Friday, August 31, 2012


Today I want to look at the year 1941 in Vancouver.

There was a census in 1941 that showed that there were over 400,000 people in Metropolitan Vancouver - 70% of those in the city of Vancouver itself.

It was on January 31 that the first orders were given to shipyards on the west coast to build 10,000 ton cargo ships. These ships were going to be used to convey war material and food to the ravaged Europe. Due to the climate here in the west coast, our shipyards were able to build 24 hours a day and seven days a week. People from all walks of life were hired - the shipyards were working on a tight time budget and new facilities had to be built. It must have worked out though because the Lower Mainland shipyards built more than half of the ships Canada supplied to the war effort.

Jack Darcus was born on February 22, 1941. Darcus went on to become a successful painter as well as a Vancouver moviemaker.

On February 11, 1941, a man who was very important to our development passed away. Lauchlan Alexander Hamilton was 88 when he died in Toronto.

Hamilton was CPR land commissioner, surveyor and alderman. He worked with a crew that surveyed the western reaches of the Canada/US border and established many Prairie town sites. Hamilton arrived in Vancouver in 1883 and he surveyed and named many of Vancouver's city streets. There is a street named after him and a plaque on the building at the south west corner of Hamilton and Hastings streets commemorates his 1885 beginning of the major survey of the city.

From 1886 to 1887, Hamilton served as a city councillor. He was the one who apparently proposed Stanley Park and laid out its perimeter.

(WHL), Wartime Housing Limited was incorporated on February 28. This company built rental units across Canada for war industry workers. 750 single family homes were built on the north shore as well as Westview School, a recreation centre, a fire hall and barrack type apartments for the single workers. The houses were supposed to be removed after World War II but some of those remained well into the 1990s.
February 28, 1941 was also the day that the new YMCA building opened on Burrard Street.

On March 6, a west side street was named Narvaez Drive. The name was adopted by the city council following a recommendation by the Town Planning Commission. The street chosen for the honour looks down on the waters first navigated by the explorer Jose Maria Narvaez in 1791.

August 16, a Narvaez Pageant was held in West Vancouver to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first sighting of this shore by the Spanish explorer, Jose Maria Narvaez. (Narvaez explorations of the area beat George Vancouver's by a year.)

Walter Henry Grassie was a jeweller who had been born in Ontario and had come to the west coast in July of 1886. Grassie took a train to Port Moody then a boat to the new city of Vancouver. He opened a jewellery shop in a little wooden building on Cordova Street. On April 3, at the age of 80, Grassie died.

On April 12, Bob Ito, a Japanese- Canadian boy under the age of ten, won in one category and came in second in another in the annual Eisteddfod festival. (This is a festival of literature, music and performance that is Welsh)

On April 23, Burrard Dry Dock laid the keel of the SS Fort St. James. It was the first of the North Sands 10,000 ton cargo vessels to be built and it took nine months to complete. The last of the North Sands ships - started in March of 1943 - took just three-and-a-half months.

On May 18, one thousand Air Raid Precaution volunteers gathered at Mahone Park in North Vancouver for a demonstration. Chief Warden G. Robert Bates did his best to make the demonstration as realistic as possible by supplying a low flying bomber and incendiary devices.

Thanks goes to The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website for the above information.

 I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jews 1930s and Beyond

Aren't you glad you don't have to clean up after this giant fellows?

In the 1920s and into the 1930s, Jewish families started to move into new neighbourhoods south of False Creek, such as Fairview. In 1923, the Talmud Torah Hebrew School opened an annex near Broadway and Cambie Streets. 

It took a long period of fundraising but the Jewish community did raise enough money to have the first Jewish Community Centre built in 1928. It was at Oak Street and 11th Avenue. The Talmud Torah School moved into that centre the same year. The Congregation Beth Israel was formally founded in 1932 and their services were held in the centre. The Schara Tzedeck congregation had plans to move to the Fairview area in 1937 but were hampered by the economic depression and the war.

Following the stock market crash of 1929, many wealthy Jewish families moved to the new neighbourhoods of Shaugnessy and Point Grey.

It was in 1932 that the Jewish Administrative Council was formed to coordinate the Free Loan Association, Community Chest and Community Centre.

In the 1940s, the Jewish community and population began to centre around Oak Street in central Vancouver which is south of the first Jewish Community Centre. In 1943, the Talmud Torah school established its first independent facility on West 14th Avenue, between Oak and Cambie Streets. The Beth Hamidrash B'nai Ya'acov was also formed in 1942, within walking distance of the Jewish Fairview homes.

The Perez Centre for Secular Jewish Culture - previously known as the Vancouver Peretz Institute or Shule - was established near Oak Street as a secular-humanist educational and cultural centre in 1945. American comedian Eddie Cantor founded a home for elderly Jews nearby in 1946. The Schara Tzedeck congregation was finally dedicated its new synagogue in 1948 as well as the Beth Israel synagogue in 1949.

The Talmud Torah school moved to a new Oak Street campus in 1948 and became a day school for elementary grades. The Canadian Jewish Congress opened a Vancouver branch in 1941. Schara Tzedeck opened the first Jewish funeral chapter in 1944.

After World War II there was a great influx of central and eastern Canadian Jews as well as a wave of Sephardic Jewish immigration to British Columbia. The first Sephardic High Holy Day services were held at the Jewish Community Centre in 1966. 

The Beth Hamidrash synagogue membership had been shrinking and when the Sephardic congregation formed, they used that synagogue for services. In 1979, the Sephardic congregation merged with the Beth Hamidrash Ashkenazic congregation.

