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 1940 highlights (described in more detail below):

  • H.R. Cottingham the new President
  • The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan lauded
  • Nellie McClung speaks to The Board
  • Home Defense Pushed
  • Wartime Registry for all citizens!
  • Gap in the Hope-Princeton
  • Danger of Sabotage
  • Parking Meters Approved
  • Huge Drop in American Visitors
  • Britain Needs Lumber!

New President

The Vancouver Sun for January 17, 1940 announced that the local Ford Motor Co. branch manager, H.R. Cottingham, would succeed G. Lyall Fraser as president of The Vancouver Board of Trade. The succession would occur at The Board’s 53rd annual dinner meeting in the Hotel Vancouver on January 24. Cottingham’s was the only name put forward for the presidency when the nominations closed on the 16th. He had been vice-president during the past year.

Charles E. Anstie, vice-president and general manager of Shell Oil Co. of B. C. Ltd., would be the new vice-president, his name also being the only one put in nomination.

W. E. Payne was again returned to office as executive secretary. That meant he was entering his

22nd year in that position.

[The January 20, 1942 issue of The Ubyssey has a brief Page 1 reference to Cottingham speaking to its Commerce students about the problems of distribution in wartime, and running a film showing the part motorized equipment was playing in Canada’s war effort. And there’s a bonus in that same issue: a little poem titled Ode to a Young Lady Frightened by a Passing Tug, written by “Jabez.” Old-timers will know that was the pen name for Eric Nicol. To find that issue, and indeed any past issue of The Ubyssey, go to this website and hunt it down. In January of 1942 Nicol would have been 22.]

Graf Spee Scuttling an Insult

A reminder that we were at war with Germany comes from Page 15 of the Sun for January 18, 1940 in a story headlined: German Sailors Lack Spirit of Royal Navy.

Wrote the Sun: “The worst insult to sea traditions history records—surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in November, 1918—is paralleled by the scuttling of the pocket battleship Graf Spee, Capt. E. Aikman told the annual meeting of the Transportation and Customs Bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade Wednesday night. Capt. Aikman, deputy representative of the British Ministry of Shipping and general manager of Canadian Pacific Steamships, gave a sparkling commentary on happenings which have puzzled landsmen since war started last September.

Spirit Not Improved

“No one has ever insulted the sea as the Germans did in 1918,” Aikman declared. “After sinking of the Graf Spee, we must assume that the German navy's fighting spirit has not improved. I admit I was amazed. I did not think they would scuttle Graf Spee. British seamen have always been taught to 'fight to the finish'—since before Grenville's famous lone battle against 53 Spanish warships.”

[The Graf Spee was scuttled December 17, 1939. There is a good description of the incident here.]

High-ranking officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force were represented at The Board meeting.

“Special guests,” said the Sun, “included: K. J. Burns, port manager; Capt. R. W. McMurray, manager, B.C. Coast Steamships; Capt. Oliver Williams, new marine superintendent, B.C. Coast Steamships; J. C. McLean, vice-president, Junior Board of Trade; Walter Hately, CNR; E.G. Rowebottom, chairman, B.C. Tourist Council, and A. Carmichael, collector of customs.

“Charles Hovey sang three nautical songs, accompanied by J. Emerson.”

[We left that last sentence in for the benefit of local old timers who will recall that John Emerson was a well-known radio personality and musician in those days. A very brief recap of his career is in the 1968 Chronology on this web site.]

TCA film

The Province covered that same January 18 meeting (Page 16). They added this: “A highlight of the evening was the first Vancouver showing of The Swift Family Robinson, by W. J. Dalby of Trans-Canada Airlines. It is a colored motion picture of a TCA flight from Montreal to Vancouver.” [We’re trying to determine if that film is still available.]

A Note

Not all The Board’s activities in 1940 are outlined here. We chose those that seemed to have the most relevance and/or interest to present day readers. As an example, many stories this year dealt, understandably, with the impact of the Second World War, and many of the speeches heard by The Board were exhortations to support the war effort. Unless they added new information we passed them by.

The copies of the newspaper stories, however, are all being kept—all 120 years of them! When this project is finished the thousands of pages copied will be given to The Board’s library for reference purposes.


The retiring president of the Vancouver Board of Trade used the annual general meeting to assure members that “the transformation of the Canadian economy to a war basis has proceeded in the past four months to a point well beyond that reached in the first two years of the conflict of 1914-18.” G. Lyall Fraser’s remarks were noted in the January 24, 1940 Vancouver Sun (Page 17.)

Some of his remarks have a faintly recognizable similarity to recent comments on Canada’s “unpreparedness” at the outbreak of war.

