Thursday, June 30, 2011

Standing on guard for the monarchy

For a dedicated monarchist, a moment with the sovereign, as Keith Roy experienced last summer in Toronto, is never to be forgotten.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 30, 2011


The visit to Canada by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leaves local members of the Monarchist League of Canada feeling royal flushed.

The westernmost province is not on the itinerary for the summertime tour by Prince William, a minor disappointment to those who help keep the British in British Columbia.

Instead, devoted royal watchers will follow by social media the cross-country journey from the green gables of Prince Edward Island to the dusty paddocks of the Calgary Stampede.

Keith Roy, a 29-year-old Vancouver realtor, has downloaded a mobile app for the royal tour issued by the Canadian heritage and official languages ministry. It provides a schedule, photographs and even virtual postcards.

Technology has made more visible the aristocratic progeny of a millennium-old institution. As well, the tabloid embarrassments of the late decade of the previous century have been overshadowed, at least for the time being, by the fairytale wedding earlier this year of William Windsor and Catherine Middleton.

“It’s a great time to be a monarchist,” Mr. Roy proclaimed.

He joined the Monarchist League as a student a decade ago, a fortuitous decision. His membership led to a summer internship in the office of the lieutenant governor of Ontario. He accompanied James Bartleman, a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, on school visits, during which the Queen’s representative wore a buckskin jacket and carried a carved walking stick.

Mr Roy remembers schoolchildren being left googly-eyed by the pomp — the viceregal salute and the fluttering lieutenant-governor’s standard on the limousine.

He is not immune to such emotions of joy and wonder himself.

The Monarchist League knows some consider the monarchy an anachronism, harbour antipathy to the heir to the throne, regard the Royal Family as, in Mr. Roy’s words, “just a bunch of rich old Brits.” The league challenges any hint of republicanism, loyally defends the institution and Canada as a constitutional monarchy.

The tour by the Royal Highnesses will include seven official stops in four provinces and one territory over nine days. The cost? About six cents per Canadian.

To assuage disappointment over Will and Kate’s itinerary not including British Columbia, the league points out that this tour “will be but the first of many Canadian homecomings” for the couple. It seems inevitable that at some future date Victoria will play host to the great-great-great-great-grandson of the monarch after whom the capital city is named.

The first Royal visit to the province occurred in 1882, when the Governor General, the Marquess of Lorne, was accompanied by his wife, Princess Louise, a daughter of Queen Victoria. The first by a reigning sovereign took place in 1939 when George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the province, during which the large park abutting Cambie Street in Vancouver was named in her honour. Their daughter, then a princess, now the Queen, attended a football game on the University of B.C. campus, as well as a lacrosse match in Vancouver on her inaugural visit in 1951.

A visit to an exposition in Vancouver in 1986 by Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales led to the memorable tabloid headline: SEE EXPO AND DI. Elsewhere in the city, a graffito offered the unkind sentiment, “Up Chuck and Di.”

The local branches of the Monarchist League have been active in recent years in ensuring the Queen’s portrait not be removed from public places, most notably from BC Ferries. It was learned that her image had been removed from seven ferries during retrofitting and renovations. BC Ferries said it was no longer a Crown corporation; the Monarchist League insisted the ferry routes were part of the provincial highway system and thus owned by the Crown. The photographic portraits soon returned following a public outcry.

Mr. Roy has met and had conversations with Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and Prince Michael of Kent. He regards himself as a seasoned veteran of royal encounters.

Still, he found himself nearly speechless when he first spotted the shimmering diamonds of the Queen’s tiara while on a receiving line at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto last summer.

After an aide-de-camp read aloud his name in introduction, he bowed and lightly held the Queen’s gloved hand.

“Welcome home,” he said.

Will and Kate travel on British passports issued in the Queen’s name. The Queen does not carry a passport. As Mr. Roy well knows, she is Queen of Canada.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mom-and-pop bookshop brainstorms way to stay solvent

Kate, Drew and little Emma Grace Lorimer can be found hard at work at Tall Tales Books in Victoria. Chad Hipolito photograph for The Globe and Mail.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 27, 2011


See Kate. See Kate work.

See Drew. See Drew work.

Work, Kate, work. Work, Drew, work.

See Kate and Drew work in a children’s bookstore.

See Kate and Drew work to keep the Big Bad Wolf from the door.

See Kate and Drew try to earn a modest living while operating a bright, kid-friendly book emporium.

Funny, funny Kate and Drew.

The couple had a dream. Open a bookstore. Stock up on 2,000 of the best titles. Encourage parents to read to their children.

The creation of Tall Tales Books is a fairy tale whose final chapter might be written in the coming days.

The proprietors opened the doors at 795 Fort St. in Victoria 22 months ago. Kate, 31, and Drew, 33, have since learned some lessons.

They have learned E is for E-books.

They have learned O is for Online Ordering.

They have learned R is for Recession.

They have learned the Canadian dollar, which not so long ago seemed as valuable as Monopoly script, is now worth more than the greenback.

Monthly sales have been up and down, up and down like a yo-yo.

Worst of all, the economy went into the potty.

So, the couple brainstormed for a way to keep their bricks-and-mortar bookshop solvent. A book-of-the-month club? Too restricting for the clientele. Donations? Nah. They’re a business, not a charity.

Kate and Drew Lorimer settled on what they call the Tall Tales Books Hero Society. They are soliciting subscribers who promise to make monthly payments — as little as $10 per month — in exchange for merchandise at the store.

“It’s win-win,” Mr. Lorimer said. “We get a regular, guaranteed income and all the money goes towards a purchase in the store.”

The couple seek 400 subscribers by Canada Day. They signed up the 60th subscriber last Wednesday, hit 88 on Friday morning, soon after passing the century mark. The store was busy on Saturday, which happened to be Save Bookstores Day!, an online initiative by customers in Canada and the United States to support local independents. By Sunday morning, they had 115.

“We’ve got a hill to climb,” Mr. Lorimer said. “But the response from the community, the outpouring of support, has been amazing. We’re cautiously optimistic.”

They met while working at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. (Sometimes, love really is a high-wire act.) They married four years ago, then moved to Victoria. These days, they are sometimes joined in the store by Emma Grace Lorimer, who turns three next week. Tall Tales is a mom-and-pop operation.

The store has wide aisles for strollers, change tables in the washroom, and low-to-the-floor tables for toddlers. It also plays host to regular readings, often featuring Shoshana Litman of the Victoria Storytellers’ Guild.

As they struggle to stay open, a bedtime book for children currently tops the bestseller’s list. However, the Lorimers will not be stocking a volume in which the rhyming scheme includes a popular if vulgar Anglo-Saxonism. It is rendered on the cover as Go the F**k to Sleep.

“We appreciate the sentiment and we laugh at it,” Mr. Lorimer said. “But it doesn’t fit in with who we are.”

Mr. Lorimer’s favourite book to read to his daughter is Nick Bland’s The Very Cranky Bear, in which a lion, moose, sheep, and zebra unwittingly disturb a hibernating bruin. It is more family friendly to read about a bear of foul disposition, rather than to bare foul language.

SNAPSHOT IN SEPIA: Tony Bohanan, the Liverpudlian who established Tony’s Old Time Portrait Studio in Victoria in 1970, has been named posthumously to the hall of fame of the Antique and Amusement Photographers International. Bohanan shot locals and tourists in period costumes with topical backdrops at his shop on Broughton Street until his death last year, aged 78.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Frank Howard, politician (1925-2011)

Frank Howard shows off a 50-pound ling cod reeled in near Klemtu, B.C., while campaigning in 1958.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 24, 2011

Frank Howard went from breaking laws to making them.

Born into the most unpromising circumstance, he succumbed to the lure of crime before following a path that led to a seat in the House of Commons. The remarkable transformation is detailed in a memoir with a title succinctly capturing his life’s journey — From Prison to Parliament. In it, he declares himself the only ex-convict to become a Canadian lawmaker. Indeed, it is easier to imagine a reverse trajectory.

Howard, who has died, aged 85, became a champion of working people and a tribune for society’s least favoured members, from aboriginals to prisoners forgotten behind the walls of a penitentiary.

In his long career as a member of Parliament, he took part in a three-year filibuster that led to reform of the divorce laws. He is also credited with helping those who lived on reserves gain universal adult suffrage in 1960.

