That new bus seat smell!

There’s nothing quite like that new furniture smell – especially on your bus!

I recently boarded a 135 Burrard Station bus outside my home in North Burnaby and noticed the bus smelled like new vinyl. Upon closer investigation I discovered the seats appeared to be brand new. This was nice!

From New bus seats!

Coast Mountain Bus Company which manages 96 per cent of the bus services in the Greater Vancouver area have, in fact, replaced the seats on the New Flyer Industries D60LF low floor articulated bus that serves my route.

“The 135 bus you are inquiring about did have its seats replaced as part as part of the midlife repair in December 2013,” says Vic Carreira who is the director of fleet maintenance at Coast Mountain Bus Company. “TransLink is committed to keeping our system in a state of good repair. We have strict maintenance practices where in the long run, it will help our buses run better and ultimately service our customers better. Thanks for noticing our efforts.”

I don’t drive so I rely on public transit to get around. I spend at least an hour a day on the bus or SkyTrain so a hassle-free and pleasant transit experience contributes to my quality of life. I like it when the buses and trains are clean, arrive on time and have enough seats for everyone on board.

From New bus seats!

They installed the comfortable Model 6484 (City Service Bus) seats which are manufactured by American Seating. Their website describes them as follows, “Superior comfort and styling define the fully upholstered 6484 design. This comfortable and refined seating solution is built and tested for durability, safety, comfort and style.”

From New bus seats!

The old seats were also the 6484 design but they were getting quite ratty and greasy with age. The new seats, however, are comfortable, clean and sturdy.

From New bus seats!

“As a regular maintenance practice, the interior and exterior of our buses are cleaned on a daily basis, this includes sweeping the floors and washing the exterior of the buses,” says Carreira. “In addition, approximately four times per year, we fully clean the interior of each bus by vacuuming the seats with a hepa filtered industrial vacuum and then spraying the seats with disinfectant. Also, our buses go through a rebuild near the midpoint of their 17 year life. Depending on the condition of the bus the midlife repairs can include seat replacement.”

Fine bone china, cats and a flying teapot!

I absolutely love bone china.

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines it as “fine china made of clay mixed with the ash from bones.” In other words, the really expensive dishes that your grandmother kept behind glass.

Bone china tends to be delicate yet very strong with a high level of chip resistance that engages the senses. I find that a bone china teacup feels much smoother against my skin than a cheap ceramic mug which can strain the fingers. Furthermore, bone china is frequently decorated with beautiful designs that are sometimes hand-painted and embellished with gold.

My prized hand-painted fine bone china teacups that were specially made for B.C.'s official centennial celebrations in 1958. The cups on the left were made by Royal Stafford and the cups on the right by Roslyn.
My prized hand-painted fine bone china teacups that were specially made for B.C.'s official centennial celebrations in 1958. The cups on the left were made by Royal Stafford and the cups on the right by Roslyn.

I have a lot of beautiful pieces of china which lend tea and social gatherings a touch of beauty, continuity and a certain loving dignity that transcends the ages.

It’s a gesture of love and respect on my part when I serve my friends tea in my best china and it’s not lost on me when others do the same. My friend Jacqueline, for example, is a fellow bone china lover.

I own two British Columbia themed pieces by Royal Winton Grimwades including a salt and pepper shaker set and this well-used mug that once belonged to my great-grandmother. I drink tea from this mug every day.
I own two British Columbia themed pieces by Royal Winton Grimwades including a salt and pepper shaker set and this well-used mug that once belonged to my great-grandmother. I drink tea from this mug every day.

Whenever I visit her she takes great delight in telling me the stories behind her many beautiful pieces. None were more beautiful and haunting, in my opinion, than her lovely cat pattern china.

“This particular china pattern is a bit of an obsession for me,” says Jacqueline as she carefully pulls a whimsical fine bone china mug from the safety of a corner cupboard.

The cup depicts tasteful and well-executed transfer-printed images of cats: an orange and black tabby on one side and black and white domestic long-hair wearing a cute daisy-chain necklace on the other. The rim and handle of the cup are both embellished with the same daisy-chain motif.

The front side of the kitty daisy chain mug.
The front side of the kitty daisy chain mug.

