60th Anniversary of CBUT – Part 2 – All That Jazz

Two images of the exterior of the former Cellar Jazz club. Left- January 2014 a couple of months before the building was torn down To make way for more condos! Photo: C. Hagemoen. Right- March 21, 1961, CBUT on location at the Cellar, Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

Two images of the exterior of the former Cellar Jazz club. Left- January 2014 a couple of months before the building was torn down To make way for more condos! Photo: C. Hagemoen. Right- March 21, 1961, CBUT on location at the Cellar to record Jazz #3, Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

I knew its days were numbered when I saw the blue construction fencing being installed around its perimeter a few weeks ago. Sure enough, two days later a bulldozer was pulling down the final remains of a piece of Vancouver’s jazz history – The Cellar Jazz Club. Officially located at 222 East Broadway, the entrance to the basement club was in the rear along the “alley like” Watson Street. The Cellar, which opened in April 1956, was a “bottle club” – it had no liquor license. British Columbia historically has had very odd liquor laws (still does in many ways) and so most cabarets would sell ice and soft drinks while allowing patrons to bring in their own concealed containers of alcohol. The Cellar was founded and operated by members of the local jazz scene.

Composite of images inside the Cellar Jazz club from March 21, 1961. CBUT was on location to film Jazz #3 and still photographer, Franz Lindner captured the event. Photos: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

Composite of images inside the Cellar Jazz club from March 21, 1961. CBUT was on location to film Jazz #3 and still photographer, Franz Lindner captured the event. Photos: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

Practically at the same time the remains of the Cellar Jazz club were being torn down, another “Cellar” jazz venue was closing across town. After 13 years, [though I recall it being around earlier than that- probably with a different owner]  Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club (3611 West Broadway) closed its doors. Named one of the the world’s best jazz clubs by Downbeat Magazine, the popular Vancouver jazz venue eventually closed, not from lack of support, but due to financial reasons. [For more about Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club listen to an interview with Weeds and CBC Radio Hot Air host, Margaret Gallagher here.]

But what, you may be thinking, does this “tale of two cellars” have anything to do with the 60th anniversary of CBUT? Plenty! This next post in the series celebrating 60 years of CBUT is all about jazz!

In the 1950s and 1960s Vancouver had a thriving jazz scene. Jazz in all its forms was very popular. That popularity was reflected in the local television (CBUT) and radio (CBU) programs on which many local jazz artists were frequently featured. In that sense, along with the various clubs and coffee houses (e.g. The Cellar, The Black Spot, The Cave, Inquisition Coffee House) CBC TV and radio became just another performance venue in the Vancouver jazz scene. In many ways, the “tale of two cellars” represents the arc of the Vancouver jazz scene -  its birth and renaissance- the appearance of each venue suggesting a thriving local jazz scene.

Like most things television, it all began on the radio. The locally produced CBC Radio (CBU) show, Hot Air, has been giving modern jazz its weekly due in BC since 1947. Originally hosted by jazz columnist Bob Smith (1947-1982), the program covers jazz from all eras with a particular interest in B.C. artists. So in 1955, 7 years after Hot Air began broadcasting and only months after CBC TV (CBUT) went to air, it was only natural to put all that jazz on the new medium of television.

 1963 Nightclub set for CBUT's "Showcase". Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

1963 nightclub set for CBUT’s “Showcase”. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

In the very beginning CBUT had very little local programming. Its wasn’t until after being the local broadcaster for the 1954 British Empire & Commonwealth Games that CBUT local programming really came into its own.  CBUT began to produce musical variety shows like Parade (premiering October 25, 1954) which ran for eight episodes and featured musicians and singers from the local music (jazz) scene including: Eleanor Collins, Ray Norris Quintet, Lorraine McAllister and Chris Gage. Singer Eleanor Collins also appeared earlier in 1954 in the CBUT live production titled, Bamboula: a day in the West Indies. In this excerpt from the program she sings the jazz standard “Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good)“.

 

Collins soon had her own television series, the Eleanor Show. Alan Millar acted as host for this summer of 1955 weekly music series starring singer Eleanor Collins and pianist Chris Gage. Collins was also accompanied by the Ray Norris Quintet featuring Ray Norris (guitar), Fraser McPherson (saxophone), Carse Sneddon (trumpet), Jim Wightman (drums) and Stan Johnson (bass). Regular performers on the show include dancers Leonard Gibson and Denise Quan. The Eleanor Show regulars along with a variety of guests (like Pat Kirkpatrick, singer Don Francks, Tott Moons, Thelma Gibson, and Juliette Cavazzi) performed music around a particular theme each week.The show first aired on CBUT Channel 2, Sunday, June 12, 1955 at 10 pm.

August 7 1955. "Eleanor" (l-r) Juliette Cavazzi, Alan Millar, Eleanor Collins. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

August 7 1955. “Eleanor” (l-r) Juliette Cavazzi, Alan Millar, Eleanor Collins. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

Known as “Vancouver’s first lady of jazz” Eleanor Collins was (is) a ground breaking figure in Canadian history. At a time when she “didn’t see a lot of my people on TV”, being the first black woman in North America to star in her own television series was a significant milestone. In fact, Eleanor beat Nat King Cole’s achievement of being the first black person to star in their own show on American television by over a year – The Nat King Cole Show debuted November 1956 on NBC.

You can learn more about the luminous Eleanor Collins in this 1988 profile of her on the CBC Vancouver program Here & Now. Lynne McNamara talks with Eleanor about her life and her career. The segment includes many archival TV clips and photographs.

The one-off show Back O’ Town Blues (1955) starring Eleanor Collins, Thelma Gibson and Don Francks featured a number of jazz and blues songs. This dixieland blues themed program also featured Ray Norris and his orchestra with the music arranged by Al Macmillan and Doug Randle.

On the set of "Harmony House" in 1954. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

On the set of “Harmony House” in 1955. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

In October of 1955 Harmony House first aired. Sponsored by Nabob Foods, Harmony House was a successful radio show for 13 years that moved to television on October 8, 1955 and ran for 26 occasions to April 12, 1956, airing 8:00-8:30 pm each Thursday. It was a music show of popular songs that featured many artists from the local jazz scene. The cast of regular performers included the following: Alan Millar- Host, Pat Morgan-Vocalist, Fran Gregory- Vocalist, Terry Dale-Vocalist, Diane McLellan- Nabob Quartette, Pat Trudell- Nabob Quartette, Art Lintott- Nabob Quartette, Bobbie Reid- Nabob Quartette, Ricky Hyslop- Conductor-Arranger, Lance Harrison-Sax- Clarinet, Fraser MacPherson- Sax-Clarinet, Cliff Binyon-Clarinet, Art Lintott- Sax, Stu Barnett- Trumpet, Carse Sneddon- Trumpet, Bobbie Reid- Trumpet, Dave Pepper- Trombone, Pat Trudell- Accordian, Stan Johnson- Bass, Bud Henderson- Piano, Jim Wightman- Drums.

In the fall of 1957Meet Lorraine with singer Lorraine McAllister,  Chris Gage on piano, Stan Johnson on bass, and Jimmy Wightman on drums debuted. A series 15-minute popular music shows with the charming Lorraine introducing and singing all the musical numbers ran on CBUT from 1957-1959. Occasionally, McAllister’s husband and big band leader, Dal Richards would take time out of his busy schedule to appear on the show.

Dal Richards and Lorraine MacAllister with the Chris Gage Trio on CBUT's "Meet Lorraine" ca. 1958. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

Dal Richards and Lorraine McAllister with the Chris Gage Trio on CBUT’s “Meet Lorraine” ca. 1958. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

Other instances of jazz television programming on CBUT in the 1950s included:

Strange House (March 1956).  A one-off show, starring Eleanor Collins,Thelma Gibson and Don Francks. Music by Ray Norris and his Orchestra. The half-hour musical takes its name from an original composition written by Al MacMillan. Music for ‘Strange House’ was arranged by Al MacMillan and Doug Randle.
Pacific 13′s – Jazz at the PNE  August 27, 1956 – A live jazz program from the CBC Show Tent at the Pacific National Exhibition, was hosted by Bob Smith and featured singer Eleanor Collins, the Vancouver Jazz Society’s 18-piece orchestra led by Bobby Reid and a Dixieland group lead by Lance Harrison.
Pacific 8′s – Jazz Variations on a Theme – 1959. Variations on the Hoagy Carmichael song “I Get Along Without You Very Well” were performed by Dave Robbins and an all-star band, comprising Vancouver musicians from the Chris Gage Trio, the Fraser MacPherson band and the Lance Harrison Dixielanders. The arranger and conductor is trombonist Dave Robbins. The program was broadcast simultaneously on TV and radio.

