Monday, August 23, 2010

The Riley Park Stories Project

Although the Riley Park Stories Project has come to an end, the stories collected can continue to be explored and experienced on this blog.

These stories, collected from February 2009-July 2009, form a memory of this wonderful neighbourhood. Exploring these stories you can really understand the sense of the community, you can see how lives interconnect and you can piece together how this neighbourhood has grown.
Here are the direct links to the video stories:

Our Dad Percy
Conversation with Daphne
Seniors Diving Club
Tailored Memories
Full Circle
Generations Passing
The Columbia House
The Homeless Person
Fraser and 33rd Dissolve

Read a little, watch a short video, send a link to a friend, add a comment of your own memories and definitely, definitely come back again and again!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Many Many Thanks

Collecting stories for the past 6 months in the Riley Park Neighbourhood had been such an enriching experience.

I feel lucky to have been involved with such an amazing project and because of it have met some truly lovely people.

Right from the very beginning and down to the very last moment we knew we couldn't tell everyone's stories. We did our best with time we had.
Consider the blog just the tip of the iceberg!

On the final celebration screening we had a full house of friends, family, community members and staff. I have to say it was one of the warmest rooms I have been allowed to celebrate in!

Even during this screening we were again told many more stories!

On behalf of Lisa Walker and myself, lisa g, thank you for opening up to us. We hope to see you all again!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

studio: July 27th screening!

is celebrating community with a FREE SCREENING of collected stories on:
4:30 - 6:30pm
in the Assembly Room
(at the Riley Park Community Centre)
ALL Storytellers who attend will receive a complimentary compilation DVD of stories!

Friday, July 16, 2010

story: Our Dad Percy

Ralph and Ernie Norman spoke with artist in residence lisa g.
Here is part of their conversation:

Thanks to Ralph who wrote down some thoughts about his Dad.

Thanks also to The City Archives, The Vancouver Public Library and the Percy Norman Pool for the archival photographs.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

story: A Riley Park Soundwalk

Local artist Lindsey Bond put together this amazing Soundwalk that ties together many sites and stories from our blog!

Lindsey walked around the Riley Park neighbourhood and recorded the everyday noises around. By downloading the file to your iPod or CD player, you can follow along with her.

Please take a moment to visit her website. I hope many of you will be able to take this lovely walk and reflect on some Riley Park Stories!

Special thanks to Lindsey for this contribution.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

story:one armed pitcher

James Anthony Abbott (born September 19, 1967 in Flint, Michigan) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who is best known for playing despite having been born without a right hand! He played for the California Angels, the Yankees, the White Sox, and the Milwaukee Brewers, from 1989 to 1999.

Imagine playing baseball with only your left hand! Abbott used his to throw a no-hitter for the Yankees on Sept. 4, 1993, used it to compile an 18-11 record with a 2.89 earned-run average with the Angels in 1991. He used it to pitch the USA to an Olympic gold medal, used it to win award after award from sports and charitable organizations.

After all this came an extended losing streak. Jim was demoted to the minors in August 1996 to work on his pitching form.

On Aug. 22, 1996, in his home debut for the Pacific Coast League Vancouver Canadians at Nat Bailey Stadium before 6,638, Abbott lost the first minor-league decision of his career, 5-0 to the Tucson Toros. I was at this game at Nat Bailey Stadium and saw Jim pitch well, but he did serve up a three-run homer to Roger Luce, the No. 9 hitter in the Tucson Toros' lineup. So the questions he faced from the media, were about one thing and one thing only: The enduring agonies of constant, relentless losing. He had a truly terrible year in 1996, posting a 2-18 record with a whopping 7.48 ERA and briefly retired.

"I'm a believer that through adversity, there's growth," Abbott said. "Sometimes you have to break through ground to get to the more fertile soil. I am a believer in that. I think this year, in a way, has been profitable. I'm not sure that the Angels want to hear that, and I'm sure I didn't want to go through this, because it hasn't been a whole lot of fun. Sometimes pain can be an important part of finding out who you are."