Jacqueline purchased two cups as well as a teapot sold by Marks & Spencer under its St Michael brand at one of their Vancouver locations in the late ‘90s.

“I bought the teapot and two cups for about $120 and spending $120 on china was a lot at that point in my life,” recalls Jacqueline. “But I simply fell in love with them immediately and thought they were the coolest cups and teapot that I’d ever seen.”

Unfortunately the other matching cup as well as the teapot were destroyed long ago. She can’t remember how the other cup was lost but the demise of her the teapot is still a vivid memory 12 years after the fact.

“My boyfriend was sleeping on the couch and he had his feet right near the side table where the teapot was resting,” she says. “Seeing the danger I warned him to be careful and he said, ‘okay, don’t worry!’ He then accidentally kicked the teapot off of the table and it flew across the air and smashed into a bunch of pieces. I was very upset.”

The back of the kitty daisy chain mug.
The back of the kitty daisy chain mug.

She was in the dining room at the time and unable to save the teapot. She did, however, witness the smash that was heard around the world.

“You have to understand that this was a carpeted apartment we lived in at the time,” she recalls. “There was only one non-carpeted surface in the apartment which was a 3 ft. by 1 ft. tiled area in front of the gas fireplace and that’s where the teapot landed.”

Undeterred, she has doggedly searched for a replacement ever since. She checks eBay “continually” and has even called various Marks & Spencer locations throughout the United Kingdom.

The bottom of the kitty daisy chain mug.
The bottom of the kitty daisy chain mug.

“I called them every six months until finally I was transferred from someone to someone else until finally someone who knew what I was talking about said, ‘oh yes, the daisy chain kitty cups!’” she says. “She knew why I loved them and said they were adorable but had no idea where I might them. That was about five years ago when I finally gave up. I figured that if the one person who knew what I was talking about said I would never find it I might as well give up.”

While Jacqueline still holds out hope that she may find a replacement she is not holding her breath.

“I would like to replace my teapot and have at least one more cup so I can use it someday with friends,” she says. “I can’t spend hours every nothing trolling eBay – it’s a waste of time.”

Have you seen this pattern anywhere?

New White Spot at Kensington Square in North Burnaby!

A new White Spot just opened for business in my neighbourhood and I thought it’d be a perfect excuse to write an impromptu restaurant review.

For those of you who don’t know White Spot is a chain of restaurants in British Columbia and Alberta and today I enjoyed an appetizing and delicious lunch at their newest location at Kensington Square in North Burnaby.

If today was any indication of what to expect in the future I am confident that this location will do very well. The food was good, the service was excellent, and the whole place had a very nice ambience.

The Kensington Square White Spot.
The Kensington Square White Spot.

This is in stark contrast to the ABC Country Restaurant that once occupied this location. Housemate ate breakfast there every week but I didn’t like it. I thought the food was disgusting, the service was piss-poor, and the atmosphere left a lot to be desired. They really seemed to cater to senior citizens and people coming out of church. I was not their demographic and the servers let me know this…

Those days are no more!

One of the White Spot managers explained that they hope to attract a diverse crowd of customers including seniors, students, young adults, and everyone in-between and I told him that I had no doubt they’d achieve their objective.

The people at White Spot completely gutted the old ABC location and essentially rebuilt the entire restaurant from the inside out. Back when it was ABC a large portion of the restaurant was sectioned off for some reason and I never saw anyone use it. The new White Spot, however, has filled the entire place up with booth seats and a very attractive bar area.

The bar area at White Spot. The servers said there is no booze on the shelf yet!
The bar area at White Spot. The servers said there is no booze on the shelf yet!

And yes, the food was delicious! I’ve been sick for the last week and this was the first actual meal I’ve had in days.

I ordered some tea, a Legendary Combo (a hamburger with some kind of salad), and a vanilla milkshake.

I am pleased to say that the burger was made from local ingredients and that the patty was fresh – not frozen. The salad was salad. I’m sure someone who likes salads would say that it was delicious but I only eat them because they contain essential vitamins. And yes, the tea and the milkshake were also delicious!

The servers were very attentive, friendly, and prompt. I will definitely make a habit of eating here and Housemate has also indicated that he will join me on future visits!