Cool Pepper (1957), a musical series featured musician and arranger Dave Pepper and his orchestra, first aired Friday May 3, 1957 at 10:00 p.m.

May 10, 1957. Cool Pepper set with the Dave Pepper orchestra. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

May 10, 1957. Cool Pepper set with the Dave Pepper orchestra. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

A very special jazz performance was captured on CBUT in 1958 on the program “The 7 O’Clock Show” when African-American poet, Langston Hughes recited his poem, “The Weary Blues” to jazz accompaniment with the Doug Parker Band.

All that great jazz continued on CBUT through the 1960s until the start of the 1970s:

A series of jazz programs produced by Jim Carney aired on CBUT in 1961. Simply called Jazz (1 through 8) the programs featured the best of jazz in and around Vancouver. The premiere program Jazz #1,  Mind Of Mingus, featured renowned jazz bass virtuoso Charles Mingus in performance with his quartet – Danny Richmond (drums), Charles McPherson (alto sax), and Lonnie Hillyer (trumpet). Between numbers, Mingus talked with Bob Quintrell at a Vancouver nightclub. Jazz #2 featured big-band jazz led by New Westminster musician Ray Sikora, and was telecast live from CBC’s studio 41 in Vancouver. During his career, Sikora played and arranged for famous North American orchestras as those of Stan Kenton, Les Elgart and Jerry Gray. Jazz #3  was taped on location at The Cellar (222 East Broadway) using the CBUT mobile production unit.

March 21, 1961. "Jazz # 3" - CBC mobile unit on location. Inside mobile truck. If anyone can identify these CBUT employees please let me know. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

March 21, 1961. “Jazz # 3″ – CBC mobile unit on location – inside the mobile truck. If anyone can identify these CBUT employees please let me know. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

The Cellar was the impetus for another jazz special on CBUT – jazz artist Ernestine Anderson’s appeared in her own jazz special Ernestine: jazz from Vancouver (October 7, 1963). Anderson was in Vancouver for a two-week performance at The Cellar, it was held-over for a third week, and it was during that period that the show was taped using a band comprised of some of Vancouver’s leading jazz musicians.

In 1961 Eleanor Collins was joined by the Chris Gage Trio appearing in a program called Blues and the Ballad. Three years later in 1964, Eleanor Collins was starring in another music series simply titled Eleanor. In this l964 Eleanor series, Collins was backed once more by a trio led by Chris Gage. They performed their renditions of show tunes and popular music from the USA. Guests included local jazz musicians: trumpet and trombone player Carse Sneddon, alto sax and flute player Fraser MacPherson, and Don Thompson (vibraphone).

Eleanor Collins with the Chris Gage (Piano) Trio -  Stan "Cuddles" Johnson on bass, and Jimmy Wightman on drums, CBUT-TV studios. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

Eleanor Collins with the Chris Gage (Piano) Trio – Stan “Cuddles” Johnson on bass, and Jimmy Wightman on drums, CBUT-TV studios. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

Unfortunately, tragedy devastated the local jazz scene when Vancouver’s leading jazz pianist Chris Gage committed suicide December 27, 1964. Chris Gage was the regular pianist on many CBUT (and CBU) music programs (including Cool Pepper, Eleanor Show 1955 & 1964).  Born 1927 in Regina, Saskatchewan Gage started playing the piano (by ear) in amateur contests at the age of five.  At the age of six (or seven) he began touring with a small band led by his brother Jerry through Saskatchewan. At ten he played his first summer resort and by 11 was playing in a small nightclub for two years, playing from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. nightly. Early on he became interested in writing and arranging, and by the age of 14 was arranging music for Christmas mass with orchestral background. He first played for the CBC (Winnipeg) with a band ( which he and his brother Tony formed in Winnipeg) in 1946. In 1948 the band was in Vancouver and played the Vancouver ballroom. After the band broke up Chris returned to Vancouver in 1949 to play the Palomar Supper Club. Thus beginning a series of long standing gigs at jazz venues around Vancouver including the Arctic Club, The Cellar and The Cave. Canadian jazz great Oscar Peterson allegedly once said Chris Gage was the only pianist he feared.

August 14, 1963. "Showcase with Eleanor Collins" production still. Al Johnson on drums. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

August 14, 1963. “Showcase with Eleanor Collins” production still. Al Johnson on drums. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

Local Jazz Festivals allowed CBUT programs to feature jazz greats from around the world. On Jazz Festival (September 1964) artists appearing at the Summer Jazz Festival in Vancouver were interviewed by Maurice Foisy backstage including: Dave Robbins, Wally Lightbody, Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto (shortly after the worldwide success of Girl from Ipanema). The show also included clips from the jazz performances and Vox Pop from Jazz Festival attendees.

Contemplations (aka Spring Music Festival - Jazz)  aired in April 1965. A premiere performance of an original jazz suite ‘Contemplations’ composed by former Vancouver bassist Paul Ruhland and played by Dave Robbins and his 20 piece orchestra. The performance took place April 10 in the Hotel Vancouver ballroom. ‘Contemplations’ was scored for five trumpets, five woodwinds, four trombones, tuba, piano, rhythm section and tympani.

Dave Robbins in 1962. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collections.

Dave Robbins in 1962. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collections.

In 1966 jazz musician, Fraser MacPherson (originally from Victoria) was featured in the  CBUT (CBC Vancouver) program 20/20 in a documentary titled – “Diary of a Musician”. In these excerpts Fraser MacPherson is seen at the CBC radio recording studios in the Hotel Vancouver and leading his band at the Cave Supper club. Also seen playing are local musicians Doug Parker and Stan “Cuddles” Johnson.

 

Quiet Nights (1967), was a seven week ballad-jazz series from CBUT Vancouver’s Studio 42. The program featured Don Thompson on piano and vibes, who each week was joined by other well known Vancouver musicians.

A second variety series called Parade (CBUT had a thing about recycling show titles back then it seems) with Carse Sneddon’s Sextet and the Parade Dancers aired in the 1966/67 season.

Another longtime regular on CBUT (starting with Harmony House) was the Vancouver born and raised jazz musician Lance Harrison. Lance’s Jazz House , 1967 highlighted Lance Harrison’s passion for Dixieland jazz. In 1971 Lance travelled to New Orleans (the birthplace of jazz) to film the CBC TV special Journey to New Orleans: Impressions of a Canadian Jazzman.

Lance Harrison with guest Earl "Fatha" Hines on CBUT in 1967 on Lance's Jazz House. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

Lance Harrison with guest Earl “Fatha” Hines on CBUT in 1967 on Lance’s Jazz House. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

By 1967, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times they were a changin’. Later that same year the changing social scene in Vancouver was reflected in the series The Enterprise – 1967. This experimental program was without a host to guide viewers from item to item; it attempted to let the audience enjoy the excitement of the experience of discovery without the intrusion of a guide. It was an open-ended program varying in length as was dictated by the material presented that particular week.  The Enterprise featured items of an experimental nature including featuring local jazz musicians Doug Parker and Al Neil.  In one episode [The Enterprise No. 3], pianist Al Neil read poetry to an accompaniment of jazz and musique concrete by the Al Neil Trio (Nov. 15, 1967) – “a sound experience with the Al Neil Trio of Vancouver”. In another pianist Doug Parker improvised a musical accompaniment for video images that appeared on monitors in the TV studio. The 13-week series began on CBUT Wednesday, November 1, 1967 at 11:43 p.m. Gene Lawrence was the show’s producer and CBUT film director, Stan Fox was it’s executive producer.

April, 1970. Production still from "In the Round" with special guest, Duke Ellington. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

April, 1970. Production still from “In the Round” with special guest, Duke Ellington. Photo: Franz Lindner, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection

Over the years CBUT was host to international jazz artists who would often appear as guests of regular CBUT programs or even star in their own one-off jazz specials. One such example of this were the two shows hosted by comedian Mike Neun in 1970 and 1971. First, In The Round (1970) was a Vancouver-produced series hosted by Mike Neun and featured the Doug Parker Quartet.  As the series title suggests, the hosts and their guests were arranged in a circular pattern in the studio. Jazz great Duke Ellington made an appearance in April 1970.  For the 1970/71 television season Neun hosted The Mike Neun Show with Doug Parker’s house band providing the music. In October of that same year American jazz singer, Sarah Vaughan was a guest performer.

