Author Archives: Bronwyn Smyth

The Peak of Enchantment!: Grouse Mountain Highway and Scenic Resort

“Don’t fail to visit Grouse Mountain. Its wonders are proclaimed by the thousands who have been there. It gives you a thrill such as you have never known before and as you will never know again unless you return – which you probably will.” Such is a sample of the marketing campaigns aimed at visitors and residents of the Vancouver area in the late 1920s and early 1930s by the Grouse Mountain Highway and Scenic Resort Ltd., the records of which can be found here at the Archives.

Crown, Dam, Grouse, and Dome Mountains, with the Grouse Mountain Highway and Scenic Resort Ltd.’s road drawn onto it, ~1925. Reference code: AM76-F02-: CVA 257-1

The company, which was incorporated on November 27, 1924, sketched out an ambitious plan in its prospectus which was published about a year later in 1925. Its aim was to build and operate “a first-class hotel and encampment” on the plateau near the summit of Grouse Mountain, “with tourist camp facilities for summer and winter amusements and sports.” The chalet itself was billed as “modern in every respect, with plumbing, heating, electric lighting and water supply, telegraph and telephone service.” Indeed, the fruition of the chalet and facilities did come to pass, with the resort opening on October 23, 1926. The company’s prospect to bring investors a good return on investment did seem promising given the stunning setting of the resort combined with the exponential increase of motor tourists, particularly American tourists, visiting the Vancouver area in the 1920s, and the easy access to the North Shore with the then newly completed Second Narrows Bridge in 1925. (Previous to the completion of this bridge, the only way to connect to the North Shore from Vancouver was to take a boat.) Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays and all that from the Archives! Also, a reminder that the Archives will be closed from noon on December 24, 2019, until 9am on January 2, 2020, for the holiday season.

Jack Booth’s Christmas greeting card from the moon, 1969. Reference Code: AM276-S2–

This year’s season’s greeting comes from the Jack Boothe fonds. We thought Jack Boothe’s fun holiday card wishing the recipient “Greetings from the moon” was an appropriate card to pay homage to the moon landing of 50 years ago. Although the exact year this card was drawn for is unclear, we can surmise from some of its clues that it was for a Christmas sometime between 1969, when the Jack and his second wife Aileen (née Brownrigg) moved to West Vancouver (note the Duchess Avenue address), and 1972, the last Christmas before Boothe’s death, which occurred in August 1973.

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New Video Wall: Seasons

As summer turns over into autumn, we present a new video wall show in keeping with this theme: Seasons: Vancouver through the year.

Seed bed preparation, 1908. Reference code: AM505-S1-: CVA 660-688

The Archives’ holdings have a delightful number of photographs that relate to various seasonal celebrations and activities, which was the seed of inspiration for this video wall show. It begins with spring, moving through summer and autumn, and finishes with winter. The viewer will be treated to photographs of gardening, track and field races, soccer matches, lazy days at the beach, wedding celebrations, regattas, groups hiking, Thanksgiving feasts, children in costume for Halloween, and skiers eyeing up slopes. The earliest image showcased is the gathering of a crowd celebrating Dominion Day in 1878, with the most recent image over a hundred years later depicting crowds celebrating Chinese New Year in 1987.

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Winter Wander 2019

At the beginning of February the Archives, Museum of Vancouver, HR MacMillian Space Centre, Vancouver Maritime Museum, Vancouver Academy of Music, and Bard on the Beach hosted the 8th annual Winter Wander. For those who haven’t yet been, it is a fun day filled with activities, performances, and a chance to visit the cultural sites that call Vanier Park home.

Winter Wander gives the Archives an opportunity to show off a selection of our favourite records to visitors who might not otherwise walk through our doors during regular operating hours to conduct research. This year, in addition to our ever-popular first Council minute book, contract for a Chinese opera singer, and prisoners’ record book, we displayed a handful of posters from the recently donated BC Gay and Lesbian Archives fonds, the illustrated panoramic view of the City of Vancouver originally published as a supplement in the Daily World newspaper in 1898, and drawings of unbuilt Vancouver, including that of a stadium that had it been built in the 1930s would be sitting where the Archives is currently located. Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

The Archives will be closed for the holidays from 5pm on Friday, December 21, 2018, and reopen at 9am on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

A delightful Season’s Greetings card depicting a woman in a poinsettia dress holding a wreath with a man in a black top coat. Reference code: AM968–

