Friday, September 17, 2010

Chocolate Italians

Laura Secord is a famous Canadian and not just for being a premier chocolatier since 1913. In the war of 1812 Secord became aware the American Army was planning a surprise attack on British troops. She walked over thirty kilometres to warn  British Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon. With the help of Native warriors she was able to get to Fitzgibbon in time.

With courage like that it is no wonder that she has had not only a chocolate company named after her but also schools. This one is on East Broadway.

It was designed by David Hormer and built by the Vancouver School Board in 1913. The VSB like the design so much that the board had three more schools made in the same manner.

The school has gone through many upgrades and additions over the years to keep up with the increased student flow and the times. Presently the main buildings are having a seismic upgrade done.

The purpose of my walk today though was to go to the Italian Cultural Centre. I have a scene in my next novel in which a few of the characters are going to go there and I need some visual aids in describing it. Then I decided that it would be a great addition to this blog.

Italians who came to Vancouver first settled in the Strathcona area and there are still remnants of their culture and their influence there. But in the 1930s the Italians moved a little East to the Grandview-Woodland area. When I first lived in the area in 1984 there seemed to be a larger Italian population then there is now. Today I see a mixture of nationalities and hear an array of languages being spoken in this area.

But back to the centre. In 1974 the Consul of Italy, Giovanni Germano a[pproached Dave Barret - the premier of British Columbia as well as the representative for this area. Barret in turn told the Consul to find the support he needed to make the Italian community's wish come true. Barret assured Germano that if he got the support then there would be a grant from the provincial government. The Mayor of Vancouver, Art Phillips, also lent a hand with helping the community obtain city land at a special price. With the help of a lot of people the dream of the centre came true.

The Italian Cultural Centre opened on September 25, 1977. And as you look around the beauty and elegance of the centre it is hard to believe that this land was originally a dump. Now it is a beautiful, regal oasis.

While walking along Lakewood today I felt at one point like I was walking through a garden.

For a brief moment it was almost as if I had the sun leaning over, protecting me from the world around us.

Since I started this blog and began speaking with people I have heard many opinons on the history of Vancouver. Some are very well informed, some don't really care and others are fiercely protective of those landmarks that still exist. Granted we have lost a lot of buildings that speak of our past but I see more homes and such being redone in an effort to preserve the past.

This house I saw on 10th the other day while I was walking. The man working outside told me that it was an Edwarian style home about one hundred years old he thinks. It was his first day there working on revitalizing the home. Hopefully he will be able to restore it to its former glory.

This is an interesting home. It was built in 1905 and is currently being renovated. One of the men working on it came down to talk with me and told me that besides trying to stay true to the past, as much as possible  the remodelling of this house is environmentally friendly. From the insulation they are using to the paint - it is all being done with as little harm to nature as present day technology allows. He was really kind and informative. Unfortunately I don't remember all the terms he used. It is uplifting to see that someone is combining the precious elements of the past with the benefits of now and the future.

This house has seen better days but look at those windows, the detail. And someone came out while I was taking photos and told me that there were renovating.

So our history won't totally disappear. We should still have numerous structures around to remind us.

Before I sign off I would like to wish all those participating in the Terry Fox runs around the country on Sunday all the best. You are running for a great cause and in the name of a great Canadian.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

TAGS:, , , ,,,,,

No comments:

Post a Comment