Vancouver History: Emery Barnes

October 14th, 2010 @ 11:45am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Most parks in Vancouver are named after former Parks Board members or royalty – but not Emery Barnes Park in Yaletown. The grass, stone walkways, water features and new playground on Davie is named after a man born in New Orleans in 1929 who made his way to Canada, into BC Provincial Legislature and is forever in our history books.

Emery Barnes Park
Photo credit: venturevancouver on Flickr

In 1952 Emery Barnes was an alternate for the US Olympic high-jump team, while he also played football for the University of Oregon and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1954.

I was just out of the army, with a young family to support. I had a college degree but could not get a job. In fact I asked for help from an Oregon Alumni Booster Club Member who had tried to recruit me with athletic scholarship a few years earlier. I could not get to see him personally but was told they would try to get me a job as a Red Cap at the local train station. I had always believed in the United States, its constitution and the principles it stood for. I may have been naive but I believed all the slogans. When I left to play football in Canada I felt like a political refugee. [1987 Interview with Barnes]

It was football that led him to Canada, and ultimately Vancouver. His time in Green Bay wasn’t long and he found himself in the CFL, playing with the BC Lions when they won the Grey Cup in 1964 (although he was sidelined during the actual championship game). During this time he also attended UBC and received a bachelor degree in social work, which was a passion of his.

In the years following his football career, Barnes opened a nightclub at Harrison Hot Springs, visited Victoria and was pitched NDP and Social Credit party membership, then became the Director of Children and Teenage programs at the Killarney Community Centre.

It was Dave Barrett who encouraged him to move into politics. The first time he ran for the BC Legislature, Emery was not elected. At that time, the city of Vancouver was not as culturally diverse as today so he had less chance of success. Emery did not talk much about the barriers he faced even though, particularly during his childhood in New Orleans, he had suffered harassment which prompted his family’s move to the West Coast. [Reflections on Emery Barnes]

Emery Barnes – Source

It wasn’t until 1972 that he was elected to the BC Legislature and there he was re-elected for four consecutive terms and served our province until 1996. He and Rosemary Brown (NDP) were the first black politicians elected to a legislative office in British Columbia.

I see politicians as catalysts. Though not elected Martin Luther King was as much a catalyst as a leader. He happened to appear on the scene at a time when a little old black lady said she was tired and wanted a seat on the bus. Many people thought that was a reasonable request. [1987 Interview with Barnes

Barnes worked with the BC Black History Awareness Society (established 1993) to develop the Greater Victoria School Board’s curriculum, to build a cultural community in Vancouver for those of African heritage, and was the first president of the BC Black Cultural Association.

In 1994 he was elected Speaker of the Legislature in BC, the first black person in any Canadian province to hold this position. Barnes passed away on Canada Day, in 1998.

I am a Canadian citizen and have no regrets. Over the years I have come to realize that prejudice is not limited to the USA. There are different kinds of people in all societies. None is perfect. I am less quick to condemn anyone and have probably mellowed a bit. With age and experience I have come to believe that we are the architects of our own destiny. I am more interested in the evolution of society and of my situation as an individual than in blaming any group or any society for all the evils on earth. [1987 Interview with Barnes]

Emery Barnes Park opened in 2003 and recently expanded to fill up the entire block of Davie between Seymour and Richards.

Flip Flop Shops Boot Giveaway

October 14th, 2010 @ 10:50am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Flip Flop Shop on West 4th saved us last November before our trip to the Caribbean as they were the only place in town where we could find some flip flops. This year, they’ve expanding their product offering to include other seasonal footwear such as boots and closed-toe sandals.

Aside from having a unique, high-quality collection, it’s a great shopping experience. The staff know quite a bit about each piece of footwear that they carry, they can identify traits and features from individual brands, and you get that long-lost customer service and personal attention when shopping for footwear.

In order to promote their new Fall and Winter items, they have offered up two pairs of boots to give away to a couple of readers.

Style 1:
The NOMAD Hurricane (Black)
Durable, water resistant, rain boots.

Style 2:
The EMU Tundra (Black)
Made with water-resistant sheepskin, these lace-up boots will keep you looking stylish and feeling warm.

Each contest winner will be able to go into the Flip Flop Shop on West 4th to try on their winning pair of boots to make sure they’re the perfect fit. There are two ways you can enter to win a pair of these boots:

  • Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
  • Win a pair of boots for Fall from @FlipFlopShopsBC & @Miss604 RT to enter

    I will draw two winners on Thursday October 21st at 12:00pm. Follow Flip Flop Shops on Twitter or Facebook for more product info.

