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|... including many additions of photos
and correspondence to the on-line parts of Vanishing
British Columbia and Vancouver
news and reviews about Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years
|I was very sorry to hear that the Percé summer school in
eastern Québec, run by the Université Laval, has closed
due to budget cuts. Created by the former dean of visual
arts, architecture and planning, Claude Dubé, the school used a
historic summer house of a New York painter as its studio and
gathering space, while many of the students rented the charming
summer cottages nearby that were owned by the Canadian Heritage
of Quebec foundation. It was a wonderful synthesis of art
school, economic enhancement for a depressed rural region and
heritage stewardship. I was fortunate to teach there in 2003,
2004, 2005 and 2011 – this page is from
2011 and has links to the earlier times there. Une belle
|Two trips, one last October to Missouri and the other last
month to Mexico, added to the long list of journeys on my travel
The demolition of "St. Mike's," the former residential school at Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, closes another chapter in the province's scandalous history of the education of Aboriginal people.
Readers of my Vanishing BC page will see that the issue of whether to retain the building, reuse it, or keep it standing as a memory, or just to clear the site, has been controversial for more than a decade. In the end, those who felt that healing could best happen through razing won the day.
St. Eugene's near Cranbrook provides another side of the story, perhaps.
|This has been my year of jury duty (not
of the civil or criminal kind, thank goodness), beginning with
the Architecture Foundation's Best
Buildings Contest last November and continuing this spring
with the City
of Vancouver Heritage Awards and the Lieutenant-Governor's
Award for Literary Excellence.
And, two lectures:
-Thursday, March 26th: Len Norris and the Vancouver Imagination for the Vancouver Historical Society
-Wednesday, April 1st: first lecture of "Oh Canada! Perspectives on Canada Today" at SFU Harbour Centre, a six-part course.
|Also, news that the lane house behind 1754 Pendrell in the West End will soon be demolished, as City Council has approved the huge redevelopment of the site, including the small apartment building on the right. It and the house in front were built in 1904 by Adorinam J. Paterson, the chief clerk of the CPR steamship company. I painted the image above in 2010 for Vanishing Vancouver.|
|Going, going ... The last two houses on Hornby Street,
numbers 1243 and 1251 between Drake and Davie, as they were in
2005 when I painted them for Vancouver
Remembered. They were much in the news this week because
of their pending removal/demolition to make way for the
Burrard Place condo development by Reliance Properties and the
Jim Pattison group, which has operated a Toyota dealership on
the Burrard Street side of the block for nearly 1000 years.
The developer's offer of them, for free, cash and carry as it
were, attracted the attention of the CBC
and CityTv, the two crews who interviewed me, plus various
newspapers. Although they are tall, urban houses, the idea of
moving them isn't so nutty, given the cost of construction on
places like the Gulf Islands and the proximity of the houses
to the beach; I'm aware of one bungalow that went from 57th
and Adera to Hornby Island recently, incurring costs including
site prep at the destination of about $80,000, way cheaper
than the cost of building new (especially on islands, where
costs and timetables go sideways quite quickly). In 2005, I
enjoyed the synergy between the the houses and the lottery
sign, hanging beside them like a price tag.
|"Toshiko," my graphic novel, is finished and is
now being translated into French and beginning pre-press
production. It will be about 7 x 10 inches and 120 pages,
published late this spring according to plan. I will post
details about it, including the publisher, plot and hype and
the possibilities of a launch as soon as I can.
Other spring events for me:
• I will be speaking at the Grandview Woodlands Area Council meeting, open to all, on February 2nd, talking about heritage and policy in the 'hood as part of the discussion around the area plan.
• February 4th at 6:30 at the VanCity Theatre, I'll be part of the panel discussion following the showing of a Vancouver Heritage Foundation film on heritage revitalization work in the city.
• March 26th, 7:30 pm, my lecture on "Len Norris and the Vancouver Imagination" to the Vancouver Historical Society, at the Museum of Vancouver on Kits Point.
