King George VI and Queen Elizabeth greeting veterans during their 1939 tour of Canada. Prime Minister Mackenzie King is seen at far left. (photo: www.nfpl.library.on.ca)
Ballantyne Pier today
[Photo: www.mauricejassak.com]

A note to readers: This is a first draft of the 1935 chapter proposed for the book. By the time the book appears in 2010 it may be much altered.

 

1935 (Sample Chapter)

On January 2, 1935 Gerry McGeer walked into his city hall office as mayor of Vancouver. He had received more votes in the civic election than any mayor before him, easily defeating L.D. Taylor.

More has been written about Gerry McGeer than any other Vancouver mayor. “McGeer,” wrote Donna Jean McKinnon in The Greater Vancouver Book, “was voted into office on a mandate to fight crime, and to do away with slot machines, gambling, book-making, white slavery and corruption in the police force. True to his promise, he confiscated 1,000 slot machines in his first week.”

A bizarre note was struck four days after McGeer took office when he decreed a day of prayer for forgiveness of city sins. (It was also his birthday. He turned 47.)

“His extraordinarily zealous and vigorous management style,” McKinnon wrote, “led many to call him a megalomaniac.”

TIME Magazine was only slightly kinder: they called him “big, shrewd and bumptious.” My Webster’s defines “bumptious” as “presumptuously, obtusely and often noisily self-assertive.” McGeer got an early opportunity to show that assertiveness when in the spring hundreds of relief camp men—organized by the Workers’ Unity League (WUL)—began to converge on Vancouver from the interior. By the beginning of April they numbered in the thousands, holding parades and demonstrations on city streets and in parks. They occupied the Hudson’s Bay store (where they did $5,000 damage) and the Carnegie Library. The WUL had been organized in 1929 by Communists and leftist allies to provide an alternative to mainstream trade unions, and became the most visible labor organization in Canada during the early years of the Depression. It worked to organize semiskilled and unskilled as opposed to crafts workers, and was particularly active among miners and lumber workers.

A Page One story June 4, 1935 in the Province gives an indication of the fertile ground the WUL found for exploitation: “A total of 6,255 single men were in relief camps in British Columbia last December 31, and 3,536 last April 30, according to a return tabled in the House of Commons.”

In his history of BC, George Woodcock reminds us that in the spartan setting of the camps, “the men were given uncomfortable bunkhouse accommodation, food, medical care and 20 cents a day for a 44-hour work week, clearing brush, making roads and reforesting. They were free to leave when they wished, but there was nowhere they could go to get work.” On April 23 a huge demonstration formed at Victory Square. The men decided to send a delegation to pay a call on Mayor McGeer at city hall (then in the Holden Building, at 16 East Hastings.) He told them he could do nothing. They left unsatisfied, and ten of them were arrested for vagrancy outside the building. McGeer travelled the three blocks east to Victory Square, to find himself facing an angry crowd—estimates of up to 2,000 have been cited—and read the Riot Act, calling on the crowd to disperse. He was nervous, onlookers said, and his voice was almost impossible to hear. That night, police raided worker headquarters, a riot ensued and police on horseback were called out to quash it.

McGeer was both praised and vilified for his reading of the Riot Act. Your opinion depended on your status, with, as McKinnon writes, “Mayor McGeer firmly entrenched on the side of the moneyed interests of the city fearful of Communist takeover, while alienating many would-be supporters who sympathized with the strikers.”

Many of the men protesting the lack of work (unemployment in BC in 1935 was 19 per cent) and the relief camp conditions were in the crowd of a thousand unemployed men who boarded freight cars in Vancouver on June 3 to begin the famous “On To Ottawa” trek. They intended to get a meeting with Prime Minister R.B. Bennett. They didn’t make it. On orders from Ottawa the RCMP stopped the trek at Regina. On July 1 there was a violent clash between some of the trekkers and their supporters and the RCMP. The “Regina Riot” resulted in the death of one plainclothesman and one trekker. The riot would be a factor in the decisive defeat of the Bennett government in the federal election October 14, won by Mackenzie King’s Liberals—who would replace the relief camps with a better system.

