Jesus People

The Jesus movement was a Christian movement beginning in California in the late 1960s, spreading up the West Coast and throughout North America in the 1970s before subsiding by the 1980s. Members of the movement were referred to as Jesus people, or sometimes as Jesus freaks. The Jesus movement in some ways was a response to the hippie counterculture movement of the late 1960s. In the summer of 1967, the “Summer of Love”, tens of thousands of young people flocked to San Francisco to celebrate personal expression, to experiment with drugs and to participate in open sexuality.

As many became disillusioned with the hippie lifestyle, new evangelists appeared in the San Francisco Bay Area, urging people to follow Jesus Christ and to forsake drugs and promiscuous sex. By early 1969 a synthesis of hippie Christians and evangelical religion (especially Pentecostal religion) was spreading up the West Coast and across North America. One aspect of the Jesus movement that attracted youth was the use of folk, pop and rock music, in contrast to conservative churches that had traditionally shunned such entertainment.

In Seattle a group that became known as the Jesus People’s Army (JPA) was started by Linda Meissner and a Vancouver chapter of JPA was headed by Russ Griggs. The Vancouver JPA organization was significant and included an eighty-acre ranch, a bakery-delicatessen, a school for high-school dropouts and a coffee house (Shepherd’s Call). For a period of time around 1969 to 1971 some of the Vancouver JPA members stayed at 823 Jackson Avenue.

Annie Girard (at that time Annie Walker, pictured above in 1972), took over the building at 823 Jackson Avenue in 1969 from the AME. By then, the AME had long since ceased as a functioning congregation, the members having dispersed from the Strathcona neighborhood. Largely this was the result of upward mobility as the AME members moved to better neighborhoods as they could afford to.

The name “Fountain Chapel” was given to the building by the AME church when the congregation first started in 1921, but Annie Girard (who was not associated with AME, had her own non-denominational worship service and was ordained by the Assemblies of God) decided to keep the name Fountain Chapel to refer to the building. Rev. Girard referred to her ministry as the “Cry In The Wilderness“, perhaps because she saw her mission in part as providing refuge for young people searching for answers in a complex and difficult world. In her interview with Marlatt and Itter for the Opening Doors project, Rev. Girard recounts how she helped many kids get off drugs and gave them a place to stay: “I went around to Jericho Beach and I went around these places and I gathered up kids, kids that were on drugs and said ‘Hey, come on kids. I can find more for you than drugs. Come on, I’ll show you a better way.'”

It was during this time that some of the JPA members needed a place to stay and Rev. Girard invited them to stay in the Fountain Chapel for about a year in a communal living arrangement. Eventually Rev. Girard broke with the JPA but some of the individuals remained. In his book “The Far-Out Saints of the Jesus Communes”, journalist Hiley H. Ward chronicles his experiences traveling throughout North America visiting people associated with the Jesus movement. Mr. Ward notes that while the Jesus Movement was predominantly white, for the most part it was racially integrated and non-discriminatory. On this point Ward highlights the Fountain Chapel as an example of integration and comments that: “Ann Walker, a black, heads a white commune (Fountain Chapel) in Vancouver, after splitting off from the Jesus People Army group.” [Ward, p. 88]

AME Trustees

We’ve written here that Nora Hendrix was a co-founder of the AME congregation at 823 Jackson Avenue from around 1921 until 1969. But who were the other co-founders? One possible answer comes from exploring the historical title to the building. While a title to the building was recorded in the name of the AME church, a second recording at the same time listed three trustees (detail pictured above). The three names were: Sidney Andrew Amos, Nora Hendrix and Maude Wright.

