We live in times of uncertainty, but of one thing I am certain: We can create compassionate communities wherever we are. I am grateful for my blogging community. We have learned how to forge connections across the globe. Together, we have built a virtual community that supports and encourages, shares knowledge and wisdom, fosters hope and resilience.
The Vancouver Orpheum opened its doors on November 8, 1927. Ah, it was a grand building, the largest theatre in Canada at the time, with a construction price tag of $1.25 million. Three thousand seats awaited an audience eager to see the interior of the much-awaited theatre.
Buildings have biographies and encounter transitions that reflect our ever-changing societies. Would it surprise you to know that the Vancouver Orpheum was launched as a vaudeville house? The vaudeville that became popular in North America from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, was similar to the music halls of Victorian Britain.
When the voices and acts of vaudeville’s singers, dancers, comedians and magicians fell silent in the late 1930’s, the Orpheum became a movie house, under the Famous Players name.
The crisis occurred in 1973.
In 1973, Famous Players made a financial decision that would change the course of our beloved Orpheum’s history. The Orpheum was scheduled for a major upgrade to a multiplex. The magnificent interior was to be gutted. The public protest was heard across Vancouver and beyond. Even Jack Benny made an emotional appearance.
The Orpheum was saved.
The City of Vancouver bought the Orpheum and closed the theatre on November 23, 1975 to complete a full restoration. April 2, 1977 the Orpheum was reopened and is now the permanent home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Two years later, in 1979, the Orpheum was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
During December, our family attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah. After the crowds dispersed, I stayed behind to capture a few photos to celebrate the history of this noble building and all those who came together to save its legacy for generations to come.
Come, join me on a short walk through a building that has graced Vancouver for nearly 100 years.
Music by Cercles Nouvelles “Palace Garden Roses” Epidemic Sound
Canadian winters are legendary. Think Snowmageddon St. John’s Newfoundland this past weekend and Edmonton, Alberta’s coldest morning of this century: Wednesday morning (January 15, 2020) when the temperature set a record of – 37.8 degrees Celsius. I grew up in Northern Manitoba where the average temperature in January is considered “severely cold.” So, when Vancouver had a winter storm warning this past week, it felt like we had joined the rest of Canada.
I love our winters – the snow, cold air, the fresh smell. Yes, I can smell when snow is in the forecast.
Canadians know how to embrace the cold!
- Buy boots with removable liners and be sure that your feet don’t feel cramped.
- Wear a hat and cover your face. I learned firsthand what it felt like to have frozen cheeks.
- Buy a thermos so that you can bring along a hot drink if you are walking. You will notice that I have a stash of regular and herbal tea on hand in winter months.
- Protect your hands. While I love gloves, mittens are even better for keeping your fingers warm.
- And if you are in cold, cold, cold weather, check out those fashionable fleeced-line leggings. Your legs will thank you.
Vancouver’s snow is disappearing with the rain, but I captured the moment. Join me on my snow walk.
“Some hats can only be worn if you’re willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you’re only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.”
January 15th is National Hat Day, an unofficial holiday that celebrates one of the most essential accessories invented centuries ago. Even the Egyptians sported sassy headgear, along with the Ancient Greeks and Romans.
Think of Winston Churchill’s hat, the homburg, a felt hat with an elegant curved brim boasting a grosgrain ribbon. And recall Napoleon’s bicorne, which he wore sideways to stamp his brand for all to see his courage on the battlefield. I remember Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat, classic and elegant. Then there was the famous Panama Hat worn by President Theodore Roosevelt when he was visiting the Panama Canal excavation. My most favourite “hat” fashionista is Queen Elizabeth II, long may she reign. Her signature style of matching hat and gloves with a string pearls is timeless and graceful.
Vancouver was under snow today and there is more snow in the forecast. Winter has arrived and I had the perfect hat to keep me warm on a snow day!
“ O Christmas Tree O, Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They’re green when summer days are bright;
They’re green when winter snow is white.”
Vancouver’s Christmas tree, from what I witnessed when it was being assembled in the Vancouver Art gallery plaza a few days ago, is a masterful piece of engineering. The cranes were in place, and the sidewalk was blocked off from pedestrians. An attentive ground crew, along with two brave men high above the ground, worked together to secure the placement of the branches. There was even a brisk chill in the sunshine of a Vancouver afternoon that gave a nod to winter with the possibility of snow for Christmas.
December is fast approaching, the month that heralds the upcoming holiday festivities with the promise of gingerbread cookies, eggnog, and gathering of families and friends. The music that came to me as I watched the evolving tree transformation was “O Tannenbaum.”
To be clear, Tannenbaum is a fir tree, not a Christmas tree, nor does the original lyrics refer to Christmas. It has an old and ancient history – that is, if you consider the Renaissance to be ancient. This is the story of how O Tannenbaum came to be a Christmas carol:
It all began with the German composer Melchior Franck, (1579 – 1639), who was both an influential and prolific composer during the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. One of his compositions was a Silesian folk song, “Ach Tannenbaum.” Silesia, as I found out in a Google search, is a historical region of Central Europe which is located mainly in present-day Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic.
Fast forward to Joachim August Christian Zarnack, (1777 – 1827) a German preacher, teacher and – here is the important part – a collector of German folk music. In 1819, he transformed Melchior Franck’s composition into a tragic and heartbreaking love song, using the symbolism of a faithful and loyal fir tree in sharp contrast to the unfaithful lover.
A few short years later in 1824, Ernst Anschütz, a Leipzig organist, teacher and composer decided to add his creative touch by including two verses of his own, still keeping to the theme of the fir tree being true and faithful. Somewhere along the way, the word “grün” (green) was added to the lyrics.
How did “O Tannenbaum” become “O Christmas Tree.” No one knows for certain how it all happened. It just did. Somewhere in the 20th century, it transitioned into a new role of becoming a beloved Christmas Carol.
Maybe it was the magic of this holiday season. Or… maybe a song takes on a life of its own.
Cycling has become a major player in responding to the need to seek the cleanest and most energy efficient forms of transportation. With every push on the bike pedal, we are the energy creators. It is the best of all solutions, for we respond to two imperatives: embracing a healthy lifestyle all the while seeking solutions to safeguard our precious world.
Serendipity is timely. On my evening walk up to my local grocery store, something exciting was happening.
Bike the Night, Vancouver
Bike the Night, presented by MEC, brings out over 5,000 cyclists, young, old and in-between, to ride through the streets of Vancouver. Starting at 8pm, riders embark on a 10-kilometer journey through the open streets of Vancouver. Even the Burrard Street Bridge is closed for the event.
The excitement and energy is unmistakable and compelling. The spirit of adventure comes through the lights, glowing reflectors and stickers. Bike the Night lights up Vancouver.