Holiday week end in Vancouver
If you plan to be among the two million visitors Vancouver expects this centennial summer, here's a lively preview. If you're not going to be there, this light-hearted but knowledgeable tour is the next best thing
The city of Vancouver, on Canada's Pacific Coast, is bracing itself for an onslaught of two million summer visitors, their hearts full of love for B. C. on its hundredth birthday, their pockets jingling with centennial dollars. By boat, train, plane, bicycle, car and on foot they are coming; from Europe, the Argentine and Australia, from ten Canadian provinces and forty-eight American states. A young couple
BY STUART REATE
PHO IOGRAIMIS BV J ACK LONG
If you plan to be among the two million visitors \ an couver expects this centennial summer, here's a lively preview. If you're not going
to be there, this light-hearted
tour is the next best thing
The city of Vancouver, on Canada's Pacific Coast, is bracing itsclt lor an onslaught ot two million summer visitors, their hearts lull ot love for B. C. on its hundredth birthday, their pockets jingling with centennial dollars.
By boat, train, plane, bicycle, car and on foot they are coming; from Europe, the Argentine and Australia, from ten Canadian provinces and forty-eight American states. A young couple in New Delhi wrote that they were traveling fifteen thousand miles tor "our first look at Canada and second look at the Ceylon Dancers, who are unforgettable."
Scores of anxious parents will shred handkerchiefs during the play-offs ot the Babe Ruth World Series, which the Americans have let out of the country for the first time. It will be played at the home of the Vancouver Mounties August 19-23. Other people will listen raptly to Sir Ernest MacMillan, who is coming to the coast to conduct his own arrangement ot God Save the Queen at the forthcoming Vancouver Festival of the Arts.
Whether they're baseball fans or music lovers, about half Vancouver's inflow of visitors (presold on package tours, and prisoners of the perforated ticket) will manage to snatch only a fast week end in western Canada's most exciting city.
What can they do in Vancouver in forty-eight hours? To find out, my wife and I spent a week end there some weeks ago at the invitation of Maclean's. We were fortified with $125. which we reckoned would be about the budget of an "average couple" determined to live it up on the town for a couple of days.
We took one purely local problem with us.
The diehard Victorian who indulges a week end in Vancouver does so surreptitiously and with guilt, uneasily aware that he is Fetting Down The Side. While conceding that it is occasionally necessary to cross the Gulf on business, the notion of going for pleasure to "the mainland" —as Victorians call the big city, refusing to honor it with a name seems not only disloyal but somehow slightly illicit.
Nevertheless, when my wife Fetha and I are feeling wicked and too old for our years, we like to flip over to Vancouver and watch the buildings grow. For making such a public confession. I realize that my stuffed trout will be removed from the wall of Victoria's Union C lub; the Empress dowagers will stone me soggy with crumpets; and my friend Bruce Hutchison will lead me a stern lecture on the pitfalls of the Big C ity, warning me particularly against those twin scourges, television and the power saw.
The lure of Vancouver, for island-bound tourists, is its air of bustle and vitality. It is no accident that Canada's most-lalked-about office building is the B. C. Power Corporation block (Grauer's Towers) in Vancouver. The town itself generates electricity.
And it must be conceded—parochial jealousies aside—that Vancouver is a city of immense beauty, certainly ranking with Rio and Sydney among the great seaports of the world. It is one thing to see skyscrapers set in a concrete jungle of other skyscrapers as in Toronto or Manhattan; it is something else again, and uniquely thrilling, to see them rise against an artist's backdrop of spiny mountain peaks, primeval forest, and sparkling blue sea.
Continued over page
ALL THREE SPORTS ON A SATURDAY
Holiday week end in Vancouver: continued
There are few sights in the world to compare with the twilight vista unfolded when a lazy plane drops through the pink haze of the Fraser Valley to Vancouver’s international airport at Sea Island. Below, the river winds a leisurely path through the neat rich checkerboard farms of the delta, its bends hugging the log-booms. Ahead, the million lights of the city are coming on. Beyond lies the limitless Pacific and the silhouette of the Coast Range, bathed in rose and purple.
