You’ve heard of Show Biz. This is Biz Biz, the history of business in Vancouver, told through the activities of The Vancouver Board of Trade.

1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893
1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
1906 1907 1908 1909 1910  
1926       1932 1933
1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940


Some 1937 highlights (described in more detail below):

  • H.R. MacMillan views our export trade with alarm
  • Average annual income in BC hits $617
  • Gerry McGeer makes a promise
  • This new stuff called “cellophane”
  • The offal truth
  • At 50, The Board pays tribute to former Presidents
  • Vancouver's streets “the dirtiest in the world”

Empire's Aerial Progress

The Vancouver Sun reported in its January 14, 1937 edition (Page 20) on the “Empire's Aerial Progress.”

“R.L. Maitland, K.C.,” the Sun reported, “was elected chairman of the Customs and Transportation Bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade, at its annual meeting Wednesday noon, in the David Spencer Ltd. dining room. Following luncheon, at which A.G. McDonald of Winnipeg, operations general secretary of Canadian Airways, spoke on The Empire's Airways, members were given a preview of the Imperial Airways' Ltd. exhibit which has been brought to Vancouver and will be exhibited for a week on the fifth floor of Spencers' Ltd.”

That Imperial Airways' exhibit consisted of working models of the company”s aircraft. One of the most unusual was the Mayo Composite, pictured. We found a website that pictured the plane, and this explanation: “Carefully-conducted tests had proved that an Imperial Airways' Empire flying-boat could achieve a transatlantic crossing only if its entire payload consisted of fuel. Since it is well known that an aircraft can be flown at a much greater weight than that at which it can take off from the ground, Robert Mayo proposed that a small heavily loaded mail plane be carried to operational altitude above a larger 'mother plane' and then released to complete its long-range task. The proposal was accepted by the Air Ministry and Imperial Airways, who jointly contracted Shorts to design and build such a composite unit.”

That website explains how the plane was successfully tested, and how it came to grief.

Another display showed in miniature “how a plane is guided by two-way radio to a blind landing. By merely touching a switch the spectator can see and hear the operation, watching the plane being guided into the airport over the radio beam while obtaining aural directions from the ground over the two-way radio system . . . Also are shown models of the huge new Empire flying boats and land planes, which can carry 43 passengers.”

Walter Carson The Board”s new President

The Sun reported in its January 21, 1937 issue (Page 3) that Walter M. Carson, vice president of The Board for 1936 was its new president for 1937. His was the only name put forward in nominations. He succeeded J.Y. McCarter. John Whittle, chairman of the foreign trade bureau in 1935, and a former president of the Merchants' Exchange, was the new vice president, also nominated without opposition.

And the paper noted that “W.E. Payne is again elected to the position of executive secretary, which he has held since 1918. He is therefore entering his twentieth year in that responsible post.”

The Board's Golden Jubilee

On January 27 (Page 4) the Sun reported on outgoing president J.Y. McCarter”s presidential report. It “fittingly mixed early history of the board with a review of activities of the past year and a glimpse into the assured future.”

McCarter, by the way, was one of the senior partners in McCarter Nairne, the prestigious architectural firm that brought us, among others, the Marine Building.

McCarter noted, said the Sun, that the late David Oppenheimer (he died in 1897) “was the first president of the board, instituted in 1887. Records of its second meeting (none were preserved of the first) showed that the young city, incorporated the year of the calamitous fire, was already making substantial progress. The board, as today, asked for many things for the good of the young community. Among these were a resident judge, a registry office, a government savings bank and a high school. They wanted a lighthouse at the First Narrows and a lot more things, all of which came in due time.

“President Oppenheimer,” McCarter continued, “once said 'Our port was evidently designed by Nature to be an outlet of Canada's to the Orient and Australia. Why should we not make the best of this opportunity?'”

Time has given the answer, McCarter said. “The commercial history of Vancouver, recorded in the minute books of the board, is a striking romance of progress which should be assembled and published.

Highlights of the Year

Reviewing highlights of the year, Mr. McCarter mentioned particularly the part of the board in the Golden Jubilee Celebration, and spoke enthusiastically of the great success of the annual excursion which took fifty board members through the Okanagan and Kootenays.

There was a standing silence following the retiring president's recital of the names of 22 members of the board who died during 1936. Among them were such well-known men as Charles E. Tisdall (the mayor of Vancouver in 1922/23), J. Kerr Houlgate (a prominent insurance executive), Robert Cromie (the publisher of The Vancouver Sun), Brig. General J. Duff Stuart and piano merchant J.W. Kelly.

“The new president, Walter M. Carson,” said the Sun, “taking the chair relinquished by Mr. McCarter, and greeted with sustained applause, said that while it was too early to make any announcement as to the special jubilee year events, one of the most important will be the annual excursion of board members, which this year will again be by boat along the north coast to points including Prince Rupert, Stewart and Ocean Falls, with a side trip into Gardner Canal.”

Splendid Destiny for Port of Vancouver

One of the speakers at The Board's Annual Dinner Meeting was Sidney Smith. “Himself a veteran seafarer,” the Sun explained, “for years in haven in Vancouver as a practising authority on marine law, the speaker mixed experience, history, prescience and faith in the future of Canada and British Columbia in a characteristic talk which on several occasions moved his appreciative audience to sustained interruptions of applause.

“Paying a fine tribute to New Westminster, Sidney Smith said: 'I am sometimes amazed at the progress of New Westminster and at the energy of her people in the advertisement of their port. They are all port minded.'

“But Vancouver, he argued, has an equally striking record and will maintain her supremacy on the Pacific Coast if only because longer established and with the bulk of commerce firmly established within hailing distance of the keels of the world. Thus 389 deep sea ships in Vancouver harbor from all parts of the world in 1921 increased to 1,247 in 1936.

“And they are from all parts of the world. Prowl along the docks any time and you will be sure to see ships from Britain, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Japan, Panama and United States.” The only fly in the ointment, the speaker said: “Hardly any of the deep-sea ships are Canadian, although coastal services are.”

“He enumerated the many new trade routes established in Vancouver in the last fifteen years, so that now there are 18 cargo lines between Vancouver and Europe alone, and nineteen other lines to the Orient, Australia, South America, West Indies and South Africa. In addition, Vancouver has two great chartering houses, each with 60 to 70 charters at one time, spread out on all the oceans of the world.

“Until 15 years ago,” Smith said, “Vancouver was a by-way on the ocean highways. Now it is a great terminus, radiating out in every direction.”

Prospects of the Port

“What are the prospects of Port of Vancouver?” Smith asked “They can scarcely be painted in over-bright colors. In 1921 we shrugged our shoulders when people spoke glowingly of Vancouver as a great wheat port. Yet it is so today. In like manner we shrug when we hear of Vancouver as the greatest port on the Pacific. Yet that, too, will come. Vancouver's port is not a local matter. It is a Canadian matter. It is an Empire matter. I feel it is infinitely the greatest asset we have,” Mr. Smith said.

The Province, in its report on the same talk (January 27, 1937, Page 4), said that Smith declared that if he had his way he would make Vancouver the safest and cheapest port in the world with no First Narrows Bridge and no cargo rates. (The bridge was not yet built. We're not quite sure why Smith would have preferred it not to be.)

300 members!

Said the Sun on January 27: “The golden jubilee year of Vancouver Board of Trade will be no ordinary year, it was predicted by the board's new president, Walter M. Carson, at the annual dinner meeting in Hotel Vancouver on Tuesday night.

“Nearly 300 members constituted a record attendance at an annual meeting and warmly applauded President Carson's appeal for support in a year of great activity . . . The formal and impressive ceremony of swearing in the new president and Vice President John Whittle was performed by Mayor George C. Miller. Rev. J.W. Leighton of the Seamen's Institute said grace.”