When the building was sold to Annie Walker (later Annie Girard) in 1969, she had the agreement of the presiding Elder from Seattle, but she needed to collect the signatures of the trustees. In an interview from 1977, Ms. Girard recounts how it was difficult to get the final signature:

“It was owned by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, but I was trying to buy it, and they had offered it to me, and all I had to do was get one more name signed. Mrs. Hendrix was already signed and there was two other names that were signed. I just had to get one more name, and this man had gone, they hadn’t seen him for thirty years. And they had to have his name, or a death certificate or something. Nobody could find a death certificate, you couldn’t find nothing for the man, he was a minister. The minister that was here at that time, Mr. [Amos], he was here at that time. He was the one of the founders and they couldn’t find him nowhere, but yet his name was on the title. And a miracle happened there. The man just came out of the clear blue sky, after five years. He said, “I’ve heard that I’ve been looked for.” And he just came out of the clear, blue sky. And he said, “Sure , I’ll sign the paper.” And he signed it, and he said, “I couldn’t imagine, that I would hold up something.” And he’s still a minister, in Chicago.”

(Opening Doors, unpublished interview, Marlatt and Itter, 1977). The title recording the change in ownership to Annie Girard was finally recorded in August 1974.

496 Prior Street

The building at 496 Prior Street lies directly across Prior Street from 823 Jackson Avenue. The building currently on that site was built in 1930 and has had many uses over the years.

In the composite image shown above, on the left is a portion of the Vancouver fire insurance map from around 1952 shown with a drawing of the building at 496 Prior Street and the notation “PRINTERS INK MFG.”  On the top right is a photo from an article in the Vancouver Sun taken from the steps of 823 Jackson Avenue. This photo, from July 1952, shows what appears to be a sign for the “Ault & Wiborg Company of Canada“, a manufacturer of printing inks and dry color dyes and pigments.

The Ault & Wiborg Company was established in 1878 in Cincinnati, Ohio by Levi Addison Ault, who was born in Mille Roches, Ontario to French-Canadian parents and Frank Bestow Wiborg, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of a  Norwegian immigrant. The business was very successful and by 1928, when the business was sold to the International Printing Ink Corp. (which later became Interchemical Corp.), it was the international leader in the inks field.

The building at 496 Prior Street also has a ghost sign for “Money’s Mushrooms” on the west side of the building that is still visible today.  W. T. Money established W. T. Money & Co. in 1928 which later because Money’s Mushrooms and was a local supplier of mushrooms headquartered at 631 Seymour Street, later moving to Surrey, BC.

496 Prior Street was bought by the City of Vancouver in 1983 and in the 1980s it was operated under a City program as an incubator for start-up businesses. A number of different  businesses leased space in the building from the city during that time.  In fact, one of the tenants was local artist Torrie Groening, who currently has her studio at 823 Jackson Avenue.  In 1989 Groening had just returned to Vancouver from several years in Toronto and as a master printer started the print studio “Prior Editions Limited“, so named because it was located on Prior Street.

Eventually one of the tenants, White Monkey Design, took over the entire building and is the current occupant. The bottom photo on the right above is a recent photo of the building.  White Monkey Design, run by Booth Milton, manufactures props for the film and TV industry and has created a large number of diverse and fascinating props for locally produced movies and TV shows.

R. F. Outcault

Richard Felton Outcault (1863 – 1928) was an illustrator and cartoonist.  He started as a scientific illustrator who worked for Thomas Edison but he is best known for his series “The Yellow Kid” which was centered around an Irish boy named Mickey Dugan living in the immigrant neighborhoods of New York’s Lower East Side. The Yellow Kid was so-named because he always appeared in a yellow shirt, he was often bare footed and sometimes pulling around a dead cat on a string.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of The Yellow Kid series. It was hugely popular at the time and became a cultural icon. The Yellow Kid has been recognized as the first American comic strip and has been honoured by the United States Postal Service.  Outcault originally created the series for Joseph Pulitzer‘s New York World and in the newspaper wars of the turn of the century New York he was subsequently hired away by William Randolph Hearst‘s New York Journal.