Critics of Vancouver would have you believe that it rains all the time, which it doesn’t (actual measurement: fifty-eight inches a year compared with Halifax’s fifty-six; that its streets swarm with dope addicts (you may live there a lifetime and never see one); and that its people are sun-kissed savages, charming and demented behind the barbed entanglement of the Rockies.
The fact is that Vancouver, rapidly engulfing New Westminster and marching up the valley toward Chilliwack, cannot escape becoming one of the great cosmopolitan cities of the world. The planners say that the present population of 650,000 will reach seven million by the year 2058.
As of today, the American city it most resembles is San Francisco. Vancouver worships its big Granville Street bridge, its baseball team
Salons and mountaintop dinners are fun, zoos and art galleries are intriguing—and the boat home is waiting
16 MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE, JULY 5. 1958
and its mountain-crowning Lions, its art gallery, its university, its Stanley Park zoo and Theatre Under the Stars.
This summer it will have more to shout about. Princess Margaret is coming to attend the centennial shenanigans. There will be parades, fireworks, music and a marine extravaganza in which four hundred chorines in sequined toreador pants will be towed behind power-boats, on water skis.
“For a finale,” muses impresario Gordon Hilker, “1 hope to set fire to Hollyburn Ridge.” His friends do not doubt him.
On July 19 Vancouver will present its first annual Festival of the Arts, a cultural venture of impressive dimensions. Bass-baritone George London, who once sang musical comedy in Theatre Under the Stars, will return to take the lead in Don Giovanni, with Pierette Alarie, Milla Andrew, Jan Rubes and Don McManus, and with famed Gunther Rennert of Europe making his North American debut as producer.
Bruno Walter is coming to conduct a massed symphony orchestra, with Maureen Forrester as soloist. Jack Teagarden will bring a jazz sextette. From France will come Marcel Marceau, the mime, and from Ceylon, that country's famed National Dancers in their first North American appearance.
When my wife and 1 dropped over recently to catch up on all this, we headed, as usual, for the Hotel Vancouver, which world traveler Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr. once described simply as “the best hotel in North America.” It is virtually impossible to get a bad room in this hotel, and if you ask the clerk you might be lucky enough to get one facing north, with a matchless view of the harbor and mountains beyond.
A good double room at the Vancouver costs fourteen to sixteen dollars a day. The Ritz, a block west toward Stanley Park, has recently been refurbished and has one of the finest cocktail lounges in the city. Double rates there run from eight-fifty to eighteen dollars.
The Devonshire and the Georgia, facing Courthouse Square, are a little less expensive but thoroughly modern and the Sylvia, overlooking English Bay, offers rooms for as little as seven and a half dollars. The Ritz and Devonshire have cooking facilities and pantries in a few of their rooms, at no extra cost.
The main downtown motels are the Kamlo, Downtowner, Burrard and Parktown. Their average rate is between eight and ten dollars a day. There are dozens of motels on the outskirts of town, many of them first class, and generally speaking they are a little lower in price.
The Georgia Hotel enjoys a justified reputation as the home of the Cavalier Room, an estaminet renowned for its good food and restful decor of hammered copper, brick and candlelight. In the main, however. Vancouver cannot be regarded as a haven for gourmets. You can get a good (but expensive) steak dinner at the Steak House on Howe Street, and the eight White Spots which sportsman Nat Bailey has scattered around the town maintain a consistently high standard for a mass audience. Most of the people who can afford to eat out seem to do so at private clubs, so that some of the town's best food—at the Vancouver, Terminal, University and Capilano Clubs—is off limits to wayfarers.