A miner and logger before he ran for office, he campaigned by scaling poles at sporting events and by reeling in ling cod the size of a child. For 17 years, he represented an isolated and far-flung constituency in northwestern British Columbia encompassing a territory nearly the size of France, but with a fraction of the population.
Frank Howard

With a craggy face topped by a shock of hair and chevron-shaped eyebrows, which turned white in old age, lending him the air of an Old Testament prophet, it was no stretch to imagine the solid six-footer as a lumberjack. The Native Brotherhood of B.C. bestowed on him the name Weget, a Gitga’at honour meaning big, or powerful.

As a teenager, he had occasion to search for his birth certificate. He knew he had been placed with another family shortly after his birth, but it was not until he dug into the archives did he discover how confused was his biography.

“Here I am with two different surnames and four different birth dates,” he wrote in his memoir. “Who the hell am I?”

Frank Robert Howard was born in Kimberley, B.C., on or about April 27, 1925. His mother, Dorothy Naas, known as Dot, worked as a prostitute in a bawdy house on the outskirts of the mining town in the Kootenay River Valley. His father, Rowlat Widlake Steeves, known as Rollie, is believed to have been her pimp.

(Howard thought the New Brunswick-born man listed as his father might have been related to William Henry Steeves, one of the fathers of Confederation, though he was unable to determine a genealogical tie.)

On his birth, he was given to foster parents who, later, spoke unkindly of the birth parents. The were described with contempt as “unmarried, no-good, rotten sons of bitches.” He believed the animosity was generated by his birth parents’ decision to skip town soon after promising to pay for the boy’s keep.

While in grade school, Frank scavenged beer bottles, their return to the brewery bringing a penny each, which he then used to buy single cigarettes to smoke with friends. Daily life involved misadventures and petty thievery. After Frank and two pint-sized scofflaws stole a butterscotch pie from the kitchen window of the Sullivan Hotel, he was taken before a judge, who determined he was a neglected child. At age 12, he was sent away from the only family he had known. On the journey to an orphanage in Vancouver, a policeman escorting the boy molested him as he cried on a bed in a motel room.

A docile, quiet child, Frank endured a stint at the Alexandra Children’s Home on West Seventh Avenue — “a warehouse containing kids in institutional clothing,” he would write — before being directed to the first of a series of foster homes. He contemplated suicide and ran away several times, once hot-wiring a stolen automobile in a desperate bid to return to Kimberley to visit his foster brother.

Howard, who dropped out in Grade 10, worked after school and in the summer months in a foundry, pouring molten iron into moulds for $4 per week

He found a wartime job in the Vancouver shipyards, but, with an accomplice, went on a month-long crime spree in the summer of 1943, robbing two jewelry stores and the Castle Hotel while armed with a revolver. In one of the holdups, the pair netted $2,000 in rings, watches and diamonds after sticking a gun in the back of an elderly employee as he opened a shop at daybreak.

Mr. Howard was convicted of three counts of armed robbery and sentenced to two years on each charge. He recalled anxiously awaiting the judge’s final verdict. “I remember listening for those words, either ‘consecutive’ or ‘concurrent.’ I was lucky. The word was ‘concurrent.” He served 20 months in the federal penitentiary in New Westminster, with time off for good behaviour, before being released on May 1, 1945. (It was the day, coincidentally, that Nazi Germany announced Adolf Hitler’s death.) He walked out with $10 in his pocket and a prison-bought suit on his back.

A criminal record made it difficult to find work, so he abandoned his foster name — he had been convicted as Frank Thomas Woodd — and became Frank Howard. He found jobs in the woods as a chokerman and cat skinner. After less than four years as a logger, he became an organizer for the International Woodworkers of America, serving as president of Local 1-71 for seven years.

He stood as a Co-operative Commonwealth Federation candidate in the 1952 provincial election, challenging a Coalition cabinet minister in Skeena. “I wasn’t attracted to the CCF because of any theories it held regarding sociopolitical matters,” he wrote. “I joined because I was a trade unionist; because corporations had the ear of government and workers did not.”

He lost, but claimed a seat in the Legislature in Victoria the following year by a 13-vote margin. After a single term, he lost to a Social Credit rival by 63 votes.

The union official then set his sights on Ottawa, defeating Liberal incumbent Ted Applewhaite, an insurance salesman, in the federal riding of Skeena in 1957. Howard would represent Skeena for 17 years, withstanding both the John Diefenbaker sweep of 1958 and Trudeaumania a decade later. (Skeena was so vast that its borders were described in longitude and latitude.) Howard held the seat for the CCF and its successor, the New Democratic Party, for seven campaigns before losing in 1974 to the Liberals’ Iona Campagnolo, a future lieutenant governor of British Columbia.

A fierce advocate for his constituents, Howard once wrote to the provincial highways minister to complain about the state of the unpaved road between Williams Lake and Bella Coola. He told Philip Gaglardi, a politician who drove so fast he was known as Flyin’ Phil, that the three graders on the highway were known as High Blade, Never-Scratch and Old Feather Touch.

“The road is pimpled and warted with rocks,” Howard wrote. “There are sharp rocks, spiked rocks, rugged, jagged and craggy rocks. They are round, square, conical, oval, notched, toothed and spired. There are large rocks, medium-sized rocks and even some pebbles. They protrude, project, pout, bulge and bunch themselves from all parts of the road. Between the rocks there are cavities, concavities, indentations, craters, sockets, depressions, hollows, dips, pits, troughs, basins, washboards, and holes of all sorts.”

The monthly mimeographed newsletter he mailed to 1,800 constituents once sandwiched a recipe for chocolate cake made with mayonnaise between news of the latest political developments in Ottawa. The politician advocated cooking as a hobby for men, comparing it to bowling as a way to relax after work.

A blunt, outspoken figure in the House, he receive rebukes from the Speaker more than once. He delighted in sniping with Conservatives.

Howard worked with caucus mate Arnold Peters to block 1,100 divorce petitions from Quebec and Newfoundland, two provinces whose lack of divorce courts left the matter to Parliament. The pair filibustered for three years to draw attention to the need for reform of Canada’s archaic divorce laws, a stand for which the Globe offered editorial support.

Speaking in the House in 1964, Howard warned that Quebec’s demands would be insatiable and suggested the rest of Canada should proceed on the notion that someday the Confederation would consist of only nine provinces. At least one member of the NDP caucus later told the House they challenged Howard’s vision of the future.

Howard gained a reputation as an advocate for penal reform, denouncing the “deplorable conditions” at St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary at Montreal. Few knew his advocacy came from personal experience. The parliamentarian confided his criminal past to party leaders and close friends, but the public remained ignorant until he made a televised confession in 1967.

After receiving an extortion note, which he shared with police, Howard purchased air time on CFTK-TV in Terrace, B.C. He admitted to having spent time in jail, though he refused to offer details of his crimes, which were later revealed by reporters who checked legal records. The admission was big news, in part because of the dramatic circumstance. The Vancouver Sun’s front-page headline read, “MP Frank Howard admits: I served time in penitentiary.”

Howard had received a note demanding a payment of $5,000 in bills of $10, $20 and $50. This was to be sent in a small box wrapped in brown paper address to a fictitious name in care of general delivery at the Vancouver post office. The blackmailer promised to repay the money at $100 per week for one year.

“If not,” the note threatened, “I will totally ruin you by distributing proof of your past to your friends, relatives, political associates and appropriate authorities.” It was signed, “An old friend.”

The 18-year-old son of a union organizer and Howard family friend pleaded guilty to the extortion attempt. Howard called for leniency. Gary Stephen Ross received a one-year jail term, which was reduced on appeal to a two-year suspended sentence. The youth went on to a distinguished career as an author and publisher, and is currently editor-in-chief of Vancouver magazine. He said he had a reconciliation with Howard.

The exposé gained Howard sympathy, not censure.

His advocacy on behalf of native peoples included harsh criticism of a bureaucracy he saw enriching itself at the expense of his constituents. “We should have a bonfire and burn the Indian Act,” he said in 1969. “There’s a group of empire builders in the department that seeks to perpetuate themselves.” The walls of his Ottawa office were decorated with his own paintings of the totem poles to be found back home.

