Friday, September 28, 2012

The Straight

If you are walking down a Vancouver city street, there is a very good chance that you will see a news box with the paper, The Georgia Straight, inside. Today, I thought I would take a look at the history of this free arts and newspaper.

The first issue of this then biweekly paper appeared on May 5, 1967 and cost a dime. A week later, on May 12, 1967 Dan McLeod was taken away in a paddy wagon and held for three hours while an 'investigation for vagrancy' was held. College Printers refused to publish a second issue so an alternative had to be found.

That wasn't the end of the problems with the police that the fledgling newspaper had. The Georgia Straight was raided and fined for publishing obscenities and often banned from distribution. This was because the paper tended to be critical of local police and politicians. Especially local mayor Tom Campbell. Then came the seventies and the paper veered towards a more conventional news and entertainment weekly though the editorials remained progressive.

In October of 2003, The Straight - as it is known by many - received a $1 Million tax bill from the provincial government. In British Columbia, in order for a print publication to qualify for an exemption of PST (provincial sales tax) on print bills, the paper must have at least 25 percent editorial content. A large section of The Straight is their "Time Out" feature which lists where and when events are happening around the city and in the neighbouring cities. The provincial government judged this to be advertising and therefore The Straight did not meet the criteria for exemption.

According to the CBC, Dan McLeod saw this re-interpretation of the rules as a politically motivated attempt to silence an avid critic of the government. Others agreed with McLeod's reasoning but then there were those who disagreed. It became a highly publicized battle and eventually the provincial government backed down and said that The Straight was a newspaper. 

The paper has had some notable writers. Bob Geldof worked as a music journalist in the 1970s before leaving and going to Ireland to join the Boomtown Rats. A friend of mine, Martin Crosbie, has an article on self publishing in the online version of The Straight.

The Georgia Straight is published by the Vancouver Free Press Publishing Corp and comes out every Thursday. As of January 25, 2011, its per issue circulation is 119,971 and in 2009, the average weekly readership was 804,000. The paper goes into news boxes, post secondary schools, public libraries and a large variety of other places around metro Vancouver.

The online version has global website traffic of 47, 339 and 1,458 in Canada. This is according to February 27, 2012, figures from Alexa.

Thanks Wikipedia for the above information.

Don't forget! Missing Flowers is my next novel and it will be out soon. Come join me and my characters on a walk through Vancouver and its history.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I've walked by this buildings numerous times. I had a couple of photos sitting in my 'blog' file but I didn't have any information on them. Or at least not much. Thanks to Jak King and the Grandview Heritage Group blog, I now have some information.

As you can see, the brown building is the Odlin Building. It was named for a barber by the name of Harry N. Odlin. The first records of Odlin in Vancouver are in 1896 when he was working for John Lambert at 530 Georgia Street. 1900 saw Harry working at the Elite Barber Shop at 617 West Hastings. He was in partnership with Charles Herman at various addresses from 1902 to 1914. Life must have been good for Mr. Odlin because in 1911 he purchased an expensive, waterfront lot at 3197 Point Grey Road where he built a two-storey dwelling for $3,700. It stands there today, with many additions and enhancements over the last 101 years.

Odlin also bought a 33-foot lot on Park Drive - what we now call Commercial Drive. The lots in this area were selling for about $10,000 - this was the middle of Grandview's speculative bubble.

He was able to obtain two building permits in April of 1911 and by the middle of 1912, a $7,500 building had been designed and built by W.W. Brehart. As with many buildings built around this time, the lower level was designed for store fronts while the upper floors were rented out as apartments. Upon opening, the Odlin building apartments began filling while a photographer, Phillip Timms, rented one storefront and a confectioner the other.

The building bearing the Odlin name reflects the conservative nature of the owner. It is solid and unassuming.

Then we have the building next door.
The building next door is the Rodway Building, named for owner Joseph Rodway. As you can see, it is a flashier building with more ornamentation. Much like the sheet metal manufacturer, Rodway.

