Birks Clock Back Again

January 11th, 2010 @ 5:45pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Photo: Kris Krug – 2005

Meeting under the Birks clock is as “Vancouver” as whistling the $1.49 Day Woodward’s jingle or stampeding through Army & Navy on shoe sale day.

The iconic timepiece stood outside Birks’ flagship store on Granville and Hastings and was moved to Georgia and Granville – spending time at town major downtown intersections over the years. It was then safely removed during Canada Line construction in about 2006 and today it was unveiled once more back at Granville and Hastings.

The clock however, once went by another name. Jeweler and Diamond Merchant George E. Trorey was the official Watch Inspector for the CPR back in the early days of Vancouver.

I am I.A.M. – 1984

The timepiece stood outside his shop on Granville and Hastings until Henry Birks & Sons of Montreal came to town and bought him out.

In 1907 they renamed the Trorey Clock to the Birks Clock, keeping Trorey on hand as a Manager of the company (source: VancouverHistory).

In 1913 when Birks opened up a new store on Granville and Georgia, the clock followed and stayed there until 1994, it was then sent back down the road where it sat until two years ago.

The clock’s name is actually so legendary that many know of “The Birks Clock” but some often confuse it for the Vancouver Block Clock Tower on Granville.

Photo provided by Birks

You can check out this slice of Vancouver history for yourself any time of day as it stands once again at the corner of Granville and Hastings.

Vancouver History Tidbits: Park Names

January 11th, 2010 @ 9:42am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Although Stanley is our most famous, there are more than 200 other parks in our City that range from wetland, dog parks, beachfront, forest trails, golf courses, and colourful playgrounds. Some parks are named for their neighbourhood or geographical location however many are named in honor of a person.

Fall Photowalk in Stanley Park
Lord Stanley – Stanley Park, Photo credit: John Bollwitt

I’ve played the name game with streets and trails before but I thought it would be exploring some namesakes of various Vancouver Parks in order to share a bit of history with residents and visitors.

Alexandra Park
Location: West End, 1755 Beach Avenue at Bidwell

History: Originally known as English Bay Park, it was developed at the turn of the 20th Century. In 1911 it was renamed Alexandra after Queen Alexandra, Britain’s King Edward VII’s consort. The bandstand was built in 1914. (Vancouver Parks)

Other: You can find a drinking fountain dedicated to Joe Fortes in the Park. Also, the original fountain outside the Vancouver Art Gallery was a tribute to King Edward VII. It still stands today but has been moved over to the North/West side of the building on Hornby Street.

Choklit Park
Location: Fairview, West 7th Avenue at Spruce Street

History: The name is no coincidence, this was the original location of the Prudy’s Chocolate Factory. (Vancouver Parks)

Photo credit: kazecki on Flickr

Discovery Square
Location: Downtown, 625 Burrard Street at Melville Street

History: The park was named in the mid-1980s after Captain Vancouver’s ship, the Discovery. (Vancouver Parks)

Other: This is actually the plaza area that surrounds the Burrard SkyTrain station. In the spring it’s a actually a beautiful site with dozens of cherry blossoms powdering the canopy in pink.

Photo credit: random dude on Flickr

Dusty Greenwell Park
Location: Hastings Sunrise, 2799 Wall Street at North Kaslo Street

History: The park was named for popular community activist and Hastings Community Centre volunteer Dusty Greenwell. (Vancouver Parks)

Major Matthews Park
Location: Mount Pleasant, 2627 Manitoba Street at West 11th Avenue

History: Named after Major James Skit Matthews, Vancouver’s first Archivist. You may notice that in some of my Then and Now photo series posts, many of the images from the City of Vancouver Archives are from the Major Matthews Collection. Without him, we wouldn’t have thousands of photographs and memorabilia documenting the growth of our city. (Vancouver Parks)

Norquay Park
Location: Renfrew-Collingwood, 5050 Wales Street at Kingsway

History: The park was named for the nearby school in 1909 when it fell within the district of South Vancouver (before the city was amalgamated in 1929). The name comes from an eminent Canadian, John Norquay, who was Premier of Manitoba when he first visited Vancouver in 1886. (Vancouver Parks)

Other: Our softball team has played there a few times and I was always curious about the name so I had to include Norquay in today’s post.

Pandora Park
Location: Grandview-Woodland, 2325 Franklin Street at Garden Drive

History: The park was named on February 11, 1914 after its bounding street. The street was named for HMS Pandora which was lost in the south sea while seeking the mutineers of the HMS Bounty.

Other: The park also has a community garden.


Many parks in Vancouver are named after members of the community, the BC Legislature, or the Royal family. I decided to highlight a few here that were a bit unique or that I was a bit curious about myself. If you have a park in your neighbourhood and would like to know its origin or history, please feel free to mention it in the comments.

Preventable Injuries, Helmet Awareness

January 10th, 2010 @ 1:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Last month I was invited to an event hosted by Preventable to learn more about preventable injuries in particularly in regards to winter sports. I am a firm believer in wearing a helmet when I snowboard or cycle (and I have to be better at wearing one when I ice skate) so this was of particular interest.