Fight to Secure Trade

“Lift up your eyes—not to the hills—but beyond the seas, whence cometh our strength.” That was the advice of H. R. Macmillan, president of H. R. Macmillan Export Co. Ltd., to a large gathering at a luncheon meeting of the Vancouver Board of Trade in the Hotel Vancouver at noon today. (January 27, 1937)

“Export trade,” reported the Sun, “is the lifeblood of British Columbia industry, Mr. Macmillan said.”

The Province's story quoted Macmillan as saying: “British Empire markets take 86 per cent of our lumber, 58 per cent of our fish and a large proportion of our export base metals. We live in a protected market. Let us remember that the United States is of more use to Australia as a market than is Canada; that the Baltic States and the United States are of more use to the United Kingdom as a market than is Canada, and that similarly the United States is of more use to South Africa than Canada. This means that if we do not fight for and contribute to the common defense of British Empire markets, there are those who, seeking benefits now ours, will show us up.”

Can't Live Alone

“This is no new message, the simple statement that we cannot live by ourselves alone,” the speaker said, summarizing a long list of production and export statistics showing that of leading British Columbia products those which must and do find a market outside the province are: lumber and products, 85 per cent; fish and by-products, 98 per cent; base metals, 100 per cent; pulp and paper, 95 per cent. He quoted statistics to show that this province last year exported 67 per cent of its lumber overseas. He explained how the province shipped great quantities of logs overseas, and how eighteen factories are maintained to manufacture doors, of which only 3 per cent are used in Canada.

“Canada and British Columbia enjoy no monopolies in these overseas competitive markets, although they have a most valuable advantage in the Empire preference tariffs.” Everyone in the community, he said, is affected by the volume of export trade. Export industries are almost the sole primary source of government revenues.”

Average annual income $617

The average annual income in British Columbia, Macmillan told The Board, is $617, the highest in Canada, 50 per cent higher than the Canadian average, and this indicates that labor here is more favored than elsewhere. But this “experimental” progress, “the cost of which can only be estimated, must be watched because of the danger that mounting costs of production shall not overbalance and topple the whole structure of trade with consequent loss to labor and capital alike.” Also, he said, “increasing public debt with consequently higher taxation is a deterrent to incoming capital.”

“There is no royal road to market. We must give competitive service for value received. We have competition in every market everywhere, and if we do not meet it we lose our livelihood. Even maintenance of our present production levels requires new capital.”

Empire Market Vital!

Forest industry executive H.R. Macmillan popped up again February 10 when he spoke to a “crowded luncheon meeting” of The Board in an address reported on the next day by the Province (Page 22). His topic was trade within the Empire.
“We must contribute to its defense,” he said, “If we do not buy from the people we sell our goods to and contribute to defense of that Empire in which we live, what are our deserts? We can not continue to live in the privileged position of preferential markets, as at present, if we don't try to make ourselves more valuable to the markets which now buy from us liberally.”

Depend on Exports

“British Columbia,” said Macmillan, “is dependent on sales beyond its borders for 85 per cent of its lumber, 96 per cent of its fish, 100 per cent of its base metals, 96 per cent of its pulp and paper and more than 90 per cent of its apples. We have no monopolies in these markets, where we are exposed to competition everywhere. Foreign market conditions affect everyone gainfully employed in this province, and any decline in revenue from export sales means decreased buying power passing along the line to laborer, capitalist, butcher, grocer, baker, milkman, machinist, merchant, doctor and civil servant.

“Our export industries are almost the sole primary source of government revenues. This situation is particularly true in British Columbia, where agriculture is almost entirely secondary, dependent upon feeding those directly or indirectly engaged in serving export industries.”

High Taxes in B.C.

He urged keeping down costs as much as possible to meet competition on foreign markets. Remarking that taxes are the first charge on industry, Macmillan declared that taxes in British Columbia are the highest of any political unit in the British Empire, or on this continent.

Former mayor W.H. Malkin remembers . . .

The Sun, on Page 9 of its March 18, 1937 edition told of a talk to the Wholesale Bureau of The Board at a luncheon in the Hotel Georgia by former Vancouver mayor W.H. Malkin in which he recalled his early struggle in the city.

Malkin was introduced by his son, Dick Malkin, bureau chairman. It was the first time in Bureau history that a son had had the opportunity of presenting his father to an audience.

Among his other comments, Malkin urged the equalization of freight rates and development of the Peace River area. “Until there are more facilities provided for hinterland districts,” he said, “there is not much chance of increased business.” He said that it was a matter of regret to him that the hinterland has not kept pace, in progress, with the City of Vancouver and its port.

City Population 17,000

Malkin described his early efforts in Vancouver in 1895, when the city's population was 17,000, there were only 439 telephones and one could telephone long-distance only as far as New Westminster. He pictured the struggle between Seattle and Vancouver wholesalers for the privilege of serving the Yukon market during the gold rush days. Seattle at first had the edge, but Vancouver won out.

“I don't think,” said Malkin, “that many realize just what the opening of the Panama Canal has meant to Vancouver.” [The canal had opened to traffic August 15, 1914.] He said that the canal's opening meant that wholesale merchants in Vancouver could receive goods in a good state, a condition impossible when the long water haul was necessary.

Equal to 1929

A sign that BC was slowly but steadily struggling out of the Great Depression was indicated in a talk to a full-board meeting of The Board on Wednesday, March 24, 1937 reported on the next day by the Sun (Page 19). The speaker was George Pearson, provincial Minister of Labor and of Mines. Industry, Pearson said, had made a remarkable comeback in the past three or four years.

“There is every promise,” Pearson said, “that in 1937 the volume of production and turnover and of employment will equal if not exceed the record of 1929.”

He cited the official records from 40 selected firms in 15 different lines of industry in the province:

  1. Payrolls of $9 million in 1933 increased to $15 million in 1936.
  2. The number of employees increased from 6,800 in 1933 to more than 11,000 in 1936.
  3. Average annual income of the workers of these 40 firms increased from $902 in 1933 to $1,325 in 1936. [The 40 firms, unnamed, paid well above the average annual income, $617, cited by H.R. Macmillan in a February 10 talk cited above.]

“The highest wages you can pay should be paid,” Pearson said “That is good business. It creates increased turnover, the bigger buying power creates additional market for your own product.” But the problem of unemployment remains, costly and likely to become more costly and it is primarily a problem to be faced by industry itself with what help government can give.

The Sun continued: “Reviewing briefly the improvement in mining since 1933—and incidentally the Minister voiced confidence that production will reach $60 million in 1937—in lumbering, fishing and agriculture, he said that the true index of returned prosperity is in the volume of wages going to the workers and creating buying power, and in the average annual income of the workers. The Minister's chief warning was about unemployment. Total British Columbia government expenditure on relief, including expenditures and borrowings for work designed to aid relief, amounted at the end of the past year to $11,299,000.

“I don't think business men realize this cost, which we have not yet begun to pay back, and which can be paid only by taxes paid in the last analysis from the earnings of business. Personally, I think we made a mistake when he did not pay our relief way from the start. Sooner or later you will have to pay for it, and I think you will have to start paying very soon,” he said. “This question of unemployment is more worrisome than ever. The number of unemployed is not decreasing in proportion to the improvement in business and payrolls.”

Too many people, Pearson continued, are coming from other places and securing jobs that should go to the resident unemployed. “Take on a British Columbia man while there is a BC man unemployed that you can use.” Many of the unemployed are not trained or fitted for the work available. Yet there is a shortage of first class men in several industries, notably of rock miners.

His department works under exceedingly difficult conditions, the Minister said. Its project camps for men are operated under conditions just as good as are to be found in any first-class logging camp, and yet there is a continual criticism from organizations of veterans and others.