“True,” Fraser said, “our hopelessly inadequate supply of military equipment for a newly recruited force of comparatively large numbers is most caustically criticized even by some who profess to support the party at present in power. Much of the blame for such unpreparedness may rightly be placed on the shoulders of us all here tonight. How difficult it was five years ago to drum up our support for heavily increased taxation for the supply of naval and military expansion in Canada. How tenaciously we all clung to the beautiful idea of peace on earth and goodwill to all men.

“How do we expect our government to suddenly thrust into our hands complete equipment for a whole army, prepared to take its place in the ranks of modern warfare? Particularly when at the same time, Great Britain and even the United States are spending billions of dollars for war equipment for immediate delivery.”

He referred to the importance to Canada of the empire aviation training scheme. [Note: the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, to give it its formal title, remains the single largest aviation training program in history and was responsible for training nearly half the pilots, navigators, bombardiers, gunners, wireless operators and flight engineers of the Commonwealth air forces during the Second World War.]

“The retiring president,” reported the Sun, “reviewed briefly outstanding 1939 board activities, first citing the Royal visit. Others included the ‘farewell’ to the old Hotel Vancouver; 1939 excursions up-coast; the campaign to secure leave with pay for non-permanent active militia members; spring and fall style presentations sponsored by the retail merchants' bureau, and the part taken in securing a resident representative of the Foreign Control Exchange Board.

“T.S. Dixon, chairman of finance, presented his annual report showing both budget and currrent membership accounts in healthy condition and membership increased. Fifty new members were formally confirmed to membership by vote.

“Others at the head table included Past President Harold Brown; President Earl Bennett, Junior Board of Trade; Major Austin C. Taylor; W. L. MacTavish, editor, Vancouver Daily Province; R.H. Robichaud, managing director, Vancouver News Herald; R. Cromie II, vice-president, the Vancouver Sun; R.A. Sargent, president, North Vancouver Board of Trade, and Ralph McPherson, president, New Westminster Board of Trade.

New Museum

Not directly connected to activities of The Board, but interesting in its own right, was a report in the same Vancouver Sun on the push for a new museum for the city.

“Suggestions to charge admission and appointment of a committee to canvass for funds with which to begin construction of a new and more suitable repository for the Vancouver museum's invaluable treasures were put forward at the 46th annual meeting of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association, which assembled in the museum Tuesday night [January 23, 1940] to elect officers for 1940. Prof. Charles Hill-Tout, F.R.C.S., F.R.A.I., was unanimously elected president.

“Prof. Hill-Tout reported that present museum quarters are wholly inadequate. The city grant fell far short again of the sum required to maintain the museum efficiently, he said, and much valuable material has to be stored in vaults below the library. One hundred thousand visitors saw the archaeological specimens and paintings during the past year.” [An interesting entry on Charles Hill-Tout can be seen in the 1944 Chronology on this site. Among other things he was the first to study the Marpole Midden, and he named Kitsilano.]


“Debating means of securing funds,” the paper continued, “Capt. W. J. Watson-Armstrong cited the practice among European museums to charge a small admission. Ald. John Bennett, who with Ald. Charles Jones represented the city council at the meeting, said he would have to consult the mayor and his colleagues on the question of admission charges before committing himself on it.”

All right!

Not related to The Board, but irresistible, this January 1940 story from the Sun: “A burglar who took 24 sample shoes from the garage of A. C. Paddock, 3803 West Twenty-fifth avenue, on Sunday morning, was probably the most disappointed thief in the city when he discovered they were all for right feet.”

Airline to the Antipodes

The February 13, 1940 Province (Page 6) reported that MP Howard Green—in an address to the advertising and sales bureau of The Vancouver Board of Trade at luncheon on the 12th—told them that “At the present time we have no modern shipping line between here and New Zealand to compare with the faster and more modern American services. We should press for establishment of an air line from Canada to Australia and New Zealand.”

He said that closer attention should be given to the development of transportation as ‘the lifeline of B.C.’

“‘A free China can give us a larger increase in trade than any other nation,’ Green said. ‘In 1933 China was our eighth best customer. Today she is our twentieth best customer. Japan, which is our fourth largest customer, is guardedly buying only our raw products. She is being governed in such a way that we are forced to fortify our coast.’”

Nellie McClung speaks

Nellie McClung, in the words of the February 24, 1940 Province (Page 5 ) the “noted Canadian authoress,” gave an address that day to The Board’s Transportation Bureau. It was an appeal to Canadians to look ahead to the post-war period. “This rosy glow of spending which has sent up Canada's building, shipping, exports and imports to new highs,” she told the Bureau, “is not the hue of health. It is the flush of fever and will be succeeded by depression and chills!

