Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 17 – Odd Fellows Hall (Arcadian Hall)

Last year I took on the challenge of the first-ever Local History Advent Calendar! For 24 days in a row, I presented random historical tidbits I’d collected over the previous year and presented them in the form of “treats” for my 2018 Local History Advent Calendar. This year, the “Heart of Mount Pleasant” was number 1 on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List for 2019.  So I decided to choose Mount Pleasant as the theme for the Vanalogue Local History Advent Calendar for 2019.  Each day you can “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Mount Pleasant history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

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1908 photo of the IOOF Hall in Mount Pleasant. Photo: VPL 5144

Acadian Hall was a landmark building in Mount Pleasant that once stood at 2214 Main Street for 88 years before it was destroyed by an arson fire in December 1993. The large wooden hall was built in 1905 for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F) Mount Pleasant lodge #19.

According to the I.O.O.F. website, the lodge was instituted on May 26, 1892. The lodge originally met “in a building on the Archer Block of land on Westminster (Main) St.” and built the hall there in 1905. The IOOF lodge #19 owned the building until  December 1955 when they moved to the Knights of Pythias Hall at 303 East 8th Avenue (now Western Front). In May of 1963, the lodge moved again, relocating to the Little Mountain #60 hall at Main and 30th (196 E 30th). Eventually, Mount Pleasant #19 merged with Fairview #61 on November 4, 1965, and became Fairview #19.

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Arcadian Hall in 1985. Photo: COV Archives, CVA 790-0032

After the I.O.O.F. left, the building was used by many other groups and organizations throughout its history. The Mount Pleasant Hall on Main Street eventually came to be known as the Arcadian Hall by the late 1940s.

It was a great dance venue. The hall was a popular spot for local dance and theatre troupes to rent because of the spring-loaded dance floor, which was one of only two in the city. (The Commodore has the remaining one.) It was also a popular venue for the arts and music community. Over its 88 years, the hall hosted everything from rummage sales to Randy Rampage (of D.O.A.).

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Poster for D.O.A. & U-J3RKS in concert ca. 1979.

At the time of its destruction, it was owned by the Finlandia Club of Vancouver. For them, it was used as a social and cultural gathering centre for people of Finnish descent. It was also home to the Main Dance Place; a dance academy for professional and advanced dancers to keep up with their craft and others to take part recreationally.

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The Arcadian Hall in 1985. Photo: CoV Archives CVA 791-0110

Do you have any memories of the Arcadian Hall? If you do, I’d love to hear them.

Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 16 – Laura’s Coffee Shop

Last year I took on the challenge of the first-ever Local History Advent Calendar! For 24 days in a row, I presented random historical tidbits I’d collected over the previous year and presented them in the form of “treats” for my 2018 Local History Advent Calendar. This year, the “Heart of Mount Pleasant” was number 1 on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List for 2019.  So I decided to choose Mount Pleasant as the theme for the Vanalogue Local History Advent Calendar for 2019.  Each day you can “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Mount Pleasant history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

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Laura’s Coffee Shop. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Last summer I led a historical walking tour for the Vancouver Heritage Foundation called “Lower Mount Pleasant: industry, immigrants and institutions”. One of the stops on the tour was at Laura’s Coffee Shop – one of the last industrial coffee shops in the city.

Laura’s Coffee Shop is on the corner of W4th and Manitoba at 1945 Manitoba Street. It’s in a building that started as a house in 1905 which was later was converted into a commercial space (ca. 1926).

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Laura’s Cafe exterior & interior. Photos: C.Hagemoen

According to the 1905 City Directories, the first resident at 1943 Manitoba Street was Robert E. Thompson a storeman at Wood, Vallance and Leggatt, Ltd. (heavy and shelf hardware). In 1904, a building permit for a frame building was issued under his name for this property. Since the value of the building was only for $100, it is likely that this permit was for an outbuilding or a shed. Therefore, it is possible that the house was built after or before 1904. (There is a gap in the historic building permits for Vancouver from 1905-1908 – the records have been lost.) Thompson didn’t live there long, because the City Directory for the following year lists Walter Lofting, a butterman, the resident at 1943 Manitoba Street.

In 1926, new owner Thomas D. Knowles opens the Manitoba Confectionery at 1943 Manitoba St.  By 1927, Italian immigrants Domenico & Laura DeFilippo (sometimes spelled as DeFillipo) are now listed as living at 1943 Manitoba and son Samuel DeFilippo, a longshoreman, is listed at 1945 Manitoba. It looks like the recently expanded retail space (with living quarters) has now been given its own street address.

