Around Town: Joe Fortes Day, St. Paul’s advocacy office, Bishop Remi De Roo . . .

Joe Fortes dressed up every Sunday to attend Holy Rosary Cathedral. (Vancouver Public Library)

The City of Vancouver recognized “the 100th anniversary of the passing of prominent community leader, lifeguard and swim teacher, Joe Fortes” February 4, as part of Black History Month.

Fortes had seen some of the world before arriving in Vancouver, but once here he pretty much settled down at English Bay.

Born in Trinidad, Seraphim ‘Joe’ Fortes sailed for England at 17, spending five years in Liverpool, where he learned to swim and then participating in a travelling swim team. He then joined the Robert Kerr as a crew member and sailed around Cape Horn. Arriving in Vancouver, he disembarked for good.

The On This Spot guided walking tour site has a very informative write-up about Fortes, along with several excellent pictures.

Most of it, naturally, is concerned with his lifeguarding and life around English Bay, but here is a brief portion about his faith, which refers to one of their pictures:

Crowds have turned out in their Sunday best for a baptism in English Bay. Joe may have been present that day as he was a very pious man, who sat every Sunday in his favourite spot on a pew in Holy Rosary Cathedral.

His undeniable virtues impressed many people in a time tainted with racial prejudice, especially the scandalous taboo of a ‘negro’ touching white women and children. On hot summer days when children would run off to the beach their parents shouted after them, “And don’t go away from where Joe is!,” knowing they were in safe hands.

Joe Fortes as he is generally remembered, guarding lives at English Bay. Photo by Stuart Thompson, about 1905. Vancouver Archives: AM336-S3-2-: CVA 677-440

Joe led a sober and frugal life. His upbringing in Trinidad had imbued in him a deep Catholic faith and he dressed smartly for Sunday services at Holy Rosary Cathedral.

Unsurprisingly, on more than one occasion he leapt into the ocean while in his suit to save a swimmer in distress.

Fortes died February 4, 1922:

Vancouver went into mourning. It was decided to hold a civic funeral for Joe, though this was an extremely rare honour. As his casket was borne from Holy Rosary Cathedral it was led by mounted police in dress uniform and followed by the mayor, council and practically the whole city government.

As the procession wound its way through the city more and more people lined the streets, standing silent and sombre. By the time the cortege approached Joe’s Beach the crowd had swelled to tens of thousands. It was the largest funeral in Vancouver’s history.

He was laid to rest at Mountainview Cemetery. His tombstone simply says ‘Joe,’ because everyone knew who he was.

Go here for the full On This Spot article.

Nora Hendrix co-founded Fountain Chapel in Hogan’s Alley

Throughout the month of February, Wayde Compton has been tweeting each day “one fact about the history of people of African descent in the city of Vancouver,” including Fortes.

So far he has also tweeted about:

* James Douglas: the Guyanese-born first governor of BC;
* Josephine and Philip Sullivan: signed petition of incorporation for City of Vancouver;
* William H.H. Johnson: targeted under Fugitive Slave Act; wrote memoir in Mount Pleasant;
* John Sullivan Deas: founded the most successful salmon cannery in the region;
* Grafton Tyler Brown; from abolitionist family; accomplished local artist;
* Sleeping Car Porters: “led to the black presence in Hogan’s Alley”;
* Nora Hendrix: co-founded Fountain Chapel, the black community’s church; helped raised grandson Jimi Hendrix.

Go here for earlier articles about Black History Month on Church for Vancouver.

St. Paul’s advocacy office closing

For the past quarter of a century, St. Paul’s Anglican Church has hosted an advocacy office, which has served thousands of people in the West End community.

The office has offered assistance with a wide range of issues pertaining to social assistance, disability, housing, income tax, pensions, tenancy, immigration, access to government services and more.

A February 2 Vancouver Sun article interviewed several volunteers and the church’s minister:

Yasmine Ghulamali, a volunteer with the advocacy office at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, said the program has provided critical help to low-income earners in wading through bureaucracy to find stable housing and income supports.

“By the time our clients reach us, they are completely overwhelmed. They’ve been dealing with a disability, many times they’re homeless and they have no idea where to go next,” Ghulamali said. “We guide them.” . . .

The office is set to close its doors this March after St. Paul’s leadership announced its plan last month to retire the program. Philip Cochrane, the rector of the church, said the termination is a result of findings from an independent review that saw the church commission an evaluator to meet with advocacy office staff, advocates and former clients. . . .

Go here for the full story and here for an article on the Diocese of New Westminster website.

Bishop Remi De Roo

One of British Columbia’s most prominent and respected religious figures passed away last week. Bishop Remi De Roo, the former Catholic Bishop of Victoria, died February 1 at the age of 97.