This year’s season’s greetings card comes from the Lorne Brown fonds. Lorne Ellis Brown (1908-1976) was a teacher in the Vancouver public school system when this card was sent to him in 1930 or 1931. Later in his career, he became the Provincial Superintendent of Physical Education in the Department of Education (1944-1946), the Director of Health and Physical Education at the Provincial Normal School (1946-1955), and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia (1955-1973), and Vancouver Park Board Commissioner (1967-1968). Continue reading

New Video Wall: Goods & Services–Businesses in Vancouver

Our latest video wall showcases the types of businesses that have operated in the city over time. Goods & Services: Businesses in Vancouver introduces the viewer, through the lenses of work, school, home, and play, to a host of different commercial enterprises that have called Vancouver home over the last 150 years.

Saw mills were one of the first types of businesses to operate in the City of Vancouver. Ships loading lumber at Hastings Saw Mill, ~1896. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Mi P26

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Merging Time: Past & Present Combined

Merging Time, an exhibit created by the students of Langara College’s Professional Photography program, has returned to the Archives gallery space. It is an exhibit that merges a photograph from the Archives holdings with a newly-shot image of the same scene. This year, there are nineteen of these past-and-present combined images adorning the gallery walls.

Archives photograph selected by Luc Frost for the Merging Time exhibit. Hastings Street looking towards Cambie Street intersection, ca. 1913. Reference code: AM1376-: CVA 220-10

Digital composite by Luc Frost incorporating Archives image AM1376-: CVA 220-10

The creation of the merged images may look effortless and seamless, but don’t be fooled. The first challenge for these students is finding the locations from which the original photographs were shot. Getting a new shot with their dSLR cameras from the same perspective can be tricky, as buildings, construction, or other barriers that didn’t exist in the past may block or obscure today’s views of the original scenes. Even the height of the original photographer can make getting a similar shot a challenge. Continue reading

Vancouver Elections: New Video Wall Show

With the 2018 civic election set for October 20, and advance polls October 10-17, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to search through our holdings to see what election-related material would make an interesting and new video wall show. As the official repository for the City’s records of archival value, our holdings are rich in election-related material. These records give insight into how Vancouver and its electoral system has developed and changed throughout the years. The changes range from who could run for election, and who could vote, to frequency of elections, to the abolishment of the ward system, to what topics ruled the various plebiscites in a particular election year. A sampling of these records–photographs, posters, maps, and other visually interesting textual records–has been captured in the latest addition to our video wall shows: Vancouver Elections.

Council room at City Hall, ca. 1910. Reference code: AM336-S3-2-: CVA 677-82

The invention of photography preceded the incorporation of Vancouver in 1886, which means that there are photographs of the first elected city officials, including the first mayor, and the first City Hall in our holdings. Later photographs capture significant milestones in Vancouver’s political arena. A photograph showing Helena Gutteridge, the first woman elected to City Council, taking her oath of office in 1937 represents one of these milestones. Continue reading

Tea, Talk and Treats: An Exclusive Summer Evening in Vancouver’s Chinese Garden

The City of Vancouver Archives is the repository for the early records of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society and on July 5, at 6pm, the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives is hosting an evening entitled “Tea, Talk and Treats: An Exclusive Summer Evening in Vancouver’s Chinese Garden” at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Friends of the Vancouver City Archives invitation for the July 5th event

The event will support the Archives’ digitization work and will offer Chinese tea and pastries, a presentation given by Professor Alison Bailey regarding the traditional concepts and artistic and poetic representations of the Chinese garden, and a tour of the Garden led by docents that will highlight the Garden’s architectural and horticultural elements.

The records held by the Archives were donated by the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society in 1991, 1992, and 2011. They span from 1981-2009, with the majority from 1981-1991, and consist of approximately 1700 photographs, 22 videocassettes, 139 architectural drawings, 1 technical drawing and 2 maps. Continue reading

On the hunt for 2116 Maple Street: A house history expedition – Part 3: City Directories

The final part of hunting for information about 2116 Maple Street, after looking at fire insurance maps, water records, building permit registers, and photographs, involves looking up the names of the residents in the city directories.

The Archives’ city directories available in the Reading Room. Photo by Bronwyn Smyth

The city directories are one of our most well-used resources, as many researchers look for the history of a building’s occupants, or where a relative lived over time. It is time consuming to go through the publications year-by-year and trace the occupants of a house, but, I would argue it is time well spent. Often an underlying narrative emerges about the residents, about the house, and about the neighbourhood. Continue reading