Wednesday, April 30, 2014


The year was 1938 and the Great Depression was hurting many. The maligned federal relief camps run by the Department of Defence had been replaced by relief projects run by the province and financed by both federal and provincial governments. The pay was the same, five dollars a month, and the work was primarily seasonal work on farms.

Many men from other parts of the province came to B.C. because of the milder weather and the opportunity to work on a forestry relief project, which paid more. From the government's point of view, these relief projects were ideal because the men were kept separate and therefore were less likely to organize. They did not want a repeat of the 1935 strike and 'On-to-Ottawa' trek. As well, this kept the disaffected, unemployed men out of urban centres.

This may not have been an ideal plan but at least the men were working, earning a little money and getting by. However, in early 1938, the Prime Minister of Canada cut grants-in-aid to the provinces, killing the relief projects. Premier Pattullo claimed the province could no longer shoulder the financial burden of these projects alone and shut down the relief projects in April.

Hundreds of unemployed men descended on Vancouver and these men were organized under the Relief Project Worker's Union (RCPU). On May 20, 1938, 1200 men left four different halls in East Vancouver - most believing they were heading to Stanley Park for a protest rally. However, when the group arrived at the corner of Granville and Hastings Streets, it became apparent that the park was not the destination.

About 700 men flooded into the newly renovated post office - now Sinclair Centre. Police reinforcements were called from Granville and Georgia Streets, leaving that area clear for 200 men to enter the Hotel Georgia while another 300 entered the Art Gallery.

The owner of the Hotel Georgia refused to call the police, probably worried about the potential property damage that may occur if the law arrived. He paid the group $500 and they left. The other two groups though stayed where they were for weeks to come. The art gallery closed their doors during the occupation but the post office stayed open.
This demonstration was led by a twenty-six-year-old named Steve Brodie. Brodie had been an activist three years earlier in the 1935 demonstrations and was now leader of the Youth Division of the RCPU. Brodie, and the RCPU, emphasized discipline among the protesters in order to get the public sympathy support. To this end, the post office remained open during the occupation.

Chief Constable Colonel W.W. Foster tried to persuade the men to leave, telling them that they had made their point and should now go home. Brodie politely told the Colonel that if these men had homes to go to, they would be in them. He also invited Foster to arrest the men, saying they would submit peacefully. The Chief Constable refused and decided to manage the situation instead of clogging the jails with 1000 new occupants. The attorney-general agreed with the Colonel, reasoning that the men would give up and leave in a few days. But those few days stretched into weeks and police officers stood by, waiting for orders to evict the men.

Colonel Foster had earned a reputation for diplomacy during the 1935 demonstration and it appeared that this was the way he was handling this event. However, behind the scenes, Foster was plotting with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and politicians to evict Brodie and his companions.

So what happens next? I  will tell you on  Friday.

I want to thank Wikipedia for the information on these demonstration.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tulilps come to Canada

Tulips. Gorgeous, another sign of spring. But how did these Dutch blooms come to make a home in Canada? That is an interesting story, which dates back to World War II. 

When the Germans invaded the Netherlands, the Dutch Royal family sought refuge in England. Unfortunately, due to the aerial bombings, that country wasn't much safer. Queen Wilhelmina decided to send her daughter and heir, Princess Juliana, along with her two children to Canada. This way, if something should happen to the Queen like she died or was kidnapped, her heir would be safe. In late 1940, under the utmost secrecy, Princess Juliana and her children travelled to Wales then boarded a Dutch ship for Canada.

The Dutch royalty settled in Ottawa - the nation's capital - in a home in Stornoway. The Dutch royalty were much like war time families of the time. The young girls attended public school and Princess Juliana volunteered for the war effort. In addition, the Princess was also her mother's official representative and therefore made frequent visits to troops in Canada, the United States and the Dutch Caribbean. 
In 1943, Princess Juliana would give birth to the only royal child born in Canada. If the child was a boy, he would inherit the Dutch throne but there was a problem. In order to inherit the throne, the child had to be born on Dutch soil. Obviously, it was too dangerous for the pregnant princess to travel to her home country. To get around this, when the princess went to a local hospital to give birth, Canadian officials ceded the room to the Netherlands so technically the child was born on Dutch soil. Rumour has it that someone put soil from the Netherlands under the bed so the child really was born on Dutch soil. Princess Margriet was born and became fourth in line to inherit the throne. A few months later, Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Bernd (Princess Juliana's husband) made the dangerous journey to Canada for Princess Margriet's baptism. It was a big international event with Queen Mary of England and President Roosevelt of the United States becoming the godparents of the young princess.

