Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 21 – George A. Barrowclough

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.

Mt. Pleasant, 1907 – Barrowclough Cards. Photo: G. A. Barrowclough, Source: Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs Barrowclough, George Alfred

Two of my favourite photos of historic Mount Pleasant (because they clearly show Abray House) were taken by a photographer named George Alfred Barrowclough (1872-1950). English-born Barrowclough came to Burnaby, B.C. via Winnipeg in 1906. By the end of that year, Barrowclough had settled in Mount Pleasant and opened a restaurant at 2440 Westminster Avenue (Main Street).  On January 17th, 1907, Barrowclough was involved in an accident at his restaurant. Frozen water pipes caused his boiler to explode when he lit his stove, resulting in the rear wall of his restaurant being blasted out.  So, I suppose it is not surprising then that by 1908, Barrowclough is no longer running a restaurant and decides to work full-time as a photographer (again).

Barrowclough’s photograph of the newly constructed Frontenac Block, ca. 1910. Source: Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs Barrowclough, George Alfred 

But, what about his photographs? In their book, Breaking News: The postcard images of George Alfred Barrowclough, Fred Thirkell and Bob Scullion chronicle Barrowclough’s career as a picture-postcard photographer in Vancouver from 1906 to 1920. In it, they describe how he headed to San Francisco immediately after the great earthquake that shook that city on April 18, 1906, to take photos of the destruction. Documenting disasters or accidents would become a signature of Barrowclough’s photographic work. Barrowclough would photograph a subject, and if it was a timely news event, he’d process and print the photographs so that they would be available to go on sale by the following day.

All cars stop at Ferguson Drug Store, Corner of Granville and Davie, Vancouver, B.C. Source: Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs Barrowclough, George Alfred  — 1920

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Barrowclough, some of his work reveals that he had a sense of humour:

On Strike for a Wider Road in Stanley Park, B.C. Photo: Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs Barrowclough, George Alfred  — 1910

In 1910 he married twice-widowed Elizabeth Davie and moved back to Mount Pleasant settling into the newly constructed Algonquin Apartments at 10th Ave and Ontario. Shortly thereafter, Barrowclough starts working as a caretaker at Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church at 10th and Quebec. He is still taking photographs and producing postcards, just not full time. Interestingly, there is no evidence to suggest that Barrowclough ever did portrait photography – which was quite common for most professional photographers at that time.  Another interesting thing about Barrowclough is that every couple of years he seems to switch from photography full time to another job and then back again – at least that is what a survey of the City Directories of the time suggests.  For example, in the city directory for 1915 he is listed as a photographer,  in the 1916 directory, he is listed as a helper at BC Sugar Refining Co., and in 1917 he’s listed as a photographer in active service. During WW1 he served with the 231st Battalion.

Hindu [Im]migrants, B.C. Source: Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs Barrowclough, George Alfred  — 1920
After the war, George and his family ( in addition to two step-daughters, he and his wife have a daughter named Grace) move to 168 West 22nd, but he still has ties to Mount Pleasant through his work at the church. And in a surprise move in 1928, he takes over the proprietorship of Coville Bakery (later Federal Store) for about a year.

CVA 1376-303
George Barrowclough with Grace in front of 168 West 22nd Avenue, 1924. Photo: CoV Archives, CVA 1376-303

Sadly, his young daughter Grace died at age 13 on Sept. 15, 1925. The circumstances surrounding her death are unknown. In 1926, Barrowclough and his wife leave the family home and move into a suite in the Lee Building at 175 E Broadway. They live the remainder of their lives in Mount Pleasant within a couple of blocks of their church at 10th and Quebec Streets

Barrowclough seems to have stopped taking photos by 1930; the last time he is listed in the city directory as a photographer is in 1928. In fact, when authors Thurkell and Scullion contacted the step-granddaughter of Barrowclough in an attempt to find out more about the subject of their book, she was surprised to find out that he was a photographer at all! Her family had never seen any of his photographs before.

A giant of Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC. Photo: Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs Barrowclough, George Alfred 

Through a donation by Uno Langman, UBC has a collection of about 125 Barrowclough picture postcards, you can check them out here.

The curious case of the 1956 roll of Kodak Super XX

When I took my roll of previously exposed film from 1956 in for processing at The Lab early last year, I wasn’t expecting much.  First, it had been 62 years since the film was exposed – I was convinced the “statute of latent image limitations” had passed for this roll. Second, it was stored at room temperature the whole time. And third, the roll was wound so loosely, I was convinced it was most likely completely fogged.

When I went in to collect the film  (plus some other film I dropped off) at the appointed time, it was not ready. In fact, they couldn’t quite determine its exact location. Not only was I worried that something had gone wrong, but I was also a little peeved that I would have to make a second trip to pick it up.  So, imagine my surprise when I got a phone call from the folks at The Lab later that day telling me that there was not one roll of film, but 5 rolls of exposed film wound onto the single spool!  Even though they never said it directly, the tone used on the phone indicated that there may have been something on the film ( x 5).

