February 6, 2017
To the Building Permit, yet to come, we return to celebrating the Development Permit we have.
November 14, 2016
We now have the Development permit and are in close reach of the Building permit -- as I reflect on the past I also look forward to the future. Here is a small celebration of the past, a shed in the yard that no longer exists, so many changes have taken place on this land and soon more will evolve. (Photo credit to my neighbour and friend Esther Rausenberg)
August 22, 2016
The Piana's sold the house to Sun Chen Low and his wife Fong Shee Low on May 16th, 1969; the Low's had lived at 268 Union prior to the purchase. Sun Chen Low immigrated to Vancouver from Zhongshan in the Pearl River Delta of southern China in 1912 and paid the head tax of $500. Fong Shee Low was born in China and came to Vancouver in 1951 from Zhognshan. How did the Low name become Lau? Well in Cantonese the Chinese character translates to Low while in Mandarin it renders the same surname to be Lau. In 1971 the Low's were joined by their son Sing Kin Lau and his wife Yuk Yin Lau along with their son Kam Tim Lau. Sun had been a farmer all his life until he retired in 1956 and his son Sing worked in Vancouver as a casual labourer for most of his life. He was listed as a driver for the Vancouver Vegetable Board for many years. Records show that he passed away in 1973 at the age of 87, while Fong passed away in 1976 at the age of 84.
As long as I've lived in the "hood" I had only heard people refer to the owner as the elderly Chinese lady who lives in the shingle house. Now we know that woman was Yuk Yin Lau, who tended her roses and smoked occasionally while in her garden. Mrs. Lau, had a fall in 2014 and received medical care when she decided it was time to sell the home. She asked her son Kam and his wife May to put the house up for sale and that is when I and my mother, Dinka Malatestinic, had the good fortune to buy the Big House. We became the owners of 851 Union in October 2014.
August 15, 2016
Entering the era of the Italians.......and it takes us upto 1969. First we have the Pasquale brothers who lived in the house for over 10 years; Luigi and Alessandro Pasquale. All I know is that Luigi was born in 1880 and that Alessandro, who went by Alec was younger. Alessandro worked at the Hotel Vancouver as a dishwasher and cleaner. It would be so amazing if someone reading this could tell me more about these boys and relations here in our fair city.
The second set of Italians came to 851 in 1959 and that was Marino and Ida Piana, who lived in the house for about 10 years . This is an interesting part of the house history for me personally as during the time the Piana's lived in 851 is when my life started -- both my sister and I were born during that time (my sister at St. Paul's Hospital and I at VGH some 2 years later). James, who did the house history, mentions the Piana's moving in with one of there daughters on 3035 Venables when they sold the house. Interestingly, I grew up at 3364 Georgia St. only a few blocks away. I did a little digging and discovered Marino (born in Piana, Valdagano, Italy) passed away in 2014 at St. Paul's Hospital -- he was survived by his loving family: wife, Ida; children, Giancarla (Ralph), Rosalda (Tony) and Steven (Lani); 9 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and 3 sisters in Italy. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church.
Growing up as a Croatian Canadian in Vancouver I can relate to Our Lady of Sorrows, as that is where I was baptized and went to catechism until I was set free in grade 5 after obtaining all my sacraments. As many children of immigrants we followed our family training of moral conduct through cultural and religious dogma while incorporating and bridging the Canadian social structures. It would be interesting to meet Marino and Ida's children and grandchildren today and share the space they may have lived in at some point in their lives.
In 1969 on May 16th the Piana's sold the ouse to Sun Chew Low and his wife Fong Shee Low. Next week, more about the Low family.
July 25, 2016
This last week was so much fun to walk through the "hood" with the Croatian tribe; a small group of us honoured to have elder family friends who lived in Strathcona in the 30's/40's era. What a treat to hear the stories that were shared and feel a slice of life at that time. One of our group was a relative of the Kalanj family who lived in the Big House. As mentioned they moved out around 1935 and that's when Peter Corak and his wife Katherine moved in -- they too were Croatians, often referred to as Yugoslavs (but that's a politic we don't need to go into here).
The Corak's moved from Campbell Ave to the Big House for a year or so. They were married at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church and then moved to 940 Keefer St.; won't be able to find that house as the Raymur-Campbell Public Housing Projects . After the Corak's a Polish family moved into the house by the name Shish. Adolf and his wife Alice (she was Austrian born) were married at the Jackson Ave. Baptist Church and he was a furniture maker, 9 years her senior. When they moved downtown to Robson street a "mystery man" moved in. The mystery man's name was Henry Miller, but which Henry Miller he was is what remains the mystery.
