You’ve heard of Show Biz. This is Biz Biz, the history
of business in Vancouver, told through the activities of The
Vancouver Board of Trade.
Some 1937 highlights (described in more
- H.R. MacMillan views our export trade with alarm
- Average annual income in BC hits $617
- Gerry McGeer makes a promise
- This new stuff called cellophane
- The offal truth
- At 50, The Board pays tribute to former Presidents
- Vancouver's streets the dirtiest in the world
Empire's Aerial Progress
The Vancouver Sun reported in its January
14, 1937 edition (Page 20) on the Empire's Aerial Progress.
R.L. Maitland, K.C., the Sun
reported, was elected chairman of the Customs and Transportation
Bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade, at its annual meeting Wednesday
noon, in the David Spencer Ltd. dining room. Following luncheon,
at which A.G. McDonald of Winnipeg, operations general secretary
of Canadian Airways, spoke on The Empire's Airways, members were
given a preview of the Imperial Airways' Ltd. exhibit which has
been brought to Vancouver and will be exhibited for a week on the
fifth floor of Spencers' Ltd.
That Imperial Airways' exhibit consisted of working
models of the companys aircraft. One of the most unusual was
the Mayo Composite, pictured. We found a website
that pictured the plane, and this explanation: Carefully-conducted
tests had proved that an Imperial Airways' Empire flying-boat could
achieve a transatlantic crossing only if its entire payload consisted
of fuel. Since it is well known that an aircraft can be flown at
a much greater weight than that at which it can take off from the
ground, Robert Mayo proposed that a small heavily loaded mail plane
be carried to operational altitude above a larger 'mother plane'
and then released to complete its long-range task. The proposal
was accepted by the Air Ministry and Imperial Airways, who jointly
contracted Shorts to design and build such a composite unit.
That website explains how the plane was successfully
tested, and how it came to grief.
Another display showed in miniature how a
plane is guided by two-way radio to a blind landing. By merely touching
a switch the spectator can see and hear the operation, watching
the plane being guided into the airport over the radio beam while
obtaining aural directions from the ground over the two-way radio
system . . . Also are shown models of the huge new Empire flying
boats and land planes, which can carry 43 passengers.
Walter Carson The Boards new President
The Sun reported in its January 21, 1937
issue (Page 3) that Walter M. Carson, vice president of The Board
for 1936 was its new president for 1937. His was the only name put
forward in nominations. He succeeded J.Y. McCarter. John Whittle,
chairman of the foreign trade bureau in 1935, and a former president
of the Merchants' Exchange, was the new vice president, also nominated
And the paper noted that W.E. Payne is again
elected to the position of executive secretary, which he has held
since 1918. He is therefore entering his twentieth year in that
The Board's Golden Jubilee
On January 27 (Page 4) the Sun reported on
outgoing president J.Y. McCarters presidential report. It
fittingly mixed early history of the board with a review of
activities of the past year and a glimpse into the assured future.
McCarter, by the way, was one of the senior partners
in McCarter Nairne, the prestigious architectural firm that brought
us, among others, the Marine Building.
McCarter noted, said the Sun, that the late
David Oppenheimer (he died in 1897) was the first president
of the board, instituted in 1887. Records of its second meeting
(none were preserved of the first) showed that the young city, incorporated
the year of the calamitous fire, was already making substantial
progress. The board, as today, asked for many things for the good
of the young community. Among these were a resident judge, a registry
office, a government savings bank and a high school. They wanted
a lighthouse at the First Narrows and a lot more things, all of
which came in due time.
President Oppenheimer, McCarter continued,
once said 'Our port was evidently designed by Nature to be
an outlet of Canada's to the Orient and Australia. Why should we
not make the best of this opportunity?'
Time has given the answer, McCarter said. The
commercial history of Vancouver, recorded in the minute books of
the board, is a striking romance of progress which should be assembled
Highlights of the Year
Reviewing highlights of the year, Mr. McCarter mentioned
particularly the part of the board in the Golden Jubilee Celebration,
and spoke enthusiastically of the great success of the annual excursion
which took fifty board members through the Okanagan and Kootenays.
There was a standing silence following the retiring
president's recital of the names of 22 members of the board who
died during 1936. Among them were such well-known men as Charles
E. Tisdall (the mayor of Vancouver in 1922/23), J. Kerr Houlgate
(a prominent insurance executive), Robert Cromie (the publisher
of The Vancouver Sun), Brig. General J. Duff Stuart and piano
merchant J.W. Kelly.
The new president, Walter M. Carson,
said the Sun, taking the chair relinquished by Mr.
McCarter, and greeted with sustained applause, said that while it
was too early to make any announcement as to the special jubilee
year events, one of the most important will be the annual excursion
of board members, which this year will again be by boat along the
north coast to points including Prince Rupert, Stewart and Ocean
Falls, with a side trip into Gardner Canal.
Splendid Destiny for Port of Vancouver
One of the speakers at The Board's Annual Dinner
Meeting was Sidney Smith. Himself a veteran seafarer,
the Sun explained, for years in haven in Vancouver
as a practising authority on marine law, the speaker mixed experience,
history, prescience and faith in the future of Canada and British
Columbia in a characteristic talk which on several occasions moved
his appreciative audience to sustained interruptions of applause.
Paying a fine tribute to New Westminster,
Sidney Smith said: 'I am sometimes amazed at the progress of New
Westminster and at the energy of her people in the advertisement
of their port. They are all port minded.'
But Vancouver, he argued, has an equally striking
record and will maintain her supremacy on the Pacific Coast if only
because longer established and with the bulk of commerce firmly
established within hailing distance of the keels of the world. Thus
389 deep sea ships in Vancouver harbor from all parts of the world
in 1921 increased to 1,247 in 1936.
And they are from all parts of the world.
Prowl along the docks any time and you will be sure to see ships
from Britain, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany,
France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Japan, Panama and United States.
The only fly in the ointment, the speaker said: Hardly any
of the deep-sea ships are Canadian, although coastal services are.
He enumerated the many new trade routes established
in Vancouver in the last fifteen years, so that now there are 18
cargo lines between Vancouver and Europe alone, and nineteen other
lines to the Orient, Australia, South America, West Indies and South
Africa. In addition, Vancouver has two great chartering houses,
each with 60 to 70 charters at one time, spread out on all the oceans
of the world.
Until 15 years ago, Smith said, Vancouver
was a by-way on the ocean highways. Now it is a great terminus,
radiating out in every direction.
Prospects of the Port
What are the prospects of Port of Vancouver?
Smith asked They can scarcely be painted in over-bright colors.
In 1921 we shrugged our shoulders when people spoke glowingly of
Vancouver as a great wheat port. Yet it is so today. In like manner
we shrug when we hear of Vancouver as the greatest port on the Pacific.
Yet that, too, will come. Vancouver's port is not a local matter.
It is a Canadian matter. It is an Empire matter. I feel it is infinitely
the greatest asset we have, Mr. Smith said.
The Province, in its report on the same talk
(January 27, 1937, Page 4), said that Smith declared that if he
had his way he would make Vancouver the safest and cheapest port
in the world with no First Narrows Bridge and no cargo rates. (The
bridge was not yet built. We're not quite sure why Smith would have
preferred it not to be.)
Said the Sun on January 27: The golden
jubilee year of Vancouver Board of Trade will be no ordinary year,
it was predicted by the board's new president, Walter M. Carson,
at the annual dinner meeting in Hotel Vancouver on Tuesday night.
Nearly 300 members constituted a record attendance
at an annual meeting and warmly applauded President Carson's appeal
for support in a year of great activity . . . The formal and impressive
ceremony of swearing in the new president and Vice President John
Whittle was performed by Mayor George C. Miller. Rev. J.W. Leighton
of the Seamen's Institute said grace.
