Louis Toban: Drug Store Tycoon and Philanthropist

. Louis Toban was born in 1901 in Lithuania to a Jewish family. His father, Samuel Toban, came to Vancouver in 1910. The following year, Samuel’s wife and six children joined him and they were all naturalized as Canadian citizens in 1914.i It took a while for the Toban family to settle down; between 1914 … Continue reading Louis Toban: Drug Store Tycoon and Philanthropist

The Buftons of Commercial Drive: A Biographical Sketch

. The Bufton family opened a store on Commercial Drive in the early 1920s. By the time they closed their business in the 1980s, they had become Drive royalty, both as a result of their corporate longevity and also because of their active involvement in so many of the issues that faced Grandview in those … Continue reading The Buftons of Commercial Drive: A Biographical Sketch

Lawn Bowling to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Leisure on the Drive, 1930-1965

The times they were a’changin’. The long recession that swamped Grandview from 1913 to the mid-1920s had merged into the Great Depression after just a few years of optimism and building. However, continued population pressures brought a steady growth of residents and the consequent continuation of trade for the kind of businesses that served the … Continue reading Lawn Bowling to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Leisure on the Drive, 1930-1965

The Wonderbucks Building

In the most recent Changes On The Drive, I reported that the building at 1301 Commercial, which most of us these days know as the Wonderbucks Building, is now for sale after lying empty for more than a year. The building has a fascinating history which I thought I might relate here. The Fraser family … Continue reading The Wonderbucks Building

Building The Legion Hall

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day when we celebrate our veterans. It seems an apt time therefore to look at how our newly-painted Legion Hall at 6th & Commercial came to be. The story is told through the pages of our local newspaper, "The Highland Echo". ***** Branch 179 of the Royal Canadian Legion was founded in … Continue reading Building The Legion Hall

York Theatre Anniversary

Seventy-five years ago today, the then-newly renovated theatre in the 600-block of Commercial Drive was opened and re-named as the York Theatre. The theatre, previously called the Palace, had been operated by the Vancouver Little Theatre Society since the 1920s. During the late 1930s, the group had fundraised enough money for a complete refurbishment of … Continue reading York Theatre Anniversary

St. Francis of Assisi church and the Italian community

(This is an excerpt from the recently published Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years [Whitecap Books]. The photographs are from The History of Saint Francis Parish, Vancouver, published in 1959)   The Franciscan Monastery, its front porch closed in, on Semlin at Napier in the 1950s   There are just a handful of places in … Continue reading St. Francis of Assisi church and the Italian community

International Women’s Day: Catherine Bufton

In honour of International Women's Day, I thought I'd write a short piece on one of the most dynamic women ever to grace Grandview and Commercial Drive. Catherine Bufton (nee Drake) was born in Gloucester, England, in 1881.  She emigrated to Manitoba where she met and married Hubert Bufton.  After Hubert's service in World War … Continue reading International Women’s Day: Catherine Bufton