Subversive Influences

Mr. Pearson closed with a brief reference to labor conditions. British Columbia, he said, has had less labor trouble in the past three years than most other places. Conditions have been exceedingly good. But subversive influences are known to be at work all the time. “The best way to combat those subversive influences is to make conditions in industry here the best you can possibly make them. Take more interest in the problems of the men working for you. Too many delegate this to foremen or superintendents and know nothing of the men themselves and their working conditions.

“Do your own policing among your own various industrial groups and see to it that every member treats his men right. Don't expect the government to do things it cannot do,” he concluded.

Transport Bill Killed

Public supervision of all Canadian transport by air, land and water, such as was proposed by the Canadian Transport Bill, is “a piece of legislation that must come sooner or later,” Senator J. W. deB. Farris, K.C., told a luncheon meeting of The Board of Trade on April 9, 1937. (Province, April 10, 1937, Page 6.)

“In his first public address since his elevation to the Senate, the Province reported, ”Farris gave a lucid analysis of the provisions of the bill and explained how it came to be killed in the Red Chamber. He said he spoke as “one of the minority who supported it.” The bill, he said, was designed to bring buses, trucks, airplanes and ships under the same supervision as for railways under the Board of Railway Commissioners. It was, he thought, “a logical thing”.”

Since the railways board was established in 1903, Senator Farris said, “it has proved of inestimable value to the public and even the railways now concede that it has been a godsend to them.” But the speaker noted that many of the same arguments used by the railways against the board in 1903 were used by opponents of the 1937 bill.

“Defeat of the bill was not on political grounds, he thought. It was “fortunate for the country” that senators are relieved of the need for “talking to the constituents.”

Opposition Enthusiastic

Waving a fat volume in his hand, Senator Farris explained it contained a transcript of hearings before the Senate railway committee. Opposition to the bill was “enthusiastic and unanimous,” and included all interests affected and all provincial governments. The railway companies and some of the Great Lakes shipping companies were the only supporters. At least 75 per cent of the opposition was based on needless fear and misapprehension of the facts, he said.

Extension of control over bus and truck companies was the thorniest point in the bill. Opposition came from the companies and from every provincial government. “Every province was represented and fought it,” he said. “I don't yet know why. They were assured time and again that there was no intention to interfere with provincial rights. Every attorney-general, if he stops to think at all, knows that such a law could not be enforced even if it were tried. Provincial rights are as paramount as federal rights.

“But until the bitter end this caused much hostility and explains to a large extent why the bill died,” he continued.”

“CNR Hotel Open in 1939”

The Province reported April 28, 1937 (Page 1) that the opening of the Canadian National hotel in Vancouver in 1939 was assured.

That assurance came from G. G. McGeer, K. C. M. P., who addressed the B. C. Products bureau of The Board of Trade at noon in the Hotel Vancouver. [A bit of clarification is needed here: the Hotel Vancouver at which McGeer spoke was the second in the line. The CN hotel referred to is the one we know as the present Hotel Vancouver, and it did indeed open in 1939.]

McGeer “painted a glowing picture of the future greatness of Vancouver.”

Turning from Dominion affairs to British Columbia, McGeer said that when financiers placed money in the bank to build the First Narrows bridge and the real estate development associated with it, it augured well for the future.

“I venture to say that Vancouver in the next fifty years will achieve far greater prominence and progress than ever before.”

[McGeer, incidentally, had been mayor of Vancouver in 1935-36, and would be again in 1947.]

Sees prosperity

“The First Narrows Bridge,” McGeer said, “will become world famous and the view from this structure will be unsurpassed anywhere in the world.” Canada, he continued, has every reason to believe that it is entering into another era of prosperity, likened by the speaker to that which followed Confederation. “We have every reason in 1937 to look forward to a period of greater prosperity than any in the past half-century”.

Capilano Canyon Park

“If Capilano Canyon and this park were 50 miles away Vancouver people would be breaking their legs to get to them, and they would be sending all tourists to see them. The trouble is they are too close,” said Mayor George C. Miller on Thursday, April 15, 1937. (Sun, April 16, Page 2.)

Miller was one of some 30 members of The Board, including President Walter M. Carson, who inspected the work done during the winter months in clearing and making trails in the 150-acre Canyon Park held by The Board in trust for the people of the province.

“It is all a revelation to one who knew this place for 40 years,” Mayor Miller said. The work in this park was one of 21 projects carried on during the winter by the provincial forestry department to provide work for single unemployed. Following the inspection the visitors were guests of forestry officials at a loggers' dinner in the big mess hall, where they ate with the 20 or more men still cleaning up camp.

Chief Forester E. C. Manning said it was hoped to use the camp this summer in the successful scheme of training young men in forestry and fire prevention work. [This is the Manning after whom Manning Park is named.]

Dr. E. A. Cleveland, commissioner of the Greater Vancouver Water District, paid high tribute to the usefulness of the work done by the forestry camp gangs in the watershed. [This is the Cleveland after whom the Cleveland Dam is named.]

Incidentally, after winning the December 9, 1936 civic election Miller became the first mayor of Vancouver to occupy what was then our brand-new city hall: the date was January 2, 1937.

Slocan Mines

Among the tidbits we plucked from an April 24, 1937 story in The Vancouver Sun (Page 24) about Slocan Mines is that the Parliament Buildings at Victoria were built out of a special tax levied on the Slocan mines. R.E. “Bob” Grimes, a well-known mine operator, also told members of the Mining Bureau of The Board at a luncheon in the Vancouver Hotel that “although an accurate record of the district's early production had not been kept” it was estimated it had produced the following in base metals: 50 million ounces in silver; 400 million pounds of lead and 300 million pounds of zinc.

Chemistry Invaluable to Timber Trade

Reported the Province on May 4, 1937 (Page 8): “A synthetic eraser and a fragment of artificial glass—handed to the advertising bureau of the Board of Trade on Monday by Dr. Allen Harris of the University of B. C.“gave members an inkling of the major place that cellulose industries may hold in the future of the Northwest.

“Speaking on 'Timber in the Chemical Age' at a luncheon meeting of the bureau in Hotel Vancouver, Dr. Harris followed a review of the lumber industry as it stands with a summary of new fields opened since chemistry and the forest trades effected a union after the Great War.

“Use of wood cellulose in place of cotton for the manufacture of explosives launched the new industry. Rapid strides have been made in finding novel additional uses for the most important components of wood, and an imposing list now greets the enquirer. Examples of plastics which have been evolved include various kinds of malleable wood and wood cement, artificial rubber, films, celanese (used in the manufacture of rayon), celluloid and glass substitute.

Cellophane Popular

“Another wood by-product which has won favor,” the Province continued, “is cellophane. According to Dr. Harris, cellophane was used in Europe for several years before a vigorous advertising campaign made it one of the standard wrapping materials employed on this continent. [There's an interesting Wikipedia article on cellophane here]

“Referring to other uses, he pointed out that in Germany at present alcohol and glucose are being produced from wood waste. One reason which will make development necessary in Canada, he explained, is that southern pine has after years of research been treated to make adequate newsprint, with the result that seven new pulp mills have opened in the United States in direct competition with Canadian plants.”

Powell River visited

A goodwill party from The Board visited Powell River, and Sun reporter Jack MacDonald wrote about it for the paper”s June 9, 1937 issue, Page 7.

“The visitors toured the plant in charge of guides,” MacDonald wrote, “who explained the mysteries of the making of newsprint and pulp from the great logs in the water to the finished article. There are approximately 1,550 employees working full time and taking advantage of the many opportunities for recreation provided through the co-operation of the company.

“Average production runs to 670 tons of newsprint a day, with 30 tons of sulphite pulp, most of which goes in that shape to Japan and other parts of the Orient. Two large ships were loading newsprint, one of them a Norwegian, taking on 6,000 tons of the huge rolls for delivery to Texas water ports via Panama Canal.