The Cavalier Room, therefore, stands by itself and we invariably make a bee-line for it when our bags are unpacked, continued on page 40
Holiday weekend in Vancouver continued from page 17
“They say you can fish, ski and golf on the same day. We tried it”
It did not disappoint us on our last visit. From the moment the cracked crab arrived—not submerged in a jungle of lettuce, but neatly laid out, on ice, in a bowl as big as a soup plate—until we gorged on the pastries, this was the best meal of our stay.
In fact it was so good that we dawdled until 8.15, forgetting that we had to cross town and penetrate deep into the east end for our first date—the Vancouver Little Theatre production of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? .
This play, as everyone knows by now, is a light-hearted nosegay tossed in the general direction of the U. S. feminine chest, and was the vehicle which launched Miss Jayne Mansfield on her career, if that is the correct word. The amiable Friday-night Vancouver audience was warm in its reception of two men named Jack Humphrey (as the Devil) and Max Power (as a producer).
In the entr’acte we strolled out to the foyer to have a look at some amateur art on the walls and bumped into Alan Walsh, an old University of B. C. friend who had stage-managed several productions for its Players' Club during the Thirties.
Inevitably, the talk turned to the Players’ Club’s most distinguished alumnus. Canada’s Minister of Justice, the Hon. Davie Fulton.
Walsh smiled, remembering. “Yes,” he said, “Davie’s best role was as Britannus in the Shaw play, Caesar and Cleopatra. Every time I see him on a political platform, I think of the nights we used to cover Davie with blue woad.”
By 11.15 it had begun to drizzle slightly and, when we crossed the light at Pender and Granville, we ran and snuggled up close to the shop windows. Our destination was a genial second-story lamasery called The Arctic Club.
In the first year or two of our marriage, when we had lived in Vancouver, the Arctic Club was little more than an attic where a sportswriter could get a drink and maybe deal a few cards. Today it was fat and fashionable; a large, split-level room, or series of rooms, of splendid appointments, where four bartenders were kept busy mixing drinks, and a spirited threesome called the Chris Gage Trio made music for a sophisticated audience.
The Arctic, like the Pacific Athletic and the Quadra clubs, serves liquor by the glass and. as a “private club,” is subject to a jungle of legal restrictions which would drive a deacon to the jug.
These clubs must have “at least fifty members who are charged a fee of at least $2.50 a year" and—so the book says—their activities must be of a “social, athletic, recreational, fraternal, benevolent or patriotic nature.” They must not be operated for pecuniary gain and cannot declare dividends.
Struggling through this bewildering array of drinking do's-and-dont’s one day, a waggish Young Conservative lawyer named Monte L. Tyrwhitt-Drake was heard to murmur: "I am reminded of the immortal words of the psychic statesman: ’Liquor if necessary—but not necessarily liquor.’ ”
The fact is that the Arctic, the best night club in town, is not technically a night club at all: it operates under a lounge license and must close at 12.30 a.m. There are three other kinds of liquor
permit—the “public house,” or old-fashioned beer parlor; the dining lounges of restaurants or hotels, which may serve hard liquor; and the dining rooms which are restricted to light wines and beer.
The only night club in Vancouver permitted to sell liquor by the glass is a grey papier-mâché grotto called The Cave. Under the terms of the act, it must employ at least a five-piece orchestra and live talent, and has at times presented such acts as Lena Horne and the Mills Brothers. During our visit, however, we were advised by a nightlife columnist that the current show was “simply repugnant,” and stayed away. In recent weeks the place has been under fire from the show-business trade paper Variety for its “blue” material.
It is, of course, against the law to drink in a public place, but a score of small cabarets serve setups for handpacked bottles and merely look the other way.
One of the best-known spots in town is The Penthouse, operated by the Philliponi brothers on the eminently sound
“Check the oil and tie my shoelaces . .
principle that many citizens hate sleep and must have a contemplative retreat when everything else is closed.
“Philliponi’s,” as it is sometimes called, is located at 1033 Seymour Street and is open from ten p.m. to five a.m. It consists of two floors and three rooms —the Gold, Carnival and Mirror rooms.