Some of these same men would later be volunteers for the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, who in 1937 would fight on the Republican government side in the Spanish Civil War against Franco.


Battle of Ballantyne Pier

Battle of Ballantyne Pier  

Local unrest peaked June 18 when a parade of a thousand striking waterfront workers marched into what has come to be known as the Battle of Ballantyne Pier. There had been a strike-lockout situation for two weeks on the waterfront prior to the Battle. Leading the parade, wearing his Victoria Cross (awarded for bravery at Vimy Ridge in August, 1917) and Military Medal and carrying the Union Jack, was James “Mickey” O’Rourke. This is a man who deserves a book of his own! He was the second-most decorated man in the Canadian armed forces, behind only air ace Billy Bishop. Described as “a hard-drinking, hard-playing, no-nonsense type, who often seemed hard pressed to hold his tongue,” O’Rourke had often been punished for drunkenness while in the army. Now he worked, when he could, on the Vancouver waterfront. It was his popularity, and the fact that he volunteered, that led to him being in the vanguard of the strikers, mostly longshoremen, who were demanding, among other things, wage increases, union recognition and the dismissal of strike breakers.

 
 

James “Mickey” O’Rourke

Other First World War veterans were marching beside O’Rourke. The demonstrators were met by brand-new police chief W.W. “Billy” Foster, standing in front of a big contingent of city police. Foster told the men to stop. When they refused, the protesters were attacked with clubs by the police ranked behind the chief. (One report on the melee says Foster pulled Mickey O’Rourke aside to safety.) Within minutes, more police joined in the fight. Besides the city police, there were contingents from the BC Provincial Police, who had been waiting unseen behind boxcars, and the RCMP. The police chased the crowd as it dispersed, clubbing them as they fled and firing tear gas. “Some protesters fought back,” says one web site about the melee, “throwing rocks and other projectiles at the police. The battle went on for three hours and spread throughout the nearby residential district. Several people, both police and protesters, were hospitalized as a result of the riot, and one young demonstrator was shot in the back of his legs by a police shotgun. The strikers’ headquarters were raided, with tear gas shot through the windows to drive out any occupants before the police entered. Strike supporters set up a makeshift hospital at the Ukrainian Hall, and the police did the same for their wounded at the Coroner's Court on Cordova Street. In total, 28 out of the 60 injured were hospitalized and 24 men were arrested.”

The Battle of Ballantyne Pier was over, and the longshoremen had lost. But they would keep up the fight for better working conditions and their own independent union, and would get it ten years later with the formation of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 500.


New City Hall proposed

Another challenge for McGeer arose with his proposal to build a new city hall. Since 1929 Vancouver’s city hall had been the Holden Building at 16 East Hastings (still there, but now known as the Tellier Tower). What led to controversy was McGeer’s preferred location: the northeast corner of Cambie Street and West 12th Avenue, occupied by Strathcona Park. Squabbles over city hall’s location had been going on for years, with many plumping for a downtown site, but Strathcona Park was favored by McGeer for several reasons. It was high, so the building would be seen from many parts of the city, and would itself provide good views. The land was already owned by the city, and there would be lots of room for the building and landscaped grounds around it. It would spark an extension of the Cambie streetcar line and that, in turn, would spur development of the area.

In addition, McGeer wanted to cement links with the recently (1929) amalgamated municipalities of Point Grey and of South Vancouver, the northern boundary of which had been just four blocks to the south on 16th Avenue.

A special ‘baby bond’ issue was announced to raise money for the $2 million building, and they went on sale June 11. (‘Baby bonds’ are so called because they are low-cost, usually under $500.)

