Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Canada Day

Chilliwack's 1946 Cherry Carnival

Not wanting to let an opportunity go by I decided to surf the Chilliwack Museum collection’s database and see what I might find about Canada Day. Keyword search “July” and object 1987.050.001 jumps out from the screen. Appropriate too as I wanted to write about the Cherry Carnival but not the usual, “The Cherry Carnival started in…and ended in” three paragraphs later! This leather pennant from July 1, 1946 marked an important date in the carnival’s history from 1927 – 1955.

It turns out that 1946 was the first year of the carnival after a five year hiatus due to the Second World War. Unlike previous years when the event was largely run by the Board of Trade and the Kinsmen Club, 1946’s success was due to more than a dozen organizations. A special CNR train brought visitors from Vancouver to the celebration, and additional city bussing moved people about the town. Who recalls the army balloons flying above the center of town marking Five Corners as the destination? The parade was a huge success, despite the shortages of decorative materials, and some 12,000 spectators appropriately applauded, encouraged and cheered the many floats and participants.

At the fairgrounds, located near present day Evergreen Hall, fastball and baseball were featured, but perhaps the grandest event was the cherry pie eating contest with various local celebrities and politicians involved in the all-star “munch-down”. The crowning of the Cherry Carnival Queen was a highlight and this year Gloria Hudson was chosen as the belle of the ball.

All the while the “Five Corners Fiesta” provided the longest continuous attraction of the event. As the carnival mascot, “King Bing” walked around the crowds distributing tickets and give-aways, some 4,000 carnival hats were distributed to school children. An earlier newspaper plea calling for fruit sellers, especially cherries, worked well as private vendors sold in excess of 4.5 tons of fruit. The two street dances in the evening, on Princess Avenue, were a great success with Sandy’s Serenaders and Neil Unruh’s band providing the tunes of the day until midnight. Who out there recalls our local citizenry who were encouraged to wear “national comic, hillbilly or comic strip character costumes to make the street scene as colourful as possible”? (Chilliwack Progress, June 26, 1946, page 18) It would be grand to find some images of this 1946 event.

The Museum is fortunate to have a number of Cherry Carnival objects representative of its many years of celebration. However, as always, we are always interested to know what you may have from the carnival, souvenirs of an event so fondly remembered and so often recalled.

Image: Cherry Carnival pennant of 1946.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Before Computer Games

Monopoly in Chilliwack

On July 1, 2010 a new Canadian version of Parker Brothers’ Monopoly will be launched featuring Chilliwack with a place on the famous board. Monopoly was acquired by Parker Brothers’ in 1935 and the Chilliwack Museum is fortunate to have an early version of the game in its collection. Our game is complete with playing board, and the original box containing property cards, playing money, 'Community Chest' and 'Chance' cards. How many of you recall the original green wooden houses and red hotels or the metal game pieces?

Our Monopoly game was played in the Cuthbertson household at Cultus Lake during the late 1930s and 1940s. Just think of the time spent with family and friends moving the pieces around the colourful board. Loads of laughter, good natured teasing and fun! All the while hoping to either collect on rents due or anxiously trying to avoid those rich properties with hotels! That famous back nine whose properties always managed to be owned by one person, glowing with red hotels as we rolled and watched our fate revealed by two little squares covered in numerical dots! Arrgh! – Park Place with hotel – pay $1500!!!!!

Images: Cutherbertson family Monopoly game with rules from 1935 and 1936

Friday, June 25, 2010

Big Business in Chilliwack

B & K
The Brackman - Ker (B & K) Milling Company originated prior to 1878 when Henry Brackman and James Milne formed a business partnership. In 1878 they started to manufacture oatmeal, however, the partnership was short lived and the company was dissolved in 1879. In 1880 David Russell Ker joined Henry Brackman and the resultant B & K partnership was very successful. By 1886 their prosperity allowed for the construction of warehouses and offices in Victoria which became the company's business center. By 1914, after David Russel Ker had become the principal owner, upon the death of Henry Brackman in 1903, the annual business had increased from $25,000 per annum to $5,000,000 per year.

In 1928 the Brackman - Ker Feed & Milling Company acquired the three locations of the Chilliwack Producers' Exchange established in June 1913. With the acquisition of the three Chilliwack plants, B & K holdings in the province of British Columbia rose to 20 plants. During the conversion from the Chilliwack Producer's Exchange to B & K, several retail goods were discontinued. The new business eliminated the sale of drygoods, hardware and shoes. Instead they concentrated on the sale of flour and feed, poultry and stock supplies, fertilizers and sprays.

