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!

The Casa Mia landscaping plan, dated 1932-1933, by Ross A. Lort, assisted by James Bisset. This past weekend, I took in the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Heritage House Tour, and Casa Mia was on the program! Sensational! Here’s my photoset. This illustration appears in the conservation plan by Donald Luxton & Associates, and is available here via the City of Vancouver website. 
Cross-posted to VancouverIsAwesome.com with alternate text.

The Casa Mia landscaping plan, dated 1932-1933, by Ross A. Lort, assisted by James Bisset. This past weekend, I took in the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Heritage House Tour, and Casa Mia was on the program! Sensational! Here’s my photoset. This illustration appears in the conservation plan by Donald Luxton & Associates, and is available here via the City of Vancouver website

Cross-posted to VancouverIsAwesome.com with alternate text.

The Fraser Wilson Mural at the Maritime Labour Centre on Triumph Street in Vancouver. I finally made my pilgrimage out to see this mural first hand at the Got Craft fair this past weekend. And what better surroundings than an auditorium filled with crafters, makers, and artists! Fraser Aldwyn Wilson would be proud. 

This work is a monumental treasure; there aren’t many like it, and this piece is probably Fraser Wilson’s most significant work. We’re lucky to have it for many reasons; it was almost painted over, and had it not been relocated and/or painted over, it would have been destroyed by fire! The Pender Auditorium burnt to the ground in July of 2003.

The Maritime Labour Centre’s website tells us more about the mural’s history:

This mural depicting the mid-1940s British Columbia Industrial scene was originally painted on the wall of the Pender Auditorium by Fraser Wilson in 1947.

The building, owned by the Marine Workers and Boiler Makers, Industrial Union Local 1 until its sale in 1969, was at the time the center of trade union activity in Vancouver. It was not until the Pender [Auditorium] was to paint over the mural, and after it had changed owner (who now wanted a white background for divided work areas) that a few individuals including Gary Oliver, BC Teachers’ Federation’s Jim MacFarlan, and Alderman Bruce Yorke, lobbied an application through the 1986 Vancouver Centennial Commission to move and restore the mural for the walls of the newly-built Maritime Labour Centre, the new home of the Vancouver District Labour Council, and several unions including the Boilermakers.

The restored mural was re-dedicated by Fraser Wilson at the opening of the new Maritime Labour Auditorium on January 22, 1988.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating; the mural was painted in 1947, the same year Fraser Wilson spoke out against the newspaper during a bitter strike and he was promptly fired. More details from text originally posted on the Dayton Boot Company website:

Shortly after the company was launched, in 1947 the highly regarded cartoonist of the Vancouver Sun, Fraser Wilson, then president of the newspaper guild (union) spoke out against the Province during a bitter marathon strike. He was fired and told to leave his office and job within the hour.

Sadly, Fraser Wilson never worked another day in the newspaper industry. With his primary source of income lost, Mr. Wilson turned to advertising and art as his primary means of support. Charlie Wohlford and Wayne Wohlford recognized his talent and engaged Fraser Wilson to create catalogues, advertising and cartoons to promote the Dayton Brand.

I also speculate that the mural could very well be one of the first things he endeavored to do after he was fired. Whatever the case, it is magnificent. My photos don’t treat the mural quite as beautifully as the colour corrected/enhanced photograph by Sean Griffin, which I’ve also included above for reference. The colour discrepancies are probably a combination of both the unnatural lighting I was under and the mural’s pigments showing their age.

This brings me to a very important question; does anyone know the whereabouts of the descendants of Fraser Wilson? I would really like to followup with the family and ask them if there is more we can learn of Fraser Wilson’s legacy. To facilitate this, I’ll post a little bit of genealogy here in the hopes it will lead me to the family.

Fraser Aldwyn Wilson
Born July 1, 1905 in Vancouver, BC
Died July 31, 1992 in Burnaby, BC
Father: Adney James Wilson of Drayton, Ontario
Mother: Alexandria McRae of Chicago, Illinois

Fraser Aldwyn Wilson married Sarah Leith Reid on September 7, 1931.

