Friday, May 20, 2016

Buses and a University

In 1919, the provincial government agreed to press construction of the University of British Columbia - UBC - on Point Grey. The university was still operating at out of the 'shacks' on the grounds of the General Hospital. Leonard S. Klinck, the university's new president, mobilized friends to keep the pressure up before the university finally opened in its permanent location in late 1925.

Culturally, Vancouver was not doing well. The public library and the City Museum were in wretched buildings. There was no art gallery and no proper auditorium. World War I had halted construction of the new YMCA building on Georgia Street. The steel skeleton stood for years before being sold and completed as the Ritz Hotel. The "Y" remained in the rickety old building at Dunsmuir and Cambie Streets.

One positive note for culture did occur in 1919 when Henry Green organized the city's Symphony Orchestra.

Industry, however, was doing well. And changing. Shipbuilding was dwindling away, with four vessels still under construction. By 1925, there were 500 established industrial operations with 14,000 employees to take the place of shipbuilding.

Most of these were small plants with a total comprised investment of $95 million and an annual output of $85 million. Power was supplied B.C. Electric from its Buntzen plant and by the Western Power Co. of Canada Ltd from their three generating units at Stave Falls. Western Power had begun in 1912 and competed with B.C. Electric until 1920.

Western's distribution facilities were insufficient and B.C. Electric shared the water rights with Western on the Stave River. In 1920, Western was sold to BCE - a logical move.

Power played a much larger part in the homes of Vancouver in the 20's. The city was changing, first to gas and then to electricity for cooking and electric appliances were making great strides in home use. BCE also supplied power to industrial and public transit.

A new franchise was negotiated in 1922, providing for the innovation of motor bus service. The pioneer buses were put into operation on Grandview Highway in 1923. 

By 1925, Vancouver was using 700 million cubic feet of gas a year. The old cluster-globe and arc lights on the streets were replaced by the first of the modern 1,500 to 2,500 candle-power single lamps on ornamental standards. 1925 was also the year that B.C. Electric, through a subsidiary, had bus lines to Haney, Ioco, White Rock and Seattle.

Thanks to the book Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis by Alan Morley for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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