Much of the opposition to the Strathcona site came from the business community. Businessmen wanted city hall downtown so they wouldn’t have to go so far to get to it. City archives files yield, for example, a June 25, 1935 letter to McGeer from the Vancouver Real Estate Exchange, saying “the Strathcona Park site is not, from many points of view, the best site for the new city hall.” An unnamed member of the Board of Trade scrawled across the back of a form appealing for bond purchases that “the location selected is a most unpopular choice, and many would-be subscribers have withheld their subscriptions on that account.”

Still another letter harrumphed, “We do not relish the idea of going some two-and-a-half miles from the centre of the business section of this city to do business in this proposed new city ‘pile.’ Change your location to the Central School site, and we do not think you will have too much trouble selling your bonds.”

If those businessmen had won, city hall today would be in that “Central School site,” the block bounded by Pender, Dunsmuir, Cambie and Hamilton, and immediately north of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

McGeer, as he usually did, prevailed. Ground was broken October 5 at Strathcona Park to mark the beginning of construction of the new city hall, the city’s sixth. The silver spade used in the ceremony to start the digging was presented by freshman Alderman Halford Wilson to a beaming Mayor McGeer. McGeer also led the decision to accept the building design submitted by the architectural firm of Townley Matheson.

That design was not greeted with unanimous cries of admiration.

One letter to the mayor read: “Have you no eye for beauty? Why put up an eyesore and . . . a pile of concrete like that modernistic monstrosity pictured in the local papers? It looks just like Nelson’s Laundry. It is a crime to put up a filthy looking structure like that . . . On such a beautiful site it is doubly bad.”

Architectural historian Harold Kalman, in his invaluable book on the city’s buildings, Exploring Vancouver, says of Vancouver’s city hall: “The hard-edged classicism of the austere white walls and column-like shafts appears in government buildings of the 1930s from Munich to Moscow.”

The building would open for business December 1, 1936.


Ward System Ended

Later in December city voters decided to end the ward system. A 1981 MA thesis by UBC student Andrea Barbara Smith, titled “The Origins of the NPA: A Study in Vancouver Politics 1930-1940” tells the story: “Vancouver citizens voted in favor of change in December 1935. Turnout for the plebiscite was low—only 19 per cent—but the average percentage of voters in favor varied little from ward to ward with a city-wide average of 69 percent supporting the introduction of an at-large electoral system. In March 1936, the provincial government amended the Charter to abolish wards.” In a footnote on page 53, Ms. Smith quotes City Clerk Fred Howlett from a Vancouver Sun story December 11, 1935 on the low voter turnout: “[I]nterest in the election seemed slacker than he had ever seen in his experience dating back to 1910, including 24 previous contests.’ Explanations offered: ‘no popular public issue’ and ‘light rain.’”

December was also the month that Ottawa was reported to be considering raising unemployment insurance to $10 per week, to give people out of work the same income as old age pensioners.

Another indication of the tough times: the 1935 appropriation for the Vancouver Public Library was nine cents more than it had been the year before.

And The Vancouver Sun had its tongue firmly in its cheek in this March 13 report on the savings to the city that occurred when the CPR’s cross-town tunnel opened in 1933. “Because the tunnel eliminated level crossings at Pender Street near Carrall, the city didn't have to keep a signalman there. Because no watchman is needed, no shelter for him is necessary. Because no shelter is required, no lease for the necessary land from the CPR need be continued . . . Because the city is no longer a CPR tenant, it doesn't have to pay the $1-per-year rental.”

On March 19 Thomas Owen Townley, former Vancouver mayor (a one-year term in 1901), died in Florida at age 72. After losing in a bid for a second term he became registrar of land titles in Vancouver, a position he had held previously in New Westminster. He had run for a Vancouver seat in the provincial election of 1916, but finished last. He was remembered as the commander of Vancouver's first militia, and as the father of Fred L. Townley of the aforementioned architectural firm Townley Matheson. And you’ll meet him again in this chapter.