In 1971, Howard entered the federal NDP leadership contest called after the retirement of T.C. (Tommy) Douglas. He launched his candidacy with harsh words against a radical wing of the party known as the Waffle, whose call for the nationalization of resource industries he decried as politically naive and lacking common sense. A low-key campaign seemed based on the gamble of winning delegates at the convention in Ottawa. Shortly before the vote, Howard spent a fortnight touring the Antipodes with Jean Chretien, the Indian affairs and northern development minister. On the first ballot, Howard got just 124 votes of 1,698 cast, finishing last of five candidates in a race won on the fourth ballot by David Lewis. Among the defeated challengers was future party leader Ed Broadbent.

After losing his seat, Howard worked briefly as a consultant on aboriginal affairs for Dave Barrett’s NDP government in B.C. He later became a stock broker with Richardson Securities of Canada.

Howard re-entered the political fray in his home province in 1979, knocking off stalwart Socred MLA Cyril Shelford, a rancher known as the Maverick of the North. Howard won re-election four years later before being defeated in 1986.

He retired to Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, where he lived with his third wife, Joane Humphrey, a journalist known professionally as J.J. McColl. A first marriage, to Edith Horvath, ended in divorce, while a second marriage to Julie Peacock ended with her death from cancer in 1999. The late-in-life romance with Ms. Humphrey — the bride was 65, the groom 77 when they enjoyed a June wedding in 2002 — animated the couple, who remained devoted to one another until her death six years later from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Known for his prized Christmas fruitcakes, Howard’s hobbies included gardening and photography. He wrote the draft of a science-fiction novel and was designing a board game based on politics at the time of his death.

Like many who make a grievous mistake when young, he was haunted throughout his life by his past.

“I’m grateful to the general public for its acceptance of the fact that a teenage blunder can be overcome and forgiven,” he wrote. “But the blunderer must continue to prove to himself, and therefore to others, that overcoming the blunder is permanent.”

Mr. Howard, who died on March 15 of complications from pneumonia, leaves stepchildren Danielle and Anthony Peacock from his second marriage. He was predeceased by a son from his first marriage, Robert Howard, who died in 1986.

Frank Howard (right) prepares to climb a 90-foot spar during a logger sports event in the 1960s in Terrace, B.C. Howard had been a miner and a logger before being elected to Parliament. Photograph by Frank McGrath.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yippies in love: Exploring the Vancouver riot — of 40 years ago

CBC archival footage shows Yippies flooding peacefully across the border during a notorious invasion of the border town of Blaine, Wash., in 1970.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 23, 2011


It was a warm summer night when rampaging gangs of men tore through Vancouver streets beating passersby with sticks.

Even unsuspecting women and children came under assault.

The police had a rough time of it, not the least because they perpetrated the violence.

Forty years ago this summer, some 2,000 people gathered on Gastown streets for what was billed as the Grasstown Smoke-In to peaceably protest marijuana prohibition. The night ended in what was widely regarded afterwards as a police riot. Hippies, activists and tourists fell under the truncheon as police on horseback rode through a frightened crowd. Archival footage shows police pulling men by their long hair.

The riot served as an exclamation point after many months of tension. The city’s police tried to crack down on drug use even as hordes of teenagers flocked to the city to sample mind-altering substances. The mayor, Thomas Campbell, a millionaire lawyer and property developer, did verbal battle against hippies and longhairs, Marxists and Maoists, Vietnam War draft dodgers and the Georgia Straight newspaper,. The mayor saw all of them as a threat — correctly, as it turned out — to building freeways and skyscrapers.

Particularly irksome were a band of anti-authoritarian merry pranksters who called themselves the Northern Lunatic Fringe of the Youth International Party — Yippie! for short.

It is this background that serves as the setting for a new musical, “Yippies in Love,” that opens with a preview Wednesday night at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. The gala opening on Thursday is expected to be attended by about a dozen former members of a group that operated without membership cards. Or leaders.

The script and lyrics were written by Bob Sarti, a former Vancouver Sun reporter who both covered and took part in some Yippie stunts.
A smoke-in led to a police riot in Vancouver's Gastown.

He wrote the play after interviewing old comrades, checking yellowed newspaper clippings, and surveying the CBC’s rich lode of archival footage. He said none of the Yippies regretted taking part. They feel history has absolved them.

“We were right. They were wrong,” Mr. Sarti said recently. “The bad guys were wrong. The war was wrong. Drug paranoia was wrong.”

The Vancouver Yippies lived in communal homes with such tongue-in-cheek names as The Dog House and Charlie Mansion. Combining street theatre with political activism, they tried to levitate the Main Street police station (an echo of unsuccessful attempts to do the same to the Pentagon).

A so-called Sip-In to protest the poor treatment of hippie customers at the Hudson’s Bay department store ended in smashed glass and the burning of the Stars and Stripes in a demonstration at the nearby American embassy on May 8, 1970.

The very next day, the Yippies took part in an audacious incursion across the frontier, when a crowd peaceably overwhelmed border guards at the Peace Arch and marched through the streets of Blaine, Wash. The invasion was a protest against the invasion of Cambodia and the subsequent shooting of unarmed students at Kent State University in Ohio.

During the protest, a trainload of new automobiles got pelted by rocks, causing significant damage.

The local newspaper called the foray “one of the saddest and most degrading incidents suffered by the people of this country since the Alamo.”

Two months later, the Yippies held what they called a Be-Out at Oakalla prison, knocking down a section of fence but wisely not engaging several hundred guards and police in anything other than some verbal jousting.

The Yippies also launched a newspaper (The Yellow Journal), opposed a development while campaigning to preserve as parkland a four-hectare site at the entrance to Stanley Park (today’s Devonian Harbour Park), and ran a candidate for mayor (see below).

Mr. Sarti, 68, who lives on Hornby Island, is the son of a New York City cook who volunteered to fight against fascists in the Spanish Civil War. He came to Canada as a draft resister in 1968. One of his early Sun stories was headlined, “Yippies behind rash of street actions here.”

He notes the play, with music by Bill Sample, is a drama, not a documentary, though characters and events will be familiar to those who took part four decades ago. (One wag cleverly suggests it is a comedy, just like the original production.)

Where Yippies were once vilified by city fathers, the play is an official part of the city’s quasquicentennial celebrations.

As a nod to recent events, a panel discussion will be held after Sunday’s matinee performance. It will compare the events of the early 1970s with the recent Stanley Cup riot. It is titled, “Yippies and Yahoos: What’s the Difference?”

Yippie mayoral candidate
called for repeal of law of gravity

In 1970, a young, unwed single mother on welfare ran for mayor of Vancouver as the candidate for the Northern Lunatic Fringe of the Youth International Party (Yippie!).

Betty (Zaria) Andrew, a shy, soft-spoken 23-year-old, posed for an election poster published in the underground newspaper, The Yellow Journal. She was shown holding her two-year-old son, Colin, known as Skeeter, in her lap. In her left hand, she holds a rifle, an incongruous prop in so maternal a setting.

“Unloaded,” she said. “It was to show our militancy. Not in the sense of going out to kill people, but in terms of being active.”

She campaigned on a promise to disband the police, to turn City Hall into a daycare, and to tear up downtown pavement in favour of parkland. The main plank called for a repeal of the laws of gravity “so everyone can get high.”

She opposed Thomas (Tom Terrific) Campbell, the avowed enemy of hippies and yippies who was seeking a third consecutive two-year term in the mayor’s chair.

A Globe columnist decried Mr. Campbell’s “ostrich indifference to social problems,” but the tough-talking, law-and-order advocate handily won re-election over the reformer Dr. William Gibson. An NDP-sponsored candidate finished third, while the fourth-place candidate, a namesake to the mayor though no relation, was arrested on election night on a drug charge.

The Yippie candidate garnered 848 votes in her lone foray for public office.

Her clownish campaign served as a precedent for the artist Vincent Trasov, who campaigned for mayor four years later while wearing a Mr. Peanut costume. (The artist said the Peanut surname was an acronym for Performance, Elegance, Art, Nonsense, Uniqueness and Talent.) The anthropomorphic goober took 2,685 votes.

Ms. Andrew, 64, who lives in Nelson and Vancouver, retired from the post office last year. She had been a forklift operator. Her fellow workers often elected her as a shop steward.