“‘I know our first job is to win the war,’ she said, ‘but we must look ahead. Here in Canada we are blissfully unchanged in our way of living. After the war the bills will come in, as they always have.’”

There is an interesting brief biographical sketch of McClung here.

Fighting Propaganda

“The Vancouver Board of Trade,” said the Sun on February 10, 1940 (Page 25) “will take an active part in the fight against adverse propaganda in the United States designed to discourage Americans from visiting Canada during wartime. The council of the board has decided to communicate with chambers of commerce in all cities of the Pacific Coast states, also with the local offices of international organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Gyro, Lions and others and ask their co-operation in making the facts known. It will be pointed out that conditions in Canada are no different than they were in peace time.”

Vancouver of the Future

According to the Sun for Thursday, February 22, 1940 (Page 17) “An ambitious program for a greater Vancouver was outlined Wednesday before the civic bureau of the Board of Trade by J. Alexander Walker, secretary-engineer of the Town Planning Commission.”

Time for consummation of the proposed projects of the commission, the Sun said, ranges from five to 25 years. Walker set them out as follows:

  • Preservation of English Bay foreshore for recreational purposes
  • Acquisition of Kitsilano Reserve as a park
  • Acquisition of the right-of-way and construction of distributor streets
  • Reclamation of False Creek
  • Creation of a terminal railway to serve the waterfront and False Creek
  • Acquisition of suitable areas for parks and creation of a system of parkways or pleasure drives
  • Promotion of the civic centre idea, auditorium, museum, art gallery and aquarium
  • Construction of a civic stadium
  • Construction of an elevated railroad along the waterfront, from Granville to Heatley
  • Preparation of a plan for replotting 1,000 acres in the South Vancouver area as a fine residential subdivision
  • Some day an embarcadero, or esplanade, along Coal Harbor

“Mr. Walker denied the Town Planning Commission is visionary,” the paper added. “Annual cost of the commission for the past five or six years, he said, expressed as millage on total taxable valuation of the city, is approximately 1-70th of a mill.”

Engineers Visit Seattle

Said the Sun on April 4, 1940 (Page 24): "Thirty members of the Engineering Bureau of Vancouver Board of Trade who took a bus trip to Seattle on Wednesday to inspect the new pontoon bridge on Lake Washington showed absorbing professional interest in two engineering projects. South of Everett they saw an airport in the making on a flattened hill top, 600 feet above sea level. The flattening and filling is being done by moving three million cubic feet of earth.

“Charles E. Andrew, chief engineer of the Washington Toll Bridge Authority, met the party in Seattle and took them on a tug in Lake Washington to inspect the nearly completed bridge. It is more like a causeway than a bridge and composed of great concrete floating pontoons except for a large draw span.

“A highlight was luncheon in Everett, tendered jointly by the Everett Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club.”

More Details

The Province, reporting on the same trip, gave more details:

“The new pontoon bridge, as everyone in the party agreed, is an amazing feat of engineering. Costing $8,854,000 to build, it is six and a half miles long with approaches, and when completed will provide a four-lane motor highway—7,800 feet from one side of Lake Washington to the other. The Vancouver visitors learned that the pontoon (or floating) type of bridge was adopted by the Washington authority because the waters of the lake—150 to 200 feet deep in places—are underlaid with 100 feet of soft mud prohibiting construction of a suspension bridge.

“‘Your presence here today proves that our international border is fortified only by goodwill and brotherly love,’ Seattle Mayor S. Frank Spencer said. ‘It is an answer to the problem that all Europe is struggling to solve at the present time.’”

Dr. E. A. Cleveland, responding for the Vancouver party, reflected upon the “easy formality” of crossing the U. S. border. [Yes, this was the good old days.]

“Canadians and Americans joined wholeheartedly in community singing led by Col. J. F. Keen, Vancouver war veteran, and immediate past chairman of the bureau. Before continuing their journey to Seattle, the visitors inspected the new $3 million airport now under construction at Everett, occupying an area of 680 acres, and requiring moving of three million cubic yards of earth.”

Board Demands Increased War Effort

A special meeting of The Board was reported on in the Sun for May 22, 1940 (Page 15.) More than 300 members enthusiastically backed an initiative of The Board to put into practice the Sun’s editorial campaign of the time to GET ON WITH THE WAR.

Fifteen men's and women's organizations under The Board's leadership resolved to send a message to Ottawa that more needed to be done to organize the “entire economic power and the entire manpower” of the nation to prosecute the war. Organizations represented included the Vancouver Canadian Club, Women's Canadian Club, Local Council of Women, Junior Board of Trade, Associated Property Owners, several of the service clubs, the Canadian Legion, Vancouver Veterans' Council and Amputations Association.