1935 was, incidentally, the year in which an invasion of Canada was planned . . . if one is to believe the reports. It’s said that December 18 was the date this year that the G-2 intelligence division at the U.S. Army War College submitted a secret plan to invade us. Rather than direct you to an Internet site that outlines the plan, we suggest you go to a search engine, enter “invasion of Canada 1935" and take your pick of the many sites that discuss it. Vancouver and Victoria were to be attacked “along Puget Sound through Everett and Bellingham, supported by an attack by water in Puget Sound.”


Sports

  Jimmy McLarnin
  Jimmy McLarnin

The big local sports item of 1935 was, sadly, not a good one. Vancouver boxer Jimmy McLarnin (right), 27, lost his world welterweight boxing title again, this time for good. In 1933 he’d won the welterweight championship, kayoing Young Corbett. Then he lost the championship to Barney Ross in May, 1934, regained it from Ross in September, 1934, and lost it, again to Ross, in May of this year. Jimmy would retire in 1936.

You lose some, you win some. On September 5 Charlotte Acres became the first Canadian girl to win a world professional swimming championship. At the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, she won the five-mile swimming championship.

The Terminal City Lawn Bowling Club was built at 1650 West 14th Avenue. It’s a heritage structure today. Parts of Robert Altman’s 1969 movie, That Cold Day in the Park, would be filmed there.

England’s Joyce Wethered, 34, considered by many the best female golfer ever, broke the course record at Jericho with a 73. (An indication of her skill: the great golfer Bobby Jones said: “I have never played against anyone and felt so outclassed . . . she is the best golfer in the world.”) The Jericho course no longer exists. But the Fraserview course does. Fraserview was the first public golf course in Vancouver; it opened this year on SE Marine Drive between Kerr and Elliott Streets. Curiously, it has also received designation as a certified Audubon sanctuary as a significant habitat for birds in an urban setting!

The Quilchena Golf Club gave up its land in 1935 and the CPR's Land Department subdivided it, and would later name streets to commemorate the following: Brakenridge (after Charles Brakenridge, city engineer), Edgar Crescent (named for Robert McBeth Edgar, a long-time member of the Civic Zoning Appeal Board), Haggart (for Andrew Haggart, building inspector), McMullen (James McMullen was a CPR solicitor), McBain (for Clark McBain, CPR land agent), and Townley (for Thomas Owen Townley, cited above.)

Public tennis courts were opened opposite Exhibition Park this year, and a horseshoe pitch opened in Burnaby's Central Park. It had been built by residents on relief, or working out delinquent taxes.

In badminton, Eileen Underhill, who had been four times B.C. mixed doubles champions (1928-31) did it again this year. Her partner was husband Jack Underhill, an inductee in the BC Sports Hall of Fame.


Entertainment

The Kitsilano Showboat started this year, a forum for amateur talent that continues to this day. To celebrate the memory of Arthur W. Delamont and the founding of his Kitsilano Boys Band, there was an 80th anniversary band concert there on July 7, 2008.

Dick Powell  

Dick Powell

 

On Friday, November 15 a new movie opened at the Orpheum, a musical called Shipmates Forever. “Replete with thrills and romance and infectious songs, the life of the naval cadet (played by Dick Powell, pictured left) is presented in all its vivid colors . . . Ruby Keeler was never more winsome and charming . . .” A 12-year-old boy and his dad have just come out of the Orpheum and are walking home past the F.W. Woolworth store. In the window is a musical hit parade display, including a shiny new 78-rpm record of a song from that movie, Dick Powell singing Don’t Give Up the Ship. The boy turns to his dad and pleads for 35 cents to buy the record. And that is how the record-collecting career of Jack Cullen began. Cullen will grow up to become one of the city’s iconic radio personalities. His collection of records, transcriptions and discs would become one of the world's largest, and his late-night CKNW show, The Owl Prowl, would be hugely successful.

And speaking of big collections, the BC Archives has substantial holdings of radio broadcast recordings from privately-owned radio stations in Vancouver, Victoria and the BC interior, as well as the CBC. These include acetate disc recordings from the period 1935 to 1960. Any future history of broadcasting in Vancouver would do well to remember them.

