Friday, December 6, 2013

Grandview's Threat

The Dominion Photo Company took this 1939 photo. This Safeway is at the corner of Graveley and Commercial.

Philip Timms is responsible for this photo of the 1600 block of Commercial Drive during the 1920s.
This 1922 photo by Philip Timms is of the 1000 block of Commercial Drive.

The photographer who took this 1922 photo in the 1800 block of Commercial Drive is unknown.

On Wednesday, I promised to tell you why Grandview and Commercial Drive are in danger and in one word I can say it - people.

Not only because some people don't care about the historic value to many buildings but also due to the fact that so many people are moving here and the city is running out of places to house them.

Leonard Frank took this 1937 photo of the Reliable Drugstore at 1810 Commercial Drive.

Godley's Home Bakery in 1922 on Commercial Drive.
Leonard Frank also snapped this 1932 photo of a Chinese market named Victoria Produce at 1743 Commercial Drive. 81 years later, there are still a large number of Asian run markets on the Drive.

Stuart Thomson is credited with this 1910 photo of Commercial Drive. 

The land values in Vancouver are rising and there are increasing pressures to develop the east end of the city. Presently, people are saying that the Hastings/Sunrise district - where I live - is the up and coming area. In other words, the area is being densified and cleansed and will soon be more expensive.

Individual owners are working to upgrade their houses within broad heritage principles: others are building front-back duplexes in a generic "heritage" style that can erode overall neighbourhood character. As I stated Wednesday, the Grandview area has many older houses and commercial buildings, but the danger lies in the fact that many of these buildings are not on the City of Vancouver's Heritage Register and therefore do not have protection.

Leonard Frank also took this photo at Commercial and 12th  Avenue in 1929.
In 1939, Leonard Frank took this photo of Clapp's Shoe store at 1800 Commercial Drive.

This is the 1700 block of Commercial Drive in 1941 as seen through the lens of a photographer with the Dominion Photo Co.
1414 Commercial Drive looked like this in 1943. Photo taken by the Dominion Photo Co.

Some of these older homes are on double lots, which makes them highly attractive to developers. If these homes were on the heritage register, they would have protection in place so that they would not be demolished. Our city has a disconnect between community planning process and the desire to conserve our heritage. Consistently, promised funds for the updating of the heritage register have failed to materialize.  

Another historic commercial area in Vancouver is Gastown. In the 1960s, this area was being threatened.  A major freeway was proposed to go through that area and all the buildings would have been demolished. A group of citizens got together to declare the area a historic site. In 2009, the federal government designated Gastown a National Historic Site of Canada.

Hopefully, the City of Vancouver will wake up and realize that once these heritage buildings are destroyed, nothing can bring them back.

Here is 1414 Commercial Drive today. (The Blue awning)

Thanks goes to the Vancouver Public Library for the older photos and to the Heritage Vancouver Society for the information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. I love that you want to preserve your housing heritage. To bad people can't see the worth of such history when pictures are all that is left to tell the story. I understand to well what happens to historic places. Our farm in Massachusetts, State Side was over 300 years old and they broke up the land into housing developments and now you'd never know what history that land had. For instance: first printing press and newspaper, first successful building furniture factory all done by hand, first black smiths and the list goes on. The lakes were drained off and the forest desolated. I go home now and don't know the place.

    1. It is a tricky situation. They need land for population growth but history should be saved as well. I wouldn't want to be in that position!