For those who aren’t interested in night life, there is plenty of fresh-air sport to be had. On Saturday morning we decided to test the ancient legend that it’s possible to fish, golf and ski in Vancouver on the same day. This, mark you, was in March: in July you can swim in adjacent waters, but for skiing the snow is gone from nearby peaks and it’s necessary to mount a four-hour safari to Squamish by train and thence in by Jeep to majestic Garibaldi Park.
Could we fit all these in? And what did you wear when you left your hotel at nine a.m. in an outfit that had to last the entire day? We resolved this, at least partially, by wearing ski clothes and Cowichan Indian sweaters; they would keep us warm on the water and up the mountain. For golf, my wife packed along a camel’s hair skirt and I, a pair of flannels.
The head doorman at the Hotel Vancouver looked at our bulging shapes and smiled compassionately. “Have a good day,” he said.
Tommy Sewell was waiting for us at his Horseshoe Bay boathouse on the west
shore with a ten-horsepower outboard motor, a jaunty little sixteen-foot boat, and some tackle, all of which he rents by the hour.
We asked Tommy about the prospects of catching a salmon.
“It all depends on how seriously you work at it,” he said. “Fish are being caught. Go out and mooch for awhile. If you don’t have any luck mooching, try trolling. I can’t advise you on depth. They may be up near the surface, they may be down below.”
We ran out into the bay, across the wake of the Kahloke ferry, and began “mooching.” In this system, you drop your line with a weight until it touches bottom, about eighty feet, and then start jiggling. It is the kind of fishing that can get you tossed out of a gentlemen’s club.
There were a couple of dozen boats in the water, but none of them seemed to be doing any business. We turned on the engine, ran slowly up the east bank of the bay in the shadow of the new Pacific Great Eastern rail line, and began to troll, without luck. At eleven o’clock it started to hail. We headed back for the boathouse, skunked but not dispirited.
Since our next stop was the Capilano golf course, on the north shore, we decided to stop for lunch at a West Vancouver shopping centre called Park Royal. There is a little restaurant in the area called Maurice’s, specializing in Swiss and French food. We had heard good things of it, and it did not let us down.
We were cold and cramped after the hours on the water, so our first thought was for some blood-warming restoratives. We started with French onion soup, which helped, and followed with a hot curried shrimp. For dessert, Letha allowed herself a chestnut meringue, while I took a baba au rhum. The bill was $3.88 and we felt like bandits at the price.
In the rush of leaving Victoria, Letha had forgotten her housecoat and thought that we could spare fifteen minutes, after lunch, to forage for a new one in Park, Royal. At a little shop called Helen Margos a helpful saleslady (after one dubious glance at our fishing-cum-skiing clothes) gave us an exclusive showing. We were the only people in the store.
A plaid seemed to fit best and—after yellows, blues and reds had been rejected—was deemed worthy of a second look. So Letha, who had dropped her ski trousers under the coat to get the full-mirror effect, stood uncertainly in the door of the dressing room, with that questioning look which every husband knows: Should l, or shouldn’t I?
“Yes,” I said. "Now pull up your pants and let’s get on the golf course.”
This is not the easiest thing to do, at Capilano. Visitors must be introduced by a member, and greens fees are four dollars. The same rule applies at most private clubs, but there are three fine public courses where the golf is comparatively cheap at two dollars a round, if crowded.
Fortunately, I had retained a membership made available by Capilano to returning servicemen in 1945. It is one of the four best golf courses in Canada. The other three are Oak Bay in Victoria.
“Has any other city in the world an attraction to equal the view of Vancouver from the mountaintop?”
Banff and Jasper; it is a curious fact, worthy of study by the sociologists, that there is no really distinguished golf course in the country east of Alberta.
My wife and I played our usual game: she got a stroke a hole, on all except the short holes, for a dime a hole. Undoubtedly exhilarated by the fact that her housecoat had cost her only $9.98, she went wild. By the thirteenth hole she was five up and the issue seemed academic. It started to rain intermittently, though there were still some blue patches in the sky, so we hurried to the clubhouse, changed back into our ski togs, and headed a couple of miles east to the base of Grouse Mountain.