Fight to Secure Trade
Lift up your eyes—not to the hills—but
beyond the seas, whence cometh our strength. That was the
advice of H. R. Macmillan, president of H. R. Macmillan Export Co.
Ltd., to a large gathering at a luncheon meeting of the Vancouver
Board of Trade in the Hotel Vancouver at noon today. (January 27,
Export trade, reported the Sun,
is the lifeblood of British Columbia industry, Mr. Macmillan
The Province's story quoted Macmillan as
saying: British Empire markets take 86 per cent of our lumber,
58 per cent of our fish and a large proportion of our export base
metals. We live in a protected market. Let us remember that the
United States is of more use to Australia as a market than is Canada;
that the Baltic States and the United States are of more use to
the United Kingdom as a market than is Canada, and that similarly
the United States is of more use to South Africa than Canada. This
means that if we do not fight for and contribute to the common defense
of British Empire markets, there are those who, seeking benefits
now ours, will show us up.
Can't Live Alone
This is no new message, the simple statement
that we cannot live by ourselves alone, the speaker said,
summarizing a long list of production and export statistics showing
that of leading British Columbia products those which must and do
find a market outside the province are: lumber and products, 85
per cent; fish and by-products, 98 per cent; base metals, 100 per
cent; pulp and paper, 95 per cent. He quoted statistics to show
that this province last year exported 67 per cent of its lumber
overseas. He explained how the province shipped great quantities
of logs overseas, and how eighteen factories are maintained to manufacture
doors, of which only 3 per cent are used in Canada.
Canada and British Columbia enjoy no monopolies
in these overseas competitive markets, although they have a most
valuable advantage in the Empire preference tariffs. Everyone
in the community, he said, is affected by the volume of export trade.
Export industries are almost the sole primary source of government
Average annual income $617
The average annual income in British Columbia, Macmillan
told The Board, is $617, the highest in Canada, 50 per cent higher
than the Canadian average, and this indicates that labor here is
more favored than elsewhere. But this experimental progress,
the cost of which can only be estimated, must be watched because
of the danger that mounting costs of production shall not overbalance
and topple the whole structure of trade with consequent loss to
labor and capital alike. Also, he said, increasing public
debt with consequently higher taxation is a deterrent to incoming
There is no royal road to market. We must
give competitive service for value received. We have competition
in every market everywhere, and if we do not meet it we lose our
livelihood. Even maintenance of our present production levels requires
Empire Market Vital!
Forest industry executive H.R. Macmillan popped
up again February 10 when he spoke to a crowded luncheon meeting
of The Board in an address reported on the next day by the Province
(Page 22). His topic was trade within the Empire.
We must contribute to its defense, he said, If
we do not buy from the people we sell our goods to and contribute
to defense of that Empire in which we live, what are our deserts?
We can not continue to live in the privileged position of preferential
markets, as at present, if we don't try to make ourselves more valuable
to the markets which now buy from us liberally.
Depend on Exports
British Columbia, said Macmillan, is
dependent on sales beyond its borders for 85 per cent of its lumber,
96 per cent of its fish, 100 per cent of its base metals, 96 per
cent of its pulp and paper and more than 90 per cent of its apples.
We have no monopolies in these markets, where we are exposed to
competition everywhere. Foreign market conditions affect everyone
gainfully employed in this province, and any decline in revenue
from export sales means decreased buying power passing along the
line to laborer, capitalist, butcher, grocer, baker, milkman, machinist,
merchant, doctor and civil servant.
Our export industries are almost the sole
primary source of government revenues. This situation is particularly
true in British Columbia, where agriculture is almost entirely secondary,
dependent upon feeding those directly or indirectly engaged in serving
High Taxes in B.C.
He urged keeping down costs as much as possible
to meet competition on foreign markets. Remarking that taxes are
the first charge on industry, Macmillan declared that taxes in British
Columbia are the highest of any political unit in the British Empire,
or on this continent.
Former mayor W.H. Malkin remembers . . .
The Sun, on Page 9 of its March 18, 1937
edition told of a talk to the Wholesale Bureau of The Board at a
luncheon in the Hotel Georgia by former Vancouver mayor W.H. Malkin
in which he recalled his early struggle in the city.
Malkin was introduced by his son, Dick Malkin, bureau
chairman. It was the first time in Bureau history that a son had
had the opportunity of presenting his father to an audience.
Among his other comments, Malkin urged the equalization
of freight rates and development of the Peace River area. Until
there are more facilities provided for hinterland districts,
he said, there is not much chance of increased business.
He said that it was a matter of regret to him that the hinterland
has not kept pace, in progress, with the City of Vancouver and its
City Population 17,000
Malkin described his early efforts in Vancouver
in 1895, when the city's population was 17,000, there were only
439 telephones and one could telephone long-distance only as far
as New Westminster. He pictured the struggle between Seattle and
Vancouver wholesalers for the privilege of serving the Yukon market
during the gold rush days. Seattle at first had the edge, but Vancouver
I don't think, said Malkin, that
many realize just what the opening of the Panama Canal has meant
to Vancouver. [The canal had opened to traffic August 15,
1914.] He said that the canal's opening meant that wholesale merchants
in Vancouver could receive goods in a good state, a condition impossible
when the long water haul was necessary.
Equal to 1929
A sign that BC was slowly but steadily struggling
out of the Great Depression was indicated in a talk to a full-board
meeting of The Board on Wednesday, March 24, 1937 reported on the
next day by the Sun (Page 19). The speaker was George Pearson,
provincial Minister of Labor and of Mines. Industry, Pearson said,
had made a remarkable comeback in the past three or four years.
There is every promise, Pearson said,
that in 1937 the volume of production and turnover and of
employment will equal if not exceed the record of 1929.
He cited the official records from 40 selected firms
in 15 different lines of industry in the province:
- Payrolls of $9 million in 1933 increased to $15 million in 1936.
- The number of employees increased from 6,800 in 1933 to more
than 11,000 in 1936.
- Average annual income of the workers of these 40 firms increased
from $902 in 1933 to $1,325 in 1936. [The 40 firms, unnamed, paid
well above the average annual income, $617, cited by H.R. Macmillan
in a February 10 talk cited above.]
The highest wages you can pay should be paid,
Pearson said That is good business. It creates increased turnover,
the bigger buying power creates additional market for your own product.
But the problem of unemployment remains, costly and likely to become
more costly and it is primarily a problem to be faced by industry
itself with what help government can give.
The Sun continued: Reviewing briefly
the improvement in mining since 1933—and incidentally the
Minister voiced confidence that production will reach $60 million
in 1937—in lumbering, fishing and agriculture, he said that
the true index of returned prosperity is in the volume of wages
going to the workers and creating buying power, and in the average
annual income of the workers. The Minister's chief warning was about
unemployment. Total British Columbia government expenditure on relief,
including expenditures and borrowings for work designed to aid relief,
amounted at the end of the past year to $11,299,000.
I don't think business men realize this cost,
which we have not yet begun to pay back, and which can be paid only
by taxes paid in the last analysis from the earnings of business.
Personally, I think we made a mistake when he did not pay our relief
way from the start. Sooner or later you will have to pay for it,
and I think you will have to start paying very soon, he said.
This question of unemployment is more worrisome than ever.
The number of unemployed is not decreasing in proportion to the
improvement in business and payrolls.
Too many people, Pearson continued, are coming from
other places and securing jobs that should go to the resident unemployed.
Take on a British Columbia man while there is a BC man unemployed
that you can use. Many of the unemployed are not trained or
fitted for the work available. Yet there is a shortage of first
class men in several industries, notably of rock miners.
His department works under exceedingly difficult
conditions, the Minister said. Its project camps for men are operated
under conditions just as good as are to be found in any first-class
logging camp, and yet there is a continual criticism from organizations
of veterans and others.