After the Mystery man we have the Wayslows, William and Elizabeth (Bessie). William was Ukrainian and he and his wife ran the Balkan Cafe on 779 E. Hastings. It appears there were shifts of people passing through the Big House during these years leading up to the 2nd WW. In 1939 Polish-born logger Mark Zurba and his wife Tillie along with their son Walter lived in the house for a year. Then in 1940 scandal hit 851 Union when Russian-born labourer Mike Mafatow and his Ukranian-born wife Pauline moved in with their son Gordon. They became estranged and it was believed that the house at the time of an incident on July 9th was divided into apartments and several families were renting. It was Mike who came to the house on that afternoon and shot his wife in the bedroom and she staggered out to the lane where the neighbors found her. Mike ran from the house, jumped the back fence and then fired a bullet into his right ear. Police were told Mafatow had been drinking heavily!
Wow, what a good deal of action and drama has passed through the walls of this old house!
Mrs. Dorothy Bryant made the house her home from 1941 to 1944 and let's try to imagine a peaceful stay for her. She worked as a machine operator at the Hammond Furniture factory at Clark and Venables. She didn't go far when she moved in 1945; just next door at 849 Union St.
July 18, 2016
10 more images to enjoy.........(from spooky to refreshed!) Just tap on the image to see all ten.
July 11, 2016
Details of the recent 10:
Lock it up; Hang it out; Stick it ; Light it; Turn the Knob; Reflect the Floor; Suck it in; Crank up the Heat; Open the door and Done for the day.
July 4, 2016
The Kalanj Family moves into the Big House and here are some family photo's from 1930; courtesy of Kim Kalanj the great grandaughter of Anton and Anna Kalanj.
These photos were taken in 1930 by then the Kalanj's were living at 851 Union for 4 years. Prior to their move they had been a few blocks away on the other side of Hastings St. at 305 Heatley , which still is standing. The Big House was in a quieter location and certainly had a much bigger yard. Like my family the Kalanj's were Croatian, but both Anna and Anton were born in what was then the Austrian-Hungarian empire. They were both born in Udbina, which is a village in the Lika region. During James Johnstone's research on the house he discovered that Anton and Anna married on September 8th 1935 only 3 months before Anton died in Vancouver General Hospital. Also James discovered that Anton listed himself on a US Board crossing document as a "Professional Gambler"; it seems he lived in the US from 1905-1911 before the family moved to Canada. It makes sense that once Anton passed the family moved from the house, by then the children were older and with the marriage in place Ana would be able to take care of them and herself.
Now here's a little tidbit I learned from the Croatian internet, as I call it -- meaning my Mother and her friends having a good old fashioned chat over coffee: One of Anton and Anna's grandaughters was Andrea Kalanj and at 9 years of age she played Beethoven's Concerto No. 3 with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Who needed T.V. with such colorful lives?
June 27, 2016
As WWI was coming to an end we find a Jewish family moved into the Big House. Soloman Izen with his wife Sophie (maiden name Sophia Rosenburg) and their 3 sons, Benjamin, Aleck and Samuel made 851 Union their home for a year. The Izen's were originally from Poland and came to Canada the early 1900's. Soloman was a junk dealer and his business was located at 601 Main Street. I tried to find historical pictures of the Izen business but came up dry. What was found on the site of 601 Main Street was an ironic contrasting structure that replaced the junk business -- a bank.
From 1919 to 1925 there were a few different people who lived in the house. There was a William Rhodes, but it's not clear if he was a Military Policeman or a Cigar Maker and/or if he was the same man; I'm going with the Cigar Maker! William took on a room mate Patrick Michael Coffey but it was the Customs Officer, John Gill, that moved into 851 Union with his family for 3 years until 1924. John's wife was Anna Barbara the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Justin Shepatack and Barbara Vivyurka. In 1925 we find a tenant living in the Big House for a year however, it becomes vague as to the true identity of John Hogarth, other than he was aLabourer.
Stability comes to the Big House in 1926 when the Kalanj family moves in and stay until 1934.
June 20, 2016
On February 27, 1911 with the passing of by-law 806, Barnard Street was renamed Union Street. There are writings about Barnard and Burrard sounding too much alike and possibly the reason the name chance was made. Apparently changing the name of a street was not uncommon in the past and how Barnard became Union is anyone's guess. My guess is that it was because Sir Francis Stillman Barnard, who the street was originally named after, and his membership with the Union Club.
It wasn't long after the street became Union that the Big House, now on, 851 Union Street became a rental property for a few years. This doesn't sound that uncommon from today where property rental is happening everywhere. Strathcona however, has had a great deal of longterm community members. For instance, I've lived in Strathcona for 10 years and consider myself a new member of the hood.