“Powell River, with a population of 1,000 in the immediate vicinity, depending practically entirely on the industry, is the fifth seaport of British Columbia. The plant, a humming hive of activity the day around, gets its hydro-electric power through 723 motors developing over 40,000 horsepower. Pumping capacity of the water system for the various washing processes runs to 308,000 gallons a minute. The sawmill which reduces the logs to a size ready for the grinders has a capacity of 500,000 board feet a day, and there are now 72 grinders desiccating the wood for “cooking”.

Lots of Hemlock

“About 80 per cent of the wood is hemlock, with 20 per cent of the longer fibre British Columbia spruce as binder, making a newsprint that is famous wherever it goes for its high quality. The great bulk of the output goes to American Pacific Coast centres.

“The great bulk of supplies for Powell River comes from Vancouver and the visitors had a fresh lesson in the importance of coast industries to the prosperity of Vancouver.

“Following dinner the whole party took cars again to the unique estate of D. K. Macken at Westview where they hugely enjoyed an open-air program of boxing and wrestling in a regulation ring set up for the occasion. Powell River amateurs put on a really fine show and the visitors plainly showed reluctance at having to leave in time for sailing at midnight.”

[Incidentally, that same Sun for June 9, 1937 (Page 7) shows a wire service photo of German Chancellor Adolf Hitler enthusiastically smiling and chatting in Munich with a farm girl from Berchtesgaden. The Second World War was still more than two years away. Also shown in the photo was Walther Darre, Hitler's minister of agriculture, and a nasty piece of work himself.]

Other Places

For June 10, 1937 the Daily Province (Page 7) and the Sun (Page 2) have reports on a visit by The Board's goodwill delegation to the Courtenay-Comox region, and the Sun's June 12 edition (Page 9) has a similar report on a visit to Prince Rupert. The latter included “an afternoon excursion on Armour Salvage Co's ship Algie to the famous sacred Indian village of Metlakatla, now practically deserted but with all its ancient houses still standing.” A visit to Stewart is reported on in the Sun for June 14 (Page 9), during which the delegation visited the Premier and Big Missouri mines. And in the June 8 Province Page 12) a major lumber and pulp mill at Port Mellon is visited. “Most of the mill was built in 1928, just before the pulp market collapsed,” the newspaper reported, but the mill was once again humming busily along.

Alaska Highway Backed

From The Vancouver Sun for June 14, 1937 (Page 9): “An eloquent plea for Vancouver support of the British Columbia-Alaska-Yukon highway project voiced by E.T. Applewhaite, past president of Stewart Board of Trade, created a decided impression on members of the Vancouver Board of Trade Goodwill Party at dinner here on Saturday night.

“The proposed highway, Applewhaite said, is entirely feasible from every engineering standpoint. It would open up an immense territory rich in natural resources and would prove one of the greatest tourist magnets of the continent. The plea followed a glowing picture of a great northern empire of undeveloped timber, agricultural and mineral resources stretching from Portland Canal across to the Peace Country, which some day inevitably must be opened up by roads and rail and airplane.”

Ocean Falls surprises

The June 14, 1937 Sun told of our goodwill visitors visiting the Queen Charlotte Islands, and Ocean Falls. In the latter the tourists, said the Sun, “began to doubt the official weather records which show that Ocean Falls ranks second in rainfall among all British Columbia communities. Three times in a row Board parties have called at Ocean Falls and seen nothing but clear, sunny skies. It was so again on Thursday. But Ocean Falls folk said “My, but we are glad; this is so unusual,” and proceeded to confess that the average is 168 inches a year, that it has gone as high as 240 inches in 12 months, and that there would be no great pulp and paper plant at Ocean Falls at all if the precipitation was less than that average of a half-inch every day of the year.

Ocean Falls is just one more of the up-coast industrial centres now humming at an all-time peak of production and payroll.

The 1,100 employees now busy on capacity shifts are a total of just 10 per cent above any previous average. Average production runs to 325 tons a day, of which about 65 per cent is newsprint shipped to all parts of the world but notably to Australia and the Orient, with 35 per cent in the shape of Kraft and special sulphite papers. Assurance that this capacity production is expected to continue indefinitely is shown in the fact that work has been started on a new warehouse with a capacity of several thousand tons. Piling is now being installed and Northern Construction Co. of Vancouver will soon be busy on the superstructure, which is to be finished within three months.

Hail, Britannia!

Charles Lugrin Shaw, the Daily Province's business editor, reported in the June 8 edition (Page 12) that The Board delegation had visited the “copper town” of Britannia.

“With metal prices at profitable levels again,” Shaw wrote, “this British Columbia copper town is riding high on the crest of new prosperity. Members of the Vancouver Board of Trade touring party found that out Monday when they arrived here—the first stopping point in a journey that will carry them as far north as the Portland Canal country and the Queen Charlottes. Leaving SS Prince George at the Britannia dock, they visited the lower workings of the Howe Sound Company's great mine, not long ago regarded as the biggest producer in the British Empire.

“We are mining the lowest grade copper ore in the world,” C. V. Brennan, assistant manager, told the delegates. “The fact that we can do it profitably is due to the large scale of our operations and to the wonderful co-operation of a fine bunch of fellows.” Mr. Brennan was chief host to the visitors in the absence of General Manager C. P. Browning, who is supervising construction of Howe Sound's new 1000-ton copper plant near Lake Chelan, Wash.

Addressing a luncheon gathering aboard ship Mr. Brennan was applauded when he told of how his company had operated through the depression even with copper at five cents without missing a single pay day. “We have a far-sighted board of directors,” said Mr. Brennan. “Even though some of the directors live three or four thousand miles away, they saw the picture out here in the true perspective and the result was the Britannia kept mining and several thousand men were kept off British Columbia's relief rolls.”

[The Britannia mine closed in 1974. At its peak in 1929, it was the largest copper-producing mine in the British Empire.]

Happy Spirit

“The Board of Trade party was impressed with the happy spirit prevailing among the workers at Britannia—a spirit created and maintained by the company's policy of trying to make every man feel his part in the enterprise.

“Take, for instance, the case of Joe Burns, who works in the mill. Joe has had three pay increases of about twenty-five cents a day—without asking for them—since copper started soaring a few months ago. A lot of other things at Britannia made Joe feel well satisfied. For the clean, modern four-room cottage in which he and his family reside he pays a rental of $5.25 a month, and his water is free. Other things are free too—things like life insurance to a maximum of $1,500. It is little wonder that Joe uses the pronoun “we” when he talks about the company. And Joe is only one of the 1,000 men who co-operate to make things go at Britannia.

“Co-operation is the right word here because the whole system in this prospering mining town is based on unity. The general stores have been operated on a co-operative basis since 1922. The net earnings are rebated to the employees twice a year, pro rata to their purchasing by a direct cheque to each employee. New employees become eligible for participation after three months' employment. The rebate has totalled $380,000.

Save Money

”“It's a fine way to save money,” says Joe Burns. “My rebate's going to pay for my vacation.” The company's general store does a $500,000 business annually. The Britannia company incidentally spends $1,250,000 a year for supplies alone, nearly all purchased in the Vancouver market. The company's payroll, one of the biggest in B. C. mining, is about $1,400,000 a year.

Seattle-Vancouver-Aleutians route?

From the Province for June 8, 1937 (Page 12): “The day is not far distant when the Pacific Ocean will be a network of airlines with a Seattle-Vancouver-Aleutian Islands route to the Orient in regular operation.

“This was one of the many proposals made by C. N. Monteith, executive vice-president of the Boeing Airplane Co. of Seattle, in an address to the Junior Board of Trade's annual aviation dinner on Monday night, June 7. He remarked on the wonderful development which has taken place in aviation in the ten years since the Lindbergh flight across the Atlantic, and forecast even greater things for the next ten.