Mr. Pearson closed with a brief reference to labor
conditions. British Columbia, he said, has had less labor trouble
in the past three years than most other places. Conditions have
been exceedingly good. But subversive influences are known to be
at work all the time. The best way to combat those subversive
influences is to make conditions in industry here the best you can
possibly make them. Take more interest in the problems of the men
working for you. Too many delegate this to foremen or superintendents
and know nothing of the men themselves and their working conditions.
Do your own policing among your own various industrial groups
and see to it that every member treats his men right. Don't expect
the government to do things it cannot do, he concluded.
Transport Bill Killed
Public supervision of all Canadian transport by
air, land and water, such as was proposed by the Canadian Transport
Bill, is a piece of legislation that must come sooner or later,
Senator J. W. deB. Farris, K.C., told a luncheon meeting of The
Board of Trade on April 9, 1937. (Province, April 10, 1937,
In his first public address since his elevation
to the Senate, the Province reported, Farris gave a
lucid analysis of the provisions of the bill and explained how it
came to be killed in the Red Chamber. He said he spoke as one
of the minority who supported it. The bill, he said, was designed
to bring buses, trucks, airplanes and ships under the same supervision
as for railways under the Board of Railway Commissioners. It was,
he thought, a logical thing.
Since the railways board was established in 1903,
Senator Farris said, it has proved of inestimable value to
the public and even the railways now concede that it has been a
godsend to them. But the speaker noted that many of the same
arguments used by the railways against the board in 1903 were used
by opponents of the 1937 bill.
Defeat of the bill was not on political grounds,
he thought. It was fortunate for the country that senators
are relieved of the need for talking to the constituents.
Waving a fat volume in his hand, Senator Farris
explained it contained a transcript of hearings before the Senate
railway committee. Opposition to the bill was enthusiastic
and unanimous, and included all interests affected and all
provincial governments. The railway companies and some of the Great
Lakes shipping companies were the only supporters. At least 75 per
cent of the opposition was based on needless fear and misapprehension
of the facts, he said.
Extension of control over bus and truck companies
was the thorniest point in the bill. Opposition came from the companies
and from every provincial government. Every province was represented
and fought it, he said. I don't yet know why. They were
assured time and again that there was no intention to interfere
with provincial rights. Every attorney-general, if he stops to think
at all, knows that such a law could not be enforced even if it were
tried. Provincial rights are as paramount as federal rights.
But until the bitter end this caused much
hostility and explains to a large extent why the bill died,
CNR Hotel Open in 1939
The Province reported April 28, 1937 (Page
1) that the opening of the Canadian National hotel in Vancouver
in 1939 was assured.
That assurance came from G. G. McGeer, K. C. M.
P., who addressed the B. C. Products bureau of The Board of Trade
at noon in the Hotel Vancouver. [A bit of clarification is needed
here: the Hotel Vancouver at which McGeer spoke was the second in
the line. The CN hotel referred to is the one we know as the present
Hotel Vancouver, and it did indeed open in 1939.]
McGeer painted a glowing picture of the future
greatness of Vancouver.
Turning from Dominion affairs to British Columbia,
McGeer said that when financiers placed money in the bank to build
the First Narrows bridge and the real estate development associated
with it, it augured well for the future.
I venture to say that Vancouver in the next
fifty years will achieve far greater prominence and progress than
[McGeer, incidentally, had been mayor of Vancouver
in 1935-36, and would be again in 1947.]
The First Narrows Bridge, McGeer said,
will become world famous and the view from this structure
will be unsurpassed anywhere in the world. Canada, he continued,
has every reason to believe that it is entering into another era
of prosperity, likened by the speaker to that which followed Confederation.
We have every reason in 1937 to look forward to a period of
greater prosperity than any in the past half-century.
Capilano Canyon Park
If Capilano Canyon and this park were 50 miles
away Vancouver people would be breaking their legs to get to them,
and they would be sending all tourists to see them. The trouble
is they are too close, said Mayor George C. Miller on Thursday,
April 15, 1937. (Sun, April 16, Page 2.)
Miller was one of some 30 members of The Board,
including President Walter M. Carson, who inspected the work done
during the winter months in clearing and making trails in the 150-acre
Canyon Park held by The Board in trust for the people of the province.
It is all a revelation to one who knew this
place for 40 years, Mayor Miller said. The work in this park
was one of 21 projects carried on during the winter by the provincial
forestry department to provide work for single unemployed. Following
the inspection the visitors were guests of forestry officials at
a loggers' dinner in the big mess hall, where they ate with the
20 or more men still cleaning up camp.
Chief Forester E. C. Manning said it was hoped to
use the camp this summer in the successful scheme of training young
men in forestry and fire prevention work. [This is the Manning after
whom Manning Park is named.]
Dr. E. A. Cleveland, commissioner of the Greater
Vancouver Water District, paid high tribute to the usefulness of
the work done by the forestry camp gangs in the watershed. [This
is the Cleveland after whom the Cleveland Dam is named.]
Incidentally, after winning the December 9, 1936
civic election Miller became the first mayor of Vancouver to occupy
what was then our brand-new city hall: the date was January 2, 1937.
Among the tidbits we plucked from an April 24, 1937
story in The Vancouver Sun (Page 24) about Slocan Mines is
that the Parliament Buildings at Victoria were built out of a special
tax levied on the Slocan mines. R.E. Bob Grimes, a well-known
mine operator, also told members of the Mining Bureau of The Board
at a luncheon in the Vancouver Hotel that although an accurate
record of the district's early production had not been kept
it was estimated it had produced the following in base metals: 50
million ounces in silver; 400 million pounds of lead and 300 million
pounds of zinc.
Chemistry Invaluable to Timber Trade
Reported the Province on May 4, 1937 (Page
8): A synthetic eraser and a fragment of artificial glass—handed
to the advertising bureau of the Board of Trade on Monday by Dr.
Allen Harris of the University of B. C.gave members an inkling
of the major place that cellulose industries may hold in the future
of the Northwest.
Speaking on 'Timber in the Chemical Age' at
a luncheon meeting of the bureau in Hotel Vancouver, Dr. Harris
followed a review of the lumber industry as it stands with a summary
of new fields opened since chemistry and the forest trades effected
a union after the Great War.
Use of wood cellulose in place of cotton for
the manufacture of explosives launched the new industry. Rapid strides
have been made in finding novel additional uses for the most important
components of wood, and an imposing list now greets the enquirer.
Examples of plastics which have been evolved include various kinds
of malleable wood and wood cement, artificial rubber, films, celanese
(used in the manufacture of rayon), celluloid and glass substitute.
Another wood by-product which has won favor,
the Province continued, is cellophane. According to
Dr. Harris, cellophane was used in Europe for several years before
a vigorous advertising campaign made it one of the standard wrapping
materials employed on this continent. [There's an interesting Wikipedia
article on cellophane here]
Referring to other uses, he pointed out that
in Germany at present alcohol and glucose are being produced from
wood waste. One reason which will make development necessary in
Canada, he explained, is that southern pine has after years of research
been treated to make adequate newsprint, with the result that seven
new pulp mills have opened in the United States in direct competition
with Canadian plants.
Powell River visited
A goodwill party from The Board visited Powell River,
and Sun reporter Jack MacDonald wrote about it for the papers
June 9, 1937 issue, Page 7.
The visitors toured the plant in charge of
guides, MacDonald wrote, who explained the mysteries
of the making of newsprint and pulp from the great logs in the water
to the finished article. There are approximately 1,550 employees
working full time and taking advantage of the many opportunities
for recreation provided through the co-operation of the company.