 October 1970,  American jazz singer, Sarah Vaughan performing on CBUT's  "The Mike Nuen Show". Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

October 1970, American jazz singer, Sarah Vaughan performing on CBUT’s “The Mike Nuen Show”. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

By the 1970s and into the 1980s the jazz scene (and entire music scene) in Vancouver had dramatically changed. Jazz music was not as universally popular as it once had been in the 1950s and 1960s. This change in musical tastes saw  jazz programming virtually disappear from CBUT during this time (only to be heard on CBC radio).

Lying dormant for a while, the local jazz scene was revived starting in the mid 1990s. The opening of Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club in 2000 signaled in the renaissance of the local jazz scene. Unfortunately, this time period also marked the beginning of the end for local programming on CBC-TV and musicians from the local jazz scene were rarely to be seen on CBUT-TV again. [So far] Thankfully CBC radio is still able to feature artists from the local and international jazz scene with shows like Hot Air – only time will tell how long that tradition will be able to continue.

On the set of the 1955 Eleanor Show. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photograph Collection.

On the set of the 1955 Eleanor Show. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photograph Collection.

 

In 2008, while working in the CBC Vancouver media archives, I was fortunate to be able to provide many still photographs for the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society’s interactive website on the history of jazz in Vancouver – JazzStreet Vancouver.  Already a fan of jazz music, while researching images from the CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection for the JazzStreet project, I really began to learn about, and appreciate Vancouver’s rich jazz history. I strongly suggest you spend some time exploring this important resource of Vancouver history – http://www.jazzstreetvancouver.ca/ To learn more about the original Cellar Jazz Club check out this very informative blog by Gregg Simpson – http://theoriginalcellarjazzclub.blogspot.ca/

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That Cold Day in the Park

A cold day in the park. Park bench in Tatlow Park, Vancouver. Photo: C. Hagemoen

A cold day in the park. Park bench in Tatlow Park, Vancouver. Photo: C. Hagemoen

One of Vancouver’s oldest parks, Tatlow Park (at Point Grey Road and MacDonald), was the central location of one of the first Hollywood features filmed in Vancouver; Robert Altman‘s often neglected 1969 film, That Cold Day in the Park.

A newly restored 35mm print of the film is screening this weekend (March 8th & 9th) part of the the UCLA Festival of Preservation. This biennial festival is making its only Canadian stop at The Cinematheque in Vancouver. The UCLA Festival of Preservation reflects the “broad and deep efforts” of UCLA Film & Television Archive to preserve and restore America’s national moving image heritage.

The historical sweep and technical wizardry of UCLA Film & Television Archive’s preservation projects—from early silent films and Golden Age classics, to fascinating rarities and contemporary gems—are showcased in our biennial UCLA Festival of Preservation.

Hosting this Festival allows the Cinematheque to showcase “the important preservation and restoration work being done by other cinema archives, film studios, and specialty distribution companies around the globe”. The preservation of Altman’s first feature, That Cold Day in the Park (1969), was funded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation.

Movie poster for 'That Cold Day in the Park' (1969).

Movie poster for ‘That Cold Day in the Park’ (1969).

That Cold Day in the Park, based on a novel by Richard Miles, tells the story of a woman (a lonely spinster, named Frances Austen played by Sandy Dennis) whose well-appointed apartment [Killarney Manor] overlooks a park [Tatlow Park] in Vancouver.  From her window, one cold day, she observes a rain-soaked young man (Micheal Burns) on a park bench whom she assumes is homeless. Hoping to repress her loneliness, Frances invites ‘the boy’ inside her home to get warm and ends up encouraging him to stay. The young man, apparently mute, “accepts her every hospitality—food, clothes, profuse conversation, and a room of his own”. Little does she realize that her guest is not the person he appears to be. Nor, for that matter, is Frances the woman that she appears to be. Without giving the film plot away, this is the point when things start to get a little creepy “as Frances’ loneliness takes on a ferocity that drives the story to a harrowing conclusion”!

Killarney Manor (built in 1956) beside Tatlow Park was the location for Sandy Dennis' apartment in the film "That Cold Day in the Park". Photo: C. Hagemoen

Killarney Manor (built in 1956) beside Tatlow Park was the location of Sandy Dennis’ character’s apartment in the film “That Cold Day in the Park”. Photo: C. Hagemoen

The film was initially a critical and box-office disaster. [You can read film critic, Robert Ebert's 1969 review here - he gives the film 1.5 stars]. In recent years, with the breadth of Altman’s work in clear view, the film has received some critical acclaim as an important film in Altman’s oeuvre. (The Hollywood Foreign Press Association would certainly agree). Altman’s other shot in BC film, McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) , is generally more critically acclaimed.

Personally, That Cold Day in the Park is not my favorite Altman film. Which isn’t saying much as, save for a few exceptions, I generally don’t like Robert Altman’s films – a little too ‘quirky’ for my tastes. What I do like about the film is that it was shot in Vancouver, and more importantly is actually set in Vancouver – neither of which it had to be. Too often Vancouver stands in for other cities in the motion picture and television productions filmed in the city.

In 1968, other than television, there was no film industry to speak of in Vancouver (or British Columbia). The breadth of film production facilities, technical production crews and talent available in B.C. today, simply did not exist. According to an interview in the book Altman on Altman, the production team for That Cold Day in the Park had to build the entire set inside an old warehouse.

The cast is comprised of mainly American actors, however, the film does feature a few local actors – Frank Wade (who appeared in several local CBC television dramas), Edward Greenhalgh (a pioneer in local theatre and in various CBC Vancouver productions including Tidewater Tramp), Doris Buckingham (who also appeared in local stage and CBC produced dramas) and Rae Brown (also featured in several CBC productions most notably as Molly on The Beachcombers).

This fantastic, rare CBC Vancouver footage from October 1968 features an interview with actress Sandy Dennis, Robert Altman and Producer Donald Factor. Most noteworthy in the interview is the reason why Altman chose Vancouver for his film – the cold, grey weather. The perfect backdrop for his psychological horror film. The footage also features a behind the scenes look (silent) at the making of this picture. On location (somewhere in the city, possibly on Georgia Street) to shoot a scene, we get a glimpse of Robert Altman, Sandy Dennis, Laszlo Kovacks (Cinematographer) and the rest of the crew in action.

▶ “That Cold Day in the Park”, a look behind the scenes, (B&W), 1968 – YouTube.

That Cold Day in the Park may not be a historic film per se, as it will never make the list for The Top 100 Greatest Films of All Time.  It is, however, an important part of the audio-visual heritage of British Columbia and for that reason deserves our respect.

More historic milestones for BC film:

According to The History of Metropolitan Vancouver, the outdoor scenes in the 1936 movie, Rosemarie (starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy) were shot on North Vancouver’s Seymour River. Making Rosemarie the first sound feature filmed in British Columbia.

The prize for the oldest feature length film to be shot in British Columbia belongs to Edward Curtis’ 1914 silent film In the Land of the Headhunters (also known as In the Land of the War Canoes). The film, a portrait of the Kwakwaka’wakw (formerly known as Kwakiutl) people of B.C.’s northern Vancouver Island and central mainland coast, celebrates its centenary this year.

That means the BC film industry is also celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year. Here’s to 100 more! This is why the preservation, conservation and public access of cultural heritage is so important. Let’s hope that in 100 years we are still able to view all the fruits of BC’s abundant film industry.

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Reviving a Polaroid 360 Land Camera

Just because they don’t make film for a particular analogue camera anymore, doesn’t mean you should pass up the opportunity to own one. This is exactly what I thought  when I recently had the opportunity to take home a Polaroid 360 Land Camera (for free!).

My recently acquired Polaroid Land Camera model 360 with booklet. Photo: C.Hagemoen

My recently acquired Polaroid Land Camera model 360 with booklet [on a floor in desperate need of refinishing.] Photo: C.Hagemoen

At the very least I thought it would make a really cool objet d’art -  a great addition to my growing collection of vintage cameras. I was curious to learn more about my new acquisition so I did what anyone would do in this day and age, I “Googled” it.