En route, we passed the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a unique tourist attraction which elicits enthusiastic s'hrieks from thousands of giddy visitors every summer. Built in 1889, it sways perilously, 230 feet above Capilano Canyon and at 450 feet is reputed to be the longest suspended footbridge in the world.
Admission is fifty-five cents for adults and a quarter for the small fry. tax included. The faint of heart can content themselves with tea in a pleasant park, full of totemic figures, close by the bridge.
The Grouse Mountain chairlift is just a few minutes away by car. It hoisted us up. 3,700 feet, from the ccdar-and-glass subdivisions of the foothills to the dazzling, snowbound plateau where Grouse Mountain Chalet tucks itself in for the winter and surveys the whole matchless panorama of Vancouver, the Gulf, and the islands out to the Pacific.
It was snowing in the upper reaches; the boys on descending chairs were laughing and holding their mouths wide open to see who could catch the most flakes. And it was cold.
Inside the Chalet, a rambling eyrie of cedar shakes and varnished logs, a fire was blazing on the hearth and the lateafternoon skiers were drifting in for healing potables. In one corner of the dining room a young UBC sociology major named John Gittens was playing a diligent boogie-woogie, to the accompaniment of a bass fiddle, on an ancient piano.
In front of the fireplace was a convivial crew—AÍ Beaton and Gertie Wepsala, renowned as Canadian champion (basketball and skiing) athletes before they were married and took over the running of the Chalet; Art Hullah, a successful young Vancouver sportsmancontractor and his wife, Dorothy; the wonderful Vancouver Sun columnist, Mamie Moloney, and her fifteen-year-old son; and a theatrical brunette named Betty who cried: "Let's go skiing in the moonlight!"
"You kids look cold." said Beaton. “Hang on.” He loped into another room, as loose-limbed and easy as when he used to sift around a basketball defense, and returned in a moment with potato chips, little pig sausages, and beakers of hot rum.
“You must stay the night," he said.
“Sorry, Al.” I said, “but we’re on a schedule.”
“Nonsense!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got twelve rooms in this place and one of them is yours. What d'ye mean, schedule? Where you going?"
He iooked startled. “Why?” he demanded.
“Oh, I dunno. Let's say it was recommended—part of the scenery, the place everyone ends up at in Vancouver.”
We ate supper by candlelight — a hearty soup, roast beef, Canadian cheese and coffee—and at 8.45 we were back on the chairlift, ready to return to Vancouver.
Now the lights had come on in the sprawling city below, all green, gold and red. Down we dropped; down past the silent empty Swiss chalet ski cabins and the serenely still, silvery cedars; down past the scars of stumps and deadfalls, mercifully concealed by the snow; down swinging, huddled closely together in the chair, legs dangling, the cable humming softly overhead, and bumping three times as it stuttered past the pylons; down lightly, soaring, until all the twinkling electrical treasures of the city seemed close enough to spill into our laps.
Has any other city in the world a comparable attraction? Rio, perhaps, but via cable-car. which is not quite the same thing. Some town in the Tyrol? Certainly no place in Canada, as twentytwo thousand enchanted visitors are ready to testify each summer month.
"Conic on to our house,” said Art and Dorothy Hullah. “You’ve got plenty of time. Philliponi’s doesn’t start to jump until one or two in the morning.”
The Hullahs’ house is an no list of guided tours, but it should be. It's a brilliant example of avant-garde west coast architecture, all glass and stone, perched on a rocky promontory close by Kew Beach. Art had arranged to have the baby spotlights turned on. illuminating the great grey rocks behind his home.
Out in front, from the slate patio, we
watched the lights of the Kahloke as she turned into the bay, listened to the lap of the waves on the beach below and followed Art as he showed us the design of his new outdoor barbecue.