Domenico operated the corner grocery store here for almost 10 years before he died suddenly in 1936 (he collapsed while out walking with his wife near 4th and Ontario). Mrs. Laura DeFillipo took over at the helm at the corner store until her death in 1953.  Son Samuel (Sam or Sammy) then took over the family store business – he had been previously working as a taxi driver.  Sammy was also an avid bowler and he competed in many bowling tournaments in the 40s and 50s. He also ran Circle Bowling Alleys on Clark Drive at Kingsway which he opened in 1948 with partner Cyril Battistoni.

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Laura’s Cafe ca. 1978. Photo: COV Archives, CVA 786-23.10

In the 1960s, Sammy converted the grocery store into an industrial coffee shop and named it after his beloved mother Laura… what a good Italian son!  It has been serving breakfast and lunch to the workers in the area ever since.  Sam DeFilippo died in 1996.

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Classified ad for a waitress at Laura’ Cafe. Source:The Province July 3, 1965.

Laura’s Coffee Shop is one of the few “industrial coffee shops” left in the city. These popular-priced eateries could be found in industrial areas all around the city like lower Mount Pleasant. I can imagine workers from the Alsco Laundry building across the street frequenting Laura’s. These coffee shops would be open early (for pre-work breakfast) and all through the working day, Monday to Friday. They were reliable, local establishments where single workers, who may or may not have kitchen facilities at home nor the inclination to cook could go and get two good hot meals a day.

Grilled cheese, fries and coffee from Laura’s.

Today, Laura’s Coffee Shop is a family-run,  friendly place that is busy serving ‘greasy-spoon’ style meals to lower Mount Pleasant workers (now more tech-based and less factory-based) and beyond – they also deliver via Skip the Dishes! Laura’s is also open Saturdays.

As part of the Vancouver Courier’s Vancouver Special neighbourhood series, Heritage Vancouver’s Anthony Norfolk discusses the residential, commercial and industrial heritage of Lower Mount Pleasant, while sitting down at Laura’s Coffee Shop in this video from 2013.

Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 15 – Streetcar scars

Last year I took on the challenge of the first-ever Local History Advent Calendar! For 24 days in a row, I presented random historical tidbits I’d collected over the previous year and presented them in the form of “treats” for my 2018 Local History Advent Calendar. This year, the “Heart of Mount Pleasant” was number 1 on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List for 2019.  So I decided to choose Mount Pleasant as the theme for the Vanalogue Local History Advent Calendar for 2019.  Each day you can “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Mount Pleasant history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

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Street car on Quebec St. (between 14th & 13th) on its way from the Mount Pleasant Car Barns. Photo: CoV Archives

Day 1 of the LHAC 2019 featured the Mount Pleasant Streetcar Barns and its resident janitor cat ‘Toots‘. The car barns were bounded by Main Street on the east and Quebec Street on the west,  between 13th and 14th Avenues . The building was two-tiered to compensate for the grade of the property at the Main St side vs the Quebec Street side. Cars could enter and exit at grade from both sides. For 46 years, from 1906 to 1952, street cars would start and end their routes from that location.

For 10 years starting in 1945, the entire transit system was converted from streetcars to trolley buses – the campaign was called “Rails to Rubber“. In 1952, the ‘Fairview Beltline’ was transferred from streetcar to bus and the Mount Pleasant car barns were closed. The land was eventually sold and a series of supermarkets, starting with the Dominion Store, have occupied the site ever since.

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Old street car tracks still visible on Quebec Street between 12th and 13th. Photo: C. Hagemoen

But you can still see evidence of this part of Mount Pleasant’s history on Quebec Street between 13th and 12th Avenues (just south of the Fire Hall).  A portion of streetcar rails, like a scar on the landscape, can be seen on Quebec street near the former site of the Mount Pleasant carbarns.

In his novel, All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy wrote, “Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” We should similarly appreciate urban landscape scars like those of the Mount Pleasant streetcar line. These historic “scars” on our city’s landscape form part of the history of Vancouver; as such they should be shown and celebrated rather than hidden.

Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 14 – The Woman’s Bakery

Last year I took on the challenge of the first-ever Local History Advent Calendar! For 24 days in a row, I presented random historical tidbits I’d collected over the previous year and presented them in the form of “treats” for my 2018 Local History Advent Calendar. This year, the “Heart of Mount Pleasant” was number 1 on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List for 2019. So I decided to choose Mount Pleasant as the theme for the Vanalogue Local History Advent Calendar for 2019. Each day you can “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Mount Pleasant history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

The Woman’s Bakery On Main Street in Mount Pleasant, 1935. Photo: Vancouver Sun, Feb. 2, 1935

In the last century, bread was very much the staple of our diet. There were bakeries all over the city and Mount Pleasant had its fair share of them. But, there is one bakery in particular that stands out… The Woman’s Bakery.

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Sarah Coulter – “the Woman”

The Woman’s Bakery started in 1905 in a small building at the south-east corner of Main Street and 6th Avenue. Mr. & Mrs. Coulter arrived in the city in 1905 and shortly after settling in Mount Pleasant they opened their bakery business. The Woman’s Bakery was one of the few female-owned and run businesses in the city. Mrs. Sarah Coulter was the baker, and Mr. Allan C. Coulter did the merchandising. As the story goes, when the bakery first opened it had no specific name. Soon the bread and cakes that baker Sarah Coulter produced earned a favourable reputation in the neighbourhood (and eventually beyond). So, when guests started asking their hosts where they got such delicious baked goods, the host would simply reply “at the woman’s bakery”. Eventually, the name, “The Woman’s Bakery”, stuck and was adopted.

A branch of the Woman’s Bakery on Granville Street in 1927. Photo: CoV Archives, Bu P633

As the popularity of their product grew, so did the business. By 1915 there were three branches of the bakery, in addition to the main store, and a bread factory at 66 West 4th Avenue. Ten years later, there were 17 locations in the city:

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Christmas advert for The Woman’s Bakery. Source: Vancouver Sun, Dec 4, 1926

 

The Woman’s Bakery continued as a family business even after the Coulters retired in 1924. Sarah Coulter’s cousin, James Chester Brault, bought The Woman’s Bakery in 1924. Like the Coulters, the Braults ran the business together; Mr. Brault was the “master baker” and Mrs. Grace Brault was in the business manager. The Brault’s also introduced confections to the bakery’s repertoire under the brand name Brault’s Chocolates.

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Vancouver Daily World, Wednesday, August 12, 1908.

Woman’s Bakery Ltd. continued operations in until at least the 1970s, however, by that time it was under the umbrella of Canada Food Products Ltd.

Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 13 – Watson Street

Last year I took on the challenge of the first-ever Local History Advent Calendar! For 24 days in a row, I presented random historical tidbits I’d collected over the previous year and presented them in the form of “treats” for my 2018 Local History Advent Calendar. This year, the “Heart of Mount Pleasant” was number 1 on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List for 2019.  So I decided to choose Mount Pleasant as the theme for the Vanalogue Local History Advent Calendar for 2019.  Each day you can “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Mount Pleasant history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

Watson Street is a hidden oddity. Only 33 feet wide, or half the size of a regular city street, it is one of the few alleyways in Vancouver that is also a residential street. It serves as the lane for commercial buildings on the east side of Main Street and a regular street for residences and buildings on the opposite side. This duality is likely due to the fact that Watson served as the historical boundary between John Webster’s District Lot 302 and H.V. Edmonds’ District Lot 301. Originally named Howard Street ca. 1899, it was renamed Watson Street in 1950.

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1912 Goad’s Fire Insurance Map showing Howard St. (Watson) between 16th & Broadway. Photo: CoV Archives Map 342c

Watson Street was once home to several houses and cottages. These were homes for the working class population – BCER employees, teamsters, teachers, carpenters, shopkeepers – that made up the community of Mount Pleasant for much of its history. Only three of those early residences still stand today – one of them being the 1895 Abray House.

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2913/15 Watson Street in 2011, when Bert’s Restaurant was still in operation. Photo: Screenshot Google Street view 2011.

A duplex cottage built before 1909 is found at 2913/15 Watson. A building permit was issued to “Patton & McLean” in 1909 to repair and move this duplex house from the front of the lot facing Westminster Ave. (Main Street) to the rear of the lot along Watson Street. This was ostensibly done to make room for a commercial building facing Main Street. The building that now stands at the front of the lot (2904 Main) was built sometime in the 1920s and was once home to, local working persons favourite family cafe, Bert’s Restaurant (1948-2012) and is now home to Colony Restaurant.

