Foncie’s North Vancouver Connection

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Foncie, to my knowledge, never crossed the bridge or took the ferry to North Vancouver—at least not for his work, but he did capture many of our most colourful citizens. A street photographer who worked mostly on Hastings and Granville Streets, he photographed people out shopping, going to a show, or on their way to work.

Foncie with home made camera

It’s estimated that he created over 15 million images with his home made camera.

Janet Turner, archivist at the North Vancouver Museum and Archives watched a documentary about him on the Knowledge Network, and then found more and more Foncie photos popping up in the collection and in donations.

She has curated a small exhibition at the Community History Centre in Lynn Valley.

Foncie photos aren’t dated unless the recipient writes on the back, so the time period is mostly a good guess, but that’s part of the fun.

There’s a photo of Dorothy Lynas, namesake of the school at Indian River.

Foncie
Dorothy Lynas school board trustee (1958-1990) with friends Jennie Craig and Dorothy Girling, Fonds 168

Another shows Gertie Wepsala, who Janet tells me was a Canadian Olympic Ski Champion. She married Al Beaton, who has a place in the Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Canadian Olympic Basketball team in 1940 and 1941. Al helped develop Grouse Mountain Resorts and built the world’s first double chairlift from the top of Skyline Drive, and later managed Grouse Mountain. Both he and Gertie qualified for the Olympics, but the games were cancelled during the war years, and the couple didn’t compete.

Foncie
The Fromme sisters of Lynn Valley; NVMA Fonds 188

There’s a photo of the three Fromme sisters—Vera, Julia and Margaret—spending a day on the town; one of a young Walter Draycott, and another of his friend Tom Menzies, the curator at the Museum of Vancouver in the ‘40s.

Foncie
Walter Draycott, NVMA 26-8-32

Like the Fromme family, Draycott was a North Vancouver pioneer, he has a street named after him, and his statue sits in the little square at the corner of Lynn Valley Road and Mountain Highway.

Walter Draycott. Eve Lazarus photo, 2016
Walter Draycott. Eve Lazarus photo, 2016

Marie Desimone, a shipyard worker at Burrard Dry Dock is captured on the way to catch the ferry to work.

Foncie
Marie Desimone, NVMA 15766

There’s Bette Booth with her husband Bob, an architect who built his own West Coast modern home near Capilano River and worked on both the Burrard Dry Dock and Westminster Abbey in Mission.

Foncie
Bob and Bette Booth,1946; NVMA BB-181

And Jack Cash, a prolific photographer himself, and son of the formidable Gwen Cash, who appears in Sensational Victoria, is shown in a photo with his oldest son and wife Aileen (Binns).

Foncie
Jennie and Eva Conroy; NVMA 1182-143

And, there is a photo of Eva with her sister Jennie Conroy, taken shortly before Jennie’s murder in 1944.

When Foncie retired in November of 1979 he told a Province reporter that when he started as a 20-year-old back in 1934 there were six companies in Vancouver. Street photography, he said, really started to take off during the war. “At one time, I was taking 4,000 to 5,000 pictures every day,” he told the reporter.

Millions of photos were thrown out. “I’d keep them for a year, then throw them out. I realize now I should have saved them but it’s too late.”

Foncie Pulice died in 2003 at the age of 88.

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

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4 comments

  1. Eve……You may like to know that Walter Draycott lived until he was 106 years old!……AND in the very house he built on Draycott rd.

    1. I’m guessing Walter must have been close to that when he modeled for his statue! I’ll have to take a stroll down Draycott and see if his house is still there…

  2. Walter lived to 102. The house is gone but there is a garden dedicated to him. As you know, he helped start the archives when it was called the North Shore Archives in the early 70s. Since then the name has changed to the North Vancouver Museum & Archives. He donated a lot of his photographs, diaries, correspondence, drawings as well as his own research and writings.

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