And there was…

Negatives on light table at The Lab. The film is a little brittle and sadly the last image on the last roll lost a corner during processing.  Photo: C. Hagemoen

For film that was older than me… these negs looked really, really good! How was this even possible?  I saw the paper backing on the film when I delivered it to the photo lab, so I know it hadn’t been processed yet. But, I still don’t understand how (or why) multiple rolls of exposed film were wound around a single spool, and none of it was fogged?  A mystery for sure.

The film was Kodak Super XX. This film was Kodak’s standard high-speed film from 1940 until it was discontinued (in roll format) in 1960.  It was replaced by Kodak Tri-X. It could be partially due to its age, but the contrast of this film is really good. Just the way I like it.

When I first came across the film over 10 years ago it was headed for the bin. I suppose to the uninformed eye this roll of old, unexposed film did not look viable. The roll was wrapped in a paper cover with “Chinatown April 1956” written on it. I was intrigued. Since the film was being discarded,  I decided to rescue it. I thought it might be interesting to see if there was anything on the roll after all those years.  In my mind, it was worth a try.  A photo experiment of sorts.  I stored the roll in a drawer for several years, even moved house with it, before I decided to finally take a chance and process the film.  I’m glad I did.

CHinatown56-16 1
Group of children on street in Chinatown. I love this image, not only are the children (now senior citizens) adorable, but it shows the once prevalent sidewalk prisms and old wood street paving blocks exposed through the asphalt. Photo: Photographer currently unknown, C. Hagemoen personal collection.

What a find! These photos depict Chinatown and False Creek ca. 1956,  an area of Vancouver that looks very different today. They are also clearly shot by someone who knew what they were doing. There was a name included on the wrapper. This may be the name of the shooter, but it is hard to tell at the moment. More investigation will be required to determine who shot these wonderful images and to figure out why the films weren’t processed back in 1956.

This image captures the yet unknown photographer. Photo: Photographer currently unknown, C. Hagemoen personal collection.

In the meantime, I scanned a few of the negatives…

Man shopping in Chinatown. Photo: Photographer currently unknown, C. Hagemoen personal collection.
400 Block Carrall Street. Photo: Photographer currently unknown, C. Hagemoen personal collection.
Man walking by poultry shop. Photo: Photographer currently unknown, C. Hagemoen personal collection.
Rooftops. Photo: Photographer currently unknown, C. Hagemoen personal collection.


*I first published this post on my (now stagnant) Expired Film Project blog in early 2018. I thought it was worth another kick at the can. I’m still working on figuring out the identity of the photographer, but I have a lead that I am following.  Please see the 2020 Part 2 of this post here.


Art show confidential

I just realized that it has been quite a while since I last posted on Vanalogue. I have been quite busy these first 4 months of 2019, so I hope you will forgive me. Let me tell you what I’ve been up to.

All framed up, and ready to hang. “I love you, booth” – 2019 Christine Hagemoen. Photo: C. Hagemoen

I’ve been working on getting things ready for not one, but two photography exhibits this year. This is the very first time I have had a solo exhibit of my photographs, which has been a personal goal of mine for a long time. The first one was during the month of February and was held in the bright tasting room at Off The Rail Brewing. The second one is currently on view at The Whip Restaurant and Gallery until April 30th, 2019. The Whip is a Mount Pleasant neighbourhood hangout in a funky loft space that features a rotating exhibition of local artists. This space along E. 6th Avenue in the historic Ashnola building (1913) was the original home of the Grunt Gallery from 1984 to 1995.

Pan of my exhibit in The Whip Restaurant & Gallery. Photo: C. Hagemoen

My exhibit of digital photo collages is called Simplicity.

Simplicity noun

  1. Absence of complication;
  2. Brand of sewing patterns.


Two of the vintage sewing patterns that were my source of inspiration. Photo: C. Hagemoen

I was inspired by a collection of vintage sewing patterns that belonged to my friend’s grandmother along with my own collection of vintage magazines and recipe pamphlets. Attracted to the mid-century illustration style depicting the uncomplicated, “Barbie-like” ideal forms of femininity (and masculinity), I wanted to incorporate the mid-century figures into my own contemporary photographic scenes of Vancouver – juxtaposing these idealized ‘catalogue fashion’ figures of the past against realistic backdrops of the present.

“Third Beach Blanket Bingo” photo collage by C. Hagemoen

The process of creating these digital collage is, in many ways, very similar to using sewing patterns to create your own clothes. After scanning the pattern covers, I needed to carefully “cut out” the figures and then seamlessly “stitch” them into photographs of Vancouver that I had shot. I had to resize the patterns, adjust them, and often I had to use my best Photoshop skills to make them fit within a particular scene.