Mr. Campbell, 83, retired from elected office in 1972. He rarely grants interviews.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Confronting an attacker in court with forgiveness in her heart

Jessica Ziakin Cook hopes the stranger who attacked her will come out of prison a better man. Chad Hipolito photograph for the The Globe and Mail.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 20, 2011


She hobbled from the front bench to the witness box, scars on her leg but forgiveness in her heart.

Jessica Ziakin Cook, 28, who plans on becoming an art therapist, faced her attacker in a Victoria courtroom on Friday.

“Your behavior was more than reckless,” she told him, “it was hateful.”

It nearly cost the young woman her life.

Twenty-two months earlier, a peaceful, fruitful life filled with university studies and church duties and volunteer work for a soup kitchen was intruded upon by an “overwhelming malevolence” that continues to haunt her to this day.

She had been asleep in her Esquimalt apartment with her husband, Matthew Cook, thrifty newlyweds whose wedding ceremony 24 days earlier had concluded with a potluck reception. The modest apartment was stocked with wedding gifts, many of which were inspired by her reputation as a chef. Among them was a set of new kitchen knives.

A noise startled her awake.

She left the bed to check on the cat, Mortimer, whom she addressed in baby talk. Seeing nothing amiss, she turned off the lights, went to the bathroom.

It was 4 a.m. on Sept. 9, 2009. Hours earlier, an 18-year-old man attended a concert by Die Mannequin and Marilyn Manson before retiring to Anderson Park to drink with friends. He then broke into a home on a cul-de-sac abutting the park, arming himself in the kitchen before hiding in the bathroom.

The intruder slashed at her. Her hand protected her throat, deflecting the blade to her collarbone. He lunged at her again, pushing a large kitchen knife through the back of her left leg, severing the femoral artery before the point came out the other side of her thigh.

“A very medieval injury,” she calls it now.

Her screams awoke her husband, who tussled with the intruder before tending to his wife. They called 9-1-1. Life seemed to ebb from Jessica with each heartbeat, a crimson pool spreading from her grievous wound. She remembers hanging up on the dispatcher, so that she and her husband could spend what they feared might be her final moments together.

The dispatcher called back.

The police arrived and, in the chaos, grabbed the husband.

She awoke in hospital a day later, a respirator down her throat. She had lost half her blood and would endure two operations to repair nerve and muscle damage. Two weeks in the hospital was followed by painstaking months of physiotherapy.

The attack had been so mysterious, a motive so unfathomable, she spent fearful days in hospital worrying that “at any moment someone might jump out from the curtains and finish me off.”

For a brief time, perhaps as long as a week, she tried unsuccessfully to become an atheist.

“I felt totally betrayed. We’d just been married. There was such a strong feeling of there being so much promise in our lives. That was coming to fulfillment and a blossoming. You feel like you’re in God’s favour and you assume you have this invincibility.”

The attack left her unwilling to close her eyes in prayer or meditation, a fear of the unthinkable now understandably too real.

As she recovered, she received knitted prayer shawls from the Anglican Church Women on Vancouver Island. A soup kitchen at which she volunteers held a fundraising dinner to help the couple cover their $1,125 monthly rent.

The couple have since moved to a new home. They are active in the Church of Saint Barnabas. They conduct Bible study in their apartment three times a month. On the second Wednesday of each month, she joins others at Theology on Tap, a two-hour discussion of faith and philosophy over pints at the Fernwood Inn.

In court, she decided to read her victim impact statement in the same tone she uses while reading from the pulpit in church. “Slower than you think you ought to,” she said.

She told court she felt her attacker should have been charged with attempted murder.

She told her attacker she did not believe his story of mixing up her house with another.

She told him she did not understand why he attacked her instead of fleeing.

She told him, “I hope your time in prison will be one of growth and fruitful soul searching.”

She told him, “I forgive you. I have no desire to gloat over your conviction, and in fact feel empathy for how scary this all must have been for you as well.”

Her husband, who works at a halfway home for parolees, also read a statement, as did the attacker.

“I held his eye as I told him I forgave him,” she told me. “It came as a blow to him. In a positive way.”

She said he showed contrition in his apologies. Earlier, he pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault.

Judge Robert Higinbotham sentenced Alexander Vince Escobar, now 20, to five years in prison.

As sheriff’s escorted the handcuffed man from the courtroom, Jessica’s husband called out to him.

“Alex,” he said. “Good luck.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Veteran southpaw warms up to mark history

The exterior of Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver is decorated by reproductions of the brilliant baseball paintings of local artist Jennifer Ettinger.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 16, 2011


Bill Whyte is 83 now, the left arm with which he once earned a paycheque no longer in top form.

He has been out tossing baseballs to get the arm back in shape.

As a young man, he earned his keep pitching for the Vancouver Capilanos, a team named after a beer brewed by a brewery named for a local tribe. They played in a wooden ball park torn down to make way for an on-ramp to the Granville Street Bridge.

Mr. Whyte won the last game ever played in the old bandbox, helping his cause by stroking a long single to tie the game in the ninth inning.

A week later, he stood on the sod of a new concrete ball park built in the lee of Little Mountain. It carried the same name as the old park — Capilano Stadium — although the official moniker these days is Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium. Fans call it The Nat.

The park turned 60 this week, a landmark birthday to be celebrated on Friday when the summer game returns to Vancouver. The home team Canadians will hand out refrigerator-magnet schedules before the game and launch fireworks afterwards.

Bill Whyte depicted on a rare card.
Such extravagances were unknown when Mr. Whyte, a butcher’s son, earned $350 per month back in 1951. The Capilanos were managed by Bob Brown, a potato-nosed veteran of the Spanish-American War. He was such a skinflint he had urchins scavenge foul balls landing outside the wooden stadium. He’d let them in for free if they surrendered a ball.

The handful of surviving players who called the original Capilano Stadium home do not remember it as a bucolic playground.

“It was a firetrap,” Mr. Whyte said from his home in Nanaimo. “It caught on fire a number of times.

“They sold full peanuts in the shell. The shells would get jammed between the boards. With all the smokers, it would catch on fire periodically.”

Bob Brown had cleared the land by placing dynamite beside stumps on the edge of a cliff overlooking the mills and factories on False Creek. The diamond was shoehorned into a city block. Home plate could be found just beyond the corner of West Fifth Avenue and Hemlock Street. Left field extended all the way to Birch, an expanse so deep that Mr. Brown employed a goat to keep the grass trim. The right-field wall was too close to home plate, so a tall fence was topped by a chicken-wire screen. Beyond that, neighbours perched on roofs for a free view of the game, an unexploited revenue source that no doubt frustrated Mr. Brown.

They played field lacrosse and even professional football in the field in 1941, but it was mostly home to baseball, including the ferocious rivalries of the senior amateur leagues. The first night baseball game in Canada was played under the lights at the park in 1931. Three years later, a barnstorming troupe of ball players, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, stopped off in Vancouver on their way to Japan. They played an exhibition in the pouring rain, Ruth stroking a foul ball so deep it was reported to be on its way to Marpole.

The old park was in a decrepit state by the time Mr. Whyte, a fireplug-sized lefthander, joined the roster. Players warmly greeted the midseason move to a new facility.

In the first game at what is now The Nat, on June 15, 1951, about 8,000 fans shoe-horned into the 7,500-seat stadium. An overflow crowd watched from a nearby grassy hillside. A military colour guard, Mounties in red serge, a pipe band and majorettes were part of the hoopla. The honour of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch went to Vancouver mayor Fred Hume, who was teased by Mr. Brown. “We’ve got about 10 minutes for this event and it’s a good thing,” he quipped. “It’ll take the mayor that long to get one across.”

That might explain why Mr. Whyte has been working on his pitching.

On Friday, he will be asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to open the season and to mark the ball park’s birthday.

He worked as the first-base coach in that inaugural game, spent a few years in baseball’s low minors, earned accolades as a stellar rugby fly-half, became a teacher and, later, a principal at Churchill and Kitsilano high schools.

What kind of pitch will he throw to open the game?

“A fastball," he said, before correcting himself. “A looping fastball.”

He should be in good form. After all, he is pitching on nearly 60-years’ rest.

