Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


Leave a comment

Collingwood Corner: Joyce Station before and after

1950 Collingwood West Station Rupert And Vanness

Collingwood West Station, 1950, at Rupert and Vanness. Photo by Ted Clark, Richmond Archives

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

Many things have changed since the long-ago days when British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) first ran a track through the Collingwood neighbourhood in 1891, travelling from New Westminster through to downtown Vancouver. Collingwood was built up along the track for homeowners who worked downtown, but because of the new streetcar system, could commute quickly while living in a lower-priced and quiet area.

There were originally two stations in Collingwood: Collingwood West at the corner of Rupert
Street and Vanness, high up near the bridge which crossed Rupert, and Collingwood East, located near the Joyce Station at Vanness and Joyce, on the west side of Joyce.

Today, the Skytrain runs through the East station, and it recently has been drastically renovated.

Collingwood East Station By Phillip Timms

Collingwood East Station. Photo by Philip Timms, Vancouver Archives, CVA 677-386

Translink has been working on enlarging the East Joyce Station since January 2016, and I noticed one gate on the south side, facing Vanness, was opened the first week in October 2017. The north gate is still closed as the work isn’t quite finished.

The newly renovated station has a set of escalators, an elevator, a place to safely store bikes and a building for commercial use. It’s very modern looking with beautiful artwork that resembles stained glass in the window near the escalators. It’s quite a remarkable improvement from 100 years ago!

To read more about the BCER and interurban history, please visit this Translink post online: http://buzzer.translink.ca/2009/03/a-short-history-of-interurbans-in-the-lower-mainland/

Joyce Station by Loretta Houben

New Collingwood East Station. Photo by Loretta Houben, Oct. 2017

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of Collingwood and is completely enthralled with the new Joyce station on the east side.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Veterans Memorial Mural of Grandview-Collingwood Legion, Branch #179

Veterans Memorial Mural of Grandview-Collingwood Legion, Branch #179

Part of the photo-realistic 6th Street Mural completed by artists Nick Gregson, David Mercer, John De Matos and Jesom. Photos by Paul Reid

BY PAUL REID

Three years since it was first rendered, the Veterans Memorial Mural that was painted onto the walls of Branch #179 is looking as fresh as ever.

In 2014, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #179 commissioned local mural artist Nick Gregson to give the walls of the branch a facelift. Nick worked with the branch to come up with a design. Four months after the first strokes were made, the transformation and resulting mural were nothing short of miraculous.

Nick and his volunteer crew (John De Matos, David Mercer, Jesom) worked throughout the summer and into the fall months, right up until Remembrance Day.

“This was a huge project. I wish we had more time to put in more detail,” says volunteer painter, David Mercer when interviewed on that day of its completion in 2014. “It’s something we worked hard at doing – just wish we had another month. But we’re quite proud of it and have been getting positive remarks.”

All who see the Veterans Memorial Mural will agree that the amount of detail on this mural is incredible. Using photos provided by Branch #179, the painters were able to capture near photo-realistic renditions of the faces of the Branch #179 members, sports teams and veterans of today and of the past.

“I have seen a lot of branch murals,” says Gerry Vowles, “and I think this must be one of the best, if not the best.” A member of  the branch since 1980 and former BC/Yukon Command President, Mr. Vowles is a retired Canadian Forces veteran who has served in many executive capacities throughout his RCL career at Branch, Zone and Provincial Command levels.

Nick Gregson at work on the Veterans Memorial Mural.

Nick Gregson at work on the Veterans Memorial Mural.

Nickolas Gregson’s artistic practice is rooted in graffiti and community-centered public art. Raised in East Vancouver, Gregson drew inspiration from local street art and the sanctioned graffiti spaces of Leeside Tunnel Skateboard Park.

In the same year that he created the Veterans Memorial Mural, Gregson launched the Metro Vancouver Art and Mural Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to building stronger communities through public art. Since that time, Gregson’s art and mural society has been transforming Vancouver’s blank walls into vibrant murals.

Being that it is such an exceptional work of art, the branch hopes to keep it up for years to come. “It’s been laminated,” explained Dave, when being interviewed about the mural back in 2014, “so if anyone tags it with graffiti, it will just wash off and be as good as new.” Thanks to the vigilant maintenance by the branch, it has remained as such.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


Leave a comment

Still Moon Arts brings Still Creek to life through art, memories and history

Still Moon Performance

Lost and Found Performance: Carmen Rosen sings an original music piece composed by Isaac Rosen-Purcell, joined by youth dancers and fiddlers. Photo by Kat Wadel

BY JULIE CHENG

The sound of trickling water got louder as we tread carefully down the path. Through the trees we glimpsed a young man hopping over the water and rocks.

On this sunny September afternoon, we found ourselves on the edge of Still Creek in the Renfrew Ravine, immersed in a performance by the Still Moon Arts Society called Still Creek: Lost and Found.

The young man, Hamish Hutchison-Poyntz, tells the story of playing in the ravine with friends and making sure to avoid the older bullies who would throw rocks at them. Then he was gone in a flash, running down the stream. We followed after him along the safer path.