Sarah Leith Reid
Born September 24, 1910 in Greenock, Scotland
Died November 25, 1987 in Burnaby, BC
Father: James McLaughlin Reid of Greenock, Scotland
Mother: Annie Leith of Paisley, Scotland

Fraser and Sarah Wilson had their son Joel J. Wilson some time in the 1930s? According to Sarah Wilson’s obituary in the Province dated November 27, 1987, Joel Wilson married Sally and had 2 daughters Tracy and Kelly, and there were also at least three great-grandchildren. However, I can’t seem to find any more recent information about Joel and Sally Wilson. It’s quite possible that Tracy and Kelly Wilson no longer carry the Wilson name. If anyone has any more information they can provide, please send me a note, and please provide a way to keep in touch. Perhaps there is still more we can learn of Fraser Wilson’s legacy. Thank you all in advance!

City of Vancouver Planning Department photograph, from the Vancouver Archives CVA 780-7 (with speculative colour restoration). This view of the downtown shows Robson Square, effectively before Arthur Erickson’s vision took root. The original photograph online was a scanned transparency, and it appears to have lost its colour over time (either that or it was an intentional colour effect) so I’ve taken the liberty here to simulate what it may have looked like. From the Archives description:

Photograph also shows the Richmond Apartments, Vancouver Public Library (750 Burrard Street), Irwinton Apartments (777 Burrard Street), Burrard Building (1030 West Georgia Street), Georgia Medical Dental Building, and the Hotel Vancouver (900 West Georgia Street). The rendering shows proposed development for the areas bounded by Hornby Street, West Georgia Street, Howe Street and Smithe Street. 

I thought this image would be a good illustration to coincide with the upcoming Drawing Party at the MOV on Thursday, March 27, 6-8pm! Details about the event are here.

I am very curious to see what wild visions attendees will be drafting up! The above illustration also got me thinking about a possible exercise. Take a photograph, Google Streetview, or Google Earth, frame a scene from your neighbourhood, and completely revision a block or two of the city! You can always just superimpose your drawing overtop of the scene on a separate sheet of paper, cutting out the edges of your vision when you are done. This is actually a practical way to obtain proper references for vanishing points and perspective, so the technique has real merit! Attached are a few suggested scenes I’ve always enjoyed pondering. Happy sketching!

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!

pasttensevancouver:

The New Vancouver, Sunday 12 March 1922
This is a plan for a new civic centre and city hall in the area around what would become Victory Square, and proof that politicians and civic boosters love convention centres. Vancouver’s city hall at the time was the market building on Main at Pender that had become too small for the business of the city. The front page of the same paper has an article about merchants protesting plans to erect a cenotaph in the middle of Georgia and Granville Streets. In the end, the cenotaph ended up at this site and the City rented the Holden Building on Hastings east of Carrall for a temporary City Hall, where it would remain until the current one was built in 1936.
There have been countless plans and proposals like this in Vancouver’s history that never ended up seeing the light of day. For more of them, check out Jason Vanderhill’s Vancouver Imagined: The Way We Weren’t exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver. 
Source: Vancouver Sun

pasttensevancouver:

The New Vancouver, Sunday 12 March 1922

This is a plan for a new civic centre and city hall in the area around what would become Victory Square, and proof that politicians and civic boosters love convention centres. Vancouver’s city hall at the time was the market building on Main at Pender that had become too small for the business of the city. The front page of the same paper has an article about merchants protesting plans to erect a cenotaph in the middle of Georgia and Granville Streets. In the end, the cenotaph ended up at this site and the City rented the Holden Building on Hastings east of Carrall for a temporary City Hall, where it would remain until the current one was built in 1936.

There have been countless plans and proposals like this in Vancouver’s history that never ended up seeing the light of day. For more of them, check out Jason Vanderhill’s Vancouver Imagined: The Way We Weren’t exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver. 

Source: Vancouver Sun

Marine Building (and Bentall One under construction) by Julius J Dutzi, circa late 1960s (Bentall One was completed in 1967) via ebay. Printed on the back of the canvas:

Born 1920 Karlsruhe Germany, where he received his basic art training.
Immigrated to Canada 1951.
Principally self-taught: paints in several media.
Canadian landscapes, streets, & buildings.
Member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, has exhibited in one-man shows, television shows, and in group exhibitions.
His works are owned by collectors throughout Canada, the United States, Germany.

Another nautical watercolour by S.P. Judge, this one of a side-wheeler named SH 91. The painting is dated 1903 which is significant, as that was perhaps the earliest date he exhibited his work in Vancouver, when he was part of a group exhibition with T.W. Fripp and stained glass artist James Blomfield. As Gary Sim has noted in Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950, SP Judge was a founding member of the Vancouver Studio Club where he was one of its art teachers, and he remained an important leader in the city’s artistic community for many years.

