Vancouver Confidential, the book cover, painted by artist Tom Carter. I predict this forthcoming book edited by John Belshaw will be one of the most anticipated titles of the year in Vancouver! Full disclosure, I also happen to be contributing a chapter to this book, along with a long list of exceptional local writers and historians.
Tonight at the VPL there is a special event with three of the contributors to the book. See the Facebook event for more details.
https://www.facebook.com/events/726899950674410/

Vancouver Confidential, the book cover, painted by artist Tom Carter. I predict this forthcoming book edited by John Belshaw will be one of the most anticipated titles of the year in Vancouver! Full disclosure, I also happen to be contributing a chapter to this book, along with a long list of exceptional local writers and historians.

Tonight at the VPL there is a special event with three of the contributors to the book. See the Facebook event for more details.

https://www.facebook.com/events/726899950674410/

Paintings by Leef Evans. His work has been exhibited at Gallery Gachet this past year, most notably at the exhibit One Hundred Self-Portraits in One Hundred Days this fall. From his website:

I have no political agenda. I have no historical perspective. I have no social ramifications I’m seeking to address. What I do have is lots of paint and a fat brush. The fat brush and brash gobs of paint don’t permit me to fret or obsess. The fat brush doesn’t allow me to wallow in incidental detail. The fat gobs don’t permit me to remain in one place and burrow into concerns. I move on. I allow for accidents. I revel in movement. I paint accidental psalms. This is what the art does. It moves me into little fugue vortexes. The art, the paint, the brush is the only process…

A series of linocuts with watercolour by sketchalina, Carol McQuaid, on exhibit at the Unitarian Church in Vancouver later this month. From her blog:

Here are some more for my upcoming show. It’s at the gallery in the Unitarian Church on 49th and Oak here in Vancouver. It’ll run from September 16th to October 15th, and there’s a reception on Sunday the 22nd from 2:30-5…
This church is an amazing community member. They put on a great organic farmers market every Wednesday…There are two awesome gallery spaces, one in the sanctuary and another called the Fireside Room, and they always have interesting shows…
The Ridge screened its last picture show on February 3, 2013. It hasn’t been a part of the Vancouver Film Festival since 2009, but even with the loss of the Granville 7, VIFF marches on! In addition to Vancity and the PC, we’ll be able to watch the big screen in the following venues: The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts, the Vancouver Playhouse, Cineplex Odeon International Village (3 screens at Tinseltown), SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, and the Rio Theatre! On with the show!
Granville and Robson Lines by Urban Sketcher, Won Kang.

Granville and Robson Lines by Urban Sketcher, Won Kang.

Sewn art series from Sarah Mulder. The first two tapestries feature the iconic Woodwards W, and the third features PNE and Playland. Don’t forget, it’s the last weekend of the PNE!

I’ve posted these photos from 1969 previously, but I think it’s worth a repost. On the left, we have the photographs of Nicholas Russell from 1969, showing the demolition of the Lyric Theatre (the former Vancouver Opera House, among other names over the years). The demolition crew creatively used the historic theatre backdrops as demolition curtains, enough to make any heritage advocate cringe! On the right, I’ve photographed the former Sears building, with mesh netting just recently applied, during the demolition of the building’s facade. I missed my chance to shoot right through the building before the netting was installed, but then the idea struck me to feature a little ‘then and now’. It’s also hard to get the precise identical angles as the scale of the buildings are so dramatically different, but I’m happy with the result. I’m also extraordinarily grateful for folks like Nicholas Russell for documenting the evolving landscape of our city when it was still relatively uncommon to do so. The three 1969 photos are courtesy of the Vancouver Archives [one two three]; my photos are on flickr.

There’s still an opportunity for someone to photograph the building from the other side of the block!

In my ongoing exploration of Vancouver’s murals, I present to you one rare and extraordinary survivor from one of Vancouver’s greatest hotels. The Landing of Captain Vancouver by American artist Marion Powers Kirkpatrick. This mural measuring 8 x 16 feet once hung in the magnificent CPR Hotel Vancouver #2 of 1916. Paul Sternberg, Sr. writes about the artist in his book "Art by American Women":

Born in London, England of American parents, Marion Powers excelled in vibrant still lifes that had textile designs in them and large-scale murals. She began art study in London and then in Paris.

