Point Grey postscript: more photos about buildings and food

Varsity fare

Since the last post served to launch an interesting conversation on my Facebook page (comments welcome on this blog 😉 ) among visitors who recounted their days in Point Grey, I’ve decided to add another page to the subject, with photographs from the shoot illustrated in the contact sheet there and a couple of additional images that record my time in the neighbourhood, including a peek inside my digs.

Varsity Theatre

on West 10th Avenue

Sui Wei (reads Jung), W. 10th Avenue, 1985

I’ve told the story elsewhere of my move to the neighbourhood in 1984, where I shared a 1-bedroom flat with 3 others. We launched many adventures together, including trips to California, climbing at Squamish, west coast explorations on Vancouver Island … not to mention clandestine ascents of the old Cambie Street Bridge. These were the benefits of communal living.

Though there was only one bedroom, the main living area was spacious — big enough to accommodate a makeshift studio … and a dance floor at the regular parties we held. Remember when people danced at parties?

Back to the comments on my Monday post: It was great to hear from readers who grew up in the area, found their first employment at local businesses, like Owl Drugs, and enjoyed the close community experience of West Point Grey.

Going on my last visit, those days are, sadly, gone. I’m glad to have spent a short time there, getting to know local merchants and restaurant owners, including the affordable Varsity Grill Chinese restaurant. I made advertising photos for local shops and sold beauty products (a sideline) to hairdressers on the street, where another roommate worked. Fellow photographer Brian Hay destroyed his hands supplementing his assistant salary as a dishwasher at Earl’s Place, featured in the previous post.

Point Grey Trade

I don’t think it’s just nostalgia speaking to say that with the rise of chains, to a great degree we’ve lost the diversity of small family businesses and with them the sense of community that they aroused.

Aside from pecuniary interests, I’m glad to be able, through photos and jottings, to offer these memories, dreams and reflections to Vancouverites past and present. Please do add to those recollections in the comments below. For my part, I treasure the pictures and memories made there.

Studio on W. 10th

Technical: 1×1 ratio photos: Mamiyaflex C-series medium format camera/Mamiya Sekor 80mm f2.8, film: Ilford FP4 | 35mm: Nikon FM/24mm f2.8, film: Ilford FP4, dev: Rodinol

Eighties Vancouver prints


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  • Russell Bateman - I found your website looking for photos of the old Varsity Theatre and Varsity Grill…there are virtually none. So I am grateful you had the foresight (well…happened to take) photos when you did. I lived on W. 9th and Trimble between 1979 and 1983, just behind what was then called ‘Trimble’s’, the predecessor to ‘Earle’s’ and now the ‘Enigma’. It was a shadowy, semi-Victorian style coffee bar that was partly managed by my landlady and where I had an extremely short career as a dishwasher, managing to break a dish a day.
    It was a wonderful time. My home away from home was the Varsity Grill, and I think the No. 3 special — beef and broccoli — my usual dish, which was sometimes served on a turkey platter when I was especially hungry.
    And forget home theatre — when I felt like seeing a movie, a two minute walk to the Varsity was all that was necessary to see something like ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in its full glory.
    Your other commenters with their recollections of past businesses on W10th have brought back memories I’ve long forgotten — the two drugstores, the bike shop…there was also a pretty good shoe store past Sasamat, the name I can’t recall. These were the times when neighbourhoods were self contained and self-sufficient–nearly everything one needed within walking distance. There was Eric Bogle’s (Bogies?) Records with its enormous mural of WC Fields just up from Trimble (can find no trace on web). However, one of the most unusual businesses was a small shop which might have been next to present day Quadro’s. Someone had gone to the trouble of setting up full scale fibreglass replicas of old tombs from which to take ‘brass’ rubbings. While waiting for the bus it was certainly nice to look in at the artfully spotlit  objects…but, alas, even for the late 70’s this was a pretty esoteric enterprise, and it didn’t last long. August 8, 2017 – 8:26 pmReplyCancel

    • Paul - Really great pics and memories here!  Not much out there is there…  I somehow managed to keep a Varsity Grill menu back in the 80’s.  Number 3’s were a go-2 and also the famous Cheese Burger Deluxe!  It was called Charles Bogle Records located on 4430 West 10th!  I bought many of my first records there as a kid in the 70’s.  They were mostly used and I could afford them with my paper route money.  Best record I bought from there was The Ramones “It’s Alive”.  Anyways!   Completely forgot there was a gas station on Sasamat by the Library?!?…  wow.  Must of been gone soon after when my family moved around there in 1972.  I was only 4 y.o.  So…   Oh… one more memory was at Big Scoop, bugging an older guy playing that old Atari car racing game that seemed like it was there forever.  He ended up stuffing my blue bubblegum ice cream cone in my face!  heh… prolly deserved it!  Good days indeed!  Great place to live as a kid…     September 27, 2017 – 3:31 pmReplyCancel