Sees No Limit

“Ten years ago I never dreamed we'd be building planes with “staircases,” he declared, “and I suppose ten years from now we won't be the least surprised if they demand grand pianos in them too.” Mr. Monteith described the forty-ton clipper ship which is now being built for Pan-American's transatlantic and transpacific service. He expressed the opinion that the Atlantic may be flown by four-engined land machines with perfect safety, but flying boats will rule the Pacific, since there are few landing areas large enough to accommodate huge planes of the type required for over-water service.

“Actually, we haven't even started on 'large' flying boats,” he said. “At the moment I can not see why there should be any limitation to their size. The bigger they are the more seaworthy they are”.

Board Members at Powell River

Reported the Daily Province: “Vancouver Business men today surveyed the result of twenty-five years of farsighted industrial enterprise, the Pacific Coast's biggest newsprint mill, representing an investment of $30 million.” (June 9, 1937, Page 6)

“Just a quarter of a century ago, while critics scoffed at what seemed a fantastic idea, founders of Powell River Company established a sixty-five ton mill in the midst of an unbroken forest of virgin timber. Since then capacity of the plant has been increased 1000 per cent. Where in 1912 Powell River's annual production was less than 20,000 tons it is now more than 200,000 tons. In 1912 fifteen grinding machines were operating here, converting pulp wood into sheets of white paper. Today there are seventy-two. The company's monthly log cut has advanced from less than two million feet to twelve million.

“But what interested members of the Vancouver Board of Trade excursion even more than Powell River's march of progress in the past was the assurance given to them by officials of the company that the prospects were never better than they are today. During the doldrums in the newsprint market a few years ago Powell River continued to operate at close to capacity 670 tons daily while eastern mills not so favorably located for the offshore trade were compelled to curtail to 60 per cent of production, or less.

“Today every one of Powell River's seven giant machines is operating full time, and the company is engaged in a new $400,000 expansion programme which will, among other things, provide a Kamyr unit to produce, when extended, 100 tons of sulphite pulp daily—an entirely new departure for a company that has produced nothing but newsprint in the past. The sulphite market has improved so materially during the past few months, however, that Powell River intends to capitalize its opportunity.

“Vancouver visitors were able to see the progress of excavation for this new producing unit. A building is under construction 60 by 240 feet with brick walls and concrete floor. When completed it will not only house the Kamyr machine, but 1,000 tons of baled sulphite . . . Representing the company, D. A. Evans, resident manager, and Jock Kyles, mill secretary, welcomed the Vancouver party when the Prince George docked at 4 p.m. President G. N. Douglas headed Powell River's Board of Trade group. They and several other prominent paper town residents were guests at dinner aboard ship. During the afternoon the visitors visited the mills and toured the townsite.”

Packed in like . . . Pilchards?

“It is undoubtedly very interesting,” said the Province on June 9, 1937 (Page 6), “when the Board of Trade goes a-voyaging upon the lands and seas of British Columbia. It discovers, for instance, within two hours of Vancouver, the headquarters of three important B.C. industries, copper, coal and pulpwood. And it discovers before it has really had time to get its sea legs, that the B. C. pilchard is a California sardine which has come north to grow up bigger and better with our country.

“Everything that the people at the Departure Bay biological station told our trade boarders is confirmed by the lexicographer. The sardine, it appears, is clupea pilchardus and the pilchard (or pilcher) is also clupea pilchardus . . . a first cousin of the herring. Clupea pilchardus is a sardine off the shores of Sardinia and Brittany and California, and a pilchard on the coasts of Cornwall, Devon and British Columbia. In the clupea pilchardus family you begin young and extremely numerous as a sardine, but if you attain longevity and discretion you end your days as a pilchard. In fact, the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, evidently jealous for the glory and honor of the pilchers, describes the sardine, in its second definition, as “a young Cornish pilchard.”

They're Back!

Reported the Province's Charles Lugrin Shaw for June 17, 1937 (Page 5) “Vancouver Business Men Return From West Coast.”

“After an 1,800-mile cruise of the west coast that took them as far north as the Portland Canal and West to the Queen Charlottes, 100 members of the Vancouver Board of Trade goodwill excursion returned home Wednesday afternoon. The tour, headed by Walter Carson, president of the Board, made on the Canadian National steamship Prince George, Captain E. Mabbs, included such points as Britannia Beach, Nanaimo, Comox, Ocean Falls, Powell River, Prince Rupert, Stewart, Cumshewa Inlet and Port Alice.

“Major purpose of the mission was to educate Vancouver business men regarding the industrial activities and possibilities of the west coast and to demonstrate to the Coast communities that Vancouver is prepared to lend them a helping hand in a cooperative spirit. The Vancouver party returned with a broader appreciation of the west coast's problems, a greater admiration for the region's achievements, and convinced that in scenery no country has more to offer than that section of British Columbia.”

Minister of Everything

In his day, they called C.D. Howe the “Minister of Everything.” One of the most remarkable Canadians ever, this dynamic gentleman—at the time the federal Minister of Transport—spoke to The Board on Wednesday, July 31, 1937.

He called Vancouver “the most Air-Minded city in Canada.” The occasion, said the Sun on August 1 (Page 3), was a luncheon by the Council of the Vancouver Board of Trade to honor Howe, Ian Mackenzie, the Minister of National Defense, and S.J. Hungerford, chairman and president of Canadian National Railways and president of Trans-Canada Air Lines. All three are visitors in Vancouver on official business. Walter M. Carson, president of The Board, presided at the luncheon.

Airways Work

Discussing the significance of his recent trial flight across the Dominion, Howe outlined some of the work which will be done to ensure successful and safe regular trans-Canada flying on a commercial basis.

“I took the trip to see just what the present situation is,” he explained. “The work was started—a really tremendous enterprise—in 1932, by Mr. Mackenzie's department, as an unemployment relief measure. That was very fortunate. I doubt if any government would have started to complete a work of such magnitude.”
“There will be about 100 landing fields of an emergency type across Canada, Mr. Howe revealed. A large number of cities have co-operated.

“Vancouver has one of the finest airports, if not the finest,” he said. “The developments make it necessary to extend the facilities. My department has the policy of assisting municipal airports in bringing these up to date. The work on the runway will be completed by the autumn.”

Speaking of his trip across Canada by air, Mr. Howe showed how communications “are one of the chief essentials in the work.” There is to be a continuous beam system for the pilots from Montreal to Vancouver.

Two-Way Radio

“Next year that will be extended to Halifax,” he said. “Two-way radio will be completely installed. Thus pilots will be able to speak not only to one point but to many. The teletype will connect flying fields, passing weather reports and other essential information. It is interesting to note that each day we receive weather reports from the North Pole. As you know, the Russians have established a floating weather station there. They send their own position and reports on the weather, and these, I am assured by our authorities, are regarded as most helpful.”

Check out this brief bio of Clarence Decatur Howe.

Into the Valley

Members of the Advertising and Sales Bureau of The Board “revelled in the beauties of Fraser Valley scenery and fraternized with many of its inhabitants on the occasion of their annual outing,” according to the August 6, 1937 Sun, Page 3. The 45 members were headed by Bureau Chairman Leander Manley.

“What was important to most of them was the fact that they got a new close-up of the agricultural and other industry of what is generally recognized as the richest dairying area in all Canada—perhaps the richest and finest on the American continent.

“They saw the two big processing plants of Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association at Delair and at Sardis. Later they were given the opportunity of looking over a typical Fraser Valley farm, that of Harry Jesperson between Chilliwack and Rosedale. Officials of the were hosts during most of the day, conducting the visitors over the plants and sponsoring their farm visit.