    If you do make your way over to the Flip Flop Shop (on West 4th, just West of Buarrard) they are collecting shoe donations for Soles4Souls in the store. Drop off a pair of shoes (or raid your closet and drop off a dozen) to donate to this cause.

    Update The winner of the EMU boots is Brenda (comment entry) and the Nomad boots go to @MeghanRadomske (on Twitter). Congratulations!

    Winners must be residents of BC and able to pick up their boots in person at the Flip Flop Shop on West 4th in Vancouver.

    VIFF 2010: Galas and Parties

    October 14th, 2010 @ 9:52am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    While the Vancouver International Film Festival‘s 2010 season kicked off in style with parties from Martini Madness, Brightlight Pictures, and the official opening gala, the red carpets are slowly being tucked away for another year. However, it’s never too late to look back on the good times had throughout the festival and the deliciousness that was set out before us at the opening gala a few weeks ago.

    VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala
    (Left) Catherine Barr, Gabrielle Miller (Corner Gas, Robson Arms), Me

    VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala

    VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala

    VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala

    VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala VIFF 2010 Opening Night Gala
    All photos by John Bollwitt for

    With VIFF ending this week there are still some fantastic films to catch and some dazzling parties to attend.

  • Last week VIFF hosted an anniversary gala screening of Score: A Hockey Musical that’s generating buzz across the country right now. You can find out about future screenings by following @ScoreMusical on Twitter.
  • The First Weekend Club celebrates another great year of Canadian Film with their own VIFF wrap party tonight at District 319 on Main Street. The lovely and talented singer/songwriter Rachael Chatoor will be performing at the reception.
  • VIFF’s closing gala film is The Illusionist, screening at the Empire Granville tomorrow at 7:00pm. You can purchase a combo ticket for the screening and the closing gala for $175. The finale cocktail party will then be at FIVESIXTY on Seymour. You can enter to win tickets to this event by emailing with the subject line “Closing Gala”.
  • You can view a full list of repeat films that will have another screening before VIFF closes. Stay on top of local film news and events by following @VIFFest on Twitter throughout the year.

    Name the Translink Electronic Fare Card

    October 13th, 2010 @ 2:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    London has the Oyster and Hong Kong has the Octopus… what will Vancouver have?

    In 2007 I wrote a post about a lack of fare options (or rechargeable electronic fares) for visitors and residents alike, such as the Charlie Card that I saw in Boston.

    It looks like Translink has finally caught up with the trend as they’re planning to introduce an electronic re-loadable fare card for 2013. They are also currently looking for public input about the project and hosting a naming contest for the cards.

    You may submit your suggestions through the online form or via text message (text CONTEST, your name, and your idea to 77777). The naming contest winner will get an iPad, and in 2013, the winner will also receive an electronic fare card loaded with a year of free transit.

    You can check out more of Translink’s latest ideas and provide your input during one of their Transportation Fairs this month:

  • Saturday October 16 at Creekside Community Centre in the Olympic Village, 1 Athletes Way, Vancouver
  • Sunday October 17 at the Executive Plaza Hotel, 405 North Road, Coquitlam
  • Saturday October 23 at the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre, 13458 – 107 A Avenue, Surrey
  • All Transportation Fairs run from 10:00am until 3:00pm. Participants will be eligible to win a monthly FareCard (one drawn each hour) and the grand prize – a year’s free transit – will be given away after the last Transportation Fair on October 23rd.

    I’m not sure how the naming of the cards usually work (eg. I have no idea how they came up with Oyster for London) but I’m curious to see what people will submit for the name of Metro Vancouver’s fare cards.

    Homelessness Action Week 2010

    October 13th, 2010 @ 11:10am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The 5th annual Homelessness Action Week is happening right now in Vancouver with the goal of increasing awareness about the issue, finding solutions, and taking action.

    Actions that you can take include learning about the causes of homelessness, adding your voice to the discussion and call to action, and volunteering in the community.

    Events this week include:

    October 13th, 11:00am – 2:00pm
    The Gathering Place (609 Helmcken St)
    Event will provide services for the homeless including meals, hair cuts, foot care, basic medical care, bike repair and more.

