street church, then wrote to the Vancouver Board of Works (BOW) requesting that Park Drive be opened from Venables Street north to Powell. The BOW wouldn’t go that far, but agreed to open the street from Venables to Barnard. Later, the BOW also approved the laying of a sidewalk from Venables to the new church. (4)

On 14th April 1904, the Church was issued a building permit. They had secured a contract with builder A.E. Carter who agreed to construct the building for $1,000. A few weeks later, two dozen members of the Princess Street congregation “took a holiday” and cleared the lots. Construction went ahead rapidly and by early May, the builders began to put on the roof. (5)

By June, the building was ready, with workers busy until nine o’clock the night before the dedication completing the final touches. Even after that late hour, Trustees William Raine and J.W. Burns had worked to clean up and decorate the interior with “a mass of flowers gathered by the children of east end families.” It is clear that this brand new Park Drive branch of the Princess Street Methodist Church was being erected “on the fringe of the City’s populated district” standing “almost alone in the midst of what remains of a one-time huge forest. Burned and charred stumps, an undergrowth of green shoots, and a rough newly-opened road” surrounded the building, as the newspapers described it. “You have a very nice, bright little church here — even if it is out in the stumps,” declared Rev. Merton Smith as he preached the dedication sermon of the Park Drive Methodist Church on Sunday 26th June, 1904. Though there were very few houses within shouting distance of the new church, there “poured forth a goodly number of persons who filled the new building to overflowing both at the morning and afternoon services.” (6)

The 11:00am dedication service was supervised by Rev. J.F. Betts, chairman of the Vancouver Methodist district. He arrived ten minutes late, “mopping his brow” with heavy perspiration, having walked through the hot morning all the way from Greer’s Beach in Kitsilano where he and his family were currently camping. Notwithstanding his exertions, Betts was “in one of his happiest sermon moods” and the service, enliven by the Princess Street choir, was “thoroughly enjoyed” by the congregation of about 175 people. A similar number came for the afternoon service given by Rev. Smith.

At the services on that day, the church managed to raise $227.45 which was paid to the builder’s account. In fact, at a social the day after the dedication which was “packed to the doors” and they raised another $252. Church officials stated their hope that “in five years they will have paid every cent of debt on the new building.” We can only assume that Carter the builder was an amiable chap. (7)

The pastor of the new church, Rev. R. Newton Powell, was a 36-year old Englishman. He had spent seven years on church work in the West Indies where he married. In 1897 they moved to British Columbia on account of Mrs. Powell’s health, and he had served at various locations in the interior before coming to Princess Street. He is described as “a thoughtful, forceful, and flowery preacher with a thoroughly evangelical rung about him.” In July 1904, one month after the church was opened, Rev. Powell took a three-week holiday to Ontario. While there, he received a gift from a friend, Timothy Eaton, Toronto’s merchant prince. The gift was new carpet for the church, sufficient for the aisles and platform. (8)

The church may have had fancy carpeting but it didn’t have water for quite some time. It was just before Christmas 1904 when the church trustees applied for a water pipe to be built from the Venables Street main, a distance of 25 feet. Ten days later, the Board of Works agreed. However, the trustees — always a moral bunch — withdrew their request when they realised that other residents had had their requests denied. But the pipe was laid anyway. (9)

The church became so popular that , within a year of its dedication, it had become clear that a larger building was urgently required. The Princess Street church held special services on 7th May 1905 in an effort to fundraise $1,200, partly to pay for an addition to the Park Drive branch. However, it was determined to move the congregation to another location and three lots were purchased on Venables Street at the corner of Victoria Drive, where a $5,000 church was dedicated in March 1909. (10)

When I first did this research, I had assumed the original building was dismantled as it does not appear on the 1912 Goad’s map, and that would be the end of the story. However, local heritage enthusiast Neville Hodgson found a building permit from October 1910 concerning the moving of a church, and that allowed me to follow the story to its conclusion.

Further research showed that the church was sold to the Seventh Day Adventists in the early summer of 1910. During 1910, the Seventh Day Adventists were very busy, erecting or purchasing five local churches, and they were regularly listed as having services in the church on Park Drive from June 1910 until early January 1911. On the 30th January 1911 the Adventists held their Tenth Annual Convention at their “new church” on Barnard Street. Thereafter, Seventh Day Adventist services are regularly listed at the Barnard Street address until at 1918. However, the listings for services then stop, no listings for that address are shown in the City Directory for several years. (11).

