Charles Kingsford-Smith The Pacific Cable Michael Kluckner - Vancouver Remembered The Marine Building
[People] [Events] [Books, etc.] [Places]

Archive - Events

CPR - A Movie Star!

The Great Barrier Movie Poster In 1937 movie stars Richard Arlen (American), Lilli Palmer (German) and Antoinette Cellier (British) starred in a filmed-in-and-around-Revelstoke production called Silent Barriers. (The original title was The Great Barrier.) It's about the building of the CPR through the Rockies. There are a lot of familiar names portrayed: William Van Horne, Sir John A. Macdonald, Major Rogers, James Hill . . . the movie plays fast and loose with the facts, but it's fun to watch.. . . Read all about it here »

The epoch that wasn't

Paul Whiteman Record Cover In 1930 Paul Whiteman's band was a very big deal. A Vancouver Sun story April 2 on his impending arrival from the States to play in the Vancouver Theatre referred to the April 4 visit as an “epoch . . . one of the outstanding events of Vancouver's musical history.” The visit “is being looked forward to by thousands of lovers of music. Booking is going ahead merrily at the box office . . .” . . . Alas, it was not to be. . . Read all about it here »

The Tobacco Road Incident

Erskine Caldwell The novel Tobacco Road had been out for 21 years, a play based on it ran on Broadway for 3,182 performances, and a movie had appeared in 1941, but when the stage production of the book by Erskine Caldwell (photo) on life in the southern USA hit Vancouver in 1953 there was one hell-thumpin’ ruckus in these here parts. Read all about it here »

Sliced Bread Makes its Appearance

Otto Rohwedder checks his invention 1937 was an active year in Vancouver: the Vancouver Sun was burned out of its 125 West Pender headquarters and moved across the street..., we elected our first woman alderman (Helena Gutteridge), the Pattullo Bridge opened, construction started on the Lions Gate Bridge, we celebrated the coronation of King George VI, the Cave Supper Club began and the Lougheed Highway was opened to traffic. But all of these events pale into insignificance compared to the introduction of . . . wait for it! Sliced bread. Read more here »

Bridges in Vancouver

Golden Ears Bridge The big new Golden Ears Bridge, connecting Surrey and the south shore of the Fraser to Maple Ridge, opened to vehicular traffic on June 16 and my wife Edna and I drove over it that day just to say we had. It’s a big, handsome structure, a kilometre long, and cost $800 million. We stopped for an ice cream treat on the north shore, then turned back. Read more here »

Live from Vancouver

Jack Benny and his radio show cast aboard a train at White Rock. On April 23, 1944 Jack Benny did his famous NBC radio show live from Vancouver to be broadcast all over North America. He brought his regular cast up from New York: Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Rochester, Dennis Day and announcer Don Wilson. What made the show particularly notable was that Mary Livingstone (real name Sadie Marks), although born in Seattle, had grown up in Vancouver. Read more here »

The Klondike Gold Rush

The Klondike Gold Rush I’ve been working on some research for the Association for Mining Exploration British Columbia (AME BC), and came across a book by Ernest Ingersoll (1852-1946) titled Gold Fields of the Klondike. It’s a fine little book, originally published in 1897 as Gold Fields of the Klondike and the Wonders of Alaska. Read more here »



Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith 1944 marks the dramatic entry into local history of New Westminster’s Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith. On October 21 Smokey, a Seaforth Highlander, aged 30, won the Victoria Cross for bravery in action in northern Italy. Read his story and more here »



Colin Preston looks through CBC's film vault.The 1951 census showed that Metropolitan Vancouver had a population of 584,830, just barely squeaking past 50 per cent of the province’s total of 1,165,200. These figures are a reminder of how rapidly the city’s suburbs have grown since 1951, when the population of the city totaled nearly 60 per cent of the metropolitan area. In 2007 the percentage was more like 27 per cent.... more »

Looking Through CBC's Film Archives

Colin Preston looks through CBC's film vault.“Imagine,” says the Vancouver Historical Society, “seeing King George VI and Queen Elizabeth being driven down Georgia Street in 1939 as thousands line the sidewalks and cheer . . . and all in colour!” That’s just one of the rare chunks of film shown February 22 at the Vancouver Museum. Colin Preston (left), the CBC's Vancouver archivist, has a fine collection of film clips from the past, so this was one of the VHS's more enjoyable events of the year.... more »

Vancouver Fire and Rescue: Early Days

1907 Seagrave FiretruckOn May 28, 1886, Vancouver's first fire department was formed. Sixteen days later, the little city burned to the ground. In the 45 minutes it took for the town to burn that day, Volunteer Hose Company No. 1 was helpless—it had no fire engine. City council had ordered equipment from the John D. Ronald Co. of Brussels, Ont., but it hadn't arrived yet. The two dozen volunteers were equipped with nothing but axes, shovels, buckets and enthusiasm. Sadly, it wasn't enough.... more »

The Pacific Cable

The Rogers BuildingThe Vancouver Board of Trade marked with real enthusiasm the completion October 31, 1902 of the Pacific Cable, which in the words of the Province, was an “epoch-marking event in the history of the British Empire.” Vancouver would now be able to communicate instantly with places as far-flung as Great Britain and Australia over the 7,200 miles (11,500+ km) of the cable.... more »

Empress of Japan

Empress of JapanThousands of people who see the dragon figurehead of the Empress of Japan in Stanley Park think it's the real thing, but what you see in the park today is a fibreglass copy of the original, which—battered by the elements for 80 years—was tenderly restored by conservationists at Vancouver's Maritime Museum.... more »


King George VI and Queen Elizabeth greeting veterans during their 1939 tour of Canada. Prime Minister Mackenzie King is seen at far left. (photo: certainty of war in Europe in 1939 had an early effect, even in Vancouver, some 5,000 miles away from Berlin. The Page 1 headline in The Vancouver Sun for January 13 read: TWO GUNS TO BE PLACED AT FIRST NARROWS.

