A walk back through history in the Heights

Residents share memories of Burnaby from decades past

What was Burnaby Heights like in the 1960s and `70s?
Local resident Jack Bramhill, 60, spoke at a Burnaby Historical Society gathering recently, giving us a glimpse back in time through the eyes of a child.
The city has changed from a sleepy suburb to a hub of construction activity, but Bramhill recalled when the Bosa brothers, now major development magnates, were still attending Burnaby Heights Secondary.
Like now, the Heights was the place to shop. Hastings was lined with billboards and empty lots, where kids played commando.

Hastings Street

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Some of the billboards along Hastings Street in 1976.

Photo credit: City of Burnaby Archives, Alan Cook, photo ID 556-141.

Hastings Street was paved, but the rustic side streets were covered in gravel, and if you fell off your bike, you'd be covered in the oil used to keep the dust down.
Every home with a television had an antenna on top, and people would often have to re-jig them after windstorms.
If you wanted to see TV in colour, you could go to the Golden Horseshoe restaurant for dinner.
Glenburn Dairy was the place to go for ice cream, before it was torn down and replaced by a Smitty's pancake restaurant. Valley Bakery, still a popular shop today, was up and running at the time.

Smitty on Hastings

Smitty’s replaced the old Glenburn Dairy, the place to go for ice cream in the Heights.

Photo contributed from City of Burnaby Archives, Carr/Vardeman, photo ID 556-246.

Ray's Associated Grocery, on Oxford and Gilmore, was the place to buy baseball cards and candy, like licorice pipes and cigarettes made of sugar now considered inappropriate for children.  
If you went bowling in the Heights, in the days before automation, there were "pinboys" who set up the pins you knocked over.
"These are the memories of Burnaby I have as a child," Bramhill told the audience, while flipping through a slideshow of black and white photos from the Burnaby Archives.

The Popular Cafe

A scene from the Popular Cafe in 1976 at 4010 Hastings, now the site of Chad Thai Restaurant.

(Photo credit:  City of Burnaby Archives, Alan Cook. Photo ID 556-242)

Bramhill wasn't the only one sharing memories. Audience members brought photos and relics from days gone by, sharing their memories of the Heights.

Ruby Johnson

Longtime Burnaby resident Ruby Johnson models a 1960s coat, with a couple of her frocks from the `50s, when women always wore dresses.

"No one ever wore pants," she says. "Kids in school wore shorts, not real short-shorts. It was different. Girls never wore pants, not even in winter."

Johnson, who has lived in Burnaby for decades, bought an empty lot on Capitol Hill for just $400 when she was in her 20s. That property is now worth more than $1.3 million.

Lee Lowe

Lee Lowe looks at a photo of her nephew (with another girl) taking the last tram from Douglas Road station to Sapperton.
"I used to work in Sapperton at the B.C. Distillery, and I used to take the tram from Riverside to Sapperton, and it took eight minutes," she says.


Maureen Olofson

Maureen Olofson holds a photo of her father's sporting goods store, which used to be on Hastings Street, next to Helen's. Olofson remembers visiting the store as a young girl.
"I was amazed at the variety of things they sold: guns, ammo, fishing tackle, bicycles, fishing licences, paint," she says. "I was probably 14 years old, and I would help out in the summer."

gun shop

Helen Brown

Burnaby resident Helen Brown bought a  home with her husband, now deceased RCMP Supt. Donald Brown, on Suncrest Drive in South Burnaby in the 1950s. The three-bedroom home, which was new at the time, cost only $9,600. It is now worth roughly $850,000.
"There were 33 houses on Suncrest Drive, and at one time, we knew all the neighbours," she says. "One neighbour had a TV, and in the afternoon, those of us who weren't working would watch TV. It was fun."

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