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HISTORY MOMENTS


All text, photography and artwork is COPYRIGHT by GARY SIM unless noted otherwise.

Apr. 07 2021:
Jan. 31 2021:
Jan. 24 2021:
Jan. 22 2021:
Jan. 17 2021:
Nov. 21 2020:
June 29 2020:
June 29 2020:
June 01 2020:
Apr. 12 2020:
Apr. 02 2020:
Feb. 28 2019:
Apr. 01 2016:
June 15 2015:
June 09 2013:
Dec. 21 2012:
Feb. 01 2011:
OLD PHOTOGRAPHS FROM SOMBRIO BEACH
GERALD GIAMPA LEAD TYPE ORNAMENTS & PRINTING
PROSPECT POINT LIGHTHOUSE
1892-93 VICTORIA BUSINESS LEDGER
BUTTON BUTTON, WHO'S GOT THE BUTTON?
B.C. SOCIETY OF ARTS EXHIBITION CATALOGUES
HARDING MEMORIAL, STANLEY PARK
ABANDONED BEAR PITS, STANLEY PARK
LANDMARK HOTEL ON ROBSON STREET
WHEN COVID CAME TO ROBSON STREET
MY PRINTING PRESS FINALLY IDENTIFIED
CLOSURE OF THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
PART OF SHERMAN LIBRARY SURFACES
GEORGINA POINT, MAYNE ISLAND
JOHN KOERNER CELEBRATION AT BURNABY ART GALLERY
DEVICE TO ROOT OUT EVIL
OCCUPY VANCOUVER 2011



APRIL 7 2021: OLD PHOTOGRAPHS FROM SOMBRIO BEACH


A quiet day on Sombrio River, a huge old cable-strapped log on the right driven ashore in a winter storm


Looking south from Sombrio Point across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Peninsula, waves nipping at our feet


Lingering spray from an eruption of the Sombrio Point blowhole


A closeup side view of the Sombrio Point blowhole erupting (Ilford HP5 high speed film at 1,000/second)


This little wave splashed over 100 feet in the air, Sombrio Point on the right


Oops! I think I'm standing in the wrong spot. I put my hands up in surrender, but wasn't taken by the wave


Some the massive waves crested over eighty feet, this one's only about fifty. Sombrio Point on the left



JAN. 31 2021: GERALD GIAMPA LEAD TYPE ORNAMENTS & PRINTING


Four examples of Giampa's typecasting work, the large ornament is one inch wide


Another example of Giampa's typecasting skill, this ornament of a type-casting machine is half an inch wide

I acquired a few pieces of lead type some years ago at Salmagundi West, in Gastown. They had been made by Gerald Giampa, who was born in North Vancouver. From an early age he was interested in letter-press printing and type design. Cobblestone Press and Northland Letterpress were two of his printing companies in Vancouver. At one point he moved to Nova Scotia, then returned to Vancouver, moved to San Francisco, and returned again. At this point I got to know him personally for a few years. He always stuttered, and blamed it on a traumatic incident in his childhood.


A sample of work from 1970

He was one of those unique characters who become locally famous. They are superb at what they do, but not so good with most people. Another such person, legendary bookseller William Hoffer, referred to Giampa in print as "the treacherous Giampa" because of some printing/bookselling deal that went sideways, and at one point Giampa was at war in print with a Director of the Alcuin Society and issued a letterpress broadside describing the situation from his own perspective. Both relationships are somewhat unusual in that there is a printed record of the snits. Giampa's work schedule and production levels were inconsistent, but his design and typography skills were world-class, and his printed output still stands proudly on its own merits.


1982 multi-colour cover for an exhibition of Giampa's work at Burnaby Art Gallery

I donated a collection of Giampa's letterpress work, such as the above exhibition invitation, to Simon Fraser University Special Collections. They have a large fond of his work for public reference. I still have a few bits and pieces. Giampa died in Vancouver in 2009 of some horrible infection that forced the doctors to put him in complete isolation at the hospital. Apparently you could talk to him on a phone they installed, but I only found out after it was all over.


