Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Come out – dig in! Earth Day celebration at Everett Crowley Park, April 27, 2019

Saturday, April 27, 11 am – 3 pm. From the 7200 Kerr Street parking lot, follow the signs to the Earth Fest celebration site.

BY MARY HIEBERT

Did you know that southeast Vancouver is home to one of the largest parks in the city?

Everett Crowley Park is an urban forest. From the views of Richmond farmlands to the tranquil Avalon Pond, the park has many trails and quiet places to enjoy the choruses of birds amid the lush woodland.

The site is named for Park Board Commissioner Everett Crowley, long-time resident and owner of Avalon, Vancouver’s last independent dairy. Formerly known as the Kerr Road Dump, this area was a closed landfill for 25 years before its official opening as a park in 1987.

Through the hard work and dedication of community stewards and the Parks Board, the natural environment is recovering resulting in a lovely wooded and hilly habitat frequented by birds and other urban wildlife. A great place for dog walking, too.

In 2017 the Vancouver Parks Board piloted a park stewardship program in Everett Crowley Park. Individuals, couples and families enthusiastically volunteered to help keep “invasives” at bay in newly replanted areas of the park. The Park Stewardship program is now growing strong, with monthly “invasive pull” events. Working together is a fun and efficient way to get things done!

Everett Crowley Park is a perfect place for nature-based learning. School and out-of-school groups are invited to come and learn.

A scheduled school class arrives at nearby Champlain Heights Community Centre where the first lesson is: History.

Looking up at the giant jigsaw puzzle mural in the community centre’s entrance way, the children learn how long humans have lived in this area, who the first peoples were and how they lived. The story unfolds, First Nations, then colonization, logging of the area, then dairy farming, City landfill and finally what is now Everett Crowley Park.

Then it’s off to the park itself for hands-on tree planting by the children, mushroom log inoculation, sound scaping and listening. A very healthy way to learn.

If you haven’t visited Everett Crowley Park for a while, come out to the Earth Fest celebration on Saturday, April 27. There will be a wide range of free family-friendly activities including music and dance by the Tiddley Cove Morris Dancers, eco-demonstrations such as mason bee care and health, Dogs in the Park Initiative, nature talks and walks, forest-based learning, stream-keeping Vancouver’s streams and rivers, hands on making of spore and seed “bombs.”

You can also join volunteers to plant bee-friendly shrubs and tree-friendly mushrooms. Learn the past history of the park and where it’s growing, what park stewards are doing and how you can be involved.

The entertainment, exhibits and activities are all free and wheelchair accessible. Free healthy snacks and refreshments – please bring your own cup!

This annual community event is organized by local residents and is supported by the Champlain Heights Community Association’s Everett Crowley Park Committee in partnership with the Vancouver Parks Board. Saturday, April 27, 11 am – 3 pm. From the 7200 Kerr Street parking lot, follow the signs to the Earth Fest celebration site.

Mary Hiebert is a park steward with the Everett Crowley Park Committee.

Copyright 2019 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Family tree tips for using the 1921 Canadian Census

At Ancestry.ca, once your ancestor’s name is entered, providing it’s in the 1921 census database, it will show up highlighted. Image courtesy of Loretta Houben

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

The Canadian census is a wonderful tool for genealogists, and the recent 2013 release of the 1921 census is a marvellous resource for those of us tracing our Canadian ancestors from 92 years ago.

Canada has a 92-year privacy law, unlike England’s law of 100 years or the USA’s law of only 72 years. I’m not sure as to the how and why of these laws, but I was delighted to begin searching the 1921 census online the day it became available in August 2013.

Since that time, the census has been fully indexed on Ancestry.ca. This means that you don’t need to know where your ancestor lived, but you can simply enter the name and if they were living in Canada at that time, you will find them.

The 1920s were a decade of great change. The settling of the West took place, along with Prohibition and women’s rights. On June 1, 1921, enumerators were sent to every part of Canada, and the questions asked on the census form were dated from the first, meaning that anyone born after that date is not included in the census, and anyone passing away after the first is still on the census.

