It’s back! I has been 3 years since I published my last Local History Advent Calendar! So much has happened since that last time—including the publication of my first book, Mount Pleasant Stories—that I figured it was about time to dust off the Local History Advent Calendar once again. Similar to a regular advent calendar but instead of chocolate treats, each day you “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder– 24 facts or stories about local history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.
East of Watson Street, at that time called Howard Street, beside the Brewery Creek ravine, once stood the family home of Joseph Benjamin Wallace (1868-1953) and Marie Alba Stark Wallace (1870-1966). Marie was the second youngest daughter of Sylvia Estes Stark and Louis Stark, early Black pioneers who settled on Salt Spring Island in 1860. Marie Stark married Kentucky-born Joseph Benjamin (J.B.) Wallace in 1897. The couple settled in Mount Pleasant around 1908.
J.B. Wallace owned a successful janitorial contractor business and was a leader in Vancouver’s early Black community. The Wallaces were active members of the Fountain Chapel A.M.E. Church. Marie was part of a group of women that canvassed for funds in 1921 to raise money toward the purchase of the church building at 823 Jackson Avenue. J.B. Wallace became its Sunday School Superintendent in 1932.
J.B. and Marie resided at 230 East 10th with their five children, save for a few years around World War I when they lived at 404 West 16th. By 1921 the Wallace’s returned to the house on East 10th. According to the Canada Census of that year, their oldest daughter Ethel had married Sidney Kibble Claibourne in 1919 and the young couple was living with the Wallaces at 230 East 10th, along with their baby daughter, Naidine. The Wallaces lived in Mount Pleasant until around 1944 when they relocated to Salt Spring Island. By the late 1940s the house had been subdivided into suites and furnished sleeping rooms. The site is now the location of Claude Douglas Place managed by Vancouver Native Housing Society.
You can find more about the Wallace/Stark family and other Mount Pleasant stories in my walking tour book, Mount Pleasant Stories. Copies are available for purchase in Mount Pleasant at Pulpfiction Books – 2422 Main Street and in Chinatown at Massy Books – 229 E Georgia St. It makes a great gift or stocking stuffer for your favourite local history buff!
This striking photograph of Mrs. Matilda Boynton was found in the City of Vancouver Archives. This compelling portrait has a definite Karsh-like quality to it – something I wasn’t expecting to find in the holdings of the Vancouver Archives.
Immediately I was intrigued by the subject (the person in front of the camera) – a 102-year-old black woman, smoking a cigar. And, I was curious about the person who created this portrait, the man behind the camera, Sun newspaper photographer, Deni Eagland. Continue reading “Matilda and Deni: subject & photographer”
I found these great photographic images of these women serendipitously while doing another task at the City of Vancouver Archives. [Isn’t that the best way to discover interesting new things?] Though both images essentially depict the same thing – an attractive woman – despite being taken only two years apart, I was intrigued by how differently these women were portrayed. Especially since these images appeared on back covers of the same publication, Wallace Shipbuilder. The side by side juxtaposition of the two images piqued my interest. Continue reading “Rose Marie the Riveter”
Today a new regular (hopefully) feature debuts on vanalogue – vintage photo(s) of the month. This month I’m featuring the work of Scottish amateur photographer, Erskine Beveridge and some of his photographs of early Vancouver a year before the Great Fire of 1886.
This Friday, June 13th marks the 128th anniversary of one of the greatest calamities in the history of Vancouver. A year earlier, wealthy Scottish businessman, Erskine Beveridge was in Vancouver [then known as Granville] documenting a rough and tumble township on the cusp of becoming a city.
Erskine Beveridge (1851-1920) was not only a successful textile manufacturer (specializing in the production of fine table and bed linen), he was also an enthusiastic historian, archaeologist and talented amateur photographer. Beveridge was fascinated by landscapes, seascapes, buildings and archaeological monuments. He traveled extensively across Scotland, taking hundreds of photographs that captured Scotland’s rural heritage. [A collection of his photographs can be seen on the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) website.]
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!).
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.
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 other areas of the province [edit: and the rest of Canada and the U.S. as I later found out].
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.
Visual literacy, the ability to “read” pictorial images, is a basic skill necessary for working with still and moving images. Reading images is the first step in researching images effectively – it is the start of the appraisal process. Sometimes the hardest part is figuring out the context of the photograph (or any historical artifact) and the relationship (if any) it has with other items found with it. At work, we referred to it as “forensic cataloguing” – taking all the clues you have (visual, textual, etc.) and investigating them, until you have a clearer picture of what is in front of you. Sometimes all you have to start with is the artifact itself, and a brief (often vague) notation. In the case of the photo below, I had the name of the owner, but no other contextual information was found on the photo envelope.
Take for example the photo above, on first glance it is a B&W photo of a woman in a park-like setting. Look a little closer, and you might notice the mountains in the background; the clothing she is wearing; and the style of her hair. You begin to get a clearer picture (no pun intended) of how to describe this photograph.
What if you were to add into the mix, the following two photographs found in the same negative envelope along with the photo above?
This great image is from the CBC Vancouver Media Archives Still Photograph Collection. It sparked some curiosity amongst my fellow library and archives types — Where was Sarah’s Cafe ? Does the building still exist today?
With former VPL Special Collections Librarian, Andrew Martin on the case, it didn’t take long to find out:
By searching the Vancouver city directories and telephone books from the 1950s. In the city directories Sarah’s Grill is listed at 218 E. Georgia. It was run by a Sarah Cassell. It was listed from 1957 up until at least 1961.
In the Vancouver telephone books there is a Sarah’s Cafe listed at 220 E. Georgia. It is listed from 1957 up until at least 1960.
Looking at a fire insurance map it shows 220 E. Georgia on the south side of the street and beside (east side) a north south alley (the one parallels Main St. on the east side).
Franz Lindner, a contract photographer for CBC Vancouver, took many pictures of the area … Sarah’s Cafe being one. His assignment was to shoot publicity photos for the CBC Times (programming guide) feature on the radio documentary, “G.O.M.” (God’s Own Medicine). A radio documentary that aired June 5, 1960 on CBC radio. According to the CBC times, ”G.O. M. will offer the total picture of addiction in Canada, with emphasis on the seat of the concentration, Vancouver”. So it seems fitting that Lindner would choose the area then know as Skid Row, now known as the DTES – Chinatown.
Although this image was not published in CBC Times, it is part of a series of images shot for the assignment. One of the images from that series was ultimately used as the cover photo for the CBC Times for that week.
So, that just leaves one question. Does the building still exist today? A quick check in Google Maps Street View for 220 E. Georgia revealed that the building does indeed exist today. A little worse for wear, perhaps, but considering it is over 100 years old, it is looking pretty good.
I was recently in the area, and took this photo of the building and alley today.
It is interesting to note the difference the construction of the Georgia Viaduct had on the neighbourhood. In the photo from 1960, the neighbourhood seems to go on forever (or at least for several blocks). In the photo above, it ends abruptly a block away. Hard to imagine the impact that would have had on the people that lived and worked there.