MALCOLM MACLEAN DAVID OPPENHEIMER FRED COPE ROBERT ALEXANDER ANDERSON HENRY COLLINS WILLIAM TEMPLETON
1886 to 1887
MALCOLM MACLEAN

Vancouver's first election on May 3, 1886, was a wild affair, rife with labour unrest and racism. The favourite going into the election was Hastings Sawmill manager Richard Alexander, of Alexander Street fame. But a strike at Hastings Sawmill divided the community, particularly after Alexander announced he would hire Chinese workers to replace the white strikers. The strikers talked real estate salesman Malcolm MacLean (b. 1844, Tiree, Scotland, d. 1895) into running against Alexander. MacLean won in a squeaker, 242 votes to Alexander's 225.

1888 to 1891
DAVID OPPENHEIMER

Oppenheimer (b. 1832, Bleiskastel, Germany, d. 1897) was one of early Vancouver's biggest landowners and businessmen. He was elected by acclamation for two of his four one-year terms. During Oppenheimer's tenure, the city's first water main was laid from the North Shore, a streetcar system was established, and electric streetlights were introduced. He also helped persuade the Canadian Pacific Railway to move its terminus to Vancouver, and helped secure Stanley Park for the city from the federal government.

1892 to 1893
FRED COPE

The election of Fred Cope (b. 1860, d. 1897) in 1892 was the closest in Vancouver’s histor y, with a winning mar gin of 11 votes over his rival Dr. J.T. Carroll. Cope was also the youngest mayor in Vancouver history, only 32 when elected. Before becoming mayor, Cope was the president of the British Columbia Building Association. A full-on newspaper war erupted during the election campaign when the Vancouver News Advertiser claimed Cope was a puppet of Oppenheimer, and the Vancouver World championed him.

1894
ROBERT ALEXANDER ANDERSON

Anderson (b. 1858 Belfast, P.E.I., d. 1916) was a realtor who had been chair man of finance on city council; The World hailed him as 'one of our most enterprising citizens' who had “accumulated property by fair means.” The election had a nasty side, with allegations that mayoral candidate Henr y Collins tried to bribe another candidate to drop out of the race. Anderson managed to stay above the fray. “Can anyone point to a blot of his personal or political honour? We think not,” said the World.

1895 to 1896
HENRY COLLINS

After losing to Anderson in the 1894 election, Collins (b. 1844, d. 1904) walloped John McDowell 686 to 299 in 1895 to become mayor. Collins had an accident shortly before the election which prevented him campaigning, but won nonetheless. A big election issue was a bill put forward in the B.C. legislature by then-premier Alexander Edmund Davie that would have limited the powers of municipal government. Collins was elected for two terms; in 1896, he was the first candidate to poll more than 1,000 votes in a civic election.

1897
WILLIAM TEMPLETON

William Templeton's second try for the mayor's seat (he had lost to Oppenheimer in 1890) was successful. Templeton (b. 1853, Belleville, Ont., d. 1898) was in favour of building a smelter in the city, extending voting hours so that more working men could make it to the polls, and removing the provision that candidates for civic office own property in Vancouver. Templeton died three days after losing his bid for reelection in 1898; he is believed to have committed suicide.

JAMES FORD GARDEN THOMAS O.TOWNLEY THOMAS F. NEELANDS WILLIAM J. McGUIGAN FREDERICK BUSCOMBE ALEXANDER BETHUNE
1898 to 1900
JAMES FORD GARDEN

The 1898 election was fought in the middle of the Klondike Gold Rush. Supporters of James Ford Garden (b. 1847, Upper Wood-stock, N.B., d. 1914) argued that mayor William Templeton had failed to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by gold fever, while Templeton’s supporters retorted Garden would run a “wide ope ntown” with a music hall “that would injure the morals of the young men growing up amongst us.” As mayor, Garden personally led a force that stopped lumber baron Thomas Ludgate from logging Deadman’s Island in Stanley Park.

1901
THOMAS O.TOWNLEY

Thomas Townley (b. 1862, New-market, Ont., d. 1935) was a lawyer and land registrar who campaigned on building up Vancouver’s shipbuilding and manufacturing industries, as well as building a new railroad to the Kootenays. A big issue was whether the city’s numerous saloons should have earlier closing hours. Townley was supported by the saloon owners’ “Licenced Victualers Association,” and won a decisive victory. Paradoxically, electors also voted for earlier saloon closing hours in a plebiscite. There was a tremendous snowstorm on election day which reduced the voter turnout.

1902 to 1903
THOMAS F. NEELANDS

Thomas Neelands (b. 1862, Carleton, Ont., d. 1944) swept into office in a wave of voter discontent with Thomas Townley, who the World cast as the candidate of “saloons and gambling and kindred matters.” Two days after Neelands’ election, the chief of police announced Vancouver’s days as a wide open town were over: there would be no gambling except in clubs, and no more saloon openings on Sunday. “No drinking on Sunday unless a private bottle is taken home,” became the new rule.