1978 Cobblestone Press logo


1978 Cobblestone Press design



JAN. 24 2021: PROSPECT POINT LIGHTHOUSE


The lighthouse in 2020

The current Prospect Point lighthouse is seen here in late 2020. It was built on the site of an earlier wooden lighthouse, which also had a lifeboat station. The lifeboat station was built on the shoreline between the two large rock formations on either side of the stairs leading down to the shore. The lifeboat was moved from the boathouse down to the water on a pair of steel rails, which are still visible on the shoreline in this picture, at the low tide line, more than 100 years later. The signal light on the West Vancouver side of the First Narrows was a manned lighthouse for many years before the automated signal was installed.



JAN. 22 2021: 1892-93 VICTORIA BUSINESS LEDGER


A page of accounts from 1892

I acquired this 1892-93 business ledger out of curiosity at an estate auction a number of years ago. I found that there was a lot of information about Victoria from a long time ago. Although I attempted to identify the ledger's owner, I did not confirm anything. There are a lot of entries related to smoking, such as purchases of pipes, pipe stems, pipe racks, tobacco, tobacco cutter, and cigars. Regular business expenses included "advertising Chinaman" for 50 cents, sending a messenger for 15 cents, and hiring a watchman for 50 cents. They purchased window signs and "tickets," a printing press for $10.00, dice and box for 80 cents, and 500 manila envelopes for $1.15. One day they purchased salmon for $5.30. There are a number of entries for purchases of either "Caton amber" or "amber Caton" for $1.25, and I went online to try and hunt that down. A company in Catonsville, Maryland manufactured ginger ale and sold it in an amber coloured bottle, with the name "CATON" embossed on the bottle.


A hydro payment from 1893

There were a few entries for "electric light" bill payments. This image shows a payment for two months, not one. Almost 130 years later my own electric bill is only twice what this one was, despite the addition of all my modern conveniences: frig, stove, range hood, microwave, toaster, tv, stereo, computers, printers, scanner, telephone, answering machine, electric fan, and so on. I have donated this ledger to the City of Victoria Archives for their collection.



JAN. 17 2021: BUTTON BUTTON, WHO'S GOT THE BUTTON?

 
Jennens & Co. brass button c1832-1860

I found this brass button about 50 years ago. I had gone up to North Bend, and taken the cable ferry across the Fraser River, intending to look for soapstone on the banks of the Nahatlatch River. I found some nice pieces to bring home, and also wandered along the west bank of the Fraser just south of the confluence of the Nahatlatch. At that location, the river bank was a black rock bench a little ways above the river, but within high water mark. The solid rock bench was covered with another layer of rock, broken up into small rocks but essentially still in place. In between these rocks was just enough space to put my feet down to the solid rock so that I could walk safely.


Jennens & Co. brass button c1832-1860

I caught a flash of gold in between the small rocks as I walked, and picked up this button. It definitely seemed like an unusual find, and appeared to be in good condition. I took it home, and it sat around in one drawer or box or another over the years. Every so often I'd look at it and think about identifying it. Of course there was no Internet 50 years ago!

Anyway, I came across it again recently, and decided to see what I could find out. I discovered a web site in England that has an extensive list of button-makers and their back-marks. Since my button has the text "Jennens & Co. London" on the back, I quickly found it in the list. Although this button maker began business as Messrs. Jennens & Co. in 1800, and is still active today as J.R. Gaunt and Son, the text on my button was only used on buttons made between 1832 and 1860. The button is solid brass, and weights 7.7 grams. All of the 100 year old dirt on the button could be removed, it's actually in excellent condition.

So, the button may have been sitting on the bank of the river for 110 years when I found it, and in any case it is now between 160 and 190 years old! My original theory was that it is a button from the British Royal Engineers, who worked to build the Cariboo Road through the Fraser Canyon in the 1850s. Now that the date of manufacture is confirmed to be contemporary with the Engineers in B.C., it's just a matter of confirming what uniform this button would have been attached to. Identification of the crown might narrow down the date range of manufacture.

Perhaps there is an Engineer's journal somewhere that notes "Drat, lost one of my uniform buttons today alongside the Fraser River, but couldn't find it and had to keep going."

UPDATE: I got in touch with the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria, and I will be sending this as a donation to them. It turns out they have a very limited collection of Engineer's uniforms, in fact the only original one they have is Joseph Pemberton's own uniform.