Plant Inspection

“At the Delair plant, devoted entirely to the processing and canning of Pacific Milk, the visitors saw what is reputed to be the most modern, scientific, hygienic and efficient plant of its kind on the continent. At the Sardis plant, devoted chiefly to butter, the visitors saw also the making of the skim milk powder and casein, for which there is a large demand principally for use in glue making and the fabrication of buttons.

“At luncheon in the Empress Hotel, Chilliwack, the food entirely of Fraser Valley production, President Macken told briefly the history of the FVMPA since its organization 20 years ago.”

Fields of Corn

“Motoring among farms between Chilliwack and Rosedale, the visitors saw thousands of acres of crops and were particularly interested in the great fields of corn grown under contract for the corn canning plant at Chilliwack.”

The Big Bend

“There is no reason why the Trans-Canada Highway linking Alberta with BC should not be finished next year,” Hon. T. A. Crerar, federal minister of mines and resources, declared on his arrival here this morning via C.P.R. from Revelstoke, where he has been inspecting the work.”

That”s from the Province for September 15, 1937 (Page 1).

“It is difficult to follow a strict schedule on this kind of work,” the minister continued. “Building a road through the mountains is a different proposition from building on the prairies. On a prairie road you can put in a dozen different outfits. A mountain highway calls for more concentrated work. While I hope to see the highway completed during the latter part of 1938, it is difficult to be certain when there are so many obstacles to overcome.”

“An additional $42,000 has been allocated to the Big Bend section of the highway, the minister added, and if the anticipated schedule of seven miles of road on the west leg of the bend is completed this year, only sixteen miles of highway will remain to be constructed in 1938.”

[Crossing British Columbia entirely by car—without using a ferry—was not possible until the 311 km-long Big Bend Highway, linking Revelstoke and Golden along the Columbia River, was completed. The Big Bend would be officially opened June 29, 1940.]

Air Mail Fight

A name that pops up regularly in stories on early aviation in the Vancouver area is Halford Wilson. This long-serving Vancouver city councillor (1935-1972) had a keen interest in air transportation.

In the Province for September 28, 1937 (Page 9) Wilson, recently returned from Ottawa, reported that he had had an unsatisfactory interview with the superintendent of air mail service who held out no hope of an alternative route to the Yukon. The Aviation and Business Interests Committee of The Board had been fighting for an air mail link to the Yukon and Alaska. The committee decided to prepare a brief on the necessity of better airmail connection with the Yukon than the present one via Edmonton, and would present it to BC Premier Pattullo.

“Members of the committee expressed themselves strongly on the matter, declaring that the present service via Edmonton is far from satisfactory to the business interests of this city who contribute the bulk of the mail for the service. One member presented an example of this inadequate service in the form of a letter airmailed from Dawson on September 20, which reached Vancouver on September 27.”

Need Good Roads

“To provide British Columbia with an adequate system of arterial highways, the government should immediately make available $5 million so that this province could maintain its position in the highly-competitive business of attracting tourists, declared Dr. G. H. Worthington, president of the Vancouver Tourist Association, to the advertising and sales bureau of the Board of Trade Monday.” That's from the Province for October 5, 1937 (Page 12).

“This amount, which should be raised with the assistance of the Federal Government,” Worthington said, “would hard-surface 1000 miles of highways.” The speaker conceded that those responsible have done a fairly good job in providing highways for the province, but the province must be opened up, if people are to see its “show windows.”

Would Pay For Itself

“In the realm of good economics, the government, with federal assistance, should, by some manner or means, make the $5 million available, he said. “Many Coast residents do not know the interior of the province because of the lack of good road connections, and, due to this, many cross the boundary line to the United States highways. A good highway system for British Columbia will pay for itself many times over. It will produce more in gas taxes and in keeping money in this province.

“It is disheartening to those whose business is to attract tourists to be confronted with the replies of visitors that “your scenery is beautiful, but we had a hard time getting to it.” Our people should become tourist-minded. Educate them to spread the gospel—of getting tourists to come to British Columbia. Eastern Canada and the Eastern United States provide marvellous fields from which to attract tourists.”


It was still called the Vancouver Exhibition in 1937, and its growth was described to The Board in October by John Dunsmuir, a director. “From the first fair in 1910,” he said, “it has grown until its investment now totals $1 million. The object of the Exhibition Association has been to make it self-supporting, and as a result it has developed the eighteen-hole golf course; also one of the finest half-mile race tracks, and the Forum for winter and other sports. The profit of $56,000 made this year is being reinvested in the Exhibition.”

Our Exports Face a Handicap

Perhaps the most consistent campaign The Board was waging in its first 50 years was the unfair discrepancy between freight rates charged by the country's railways to eastern business people and those in the West. A similar discrepancy existed when it came to shipping by water. That is illustrated clearly in this next item.

The Province for October 15, 1937 (Page 19) told of a talk on BC's perilous export trade given by F. E. Burke, a well-known Vancouver business man. He was talking to the Foreign Trade Bureau of The Board.

He said the shortage of tonnage at Vancouver and subsequent increases in ocean freight rates have placed the Pacific exporter in a difficult position. The reasons for the shortage of tonnage include cessation of commercial shipbuilding because of armament programs; withdrawal of Japanese ships for national requirements in the Sino-Japanese war, and the shortage of the Western Canada grain crop, which resulted in a great decrease in the number of ships entering Vancouver.

“Ocean freight rates have nearly doubled in recent months,” Burke said, “with the result that prairie exporters save by shipping east. In mill grain offals alone, he said, the Calgary shipper saves $1.97 per ton by railing to Montreal rather than to Vancouver in shipments to the United Kingdom. [Offals: the by-products of milling, especially for stock feeds. We looked it up.]

Into Their Lap

“You will notice,” Mr. Burke said, “the further east the point of origin of the offals, the more attractive it becomes to the shipper to rail to the Atlantic Coast instead of to the Pacific.” The same condition applies to alfalfa meal, for which BC and other Western Canada shippers have commenced to develop a U.K. market. Shortage of tonnage from this coast and high waterborne freight rates have thrown all of this business into the laps of the Ontario shippers. The B. C. shipper has to face a differential of $6, “which is an impossibility,” he said.

“Tinned apples have been affected in the same way,” Mr. Burke continued. “Three years ago Eastern Canada exported fewer than 100,000 cases of these goods to the U. K. This year it will ship between 400,000 and 500,000 cases to the United Kingdom because of the increase in Pacific Coast freight rates. The rate on apples from the Pacific Coast today is 70 cents per dozen tins, and from the Atlantic Coast 40 cents per dozen.”

“Canned tomatoes provide another instance where adverse rates affect B. C. It appears the war in Spain and the feeling between Italy and Great Britain have stopped export of tomatoes from those areas to Great Britain. As a result, the export of this product from Eastern Canada jumped from approximately 50,000 cases three years ago to between 600,000 and 750,000 cases this year.”

“BC would unquestionably have participated in this business, the speaker said, had it not been for the prohibitive freight rate, which from Vancouver to main U. K. ports is 18 cents per dozen, as compared with Montreal's10.8 cents per dozen. Likewise, he explained, export of dried peas from this province has almost entirely stopped because of the rate advance from 45 cents to 65 cents.”

Getting What's Promised

“Women Want to Be Sure of Getting What's Promised” was the message passed to the Advertising and Sales Bureau of the Board in a talk at the Hotel Georgia by Mrs. Rex Eaton on October 18, 1937. The Sun covered the story the next day, on Page 5.

The paper described her talk as “a strong plea for honesty and truth in advertising, so that women who do, or influence more than 80 per cent of all buying, can believe what they read and know they are going to get just what is promised.

“Amid recurrent sallies of laughter as she scored point after point, Mrs. Eaton admitted that advertising is not what it used to be. It is getting steadily better, more dependable. Advertising men have a heavy responsibility when they undertake to help the conscientious housewife, trying to make the family budget do its best for the family. “You cannot fool the wise woman buyer more than once.”