Image from Polaroid Land Camera model 360 instruction manual - "How to make daylight pictures". Photo: C. Hagemoen

Image from Polaroid Land Camera model 360 instruction manual – “How to make daylight pictures”. Photo: C. Hagemoen

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that with only a few minor battery adjustments I could actually shoot film with this camera. What fun! Fuji makes pack film that fits into the Land Cameras. Fuji Color Film FP-100C and Fuji B&W Film FP-3000B are the only peel-apart-type instant films currently being produced.

Several sites recommend converting the camera to work on AAA batteries. The batteries used by my Land Camera were two #532 3V alkaline batteries – one for the shutter and the metering system and one for the built-in electronic development timer. Apparently these batteries are expensive and “kind of a pain to get a hold of”. [I later learned that I would only really need one battery as I didn't need one for the timer - I could just count!]

My camera with the 37-year-old original batteries still inside. Photo: C. Hagemoen

My camera with the 37-year-old original batteries still inside. Photo: C. Hagemoen

One of the first sites I consulted was Instructables.com – “Resurrect a Polaroid Land Camera“. The author of this post created a complete illustrated guide for getting started with the Polaroid Land Camera. In 33 steps, the author covers acquiring the camera and film, upgrading the battery, basic functionality, timing exposures, photo tips, and using a flash – it is a great resource.

I was most interested in the section about “upgrading the battery” as this was the one aspect of using these cameras that apparently needed to be addressed. However, in order to upgrade the battery, I would need to solder in a 2-AAA battery holder. Since I didn’t own a soldering setup, I decided to check out some more options for battery upgrade modifications. The next blog I consulted, lo-fi photography, offered several versions of battery modification using electricians tape. Much better I thought, I could actually see myself doing some of these. But, then I found the simplest battery conversion yet, using 2 CR123 batteries and a rubber band, on the photo.net forum. We have a winner!  I purchased two Duracell 123 photo batteries for $20 and looked around my home for a good rubber band.

My Polaroid Land Camera and all of its accessories! Photo: C.Hagemoen.

My Polaroid Land Camera and all of its accessories! Photo: C.Hagemoen.

In the meantime, I still needed to purchase some Fuji film to see if this would all work out. I am fortunate to live very close to Beau Photo Supplies, “one of the largest [and friendliest]  professional supply stores in Western Canada specializing in cameras, accessories, equipment rental, film, and more”.  They carry all sorts of interesting products including the Fuji instant film packs that I was looking for.

To make a long story short, while I was at Beau Photo I learned that they carry the original #532 3V batteries required for the Land Camera and they are only $7 each! So much for the theory that these batteries are expensive and hard to get a hold of. Needless to say, I bought the battery (and the film) and that was that.

In previous posts I have written about the history of the Polaroid Land Camera and my experiences with Polaroid’s SX-70 Land Camera. So I won’t go into much detail about this model of Land Camera, except to say these cameras were developed after the roll film models and were designed to use the newly developed 100 series pack film. Part of the 300 series of cameras, the Land Camera model 360 was a folding pack film camera produced from 1969 -1971. An upgrade from the 350 model,  the 360 originally retailed for about $200 and came with special electronic flash unit which couples to the focusing mechanism of the camera to provide auto flash exposure.

How To Load Film into a Polaroid Land Packfilm Camera – YouTube.

I was very excited to start using my camera, so after consulting my manual and some of the online resources I loaded up some film. I had a little trouble getting the black protective sleeve out – it ripped. So I opened up the back and grabbed a little bit more and this time it worked.

The ambient temperature is very important in regard to film development. Cold and heat have a great effect on print development and quality.  Since it was a cool day, and I was using colour film, I decided to use the Cold-Clip. The Cold-Clip makes it possible to get good colour pictures when the temperature is below 18 degrees Celsius. You need to warm the Cold-Clip in your pocket for at least 5 minutes before you begin.

Image from Land Camera model 360 instruction manual - removing film from camera. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Image from Land Camera model 360 instruction manual – removing film from camera. Photo: C. Hagemoen

I found the most difficult part of using my camera was trying to pull the film from the camera after exposure [ it wasn't as easy as the photo above would lead you to believe]. I ended up losing a few frames during my inaugural experiment. I persevered and finally success… my first photo!

My first photo with the Land Camera 360. Photo: C. Hagemoen

My first photo with the Land Camera 360. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Not terribly exciting and a little dark, but I was rather impressed with the results.  I decided to adjust the lighten/darken control for my next exposure. I ran into a little trouble between the two photos and had a frame get stuck in the camera. When I finally pulled it out, I must have pulled too hard because the next unexposed frame came out as well and oozed caustic gel all over the place. After washing my hands, I tried the exposure again and was successful in producing my 2nd picture.

Peeling apart my 2nd successful picture. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Peeling apart my 2nd successful picture – the positive and the negative. Photo: C. Hagemoen

The exposure is better on this image.  You may notice the excessive amount of caustic gel on the negative and Cold Clip, but the leak didn’t appear to affect the exposure. I will just have to be sure I thoroughly clean the rollers before I load another pack of film into the camera.

I am really looking forward to getting out on the next ‘warmish’ sunny day and experimenting more with this camera.

My first photos using my new (yet old) Polaroid Land Camera. Photo: C. Hagemoen

My first photos using my new (yet old) Polaroid Land Camera. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Though this blog is essentially about “celebrating the analogue in this digital world”, one thing I truly appreciate about our digital world is instant access to all the online resources about analogue instant photography.

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bottle-dash stucco

There are several architectural features that quite distinctly define Metro Vancouver: the Vancouver Special, forests of glass condominium towers, west coast modernism and the oddest one of them all – bottle-dash stucco. Predominately found in Vancouver, bottle-dash stucco appears throughout the Lower Mainland  and occasionally in the rest of the province.

Bottle-dash stucco exterior

Bottle-dash stucco exterior on house in East Vancouver. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Also known as ‘beer bottle’ stucco, ‘broken bottle’ stucco or ‘crushed bottle’ stucco, ‘bottle-dash’ stucco is something of an enigma. If you are not familiar with what it is, houses with bottle-dash (unlike pebble-dash) have bits of glass (most often brown beer and green pop bottles), instead of the more commonly used rock bits, embedded in the exterior stucco finish. I have been curious about bottle-dash stucco since I was a child and first saw it on my great aunt’s house in East Vancouver.  Back in the 1970s and into the 1980s, it was quite common to see it on Vancouver houses of a certain era. When I decided to research bottle-dash stucco, I found that there was very little historical information about it.

Broken brown beer bottles and green pop bottles make up this bottle-dash stucco sample. Notice how the glass catches the light compared to the pebble-dash. Photo: C.Hagemoen

Broken brown beer bottles and green pop bottles make up the colour portion this bottle-dash stucco sample. Notice how the glass catches the light compared to the pebble-dash. Photo: C.Hagemoen

But after a bit of digging, I found out a few general facts about stucco from local historian, John Atkin and a local website called the Stucco Doctor.

Basically, stucco is comprised of an aggregate, a binder, and water. It is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. Stucco in some form goes back to ancient times, however, the form of stucco that most of us are familiar with, made with Portland cement, was invented about 250 years ago.

In the 20th C, the process was to apply stucco onto wooden lathe (new construction) or it was applied on galvanized chicken wire attached over existing siding.  Stucco is traditionally applied in 3 coats – the scratch coat, the brown coat and the finish coat. It was the finish coat where the colour and/or texture was added and creativity could shine. For ‘dash’ stucco, after the first two coats were applied and dried, a final mixture of cement and lime was applied, and while still fresh had aggregate dashed into it with a scoop.

In BC, it wasn’t until the 1920s and 30s when stucco became the “popular choice for houses”.  According to John Atkin, it “was a key element of the French and English revival styles popular in North America.” Initially, this style of stucco was part of the structure of the house. It was a little later that stucco became more decorative, as various dashes were added to its surface.

In the early days the aggregate for dashes was mostly just simple beach or river gravel. In the earliest example of this style of finish, one can occasionally find sea shells, crab legs and other such bits. Starting as early as the mid 1930s more refined crushed rock (like white quartz and black obsidian) was used to impregnate the surface. This style of finish is known as pebble or rock dash.

