Top 10: History Posts on Miss604

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Since I’m celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Miss604 on November 13th, I figured that a retrospective series was in order leading up to the event. Over the last 10 years I have personally published over 6,240 posts while family and friends have contributed over 200 guest posts. I’ve decided to pick out my Top 10 posts in various categories and showcase them this week.

Top 10: History Posts on Miss604

For this collection I have selected posts that garnered a lot of views, took a decent amount of research, or were the most fun to put together:

10. Foncie’s Photos

Foncie Pulice, Vancouver’s most famous street photographer, perfected the genre throughout the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s in downtown Vancouver. In his lifetime, Foncie took over 15 million photos of Vancouverites as they strolled through the city, including one of my Opa on Granville Street in 1956. Foncie’s amazing collection, the memories his images trigger, and the snapshot in time where he captured my dear Opa make his one of my very favourite stories to share.

9. Henry John Cambie

Henry John Cambie plaque in Waterfront Station

I have profile many historical figures in nearly 500 Vancouver history blog posts but I decided to include this one about John Henry Cambie because it was one of many where relatives of the subjects actually contacted me. Chief August Jack Khatsahlano is another example of an important figure whose family lives in Vancouver today, and has happened to contact me through my blog.

8. English Bay Pier

1905 – Archives item# CVA 677-227. Photographer: Philip Timms.

Having lived in the West End for the last decade I am always fascinated by this neighbourhood’s history. One day I was searching through old newspaper archives, as I have been known to do, and I found mention of the English Bay Pier. This led to research, a visit to the Vancouver Archives, and a what became a popular blog post.

7. Archive Photos of the Day

[Vancouver Ladies' hockey team]
1920: Vancouver Women’s Hockey Team. Archives Item#: CVA 99-58

I first began sharing photos from the City of Vancouver Archives and Vancouver Public Library Archives in 2010 and for the last six years I have assembled vintage image collections every few weeks that showcase glimpses of life in Vancouver throughout the last century. I’ve featured the the extraordinary and the mundane: From hockey, beaches, local mountains, North Shore ferries, and Christmas decorations to lighthouses, ice cream, moustaches, a giant ski jump, and hundreds more.

6. Reservoir in Stanley Park

Stanley Park Reservoir
Cropped and zoomed in. Archives item# MAP 777.

Stanley Park is my favourite place in the city so naturally I have also looked into its history quite a bit over the years. This post starts off with: “The other day I was looking at an old map of Stanley Park from 1907,” another day in the life of Miss604 moment. That old map prompted me to look into a square formation that was once a reservoir, and is now a ballpark.

5. Women in History

1929: Sister Frances of Strathcona receiving a “Good Citizenship Medal” from the City. Archives item# CVA 99-1874. Photographer: Stuart Thomson

There have been, and continue to be, some remarkable women who have called Vancouver home. My profile of these ladies in Vancouver history started with my appreciation for Pauline Johnson and it continues to grow as I find interesting subjects all the time. A few that I have profiled so far include: Sister Frances of Strathcona, Mable Ellen Boultbee, Anna Ethel Sprott, and Doreen Reitsma.

4. Joe Fortes

1910s: Joe Fortes in front of his cottage at the foot of Bidwell St (1700 Beach Ave). Archives# CVA 371-1977

Vancouver’s “Citizen of the Century”, Joe Fortes, was one of my first history profiles, back at a time when most people associated the name with a lovely restaurant on the corner of Thurlow and Robson. Joe Fortes taught hundreds of children to swim, saved over 100 lives, and became a legend and inspiration for the city.

3. Visiting the Vancouver Archives

City of Vancouver Archives

The biggest help and most treasured resource in my pursuit of learning and sharing Vancouver history is the City of Vancouver Archives, officially opened in 1933 by Major J.S. Matthews — the man who saved Vancouver. In 2009 I got a behind the scenes tour of the archives, browsing the minutes of the first ever city council meeting and soaking up every ephemeral gem, from film reel canisters and maps to photographs.

Speaking of awesome tours, an honourable mention goes to the exclusive tour I had of the clock tower at Sinclair Centre in 2010.

2. The Mayor of Gastown

“Ace” Aasen. Windsor Star/CP.

Do you know the Mayor of Gastown?

I first read about Ace” Aasen — the self-proclaimed Mayor of Gastown — in an old newspaper archive. I then dug around to find several other stories about the neighbourhood’s popular unofficial ambassador who lived in the Hotel Europe in the 1970s. This post combines a bit of research, articles from local publications, personal accounts, and the story of one heck of a character.

1. Charlie’s Tree

Charlie's Tree
Photo courtesy of Antonio @ Vendramin’s Views.

My most popular history post of all time was about Charlie’s Tree, a monument I had driven by every Sunday as a child on the way out to my grandmother’s house in Langley on Highway 1. Covered in vines, with a small Canadian flag tacked to the front, all that was legible along those drives was a sign with the words “Charlie’s Tree”. In 2012, after passing it again and noticing that it has been more decorated in recent years, I decided to look into its history. What I found was a courageous and powerful story that I am very happy I took the time to learn.

More themed Top 10 posts will follow this week and be sure to get your tickets to the #Miss604is10 anniversary party:

Sell Tickets through Eventbrite

Thanks to #Miss604is10 major sponsors London Drugs, Patio Social, Granville Liquor Store, Honda Canada, Granville Island Brewing, and Tourism Surrey.

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