Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spaghetti and Hauntings

53 Water Street was once the home to a sewing factory but since 1970, The Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant has resided here. As you will see, the interior design of this eatery has kept its old warm charm, and some of the table legs pay homage to the former tenants. However, the reason I have chosen to write on this address is that it is haunted. And today of all days we honour the haunted places.

The most well known haunting of 53 Water Street has to be the one associated with Streetcar #53.

The trolley was made in 1904 in nearby New Westminster and belonged to the British Columbia Electric Railway Company. It served faithfully for many years as public transit in and around Vancouver until 1957 when it was decommissioned. In 1969, Number 53 was moved to its present location and that is when something strange happened. Pictures were being taken of the trolley car as it was being moved into the restaurant and one photo shows a ghostly conductor getting on the car. No one is sure whether this ghost is the spirit of a train conductor who died during a collision on an underground railway line that used to exist below the restaurant or the ghost came with the car. (the story of the accident in the underground railway appears to be a myth and based on hearsay so it looks like the conductor came with the car. However, he didn't tell me so I don't know for sure!)

The conductor has been seen numerous times, especially by staff after closing. He always sits at the same dining table in the car and table settings have a habit of being moved inexplicably. 

It is difficult to see but if you look at the front end you can make out a shadow climbing onto the trolley car. The photographer who took this picture swears that there was nothing else around that would cause this.

The conductor isn't the only ghost who calls 53 Water Street home though. A group of mediums have gathered in the above-pictured area and contacted other spirits that occupy the area.

One is a young boy that likes to run around the restaurant. He is a mischievous little fellow that likes to turn the cutlery the opposite way to the way it has been laid out.

There is also a dwarfish man with red hair and ruddy features. He likes to prank people especially in the ladies washroom. Once such time, this ghost emerged from one of the cubicles dressed in a red shirt and red long johns. Upon seeing the startled women looking at him, he laughed merrily and went out the washroom door. One of the ladies was smart enough to try to grab a photo but once developed, all the appeared was a blur.

I have to tell you that I had my own little brush with something while taking these photos. I was walking around the back taking pictures with the camera on my smartphone. I was having difficulty - something seemed off - and when I stopped for a moment to see if I had everything I needed before moving to the next section. I saw that there was nothing there. Not a photo that I had taken inside was on my camera. So I retook them. Today while I have been trying to choose photos to go into this blog, I noticed that many of the photos have a blurry tinge to it. Spooky!

So if you visit Vancouver, be sure to stop for a meal at the Old Spaghetti Factory on Water Street. You never who you will be dining with!

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Friday, October 26, 2012


Today I am looking at 1942 in Vancouver and area.

On January 7, Joe Quoy died. Quoy's parents had come from California, following the gold rush. Quoy's father ran a store in New Westminster and owned several horses. The first races held in New Westminster were held on an unpaved Columbia Street.

Joe was 12 years old and weighed 90 pounds when he first began racing. Quoy rode horses at tracks in Langley, Nanaimo, Seattle, Portland and Walla Walla. When he started to put on weight, he changed to sulky riding.

January 10 was the date that the Vancouver Fire Department's 'inhalator' crew, the Rescue and Safety Branch, was put into service. Over the years, they have saved countless lives.

Three days later, W.A.C. Bennett made his first speech in legislature.

On January 14, 1942, the Canadian Government invoked the War Measures act. Ottawa stated that all Japanese citizens must be moved from the West Coast to government camps. The politicians feared that spies might be harboured aboard Japanese boats at Steveston and Canada could become the next Pearl Harbour.

The federal government announced plans for an RCAF storage depot on the Kitsilano Indian Reserve west of Burrard Bridge on January 22.

It was on February 26 that the federal government took another step and ordered all Japanese to be interned.

March 3 was the day that the City of Vancouver began the acquisition of land from Stanley Park to Burrard Street.

March 26 - Hastings Park becomes an internment camp for Japanese- Canadian citizens.

April 1 was the day that the government stepped in and did the unthinkable. Not only were the Japanese-Canadian citizens stripped of everything they owned - for little or no compensation - the people were moved away from the West coast to camps in the interior and at locations east of Vancouver. Newspapers were suppressed and language schools were closed.