Home Defense Units

The resolution also urged formation of home defense units and pledged the voluntary services of every member of the Board of Trade. The resolutions to go to Ottawa would not be identical. Each would present the views of the particular organization but all would make the same request for "more vigorous action.

The Sun also described other developments:

  1. Vancouver City Council had appointed a three-man committee to investigate steps taken to supervise enemy aliens and to draft policy recommendations to transmit to Ottawa. It would seek to co-ordinate civic, provincial and federal efforts.
  2. The “Sixth Column,” through its organizer, R. Crowe Swords, reported it had enrolled hundreds of members on Tuesday, and expected to enroll thousands within a few days. Larger quarters were being sought. Present headquarters were 114 Vancouver Block.

[We tried to find out more about the “Sixth Column” cited, but Googling turned up nothing Vancouver-related. We had only slightly better luck with R. Crowe Swords, who, we learned, was the main man at Hercules Mining, Smelting and Power Corporation. And that’s all we learned. Our guess is that the “Sixth Column” was an assembly of volunteers doing work to further the local war effort.]

Closer Harmony

“Reorganization of the Associated Boards of Trade of British Columbia in the near future became a practical certainty when 50 members of Vancouver Board of Trade ended their two-day stay here on Sunday night.” That was the story from Kamloops on Page 13 of the Sun for June 10, 1940.

Staff reporter J.A. MacDonald went on to say: “It is regarded as certain that this will lead quickly to all other centres of the province joining in one central organization.

“The interim proposal is that each board should have a key man to keep in constant touch with the Vancouver Board so that all will know what is being done in connection with wartime effort of every kind. The Vancouver Board, it is suggested, should be a sort of “clearing house” where all may get information and send their own recommendations as to action considered necessary by the business interests of the province on pressing for government action on its war program, production of war materials, control against danger of subversive activities and the domestic problems of trade that arise.”

While they were in Kamloops the Vancouver party visited the Provincial Sanatorium at Tranquille, where they were shown every detail of the fine institution by the staff under Dr. Stewart Stalker.

Wartime Problems for Fruit and Vegetable Growers

The Sun for June 11, 1940 (Page 13) told of a potentially bountiful harvest in the Okanagan, “one of the greatest crops of fruits and vegetables the Interior has ever grown.”

A delegation of the Board was visiting the northern Okanagan, and “what they saw . . . from Kamloops through Salmon Arm and Armstrong to Vernon was a revelation of lush early growth of all crops with every promise of a record harvest. There had been a record mild winter with plenty of following rain.

“But there is doubt about where such a crop is to be marketed with world export restricted and the keynote of hope is that more can be sold on the Canadian markets . . .

“At Salmon Arm D. M. Rattray, recently elected president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association, hinted broadly that the federal government might help by restricting importation of foreign fruits and vegetables during the time of stress. He also suggested that Coast folk might well take their own action by waiting for and giving preference to the product of their own province.” [See the June 15 item from the Province, below, for more details of Rattray’s comments.]

Arm the Home Guard

The Vancouver Board delegation met with the Penticton Board of Trade on June 13, 1940 and agreed unanimously that “early national registration of all citizens as was done during the last war” was desirable. The meeting was reported on in the Sun for June 14, Page 8.

“Representatives of every leading district in the South Okanagan joined. Penticton and other districts have a ‘home defense’ guard like other places in the Okanagan and the meeting revealed that there is a strong demand that such organizations be given government recognition and authority to arm key groups as in Kelowna. There is also a strong demand for the establishment of a military recruiting and training unit in the Okanagan that would be armed and ready for any emergency.

“There is no particular alarm, but a feeling of uneasiness as to what might happen if irrigation dams were threatened by alien enemy action.”

11-Mile Gap

“The Vancouver Board of Trade goodwill party,” reported the Sun on June 15, 1940 (Page 8), “wound up its tour of Interior points Friday by taking a look at the mining industry after a week among the orchards and fields of the Okanagan. First, however, they saw the 50 miles of the Hope-Princeton Highway out of here and heard once more the story of hope deferred but not given up.

“The party drove over a road which is in quite fair shape in places, but in others requiring a good deal of work before it will be fit for much travel. They found the highway enthusiasts of Princeton and Penticton resigned to the prospect that the gap of 11 miles remaining between the ends leading out of Hope and Princeton cannot be built until after the war is over and things have settled down again.”

Copper Mine Guests

“In the evening the visitors were dinner guests of General Manager A. S. Baillie and officials of the Granby Consolidated Mine on Copper Mountain, 12 miles from here, and heard the remarkable history of this big copper property which after several false starts, has come to be what Hon. W. J. Asselstine, Minister of Mines, declared to be ‘the banner mining achievement in British Columbia in the last five years.’

