Monday, April 30, 2012

Entertainment in the Big City

Before I start today's blog, I want to thank Beverly Akerman. In Saturday's edition of the Globe and Mail, she wrote a really good article on my friend and fellow writer, Martin Crosbie. In the print version, in a sidebar, she also mentioned me and my book, Let Us Play, A Rock 'n Roll Love Story.

When Vancouver was first established going out for entertainment was a rarity. Most people entertained themselves at home however, there were a few exceptions.

There was a touring troupe that visited to entertain the soldiers with the Royal Engineers. The group was out of San Francisco and one singer was a sixteen-year-old girl named Lulu Sweet. Ms. Sweet quickly became a favourite of the troops. One day while touring the local waters with Col. Richard Moody, she asked the name of an island. Moody replied that it didn't have a name but in tribute to her it was named Lulu Island. That was in either 1860 or 1861.

A club by the name of The Midnight Adieu Club held dances in the 1880s. Every couple of weeks the club would use Blair's Hall in Vancouver, a structure that was also used by the Catholic Church.

June 5, 1886 was the day that the Columbia Hall opened and the debut performers were Webster and Stehle, an acrobatic song and dance team.

In April of 1887, Vancouver had its first band concert. The opening song was The Maple Leaf Forever.

December 5, 1889 the Imperial Theatre hosted a production of Richard III. This was the first time that Vancouver had a Shakespearean production.

In February of 1891, the CPR opened the $200,000 Vancouver Opera House on Granville Street. It was a 1,200-seat theatre and the first production was by the Emma Juch English Opera Company. It cost the CPR $10,000 to have these US entertainers put on a production of Wagner's Lohengrin.

In September, Sarah Bernhardt appeared at the VOH. It was something special to have the great Bernhardt appear in a town of 13,000 people. And we knew it.

The theatre may have been called the Vancouver Opera House and operas were performed there. However, variety shows were also common. It was the same with the Imperial Opera House.

On April 15, 1895, Mark Twain visited the Imperial. He had the crowd laughing so hard that at times he couldn't be heard. Twain was also sick with a bad cold.

Poet Pauline Johnson read her poems to a large crowd at the Methodist church in October of 1897.

Robert Jamieson leased the Vancouver Opera House from 1895 to 1902. Jamieson brought in operas, musicals and vaudeville. His son, Teddy, went on to become one of Vancouver's best-known musicians. It was Teddy Jamieson that led the orchestra when today's Orpheum in 1927.

Thanks goes to the History of Metropolitan Vancouver website for the above information. There is a lot more that I will share with you in another entry.
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1 comment:

  1. Love the photos. Have relatives in Vancouver. Have to get up there.