Vancouver Confidential, the final version of the book cover; painting by Tom Carter. It’s official! I’m having a book launch, along with over a dozen of my close associates! I had initially posted the book here but a brand new painting has been completed just for the cover! The cover image shows Hastings and Main from an imagined elevated perspective, giving you a unique vantage point of downtown through a dense stretch of brilliant neon and bustling city streets. This book is not an art history textbook, but instead explores a host of untapped local history from the mid-20th century.

You are hereby invited to attend said book launch on September 21 in Chinatown. If you are a friend of one of us, you may be able to see this Facebook event. If you can’t see it, try this link instead! (No matter what the Facebook RSVP says, I am quite confident it will be a full house! Maybe standing room only!) To all attendees; please wear a hat! (hat optional, strictly for ambiance!)

Many of the contributors to this fourteen-author publication are likely to be in attendance! Drinks will be available from the Emerald Supper Club bar (no host bar).

  • 21 September, 2014 at 18:00–21:00
    the Emerald Supper Club
    555 Gore Avenue, Vancouver, BC

If you can’t make this book launch, I personally expect we will do more book promotional events in the near future, such as readings in libraries, public and private spaces, etc. For example, I am personally planning to give a reading at Long Table Distillery on the edge of Yaletown & False Creek (1451 Hornby St) in mid-October, just steps from the former Joseph Kennedy warehouse (it was at 1208 Homer St)! Details as they become available!

So what is this book all about?

From the back cover:

Most civic histories celebrate progress, industry, order, and visions. This isn’t one of those.

Vancouver Confidential takes a fresh look at the rare urban culture of a port city in the mid-twentieth century. These were years when Hastings and Main was still a dynamic commercial and entertainment hub, when streetcars thrummed through the city, and when ‘theatre’ meant vaudeville and burlesque. Street gambling and illegal booze cans peppered the map, brothels and bootleggers served loggers and shore-workers, and politicians were almost always larger than life.

This new compilation honours the hustlers and the hobos, the mobster and the muscle, the bent and the straight, the mug in the mug shot, the ingénue and the spy, the anonymous woman at the till, the victim at the murder scene, and the crusading reporter in disguise. It illuminates aspects of a city in disguise. It illuminates aspects of a city that was too busy getting into trouble to worry about whether or not it was ‘world class.’

Vancouver Confidential includes essays from Tom Carter, Aaron Chapman, Jesse Donaldson, James Johnstone, Lani Russwurm, Eve Lazarus, Diane Purvey, Cathrine Rose, Rosanne Sia, Jason Vanderhill, Stevie Wilson, Will Woods, Terry Watada and John Belshaw.

And what is my particular chapter about, you ask? It’s an exploration of prohibition in Canada and the US, cocktails in Yaletown, and an ambitious American entrepreneur named Daniel Joseph Kennedy. I’ve included some of my favourite photos on the subject in this post, and there will be much, much more revealed within the pages of this book! This is all very exciting, as these stories have not yet been told to this degree, and now you can read them all in one book! Very special thanks to Anvil Press for publishing, John Belshaw for editing, and Derek von Essen for designing the book! Such a diverse collection of stories by a very dynamic group. Thank you all for your interest!

On Saturday, April 5, Keith McKellar aka Laughing Hand opened a one man show at the Interurban Art Gallery in Vancouver. The gallery walls were filled with his large formats drawings, meticulously coloured and vibrantly printed, displaying some of the most characteristic establishments ever seen in downtown Vancouver. Many of these drawings were originally conceived for his 2001 book, Neon Eulogy, but in most cases, the drawings have been completely reworked, applying more than a decade of refined technique and skill to bring these scenes to life.

Not everyone can afford to bring home and install a neon sign in their living room, but it is far more feasible to bring home one of these works of art. Highly recommended! The show runs until April 29, 2014.

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!

Vancouver Confidential, the draft version of 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 draft version of 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/

Steamworks Imperial Red Ale was released this week, and I must say, they’ve done it again! I’ve been a big fan of the branding at Steamworks in the past, but I think this one takes the cake! City Hall has been transformed into a steampunk fantasy! As stated on the Steamworks Twitter, there are only 650 cases out so if you want to commemorate this brew, I suggest you get your bottle soon! And judging from initial reviews, the beer is very good too! Here’s some more free beer PR:

Steamworks Imperial Red Ale is an 8.5% strong ale that has the following tasting notes:

Our Imperial Red Ale is packed full of intense hop bitterness, flavour & aroma, balanced with complex alcohol flavours and medium high caramel malt character. This full bodied Imperial Red Ale is dark copper in colour with dominant pine, fruit and floral hop aromas. You will find toffee and caramel-like notes on your palate with aggressive hop flavour and bitterness.