She married the English painter, W.A.B. Kirkpatrick [
William Arber Brown Kirkpatrick], and in 1906, they settled in Waldeboro, Maine. Prior to living in Waldoboro and Friendship (summer studio) Maine, she and her husband maintained a studio in Boston. She executed a mural at the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Hotel Vancouver in British Columbia and also did still life with randomly displayed objects, painted only for the purpose of showing the objects.

She was an illustrator for “Harper’s” Magazine. She illustrated many magazine covers for Woman’s Home companion, Sunday Magazine various books as well as advertisements for Jello. Many of her still lifes involve food or flower arrangements with very brilliant colors. From 1906 to 1929, she exhibited numerous times at the annual exhibitions of the National and Pennsylvania Academies and was in many other exhibitions.

She is in the permanent collection of the Lourvre in Paris.

Not much is known about Marion Powers Kirkpatrick’s connection to Vancouver, but it is perhaps possible that Francis S. Swales, the architect of the hotel saw her work at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 and commissioned this mural in time for the Hotel’s grand opening in 1916.

The August 1916 edition of the Architect magazine is dedicated to the hotel, featuring text written by none other than the architect himself, Francis S. Swales. I got very excited recently when I discovered that this entire issue of the Architect is available on archive.org; I had seen the copy at the Vancouver Archives last year, and it is a phenomenal view of the greatest hotel we ever had. I actually searched all other posted issues of the Architect but failed to find any other major articles about Vancouver. But back to the mural, about which the architect writes: 

A beautifully composed and richly colored decorative picture in the central lunette over the back bar, painted by Marion Powers Kirkpatrick, of Boston, is comparable with the work of Frank Braugwyn and gives the necessary glowing note of color that prevents what might otherwise be a somber effect.

The accompanying photos just barely show the mural in position over the bar on the lower level of the hotel. It’s hard to imagine having anything somber to say about the Hotel Vancouver #2, except for the fact that it was demolished just 33 years after it was built to make way for a parking lot.

This mural is currently on display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, where it is part of their permanent collection. The fact that this mural outlived the hotel is something of small miracle. The mural’s second home also faced the wrecking ball, but fortunately for us, it was once again rescued at the last moment. From the description of the artwork at the museum:

Commissioned from an unknown source, Boston area artist Marion Powers Kirkpatrick created this mural to hang in the Hotel Vancouver. The painting was later installed in the lobby of Pier BC, over the double doors in the lobby that led to the walkway along the roof over the sheds of the pier. Pier BC was opened in 1927, but it is not known when exactly the painting was installed [I speculate it was probably just prior to the demolition of the hotel in 1949 when most of the hotel fixtures were auctioned off]. It hung there until 1980, a few days before Pier BC was demolished. Canada Place is where Pier BC used to be.

As for the depictions in the mural itself, I will refrain from being too critical of the subject matter. The scene is pure historical fantasy. If the Native Indians on the far right of the scene appear to be out of place, remember this was painted by an American woman from Boston who lived in a time long before the aid of the Internet. Captain George Vancouver’s musclebound crew are seen showing off their shirtless bodies while feasting on a tropical bounty no doubt just in from Hawaii. The small child in the foreground acts as a reminder of man’s responsibilities, fitting for all those who find themselves seated in front of the bar for too long.

This nearly 100 year old work of art is one of our city’s great hidden gems. I highly recommend a trip to the Maritime Museum to see it in person, and when you do, try to imagine what it must have been like to sit at this bar when the hotel was just one year old and prohibition kicked into effect for four long years (October 1, 1917–June 14, 1921).

Ladies Parlor of the Castle Hotel, a vintage postcard-like image via Glen A Mofford's outstanding collection of hotel and beer parlour ephemera on flickr. This photograph shows a series of large scale murals above each booth, which I presume to be paintings they but could also be tapestries? I do suspect these are original art and not merely reproductions or wallpaper. I have never seen this interior before and it looks to be phenomenal!

