Bob Bouchette at the Birds’ Paradise, 1934
Bob Bouchette was the Vancouver Sun’s most popular journalist in the 1930s. His colleague at the paper, Pierre Berton, described Bouchette as an iconoclast for things like interviewing the loser of a boxing match while other reporters scrambled to get a sound bite from the winner. A bartender at Bouchette’s watering hole, now called Funky Winkerbean’s, remembers being told not to wake Bouchette if he saw him snoozing at the bar because “he was writing a column.” The bartender remembers one story of Bouchette swimming across Burrard Inlet to his West Van home with a bottle of rum tied around his neck.
In 1934 Bouchette went undercover in the relief camps for the unemployed. The result was a six-part series of articles that gave his readers a glimpse into the abysmal conditions in the camps and thus helped raise public sympathy for the plight of the unemployed.
The Birds’ Paradise was an aviary at the home of Charles E Jones at 5207 Hoy Street. Thousands of birds from 35 wild and domestic species lived in the sanctuary and gladly posed with visitors, children, dogs, and even politicians. Jones became Vancouver’s mayor after Gerry McGeer passed away in 1947 midway through his term in office. Jones won the mayoral election in 1948, but died himself later that year.
Source: City of Vancouver Archives #371-1268
Notice to Citizens, Wednesday 28 January 1931
In the same issue of the Sun, columnist Bob Bouchette responds to Taylor’s notice:
If I were a citizen of Fascist Italy I would accept this statement without a murmur. Being a Canadian, I think it is damnable.
Apart from all consideration of its ethics, the issuance of this warning is, by inference, a misrepresentation of conditions in Vancouver. It is written with bated breath. It suggests an imminence of mob rule unless drastic measures are adopted. There has been nothing to indicate such a danger. These futile Communist demonstrations have been marked with the rapidity with which the demonstrators left the scene as soon as the police went into action. Why should the Mayor create the false impression that Vancouver is on the eve of upheaval? Is this a political gesture, calculated to picture Mayor Taylor as the strong man of the moment, protecting the persons of the citizenry? Are the merchants of the city benefited by advertising of this sort?
I don’t like the implied threat in the second sentence of the notice. The police have already used “firm hands.” To say that they intend to do so in future suggests the employment of more violent tactics. Very clearly it is intimidation. It may be quite legal to prevent the unemployed from assembling, but it is certainly no expression of the spirit of our constitution. It is a Mussolini way of meeting a situation.
Source: Vancouver Sun