In a few of the images the backgrounds are not as they appear in reality. In those cases, I have collaged buildings or features from other photographs to create a new tableau.

“Chinatown Alley” photo collage by Christine Hagemoen.

Since I am a “digital immigrant” I decided to try my hand at analogue collages. So, using my collection of late 1940s and 1950s magazines as source material, I channeled my inner “Richard Hamilton” and created this collage (below) I call “Just another Saturday night in suburbia”.

“Just another Saturday night in suburbia” collage by Christine Hagemoen

This collage was made manually by cutting out the individual componets and arranging them into a compostion. Unlike digital cutting, where you can fix your missteps by “stepping backward”, manually cutting requires a good pair of scissors (or Exacto knife) and a very steady hand.  Before I permanently affixed the cutouts to the support surface, I scanned them individually so that I could recreate the scene for the print version (see above). The original is hanging on the wall in my hall and everytime I pass it, I smile. The exuberance of mid-century product advertising is infectious.

The world these days can often seem dark and complicated, these works are meant as a respite from all that.

If you are in Mount Pleasant over the next few days I invite you to drop by The Whip and check out my exhibit which will be up until Tuesday, April 30th.

The Electric Company

As I sit writing at my computer, with two fans oscillating the warm air of my top floor apartment around me,  I can’t help to think how lucky we are to have access to reliable (and relatively inexpensive) electricity. Which reminded me of a photo I discovered online in the catalogue of the Vancouver Archives – this month’s vintage photo of the month.

Power lines and supporting structure in lane west of Main Street at Pender Street. March 10 , 1914. Photo: British Columbia Electric Railway Company, CoV Archives, AM54-S4-: LGN 1241,
Power lines and supporting structure in lane west of Main Street at Pender Street. March 10, 1914. Photo: British Columbia Electric Railway Company, CoV Archives, AM54-S4-: LGN 1241.

How crazy is that photograph? And we think there are too many overhead wires today! I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to service those power lines. It made me wonder when did electricity first come to the city of Vancouver?

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Beveridge, Vancouver and the Great Fire of 1886

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.

1885 view of street in Granville, now Vancouver, BC. Copy of photograph titled “Main Street, Granville.’ [Looking East on Water Street near Carrall] From "Wanderings with a Camera" by Erskine Beveridge. Photo: Erskine Beveridge, RCAHMS, DP042683
[June] 1885 view of street in Granville, now Vancouver, BC.  Copy of photograph titled “Main Street, Granville.’ [Looking East on Water Street near Carrall] From “Wanderings with a Camera” by Erskine Beveridge. Photo: Erskine Beveridge, RCAHMS, DP042683. [Compare this view with the 1886 H.T. Devine (COV Archives )photo below.]
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.]

Continue reading “Beveridge, Vancouver and the Great Fire of 1886”

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.

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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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Polaroid SX-70, part 2

When we last left our Polaroid story it looked liked Edwin Land’s dreams of a utopian world of analogue instant photography was over. With the advancements and popularity of digital cameras, “instant film” cameras (and for that matter film cameras in general) were becoming less popular. In early 2008, Polaroid announced that it would stop producing all types of instant film for Polaroid cameras.

Detail from the exterior of the Gothic-style Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver. Photo: C.Hagemoen
Detail from the exterior of the Gothic-style Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver. Photo: C. Hagemoen

When Polaroid ended instant film production in 2008, The Impossible Project (founded by Florian ‘Doc’ Kaps and André Bosman) picked up where they left off—purchasing the last Polaroid production plant (literally days before it was to be demolished) and the equipment for producing integral instant film. What made this project even more ‘impossible’ was the fact that they had to find new solutions for replacing and upgrading problematic or unavailable components. They decided not to recreate Polaroid film but instead to develop new products with new characteristics.

Don’t undertake a project unless it’s manifestly important and nearly impossible.
– Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid

Continue reading “Polaroid SX-70, part 2”

Street Photography

‘Street photography’ means something quite different today… it often refers to photojournalists, documentary photographers or flanuers like Eugène Atget, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Fred Herzog, and the newly discovered Vivian Maier.  But back in the hey day of street photographers (1930s-1940s ) the term ‘street photography’ described a photographer who solicited strangers on the street offering to take their photos for a fee.

Foncie's Fotos photo
Vancouver street photo taken by Foncie Pulice of Foncie’s Fotos. Photo from: fonciescorner.knowledge.ca

In the ‘Great Depression‘, people barely had money for the necessities in life much less for any extras such as family portraits taken in a studio. During times of economic depression people often have to re-invent themselves and the way they do business. This is exactly what happened in the 1930s in North America, when studio photographers had to move from the refined space of the studio, to the expanse of the outdoors – they were literally, out on the street.

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