The remarkable Ivan Ackery became manager of the Orpheum Theatre this year, and would hold that title until 1969.

Frank William Hart, theatre entrepreneur, died May 4 in Prince Rupert, aged 78. Hart was born June 1, 1856 in Illinois. His Swedish family came here from the US. “In December 1887,” Constance Brissenden wrote in The Greater Vancouver Book, “he built Vancouver's first theatre, Hart's Opera House on Carrall Street, presenting amateur shows, touring companies, variety and vaudeville. Dubbed ‘the skating rink,’ the 15-metre by 40-metre arena housed 800 theatregoers or 250 roller skaters. When the Imperial Opera House opened in April 1889 Hart's closed. The building became a furniture warehouse. By 1912 Hart had moved to Prince Rupert and began selling furniture.”

The Lyric Theatre on Granville Street opened July 26 to feature movies. It had opened in 1891 as the Vancouver Opera House, later (1913) became the Orpheum—not the present one—with vaudeville acts. The Lyric would close in December of 1960 before being demolished in the development of Pacific Centre.

Visiting author Will Durant spoke at the Auditorium in 1935, the year the first volume of Durant’s monumental The Story of Civilization appeared. Durant, an American whose parents were both originally from Quebec, and his wife Ariel, would produce 11 volumes in that series.

The Highland Association (An Cumunn Gaidhealch) held the B.C. Gaelic Mbd in December 1935, the first annual Gaelic-language music and literary festival outside of the British Isles. Affiliated with the National Mbd in Scotland, the B.C. version regularly attracted entrants from all over North America. Today, Mbd Vancouver is a celebration of Scottish Gaelic music, language and culture held every second year.

Bandleader Mart Kenney and his Western Gentlemen orchestra gained national renown with a series of CBC radio programs, notably the Sunday night favorite Sweet and Low, which started this year. The show was broadcast live and heard right across the country from the second Hotel Vancouver's ritzy Spanish Grill. (In later years Kenney would again perform in the Spanish Grill, this time in the present Hotel Vancouver. That dining room is now called Griffins.)

The Fairleigh family built the Hollywood Theatre and began to run it this year. On the web site Cinematour, contributing writer Stephen Drake has this delightful passage:

“Nothing much has changed at the Hollywood Theatre since it opened for business in 1935. The original chandelier still lights up the small lobby. To the left, there's a staircase. On the first landing, a sign glows with the word ‘loge.’

“‘Not many people know that means balcony,’ says Dave Fairleigh, the current owner of a family business that has persevered for 69 years. ‘When my grandfather opened the theatre there was an extra charge of 10 cents to sit upstairs. He wanted the theatre to be a classy kind of place. He wanted every man to wear a tie and the women wearing skirts.

“‘When he saw young people necking in the balcony he would hand the young man a card that said, “Please treat your girl like she was your sister or your mother,” and he was deadly serious.’”

Vancouver’s Annie Charlotte Dalton, poet, was named a Member, Order of the British Empire, the only woman poet so honored at the time. She was born Annie Charlotte Armitage in Birkby, Huddersfield, England, and came to Canada in 1904. By then she was married to businessman Willie Dalton. He became an executive with Mainland Transfer. Dalton’s public success as a poet was somewhat curtailed by her deafness. A tiny sample of her poetry (from The Robin’s Egg):

So strangely are we made that I must know
Why this small thing doth move me so;
Why, for an amulet, I fain would beg
The turquoise of some robin’s egg

High Bluff, Manitoba-born Ira Dilworth left his job as a popular UBC associate professor of English this year to direct the Bach Choir.


