Flashback! Vancouver, 1930


View from the Roof Garden of the Hotel Vancouver shows the Marine Building towering over other downtown buildings, circa 1930. Item # Van Sc P8

Tear the Curtain! is set in a fictionalized 1930s Vancouver, where two prominent mob families: the Dugan’s (who run all the live joints) and the Pamploni’s (who own all the cinemas) use respectable businesses (like their cinemas and theatres) as a front for illegal activity. But what really happened in Vancouver in 1930?

January 27–A Vancouver demonstration by the Communist Party

April 4–The Vancouver Sun reports that “no time is to be lost on the construction of the new $225,000 theatre on south Granville street for Mr. Frederick Guest, of Hamilton, Ontario . . . the new playhouse will have a seating capacity of 1,250 and will be ultra-modern in every respect . . . equipped with the latest for talking pictures and also a pipe organ.” That’s our old friend, the Stanley Theatre, which will open later this year

May 3–A letter appeared in the Daily Province suggesting that bells be put on automobiles as a safety feature, to sound continuously when the vehicle is going downhill

August 21–Newspaper reports said the annual per capita income for BC residents was $4,339

September 7–The oldest surviving bowling centre in Canada, Commodore Lanes and Billiards, in the basement at 838 Granville Street, opens

October 5–The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performed for the first time at the Orpheum Theatre (Not until 1976 would they make it their permanent home). The conductor was Allard de Ridder, born in 1887 in Dordrecht, Holland. He put up his $3,000 life savings to guarantee the musician’s wages for this first concert. He will lead the orchestra until 1940

October 12–The Marine Building opened. It is the most famous, and in the opinion of many, still the most beautiful building in Vancouver, an art deco masterpiece. Its architects conceived of it as a great crag of a building, “rising from the sea, clinging with sea flora and fauna, in sea-green flashed with gold.”

November 22–A letter appeared in the Daily Province suggesting it would be a good idea to have traffic lights at Main and Kingsway

December 8–Work began on the Burrard Bridge. It will open July 1, 1932

Also in 1930

  • Construction began in Richmond on what is today Vancouver International Airport. A published  brochure read, in part: “The day is not far distant when giant airliners and dirigibles will leave this harbor for far-away China, Japan, and even Australia… faster than the winds themselves and higher than the birds which fly.” Interestingly, in 1929 Charles Lindbergh, visiting Seattle, refused an invitation from Vancouver mayor L.D. Taylor to fly into Vancouver because, said Lindbergh, “your airport isn’t fit to land on.”
  • 200 skeletons were found in the ancient Marpole Midden.
  • St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church opened at Burrard and Nelson. Its name shows it was a merger of two churches, one Presbyterian, the other Methodist. That had come about because of the formation of the United Church of Canada five years before
  • Jaywalking was banned in Vancouver
  • The new Ford automobiles were on display at the Hotel Vancouver. They sold for $540

From Chuck Davis’ The History of Vancouver

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4 Responses to Flashback! Vancouver, 1930

  1. Still waiting for those dirigibles to head Vancouver way.

  2. Pingback: Stanley Theatre presents Tear the Curtain, Sept 9 – Oct 10 « Your South Granville Blog

  3. Pingback: Stanley Theatre presents Tear the Curtain, Sept 9 – Oct 10 | South Granville

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