“Laughter greeted the sally: “I have been healthy all my life. But I read the magazines and I learn that there are the loveliest diseases that I don't know anything about, and the most fascinating cures for them. I think I'm going to have to get me one.”

“Manufacturers,” she said, “should take a leaf out of the book of New Zealand where they have the only women's auxiliary of its kind in the world to discuss the problems of producing the right article and selling on its assured merits.”

50 Years for the Board

The Vancouver Board of Trade held a “Jubilee Luncheon” on November 24, 1937 to mark The Board's 50th anniversary. The Vancouver Sun reported at length on the luncheon in its November 25 issue, Page 3.

What made the occasion even more special is that 19 of the 25 surviving past presidents of The Board were on hand, guests of honor. Some 300 members of the Board gathered in the Hotel Vancouver at noon on the 24th to hear an address by Major Harold Brown, himself a former president. He was introduced by Board president Walter Carson.

“The record of past presidents of the Vancouver Board of Trade is the history of a marvellous continuity of devoted citizenship,” Major Brown said. “All of them, living and dead, had one common object in view, and that: service to the community. They led the Vancouver that was a 'hamlet in the sticks' to the city of today, a city the whole world knows and which we all love.”

“The six unable to attend because of absence from the city,” the Sun reported, “included W. F. Salsbury, now in Victoria; H.A. Stone, A. G. McCandless, J. P. D. Malkin, R.D. Williams and H.R. MacMillan.”

Early Difficulties

“The Board of Trade,” Major Brown continued, “is now an accepted and acclaimed channel of public service. But it knew other days. There was the time when a threat that rent of its office would be raised to $15 a month brought a direction to the secretary to find cheaper premises. He did.

“And Vancouver knew other days. There was that early time when parcels from the East went through to Victoria before bulk was broken and were returned for distribution here. The Board of Trade got that changed,” Mr. Brown recalled.

“Oldest of the surviving past presidents, W. F. Salsbury (1892-93), now 90 and unable to come from his home in Victoria, was referred to as “dear old Mr. Salsbury.” Members cheered as they seconded a motion to send Mr. Salsbury a telegram of good wishes. [The website has this entry on Mr. Salsbury: “Railway executive and former alderman William Ferriman Salsbury died in Victoria January 5, 1938. Salsbury came to Canada from Surrey, England in 1870. He was a manager of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada until 1881, when he joined the CPR. He arrived locally on July 4, 1886, aboard the first train to Port Moody. He was, for 35 years (1886-1921) treasurer of the CPR”s Pacific Division. A prominent Vancouver figure, he served as alderman for Ward 1 (1893-94). Salsbury was an advocate and a charter board member of Vancouver General Hospital (1901). A street in Vancouver is named for him.”]

“Second oldest, at least in point of incumbency, is William Godfrey, dean of Vancouver's early banking fraternity. He moved the vote of thanks to the speaker in a vigorous and witty talk in which he was able to boast that he had known intimately every one of the 45 presidents of the Board since its organization in 1887. He went Major Brown one better when he recalled that there was a time when the Board could not pay its rent at all and Mr. Salsbury donated the use of a meeting place. Also he recalled that the late Henry Bell-Irving was the first man in the Empire to advocate Imperial trade preferences.”

Major Brown recalled that it was exactly 50 years to the day since The Board received its articles of incorporation. He spoke in intimate terms of the past presidents present, with most of whom he has been closely associated, and paid tribute to the fine qualities they brought to the work of the Board.

“Of Chris Spencer he said: “Mr. Spencer is, and I think you will all agree with me, the most beloved of all our past presidents. A man of unflinching rectitude, a good citizen in every sense of the term, his life an example to every one of us, and especially to our younger members.”

The Presidents

“The story of the active part taken by the Board of Trade in the up-building of Vancouver was told by Major Brown in chronological order by recounting, with comment, the chief activities during the years in which surviving presidents were in charge.

“In summary the story was as follows:

W. F. Salsbury (1892-93) In addition to “going on record” about many purely local matters, the Board passed a memorable resolution in which it declared that Mr. Justice Crease of Victoria “had no license to make reference from the bench to men of British Columbia as “insects and liars” and it therefore protested vigorously.

William Godfrey (1897-98) In this year the fight against the “Mountain differential” in railway freight rates was first started. It turned out to be a long, stiff fight with recurrent victories, but with some sores yet left unhealed. Also in 1897 were heard the first rumblings of the Deadman's Island squabble, with the Board protesting against any idea of a lease to private interests for use as sawmill site.

Frederick Buscombe (1900-01) Extension of Trans-Pacific steamship services became a major issue. There was “a nice little political attempt from Victoria to strip down the status of the Supreme Court in Vancouver.” The Vancouver Board of Trade led the protest. Vancouver won out.

W. H. Malkin (1902-03) The freight rate fight was pressed in spite of bland indifference of the railway and government. The idea that grain should come through Vancouver from Alberta was first mooted. The Pacific cable was opened and messages were exchanged with King Edward VII and Empire notables. Vancouver got consequent Empire publicity.

H. T. Lockyer (1903-04) False Creek navigation and industrial site problems were the subject of study and vigorous representations to governments. A new customs house was opened, largely as a result of Board of Trade demand.

E. H. Heaps (1908-09) The grain movement idea was pressed. The Deadman's Island squabble became a fight and a near riot, with the Board maintaining its active opposition. There was a formal protest against the auction sale of Prince Rupert lots in Vancouver and the Board publicly offered to tell prospective purchasers “the real truth.”

H. A. Stone (1909-10) The Deadman's Island fight was won and the Island became a part of Stanley Park. There grew up a demand for a new city hall, not to be realized until “energetic Mr. McGeer appeared more than a generation later and completed the job.” The idea of a Second Narrows Bridge was endorsed. Also the Board demanded a highway to connect Vancouver with Alberta, ultimately to be part of a Trans-Canada highway. The Duke of Connaught visited Vancouver and the Board had much to do with the reception.

Jonathan Rogers (1914-15) Came the Great War and a few days later the opening of the Panama Canal. The war was a testing of the bonds of Empire; the canal opening the signal for Vancouver to emerge from its status as a local community into a world port, thus becoming “a strengthening factor in the wide arch of the British Empire.”

B. W. Greer (1917-18) The Board opened new offices in what became known as the Board of Trade Building at Pender and Hamilton. The move infused new life into board activities in spite of community preoccupation with war difficulties.

P. G. Shallcross (1918-19) The Board urged establishment of a Chair of Commerce at University of British Columbia. It came later. There was demand for a drydock for Port of Vancouver. The “rule of the road” was changed from left to right. Until then Vancouver and Victoria traffic had followed the old British custom of driving to the left. [A 2007 note: this date was in error. Traffic in Vancouver didn't change until January 1, 1922.] The Board supported the change, and at the same time was urging more action on construction of the PGE. “Bill” Payne was formally appointed secretary of the Board. “That was an epochal event.” (Cheers.) The Board adopted the Bureau system of organization which has proved an eminent success.

Chris Spencer (1919-20) The Board demanded steamship service to Stewart which was quickly furnished, first by Union Steamships. A commercial intelligence (trade commissioner) service in foreign countries was urged on the Dominion Government and soon secured. Also a National Research Bureau. The first rumor was heard of possible provincial health insurance and the Board asked to be advised of any move in that direction.

J. P. D. Malkin (1921-22) The grain freight rates question assumed major proportions. With an elevator here, Vancouver shipped 1.25 million bushels that year. In a later peak year it was 105 million bushels.

