Extra, Extra! Special Announcement! I will be speaking next Thursday, March 27, 2014 at the Vancouver Historical Society's monthly lecture series! The event details are here and the talk will begin at 7:30pm at the Museum of Vancouver in Vanier Park. The talk is free and open to the public. It could fill up quickly, so I recommend you arrive early. I shall take a look back at the ‘legacy of Illustrated Vancouver’, a blog which I started in late 2010, and which is just a few posts shy of my 1,000 post goal. How many posts shy, you ask? Well, believe it or not, I am now at post 992!

Technically, I may be well over 1,000 works of art already, as each post may cover multiple works of art, but for the sake of argument, let’s consider each ‘post’ a work of art, shall we?

My presentation is essentially a highlights reel of this online endeavour. I shall reveal the inspirations and motivations behind the site, I will take a closer look at few of my favourite discoveries, and I hope to place the story of our local art history into a broader context.

ALSO happening at the same time in the same building, is the Draw By Night meetup at the Museum of Vancouver with friends Vancouver Urban Sketchers, featuring a fun evening of drawing! This corresponds with my show, Vancouver Imagined; the way we weren’t, which runs to May 11, 2014. This drawing event starts at 6pm, running to 8pm! Admission is free / by donation, with drinks, paper, and snacks provided by the MOV! I hope to check in with all the sketchers to see what visions of the city they’ve dreamed up! For those who participate, we should start the hash tag #vancouverimagined! Tweet out your visions, wherever they are!

Lastly, I would like to shout out a big thanks to all those who have assisted me with this project over the years, and I hope to see you Thursday at the MOV!

Masthead for The World newspaper; “the paper that prints the facts”, dated Monday, March 3, 1913. Note the fine typography employed for the word “Vancouver”, complete with it’s own underline flourish. Thanks to John Mackie for submitting the image! The World was led by the following over its lifetime in print:
1888-1901 J.C. McLagan1901-1905 Mrs. J.C. McLagan1905-1915 L.D.Taylor1915-1921 John Nelson1921-1924 Charles E. CampbellThe masthead above ran during Louis Denison Taylor’s command of the paper, the year following the completion of The World Building (later known as the Bekins Building, now the Sun Tower). Oh, and that “copper” green roof? It’s not actually copper, but simply green paint! The year 1913 was also the year of a worldwide financial depression where the overreach of financial markets caused the building to go into bankruptcy. Ironically, this was also the year that the prestigious Birks store opened at Georgia and Granville, and construction began on the second Hotel Vancouver (1916). 
You can read more of The World’s exploits in the book L.D.: Mayor Louis Taylor and the Rise of Vancouver by Daniel Francis, much of which is accessible online.

Masthead for The World newspaper; “the paper that prints the facts”, dated Monday, March 3, 1913. Note the fine typography employed for the word “Vancouver”, complete with it’s own underline flourish. Thanks to John Mackie for submitting the image! The World was led by the following over its lifetime in print:

1888-1901 J.C. McLagan
1901-1905 Mrs. J.C. McLagan
1905-1915 L.D.Taylor
1915-1921 John Nelson
1921-1924 Charles E. Campbell

The masthead above ran during Louis Denison Taylor’s command of the paper, the year following the completion of The World Building (later known as the Bekins Building, now the Sun Tower). Oh, and that “copper” green roof? It’s not actually copper, but simply green paint! The year 1913 was also the year of a worldwide financial depression where the overreach of financial markets caused the building to go into bankruptcy. Ironically, this was also the year that the prestigious
Birks store opened at Georgia and Granville, and construction began on the second Hotel Vancouver (1916).

You can read more of The World’s exploits in the book L.D.: Mayor Louis Taylor and the Rise of Vancouver by Daniel Francis, much of which is accessible online.

This post takes us all the way back to the late 1800s, when photography was just emerging and Canadian publishing was in its infancy. An enterprising man by the name of John McConniff appears to have been wearing two hats; one as a publisher, and another as a travel agent. As a travel agent, he worked out of the Union Ticket Agency in the Rotunda of the Windsor Hotel in Montreal. This hotel first opened in 1878 and is often considered to be the first grand hotel in Canada. While working in this environment, he produced at least 9 illustrated souvenir books of the most prominent cities in Canada. He offered these books for sale by mail or through local booksellers in each city. I believe these titles were published circa 1890-1893.

John McConniff must have been something of a renaissance man because these books were not your typical promotional tourist literature; he clearly wanted to produce books of the highest possible quality. He licensed images from early photographers such as William Notman (who was also one of the founding partners of the Windsor Hotel Company), he sought out superb illustrators and book binders, and he selected a local writer from each city to write about their region’s history, institutions, and places of interest.

What titles did he choose for his books? Drumroll, please!

  • Illustrated Quebec, the Gibraltar and Tourists’ Mecca of America
  • Illustrated Montreal, the Metropolis of Canada
  • Illustrated Halifax, the Garrison City by the Sea
  • Illustrated Toronto, the Queen City of the West
  • Illustrated Ottawa, the Capital of Canada
  • Illustrated St. John, the Loyalists’ City
  • Illustrated Winnipeg, The Prosperous Prairie City
  • Illustrated Vancouver, Golden Gate of the Pacific
  • Illustrated Victoria, City of the Setting Sun

Of these nine titles, four are now available on archive.org; Illustrated Quebec and Illustrated Montreal are available in full colour, and Illustrated Halifax and Illustrated Toronto can be seen in black and white (from microfilm). Alas, the remaining five titles are missing in action, and Illustrated Vancouver is alarmingly absent!! This could be the very first edition of such a title, and given this historical significance, all efforts must be made to locate a copy! It does not appear that the VPL, the Vancouver Archives, the BC Archives, or UBC Special Collections have a copy, so perhaps we must rely on private collectors to locate Ottawa, St. John, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Victoria. If you come across one of these missing titles, please consider scanning it and uploading it to the Internet Archive, or donating it to a local museum that could do the same.

There are a couple similar titles that I would like to point out; an earlier edition of a book titled Illustrated Toronto; Past and Present was published by Peter A. Gross in 1877. It is also available on the Internet Archive, and it features over 60 fantastic lithographs of the city. The colours have faded somewhat, but this is still a glorious publication, for those who have a fondness of early Toronto. Closer to home, we are lucky that Greater Vancouver Illustrated published circa 1906-1909 by Dominion Illustrating Co. survives in a number of local collections, MoV, VanArchives, and VPL to name a few. And if you’re interested, David Mason in Toronto may still have a copy for sale. I believe this title is primarily photographic, but it’s still an artfully produced publication.

I’m sorry I can’t show you the one title that would mean the most here, but I’m counting on the Internet to crowd-source us a copy of all five missing publications soon! These may be old, but they are not the oldest publications ever to mention Vancouver in print. That honour will be saved for another upcoming post!

Update! Illustrated Victoria spotted! Well, not exactly. I wonder if this is a reprint of some sort? These are some very early illustrations of Victoria from Souvenir British Columbia by the Canadian Department of Agriculture, 1885, and Souvenir of British Columbia: Views No. 1, printed by T.N. Hibben & Co., 1880 (respectively).