During the occupation of the Netherlands, hundreds of thousands of Dutch people were imprisoned, abused or murdered. The birth of the new princess was a big boost to the Dutch people. Her name, Margriet (Daisy) became a symbol of resilience and strength for the Dutch people. It didn't take long for the Canadian troops to push north over the Rhein to the Netherlands. The Canadians had orders to liberate the Dutch and that is what they did. As well, they helped to rebuild the country.

Two days after Hitler's suicide, the Dutch royal family returned home. Princess Juliana inherited the throne, becoming Queen.
The people of the Netherlands were grateful for everything Canada did for the Dutch during the war so in 1946, 100,000 tulip bulbs were sent to Canada. Princess Juliana sent over another 20,000. Every year thereafter, she donated 10,000 bulbs.

In 1951, Ottawa held its first Tulip festival. Since then it has grown to a three week international event featuring over 1 million bulbs, including those originally donated by Princess Juliana and the Dutch people. 

In 2004, Queen Juliana passed away at the age of 94. If you go to Commissioner's Park in Ottawa, you will find a special flower bed filled with beautiful tulips and a plague erected in the Queen's memory. A fitting tribute to the woman and the special relationship between the Netherlands and Canada.

According to Wikipedia, to this day, the Netherlands continues to send 20,000 tulip bulbs a year to Canada - 10,000 from the Royal family and 10,000 from the Dutch Bulb Grower's Association.

The information for this entry came from

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Drugs Kill

Just to refresh your memory. The body of Danny Brent was found on the west edge of the green at the UBC golf course on September 15, 1954. Known to police, Brent had been shot three times. His car was found the same day as his body.

The vehicle was towed to the police garage and the crime experts examined it thoroughly. No identifiable fingerprints, other than those of Danny Brent, were found. There small splatters of blood on the right front and rear windows and a pair of bloodstained gloves in the trunk. The blood was found to be the same group as Brent's and a comparison of the vehicle's tires was made to the tire tracks left on the golf course showed they were similar though a positive comparison could not be made. 

It appeared to the police that Brent had been shot in the back, put in his car and then driven to the golf course where the body was dumped. The killer - or killers - then drove the car to where it was recovered and left either on foot or in another car.

Over the next few weeks, the detectives questioned dozens of drug dealers and addicts, getting small bits of information here and there and a picture began to emerge of a struggle for control of the Vancouver drug trade. One of the most useful informants was a man named Mike Gifford. 

Gifford was close to Brent and believed the men who ordered Danny's demise were two rival heroin dealers - Alan McPeak and Joe Civelli. Both men worked for a Montreal organization. Gifford claimed that these two White Heroin dealers ordered another dealer, John Paris, to be pistol-whipped months before. Mike also said that Danny had received a phone call around that time warning him "If you don't back up, you are going to get moved." Brent had paid heed to the warning and suspended his operations. He had only started up again a few weeks before his death.

From other sources, police learned of two men believed to be the actual hit-team. Charles Angotti and Lewis Bergeron had extensive criminal records and high placed underworld connections and had recently arrived in Vancouver from Ontario.

The two men were picked up at the Vancouver motel they were living in and brought to police headquarters. Detectives questioned them at length but the two career criminals said little. Even though neither had an alibi for the night of the murder, the police were unable to connect them to the killing.

Someone did get a hold of Danny Brent's heroin supplies though. Within days, a new type of the drug was being sold on the street. It was a mixture of white and brown heroin, known by addicts as 'Dead-man's horse'. 

The murder of Danny Brent has never been solved.

The information above was gathered from the book Policebeat by Joe Swan.

I hope you find the beauty around you.