Outcault created a fictional place in Mickey Dugan’s world name “Hogan’s Alley” where he and his pals played.  Hogan’s Alley was a chaotic, messy, disorganized and playful lane where all sorts of mischief took place.  Above are illustrated “At The Circus In Hogan’s Alley” dated May 5, 1895 (New York World) and a detail from “Moving Day In Hogan’s Alley” from May 3, 1896 (New York World).

Due to the popularity of The Yellow Kid, the term “Hogan’s Alley” became synonymous with poor especially immigrant neighborhoods with much and sometimes nefarious activity.  There were many neighborhoods referred to informally as “Hogan’s Alley” throughout North America and it was as such that the T-shaped lane in Vancouver bordered by Union Street, Prior Street, Gore Avenue and Main Street, which is two blocks west of 823 Jackson Avenue, came to be known. The north-south portion of this lane was also named Park Lane.  Some have referred to Hogan’s Alley as extending east along the lane between Union and Prior and some have also referred generally to the area as Hogan’s Alley.

In 1970 the block containing Hogan’s Alley was demolished in order for the ramps to the Georgia and Dunsmuir  viaducts to be built and the rest of the block is now a park.

Rev. J. Ivan Moore

James Ivan Moore was the first Canadian-born pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in Vancouver and may have been the last full time minister assigned to the building at 823 Jackson Avenue.  J. Ivan Moore was a fascinating man who’s life spanned the 20th Century.  He was born in Guelph, Ontario around 1900, was adopted, and was raised in nearby Brantford. He served in the Canadian military near the end of World War I, being drafted on July 1, 1918 into the 2nd Canadian Garrison Regiment in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

After the war Rev. Moore attended the Negro University at Wilberforce, Ohio and he was ordained in New York in 1935. In 1939 and 1940, he was minister at Owen Sound’s British Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. Moore’s grandson notes that he: “was a Colored man but pastored all or mostly white congregations throughout his ministry in Canada, started the first all Negro Canadian Hockey League and assisted A. Phillip Randolph in organizing the Canadian Car Porters in the 1930’s.”

Rev. Moore moved to Vancouver around 1950 to serve as the pastor for the AME Fountain Chapel at 823 Jackson Avenue. He is listed in the Vancouver city directories only in a single year, 1952, and no other pastors are listed between 1944 and 1963.  The July 19, 1952 issue of the Sun newspaper (photo shown above) featured Rev. Moore in an article entitled “Negroes Live Next Door” by Bruce Ramsey.   The Sun photo shows Rev. Moore standing to the left and shows the Crumb family ascending the steps of 823 Jackson Avenue including Mrs. Robert Crumb, twin sons Robert and Ronald, 12 (who were well-known Vancouver entertainers at the time) and daughter Sandra, 5.

The Sun article notes that “the city’s Negro population, numbering some 700 persons … [were] scattered throughout Vancouver.” The article also notes that “there is no one locality in Vancouver which can be described as being Negro”.  Nevertheless, Rev. Moore worked tirelessly to help Vancouver’s black population, especially black  youth. During his time in Vancouver Rev. Moore set up a youth support program that met every Wednesday in the church.

Alas, Rev. Moore’s time in Vancouver did not last long. He was only the pastor at the Fountain Chapel for two years and then was reassigned to an AME Church in Spokane, Washington.  Rev. Moore’s daughter and son both graduated from high school in Vancouver during that time but they never returned after graduation. Rev. Moore ended up moving to Northern California where he retired and passed away in 1995 in Berkeley,  California. His grandson currently lives in the Los Angeles area.

The Gallimaufry Players

J. McRee (“Mac”) Elrod was an amazing man who lived a full life.  He had a generous heart and was open minded to consider just about anything.  When Mac Elrod moved to Vancouver in 1967, it was not just to take a job at the University of British Columbia (UBC), he was also heavily involved in the community and sought ways to help others.  He was involved in the movement to assist draft dodgers from the United States and as an ordained minister he volunteered to try to restart the inactive congregation of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church at 823 Jackson Avenue. When he took over control of the building in the fall of 1969, he made a fateful decision. In order to help out a fledgling theatre group who had little funding and no place to rehearse, Mac Elrod agreed to let the Gallimaufry Players use the building during the week when it was not being used for worship services.

