In August, when I was planning my first history walking tour of the East End, I did a run through of my route. That's when I found them. I was crossing the street from where the main part of Hogan's Alley was--the block bounded by Main, Union, Gore Avenue and Prior-- north toward where Vie's Chicken and Steak House had once stood at 209 Union. In the westbound lane of Union Street, there were three or four places where the asphalt had come off exposing of all things wooden cobbles. Now I have seen brick exposed in a number of places in the city. There is, or was, large sections of exposed brick in Victoria Drive between Powell and East Hastings. I don't know how old it is. In my imagination it was laid that way so that horses could easier climb the hill. Maybe it is not that old at all and has nothing to do with horses. If anyone knows the story, please let me know.
Then there are large sections of East Pender, or is it Frances, on both sides of Clark Drive, where you can see granite cobbles that once lined some old BC Electric tram route. But nowhere had I seen wooden cobbles before.
Quite coincidentally, during a search for an article on the opening of the Connaught Hotel (see earlier post) in the February 28, 1913 Daily News Advertiser I found an article on those very wooden blocks. Rather than reiterate what is written there, have a read for yourself. Just so you know, and the article will talk about it, the cobbles were not left exposed like that, but were covered with a layer of creosote and sand. This method of road paving was supposed to be the best for horse traffic, which in 1913, still dominated our city’s roadways.
Remember that all images in these blogs will enlarge when you click them.
Since this piece was first posted, a friend of mine sent me a link to an article on Waddington Alley in Victoria. It is still completely paved with wooden cobbles. Here is the link: http://www.islandnet.com/~jar/streetscapes/topics/waddington.htm