Later B & K amalgamated with Western Canada Flour Mills and the company had branches across Canada including grain elevators, flour mills and feed mills. David Russel Ker died in Saanich July 13, 1923. By 1965 the Brackman - Ker Milling Company had become a division of Maple Leaf Mills.

Image: B & K poultry feeder from the Nelson Johnston farm on Chilliwack Central Road.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Golf in Chilliwack

Puttering Around the Greens

In May 1924, work commenced on the first golf links in Chilliwack on the Fairfield Island property of Major Nigel Drury Theobald, M.C. The temporary course was sited on property four miles from the City post office and was leased by Major Theobald to the Chilliwack Golf Club. The nine hole course was laid out by Mr. R.A. Meekin of Vancouver who designed several of the best courses on the coast. Initial costs also included $300 for seed and $300 for a large grass mower. The local course was was opened May 31, 1924 with a match played between teams selected by president J.E. Lesley and vice-president Major Hamilton Ramsay. Mrs. Theobalds provided tea for the thoroughly enjoyable outing.

Work on a permanent course was also proceeding favourably and in August foundations for a club house were laid. By March 1925 there were ninety paid members who started to play when the course was opened in May. The permanent course was also nine holes of 3,004 yards in length, had a right and left hand dog's leg holes, two par 2 holes, one of which featured a punchbowl green, two holes with water hazards and four holes of over 400 yards in length.

Golf dues were set at $25.00 for a man and his wife, $20.00 for a single man, and $10.00 for a single lady, with $5.00 green fees for all. In its second year the Club was entirely free of debt and they considered securing a part-time golf professional. The original club house was destroyed by fire in the early summer of 1927 and replaced by a bungalow style building that was larger and more commodius. This building included a room for the Club's part-time professional Mr. J. Warman. The start of golfing in Chilliwack was well under way!
Image: Chilliwack Golf Club Crest circa 1960s - 1970s

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Rose King of Canada

H.M. Eddie & Sons Ltd.
In 1926, Henry Matheson Eddie, who had worked locally for B.C. Nurseries started to prepare his own land for the production of roses. In 1927, Eddie & Sons Ltd, located on Yale Road near the Vedder Canal dike was opened. The original Eddie firm specialized in the development of roses and even prior to venturing out on his own Eddie was known as the "Rose King of Canada". During the growing season the business handled 500,000 plants and by August 1927, the company was the largest of its kind in Canada with additional operations in the United States through Washington and Oregon.

The Eddies did not specialize in one type of rose. Initially they grew more than 300 varieties including old favorites and modern colourings. It was this blend of old and new varieties that became their hallmarks and Mr. Eddie added to the rose legacy by creating new and better plants.

In 1929 the Chilliwack Board of Trade desired to turn Chilliwack into the "Rose District of British Columbia" suggesting the creation of a rose highway running the length of the district from the Vedder Canal to east of Rosedale. In April 1929, 450 H.M. Eddie climbing rose bushes were delivered to residents who lived along the Yale Highway. During the 1930s, the Eddies created the "most perfect rose" known as the "Mrs. H.M. Eddie", the first Canadian rose to be patented in the United States. The rose was white with a cream-coloured center, and was featured in the National Rose Garden of Britain sometime after 1936 and was later grown in Paris, France.

Eddie roses were in high demand; in 1938 a New York firm ordered 15,000 bushes. A short time later the T. Eaton Company of Winnipeg acquired 14,000 rose bushes for their markets, preferring to pay a higher price rather than buy cheaper imported varieties.

In February 1946 the Eddie firm acquired 80 acres on Lulu Island, near Steveston, as they were not able to expand their 60-acre growing operations in the Chilliwack district. At the time, it was thought that it would take two years for the firm to relocate its office and plantations, however, the 1948 flood hastened their move when the nursery in Chilliwack was completely destroyed.

With the death of H.M. Eddie in January 1953, the management of the business was taken over by his son, J. Henry Eddie. The business continued until the 1970s when the Richmond property was sold and the lease on a second operation located on the Musqueam Indian Reserve expired.

The Chilliwack Museum has two trophies donated to the Chilliwack District Agricultural Society for the annual Chilliwack Fair and a catlog from the company. We would be pleased to learn of other H.M. Eddie Company material, especially items related to their time in Chilliwack.

