What I Do

March 26, 2017

Here on the blog I have a great time publishing my photographs, playing music, beating up on senseless developers and crony-politicians, talking about art, celebrating the odd anniversary, and whatever else comes up. It’s play time.

But each day, whether it is for a long time, or just an hour, I work on my history projects; and this is the real work on which I am engaged. To me, it is a bit like playing the piano — you have to practice every day to keep the muscles limber and the mind sharp.

Much of this effort goes into the Grandview Database. I am currently working on the next version which will be published on 1st April. There are several lifetimes of material still available to be loaded into the database and by that means made easily available to anyone who wants to look. If anything is to be my legacy, I suspect that is it.

But I am also keen to produce another book, this one covering the birth of Grandview from 1860 to 1935 (which will tie in with my earlier book, “The Drive“, which starts in 1935.) To that end, I wrote a book-length series of essays last year, but it didn’t work for me (or my readers), as the book tried to cover the entire period from 1900 to 1970 and there was significant overlap with the earlier book. So, I have begun to rework the material into a more focused and recognizably narrative form, and my plan is to publish drafts of it serially at Grandview Heritage Group as I complete sections  The first part was published today.

In the end, the entire work will be produced as a book. But I hope both those interested in the subject and I will gain something from the serial publishing idea.



Essays To Come

December 5, 2016

My writing here has been a little less than usual these last couple of months. That is because I have been working on completing my new book: “Grandview: Collected Historical Essays.” The main draft is now complete and I have this week sent out the manuscript to selected professional readers for critical comment. Given that the readers don’t tell me to rip the whole thing up and start again, the plan is to have this in stores by the end of January.

For those interested, the Table of Contents looks like this:

  • John Mason’s House (1891)
  • Creating Grandview (1900-1907)
  • A Little Church In The Stumps (1904-1909)
  • Crime Story I: Wild West and Big City (1910)
  • Boom and Bust (1907-1913)
  • Early Retail on Commercial Drive (1905-1915)
  • Demographics of Commercial Drive in 1910
  • Grandview’s Parks (1890-1930)
  • The Bufton Family (1923-1985)
  • The Viaduct That Saved Grandview (1938)
  • Lawn Bowling Leads to Rock and Roll (1930-1965)
  • Crime Story 2: Just Like In The Movies (1949)
  • The Fight Over The School Site (1940-1955)
  • The Library Saga (1929-1975)
  • Crime Story 3: Robbery Central (1940s, 1950s)
  • The Acronyms of Activism (1907-1967)
  • Getting To Today.

When it becomes available, I will post another notice.

Happy Anniversary To Me!

September 23, 2016

On 23rd September 2001, I started my first blog. It was on Blogspot. In 2004, I switched to Typepad, and in 2008 came to rest at WordPress (thus, the v.3 in the title of the blog).

Before that, from the late 1980s through the 1990s, I had operated a number of Bulletin Board Services (BBS) both for myself and for others, and had then been active with some of the early online communities (UTNE Cafe, Brainstorms, etc).

So, today is the 15th anniversary of me on blogs. I’ve had a lot of fun and hopefully, if only for a moment or two, I have managed to reach out and touch someone.

An Historical Day

March 31, 2015

Out bright and early this morning, to get to the Nikkei Centre in Burnaby by 9.  Michael drove, while Penny and I complained about planning and suburbia.  We were there to witness and cheer on the final student project presentations for the UBC Geog 429 course taught by David Brownstein.

For each of the last few years, Professor Brownstein has linked up his final year students one-on-one with a wide variety of community groups, to conduct a research project suggested by the group and accepted by the student. This was the third year the Grandview Heritage Group (GHG) has participated. The first two years were not entirely successful; but this year we struck gold with Kevin Shackles.

The project he agreed to undertake was a review history of the corner grocery stores in Grandview (not those on the Drive or Hastings) and to track their decline into non-existence.

Kevin really threw himself into this project and met with several of us on several occasions for discussions and suggestions.  His presentation this morning was excellent, polished and focused.  He will be making a more detailed presentation to the next meeting of GHG and we will publish his final papers on our website.  The final paper will include a detailed spreadsheet covering the histories of all the grocery stores that used to colour our neighbourhood.

There were a total of 10 presentations this morning, covering subjects as diverse as the Point Atkinson military park, the history of air pollution in Vancouver, and a study of social divides in northern canneries and fisheries. Good stuff, all of them.

So, a good morning, and I was planning to come straight home and write about it. But in the car coming back, I had a small epiphany about how to handle a particular part of my current research, and as soon as I was home, I was buried deep within the 1901 Census of Vancouver and hardly came up for air until now.

A day full of history, and all the better for it.

Into Research Mode

March 11, 2015

Well, I’m back at my back at one of my favourite perches — looking at the minutiae of East Vancouver history (1888-1915) through the lens of the contemporary daily newspapers. That’s a good thing, especially for the new book I am planning. Trouble is, it takes up most of my time and most of my intellectual energy, so posts on other topics here may well be few and far between.  We’ll see how I do with that.

There will still be the music and image posts on alternate days; poetry on Mondays; environmental stuff on Fridays; Changes on the Drive on the first of each month, and posts on celebratory and other memorable days.  To my coterie of regular readers, I hope that is enough for the time being.

Thanks for viewing!

The Drive” at Canterbury Tales Bookstore!

March 2, 2015

Big shout out to Canterbury Tales bookstore at 2010 Commercial Drive who just placed a big order for copies of my “The Drive” history today!

The book is currently available locally at Canterbury Tales, the People’s Coop Bookstore, and Super-Valu.

Call Out For Great Service

December 16, 2014

There are a lot of reasons to dislike Amazon. I certainly don’t use them to buy books because I prefer to support my local bookstores and our wonderful library system.  However, I do use Amazon to print my self-published books through their Print-On-Demand service called Createspace.

Creatspace is an excellent service for authors, but I am here today to praise not them but DHL, the shipping company.

I ordered a new batch of “The Drive” on Sunday afternoon, choosing the cheaper of the two delivery options.  By Monday morning the books had been printed in New Jersey and picked up by DHL.  By 2 this afternoon the package arrived at my house in Vancouver and I have my books ready for Christmas sale.

That’s damn efficient service by any measure.  Well done!