NOV. 21 2020: B.C. SOCIETY OF ARTS EXHIBITION CATALOGUES

           
A sample of exhibition catalogue covers 1937-1958

I was recently gifted a number of early art exhibition catalogues, and these are ones published by the B.C. Society of Fine Arts, later the B.C. Society of Artists.



JUNE 29 2020: HARDING MEMORIAL, STANLEY PARK


Back of Harding Memorial, Stanley Park

This lion on the back side of the memorial to USA President Harding used to spout water from its mouth. The memorial was dedicated in 1925 during a state visit from Harding. This lion, and the sculptures on the front side of the memorial, were all created by Vancouver sculptor Charles Marega. This is one of my favorite "hidden" sculptures in Vancouver, up until recently it was almost entirely covered by overgrown bushes.



JUNE 29 2020: ABANDONED BEAR PITS, STANLEY PARK


Abandoned Bear Pit 1, Stanley Park


Abandoned Bear Pit 2, Stanley Park

The bear pits were apparently constructed around 1961 to house live bears. The last polar bear died in 1996, after which the bear pits were abandoned. In 2020 they were still there, looking a little like a post-apocalyptic military installation. These would make an interesting location to present a play or a musical performance.



JUNE 1 2020: LANDMARK HOTEL ON ROBSON STREET


Landmark Before Demolition 2017

What was originally known as the Sheraton Landmark Hotel was built at 1440 Robson Street in 1972-73 for developer Ben Wosk. The 42-story building was designed by local architects Lort and Lort, a father and son team of Ross Lort and William (Billy) Lort. Ross Lort was an early partner of Samuel Maclure.

The building was designed with a rotating restaurant on the top floor, known as Cloud 9. Eating there was an interesting experience, I think it took about an hour to rotate a full circle, and I could watch my neighbourhood far below spin in and out of sight between dinner and dessert.

Another design feature of the original Robson Street facade was a wall at the main entry composed of rock samples from around the Province, set like a huge mosaic. Years later the facade was extensively clad in glazing panels and the rocks disappeared from sight. Somebody put up handbills asking for information about it, but in any case once the hotel was demolished it became a somewhat moot point.

The hotel eventually sold to Asian interests, and was renamed the Empire Landmark. A huge collection of hideous neon lighting was installed on the roof, to the horror of almost the entire West End. Many complaints were made, it turned out it was done without a permit, and eventually they were forced to reduce the amount of new neon lighting. Well, it's all gone now.

For demolition, I was hoping for an implosion, but they decided to chew it down. A type of mobile hydraulic concrete breaking machine was taken up into the building. For months that thing vibrated the entire neighbourhood, it was really loud. The chunks of concrete were dumped down the elevator shafts. Eventually the tower was chewed down into the ground and out of sight. The underground parkade walls were left for slope retention as they kept digging for the new footings. They went down ninety feet at the high end of the block, then it was time start building again.


Empire Landmark seen from Barclay Park on Haro St., Feb. 28 2017


Empire Landmark seen from Nicola St., Feb. 22 2017


Stripping the building prior to crushing


Deconstruction in progress


An interesting view in the fog


Another view in morning fog, Cloud 9 is gone


Detail view, the tower is about half gone


A view of the last piles of rubble being crushed and trucked away


After demolition and excavation 2020



APRIL 12 2020: WHEN COVID CAME TO ROBSON STREET


When the Virus Came to Robson Street


Closed


Please Donate


Land of Plenty


After the COVID Riot


Conflicting Signage



APRIL 2: MY PRINTING PRESS FINALLY IDENTIFIED!

One of my earliest news items on this website was the 2004 purchase of a press, that I wanted to use for making linocut relief prints. The only identifying mark on the press was a cast diamond shape, with an indistinct logo or letter in the middle, which could have been a C, D, G, S, or something else entirely like a hexagon. I looked online for a mark like that, and also for presses, nipping presses, book presses, whatever I could think of. No luck, so I gave up.


J. Smart Copying Press with "Diamond G" logo

This week, stuck at home self-isolating and trying to to keep myself safe from the virus, I was washing my old family frying pan, and wondered about the manufacturer. The bottom had the name SMART embossed on it, and BROCKVILLE ONT as well. In the middle of the bottom is an embossed circle, with a diamond shape inside that, and an obscure letter inside that, which I hadn't noticed before. So, I looked up the name online.