Average production runs to 670 tons of newsprint
a day, with 30 tons of sulphite pulp, most of which goes in that
shape to Japan and other parts of the Orient. Two large ships were
loading newsprint, one of them a Norwegian, taking on 6,000 tons
of the huge rolls for delivery to Texas water ports via Panama Canal.
Powell River, with a population of 1,000 in
the immediate vicinity, depending practically entirely on the industry,
is the fifth seaport of British Columbia. The plant, a humming hive
of activity the day around, gets its hydro-electric power through
723 motors developing over 40,000 horsepower. Pumping capacity of
the water system for the various washing processes runs to 308,000
gallons a minute. The sawmill which reduces the logs to a size ready
for the grinders has a capacity of 500,000 board feet a day, and
there are now 72 grinders desiccating the wood for cooking.
Lots of Hemlock
About 80 per cent of the wood is hemlock,
with 20 per cent of the longer fibre British Columbia spruce as
binder, making a newsprint that is famous wherever it goes for its
high quality. The great bulk of the output goes to American Pacific
The great bulk of supplies for Powell River
comes from Vancouver and the visitors had a fresh lesson in the
importance of coast industries to the prosperity of Vancouver.
Following dinner the whole party took cars
again to the unique estate of D. K. Macken at Westview where they
hugely enjoyed an open-air program of boxing and wrestling in a
regulation ring set up for the occasion. Powell River amateurs put
on a really fine show and the visitors plainly showed reluctance
at having to leave in time for sailing at midnight.
[Incidentally, that same Sun for June 9,
1937 (Page 7) shows a wire service photo of German Chancellor Adolf
Hitler enthusiastically smiling and chatting in Munich with a farm
girl from Berchtesgaden. The Second World War was still more than
two years away. Also shown in the photo was Walther Darre, Hitler's
minister of agriculture, and a nasty piece of work himself.]
For June 10, 1937 the Daily Province (Page
7) and the Sun (Page 2) have reports on a visit by The Board's
goodwill delegation to the Courtenay-Comox region, and the Sun's
June 12 edition (Page 9) has a similar report on a visit to Prince
Rupert. The latter included an afternoon excursion on Armour
Salvage Co's ship Algie to the famous sacred Indian village
of Metlakatla, now practically deserted but with all its ancient
houses still standing. A visit to Stewart is reported on in
the Sun for June 14 (Page 9), during which the delegation
visited the Premier and Big Missouri mines. And in the June 8 Province
Page 12) a major lumber and pulp mill at Port Mellon is visited.
Most of the mill was built in 1928, just before the pulp market
collapsed, the newspaper reported, but the mill was once again
humming busily along.
Alaska Highway Backed
From The Vancouver Sun for June 14, 1937
(Page 9): An eloquent plea for Vancouver support of the British
Columbia-Alaska-Yukon highway project voiced by E.T. Applewhaite,
past president of Stewart Board of Trade, created a decided impression
on members of the Vancouver Board of Trade Goodwill Party at dinner
here on Saturday night.
The proposed highway, Applewhaite said, is
entirely feasible from every engineering standpoint. It would open
up an immense territory rich in natural resources and would prove
one of the greatest tourist magnets of the continent. The plea followed
a glowing picture of a great northern empire of undeveloped timber,
agricultural and mineral resources stretching from Portland Canal
across to the Peace Country, which some day inevitably must be opened
up by roads and rail and airplane.
Ocean Falls surprises
The June 14, 1937 Sun told of our goodwill
visitors visiting the Queen Charlotte Islands, and Ocean Falls.
In the latter the tourists, said the Sun, began to
doubt the official weather records which show that Ocean Falls ranks
second in rainfall among all British Columbia communities. Three
times in a row Board parties have called at Ocean Falls and seen
nothing but clear, sunny skies. It was so again on Thursday. But
Ocean Falls folk said My, but we are glad; this is so unusual,
and proceeded to confess that the average is 168 inches a year,
that it has gone as high as 240 inches in 12 months, and that there
would be no great pulp and paper plant at Ocean Falls at all if
the precipitation was less than that average of a half-inch every
day of the year.
Ocean Falls is just one more of the up-coast industrial
centres now humming at an all-time peak of production and payroll.
The 1,100 employees now busy on capacity shifts
are a total of just 10 per cent above any previous average. Average
production runs to 325 tons a day, of which about 65 per cent is
newsprint shipped to all parts of the world but notably to Australia
and the Orient, with 35 per cent in the shape of Kraft and special
sulphite papers. Assurance that this capacity production is expected
to continue indefinitely is shown in the fact that work has been
started on a new warehouse with a capacity of several thousand tons.
Piling is now being installed and Northern Construction Co. of Vancouver
will soon be busy on the superstructure, which is to be finished
within three months.
Charles Lugrin Shaw, the Daily Province's
business editor, reported in the June 8 edition (Page 12) that The
Board delegation had visited the copper town of Britannia.
With metal prices at profitable levels again,
Shaw wrote, this British Columbia copper town is riding high
on the crest of new prosperity. Members of the Vancouver Board of
Trade touring party found that out Monday when they arrived herethe
first stopping point in a journey that will carry them as far north
as the Portland Canal country and the Queen Charlottes. Leaving
SS Prince George at the Britannia dock, they visited the
lower workings of the Howe Sound Company's great mine, not long
ago regarded as the biggest producer in the British Empire.
We are mining the lowest grade copper ore
in the world, C. V. Brennan, assistant manager, told the delegates.
The fact that we can do it profitably is due to the large
scale of our operations and to the wonderful co-operation of a fine
bunch of fellows. Mr. Brennan was chief host to the visitors
in the absence of General Manager C. P. Browning, who is supervising
construction of Howe Sound's new 1000-ton copper plant near Lake
Addressing a luncheon gathering aboard ship Mr.
Brennan was applauded when he told of how his company had operated
through the depression even with copper at five cents without missing
a single pay day. We have a far-sighted board of directors,
said Mr. Brennan. Even though some of the directors live three
or four thousand miles away, they saw the picture out here in the
true perspective and the result was the Britannia kept mining and
several thousand men were kept off British Columbia's relief rolls.
[The Britannia mine closed in 1974. At its peak
in 1929, it was the largest copper-producing mine in the British
The Board of Trade party was impressed with
the happy spirit prevailing among the workers at Britannia—a
spirit created and maintained by the company's policy of trying
to make every man feel his part in the enterprise.
Take, for instance, the case of Joe Burns,
who works in the mill. Joe has had three pay increases of about
twenty-five cents a day—without asking for them—since
copper started soaring a few months ago. A lot of other things at
Britannia made Joe feel well satisfied. For the clean, modern four-room
cottage in which he and his family reside he pays a rental of $5.25
a month, and his water is free. Other things are free too—things
like life insurance to a maximum of $1,500. It is little wonder
that Joe uses the pronoun we when he talks about the
company. And Joe is only one of the 1,000 men who co-operate to
make things go at Britannia.
Co-operation is the right word here because
the whole system in this prospering mining town is based on unity.
The general stores have been operated on a co-operative basis since
1922. The net earnings are rebated to the employees twice a year,
pro rata to their purchasing by a direct cheque to each employee.
New employees become eligible for participation after three months'
employment. The rebate has totalled $380,000.
It's a fine way to save money,
says Joe Burns. My rebate's going to pay for my vacation.
The company's general store does a $500,000 business annually. The
Britannia company incidentally spends $1,250,000 a year for supplies
alone, nearly all purchased in the Vancouver market. The company's
payroll, one of the biggest in B. C. mining, is about $1,400,000
From the Province for June 8, 1937 (Page
12): The day is not far distant when the Pacific Ocean will
be a network of airlines with a Seattle-Vancouver-Aleutian Islands
route to the Orient in regular operation.