A Famous Murder

Francis Mawson Rattenbury  

F.M. Rattenbury

 

On March 28, 1935 F.M. Rattenbury, 67, the architect who gave Vancouver the courthouse later occupied by the Vancouver Art Gallery, was murdered. Francis Mawson Rattenbury, born October 11, 1867 in Leeds, England came to B.C. at 25 and was quickly commissioned to design the provincial legislature, then the Empress Hotel, later the Vancouver courthouse. But then commissions began drying up, and “Ratz” got into real trouble when he began an affair with a married woman named Alma Pakenham. They both divorced and fled to England where the 19-year-old family chauffeur, who had started getting it on with Alma, bashed in Rattenbury’s head with a mallet. After the trial Alma—not knowing that her young lover had been spared the death penalty, and sentenced to life in prison—committed suicide. The playwright Terence Rattigan wrote a play, his last, about the incident. Cause Celebre premiered in 1977. And Terry Reksten has written an excellent book, Rattenbury (1998), on the whole affair.


Civic Matters

Bristol-born W.W. Foster, about 60, became Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police Department, succeeding John Cameron. William Wasbrough Foster, known as ‘Billy’ to friends, had a really interesting and variegated background: he’d come to BC in 1894 and got into the lumber business. Then he worked as a superintendent for the CPR, and as a police magistrate in Revelstoke. Next he was manager of a lumber company on Vancouver Island. He was president of BC’s Conservative Party, was elected an MLA in 1913 and, just prior to the First World War, was BC’s (deputy) minister of public works. He was a keen mountain climber, was part of the first teams to climb Mount Robson and Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan. During the Great War Foster fought in Europe, reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order). He would be the Military Commander of Western Canada during the Second World War, with the rank of Major-General. As recounted above, Foster had a baptism of fire with the Battle of Ballantyne Pier. He would meet up with angry unemployed men again in 1938.

A tragic event this year—two children were killed by a car as they attempted to cross Burrard Street at Comox to attend Dawson School—resulted in the creation of the Vancouver School Boy Patrol. The program saw student boys manning crosswalks near the schools to stop traffic and allow the kids to cross. (Girls would be added to the program in 1953.) This may have been the first program of its kind in Canada. The project got its start in Chicago, Illinois in 1920 after the deaths of 180 child pedestrians in one year.

Aberdeen-born Archie McDiarmid, 52, became chief of the Vancouver Fire Department on December 28. McDiarmid had been with the VFD since 1907. He succeeded Charlton William “C.W.” Thompson, and would serve as chief until 1941.

On March 1 the B.C. Provincial Police took over from Burnaby municipal police, and they would enforce the law in Burnaby until August, 1950 when the RCMP took over.

George Henry Cowan died in Vancouver September 20. He was a lawyer, author and public speaker. An anti-Asiatic, he drafted the Chinese Head Tax law. Cowan was a founder of Vancouver's Conservative Association, and MP for Vancouver from 1908 to 1911, when he chose not to seek re-election. He bought 1,000 acres of land on Bowen Island (Point Cowan), built cottages for visitors and ran a farm raising purebred Ayrshires. Cowan Road on Bowen Island is named for him.


Business

The Bank of Canada was founded in March, 1935, and opened a Vancouver office this year. (They also opened in eight other cities across the country.) Its first home in Vancouver would be in Page House, still there at 330 West Pender Street, famous for its stained-glass ceiling. Today the bank has its Vancouver headquarters on West Hastings Street.

Also in March, the California-based Standard Oil Company announced it would build a big million-dollar refinery on 55 acres it had bought at the north foot of Willingdon in Burnaby. The municipality’s Depression-squeezed residents welcomed that news. Burnaby was selling municipal lands to try to diversify the tax base and improve the local economy, and this was a signal success of that policy. The refinery, named ‘Stanovan’, would open in 1936 with the ability to produce 2,000 barrels a day, processed from California crude oil. The company began to introduce a new line of Chevron brand gasoline products in service stations opened throughout British Columbia, and acquired a tanker, the B.C. Standard, to bring the oil in.