Underside of J. Smart Copying Press

It turns out that J. Smart Manufacturing made both my frying pan and my press! I found an old Smart catalogue online, and in the 1880s they had 5 series of what they called COPYING PRESSES, with a number of different models in each series. A website about cast iron in Canada notes that this logo was only used between 1886 and 1912, which makes the frypan and press each over 100 years old! The letter in the middle is a "G", which stands for Gill, a previous owner of the company. Made in Canada, and still in perfect working order. Smart made a lot of different series of frying pans, but not that many of them seem to have wood handles. The number 9 refers to the diameter of the flat bottom of the frying pan.


Underside of J. Smart #9 frying pan with 12" rule


Detail - underside of J. Smart #9 frying pan with Diamond G logo

It's funny in a way, I've had the frying pan for about 50 years, but it was in my family long before that. I've cooked many meals with it, including the chili I whomped up last week. Since I acquired the copying press I have made well over 1,000 impressions with it, it performs perfectly and reliably, just like the frying pan.



FEB. 28 2019: CLOSURE OF THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE


Farewell to the Chocolate Mousse 2019



APRIL 1 2016: PART OF SHERMAN LIBRARY SURFACES

Although trying not to spend money on books and art I was enticed to purchase a small collection of old books that came from the Sherman family library. A "picker" brought them in to Macleod's Books, and the owner called to offer them to me. The source of the books was apparently an estate sale somewhere in Vancouver. I went over and bought all but one of them, an expensive first edition of Kim by Kipling. The others are all signed or with bookplates from Maud Sherman and her father Ruyter Sherman, and include a Canadian first edition of Puck of Pook's Hill printed in 1906.

All of the book titles are noted in the Diary of Maud Rees Sherman, where Maud made a list of over 120 books in their family library, and another long list of her favorite books and stories. A few months after transcribing the lists from the donated diary, some of the actual books appeared on my bookshelf.



JUNE 15 2015: GEORGINA POINT, MAYNE ISLAND


Old Lifeboat, Georgina Point


Lighthouse, Georgina Point

I had a vacation on Mayne Island in 2015, and one day walked to Georgina Point, at the east entrance to Active Pass. The lighthouse was built in 1885, and was accompanied by a lifeboat station. See also Mayne Island for more pictures from this trip.



JUNE 9 2013: JOHN KOERNER CELEBRATION AT BURNABY ART GALLERY


In the Fireside Room, Burnaby Art Gallery

A celebration of the art and life of artist John Koerner was held at the Burnaby Art Gallery on June 9th, in conjunction with the launch of a new book and a panel discussion. Afterwards a catered reception was held on the gallery's large porch.

Continued at JOHN KOERNER CELEBRATION.



DEC. 21 2012: DEVICE TO ROOT OUT EVIL

This sculpture by American artist Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011) was temporarily installed in Vancouver adjacent to the harbour as part of the 2005 Sculpture Bienniale. It was originally commissioned for installation at Stanford University. However, protests from religious folks forced it to leave Stanford, then Vancouver, and then it was installed in Calgary until 2014. It was finally installed at Palma, Mallorca. I really admired this work, a simple idea beautifully constructed.


OCCUPY VANCOUVER 2011

Browsing through some digital photos from 2011, I came across a few that I'd taken one day at the Art Gallery on Georgia Street, wandering through the OCCUPY VANCOUVER encampment. The camp was quite neat and tidy, but my visit was after the first "crackdown" by city officials to make the campers provide clear access to all tents "in case of emergency" ...

Signage was much in evidence throughout the encampment. The sign taped to the handrail was a bit ironic, it admonished people not to lock their bikes to the handrail, it was for the use of handicap people only. The sign was taped to the top rail in a way that would actually impair "graspability" and would have better been attached lower down.

Regardless of that kind of nit-picking, I did have to admire the spirit and conviction of those who were protesting. The encampment had the air of a 1960s be-in, with the same common belief that people joining together to help each other out is a good thing. I did have to chuckle a bit at one of the demands on a sign being "access to the Internet is a right" as the Internet is a relatively new-fangled thing that we didn't have back in the 1960s. Some strange events have rolled through this part of town in the past while ... the 2010 Olympics ... the 2011 hockey riot ... OCCUPY VANCOUVER ... what's next?



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