Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Woodpecker Election

Former Vancouver Mayor, L.D. Taylor, was a man with a puckish sense of humour and he loved creating legends. About himself.

One time, he "kidnapped" ex-President "Teddy" Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt. It wasn't a kidnapping the way you may think though.

The Roosevelts were visiting Vancouver and the Board of Trade decided to omit the mayor from the official reception at the CPR station. Well Taylor wasn't having any of that.

He boarded the train at the Heatley Avenue station and introduced himself to the ex-President. He then ushered them off the train, condescendingly introducing them to a few board members before escorting the couple to a borrowed limousine for a drive around Stanley Park.

In the election of 1923, Taylor lost to Tisdall and that was due to a sudden and complete power failure in the East End. The street cars were immobilized during the late afternoon. The residents of the East End were primarily workingmen who made up the bulk of Taylor's support. They couldn't get to the polls and vote before the polls closed.

The next day, B.C. Electric - who were responsible for the street cars - produced a dead woodpecker. According to them, the woodpecker had penetrated the internal workings of a transformer and paralysed the power system.  So Taylor lost the "woodpecker election". However, he did gain yet another legend.

In 1928, L.D. was struck on the head by an air plane propeller at the inauguration of B.C. Airways passenger services. He had a long convalescence after which Taylor dramatically presided over council meetings in a wheelchair. He was still partially paralysed.

A year after this incident, the 72-year-old narrowly escaped drowning while on a five-week canoe trip north of Prince George.

In 1931, after attending the opening of Sea Island airport Louis D. Taylor contracted a lingering illness, which brought him to the verge of death.

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

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill 

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