By now the combination of rich fare and fresh salt air was working its soporific magic. We had been on our feet eighteen and a half hours; we had covered the North Shore from sea to sky and back again; we were ready to concede defeat. We never did get to Philliponi’s.
On Sunday morning we loafed around the hotel room in. our dressing gowns and fed sweet rolls to the ubiquitous seagulls. One crust placed discreetly on a ledge outside our window was enough to bring a dozen of the birds wheeling, crying, slavering a bit at the beak, eventually tapping the window in annoyance when we closed it.
At ten-thirty we were dressed and ready to drive out to the university for church. We had decided to take a peek at St. Anselm's, an Anglican church of somewhat zooty construction, whose building a few years ago had brewed up a local storm.
Once inside the little church, we were entranced with the cleanliness, simplicity, and extreme beauty of its lines. A glass wall left of the altar illuminated a reredos of rough stones (I counted 254 during the first lesson, and was only two thirds through), on which was hung a simple wooden cross.
There were none of the ornate trappings. none of the rich dossals or gleam-
ing silver of our Cathedral at home in Victoria. A simple vase held a few green boughs. There were small desks, in fumed oak, for the priest and his assistant, and a circular pulpit.
There was no procession, and no choir. But the parishioners sang strongly, with dedication and with pride.
When we came out, we drove to Stanley Park—as Sunday drivers have done in Vancouver for more than fifty years. There are 120 parks in the city, but when a local says he is going to “the park,” it is understood that he means the thousand acres of forest, stream and lake jutting out into the harbor, just ten minutes’ drive from the business section.
Generations of wise councilors have seen to it that the wilderness aspect of the place has been largely maintained. Yet it is possible, in these wooded confines, to row, sail a boat, ride over five miles of bridle paths, play pitch-andputt golf, checkers, tennis, cricket and rugby: swim, picnic, or walk around twenty-two miles of footpaths, examining totem poles and the grave of Pauline Johnson; take tea: ride on a miniature railway; or whisper promissory notes in one of a dozen lover’s lanes.
At the entrance to the park Harbour Sightseeing Ltd. offers a tour in a twentyfive-foot Chris Craft cruiser, on the easygoing principle that the boat leaves when they have a four-dollar load.
The boat can carry twenty-seven and charges seventy-five cents for adults and twenty-five cents for youngsters. The tour, which lasts an hour, runs from the park entrance at Coal Harbour east to the CPR docks, thence over to North Vancouver, the Lion’s Gate Bridge and east along the shore line of Stanley Park and back to the home jetty. Most customers think it’s money well spent.
Stanley Park is also the locale of the Malkin Bowl and Theatre Under the Stars, whose production of musical shows is acknowledged to be as good as any outside New York. In early July they’ll be playing Showboat; from July 21 to August 9 they will offer Damn Yankees; and from August 1 1 to August 30, The King and I.
A few yards away tourists will find a splendid aquarium and zoo, designed to blend in with the natural setting of the park. On the day we visited, the centre of attraction was the penguin pool.
Chico, the only baby penguin ever successfully bred in captivity, was at large and a delighted crowd was scrambling for the best photographic angles. It was a distinct shock to find that this offspring of such formal parents was a cocoa-colored clown in somebody else’s fur coat.
Then we strolled through the aquarium. “Let’s have some sea-food for lunch,” Letha suggested.
A great idea. We drove to Chris’ selfserve drive-in, at the north end of Cambie Bridge, which features crabmeatburgers and clam chowder for fifty cents. Closed. So we drove to Chris’ Grill, on Hastings. Closed. Back up to the Oyster Bar, on Granville Street. Closed. A little farther south, to The Barn. Closed.
Photographer Jack Long, who had driven us out to the park, had another idea.
“How about some Jewish food?” he asked. “I know a little place up on Broadway called Lindy’s. Not too many people know about it. Run by a refugee couple who had a bad time during the war. I'm almost certain it will be open.”
