- A Journey Through Time, organized by the West Vancouver Historical Society, March 21-April 28, at the West Vancouver Museum. Opening reception, Tuesday, March 20, 7-9 p.m. Info: westvancouvermuseum.ca.
IT'S A TELLING PHOTOGRAPH.
Taken in 1911, the black-and-white shot depicts newcomers to the North Shore, William George Barker and his wife Jennie, relaxing at their new West Vancouver waterfront home: a tent and adjacent wooden lean-to, located at what's now the foot of 22nd Street.
William and Jennie's grandson Dave Barker is the keeper of the photograph, which is a treasured family heirloom.
"It's so typical of my grandfather, you can see in the foreground there was a little garden that he had planted," says Dave. "There's a wooden sidewalk and then the inside was all wooden plank that he had put down."
He suspects his grandparents used the lean-to for sleeping and as a kitchen.
"It was the only area that looks like it had heat," he says with a laugh.
William, or George, as he was known, had been wandering around Canada for about seven years.
"Then in 1910 my grandmother came out from England and they got married and set up shop in West Van," says Dave.
That tent was their first home. The District of West Vancouver is celebrating its centennial and has undergone tremendous changes since its founding in 1912. Thanks to the efforts of early pioneers and the generations that have followed in their footsteps it has become the home so many know and love today.
Those people, that journey and the place itself are being celebrated and explored in an upcoming exhibition at the West Vancouver Museum. Presented by the West Vancouver Historical Society, A Journey Through Time will showcase the development of the community, and opens with a reception Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. It will remain on display until April 28.
Dave, 71, who serves as chairman of the exhibition committee and is a member of the West Vancouver Historical Society's board of directors, is excited to offer community members a glimpse into West Vancouver's past.
While his grandfather was killed in an accident in the 1920s, his grandmother lived in West Vancouver until she passed away in 1981 at 99 years of age. He has called the municipality home for all of his life, with the exception of a stint during the Second World War. It's amazing to have such a deep-rooted, recorded history in West Vancouver, he says.
"My kids enjoy it," says Dave. "They're fourth-generation West Vancouverites. It's nice to be able to relate back to your beginnings in a country as young as Canada and in an area as young as the Vancouver area, and (I) can relate back to those early days and remember stories that were told by my grandmother and my father."
A Journey Through Time will offer museum-goers an opportunity to watch West Vancouver "grow up," says Dave. It will feature a series of photographs from the West Vancouver Archives and the West Vancouver Memorial Library, in addition to artifacts from a private collector in West Vancouver. Examples of items include a headlight off the first bus, a ferry foghorn, an early telephone and other "various things that people would be interested in that seem to have a tie to West Van," he says.
"We've tried to have ancient photographs going back to 1910-1912 right up to relatively contemporary ones," says Dave, like former businesses, including the West Vancouver Odeon Theatre and Woodward's.
"The idea was to try and get things that people will remember," he says. "We have some old photographs of the White Spot, that sort of thing."
The last exhibition the West Vancouver Historical Society presented at the West Vancouver Museum was a year and a half ago. It was half the size and in connection with the society's centenary book Cottages to Community: The Story of West Vancouver's Neighbourhoods. Written by Francis Mansbridge and released in September 2011, sales are going well and the print run is nearly sold out.
"We are grateful for the chance to participate in West Vancouver 's centennial," says Ann Brousson, president of the West Vancouver Historical Society. "For those of us on the board who have been involved in the birth of the book and subsequent sales, we have been awed by the stories that we have come across as we market Cottages to Community. The response to the book has been much greater than we anticipated and it has been a magic ride for the people involved. I love listening to the citizens who turn out to reminisce and chat with one another. Many people have had stories to tell about the pictures in the book, which help amplify the subjects. On the evening of March 20, when our exhibit opens, until April 28, we will have another opportunity to learn more historical data from the people who come to enjoy the photographs and artifacts."