• April Fool's Day, 12:30, details to follow, I'll be giving an SFU lecture on "Canada's self-image: urban, rural or wilderness?", the first of a 6-part series talking about ... yes, Canada!
|... a final commission from 2014, another of the little
west-side Vancouver houses (this one on 23rd west of Dunbar)
that is about to be demolished for a much bigger house. Unlike
others that are bland and charmless, this little home was
unaltered from its 1920s beginnings and was a modest place to
raise modest families for a few generations – just the sort of
thing that has no value at all in the new city. I will hope,
in my Pollyanna sort of way, for a change of attitude in 2015.
This is added to the images on my Commissions
...and, a farewell to Mark Forsythe of CBC British Columbia, whose retirement was formally announced today on the radio and who ceases broadcasting on Christmas Eve. Mark's support on his BC Almanac program back in the early 2000's was crucial in getting the word out for my Vanishing British Columbia project.
Above Kitsilano Beach, 1945
Come Fly With Me, ha ha, on November 13th, 7 pm, at the HR MacMillan Space Centre as we present another evening of historic panoramas and aerial photographs projected onto the planetarium's huge dome. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at 604.738.7827 ext 240.
807 Drake when it was still in good shape, sketched in 2002
|Jamie Pringle tipped me off about the demolition of the
1907 house at 807 Drake, another of the increasingly few
wooden relics from the time when "Downtown South" was called
Yaletown and was home to a diverse community of working-class
people. The house has been boarded up for years. There are a
few more images on my very incomplete page here.
|A few events coming up in the next month, to get me out
of the house while I slog along with the graphic novel...
• The Evolution of the Vancouver House, an illustrated talk at Kerrisdale Community Centre on Thursday, October 16th, at 7:30 pm. The talk is free but please register in advance by calling 604 257-8100.
Autumn is vintage film season for me. If you're in Vancouver, don't miss International Home Movie Day on Saturday, October 18th in the afternoon. Details here. I'll be there for part of the time talking with people at the Archives table.
Stablemen and their horses outside the Jersey Farms dairy barn on Arbutus at 11th, 1940
• November 2nd, 2 pm, this year's showing of vintage films from the Archives at VanCity Theatre. Vancouver – A Progressive City! Absolute classics of the industrial film genre from the late 1930s through the late '50s, supplemented with colourful Grey Cup parades and other curiosities. "The closest I can get to that era without a time machine ..." Tickets here. Please get them in advance and arrive early – in previous years, due to the line-up for tickets, we've started late and have had to rush through to get out of the theatre before the next showing.
• November 2nd, 7:30 pm, we're screening the 2012 movies – Vintage Vancouver – again. Bridge construction, the Stanley Park kiddies' train, a dog show in the 1930s, amateur documentaries of Gastown and the protests over the showing of Caligula, and an award-winning promotional film from 1975 are highlights of that presentation. Tickets here, and please be on time!
A simple commissioned oil painting from this summer. I put it up here because all my oils of buildings seem to have that Edward Hopper quality (which I admire greatly) of stillness and loneliness without me reaching for any effect at all. I guess it's a style thing, of painting over a dry undercoat rather than alla prima (wet into wet). I'm glad the client went for an oil because a watercolour of a simple subject like this would have been a bit spare.
|A quiet summer in terms of colourful artwork, except
for a few commissions, as
work proceeds on the graphic novel ... More to come on that
• I'll be participating in the Discovery Saturday BC Stories afternoon at the Surrey Museum on September 20th, click here for details, including giving a brief illustrated talk on Vanishing British Columbia.
• Also, don't miss my "Son of Gentrification" talk on September 30th at Hycroft, one of the lectures offered this fall by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation.
• A page on the Pleasantside store added into the Vanishing British Columbia section of this site; it's a relic on the Ioco Road west of Port Moody from a time when the Belcarra area was summer-cottage country, as witnessed by my June and May entries below.