Here are the names of some of the shorter term residence who passed through the Big House:
1912 Mrs. Lucy Oakes -- a widowed nurse; 1913 Mr. Edward F. Harff of Harff & Karginoff (proprietors of the King's Hotel at 212 Carrall St that was first known as the Tremont Hotel); 1914 Edgar Horace Ruckhaber and his wife Mary (a mechanic for Begg Motor Company); also in 1914 to 1915 Vancouver Glass Company was in the basement (which was run by Clifford Mason and his partners Norman Bajus and Clarence Clements and Henry A. Hymers joined them in 1915). The first world war came about (1914 - 1918) and it had far reaching effects around the world, for 851 Union it resulted in the house being empty form 1916 to 1917.
June 13, 2016
James Mason set out for new beginnings in 1906 when he started Terminal City Iron Works. He began this company with Harry and Thomas Littler at 140 Alexander and moved to 1949 Albert st., now known as Franklin St, in 1912. When looking at these links and see Vancouver in the "olden days" (kids today would think are "ancient days" ) it's clear, to understand time and history, context is everything. One can't help notice how industrial space and community were side by side; check out those ladies on the Alexander link; wearing their hats and hanging out on the street at the Bicycles Supply store and what looks like residence on the top of those two storey buildings.
The Terminal City Iron Works foundry worked in iron, brass and had a machine shop that slowly grew to take over more and more of the block; the bicycle shop seemed to be safe as it was one block east. Their products were used all over the province and served to provide most of the infrastructure. At one point they made 100 percent of the fire hydrants in Vancouver and next time you're looking at a city's manhole cover................well, you know who you can thank for most of those now.
The Mason family lived in the house until about the time Terminal City Iron Works moved to Franklin St.. During their years on Barnard St they celebrated their daughter Lilian's wedding in 1904, enjoyed her gainful employment at Hicks & Lovick Piano Co. not far from the house at 123 West Hastings St. and watched their son Clifford become a glass worker at Vancouver Stained Glass Company located at 827 Barnard St.; the beginnings of this work evolved from the basement of 851 Barnard. Clifford's glass working skills found in 827 Barnard, which is still standing, was next door to the Chinese laundry; unfortunately that building's fate was not the same as the Glass Company and is gone. The Mason's 14 year connection to this land where they built their home, work, family and community, did not end when they moved to 3rd Ave around 1911. They maintained ownership of 851 Barnard and story of renting out the house began.
May 23, 2016
What was life like in Vancouver when the BIG HOUSE was built by Kate and James Mason in 1898? First thing one might notice is that the street was called Barnard and not Union. The Street name change took place on February 27th 1911. If you strolled down, what is today known as Main and Union, you'd see things certainly looked different and getting around the city must have felt like an exciting journey.
When Kate and James Mason came to Canada in the late 1870's surely they didn't anticipate applying for a water service application on April 7th, 1898 for the address that was to become their home for a number of years. By the time they arrived in Vancouver around 1896 (that's when they first appeared in the Vancouver Directory) the Mason's had two children, Lilian and Clifford, in tow. James took a job with Iron Works located at 200 block Alexander St. as a machinist and was working there when their 3rd child Raymond was born in 1896. The family lived around the corner from the BIG HOUSE at 887 Harris St, now named Georgia St. at that time and perhaps it was the growing family dynamic that prompted the purchase of the land lots 29 and 30 of the block 93 District Lot 196 (851 Barnard St.).
James Mason continued working as a machinist with the Letson & Burpee co until 1902. Alexander St. must have been machinist row, Iron works at 200 Alexander, Leston & Burpee at 136 Alexander and Terminal City Iron Works created by James in 1906 at 140 Alexander.
Leston & Burpee started in Vancouver in 1887 and were specialized in designing and patenting machinery for local industries – especially the fishing industry; shipbuilding etc… I find this of personal interest as my dad, Joe Malatestinic, came to Canada some years later as a D.P. (displaced person) in 1949. He had been trained as a machinist in the old country (Jugoslavia). He told me he discovered that when he arrived in Canada his trade was not valued so he switched gears and entered into the fishing industry, where he became a Highliner in that field.
Back to James Mason and his beginnings with Terminal City Iron Works starting in 1906. Terminal City Iron Work…….. to be continued.
May 16, 2016
#851, lovingly now referred to as the Big House, was build in 1898/1900. Thanks to our local historian, James Johnstone, we were able to get history on the house and this is where it will happily be shared. So many people in the "hood" have mentioned they have pictures of this house so those too will be shared!! Let the sharing begin!!