Dr. Herb Fitterman, ophthalmologist (1932-2011)

Dr. Herb Fitterman is believed to have performed the first lens implant operation in Canada.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 15, 2011

Dr. Herb Fitterman offered hope to those whose failing eyesight made their future as cloudy as their vision.

The Vancouver ophthalmologist was a trailblazing eye surgeon who, in 1968, performed what is believed to have been the first lens implant operation in Canada.

The procedure, now standard, was controversial at the time. Dr. Fitterman and the medical establishment did not see eye-to-eye on the efficacy of what many regarded as an unorthodox, perhaps even dangerous, surgery.

Dr. Fitterman, who has died, aged 78, continued practicing until his death, precipitated by a fall while on vacation.

His patients included cross-eyed children and elders with cataracts, all of whom would find comfort for their affliction from a doctor known for wearing a lab coat and wooden clogs. A jar of candy provided rewards for well-behaved children, not to mention for a physician with a sweet tooth.

A stubborn advocacy on behalf of patients earned him their devotion.

After lens implants became an accepted treatment, he initiated a letter-writing campaign to the health minister in Victoria to protest a long waiting list.

A cache of thank-you cards was found by his family after his death. One of the letters included black-and-white photographic portraits of a grateful patient as a girl and as a middle-aged woman. “I was eight years old when I first came to see you and I will never forget putting on glasses for the first time and seeing individual leaves on tress,” she wrote. “And now I need reading glasses!”

Herbert Norton Fitterman was born in Saskatoon, Sask., on Nov. 28, 1932 to Betty (née Blank) and Harry Edward Fitterman, a retail clothier. His paternal grandfather, Morris Fitterman, was a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War who immigrated to Winnipeg from London in 1910. He ran a fur shop. His materal grandfather, Shmelik Chaykin, had worked in Rothschild-owned vineyards before emigrating to Canada, where family lore has an immigration official refusing to accept the unfamiliar surname, telling them to complete a form by filling in the blank. The Chaykins became the Blanks.

The call to medicine came to him as a youth, though he was undecided as to become an eye surgeon or a brain surgeon. The former speciality was chosen as he figured fewer patients would die and he would contribute to the joy of providing sight.

He enrolled in a program of pre-medicine at the University of Manitoba in 1948, not long after the school’s unofficial policy of maintaining quotas based on “ethnic origin” were exposed. The policy was designed to restrict the admission of Jews, especially to the medical school.

The student was in the middle of his med school studies when his mother died suddenly in 1954. That same year, his restaurateur uncle, Oscar Blank, the well-known proprietor of Vancouver’s popular Oscar’s, died when his Trans-Canada Air Lines plane collided with an air force trainer in the skies above Moose Jaw, Sask. The accident killed 37.

While interning at Vancouver General Hospital, he was introduced by a cousin to Shirley Veiner, a second-year education student at the University of British Columbia and the daughter of the mayor of Medicine Hat. The couple married on June 30, 1957, before leaving on a California honeymoon. Dr. Fitterman graduated the following year.

It would not be long before his eagerness to try new techniques was noticed by peers and reporters. Inspired by a report in a Japanese medical journal, Dr. Fitterman conducted a trial with eight glaucoma patients, four of whom he treated with anthranilic acids. Those patients reported a decrease in the amount of pressure on the eyeball, as well as an easing of other symptoms of the eye disease. He reported his findings in a brief to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society during their annual meeting in 1959.

Almost a decade later, he anticipated opposition to his plans to perform an implant surgery, fearing rejection on the grounds the proposal was a “quirky procedure.” Instead, he found, to his delight, a supportive management at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. After consulting with Dr. Cornelius Binkhorst, the Dutch ophthalmologist who had made important contributions to the development of the interocular lens, and obtaining a supply from Germany, he performed the surgery on an American patient in February, 1968.

Not all were supportive. Forty years later, he wrote that “there was much antagonism from many colleagues,” some of whom “thought this was going to be the worst thing in the world.”

“It was immensely controversial,” said Dr. Ilan Hofmann, of Montreal, a friend and colleague. “The establishment considered it almost a heretical procedure. They felt it was dangerous, and against the patient’s best interests.”

Dr. Fitterman persevered, Dr. Hofmann said, challenging the orthodoxy of the times.

The operation on that first patient lasted hours, the instruments used unwieldy, almost primitive by today’s refined standards. Still, it was a success, and a harbinger of the future for those suffering from cataracts.

The surgeon spearheaded the creation of the hospital’s eye clinic, while cataract patients from around the world would seek a spot in the operating theatre. In time, Dr. Fitterman would head the ophthalmology departments at both St. Paul’s and the Vancouver Children’s Hospital.

He used to fly to small northern towns in British Columbia to treat First Nations children who might otherwise have gone without specialist care.

He was on holiday in Palm Springs, Calif., when a fall broke his pelvis and ruptured an artery. A pre-existing blood disorder made it difficult to stem internal bleeding. He returned to Vancouver by air ambulance, dying a few hours after arrival at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Dr. Fitterman, who died on April 22, leaves Shirley (nee Veiner), his wife of 53 years; a son; two daughters; and, two grandchildren.

Monday, June 13, 2011

When the rubber hits the wall

Shawn Shepherd holds one of his latest installations, composed of hand-cut chunks of hockey pucks. Chad Hipolito photograph for The Globe and Mail. 

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 13, 2011


The artist Shawn Shepherd paints, sculpts, appliqués.

As a painter, he brushes charcoal, India ink and acrylics. He rubs oil pastels and chalk pastels.

As a sculptor, he plays with chalkware figurines and recycled aluminum.

For appliqués, he shreds bits of felt.

Because he uses found and recycled objects in his works, he is as likely to find his supplies at a thrift store as at an art store.

Take a look at a piece titled, “Carpet Maquette #1.” From a distance, it is an intriguing melange of colours. Up close, it is apparent he has sliced strips from old souvenir pennants. What were once inexpensive mementos of vacations in Cranbrook, Keremeos and the Queen Charlotte Islands are now an artwork.
Self portrait.

Old aluminum street signs are transformed into sculptures, some of which resemble vehicles.

“I’m always collecting things to work with,” he said.

He forages the stock at the Sally Ann and at Value Village, cruises yard sales in search of supplies.

Sometimes, he discovers an intriguing material the purpose of which is not immediately obvious.

He once dropped $4 for a plastic pail filled with vulcanized chunks of rubber. It sat around his studio for six years.

He eventually found inspiration and the material is to be showcased in a display at his Polychrome Fine Arts studio in an exhibition that opens on June 19.

The show is called “By Ross Bay.” It features 11 assemblages of rough-cut bits of the recycled rubber.

“When I started, I tried to make them as flat as possible, so they would have the appearance of a minimalist black painting,” he said. “I have brought out more of a relief to them with more textures, varied cuts.

“Most people look at abstract art and try to find something to relate it to. These remind me of Ross Bay at night. If you stand up at the lookout, you look down on a sea of darkness. All the little cuts in the pieces remind me of ripples in water.”

Not everyone can look at a collection of scuffed and scraped hockey pucks and envision a future artwork.

Can there be a more Canadian material?

The idea came to him “as a happy accident.” He was working on another three-dimensional piece that needed legs. He cut a puck in half. Liked the texture. Began working through the supply in the pail.

“I take the puck. I put it in a vise. I eyeball so that there’s about 3/16th of an inch of rubber sticking above the vice. Then I handsaw it sideways. It’s pretty strenuous. Takes me about an hour to cut four or five pucks.”

Soon, the area smells of rubber, bits of puck dust in the air.

“The cuts the saw made gave it an illusion of looking like burnt wood. I cut another strip out of it, looked at it for a day or two, decided that if I cut a whole bunch of these and put them side by side it would make an interesting texture for an all-black piece.”

Mr. Shepherd, 40, is a self-taught artist who has built boats, framed pictures, and cast garden ornaments while establishing himself. His work, according to a favourable review by the critic Robert Amos, “straddles the divide between challenging and commercial.”

A resident of Victoria for 20 years, he was born in Windsor, Ont., where his father worked on the Chrysler assembly line while his mother sold makeup as an Avon Lady. He took figure-skating lessons until his father insisted he play hockey. A highlight was skating in a game at Maple Leaf Gardens at age 12.

