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October 3, 1948

A tiny spot in Stanley Park has a long and pleasant history. Native people had been passing by for centuries, but around 1860 the Royal Engineers made a small clearing there for a survey post. A fellow named Johnny Baker, who’d married a local native girl, built a shack in the clearing and moved in with his family. He made the clearing larger, put in a little garden and started keeping pigs. But in 1888 a road was built around the park (paved with discarded shells dumped over centuries by the native residents) and Johnny and his family had to move.

The Salvation Army had arrived in Vancouver in December 1887, holding their first meetings above a grocery store at Abbott and Water Streets. But when the weather was nice the "Hallelujah Lassies" and other adherents would go across the water—"armed with flag, drum and tambourine"—to Johnny Baker’s clearing and have picnics there. They built a simple shelter and a picnic table, and held services. Their singing and shouts of Hallelujah! Hallelujah! led to locals calling the place Hallelujah Point.

On October 3, 1948—57 years ago today—the spot was officially named Hallelujah Point in honor of the Army’s 60 years of service in B.C. It’s where the Nine O’Clock Gun is.


October 4, 1983

In 1969 Fred Hill, a linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles, and his wife Fran were told their three-year-old daughter Kimberly had leukemia. Hill and his wife Fran took Kim to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. For the next few months they slept in chairs in Kim's room, ate out of vending machines and tried not to show sadness in front of her. Hill talked to his teammates and asked for help in raising funds, not just for Kim but for all kids whose parents needed help.

Out of that painful experience came the idea for Ronald McDonald House. (The McDonald's Restaurants franchise owners in Philadelphia got behind the idea in a big way.)

There are more than 250 of these houses now. They're described as homes-away-from-home for families with children undergoing life-saving treatments at nearby hospitals. Locally owned and controlled, and supported by donations, they offer the children and their families a place to stay at a nominal overnight fee.

Vancouver's opened at 4116 Angus Drive in Shaughnessy on October 4, 1983, exactly 21 years ago today. The three-storey renovated house has 15 bedrooms, a playroom and more. The house is on a beautiful piece of land about 15 minutes from the Children's Hospital. Find out more at www.ronaldmcdonaldhousebc.com.


October 10, 1911

94 Years Ago Today

If you’re 22 or younger the building at Georgia and Hornby Streets has always been the Vancouver Art Gallery, but if you’re older you’ll remember it, too, in its earlier life as the city’s provincial courthouse. It has been sitting there for more than 90 years.

The newspapers of October 10, 1911—94 years ago today—were full of praise for the handsome new building, “the finest of its kind in Canada.” (It had replaced a much smaller structure that sat at the rear of what is now Victory Square.) The architect was Francis Rattenbury, whose other well-known B.C. works include the legislative buildings and the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

For all its size, from the day it opened it was considered too small and plans were laid out to build a west wing at once. On the very day the new building opened, a problem arose in one trial. "When the name of the accused was called out, it was announced that he was locked in the cells and could not be liberated till a locksmith was secured, owing to the fact that the locks, being new, refused to open. The court was accordingly adjourned till after the luncheon hour."

The Art Gallery moved into the building in 1983.


October 11, 1899

On October 11, 1899—105 years ago today—the British and the Dutch (called Boers) in South Africa began a war for control over the gold-rich territories in southern Africa. The British Empire got involved with a fervor hard to understand today. About 60 men from all around B.C. joined up to go over, Abut,” said one Vancouver volunteer, Awe were so crazy to join up it should have been 6,000.” Maybe it was because this was Canada's first war.

Small contingents from Victoria and New Westminster assembled with the 17 Vancouver volunteers at the Drill Hall on Pender Street. (The Shelly Building at 119 W. Pender at Beatty, across the street from the Old Sun Tower, stands on that site today and has a commemorative plaque in the lobby.) Mayor James Garden gave each Vancouver man $25 on behalf of the citizens, and off they marched to the CPR station to join up with the Canadian contingent at Quebec City.

The Brits thought the war would be a short one, but the Boers (“Farmers”) proved to be a tough bunch. It took three years to beat them. A victory at Ladysmith was so enthusiastically received here that mining magnate James Dunsmuir, who learned of it while standing above Oyster Bay on Vancouver Island contemplating plans to create a new town, named it Ladysmith.

Of the 60 men who went from BC to the war, one did not return: Trooper Timlick, of New Westminster.


October 17, 1920

“Canada has been crossed by airplane!”

That’s how The Vancouver Sun began its front-page story on the arrival at Minoru Park in Richmond on Sunday, the 17th—85 years ago today—of Air Commodore A.K. Tylee of the Canadian Air Board and his crew aboard a DeHavilland D-H-9-A biplane.

The flight had been accomplished in relays of crews and aircraft. The first crew left Halifax on October 7 aboard a Fairey seaplane. At Winnipeg the seaplanes and flying boats used throughout the eastern leg of the journey were replaced by three DH9s, of which only one finally made it to Vancouver.

The Sun’s reporter was alerted, like the rest of the waiting crowd, to a faint buzzing sound from the east, “and soon a tiny speck could be seen like a bird winging its way across the leaden sky . . . the speck grew larger until the giant machine could be made out.” The plane cut its engine above the Minoru field and glided in for a quiet landing.

In all, the flight had taken eleven days, but time in the air was just 45 hours, when it took trains 132 hours to make the same journey. It looked like there might be a future for the airplane.


October 18, 1934

If you were a rabid baseball fan waiting at the CPR station in Vancouver October 18, 1934C70 years ago today—you might have had trouble breathing. Stepping down from the train that day were Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Charlie Gehringer, Heinie Manush, Lefty O'Doul, manager Connie Mack and more than a dozen other superstars of the game. They'd come to play an exhibition game at Athletic Park, which stood at West 6th and Hemlock.

The Babe's team was called “Babe Ruth's All Americans,” and they would play the “American League All-Stars.” (Off-season barnstorming like this of squads made up of players from various teams was eventually stopped.)

Three thousand fans showed up the next day in pelting rain that lasted the whole game, with the field ankle-deep in mud, but the players—the Babe included—stayed, and so did the crowd. Said Lefty O'Doul in the dugout, “Say, this is some baseball town, isn't it? Back in Portland there weren't five hundred out and on a bright and sunny day.”

Ruth, who had hit 60 home runs for the Yankees a couple of years earlier, told the Sun's Hal Straight that nobody would ever hit 60 again.


October 25, 1954

A fire that heavily damaged UBC's Brock Hall October 25, 1954—50 years ago today—sparked agitation for a metropolitan fire department, one that would coordinate fire-fighting services for the whole lower mainland.

It took three hours for the university's fire brigade and five trucks from Vancouver to quell the blaze. Before the fire forced them out and the roof collapsed, students swarmed into the building to haul out whatever they could. Dick Underhill (now running a law office on Bowen Island) was president then of the Alma Mater Society, which had its offices in the building. “We were actually having a meeting at the time,” he recalls, “And everyone pitched in to save things. There were some valuable paintings by BC Binning that we rescued, and I recall dashing into the AMS office to save some of the Society's records. Then all we could do was stand outside and watch the fire burning merrily.”

Brock Memorial Hall, opened January 31, 1940, was named for Geological Engineering Dean R.W. Brock and his wife, both killed in a float plane crash at Alta Lake July 31, 1935. The Hall was home to dances, debates, concerts, banquets, meetings and plays. Students immediately started a drive to raise funds to fix the building. It was successful.

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