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2972/2974 Watson Street. Photo: C.Hagemoen

On the same block but across the street at 2972/2974 Watson Street stands a butter-cream colored duplex that was built ca. 1907. This house is particularly significant, as it has served as housing continuously for over 110 years. It is the last example left on Watson Street that still serves its singular original purpose.

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218 East 11th at Watson Street. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Early examples of multi-family apartment buildings can also be found along the Watson Street corridor. The oldest one is located at 218 East 11th at Watson Street. A building permit was issued to carpenter Henry G. Taylor for this two-story frame apartment building in 1912 (above). It replaced an original single-family dwelling that was built before 1903 by C. G Taylor.

Another early apartment building is found across Watson Street from Heritage Hall. Located at 210 E. 15th this two-story wood frame dwelling was built in 1919 by BC Fir & Cedar Lumber employee Alec Reid. Now sporting a coat of bottle-dash stucco, it was converted to a multi-family dwelling in the early 1950s.

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210 East 15th (rear) seen from Watson St. Photo: C.Hagemoen

I created this digital picture story on Watson Street in a one-day workshop at one of grunt gallery’s 2018 Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen Digital Storytelling workshops with Mount Pleasant residents. Consider it a historic stroll down Watson Street…

Source: Christine Hagemoen’s Watson Street – a history in 9 blocks – Digital Stories.ca

You can also view it on the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen (MPCAS).
Location: Intersection of Broadway & Kingsway, Vancouver, on the east side of the Independent Building
Screen Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 9AM to 9:30PM / Friday & Saturday: 9AM to 10:30PM

Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 12 – Clayburn Bricks

Last year I took on the challenge of the first-ever Local History Advent Calendar! For 24 days in a row, I presented random historical tidbits I’d collected over the previous year and presented them in the form of “treats” for my 2018 Local History Advent Calendar. This year, the “Heart of Mount Pleasant” was number 1 on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List for 2019.  So I decided to choose Mount Pleasant as the theme for the Vanalogue Local History Advent Calendar for 2019.  Each day you can “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Mount Pleasant history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

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E. 10th at Quebec. Two examples of Clayburn Bricks that are seen throughout Mt. Pleasant. Photo: C.Hagemoen

Next time you are walking by one of the many historic brick buildings in Mount Pleasant, I want you to take note of the colour of the brick.  You will find that many of the  buildings are made from a yellowy-beigey-browny brick. These distinctly Mount Pleasant bricks come from the Clayburn Brick Plant near Abbotsford, B.C.. They are quite a refreshing contrast to the more familiar and traditional red brick. In the first half of the 20th Century, the Clayburn Company dominated the brick industry in BC.

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Portion of the old Clayburn Brick factory in Clayburn BC, ca. 1917. Photo: CoV Archives, PAN N67

Charles MacClure founded the Vancouver Fireclay Company Ltd. and established a brickworks in the newly created village of Clayburn, in 1905. Clayburn, located in Abbotsford, was founded as a company town.  By 1909, the firm’s name was changed to that of the town – Clayburn.  (Clayburn was also the brand name of one of the firm’s major lines of brick). The brick plant in Clayburn closed in 1931. There were several other locations for the brick manufacturing plant until 1949 when they moved to a state-of-the-art plant on Pine Street in Abbotsford. In 2011, Clayburn Industries Ltd. permanently closed its Abbotsford manufacturing plant on Pine Street, thus ending over 100 years of brick manufacturing in the Fraser Valley. Clayburn village is now a historic site.

Here are some of the Clayburn brick buildings that are located in Mount Pleasant. You will notice there are several colours of bricks ranging from brown, to buff, to yellow. So, next time you are out walking in Mount Pleasant see how many Clayburn Brick buildings you can spot.