      • Raymond Parker - Glad you’re liking it, Paul. Thanks for the memories! 🙂September 28, 2017 – 7:29 amReplyCancel

    • Raymond Parker - Thanks for adding your memories, Russell. I did indeed anticipate that Point Grey, like the rest of Vancouver, was on the verge of great change. We can at least take some satisfaction from having experienced these neighbourhoods when they were … neighbourhoods.
      As you mention, there was room for the esoteric and eclectic, due in no small part to the fact that rents were affordable.
      Though my move to Point Grey came in 1984, I’d been a regular visitor beginning in 1978, when close friends rented a house on Trimble.August 8, 2017 – 9:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Laurie Kingdon - These photos are priceless!! I took some photos in the early 80’s as I rode West 10th many times during my 4 years at UBC from 1980 – 84.I wrote a paper when I was in Urban Studies and took photos of Point Grey back then when I compared this neighbourhood with that of Hastings Sunrise. It really was a village back then. I remember that little European-style grocery store with fresh produce and fresh eggs. Ate many times at the Varsity Grill – the $6 Wonton Special soup was a meal you would always have to go as the portions were huge. The Big Scoop Sundae Palace at the NW corner of Trimble + 10th. My partner and his best friend and I ordered the Big Scoop Sundae Special one Sunday which consisted of 31 scoops of ice cream. One of the oldest restaurants there, Candia Taverna, run by Nick, was a Greek restaurant that harked back to that time had a fire in 2015 and is in the process of being rebuilt. And let’s not forget The Diner for classic fish n’ chips. Reg + Stella are still hanging in there!February 9, 2017 – 12:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Wiebe de Haas - My interest in automobiles started early, and in this neighbourhood. To that end I’ll name the gas/service stations I recall: an Esso at Blanca(SE), Chevron at Tolmie (NE), Home at Sasamat (SE), Texaco at Trimble (SE), B/A (later Gulf) at Discovery (NW) and Shell at Discovery (SW). All were on corner lots. I learned lately there was a Texaco at Trimble (NW corner) earlier.February 4, 2017 – 1:45 pmReplyCancel

    • Raymond Parker - Interesting stuff. I have a photo of the Esso at 10th & Alma, where the attendant is overfilling a car … gas pouring over the rear bumper onto the ground. Oh well, regular was just 55.9. 🙂

      I also have a (much better) night shot of the Shell station at 10th & Discovery, near our old apartment.

      Have you seen my panorama of Vancouver, from Broadway & Heather, over what was once a Texaco station?February 4, 2017 – 2:25 pmReplyCancel

      • Wiebe de Haas - Yes I did! Very nice! Service stations in the era previous to our’s were sort of funky, where fueling up was done under a story of a building overhead, rather than a stand-alone canopy. The Running Room of 4th Ave was one of those stations; my father was a customer of that business, Lorne Findlay, owner, (famous for his re-creation of The All Red Route trip in an identical REO to the first cross Canada adventure automobile), sold to me my first (’55 Ford) from that location. Parked next to the non-working pumps were always several Packards. There were/are several similar stations on Commercial. Your photo however captures one of the rare mid-block locations.February 7, 2017 – 3:38 pmReplyCancel

      • don craik - My family moved to Point Grey 60 years ago this month [Feb 23,1957]. When we arrived at our house the movers were just unloading my bike. It was a monstrous one speed CCM with balloon tires [American style]. One of the tires was low and I knew it would be weeks before I would find my pump. So I then pushed it up 3 blocks to the Shell station at 10th and Discovery. On the front of the property next to the apartment was a separate little building called ‘Keelers’. Keeler was a handicapped fellow who sold cigarettes, candy and other convenient items from his wheelchair. His shop was established and built by the local Masonic membership. Another bit of gas station trivia..One of my classmates Blair Hodgson graduated in 1966 and immediately went to work as a mechanic apprentice at Varsity Automotive [Esso] at 10th and Blanca. The garage has long gone but the company was still operating [same name] in KItsilano a year ago. Blair was still the service manager. 50 years in the same company is very rare these days.February 4, 2017 – 9:40 pmReplyCancel

        • Raymond Parker - You guys have amazing memories. I have trouble recalling details of the eighties. Thankfully I have photos and journals to refer to, otherwise, most of it would have faded away like a poorly fixed silver print.February 4, 2017 – 9:48 pmReplyCancel

          • Wiebe de Haas - Could be our early life was blessed by fresh sea filtered air.February 7, 2017 – 4:09 pm