This hotel was once located at 750 Granville Street tucked in next to the Vancouver Block, and it operated at that location from 1915-1990. Previously it was known as the Windsor Hotel which operated from 1888-1914. This postcard image is circa 1930, and it appears to mix art deco styles with some very organic folk art, creating quite a contemporary visual feast. It must have been spectacular to see in colour! This would have been such a great place to hang out after a show across the street during any of these eras: the old Opera House (1891), the Orpheum [#3] (1913), Loew’s Vaudeville (1914), the Orpheum [again, this time owned by the Orpheum Circuit] (1915), Vancouver Theatre (1927), Lyric Theatre (1935), International Cinema (1948), and Lyric Theatre again (c.1965-1969).

If anyone ever finds any further documentation surrounding these murals or the artist responsible, please leave a comment! I stretched a few of the panels for a simulated view of the art, but it is very difficult to reconstruct at this dramatic angle. It also appears to me that there are at least 8 large scale panels on the right hand side, with at least 3 more on the left, possibly with room for 4 or 5 more on the left! Conceivably, there could be as many as 16 original panels in this room - astonishing.

For more ephemera related to Beer Parlours and the Castle Hotel, see Glen’s additional posts on flickr. Thanks to Tom Carter for assistance clarifying the complicated theatre chronology above! The years listed above roughly indicates the year the name changed. Furthermore, between the last name change, the theatre was actually turned into a bank for a while! Alas, if only I could find a time machine, this would be the first block I visit!

Corner of Granville & Georgia Streets, 1889, a watercolour by George Thercer, or possibly George T Mercer (confirmed!). This painting is in the Vancouver Maritime Museum’s fine art collection, and in my mind, the dramatic wide angle perspective of this panorama gives the painting a decidedly modern feel (if it wasn’t for all the missing skyscrapers!)

Based on the vantage point of this painting, I’d say that we are on the third or fourth floor of the very first Hotel Vancouver, which was situated at the corner of Georgia & Granville Streets. We are looking down Granville Street, all the way to the waterfront. In 1889, the Hotel Vancouver was just 1 year old, and the great fire had leveled the city just 3 years prior. Remarkable how things change in just a few short years…

Kenworth Truck Calendar, acrylic painting from 1979 by George McLachlan. The scene depicts the corner of Granville and Hastings, a popular intersection to take a picture perfect postcard, as many images in the Vancouver Archives are taken from this very same vantage point.

The name Kenworth came into being in 1923, and this truck appears to be from this early era. The style of manned traffic light system shown here remained in effect until 1928, according to Chuck Davis. This would explain why the Trorey Clock is missing from the painting, as Birks had purchased the Trorey business back in 1907 and moved the clock up to Georgia & Granville in 1913.

Hycroft by Michael Kluckner, painted for the University Women’s Club which has owned the building for the past half-century. The plaque states the work was donated by Lois Millington in honour of Hycroft’s 100th Anniversary March 2011. Michael writes on his site:


A good party and happy conclusion to a process that began last September with me getting onto the roof of a highrise a few blocks away with a 30 x 36 inch canvas…Normally when you’re painting or photographing architecture you look for a low, corner angle that gives the composition strong diagonals and more drama; this straight-on view is much calmer, more conservative, befitting a mansion so well established in its landscape. The space has to recede in subtle shifts of tone and scale without any tricks of perspective.

Hycroft by Michael Kluckner, painted for the University Women’s Club which has owned the building for the past half-century. The plaque states the work was donated by Lois Millington in honour of Hycroft’s 100th Anniversary March 2011.

Michael writes on his site:

A good party and happy conclusion to a process that began last September with me getting onto the roof of a highrise a few blocks away with a 30 x 36 inch canvas…

Normally when you’re painting or photographing architecture you look for a low, corner angle that gives the composition strong diagonals and more drama; this straight-on view is much calmer, more conservative, befitting a mansion so well established in its landscape. The space has to recede in subtle shifts of tone and scale without any tricks of perspective.

