Friday, November 21, 2014

The High Drive

In 2002, there were by-law officers who ticketed any establishments that hosted dancing to live music - they were called the 'dancing police' and the merchants whose patrons to the music were understandably upset.

I don't know the reasoning for this but perhaps it has something to do with the noise by-law. I do know that the theme music to 'Footloose' is running through my head right now and I am seeing Kevin Bacon dancing on the drive!

The Drive gained national attention in late 2004 when the media complained several cafes were openly selling marijuana.

On  September 9, 2004,  one such cafe - Da Kine - was raided. The owner, Carol Gwilt, was arrested and sent to jail.

Da Kine Cafe opened in May of 2004, selling cannabis and hash to anyone who signed a form to join. (I read one report that said Gwilt only sold a small amount of pot to those over 19.) Carol ran her business with the help of volunteers and other activists. It was a public shop, reputable and neighbouring business claimed the Da Kine Cafe was an asset to them.

However, the B.C. Solicitor General was known to be opposed to cannabis and anti-prohibition demonstrations. It is surmised that, in an effort to please American law enforcement agencies, the Solicitor General called for unnecessary force to raid the cafe.

Gwilt was sentenced to 15 months in prison but was released on parole after six.

I think that Carol Gwilt may have just been a bit ahead of her time. Now there are medical marijuana clinics open on The Drive and I read one report in which a former solicitor general states that pot will probably be legal in the next five years.

In the past, I have covered a few of the festivals held on The Drive. Events like Car-Free Days, Italian Day and other activities bring the rest of the city - and many others - to our little neck of the woods.  Sometimes The Drive can be a lot of fun.

When I first moved here, I was told by someone a person could have a meal from every continent in one block on the Drive. I don't know if it is that easy but close!

Thanks to Wikipedia for the information on The Drive and to Cannabis Culture Marijuana Magazine for the information on Carol Gwilt.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Neighbourhood Watch - The Drive

To some, Commercial Drive starts at Venables. And that is where you start to see the shops and restaurants. 

Commercial Drive was a different place before the 1950s. The area consisted of market gardens, sash and door factories, light industrial, rooming houses, dairies, orchards and open fields. Due to the urban sprawl, that was all filled in during the fifties.

This area is also known as Little Italy, due to the large influx of Italians after World War II. A sizeable Portuguese population came here as well. The European influence was diluted somewhat by the arrival of Asians in the 1960s and in the eighties, Latinos started to make their home in the Drive area. Today, every nationality and heritage is reflected in the faces of the Drive denizens.

 This is a neat store. Full of furniture and items from decades past. Makes me feel old sometimes when I remember using some of the items!

The Drive attracted a large anti-culture population during the 1980s. Political activists, lesbians, gays, hippies, punks and artists are all drawn to this district. (Notice I say are because some things don't change.) This is still a gathering place for those interested in fighting the system.

In December of 1985, the Skytrain opened the Broadway Station. This brought more people to the area and not always for the better. Pan-handling increased as did the use of drugs, drunks, prostitution and the other 'benefits' of living in a city.

There has also been a cosmetic change to The Drive and neighbouring streets. Gentrification means Grandview Park got a facelift, new condominiums and townhouses are popping up in the area and new storefronts are replacing the old woodframe stores. The downside of that is that Vancouver is also losing its history with the demolishing of old buildings.

I don't usually do this but my friends at MasterKoda are having a big sale from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. This group of people have been a really big help to me with my writing career and it is an honour to tell you about their sale.

Join more than 35 great authors in this holiday celebration. The biggest book event on Facebook. Games, prizes, fun. Enter drawing for $100 gift card, $25 gift card, huge ebook bundle, swag, more. So if you are on Facebook, join the event here.

I would like to thank Wikipedia for the information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Welcome to my Neighbourhood - Commercial Drive

Today I am starting something new. Sometimes I will take a walk through a neighbourhood, take photos then tell you a bit about that area. The first area I chose is Commercial Drive. Probably because it is close and I didn't have to walk far. Some of the information I am going to relate, I will have already told you but there will new stuff too.

We are starting our journey on the north end - at Commercial Drive and E Hastings Street. Commercial Drive does extend north past this intersection but for this feature, we aren't going to cover that.

Originally, this area was the skid road on which logs were dragged to the harbour. In 1902, its name was Park Drive because it led to Clark Park - the southern border of Vancouver.
This lot has been vacant the entire time I have lived in this area and that is almost 11 years! I wonder if they will ever build anything there? Probably housing, Vancouver needs a lot of that right now. The building in the photo below is empty and borders the lot, which leads to me guess we might see townhouses or condos built there in the near future.

Older homes along the Drive.

This street was part of the Vancouver-New Westminster Interurban Railway route, which was started by H.V. Edmonds and Mayor David Oppenheimer, among others. The rail line generated a lot of traffic so South Vancouver merged Cedar Cottage Road, Edmund Street and Norfolk Road into Commercial Street in 1910 because they were anticipating a big business boom. (Commercial Street is separate from Commercial Drive) 

Nick's Spaghetti House, reportedly the best pasta in Vancouver.

In 1911, the name of the street changed from Park Drive to Commercial Drive and even back then, it was referred to as 'The Drive', which many people still call it.

There was a proposal in 1982 to rename The Drive, Via Garibaldi in recognition of the large Italian population in this area. The name would also honour the revolutionary patriot, Giusseppe Garibaldi. That idea was quashed due to the cost involved and that fact that there is a street named Garibaldi Drive in the Champlain Heights district of Vancouver.

At one time, there were four streets in Vancouver with the name Park. Now there is only one, in Marpole.

Next door to Nick's is the York Theatre. This theatre has recently been revamped since it was an eyesore for many years before. It has a lot of history though, which I wrote about in a 2010 entry.

Before World War I, there were a group of speculators who attempted to turn the Grandview area - the district that surrounds The Drive - into a real estate area comparable with the West End or Shaughnessy. That idea crumbled with the global financial collapse of 1913.

During the 1920s, this area was a prosperous suburb and not far from the centre of town, Main and Hastings, but the Great Depression changed all that. In addition, the centre of town moved further west. But the area has been left with a large number of historical buildings and homes.

Adanac - a bike friendly street. Want to know how that name came to be?  Spell it backwards!

 Lost on The Drive? Perhaps one of these information stands will help.
 The number 20 bus runs along Commercial Drive.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of my neighbourhood. I have lots more photos and stories to tell you.

Thanks to the book Namely Vancouver by Tom Snyders and Jennifer O'Rourke for some of the information above as well as Wikipedia for other facts.

I hope you find the beauty around you.