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The Clayburn bricks of Belevdere Court -2545 Main Street. Photo: C.Hagemoen
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Portion of St. Patrick’s school at E. 11th & Quebec. Photo: C.Hagemoen
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Algonquin Apartments at 10th and Ontario. Photo: C. Hagemoen
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Canada Services Building (1964) on East 10th. Photo: C. Hagemoen
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Quebec Manor, 101 E 7th. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 11 – Before Kingsgate Mall

Last year I took on the challenge of the first-ever Local History Advent Calendar! For 24 days in a row, I presented random historical tidbits I’d collected over the previous year and presented them in the form of “treats” for my 2018 Local History Advent Calendar. This year, the “Heart of Mount Pleasant” was number 1 on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List for 2019.  So I decided to choose Mount Pleasant as the theme for the Vanalogue Local History Advent Calendar for 2019.  Each day you can “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Mount Pleasant history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

Before there was the weird and wonderful Kingsgate Mall there was the Mount Pleasant School…

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Looking southeast at the intersection of Westminster Rd. and 9th Ave. (Kingsway and Broadway) from 1908. Visible is the original wooden schoolhouse and the brick replacement. Photo: George Alfred Barrowclough, UBC Digital Collections

Mount Pleasant’s first school was a two room schoolhouse built in 1888. Known as the False Creek School it was located on the corner of Westminster Rd. (Kingsway) and 9th Avenue (Broadway). In 1892 an 8-room brick school was built near the first one; it was added to several times over the years and was called Mount Pleasant School.

In those early days the boundaries of the school district it served were very large: South through forest to the banks of the Fraser, east to Commercial Drive, west to Cambie and north to False Creek. In the 1890s many school children had to travel along trails in the forest where bears and cougars were still found. Many parents had to escort their children safely to and from school with a lantern in one hand and a gun in the other.

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Mount Pleasant School ca. 1892. Photo: COV Archives, SGN 45
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Girls sports team in the 1950s. Photo: VSB Archives
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Mount Pleasant School ca. 1960. Photo: VSB Archives

For 80 years the brick school stood at the centre of Mount Pleasant, educating the youth of Mount Pleasant. Plans to build a new school building on a different site were formed and the old school was torn down in the summer of 1972. Staff and students of Mount Pleasant School moved to its present site at 2300 Guelph Street also in 1972.

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Demolition of Mount Pleasant school in August 1972. Photo: COV Archives CVA 23-19

The Kingsgate Mall we occasionally make fun of, but love dearly for its inherent quirkiness and old-school sensibility, may not have been built at all if the Vancouver School Board (VSB) didn’t decide to “go rogue” in the early 70s.

In 1971, the VSB (who own the 3.2 acre property) called for tenders to build a shopping centre that “would serve the people, providing a convenience for the neighbourhood and provide funds for the board”. The plan for a $2.5 million, two-level shopping centre from Royal Oak Holdings was chosen. The agreement would provide the board “with a continuing and growing source of revenue over a 99-year lease”. However, the plan to build a shopping centre was made by the Vancouver School Board without first consulting the community, or (apparently) the City.

According to a Vancouver Sun article from December 1972, the plan to build a shopping centre was criticized for it’s lack of public space and community facilities. The plan was also criticized for “ignoring the site’s possible future importance as a rapid transit centre”[!] The city planning commissioner John Lecky, and other community stakeholders chastised the VSB submitting that “although the school board owns the land, it had no right to proceed on its own and plan a major change in the community”. The VSB got schooled!

At a public hearing to address these issues – lack of public consultation, lack of community facilities and, complaints that the VSB was acting outside of its mandate – newly elected city councillor and former school trustee, Fritz Bowers, admitted that the Board “goofed.. (in that) we did not a year and two months ago meet here before sending out tenders… it never crossed the minds of the trustees.”

At that meeting it was decided that community facilities would be included in a revised plan. The developer said that 5,000 to 6,000 sq feet of space “was available and that community facilities would be welcome because they generate pedestrian traffic.” However, he added “that the city would have to pay the going rate for the space.” [That’s what happens when you try to bargain after the fact.]

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Kingsgate Mall entrance to Buy-Low. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Kingsgate Mall officially opened on March 28, 1974.  In addition to the 6,000 sq.ft Mount Pleasant branch of the Vancouver Public Library (the community facility), the other tenants included: Orange Julius, Brook Brothers Clothiers (not to be confused with Brooks Brothers), Safeway, Fields, Kingsgate House of Cards (my new secret name for Kingsgate), Shoppers Drug Mart, The Royal Bank, and a BCLCB store. The latter three are still tenants today.

Check out some of the great deals that were available at Kingsgate Mall, Christmas 1974: Caftans and Dashikis at ‘ETC…’; compact tape recorder at ‘Radio Shack’; Rabbit Coats at ‘Jeans n’ Tonic’; and Flintstones inflatable furniture at ‘Shoppers Drug Mart’!

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The Province December 4, 1974.