Happy 85th Birthday to the Orpheum, or rather, the NEW Orpheum! Last night I attended the 85th birthday celebration with the live orchestra playing along to Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. One piece of breaking news—the Orpheum now has a new permanent addition—a 35mm film projector has been installed in the theatre, courtesy of a local film collector!

This souvenir program is dated 1916, and was for the OLD Orpheum, which is no more. From wikipedia:

the old Orpheum, at 761 Granville Street, was renamed the Vancouver Theatre (later the Lyric, then the International Cinema, then the Lyric once more before it closed for demolition in 1969 to make way for the first phase of the Pacific Centre project)

The cover illustration depicting a woman looking at the city skyline from North Vancouver, which I think might be a reference to Pauline Johnson who had just passed away 3 years prior. The drawing was signed “W. McCreery, Van, BC, ‘16”. The name McCreery appears in Early Vancouver Vol 2 circa the 1890s:

Possibly about two or three years later I helped to build the McCreery house on Pacific Street for $3 per day,” (now site of Tudor Manor) “one of the first I think in that locality. Horrobin and Holden were contractors, Fripp architect…

The back cover of the program features a classic ad from A. H. Timms, Printers, the company that early Vancouver photographer Philip Timms worked for. The program itself, shown courtesy of Neil Whaley.

A Zoning Plan for the Downtown Area, Vancouver, B.C., published May 26, 1961; images from the planning department brochure shown courtesy of Tom Carter. This plan signals an important change for Vancouver, as it includes one of the city’s first modernist towers, the Burrard Building. The Burrard Building was built 1955-57, and the United Kingdom Building was built in 1958. Technically, it should also be noted that The Electra, the masterpiece of modernism, was completed first in 1957. The Burrard building may no longer jump out of the crowd today, but once upon a time, it rose with distinction. Originally it had metallic lemon/lime coloured spandrels, the detailing between the windows, but more recently it has been re-skinned with low key reflective glass windows. The building’s design was heavily influenced by Lever House in New York City.

I find it interesting to note that when the Burrard Building was completed, the first tenants to take up occupancy at the corner of Alberni and Burrard according to this photo from 1958 were none other than United Airlines, Canadian Pacific, and Pacific Western Airlines (thanks for the detective work, @VanArchives!). This was the height of the jet set era, and decades before purchasing a plane ticket would become primarily an online activity. Since November 2006, this retail corner has been occupied by Tiffany & Co., with Hermes situated across the street, and Louis Vuitton located on the other side of Burrard in the Hotel Vancouver.

These primitive and unrefined drawings offer a very early sketch of the future of the city. Before the building was even completed, you can see the influence that modernism was having via this fashion shoot taking place on Burrard Street, seen previously at PastTenseVancouver.

Proposal for the VanDusen Botanical Garden, by artist unknown, seen in BC Motorist Magazine, September/October 1966.

This artist’s conception shows the botanical garden which has been proposed for the 67-acre site on Old Shaughnessy Golf Course between 33rd and 37th Avenues and Oak and Granville Streets in Vancouver. Almost the same size as the famous Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh, the site is naturally endowed for the growing of large collections of plants indigenous to temperate zones. Dr. Harold R. Fletcher, Regius Keeper of the Edinburgh Garden and a world authority on botanical gardens, has expressed great enthusiasm for the British Columbia project. On his visit to survey the site, he spoke to the Vancouver Board of Trade, the Board of Parks and Public Recreation, members of City Council, Vancouver Garden Club, Vancouver Rotary Club and Save Our Parkland Association. Dr. Fletcher said that Vancouver’s environment and climate were ideal for the growth of plant life and that the botanical garden could become the focal point of horticultural beauty and development for all of mainland British Columbia. The groups of plants, grown for scientific study, would be outstanding as colorful showpieces and would attract countless citizens and tourists, he said. To promote the project a new organization has been formed, the Botanical Gardens Association with offices at 201, 1111 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, which is asking the federal, provincial and civic governments each to assume one quarter the price of the land and the balance to be raised from the public.