“In 1936 it was thought that the maximum production would be 3,000 tons a day, but today it runs well over 4,500 tons, giving steady work to 300 miners and direct or indirect living to between 800 and 900 people. It is the mainstay of a revived town of Princeton, which has all the signs of activity and prosperity.”

More on the Hope-Princeton

The Province for that same June 15 added more details on the Hope-Princeton Highway problem.

“‘This isn't just a road from Princeton to Hope,” declared T.E. Griffiths, secretary of the Princeton Board of Trade, and a prominent young Okanagan business man, who dreams of the day when motorists may cut off 115 miles from the Vancouver-Okanagan journey by travelling the Princeton route. ‘This is the logical route for the main tourist and commercial highway from Vancouver to interior British Columbia,’ he said.

“Griffiths had the economic facts relating to the highway project marshalled in such a way as to convince the Vancouver business men of the importance of completing the long-delayed job as soon as the immediate problems of war are successfully met. He produced figures showing that last year, at one port of entry, Osoyoos, more than 34,000 cars entered British Columbia from the United States, or 42 per cent more than via the Fraser Canyon route. Out of the 34,000, 90 per cent were going to or from Vancouver, representing an estimated expenditure of $300,000 a year during the part of the trip inside United States territory—money that would have been spent in British Columbia had the Princeton-Hope route been open. Money spent in British Columbia for gasoline alone would have been more than $95,000, and $27,000 would have gone to the government for road tax.

“Griffiths disagreed with the government's estimate that cost of completing the road would be $550,000 or more. He said another competent estimate had been less than one-fifth that amount.”

Home Market Essential

Wartime woes were not sparing Okanagan fruit and vegetable growers, as evidenced by a report by the Province’s Charles L. Shaw on June 11, 1940 (Page 22).

“Uncertainty over exports to the British Isles as a result of the war will make it necessary for the Canadian domestic market to absorb a much greater proportion of the Okanagan's fruit production, D.M. Rattray, president of the British Columbia Fruit Growers' Association, told members of the Vancouver Board of Trade goodwill party.”

[See the June 11 Sun story above.]

“Captain Rattray said that under wartime conditions there was no justification for such a heavy importation of foreign fruit and vegetables as recent Dominion statistics indicated. ‘In spite of the discount on the Canadian dollar,’ he said, ‘Canadian imports from the United States have increased rather than decreased in recent months. It is the plain duty of British Columbians to increase their consumption of Canadian fruit and vegetables. Under present conditions there is no excuse for Canadians to continue buying products such as early potatoes and strawberries from the United States. Such a practice hits the pocket-book of Canadian growers, reduces the farmers' buying power, slows up industry and curtails the nation's war effort.”

Rattray took issue with a recent radio broadcast from Vancouver indicating that British requirements for the coming year were definitely established. “He said that no one could even guess at the volume of sales to Britain under wartime conditions. He also ridiculed the contention in the same broadcast that the London market alone could absorb the entire British Columbia pack of processed fruit. ‘The fact is that Nova Scotia has several million pounds of processed fruit available for export,’ said Captain Rattray, ‘and it can't be sold even at half price.’”

Captain Rattray said the Okanagan fruit industry represented annual revenue of $12 million, of which apples accounted for $8 million, of which three million went to transportation costs.

Given Away?

The Hon. James Gardiner, minister of agriculture, told British Columbia's fruit delegation a few days ago in Ottawa that the pack might eventually be disposed of free to relief cases.

More on Buying Foreign Produce

The Province came back a few days later to the issue of Canadians buying US produce. In its June 13, 1940 issue (Page 26) the paper’s business editor, Charles L. Shaw, reported on a talk by

W. E. Haskins, fruit growers' leader, at a joint meeting of Vancouver Board of Trade's goodwill party and Kelowna business men.

“The former chairman of the British Columbia Tree Fruits Board said that Canadian purchases of United States fruit and vegetables last year represented a total expenditure by Canadians of some $44 million, including costs of transportation and exchange. This was a serious financial drain on the country in war time, said Mr. Haskins.

“‘Under present conditions,’ he declared, ‘it would be more appropriate for Canadians to eat more of their own produce and save these millions of dollars for the purchase of the munitions that are so much more vital. It is our plain duty to conserve our foreign exchange for purchases that are essential from the war standpoint. Millions spent in foreign countries for fruit and vegetables are millions lost for the purchase of airplanes, guns and shells.’