Sample of 'salt and pepper' pebble-dash stucco. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Sample of ‘salt and pepper dash’ stucco. Pieces of black obsidian and white quartz are imbedded into the surface. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Rock-dash stucco with green, black and white stone.  Photo: Ch. Hagemoen

Rock-dash or pebble-dash stucco with a green, black and white stone finish. Coloured rock like this green chartruese example and other colours  like pink, were available in the 1960s and 1970s to add colour thus replacing the use of the hazardous broken glass. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Like most things ‘west coast’, we did things a little differently. Bottle-dash stucco shows up in new construction and on older houses in the 1930s and 1940s. An apparent local variant to rock-dash, bottle-dash was used to add some colour and sparkle to the stucco finish. Crushed glass (brown beer bottles, green pop bottles, clear milk bottles and blue milk of magnesia bottles) was added to a white quartz aggregate.

Some rock-dash stucco can be quite dynamic (especially the later versions of it), but it seems that the addition of glass really steps it up a notch.

Green bottle dash

Broken bits of green bottle highlight this ‘salt and pepper’ dash stucco garage exterior in east Vancouver. Photo: C. Hagemoen

In her 2004 book, Bungalow Details: Exterior, author Jane Powell comments on her first experience with bottle-dash stucco:

When I first saw this product in Canada, it looked like a variant of pebble-dash with some kind of shiny pebbles in it. But, no, it was explained to me in the sort of hushed tones that preservationists usually reserve for aluminum siding, [Bottle-dash stucco] was retrofitted onto numerous Canadian homes with the encouragement of the government. The shiny pebbles were, in fact, crushed beer bottles…I guess you have to admire the recycling aspect.

For older buildings (like the one in the photo below), rock-dash or bottle-dash was an inexpensive way of insulating houses. The “stucco-ization” of older wood frame houses was encouraged by the government. Federal government grants were available to homeowners through the 1970s to encourage its use. John Atkin explained that the application of exterior stucco was also seen as a way to “quickly modernize the house and hide the signs of renovations – especially as steel and aluminum windows were being promoted by the same grant program to replace ‘old-fashioned’ wood windows”. Retrofitting new windows of a different proportion often left homeowners with ugly patches in the siding. Stucco could hide the scars of renovation.

Edwardian wood frame house with two types of dash stucco - bottle-dash and 'salt and pepper' dash, west side of Vancouver. Photo: C.Hagemoen

An Edwardian wood frame house with two types of dash stucco – bottle-dash and ‘salt and pepper’ dash, west side of Vancouver. Photo: C.Hagemoen

As many current homeowners can attest to, maintaining a painted wood siding home is a large commitment.  So, after two World Wars and the Depression the lure of easy upkeep and modernization must have been very enticing for local homeowners. A house updated with a bottle-dash (or other dash) stucco exterior requires little, if any maintenance.

Green and brown bottle shards in the stucco of this garage (and house) in east Vancouver. Notice how the painted surface ages and the bottle-dash stucco still looks in good shape. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Green and brown bottle shards in the stucco of this garage (and house) in east Vancouver. Notice how the painted surface ages and the bottle-dash stucco still looks in good shape. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Unlike regular rock-dash stucco which was quite common in North America, bottle-dash stucco seems to be a purely Pacific Northwest phenomenon. I would suggest that it must have been a Canadian invention, though I have found no confirmation of that fact. On a couple of online discussion forums I found some references to instances of bottle-dash stucco appearing in the Lower Mainland and occasionally in the rest of the province. There was also mention of bottle-dash stucco cropping up on a few homes in Alberta and Washington State. Historian, John Atkin believes the reason you don’t see much of bottle-dash stucco in the States was due to the popularity of aluminum siding in the post WW2 period.

Sparkly stucco

Bottle-dash stucco sparkling in the afternoon sun on the exterior of a multi-dwelling building in East Vancouver. Photo; C. Hagemoen

Historic Hoy House in Quesnel, B.C. is early evidence of bottle-dash stucco appearing outside of the Lower Mainland.  It was the home of C.D. (Chow Dong) Hoy and his family. C.D. Hoy (1883-1973) was one of Canada’s most famous early photographers. Between 1909 and 1920, Hoy took more that 1,500 photographs of the Chinese, First Nations, and Caucasian pioneers in Quesnel and the Cariboo region. At the time of its construction in 1934, Hoy House was the first house in Quesnel to have a stucco exterior, or more specifically, a bottle-dash stucco exterior. In her 2009 biography, I am Full Moon: Stories of a Ninth Daughter, Lily Hoy Price recalls the day in 1934 when her family showed their new house to the community.

They admired the intricate exterior stucco which my father described in his journal to his children: “The red colour is from the rocks packed in from Red Bluff just outside of Quesnel and carefully screened by hand. The green in the stucco is made of crushed ginger ale bottles and the amber is from smashed beer bottles. The white is marble brought in by train from Vancouver.” A man named Frank Hill applied the stucco…. While most people admired the house, others eyed it skeptically. They believed a stucco house couldn’t and wouldn’t withstand the frigid Quesnel winters and, consequently, wondered about my family’s sanity.

Close-up of multi-coloured bottle-dash stucco exterior. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Close-up of multi-coloured bottle-dash stucco exterior. Photo: C. Hagemoen

My personal memories of  bottle-dash stucco centre around my great aunt’s house on East Georgia in Vancouver. My mother told me that my great Aunt’s house was purchased as a new build in 1946 already covered in the bottle-dash stucco.The exterior of her house was similar to the house above – from a distance it was a spotty, light reddish brown. But up close, that was another story!

Stills from home movies of my great aunt's house in east Vancouver ca. 1957 & 1964. The exterior was multi-coloured bottle dash stucco applied when the house was newly constructed in 1946. My great uncle drinks a beer, possibly providing material for future bottle-dash applications.

Stills from home movies of my great aunt’s house in east Vancouver ca. 1957 & 1964. The exterior was multi-coloured bottle dash stucco applied when the house was newly constructed in 1946. My great uncle drinks a beer, possibly providing material for future bottle-dash applications.

Predominated by bits of brown and green glass, my aunt’s house also had bits of blue glass dotting its stuccoed surface. My mother once told me that when she was young, she recalls rare instances when bits of red glass were found. When I was a child, I was fascinated by the bits of coloured glass on my great aunt’s house and was scolded for picking out the bits of glass. I even made several attempts to try and find the rare bits of red amongst the sea of coloured glass – a futile effort not unlike my childhood searches for a lucky four-leaf clover (who didn’t spend their childhood looking for those!)

I never found the elusive red glass bits in the stucco on my aunts house, probably picked out by a previous generation of children. So I can’t tell you how excited I was to find a piece of it in the stucco of a house (see photo below) just down the street from where I currently live. Small victories.

Multi-coloured, broken-glass dash stucco includes the elusive red glass!  Photo: C. Hagemoen

Multi-coloured, broken-glass dash stucco includes the elusive red glass! Photo: C. Hagemoen

I was disappointed by the limited information on bottle-dash that I was able to glean.  As I still have many unanswered questions.  For example, why broken glass was ever chosen as a dash medium in the first place? Perhaps it is a simple case of an excess supply of glass? An early attempt at recycling? Or simply a cheap way to add some colour to stucco? Under the often dull, gray skies of Vancouver the aesthetic appeal of coloured glass in stucco might have been a cheap and cheerful way to brighten things up. If anyone can shed some more light on the subject, I would be delighted to hear from you.

I was surprised, however, to discover that when you are actively looking for it, you can still see many examples of bottle-dash in Vancouver today. A testament to its durability. Though I suppose as the years continue to go by and property prices increase, the instances of bottle-dash will diminish as older homes are torn-down, renovated or restored, and even painted. My great aunt’s house still stands, but the current owners have chosen to paint the exterior, in an attempt to bring the house into the 21st Century.

Painted bottle dash

Painted bottle dash exterior in east Vancouver. Photo: C. Hagemoen

According to John Atkin “stucco is a fascinating topic and a misunderstood building material.” I have to agree, especially here in Metro Vancouver,  where we have been plagued by the “leaky condo crisis.”  During the condominium construction boom of the 1980s and 1990s, acrylic stucco was improperly applied, resulting in mass building envelope failure. Stucco is a reliable building material when done correctly – bottle-dash stucco houses are a perfect example of this. I guess they just don’t make ‘em like they used to!