A royal tour of Canada in May was another indication war was brewing. The timing of the tour was deliberate: it served, said one commentator, “as a gentle reminder to English-speaking Canadians of their ties to the motherland and their imperial duty”.... more »

Komagata Maru

The Komagata MaruOn May 23, 1914 a ship called the Komagata Maru—normally used for transporting coal—arrived at Vancouver and anchored in Burrard Inlet. She carried 376 Indians: 12 Hindus, 24 Muslims and 340 Sikhs, British subjects all, and people who had come to make a new life in Canada...... more »


1886Vancouver was incorporated in 1886.

What else was happening that year outside the city?

Well, the first CPR passenger train from the east pulled into Port Moody on July 4. (The first passenger train into Vancouver will arrive in May of 1887.)

Here and elsewhere in Canada, inspectors were assigned to enforce labor laws that forbade women and children from working more than 60 hours per week. The Pope named Elzéar-Alexandre Taschereau the first ever Canadian Cardinal. The whipping of female prison inmates was abolished...... more »


Vancouver in 1907There weren’t many automobiles in Vancouver in 1907 (a five-minute film taken along several downtown streets this year shows precisely one), but there were enough for someone in the Vancouver office of the Imperial Oil Co. to decide that the usual method of fueling them at the time—carrying a sloshing bucket full of gasoline up to the vehicle and pouring it through a funnel into the tank—was somewhat dangerous...... more »

Vancouver a Century Ago

Vancouver in 1907Back on May 7, 1907 a Seattle movie maker named William Harbeck came up to Vancouver, attached a movie camera to the front of a B.C. Electric streetcar and filmed the major streets of the city. The film is black-and-white, it’s silent and it’s only seven minutes long, but it’s wonderful. You see Vancouver and its people of a hundred years ago in motion. Audiences who have seen the film are delighted and fascinated..... more »

Christmas 1943

Christmas 1943It’s Christmas time, 1943, in Ortona, Italy. Capt. William H. Melhuish of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada is writing a letter to his mother.

“It must have been about midnight,” he writes, “when I was awaked from a restless sleep. The guns again! Their deep-throated roar, the whistle of shell overhead, the ‘whoomph’ at the end of their journey—that was nothing new. But there was something else in the air, a most unusual sound. It took me several seconds to realize I was not dreaming carols! Good old Christmas carols—boy, did they sound great!...... more »

A 1912 Journey Recreated

A 1912 Journey RecreatedIn 1997 Lorne Findlay, the man standing by that beautifully restored 1912 REO Special (above), made an astonishing journey: he drove the car right across Canada! With him was writer John Nicol. What the two men had accomplished was to recreate a 1912 journey in which a freelance writer named Thomas Wilby and his driver/mechanic, Jack Haney, became the first to drive across the country....... more »

O Canada!

Ewing BuchanWas Canada’s national anthem written in Vancouver? No.

To get the facts, come back with us to a gloriously sunny day in July, 1908 in Quebec City.

Brigadier-General Lawrence Buchan was in command of the garrison at Quebec, at the head of 12,000 troops taking part in ceremonies marking the 300th anniversary of the city's founding. The Prince of Wales (later King George V) was reviewing the troops..... more »

Collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge

Collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge In 2004 Eric Daichi Ishikawa, one of the students taking part in that year’s Historica event (in which students from elementary schools all across Canada prepare historical exhibits on topics of their choice), assembled an illustrated report on the June 17, 1958 collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge..... more »

A Stainless Steel Streamliner

A Stainless Steel Streamliner A new era in rail travel in Canada began April 24, 1955. The Canadian Pacific Railway introduced The Canadian, an “ultra-modern, lightweight, highly attractive stainless-steel streamlined train.” The train would offer the world's longest dome ride: 2,881.2 miles. (4,637 k/m). Postwar Canada believed passenger train travel had a healthy future, so Canadian Pacific met the demand by introducing this fancy new service. There were two dome cars (there should have been more), a handsome dining car with excellent food, and a variety of sleeping arrangements.... more »

The Greenhill Park Explosion

The Greenhill Park ExplosionA Vancouver man's deathbed statement, made nearly 50 years ago and only revealed more than two decades later, throws new light on one of the great events in the city's history.

If you were here on March 6, 1945, you will remember the waterfront explosion of the 10,000-ton freighter Greenhill Park, easily the most spectacular and disastrous event in the port's history..... more »

“Wait For Me, Daddy”

"Wait for me, Daddy!"It's October 1, 1940 and Province photographer Claude Dettloff is standing on Columbia Street at 8th Street in New Westminster, his press camera up to his eye, preparing to take a shot. He's focusing on a line of hundreds of men of the B.C. Regiment marching down 8th to a waiting train. Soldiers of the Duke of Connaught's Own Rifles are marching past. Suddenly, in the view-finder, Dettloff sees a little white-haired boy tugging away from his mother's grasp and rushing up to his father in the marching line . . . click.... more »