Vancouver Ghost Signs

Comments 5 by Rebecca Bollwitt

On Wednesday I captured the progress of the demolition of two buildings at Robson and Granville which revealed a “ghost sign” on the side of the Charlie’s Music building.

Building at Granville Robson by miss604, on Flickr

Immediately Jason Vanderhill and Robert White pointed out on Twitter that this was indeed a ghost sign – the shadow of an old painted advertisement. With some quick sleuthing from Heritage Vancouver, it was revealed to be an ad for a silent movie, “Grandma’s Boy” starring Harold Lloyd, that would be playing across the street at the original Capitol Theatre.

Harold Lloyd Ghost Sign
Photo credit: Photocat62 on Flickr – Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool

(Left) 1926 – Capitol Theatre marquee on Granville. Archives item# CVA 1399-540.
(Right) 1943 – Archives item# CVA 1184-706. Photographer: Jack Lindsay.

On Thursday, the ghost sign was fully revealed and the city was clamoring about this discovery. Unfortunately, all but the Charlie’s Music facade will be coming down so the last record of “Grandma’s Boy” will disappear.

Gainers Limited Hams Baco Ghost Sign
Photo credit: Larry He’s So Fine on Flickr

One of my goals when I started this blog was to bring local history to the forefront in our young, glassy, and glossy city. It was encouraging to see how much excitement “Grandma’s Boy” brought this week and it’s important to keep that interest in Vancouver’s past alive.

Shelly's Bakery Products - '4x bread'
Photo credit: Heritage Vancouver on Flickr

Over the last few days Jason stressed the importance of documenting these signs and sightings. There’s a Flickr Group called Vanishing Vancouver to which you can add your images and Heritage Vancouver has a nice collection on Flickr as well. If you spot a ghost sign in the future, be sure to snap a photo because you don’t know when it will disappear.

Update March 6, 2012: The Vancity Theatre will be screening “Grandma’s Boy” one night only on Wednesday, March 14 at 7:00pm. Check out this 1922 classic directed by Fred C Newmeyer and starring Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, and Anna Townsend. Tickets are available online through the VIFF box office.

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5 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. sueFriday, February 24th, 2012 — 11:10am PST


  2. Natalie MFriday, February 24th, 2012 — 11:21am PST

    I find stories like this so interesting! Thank you for the post

  3. MikeFriday, February 24th, 2012 — 3:06pm PST

    Sue, the area has been gentrified since Vancouver was created. That word is thrown around far too often by people who do not actually know what it means and when to use it. Power Block was erected by Captain Power, who also built a hotel in Yale in 1858. He was the epitome of gentrifying an area, being the mayor of what was then known as “Moodyville.” Having said that, it’s a damn shame we aren’t interested in restoring this building. I predict it’s the first of many to come…

  4. Katie PSaturday, February 25th, 2012 — 12:26am PST

    I saw that Harold Lloyd sign the other day and I got so excited, now I’m sad it is going.

  5. buzzzbizzzWednesday, March 7th, 2012 — 10:42am PST

    Awesome blog post – thanks for sharing a bit of history with everyone – i Love Van City

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