• And, interesting entries into existing Vanishing BC pages on Pavilion, Beaton, the Lee Bak Bong Building in Armstrong, plus another Garbage Gobbler picture.
|From Barbara Roden, Ashcroft: As an admirer of your 'Vanishing British Columbia' series, and local amateur historian, I thought you might be interested - and probably saddened - to know that the buildings at the former forestry station in Ashcroft, on Highway 1 beside Ashcroft Manor, burned down last night (18 July). I live in Ashcroft, and my son - who's a volunteer firefighter - got a call around 11.30pm to attend a fire there (I just picked him up; he's one tired 16-year-old). No word on how the fire started, and the firefighters managed to save the Manor, Teahouse, and cabins around the Manor, but all the buildings on the forestry station site are gone; there's nothing left standing but the brick chimneys. There's no word yet on the cause of the fire, but high winds last night, plus tinder-dry conditions, meant that once it got hold there was nothing anyone could do to save the buildings, and efforts were concentrated on keeping the fire from spreading (it kept jumping the highway) and saving the Manor buildings.|
|Just added: a page of artwork, photos and ramblings
from our recent trip to Britain, one
of the ongoing series of journeys indexed on my travel
• Unfortunately, no news yet of any break in the impasse between the cottages at Belcarra Park and the Metro Vancouver Parks Authority chronicled below.
|A Pending Act of Cultural Vandalism
by Metro Vancouver Parks
Some readers may have followed the story of the cottagers in Belcarra Park, part of the City of Port Moody in the Vancouver area managed by the regional parks authority. The Village of Belcarra (on whose land the northernmost cottage sits) has also been involved and is supportive of cottage retention.
Stubbornly resisting Port Moody's and Belcarra's desire to save the cottages and indifferent to the wide public protest that has arisen in the last year or so, Metro Parks has ordered the eviction of the cottagers as of June 30th. They then plan to demolish the cottages and would likely cut down a swath of trees to create more picnic or play area, although they have no budget and no up-to-date plan that anyone is aware of.
I'm not sure how this will play out, whether the residents will try to stay on or not, or whether the political pressure from Port Moody will get some traction with Metro. See more on my Belcarra page.
|•On May 28th at 7 pm, I am repeating my presentation of
historic W.J. Moore panoramas of Vancouver, under the dome of
the Space Centre. Please call for tickets in advance, using this
link, as the last event sold out and 40 people were left
outside in the rain.
•And (below) I'm just back from a few weeks in Britain and working on the usual array of images that will eventually be added to my travel page.
|It's been a long time since I did any outdoor painting
in the pale spring sunshine, but a commission in Langley of a
soon-to-disappear rural property prompted me to rouse the
watercolours from their long sleep. This seems to be the
classic scenario for commissions nowadays – people moving on
and wanting something better than a photograph as a memory.
I've added this image to my Commissions
|I haven't put much up on this site lately, which is not
to say I haven't been busy – working on a graphic novel (that
is, a glorified comic book) with the working title "Trapped."
It's set during WWII in the interior of B.C. and expands on
one of the themes from my book Vanishing
British Columbia, but it is fiction, absolutely.
Publication date? Maybe the fall of 2014?
Whether or not they have any value as literature or art, graphic novels are a heroic labour. It's so much easier just to write "he stood on the side of the road as the schoolbus lumbered toward him" than it is actually to draw it. It's a slow process.
I get distracted by painting commissions and the preparation for lectures and such like, including:
• The reprise of the show of historic W.J. Moore panoramas of Vancouver in the dome of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre on Wednesday, May 28th at 7 pm. (John Atkin's 'part I' of the 2-parter takes place on the 14th, as you'll see from the link.) The show last November sold out and many were turned away, so ...
• We're beginning work on a new panoramas show for the fall, and ...
• Also we're sorting and reviewing vintage films from the Vancouver Archives for shows at the VanCity Theatre, as I've done for the past couple of years. There will be 2 shows, one of new material, one to reprise the 2012 screening, on November 2nd; the new program will be screened a second time on November 30th at 2:30 pm.
• And, mark your calendars for August 17th, 10 am, the only walking tour I give each year: this year it's Hippie Kitsilano. Sign up soon on the Heritage Vancouver website. Please don't come in costume!
On a sad note, Metro Parks seems determined to evict the cottage community in Belcarra Park. At a meeting tonight, Port Moody Council is considering a heritage designation for the cottages; what impact that will have is hard to say, but the community is rallying around this unique piece of the community's history. I'll post more information as I get it.