There is a Stanley Park monument to honour the Japanese-Canadian citizens that fought in World War I. That light was extinguished and remarkably not relit until August of 1985.

10 northern bush plane companies were amalgamated by the CPR on May 1. This was the birth of Canadian Pacific Airlines. The planes - first Canadair C4 Argonauts then later DC6s - initially focused on routes within the province from the airport on Richmond's Sea Island. 

On June 22, 1925, the Crosby Direct Lines Ferry Company launched the vessel, the Crosline. On May 20, 1942, this vessel arrived in Vancouver to join Burrard Inlet Ferries. She was purchased to take shipyard workers over to the North Shore and could carry 300 passengers and 65 cars.

William Marr Crawford was a master mariner who was born in Scotland in 1883. He came to Canada in 1911 and joined BCs largest waterfront employer, Empire Stevedoring as a manager. By 1923, he was named president and managing director. In 1923, Crawford launched 'the finest private yacht on the Pacific', the Fyfer. In 1941, he donated her to the Canadian Navy for war use. 

Captain Crawford served as marine master to the minister of shipping - without pay - during World War I. During the Second World War, Crawford volunteered for the same position but as a civilian. He died on May 20, 1942 at the age of 59.

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

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jack Webster

If you ask about people in Vancouver broadcasting and journalism, the name of Jack Webster should come up if the person you are talking with knows about news broadcasting in this city.

John Edgar "Jack" Webster was born in Glasgow, Scotland on April 15, 1918. His father was an iron turner who fitted pumps on battle cruisers and merchants ships. His mother was an ambitious woman by the name of Daisy and she encouraged her three surviving sons to exceed.

At the age of 14, Webster began working on the Glasgow Evening Times and worked on several other newspapers. He also married Margaret Macdonald and fought in the Second World War, making it to the rank of Major.

Webster came to Vancouver in 1947 and got a job with the Vancouver Sun newspaper. He covered the labour beat there.

In 1953, Webster began working for CJOR. It was there that he introduced Vancouverites to the wonders of phone-in shows. Jack was able to get to the facts in a story that mattered to people, that would draw the audience in. He seemed to have a sense of what his listeners - and later viewers - would find important.

He could come gruff and stern - especially if he was interviewing you and you were hesitant to answer his questions - but he was apparently a kind and gracious to those seeking his help.

In 1963, when a group of inmates were caught trying to escape and in turn took hostages, the criminals requested the Jack Webster be the mediator and he was able to end to the standoff.

In 1977, Jack Webster began the morning television hot-line show Webster in which interviewed celebrities, news makers and politicians. Webster loved the thrust and parry of a good interview and for the nine years the show was on the air, it was must see for many British Columbians.

Webster is reported as having said that interviewing former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made him nervous. Trudeau apparently asked after a Webster interview 'Why does that man hate me?'

In 1990, Jack joined Front Page Challenge, a long running CBC television program. He was their permanent fourth panel member until the show's cancellation in 1995.

In 1987, Webster was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame and in 1988, he was made a member of the Order of Canada.

As I said, Webster could be gruff. He could bellow and holler but those close to him say that his gruff exterior hid a soft and caring interior. Actor Shirley MacLaine said that Jack brought out her maternal instincts. And though in later years, Webster stated that he had felt he had made a mistake of making his job more important than his family, his family disagreed. His three children noted that he not only made time for them but also for the nine grandchildren he had.

In 1986, the Jack Webster Foundation was created to promote and honour excellence in journalism in British Columbia. Each year, journalists judged to have outstanding work receive a Jack Webster Award - a glass statue and a cash prize that has become a mark of journalistic excellence in British Columbia. From the single award in 1987, it has now grown into thirteen awards that cover numerous areas of journalism.

On March 2, 1999, Jack Webster passed away of congestive heart failure at the age of 80. Although Alzheimer's disease invaded his mind in the last few years of his life and robbed him of some of his precious memories, Jack Webster will remain the legend he became in his lifetime.

Thanks goes to the and to Wikipedia for the information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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