The Hackings’ South Vancouver Childhood

A move to South Hill

In summer 1919, the Hackings moved south down Ontario Street to the “South Hill” area. Their bigger house at 157, West 47th Avenue 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. 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.

The Hackings and their neighbours enjoyed socializing: “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)

Jack Hacking was a Sun newspaper boy, who in summer 1922 won a “splendid Columbia bicycle” in the Sun’s big contest for carrier boys securing the most subscriptions (Jack got 94). “Jack carries a route in South Vancouver, and through the attention he gives to his work of delivering the Sun each morning, has many friends on his route.” (The Sun, August 26 1922)

Katie Hacking’s pianoforte examination certificate 1923

Young Musicians

The Hacking kids all took piano lessons from their neighbour George Moore, whose students regularly gave concerts. Here’s one of many newspaper mentions: “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) Cassie became an accomplished pianist (and music teacher), and Doris took up stringed instruments. 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 amateur Aeolian Orchestra.

Brock School, Summer 2021, one hundred years after Katie and Doris Hacking attended domestic science lessons.

Domestic Science at Brock School

During the WWI years, the British Columbia Department of Education began to promote a more “rounded” education with non-academic topics. In the primary classes, students learned dexterity skills like paper cutting and folding and mat weaving. Later, boys like Jack Hacking attended manual training classes and learned woodworking skills. Some South Vancouver schools had “all modern appliances for cooking”. One of these schools was General Brock, where Katie and Doris Hacking went for domestic science lessons. Doris remembered trekking through the rain and the mud to attend a “laundry class”. Her mother thought the class a bit ridiculous, since they came from a big family and already had to do laundry as one of their home jobs.

Here is the British Columbia Domestic Science Curriculum for 1920 for “Laundry Work”: Second Year Course for Public Schools — Arrangement of household washing; washing, boiling, and plain ironing of household linens and underwear. Removal of stains and bleaching. Consideration of water, soap, soap powders, soda, borax, starch, and laundry blue. (Source: The Homeroom, British Columbia’s history of education site )

Domestic Science was popular in the B.C. school curriculum during the WWI years. Credit: Annual Report of the Public Schools of British Columbia, University of British Columbia Open collections

Whether they learned at school or at home, Katie and Doris excelled in domestic science, especially cooking and baking. Here is a news item from the 1922 South Vancouver Fair: “Many Prizes Awarded – Not a protest was recorded against the decisions of the judges at South Vancouver’s seventh annual horticultural exhibition yesterday…Domestic Science prizes: strawberry jam, Miss Catherine Hacking;  blackcurrant jam, Miss Hacking; blackberry jelly, Miss C. Hacking; apple jelly, Miss Hacking; Gingerbread, Miss Hacking, oat cakes, Miss Hacking; biscuits, Miss Hacking; Apple pie, C. Hacking; lemon pie, C. Hacking” (Vancouver Daily Province September 2 1922) When shown this news clipping one hundred years later, Doris’ grandson fondly his Nana’s jams and jellies. Katie went on to be renowned in her community for baking. This is one of her recipes from the 1950s.

Page 4 – South Vancouver High School