Archive for the ‘Frank Patrick’ Tag

Vancouver Auditorium – West Georgia Street

The Vancouver Auditorium – or Georgia Auditorium – initially the Denman Auditorium – was built in front of the Vancouver Arena and opposite the Horse Show Building (which had by then become the Stanley Park Armories) in 1927. It was developed by the Patrick family’s Vancouver Arena Co, and it didn’t have an architect design it, but an engineer, L T Alden and cost $60,000 to build. Frank and Lester Patrick built the 2,500 seat building to promote shows that were too small for the cavernous Arena, next door. In its early days, there were boxing and wrestling matches, (as there had been in the Horse Show Building early in its life) and rallies and political meetings. The Arena was destroyed in a huge fire in 1936, but although damaged, the Auditorium continued in operation.

During World War II, it was taken over by the Canadian Navy and was temporarily used as a storage facility by Boeing Aircraft. The Palomar Supper Club owner Hymie Singer returned from the war, and bought the Denman Auditorium and Arena site apparently intending to build a new Arena (but that was never pursued). He promoted shows in the Auditorium: in 1948 jazz vocalist Kenny Hagood brought his show to town, in 1949 the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and in 1950 violinist Jascha Heifetz performed. The building was renovated as a concert venue in 1952, renamed the Georgia Auditorium, and the mix of shows, rallies and large meetings continued. Dave Brubeck played in 1953, as did Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald. She returned in 1955, and Jascha Heifetz again played the venue.

In 1957 a ‘who’s who’ of contemporary music appeared. The Province critic’s review was less than enthusiastic: “The young patrons, the great majority in the 15-year-old bracket, sat through two hours of brash musical noises highlighted by Fats Domino. The first show started at about 7 p.m. and the Auditorium was cleared to allow another show to go on at 9:30 p.m. The Audience was amazingly well behaved as special duty policemen patrolled the aisles. Guitarist Buddy Knox, who rose to fame with a record called “Party Doll” did three songs and was well received.” That same year both Ella Fitzgerald and Dave Brubeck returned their tours to the auditorium.

A year later Sir John Gielgud appeared in a world tour of “Shakespear’s Ages of Man”, and also in 1958 operatic soprano Lily Pons performed. The venue closed in 1959, with the opening of the new civic theatres Downtown, with the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and The Playhouse offering a much better (and more comfortable) customer experience. This image was taken that year, with a sign offering ‘This Valuable Corner Property For Sale’. By August it had been demolished, and the site sat for many years. Various residential tower schemes were proposed, some by local developers, one by a New York developer, but none found acceptance. Eventually residential buildings were allowed further east, and this became a park that joins into Stanley Park known as Devonian Harbour Park after the Calgary charitable foundation that donated $600,000 to move the project forward.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1123-6

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Posted 16 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Vancouver Arena – West Georgia and Denman

The Vancouver Arena was sometimes called the Denman Arena, as it sat on the water side of West Georgia Street, to the west of where Denman Street crosses. It was developed in 1911 and is seen here around 1920 (and not 1913) in a Vancouver Public Library image. It was the city’s biggest venue, with 10,500 seats around the artificial ice surface, used for ice skating, ice hockey and curling. Thomas Hooper designed the $300,000 arena for the Vancouver Arena Co., Ltd, controlled by Frank Patrick. (The permit was for $80,000, but that was just the cost of the structure; the land and ice making equipment added significantly to the investment).

It was the first artificial rink in Canada, and was claimed as the largest indoor ice rink in the world at the time it opened (although Madison Square Gardens was actually bigger). Frank Patrick was from Ottawa, and came to Vancouver in the early 1900s when he ran the local operations of the Patrick Lumber Co. based in Nelson and run by his father, Joe. A former professional hockey player, he founded the Vancouver Millionaires hockey team in 1911, bringing Fred ‘Cyclone’ Taylor to lead the team in 1912, and winning the Stanley Cup in 1915 by beating the Ottawa Senators at the Denman Arena.

In 1914, the Arena was used to house over 1,000 soldiers who were assembling to form the 23rd Infantry Brigade. The soldiers left Vancouver in August 1914 to be deployed as the first Canadian troops in World War I. The arena was also used for other sports, musical performances and public assemblies. Here’s the 1917 motor show on the floor of the Arena.

In 1921 it hosted the first international women’s ice hockey championship, organized by Patrick’s Pacific Coast Hockey Association. In 1924 William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister, during a tour of the west, broadcast a speech from the arena which may have been the first political broadcast in Canada. The CCF held a political rally in 1935 that attracted 16,000 people – the largest indoor gathering that the city had ever seen.

Wooden buildings in Vancouver had a history of burning down, and in the mid 1930s the Arena was given a brick skin (and a new nickname, ‘The Pile’) in order to avoid the fate of the Victoria and New Westminster arenas. In August 1936 a crowd of around 4,000 watched a boxing match between Max Bauer and James J Walsh. Later that evening the nearby boat builders yard caught fire, and around 1.30am the flames spread and engulfed the Arena. Two lives were lost and three firemen injured. The Arena was destroyed, along with seven industrial buildings, two homes and fifty-eight small boats.

The Patrick family announced plans for a replacement, but that never happened. They had built a smaller building in front of the Arena, the Georgia Auditorium, and although damaged that was saved from the fire. In 1945 the Arena site was sold to Hymie Singer, a local theatre and club owner, for $80,000, and he announced a new million-dollar arena, that was also never realized. Once the Auditorium closed in 1959 the site was eyed by several developers for a forest of towers, but eventually it became part of Devonian Harbour Park.

Image sources; Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 94-56

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Posted 9 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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