Australia Day

January 26 is Australia Day, Australia’s national day. We have records that show some of Vancouver’s interactions with Australia and Australians. Here are a few examples.

The Young Australia League is a youth organization founded in 1905 that promotes “education through travel”, among other activities. They stopped in Vancouver during their 1929 overseas tour, along with a burro they picked up in their travels.

Young Australia League with burro

Members of the Young Australia League with burro, May 1929. Stuart Thomson, photographer. Reference code AM1535-: CVA 99-2027

They posed on some of our giant lumber:

Posed on lumber stack

Young Australia League posed on lumber stack, May 1929. Stuart Thomson, photographer. Reference code AM1535-: CVA 99-2029 (detail)

In 1911, the Vancouver High School Cadets had visitors from Australia. According to Major Matthews,

Australian Cadets, in uniform, visited Vancouver in 1911, 1915 and again in 1920.

Cadets in Vancouver

Cadets of Vancouver High School entertaining their visitors from Australia, December 1911. Reference code AM54-S4-: Mil P180.

In 1912, Vancouver High School Cadets visited Australasia and created this souvenir of the experience, decorated with a kangaroo and a beaver.

Composite photographic display

Souvenir of Vancouver High School Cadets Australasian Tour. Stuart Thomson, photographer. Reference code AM1535-: CVA 99-279.

Australian athletes have visited Vancouver. Here’s Mayor L.D. Taylor and a visiting cricket team in 1932, playing at Brockton Oval.

Cricket players

Mayor L.D. Taylor bowls the first ball during Australian cricket team visit, 1932. Alderman E.W. Dean is second from right. Dominion Photo Co., photographer. Reference code AM1477-1-S2-: CVA 1477-71.

Opportunities for communication and travel between Vancouver and Australia increased when air service started. Major Matthews tells us that on

. . . the 18th Sept 1946 at 5:15 p.m. the Australian National Airways airplane “WARANA”, with thirty three passengers on board, inaugurated the first regular mail and passenger service between Australia and Canada. She landed at the Vancouver Airport.

Greetings from the Mayor of Brisbane to the Mayor of Vancouver marked this event.


Letter of greetings on the occasion of the first Trans-Pacific Air Mail Service between Canada and Australia from the elected official of the City of Brisbane. Reference code COV-S483 file First flight Canada-Australia – aeroplane “Warana”, 34-C-5 folder 2.

Matthews also states that, on September 20, 1949, a few months after Canadian Pacific Airlines started weekly flights from Canada to Australia, the Lord Mayor of Sydney flew to Vancouver and presented the flag of the City of Sydney to the citizens of Vancouver.

Mayor Thompson of Vancouver flew to Australia the next year on an official visit. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation invited our Mayor to broadcast his impressions of Australian cattle while he was there, but the itinerary of his visit does not show a stop at the cattle showground.


Telegram from Australian Broadcasting Commission to Mayor Thompson, January 1950. Reference code COV-S483 file Visit to Australia – Mayor Thompson, 34-F-3 folder 5.


During his visit, Mayor Thompson gave a speech. An excerpt:

Long ago, when geographical knowledge of the Pacific was scant, it was proposed that British Columbia should become a colony of New South Wales, and be governed from here (Sydney). Perhaps we should congratulate each other that we both escaped.

He also noted the thousands of Australians who came to British Columbia when gold was discovered in the Cariboo, and the ranch they established there. He described the Garden of Remembrance in Stanley Park, which had been recently dedicated to the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian air services.

Happy Australia Day to our Australian friends!

All quotes are from City of Vancouver Archives, Reference code AM54-S23-2, file Australia and Canada.

3 responses to “Australia Day

  1. Would you have any photos of William Tuff Whiteway, architect of many historic buildings? He is in my family tree. Thank you,

  2. Do you have any photos of architect William Tuff Whiteway?
    He is part of my family ancestry. I have just recently discovered my relationship to him.
    Thank you.

  3. Heather Gordon

    As far as we can tell, we don’t have any photographs of W.T. Whiteway. He may be in some we haven’t described yet, or unidentified in others. We do have one of his business cards and an architectural drawing he created for an addition to the Yale Hotel.

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