More Discretion Needed

“He felt that the Canadian consumer could do his country real service by exercising more discretion in purchasing. A policy of discouraging the buying of unessential American fruit and vegetables would, he said, be of immense benefit to the Okanagan farm industries at a time when their export markets were seriously threatened. Under normal conditions, said Mr. Haskins, 90 per cent of British Columbia's fruit production was disposed of outside British Columbia, and 50 per cent of it went outside Canada. This represented an important revenue to the country, yet the whole setup was now jeopardized by the fact that Empire markets might be forced to reduce their purchases.

“Domestic sales were the only alternative, and these could not possibly be substantially increased unless foreign purchases were cut down, said Mr. Haskins. ‘The Okanagan may look prosperous, but the fruit growers have been selling at less than cost of production for two or three years and whatever evidence there is of good times is merely the reflection of payrolls that the industry is forced to maintain regardless of income.’ He added that the fruit growers felt entitled to government assistance at this time because of the complicated conditions encountered by an industry founded on a source of production that required 20 years to develop, that was dependent upon irrigation and ‘tricky markets.’”

Danger of Sabotage

The Vancouver Board of Trade enjoys “almost unanimous support of the proposal for national registration so that the Ottawa authorities will have information concerning every individual in the country such as it had during the last war. It is believed that registration will provide an effective check on foreigners.”

That was the impression given to a Board delegation touring the Okanagan, and reported on in the June 14, 1940 Province (Page 34).

“Many of the boards consulted during the Vancouver party's tour of the Okanagan,” Charles Shaw wrote, “have voiced support of the local defense organizations voluntarily organized for home preparedness. Whether such bodies should receive official recognition and be authorized to have arms and ammunition has been debated at several cities. In some towns the organizations have been functioning regardless of Ottawa's apparent indifference.

“The boards have been handicapped in their discussions by lack of official knowledge concerning Ottawa's efforts to suppress fifth column influences. Some speakers have urged that the government should make a reassuring statement on the subject if adequate precautions have been made. But others have emphasized that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police naturally will not reveal its policy because of the importance of secrecy.

“Steps are being taken to find out just how the various boards feel on the subject, especially in the Okanagan, where large numbers of Germans and Italians are known to reside and where more than 2,000 men have already been organized for home defense. ”

Wilson Wanes

This has nothing to do with The Board, but the story is irresistible. Old-timers will recall Vancouver alderman Halford Wilson, who served from 1935 to 1972. His name popped up in the July 26, 1940 Province (Page 18), the subject being his weight!

“When the war started 230-pound Ald. Halford D. Wilson tried hard to join the navy and air force. Recruiting officers glanced at his girth and explained carefully that men in his category were not being accepted.

“But Wilson was undaunted. Several months ago he went into secret training, indulging in early morning marches which reduced his weight to a neat 212. And on Thursday night he blossomed forth in Stanley Park Armories as a second lieutenant in Headquarters company, Second Battalion, Irish Fusiliers (Vancouver Regiment).

“Ald. Wilson is studying hard for his examination, and after his first drill with two-hundred other recruits Thursday night, pronounced army life ‘just fine.’ Although he has served on the City Council six years, the 34-year-old alderman has always been considered “the baby” by his older colleagues, all of whom are now beyond military age.”

Dark Day in Downtown Vancouver

Again, this story has no direct connection with The Board, but will be of general interest, anyway.

It comes from the Province for August 6, 1940 (Page 7).

“Installation of parking meters on an experimental basis in downtown Vancouver was approved in principle by aldermen in traffic committee Monday after a resolution by Mayor Telford . . . The type of meters was not discussed, but aldermen were interested in the number which should be installed, and the time limit for such a trial. The official traffic commission, in approving the move, had suggested 1,000, City Solicitor A. E. Lord pointed out.

“Ald. John Bennett thought the number too large, and painted a gloomy picture of the city left with a surplus of 500 meters on its hands. Engineer Charles Brakenridge said, however, that 1,000 was the absolute minimum if a fair trial was to be made, and added that his department had advised 1,500.

“Ald. J. W. Cornett, who with Ald. George Miller voted against the mayor's resolution, felt that with a war in progress the city had more important business on its hands, and that the meter question should be stood over. ‘After all,’ he said, ‘our problem is light compared to that of Toronto or Montreal.’

“Suggested limits for the experiment were six months and a year. Installation of meters was advocated by a number of downtown organizations in letters to the committee.”

Huge Drop in American Visitors

The August 6, 1940 Province (Page 7) had some alarming news: “A drop of approximately 40 per cent. in the number of American cars entering B.C. during July as compared with the same month last year is seen in figures released by the customs and transportation bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade.

