A rare glimpse of early Vancouver emerges in historic family photos
Around 1906 an unknown photographer took a shot of pioneer Vancouver’s legendary lifeguard Joe Fortes with some children at English Bay beach.
It’s a real slice of the early city. Fortes is wearing a giant one-piece wool bathing suit, and looming behind him is the old English Bay Pier. Behind the pier are several substantial houses, on the water side of Beach Avenue.
The photo was made into a postcard titled “‘Joe,’ English Bay, Vancouver, B.C.,” and was reissued several times. But the identity of the kids was unknown, until Brock Lumsden opened a family photo album put together by his late great-aunt Flora Richardson Strang.
Flora has identified herself in the photo, frolicking in the water to Joe’s right. Her sister, Gertrude, is beside her. A third sister, Ethyl, is on Joe’s left, with her friend Helen Newsom.
The Richardson girls probably knew Joe well, because they lived in one of the houses on the water on Beach Avenue, just west of the English Bay Pier.