Some years later, the First Christian Reformed Church was founded to support Dutch immigrants who had settled in Vancouver. They began meeting in 1926 in a space on Hastings Street but that quickly became unsuitable. In 1927, the Reverend Peter Hoekstra, who spoke English better than the majority of his parishioners, negotiated to buy the church on Adanac Street which by that time had been deserted for some time. (12)

Their services were in Dutch, and the Directory listing calls it the Hollander Church. There were congregations of Dutch people south of the Fraser, but the church on Adanac was their main congregation in Vancouver. So much so that, when she visited Vancouver in 1944, the then-Princess Juliana came to the church on Adanac to take communion. (13)

By the end of 1948, the Reformed Church began erecting a new building at Victoria and 11th, and services were held in the new location from May 1949. The church on Adanac was put up for sale. (14)

By the following year, the Directory listing is for “new apartments” and it is reasonable to suppose that that, finally, was the end of the old church building. In 1986 that entire block was demolished to make way for the Grace MacInnes Housing Co-op.


  1. An earlier version of the original research can be found here.
  2. Vancouver World 1903 Nov 20, p.6; 1904 Jun 27, p.3
  3. The intersection is currently known as Commercial Drive and Adanac Street. The lots were DL 183 Block 9D, Lot 1-2. “$350”: Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3.
  4. Board of Works: Minutes 3 Mar, and 2 June 1904, CVA, MCR-36 Roll 2; Vancouver World, 4 Mar 1904, p.5, June 3, p.5; News-Advertizer, 4 Mar 1904, p.4, 11 Mar p.5
  5. News-Advertizer, 1 May 1904, p. 8; “holiday”: Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3
  6. Descriptions of the dedicatory ceremony are from Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3, and the Western Methodist Recorder 1904 July. The author thanks Blair Galston, United Church Conference Archivist for this latter reference. Other Trustees included Victor Odlum, dry goods merchant J. Horner, Alderman Angus MacDonald, and Robert G. Clarke.
  7. Vancouver World 1904, June 29, p.5
  8. Vancouver World 1904, June 27, p.3; Aug 1, p.8; Aug 2, p.4
  9. Province 1904 December 20, p.5, December 29, p.2
  10. Vancouver World 1905 May 6, p.7; May 8, p.1; 1909 Mar 6, p.13. The new church is now the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.
  11. For services at Park & Barnard see for example Province 1910, June 18, 25, August 27, November 12; Daily Advertizer 1910 August 28, September 9, 1911 January 21; Vancouver World 1910 September 27. For the Convention see Province 1911 January 30, p 6 and Daily Advertizer 1911 January 31, p. 10. The moving permit mentions Turner Street but that is simply a clerical error; the block and lot number on the permit correspond to 1760 (or 1758) Barnard (now Adanac) Street, just half a block from its original position.
  12. This paragraph and several that follow owe much to information kindly supplied by Pastor Trevor, the current leader of the congregation.
  13. For services see for example listing in Province 1929 April 14, p. 5; “Hollander church” in City Directory 1927. Juliana visit: Province 1944 Feb 7, p.5; Sun 1944 Feb 7, p. 11
  14. Province 1948 Oct 15, p.50

GWAC & The Future of Grandview, Part 2

March 8, 2022

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Last night was the monthly meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council. The main speaker was architect and urban thinker Brian Palmquist who, with a variety of graphs, tables, and analysis destroyed the phony narrative that Vancouver is short of housing supply.

As many urbanists — those not in the thrall of the rampant real estate industry — have noted over the years (see, for example, here and here), Brian conclusively proved that over the last decade or more, we have already built and/or approved more housing units than we should need for any reasonable population increase into the 2030s at least.

Moreover, he explained in detail how the City and its planners have consistently refused to share the data needed to contradict the developers’ build-build-build frenzy. Rather, they have deliberately employed tactics of distraction and sleight-of-hand to obfuscate and confuse the public; and by these means have worked hand-in-glove with the development industry to create a situation where the average family in Vancouver, priced out of the market, can no longer even dream of owning their own home.

Palmquist was indeed the main speaker last night, but the meeting was heavily attended, and a great number of the participants added their own useful thoughts and comments. It was a lively and highly valuable couple of hours.

GWAC’s AGM in early April will feature Andy Yan, Vancouver’s own maven of urban data, during which even more of this vital material will be brought into the light of day.

Brian Palmquist is a regular contributor to CityHallWatch.


Shine at Britannia!