What he wants in 1913, an editorial cartoon in the Vancouver Daily World newspaper, January 11, 1913, page 6. The cartoon by Boardman (whose first name I haven’t determined) shows Captain Vancouver dreaming of all the things he wants for his city, like a new city hall, False Creek improvements with union depot and railway yards, subways under the CPR right-of-way on Hastings and Pender Street, harbour improvements for Panama Canal trade, and grain elevators for Vancouver. When he says subways under the CPR, he didn’t mean rapid transit subway, but a bridge that went beneath the crazy railway track that unceremoniously cut right through Gastown! Can you imagine the downtown congestion a steam train would have caused?! Dreadful!
This cartoon didn’t make it into my show Vancouver Imagined, largely because I just came across it 2 days ago! It would have been fun to include a few more cartoons and cartoonists in the show, but that’s another show entirely!

What he wants in 1913, an editorial cartoon in the Vancouver Daily World newspaper, January 11, 1913, page 6. The cartoon by Boardman (whose first name I haven’t determined) shows Captain Vancouver dreaming of all the things he wants for his city, like a new city hall, False Creek improvements with union depot and railway yards, subways under the CPR right-of-way on Hastings and Pender Street, harbour improvements for Panama Canal trade, and grain elevators for Vancouver. When he says subways under the CPR, he didn’t mean rapid transit subway, but a bridge that went beneath the crazy railway track that unceremoniously cut right through Gastown! Can you imagine the downtown congestion a steam train would have caused?! Dreadful!

This cartoon didn’t make it into my show Vancouver Imagined, largely because I just came across it 2 days ago! It would have been fun to include a few more cartoons and cartoonists in the show, but that’s another show entirely!

Special announcement!

Vancouver Imagined: the Way We Weren’t, a guest curated exhibit (by myself, Jason Vanderhill) officially opens in the studio gallery at the Museum of Vancouver today, Friday, February 7, 2014. The display will feature a collection of reproduction architectural illustrations, as well as a 3-dimensional architectural model from the museum’s permanent collection.

I encourage all to attend; those who are interested in the architectural profession, veterans of the history of the city, and visitors alike should appreciate seeing this alternate history of the city. I’ll have more to say about the show in future posts, and it looks like there will be a curator tour on May the first; here’s the link!

Also take note, the excellent show Play House: The architecture of Daniel Evan White at the MoV has been held over until March 23, 2014! This is now your perfect opportunity to catch two great architecture shows at once!

Very special thanks to all of the illustrators and contributors, to Viviane Gosselin with the Museum of Vancouver, to Matt Heximer of 10four Design Group who designed the show, and everyone else who assisted with its production. I hope you enjoy the exhibit; it was a lot of fun to put together!

jonshawpaintings:

This is a piece I’m working on, that’s about half finished. I’ve got most of the line and colour structure in place, and now I can start giving it a lot of life and volume with shadows and highlights. The image itself is of the Port Metro Vancouver shipping cranes at the foot of Main Street in Downtown Vancouver. It’s a pretty neat and recognizable image, and I’m particularly drawn to all the colour varieties of the cargo containers.

As per Jon’s Facebook page, "Assemblage" is now finished. Watch for it at the Kimoto Gallery in Vancouver.

jonshawpaintings:

This is a piece I’m working on, that’s about half finished. I’ve got most of the line and colour structure in place, and now I can start giving it a lot of life and volume with shadows and highlights. 

The image itself is of the Port Metro Vancouver shipping cranes at the foot of Main Street in Downtown Vancouver. It’s a pretty neat and recognizable image, and I’m particularly drawn to all the colour varieties of the cargo containers.

As per Jon’s Facebook page, "Assemblage" is now finished. Watch for it at the Kimoto Gallery in Vancouver.

Birds’ Eye View of A Proposed Scheme for the University of British Columbia by architect Thomas Hooper, dating back to 1912. Looking like a scaled down version of the Vatican, Hooper’s entry was ultimately rejected in favour of a proposal submitted by Sharp and Thompson. I posted some of those drawings here previously. For more on this drawing and early UBC history, click here and here.

Hooper can take credit for a number of iconic Vancouver buildings which survive to this day; the West Wing of the Provincial Courthouse (now the Art Gallery), the BC Permanent Loan Building, the Winch Building (now part of the Sinclair Centre), and East End Public School (now Strathcona Elementary School). He’s also responsible for St. Ann’s Academy in Victoria, among numerous other notable buildings in the capital and elsewhere. From UVic:

He worked all over BC in Victoria, Vancouver, Revelstoke, Vernon, and Chilliwack focusing on large, public commissions. However, the local economy and Hooper’s business took a sharp decline in 1913. Hooper moved his practice to New York in 1915, but he lost his market again when the United States entered the war…

Along the theme of architectural proposals, renderings, and the unbuilt city, stay tuned for an exciting announcement! More info coming later this week!