This was one of the many proposals made by
C. N. Monteith, executive vice-president of the Boeing Airplane
Co. of Seattle, in an address to the Junior Board of Trade's annual
aviation dinner on Monday night, June 7. He remarked on the wonderful
development which has taken place in aviation in the ten years since
the Lindbergh flight across the Atlantic, and forecast even greater
things for the next ten.
Sees No Limit
Ten years ago I never dreamed we'd be building
planes with staircases, he declared, and I suppose
ten years from now we won't be the least surprised if they demand
grand pianos in them too. Mr. Monteith described the forty-ton
clipper ship which is now being built for Pan-American's transatlantic
and transpacific service. He expressed the opinion that the Atlantic
may be flown by four-engined land machines with perfect safety,
but flying boats will rule the Pacific, since there are few landing
areas large enough to accommodate huge planes of the type required
for over-water service.
Actually, we haven't even started on 'large'
flying boats, he said. At the moment I can not see why
there should be any limitation to their size. The bigger they are
the more seaworthy they are.
Board Members at Powell River
Reported the Daily Province: Vancouver
Business men today surveyed the result of twenty-five years of farsighted
industrial enterprise, the Pacific Coast's biggest newsprint mill,
representing an investment of $30 million. (June 9, 1937,
Just a quarter of a century ago, while critics
scoffed at what seemed a fantastic idea, founders of Powell River
Company established a sixty-five ton mill in the midst of an unbroken
forest of virgin timber. Since then capacity of the plant has been
increased 1000 per cent. Where in 1912 Powell River's annual production
was less than 20,000 tons it is now more than 200,000 tons. In 1912
fifteen grinding machines were operating here, converting pulp wood
into sheets of white paper. Today there are seventy-two. The company's
monthly log cut has advanced from less than two million feet to
But what interested members of the Vancouver
Board of Trade excursion even more than Powell River's march of
progress in the past was the assurance given to them by officials
of the company that the prospects were never better than they are
today. During the doldrums in the newsprint market a few years ago
Powell River continued to operate at close to capacity 670 tons
daily while eastern mills not so favorably located for the offshore
trade were compelled to curtail to 60 per cent of production, or
Today every one of Powell River's seven giant
machines is operating full time, and the company is engaged in a
new $400,000 expansion programme which will, among other things,
provide a Kamyr unit to produce, when extended, 100 tons of sulphite
pulp daily—an entirely new departure for a company that has
produced nothing but newsprint in the past. The sulphite market
has improved so materially during the past few months, however,
that Powell River intends to capitalize its opportunity.
Vancouver visitors were able to see the progress
of excavation for this new producing unit. A building is under construction
60 by 240 feet with brick walls and concrete floor. When completed
it will not only house the Kamyr machine, but 1,000 tons of baled
sulphite . . . Representing the company, D. A. Evans, resident manager,
and Jock Kyles, mill secretary, welcomed the Vancouver party when
the Prince George docked at 4 p.m. President G. N. Douglas headed
Powell River's Board of Trade group. They and several other prominent
paper town residents were guests at dinner aboard ship. During the
afternoon the visitors visited the mills and toured the townsite.
Packed in like . . . Pilchards?
It is undoubtedly very interesting,
said the Province on June 9, 1937 (Page 6), when the
Board of Trade goes a-voyaging upon the lands and seas of British
Columbia. It discovers, for instance, within two hours of Vancouver,
the headquarters of three important B.C. industries, copper, coal
and pulpwood. And it discovers before it has really had time to
get its sea legs, that the B. C. pilchard is a California sardine
which has come north to grow up bigger and better with our country.
Everything that the people at the Departure
Bay biological station told our trade boarders is confirmed by the
lexicographer. The sardine, it appears, is clupea pilchardus and
the pilchard (or pilcher) is also clupea pilchardus . . . a first
cousin of the herring. Clupea pilchardus is a sardine off the shores
of Sardinia and Brittany and California, and a pilchard on the coasts
of Cornwall, Devon and British Columbia. In the clupea pilchardus
family you begin young and extremely numerous as a sardine, but
if you attain longevity and discretion you end your days as a pilchard.
In fact, the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, evidently jealous for the
glory and honor of the pilchers, describes the sardine, in its second
definition, as a young Cornish pilchard.
Reported the Province's Charles Lugrin Shaw
for June 17, 1937 (Page 5) Vancouver Business Men Return From
After an 1,800-mile cruise of the west coast
that took them as far north as the Portland Canal and West to the
Queen Charlottes, 100 members of the Vancouver Board of Trade goodwill
excursion returned home Wednesday afternoon. The tour, headed by
Walter Carson, president of the Board, made on the Canadian National
steamship Prince George, Captain E. Mabbs, included such points
as Britannia Beach, Nanaimo, Comox, Ocean Falls, Powell River, Prince
Rupert, Stewart, Cumshewa Inlet and Port Alice.
Major purpose of the mission was to educate
Vancouver business men regarding the industrial activities and possibilities
of the west coast and to demonstrate to the Coast communities that
Vancouver is prepared to lend them a helping hand in a cooperative
spirit. The Vancouver party returned with a broader appreciation
of the west coast's problems, a greater admiration for the region's
achievements, and convinced that in scenery no country has more
to offer than that section of British Columbia.
Minister of Everything
In his day, they called C.D. Howe the Minister
of Everything. One of the most remarkable Canadians ever,
this dynamic gentleman—at the time the federal Minister of
Transport—spoke to The Board on Wednesday, July 31, 1937.
He called Vancouver the most Air-Minded city
in Canada. The occasion, said the Sun on August 1 (Page
3), was a luncheon by the Council of the Vancouver Board of Trade
to honor Howe, Ian Mackenzie, the Minister of National Defense,
and S.J. Hungerford, chairman and president of Canadian National
Railways and president of Trans-Canada Air Lines. All three are
visitors in Vancouver on official business. Walter M. Carson, president
of The Board, presided at the luncheon.
Discussing the significance of his recent trial
flight across the Dominion, Howe outlined some of the work which
will be done to ensure successful and safe regular trans-Canada
flying on a commercial basis.
I took the trip to see just what the present
situation is, he explained. The work was started—a
really tremendous enterprise—in 1932, by Mr. Mackenzie's department,
as an unemployment relief measure. That was very fortunate. I doubt
if any government would have started to complete a work of such
There will be about 100 landing fields of an emergency type
across Canada, Mr. Howe revealed. A large number of cities have
Vancouver has one of the finest airports,
if not the finest, he said. The developments make it
necessary to extend the facilities. My department has the policy
of assisting municipal airports in bringing these up to date. The
work on the runway will be completed by the autumn.
Speaking of his trip across Canada by air, Mr. Howe
showed how communications are one of the chief essentials
in the work. There is to be a continuous beam system for the
pilots from Montreal to Vancouver.
Next year that will be extended to Halifax,
he said. Two-way radio will be completely installed. Thus
pilots will be able to speak not only to one point but to many.
The teletype will connect flying fields, passing weather reports
and other essential information. It is interesting to note that
each day we receive weather reports from the North Pole. As you
know, the Russians have established a floating weather station there.
They send their own position and reports on the weather, and these,
I am assured by our authorities, are regarded as most helpful.
Check out this
brief bio of Clarence Decatur Howe.
Into the Valley
Members of the Advertising and Sales Bureau of The
Board revelled in the beauties of Fraser Valley scenery and
fraternized with many of its inhabitants on the occasion of their
annual outing, according to the August 6, 1937 Sun,
Page 3. The 45 members were headed by Bureau Chairman Leander Manley.
What was important to most of them was the
fact that they got a new close-up of the agricultural and other
industry of what is generally recognized as the richest dairying
area in all Canada—perhaps the richest and finest on the American
They saw the two big processing plants of
Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association at Delair and at Sardis.