When the CPR owned property was vacated by the Shaughnessy Golf Club in 1960, the railway proposed a subdivision development which was strongly opposed by local citizens. More from vandusengarden.org:

In 1966, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association was formed to assist the Vancouver Park Board with saving the site. This effort was successful and the land was purchased with shared funding from the City of Vancouver, the Government of British Columbia and the Vancouver Foundation with a donation by W. J. VanDusen, after whom the Garden was named.
Development started in 1971 and VanDusen Botanical Garden officially opened to the public on August 30, 1975.
Landscape development was under the direction of W. C. Livingstone from 1971 to 1976. Curator Roy Forster managed the Garden and was responsible for much of the planting design from 1977 to 1996.

Proposal for the VanDusen Botanical Garden, by artist unknown, seen in BC Motorist Magazine, September/October 1966.

This artist’s conception shows the botanical garden which has been proposed for the 67-acre site on Old Shaughnessy Golf Course between 33rd and 37th Avenues and Oak and Granville Streets in Vancouver. Almost the same size as the famous Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh, the site is naturally endowed for the growing of large collections of plants indigenous to temperate zones. Dr. Harold R. Fletcher, Regius Keeper of the Edinburgh Garden and a world authority on botanical gardens, has expressed great enthusiasm for the British Columbia project. On his visit to survey the site, he spoke to the Vancouver Board of Trade, the Board of Parks and Public Recreation, members of City Council, Vancouver Garden Club, Vancouver Rotary Club and Save Our Parkland Association. Dr. Fletcher said that Vancouver’s environment and climate were ideal for the growth of plant life and that the botanical garden could become the focal point of horticultural beauty and development for all of mainland British Columbia. The groups of plants, grown for scientific study, would be outstanding as colorful showpieces and would attract countless citizens and tourists, he said. To promote the project a new organization has been formed, the Botanical Gardens Association with offices at 201, 1111 W. Georgia St., Vancouver, which is asking the federal, provincial and civic governments each to assume one quarter the price of the land and the balance to be raised from the public.

When the CPR owned property was vacated by the Shaughnessy Golf Club in 1960, the railway proposed a subdivision development which was strongly opposed by local citizens. More from vandusengarden.org:

In 1966, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association was formed to assist the Vancouver Park Board with saving the site. This effort was successful and the land was purchased with shared funding from the City of Vancouver, the Government of British Columbia and the Vancouver Foundation with a donation by W. J. VanDusen, after whom the Garden was named.

Development started in 1971 and VanDusen Botanical Garden officially opened to the public on August 30, 1975.

Landscape development was under the direction of W. C. Livingstone from 1971 to 1976. Curator Roy Forster managed the Garden and was responsible for much of the planting design from 1977 to 1996.

From Granville Island, a canvas by artist Jack Campbell. From his website:

For fourteen years Jack taught drawing and painting workshops for the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design Outreach Program and for eight years taught full time at the Kootenay School of Art in Nelson. He continues to teach at various summer schools and art organizations through the province. Raised in New Westminster B.C., Jack has been a painter and graphic designer since graduating as an honor student from the Fourth Year Program of the Vancouver School of Art (Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design).Jack has had over 30 one man exhibitions in British Columbia of his drawings, paintings and paper sculptures. He also has participated in many group shows in Western Canada and Washington. His work is in private and corporate collections throughout North America and Europe.

From Granville Island, a canvas by artist Jack Campbell. From his website:

For fourteen years Jack taught drawing and painting workshops for the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design Outreach Program and for eight years taught full time at the Kootenay School of Art in Nelson. He continues to teach at various summer schools and art organizations through the province. Raised in New Westminster B.C., Jack has been a painter and graphic designer since graduating as an honor student from the Fourth Year Program of the Vancouver School of Art (Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design).

Jack has had over 30 one man exhibitions in British Columbia of his drawings, paintings and paper sculptures. He also has participated in many group shows in Western Canada and Washington. His work is in private and corporate collections throughout North America and Europe.