The tea was excellent!
The tea was excellent!
The Legendary Combo with a salad!
The Legendary Combo with a salad!
A close up of the burger! Tee-hee-hee!
A close up of the burger! Tee-hee-hee!
Vanilla milkshake!
Vanilla milkshake!

President’s Choice brand Nanaimo bars!

I made some Nanaimo bars today!

Nanaimo bar
Nanaimo bar

The other day Housemate came home and happily exclaimed that he had purchased some Nanaimo bars and triumphantly plopped this box down on the counter:

President's Choice brand Nanaimo bar baking mix
President's Choice brand Nanaimo bar baking mix

“Uhm… those aren’t Nanaimo bars,” I tell him. “It’s just the mix to make them!”

“Oh damn! You’re kidding right?” he asked.

“Of course it’s a mix,” I exclaim. “Who the hell stores Nanaimo bars in a box on a store shelf? They are full of butter for crying out loud. They need to be refrigerated!”

Perhaps Housemate can be forgiven as he’s originally from Vancouver and Campbell River – not Nanaimo! One of the best things about being from Nanaimo is that people across Canada associate my hometown with a dessert.

What is a Nanaimo bar? The Wikipedia article describes it as a dessert that’s made from a “wafer crumb-based layer topped by a layer of light vanilla or custard flavoured butter icing which is covered with melted chocolate made from chocolate squares.”

But there are many different recipes.

During a performance of his song “Nanaimo” on CBC Radio One’s North by Northwest in the late ‘90s, for example, Gabriola Island folk singer Bob Bossin claimed that Nanaimo bars contained: smoke and peelers, cocaine dealers, redneck loggers, non-stop talkers, and hookers with daughters.

Here’s all the stuff I used to make it with:

The Nanaimo bar mix out of the box
The Nanaimo bar mix out of the box

But the recipe I made came from a prepackaged mix that was shipped in from Ontario. The recipe also calls for a en egg, a bit of milk and butter. Lots of butter.

Unfortunately we didn’t have any butter so the very non-Nanaimo Housemate actually suggested I use margarine instead.

It’s been a while since I’ve lived in Nanaimo but I know that the secret to a good Nanaimo bar is good fresh butter. So, Housemate kindly offered to drive me to the store where I got managed to purchase this essential ingredient.

The egg and most of the butter was used in the base mix:

Nanaimo bar base
Nanaimo bar base

The filling powder was mixed with milk and some butter and then spread across over the base:

Nanaimo bar filling
Nanaimo bar filling

The remainder of the butter was mixed with a packet of chocolate chips in a saun pan which was then poured over the top of the filling:

Nanaimo bar topping
Nanaimo bar topping

It’s actually a very good Nanaimo bar that’s as good as anything you might find at your local bakery. It’s much better than the Starbucks Nanaimo bars. My only complaint is that they don’t give you enough custard filling. I like a lot of filling in my Nanaimo bar.

Thank you Housemate for making this treat possible!

A history of British Columbia Day

“Wheras, divers of Her Majesty’s Subjects and others have, by the Licence and Consent of Her Majesty, resorted to and settled on certain wild and unoccupied Territories on the North-West Coast of North America, commonly known by the Designation of New Caledonia, and from and after the passing of this act to be named British Columbia, and the Islands adjacent, for Mining and other purposes; it is it is desirable to make some temporary Provision for the Civil Government of such Territories, until permanent Settlements shall be thereupon established, and the Number of Colonists increased…”

An Act to provide for the Government of British Columbia August 2, 1858

Today is British Columbia Day – BC’s incidentally named civic holiday which is observed on the first Monday of August. Unlike Canada Day or Fête nationale in Quebec which are highly visible celebrations, B.C. Day seems to be little more than an Administrative afterthought that was intended to bring British Columbia into line with the rest of Canada.

John Innes' 1925 painting "James Douglas Taking The Oath As First Governor of BC, A.D. 1858" on display at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.
John Innes' 1925 painting "James Douglas Taking The Oath As First Governor of BC, A.D. 1858" on display at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.

The August holiday came about as a result of the British Columbia Day Act which was introduced in 1974 by Ernie Hall who then served as Provincial Secretary in Premier Dave Barrett’s cabinet.