March 7, 2022

The Spring Equinox is a returning of light, a shift from winter to spring. We invite you to celebrate with us and share our stories with each other through music, art, dance, food and togetherness. The market will feature the works of local artisans, delectable food, community tables, and activities—it’s our time to shine again.

Bring your instruments for a chance to play. Get ready to sing, dance, and clap!

RSVP to the Facebook event here.


GWAC and the Future of Grandview

March 7, 2022

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Changes On The Drive #126

March 5, 2022

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I have had a number of correspondents write to me asking where this month’s Changes on the Drive edition is. Unfortunately, after more than ten years of monthly reporting, I am no longer physically able to walk the walk that makes it happen.

Especially now that the Drive is reviving from the pandemic slump, I shall miss cataloguing the changes and tracking the vacant storefront. I will do my best to report what I can see each month, but it is unlikely I can go into the detail that I like to produce.

Here are a couple of items I had planned to feature this month:

At 2247 Commercial, Juno Provisions opened a couple of months ago. Scout magazine had an interesting article about them.

Image: Scout

Also, at 1590 Commercial, we now have Hanai, a Hawai’ian themed restaurant that opened earlier this week. Once again, Scout has a piece on the refurbishing of the old Ugly Dumpling spot.

Image: Scout

I feel sure there were plenty more interesting items available this month on the Drive and I am sad not to be able to bring them to this space.

I want to thank the many people who read this column every month, many of whom sent me tips and stories.

Previous Changes on the Drive editions


Art at Britannia: Call for Indigenous Artists

March 4, 2022

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In June of each year, the Britannia Art Gallery hosts an exhibition in conjunction with National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) that features work by Indigenous artists. This year, the gallery invites emerging Indigenous artists who are just starting out in their careers to submit work in the following mediums to be featured in the exhibition: 

  • 2D work
  • Moving images (film/animation)
  • Small-scale 3D work to exhibit within the gallery’s display case.

Honorarium: $300

This call is open to all emerging Indigenous artists. You do not need to live or work within East Vancouver to apply. Full submission details can be found at https://britanniaartgallery.weebly.com/submissions.html

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Where Are Our Parks?

March 1, 2022

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Vancouver City Council today received and approved a report on parks in the city. The report included a 37-page listing of all the permanent and designated parks (see here: https://council.vancouver.ca/20220301/documents/r8.pdf).

I read the report with interest but noted that two important Grandview parks (Salsbury Park at Salsbury & Adanac, and Mosiac Creek Park on Charles Street) were missing from the inventory.

Given the historical rapacity with which CoV Planning and their developer buddies treat our neighbourhood, the absence of these parks from an official inventory is worrying, to say the least. I have written to Parks Board for their comments but have yet to hear from them.


GWAC and the Future of Grandview

February 28, 2022

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A Lost Church Found

February 20, 2022

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“You have a very nice, bright little church here — even if it is out in the stumps,” declared Rev. Merton Smith as he preached the afternoon sermon of the Park Drive Methodist Church on Sunday 26th June, 1904. (1)

The brand new Park Drive branch of the Princess Street Methodist Church had been erected “on the fringe of the City’s populated district” standing “almost alone in the midst of what remains of a one-time huge forest. Burned and charred stumps, an undergrowth of green shoots, and a rough newly-opened road” surrounded the building. Though there were very few houses within shouting distance of the new church, there “poured forth a goodly number of persons who filled the new building to overflowing both at the morning and afternoon services.”

The idea for a new church had arisen the previous fall. At a meeting of the Quarterly Official Board of the Princess Street Methodist Church in November of 1903, it was noted that “the far east [of Vancouver] is so rapidly building up that it will ere long boast a not inconsiderable population.” They were already overcrowded at Princess Street, and had moved their Sunday school into rented space at the old Episcopal church building on Campbell Avenue. However, the Board members decided the rent money would be put to better use paying for another church that would be their own property, and realtor J.B. Mathers was contacted to assist them in this endeavour. (2)

Mathers secured for them two lots on the northeast corner of Park Drive and Barnard Street. After some delay while the property owners were contacted in England, the lots were purchased for $350 which was advanced by eight church members. Robert Clarke, secretary of the Princess Street church, then wrote to the Vancouver Board of Works (BOW) requesting that Park Drive be opened from Venables Street north to Powell. The BOW wouldn’t go that far, but agreed to open the street from Venables to Barnard. Later, the BOW also approved the laying of a sidewalk from Venables to the new church. (3)

