Happy Birthday Red Robinson

March 30th, 2012 @ 9:34am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

There are a handful of living legends in Vancouver and Red Robinson is certainly one of them. A radio and television pioneer, he was the first Vancouver disc jockey to play that “rock and roll” music and was the emcee for Elvis’ Vancouver tour stop at Empire Stadium in 1957.

Photos © Red Robinson

Since his career began at the age of seventeen, Red has been a television host, disc jockey, feature writer for TV Week, program director at radio stations throughout the Pacific Northwest, co-authored books, interviewed hundreds (if not thousands) of celebrities, and was even celebrated at the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

For 20 years he hosted “Timmy’s Christmas Telethon” on the CBC, helping to raise over $75 million for the BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities. He’s won countless awards, received honors such as being inducted into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and earned local distinction on the North Shore and in his birthplace of Comox, BC.

To top it all off, Red’s kept up a blog since 2008. It’s not often you read a blog post where the author talks about his efforts to get Elvis to come to town:

“Vancouver was the biggest success story on the whole tour. I was proud to be part of the success that day as I had tried in vain to get Elvis here for a year and a half. This was the first celebrity to ever rent stadiums and he could do it because he was a giant, even then.

He had completed two movies, had great success with his recordings up to that time going to the top of the charts and his appearances on the Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan, and Steve Allen TV shows were ratings monsters. He was a true sensation. I have always stated that this was his biggest show of that tour but to hear Elvis himself say that it was is the icing on the cake.”

Red’s blog includes posts about upcoming acts at the Red Robinson Theatre in Coquitlam as well as posts laden with classic photos and tales of rock and roll. Posts like Theme for Teens, 1955, Love Me Tender at the Capitol, 1956, and Georgia Auditorium, Circa 1959 are pure gold. He even first met one of my personal idols, historian Chuck Davis, “on a double date in Victoria in 1956.”

Hear Red’s audio on his post: February 3, 1959: The Day The Music Died

The website Riveting Riffs profiled Red and featured a quote of his about how he used to crowd source (before “crowd source” was a buzz word) the music he played on the radio:

“I had a little thing that I put together called teletune. I had kids come in after school and answer the phones. I would say phone in and tell us what you think of this new song and then at the end of the day I would add them all up. Then I knew what to play. I was actually asking the listeners what the hell they wanted to hear (laughs). It was a top ten by my listeners. I had my personal top ten, but I would give it to the audience to pick out (their top ten). I had Buddy Holly’s “That Will Be The Day,” listed in my top ten in Cashbox before anyone else in North America even played the damn thing. I have an interview with Buddy Holly when he says that.

We didn’t have music directors saying, ‘The focus group didn’t go for that or ‘it’s not appearing on the charts in Chicago.’ Who gave a damn, you did it for your local audience. One of my slogans was “The Station That Listens To You.”

Today is Red Robinson’s 75th birthday and we are so fortunate to have such a passionate and innovative icon in our community.

Read more about Red on his blog, check out the reunion listings, and browse the amazing memorabilia that he’s been putting up for sale on eBay.

George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight in Vancouver 2012

March 29th, 2012 @ 2:34pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

George Stroumboulopoulos (known affectionately as “Strombo”) will be returning to Vancouver next week to film his show, George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight at the CBC.

The Hour at CBC Vancouver
Photo credit: John Bollwit on Flickr

Guests will include Sandra Oh, Daryl Hannah, Jim Treliving, Paul Franklin, and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. There will also be special features with comedian Brent Butt, former prime minister Kim Campbell, CBC Radio 3’s Grant Lawrence, actor Cameron Bright, Dr. Julio Montaner, Jane Goodall, Ian Hanomansing, Mark Donnelly, and those infamous Green Men. Musical guests will include Mother Mother and Nick Gilder.

All of the audience tickets have been scooped up but you can still get on the waiting list.

George will also be on CBC Radio One on Friday, March 30th at 4:00pm with Stephen Quinn and on the Early Edition with Rick Cluff Monday, April 2nd at 8:00am. Follow @Strombo on Twitter, for updates anytime and while he’s in Vancouver, and use the tag #gtonight when talking about the show.

Howard Hughes at the Bayshore

March 29th, 2012 @ 1:34pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Legendary elusive billionaire Howard Hughes once holed up in Vancouver’s Bayshore hotel (now Westin Bayshore) for six straight months. It’s been 40 years since his stay and Heritage Vancouver is hosting an anniversary tour to commemorate the unusual event.

1961 – Bayshore Inn, Coal Harbour. Archives item# 2010-006.046.