“August 1, or the closest working day to it, is a statutory holiday in every other province in Canada,” he said. “By coincidence, an Act to provide for the Government of British Columbia, which changed us from the Colony of British Columbia, was passed by the parliament in the United Kingdom on August 2, 1858. That was before Social Credit, I think, but only just.”

Since the proposed holiday closely aligned with the anniversary of the passing of “An Act to provide for the Government of British Columbia” the Barrett government dedicated it to the memory of “the pioneers who built the colony of British Columbia into the great province it is today”.

Other members, including, Vancouver South MLA Daisy Webster, praised the proposed holiday for its practical benefits.

“Mr. Speaker, I, too, am very much in favour of having a holiday on August 1,” she said. “I was brought up in Manitoba, and there we used to have a civic holiday on August 1. When I went to Ontario, they had a civic holiday there on August 1. I came to British Columbia and I felt I was deprived.”

The Act to provide for the Government of British Columbia.
The Act to provide for the Government of British Columbia from John Innes' 1925 painting "James Douglas Taking the Oath As First Governor of BC, A.D. 1858."

Langley MLA Bob McLelland, however, stressed the historic importance of the summer observance and reminded his fellow members of Douglas Day, British Columbia’s other provincial holiday.

“Mr. Speaker, I certainly don’t intend to oppose this bill, but I want to recognize that the drafters of the bill have correctly included a tribute to James Douglas who, on the 19th day of November, in Fort Langley, British Columbia, proclaimed the Act setting up the Government of British Columbia,” he said. “I want again to get in an annual plea that the cabinet continue its regular cabinet meeting in Fort Langley on the 19th day of December. Perhaps, while it’s in a holiday mood, it might think about extending the celebration of Douglas Day to the rest of the province instead of isolating it at Fort Langley, recognize that famous day for what it is as well, and recognize, of course, that Fort Langley was the first capital of British Columbia.”

That proclamation took place over three months after the Act received Royal Assent in London.

In delivering the speech of the Lord Commissioners to the House of Lords Frederic Thesiger, 1st Baron Chelmsford as Lord Chancellor expressed a vision of British Columbia, not as a distinct society or nation, but the westernmost extent of British North America. The establishment of British jurisdiction, he argued, was an urgent matter.

“The Act to which Her Majesty has assented for the Establishment of the Colony of British Columbia was urgently required in consequence of the recent discoveries of Gold in that District; but Her Majesty hopes that this new Colony on the Pacific may be but one Step in the Career of steady Progress, by which Her Majesty’s Dominions in North America may ultimately be peopled, in an unbroken Chain, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, by a loyal and industrious Population of Subjects of the British Crown,” said Lord Chelmsford on August 2, 1858.

The name of the colony, one of the most remote and least populated in the British Empire, was selected by Queen Victoria.

“If the name of New Caledonia is objected to as being already borne by another colony or Island claimed by the French, it may be better to give the new colony West of the Rocky Mountains an other name,” wrote the Queen in In a letter to Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the English novelist, poet, playwright, and politician who served as Secretary of State for the Colonies on July 24, 1858. “New Hanover, New Cornwall and New Georgia, appear from the maps to be the names of subdivisions of that country, but do not appear on all maps, the only name which is given to the whole territory in every map the Queen has consulted is ‘Columbia’ but as there exists also a ‘Columbia’ in South America and the Citizens of the United States call their country also Columbia at least in poetry ‘British Columbia’ might be in the Queen’s opinion the best name.”

Letter from Queen Victoria in which she recommends the name "British Columbia" for this land.
Letter from Queen Victoria in which she recommends the name "British Columbia" for this land.

During the Second Reading of the Bill in the House of Lords Henry Pelham-Clinton, 5th Duke of Newcastle, who felt the name “British Columbia” was neither very original nor very felicitous, stressed the importance of establishing a permanent colony on the Pacific.

“Steps should be taken to lay out a town, and to adapt the lands to agricultural pursuits, and prevent the colony from becoming the receptacle for ruffians; steps should be taken to introduce habits of decency and order, to establish a certain amount of force, such as would keep the inhabitants in decency and good order, and thereby obviate the difficulties that attached to the first days of a colony of this description,” he said.

Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon was a more sentimental about the new colony and expressed his hope that British Columbia would prove to be “one of the most loyal and devoted of those which paid allegiance to Her Most gracious Majesty”.