Still Moon Boy in Still Creek

Hamish Hutchison-Poyntz tells the story of playing in the ravine as a young boy. Photos by Julie Cheng

The performance draws from an important new book about the Still Creek watershed, which starts near Central Park and winds its way through Renfrew Ravine and on through Burnaby Lake before emptying into the Fraser River. The book, What Comes to Light: Stories of Still Creek Lost & Found, brings together artwork, poetry, historical research and archival photos. At the heart of the book are the stories, collected over two years, from local residents who lived and played in and around Still Creek.

You could say the book documents the love affair Carmen Rosen has had with the Renfrew Ravine and Still Creek since she moved into the neighbourhood in 2000.

What Comes to Light: Stories of Still Creek Lost & Found

What Comes to Light: Stories of Still Creek Lost & Found brings together artwork, poetry, historical research and archival photos.

Renfrew Ravine was the inspiration for the annual Harvest Moon Festival, started in 2003 and now just finished its 15th year this past September. The Ravine Sanctuary Garden, the 27th Avenue labyrinth and the 22nd Avenue yin yang bench were projects lead by Carmen with organizations including local artists in the Arts Pow Wow, Evergreen and the Windermere Leadership program.

In 2009, Still Moon Arts, Windermere Leadership students and the Department of Fisheries released chum salmon fry in Still Creek. And in 2012, the salmon returned to spawn in Still Creek for the first time in 80 years.

The stories of art, celebration, people and the salmon are woven together in What Comes to Light. What becomes apparent in this book is an enduring love and respect of art, nature and people can bring us all together and make great things happen.

Find more information on What Comes to Light: Stories of Still Creek Lost & Found at http://stillmoon.org/projects-2/still-creek-stories/

 

Old Ted was kind of short, stalky, had worked hard all his life … He lived a real homesteaders’ life with oil lamps in the house and water from a pump and he had pigs and chickens when none of us were allowed to. He was just grandfathered in, probably in his 80s, they thought he’d die soon so it was okay, then he actually lived to 107.

– Daniel McNeil

Still Moon Twetie Chickens

Laura Crema holds the chickens, which were made by Robin Lough, as the story of Ted Twetie and his chickens were told.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


Leave a comment

Gathering of Canoes – 2017 Pulling Together Journey

Canoe-journey

Photos by Penny Lim

BY PENNY LIM

The Gathering of Canoes was a long-anticipated event, one of the Canada 150th birthday events and the culmination of the annual Pulling Together Canoe Journey. First Nations paddlers – including our very own Collingwood C.R.E.W. based out of Collingwood Neighbourhood House – started up the Sunshine Coast and participants joined in along the way.

Months of hearing of this historic undertaking coming to town. The day dawned. On July 14, 2017, a crowd waited breathlessly at Vanier Park for a sighting of these 23 canoes.

Canoe-journey-3

Here they come! The canoes circled in their protocol before landing. The paddlers asked for permission to land on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Canoe-journey-2

The excitement was heavy in the air. The ceremony was very inclusive, with the RCMP, Police Department and Mayor amongst the paddlers. The different tribes got to know each other, too.

Witnessing this moment was a privilege in life. Absolutely exciting and joyous! Electric waves of emotion.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


Leave a comment

August 2017 issue of RCC News is here

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News August 2017

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Skytrain Rambler: Evergreen line connects history from Renfrew-Collingwood to Port Moody
  • Lots happening at Still Moon Arts Society
  • Photos of informal learning in Renfrew-Collingwood by John Mendoza
  • Homeless program raising funds in the neighbourhood
  • Shop local farmers markets
  • Gathering of canoes – Photo montage by Penny Lim
  • Read On! Many reasons to love Renfrew-Collingwood by Tony Wanless
  • Latin festival returns to new venues – Swangard Stadium and Rickshaw Theatre

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the September 2017 issue is August 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.


Leave a comment

Common Voices: The Cultural Legacy of Italian and Cantonese Opera in Vancouver

Exhibit at Italian Cultural Centre’s Il Museo runs until July 15

Chinese-Opera-Common-Voices

Rosa Cheng, Vancouver Cantonese Opera, 2016. Photos courtesy of the Italian Cultural Centre

BY ANGELA CLARKE

Spanning May and June, which are Asian and Italian heritage months, the Italian Cultural Centre mounted an exhibition on the history of Cantonese and Italian opera in Vancouver. While these two art forms evolved independently from two diverse musical traditions, they share significant commonalities as major performance genres spanning the cultural history of the Chinese and Italian communities in Vancouver.

Both art forms have been practised in Vancouver since the beginning of immigration to this area, around 1885. They are known for their elaborate costuming and make-up, as well as the immense skill required of the artists who devote their lives to interpreting these musical genres.

While both musical forms are viewed as an acquired taste, often requiring some knowledge of the music and its history before they can be appreciated, historically, they have contributed significantly over the last century to the cultural landscape of Vancouver. Both genres have enabled both the Chinese and Italian communities to remain connected with their cultures of origin as they have negotiated their way in their new home of Canada.