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Georgia Auditorium

Happy 2014! After a bit of a break over the holidays from Vanalogue, I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. I am looking forward to celebrating all things analogue in 2014. The first post of 2014, features a little known performance venue from Vancouver’s recent past – The Georgia Auditorium.

Neon sign from the Georgia Auditorium. Still taken from moving image CBUT news footage (1959).

Neon sign from the Georgia Auditorium. Still taken from CBUT news footage (1959). Photo: C. Hagemoen.

Working as a volunteer for the City of Vancouver Archives affords me the opportunity to be constantly surprised by new facets of Vancouver History. One recent example of this happened while I was working on a card catalogue/database project for the Archives’ pamphlet collection. As I was making my way through my assigned drawer, I came across a series of references to a Georgia Auditorium under the subject heading: Famous Artists Ltd. [a live entertainment production company]. I had never heard of this venue before. The following reference in particular intrigued me…

Vancouver Archives pamphlet collection card catalogue listing featuring Sir John Guilgud performance at the Georgia Auditorium (1959). Photo: C.Hagemoen

Vancouver Archives pamphlet collection card catalogue listing featuring Sir John Gielgud performance at the Georgia Auditorium (1959). Photo: C. Hagemoen

Sir John Gielgud in “Shakespear’s Ages of Man” at the Georgia Auditorium, November 28, 1958. Sir John Gielgud in Vancouver in 1958? Imagine that!

Featuring a selection of Shakespearean soliloquies and sonnets exploring the journey of life from birth to death, Ages of Man was performed to sold-out audiences around the world including, it seems, Vancouver.

As I flipped through the cards, I noticed many other famous names that made their way to Vancouver via the Georgia Auditorium – Jack Benny, Marcel Marceau, Mantovani and Jeanette MacDonald. Time to find out more about the Georgia Auditorium and its place in Vancouver’s history.

Two programmes for performances at the Georgia Auditorium.

Two programmes for performances at the Georgia Auditorium. Photo:

Vancouver, known as the “gateway to the Orient”, was a stop on the world tour of live entertainment since the late 19thC/early 20thC. This was primarily due to the fact that Vancouver, as a CPR terminus city, was geographically positioned on the main route from London to the “Far East”. Vancouver was also one of the cities along the west coast (San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Victoria and Dawson City) that saw their populations soar as a result of the Klondike Gold Rush and the increase in trade that followed. The CPR’s (second) Hotel Vancouver opened in 1916 at Georgia and Granville streets beside the (first) Orpheum Theatre (later known as The Lyric – 761 Granville Street) which originally opened in 1891 as an opera house. World class artists like Anna Pavlova, Enrico Caruso, Sarah Bernhardt and Canadian-born Vaudeville entertainer, Eva Tanguay made their way to Vancouver during this period.

 Georgia Auditorium 1805 West Georgia (at Denman St.), June 9, 1959. Photograph by Walter E. Frost. City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-69.

Georgia Auditorium, 1805 West Georgia (at Denman St.), June 9, 1959. Note the ‘For Sale’ sign on the corner of the building. Photograph by Walter E. Frost. City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-69.

Vancouver’s live entertainment scene was set by the time the Georgia Auditorium was built (originally as the Denman Auditorium) in 1927 at the corner of West Georgia and Denman. The former site of the Georgia Auditorium is now part of Devonian Harbour Park. A historical marker in the park, put up by the Vancouver Historical Society, reveals the rich history of the area.

In 1911, brothers Frank and Lester Patrick built the Denman Arena on part of the former Kanaka Ranch site. The ranch was settled in the 1860s by several Hawaiian families, who grew fruit and vegetables, and produced charcoal, on the site beside Coal Harbour. The Denman Arena was one of the world’s largest indoor rinks at the time, able to hold up to 10,500 people. It was the home to Vancouver’s first professional hockey team, the Vancouver Millionaires who won the Stanley Cup in 1915 [the only time Vancouver has won the Cup, thus far]. The the brick clad, wooden arena burned down in 1936.

The 2,500 seat Denman Auditorium (aka the Georgia Auditorium), which Frank Patrick built alongside the Denman Arena in 1927, survived the 1936 arena fire. In its early days, the multipurpose auditorium hosted boxing and wrestling matches, rallies and other similar attractions. During World War II, the Auditorium was taken over by the Canadian navy and was temporarily used as storage by Boeing Aircraft. In 1945,  Lester Patrick sold the former Arena site and the Auditorium building to Vancouver theatre owner, H. M. Singer. Initially, Singer hoped to build another sports arena on the site, however this project never came to fruition. In 1952, the Denman Auditorium was renovated as a concert venue. It re-opened in September of that year as the Georgia Auditorium. Singer managed the Auditorium as a concert venue until it hosted its final event on June 19th, 1959 – a free show by the CBUT Talent Caravan. It was torn down in September of 1959 and was replaced by a parking lot, a very common occurrence in Vancouver at that time.

In its 32 years, the Georgia Auditorium had seen several owners and had been used for many things, but in the end it was destined to wind up as a parking lot. Its seemingly early demise could be directly attributed to the opening of the modern, 2,765 seat, Queen Elizabeth Theatre on July 5, 1959. The profound impact of the Georgia Auditorium on the local live entertainment scene really only lasted seven years, but what a seven years it was!

Image from CBUT news footage of Georgia Auditorium sign promoting the appearance of John Diefenbaker (1957) projected on the screen of a Steenbeck. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Image from CBUT news footage of Georgia Auditorium sign promoting the appearance of John Diefenbaker (1957) projected on the screen of a Steenbeck. Photo: C. Hagemoen

On its stage have appeared some of the world’s greatest singers, musicians, dancers, comedians and theatrical performers. Politics have also been an important part of the Georgia Auditorium. In 1957, John Diefenbaker started one of the greatest political sweeps of Canadian history on the stage of the Georgia Auditorium. In that same year, Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent made one of his last public appearances on the federal campaign trail. In the 1950s, BC Premier W.A.C. Bennett and the Social Credit party held many rallies and annual meetings at the Georgia Auditorium.

Other groups also held their important events at the Georgia Auditorium. For several years the student nurses from St. Paul’s Hospital held their graduation ceremonies at the Auditorium. The Labour Council held public meetings concerning growing unemployment.  And ethnic and religious groups used the Georgia Auditorium for festivals and pageants.

Georgia Auditorium sign advertises the St. Paul's Nurses Graduation ceremonies. Still taken from CBUT news footage (1959). Photo: C. Hagemoen

Georgia Auditorium sign advertises the St. Paul’s Nurses Graduation ceremonies. Still taken from CBUT news footage (1959). Photo: C. Hagemoen

The Auditorium hosted everything from political rallies to revival meetings. But, probably its greatest role had been that of concert hall.  In its heyday the Georgia Auditorium was the “showplace of Georgia Street”.

In July of 1958, the Vancouver International Festival presented The World of the Wonderful Dark, a stage play by Lister Sinclair, at the Georgia Auditorium. The show was directed by Douglas Seale and starred Canadian actor, Barry Morse. The Vancouver International Festival invited Lister Sinclair to write a play incorporating the history of British Columbia. In 1958, BC was celebrating the centennial of its establishment as a British Colony. Sinclair ended up writing a play about the Kwakiutl people of the northwest coast, which I’m sure raised a few eyebrows when he first presented the play to the VIF.  Nonetheless, the play was produced (and somewhat predictably for the time) under the leadership of a British director with an all-white cast in bronze body makeup.

The iconic Red Robinson got his start at the Georgia Auditorium at the age of 16. In 1953, he recalled he made his first public appearance on the stage of the Georgia Auditorium “as a guest of the Al Jordan show Theme For Teens. Al broadcast “live” from the venue and our special guest was Frankie Laine”. Two years later, Robinson emceed a show at the Georgia Auditorium called Jazz At The Philharmonic. Jazz greats Lester Young, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald all appeared on the bill.

Robinson was also the emcee for a great early Rock n’ Roll show in October, 1957. Held at the Georgia Auditorium, it was billed the Show of Stars for ’57 and featured Paul Anka, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Knox,The Drifters, Eddie Cochran and many more. Admission to the show was $2 with a top ticket price of $3.75.