Fort Langley today
Fort Langley today

“A complete revolution had recently taken place in that country, which was bounded on the west by the Pacific, on the east by the Rocky Mountains, on the south by the territory of the United States, and on the north by a chain of hills, lakes, and rivers, and which embraced an extent of about 400,000 square miles,” said Lord Carnarvon. “That district, but a short time since tenanted only by wild beasts and still wilder savages, with here and there a hunter, had suddenly become the scene of gold discoveries, and was already the theatre of action, enterprise, and adventure.”

My treasured teacups from the B.C. Centennial in 1958
My treasured teacups from the B.C. Centennial in 1958

A a fifth-generation British Columbian I view this province, especially the coast, as not only my home but my homeland. It is no Canuck hinterland or Imperial link for me. It is the centre of my world and while I am Canadian I can’t deny the deep affinity, connection, and synergy I feel with certain wild and occupied Territories on the North-west coast of North America, commonly known by the Designation British Columbia.

Licorice ice cream

Have you ever had licorice ice cream? It’s my favourite flavour but it’s so darn hard to find so I was absolutely thrilled to learn that my neighbourhood ice cream place, Gleburn Soda Fountain and Confectionary, had just added Licorice Marble ice cream to their menu. I’ve gone there twice this week for a scoop… or two.

Glenburn uses Birchwood Dairy ice cream which has a 16 per cent butterfat content. This means it tastes really good.

Licorice ice cream at Glenburn.
Licorice ice cream at Glenburn.

Birchwood describes their licorice marble flavour as “a black licorice flavour based marbled with a dark black licorice.” I thought it was very good. The licorice flavour is on the light side – it’s not overpowering. That being said, it carries a nice blend of flavours that meld well with the cream. The colour is very light and it has a pleasant aftertaste. It’s a definite must for any licorice lover.

My all-time favourite licorice ice cream was produced by Island Farms but they have discontinued it in recent years. They used to sell it in those big 11.4 litre bulk tubs. Back when I was growing up and until about 2010 it was not terribly uncommon to find a gas station or corner store on Vancouver Island that sold it.

It was as black as a slab of cold coal and packed a very potent dose of licorice flavour that just grabbed your taste buds. You had to be careful eating this ice cream if you wearing a white shirt. I hope they bring this flavour back.

Island Farms Licorice ice cream at the Old Country Market in Coombs B.C. 2009.
Island Farms Licorice ice cream at the Old Country Market in Coombs B.C. 2009.

Climbing Burnaby Mountain!

In the Sound of Music Mother Abbess tells us through song to climb every mountain. She probably wasn’t referring to actual mountains but I think it’s a powerful message of hope. So, with that song in mind I climbed a mountain today.

Mount Burnaby to be exact. I was feeling a little sluggish this weekend and thought it would be a good idea to bring in the new month and week with a proactive and inspiring excursion.

The triumphant mountain climber!
The triumphant mountain climber!
The end of Hastings.
The end of Hastings.

I live on Capitol Hill in North Burnaby. The main street here, Hastings, begins at Cardero St. in Coal Harbour and runs approximately 12 km to Dalla-Tina Ave. at the foot of Burnaby Mountain. A path from Hastings then continues as the Trans Canada Trail up to the top of the mountain.

I see Burnaby Mountain every day. It greets me every morning like a reliable friend reminding me of the season as well as the time of day. It’s a subtle and unimposing elevation compared to the nearby North Shore Mountains and I have often wondered how hard it would be to just walk up there. So, today that’s exactly what I did.

It was pretty easy.

Looking down on Hastings from the Trans Canada Trail on Burnaby Mountain.The end of Hastings.
Looking down on Hastings from the Trans Canada Trail on Burnaby Mountain.The end of Hastings.
Centennial Park on Burnaby Mountain.
Centennial Park on Burnaby Mountain.

Granted, climbing a 370 m mountain is not exactly the most impressive feat. But it’s a mountain nonetheless and the fact that I climbed it empowers me to face some of my life challenges with a bit more confidence and focus.

Burrard Inlet from Burnaby Mountain.
Burrard Inlet from Burnaby Mountain.

The Woodward Mausoleum – Until the daybreak and the shadows flee away

I would like to be a more proactive individual.

