Cricket, Hollywood and Shakespeare’s Garden’s Comedy Tree


City of Vancouver Archives Port P1494.2

Hollywood Cricket Club and Vancouver Cricket Club at Brockton Point, July 4, 1936. Group portrait showing Errol Flynn (seated in front row far left), Nigel Bruce (wearing knee pads) and C. Aubrey Smith. The Hollywood Cricket Club was formed in 1932 by British actor Aubrey Smith. Members included such Hollywood stars as; Boris Karloff, Ronald Coleman, Leslie Howard, David Niven, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Cary Grant, Basil Rathbone P.G. Woodhouse and Sir Laurence Oliver.

Do you know the connection between three of these cricket players and the Comedy Tree in Stanley Park’s Shakespeare’s Garden? Years ago I was searching for the garden’s Comedy Tree plaque. Eventually I found it, all covered over with grass at the base of tree. The plaque read it was planted in 1921 by Eva Moore. Who was Eva Moore? With a little research I discovered she was a British character actress, she toured Canada with her stage manager Nigel Bruce (Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson), was Sir Lawrence Olivier’s mother-in-law (Jill Esmond’s mother) and starred in the horror classic The Old Dark House with Boris Karloff

1935 mass Mother’s Day protest at Malkin Memorial Shell

The Vancouver Sun, May 13, 1935: BABY CARRIAGES HEAD MOTHERS’ DAY PARADE. Stanley Park Demonstration Demands Abolition of Relief Camps. Protesting against the relief camp system, a Mother’s Day Parade from Cambie Street grounds to Stanley Park and a demonstration on the Park featured Mother’s Day here Sunday. Three hundred women and 1400 men led by the C.C.F. band, started out from the grounds shortly after noon. four women pushing baby carriages before them marked the first line of the parade, which included single girls on relief, and Chinese unemployed. … Before the Malkin Memorial Shell in Stanley Park the women marched into the outline of a huge heart. This was solidly filled with the men, groups of whom bore huge letters to form the words “Mothers Abolish the Relief Camps”

Who were the Seven Sisters?

Photo: City of Vancouver Archives ca. 1920, Caption “The Seven Sisters” St Pk P203

Vancouver Sun April 3, 1951. “FAMED GIANTS OF FOREST DOOMED. Seven Sisters of Stanley Park Must be Destroyed as Menace. The famed ‘Seven Sisters’, lofty guardians of Stanley Park’s evergreen glades, soon will end their vigil. Park’s Board officials said today that all seven are now dead and must come down. Naked of foliage, their tops broken off, the great trees are becoming a hazard, and may even blow down in the next high wind. Much of their bark has fallen to their feet and what is left hangs gnarled and dead. The trees are believed to be over 700 years old… Their name has two possible origins, he [City Archivist Major J.S. Matthews] said. They may have been named after the seven famous women known as the Sutherland Sisters, who sold hair tonic. They performed in Vancouver shop windows. Another possibility is that they were named after the seven daughters of one of Gastown’s prominent citizens, Angus C. Fraser of Jericho.”
Another possible name origin: Vancouver Province September 28, 1949: “When Stanley Park was dedicated by Lord Stanley on Oct 29, 1889, there were just seven girls between the ages of 10 and 18 in the 1,000-add population of Vancouver. One of the favorite playing spots of the seven was an area in the heart of the park dominated by seven huge evergreens. Because there was one tree for each girl, early settlers called them The Seven Sisters.

Photo: City of Vancouver Archives, ca 1900. Caption: “The seven Sutherland Sisters.” Port P684

CWACs & the Paparazzis

Photo: City of Vancouver Archives, 1945. Caption: “Canadian Women’s Army Corps members at play near second beach” (This may actually be Third Beach as Tatlow Trail exits there). Mil P219

The park has had “military reserve” status since 1859. Third Beach was used as a training centre for 300 Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC’s) during WWII, probably due in part to its isolated location protected by a thick forest. This didn’t prevent newspapers photographers in trying to snap pictures of the CWAC’s in their beach wear.
Canada was one of the last countries in the British Empire to sanction female enlistment in its military forces. Over 45,000 women volunteered during WWII, 22,000 in the CWACs worked as secretaries, clerks, canteen workers, vehicle drivers and many other non-combat military jobs. Their basic pay was 2/3rds that of service men of equal rank.