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.

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Before and After – Main Street

Heritage Hall

Heritage Hall, Main Street, Vancouver – 2012. Photo: C. Hagemoen

To loosely paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli: In a progressive [city] change is constant; …change… is inevitable. Vancouver is a city that most inevitably is constantly changing … sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. But, how much has the city really changed? Sometimes it can be hard to tell unless you can directly compare the past with the present.

Primary source documents like visual historical records, whether they are still or moving images, capture a moment in time and allow us to compare the past with the present.  I think it is really interesting to look back and compare how much (or, how little) a place has changed over the years. So, inspired by photographer Dan Toulgoet’s “Then and Now” series in the Vancouver Courier and the blog of ‘then and now’ images Changing Vancouver , I decided to try my hand at creating my own comparative pairs of ‘before and after’ images.

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