James Anthony Abbott is an inspiration. He is proof that through perseverance, almost any challenge can be overcome. There are thousands of two-handed pitchers who never came close to Abbott's stature, never showed one hundredth of his courage. The way he handled the success was a marvel; the way he has confronted this debacle of a season has shown, almost refreshingly, that everyone has limits.

By a Huge Fan, Doug Anderson.


How did he play with only one hand?

When getting ready to pitch the ball, Jim Abbott would rest a right-handed thrower's glove on the end of his right forearm. After releasing the ball, he would quickly slip his hand into the glove, usually in time to field any balls a two-handed pitcher would be able to field. Then he would remove the glove by securing it between his right forearm and torso, slip his hand out of the glove, and remove the ball from the glove, usually in time to throw out the runner and sometimes even start double plays. At all levels, teams tried to exploit his fielding disadvantage by repeatedly bunting to him; this tactic was never effective.

Friday, July 2, 2010

studio: June 27 screening!

During the 18th Annual Little Mountain & Riley Park Festival, we showed videos all day in the story studio theatre!

It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday, with nice people, fun food.... and the dunk tank not far away!

Come this way!

Free popcorn!

Strollers and Hot Dogs allowed!
Even though it was overcast and sometimes sprinkling with rain, the Riley Park Story Studio often had a full house!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

story: The Homeless Person

Beza learns a little something from her Dad about a homeless person.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

story: community gardener

Beverly has lived in Riley Park for a long time…it is here that she raised a family. She often brought her kids to the Riley Park Community Centre.

She first lived on 17th in a house but now lives on 31st (at Fraser) in a townhouse…when she made this move she became interested in finding a community garden.

It has been 3 years now that she has been working with Eddie in Riley Park's Community Garden.

Beverly is in charge of the flowers and Eddie is in charge of the vegetables! They sometimes have meetings over the phone about what is going on in the garden, but now their partnership in the garden has it's own rhythm!

When Beverly is not gardening she is an artist! She has just completed an artist in residence at Carnegie Centre and she performs in a sextet called Zeellia - Beverly plays a Hurdy Gurdy and sings!

So, next time you see a community gardener, say "Hello! What do you do when you are not gardening?"

You might be surprised.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

story: Chuck and Irma

Chuck grew up in and around Riley Park. He sold Kool-aid on hot summer days and tried to pull down the girls bathing suits at the Sunset pool.
One unsuspecting girl, Irma, was the recipient of such affections and she was, understandably, none too impressed. Chuck had a bit of a reputation!

Chuck is pictured here in 1963, he is the enthusiastic kid in the foreground!

As Chuck got older he partied in Queen Elizabeth Park in the summer and he skied over moguls on the hills in the winter. Finally, Irma became interested.

Both Chuck and Irma remember making out on the bleachers in Percy Norman pool... and now... they have been married for 33 years!

Chuck became the Engineer of the Community Centre and continues to live in the area

Monday, June 28, 2010

story: In and Out

Kelsey Mackintosh took these amazing polaroid photos during Car Free Day on Sunday June 20th. She is a local photographer who lives in the Riley Park neighbourhood.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

story: Sunshine Club

When me and my twin sister were in high school, Mom organized a Sunday afternoon film program for the disabled at Riley Park Community Centre. This was the early 80’s after the community centre’s expansion.

Dad was the projectionist, and got the films from the film library at the National Film Board. Mom ran the concession. Us kids would be the helpers.

Folks would enter from the double doors off Ontario and make a left into the first room. It was the room opposite the Senior Centre.

My mom thinks it was called the Sunshine Club.

This program ran for years until it just got too big for the centre.

My parents were always trying to help us kids understand the lives of other people. They wanted us to be more accepting of others and for us to be thankful for what we had.

They would always volunteer us to help out in the community.

Of course my sister said we didn’t volunteer we were volunTOLD!


by Ingrid Steenhuisen

Saturday, June 26, 2010

story: friendly neighbourhood

My Parents moved into the housing complex at 33rd and Main in 1957 and we moved to various units as the family grew.

Our house was the go to house for whatever you needed: a cup of sugar, babysitting, a shoulder to cry on or as a community resource.

My mom was just like that.

