Brian Croft
Painting the History of Vancouver and British Columbia

320. Vancouver Exhibition - 1910

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

20x32 (inches) sn $700, ap $800, pp $850

From an original painting by Brian Croft

“Vancouver Exhibition - 1910” belongs to my “Streetcars of Vancouver” collection which brings 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 capitol was eventually organized 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.

In1889 Vancouver acquired 160 acres for use as a natural park much like Stanley Park. Called Hastings Park, it was quickly put into use by the Jockey Club who obtained permission to build a racetrack. In 1908 the Vancouver Exhibition Association amid much controversy and opposition formulated plans to use Hastings Park for a new annual fair. A major selling point for the new Vancouver Exhibition was that it was to be just a five-cent streetcar fare from downtown. Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier performed the opening ceremonies for the grand opening in August of 1910 with 5,000 people in attendance; 68,000 people attended the exhibition in the first year.

The first main exhibition building at Hastings Park was built at a cost of nearly $37,000. Called the Industrial Building, it was 240 feet long and 100 feet wide. It had an arched roof with glassed end sections permitting a bright interior; the exterior was decorated in white and gold paint. The Industrial Building proved to be a lavish and inviting nucleus for the exhibition accommodating entertainment, displays and refreshments under one roof.

In my painting “Vancouver Exhibition – 1910” BCER streetcars are about to drop fairgoers on the corner of Renfrew and Eton at the northwest corner of the park. The Industrial Building is visible on the far right. Nearer, is the Manufacturers Building. In the middle of the painting a primitive midway offers thrills and rides and a jumble of tents and stands make up the arcade where all manner of entertainments are available. On the left in the distance is the grandstand facing the racetrack soon to be patronized by the four impatient “risk-takers” hanging onto the back of the overloaded streetcar.

Brian Croft