Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More about "$300 a lot"



Jak's post below shows an ad offering the block bounded by Garden, Parker, Nanaimo and Napier for sale. Six houses had been completed by 1912 when the Goad's Atlas (mentioned in a previous post) was published. The great real-estate boom continued for another year or so before collapsing just before the beginning of the First World War. The three houses on Napier marked by red dots have since been demolished.

The interesting dwelling is the one third from the left facing Napier Street (at the bottom of the map), with a modern address of 2317 Napier. It was probably just a cottage/shack, built for a few hundred dollars and set near the back of the lot, maybe to give more south-facing garden space for growing vegetables. Regardless, the owners built a new house in 1929, which is still there.

You think about the economics of it: $300 for the lot and a couple of hundred more for the structure bought you a piece of security near the city boundary (Nanaimo Street before 1910). And it would have been really modest -- a couple of rooms, a wood stove, perhaps not even electricity, but it would have had running water. A labourer made about $600 a year. The parallel a century later would be a labourer making, say, $40,000 a year being able to buy a modest house for about $40,000. Instead, out at the edge (now Langley or Maple Ridge or beyond) a modest house (albeit much more lavish than the cottages of a century ago) costs more like $450,000.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Grandview Subdivision -- $300 per lot!

Back in the spring and summer of 1907, Grandview was the hot item both for speculative land investors and working class home-seekers.  Much of the land east of Park Drive (now called Commercial Drive) had barely been cleared; new sub-divisions were arriving on the market all the time.

This ad from an East End broker was typical of the lands being offered for sale:

This advertisement is from the "Vancouver World" 6th July 1907, p.10

Monday, February 20, 2012

Goad's 1912 fire atlas on line



Library and Archives Canada have recently added a copy of a century-old property atlas (used by the fire insurance industry) to its website -- the perfect time-waster for a rainy day. Grandview is in Volume 2. Click on the link above and search on the archives site or use Google to search Goad's + Vancouver + volume 2 and you should get it.


I was interested to see that, in my neighbourhood, there was an isolation hospital on the block just north of Templeton Park (block 9). There's no evidence of it left at all (although I will check more closely). Templeton School ended up being built in the 1920s on Block 8, which was subdivided into lots but never sold, it seems.



You can see on the map a couple of early street names: Harris became East Georgia, and Union became Adanac on the section between Vernon Drive and Boundary Road, apparently because property owners in East Vancouver complained that Union Street near Main was notorious for its brothels and bootleggers. Adanac, now the east-west bike route, is 'Canada' spelled backwards.

Power, Energy, Change & Continuity

Today is the first day of Heritage Week.  In BC, the theme is Power and Energy.  In celebration, thereof, I offer this 1950 image of BC Electric workers fixing a power pole at Grant & Commercial (VPL 81076):


Here is the same corner, Grant & Commercial, looking northwest in 2011:

The first thing I notice is just how many more trees we have in our streetscapes than we did 60 years ago.   In fact the rebuilt version of F.N. Hamilton's building on the far side of Grant (which is now Charlatan's Bar) can hardly be seen through the trees.

Fred Hamilton had moved his hardware and plumbing business into 1447 Commercial in 1945.  In May 1957 they demolished the building that can be seen in the first photograph and erected a new shop in concrete block.  The Hamilton's (having been in business on the Drive since 1914) sold out to Hillcrest Plumbing in 1969.  Hillcrest closed in 1987 after which the building was taken over by a series of restaurants and bars.

On the nearside of Grant we have 1501-1503 Commercial which was built by Angus Campbell in the spring of 1936.  As the upper image shows, this building was originally a single-storey flat-roofed structure, a signature style for Campbell. However, as can be seen from the modern image this building now has two storeys, a change that was made in 1970s.

What the two images also reveal is the wonderful continuity of the Blue Bird Beauty Salon.  The Blue Bird was an original tenant of 1503 Commercial in May 1936 and they have stayed there ever since. In the image from 1950 I was excited to see their old Blue Bird sign at the far left of the photo.

Finally, and returning to the theme, the electric pole being working on in 1950 is no longer in that position (though the fire hydrant is!)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Miscellanea

We had an interesting meeting last night, spending a long time discussing how we can "incentivize" the retention of heritage-worthy buildings, both in the residential and commercial districts of Grandview.

James Evans noted that he had recovered a copy of the Toronto Post dated 25th January 1906 from his renovation of the Jeffs House. The paper is rolled up and in a fragile condition. He is looking for someone who might be interested in it and who has the skills to preserve it.  Anybody out there?

This week has also seen a number of useful and interesting articles flowing by in the Twitterstream. These include a piece on the development of greenways in Seattle, a good article from Toronto about the hidden value of heritage properties, and another about heritage being the way of the future.

Finally, there are also some great images of the Waldorf Hotel's tiki bar in the 1950s.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is on Thursday 16th February in the Boardroom at Britannia Info Centre. 


Everyone is welcome!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Grandview Theatre -- 100 Years Ago Today

On February 12th, 1912, Thomas Shiels opened the Grandview Theatre movie house at 1712 Commercial. It is the white-arched building in the middle of this image.

The building permit had been dated 10th October 1910, with J.J. Donellan as architect and Jones & Purvis as builders. In his opening advertizing in the Western Call, Shiels claimed that the theatre had "been built to suit the public regardless of cost."

Understanding the audience's desire for novelty, the Grandview Theatre changed its program every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

At the end of 1922, Shiels built himself a larger theatre a few doors up the block at 1730 Commercial. The old theatre was closed in November.


Shiels sold out to Famous Players in 1927 and the new Grandview Theatre became a central feature of Commercial throughout the 1920s, '30s, '40s and into the 1950s. Not only did they show all the latest movies, but they made themselves available for fashion shows, relief concerts during the war, and even mass political meetings.

When the rival Rio Theatre opened at Broadway & Commercial in 1938, Famous Players spent $25,000 on renovations to the Grandview, including new floors, new seating, two new projectors and a brand new foyer. The front of the theatre was redone once again, this time in red and black, in early 1940.

Tommy Thompson, a wounded vet from WW1, was manager of the Grandview from 1943. A popular figure in the neighbourhood, he became a key figure in the formation of the Canadian Legion Branch on Commercial after the end of WW2.

Like many cinemas, the Grandview Theatre was threatened by the introduction of regular TV service in the early 1950s. They put in a brand new "VistaVision" screen in December 1954 in an effort to compete, but it was too little too late. The Grandview Theatre was closed at the end of 1957 and the building was immediately demolished.

1712 Commercial, the Grandview Theatre's first home has survived to this day. For most of the last century it was part of Manitoba Hardware. Today it is a pet store.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Drive's First Answering Machine

Fifty-five years ago this week, in February 1957, Jack Bowman -- who had just taken over Illustra Photography at 1525 Commercial -- installed what was probably the Drive's first telephone answering service. It was a service offered by BC Tel and the local press called it a "gimmick."

Source: "Highland Echo" 21 Feb 1957

Sunday, February 5, 2012

More Links From The Stream

Our twitter feed @GVHeritage has brought us more interesting items:

Here is Allan Garr's opinion that the STIR program has not brought affordable housing to Vancouver. Given the assumed change in planning philosophy, this needs to be kept in mind.

This next piece is from the Economist and discusses the feel of streetscapes and crowd dynamics.

Finally, City Archives came up with this wonderful photograph of an imitation elephant on Burrard in 1900.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

All Ramped Up ...

... and ready to go. Here is the Jeffs House jacked up on rollers just before it was moved across the site at Charles & Salsbury.

Thursday, February 2, 2012