This morning I paid a visit to the Strathcona home of Al Neil and Carole Itter. The purpose of my visit concerned Al’s piano, which, owing to new landlords, has to be out by June.
Along with Al and Carole.
Visiting Strathcona, no matter how quickly, can take time. There is always someone to bump into, catch up with. One person I often see between my car and the doorstep is CBC writer-broadcaster Bill Richardson.
Bill began his Vancouver years soaking up the West End, but for the past ten has lived in Strathcona, where he greets you as if it was he who drove the first nail. This morning was no exception.
“Welcome to our neighbourhood!" he extolled, arms outstretched.
If Strathcona should have an honorary mayor, it shouldn’t.
Al and Carole have lived on Hawks Street since Al was a year into his first Canada Pension cheque – twenty years ago (Al was born the same year as architect Arthur Erickson). In that time they have seen the neighbourhood shift from a predominantly ethnic Chinese population, many of them descendants of immigrant railway workers, to one funded by the film industry. Of course with that shift came displacement.
Today was my first visit to Al and Carole’s. What a treat to see their Edwardian walls, covered with the art of their time; the well-maintained rooms, each with its own purpose; the biggest claw-foot tub, ever; Carole’s roomy attic studio; and of course Al’s Bush & Gerts upright, which, if all goes well, will have a room of its own at the Waldorf Hotel, six blocks east on Hastings.
As for Al and Carole, there are leads. Even Bill Richardson is keeping an eye out.