There are 8.8 million records in this database. A new technology is used for the first time at Ancestry.ca for this census. Once your ancestor’s name is entered, providing it’s in the database, it will show up highlighted. (Please see example shown.)

The first national Canadian census was taken in 1871. At first it was taken every 10 years, but after 1956 it was taken every five years. From 1911 to 1921 there was a 22 percent increase in the population of Canada. Thirty-five questions were asked on the 1921 census.

If you go to Ancestry.ca and click on “card catalogue” and then “search” you will find a list of options. Choose “1921 Census of Canada” and fill in the form. This is completely free but you need to create an account by using an email address.

I was thrilled when I entered my paternal grandfather’s name and discovered that, as of June 1, 1921, he was married to Ellen and had one son named Edward H. No one in my family knew her real name as she died in 1926; we only knew her by the nickname of Nellie. This was my first real clue and confirmation as to her name. Also, Edward was called Harry, probably his middle name, and he died in 1925, so this is the one and only time he and his mother appear on a census.

The 1921 census covers a lot of material. In the first section, the dwelling number, number of family members, names of each person, parish, section, township, range and meridian of farms for addresses in the country.

The next section asked a series of questions about the house itself; was the house rented or owned? How much per month if rented? What is the class of house? What are the materials of construction? Even the number of rooms is included.

A personal description including relationship to the head of the household, sex, marital status, age at last birthday, nativity (where born; give province or name of country) and citizenship, which included year of immigration, year of naturalization and nationality, were all asked. Racial or tribal origin, language; English or French, language other than English, religious body, denomination with abbreviations such as Meth: Methodist; RC: Roman Catholic; CH of E: Church of England; Pres: Presbyterian; Bapt: Baptist.

Other questions, which were all tallied in columns on a large page, included education; can he read, write, how many months has he been in school since September 1920. Profession, occupation or employment, with specific questions on status of employment. Even income and unemployment earnings for the past 12 months are listed and whether the person was employed on census day.

As you can see, that is a wealth of information! For 92 years it was kept secret, and now we can all access it, thanks to Library and Archives Canada, which has released it to Ancestry.ca for free. If you are really interested, you can go to YouTube and view a discussion on the above by Ancestry.ca—this is what I used to understand the 1921 census more fully.

It’s all there at your fingertips, and I encourage you to try it to trace your family roots. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you discover!

The next installment in family tree tips will focus on Vancouver City Directories and Cross Directories for hunting down clues to where your family lived.

Loretta Houben has enjoyed writing these family tree articles and would love to know if any of you have had success with your own family tree these past few months. This article was first published in the February 2014 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright 2019 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Family tree tips for the new year: Storing and saving your family photos

NewYears1970-low

New Year’s Day, 1970: Loretta Houben (in the middle) with her two sisters and her dad.

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

Hopefully you had time during the busy Christmas season to look over a few of those old family photos you’ve stashed away in the closet. Maybe you shared your newfound passion with the older generation, and verified a name or two.

Older people love to reminisce about the past, which isn’t really that long ago. I urge you to do this while you have your grandparents and great aunts and great uncles around. I had an aunt who told me to do this with my Grandma way back in the 1990s. Fortunately my Grandma hand wrote on all her photos, but what if she hadn’t?

One of the best ways to preserve your valuable family photos is to scan each one into your computer. Scanners are now a great price, with many options available at your local Staples, Best Buy, London Drugs or any similar store. There are good ones available for under $100, and well worth the investment.

Once the scanner is hooked up to your computer, simply read the instructions and begin to scan and save each photo in the best resolution possible. If you scan at low resolution, your photo will be too small, and if you wish to view it later for details, alas, you won’t be able to.

I found this out the hard way when I scanned in a family photo (please see my article from December 2013) at a very low resolution, and now am unable to determine a specific clue due to the fuzziness of the image. Scanning takes time and commitment but is truly well worth it for yourself and future generations.

You will need to store the photos in files on your computer, so take time to label the folders using a system that makes sense to you, so you’re able to locate the photos at a later date. There are many ways to do this, as each computer program is different.