Very cute 1936 Golden Jubilee teacup. Currently for sale on ebay (which ironically, does not ship to Canada!):

One Aynsley Bone China Tea Cup made in England. It shows a beautiful panorama of Vancouver in 1886 (trees and a few homes made of logs) to a panorama of Vancouver in 1936 (a vast metropolis). It is very light. Delicate almost in its transparency. I have had this cup in my collection for years. Signed “Photo Arts Ltd.”

Looking for one of these locally? Try the traveling flea market circuit here!

Letterhead from The Vancouver Breweries Ltd; comprised of the Red Cross Brewery at left, and the Doering and Marstrand Brewery at right, from a letter dated 1906. Thanks, Robert!

This line of Vancouver Breweries can be traced back to some of the earliest names in brewing in our city. The City Brewery appeared in Vancouver around 1887, according to Beer Barons of BC by Bill Wilson and Brewed in Canada by Allan Winn Sneath. House of Suds mentions the year 1882, but I believe that to be an error. Actually, the City Brewery’s origins could be traced back as early as 1879, if there is any connection between the City Brewery on Cunningham Street in New Westminster (I’m not certain if there is).

A somewhat mysterious J.A. Rekab or Rekabe is the first man noted operating Vancouver’s City Brewery on Seaton Street near the CPR wharf. He’s mysterious in that he’s only listed for that first year (John Williams takes over the following year) and I have no idea where he’s from. Personally I wonder if his name is an abbreviation or Anglicized version of the surname Al-Rekabe.

I doubt we can call him the first brewer in town though (on second thought, maybe we can); by 1888 he’s listed in the same phone book alongside at least two other brewers, Robert Reisterer and Charles Doering. Reisterer’s first brewery was called Mainland Brewery, located near Brewery Creek, and Doering’s first choice of names was the Vancouver Brewery (which changed to Doering & Marstrand’s Brewing in 1892).

City Brewery would become Red Cross Brewery around 1890, and after changing hands a few times, and Williams, Doering, and Marstrand would ultimately merge to form the first company named Vancouver Breweries Limited in the year 1900. Most of this info comes from Beer Barons of BC by Bill Wilson, for those who want further plot twists and turns.

Someone wrote to me today asking:

I have two beer bottles from Vancouver Breweries each with a paper label for ‘Queen Beer’. The bottles themselves still have the original corks pushed down inside. one is a very pale green, almost clear, the other is ‘beer bottle brown’. Their shape is similar to a modern wine bottle. The paper labels are identical. Can you offer any insight into their age? Are there folks who collect these?
Ah yes, Queen Beer, a most colonial name choice for a beer! Given the brand comes from Vancouver Breweries Ltd. (plural), we can date this to be some time around 1900 or thereafter, and I would guess within the first 10 years. I can ask the local bottle club for more details - they are a combined wealth of knowledge! And indeed, early bottles can be very collectible, especially with their labels!
Feel free to send me photos or more information about such things; I’m always interested to learn more, and I believe things like this ought to be more carefully cataloged. Thanks also to the recent follower who contacted me with a UDL bottle; I always appreciate such gifts! I should also note I’m working on a chapter for an upcoming book featuring some of Vancouver’s lost prohibition era beer history; there are a number of super discoveries, and I’m very excited about the project! Stay tuned for more in the months to follow!

Whistler and Grouse Mountain posters, created in 1974 and submitted by the artist Lisa Salazar. I’ve featured some period artwork of Grouse Mountain before; one by Bob Masse, and another unsigned. I like how these two these two colourful contributions really capture the landscape and the excitement of the era as well.

From wikipedia:

Whistler was originally conceived as part of a bid to win the 1968 Winter Olympics, but a series of events led to the bids being withdrawn or losing to other cities. Construction of the resort started in spite of this, and the resort first opened for business in January 1966. The resort expanded extensively in the 1980s and 90s, becoming the centrepiece of a renewed bid on the part of nearby Vancouver. Vancouver/Whistler was selected as the winning bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics in July 2003. Whistler Blackcomb hosted the alpine skiing events, including the men’s and women’s Olympic and Paralympic alpine skiing disciplines of downhill, Super-G, giant slalom, super combined and slalom. The Dave Murray downhill course towards Whistler Creekside finally hosted an Olympic downhill event, 50 years after it was originally surveyed for this purpose.

Thanks for the submission, Lisa!

Weekend Special by Ken Pattern, the December image in the 1985 Vancity Calendar. Here we have my favourite print from the series, featuring skiing atop the Hotel Vancouver # 3. Ken’s style is meticulous and well suited to the medium of stone lithography, a most demanding art form. It’s also exceedingly humorous, as his recent series on the Marina Bay Sands development in Singapore attests.