Image 1: H.M. Eddie in his field of roses.
Image 2: Eddie's Roses catalog circa 1967/68

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sports in Chilliwack

South Africa in Chilliwack:
Not Football or Soccer but Lawn Bowling

It may not have been the World Cup but for the 1937 South African (Lawn) Bowling Association team their Canadian Tour was very successful. The team, whose average age was 60, left South Africa on May 12, 1937 the day of the Coronation of King George VI. It was a long journey, stopping initially in England before proceeding to Canada and all of the team members paid their own expenses. Some of the South African team members travelled 15,000 miles to bowl on the Pacific coast leg of the Canadian tour and for many it was their first trip to Canada. By the time they played in Chilliwack, August 20, 1937 the team had spent ten weeks on tour.

Upon their noon arrival the South African team, of 29 men and 12 women attended a lunch held for them at the Empress Hotel. Afterwards they proceeded to the Chilliwack lawn bowling greens located at the corner of Princess Avenue and Edward Street where six matches were played beginning at 2:30 PM.

The South Africans dressed in “white flannels, white shirts, polished brown shoes, floppy cream straws with green and yellow bands, and green and yellow ties.” (Chilliwack Progress, August 25, 1937, page 5) continued their dominance of their Canadian opponents and defeated Chilliwack five matches to one. Their Canadian tour now stood at 38 victories and 8 losses.

Several lapel pins commemorative of the South African Canadian tour as well as a pennant of their association were presented to the local Chilliwack club. At the end of the tour, September 1, 1937 the South Africans left Canada for home with an anticipated arrival date of September 25, 1937. It is not known how the team faired for the rest of their Canadian tour.

The Chilliwack Museum has two of the commemorative lapel pins in its collection. One was presented to Chilliwack Lawn Bowling Society member Mrs. Ruth Goodall who was present at the 1937 Chilliwack matches but did not play. The second pin came directly to us from the Chilliwack Lawn Bowling Society.

Image: South African Bowling Association 1937 Canadian Tour Lapel Pin

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sports in Chilliwack

Chilliwack’s Twilight League

In its first year the Chilliwack Valley Twilight Baseball League comprised teams from Chilliwack, Fairfield, Popcum and Sardis. Games were played at Rosedale (who fielded a team in 1937), the Young Road Ballpark also known as Athletic Park and if necessary at the Chilliwack fairgrounds.

At the end of regular season Chilliwack was atop the Twilight League standings having won 11 games and losing only 4. They were followed by Fairfield, Popcum and Sardis. Despite finishing in last place with only 4 wins and 12 losses, Sardis advanced to the final championship series against Chilliwack.

David Spencer Ltd., the local Wellington Avenue department store, donated a shield emblematic of the league champions and displayed the trophy in their store window in July 1936. The final playoff series was played in August and September 1926 with Chilliwack winning the series three games to one.

The Championship team apart from the Spencer Shield received silver baseball medals of which the Chilliwack Museum has one in its collection presented to Chilliwack pitcher Garnet “Gan” Evans. The connection to McGavin’s is not known, although it is suspected that they were the league’s sponsor.

The medals were made of sterling silver by the Vancouver jeweller, O.B. Allan.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sports in Chilliwack

Baseball under the Bright Lights
Chilliwack’s first lit baseball diamond was constructed during the 1930s. The City of Chilliwack acquired the land, on which the Young Road ballpark was built, when the property taxes were not paid on the property. The land occupied an area from Second Avenue to Fifth and from Young Road almost to Nowell Street.

The building of the park and the layout of the grounds was a spirited venture made possible through the cooperation of the Chilliwack Amateur Athletic Association [CAAA] and by the citizens and merchants of Chilliwack. More than $800.00 was raised to help build the park and many hours of volunteer labour reconditioned the grounds. On June 13, 1934 Chilliwack’s new athletic park on Young Road was opened featuring a double header between the leading teams of the Vancouver League, Home Oil against the Vancouver Athletic Club, followed by the old rivalry of the Chilliwack Cherries versus Hope.

Almost a year later night baseball became a possibility when the CAAA purchased the electrical equipment formerly used at Con Jones Park in Vancouver. The lights were mounted on 12 posts, 10 of which were 75 feet high and 2 of which were 45 feet high. On May 24, 1935, during Empire Day’s evening entertainment, fifty-two 1500-watt lights were lit. The park turned “into veritable daylight” and “brought gasps of wonderment from 600 throats.” (Chilliwack Progress, May 30, 1935 p.1)

Over the years the ballpark also hosted night wrestling at times featuring Vancouver's Jack Forsgren a well known wrestler and fire fighter. Several noteworthy baseball teams also came to play in Chilliwack. Some of these teams were the Vancouver Asahis (Japanese-Canadians,) the American travelling all-star baseball teams called the House of David and two African-American teams named the Detroit Colored Giants and the St. Louis Blues.