  • Wiebe de Haas - In the photo showing Owl Drugs, to the right is a rocking horse image. That is the logo of the woodworking/furniture seller business that took over the premises of a long standing grocery store, Woolner’s. The Woolners, I believe owned the building and were a second generation business, but for sure, ran the business and resided above it. Like many of the businesses on that block, the alley side is actually one more story high, so the basement is at ground level. As an example of standing in the community, you could tell by the model of automobile a person owned. Mr Woolner had a ’54 Olds. As I mentioned earlier, the barber had a ’59 Olds and the doctor (who had his office just up the block, a Dr Winbiggler, had a ’55 Buick). There was a shoemaker, with his daughter, residing behind his business next to my father’s business, sans auto. My father’s first was a ’54 Studebaker.February 4, 2017 – 1:25 pmReplyCancel

    • Raymond Parker - Wiebe, it’s great to have longtime residents like you and Don add to the history of the neighbourhood. These are, I believe, important details that are so often lost to time.

      This is the most gratifying part of sharing my small archive, which occasionally connects me with people I haven’t seen in ages or those, like yourself, whose paths crossed but didn’t meet mine at some intersection along the way.

      Thanks again.February 4, 2017 – 1:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Don Craik - I do remember Varsity Cycles. The owner was an English fellow by the name of Mr. Dearlove. When I was about 12 years old I tried to persuade my parents that I really needed a new bike. Three speed bikes ranged between $70 and $90. They told me that if I saved the money they would pay half. I finally saved $30 and got a great [almost new] bike from Varsity. Down at 10th and Highbury was the other great bike shop called Fred’s [owned by Fred Arnold].
    Behind the Varsity theatre was the Sun and Province paper shack. There was a passage leading out front from the lane to Hal’s Confectionery. Hal was perhaps a war vet because he seem to have a pronounced limp when he walked. The paper shack was probably Hal’s biggest customer base. Even with one or two cents a news boy could walk in and get a piece of something to chew on. For those with loads of cash there was Lee’s Candies down in the next block.February 4, 2017 – 10:44 amReplyCancel

    • Wiebe de Haas - Hello Don, to correct one error; The Sun shack was in the lane of the 4300 block as you say, but The Province shack was in the lane of the 4400 block just up from Hewer Hardware. The Province was a morning paper and The Sun an afternoon one. My first ’employment’ was a Province route. Talking of passageways, there was one beside Hewer’s from the lane to 10th.February 4, 2017 – 12:47 pmReplyCancel

      • don craik - @ Raymond. The Varsity Cycles when I knew it was from 1957 until about 1963. The owner was a stone faced guy who didn’t smile much although he was a nice guy when you got to know him. The name ‘ Mr. Dearlove’ didn’t exactly conjure up that impression when you first met him.

        @Weibe. I remember the Sun shack because I frequently helped a couple a friends who had Sun routes. In the Summer of 1962 I covered a Province route and that shack was on Imperial Rd. about a block south of 16th in the woods. One morning we appeared for work and the shack had burnt to the ground during the night. The district manager arrived and told us to go to the Shack behind the Varsity, where I presume they stayed for a long time. When we arrived at the Sun shack there was already was a large crew of guys who looked after all the routes in the north part of the area. We were now crammed in like sardines. I was never aware of another shack on the 4400 block . I’m assuming that the Province shack was originally separate before my time.February 4, 2017 – 9:12 pmReplyCancel

        • Wiebe de Haas - Hello Don, I think the Province Shack on 16th served routes to the south. I was a paperboy ’57-59 and the shack was in the 4400 block lane. Our shack served routes north of 10th I think. My first route meant loading my bike and coasting down Sasamat to Bellevue. Later I had a route in Little Australia. I ‘sub-contracted’ with my sister on Saturdays, due to the heavy loads. Your description of the bike shop owner is so precise! It refreshes my belief the shop was named Varsity! On a similar note; there was also a door or two away a carpentry shop run by several fellows called Varsity Whitewood. With earnings from our paper route my sister and I had desks and shelves custom made there.February 7, 2017 – 3:58 pmReplyCancel

    • Raymond Parker - Thanks very much for these details, Don. Though are you sure your Mr. Dearlove was at Varsity?

      As I’ve mentioned, I was a lifelong cycling enthusiast (until a disastrous event 7-years-ago). I worked in the industry for many years, starting at Cap’s in Sapperton, a couple of years after my arrival in Canada from England.

      There were many of us (cycling Brits) who brought our love of cycling with us upon immigration, some of whom made a trade of it. Towards the end of my cycling “career” I rode with onetime Olympic coach (to greats like Alex Stieda) Barry “Baz” Lycett and the late great Harold Bridge.

