A Year in Five Minutes: Vancouver 1913
[caption id="attachment_3672" align="alignleft" width="290" caption="A crowd near Boundary Road attending the ceremony to open Kingsway, Oct. 1, 1913. Item # Str P290.2"]
By Chuck Davis, The History of Vancouver
Photos courtesy of Vancouver Archives
Main event: Port Coquitlam and Port Moody incorporated
On April 18, 1913 the city of Port Coquitlam—population 1,500—celebrated Inauguration Day, marking its incorporation a little over a month earlier (March 7). The first mayor was James Mars.
When the Canadian Pacific Railway decided Coal Harbour would be the western terminus of their trans-continental line, they set in motion events that led directly to the birth of Port Coquitlam. The CPR extended its line from Port Moody to Coal Harbour, skirting New Westminster (to the south) by many miles. That made the Royal City unhappy. New West was the biggest city on the mainland, with a population of 4,000, and they wouldn’t be ignored. So the railway—motivated by a cash subsidy of $75,000 and other goodies—built a spur line to the city.
The point where the spur line left the main line, 27 kilometres east of Vancouver, was dubbed “Westminster Junction.” Locals just called it the Junction. It was within Coquitlam. Agitation began around the area to break away from Coquitlam and make the Junction—around which a busy little pocket of activity had formed—its own little town.
On Inauguration Day there was a parade (delayed by a passing train!), the city band played and the children took part in races. To mark the event Mayor Mars presented each child with a small silver medallion, a replica of the city’s emblem with its motto: By Commerce and Industry We Prosper.
Port Moody born
A Port Moody web site
tells us the city was incorporated in 1913 “as a result of great speculative expansion in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Much of this speculation was based on excitement about the impending completion of the long-awaited Panama Canal. The existing districts in the Lower Mainland were being populated rapidly, and smaller sub-districts, especially those with water access, were petitioning the provincial government for incorporation.”
The present city hall was built and Perry A. Roe, a local sawmill owner, became the first mayor (by acclamation). In The Greater Vancouver Book
Jarvis Whitney tells a funny story about the naming of Port Moody’s main street, St. John. The street was named by John Murray, Jr., in tribute to his father. In error he put “St.” in front of, instead of behind, “John.” “So,” wrote Whitney, “the official survey gave the street name it has today. (The late Major J.S. Matthews, the Vancouver archivist, supposedly said when he heard of the street name: ‘Johnny Murray was no saint.’)”
We don’t know the population of Port Moody at incorporation: we have a figure of 250 in 1885, and then 1,020 in 1921.
Truman Smith Baxter was mayor of Vancouver. Baxter, a former teacher and merchant and Vancouver alderman (1900, 1905-06, 1912) was unfortunate in coming to the office of mayor just as the province, and indeed the rest of the country, fell into an economic slump that lasted until the middle years of World War I.
The recently paved “Vancouver Road” was renamed Kingsway and opened with great fanfare and a parade of automobiles. A local newspaper wrote, on October 1, 1913: “The new highway between Vancouver and New Westminster passing through South Vancouver and Burnaby is now complete . . . It is a broad, magnificent road, and by none will it be more appreciated than motorists, who, to the number of six hundred, made the trip between the two cities on the day the road was opened. There is a famous London highway of this name, and it is thought our Kingsway is named for that one.”
[caption id="attachment_3673" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Pauline Johnson, circa 1902. Item # Port P1633"]
Pauline Johnson dies
On March 7 poet Pauline Johnson died at age 52 in the Old Bute Street Hospital, Vancouver. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1912. Her illness was noted in newspapers all across Canada, because she was our most famous poet. The country had never seen (or heard) anyone like her before—her father was a Mohawk chief—and she became an immediate star. “To attract crowds,” says a web site devoted to her, “she recited the first half of her program in a ball gown. For the second half she recited her ‘Indian’ poems in a costume which she made herself from buckskin, Mohawk metal work, rabbit pelts, a hunting knife, her grandfather's Huron scalp and another scalp which she bought from someone in the American mid-west.”
In 1909, after 17 years of touring, she retired and came to live in Vancouver.