The fun part comes after the photos are saved. You can then share with other family members around the world, providing they have a computer too.

One of my favourite ways to do this is to upload my photos to Facebook. I make sure only family members are able to see them. I’ve created a family group on Facebook, and invited family members only. So far no one else has shared any photos, but I’m hopeful the idea will catch on!

There are also blogs. I use Blogger to upload my photos for free, new and old. Since I began in 2009, I’ve had a few relatives which I had lost track of contact me and reconnect, so this is very exciting indeed.

Family genealogy is currently one of the most popular hobbies, and people use the internet as a tool to search for family members. My mother’s maiden name is very unusual (Brutke) so when that name is entered into the search engines, my posts with old photos pop up immediately! I make sure to leave my email address on my blog so relatives can contact me.

Another fantastic site to post and keep your photos for free is Flickr.com. You can store hundreds of photos for no cost, so if something should happen to your computer, your mind can be at rest. Of course, the best option of all, once you’ve scanned in your precious photos, is to have two back-up devices: one that you keep, and one that you store off site, maybe at your in-law’s or parent’s home, or at work. These devices are now reasonably priced and small enough to carry easily.

Of course, after the scanning is complete, you should save and store your actual paper photos safely, too. I store mine in the sturdy cardboard boxes sold at Michael’s craft store. They have cardboard dividers that you can label and insert between photos so that you can section them in year order. One box can hold many photos, and it’s a convenient size and can stack well in a closet. They are often on sale for $2.50 each.

If you work on this project one night per week, in no time you will be finished, and you’ll experience a feeling of great accomplishment! Then you can return to searching for more names to add to that family tree.

The next installment will feature aspects of the 1921 Canadian census (a great genealogy tool), which was newly released to the public in the summer of 2013.

Loretta Houben looks forward to a new year getting deeper into genealogy research, and wishes all of you following these monthly series on family tree tips all the best for a successful year. First published in the January 2014 issue of the RCC News.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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We’re moving on up!

How Collingwood Neighbourhood House moved from Kingsway to Joyce Street

To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News, we’re revisiting past stories that have particularly inspired us. This article was first published in the Fall-Winter 1994 issue of the Collingwood Collage, a predecessor to the RCC News.
My favourite memory from the RCC News is writing the story about the Collingwood Neighbourhood House moving from Kingsway to Joyce. The story showed the growth of CNH and our work with Julie Cheng (editor) and others on the Communications Committee.
− Jeff Mazo

Times are changing again. What had been an ongoing process for the last few years finally came down to a two-hour city council meeting on June 24, 1994.

After many community consultations and endless meetings, the Vancouver Land Corporation (VLC) project along Joyce and Vanness was finally approved. As a result, Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH) will be moving (in the next few years) to a larger and permanent building at Joyce and Euclid.

All those concerned with the project were invited to the council meeting to voice their opinions. Only a handful of people spoke before council. They included David Podmore (VLC president), Chris Taulu (Joyce St. Area Planning Committee), Rob Burkhart (CNH president), Ken Greene (Collingwood businessman) and various residents of the area.

Like the previous public consultation meetings, there were models and sketches of the proposed development on display. There were also many questions and concerns still being raised about the development. These concerns included the increase of traffic, the effect of shadows from tall buildings, and the increase of the population density. Some speakers also saw problems with the unit sizes proposed for housing and the effects that the development could have on the neighbouring City of Burnaby.

Ultimately, there were only nine speakers and their positions were as follows: six for the development and three against it.

The council members’ vote was unanimous, but the individual councillors’ opinions of the project varied. For instance, Councillor Libby Davies voted for the development, but with reservations. She said there were some “skepticism and concern(s)” about the development such as increased population density.

She also suggested that since the entire project is to be built in phases, the community should use the pause between the phases to look carefully at the project again. If the community does not like what it sees, they can go back to city council.

On the other hand, Councillor Gordon Price voted for the project without reservations, but was surprised that there was little opposition to such a massive development.