    October 14th, 1:00pm – 5:00 pm
    Broadway Youth Resource Centre’s 11th Annual Open House (691 E Broadway)
    The celebration coincides with Homelessness Action week so they are asking those attending to bring a non-perishable food item, or a pair of new socks.

    October 15th, 10:00am – 3:00pm
    Vancouver Homeless Connect (151 W Cordova St)
    Event will provide services for the homeless including meals, hair cuts, foot care, basic medical care, bike repair and more.

    You can fill out an online survey to inquire about volunteer opportunities or stop by one of these events. You can also help year-round by supporting organizations such as the Union Gospel Mission, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, and Covenant House.

    The Great Big Boo in Metro Vancouver, Win Tickets

    October 13th, 2010 @ 10:34am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The last time I spoke with Patrick Roberge it was regarding his production of the Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games. Changing the pace a little bit, his company Patrick Roberge Productions (PRP) is now presenting the The Great Big Boo across Metro Vancouver.

    The Great Big Boo
    The Great Big Boo

    “Halloween is a children’s holiday,” says Roberge, who has two youngsters of his own. “I remember when you would grab your pillow case and trick or treat until it was full of candy. Now it’s turned into a retail holiday, an adult holiday with parties and scary attractions.” Roberge and his team wanted to bring back the excitement and celebration of Halloween for children by creating a production that would allow them to dress up in their costumes once more, trick or treat in a safe environment, and have a ton of fun in the process.

    However, it’s all about finding that balance between being spooky and being entertaining when it comes to children. “Our first priority is not to be scary,” explains Roberge. The misfit characters that live on Boo Alley sing fun, upbeat tunes while they dance and perform. There are also children in the performance which Roberge says is a great ice-breaker for the young audience. “Kids really fall in love with the characters right away; from the vampire that’s afraid of the dark, to the Frankenstein that wants to be a lounge singer or the princess who doesn’t know how to be a princess.”

    Aside from the lighthearted atmosphere, parents will appreciate that the show is easily digestible — providing laughs for them as well as the children. Roberge highlights the fact that it’s not only allowing families to have a Halloween together but also a shared theatrical experience.

    The Great Big Boo
    The Great Big Boo

    The full-length theatre version runs a maximum of 50 minutes (with an intermission), which is followed by trick or treating with the characters who come out for a meet n’ greet after the show.

    While the first few shows are at Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver (October 22nd) and the Bell Performing Arts Centre in Surrey (October 23rd) the Great Big Boo heads to Fort Langley October 28th until the 30th. Audience members will get access to the historic landmark and children will be able to trick or treat from within the Fort, getting the most mileage from their costumes this year. “The whole theme of the show is that on Halloween, you can be anything you want to be,” says Roberge, noting that even parents have been known to dress up for the occasion.

    Tickets are $19.95 and guests two years old and under are free when accompanied by a paying adult. If you would like to bring your family to this fun, safe, dry, and super kid-friendly Halloween showcase here’s how you can win a 4-pack of tickets:

    Leave a comment on this post with your favourite childhood Halloween memory (or favourite recent memory with your own children). One winner will receive tickets for the show on October 22nd at Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver and another will receive tickets for one of the performances in Fort Langley from October 28th until the 30th.

    Each winner will receive a 4-pack of tickets as well as the official soundtrack of The Great Big Boo. I will draw the winner for the North Vancouver performance on October 19th, and the Fort Langley winner on October 25th.

    Update The first winner (for the North Vancouver show on Friday) is Cameron!
    Update The second winner (for Fort Langley shows) is Tania!

    Vancouver Giants Date Night 2010

    October 12th, 2010 @ 2:24pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Vancouver Giants 10 YearsThe Vancouver Giants have been brewing up some very special events and giveaways for their 10th anniversary season. The next theme night is “Date Night” on Friday October 22nd when the Giants will take on the Brandon Wheat Kings.

    The Date Night offer includes two tickets to the game for $25. All fans in attendance will also have a chance to win a trip for two to Hawaii. To book your Date Night tickets use promo code: ALOHA on Ticketmaster.

    I have a pair of tickets to give away to a reader so that they can enjoy Date Night (and get entered to win the trip to Hawaii). There are two ways to enter to win tickets:

  • Leave a comment on this post listing your ideal “date night” experience (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
  • RT to enter to win Date Night @WHLGiants tickets from @Miss604

    I will draw one winner at random from all entries on Monday, October 18th at 12:00pm.

    Update The winner is Jason – have fun at the game!