By 1912 she was in hospital—and in financial difficulty—when the Governor General, the Duke of Connaught, came to visit. He wanted to reminisce about the day in 1869 when he had been made an honorary chief of the Six Nations at its Ontario reserve. (She had been at that ceremony, a child of eight.) The prospective visit disturbed her, because her dressing gown was shabby and she couldn’t afford a better one. Friends chipped in to buy her a new one.
Few read her poetry today, but Johnson’s retelling of local Indian legends has lasted and her image is an enduring icon.
The Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association was formed June 18. Today it’s Dairyland. An interesting web site
explains that the FVMPA “rose out of ‘chaotic milk marketing conditions.’ At the turn of the twentieth century manufacturing dairy products was labour intensive, complicated and expensive. It was difficult for individual farmers to secure dependable markets. There was no standardized quality or pricing system.”
Mining engineer Philip Gilman and his wife and two sons moved into a grand mansion on Jericho Beach. It’s one of the great houses in the city, a fixture on Point Grey Road for more than 90 years. Gilman bought two-and-a-half acres on the Point Grey waterfront and had noted architect Samuel Maclure design the home (with eight fireplaces). In 1922 the Gilmans would sell the house to the Brock family and move to England. We know the mansion today as Brock House.
On January 31 prisoner Joseph Smith, who had killed guard J.H. Joynson in 1912, was executed at the B.C. Penitentiary, the first and only hanging there. (Most executions occurred at Oakalla.)
The North Shore Press began publishing in January.
Vancouver's Rotary Club was organized March 8, with 94 members. It was the first Rotary Club in the area, and only the third in Canada. See an excellent history here
The Vancouver Opera House, which had opened in 1891, reopened March 17 as the Orpheum (not the present one) with vaudeville acts. The building stood where Sears is today on Granville Street.
On March 29 a Province
story datelined Ottawa reported that the income of the average Canadian family was estimated at $800 a year. The weekly expenditure “of a typical family of five on staple goods, fuel, lighting and rentals” in 1912 was $13.63 a week. That’s $708 a year, leaving that typical family with $92 a year mad money.
Baseball's Athletic Park was dedicated April 17. Bob “Mr. Baseball” Brown built a fine wooden ballpark at the southeast corner of Fifth and Hemlock. 6,000 fans filled every seat to watch the Vancouver Beavers beat the Tacoma Tigers 8-4. The first admission prices were 25 and 50 cents.
In April artist Emily Carr rented Vancouver's Drummond Hall and showed 200 paintings before returning to Victoria to live on family property.
An Act of Parliament created the Vancouver Harbour Commission. The first commissioner was Frank Carter-Cotton.
In 1913, Charles Dunbar paid the B.C. Electric Railway Company $35,000 to extend the streetcar line from 41st north along Dunbar Street, thus opening up residential and commercial development in Dunbar Heights. With the streetcar came shops and businesses like Stong's and Blight's, the Piggly-Wiggly, Pyatt's confectionery shop and Harcus' Drugstore.
The North Vancouver Rowing Club was launched in May, 1913.
On May 27 the Capilano light was installed on the north side of the entrance to Vancouver harbour. It was destaffed in 1946 and replaced with a beacon.
On June 28, 1913 the Vancouver World announced that the Hotel Connaught would “throw open its doors” that week to the travelling public. “There are rooms with baths; fifty of these, and rooms without baths; there are 120 rooms in all, and each and every room is to be rented to the public at prices that are as low as those asked in second and even third rate hotels . . . Two big, wide doors let you into the lobby that is a clean as the conscience of a child . . . White & Passerini will rent you a room for as low as $5 a week, and other rooms are priced accordingly.” Today, the Connaught is known as the Historic Ramada West Pender.
The Pacific Highway opened on July 12. It ran from the Fraser River bridge to the U.S. border. A new Customs Office opened at the border, in a tent. Later, a permanent wooden building would be constructed. The highway would be paved in 1923, ten years later.
Alys Bryant, a visiting American aviatrix, was the first woman in Canada to make a solo flight. She flew July 31 at Minoru Park in Richmond before a large crowd.
Samuel Brighouse, Vancouver and Lulu Island pioneer (he was one of the “Three Greenhorns”), died July 31.
North Vancouver’s City Hall at First and Lonsdale was remodelled as a Post Office in July. Council moved to temporary quarters in the Keith Block.