What Howard Hughes at the Bayshore: 40th Anniversary Celebration
When Wednesday, April 4, 2012 from 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Where Meet at the Westin Bayshore, 1601 Bayshore Drive just east of the main entrance
Cost Tickets are available online for $20 or $15 for Heritage Vancouver members. UPDATE: Tickets are now sold out but they are thinking about adding another tour – stay tuned!

It was 1972 and Hughes—the movie producer, the aviator, one of the richest men in the world had not been seen in public for years. Yet he walked into the hotel on his own without being noticed. Rumors swirled as to why he was here. What was he doing? Who were the strange security staff that took over the hotel and guarded him with a security detail of that of a president or prime minister? Was it true he was sneaking out at night to drive around Stanley Park?

The tour will be lead by local historian and self-confessed “Hughes-ologist” Aaron Chapman who will separate fact from fiction. He will also be joined by former Bayshore staff members who were there during Hughes’ famous stay.

Chapman published an article in the Vancouver Courier in December 2004 which is referenced in Chuck Davis’

“On an early and rainy Tuesday morning, March 14, 1972, an older man in an old bathrobe, pajama bottoms and sandals walked into the side lobby of the Bayshore Inn in Vancouver. Surrounded by a half-dozen bodyguards and staff, the tall, oddly dressed gent casually strolled around the nearly unoccupied lobby, commenting, ‘This is pretty nice.’ He moved into the elevator with the men and up to the penthouse suite where he would remain unseen, never leaving his single room for the duration of his six-month stay. Howard Hughes had arrived in Vancouver.”

A New Convention Centre, Coal Harbour and a Sunset
Bayshore in the distance. Photo credit: Tripleman / – Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool.

The Westin Bayshore is also marking the occasion with a special “40th Anniversary Howard Hughes” package. You can book the aptly-named Howard Hughes Penthouse Suite, receive dining credits and a spa package, for $799 a night or book a harbour view room from $189 a night, with dining credits and more.

Archives Photos of the Day: Apartments

March 29th, 2012 @ 11:38am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Look at an image of Vancouver before the 1990s and you’ll notice a very different landscape. Apartment towers have sprouted up at a rate of 3,000 units per year, which is 1,000 more annually than twenty years ago. Moving away from brick and stone, transforming into a city of glass. Apartment-dwellers outnumber those in row houses, semi-detached and detached homes combined in the city so I thought it might be worth a look back at apartments over the years, many of which are still-standing.

1910s – Mt Stephen Block (7th & Quebec). Archives item# SGN 1028. Photographer: WJ Moore.

1917 – Manhattan Apartments, 784 Thurlow at Robson. Archives item# CVA 99-346. Photographer: Stuart Thomson.

1919 – Washington Court, 998 Thurlow. Archives item# CVA 99-264. Photographer: Stuart Thomson.

1920 – Florence Court, 1201 W Georgia (at Bute). Archives item# CVA 99-1298. Photographer: Stuart Thomson.

1945 – Hornby at Robson. Archives item# CVA 586-4162. Photographer: Steffens Colmer.

1928 – Queen Charlotte Apartments, 1101 Nicola. Archives item# Bu N261. Photographer: WJ Moore.

Thanks to the City of Vancouver Archives for their resources.

False Creek Ferries 30th Anniversary

March 29th, 2012 @ 10:09am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Those little blue boats that transport you from the Aquatic Centre near Sunset Beach to the Maritime Museum or Granville Island are celebrating their 30th anniversary this week. False Creek Ferries started out in 1982 with only two boats and two destinations. Now, they have ten vessels and half a dozen routes.

False Creek ferry, NOT going out to sea
Photo credit: Judy B – The Travelling Eye on Flickr – Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool

THe original route was from Granville Island to the old Boaters’ Village Marina on the North Shore. Today you can ride the little blue boats to Granville Island, the Aquatic Centre, Maritime Museum, David Lam Park in Yaletown, Stamps Landing, Science World, and the Plaza of Nations. The little boats dance across False Creek carrying visitors and locals alike.

False Creek marine traffic
Photo credit: Judy B – The Travelling Eye on Flickr – Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool

False Creek Aquabus
Photo credit: Zanzibargirl on Flickr – Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool

Hitting the water to cross the creek is a nice change of pace. Leave the car at home, walk down to the dock, and hop a ride to your destination. It can also be complimented with a transit ride to get you where you need to go.

View False Creek Ferries! in a larger map

You can also take a 20 or 40 minute sightseeing tour, pick up an all-day pass, or check out their sunset mini-cruise option. Follow @FalseCreekFerry on Twitter to find out more about their anniversary deals and discounts and add your own photos to the False Creek Ferry group on Flickr.