Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Is 100 Deathless Days Impossible?

All photos of these car accidents are from the Vancouver Public Library online.

Item 40961. Taken for the Province newspaper in the 1930s. Shows a car on the beach and Lion's Gate Bridge in the background.
Leon Holt took this photo for the Province newspaper October 9, 1951. Item 68054.

February 21, 1950 item 81153. This accident occurred at Burrard Street and West 4th Avenue.
Another shot of the same accident. Photos taken by Artray. Item 81153A

The campaign for "100 Deathless Days" in Vancouver was still running. The Vancouver Sun was not going to give up that easily. After Mildred Graham died of her injuries on July 14, 1939, the campaign started for a fourth time.

On July 15, 65-year-old Edward Luff was run over on Hastings Street but the Sun said that one didn't count. Luff was killed by a streetcar, not a private auto mobile.  At the corner of Keefer and Hawk, a nine-year-old cyclist was struck by a car but he survived. When 15-year-old Billy McDonald was thrown from his bike on Gravelly Street a few days later and killed, it was described as a freak accident instead of a traffic death and had no bearing on the campaign.

Item 81153b - same as above.
Artray took this photo - 84809- of an exclusive ambulance accident at Main and Kingsway in 1948.

84809a. Same credits as above
84809b. Same credits as the previous two.

On July 19, 50-year-old William Hanna crashed his car into a bus at the corner of Granville and 54th Avenue. He died and the campaign started for a fourth time. The editorial in the Sun the next day wasn't as impassioned as previous ones. The editor simply warned people to be careful and gave tips on safety. At least the campaign was getting Vancouverites to think about road safety. Or so the paper said.

After the police department was denied the funding to increase its traffic squad with special constables, Chief Foster called for 500 citizens to voluntarily monitor traffic violations. 175 volunteers stepped up. Their job was to spot the violations and then submit reports to the Chief. The Chief would then send a letter to the lawbreakers telling them to stop violating the law. In August of 1939, 530 violations were reported but there is no way of knowing if a letter with no legal repercussions influenced the drivers to change their errant ways.

Atray took this photo in the 1940s of a Fairview streetcar, which hit the Granville Span. Item 84813

Again in the 1940s and again the photographer is Artray. This streetcar accident is at the corner of Powell and Commercial. Item 84814.
84823 was taken on May 15, 1948 by Artray. This shows a car, which had been knocked 50 feet by trams at 30th and Boulevard.

March 1, 1948. Artray took 84825 of an overturned car at 1300 block Broughton.

74-year-old J. McDevitt was run over by a motorcycle at the corner of Seymour and Smythe causing the campaign to start for a fifth time. August 1939 was a month free of traffic fatalities! Perhaps Vancouverites were improving their driving skills?

The campaign quietly disappeared in September due to a more newsworthy event taking over the paper's pages - the start of the Second World War. Another interpretation was that the campaign organizers realized they were asking too much of Vancouver motorists to not “occasionally hurtle another car off the highway or destroy a pedestrian wearing an offensively-hued shirt.”

Naturally, the unsuccessful campaign pleased the Winnipeg Tribune, who had been so insulted by prairie drivers getting the blame for accidents in BC. That paper stated: “It was not on account of deaths due to careless driving by the many prairie motorists then in Vancouver, but as a result of the inability of local talent to suppress their homicidal tendencies, that the campaign ended so ignomiously.”

84825a: same as above.

84825b. Same as before.
Ray Munro took item 84829 on April 3, 1948. This is an accident between a truck and a car on the Burrard span.

84829a. And here's the car.

I'm not quite finished the story of the '100 Deathless Days' campaign. Friday, I will tell you more. I would like to thank Past Tense Vancouver for the information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Artray was on hand to capture this photo of a streetcar overturned at 4th and Sasamata in 1948. Item 84841.

Art Jones is the photographer to capture this 1947 scene of a car, which plowed through a truck. Item 84842
A 1947 traffic accident at the ferry wharf. Sadly, two drowned. Photographer, Art Jones. Item 84843

Art Jones took this photo on March 6, 1949 of a car smashed at Lost Lagoon. Item 84871.


  1. I'd hate for trying for 100 accident free days today when cars are not built as strong as they once were. Guess not to many people knew how to drive defence back then. Sorry had to chuckle at the cars standing on there heads. RIP those who didn't make it.

    1. It was an interesting experiment. Tune in Friday and I'll tell you about a few others as well as ideas on why this did not work.