1910 (Sample Chapter)
A note to readers: This
is a first draft of the 1910 chapter proposed for the book.
It was completed March 20, 2006. By the time the book appears in
2009 it may be much altered.
1910 marked a major event in our history. On March 25 the first
airplane flight west of Winnipeg took place at the race track at
Minoru Park in Richmond. The news electrified the locals, and some
3,500 people showed up to pack the stands. Flying a Curtiss pusher
biplanethe engine was in the rear behind the pilotwas
a visiting American aviator, Charles K. Hamilton, who put the little
craft through its paces, thrilling the spectators. On the following
day, again before a big crowd, Hamilton flew from Minoru to New
Westminster and back, returning safely to the race track after 30
minutes in the aira real achievement for those days. Flushed
with success, Hamilton then challenged a racehorse, a local favorite
named Prince Brutus, to a one-mile race, and generously gave rider
Curley Lewis a head start. The horse won by ten seconds.
Still, the airplane was here to stay and Richmond, with its broad
flat lands, would eventually be home to Vancouver International
Meanwhile, down on the ground, rail continued to play an important
role in the growth of the city and its surroundings. From a November
24 newspaper story: "The management of the B.C. Electric Railway
Company issued a call for tenders for its new passenger station
and office block at the southwest corner of Carrall and Hastings
streets . . . The block will cost from $250,000 to $300,000 and
the foundations are of such a character that additional stories
may be added as the company's business grows. The ground floor will
be devoted almost entirely for use as a terminal passenger station
for the interurban systems of the company." Construction on
that building would begin in 1911, and it would open in 1912. Its
an office building today.
The interurban continued to have a major influence on settlement
here: wherever it went, new neighborhoods popped up. One of the
stops on the Vancouver-to-New Westminster line established in 1891
was named Cedar Cottage after Arthur Wilsons Cedar Cottage
Nursery. By 1910 it had become a small village with dozens of stores,
its own post office and school (Lord Selkirk, still around). And
BCER put through an interurban line this year on the south side
of the Fraser River, running from New Westminster through Langley
to Chilliwack, intended to bring farm produce from the valley into
The automobile was still a rarity, partly due to a lack of driveable
roads. But Harry Hooper, who started Vancouvers first taxi
company this year, excited a lot of attention when he drove his
car from Chilliwack to New Westminster, a distance of 48 miles,
in just two hours and 10 minutes. Thats an average speed of
about 22 miles an hour, a blistering pace compared to one set by
the driver of a 1907 Marion in Surrey who was fined $10 for speeding
at 12 miles per hour.
In 1910 Vancouver then will have 100,000 men,
the motto that had been bannered across city streets a few years
before, proved accurateif politically incorrect. The population
of the city did reach that total, and the skyline was reflecting
it: at the northwest corner of Hastings and Cambie Streets we put
up the tallest building in the British Empire. The idiosyncratic
13-storey 175-foot Dominion Trust Building is still one of the most
visually distinct in the city, with its red-and-tan exterior and
distinctive mansard roof. The architect was J.S. Helyer, about whom
a story persists to this daysometimes, I abashedly admit,
passed on by methat he died in a fall down the buildings
central core while on an inspection tour. Alas, as Donald Luxton
makes plain in Building the West, his book on our early architects,
Helyer would die in bed October 29, 1919.
On February 28, 1910 the citys new main post
office moved to the northwest corner of Granville and Hastingsone
block north of its old home at Granville and Pender. The Vancouver
World welcomed the new, the palatial building . . . a
landmark, a monument of chiselled stone and massive rounded pillars,
that caused the visitor to be impressed with Vancouvers power
and prosperity. Today, that building, with its famous clock
tower, is part of Sinclair Centre, the glossy office and retail
Another famous city clock tops the Vancouver Block, the stocky
white terra cotta building put up this year at 736 Granville.
While Francis Rattenburys imposing courthouse was being built
(1906-1911) a pair of sculpted stone lions were placed in front
of it. They were created by John Bruce, a Scot. Each weighed 15
tons, and cost $4,000. They glare out at Georgia Street to this
A couple of famous homes were built, too. Southlands,
a lavish Marine Drive mansion, was built for the wholesale grocer
W.H. Malkin. It was the first built in that area.
And then there was Glen Brae.
There are people who've lived in this area all their
lives and never seen Glen Brae, yet this dramatic double-domed
giant Shaughnessy mansion has been there on Matthews Avenue for
nearly a century. A retired B.C. lumberman named William Lamont
Tait built the place, and critical reception to it was mixed right
from the start. There are some who think it's the ugliest house
in Vancouver, some who think it's beautiful. Tait had no doubts
at all: he loved it. To set it off properly from its more prosaic
Shaughnessy neighbors he had an enormous wrought-iron fence imported
from Scotland and placed along the front of the mansion.