Rodway was born in Manitoba in the 1850s. He and his large family lived in Alberta for a while before moving to Vancouver and settling at 1644 Woodland Drive. He was able to obtain the money to purchase the lot next to Odlin and in July of 1911, Rodway got a building permit to erect a $10,000 building. A Mr. Wood was hired to build it from a design by W.G. Thomas.

It is believed that Rodway was using this building as an advertisement for his business with the pressed tin cornices, wall pieces and window parts. His business also took over both storefronts.

Rodway was in his late fifties though when the new store opened so it was run by Rodway's son Albert who apparently ran it quite well and the business prospered. But this also seemed not to be the business for the younger Rodway moved on to other things in 1914. The business was sold to Fred Hamilton, who employed Joseph Rodway for a short time. Rodway then retired and passed away in 1922.

Hamilton ran his hardware and plumbing business at this address until 1945. He then moved the company to his own building at 1447 Commercial where it was located until February of 1969.

Built in 1911, the first tenants of this building was Taylor M.H. Furniture and 6 residential suites. Thanks to Bob_2006 at for the information on this building.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

They Built this City

Today I am getting information from the book Namely Vancouver by Tom Snyders and Jennifer O'Rourke. The photos are of the temporary garden in a vacant lot at the corner of Clark and 12th.

It is undeniable that the CPR - Canadian Pacific Railway - is responsible for Vancouver growing to be the city it is today. In fact, the city itself was named at the urging of the CPR's William Cornelius Van Horne. (residents of Vancouver Island were against naming the city Vancouver for fear of confusion between the two.)

The city was surveyed by CPR surveyor Hamilton and many of our streets are named for executives with CPR. Examples are Hamilton, Abbott, Angus, Baillie, Beatty, Bodwell (now 33rd), Cambie, Creelman, Hosmer, Manson, Marpole, Matthews, McBain, McGuigan, McMullen (now 26th), McNicoll, Nanton, Neal, Ogden, Osler, Salsbury, Shauaghnessy, Stephens, Strathcona, and Whyte.

Some of our neighbourhoods were also named by the CPR. Like Yaletown and Shaughnessy as well as numerous streets such as Alexandra, Caranarvon, Chestnut, Collingwood, Devonshire, Douglas, Gore, Kersland, Laurier, Mackie, Marguerite, McRae, Montgomery, Roxburgh, Selkirk, Tecumseh, Wolfe and York.

Here is an interesting tidbit. For many years, Gore was the only street that ran the entire way from downtown and New Brighton Park to the water. The CPR was pleased with this because it gave them more control over the use of the property. William Sinclair Gore was surveyor general of B.C. in 1878 - this was before Hamilton arrived to survey and name for the CPR.

Gore Avenue almost follows the path of an older logging road that led from False Creek to Burrard Inlet. The original skid can be seen in the streets angle compared to other nearby north - south streets.

The street may have been named for the surveyor general or it could have been an inside joke. "Gore" is the term for a wedge-shaped area formed by the meeting of two areas surveyed to different axes.

There are connections to the CPR all over this city and more names that have those associations are Abbottsford, Greer, Hycroft, Oppenheimer (also the name of one of our mayors), Pigeon Park, Railspur, Railway, Riel, and Roundhouse Mews.

While Vancouverites have a lot to be thankful to the CPR for, we shouldn't forget that other railways have left their mark on our city as well.

The interurbans that linked our various districts in the 1890s, prompted the naming of new neighbourhoods such as Cedar Cottage, Collingwood, and Kerrisdale.

There were various investors, like Oppenheimer and Edmonds, who were recognized and those who rescued the railways from bankruptcy -Barnard and Sperling - and the railway itself  is remembered in street names like Trolley Place and the now renamed Electric and Railway Avenues.

During the First World War, the monopoly of the CPR was broken. The Great Northern and Canadian Pacific carved the Grandview Cut and filled in False Creek's eastern end. Their influence left names of executives Hebb and Thornton. These other railways were also responsible for the names such as Central, Northern, Southern and Western Streets, Great Northern Way, National Avenue, Station Street and Terminal Avenue.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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