Update April 11th: see the Belcarra page.
|I've been noticing the loss of little landmarks lately,
rendering even my recent books out of date (or, alternatively,
the kind of records of a lost time I probably intended them to
(Left) The 1904 house at 819 Pacific Street, painted from the Howe Street on-ramp of the Granville Bridge in 2006 for Vancouver Remembered. It was raised one storey into the air in 1927 so that a confectionery could be inserted beneath it; this evolved into a café in the 1950s and, in the 1970s and '80s, into a chic bistro known variously as L'Escargot and La Cuisine. It was demolished this last winter, making way for more huge changes including the Bjarke Ingels twisty tower that will loom above the bridge.
And two from Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years, published just 2 years ago.
(Middle) The last phone booth I know about, on East Hastings at Lakewood. Who needs a pay phone anymore? (a rhetorical question)
(Right) Scott's Grocery at Victoria and Georgia in Grandview, which I painted in 2011 when it was one of the last operating corner stores in the city. The owners have sold and retired; the battle will soon begin to try to retain it and its neighbours in that apartment-zoned area.
• the annual Finn Slough art event takes place on March 13–15 at the Richmond Cultural Centre, where it's been held in the recent past. Hours and details are at www.finnslough.com. I will be speaking at the opening, showing a Powerpoint about the Finnish community, the slough and some of the historic squatters' settlements in the Vancouver area, on the Friday at 7.
• I will be repeating the sold-out Moore panoramas show at HR MacMillan Space Centre, referenced below in the November 24th entry, on Wednesday, May 28th. Further details following here as the time comes closer.
|I was asked by the Architectural Foundation of BC if I
would nominate 6 buildings in the boonies for the BC Best
Buildings Contest that was displayed with the house and
chimney shown above at Buildex, which just wrapped up in
Vancouver. You can (or at least I can) spot four of my Vanishing
BC watercolours on this face of the display. The
intention was not to nominate the beautiful
institutional buildings like courthouses that still grace
several BC towns, but rather to suggest ones that capture
something of the province's varied past. The contest details
can be found at www.architecturefoundationbc.ca.
For the record, the 6 are:
• Denman Island General Store
• Alexandra Lodge
• Trout Lake Hotel
• Lawless Ranch
• McBride Railway Station down near the bottom of the page
• The Potato House in Williams Lake
|Good weather for watercolours in Vancouver
• My 'Vanishing Vancouver' 6-part course begins this Friday, February 21st, at SFU Harbour Centre. Last-minute registration details here.
• I have an opportunity to talk about agriculture – specifically the history of it in Vancouver – at the Copley Community Orchard AGM on March 2nd, 2 pm. Details here.
• Jason Vanderhill's very interesting Illustrated Vancouver blog has spawned an exhibition of vintage architectural illustration and wacky dreamscapes at the Museum of Vancouver: Vancouver Imagined. A great show to see along with the others there: the Dan White architecture retrospective and the Foncie's Photos show.
|Added to the travel page, a
record of a trip to Los Angeles and
along the Big Sur coast of California. There is some
artwork like the watercolour here as well as a number of
photographs of LA architecture, including a small section on
• And, continuing the theme of North Bend, the little whistlestop in the Fraser Canyon that made a big splash in the news last week due to the $1 houses story (noted below), I've added to one of the North Bend pages a truly vintage photo of the community in 1885, the year before Vancouver was incorporated.
|Interesting news that the Highline Houses
in North Bend, BC, are for sale for $1 by the Fraser Valley
Regional District, including the land! Title transfer
will occur after the houses have been rehabilitated to an
acceptable heritage standard.
The newspaper article from the Hope Standard, and information on the houses, is here.
The buildings are the best, almost only, survivors from the early years when North Bend was a divisional point on the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The houses have been boarded up for years; as the article states, the Regional District has been paying insurance on the houses and is seeking an innovative solution to the problem of keeping them in the community.
Stay tuned. Any ideas?
• On a more positive note, the Granite Creek area on the Tulameen River has received a kind of heritage status, congratulations to Diane Sterne of Coalmont and her colleagues!