The Gallimaufry Players were an experimental theatre group that included lead actors Wayne Robson and Angela Slater. The Ubyssey (which is the student-run newspaper of UBC) published an article in its September 26, 1969 issue (excerpt pictured) about the Gallimaufry Players including an interview with Angela Slater.  Their so-called manifesto states that: “The Gallimaufry is a small group of professional actors, directors, designers, and writers dedicated to the production of an Avant-Garde repertory in Vancouver on a regular professional basis. The Gallimaufry exists primarily to say new things in new ways. Whether described as ‘Avant-Garde’, ‘Experimental’ or ‘Radical’; the new theatre comes into existence when the rigidity of the artistic establishment challenges the artist to extend the boundaries.”

And extend the boundaries they did. In 1969 the Gallimaufry put on a production of Michael McClure’s The Beard, a play about a fictional conversation between two legendary figures, Jean Harlow and Billy the Kid, and containing explicit language and a controversial final scene with a simulated sex act. While perhaps not extraordinary by today’s standards, in 1969 it offended some and actors Robson and Slater were arrested for obscenity during one performance, charges which were eventually dropped.

The Ubyssey article notes that: “The Gallimaufry is starting on its first regular winter season this year.  The company is still very short of funds and is still without an acceptable location for performance. For the time being, however, it has moved into downtown into the African Methodist Episcopal Church (!) on the corner of Jackson and Prior.  The church was donated by its Priest (who, I was told, is somewhat of a freak) and in it the company members live, act, rehearse, write, plan and just generally be.”

Amusingly, the Ubyssey published an apology two weeks later: “Oops. The Ubyssey apologizes profusely for certain comments in its September 26 issue of Page Friday. In an article entitled ‘The Gallimaufry’, it was stated that the members of the Gallimaufry Theatre lived ‘communally together’ in the African Methodist Episcopal Church on Jackson and Prior Street. Also, it was stated that the priest of this church was ‘somewhat of a freak’. The Gallimaufry Theatre Company does not live together in the church. The members have their own individual places of domicile, and only work together in the church. The priest of the church is not a ‘freak’ . He is a responsible citizen, and is actually quite straight.”

In the end it was the presence of the Gallimaufry Players in the building at 823 Jackson Avenue that contributed to the decision to sell the building to Annie Girard. As she recounts in her interview from 1977 (unpublished interview, Marlatt and Itter), Rev. Girard was sharing the building with Mac Elrod at the time and she invited the presiding AME Elder from Seattle, who had the ultimate authority over the building, up to see what was going on. It was this decision in 1969 that ended the AME church in Vancouver and started an era during which Rev. Girard used 823 Jackson Avenue for her own non-denominational services.  While retaining the name Fountain Chapel, she referred to her ministry as the Cry in the Wilderness Church.

Canada Post Envelope

Every year Canada Post issues two stamps in celebration of Black History Month (February).  On January 30, 2014 Canada Post issued a first day envelope featuring the building at 823 Jackson Avenue on the cover (pictured).  The stamp and the envelope honour Hogan’s Alley, which was a T-shaped alley in the block bounded by Main Street, Gore Avenue, Prior Street and Union Street (two blocks west of 823 Jackson Avenue), a block which was torn down for the construction of viaducts in early 1970s.  The Hogan’s Alley stamp depicts Nora Hendrix and Fielding William Spotts Jr.

While representing a nice illustration of the building as it looked around 2008, there are a few details that are not historically accurate for how the building looked at the time of Hogan’s Alley.  The white cross was added in 1985, the red roof was installed in 1995, the covered entry way was added in the late 1990s and the illustration does not show the dormers.  The lane behind the building at 823 Jackson Avenue lies on the extension of Hogan’s Alley which was two blocks to the west.  We’ll have more to say about Hogan’s Alley in future posts.