Although no reasons were given for the end of night baseball at the Young Road ballpark it would appear the last game under the lights was played in August 1938 between the Chilliwack Cherries and the Merritt Gordons. In 1945 the park was subdivided into lots and sold to returned veterans.

Although we are fortunate to have a number of baseball artifacts in the collection we would certainly be interested in learning of others. The collection does include a number of trophies, and gloves but we do not have any bats, tickets or programs.

Image 1: Chilliwack's Young Road Ballpark.
Image 2: Baseball mitt, circa 1920 - 1949.
Video: Cecil Bradwin Collection 1948. 2006 19

Friday, June 4, 2010

Stanley Cup Hockey History

Chilliwack and the Vancouver Millionaires
In March 1915, the Stanley Cup championship hockey series was played in Vancouver, at Denman Arena, between the Pacific Coast Hockey Association’s Vancouver Millionaires and the National Hockey Association’s Ottawa Senators.

A special British Columbia Electric Railway train, bound for the first game in the series on March 22, 1915, left from Chilliwack at 5:00 PM. The train stopped at all points along the Fraser Valley line and a roundtrip single fare cost 50 cents. About thirty individuals from Chilliwack saw the game that was won by Vancouver 6 - 2. Afterwards the cheering fans boarded the B.C.E.R. train at 11:30 PM for their return journey. Chilliwack’s hockey fans arrived home at 3:00 AM undeterred by the wee hour of the morning and very pleased with the results.

Two more games were played on March 24 when the Millionaires defeated the Senators 8 to 3, and on March 26 when Vancouver defeated Ottawa 12 – 3 the Millionaires won the Stanley Cup. So what did adoring Chilliwack hockey fans see on their visit to Vancouver? Denman Arena and the Millionaires team were owned by hockey legends and future Hockey Hall of Famers Frank and Lester Patrick. Some of the players on the Vancouver Millionaires squad were also future Hall of Fame inductees including, team captain Si Grifts, Frank “Cyclone" Taylor, and Frank Nighbor who later became the first winner of the National Hockey’s League’s Hart Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy. Three other Hall of Famers from the Millionaires team later played for the National Hockey League’s Chicago Black Hawks, Mickey MacKay, Barney Stanley and goaltender Hughie Lehman.

The Chilliwack Museum's collection of ice hockey related objects is very small. Most of the items in the collection were collected at the time of the destruction of the Chilliwack Coliseum in 2005. Let us know if you have any gear reflective of Chilliwack hockey. Where are those leather gloves, shin pads, jerseys, goalie gear and sticks?

World Championship Hockey Ad, Chilliwack Progress, March 18, 1915, page 3

Working With Collections: Part V

"The Reindeer Brand" An Artifact and its Nine Lives

Of course these "Reindeer Brand" blogs reflect only the first life of this wooden box. What became of the “Reindeer Brand” box once it left its original setting, once the product was removed? Did it find another use? Was it taken home and filled with tools, toys or maybe just sat empty on a shelf for years? Where has it been and who has used it? Of course these are questions that we are unlikely to ever find answers. That it survived because someone thought to save it from the garbage heap it was found on has allowed it to find its place in history within the collection of the Chilliwack Museum. Of course, that’s another life and so it continues.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Working With Collections: Part IV

“The Reindeer Brand” Research Never Ends

In preparing for this series of blogs I decided to search the internet to see what else has shown up since the last time I worked on "The Reindeer Brand". The Google search for "Borden Milk Company" Reindeer once again led to that wonderful resource This resource pointed us to the online publication “The Condensed Milk and Milk Powder Industries” by F.W. Baumgartner, July 1920. So what did we learn?

In 1883 the first condensed milk factory in Canada was built in Truro, Nova Scotia by “The Reindeer Condensed Milk Company.” During the 1880s and 1890s several other milk condensing companies were established mostly in southwestern Ontario. Many of these companies were absorbed by the Borden Milk Company. The most important milk condensing plants included several Borden plants in Ontario and Quebec as well as Truro, Nova Scotia and Sardis (South Sumas), British Columbia. Although the connections of condensed milk, Truro, Reindeer Brand and Borden’s are well established what happens when you Google: “Truro Condensed Milk Company Ltd”? It takes you on a new path to the Heritage Places website focusing in on Mission, British Columbia. Here we discover a picture of the Truro Condensed Milk Company Ltd. located near the railway bridge, circa 1900 – 1910!

That companies acquire, absorb and merge with other businesses makes the study of business history fascinating and complex. With their acquisitions, businesses often acquire the rights to former firm’s names and brands creating a puzzle, a challenge for further research. It never ends. Our wooden box reflects these mergers and complexities - the business tree of who begat who.