Katie and Doris Hacking’s South Vancouver childhood

3 – Katie gets “the Flu”

The Hacking family experienced “Spanish Flu” first-hand. On October 5 1918, influenza reached Greater Vancouver. At first, there were no moves to impose regulations or shut schools. Margaret W. Andrews studied Vancouver’s response to the 1918-1919 epidemic through public health records and newspapers of the time. She wrote that City of Vancouver Medical Health Officer Frederick Underhill was concerned about school closures — “positively harmful to the health of the children, who, with schools closed, would be removed from the close surveillance of the teachers and school on guard for influenza symptoms, and would instead be free to roam the streets, exposing themselves to various sources of infection and neglecting early signs of the disease.” At first, M.H.O. Underhill issued bulletins, such as this advice to children: “Don’t take a lick off another child’s sucker. Don’t play in muddy ditches, Don’t swat flies, they carry germs. Keep your school desk clean and tidy.” Eventually, on October 18 1918 Vancouver schools were closed. (South Vancouver schools also closed, but I am unclear on whether this happened at the same time or earlier)

Katie Hacking got the “Flu”. Doris recalled a quarantine sign on the front door and a nurse coming to help Gran as Katie was delirious for a time. Ruth Crookall writes: “Mum and Cassie had to stay in their beds to ‘Keep out of the way’.” The nurse could have been a neighbour. South Vancouver resident Trixie Webb Stavert commented: “There weren’t nearly enough doctors or nurses to go around, and so any one who was able-bodied and was willing to take a chance would go and help nurse them.” (The Story of South Vancouver and John Oliver School)

Tillie, Katie, John, Doris and Cassie Hacking at 159 W 47th Ave, South Vancouver in 1921. Credit: Ruth Crookall

A new house on 47th Avenue and Van Horne School

In summer 1919, the Hackings moved south down Ontario Street to a larger house at 157, West 47th Avenue. The house is still standing but is now addressed 43, East 45th Avenue. The number changed happened as a result of the South Vancouver–City of Vancouver amalgamation in 1929 and caused no end of amusement for the Hackings, who “thought it a lark to be living on a new street without actually having to pack up and move”!

Doris was a bit of a tomboy and was always ready to help her Dad with projects around the house: “Once he tied her to the chimney so she could perch on the roof and paint the gables”, writes her daughter Ruth.

The Hackings were active in their neighbourhood. Doris recalled running to Knill’s Butcher Shop at Main and 50th before school and playing tennis in Memorial Park with local friends Cecily Tongue, Florence Eccleston and Anne Hellings. Here is social item: “Members of the Federated Labour party made a surprise visit to the home of Councillor Alex. McDonald 132 Forty-seventh avenue east, South Hill, on Wednesday night when a most enjoyable time was spent with music, cards, refreshments and dancing. Among those present were Mr and Mrs. and Miss Doris Hacking.” (Vancouver Daily Province, March 27 1925)

Katie Hacking’s pianoforte examination certificate 1923

The Hacking kids also took piano lessons from their neighbour George Moore at 176 West 47th Avenue. Here’s a newspaper mention: “Pupils of George Moore will give a piano recital this evening in the Sixth Avenue Methodist Church in aid of the building fund of this church. The following will contribute to the programme: …Catherine Hacking, Jack Hacking. (Vancouver Daily Province June 24 1922) Katie kept very few mementos of her childhood, but she did keep her certificate from a 1923 piano exam.

The Hacking sisters were all musical. Here’s a notice from 1931: “The regular meeting of Van Horne Parent-Teacher Association was held in the school on Thursday…Piano and violin selections were given by Miss Cassie Hacking, Miss Kathleen Bulger and Miss Doris Hacking.” (Vancouver Daily Province March 23 1931) In the 1930s and 40s, Doris played cello in the Aeolian Orchestra (an amateur orchestra) and Cassie was a talented piano player and piano teacher.

Van Horne School

Van Horne School in 2021 – one hundred years since Katie and Doris Hacking attended.

Katie and Doris Hacking now attended Sir William Van Horne School, where they were taught a new style of handwriting. From 1912-20, British Columbia Schools used the “New Method Writing” manuals. But there were so many complaints by teachers that they could not read students’ handwriting that the British Columbia Department of Education commissioned the development of a new program by H.B. Maclean, an instructor at the Vancouver Normal School. Maclean and his wife and brother-in-law developed it in one summer holiday. (See Shirley Cuthbertson’s article in B.C. Historical News Winter 1998-1999)

The Maclean Method of Muscular Movement Writing received positive reports from school inspectors: “The introduction of the system by the public schools of the province marks an epoch”…”the new writing course, has, I believe, been a success.” Katie further honed the Maclean Method when she went to the Vancouver Normal School, where H.B. Maclean was one of her instructors. She then had six years as a public school teacher to further develop the style, as seen in this 1934 letter:

An example of Katie’s Maclean Method of Muscular Movement handwriting, developed through her years as a schoolteacher. Credit: family collection

Next – 4 – High School!