Later they were given the opportunity of looking over a typical
Fraser Valley farm, that of Harry Jesperson between Chilliwack and
Rosedale. Officials of the were hosts during most of the day, conducting
the visitors over the plants and sponsoring their farm visit.
At the Delair plant, devoted entirely to the
processing and canning of Pacific Milk, the visitors saw what is
reputed to be the most modern, scientific, hygienic and efficient
plant of its kind on the continent. At the Sardis plant, devoted
chiefly to butter, the visitors saw also the making of the skim
milk powder and casein, for which there is a large demand principally
for use in glue making and the fabrication of buttons.
At luncheon in the Empress Hotel, Chilliwack,
the food entirely of Fraser Valley production, President Macken
told briefly the history of the FVMPA since its organization 20
Fields of Corn
Motoring among farms between Chilliwack and
Rosedale, the visitors saw thousands of acres of crops and were
particularly interested in the great fields of corn grown under
contract for the corn canning plant at Chilliwack.
The Big Bend
There is no reason why the Trans-Canada Highway
linking Alberta with BC should not be finished next year,
Hon. T. A. Crerar, federal minister of mines and resources, declared
on his arrival here this morning via C.P.R. from Revelstoke, where
he has been inspecting the work.
Thats from the Province for September
15, 1937 (Page 1).
It is difficult to follow a strict schedule
on this kind of work, the minister continued. Building
a road through the mountains is a different proposition from building
on the prairies. On a prairie road you can put in a dozen different
outfits. A mountain highway calls for more concentrated work. While
I hope to see the highway completed during the latter part of 1938,
it is difficult to be certain when there are so many obstacles to
An additional $42,000 has been allocated to
the Big Bend section of the highway, the minister added, and if
the anticipated schedule of seven miles of road on the west leg
of the bend is completed this year, only sixteen miles of highway
will remain to be constructed in 1938.
[Crossing British Columbia entirely by car—without
using a ferry—was not possible until the 311 km-long Big Bend
Highway, linking Revelstoke and Golden along the Columbia River,
was completed. The Big Bend would be officially opened June 29,
Air Mail Fight
A name that pops up regularly in stories on early
aviation in the Vancouver area is Halford Wilson. This long-serving
Vancouver city councillor (1935-1972) had a keen interest in air
In the Province for September 28, 1937 (Page
9) Wilson, recently returned from Ottawa, reported that he had had
an unsatisfactory interview with the superintendent of air mail
service who held out no hope of an alternative route to the Yukon.
The Aviation and Business Interests Committee of The Board had been
fighting for an air mail link to the Yukon and Alaska. The committee
decided to prepare a brief on the necessity of better airmail connection
with the Yukon than the present one via Edmonton, and would present
it to BC Premier Pattullo.
Members of the committee expressed themselves
strongly on the matter, declaring that the present service via Edmonton
is far from satisfactory to the business interests of this city
who contribute the bulk of the mail for the service. One member
presented an example of this inadequate service in the form of a
letter airmailed from Dawson on September 20, which reached Vancouver
on September 27.
Need Good Roads
To provide British Columbia with an adequate
system of arterial highways, the government should immediately make
available $5 million so that this province could maintain its position
in the highly-competitive business of attracting tourists, declared
Dr. G. H. Worthington, president of the Vancouver Tourist Association,
to the advertising and sales bureau of the Board of Trade Monday.
That's from the Province for October 5, 1937 (Page 12).
This amount, which should be raised with the
assistance of the Federal Government, Worthington said, would
hard-surface 1000 miles of highways. The speaker conceded
that those responsible have done a fairly good job in providing
highways for the province, but the province must be opened up, if
people are to see its show windows.
Would Pay For Itself
In the realm of good economics, the government,
with federal assistance, should, by some manner or means, make the
$5 million available, he said. Many Coast residents do not
know the interior of the province because of the lack of good road
connections, and, due to this, many cross the boundary line to the
United States highways. A good highway system for British Columbia
will pay for itself many times over. It will produce more in gas
taxes and in keeping money in this province.
It is disheartening to those whose business
is to attract tourists to be confronted with the replies of visitors
that your scenery is beautiful, but we had a hard time getting
to it. Our people should become tourist-minded. Educate them
to spread the gospel—of getting tourists to come to British
Columbia. Eastern Canada and the Eastern United States provide marvellous
fields from which to attract tourists.
It was still called the Vancouver Exhibition in
1937, and its growth was described to The Board in October by John
Dunsmuir, a director. From the first fair in 1910, he
said, it has grown until its investment now totals $1 million.
The object of the Exhibition Association has been to make it self-supporting,
and as a result it has developed the eighteen-hole golf course;
also one of the finest half-mile race tracks, and the Forum for
winter and other sports. The profit of $56,000 made this year is
being reinvested in the Exhibition.
Our Exports Face a Handicap
Perhaps the most consistent campaign The Board was
waging in its first 50 years was the unfair discrepancy between
freight rates charged by the country's railways to eastern business
people and those in the West. A similar discrepancy existed when
it came to shipping by water. That is illustrated clearly in this
The Province for October 15, 1937 (Page 19)
told of a talk on BC's perilous export trade given by F. E. Burke,
a well-known Vancouver business man. He was talking to the Foreign
Trade Bureau of The Board.
He said the shortage of tonnage at Vancouver and
subsequent increases in ocean freight rates have placed the Pacific
exporter in a difficult position. The reasons for the shortage of
tonnage include cessation of commercial shipbuilding because of
armament programs; withdrawal of Japanese ships for national requirements
in the Sino-Japanese war, and the shortage of the Western Canada
grain crop, which resulted in a great decrease in the number of
ships entering Vancouver.
Ocean freight rates have nearly doubled in
recent months, Burke said, with the result that prairie
exporters save by shipping east. In mill grain offals alone, he
said, the Calgary shipper saves $1.97 per ton by railing to Montreal
rather than to Vancouver in shipments to the United Kingdom. [Offals:
the by-products of milling, especially for stock feeds. We looked
Into Their Lap
You will notice, Mr. Burke said, the
further east the point of origin of the offals, the more attractive
it becomes to the shipper to rail to the Atlantic Coast instead
of to the Pacific. The same condition applies to alfalfa meal,
for which BC and other Western Canada shippers have commenced to
develop a U.K. market. Shortage of tonnage from this coast and high
waterborne freight rates have thrown all of this business into the
laps of the Ontario shippers. The B. C. shipper has to face a differential
of $6, which is an impossibility, he said.
Tinned apples have been affected in the same
way, Mr. Burke continued. Three years ago Eastern Canada
exported fewer than 100,000 cases of these goods to the U. K. This
year it will ship between 400,000 and 500,000 cases to the United
Kingdom because of the increase in Pacific Coast freight rates.
The rate on apples from the Pacific Coast today is 70 cents per
dozen tins, and from the Atlantic Coast 40 cents per dozen.
Canned tomatoes provide another instance where
adverse rates affect B. C. It appears the war in Spain and the feeling
between Italy and Great Britain have stopped export of tomatoes
from those areas to Great Britain. As a result, the export of this
product from Eastern Canada jumped from approximately 50,000 cases
three years ago to between 600,000 and 750,000 cases this year.
BC would unquestionably have participated
in this business, the speaker said, had it not been for the prohibitive
freight rate, which from Vancouver to main U. K. ports is 18 cents
per dozen, as compared with Montreal's10.8 cents per dozen. Likewise,
he explained, export of dried peas from this province has almost
entirely stopped because of the rate advance from 45 cents to 65
Getting What's Promised
Women Want to Be Sure of Getting What's Promised
was the message passed to the Advertising and Sales Bureau of the
Board in a talk at the Hotel Georgia by Mrs. Rex Eaton on October
18, 1937. The Sun covered the story the next day, on Page
The paper described her talk as a strong plea
for honesty and truth in advertising, so that women who do, or influence
more than 80 per cent of all buying, can believe what they read
and know they are going to get just what is promised.