Art, opera and cultural discrimination

Vancouver-Opera-Common-Voices

Vancouver Opera, Norma, starring Joan Sutherland, 1963.

The story of Italian and Cantonese opera also tells the story of discrimination and isolation. For both Italian and Cantonese communities in Vancouver these musical genres were often performed as a means to create community and connection in times of duress.

The exhibition tells the story of the Italian men interned in the work camps of Kananaskis in Alberta and Petawawa in Ontario, who created a camp choir of internees. These men, surrounded by armed guards, travelled around the countryside performing scheduled appearances. Despite being under heavy surveillance they were in demand among the civilian communities around Petawawa. There was even a professional opera singer, Piero Orsatti, among them.

For the Cantonese-speaking men living in Vancouver’s Chinatown, Cantonese opera and its performance was a means to create a haven for men who could not speak English, and due to the laws of exclusion, where banned from bringing family to Canada. Cantonese opera was a means of creating a foundation of familiarity in an unfamiliar and hostile environment.

For the Chinese men who immigrated to Vancouver for work on the railway, Cantonese opera was compelling not only because of the language but also for the many female performers who travelled from China in theatrical troupes. Certainly the story of Cantonese opera in Vancouver is an important and unique vignette offering scholars important insight into the history of women in Vancouver performance history. Women performers drew large audiences in Vancouver in the 1920s and ’30s, a full decade before women were even allowed to perform in their native China. As well, despite the traditionalism of the art form, these female artists, performing along the West Coast of the United States and Canada, became renowned for their alluring sense of style and the adoption of North American silver-screen aesthetics.

Currently Cantonese opera in Vancouver still continues to be relevant largely due to the female performers. In the Chinese community, women train as interpreters of this genre later in life, desiring to reconnect with their culture in retirement. Women train to interpret both the male and female roles.

Today Italian opera continues to emerge from its Eurocentric origins, finding contemporary relevance in plot lines located in post-colonial environments. As part of the repertoire for the Push Festival in 2017, Third World Bunfight produced a modern retelling of Verdi’s opera Macbeth. This full-length opera relocated the traditional plotline from medieval Scotland and placed it into the current political realities of the Congo in territories governed by military dictatorships. This production was supported by Vancouver Opera and the Italian Cultural Centre.

This exhibition on the history of Cantonese and Italian opera in Vancouver features historic costuming and interactive video to animate this story. The exhibition runs until Saturday, July 15, 2017.

Angela Clarke is the museum director and curator at the Italian Cultural Centre Museum. The Common Voices exhibit has been supported by Canada Heritage, the Museum of Migration and the Italian Cultural Centre.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


Leave a comment

Happy 100th birthday to John Harlow

BY PAUL REID

Harlow-family

Three generations of transit operators (from left to right) David, Michelle and John Harlow in front of the family home on Chambers Street. Photos courtesy of the Harlow family

Herbert Harlow and Rose Campbell met while working at Vancouver General Hospital. They married and had their first born, John, in 1917. In 1925, John’s wife-to-be, Georgette, was attending Norquay School. John and Georgette met when they attended South Vancouver high school (now John Oliver), married in 1939 and moved onto Chambers Street. Three of their four children would also attend Norquay School.

John would later build a new house on Chambers Street in 1950. He bought the double lot for $600. This is the house he still lives in today with his son David and David’s wife Sylvia. So, we have had a Harlow living on Chambers Street for more than 78 years.

We have also had a Harlow driving city buses in Vancouver since 1945. This is the year that John started driving city buses for Neville Transit. Even before that, John was a driver, driving trucks for the Boeing company on Sea Island during the Second World War. He remembers driving up to the gate one day and the guard told him to park the truck and go home. The war was over, the plant was closed and everyone was laid off! That same day, on his way back home, John would not only find a new job, he was taught his route and started driving that day!

Streetcar

John Harlow became a motorman, driving streetcars like this one for Neville Transit.

This was the job with Neville Transit that would start the continuing legacy of the Harlow family. John worked with Neville until they became BC Electric and later BC Hydro. During this time, John became a motorman, driving streetcars.

In 1978, John’s son David would join the transit team. It was around this time that the company would became Metro and then Coast Mountain. In 2004, David’s daughter, Michelle started driving, becoming the third generation of Harlows to do so. (John retired in 1979; David in 2009.)

Harlow-baby

Congratulations to Michelle and the Harlow family on this latest addition this year. Could this be the fourth generation of the Harlow-transit legacy?

For John’s 100th birthday, his family wanted to give him a ride down memory lane. So they rented a vintage 1964 GMC bus, provided by TRAMS, and along with family and friends, the day was spent touring with John down memory lane.

This tour included John’s old routes in East Vancouver; Sea Island where John worked with Boeing; past the school where he met his wife; and the church where they got married.

Needless to say, John had a fantastic 100th birthday.

Copyright 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News