The Clydes, the Butlers and the Empress Theatre

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The Empress Theatre on West Hastings went up in 1908 and came down in 1940, and in its heyday it had the biggest stage west of Chicago. In the 1930s it was owned by Hollywood stars Fay Holden and David Clyde who also owned a house on 51st Avenue in East Vancouver

The Pantages Theatre

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I took a drive past the Pantages Theatre at East Hastings and Main yesterday. It was pouring with rain and the Downtown Eastside looked even bleaker than normal, like something out of a Dostoevsky novel.

It’s hard to imagine that this skuzzy part of town was once the central business district, but go back a century and the Pantages was part of a thriving theatre district and downtown core.

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Seaplane Crashes Through West End Roof

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This is one of my favourite finds at the Vancouver Archives. The house at 755 Bute Street is long gone, but was once owned by Dr. James Farish, a Vancouver ear, eye and nose specialist. On September 4, 1918, Victor Bishop, 23, was home on leave from the War, when the builders—Jimmy and Henry Hoffar, asked him to take their seaplane for a test spin over Burrard Inlet.

Samuel Maclure and the Clayburn brick factory

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There’s a story in the Vancouver Sun today about the closing of the Clayburn brick factory—a business that started up in Abbotsford over a century ago. What caught my attention wasn’t so much its closure—bricks are out of fashion, artificial stone and concrete blocks are in apparently—but the fact that this company was started by the fascinating Maclure family.

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Chuck Davis (1935-2010)

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It’s too bad Chuck couldn’t be at his memorial service this afternoon. He would have loved it. For starters there were a couple of hundred people there—a totally eclectic crowd, pretty much like the guy himself. The only thing we had in common was that Chuck had touched us all in some way.

Local legends Dal Richards and Red Robinson were there.

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Carleton Hall: Number one most endangered heritage site

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Built in 1896, Carleton Hall is the oldest school building in Vancouver. The building is one of five on the site that survived the last closure hit list, but suffered water damage after a fire in 2008 and Heritage Vancouver fears it now faces demolition by neglect. This is all the more tragic because Green Thumb Theatre has been trying to negotiate a proposal with the Vancouver School Board for over a year and has offered to cover the cost of the building’s restoration.

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