About the stone lithography process, his website gives an introduction to the process, as does the calendar: 
In this process, Ken Pattern creates the prints by first drawing an image on a flat piece of limestone. He then brushes a solution of gum arabic and nitric acid over the stone’s surface; the resulting chemical reaction secures the image onto the stone.
To print the image, Ken rolls an oil-based ink onto a rubber roller, which he then rolls onto the stone. Repeating this inking process several times, he uses a sponge between each pass of the roller to keep the stone damp. With the image fully inked, Ken places a piece of paper on the stone, cranking the paper beneath the hard pressure bar to transfer the ink from the stone.
Each colour in the image requires a separate drawing and a separate printing. After each colour is printed, Ken grinds the image off the stone with grit, and then draws the next colour on the stone. Finally, with the printing finished, Ken edits the prints. Only those meeting his standards are included in the edition, and he ten signs and numbers them.

To truly appreciate this work, you must see one of these prints in person. Start by looking at the Burnaby Art Gallery, or perhaps the Malaspina Printmakers Society where these prints were produced; they may still have one or two available! Happy Christmas everyone!
Weekend Special by Ken Pattern, the December image in the 1985 Vancity Calendar. Here we have my favourite print from the series, featuring skiing atop the Hotel Vancouver # 3. Ken’s style is meticulous and well suited to the medium of stone lithography, a most demanding art form. It’s also exceedingly humorous, as his recent series on the Marina Bay Sands development in Singapore attests.
About the stone lithography process, his website gives an introduction to the process, as does the calendar:

In this process, Ken Pattern creates the prints by first drawing an image on a flat piece of limestone. He then brushes a solution of gum arabic and nitric acid over the stone’s surface; the resulting chemical reaction secures the image onto the stone.

To print the image, Ken rolls an oil-based ink onto a rubber roller, which he then rolls onto the stone. Repeating this inking process several times, he uses a sponge between each pass of the roller to keep the stone damp. With the image fully inked, Ken places a piece of paper on the stone, cranking the paper beneath the hard pressure bar to transfer the ink from the stone.

Each colour in the image requires a separate drawing and a separate printing. After each colour is printed, Ken grinds the image off the stone with grit, and then draws the next colour on the stone. Finally, with the printing finished, Ken edits the prints. Only those meeting his standards are included in the edition, and he ten signs and numbers them.

To truly appreciate this work, you must see one of these prints in person. Start by looking at the Burnaby Art Gallery, or perhaps the Malaspina Printmakers Society where these prints were produced; they may still have one or two available! Happy Christmas everyone!

Stanley Park Christmas Train, Lost Lagoon Fountain Lights, and Carol Ships Vancouver Harbour (2010) by artist and illustrator George McLachlan.

The Stanley Park Christmas train runs December 5 through January 5, though it is closed Christmas Day. Tickets are available here at Ticketmaster with some reserved at the gates, but I would say advance tickets are a must (the time slots have a tendency to sell out very quickly). More from the City of Vancouver website:

Entrance to the Bright Nights Train Plaza is by donation (you don’t need to purchase train tickets to see the holiday lights)…Train tickets are sold in half-hour time slots. Several trains will depart within each time slot. Avoid the crowds and come out Monday to Thursday in the first two weeks…

Happy Holiday Travels!

The Carrall Street Gas Plant, an illustrated booklet showing the operations of the new Carrall Street gas plant illustrated by KEN and published by BC Electric in 1932. I believe the plant went into service in 1933, and the plant obtained gas from coal until some time in the 1960s? I’m not sure; not much has been written about this former Vancouver landmark. If anyone knows, feel free to comment. The current Georgia Street viaducts were built over top of the site in 1972. This has left something of a toxic legacy, as stated on page 11 of this PDF report on the Georgia Street viaducts.

The activities and wastes associated with this former gas plant have significantly influenced the environmental conditions in the area, and will be an important factor in future remediation planning.

This comment by Alex Mackinnon noted on the Skyscraperpage bulletin board sums up the problem:

I was talking to Andy with Bing Thom at the Viaducts or Viadon’ts event, and according to him, the land underneath the viaduct in 1986 was estimated to cost $180M to rehabilitate due to contamination issues from the coal gas plant that used to occupy the site. CPI adjusted this is $372M in 2012 dollars.

While the industrial waste has left it’s toxic mark in the soil, it also affected the city skyline for many years with this ginormous gasometer jutting out of False Creek. I’ve decided to include a photograph from the Vancouver Archives just to give you an impression of the scale of this structure. You can also see the silo in the top left of the Goranson/Fisher/Hughes mural here. And Tom Carter seems to recall someone - probably Arthur Irving - said the whole city smelled like coal gas while it was being demolished.

KEN illustrated a number of other BC Electric pamphlets and brochures, but I have yet to determine who he actually was. He’s a pretty good draftsman, so I’d like to know more about him! Thanks again to Neil Whaley for contributing this brochure image!