Some quick facts:

  • Preventable injuries are the #1 killer of British Columbians. That means more people between the ages of 1 and 44 die each year in our province from entirely preventable circumstances than they do from heart disease or cancers.
  • Every hour of every day, 47 British Columbians suffer a preventable injury.
  • When it comes to safety on the slopes and at play, a helmet is a no brainer. Here are some tips on selecting the right helmet to get your children or yourself.

  • Helmets are not for making fashion statements so avoid getting caught up in styles and look for safety ratings (if you can find one that looks cool and rates well, then that’s a bonus).
  • Safety ratings include a CE, ASTM or Snell RS-98 certification.
  • The helmet should fit snugly, but not feel constricting. Nor should it feel loose.
  • The chin strap should fit snugly under the chin.
  • The user should be able to hear others clearly when wearing it.
    (source: suite101)

    Dr. Ian Pike, Director of the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit said that wearing a helmet, is like having fire insurance on your house. “We know we have to have it, we all buy it, but we hope to hell we won’t have to use it.”

    Ski helmets are currently mandatory for kids at big time resorts such as Vail, Aspen, Mt Tremblant, and Whistler Blackcomb. If you don’t have your own helmet be sure to rent one when you get your gear.

    On local mountains you can rent a helmet at Mount Seymour for $8, Cypress for $6.67, and at Grouse Mountain for $8.

    For updates on preventable injuries, you can follow @Preventable on Twitter.

    Happy Birthday Becky

    January 9th, 2010 @ 12:43pm (PT) by Michelle Kim

    This is a special note to say, Happy 30th birthday to one of my oldest, dearest friends, Miss604. I’ve known Rebecca (Becky) for 25 years now, since we were five years old, when we met in Mlle. Dupont’s morning Kindergarten class at Hjorth Road Elementary School in Surrey. A girl with golden curls and big blue eyes sat beside me on the orangey-brown carpet. She was holding keys. Like grown-up house keys. I said, “Whose are those?” She said, “They’re mine.” I thought she was so cool and I knew we had to be friends.

    A guest post by Michelle Kim

    Guest contributor Michelle Kim is a local actor, producer, director, and writer. Providing write-ups about theatre, film, and the arts.

    Vancouver Giants at the Langley Events Centre

    January 8th, 2010 @ 1:26pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    With the Vancouver 2010 Games taking over the Pacific Coliseum in February, the Vancouver Giants will be moving East, into the Langley Events Centre.

    face off

    Home games to be played in Langley:

  • Saturday, January 30 vs Prince George
  • Sun, January 31 vs Portland
  • Wed, February 3 vs Lethbridge
  • Fri, February 5 vs Everet
  • Sat, February 6 vs Tri-City
  • Sun, February 14 vs Chilliwack
  • All tickets in Langley are $20 although you can choose upper or lower seats as well as “standing room only” seats (to get that retro feeling). It should prove to be an interesting experience — seeing hockey teams of this level tearing it up in a more intimate venue (max arena capacity 5,000).

    The Langley Events Centre is a shiny new $57.4 million, 250,000 square foot facility that just opened in 2009. You can check out hockey games from their home team, the Langley Chiefs, during the BCHL season.

    Victoria Film Festival 2010

    January 8th, 2010 @ 12:05pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The Victoria Film Festival is ramping up for its 2010 events, activities and film screenings. Hosting over 100 films over the course of 21 days the VFF is a year-round celebration of film and movie making on Vancouver Island.

    Victoria Film Festival - Coming Soon

    Coming from 30 countries around the globe, the films are either animation, narrative, documentary or experimental. Festival screening categories include Canadian Wave, Future Perfect, Pleasure Paradox, Special Presentations, and World Perspective.

    Special events include Converge, where you’ll take to the streets of Victoria wandering through 30 short film screenings in unique microvenues as well as Sips n’ Cinema which pairs screenings with wine tastings at Legacy Art Gallery or Whitebird Lounge.

    Running January 29th until February 7th the entire festival kicks off with an opening gala screening of Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky directed by Jan Kounen at the Capitol 6 January 29th. The festival will wrap up with the closing gala screening of independent film, Unmade Beds directed by Alexis Dos Santos.

    The full festival program is available for download. Tickets for individual screenings are $9 (with a one-time $2 festival membership fee), festival passes are $125 and VIP passes are $250. You can also purchase gift certificates or packs of 10 tickets.

    If you’re going to head over from the mainland the festival has also arranged an exclusive offer with the Fairmont Empress. For $169/night you get two film tickets for every night you stay in the hotel, a full English breakfast, and cocktails in the festival lounge. The offer valid for stay between January 26 and February 10, 2010. You can email or call (250) 384-8111 for more information.

    You can catch up with the VFF on Facebook or on Twitter @VicFilmFest. According to their Twitter profile, they will be hosting a follow/re-tweet contest this afternoon at 3:00pm.