Artwork, writing and snapshots from our recent trip to Malaysia and Singapore
|• Merry Christmas to all readers ! ... (by the way,
this is a purely digital image, drawn/painted in Photoshop
Elements 9 using a Wacom Bamboo tablet)
• The only public event I have coming up is an illustrated talk on January 23rd, 7pm, at Kerrisdale Community Centre in Vancouver, with the title "What's Vanishing About Vancouver?"
• ... and, beginning on February 21st, my six-part lecture-series and course entitled (what else?) 'Vanishing Vancouver' at SFU Harbour Centre. Details and registration here.
Coming soon – art, snaps and scribbling from Malaysia & Singapore
|• Thanks to everyone who turned out at the VanCity
Theatre for the Vintage Vancouver screening today and made it
a sold-out event for the second year in a row! All things
being equal, we'll do it all over again next year.
• Coming up: December 4th, 7 pm at the HR MacMillan Space Centre ("the planetarium") in Vancouver, I will be narrating a presentation of old (75 - 100 years) panoramic photos by WJ Moore of Vancouver scenes, matched to contemporary ones and projected onto the dome of the theatre, concentrating on images of False Creek, Granville Island and suburban (mainly Kerrisdale) neighbourhoods. The photographs are in the collection of the City of Vancouver Archives.
I'm presenting the second half of this show (John Atkin did the first one in November which packed the theatre). It's a stunning use of their new digital projectors and an unequalled way to compare the old city with the current one.
More details of the evening here. Please buy tickets in advance: over the phone at 604-738-7827, local 240.
• ... and, beginning on February 21st, my six-part lecture-series and course entitled (what else?) 'Vanishing Vancouver' at SFU Harbour Centre. Details and registration here.
|The recording of my talk, "A Brief History of
Gentrification in Vancouver," at SFU Woodward's earlier this
month. It goes on for about 1 1/2 hours including the
questions at the end. If the embedded frame doesn't come up on
your phone or tablet, use this
The record of a trip in beautiful autumn weather through the Okanagan and Boundary Country, including this 1906 house in the orchard and winery centre of Prairie Valley near Summerland, added to the long list of trips on my travel page.
|Three very worthwhile events coming up:
• International Home Movie Day at the Centre for Digital Media, October 19th in the afternoon: I'll be at a table there from 1-3
• A presentation by two eminent historians on British Columbia a century ago – the major fundraiser for the City of Vancouver Archives, on Sunday, October 20th at 2 pm.
• the link, promised earlier, for...
|•My talk on the history of Gentrification in Vancouver
last night at SFU Woodwards ...
...went very well, with more than 100 people attending. It was filmed and will be posted on the web within a week or so and I will post the link here. The intention is to have a couple more evenings there in 2014, more like symposia, to explore the issue further.
•And for something completely different – change due to abandonment rather than development – I've consolidated all the information on Spuzzum due to the amount of correspondence that was spread across 2 pages.
•And two passings to note: Janet Bingham, a friend who was crucial to the evolution of heritage conservation in Vancouver, especially in the saving of Barclay Heritage Square and the Roedde House Museum, died last week, as did cartoonist Roy Peterson, who drew way better than I ever could during my brief career as a newspaper cartoonist.
|One of the more interesting commissions I've painted
recently was the two portraits of former Commanding Officers
of the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own),
unveiled yesterday at the Beatty Street Armoury in Vancouver.
I painted the portraits of Colonels Arthur Lungley and John
Toogood, both deceased, from photographs, with advice from
another former CO, David Sproule (on the right in the blazer)
and the two widows of the subjects (standing next to the
pictures). Lt.-Col. Sajjan, the regiment's current commanding
officer, is standing on the left. Colonels Lungley and Toogood
were key to the armoured regiment's push across France and
into Belgium and Germany in the months after D-Day in 1944.
See the regimental
website for more information. Go to my Commissions
Page to see the pictures up close.
Coming up, October 7, 7 pm: my illustrated lecture, "A Brief History of Gentrification in Vancouver," which may be a little controversial, at SFU Woodwards's World Arts Centre. Here's the link for the free tickets.
|And for something completely different, summertime is
commission-painting time, including this year ...