There was one row of houses in this complex called the Pensioners Row for folks who were 70 or older.

When I was about 8 and a half one pensioner in particular would come by and ask “Would you like me to take the kids for walk?” My mother was grateful for this break in her day as he would take us around Queen Elizabeth Park for an hour or more! Here would be this nice old guy with 4 or 5 kids tagging along!
I will never forget him.
Wilf Polkinghorn.

by Ingrid Steenhuisen

Friday, June 25, 2010

story: Eddie

Eddie has volunteered here at the Riley Park Community Centre for about 5-6 years. He manages the Community Garden and is on the Seniors Committee. Eddie seems to be a very busy fellow, despite being retired for 20 years!

Eddie wanted to start the garden here for the seniors. He began getting involved by leading the groups of high school kids who would volunteer to clean it up and get school credit. Although he has never worked as a gardener, he learned all he knows through reading, as well as trial and error he says.

Eddie shows me (Lisa W.) around the garden, pointing out that not much has come in this year due to some cold weather. He is growing three different kinds of lettuce, potatoes, beets, and loads of rhubarb. He also has numerous planters of beautiful flowers, which are planted by Beverly!

Eddie comes here a few days a week to care for the garden, which is handy because he lives across the street from the community centre! Before being involved here Eddie ran a grocery store on 41st and W. Blvd. His family is from China. In 1851 his Great Grandfather started a sugar plantation in Hawaii, and in the 1880's his Grandfather came to BC to work on the rail roads. Eddie was born in Vancouver, and was the only Asian person in his high school grad class in 1948. He just had his 60th reunion at Magee Secondary School.

In the four decades he has lived in this neighbourhood, Eddie has noticed a lot of new families moving in. He hopes the garden will stay where it is even though the Community Centre is being demolished. He is busy today preparing the garden for the 18th Annual Little Mountain and Riley Park Festival, which is Sunday June 27th from 11:00am - 4:00pm. He will be giving away plants, flowers and bulbs.

Eddie says of the garden, "It's a nice little plot for anyone who wants to grow things... It gives me a little peace of mind."

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Me and my twin sister were 13 years old in the early 1970’s and living at 36th and Main at the time. Mom would let us take our younger siblings (there were 4, soon to be 5, and this gave our Mother a bit of a break/rest) to Riley Park. We would go to swim and swing … being sure to return for dinner. Our youngest brother loved the monkey bars and we learned quicklynever to be in a panic right away if we couldn’t find Fred, at least until you checked the monkey bars! Most often he could be found there!

Along the lane there was different apparatuses where all the kids and teens liked to play on back then: the swings, teeter-totters, the gymnastic trapeze bar and rings, the pool (was open 5 or 6 days a week, each summer) and the monkey barsEverything (except the swings) was taken out - apparently due to liability issues - replaced by stuff mostly for toddlers. Within the past decade they put in the climbing rock . . . exactly in the same place - where the monkey bars used to be.

Fred was three or four years old when they were building the conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park. A picture of it was in the Sun newspaper after the brick walls and the roof’s metal framework were completed. The glass panels weren’t installed yet, and it grabbed my Dad’s attention since the construction company was made up of 9 brothers from Holland, and that was my family heritage. Dad shared the picture with all of us, and of course Fred just wanted to climb it, seeing that - to him - it was just another set of monkey barsGIANT ONES!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

story: Adam and the Electric Bike Shop

Adam works at the The Grin Cyclery, at Main and 30th. This bike shop is unique as they will turn your bike into an electric bike.

Above: One of the battery testing stations at the shop

Adam takes me (Lisa W) through the process, and I won't lie I don't get it... but it sure is amazing and I am thankful he took the time to show me around and explain everything. Everyone working there seemed to be having a lovely day and didn't mind me poking around with my camera. His boss used an electric bike to travel across Canada using only 10 dollars of electricity! They also sell unicycles here, and every Wednesday they bring unicycles down in front of Science World and let people try them out.

He has been working at this company since last March. It was the first job he took since arriving in Vancouver from the UK. During his job search Adam applied to over 150 places! He enjoys working at the bike shop, and is thankful it is in the Riley Park neighbourhood.