“A total of 11,379 cars entered the four ports during the month, while in July, 1939, there were 16,357. Officials believe the decrease is due directly to misunderstanding and fear of difficulties since the imposition of passport regulations. While Canada has gone to considerable trouble and expense to inform visitors from south of the line that they need anticipate no difficulties, incorrect information released when the regulations went into effect has taken a heavy toll on Canada-bound tourists.

“Canadian travel to the United States has meanwhile diminished almost to the vanishing point as far as tourist and pleasure travel is concerned. R. P. Bonham, district director of immigration and naturalization in Seattle, points out that Canadian regulations regarding the transportation of money across the line is more to blame than passport regulations.

“Only 54 automobiles crossed the border at Sumas in Whatcom County during July. Last year there were more than 2000 in the same month.

“Following are figures showing the number of American cars entering B.C. through the four entry points during July, 1940, and 1939: the 1939 figures are in parentheses.

Aldergrove 960 (1,215)H

Huntingdon 1,552 (2,317)

Pacific Highway 5,540 (6,667)

Douglas 3,327 (6,158)

Totals: 11,379 (16,357)

“They’re in the Army, too!”

“Whether you shoulder a gun, swing an axe or run a gangsaw, you're in the war for freedom.”

That was the lead in a story from the August 29, 1940 Province (Page 24) that told of “a new series of industrial war posters being distributed throughout the province by the Vancouver Board of Trade stressing the vital importance of employment in the forest industries at this time when Britain is depending on the great timberlands of British Columbia for the bulk of her lumber requirements.

“Sudden demand for lumber to be used in Canada's own defense preparations has added to the responsibility of the lumber industries, and the Board of Trade, co-operating with various trade associations, is encouraging loggers and sawmill workers to continue hitting the ball. The poster idea is regarded as one effective way of showing the timber worker that his job is vital and that his service is a contribution to victory.

“Modern warfare is fought with tools as well as with guns and bayonets" reads the poster, hundreds of which have been issued for distribution in logging camps, mills, railway stations----wherever timber workers congregate.

“The tools of your craft—the axe and saw, the peavey and the hook—you can swing knowing that every hard-worked shift has helped to fill a ship with precious lumber for Britain. This is the lumber that will build camps for soldiers, wings for heroes of the Royal Air Force, new factories, new homes to replace those that have been bombed by the enemy.

“Cut off from European supply, Britain depends almost wholly on Canada for forest products in wartime. In the woods, in sawmills and on the lumber-loading wharves you who man the industrial army of production are doing war-time service in the fight for democracy. Truly, you're in the army, too!

“A similar poster addressed to men in the mining industries was issued by The Board of Trade several weeks ago.”

“Royal” Locomotives

Five Canadian Pacific locomotives of the “Royal” class soon will be hauling passenger trains between Revelstoke and Vancouver, said the July 3, 1940 Province (Page 25).

“First of the five, No. 2860, reached Field Monday for delivery to the British Columbia district, and No.'s 2861, 2862, 2863 and 2864 will follow in short order. It was one of this type, No. 2850, which was assigned last summer to the royal train, and it hauled the gleaming blue and silver unit all the way from Quebec to Vancouver in what proved to be the longest single run ever achieved by any locomotive.”

[These are the locomotives, dubbed “Royal Hudsons,” that so impressed King George VI when he and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, travelled across Canada in May and early June, 1939. Wikipedia has an article on the locomotives and the royal trip here.

“Show Hitler our Strength”

From the Sun for September 11, 1940 (Page 10): “Hon. James L. Ralston, the Minister of National Defense, has a very high opinion of the manner in which the people of Canada have faced and met the shift from peace to war and responded to all calls on them, he told a large and applauding audience in Hotel Vancouver at noon today at a luncheon sponsored jointly by the Board of Trade, Canadian Club and Women's Canadian Club . . . He noted the wonderful response to the first war loan, the national war savings scheme, and the success of the current new war loan.

“Speaking of the Empire Air Training Plan, Col. Ralston declared that the RCAF ‘has already done a magnificent job.’ Schools are already functioning at 75 different points and others are springing up almost over night.

“For the first year of the war it had been planned to spend $88 million on the air force. For the present fiscal year the estimates were $240 million and actual expenditure would probably run to $260 million. Of the new war loan, for which he asked “all out” support, he predicted ‘it will show Hitler more clearly than in any other way the spiritual strength and unshakeable determination of the Canadian people.’

Distinguished Soldier . . . and “dollar-a-year” men

“Vancouver furnished a distinguished soldier, the Sun continued, “in Maj. Gen. Victor W. Odlum who commands the Second Canadian Division in Britain, and the Minister paid special tribute to his energy and initiative and qualities of leadership. Also mentioned gratefully were Col. H. F. G. Letson of Vancouver and Commodore V. G. Brodeur, formerly at Esquimalt, who are now, respectively, the military and naval attaches to the Canadian legation at Washington.