Newspaper ad for concert at Georgia Auditorium.

Newspaper ad for Show of Stars for ’57  concert at Georgia Auditorium.

Reviews of the show in the local newspapers the next day reveal much about how Rock n’ Roll was contributing to the “generation gap”.

October 24, 1957, Vancouver Sun – Alan Hope, Sun Staff Reporter:

The high priests of rock n’ roll held court in the Georgia Auditorium Wednesday night. They performed the stiff-legged, spasmodic rites of the cult with an unimaginative sameness that makes their wide appeal an enigma. The audience was warned before the show got underway that dancing was forbidden.

On October 24, 1957, The Province Newspaper notes:

The young patrons, the great majority in the 15-year-old bracket, sat through two hours of brash musical noises highlighted by Fats Domino. The first show started at about 7 p.m. and the Auditorium was cleared to allow another show to go on at 9:30 p.m. The Audience was amazingly well behaved as special duty policemen patrolled the aisles. Guitarist Buddy Knox, who rose to fame with a record called “Party Doll” did three songs and was well received.

Red Robinson interviewed Buddy Holly backstage at the Georgia Auditorium on October 23, 1957. The interview can be purchased on iTunes for 99 cents, or heard on YouTube here:

And so, though time for the Georgia Auditorium was fleeting, it certainly made its mark in Vancouver’s entertainment history.

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60th anniversary of CBUT – part one

This is the first in a series of posts commemorating 60 years of CBUT television (CBC-TV) in Vancouver and British Columbia.

Our current media culture is defined by television. Television has been, and still is, a part of our everyday lives – even in these digital days of live streaming and Netflix. But, how did this appliance of mass media, television, all begin?  Locally,  it all started with a 5,000 watt television station in Vancouver, British Columbia.

CBUT, channel 2 station ID. Prospect Point, Stanley Park, 1961. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

CBUT, channel 2 station ID. Prospect Point, Stanley Park, 1961. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

CBUT, Channel 2, Vancouver, officially began programming at 6.00 p.m., Wednesday, December 16th,1953 when a button pressed by A. Davidson Dunton, chairman of the CBC Board of Governors, set the inaugural transmission into motion. Prior to CBUT, the only television stations available to lower mainland residents originated from Washington State – KING Channel 5 in Seattle and KVOS Channel 12 in Bellingham. Another Seattle based TV station, KOMO Channel 4 began operation 6 days prior to CBUT on December 10, 1953.

"a button is pressed and western Canada's first television station is on the air!"

“A button is pressed and western Canada’s first television station is on the air!” Photo from CBC Times shows the exact moment that CBUT started 60 years of broadcasting.

Early in 1953, CBC announced plans for a one million dollar television studio and transmitter to be built in the Vancouver area. The CBC had opened the country’s first television stations in September of 1952 (CBFT Montreal and CBLT Toronto) and in addition to Vancouver, had plans for TV stations in Ottawa, Halifax and Winnipeg. This Vancouver station would be the first in Western Canada. The plan included studio and production facilities downtown, a few blocks from the existing radio (CBU) studios in the Hotel Vancouver and a transmitter on the North Shore Mountains. The transmitter site on Mount Seymour was 1,400 feet above sea level and would have a 270 foot tower, putting the antenna three times as high as the CBLT Toronto facility. [Take that, Toronto!]

Engineers from CBC and the Marconi Co. predicted that the signal from CBUT would reach televisions on the east coast of Vancouver Island as far north as Comox, and as far south as Victoria. They also believed they could put a strong signal eastward to at least to Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley.

CBUT transmitter station atop Mt. Seymour, 1954. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

CBUT transmitter building atop Mt. Seymour, 1954. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

Later in 1953, the Canadian Department of Transport came out with a national assignment of television channels for Canada.  It was decided that CBUT would operate on channel 2 (initially CBUT was to be assigned channel 6, but it was thought that this would disrupt reception of Seattle’s KING-TV channel 5 in the area), and could have a maximum video power of 100,000 watts.

Until the permanent tower on Mount Seymour was operational, a temporary antenna on the roof of the Mt. Seymour transmitter building would be used. This would allow CBUT to start television service with film and kinescope recordings prior to the completion of studio facilities and transmitter tower in the spring of 1954. The temporary antenna was replaced by a new “12-stack directional high gain antenna” which increased CBUT radiation power from 5,000 watts to around 100,000 watts.

Exterior of the CBUT studio building at 1200 West Georgia, a converted Packard dealership. July, 1958. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

Exterior of the CBUT studio building at 1200 West Georgia, a converted Packard dealership. July, 1958. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver Still Photo Collection.

An account of CBUT’s official opening events on December 16th, 1954 was relayed a week later in the CBC Times:

By 5.00 o’clock Wednesday afternoon [Dec. 16] nearly 200 dignitaries were officially greeted in the unfinished studio building at 1200 West Georgia. CBC personnel conducted tours through the building: the studio floor and top floor where the telecine unit for transmission of films and kinescopes originate.
Seven television receivers were positioned at strategic points throughout the studio, making program fare for the opening night available to those present.
Tuesday [Dec. 15], press representatives from Vancouver and other parts of B.C. were taken by chartered bus to the transmitter site, 2700-foot level Mount Seymour. They returned to tour the studio building, which should be completed sometime next spring. Monday [Dec. 14], 150 members of CBC’s Vancouver staff were guests at the studio building. Reception by the viewing audience of CBUT’s first test pattern transmissions was marked with enthusiasm. Home set owners from Washington State, Vancouver Island and points east of Vancouver reported the [test] pattern was clear and sound was excellent.

Among the local dignitaries invited to attend the official opening were: Premier W.A.C. Bennett, Mayor Fred Hume of Vancouver, UBC president Dr. Norman MacKenzie, Blair Clark, general manager of the B.E. Commonwealth Games Canada (1954) Society, and B.C. Electric president Dal Grauer.

Newspaper print ad for the CBUT opening.

Local newspaper print ad for the CBUT opening. Image sourced from pugetsoundradio.com

‘CBC Times’ was the weekly program guide published by the CBC, to help Canadians keep track of it’s radio and television programming. To mark the opening of CBUT, the fourth CBC-TV station in Canada, the December 13-19, 1954 issue of CBC Times contained a special TV supplement – providing readers the background to the establishment of CBUT, and pointing out its “significance in the development in the national television picture”. The cover was designed by CBUT graphic artist, Doug Stiles.

Doug Stiles designed cover of Dec. 13- 19th, 1953 edition of the CBC Times special edition for the opening of CBUT.

Doug Stiles designed cover of Dec. 13- 19th, 1953 edition of the CBC Times special edition for the opening of CBUT.

Several special programs marked the initial transmission of the station on Wednesday, December 16th, at 6.00 p.m. They consisted pre-taped (filmed) special greetings to the new station and entertainment programs that featured many “Vancouverites”. The initial regular broadcast schedule settled down to approximately five hours of programming per day. Its scope increased considerably in February 1954 with the arrival of the mobile television unit, and again later that spring when the completion of the CBUT television studios permitted the first live broadcasts [more about that in a later post].

CBUT opening day program schedule, Dec. 16, 1953.

CBUT opening day program schedule, Dec. 16, 1953.

Commenting on the opening of CBUT, BC Regional Representative, Kenneth Caple stated that:

“It will be the aim of the program planners to provide for a wide variety of interests. Since CBUT will be the only Canadian TV station operating in this area in the near future it will be necessary to provide many programs of Canadian origination for special Canadian interests. It is expected that CBUT on Channel 2 will give not only an excellent signal but also an outstanding program service.”

It appears from this early 1954 programming schedule (below) that it took awhile for CBUT to provide programs “of Canadian origination” as evidenced by the numerous American TV shows in the listings. [Contrary to popular belief, the use of American television shows on CBC TV has very deep roots]

Typical early CBUT TV programming schedule (ca. early 1954). Note the broadcast of TV test pattern.

Typical early CBUT TV programming schedule (ca. early 1954). Note the broadcast of TV test pattern.

Other than the local news, the only Canadian or local programs were Uncle Chichimus and Test Pattern.

Uncle Chicamus on cover of CBC Times

Uncle Chichimus and Hollyhock on cover of CBC Times, Pacific Region Schedule for Dec. 13-19, 1953.

