Greetings from behind the scenes at the Museum of Vancouver. A born and bred Vancouverite, I’ve now been working my dream job as Curator of Collections for just over two years. Outside of work you’ll find me enjoying our local food scene either at the Farmer’s Market or one of Vancouver’s great locavore restaurants. When not eating, I do my best to take in our fabulous surroundings hiking, kayaking, or snowshoeing.
At the MOV, I’m the one in charge of keeping track of all the artifacts and their respective stories. This is my first blog post so I thought I’d introduce you to one of the fun parts of my job.
As Curator of Collections, one of my roles is to assist in the acquisition of artifacts for the collection. The best part of this job is meeting with the donors and learning about the story that goes with each object. Often, the item has been passed down within a family and so the details about the where, why, and when have become blurry or even lost. This will understandably happen. Sometimes, an individual will recognize that though his or her object may not be that old, what they’ve got is a little piece of Vancouver history that must be shared. On these occasions, we benefit by receiving the story of that object firsthand.
One such case happened earlier this year. Long-time Vancouver resident, Bill Earle, was downsizing and came across his 1950 Admiral television set that he has been carrying with him on each household move for the last 60 years. He recognized that this piece both told a part of his own personal history of a boy growing up in Vancouver, as well as represented a period in television history by providing such a great contrast to the 36” flat screen televisions found in many Vancouverites’ homes today. MOV agreed that this was an artifact and a story worth preserving. Mr. Earle kindly wrote out the history of the television so that nothing was lost.
7" Admiral black and white mantel television set, 1948
The above television set was purchased second-hand in 1953 by Bill Earle. Bill was just 13 years old at the time. Living on Alma Road and attending Point Grey Junior High, Bill earned his pocket money as a bicycle delivery boy for Moran’s Drug Store on Dunbar Street at West 40th Ave. Over three years of working there for a wage of 35 cents an hour, he had saved an impressive $75 dollars to put toward a special purchase. Bill saw the TV advertised in the Vancouver Province classifieds and convinced his father to go with him to take a look. The asking price was $95 so Bill’s father generously agreed to chip in the required $20 to meet the purchase price.
When larger TVs, 17” and 21” models became more readily available, Bill’s family purchased a 21” Chisholm and the above little gem wound up being stored (as a precious heirloom!) in the basements of three different homes until its recent move to the Museum of Vancouver.
Bill’s TV is now always accessible via MOV’s brand new on-line artifact database. Click the green openMOV button in the top left corner. To go directly to the record for the Admiral TV, follow this link.
A big thank you to Bill Earle and all our donors for the time and thought you’ve put into your donations to the Museum of Vancouver. Without you, we (and by that I mean Vancouver) wouldn’t have the strong collection that we do.
For me, I have fond memories of watching TV as a child in my brother’s upstairs bedroom as that was the only room in which we could get adequate reception. We didn’t have cable so there were just 4 channels. My first memories are of the Friendly Giant, Mr. Dress Up, and Sesame St. line up. The TV was still in my brother’s room when I was in grade six and discovered that we got Little House on the Prairie (!). The poor guy - I wonder if this is why we soon got cable and the TV was moved to the rec room.
What about you? What are your early memories of TV? Do you remember when the “remote control” was connected to the TV with a wire? Or when Betamax was the hottest thing? Or what other kinds of everyday artifacts represent your piece of Vancouver history?
Stay tuned for more behind the scenes blog posts from MOV’s Curatorial Department.