Bill Miner, the “Grey Fox,” died in a Georgia prison on September 8.
The Alcazar Theatre opened November 3 at 639 Commercial Drive with the comedy Too Much Johnson
. Later it will be renamed the York Theatre.
The doors of the “elegant and vast” new Birks store opened November 8, 1913 at Georgia and Granville. An advertisement cited the name of the managing director, George Trorey, reminding us that when Birks came to Vancouver in 1907 they purchased his jewelry shop at the northeast corner of Hastings and Granville . . . and with it the famous clock.
A newspaper item from November 18: “There are now 40,173 telephones in use in British Columbia . . . Vancouver has 24,333 . . .”
Jonathan Miller, a Vancouver pioneer (first constable, first postmaster), died on December 6 at age 79.
Frank Wesbrook became the first president of the University of British Columbia.
Construction on one of Vancouver’s most beautiful (and now vanished) buildings, the second Hotel Vancouver, began early in 1913. It would be finished in 1916.
Conservative Hall, later called Dundarave Hall, was built on Marine Drive in West Vancouver and used for community social activities. It has also served as a cabaret, a church, a furniture store and restaurant.
The Campbell River Lumber Company, with about 250 workers, built a mill in White Rock about a mile east of the railway station.
West Vancouver built a ferry terminal at the foot of 14th Street. In 1989 it became a designated heritage structure with exhibition space for community displays.
C.H. Cates Ltd. was incorporated. Cates Tugs was controlled by the Cates family until 1992, when it would be bought by U.S. entrepreneur Dennis Washington.
Hollyburn School opened, the first purpose-built school in West Vancouver.
Natives of Kitsilano Indian Reserve sold its 29 hectares to the Government for $218,750. The land was valued at $2 million when divided into residential lots.
Granville Island, once a mud flat, reached island status this year through the miracle of dredging. See an interesting history of the island here
Construction started on the first Georgia Viaduct. Its official name was the Hart McHarg Bridge, for a World War I hero, but the name didn’t last.
The Credit Foncier Building at 850 West Hastings opened.
Delta built its second municipal hall.
The name of Barnard Street, after Sir Frank Stillman Barnard, Lt.-Gov. Of British Columbia, was often confused with Burrard, and so was changed to Union Street.
Lord Tennyson School opened at West 10th and Cypress.
David Livingstone Elementary, named for the Scottish explorer and missionary, opened with eight classrooms.
The Pacific Great Eastern Railway, now BC Rail, began its line from North Vancouver to Prince George. It would take years to get there, leading to a gag that PGE stood for Prince George Eventually.
The Hudson’s Bay erected a new building at Georgia and Granville to replace the 1898 structure. This one is the familiar white building, but not as big as the current Bay at that corner. More would be added in later years.
St. Mary's Church began at 2498 West 37th Avenue in Kerrisdale.
The 11th Regiment, Irish Fusiliers of Canada was formed.
Eric Hamber became president of Hastings Sawmills Co.
The Sandheads #16 lightship went into service at the mouth of the Fraser River. It had been built in 1880 as the two-masted schooner Thomas F. Bayard.
Queen’s Park in Burnaby was renamed Confederation Park to commemorate Canadian Confederation. The park is at Willingdon and Penzance.
Edgar George Baynes built the Grosvenor Hotel, then became the manager. The Vancouver Historical Society
has warm regard for Baynes: he would give them rent-free space in his hotel for their meetings for many years.
Fred Deeley, Sr. arrived in B.C. in 1913, representing the Birmingham Small Arms, manufacturer of BSA motorcycles.
Cyclone (Frederick) Taylor joined the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, giving the new league the credibility it needed. He would play for Vancouver until his retirement in 1921. One of the great hockey players, he scored 194 goals in 186 games.
‘Rosemary,’ the home of distillery owner A.E. Tulk, was built at 3689 Selkirk. Tulk named it after his daughter. The mansion, described as a classic Tudor revival home, was designed by architects Samuel Maclure and C.C. Fox.
The Canadian Automobile Association was formed this year.
Chuck Davis is a Vancouver writer who has written, co-written, or edited 15 books. Most of them are on local history, and he describes his next book, The History of Metropolitan Vancouver, as the capstone of his career.