Posted on August 17, 2008
Where did Frank Rogers die?
The few short blocks between 999 Canada Place and the north foot of Gore are steeped in BC history, all invisible to the throngs taking photos of Gastown Steam Clock. (Paris has the Eiffel Tower, London has Millenium Walk, Vancouver has the Steam Clock.) One historic mystery we revisited yesterday on the reprise of the Labour History Walk I first led during Jane’s Walks, in May, is the exact location at which charismatic union leader Frank Rogers was shot and killed by CPR thugs in April 1903. Was it the north foot of Abbott, in the heart of the city’s old core? Or at the north foot of Gore, closer to the docks? I favour Abbott, because Rogers was subsequently taken to a nearby hotel for care. (The location now is dominated by a furniture store; at one time, it housed the headquarters for the International Workers of the World.) His death sparked a march of 800 mourners, a huge crowd for a city of only about 21,000.
Rogers short life — he was 30 — touched on many themes that affect us today: he was a campaigner against injustice, a salmon conservationist long before it was fashionable and an opponent of racism at a time when it dominated civic life. (For more about Rogers, see my Salmon, the Decline of the Pacific Fishery, now out of print but available at VPL.)
Thanks to Bill McMichael for the wonderful photo of our group on the Main Overpass, where Burrard Ironworks has become a club and the Canadian Fishing Co. Home Plant sits quiet after more than century of fish processing, its fate uncertain. If you’re interested in doing the walk, I’m happy to organize another outing or you can order an excellent guide here.