Lindy’s looked deserted but we tried
The things we won’t forget
ijl Best meal:
Supper at the Cavalier Room of the Hotel Georgia, a stylish caravan|ij
:|: sary in modern Tudor, with black-and-white English prints, much
;i brick and hammered copper, and candle-lit tables. We ate veal |
cordon bleu — veal, sautéed with white wine and cream — and a p
p Limestone lettuce salad (“air-expressed to Vancouver daily,” though pi
pi it didn't say from where), washed down with a chilled Sauterne. |ji
i|i For dessert: a foaming Baked Alaska and coffee. §§
p Best rubbernecking: |;i
i|i Vancouver at night from a descending Grouse Mountain chairlift; p
pi a glittering tiara atop the gleaming, moonlit breast of the Inlet, |
ip crowned by the wafer-thin diamond of the B. C. Electric Building
;p and the emerald cone of the Marine Building. Can Rio match it? pi
ip Biggest disappointment:
For Letha: finding four seafood restaurants shut up tight at noon ip
pi on Sunday. For Stu: salmon fishing two hours in Horseshoe Bay
Saturday morning without a nibble.
For Letha: a plaid house-coat at Helen Margo’s in Park Royal, on half-price sale at $9.98. For Stu: a $1.50 ride on the Grouse Si Mountain chairlift. IS
To discover that “Chico,” the baby penguin in Stanley Park zoo, is (a) larger than its parents; (b) has thick, brown fuzzy hair and no bib: and (c) looks as though it was never intended to be a penguin but should have been an anteater.
the door and it opened. The owner and his wife were sitting together in a back booth of the delicatessen, smoking and listening to the radio. They greeted us warmly.
We started with an order of gefultefish, a kind of cold fish-cake, with beet horseradish; followed it with a superb chicken noodle soup, corned-beef sandwiches and dill pickles, and cheese cake.
From Lindy’s we drove north to the water, and on an impulse I asked Jack to drive slowly along Point Grey Road, past the beaches where we had romped as kids. Gone were the empty lots where we played William S. Hart and Tom Mix: gone the wonderful sandstone
ledges, where we fished for flounder and cod and smelt; gone the old, wide porches, with their discarded hot-water tanks full of geraniums.
The house where I was born was almost unrecognizable. In 1907, when my father built it, it had a porch clear across the front, with a big swing and leadedglass windows which gave our newsboys the best pitching control in town. Now the porch had been enclosed, and the layout rejiggered, and was something called a duplex; it was even rumored that an artist inhabited the old, beamed rooms which had known only solid, ugly Grand Rapids furniture.
We swept on out, over the Burrard Street bridge, to Georgia, and turned west to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
"There’s a one-man show here you’ll like,” said Jack Long. "Peter Aspell. He’s a young art teacher here in town, and he’s got it. Word is getting around.”
We walked into a gallery aflame with colors — rich oils in red, orange, pink, yellows and deep blues. Most of them were reclining females, some with arms up as though they were reaching for the end of the pool after a hundred-yard backstroke.
One, however, was different, and stopped me cold. It was a nude of a girl, done in soft, luminous colors that seemed to take on different shadings from various corners of the gallery.
The title underneath said: “FIGURE, AFTER BONNARD. $150.00.”
I walked straight to the curator's office and asked the girl for a blank cheque. It didn’t make sense. We had allowed ourselves twenty-five dollars for a gift — something for the house we couldn’t buy in Victoria. I had never offered so much for a painting before in my life. It would wreck the budget.
But I wanted Peter Aspell’s picture. So, it appeared, did L.etha, who came hot-footing down the corridor when she saw me waving the cheque.
"The nude?” she asked.
“I'm thrilled,” she said. “This is the nicest thing that has happened to us in ages. How do you feel about the money?”
“You pay $125 for a suit of clothes these days," I said. “This picture is $150 plus tax, $157.50. It will outlive twenty suits. And we’ll enjoy it every day."
“Good," she said. "I agree."
