November 1, 1968
Chances are good that if you work in downtown Vancouver,
or attend a performance at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, or take
in a Lions game at BC Place, or settle down to read at the Vancouver
Public Library, you're being warmed by the folks at Central Heat
Distribution. They heat more than 180 buildings in the downtown
through a network of subterranean pipes, bringing steam (converted
from natural gas) from their building on Beatty Street to big clients
like the new Shaw Tower all the way down to the tiny bursts of steam
that sound the pipes on the Gastown Steam Clock.
John Barnes, Central's president, says the company
started November 1, 196836 years ago today.
A group of engineers had been talking over coffee
about the fuel oil and coal used to heat buildings at the time,
not to mention the beehive burners used to burn woodwaste. One of
them, Dave Leaney, suggested Vancouver could have a district
energy system like some other cities. Two years later it had
The result: cheaper heating bills for buildings
(no boilers to buy) and far less pollution.
(Incidentally, the cavernous building CHD occupies
today was once home to the printing plant for Pacific Press.)
November 8, 1927
There are hundreds of stories about Vancouver's
Orpheum Theatrewhich had its first show (a mix of movies and
vaudeville) 77 years ago today: November 8, 1927.
One of the best features Tony Heinsbergen, an American
artist whose decorative skills got him the commission to work with
the Orpheum's architect, Marcus Priteca. Heinsbergen spent much
of 1927 giving the Orpheum its flamboyant art and color.
Now flash ahead 50 years. Architects Ron Nelson
and Paul Merrick are reshaping the theatre to be home to the Vancouver
Symphony Orchestra when Merrick learns that Heinsbergen is in Los
Angeles, still working. They invite him to come back to Vancouver
and take part in the restoration. Heinsbergen (he turned 82 while
here) created a big mural for the Orpheum's ceiling. It had 24 panels,
each painted in L.A., shipped up here and attached to the ceiling.
The mural is peopled with mythical figures . .
. and real ones. The bearded man serenading the muse is Paul Merrick,
beardless today. The Merrick kids are up there, too: Natasha, Nika,
Maya and Kim. Maya is the angel. They're all in their thirties
today, Merrick says. The conductor is project architect Ron
Nelson, not, as is sometimes heard, former conductor Kaziyoshi Akiyama.
The tiger in the mural represents Heinsbergen's Nova Scotia-born
wife, Nedith, whom he called his little tiger.
Next time you're in the Orpheum, look up.
November 15, 1937
On November 15, 193767 years ago today—B.C.
premier Duff Pattullo took a welding torch and ceremoniously cut
a chain-link barrier to open the New Westminster bridge named for
him. In brief remarks he told the assembled throng the bridge was
a thing of beauty.
Words other than beauty” spring to the minds
of drivers these days for that bridge. At peak times on the Pattullo
3,700 vehicles an hour (a car a second) speed along its narrow,
curving lanes, each just three metres wide each, some 61 centimetres
or two feet narrower than today's standard.
TransLink has authority over the bridge now and
they and ICBC did a safety study recently. They found that about
one-fifth of drivers obey the speed limit on the bridge, while the
rest of us . . . don't. The result is the worst accident toll for
all lower mainland bridges, many involving head-on collisions.
Recently spotted: A bumper sticker reading I Drove
the Pattullo . . . and Lived!
A couple of footnotes: Because there was a toll when the bridge
opened locals referred to it at the time as the Pay-Toll-O Bridge,
and one of the proudest possessions of the New Westminster Museum
is a huge model of the bridge made entirely of wood.
November 21, 1930
There was excitement among Vancouvers little
girls on November 21, 193075 years ago todaywhen they
learned that a big shipment of Lillybet dolls had arrived.
The dolls were patterned after Princess Elizabeth, then four-and-a-half
years old, and The Vancouver Sun accompanied the story about
the dolls arrival with a photograph of the Princess. We wouldnt
be surprised to learn that some people out there still have one
of these dolls.
