Brian Croft
Painting the History of Vancouver and British Columbia

303. Passing Woodwards - 1939

Limited Edition Stretched Canvas Giclee Print, (unframed): sn95, ap10, pp5

20 x 32 (inches) sn $700, ap $800, pp $850

Limited Edition Canvas Giclee, sn95, ap10, pp5

From an original painting by Brian Croft

“Passing Woodwards – 1939” is one of the original paintings in my “Streetcars of Vancouver” collection. The collection is intended to bring to life the colourful and exciting story of the British Columbia Electric Railway Company (BCER) and its electrified streetcar and tram service.

The first six brand new streetcars began operations on June 27,1890. The first streetcar lines were installed and operated by fledgling companies, which were formed in rapid succession during the difficult early start-up years. First the Vancouver Street Railway Co, then the Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Co, New Westminster service was started by the Westminster & Vancouver Tramway Company and eventually Consolidated Railway and Light Company took over the combined financially troubled operations. New capital was eventually organized in Britain with the formation of the BCER Co. in 1897. Under the able leadership of Robert Horne-Payne the newly formed BCER began to flourish marking the beginning of what was to be a new and long era of success.

“Passing Woodwards – 1939” shows streetcar #272 on the Fairview line as it passes Woodwards department store eastbound on Hastings. Car #272 was built by BCER in 1913. It was a two man, single ended configuration with 47 passenger seats. It was designated as a Fairview type sporting steel bottom and side construction. Many still remember these cars for the distinctive whine they produced when in motion.

In the distance are Victory Square and the Cenotaph. This was the original site of Vancouver’s first courthouse built in 1888 and later demolished before WW I. The Southam family donated funds for the rehabilitation of the square and in 1924 the cenotaph was erected and the name changed to Victory Square. The Inns of Court Building dominating the background, behind the cenotaph, originally provided chambers for lawyers who worked at the old courthouse. Later it became The Bank of Hamilton and then The Canadian Bank of Commerce.

Towering in the background, the steel framed, red bricked, arch-roofed Dominion Building, built in 1909, was briefly tallest building in British Empire. At the far end of the block, at corner of Hastings and Cambie, stands the Flack Block. Next is the Ormidale Block and then the Ralph Block followed by Henderson Block. Finally the grand Woodward’s Department Store at corner of Hastings and Abbott stands proudly. It’s time to step off car #272, onto the sidewalk and into the grand days of 1939, a vibrant time when commerce and fun permeated this street.

Brian Croft