Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Collingwood Corner: A brief history of Connaught School 1913–1932

Bayley’s claim with house at 650 Rupert Street and school beside it. Could this be the schoolhouse on the lower fields of Grenfell School that Loretta Houben’s dad remembers? Source: Vancouver Archives

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

For quite a while I’ve been fascinated with old school buildings, and Sir Wilfred Grenfell School is no exception. The school opened on December 3, 1958 and recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, but when I attended its hallowed halls from 1965 to 1973, it was quite new.

However, behind the cement structure that faces Wellington Avenue there is a much older building made of wood. According to the BC Directories online, John Norquay Annex was at this location from 1933 to 1955, showing the annex located at Price and Rupert.

From 1913 to 1932, another school was located here, on the lower section. A steep set of stairs leads from the upper level where the present school buildings are, to the bottom where there is a large empty playing field.

When I attended the school, there were two sets of stairs. My dad remembers long ago in the 1940s that there was a schoolhouse on the lower fields.

Recently I decided to investigate. I checked out the Vancouver School Board website (www.blogs.vsb.bc.ca/heritage) where there are many old photos of Vancouver schools, and noticed that to date, there were no photos of Connaught School, which was the name of the first school at that location.

I recalled that I had seen a photo of Rupert School in the Vancouver Archives. Could this be Connaught School? By patient searching in the BC Directories, and by looking at Rupert Street from 1913 onwards, I verified that Rupert School was located near Price Street on Rupert.

The school appears in two photos under the name “Bayley’s Claim.” I assume this is referring to Charles W. Bayley, who lived at #650 Rupert, and his house is in the photos next to Rupert School. There’s also another photo showing the odd numbered houses across Rupert Street, also in Bayley’s Claim.

Connaught School was named for the Duke of Connaught, Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert (1850–1942), Governor General of Canada and brother of King Edward VII.

The 1913 BC Directory states that Euphemia C. Jones was the principal. In 1913 she lived at 1848 7th Avenue.

Besides studying the streets in the directories, you can also look up names of people and see their occupations next to their address and name. Euphemia Jones was only 21 years old but due to the drastic increase in population growth, schools were expanding rapidly.

Using my Ancestry membership, I looked up the Jones family. On the 1911 Canadian census, I found Euphemia living with her parents in Vancouver at age 19. She was a teacher earning $860 per year. Euphemia married in 1915, and most likely that was the end of her teaching career.

Back to Bayley’s claim. After studying old Vancouver maps until I was quite googly eyed, I examined the Goads Fire Insurance map from 1912. Zooming in closely I discovered pay dirt!

Closeup of Price and Rupert area from 1912, showing a drawing of the school and house. Photo source: Goads Fire Insurance Map

The school is on the lower grounds facing Rupert, formerly called Collingwood Road, with Charles Bayley’s house to the right of it. I assume the buildings across the road are the rest of the claim.

Connaught School photos haven’t been found until now because they are named incorrectly in the archives!

The houses on Rupert Street were renumbered in 1930. By closely matching the names of the occupants with the old and new set of numbers, I noticed that #650 changed to 4530, which was vacant in 1930, and gone in 1931. Could this be the time frame that the second school building on the upper ground, made of wood, was built and renamed John Norquay Annex?

Of the four houses across the street, 4535 Rupert was built in 1912 (formerly 665) and 4543 Rupert was built in 1910 (formerly 657). This is according to the BC Assessments online.
When you go past the corner of Price and Rupert, maybe you can imagine it in your mind’s eye, and hear Miss Euphemia Jones ringing the school bell, and wonder why Charles Bayley purchased a claim at that corner.

I believe I’ve solved the Connaught School photo mystery and learned quite a bit more about the Collingwood area.

Loretta Houben has lived in the Collingwood area for more than 54 years and receives extreme satisfaction at solving local historical mysteries.

Copyright 2019 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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November 2019 issue of RCC News is here

This issue of the RCC News 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:

  • Collingwood Corner: History of Connaught School
  • Legion update Grandview Collingwood branch and Remembrance Day photos
  • CNH Annex marks one-year anniversary
  • 3-1-1 and VanConnect keeps neighbourhood clean
  • New rental housing for seniors to open 2020
  • Going to see Greta
  • Eco-corner: Ban on plastic straws

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 December 2019 issue is November 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.