Above: One of the workshops!

"This area has got a lot of independent stores, a vibrancy that other places don't have. I find other neighbourhoods can seem a little clinical. Main St has a good mixture of old and new. Also, the food in this stretch is one of the best parts of the job! It would be cheaper for us to be along Marine Dr. but it is worth it to be in this location, here you can go for lunch or drinks after work. I can get my good coffee too!"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

story: 4295 Main Street

Yamake Noodle and Fortune Cookie Factory
Oct 1972

Salt Spring Coffee Shop
June 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

story: picture frame

This is my face in a painting that I really like.

I like this photo because that's not the real me. My face is at a window.

I think there is a story along with these characters. There is a mother and a father and a child, but the child is at school. They live in a cottage. They're loving and caring. They would probably have 2 rooms and one bed, and the mother and father would usually sleep at the bed because they are old and the child would sleep on the ground with the pillow and use his clothes as blankets cause there are no blankets. Poor child!

One day the father got fired because he has been stealing money from the cashier. But one day the child decided to get his own job and a man let the little boy work at the school. He saved lots of money till one day he earned lots of money ! He told his parents, he told his neighbour! His parents were surprised of what he did. The parents thanked him so much that they gave the bed to him. The next day he woke up and he was so surprised. He saw five pots of gold money! When the parents woke up and saw five pots of gold the parents said, "Did you do this?" He said "No I didn't." So they fixed the house and it was marvellous! So they lived a happy life!

The end

Sunday, June 20, 2010

story: East 33rd

In 1952 East 33rd at Main Street used to look like this:

Here it is in 2010.
The Chevron apparently grew up, grew old and moved on...
Coming soon!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

story: Forests of Riley Park

It is often good to get a little context in relation to the history of the area when gathering the library one day I came across this little historical anecdote:

In the early 1900's a fellow by the name of Hugh Gunn* was hired to clear Main Street all the way south to 33rd. The idea of course was to expand the community and provide roads. In those days, Hugh needed to cut down a lot of trees since it was dense forest...but what Hugh didn't know when he started the project was that between Main and Fraser was mostly swamp!

Apparently Hugh needed to fit the oxen with snowshoes to allow them to walk on the boggy areas! He certainly didn't want to lose his oxen team disappearing into the swamp!
Imagine that sight: a team of strong oxen wearing snowshoes!

The rest of the forest from 33rd south to 41st wasn't logged and cleared for housing until the 1950's.
Until that time folks continued to hunt for rabbits in there... if you can believe it!

*Hugh Gunn unfortunately blew himself up while building Hastings Street many years later.

story: good start to the day

Teresa Paris at her 10am Aquafit class at Percy Norman...
you can find her there most mornings!

Friday, June 18, 2010

story: type

I took this photo while Jenny was working on her post with lisa g. It's a good picture to me even though it's not one person posing. I don't care that it's blurry. It reminds me that it is art, it's just a normal day and not a special occasion. People wouldn't normally take this photo. It expresses my feelings.

Lisa is in a good pose thinking of something. I don't know what she is thinking of but I bet it's really good. Maybe she is thinking about Jenny's story, taking pictures or Sports Plus. I wonder if she is thinking about something bad or good or in the past.

By Vivian

Thursday, June 17, 2010

story: 1952 Nat Bailey aerial

Check out this aerial shot!
You can even see the wing of the plane at the top of the photo.
This image is part of the VPL archives from 1952.

You can get a real sense of the changes in the area around Nat Bailey. Particularly when you consider the new Olympic sized pool and all the new facilities that are built in the land to the north of the ball park!

Please notice the Riley Park Community Centre isn't even built yet, nor is Percy Norman Memorial Pool.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

story: O o o o opera

Every Tuesday I use to go to opera lessons with my mom. On the first day I was in opera lessons I met the most nicest girl for all the girls I knew, her name was Christina and she was my best friend there. Every Tuesday we practiced and practiced a lot for concerts. We sang in Oakridge mall, in theatres, and many more. But when the next session started I had to quit because my mom could not pick me up or drop me off. The sad part for me was when I had to leave my best friend Christina I will never forget her.