BY LORETTA HOUBEN
Thanks to Allen Doolan, a subscriber and moderator on one of the Nostalgic Vancouver Facebook groups I’m in, I recently discovered that a bird aviary was once in the Collingwood area at 5207 Hoy Street.
The bird aviary was quite well known and was even mentioned in a letter to the editors in the February 24, 1941 edition of Life magazine. The owner was Charles E. Jones, who was also briefly the 26th mayor of Vancouver until passing away September 1, 1948.
I can’t find out much about Charles Jones, but he certainly loved birds. If you visit the Vancouver Archives online, you will be able to see many postcards of the birds. Some of them will make you smile! I’ve included my favourites here.
The old house on Hoy Street that once contained these delightful creatures is still standing. It was built in 1910, and still has its original charm with a lovely garden. I’ve often been drawn to this house while walking in the neighbourhood, and now I know why. What a fascinating history it has.
According to the B.C. Directories online, “Birds Paradise” was listed along with Charles Jones’s name in the 1939 edition. I think it may have been a lucrative or at least a most interesting pastime for him. He was listed as retired in 1932, but in later editions of the B.C. Directories, he is listed as alderman, and then he is mayor in 1947.
The letter to the editor of the Life magazine in 1941 from Clyde Ragsdale states that Charles Jones “revived a childhood dream when he created this sanctuary, where thousands of birds, wild and domestic, representing some 35 species, from Chinese nightingales and Indian bulbuls to South American finches, have found haven.”
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