The girl behind the counter was pleased, too. She picked up a piece of gummed paper and a little red star, and headed for the gallery.
She thumbed the paper into place and, with a pen, wrote on it "SOLD. ’ Then she affixed the little red star. A small knot of visitors gathered to watch this process, and looked at the picture with renewed interest; somebody had actually liked it. and bought it. We beamed, proud as new parents.
By now it was getting close to galleryclosing time so we strolled out into Georgia Street, hand-in-hand, not saying
Where the money went
Reconnaissance, Mayfair Room bar................ 2.15
Supper, Cavalier Room, and tip................... 14.25
Theatre tickets ................................. 2.50
Arctic Club, cognac, coffee, checking............... 2.75
Breakfast and tip ............................... 4.50
Boat rental, Horseshoe Bay . ..................... 4.50
Rods and reels, rental ........................... 1.50
Lunch, Maurice’s ............................... 3.88
Capilano Golf Course, greens fees ................. 4.00
Golf balls ..................................... 3.94
Caddy fees .................................... 4.00
Payment to boy who found ball .................. .25
Grouse Mountain chairlift........................ 3.00
Supper ....................................... 7.00
Round of cognac for shivering skiers............... 5.00
Supper tip ..................................... 1.00
Breakfast and tip ............................... 4.50
Aquarium, Stanley Park.......................... .75
Grouse Mountain ski lift......................... 3.00
Lunch, Lindy’s ................................ 3.85
Supper, Ho Inn, Chinatown ...................... 6.35
Stamp to send home parking fine .................. .05
Hotel bill ..................................... 24.00
Ovaltine and cookies, at sea ...................... .50
Breakfast aboard ship, and tip................ 3.00
Total expenditure: $111.47
much but happy with the picture, happy with the sunset, happy to be free and relaxed and with a centennial silver dollar jingling in our pocket. From our hotel window we could see the lights of the chairlift, tracing an arrow on the mountainside to the cluster of lights that was the Chalet.
When we had bathed and changed and were ready to go out for supper, the electronic bells were ringing from Christ Church Cathedral across the street. There are bells at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, too, we thought, but they are on long ropes, pulled by hand; this is another of the essential differences in the two cities.
Jack L.ong had picked up his wife, Joy, who is an artist and who had heard about the Peter Aspell. “You’re very lucky," she said.
They drove us to Chinatown and a restaurant called Ho Inn, where we were greeted by a short, voluble and cheery gentleman named Way Chew.
"This is the authentic food," said Long. "For instance. I am going to order you some deep-fried rock cod, with black bean and garlic sauce. Think of that! The lowly rock cod! I had some people in here from the east last week and they thought it was magnificent. Out west here, nshermen throw it away, won't eat it. A great mistake—as you will see.”
The meal began with Chop Suey Wor-
mein, a meat-and-vegetable soup in a large bowl, to be consumed aci hoc throughout the evening. Then came a platter of delicately spiced pork, in thin rows; bowls of rice; deep-fried chicken, sweet and sour; lashings of China tea in a white-enamel pot; and finally, the rock cod, eyes bulging darkly, a mantle of parsley and chopped celery on its back.
A mere touch of the knife along its spine caused the fillets to fall away, rich and white and succulent in the garlicsauce.
At 1 1.25 p.m. Jack and Joy saw us off at the ramp leading onto the Princess Marguerite, which would deposit us in Victoria at 7 o’clock the following morning.
When the whistle blew, clearing the Lion’s Gate Bridge, we went below to the dining room for a cup of Ovaltine and some cookies.
We were sitting there, grumbling about the boat making Ovaltine with hot water, when a lean, vaguely familiar young man sat down at a nearby table and began to read a magazine.
"I know that guy." I whispered. "But who is he?”
Letha took a good, long look.
"Why,” she said, "that’s the fellow we saw at the Little Theatre. The one who played The Devil.”
It was eerie, but it figured. It had been one Hell of a weekend.