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Collingwood Corner: The Birds’ Paradise

Albert Jones playing violin at 5207 Hoy Street. Photo from the Vancouver Archives CVA371-1215

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.

Charles E. Jones was Vancouver’s 26th mayor. From the Vancouver Archives CVA371-1191

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.

Dog resting at the aviary with feathered friends. Photo from the Vancouver Archives CVA371-1193

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.

Postcard. From the Vancouver Archives CVA371-1199

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.”

Copyright 2019 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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Renfrew-Collingwood’s humble historic landmark

Collingwood Library

An extraordinary photo of Vancouver Public Library’s Collingwood branch as it appeared before its opening in early July 1951. The glass expanse at the front of the building has since been covered up in a subsequent renovation. Source: Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections, VPL 8856

BY JOHN MENDOZA

This story by John Mendoza reflects his passion for architecture. He brings to life a little-known gem in our neighbourhood with meticulous research and tremendous detail.
I love getting stories like these in my inbox.
John Mendoza tells us that this news story from October 2010 was used by Heritage Vancouver to help defend the library’s inclusion on the 2011 Top Ten Endangered Places list. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation lists Collingwood Library as one of its Places That Matter.
− Julie Cheng, editor

Located at the northwest corner of Kingsway and Rupert Street, the Collingwood branch of the Vancouver Public Library is a colourful hub of activity. However, this humble library branch holds a secret pedigree that elevates it above the 22 other branch libraries in Vancouver.

Unknown to most citizens of Vancouver, the architectural design of the Collingwood branch was designed by two celebrated British Columbian architects and could be the most important example of Modernist architecture found in East Vancouver.

Opened in July 1951, Collingwood Library’s design influenced its community in profound ways. Designed by local architects Harold Semmens and Douglas Simpson, the new building presented a friendly face to the neighbourhood.

In contrast to the imposing, old world bulk of the Carnegie branch at Hastings and Main, the design of Collingwood branch was firmly contemporary. The design reflects the spirit and work of famous Modernist architects: the glass expanse at the front alluded to Mies van der Rohe, the use of stone a reference to Marcel Breuer, the low ceiling entrance an influence of Frank Lloyd Wright. (According to Douglas Simpson’s son, Gregg Simpson, the architect studied under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West in Arizona.)

Yet due to its “effective scaling and proportioning,” the building presented a welcoming and accessible face to the local community.

According to one source, shortly after its grand opening, Collingwood branch recorded the highest circulation of materials for kids of any branch library in the Vancouver library system. If the architects wanted to create an open and approachable civic building, they succeeded.

The impact of Semmens and Simpson’s branch library design was far-reaching; it influenced the local and even regional architectural scene. The new design quickly attracted the curious, and it soon turned into the most visited Modernist building in Vancouver.

Its influence can even be felt in successive library projects such as M. E. Uttley’s Okanagan Regional Library (1955) and Kenneth Sandbrook’s New Westminster Library (1958).

Because of their work on the Collingwood branch library, Semmens and Simpson were commissioned to design the new central branch of Vancouver Public Library in 1954. Debuting in 1957, their new Modernist library building at Robson and Burrard Street earned praise for its design, winning the 1958 Massey Medal for excellence in Canadian architecture.

Despite this illustrious history, there are no guarantees for this Modernist landmark in East Vancouver. Due to budgetary constraints, the library itself almost closed during the 1990s. Moreover, the history of preserving heritage buildings and Modernist architecture in Vancouver has not been positive. (Ironically, Semmens and Simpson’s award-winning 1957 central library design has lost much of its Modernist features due to a renovation in the last decade.)

In a recent conversation, Gregg Simpson complained about the lurid blue paint that has been slapped on the exterior of Collingwood branch library. Ideally, the original colour of the building should be retained. As Gregg emphatically states, “To restore it to the original colour would be a great service to his legacy.”