John Qualen

The current building at 823 Jackson Avenue was the second church to be built in that location. In 1893 a small one-storey church was built for the First Scandinavian Lutheran Church. City directories list the first pastor as Rev. C. J. Olsen from 1894 to 1897 followed by Rev. Peder Olaus Kvalen (later changed to Qualen) from 1898 to 1901 and again from 1906 to 1908. Peder Olaus Kvalen was born in Wisconsin on March 22, 1872. His wife, Anna Heggelund, was born in Norway. Prior to coming to Vancouver, Rev. Kvalen and his family had been living in Iowa where their first son Olai was born. Their first house in Vancouver was 404 Keefer, but they soon moved to 516 Prior Street.

On December 8, 1899, Rev. Kvalen’s wife Anna gave birth to their second son, Johan Mandt Kvalen (pictured), who became an actor under the name John Qualen.  John Qualen went into acting against his father’s wishes and eventually reaching Broadway, he gained his big break as the Swedish janitor in Elmer Rice’s Street Scene in 1931. His movie career began when he recreated the role in the film version. This was followed by his appearance in John Ford’s Arrowsmith (1931) which began a more than thirty year membership in John Ford’s “stock company”, with important supporting roles in The Searchers (1956), Two Rode Together (1961), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964).

Appearing in well over one hundred films, and acting extensively on television into the 1970s, Qualen performed many of his roles with various accents. Qualen assumed a Midwestern dialect as Muley, who recounts the destruction of his farm by the bank in Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath (1940), as the confused killer Earl Williams in Howard Hawks’ classic comedy His Girl Friday (1940) and as Berger, the jewelry-selling Norwegian resistance member in Michael Curtiz’ Casablanca (1942).

Rev. Qualen and his family stayed in Vancouver until about late 1901 when Rev. Qualen was transferred to Chicago. There he looked after two congregations: Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church in South Chicago and Nazareth Norwegian Lutheran Church in West Pullman, Chicago.  Rev. Qualen remained Pastor of both churches until 1906 when he was transferred back to Vancouver. After leaving Canada around 1909 Rev. Qualen and his wife Anna lived in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota before settling in Santa Monica, California.  Rev. Peder Olaus Qualen died in Los Angeles on March 12, 1964 and John Qualen died in Torrrance, California on September 12, 1987.

Rev. Theodore Jones

The annual Vancouver city directories for 823 Jackson Avenue sometimes list the Reverend, Minister or Pastor. This was especially true in the early years of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in the 1920s and 1930s, when ministers would come from the United States and would stay for several years at a time.  At some point, however, the turnover of ministers increased and the directories would rarely list a presiding minister. Nora Hendrix notes in an interview from 1977 that: “… then after six years we commenced getting different preachers every year pretty well.” (Opening Doors, Marlatt and Itter, 1979).

From 1942 to 1951 the city directories list a minister in only a single year, 1944: Rev. Theodore R. Jones.  Rev. Jones was born in 1901 in Arkansas, the grandson of a Methodist minister. He graduated from Flake University in Nashville Tennessee, and from Livingstone College, Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina. Livingstone College and Hood Theological Seminary are affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, technically a different denomination than the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Rev. Jones taught for four years in Africa, was ordained in 1932 and then spent three years in South America and the Virgin Islands. Rev. Jones came to Vancouver around September, 1943 and it’s not clear how long he remained the pastor of the Fountain Chapel.

In an article for the Province dated January 17, 1944, entitled “Life Too Easy Here, Says Negro Pastor” (pictured), Rev. Jones gives his opinion that the “lack of racial discrimination makes it too easy” for black people in Canada. He also comments that: “The colored population of Vancouver is in a state of spiritual adultery,” and that “of the estimated 500 or 700 [black people] in Vancouver, less than 50 attend the service of the only church for colored people here.”