There was bad news for William Shelly’s company, Grouse Mountain Highway and Scenic Resort Limited. The re-opening of the Second Narrows Bridge in 1934 had come too late for the firm. By the summer of 1935, even though 8,000 people were coming up the mountain every month, the company was unable to pay its bills. The property and everything on it—road, chalet, light and power lines, water and sewage systems, still-unfinished buildings and all—reverted to the District of North Vancouver for non-payment of $20,000 in taxes. The road up Grouse Mountain was ordered closed. It would stay closed for many years.

James Ramsay died November 22 this year. He was a biscuit maker . . . and more. Born December 16, 1866 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1891 or 1892 he moved to Vancouver and began Ramsay Bros. & Co., manufacturer of biscuits, candies and syrup. The factory bought out the four-storey Imperial Syrup Factory at 998 West Powell Street. Ramsay’s three brothers and one sister worked with him. He was a Vancouver alderman and a Liberal MLA (for Vancouver, from 1920 to 1924), retiring from the latter post because of ill health. Ramsay was chair of the Vancouver School Board for ten years, a president of the YMCA and served on the board of Vancouver General Hospital. His also served a term as president of the Canadian and the B.C. Manufacturer's Associations.

Sounding Board, a publication of the Vancouver Board of Trade, began in 1935. It’s still around, appears 11 times a year.

The Blue Cab taxi company was founded by A. Pashos. By April of 1960 it had grown to operate 48 cars, and would merge that year with the 62-car Black Top fleet under the latter name.

The Vancouver Sun began to campaign for a convention bureau. Said Alderman J.J. McRae: “Our merchants need the business that conventions bring, and our city can stand a little of the cheer that throngs of visitors bring to the city.”

John M. Buchanan—born in Steveston in 1898—was appointed general manager of B.C. Packers. He’d been with the firm since 1928, would eventually rise to become president. His name is much associated with UBC, and you’ll meet him again later in these pages.


Aviation deaths

There was tragedy at Alta Lake near Whistler July 31 when a Boeing flying boat piloted by W.R. McCluskey, manager of Pioneer Airways, crashed while attempting a take-off from the lake. The pilot didn’t have enough lift to clear the trees at the end of the lake, and in attempting to turn the plane to re-land on the lake side-slipped and plunged to the earth. Aboard were three passengers, UBC Dean Reginald W. Brock and his wife and a David Sloan. McCluskey and Brock, who were sitting in the cockpit, were killed upon impact. Mrs. Brock and Mr. Sloan were not killed in the crash but were severely injured; Mrs. Brock died en route to hospital, Sloan died 10 days later in hospital. Making the crash particularly tragic was the fact that two of the Brocks’ sons, David and Tommy, witnessed it. (David Brock (1910-1978) was a prominent Vancouver writer and broadcaster.) Reginald Brock had been one of Canada's leading geologists. He graduated from Queens with an MA in geology, and worked as a geologist with the Dawson Survey of B.C. (1897). He was chair of the geology department at Queens from 1902 to 1907, became Director of the Geological Survey of Canada from 1907 to 1914. Brock was one of the first four teachers hired by UBC president Frank Wesbrook. He was named dean of applied science but served in WWI before taking up his duties.

And in November aviator Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith—famous for being the first man to fly the Pacific (a non-solo flight)—went down somewhere in or near “the shark-infested Bay of Bengal.” He had been on a mail flight from Allahabad, India to Singapore, an over-water distance of 1,360 miles (2,188 km). Stories of Kingsford-Smith's disappearance dominated newspapers in late 1935. He was never found. The Vancouver connection is that he had lived here as a boy. At the suggestion of then Vancouver city archivist Major J. S. Matthews, an elementary school at 6901 Elliott in Vancouver was named for Kingsford-Smith. In June of 1959 a portrait of the flyer by Australian artist William Dargie was presented to the school.