After exhausting his supply of garage-sale pucks, he bought a bunch of factory seconds from Viceroy.

Think of him as a Pablo Puckasso.

TEAM CAPTAIN: The statue of Capt. James Cook on the Causeway overlooking the Inner Harbour has been dressed in a Vancouver Canucks hockey sweater. Nearby, a Canucks flag flies from the lawn of the Legislature.

The most recent British Columbia team to win the Stanley Cup was the Victoria Cougars. In 1925, they defeated the Montreal Canadiens to claim the Cup. (A year later, the franchise was sold to business interests in Detroit, where the club eventually became known as the Detroit Red Wings.) A cairn celebrating the Cougars’ victory now stands on the grounds of Oak Bay High across the street from where the arena stood.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Millionaire forgotten by the Stanley Cup

Ken Mallen beat the great Cyclone Taylor in a speedskating showdown and was widely regarded as the fastest skater of his era. He won a Stanley Cup championship with the Vancouver Millionaires in 1915. For reasons unknown, his name was left off the trophy. Mallen is shown here wearing the sweater of the New Westminster Royals. Photograph from the City of Vancouver Archives, Sp P113.01.

By Tom Hawthorn
The Tyee
June 8, 2011

The final seconds ticked off the timekeeper’s clock, bringing an end to the hockey season and a championship to a Vancouver hockey club.

The Millionaires, a nickname used in 1915 to praise, not denigrate, a professional athlete, completed a three-game sweep of the Ottawa Senators. The final game ended 12-3, a drubbing that reflected the series.

The skaters retired to their dressing room in the Denman Arena, a hulking brick building overlooking Coal Harbour at the entrance to Stanley Park. Thousands of spectators had clamored to get into the rink for the games, the swells amongst them dropping a stiff $1.25 for a pasteboard to the best seats. Others made due with a 50-cent admission for a rush seat in the steeply-sloped upper deck. Special streetcars delivered fans to the arena. A hardy handful rode the intercity railway from as far afield as Chilliwack, a three-hour milk-run journey that departed at 5 p.m. and brought them home at 2:30 a.m.

In the bowels of the building, the celebrating Vancouver players were joined by their rivals, who crowded in to offer congratulations. “You have a great team here,” Ottawa manager Frank Shaughnessy said.

The victory meant the Millionaires had claimed rights to a silver punchbowl purchased for 10 guineas (about $50) in London and on which had been engraved “Dominion hockey challenge cup” and “From Stanley of Preston.” It was the first time the Stanley Cup, then 23 years old and already storied, had been won by a team west of Winnipeg.

Alas, the Ottawa side neglected to bring the trophy with them on the transcontinental train trek, “a thoughtless bit of work,” as one local reporter noted.

The Cup arrived six weeks later. Later still, an engraver tapped into the silver the names of nine Millionaires, recording for posterity their great achievement.

A tenth player, a veteran forward and a regular during the regular season who skated in two of three games of the finals, was inexplicably overlooked.

Ken Mallen is the man whose name was left off the Stanley Cup.

After the finals, the Senators left for Seattle on their way to San Francisco to attend the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, a showcase for a city devastated nine years earlier by an earthquake and fire.

The Millionaires scattered. Barney Stanley returned home to Edmonton and Jim Seaborn to Winnipeg. The cattle on Lloyd (Farmer) Cook’s prairie ranch needed tending. The sure-handed Mickey MacKay, known as the Wee Scot, left for Grand Forks, B.C., where he was to join a survey party for the summer.

Frank (the Pembroke Peach) Nighbor, a gentlemanly player whose brilliant poke-checking drove opponents mad with frustration, departed for the Ontario hometown that gave him his nickname. The goaltender Hughie (Old Eagle Eyes) Lehman returned to Berlin, Ont., an industrial city whose name was soon to be changed from that of an enemy capital to Kitchener, after the British war minister killed in action.

Only four of the Millionaires lived in the Lower Mainland. Frank Patrick played defence and managed the Denman Arena, which he had built four years earlier when he and his brother, Lester, established a professional hockey league on the Pacific Coast.

The great Fred (Cyclone) Taylor served as an immigration inspector. It had been his job the previous year to patrol the Komagata Maru to prevent the passengers, most of them Sikhs, from disembarking. The freighter and its suffering passengers remained moored in Coal Harbour for weeks before being chased off by an armed navy boat, a standoff for which the Canadian prime minister apologized just three years ago.

Si Griffis, the Millionaires’ captain who sat out the finals with a broken leg, watching the games from the penalty box, sold advertising for the News-Herald.

Mallen spent his work days as a clerk at New Westminster City Hall. He lived at 238 First St., across from Queen’s Park, a boarder in a home named Bundahie, built in the style of a classic Edwardian box and owned by a widow who taught piano.

Mallen, a speedy skater, had been lured west by the high contracts on offer by the Patrick brothers in the fledgling Pacific Coast Hockey Association. He was an original member of the New Westminster Royals in 1911, netting 14 goals in 13 games. When the Royals moved to Portland, Ore., he was traded to the Millionaires.

Born in Morrisburg, Ont., he also had two brothers who played professional hockey in the early days. In 1904, the 5-foot-8, 160-pound skater joined the Calumet (Mich.) Miners of the International Hockey League. Known for his agility and his stickhandling, he netted 38 goals in 24 games to finish second in league scoring.

He quit the Miners soon after the start of his second season to protest the violence of the game. “Realizing that he was one of the best and fastest men in the league, it has been the effort of some players to lay [Mallen] out,” reported the Daily Mining Gazette. “Scarcely a game was played but that several times he had to be carried off the ice in an almost unconscious condition.”

He eventually wound up wearing the sweaters of the Ottawa Senators and Quebec Bulldogs of the National Hockey Association, the premier pro league in Eastern Canada. His debut in Stanley Cup play came on Jan. 5, 1910, when Ottawa, as holders of the trophy, accepted a challenge from Galt, champions of the Ontario Pro Hockey League. An older brother, Jim, played forward for Galt. The Senators held off their provincial rivals before defeating the Edmonton Eskimos. Ottawa then lost the N.H.A. championship — and with it the Stanley Cup — to the Montreal Wanderers.

After moving to the coast, Mallen took part in a series of speed races designed to showcase the circuit’s high-paid talent. He blew past Griffis and Cyclone Taylor, who had earned his nickname in recognition of his madcap rushes. The triumph cemented Mallen’s reputation as the fastest man on ice.

Just as the Stanley Cup champs were about to begin defence of their title, Frank Patrick signed a new star player in Art Duncan of Edmonton. The Millionaires released Mallen, who immediately signed with the Victoria Aristocrats, operated by Lester Patrick. The capital city newspapers were thrilled. “Mallen is the speediest player,” noted the Victoria Daily Times. “He possesses a wicked shot, and should add considerable strength in the local attack.”

Meanwhile, the N.H.A. and the Patrick league continued raiding players, as skaters regularly jumped contract for more lucrative offers. As well, a battle over rights to the Stanley Cup was fought in boardrooms and on the pages of newspapers. The N.H.A. feared Frank Patrick would not defend challenges for the Stanley Cup. He promised to do so. The Cup’s trustees declared the trophy to be emblematic of a world championship, not just a Canadian honour.

It was in that atmosphere that the Cup finally arrived by train in Vancouver on May 12, 1915. (During the six-day journey, the civilian passenger steamer Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat, killing 1,198.) As N.H.A. champs, Ottawa claimed to be Cup winners, engraving their title on the base. (Their claim to the Cup is not recognized.)

At the time, the custom was for a championship team to engrave their triumph on the base. Added to the Cup were the words: “VANCOUVER, B.C. / 1914-15 / DEFEATED OTTAWA / 3 STRAIGHT GAMES.”

In 1907, the Montreal Wanderers had 20 names of players and club executives engraved on the interior base of the bowl. No other team matched that audacious decision until the Millionaires had engraved on the interior fluting of the bowl the names of nine players.

For some reason, Mallen’s name was missed.

The reason for the snub remains unknown. Perhaps he had already left the club by the time of the engraving and so was excluded. Perhaps his departure had not gone well. Perhaps it was inadvertent, a clerical mistake. In any case, Mallen, who died of pneumonia in his hometown in 1930, aged 45, is deserving of the recognition afforded Cyclone and the Wee Scot and Old Eagle Eyes.

