Friday, October 21, 2011

Mayors of Vancovuer Part III

In our profile of Vancouver Mayors we are up to the year 1907. This was the year that Alexander Bethune began his two term. Bethune was a shoe maker that was very devoted to this city. Before becoming mayor he served for five years as an alderman. During his tenure the council asked the federal government for use of the Kitsilano Indian Reserve for city purposes.

Charles Stanford Douglas defeated four other candidates to take office in 1909. He was an American journalist - born in Madison Wisconsin - who became a Vancouver realtor. He officiated at the opening of the first Granville Street Bridge.

For the next two years Louis Denison Taylor was Vancouver's mayor. This American was from Ann Harbor, Michigan originally and arrived in Vancouver in 1896. L.D. Taylor happened to be one of our more mayors as well - he actually served seven terms between 1910 and 1934. He was flamboyant and a tireless promoter of the amalgamation of Point Grey, South Vancouver and Vancouver. He wasn't in office though when that amalgamation happened.

Taylor opened the airport at Sea Island and supported the development of the city archives. In between mayoral terms L.D. published and edited  mining newspapers as well as an editorial leaflet on contemporary public issues entitled 'The Critic'

Since he was American born Taylor's property qualifications were challenged twice during his public life. In 1915 Judge J.J. Clement ruled that Taylor lacked property qualifications to hold public office. A by-election was held and L.D. Taylor was returned to office. In 1933 there was a second challenge but there was no disruption to Taylor's term in office.

Taylor's final term was during the harshest and earliest years of the Great Depression. Vancouver was being stripped of its possessions and dignity. Taylor said that unemployed men were expected to go to provincial work camps or have their relief payments cut off.

The next mayor-to-be blamed Taylor for bankrupting the city and that, along with the idea that Taylor was too old for the job was enough to defeat our once popular mayor in the next three elections.

James Findlay held office in 1912. Findlay had a background in mining and commerce and this led to an efficient, business-like administration. 1912 was also the year that the Duke and Duchess of Connaught visited.

1913 and 1914 saw Truman Smith Baxter as Vancouver's mayor. Baxter was a former teacher, a merchant and previously held the office of alderman. He was unfortunate because he happened to take office just as the province and the rest of the country fell into an economic slump that would last until the middle years of World War I.

L.D. Taylor took office again for 1915.

Malcolm Peter McBeath was mayor for a month in 1915 then for 1916 and 1917.

Robert Henry Otley Gale stepped into the mayor's chair in 1918 and held the seat until 1921. He took office in a very chaotic, reactionary time. There was the end of World War I, housing shortages, economic and social disruption, the Spanish Flu epidemic, the communist revolution in Russia and the general strike in Winnipeg. It was an exciting and terrifying time to live in.

In 1918 the civic workers formed the Vancouver City Hall Employees Association and Gale, fearing the Communist unions would take over, formed a conciliation committee to negotiate between the city and the employees.

But perhaps Gale's greatest feat was promoting recognition of Vancouver as a major western port.

During the years of 1922 to 1923 Charles Edward Tisdale was our mayor. Tisdale arrived in Vancouver in 1888 and has the distinction of being  the only mayor selected under the system of proportional representation, in which the candidate for city council getting the most votes became mayor. Tisdale served in a time of prosperity for our city which fuelled the drive for more schools, parks and the expansion of port facilities in Vancouver.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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