A neighbor, Mrs. E.H. Daniel, told Aileen Campbell
of The Province many years ago that, as a child, she'd lived
in the house next to Glen Brae and saw Tait often: He
was retired when he moved in. He was a great gardenervery
proud of his house and wrought-iron fence. He was a great man to
say how much things cost. It was brought from Scotland at a cost
of $10,000. I remember as a child being very impressed. That was
a lot of money . . .
But that was just the fence. There were 18 rooms in the mansion,
one of them a ballroom taking up the third floor. With regard for
the tender tootsies of their dancing guests, the Taits had the ballroom
floor underlaid with a thick and flexible layer of seaweed. I once
walked around on that floor and, even though it was carpeted, could
feel it give slightly under my feet.
Tait's lavish tastes are evident throughout the house. How much
of its style comes from him and how much from its architects, Parr
and Fee, isn't recorded. One of the mansion's six bathrooms has
a huge stained-glass window of a sailing scene. There is an attractive
three-metre stained glass window in the west wall showing a rural
scene somewhere in Ontario.
Today Glen Brae is Canuck Place, a childrens
hospice, but much happened in this big, distinctive house before
that (it was briefly a home for the Ku Klux Klan), and future pages
will tell you more.
Another place devoted to care opened in Vancouver in 1910. In this
case, the care was there from the first day. We call it Central
City Mission now, but when they laid the cornerstone at 233 Abbott
Streetin a driving rainit was just the Central Mission.
Clerics from a number of local churches were there. The Mission,
on Pender Street today, has since housed thousands and fed millions.
Future buildings were being planned for, too: in
May the provincial government launched a site commission
to travel throughout the province looking for a good site for the
proposed provincial university. They selected the Point Grey peninsula,
but it would be 15 long years before UBC opened there.
Some of the citys future buildings would be
designed by an architect named Woodruff Marbury Somervell. He arrived
in Vancouver this year from Seattle, where a recession was hitting
his trade hard. Among the buildings Somervell would design in the
next few years: sugar king B.T. Rogers' mansion Shannon,
the now-vanished Birks Building, the BC Electric building at Hastings
and Carrall and the T-D Bank at Hastings and Seymour.
There was a lot of building going on, too, over at Hastings Park.
The Pacific National Exhibitionits name at the beginning was
simply the Vancouver Exhibitionmight have opened earlier than
1910 if it hadnt been for the Royal Agricultural Show in New
Westminster. That annual fair had been running for years, and New
West tried to stall the creation of a competing fair in Vancouver.
It didnt work. Pressure from Vancouverites made the PNE inevitable.
Years later Alderman J.J. Miller, whod been
the first president of the exhibition association, reminisced about
the birth of the fair: The facilities for transportation [in
1910], Miller wrote, were not equal to the task of transporting
the population of the growing City of Vancouver to New Westminster.
The B.C. Electric Railway had but a single track connecting the
two cities with a very limited number of interurban cars. The Canadian
Pacific Railway on Exhibition days ran a special train made up of
all kinds of rolling stock, passenger and freight, via Westminster
Junction [now Port Coquitlam]. There was no highway, no automobiles,
With all the available means of transportation,"
he continued, "not one half of the population could be handled.
The expense also was great and the cost to a family excessive. The
idea of an Exhibition located within the reach of a five-cent car
fare to the population of the big City of Vancouver gained ground,
and in 1908 definite steps were taken . . .
Two years of hard work by Miller and others followed until August
15, 1910the informal opening datewhen the gates to the
Exhibition were thrown open and the crowds poured in. The official
opening was the next day, and the man who presided was the prime
minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. This was in a day when the visit
of a prime minister thrilled the citizens.
Photo Thats the prime minister in the
derby just behind the white-coated driver (note the right-hand drive)
of that beautiful automobile, a Napier. The top-hatted mustachioed
gentleman on the left is Ewing Buchan, president of the Vancouver
Canadian Club and manager of the local branch of the Bank of Hamilton.
The hatted man in the light suit between Laurier and Buchan is Vancouvers
mayor, L.D. Taylor. (This was Taylors first term as mayor.
Many, many more would follow!) The photo was taken at the north
foot of Granville Street, by the CPR station where Sir Wilfrid had
just arrived by train.
The opening day crowd at the Exhibition was large:
about 5,000. (Admission was 50 cents.) The organizers hadnt
been expecting anything like that number. Manager Henry Sharpe Rolston
later recalled what that first day was like: The arrangements
for the first fair were very inadequate, particularly the handling
of the crowds . . . Many of the directors tried to handle the crowds
at the gates. The fence was knocked down; we collected cash and
let the people in, put the cash in our pockets and emptied our pockets
at the office. Everything was in a turmoil . . .