Mayor Gordon Campbell praised the consultation process within Collingwood and said it should be a model for other community developments.

If all goes according to plans, VLC will break ground by spring of 1994, and Phase I, with the new neighbourhood house, will be completed in 1995.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

 


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Family Tree Tips: Using Ancestry Library Edition at the Vancouver Public Library

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

The avid family tree researcher knows about ancestry.com or ancestry.ca. This is a powerful database with billions of genealogy documents stored online, accessible through an expensive membership unless purchased on sale. But are you aware that the ancestry site can be researched at your local library?

I attended a class to learn how to do this at the Collingwood Library in December 2018. Deanna from the Central Branch taught the hour and a half session. There were nine spots available, but only three people showed up that evening. We each were provided with a laptop to work with, and this made it easy to follow along as Deanna projected what she was doing onto a large screen.

Anyone with a library card can sign in to the computers available at the library. The Central Branch in downtown Vancouver has several computers with blue tags on top that can directly log into the Ancestry Library edition.

First you sign into Firefox, then add your library number and pin. Click the accept button, and then click on Digital Library, then choose Online Resources. Enter Ancestry Library Edition, then click on Find, then Access Now.

You will be able to search the census, vitals, military, immigration and quick links with member trees, birth, marriage and death records. Ancestry Library Edition includes most of the information found in a paid membership site, but the content is not exactly the same and some documentation might require paid membership to access. If you would like to know what databases are not included, the Central Branch has a printout for this, and other helpful printouts on tips for searching the Library Edition.

Deanna helped us navigate through some of the search pages by using the name John Smith. The class learned how to narrow down the different fields. For example, we explored the 1921 census for Canada. A map was shown under the search button, and we could click on it and narrow the search to a specific province.

When you discover a document you’d like to save, you can send the document home by email or add the information to a USB stick. I tried emailing and it was very easy to do.

The tips I learned were that if you do a broad or narrow search on names you will get a better result. Sometimes it’s difficult to find your ancestor’s name on a census, as the census takers often made up the surnames!

Another neat trick I learned was that the hammer and wrench tool on the side of an image means that if you click on it, you can print, download, rotate the image right or left, or flip horizontally!

Part of the database for the Ancestry Library Edition includes the 1851 to 1921 Census of Canada, US Border crossings from the US to Canada from 1908 to 1935, Canada City and Area Directories from 1819 to 1906, Canada Obituary Collection 1898 to 2015, Canada Ocean Arrivals 1919 to 1924 and Canadian Passenger Lists 1865 to 1935. To see the full list, pick up a printout at the Central Branch. The United Kingdom, England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Europe and the USA are also included.

To find out when the next Ancestry Library Edition class will be offered, search events on Vancouver Public Library online. The next one is Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at 6:30 pm until 8 pm.

I highly recommend taking a class. It will be like opening Pandora’s Box, and you will be surprised and delighted. You may also disappear down a rabbit hole or two for a few hours. Best of all, it’s free!

Loretta Houben is the author of the Family Tree Tips series published in the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Carleton School House: Green Thumb to the rescue

Theatre company campaigns to rebuild historic Collingwood school

Carleton School House

Patrick McDonald, artistic director of Green Thumb Theatre, unveiled drawings of how the Carleton School House could look as soon as the fall of 2012. Photos by Paul Reid

BY PAUL REID

To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News, we’re revisiting past stories that have particularly inspired us. This article was first published in October 2011.
My favourite story from the RCC News is about the Green Thumb Theatre. I like stories about local buildings being revitalized.
− Adena Lee

It looks as though the 115-year-old Carleton School House, which has been vacant and deteriorating since being gutted by fire in April 2008, will indeed be saved from the wrecking ball. The Green Thumb Theatre has come to a deal with the Vancouver school board to lease the building from the school board for 20 years as their new headquarters.

Green Thumb Theatre will need to raise approximately 1.2 million dollars to transform the currently burnt-out building into a restored version of its original self with two rehearsal halls, washrooms and a green room. The theatre company also plans to refurbish an adjacent building, “the barn”―built in 1908, to house its offices.