Uncle Chichimus and his sidekick (and niece) Hollyhock appeared on the cover of the CBC Times guide for Dec.13-19, 1953 – marking the first occasion on which a television subject was thrust into the CBC Times limelight. The creation of puppeteer, John Conway, it is highly appropriate that Uncle Chichimus should be the subject of this particular CBC Times cover. For not only was the chubby, bald puppet and his niece Hollyhock beloved regulars on CBC television broadcasts in the eastern Canada, but they were conceived here on the West Coast.

In 1948, Ontario native, John Conway, moved to Vancouver to teach English at the University of British Columbia. While living in B.C., Conway and a fellow puppeteer toured the province with a new puppet troupe, and it was during this time that he formed the idea of the puppet characters, Uncle Chichimus (Chich) and Hollyhock (Holly). They made their television debut on the very first broadcast of CBLT -Toronto on September 8, 1952, marking the debut of English language television (The CBC’s French language television made it’s debut two days earlier in Montreal on Sept 6, 1952). They made an appearance on the schedule for CBUT’s first broadcast offering special greetings to the new TV station.

TV test pattern

Mock up of what a 1950s TV broadcasting test pattern would look like. Photo: Alvin Armstrong, CBC Vancouver still photograph collection.

An integral part of television broadcasting in those early days was the transmission of the test pattern. For the owner of a television set, it served as a yardstick by which the performance of the TV receiver could be measured – the more clearly and accurately a television receiver reproduces the pattern, the more perfect its performance. When television was in its infancy, the test pattern was not only broadcast during sign-on and sign-off but during the broadcast day. In the beginning, CBUT broadcast the (now iconic) Indian-head test pattern for an hour starting at 6:00 p.m. everyday. My mother recalls being fascinated by the broadcast of the test pattern, so much so that in those very early days of TV  she claims it was one of her favorite shows! Eventually, improvements to television broadcasting equipment required less adjusting, and by the late 1950s the test pattern was seen less frequently. Except the occasional time when one was jolted awake by the annoying tone that accompanied test pattern, after they had fallen asleep with the TV on.

The fundamentals behind the test pattern was explained to the novice television audience in a feature that appeared in the Dec. 13- 19th, 1953, special edition of the CBC Times. I imagine there was a spike in the sales of TV sets leading up to the launch of CBUT, as many people bought TV’s for the first time in their lives. The article explained that the most frequent problems with television reception are the “lack of linearity (resulting in picture distortion), lack of focus and the wrong setting of the brilliance and contrast controls”. The article goes on to explain, in detail, the various elements of the test pattern image and what they mean to proper television reception. The article ends with some friendly advice: “thus by regularly checking your set with the test pattern, your pictures will be reproduced more faithfully, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing when your set is operating perfectly”.

Below is a short excerpt of some of the opening remarks that aired when CBUT first broadcast on December 16th, 1953. It is not exactly riveting television, but considering the CBUT television studios were still unfinished, they did not yet have their live studio cameras (Marconi MARK II and III’s) or mobile unit, and the Seymour transmitter tower was not yet built, it is nevertheless an impressive feat and momentous moment in the history of television in Vancouver.

Also included on the clip are excerpts from the 1960 CBUT program “Image of CBUT” showing some ‘behind the scenes’ of early TV production.

▶ CBUT Opening broadcast, Dec. 16, 1953 (excerpts) and more – YouTube.

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Newsie Jack

Newspaper vendor near the corner of Granville and Robson Street. Photo: James Crookall, City of Vancouver Archives CVA-260-1372

Newspaper vendor near the corner of Granville and Robson Street, May 24, 1940. This photo shows ‘Newsie Jack’ in his early days as a news vendor.  Copy of Photo: James Crookall, City of Vancouver Archives CVA-260-1372

In an era where the daily newspapers would print two editions a day, the street news vendor was a common sight on busy downtown street corners. The vendors would stand all day beside their small display kiosks, hawking the papers and shouting the headlines out loud. Newspaper vendors, like street photographers, were active participants in the daily buzz of the city.

I spent several years working as a media librarian in the CBC Vancouver Media Archives on a film preservation project. During that time, I was introduced to much of Vancouver’s engaging moving image history. Every now and then, a slug, or title would pique my interest and I would be lured to take a closer look. Such was the case when I came across a film item titled “Newsie Jack” in the log book.

This B&W, silent film reel was used as an obit for a newspaper vendor, known as ‘Newsie Jack’. It aired December 2, 1969 on the CBUT (CBC Vancouver) current affairs program “Hourglass” and was accompanied by a sound track of the song “Jimmy Brown The Newsboy“. According to the lineup sheet for the program, Newsie Jack sold newspapers on the street corner in downtown Vancouver. The footage shows him vending at Granville and Georgia, in front of Birk’s, and hamming it up with a young man peddling the (then) underground paper “The Georgia Straight”.

“Newsie Jack” – newspaper vendor, ca. 1969 – YouTube.

I wanted to find out more about Newsie Jack, but I would need to learn his full name to do so. I decided to use the BC Archives Vital Event Indexes to search the Death Registration Index using the three things I knew about him – his year of death (1969); his first name (Jack) and the location of his death (Vancouver).

There were several possible matches, but the strongest one was for a Jack Kanchikoff who died November 29, 1969, three days prior to the date that the CBC Vancouver obit for “Newsie Jack” aired. I decided to look in VPL’s online city directories to see if I could find a listing for a Jack Kanchikoff. The old city directories are great because they give you personal information about an individual including their marital status and occupation. Using the 1955 city directory (the latest directory to be digitized) I looked for the name “Kanchikoff” and found: Kanchikoff Jack (Lottie) news vendor r 1128 Davie. Looks like I found the right “Newsie Jack”.

I decided to take a trip to the 5th floor of the Central Branch of the VPL and look for a newspaper obituary listing for Jack Kanchikoff in the late November / early December 1969 editions of The Vancouver Sun newspaper.

As I was scrolling through the paper on microfilm, I noticed this headline on page 12 of the December 1, 1969 edition of The Vancouver Sun: Newsie Jack Collapses and Dies.

“Newsie Jack” died Saturday. His proper name was Jack Kanchikoff, but few of the people to whom he sold newspapers from his kiosk at the south-east corner of Georgia and Granville knew him by that name. Jack had been there since 1940 and at other locations for 10 years before that. His customers knew him as “Newsie”, a man who drew rough cartoons in chalk to illustrate the big or little news of the day. And they knew him as a man who squeezed their pockets each year for contributions to the March of Dimes appeal for crippled children. Jack was 69 when he died. He collapsed in The Bay just across from the corner where he stood for so many years.

When I read the last line of the article my heart sank, what a sad way to die.

When I decided to write about ‘Newsie’ Jack Kanchikoff, I wanted to find more images of him to illustrate my post. I found a record for a James Crookall photo (dated 1940) of a unnamed newspaper vendor at the City of Vancouver Archives. The photograph is catalogued in their online database, but the image has not been scanned. The original photograph is a 35mm B&W nitrate negative, but the record showed that the image was also available as modern print and copy negative. So I asked to see the print version. As soon as I slipped the photograph from its protective sleeve, I knew that this was indeed an image of a young ‘Newsie’ Jack Kanchikoff. Unfortunately, I only had my phone camera with me at the time to take a copy of the print, so I apologize for the low image quality.

Detail of Photo - Newspaper vendor near the corner of Granville and Robson Street. Photo: James Crookall, City of Vancouver Archives CVA-260-1372

Detail of Photo – Newspaper vendor near the corner of Granville and Robson Street, May 24, 1940. Copy of Photo: James Crookall, City of Vancouver Archives CVA-260-1372

Further research revealed that Jack Kanchikoff was born June 15, 1900 and was married to a woman named Lottie (1893-1985). Both Jack and Lottie are buried at the Schara Tzedeck Cemetery in New Westminster. It does not appear that they had any children as none are listed in the article, nor any other directory I searched through. [ I was hoping to search the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC online, but their website is currently under maintenance and is off-line. I will check back later, and if I find out any more information about Jack or Lottie I will post an update.]

The fact that two of the major media outlets in the city, made an effort to comment of the passing of ‘Newsie Jack’ speaks volumes about his character, and the presence he had in the city at the time. If anyone remembers ‘Newsie Jack’ or knows more information about him, I would love to hear from you.

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