“The Minister paid high tribute to three civilians from Vancouver who are now ‘dollar-a-year’ men at Ottawa: W. C. Woodward, who is chief executive assistant to the minister for munitions and supplies; J. P. D. Malkin, who is chief of supplies purchasing; H. R. MacMillan, who is timber controller for the Dominion. ‘All are doing a very fine job,’ he said.”

[A few months later, as a result of attacks on Allied shipping by German U-boats, MacMillan would be given a new task: heading a new agency called Wartime Merchant Shipping. He would succeed brilliantly.]

Hey, our Climate’s Fine!

“Contrary to prevalent opinion in Eastern Canada, British Columbia's climate permits more flying days per year than any other part of Canada, Leslie J. Martin said in an address to the advertising and sales bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade Monday at Hotel Vancouver.”

A report on his talk—which didn’t explain who Mr. Martin was—was in the September 17, 1940 Province (Page 5).

“Outlining the history and organization of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Mr. Martin declared that, while residents of Eastern Canada were accustomed to think of the west coast as rain and fog-bound, the majority of holdups on scheduled Trans-Canada Air Lines flights occurred east of Winnipeg.

“The Commonwealth Air Training Plan, he maintained, was Canada's greatest contribution to the war. It represented an investment of more than $600 million, of which the Dominion's share was $300 million. The balance was made up by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

“Mr. Martin reaffirmed his faith that through the training of first class pilots, air observers and gunners, the British Empire would overcome its present severe handicap and overcome Nazi Germany. ‘Where we are fighting today against great odds, we are making up with quality,’ he said. ‘Soon we will be making up with quantity. Then nothing can touch us. Our airmen will be the best in the world.’

“Indicative of the superlative quality of Canada's potential air forces, Mr. Martin pointed out that ‘in the first class of flying students to be graduated from the Lulu Island training school there had been only one failure. Student pilots had secured an average of 80 per cent in the rigorous examinations—an exceptionally high figure’, the speaker said.”

Britain Needs Lumber!

Further details of the need for lumber in wartime Britain was given to members of the foreign trade bureau of The Board at a luncheon on November 1, 1940. It was covered on the same day by the Province (Page 10).

“Great Britain now depends almost entirely on the evergreen woods of British Columbia for her enormous timber requirements, J. G. Robson, president of the B.C. Lumber and Shingle Manufacturers' Association, told the luncheon. ‘Last year,’ he said, ‘the United Kingdom took 965 million board feet of our lumber, but that was only about 45 per cent of her requirements. The rest came from northern Europe.

“‘Now northern Europe is closed,’ Mr. Robson continued, ‘but Britain still needs an enormous amount of timber. She will need all that we can spare.’

“Mr. Robson, who has figured prominently in timber extension bureau work, stressed the fact that foreign markets have always represented the life blood of the industry. This condition, he predicted, will not change. ‘When the war is over,’ he said, ‘we must go back to those markets to meet our payrolls in B.C.’”

Tourism Increase Seen

The Sun for November 23, 1940 (Page 24) told of a luncheon talk by E. G. Rowebottom, federal deputy minister of trade and industry, in which he predicted a bright future for the Canadian tourist industry in 1941. He was speaking to the transportation bureau of The Board.

“‘I am sure we will see record travel to the coast this coming year,’ Rowebottom said, adding that the Canadian Travel Bureau is ‘going all out’ in its campaign to bring American tourists to the Dominion. Besides large newspaper and magazine advertising campaigns, broadcasts of Canadian-born Hollywood stars from the CBC to American networks are being planned as well as motion picture series for release in the United States. [No details were given by the paper.]

“Mr. Rowebottom suggested strongly that goodwill tours of American border cities by the Vancouver Board of Trade visiting boards of trade in the United States would, if officials of the Foreign Exchange Control Board were included, help to explain the situation which money regulations have created in the south.

“I. W. Neil reported that unfair propaganda circulated in American coast cities concerning border regulations has now ceased and that United States organizations are assisting in informing the American public that no difficulties are experienced in entering Canada.”

What else was happening locally in 1940?

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

Next: 1941 »










































The Graf Spee blows up December 17, 1939 (photo: :
The Graf Spee blows up December 17, 1939





















































































































Nellie McClung (image: BC Archives B-06788)
Nellie McClung
[Image: BC Archives B-06788]















































Lake Washington floating bridge (image:
Lake Washington floating bridge






























































































































































































































































































































James L. Ralston (photo:
James L. Ralston