The engraving of player names on the trophy only became standard practice after 1924. It is the goal which each of the Vancouver Canucks seeks this month, an honour that has eluded the club for 40 seasons. Should they succeed, they can take a moment while chugging champagne from the bowl to read the names of nine men who beat them to the punch 96 years earlier.

The 1915 Vancouver Millionaires, led by the scoring of Fred (Cyclone) Taylor (back row, second from left), defeated the Ottawa Senators to claim the Stanley Cup. It was the first time the storied trophy had been claimed by a team west of Winnipeg.

Treasure trove of local memories is now online

James S. Matthews, Vancouver's first archivist, gathered recollections of the city's earliest pioneers into seven hand-typed volumes. The 3,300 pages include photographs and several of the archivist's sketches. Above is his illustration of Gassy Jack's first saloon in what is now Gastown.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 8, 2011


The output of a life’s work can be found in seven tattered volumes on a shelf in a storage area at the Vancouver archives.

Fill out a requisition form and wait at a table. No food, or ink pens allowed. In a few minutes, the books arrive.

The leather bindings are scuffed and tattered. Three are in such disrepair — bindings cracked, pages loose — they are now stored in boxes of acid-free cardboard.

Open a book and one finds the story of a city at its founding — primitive shelters carved from the looming forest, a conflagration that nearly snuffed the settlement at its founding.

More than 3,300 pages — filled with hand-drawings, annotated photographs, and, mostly, single-spaced, typewritten text — tells the tale of the city by its earliest residents. These were compiled by James Skitt Matthews, the city’s first archivist and a man whose obsession preserved the story of a remarkable settlement that grew from hamlet to metropolis in a century.

He recorded the memories of pioneer settlers and of men such as August Jack Khatsahlano, who as a boy had watched the new-found city burn from the safety of Kitsilano Point, on which could be found the Squamish Nation village of Snauq (also Sun’ahk).

Some tales are priceless, some informative, some merely capturing the spirit of the times.

Mr. Matthews included his own reminiscences. Turn to page 70 of Volume One of his Early Vancouver to read about the Great Salmon Year of 1900, during which pyramids of scaly carcasses covered docks and beaches. The fish was sold at 5 cents each, if not given away, and he retells the story of having a salmon secreted within a newspaper under his arm when he was jostled on the streetcar. The slippery fish squirted free, flopping onto the floor of the streetcar to the mortification of his wife. Salmon, you see, was Indian food, not fit for the elite to eat.
James S. Matthews

A few entries earlier, one reads about a cougar hunted in Stanley Park in 1911 and a bear shot in what is now Kerrisdale the same year.

The onionskin paper crackles with each turn of the page. It is the sound of history having been made.

Mr. Matthews began his magnum opus during the Depression, continuing until 1956, by which time he had seven unique, hand-produced volumes. (He also created revised editions and copies, each typewritten, mostly by himself.) It has long been one of the most frequently requested resources at the archives, hence its battered state. The seven volumes are an invaluable tool for historians and a means to find the flavour of an historical age. The author Lee Henderson dipped into the idiosyncratic work while writing The Man Game, his well-received 2008 novel set in the frontier town.

For years, researchers have made a pilgrimage to the archives to consult the volumes.

Now, every page is available online in a format searchable by keyword, the result of hundreds a painstaking hours of digitizing and transcribing as part of a project financed by the non-profit Vancouver Historical Society. The online edition of Early Vancouver launched 11 days ago.

The effort to bring onionskin pages into the digital world was not without hiccups. An attempt to scan the pages did not work, as the thin paper and clunky ink blots from the typewriter made it difficult for the computer to make out words. As well, Mr. Matthews included lengthy, handwritten corrections and addenda to his entries.

“It’s opened it to a whole new audience,” said archives manager Heather Gordon. “And it’s given people who are familiar with it a whole new way of using it, and using it more efficiently.”

Mr. Matthews, who was born in Wales, arrived in Vancouver as a young man in the waning days of the 19th-Century. He worked for Imperial Oil and served in the militia (helping to repress a miners’ strike in Nanaimo in 1913), before being sent overseas to battle the Bosch in the Great War. He led waves of attackers from the trenches at Ypres, a bravery that no doubt led to his being promoted to major, a rank he used as a title for the remainder of his life. He died in 1970, aged 92,

He began collecting in the 1920s, accumulating a half-million photographs and reams of civic records and personal papers. He squabbled with city fathers, at one point removing his entire collection from City Hall and storing it at his home.

“A lot of people saw him as crusty and cranky,” Ms. Gordon said. “He’d be annoyed when you came in to see him. Kind of grumpy. But if you managed to convince him you were interested, sincere and genuine, he was animated and gracious.”

The original seven volumes of his Early Vancouver are housed in an archives building that bears his name. It is in Vanier Park, a few steps from the site where young Khatsahlano watched a fledgling city burn to the ground in the year of its founding.

City archivist James S. Matthews often added his own handwritten notes to rare photographs. The Wah Chong laundry was established two years before the city's founding.

Artwork sprouts on Fernwood's 'soul poles'

A telephone pole in Victoria's Fernwood neighbourhood gets the artistic treatment. Photo from Fernwood NRG.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 6, 2011


The telephone pole in front of Beth Threlfall’s house bugged her.

Beyond the banal nature of an ordinary wooden pole, this one had been targeted.

An anonymous tagger had spray-painted a symbol on the pole. It was a glyph indecipherable to all but the tagger and, perhaps, those with whom he shared his exploits.

Like a dog marking territory, the tagger’s mark could be found throughout the neighbourhood.

It was unsightly.

The tags also gave the streets a menacing air — a vandal was working freely under cover of darkness.

Three years ago, she attended a talk at the local hall by Mark Lakeman, an urban designer from Portland, Ore., who helped found the City Repair Project. The volunteer-run group builds benches, reclaims parkland, and decorates intersections to make unpleasant urban areas seem, as the group’s motto states, “inhabited, known, and loved by its residents.”

Ms. Threlfall walked home from the talk, feeling inspired and wondering what she might do to make her neighbourhood more vibrant.

“What do I see around me that brings down our neighbourhood?” she thought to herself. “These telephone poles look absolutely terrible.”

The 40-year-old stay-at-home mother of two, who is a self-taught artist, decided she should simply paint over the tagged base of the telephone pole.

“I telephoned BC Hydro and said, ‘I’d like to paint my pole. It’s a disaster. It’s got this signature tagging all over it.’ ”

She got an okay.

Soon, she began painting a pole on Fernwood Road.

It is a narrow street with houses close to the sidewalk. The speed limit is 30 km/h. The act of painting street furniture made her a spectacle.

Cars honked. Neighbours gawked.

Her rendition of sunflowers, though no Van Gogh, was appreciated.

Voila, a soul pole.

Some asked her to do their pole next.

Soon, every pole in the 1600-block of Fernwood had been decorated.

“I’m not going out there and being a renegade. It’s not my property. I ask permission. I’m asking people if it’s something they want.”

Art work began to sprout on poles on the surrounding streets. Others asked just for a plain coat of paint.

She called her project Adopt-A-Pole.

Centered around the city’s oldest high school and a church transformed into a theatre, the neighbourhood feels like a village. It is often called funky, a description locals loathe. Outsiders teasingly refer to it as the People’s Republic of Fernwood.

The local neighbourhood association recently organized a pole-painting extravaganza, providing paints, brushes and stencils for volunteers. (The paint was scavenged from the Hartland Landfill, where discarded tins provided a rainbow cornucopia of colours.)

A free barbecue lunch was cooked. One hundred and one poles were identified for a paint job. About 300 volunteers showed up.

By the end of the day, the streets were decorated by poles sporting cattails in marshy browns and dandelions in glorious yellows; doves and cranes in brilliant whites; jumping frogs in whimsical greens; dragonflies with red bodies and green wings.

A perambulation along the streets offers displays of shocking pinks and funky purples; dashing reds and mundane greys; primitive caricatures and a spectacular Betty Boop, on a pole one block south of Vic High.

At the risk of being a snob, it must be said the art on some poles is more — er, um, successful — than others.