This painting is currently offered for sale on ebay. It looks as though it was recently acquired from Birmingham, UK on ebay.co.uk, and it has since been reframed.

As you may recall, SP Judge painted a series of watercolours that once hung in the Union Steamship boardroom. I managed to track down some or all of these paintings, appropriately in the Maritime Museum in Vancouver. Their paintings include the following Union Steamships:

  1. Capilano
  2. Coquitlam
  3. Camosun
  4. Cassiar
  5. Comox
  6. Coulti
  7. Senator
  8. Moonlight

I’ve included an ad that SP Judge placed in the 1907 Westward Ho magazine, offering lessons in drawing, painting, and design from the Hadden Block at the northeast corner of Granville & Hastings Street.

You may also recall this 1906 watercolour which surfaced a year or so ago, but sadly it has not fared as well (I had to digitally restore it to imagine what it may have looked like). Another one of his paintings that I’d really like to see close up is this one from 1919, which sold for $5,500 CAD at Heffel in 2000. I trust whomever acquired it is taking good care of it, perhaps waiting to repatriate it with another work from SP Judge’s portfolio.

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/

Jan Kasparec, a culture crawl exhibitor since 2012, is organizing a special fundraising show of his paintings called “Walking with Magic” in support of kids in need from Lord Strathcona Community Elementary School. The show will take place on March 14th, 2014 at studio 420 in 1000 Parker Street Studios.

Seen above is a photograph I took in his 2012 studio during the crawl, where a painting of the Sun Tower was taking shape. Also above is a promo card of the event, and a collection of his local paintings. The Big Green House is another Strathcona landmark situated at the corner of Heatley Ave and E Pender Street, across the street from the Strathcona school playground. For many years it was the studio of Michael Christopher Lawlor.

About the upcoming event, Jan writes:

…I visited Lord Strathcona Elementary School to see if I can be of any help. Connecting with Mr.Jesse Brown, vice-principal of school, made me understand very quickly how much light one person can bring…I would like to invite you my art-show night in support of Lord Strathcona Elementary School. We will start at 7pm and it will be a fun night. I will deliver a speech around 8pm. I never painted as much as during past few months. So I can promise new, hopefully radiant, paintings…& some interesting and entertaining guests.

Getting a peak inside an artist’s studio is always a treat, and since the Culture Crawl only happens once a year, I recommend you jump on this special opportunity to see some art from the heart of East Van, and support the kids of Strathcona Elementary at the same time!

Willie Shoemaker at Exhibition Park, Vancouver, an autographed print drawn by J. Neilly dated May 13, 1985 via ebay. This was Willie’s second visit to Exhibition Park, as described in this 2003 tribute written by the Province writer Tommy Wolski:

During his riding career, Shoe visited Exhibition Park twice. In 1977, the chance to see this living legend lured 11,537 fans to the track. Not only did his fans see him ride, they bet $1,018,306. It was the first million-dollar weeknight in the track’s history.Shoe did not let his admirers down — he won two of four races.His final visit to Vancouver came May 13, 1985. He arrived at Exhibition Park on a rainy night, believing it was only to promote his book, Shoemaker: America’s Greatest Jockey.After visiting the jockey’s room, he learned he was expected to ride in four races. In typical Shoemaker style, he didn’t complain. Instead, Shoe asked if he could borrow some riding gear to fulfill an agreement he had not even made.He borrowed a pair of boots from jockey Mark Walker, riding pants from Dave Mylrea and a saddle from Pat Burton. To while away the time until his first ride, he asked several valets and jockeys if they were interested in playing some cards.While playing, Shoemaker received a phone call from management, requesting him to join them for a small party. He graciously turned them down and continued playing cards until it was time for him to ride.When the night was over, Shoe thanked everyone in the jockey’s room for making him feel at home and said goodbye.Oh, he also autographed Burton’s saddle…

Willie Shoemaker at Exhibition Park, Vancouver, an autographed print drawn by J. Neilly dated May 13, 1985 via ebay. This was Willie’s second visit to Exhibition Park, as described in this 2003 tribute written by the Province writer Tommy Wolski:

During his riding career, Shoe visited Exhibition Park twice. In 1977, the chance to see this living legend lured 11,537 fans to the track. Not only did his fans see him ride, they bet $1,018,306. It was the first million-dollar weeknight in the track’s history.

Shoe did not let his admirers down — he won two of four races.