Over the course of my life there have been many instances when I have decided to do something but never got around to it. I would make a plan in my mind and I had the will to do it but would often get sidetracked by more immediate concerns and eventually let the idea float into oblivion.

I first became conscious of this pattern when I worked at a retirement home kitchen here in Burnaby in 2001. My walk to work took me past the Masonic Cemetery which is crowned by the prominent Woodward Mausoleum. This is the final resting place of Charles Woodward, the founder of the now defunct Woodward’s department store chain as well as members of his family.

The Woodward Mausoleum.
The Woodward Mausoleum.

One day I thought it’d be a great idea to take a photo of it and post it to Findagrave.com – an online cemetery database that I contribute to. I had my Kodak Easy Load 35mm camera and a roll of film in my bag. “I could just go up there right now and take the photo,” I thought to myself. “I could drop the film off to be developed during my break and then scan and upload the photos tonight!”

But I didn’t do any of that. I don’t know why. I just carried on with my daily routine and put poor old Mr. Woodward out of my mind. There were no negative consequences of me not taking that photo but I had the ability, desire, tools, time, and resources to carry out the task s so why didn’t I just do it?

From then on that edifice, which I see on a regular basis, became a symbol for all of my plans that died before I even tried to make them happen.

I want to change that. I know I can’t do everything I want to do but I feel there is room in my life to be more proactive in achieving my goals. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do that but I thought it would be a good first step to go up on that hill, take photos of the mausoleum, and upload them to Findagrave – just like I planned to do over 11 years ago.

Interior of the Woodward Mausoleum.
Interior of the Woodward Mausoleum.

I took some photos of the tomb’s stone exterior and then attempted to take some photos of the interior through one of the foggy glass windows. I got a few shots of the inside including the tombs of the Woodward family, the intricate tile floor, the stained glass window, and a message of hope.

Above the altar, located at the back of the tomb, there was a marble tablet that read “until the daybreak and the shadows flee away.” That reminded me think that that perhaps, in some small way, I have ushered in a bright day by visiting that tomb and following through with a goal I set 11 years ago.

The inscription above the altar in the mausoleum reads "until the day break and the shadows flee away."
The inscription above the altar in the mausoleum reads "until the day break and the shadows flee away."

I also managed to take photos of other graves for Findagrave users who had requested photos from that cemetery.

I was having difficulty finding some of the graves so I made my way to a house located within the cemetery where I was greeted by the cemetery’s resident secretary-manager Terry A. Staley. He spent a good half hour dutifully finding the plots on his software, printing out detailed colour maps, and then writing his own notes on precisely where to locate the plots.

Stained glass window inside of the Woodward Mausoleum.
Stained glass window inside of the Woodward Mausoleum.

Mr. Staley, a Freemason and former banker, also told me about the cemetery’s history and indulged my curiosity about Freemasonry explaining some of their symbols and philosophies. I got the impression that he, like some of my ancestors, is affiliated with an organization that motivates people to be ever mindful of kindness, duty, and self-discipline.

I enjoyed speaking with Mr. Staley and thank him for helping enrich and fulfill one of my small but personally significant life goals. From now on when I look at that old tomb I’ll think of something more uplifting and empowering.

A brief history of North Burnaby

I’ve lived on Capitol Hill in North Burnaby for over seven years now and have always been curious about the history of this neighbourhood. So, last night I attended a wonderful presentation about the history of Burnaby Heights and Capitol Hill at the McGill branch of the Burnaby Public Library.

The one hour presentation, organised by the Heights Neighbourhood Association, was delivered by Arilea Sill, an archivist at the City of Burnaby who explained all the historical resources available online and Lisa Codd, a curator at Burnaby Village Museum who recounted the history of the neighbourhood.

History in the Heights poster
History in the Heights poster

While many British Columbia communities started out as farms or trading posts that would later be developed into suburban residential neighbourhoods North Burnaby was, in fact, an “instant suburb.” That is, its developers constructed modern homes and subdivisions right over the forest.

In 1912 North Burnaby was still mostly wilderness and settlement went hand in hand with logging. Logging was mostly done by hand and sold to local mills for shingles.