Angela Hemming, a blogger and digital media producer, took part in the paint-in, which she praised for contributing to the hood’s artsy vibe. She felt for those homeowners whose poles decorated by what she called “kiddie-splatter,” noting at least one such pole had been repainted a dignified grey by nightfall.

There have been other critics.

The students at the local George Jay Elementary worked with Ms. Threlfall in painting the poles surrounding the school. A neighbour so disliked one immigrant child’s rendition of the Mexican Day of the Dead, featuring dancing skeletons with flowered top hats, that she defaced his work by splattering paint over it.

Ms. Threlfall’s renewal project has given her insight into the mentality of the tagger.

“It became an addiction,” she said of her own pole painting. “You start and it becomes a compulsion. You think, ‘That corner would look so much better if it had a flower on it.’ You see this space and you need to fill it.

“Which is what they say about tagging.”

The difference is that taggers never ask permission.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The last time Vancouver won the Stanley Cup

The Vancouver Millionaires swept the visiting Ottawa Senators in three straight games in 1915 to bring the Stanley Cup west of Winnipeg for the first time.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
June 1, 2011


The Ottawa team traversed a frozen continent to play hockey in a city bereft of ice except for an artificial sheet at the arena.

A party of 13, a “hoodoo number” complained some of the more superstitious among them, alighted from a Great Northern train at Central Station to be greeted by dignitaries bearing gifts.

Within hours, the athletes skated in practice, every maneuvre studied by fans who flocked to witness the spectacle of the Eastern champions in action.

The Ottawa Senators journeyed to Vancouver to engage a challenge for the Stanley Cup, commissioned only 23 years earlier. The visitors neglected to bring with them the storied trophy, “a thoughtless bit of work,” one reporter noted.

The local professionals were known as the Millionaires. In 1915, it was a superlative, not a salary.

Frank Patrick, whose father had been a lumber baron, assembled a brilliant — and expensive — aggregation of ice mercenaries.

The roster included Mickey MacKay, a dazzling goal scorer and smooth skater called The Wee Scot; Barney Stanley, a young forward who had only played five games as a pro; Lloyd (Farmer) Cook, a steady if unspectacular forward; Frank (the Pembroke Peach) Nighbor, a gentlemanly opponent whose patented poke-check drove rivals mad with frustration; Si Griffis, the capain, a quiet but effective leader on defence; and, Hugh Lehman, a goaltender so adept at blocking the puck he was dubbed Old Eagle Eyes.

The best of them was Frederick Wellington Taylor, a tough, hard-nosed player whose balding pate made him recognizable from the farthest seat. Mr. Taylor was dubbed the Listowel Wonder for the Ontario town where he made his hockey debut as a boy. He skated fast, so was called Tornado and Whirlwind, but the nickname that stuck was Cyclone.

Elsewhere, the Great War raged in Europe. An Allied fleet bombed Ottoman forts on the Dardenelles. Editorialists complained of “German swine” even as a front-page article assured worried kinfolk at home: “Life in trenches at front is not at all distasteful, writes Vancouver solider.”

Eager hockey fans thronged to buy tickets to what was billed as the world’s series of hockey, the first time a Stanley Cup game had been played west of Winnipeg. Top price was $1.25, while unreserved rush spots in the gallery went for 50 cents.

Before the best-of-five series began, the Senators enjoyed a motor tour of the city, rambling along Marine Drive and Stanley Park, named for the same man whose name graces the silver mug. They posed for a photograph at the Hollow Tree.

The manager of their hotel, the first-class Elysium, on Pender Street, entertained the players with a tour of Indian Arm by power launch. Loew’s Theatre offered ducats to a vaudeville show featuring an eccentric violinist, while the electric street railway company issued passes for the duration of their stay.

Ottawa manager Frank Shaughnessy welcomed the hospitality, but drew the line on attending banquets, as he did not want his players to be wined and dined before the series.

The first, third and fifth games were to be played under Western rules — seven players, including a rover, who skated behind centre; penalties forcing a team to play shorthanded; blue lines painted on the ice allowing forward passing in the centre-ice area. The Ottawa coach insisted the innovation would never catch on. “It makes a farce of the game,” Alf Smith complained.

The Easterners played six-a-side with no forward passing allowed at any time. As well, a penalized player was replaced by a substitute.

On the day of the first game on March 22, 1915, a mud slide engulfed the midnight shift at the Britannia Mines north of Vancouver, killing 56. The news dominated local newspapers that day.

In the evening, more than 7,000 spectators flocked to the Denman Arena, a hulking brick sports palace on the waterfront at the entrance to Stanley Park. Many rode special streetcars to the game, some riding electric trains from as far afield as Chilliwack. They cheered the Millionaires as they faced the famed Senators, led by the scoring of Harry (Punch) Broadbent with the dependable Art Ross on defence and Clint Benedict in goal.

Mr. Griffis, the Vancouver captain, watched the game from the penalty box, as he had been diagnosed with a cracked ankle suffered in an exhibition match. His replacement, Mr. Stanley, opened the scoring midway through the first period.

The Millionaires’ superior speed combined with a relentless pursuit of opponents — “Check back boys!” coach Lester Patrick, Frank’s brother, yelled from the bench — led to a dominating 6-2 victory.

In the second game, Vancouver scored an 8-3 win despite Ottawa targeting the best player on the ice.

“Cyclone was a marked man from the outset,” reported the Daily Province, “but his uncanny skating ability saved him time and time again.” Near the end of the second game, a stiff bodycheck finally forced him off the ice.

The Millionaires claimed the championship with a 12-3 drubbing. Cyclone ended the series with seven goals. The visitors blamed the low altitude and heavy sea air for their sluggish performance.

“Ignominiously routed,” reported the Ottawa Evening Journal.

After the game, the defeated players filed into the dressing room of the victors, offering hearty congratulations. “You have a great team here,” the Ottawa manager said. With that, the Senators embarked for San Francisco to attend the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, being held just nine years after the city had been devastated by an earthquake and fire.

About 16,000 spectators had attended the three games. The players share of ticket revenue, less the travel costs for the Ottawa club, provided about $300 for each Millionaire and $200 for each Senator.

A Vancouver Sun editorial hailed the championship as “no small achievement in a city where nature has not provided enough ice to make a slide for school children.”

The Stanley Cup did not arrive in the city until May 12.

The silverware was sent to an engraver who added “Vancouver, B.C./ 1914-15/ Defeated Ottawa/ 3 straight games” on a base ring. Along the fluted sides in the interior of the bowl, the artisan engraved the names of Frank Patrick and eight players.

Perhaps later this month, other players in the livery of a Vancouver team will be able to pause after swigging champagne from the cup to read the names of players better known as Cyclone and Eagle Eyes and the Wee Scot.

When Cyclone struck the Komagata Maru

The Japanese-owned freighter Komagata Maru arrived in British Columbia waters in May, 1914. Aboard were 376 Punjabis, most of them Sikhs, who had chartered the ship from Hong Kong.

The passengers sought to circumvent racist rules designed to keep British subjects from East India out of Canada.

Fred W. (Cyclone) Taylor
The order to tell them they would not be able to disembark fell to the No. 3 man in the local immigration office, a tough-minded athlete by the name Fred W. Taylor. Hockey and lacrosse fans knew him better as Cyclone.

Over the coming weeks, as the circumstances on board became ever more dire, Mr. Taylor roamed the decks ensuring no one left, or came aboard the vessel, which was anchored in Coal Harbour. Not surprisingly, the thwarted passengers became belligerent over time.

“They’d curse us and press against us and sometimes fought us off as we came aboard, shouting threats and insults,” he told his biographer.

The passengers tried to repulse boardings by throwing coal, other times by emptying chamber pots.

The two-month-long standoff ended when an armed naval cruiser threatened to attack the ship. The freighter was forced from Canadian waters, a black mark in our history for which the prime minister apologized just three years ago.

Less than a year after the confrontation, Mr. Taylor’s on-ice prowess helped the Vancouver Millionaires hockey club win the city’s first — and, so far, only — Stanley Cup championship.

In 1976, Mr. Taylor, then 92, met with Giani Kartar Singh, a frail and partially deaf 97-year old. The two men were believed to be the only living participants in the shameful incident.

The former adversaries, speaking through an interpreter, had an entirely amicable conversation.