Early photos of the building contrasted with the current condition of the building suggest that successive renovations have not been respectful of its architectural status.

The Collingwood branch therefore deserves consideration for its significance in the architectural  design history of Vancouver. It exists as an east side example of local Modernist architecture designed by two acclaimed architects.

If it meets the criteria, the building should immediately be added to the Vancouver Heritage Registry as a rare example of Modernist architecture in East Vancouver.

As the library approaches its 60th anniversary in 2011, recognition is overdue. It would be nice if the library’s building design, layout and interior furnishings could be spruced up in the Modernist spirit, sensitive of course to the library staff and patron Renfrew-Collingwood’s humble historic landmark needs and to budgetary constraints.

Certainly the original colour should be restored and the signage could echo that of 1950s typography. At the very least, proper maintenance should be enforced.

For example, during Vancouver’s general civic strike of 2007, a vehicle crashed into the building, causing damage to the brick work. As of late August 2010, the brick-work damage remains and can still be seen just right of the main entrance.

The library and city should set an example for celebrating the city’s heritage architecture and design, especially in a humble  neighbourhood like Renfrew-Collingwood. Refurbishing this building and many other heritage landmarks in our area is an important step in the preservation of our shared history  and the first step of cultivating an identity for Renfrew-Collingwood. However, it will only occur if the whole community shares this aspiration and does its best to discuss this with others who can help in this goal.

John Mendoza has lived in Collingwood for almost 30 years. He is a teacher and aspiring writer. His interests include travel, reading, art and architecture. First published in the October 2010 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

 


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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


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Collingwood Corner: Joyce Street in 1914

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

joyce-1914-map

If you live in the Joyce-Collingwood area you will have noticed the recent upgrades to the Skytrain station, and will be aware that big changes are coming over the next 20 years. I recently filled out a survey from the city asking what sort of shops and amenities I’d like to see along Joyce Street in the near future. I put down my suggestions and then I wondered what used to be here way back in 1914, when Joyce Street was first mentioned in Henderson’s Directory.

henderson-directoryJoyce Street was named after Abraham Joyce, a school trustee for Carleton Elementary from 1897 to 1898. I discovered a 1914 map of the Collingwood area in the Vancouver Archive website. By comparing the map with the 1914 directory of street names it’s interesting to note the changes and additions to the area.

For instance, the address for Collingwood Baptist Church is 617 Joyce near Price Road. But anyone familiar with this area knows it is located near Monmouth Avenue and the current address is 4847 Joyce, but in 1914 Monmouth Avenue didn’t exist.

By studying the BC Directories online (1860-1955) sponsored by the Vancouver Public Library, you will become something of a sleuth! The website is easy to navigate. Here is the link: http://www.vpl.ca/bccd/index.php

The 1914 directory lists residents and businesses with names of cross streets. There are names of the early settlers, along with many shops. A few are vacant, but there is a dry goods store near Archimedes, plus a Collingwood Electric Co., a grocer, and a Watson and Wood shoemakers.

Near Euclid there is a physician, three vacant stores, a shoemaker, a meat store, a barber and pool place, a dentist, a druggist and a dry goods store. Near Vanness there is an associated brokerage company, Fraser Brothers grocers, a postmaster, a Collingwood E. post office, a real estate agent, a bank of Vancouver Collingwood East branch, a restaurant, William H. and Son second hand dealer, a tailor, and even a Collingwood Theatre near Wellington Avenue.

Past Wellington there are homes plus Collingwood Baptist Church. I was amazed at the variety of businesses. Joyce Street had it all!

Near the west side of the Skytrain there was the Collingwood East station for the BCER tram that travelled from downtown Vancouver to New Westminster. Near Rupert Street the Collingwood West station was located, and near Boundary and Vanness the Park Street station was located.

These are shown on the 1914 map. There were also quite a few stations near Central Park, along the same track route that we now take on Skytrain to Metrotown Station in Burnaby.

Do you think the residents of Collingwood were better off in 1914? Or do you think that the future of Collingwood will compare to the variety of lifestyle once available here?

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of Collingwood and coordinates the Seniors Connection section of the RCC News.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News