Amid recurrent sallies of laughter as she
scored point after point, Mrs. Eaton admitted that advertising is
not what it used to be. It is getting steadily better, more dependable.
Advertising men have a heavy responsibility when they undertake
to help the conscientious housewife, trying to make the family budget
do its best for the family. You cannot fool the wise woman
buyer more than once.
Laughter greeted the sally: I have been
healthy all my life. But I read the magazines and I learn that there
are the loveliest diseases that I don't know anything about, and
the most fascinating cures for them. I think I'm going to have to
get me one.
Manufacturers, she said, should
take a leaf out of the book of New Zealand where they have the only
women's auxiliary of its kind in the world to discuss the problems
of producing the right article and selling on its assured merits.
50 Years for the Board
The Vancouver Board of Trade held a Jubilee
Luncheon on November 24, 1937 to mark The Board's 50th anniversary.
The Vancouver Sun reported at length on the luncheon in its
November 25 issue, Page 3.
What made the occasion even more special is that
19 of the 25 surviving past presidents of The Board were on hand,
guests of honor. Some 300 members of the Board gathered in the Hotel
Vancouver at noon on the 24th to hear an address by Major Harold
Brown, himself a former president. He was introduced by Board president
The record of past presidents of the Vancouver
Board of Trade is the history of a marvellous continuity of devoted
citizenship, Major Brown said. All of them, living and
dead, had one common object in view, and that: service to the community.
They led the Vancouver that was a 'hamlet in the sticks' to the
city of today, a city the whole world knows and which we all love.
The six unable to attend because of absence
from the city, the Sun reported, included W.
F. Salsbury, now in Victoria; H.A. Stone,
A. G. McCandless, J. P. D. Malkin,
R.D. Williams and H.R. MacMillan.
The Board of Trade, Major Brown continued,
is now an accepted and acclaimed channel of public service.
But it knew other days. There was the time when a threat that rent
of its office would be raised to $15 a month brought a direction
to the secretary to find cheaper premises. He did.
And Vancouver knew other days. There was that
early time when parcels from the East went through to Victoria before
bulk was broken and were returned for distribution here. The Board
of Trade got that changed, Mr. Brown recalled.
Oldest of the surviving past presidents, W.
F. Salsbury (1892-93), now 90 and unable to come from his home in
Victoria, was referred to as dear old Mr. Salsbury.
Members cheered as they seconded a motion to send Mr. Salsbury a
telegram of good wishes. [The website
has this entry on Mr. Salsbury: Railway executive and former
alderman William Ferriman Salsbury died in Victoria January 5, 1938.
Salsbury came to Canada from Surrey, England in 1870. He was a manager
of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada until 1881, when he joined
the CPR. He arrived locally on July 4, 1886, aboard the first train
to Port Moody. He was, for 35 years (1886-1921) treasurer of the
CPRs Pacific Division. A prominent Vancouver figure, he served
as alderman for Ward 1 (1893-94). Salsbury was an advocate and a
charter board member of Vancouver General Hospital (1901). A street
in Vancouver is named for him.]
Second oldest, at least in point of incumbency,
is William Godfrey, dean of Vancouver's early banking fraternity.
He moved the vote of thanks to the speaker in a vigorous and witty
talk in which he was able to boast that he had known intimately
every one of the 45 presidents of the Board since its organization
in 1887. He went Major Brown one better when he recalled that there
was a time when the Board could not pay its rent at all and Mr.
Salsbury donated the use of a meeting place. Also he recalled that
the late Henry Bell-Irving was the first man in the Empire to advocate
Imperial trade preferences.
Major Brown recalled that it was exactly 50 years
to the day since The Board received its articles of incorporation.
He spoke in intimate terms of the past presidents present, with
most of whom he has been closely associated, and paid tribute to
the fine qualities they brought to the work of the Board.
Of Chris Spencer he said: Mr. Spencer
is, and I think you will all agree with me, the most beloved of
all our past presidents. A man of unflinching rectitude, a good
citizen in every sense of the term, his life an example to every
one of us, and especially to our younger members.
The story of the active part taken by the
Board of Trade in the up-building of Vancouver was told by Major
Brown in chronological order by recounting, with comment, the chief
activities during the years in which surviving presidents were in
In summary the story was as follows:
W. F. Salsbury (1892-93)
In addition to going on record about many purely local
matters, the Board passed a memorable resolution in which it declared
that Mr. Justice Crease of Victoria had no license to make
reference from the bench to men of British Columbia as insects
and liars and it therefore protested vigorously.
William Godfrey (1897-98)
In this year the fight against the Mountain differential
in railway freight rates was first started. It turned out to be
a long, stiff fight with recurrent victories, but with some sores
yet left unhealed. Also in 1897 were heard the first rumblings of
the Deadman's Island squabble, with the Board protesting against
any idea of a lease to private interests for use as sawmill site.
Frederick Buscombe (1900-01)
Extension of Trans-Pacific steamship services became a major issue.
There was a nice little political attempt from Victoria to
strip down the status of the Supreme Court in Vancouver. The
Vancouver Board of Trade led the protest. Vancouver won out.
W. H. Malkin (1902-03) The
freight rate fight was pressed in spite of bland indifference of
the railway and government. The idea that grain should come through
Vancouver from Alberta was first mooted. The Pacific cable was opened
and messages were exchanged with King Edward VII and Empire notables.
Vancouver got consequent Empire publicity.
H. T. Lockyer (1903-04) False
Creek navigation and industrial site problems were the subject of
study and vigorous representations to governments. A new customs
house was opened, largely as a result of Board of Trade demand.
E. H. Heaps (1908-09) The
grain movement idea was pressed. The Deadman's Island squabble became
a fight and a near riot, with the Board maintaining its active opposition.
There was a formal protest against the auction sale of Prince Rupert
lots in Vancouver and the Board publicly offered to tell prospective
purchasers the real truth.
H. A. Stone (1909-10) The
Deadman's Island fight was won and the Island became a part of Stanley
Park. There grew up a demand for a new city hall, not to be realized
until energetic Mr. McGeer appeared more than a generation
later and completed the job. The idea of a Second Narrows
Bridge was endorsed. Also the Board demanded a highway to connect
Vancouver with Alberta, ultimately to be part of a Trans-Canada
highway. The Duke of Connaught visited Vancouver and the Board had
much to do with the reception.
Jonathan Rogers (1914-15)
Came the Great War and a few days later the opening of the Panama
Canal. The war was a testing of the bonds of Empire; the canal opening
the signal for Vancouver to emerge from its status as a local community
into a world port, thus becoming a strengthening factor in
the wide arch of the British Empire.
B. W. Greer (1917-18) The
Board opened new offices in what became known as the Board of Trade
Building at Pender and Hamilton. The move infused new life into
board activities in spite of community preoccupation with war difficulties.
P. G. Shallcross (1918-19)
The Board urged establishment of a Chair of Commerce at University
of British Columbia. It came later. There was demand for a drydock
for Port of Vancouver. The rule of the road was changed
from left to right. Until then Vancouver and Victoria traffic had
followed the old British custom of driving to the left. [A 2007
note: this date was in error. Traffic in Vancouver didn't change
until January 1, 1922.] The Board supported the change, and at the
same time was urging more action on construction of the PGE. Bill
Payne was formally appointed secretary of the Board. That
was an epochal event. (Cheers.) The Board adopted the Bureau
system of organization which has proved an eminent success.
