Friday, August 22, 2014

After the Great War

The photos today, and on Monday, are from Tuesday's visit to the PNE.

Ivor/Ivan Ackery was back in B.C. after his stint in the military. He took a course in railroad telegraphy but didn't do anything with that. He got a job cleaning a restaurant in Mission, then went to work in a logging camp. He also went to Anyox, B.C. to work for Granby Copper Mines and Smelter. (My father worked for Granisle Copper on Babine Lake in the 1970s. Granby was Granisle's parent company.) 

From the mine, Ackery went to Kingcome Inlet on the B.C. coast where he worked as a flunky in the camp dining room of a logging camp. After that, it was back to Vancouver where he and some friends hopped on a CPR train headed east. They were kicked off the train in Lake Louise but the young men immediately got jobs “in the dining room at the big hotel there, a classy place where all the big shots came to vacation.”

This is a 1911 photo of Anyox, BC, 37 miles southwest of Stewart, B.C. It is now a ghost town Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Ackery had not decided what he wanted to do with his life. However, he had noticed an important feature in himself. “I don’t mean to be egotistical, you see, but I’d noticed that people liked me, y’ know? I’d always had a smile and the military bearing from being in the army. I began to discover that a warm personality and a smile could go a long way toward making people happy and pleasant.”

He went to Calgary where he got a job as a busboy in the exclusive Ranchmen's Club. It was in Calgary where his life in show business began.

“Famous Players opened a new theatre in Calgary on May 7, 1921, the Capitol Theatre, and I was there. It was the talk of the town and everybody was so excited about it—1,800 seats in one theatre! . . . ‘Boy!’ I thought, ‘I’d love to get a job there,’ so when the call came for hiring I lined up with my best smile and my sharpest military attention, and I got picked to be an usher, at $5 a week. That was the beginning of my show business career.” Ivan (I'll start calling him that now) was 21.

“Opening night was spectacular. There were bands in the street and, because I was an old soldier, they put me out front to beat on the drum. I was always more than willing to do anything like that, just a born ham!”

One of the major vaudeville circuits of the day was the Pantages Circuit and the Capitol was part of that chain. Like many others, the Capitol was an elaborately decorated and opulent show house. “The manager,” Ivan recalled, “wore a tuxedo and the assistant manager a frock-tail coat; the cloakroom attendant wore a white uniform as did the matron of the ladies’ rest room. Everything was spotless.”

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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