      West Point, down the hill near Alma, was, and still is, an institution.February 4, 2017 – 11:30 amReplyCancel

  • Wiebe de Haas - I may very well be wrong about the bicycle shop’s name I mentioned. The one I speak of was a one man business. I enjoyed the man, and always imagined he just wanted to tinker and teach in soft simple way. I imagine him as a war vet keeping himself occupied without fuss. Several years after getting my motorcycle from him I asked him if he would make me a crate so I could ship the bike to Europe. He took me to the basement and there was the original crate, which he gave me! To that point I had always gone to him for bicycles and parts. There was also a business next to my father’s; Douglas Tea and Coffee. Mrs Douglas ran the store. What a wonderful aroma filled that store! Mr Douglas would take the tins that biscuits (Peake Freans) came in and cut and fold them. That was done in his workshop in the basement where he would tell stories. He was an instructor/trainer for the Gurkhas during WW2. On the odd Saturday my sister and I would go with him, in his Austin Devon to metal mongers in the east side with those tins.February 3, 2017 – 1:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Wiebe de Haas - On the south-east corner of 10th & Trimble stood an ex-bus repair depot (with pits rather than hoists) named Maitland Motors; later torn down and replaced by a Texaco service station that looked like a house with peaked roof. A new sign was installed for a time, which had the name Mainland, pissing off the owner. Next to the Curio shop (Called Oriental Arts for some time) was a beauty salon with a barber shop at the front, where everyone could watch males getting a haircut. The Jodoins owned the place and a house nearby. They were from Manitoba and took annual summer road trips there. (I would sometimes drive his ’59 Olds Super 88 4 door hardtop to Dueck-On-Broadway for servicing). Directly across the street from my father’s studio was Campbell Studio, whom my father told me was not a competitor, rather a colleague.February 3, 2017 – 12:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Wiebe de Haas - There was a competitor to Owl Drugs (which was also the local sub-post office), Cunningham Drugs on the 4500 block South side. There was a Dairy Queen in what is now the Safeway parking lot. A Chevron gas station at the NE corner of 10th and Tolmie, lastly owned by (I think his name was Johnnie Thompson)(again vague memory: he first was one of the mechanics earlier and I was younger than ten), where I would watch the employees drive brand new Fords off the car carrier trucks and then prepare them for dealerships. The sedans were ’54 Fords.February 3, 2017 – 11:46 amReplyCancel

    • Raymond Parker - I’m grateful for these comments, Weibe, the further conversation on Facebook and your wider perspective of the neighbourhood. By comparison I was merely a visitor.

      And what a small world to discover we lived in the same apartment building and had mutual friends, though I believe we never met.

      I bought stuff at Rushant, and Varsity Cycle, as mentioned in the other post. I was an ex-racer. Varsity was a good sponsor of promising cyclists.

      The Varsity Theatre was awesome. I saw many great films there (including the one advertised in the photo). Remember attending a Kurosawa marathon — Ran and Dersu Uzala in one night! Also where I first saw Monty Python’s Flying Circus, years before I moved to the neighbourhood.February 3, 2017 – 11:58 amReplyCancel

  • Wiebe De Haas - Memories, you want memories? The Varsity Grill and the Ken Sang Curios, were established by Bing’s dad, Joe.

    The story, as related by my mother who knew much of that family, was that Joe had come to Canada but was not allowed to bring his wife with him, so he worked hard to bring her from China and that finally succeeded after ten years.

    Another overlooked fact is the first Vancouver International Film Festivals were held at the Varsity Theatre, not The Ridge. (The Varsity’s front above the entryway had flags of several countries to denote this).

    There was a one-man bicycle repair/retail store, Varsity Cycle (I think it was called) that also sold Suzukis, where I bought my second motorcycle (as opposed to buying one from a big dealer).

    There was TV/radio/repair store (over time in two different locations), first next to Hewer Hardware that had a speaker outside, so passers-by could watch TV and hear the audio, which attracted many people to the window. When 45s were the rage, you could listen to a song before you bought it.

    The Doughnut Diner, when it was on the north side of the 4400 block had a service window and the fellow behind it would offer free ‘cripples’ (misshaped samples) to kids passing by.

    There was a large fresh veg market where CIBC now is, with several small stores on Sasamat (one a tailor) where CIBC’s parking lot now is. CIBC (Bank of Commerce) was down the street, with a massive wood floor it seemed, and the manager’s family living upstairs.

    The VPL [Vancouver Public Library] was a Home gas station, with a mobile library appearing in front every Friday evening. Rushant’s was the place for photographic stuff. Peter, the final owner, and my father were movie buddies, and I patronized him for decades. (Peter could tell that the commercial neighbourhood was devolving). The Safeway really did a number on the area; taking out an entire side of homes on 9th Ave and Tolmie St (and I lost many friends).February 3, 2017 – 11:23 amReplyCancel


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