His final visit to Vancouver came May 13, 1985. He arrived at Exhibition Park on a rainy night, believing it was only to promote his book, Shoemaker: America’s Greatest Jockey.

After visiting the jockey’s room, he learned he was expected to ride in four races. In typical Shoemaker style, he didn’t complain. Instead, Shoe asked if he could borrow some riding gear to fulfill an agreement he had not even made.

He borrowed a pair of boots from jockey Mark Walker, riding pants from Dave Mylrea and a saddle from Pat Burton. To while away the time until his first ride, he asked several valets and jockeys if they were interested in playing some cards.

While playing, Shoemaker received a phone call from management, requesting him to join them for a small party. He graciously turned them down and continued playing cards until it was time for him to ride.

When the night was over, Shoe thanked everyone in the jockey’s room for making him feel at home and said goodbye.

Oh, he also autographed Burton’s saddle…

Another piece of vintage China, this time by Shelley Potteries, it’s a Lions Gate Bridge creamer, via ebay. According to wikipedia:

Shelley Potteries, situated in Staffordshire, was earlier known as Wileman & Co. which had also traded as The Foley Potteries. The first Shelley to join the company was Joseph Ball Shelley in 1862 and in 1896 his son Percy Shelley became the sole proprietor, after which it remained a Shelley family business until 1966 when it was taken over by Allied English Potteries. Its china and earthenware products were many and varied although the major output was table ware. In the late Victorian period the Art Nouveau style pottery and Intarsio ranges designed by art director Frederick Alfred Rhead were extremely popular but Shelley is probably best known for its fine bone china “Art Deco” ware of the inter-war years and post-war fashionable tea ware…

Sublime; a mixed media group exhibition at the Ferry Building in West Vancouver with Charles Keillor, Thom Kline, and Rich Rawling. The show opened last week and runs until this coming Sunday, February 23, 2014 in the Ferry Building Gallery, at 1414 Argyle Avenue in Ambleside, West Vancouver. The gallery is open free to the public from 11 am to 5 pm Tuesdays through Sundays.

Seen here is a graphite work by Charles Keillor, showing North Vancouver’s Lynnwood Inn just after it closed for good in 2012, and Watchful Lion 3, a watercolour painting by Rich Rawling, who writes: 

I was weaving my cruiser bike back to the North Shore after a sketching session at Stanley Park’s Second Beach. As I popped out of the forest at the top of the Causeway there they were. Those lions were looking hungry. But instead of sacrificing my carcass to them I took a few photos in the raking afternoon light realizing that these Art Deco masterpieces would be the basis for a few watercolours. I tip my hat to the sculptor who designed the statues…
The sculptor/designer of the Lions was of course, Charles Marega, a most handsome portrait of whom can be seen here, posing with his creation.

1960 World Figure Skating Championships poster illustrated by John MacKillop, up for auction at Philip Weiss Auctions in NY on February 26, 2014. According to Gary Sim’s British Columbia Artists index, “John M. MacKillop exhibited his work in the B.C. Artists annuals at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1943, 1944, 1945, and from 1951 to 1953. He also had work in the 1952 and 1953 annual exhibitions of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts.”

The Hollywood Theatre by Sketchalina, via her blog, where she writes:

I did this cut if the Hollywood Theatre on Broadway just after my show in September. It’s such a classic part if Vancouver’s past, and hopefully its future as well. There’s a ‘Save The Hollywood' coalition that's working hard to keep it alive, unlike the Ridge Theatre in my 'Midnight Showing' print, which is already gonzo. So sad. I'm glad there are people out there who care about these things and work hard to preserve the cultural fabric of our city. Rock on you protectors of our past!  Hey, if you're one of those people and you're reading this, contact me. I'd be happy to offer up a print from this run if you're doing any fundraising auctions or anything like that. Go heroes!

The Hollywood Theatre by Sketchalina, via her blog, where she writes:

I did this cut if the Hollywood Theatre on Broadway just after my show in September. It’s such a classic part if Vancouver’s past, and hopefully its future as well. There’s a ‘Save The Hollywood' coalition that's working hard to keep it alive, unlike the Ridge Theatre in my 'Midnight Showing' print, which is already gonzo. So sad. I'm glad there are people out there who care about these things and work hard to preserve the cultural fabric of our city. Rock on you protectors of our past!  Hey, if you're one of those people and you're reading this, contact me. I'd be happy to offer up a print from this run if you're doing any fundraising auctions or anything like that. Go heroes!