On 14th April 1904, the Church was issued a building permit. They had secured a contract with builder A.E. Carter who agreed to construct the building for $1,000. A few weeks later, two dozen members of the Princess Street congregation “took a holiday” and cleared the lots. (4)

By June, the building was ready, with workers busy until nine o’clock the night before the dedication completing the final touches. Even after that late hour, Trustees William Raine and J.W. Burns had worked to clean up and decorate the interior with “a mass of flowers gathered by the children of east end families.” (5)

The 11:00am dedication service was supervised by Rev. J.F. Betts, chairman of the Vancouver Methodist district. He arrived ten minutes late, “mopping his brow” with heavy perspiration, having walked through the hot morning all the way from Greer’s Beach in Kitsilano where he and his family were currently camping. Notwithstanding his exertions, Betts was “in one of his happiest sermon moods” and the service, enliven by the Princess Street choir, was “thoroughly enjoyed” by the congregation of about 175 people. A similar number came for the afternoon service given by Rev. Smith.

At the services on that day, the church managed to raise $227.45 which was paid to the builder’s account. Church officials stated their hope that “in five years they will have paid every cent of debt on the new building.”  We can only assume that Carter the builder was an amiable chap.

The pastor of the new church, Rev. R. Newton Powell, was a 36-year old Englishman. He had spent seven years on church work in the West Indies where he married. In 1897 they moved to British Columbia on account of Mrs. Powell’s health, and he had served at various locations in the interior before coming to Princess Street. He is described as “a thoughtful, forceful, and flowery preacher with a thoroughly evangelical ring about him.”(6)

Rev. Powell was eventually replaced by Mr. Van Dyke, “a returned missionary from Japan on furlough”, who supervised the church for about a year. He then gave way to Rev. J.J. Nixon.  In 1908, the Park Street Church became independent of Princess Street, and the Rev. R.S. Stillman was installed as pastor, supervising Sunday School attendances of up to 200. It was already clear that a larger building was urgently required and three lots were purchased on Venables Street at the corner of Victoria Drive, where a $5,000 church was dedicated in March 1909, and the Park Drive Church was abandoned. (7)

Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate any photographs of the Park Drive Church. I assume the original building was rapidly dismantled as it does not appear on the 1912 Goad’s map.  The lots have been empty since then, and were partly subsumed beneath the Commercial Drive Diversion that was built in 1931. The remainder now forms part of the parking lot on the west side of the Drive between Venables and Adanac.

Notes:

(1) Commercial Drive prior to 1911 was called Park Drive. Descriptions of the dedicatory ceremony are from Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3, and the Western Methodist Recorder 1904 July. The author thanks Blair Galston, United Church Conference Archivist for this latter reference.

(2) Vancouver World 1903 November 20, p.6; 1904 June 27, p.3

(3) The intersection is currently known as Commercial Drive and Adanac Street. The lots were DL 183 Block 9D, Lot 1-2. “$350”: Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3. Board of Works: Minutes 3 Mar, and 2 June 1904, CVA, MCR-36 Roll 2; Vancouver World, 4 Mar 1904, p.5, June 3, p.5; News-Advertizer, 4 Mar 1904, p.4, 11 Mar p.5

(4)  “holiday”: Vancouver World 1904 June 27, p.3

(5)  Other Trustees included Victor Odlum, J. Horner, Alderman Angus MacDonald, and Robert G. Clarke.

(6)  Vancouver World 1904, June 27, p.3

(7) Vancouver World 1909 Mar 6, p.13. The “new” church is now the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.


Grandview Housing Prices, 1918-1946

February 17, 2022

Here I present some preliminary research on house prices in Grandview from 1918 to 1946.

Select graph for a better view.

The data is drawn from real estate ads in the “Vancouver Daily World“, “Province” and “Sun” newspapers.  The data was filtered to include only those ads that (1) related to property in Grandview; (2) were for a house (rather than an apartment building or business); and (3) listed a price.

The high point for average prices between the wars was in 1923, and the nadir was in 1935.  The average price in 1935 was 60% lower than in 1923.

The Great Depression, from 1929/30, had an obvious effect on prices.  However, the graph shows that the decline in prices began almost a decade earlier. Similarly, the effects of the second world war (an increase in Vancouver’s population for war work, the inclusion of more women in the paid work force, and emergency tenancy regulations) greatly stimulated house prices. However, here, too, we see that the increase had begun before the war.