The theatre company creates and performs theatre works aimed at children, teens and young adults, to allow students to learn more about educational theatre programs. Green Thumb has had shows on Broadway and the Sydney Opera House, its works translated into 14 languages and plays performed by over 200 theatre companies throughout the world.

The Green Thumb solution came after much work by heritage advocates.

The capital campaign was launched at the Carleton site on September 13. Lead by Patrick McDonald, artistic director, speakers that day included Pat Munton, principal of Sir Guy Carleton Elementary School; Patti Bacchus, board chair of the Vancouver school board; Kerry Jang, City of Vancouver councillor; Donald Luxton, Heritage Vancouver; and Adrian Dix, leader of the BC New Democratic Party and our local MLA.

Bobbi Senft and Jackie McHugh

Also present were Bobbi Senft and Jackie McHugh. Longtime activists of local heritage protection, their family members have attended Carleton Elementary for five generations, since 1905.

All of the speakers were thrilled about the win-win partnership. “We’ll have a restored building, the community will have its heart back and we’ll have this fantastic theatre program,” said Patti Bacchus.

“We’re delighted because Green Thumb Theatre will be restoring our much-cherished heritage schoolhouse to its original splendour and beyond,” said Pat Munton, the school’s principal. “It’s just amazing, it brings tears to my eyes.”

Adrian Dix declared it a “wonderful day” and kicked off the campaign by donating $1,000.

Initially, Green Thumb hopes to receive $150,000 as part of a cultural infrastructure grant from the city. This would allow for the replacement of the roof, whose current tarps are covering a big hole. Green Thumb will also apply for $450,000 from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

This would leave $400,000 still to raise, an amount that Green Thumb is positive they can. If all goes to plan, the theatre company would be moving into the renovated school building by fall 2012.

Learn more about Green Thumb Theatre at greenthumb.bc.ca. You can also find Green Thumb on Facebook.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Family tree tips for digging further

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

Genealogy is one of my hobbies that has evolved into a passion over the past few years. I thought I had learned everything about research online, but recently I discovered something quite exciting that I’d like to share.

My great uncle William Joseph Williams died in World War I in Salonika, Greece, at age 24. Through the internet I was able to acquire a copy of his date of death, his Royal Welsh Fusilier badge number, the date he enlisted and went to France, and even a photo of his grave in Greece in the Karasouli Military Cemetery. I also tracked down his death notice in a Welsh newspaper, which was no mean feat!

I’d wondered for some time if his name had been included on a memorial in his hometown of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales. My husband and I visited the town in May 2017 and checked out the only WWI memorial there but were met with disappointment. I nearly gave up in defeat, but a true genealogy detective is like a dog with a bone; you just can’t let go.

I enjoy a subscription to Family Tree UK Magazine in digital format. While checking out the latest edition a few months ago, I noticed that hovering my computer mouse over the links included in the articles and clicking would take me to the websites listed. I began poking around and I discovered a list of WWI memorials in Wales.

One thing led to another, and I double checked other things using Google and found photos of a WWI list of soldiers from Blaenau Ffestiniog in the local hospital. My great uncle’s name is on it! I nearly fell off my chair with this discovery.

Williams-Memorial-Plaque

Memorial plaque for WWI, parish of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales. Taken by MHS June 2013 from http://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk

According to the website, three large wooden boards were placed in the hospital’s main corridor at the Blaenau Memorial Hospital on Wynne Road. I checked it out on Google maps and it’s located very close to where we stayed when we visited last year. If only we had known then, we might have been able to see the memorial in person.

However, the hospital is now closed permanently so I don’t know what will become of the memorial. My next mission is to somehow contact the hospital and make inquiries.

Don’t give up if you have a mystery in your family research. Remember that online technology has improved by leaps and bounds, and there are many helpful experts to assist you in your hunt, along with amazing tools.

Loretta Houben enjoys genealogy full time and subscribes to the Ancestry website. However, she often finds many clues for her family research by diligently using Google search and Google maps.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News