... views and buildings, added to my Commissions page.
Finally ... a decent painting of the DOT Site on the Trans Canada highway near Ashcroft.
|New & upcoming:
• a guest column by me in the Vancouver Sun on "green lessons" from the past for city planners
• my only walking tour of the year, a fundraiser for Heritage Vancouver called Estates of South Kerrisdale, on August 10th. [Sold Out]
• October 7, 7 pm: an illustrated lecture, "A Brief History of Gentrification in Vancouver," at SFU Woodwards's World Arts Centre. I'll put a link for free tickets here asap.
• November 24, 2 pm: an afternoon of vintage films, mainly about Vancouver, at Vancity Theatre. Last year's event sold out and a hundred people were turned away, so .... I'll put a link for the tickets here asap.
|The news recently that Vancouver Province
cartoonist Bob Krieger had taken a buyout after 32 years
caught my attention, beyond my normal level of interest in the
impending demise of the daily press, because 33 years ago I
was competing for that job. As it turned out, the editor
obviously preferred Krieger's Aislin-like style (like the
older Montreal cartoonist Terry Mosher aka Aislin) to mine.
I was asked after a couple of recent talks about my formative years, ha ha, before I began writing and illustrating books in the early 1980s. "Cartoons and commercial art," I said. "Really?" came the reply. All of that seems so distant and different from what I've done since.
So here's a page on my early cartooning career from 1979 – 80 at the Province, the Vancouver Sun and the Victoria Times, added to my False Starts page....
Somebody in Taoyuan (a suburb of Taipei in the R.O.C.) has put up a sort of 'tribute site' using watercolours from my old book British Columbia in Watercolour (1993). There's your opportunity to see some of the pictures from that out-of-print book, which I've never put onto the web myself. (I suppose, technically, I should care that this has been done without my permission, but it's been done with respect and ... this is the 21st century, right?)
... another addition to the oil-painting page and...
... a quest to find a recording of the Okanagan [or O.K.] River Boys, a country band that played in the Boundary country in the late '40s and early '50s. Colin Preston, CBC archivist, wrote me to say, "No luck, I'm afraid. I consulted with the plant's musical history guru, Lee Rosevere, as well. We all drew a collective blank." Anybody have a copy tucked away? More information on the band is midway down this page.
...and a good article updating the information on Finn Slough ...
|The logo of the Grandview Heritage Group, coloured up.
I drew it more than a year ago with brush and ink:
This is the group I'm very involved with on various projects, detailed here.
There have been some very interesting additions to the Vanishing BC parts of this site:
• a 1970s colour photo of the CPR Hotel in North Bend
• a vintage wrecked house, which may be an Eaton's kit, in the ranchland east of Rock Creek
• rehabilitation of the Johnny Ward House in Yale and news of the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Cariboo wagon road
• news about work at Tranquille, near Kamloops, including restorations of some of the buildings
• sad news (with photos) that a slide has wiped out one of the buildings at Camp Defiance on the Hope-Princeton highway.
|A research project on a separate blog site called Vacant
Vancouver. (Which is going nowhere as of the end of the
month! – please send in data!)
It's an attempt to crowdsource a map of the vacant houses in the city, as part of the ongoing debate about whether Vancouver's neighbourhoods, both downtown condo and single family, are being depopulated as a side effect of international real-estate speculation.
|Do all artists grimace involuntarily when they're
painting a grimacing or laughing face? Looks like I do...
I've been working with artists Victoria Oginski and Penny Street on the restoration of an old bakery company mural on the sidewall of a building in Vancouver. The sign is probably from the 1920s and is one of the last of hundreds, maybe thousands, painted in the city generations ago. It emerged from beneath a coat of stucco a few years ago and had deteriorated dramatically, with paint falling off and fading. We set out to stabilize the surface, preserving the original paint and patina, then adding just enough paint to bring the design back to life.
The restored sign is below. Victoria Oginski is the mural specialist of the team: a good example of her work is on the sidewall of Drive Organics, in the greenway at Napier and Commercial in Vancouver.
(photo on the left by Penny Street)