Of course there was some racial discrimination in Vancouver and much of it was subtle.  Adam Rudder discusses this in detail in his Master’s Thesis: “A Black Community in Vancouver?: A History of Invisibility” (University of Victoria, 2004). However such discrimination did not prevent a significant degree of mobility and Rev. Jones  characterization of “spiritual adultery” reinforces the notion that many black people no longer lived in the neighborhood and were comfortable attending services in other churches.  Rudder notes that: “… it seems certain that by the end of the 1950s black people had moved from Strathcona and scattered into the greater Vancouver area … families chose to move outside of the lower socio-economic area of Strathcona and into more middle class neighborhoods … when black people were able to get better jobs, they began to buy houses in other areas of the city.”

Also, Rev. Mac Elrod, who attempted to restart the AME congregation in 1969 found that the original congregation had largely moved out of the neighborhood and were attending services in other churches. Rudder concludes that “Whether it was convenience, dissatisfaction with the AME church or spiritual adultery that influenced black people to  attend church in their new neighborhoods remains a question for debate. Unfortunately for the church, the migration of wealthier black people out of the Strathcona area also meant the loss of some of their key members.”

Thus, the decline of the AME congregation at 823 Jackson Avenue can at least in part be attributed to the upward mobility of the original congregation. Many had left Strathcona not because they had to but because they could (i.e. on their own terms).  Purvey and Belshaw note that “Strathcona is Vancouver’s doorstep, the community that welcomes newcomers, … of all Vancouver’s communities, it was the most diverse, … [with] newcomers on the way up and out, and Vancouverites on the way down.” (Vancouver Noir 1930-1960, 2011)

Combining North and South

The building at 823 Jackson Avenue sits on the north half of a property that was originally two 25 foot lots.  The building barely fits on just the north half of the property because the south half of the property was not owned by the church at the time the building was constructed.  In fact, as far back as 1894 the two halves were owned separately and it wasn’t until 1977 that they were re-combined.

Going back to the original Crown grant, the entire area was titled to the British Columbia and Vancouver Island Spar Lumber Sawmill Company Limited with a title recorded on November 30, 1865. Between 1865 and 1894 there were various transfers and the lots in the area were owned by George Campbell, Edward Davis Heatley, Dennis Reginald Harris and The Vancouver Improvement Company Limited. Then on June 17, 1891 both lots were sold to Swan G. Hoffard.

Mr. Hoffard was a grocer at Rude & Co, which was on the north side of Keefer Street near Gore Avenue.  According to the 1901 census, Swan G. Hoffard was born in Norway on March 9, 1852 and came to Canada in 1887. In 1880 Mr. Hoffard was living in Hawley, Clay County, Minnesota and working as a dry goods store clerk. His wife, Cecelia Elizabeth Herreid was born in Hardanger, Norway on January 19, 1862, the daughter of Ole and Cecilia Herreid and she came to Canada in 1887 and to Vancouver in the 1888.

In 1894 the north and south halves of the double lot were split and the north half was sold to Carl J. Olson, who was the pastor of the First Scandinavian Lutheran Church.  Between 1894 and 1910 (when the current building was constructed), there was an earlier smaller church built on the site and the city directories variously list the address as hosting the “Swedish Church”, “First Scandinavian Lutheran Church”, “Lutheran Church”, “Scandinavian Church”, “Scandinavian Lutheran Church”, “German Lutheran Church” and finally in 1910 the “Norwegian Lutheran Church”, which is how it remained listed until 1922.

The south half of the property was owned by Cecelia Hoffard until 1937, and then went through a number of different owners until 1959 when it was sold to the City of Vancouver.

Annie Girard, who owned the north half of the property since 1974, had been trying to purchase the south half from the City of Vancouver since as early as 1976.  The City of Vancouver initially offered to sell it for $40,000 but eventually a price of $35,000 was agreed upon and approved in a meeting of the City Council on February 22, 1977 (excerpt of minutes pictured) on the condition that Rev. Girard combine the two halves back into a single lot which she did.