When diving back into the classified ad listings of yore, it’s easy to see why newspapers were such a popular item. The news was fine, the gossip interesting enough, but the classified ads were just a treasure trove of weirdness.
Our first find in the October 1, 1917 Vancouver Daily Sun classified is an interesting – and ominous one.
There are a lot of lost dog notices in the old classifieds, but this one stands out.
J.N. Brown of 357 Nicola Street (now a housing co-op across from Carderos Restaurant) wants her dog back, and she’s going to go to the courts to make it happen if someone doesn’t hand the mutt over.
For the love of all that’s holy, please give Punch back to his/her rightful owner! The last thing we need is for the lawyers to get involved.
THIS IS BILLY. HE’S A LITTLE BACKWARD:
Those with ‘backward or delicate’ children can rejoice, as there’s a teacher willing to deal with their progeny.
‘Backward’ may be a rough term to categorize a kid, but we’ve all been there.
THE BEST IN THE WORLD!
I have to hand it to ‘Jasper’ here, he’s nothing if not confident in his leather polishing skills.
He doesn’t have a phone, but if you prowl around the Standard Bank Building, you’re bound to find him… likely with a boot black’s box.
That Standard Bank Building was a beauty then, and it remains one now. The building still stands and looks as good as the day the last brick was laid.
The following day, it appeared someone had taken on Jasper at his claim at being the best in the world, when this ad appeared in the same pages:
Johnny at the Metropole Shine Stand, dealing straight fire at Jasper! Shoe-shine war!!
For those interested, the original Metropole would be swallowed up by Woodward’s Department Store next door to it, though the name shifted across the street to the Travelers Hotel in the early 1920’s and would live on for years longer.
BRING OUT YOUR JUNK!
In the category of ‘jobs that don’t exist anymore’ comes ‘used false teeth purchaser’:
Today, the former business place of J. Dunstone, false teeth buyer/seller is home to a series of businesses in industrial east Van.
This next ad is for one job you’d never make money doing today, but back in 1917, if your umbrella got ruined in a storm, there were no dollar stores to go get a replacement.
An umbrella was a pricey item, and needed to be looked after.
By this guy, in the primo real estate of the corner of Robson and Granville:
Also a hot trade back in 1917: Sacks and junk.
The Western Junk Company was on unfashionable Main Street where, today, the Campagnolo Restaurant stands. That boxy brick building below? That’s 1020.
The other one, on 833 Main Street? That’s a block that doesn’t exist anymore, having been replaced by this:
REAL ESTATE PORN:
This week’s selection of REP is just $2950 (on terms), for a 7-room house four blocks west of Granville Street.
I don’t know what part of Granville Street it was near, but it doesn’t even really matter, as it’s hardly worth imagining how many millions that property would bring today.
SNAKE OIL AND SHONKS:
This is 936 Granville Street, back in the day, home of the Harvard Rooms, the President Cafe, and Galloway’s Books.
Somewhere, up in one of those windows, there sat a woman obsessed with heads.
Fortune tellers were doing a roaring trade in 1917, and counted in their number ‘phrenologists’, who performed a quacky art of measuring people’s heads to figure out what was ailing them, or what their personality glitches were. Madame Sherry, of 936, apparently used it to heal.
I can’t tell you if Madame Sherry was her real name or a ruse, or if she was successful in her line of work, but not everyone was convinced of this phrenology malarkey.
The following ad, that maybe from someone named Victoria Best, or it could be that she’s saying she’s the best in Victoria, disavows the clairvoyants out there but promises to cure ‘bigotism, slander, graft and ignorance’.
I don’t know how she cured bigotism, but I know this is the building Victoria Best was operating out of, at 330 Homer, on the corner of Hastings:
G.S Forsyth operated a books store on that corner, known as The Homer Block, which, for a long time, had a massive sign advertising coal on the roof. Also known as The Metropolitan Block.
That corner today is… ugh.. a parking lot.
THE $200,000 WIDOW:
God bless this incredibly desperate and lonely (and misguided woman), who must have had every grifter in North America hot on her trail.
Having lost her husband (possibly due to the war), ‘Lonely’ of San Diego advertised in Vancouver looking for an honorable gentleman.
It was a different time, to be sure. And she didn’t have Tinder or OKCupid to find a date, admittedly.
But still, one has to imagine that this enterprise almost certainly turned out poorly.
Or did it?