 In the 1960s and 1970s, the Jewish population continued to shift south and west to the Oakridge area. A new Jewish Community Centre was built in 1962 at Oak and 41st. The only Jewish seniors faculty west of Winnipeg was built here in 1968 - the Louis Brier Home and Hospital for the Aged. Temple Sholom was formed in 1964 on Oak Street.

Wealthy families moved to Point Grey and West Vancouver neighbourhoods. A study conducted by Leonoff Vancouver Jewish Community Telephone Directory- shows that only 10% of the local Jewish community lived outside Vancouver in 1960. However, due to rising housing costs, many families began to move to the suburbs.

The development of community service and congregations in the Jewish community has often been a cooperative process with help from neighbouring cities. There are some accounts though of suburban communities feeling ignored by central organizations. In response to this, the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver was established in 1987 to develop a wider community across the area. It was born from the merger of the United Jewish Appeal and the Jewish Community Fund and Council.

The Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver offers services for the entire community. The centre houses organizations such as the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C. and the Vancouver Holocaust Education centre. The centre also offers programs for all ages, the Isaac Waldman library as well as recreational, arts and event facilities.

Rabbi Yitzchak ad Henia Wineberg moved from Brooklyn, NY in 1974 to open the first Chabad House Centre in Western Canada. Chabad has been credited with the resurgence in Jewish identity and practice. Chabad Lubavitch BC now operates seven centres across the province: Chabad of Vancouver Island, Chabad of the Okanagon, Centre of Judaism for the Lower Fraser Valley in White Rock, Chabad of Richmond, Chabad of downtown Vancouver, Chabad of East Vancouver and the Chabad headquarters at 41st and Oak. There is even a Chabad centre in Whistler.

In 2004, Beth Hamidrash dedicated a new synagogue building. In 2007, Congregation Schara Tzedeck celebrated its centenary as the first and largest Orthodox synagogue in British Columbia with a membership of 450 families and some of those are fourth-generation members. Also in 2007, Congregation Beth Israel celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the above information. I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Monday, August 27, 2012


I still have more to tell you on the history of Jews in Vancouver but today I thought I would take a break and tell you about this building at the corner of West 1st Avenue and Salt Street.

This local landmark was built around 1930 or 1931 and is located on city-owned land in South End False Creek.

The Vancouver Salt Company Building has heritage value both for representing the secondary food processing industry and the diversification of the local economy to meet the needs of the fishery. It also has architectural and structural qualities and is a rare intact survivor of the industrial buildings that once dominated South East False Creek. As I stated earlier, this building is a local landmark and this area was a beehive of industrial activity throughout much of the twentieth century.

Most industries that were located here did so for access to water, rail and road transportation. There were heavy industrial uses here such as sawmills and steel fabrication. This site was used from the early 1900s for gravel storage.

The Vancouver Salt Co. operation was important technologically for the means of extraction, for using False Creek to transport goods, for its contributions to other industries and for the way in which ownership changes illustrate patterns of international trade and corporate acquisition.

Unrefined salt was shipped to Vancouver from the San Francisco Bay Area where it had been recovered from brine by solar evaporation. This was an unusual technique that was traditional to the Bay area.. It had originated with the Ohlone Indians and was continued by the Spanish missionaries. The Vancouver bound salt was extracted by the Leslie Salt Refining Co. of Newark, California (bought in 1978 by Cargill Inc.) which owned the Vancouver Salt Co. The operation changed to Arden Vancouver Salt Co. Ltd. in 1970 and was later acquired by Domtar Ltd.

 Raw salt was unloaded at Burrard Inlet and brought by scow to False Creek where the Vancouver Salt Co. 'semi-refined' it by washing, drying, grinding, and sifting it into a coarse product fit for human consumption. The original market was as a preservative for the fishery, particularly the area's Asian-Canadian fish packers. Later uses included other kinds of food-packing, tanneries, cold-storage plants and highway ice removal. By 1950, a rail and then truck replaced boats for receiving and shipping the salt, reflecting changes brought about by the development of wheeled transport.

This building was used for paper recycling by the late 1980s. First by Belkin Paper Stock Ltd. and then by Paperboard Industries.

The heritage value of the building is that it is a pragmatic and attractive response to the needs of the salt operation and the salt. Originally, the building was sandwiched between two lumber operations and mostly on a City-owned water lot, with only the southwest corner situated above the historic high water line. The original structure, a block about 90 by 145 feet, was supported on piles.

A complex roof truss system directs the loads onto columns in the lateral walls and down the centre, creating a large open space.  A raised monitor roof has a clerestory to admit light and air. The expansion of the building to the north in 1954-55 (Wright Engineers Ltd.) speaks to the growing demand for salt and the evolving refinery technology. New equipment was accommodated in part by building a roof over the existing 35-foot-deep apron in the rear, the former loading dock. The gable-roofed eastern portion held four large brine tanks and the shed -roofed western part became a dry storage shed. A new hopper and conveyor were installed by the 1st Avenue loading dock, since the raw salt now arrived by truck.The conveyor may have required raising the roof, which would date the tall silo-like cap at the front to this time. Minor alterations were made in 1970 for the Arden Vancouver Salt Co. Ltd. (Richard E. Cole, Engineer). The replacement of the salt-processing machinery with paper shredding equipment in 1987 reflects the growing importance of the recycling industry.

The information I have relayed to you here came from and Bob_2006's site. When it was written, the building stood empty and was in bad need of repair. As you can see, it has been repaired. It was renovated and brought to life for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and used as a recreation space for the athletes. Now it is available for rental for events. In fact, there was a wedding the day I went there.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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