Monday, February 9, 2015

Great in '48

On May 24, 1948, things weren't so great. The Fraser River began to flood. Before it was over in early June, the waters wreaked havoc. Ten people died, 16,000 people lost their homes, rail service was disrupted for two weeks, more than 80 bridges were washed away and 20 million dollars in damage was done. That is in 1948 dollars by the way.

Greater Vancouver was isolated from the rest of Canada for a few days since both the railways and Trans Canada Highway were cut. Dead cattle floated downstream from Fraser Valley farms.

May to June 1948. Photographer: Roy LeBlanc, Croyton Studios, New Westminster.
May to June, 1948. Croyton Studios, New Westminster.

May to June, 1948. Croyton Studios, New Westminster.

May 27, 1948. The Agassiz School. Croton Studios, New Westminster.

On May 31, Premier Byron Johnson declared a state of emergency. Thousands of citizens joined more than 3,000 troops filling sandbags and dumping gravel - doing whatever they could to hold back the raging waters. 

More than fifty years earlier, there was similar dramatic flooding in the same area -the water was even higher - but in 1894, there wasn't as much to damage.

July 14, 1948 was the day the first "cottage hospital" at Langley Memorial Hospital opened with 35 beds.

On July 31, the following story appeared in the Province newspaper.

“Joy Coghill, one of Vancouver's best known actresses, is going to Chicago in search of her master's degree in directing and producing. Miss Coghill started acting as a child in Scotland where she went to school. When she came to Vancouver in 1940 she entered into dramatics and attended UBC where she graduated with a B.A. degree. Recently, she directed the UBC Players in School for Scandal.”

May 28, 1948. Croton Studios, New Westminster.
The last five photographs are from the New Westminster Library Site.

Canadian athleticism ruled the day during the London Olympics with the Canadian basketball team's victory over first Italy and then England on July 31.

“The big, fast Italian team went into an early lead as the Canadians opened their bid for the zone title, but were soon overtaken through the efforts of 21- year-old Pat McGeer of University of British Columbia who led the team with 12 points.”

Also, on July 31, Canadians use of the English language received a compliment. Sort of.

“Canadians,” said Mrs. Florence Aymond, speaking in Victoria, “speak the most consistent English in the world—even if it is consistently wrong.” Mrs. Aymond, described as a well-known examiner in speech arts and drama, added “We tend to flatten our vowels and take the music out of our speech. But on the Coast, in Vancouver and Victoria particularly, vowels in general are very good. We have musical vowel sounds with affectation.” Mrs. Aymond said Canadians tend toward harshness of speech, and blamed it on the tremendous pace of living. Rushing, she said, tends to tighten the muscles, so that we scamp our words and don't take time to articulate.

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

The photographs, besides the five from the New Westminster Library, were taken on the 28th floor of 1055 Dunsmuir Street. I was there Thursday for a Toastmasters' meeting.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. I'd hate for her to rste our English-language especially with the black communities interpretation. We really messed it up.

    1. We can't all be perfect! That's what makes life so fun.

  2. I think an article on the ironworkers memorial bridge should be done as most people are unaware why this bridge is so named

    1. I think it's a great idea too. Which is why I wrote on the bridge last year - complete with old photos.