J. B. Thomson (1923-24) A number of Board members took a trip to Great Britain where they advocated Imperial Preference in trade agreements. A Canadian customs office at New York, long advocated by the Board, was opened. Contract for a drydock was let. G. G. McGeer, K.C., took on the city's freight rate fight at Ottawa, supported by the Board.

J. K. Macrae (1924-25) Capilano Park, since greatly developed, was given in ownership to the Board by the B.C. Electric, in trust for the citizens of Vancouver. Much attention was paid to development of the primary and secondary industries.

F.E. Burke (1926-27) The Board made the first suggestions for organization of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Board members made their first “good will” trip through the Okanagan Valley.

Robert McKee (1927-28) Organization of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce was completed. The Board took a particularly active part in a great international foreign trade convention at Victoria at which 600 delegates attended.

T. S. Dixon (1928-1929) The freight rates fight was still being waged with further results. The Board took a lead in advocating construction of the Burrard Bridge, also supported construction of a new city hall.

W. C. Woodward (1929-30) Ninety Board members took part in the annual convention of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce at Edmonton and Calgary, with a trip into the Peace River country. The Board asked for Vancouver representation on the board of Canadian National Railways and J. Fife Smith was afterward appointed.

“From this point,” the Sun continued, “when the depression began to be felt, Mr. Brown traced board activities sketchily, mostly because events are still fresh in the minds of members. The presidents were R. D. Williams (1930-31), when several members joined in a Canadian Chamber of Commerce visit to the Orient; Mayne D. Hamilton (1931-32), which was a particularly anxious business year; Major Harold Brown himself (1932-33), when the depression was at its depth, “when business was a skeleton doing a tap dance, and the Kidd Committee made its report on government finances which still stands as a vitally important document which should be republished”, H. R. MacMillan (1933-34); George Kidd (1934-35), who continued the representations to Victoria which “have not yet been properly recognized, T. S. Dixon (1935-36), who filled the position on the death of the late R. G. DuBois Phillips, then vice-president, and J. Y. Carter (1936-37), whom the speaker eulogized as one of the most active and outspoken presidents the Board has known.”

Junior Board Weighs In

In its coverage of the Jubilee Luncheon (held, incidentally, at the Cafe Commodore), the Province quoted Owen Bevan-Pritchard of the Junior Board of Trade as saying that the progress of the city in fifty years was “a vital pulsating monument to the efforts of the senior board.”

“We members of the Junior Board,” he said, “will carry on in the future as you would wish us to do. We hope you will be proud of us as we are proud of you.”

“A plaque was then presented,” continued the Province, “to Walter Carson, president of the senior board by Jack Melville, Junior Board president, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the older body. In accepting the presentation Mr. Carson recalled that the Board of Trade was a very moribund organization when he joined it in 1917. A group of the young men of that time, he said, determined to inject some new blood into the group, and as a result it was completely reorganized in 1918, a young group of men was elected to the executive, the bureau system was put in effect and from that time onward the board had been an active force in the life of the city.

“Mr. Carson briefly traced the history of the board from its inception on November 24, 1887, with forty members, to its present status with 1,450 members. He read a letter of congratulation to the gathering from Dr. Robert Mathison of Kelowna, sole living charter member. [We did a bit of research, discovered that Dr. Mathison was a dentist who practiced in Greenwood and Kelowna. He had also run a job printing office in pre-1900 Vancouver.]

“Among early objectives of the board were direct steamer communication to Australia, an Antipodean cable, a resident judge for Vancouver, a new postoffice, lower freight rates and grain shipments to Europe. All these objectives were accomplished through the aid and interest of the Board. “After a brief glimpse into the past fifty years and after looking at the young men gathered here tonight,” Mr. Carson concluded, “I can see only a bright future, far brighter than we have dreamed of in the past.”

A feature of the evening was the cutting by Mr. Carson of a 310-pound birthday cake, presented as the gift of the Master Bakers' Association.

More Light!

The December 1, 1937 Sun (Page 7) had some interesting stuff about Canada's lighthouses and light beacons, related to the Transportation and Customs Bureau of The Board at a luncheon the day before. The speaker was R. K. Smith, K.C., Director of Marine Services, Ottawa.

Some samples: There are 2,000 lighthouses or light beacons kept operating as “aids to navigation” by the Marine Services Division of the Federal Department of Transport along the 4,000 miles of Canada's coastline on Atlantic and Pacific and on lakes and river.

Also there are 4,000 fog signals, but only a small proportion of them as close to a centre of population as those of English Bay and Burrard Inlet “which keep many Vancouverites awake on foggy nights.” Lighthouse service alone costs $2 million a year.

Members also learned that the Department of Transport has 7,000 men employed, of which 3300 are in the marine division. Smith paid a fine tribute to Vancouver harbor as “one of the finest in the world.”

Dirtiest Streets in the World!

Our harbor might be one of the finest in the world, but back in 1937 Dr. Howard Spohn [our research showed he was head of the Paediatric Section at St. Paul”s Hospital], who was just back from a trip to Europe, was less than complimentary about our streets. He spoke to the Health Bureau of The Board in the Hotel Vancouver on December 1, a talk reported on in the Sun next day (Page 3).

Dr. Spohn recommended a clean-up campaign on Vancouver's streets as an important aid to the tourist trade. He compared Vancouver with many of the European cities which he studied while abroad. “Two cities in particular resemble Vancouver in appearance,” he said. “Monte Carlo and Geneva. They have the same physical surroundings, the only difference being that they have developed their natural beauties while we have ignored ours.

“Vancouver's streets are the dirtiest in the world. They are a disgrace.”

Lack of Civic Pride

“All over the city,” Spohn continued, “you'll find litter and refuse which would not be tolerated in any other city in the world. It shows a decided lack of civic pride.”

He stressed the importance of building for permanency and beauty and said that in Europe glass brick was being used in many of the newer buildings.

In summing up his conclusions the speaker said that: “Tourists won't visit a dirty city. Culture cannot thrive in slum surroundings. We have all the qualifications for advancement but we are not using them. Street car tracks on Granville and Hastings Streets should be removed. The smoke bylaw should be enforced.”

He mentioned the CN Hotel, the Court House and St. James' Church as examples of “good architecture.” [A note: the hotel referred to is now the Hotel Vancouver, the court house is, of course, today's Vancouver Art Gallery, and St. James” Church is the elegant Anglican structure at the northeast corner of Cordova and Gore.]

Clean Out the Slums

Dr. Spohn paid a tribute to the Park Board for the splendid work it is doing, remarking that Stanley Park is the most beautiful park in the world.

“The next few years,” he concluded, “should see this city grow rapidly. It's up to us to see that we develop as we grow. We should clean out the slums, concentrate on a couple of streets, possibly Georgia and Burrard, and take a pride in making them worthy of the city. The cultural and educational future of the city rests in our hands and in the abolition of our present dirty streets and slum policy.”

Dr. Spohn passed around some photographs of European buildings and showed a series of lantern slides of principal cities of the old world.

What else was happening locally in 1937?

For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.

Next: 1938 »































The Mayo Composite (photo:
The Mayo Composite








































































































Ken Drushka's book on H.R. MacMillan is a BC best-seller (image: Harbour Publishing)
Ken Drushka's book on
H.R. MacMillan is a BC best-seller

[Image: Harbour Publishing]












































































































































Senator J. W. deB. Farris
Senator J. W. deB. Farris
{Photo: BC Archives #A02141]
























Gerry McGeer (photo:
Gerry McGeer






















































































Where Western Hemlock grows in BC (image:
Where Western Hemlock grows in BC























































































































































Pilchards? Sardines? You decide! (image:
Pilchards? Sardines? You decide!
























































































































































































































































































W.H. Malkin
W.H. Malkin




































































































Brockton Point Lighthouse, Stanley Park (photo:
Brockton Point Lighthouse, Stanley Park [Photo:]