1904
WILLIAM J. McGUIGAN

William McGuigan (b. 1853, Stratford, Ont., d. 1908) is the only Vancouver mayor to hold degrees in both law and medicine. McGuigan believed in public works; he supported the extension of English Bay beach, building a new Vancouver General Hospital in Mount Pleasant,and wanted to extend the sewer system to the suburbs. He also wanted to bring more railways to the city to break the Canadian Pacific Railway monopoly, and in office laid the groundwork for the draining of the False Creek flats for railway yards.

1905 to 1906
FREDERICK BUSCOMBE

Vancouver was booming in the early 1900s, but the business elite wasn’t always happy with the way city hall was run. Business found a champion in Frederick Buscombe (b. 1862, Bodmin, England, d. 1938), a glass merchant who had been president of the board of trade before he was elected mayor. McGuigan’s personal popularity proved no match to Buscombe’s pledge to implement sound financial management to city affairs, which earned him the support of the business class and all three daily newspapers.

1907 to 1908
ALEXANDER BETHUNE

The 1907 civic election was fought under the shadow of a provincial election. Alexander Bethune (b.1852, Peterborough, Ont., d.1947) was a shoe merchant and long-serving alderman who headed the Electoral Union slate, which swept most civic offices. The big election issue was whether to allow the new Vancouver Westminster and Yukon Railway access to the city. The Liberal World’s banner headline “Civic Elections Presage Big Liberal Victory” proved optimistic, because the Conservatives handily won the provincial election three weeks later.

CHARLES STANFORD DOUGLAS LOUIS D. TAYLOR JAMES FINDLAY TRUMAN SMITH BAXTER MALCOLM MCBEATH ROBERT HENRY GALE
1909
CHARLES STANFORD DOUGLAS

The 1909 election attracted an unprecedented number of candidates for mayor: five. A wide variety of issues were aired during the campaign: nationalization of the port, the eight-hour working day, a new Vancouver Exhibition at Hastings Park, the construction of a new Second Narrows Bridge, and reform of the city administration. Realtor Charles Douglas (b.1852, Madison, Wis., d. 1917) won in a three way race with Vancouver World owner Louis D. Taylor and Edward Odlum, a well-known local academic. Taylor won a rematch in 1910.

1910-11, 1915, 1925-28, 1931-34
LOUIS D. TAYLOR

Louis Denison Taylor (b. 1857, Ann Arbour, Mich., d. 1946) was a fixture in civic politics for three decades, running for mayor 20 times and winning eight elections between 1910 and 1934. A self-styled champion of the working man, Taylor claimed he lost the 1923 election because a woodpecker had flown into a transformer, shutting down the streetcar lines and keeping Taylor’s working class followers from the polls. Taylor shamelessly promoted his candidacy through his World newspaper, and built the landmark World Tower, now the Sun Tower, in 1912.

1912
JAMES FINDLAY

James Findlay (b. 1854, Montreal, d. 1924) upset two-time mayor Taylor in a lively 1912 race. Through his ownership of the World, Taylor railed that Findlay was against women's suffrage, but was for putting stray dogs to death. Taylor campaigned on raising the minimum wage to $3 per day, purchasing the False Creek tidal flats for railroad lands, and building a new city hall; Findlay was a businessman whose ads said he wanted to “shape the city's affairs wisely.” Findlay won by 1,314 votes.

1913 to 1914
TRUMAN SMITH BAXTER

Truman Baxter (b. 1867 Carlington, Ont., d. 1956) was elected by acclamation in 1913, just as a dizzying boom ended and a slump set in. He fought two mayoral battles with L. D. Taylor, winning in 1914 and losing in 1915. Baxter ran on his strengths as a business administrator, arguing that he had pulled the city’s finances together out of the “financial chaos” caused by previous administrations. Baxter was said to be favoured by women voters, Taylor by working men. Baxter won in 1914 by 2,091 votes, Taylor won in 1915 by 686.

1916 to 1917
MALCOLM MCBEATH

The 1916 election was fought in the midst of First World War, and public morality was at the forefront. Malcolm McBeath (b.1880, d. 1957) charged that his opponent Thomas Kirkpatrick was a shill for the “King Booze”crowd, who would call in favours after the election. McBeath argued that he alone would fight for the “moral welfare of the city.” McBeath also introduced a nasty racial undertone to the election by noting that Kirkpatrick owned a shingle mill where he employed Chinese labourers.

1918 to 1921
ROBERT HENRY GALE

With prohibition imminent, mayor McBeath again tried to cast his opponent as a front for the “forces of the liquor traffic and the underworld.” Robert Gale (b. 1878, d.1950) retorted with newspaper ads proclaiming that he had contributed $25 to the People’s Prohibition Movement. The election ended with a sensational scandal, when a female friend of McBeath’s fell ill at a meeting, went to McBeath’s room and ordered a glass of whiskey as medicine. Gale slaughtered McBeath by 3,300 votes, the biggest majority given a mayor to date.