The Vancouver Daily News-Advertiser wrote,
Petrified women, sacrificial crocodiles from the sacred river
Ganges, and dusky negroes who dodge swiftly thrown baseballs, to
say nothing of the numerous Salome dancers, Spanish Carmens, Dutch
comedians and chorus girls are some of the attractions being offered
the visitors at the fair this week.
Over the next 10 days, some 68,000 people attended. The turmoil
was solved, and for the next two decades the Vancouver Exhibition
was the second largest in North America after New York Citys.
The work of the church continued, of course. For the Catholics,
the Oblate Fathers opened their third Vancouver church, this one
on East 12th Avenue just west of Main Street in Mount Pleasant.
Today, that church, St. Patricks, has been replaced with a
newer and bigger building just around the corner and facing onto
Main Street. Knox Presbyterian Church began services in Wilson Road
(West 41st Avenue) School in the Southlands district, would build
its church in 1911. And an Anglican Church conference held in London,
England this year awarded a grant to establish a theological college
in Vancouver. They called it Bishop Latimer College, named for a
16th century English martyr, and put it at 1548 Haro Street. Today,
its on the UBC campus.
Ecumenism was alive: the Associated Charities of Vancouver started
a West End Creche (as child-care facilities then were called) this
And one of Burrard Inlets lasting landmarks was introduced
this year when Sacred Heart Catholic church, consecrated in 1884
at Ustlawn village, the Indian mission village in North Vancouver,
had a second spire added during renovations, and was rededicated
as St. Paul's. Those twin spires have graced the north shore skyline
for the better part of a century.
BNai Brith began in Vancouver this year with the establishment
of Samuels Lodge #668. (The Canadian section of B'nai Brith
was founded in1875, the country's oldest Jewish service organization.)
Ewing Buchans name appeared earlier in this
chapter. Thanks to Buchan, many people believe that O Canada,
Canadas national anthem, was written in Vancouver. If only
it were so.
Buchans brother, Brigadier-General Lawrence Buchan, stationed
in Quebec, had sent him a copy of the music, composed in 1875 by
Quebec's Calixa Lavallée. Ewing Buchan was very taken by
the air, and he and his family often sang it in their home at 1114
Barclay St. Daughter Olive provided the piano accompaniment. But
Buchan was dissatisfied with the English translation of the French
words to the tune and decided to write his own, a single stanza.
The opening four notes suggested to Buchan an obvious
first line: O Canada.
The same two words began the French lyrics to the song. The air's
first four notes, in fact, inspired a small mob of Canadians outside
Quebec to begin their versions of the song with the same two words.
(A Toronto-based magazine offered a prize for the best three-stanza
song in English, set to the Lavallée air, and got 350 entries.)
At the urging of Vancouver city archivist Major J.S. Matthews,
Buchans son Percy wrote a pamphlet on his father's creation
of those now forgotten lyrics.
It happened, Percy wrote, that
in 1908-09 my father was second vice-president of the Canadian Club
of Vancouver. The custom of the club was to open its luncheon proceedings
with a toast to the King (Edward VII), followed by singing of the
National Anthem, God Save the King, and to close with the
first verse of The Maple Leaf Forever. Having O Canada
in mind, he resolved to urge its substitution for The Maple Leaf
Forever at all functions of the club and to that end devoted
a considerable part of his leisure during the winter evenings of
1908 to quiet reflection on the matter . . . The song had its introduction
at the close of a luncheon meeting (of the Vancouver Canadian Club)
on Wednesday, February 9, 1910, in old Pender Hall, situated on
the upper floor of the present two-storey building at the southwest
corner of Pender and Howe streets. [Hes writing this in 1947]
. . . Eventually it became the custom of the club to close its meetings
with the singing of O Canada instead of The Maple Leaf
Supporters of the Buchan version would distribute
some 40,000 copies to Vancouver school children and keep up steady
(but eventually unsuccessful) efforts on its behalf for years. For
the record, here are the words to the Buchan version
of O Canada:
O Canada, our heritage, our love
Thy worth we praise all other lands above
From sea to sea, throughout thy length,
From pole to borderland
At Britain's side, whate'er betide,
Unflinchingly we'll stand.
With heart we sing, "God Save the King"
"Guide thou the Empire wide," do we implore
"And prosper Canada from shore to shore."
Canada mourned May 6 when King Edward VII died. The Vancouver chapter
of the IODE (Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire) commissioned
a fountain from sculptor Charles Marega in tribute to Edward. Today
it stands next to the Art Gallery on the east side of Hornby Street.
Edward was succeeded by George V.