Death on the water

The West Vancouver Museum web site www.wvma.net has this account of tragedy on Burrard Inlet: “At 8:47 am on Monday, February 4, 1935, in thick fog, the West Vancouver No. 5 ferry was westbound for the 14th Street terminus, reportedly on course, at a slow speed and approaching Prospect Point, when the sharp steel bow of the much bigger CPR ship Princess Alice loomed out of the fog. The Alice was inbound from Seattle, 47 minutes late. There was no time to try to dodge and the Alice's bow cut into the ferry at an acute angle on the port side of the after cabin. It was obvious that the ferry would sink immediately. Luckily she carried few passengers on that trip, and only one (the elderly Mrs. William E. Burritt) was trapped, below decks. The bow of the Alice pinned her against the side of the cabin. Captain Darius Smith , aided by mate Hayes and lookout Arnold Garthorne, made valiant efforts to free her but the ferry went down so fast that the others had to drag Capt. Smith out before he went down with her . . . The Alice lowered a boat, the ferry Sonrisa appeared, and the survivors were taken off the sinking No. 5 which ended up beached for the night off Brockton Point. She was a total loss but her almost new engines were salvaged and used in the Bonabelle.”


Obituaries

Besides those mentioned above, we lost a number of local notables in 1935. Among them was John Grove, lighthouse keeper. He died March 21, aged about 71. Grove was born in 1864 in London, Eng. He served as lighthouse keeper at Prospect Point, later at Brockton Point (1895-1930). >From 1888 he lived in a cottage on the rocks until the station was electrified in January 1926. “One of the lowest paid workers in Vancouver,” Constance Brissenden writes, “he received $25 per month but his station was coveted for its free housing and use of two acres in Stanley Park. To make extra money, Grove ran a lemonade stand for tourists until the park board complained and it was closed down.”

On May 4 Edward Faraday Odlum, author and scientist, died in Vancouver, aged 84. He was born November 27, 1850 in Tullamore, Ont., became a teacher. He came to Vancouver in April of 1889. Odlum built the first electric arc light used here (it was turned on for night-time football games) and the first public telephone. He owned extensive lands. In 1892 he was elected alderman in Vancouver. He was the author of A History of British Columbia (1906), and president of the Arts and Science Association of Vancouver. He was the father of Victor Odlum, soldier and publisher.

In December J.S. Ross, the first editor of the Vancouver Daily News (1886), died.

And architect Thomas Hooper died in Vancouver this year. Some of his work includes the Winch Building (now part of Sinclair Centre), the Spencer Building on Cordova, and the rear addition (Robson Street side) to the Vancouver Court House. A number of well-known architects apprenticed in his office, including J.Y. McCarter, architect of Vancouver’s Marine Building.


Fragments

A severe snow and ice storm, together with flooding, hit the Fraser Valley in January, cutting communication and transportation links and causing much other damage. On January 21 Vancouver got 43 centimetres (17 inches) of snow, with gale winds and a minus 26 Celsius temperature. That’s still the 24-hour record for snowfall. One result: the roof of the Hastings Park Forum collapsed. There were no injuries.

A Grand Rally of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides at Hastings Park on April 15 welcomed the visiting Lord and Lady Baden-Powell

In October work started on the Pattullo Bridge (it would open November 15, 1937).

There was serious flooding in Pitt Meadows. A rush of water down the Alouette caused water to come nearly as far as the Lougheed Highway and boats had to be used to rescue people and poultry.

A Croatian Cultural Hall was built in Vancouver, but it would close in 1946. Forest Lawn Memorial Park at 3789 Royal Oak Avenue in Burnaby was started by Albert F. Arnold.

Beta Sigma Phi, an international woman's organization founded in Abilene, Texas in 1931, established its first Canadian chapter when California member Rilla Billings moved to Vancouver with her family, “the only Beta Sigma Phi in a country of ten million.” Alice Keenleyside became the organization’s director. She was principal of St. Clare School for Girls in Vancouver.

In November the City of Vancouver Archives received a gift from the CPR: an inch of the rail from Craigellachie, site of The Last Spike.


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