Photograph of an aerial drawing of Hastings Grove and Hastings Grove Addition in North Burnaby, as well as the surrounding area. A caption above the drawing reads, "a splendid view of the City, Fraser River, Burrard Inlet and the Mountains." A caption below the drawing reads, "Hastings Grove and Hastings Grove Addition."
Photograph of an aerial drawing of Hastings Grove and Hastings Grove Addition in North Burnaby, as well as the surrounding area. A caption above the drawing reads, "a splendid view of the City, Fraser River, Burrard Inlet and the Mountains." A caption below the drawing reads, "Hastings Grove and Hastings Grove Addition." (City of Burnaby Archives)

While the Vancouver Heights neighbourhood (now known as the Burnaby Heights), was cleared by developers many Capitol Hill property owners were left to clear their own lots prior to any construction. This often meant blasting stubborn tree stumps with dynamite. So much blasting took place, in fact, that the city had to implement blasting bylaws! Up until the 1930s Capitol Hill children were warned to run for cover when they heard someone yell “Fire in the hole!”

Capitol Hill was subdivided into lots in 1909 by people who did not take the topography of the area into consideration. Consequently, many people purchased lots that were unsuitable for development and a large number of them were left vacant and eventually reverted back to city ownership.

The high number vacant lots gave the city an opportunity to return to the drawing board, conduct a proper survey, and redesign the streets taking geography into consideration. Twenty-two acres of these lots would later become Confederation Park.

Photograph of an unidentified man standing at the base of a large stump that he will prepare for blasting. This man is thought to be John William "Jack" Holmes. (City of Burnaby Archives)
Photograph of an unidentified man standing at the base of a large stump that he will prepare for blasting. This man is thought to be John William "Jack" Holmes. (City of Burnaby Archives)

Burnaby’s location between Vancouver and New Westminster, ensured that infrastructure came before settlement. The early transportation networks in Burnaby were not designed to serve Burnaby, but to get through Burnaby. Douglas Road, which helped link Vancouver with New Westminster, was constructed by the Royal Engineers from 1862 to 1865. In 1891 a streetcar line was constructed along that route which led to Burnaby’s incorporation the following year.

In 1903 Hastings St., then a plank road, was constructed in response to a need to bring power to Vancouver from the hydroelectric plant at Buntzen Lake. The promise of a streetcar line spurred development along Hastings and it was constructed in 1913 from Boundary to Ellesmere.

Photograph of the Hastings Streetcar taken at the terminus of the Hastings Streetcar line at Ellesmere Avenue in North Burnaby. Two men in uniform and a boy dressed in a suit and hat are at the head of the car, looking towards the camera. A horse-drawn cart full of cordwood is visible in the background moving along the planked wooden road parallel to the street car. (City of Burnaby Archives)
Photograph of the Hastings Streetcar taken at the terminus of the Hastings Streetcar line at Ellesmere Avenue in North Burnaby. Two men in uniform and a boy dressed in a suit and hat are at the head of the car, looking towards the camera. A horse-drawn cart full of cordwood is visible in the background moving along the planked wooden road parallel to the street car. (City of Burnaby Archives)

I’d like to thank the library, the city, and the neighbourhood association for putting on this wonderful event!

For more information please visit Heritage Burnaby at www.heritageburnaby.ca

Also, here’s a nature video I took of Capitol Hill wildlife exploring exploring the wilderness of Burnaby Heights:

Homophobic grafitti in Vancouver on 4/20

On April 20 Vancouver celebrated its 18th annual 4/20 celebration.  That’s basically the day when thousands of people converge downtown to buy, smoke, see, or smell marijuana. Some go down there.

The celebration was founded by employees of Canadian cannabis activist Marc Emery who wanted to host a day-long rally to celebrate cannabis and call for its legalisation.

This year’s celebration attracted an estimated 20,000 attendees up from 15,000 who showed up last year. Many of these people, of course, made their way through the city to get home or to another destination. I spent part of the day visting with friends in Hastings-Sunrise which was a lot busier than usual. Hundreds of people pushed their way through Hastings on their way to or from the big celebration.

In addition to the people I also noticed a spammy sign at the corner of Nanaimo and Hastings had been defaced with homophobic graffiti. I spoke with area residents who said the vandalism took place sometime on April 20.

"GAY" spray painted on spammy advertisement.
"GAY" spray painted on spammy advertisement.