Despite its relatively small size (about 150,000
at the time) Metropolitan Vancouver began to attract world-class
entertainment personalities. On November 17, 1910 Anna Pavlova,
the most famous dancer who ever lived, danced in Vancouver as part
of a North American tour. It was her first visit here, and the audience
went gaga. The Province review of her performance went beyond
rave, flirted with worship.
That's Mikhail Mordkin with Pavlova in a photo
taken during that tour. Pavlova returned the citys enthusiasm.
She described her first visit to the city (she would make two more)
in a short autobiographical note: We stayed at little towns
in Canada; at Vancouver among other places. An incident which took
place there, although trifling, amused me greatly; it illustrates
the delightful courtesy of the Canadians. While Pavlova dined
at a restaurant after her performance, "a gentleman who was
seated at another table stood up and in an extemporized speech asked
all present to drink my health . . . all responded to the invitation
and drained their glasses in my honor." That incident made
the Seattle newspapers, Pavlova noted, and, not to be outdone, the
locals there paid her a similar compliment.
One tiny memento of her appearances in Vancouver
came to light in a curious way many years after she died. It happens
that, during one of her later visits here, she had performed at
the now-vanished Empress Theatre at Gore and Hastings. As they were
tearing that theatre down in 1940, one of the workmen noticed a
flash of soft color in the debris. He reached down and picked up
a tiny powderpuff. Stitched on it, in faded golden letters, was
a single word: Pavlova.
Another showbiz personality in Vancouver this year was an itinerant
young English would-be actor, aged about 23, named William Pratt.
Acting jobs were scarce, and he got a part-time job here as a carpenter
at the Vancouver Exhibition. Later Pratt would move to Hollywood
and change his name to Boris Karloff. The PNE was partly built by
The excitement of the Pavlova visit done, a few
days later another visitor got local hearts racing. The second ship
of the Royal Canadian Navy, HMCS Rainbow, a 3,000-ton cruiser,
steamed into Vancouver's harbor on November 23rd. Photo She
was the first RCN warship to visit the port, and the city gave her
and her 189 crew members a big welcome. Other ships dipped their
flags and blew their sirens, and Mayor Taylor and his council went
out in the city's state barge to welcome the ship. (The
Province explained that the "state barge" was, in
fact, the "waterworks launch with Steve Madison at the wheel.")
The Rainbow was not a new ship; shed been launched in 1891
at Jarrow-on-Tyne, England for the Royal Navy.
A Bank of Vancouver was established, but it would go into liquidation
just five years later, because it could not attract a significant
Columbia Bitulithic was founded this year and headquartered in
Coquitlam. The company built roads throughout the province and was
responsible for a lot of the Vancouver road network.
The first B.C. Federation of Labour was formed. Twenty-six delegates,
mainly from the Lower Mainland, pledged to seek the eight-hour day,
favored industrial unionism and endorsed socialism. This federation
would be disbanded in 1920.
The McElhanney engineering firm was established this year by W.G.
McElhanney, professional engineer and land surveyor. Today, the
McElhanney Group of companies is a very large, multi-disciplined
firm with offices in western Canada and Indonesia.
Woodwards held its first one-price sale day, 25 Cents Day,
a forerunner of $1.49 Day.
The map of the lower mainland was due for a change: Hastings Townsite
ratepayers voted December 21 to join Vancouver, effective January
1, 1911. The townsite was a big chunk of land. Superimposed on a
map of the city today, it would stretch from Burrard Inlet to East
29th Avenue between Nanaimo Street and Boundary Road.
An important name on the map changed, too: Westminster Avenueso
named because it led to New Westminster at the timebecame
Main Street. (Its original name had been False Creek Road.)
Riverview Psychiatric Hospital opened in Coquitlam as the Hospital
for the Mind, including Colony Farm, operating out of a hay barn
on1,000 acres. Sixty patients were admitted the first year, working
on the farm to provide food for themselves and staff.
Sculptor Charles Marega created a bust of former mayor David Oppenheimer
near the entrance to Stanley Park. (Oppenheimer had presided at
the 1889 opening of the park.)
A visitor to Vancouver's east side reported that a "Piccola
Italia," or Little Italy, had been established in the area
around present-day Main Street. There were about 1,000 Italians
in Vancouver at the time.
The Canadian Immigration Act specifically barred immigrants from
The wood-hulled, steam-powered tug Haro was built in Vancouver
for B.C. Mills (Hastings Mill) for its harbor service.
Bob Brown, the man who would become known here as "Mr. Baseball,"
bought the Vancouver Beavers for $500. He was the club's owner,
president, manager and shortstop.
James Edwin Machin, Vancouvers first librarian, died March
Vancouvers police began agitating this year for a six-day
week. The request was shelved, and the seven-day week continued.
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