The dolls shown in the photo are of later vintage
(1937), but show Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret, who
were 11 and 7 respectively, as younger. That was, we learn from
Paul Seaton of a U.K.-based Virtual
Museum, a direct request from Queen Elizabeth, the Queen
Mother. The Queen Mum, says Seaton, loved the dolls and rewarded
the company that made them, Chad Valley, with the first Royal Warrant
issued to a toy company during the reign of George VI. Queen
Elizabeth, Seaton told us, launched a major public relations
offensive in the wake of the abdication [of King Edward VIII] to
restore confidence in the monarchy, with the dolls a key part of
November 22, 1894
St. Paul's Hospital looked rather different on November
22, 1894—110 years ago today—when Bishop Paul Durieu blessed it.
But that building in the picture stood exactly where the hospital
stands today on Burrard Street at Pendrell.
One of the first things I learned in St. Paul's
surprisingly large archives (several rooms of interesting old photographs,
newspaper clippings, and antiquated medical equipment—including
B.C.'s first heart/lung machine, made by hand in 1959 by a St. Paul's
doctor skilled at metalwork) is that the hospital was not named
for St. Paul, but for Bishop Durieu himself. The bishop had been
working for years among the native population in B.C., including
inoculating them against smallpox. He prepared a Bible in the Chinook
alphabet, which he had learned, allowed native adaptations of Catholic
practice and encouraged his priests to write petitions to the government
on behalf of local natives concerned about their land title.
The modest hospital the bishop blessed—owned and
operated then by the Sisters of Providence—could accommodate 25
patients. Today there are 512 beds.
November 28, 1964
Come back now to happier days when the BC Lions
won the Grey Cup for the very first time. It was November 28, 1964exactly
41 years ago today. The Vancouver Sun Page One story began:
The B.C. Lions scored one of the most startling upsets in
Grey Cup history today, crushing the Hamilton Ti-Cats 34-24.
The Lions were 20-1 at halftime! And let the record
show that quarterback Joe Kapp handed the ball to Bob Swift on the
one-yard line in the games first quarter at Torontos
Exhibition Grounds to give the Lions their first points. Sun
columnist Jim Kearney had great gloating fun by reprinting a bogus
Funeral Services announcement for the late British
Columbia Lions published pre-game by Hamilton. Due to
the deceased being de-KAPP-itated," it read, "the coffin
will remain closed.
Kapp never did get into that coffin. With fine plays
by Swift, Willie Fleming (a 46-yard touchdown run late in the first
half), Norm Fieldgate, Bill Munsey and Kapps favorite receiver,
Ron Norris, the Lions kept slashing away and fended off a desperate
Hamilton attack in the second half.
Prime Minister Lester Pearson made the official
kickoff, and made two bucks betting on B.C.
November 29, 1982
When Percy Williams came home to Vancouver in September, 1928 the
city went a little nutty. What Williams, a King Edward High grad,
had done—and what no Canadian track and field athlete has done since—was
to win two Olympic gold medals at the same games. He came out of
nowhere at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics to win both the 100-metre
and the 200-metre races.
Perhaps the most remarkable home-coming in
the history of British Columbia,” said BC's Premier Simon Tolmie.
Thousands of people jammed Granville Street from the CPR station
to Georgia Street to cheer 20-year-old Percy on. The demonstration
affected spectators,” one newspaper report said, to such an
extent that they tore up the contents of waste paper baskets, and
sent the fluttering scraps out over the crowds as confetti.”
Percy's race wasn't a fluke: He won the world record
for the 100-metre dash in 1930, and held it for 10 years. Only an
injury kept him from succeeding at the 1932 Games.
But he was shy and reclusive. I didn't like
running,” he told a reporter once. Oh, I was so glad to get
out of it all.” He never married and his later years were marked
by constant pain from arthritis. On November 29, 1982, exactly 22
years ago today, at age 74, he took his own life.
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