Chris Spencer (1919-20) The
Board demanded steamship service to Stewart which was quickly furnished,
first by Union Steamships. A commercial intelligence (trade commissioner)
service in foreign countries was urged on the Dominion Government
and soon secured. Also a National Research Bureau. The first rumor
was heard of possible provincial health insurance and the Board
asked to be advised of any move in that direction.
J. P. D. Malkin (1921-22)
The grain freight rates question assumed major proportions. With
an elevator here, Vancouver shipped 1.25 million bushels that year.
In a later peak year it was 105 million bushels.
J. B. Thomson (1923-24) A
number of Board members took a trip to Great Britain where they
advocated Imperial Preference in trade agreements. A Canadian customs
office at New York, long advocated by the Board, was opened. Contract
for a drydock was let. G. G. McGeer, K.C., took on the city's freight
rate fight at Ottawa, supported by the Board.
J. K. Macrae (1924-25) Capilano
Park, since greatly developed, was given in ownership to the Board
by the B.C. Electric, in trust for the citizens of Vancouver. Much
attention was paid to development of the primary and secondary industries.
F.E. Burke (1926-27) The
Board made the first suggestions for organization of the Canadian
Chamber of Commerce. Board members made their first good will
trip through the Okanagan Valley.
Robert McKee (1927-28) Organization
of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce was completed. The Board took
a particularly active part in a great international foreign trade
convention at Victoria at which 600 delegates attended.
T. S. Dixon (1928-1929) The
freight rates fight was still being waged with further results.
The Board took a lead in advocating construction of the Burrard
Bridge, also supported construction of a new city hall.
W. C. Woodward (1929-30)
Ninety Board members took part in the annual convention of the Canadian
Chamber of Commerce at Edmonton and Calgary, with a trip into the
Peace River country. The Board asked for Vancouver representation
on the board of Canadian National Railways and J. Fife Smith was
From this point, the Sun continued,
when the depression began to be felt, Mr. Brown traced board
activities sketchily, mostly because events are still fresh in the
minds of members. The presidents were R. D. Williams (1930-31),
when several members joined in a Canadian Chamber of Commerce visit
to the Orient; Mayne D. Hamilton (1931-32), which was a particularly
anxious business year; Major Harold Brown himself (1932-33), when
the depression was at its depth, when business was a skeleton
doing a tap dance, and the Kidd Committee made its report on government
finances which still stands as a vitally important document which
should be republished, H. R. MacMillan (1933-34); George Kidd
(1934-35), who continued the representations to Victoria which have
not yet been properly recognized, T. S. Dixon (1935-36), who filled
the position on the death of the late R. G. DuBois Phillips, then
vice-president, and J. Y. Carter (1936-37), whom the speaker eulogized
as one of the most active and outspoken presidents the Board has
Junior Board Weighs In
In its coverage of the Jubilee Luncheon (held, incidentally,
at the Cafe Commodore), the Province quoted Owen Bevan-Pritchard
of the Junior Board of Trade as saying that the progress of the
city in fifty years was a vital pulsating monument to the
efforts of the senior board.
We members of the Junior Board, he said,
will carry on in the future as you would wish us to do. We
hope you will be proud of us as we are proud of you.
A plaque was then presented, continued
the Province, to Walter Carson, president of the senior
board by Jack Melville, Junior Board president, commemorating the
fiftieth anniversary of the older body. In accepting the presentation
Mr. Carson recalled that the Board of Trade was a very moribund
organization when he joined it in 1917. A group of the young men
of that time, he said, determined to inject some new blood into
the group, and as a result it was completely reorganized in 1918,
a young group of men was elected to the executive, the bureau system
was put in effect and from that time onward the board had been an
active force in the life of the city.
Mr. Carson briefly traced the history of the
board from its inception on November 24, 1887, with forty members,
to its present status with 1,450 members. He read a letter of congratulation
to the gathering from Dr. Robert Mathison of Kelowna, sole living
charter member. [We did a bit of research, discovered that Dr. Mathison
was a dentist who practiced in Greenwood and Kelowna. He had also
run a job printing office in pre-1900 Vancouver.]
Among early objectives of the board were direct
steamer communication to Australia, an Antipodean cable, a resident
judge for Vancouver, a new postoffice, lower freight rates and grain
shipments to Europe. All these objectives were accomplished through
the aid and interest of the Board. After a brief glimpse into
the past fifty years and after looking at the young men gathered
here tonight, Mr. Carson concluded, I can see only a
bright future, far brighter than we have dreamed of in the past.
A feature of the evening was the cutting by Mr.
Carson of a 310-pound birthday cake, presented as the gift of the
Master Bakers' Association.
The December 1, 1937 Sun (Page 7) had some
interesting stuff about Canada's lighthouses and light beacons,
related to the Transportation and Customs Bureau of The Board at
a luncheon the day before. The speaker was R. K. Smith, K.C., Director
of Marine Services, Ottawa.
Some samples: There are 2,000 lighthouses or light
beacons kept operating as aids to navigation by the
Marine Services Division of the Federal Department of Transport
along the 4,000 miles of Canada's coastline on Atlantic and Pacific
and on lakes and river.
Also there are 4,000 fog signals, but only a small
proportion of them as close to a centre of population as those of
English Bay and Burrard Inlet which keep many Vancouverites
awake on foggy nights. Lighthouse service alone costs $2 million
Members also learned that the Department of Transport
has 7,000 men employed, of which 3300 are in the marine division.
Smith paid a fine tribute to Vancouver harbor as one of the
finest in the world.
Dirtiest Streets in the World!
Our harbor might be one of the finest in the world,
but back in 1937 Dr. Howard Spohn [our research showed he was head
of the Paediatric Section at St. Pauls Hospital], who was
just back from a trip to Europe, was less than complimentary about
our streets. He spoke to the Health Bureau of The Board in the Hotel
Vancouver on December 1, a talk reported on in the Sun next
day (Page 3).
Dr. Spohn recommended a clean-up campaign on Vancouver's
streets as an important aid to the tourist trade. He compared Vancouver
with many of the European cities which he studied while abroad.
Two cities in particular resemble Vancouver in appearance,
he said. Monte Carlo and Geneva. They have the same physical
surroundings, the only difference being that they have developed
their natural beauties while we have ignored ours.
Vancouver's streets are the dirtiest in the
world. They are a disgrace.
Lack of Civic Pride
All over the city, Spohn continued,
you'll find litter and refuse which would not be tolerated
in any other city in the world. It shows a decided lack of civic
He stressed the importance of building for permanency
and beauty and said that in Europe glass brick was being used in
many of the newer buildings.
In summing up his conclusions the speaker said that:
Tourists won't visit a dirty city. Culture cannot thrive in
slum surroundings. We have all the qualifications for advancement
but we are not using them. Street car tracks on Granville and Hastings
Streets should be removed. The smoke bylaw should be enforced.
He mentioned the CN Hotel, the Court House and St.
James' Church as examples of good architecture. [A note:
the hotel referred to is now the Hotel Vancouver, the court house
is, of course, today's Vancouver Art Gallery, and St. James
Church is the elegant Anglican structure at the northeast corner
of Cordova and Gore.]
Clean Out the Slums
Dr. Spohn paid a tribute to the Park Board for the
splendid work it is doing, remarking that Stanley Park is the most
beautiful park in the world.
The next few years, he concluded, should
see this city grow rapidly. It's up to us to see that we develop
as we grow. We should clean out the slums, concentrate on a couple
of streets, possibly Georgia and Burrard, and take a pride in making
them worthy of the city. The cultural and educational future of
the city rests in our hands and in the abolition of our present
dirty streets and slum policy.
Dr. Spohn passed around some photographs of European
buildings and showed a series of lantern slides of principal cities
of the old world.
What else was happening
locally in 1937?
For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The
Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.
Next: 1938 »