Victoria’s Times Colonist posted an obituary which included these words:

De Roo served as a priest for 12 years. In 1962, he became the world’s youngest Catholic bishop when he was appointed at the age of 38 by Pope John XXIII. De Roo spoke at the Second Vatican Council, 1962 to 1965, and was the last surviving bishop to have participated in all four sessions.

An advocate for married male Catholic priests and the ordination of women into the priesthood, he was instrumental in making contraception an issue at Vatican II and was seen as being in favour of birth control, said [Patrick Jamieson, founding editor of the Island Catholic News]. . . .

De Roo was critical of government policies that made it hard for the poor to break out of poverty. In the 1980s, he criticized then-prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau for Canada’s high rate of unemployment.

Paul Schratz remembered Bishop De Roo in The B.C. Catholic. Here is a brief portion related to his installation as Bishop of Victoria in late 1962:

Bishop De Roo had a dramatic arrival in the diocese with a solemn tribal ceremony re-enacting the arrival of Bishop Modeste Demers, the first bishop of Victoria, 117 years earlier.

B.C. Catholic article recounted how the new bishop arrived by canoe at the Tsalout Reserve near Victoria and was greeted by 11 war canoes that escorted him to the shore.

There he was made an honorary chief and bestowed with the name Siem Le Pleet Schoo-Kun, roughly translated as ‘High Priest Swan’ and a reference to a Coast Indian tradition of launching canoes and heading out to sea in spring at the sight of the first swan seen flying overhead.

One of the early tasks Bishop De Roo set for himself was to visit as many of the Indigenous people of his diocese as possible, and he maintained a close relationship with them for the rest of his life.

Go here for the full article.

Vancouver Sun columnist Douglas Todd placed Bishop De Roo fourth on his list of British Columbia’s 25 most influential spiritual leaders in a November 22, 2010 article.

Jan 2022

Pallay by Daniela Amestegui – January 19, 2022 - February 13, 2022 at All Day

Feb 2022

G. Peter Kaye Lecture with Prof. Santa Ono – February 10, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Pastors Mini-Conference: Holding Faith and a Good Conscience – February 11, 2022 at 8:30 am - 1:30 pm
Carey College Expansion: Two Open Houses – February 16, 2022 at All Day
Mark Glanville: Called to This Time: Lent – February 16, 2022 at 9:30 am - 12:00 pm
Alpha Webinar: Life on Purpose Launch – February 17, 2022 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Human Rights Violations in Canadian Immigration Detention: An Interfaith Call to Action – February 17, 2022 at 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Stacie Swain: Reorienting Politics through Public Expressions of Indigenous Ceremony – February 17, 2022 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Free Little Art Gallery: Grand Opening – February 21, 2022 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Alpha Webinar: Making Connections in Moments of Isolation – February 22, 2022 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Thomas Fuchs: Theology of the Person – Personhood and Neuroscience – February 23, 2022 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Run Alpha Q & A – February 24, 2022 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Postponed: Sentences & Sentience: C.S. Lewis & the Word, with Dr. Andrew Kaethler – February 24, 2022 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Coldest Night of the Year: Vancouver Broadway – February 26, 2022 at All Day
Canadian Religious Freedom Summit 2022 – February 26, 2022 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Coldest Night of the Year: Vancouver DTES – February 26, 2022 at 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Mar 2022

Elizabeth Sung: Theology of the Person – Personhood and Race – March 2, 2022 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
COM*PLIC*IT – March 3, 2022 - March 12, 2022 at All Day
Calls to Prayer for Ukraine – March 3, 2022 at 8:00 am - 9:00 am
EFC Resource Reveal: Four New Resources – March 3, 2022 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Watershed Moment: Spirituality, Forests and Fresh Water – March 3, 2022 at 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Global Pandemic: Opening Reception – March 3, 2022 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Postponed: Apologetics Canada Conference 2022 – Branded: Rethinking Identity – March 4, 2022 - March 5, 2022 at All Day
Comagape Christian Conference 2022 – March 5, 2022 at 9:00 am - 6:30 pm
Social Enterprises 101 for Churches – March 5, 2022 at 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Richmond Stands with Ukraine – March 5, 2022 at 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Coming to Peace with Our Pain (6-part Lenten Webinar Series) – March 7, 2022 at 9:30 am - 10:45 am
Awake from Woke: Understanding "Diversity", "Inclusivity", "Equity" and "Social Justice" – March 7, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Protecting Life: Repealing the Death Penalty for Apostasy and Blasphemy – March 8, 2022 at 3:30 am - 5:30 am
Spiritual Care Series Workshop (Tuesday evenings) – March 8, 2022 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Carey College Expansion: Review – March 9, 2022 at All Day
Branded: 'Rethinking Identity' Premiere – March 10, 2022 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Creation, Community and Covenant - Learning from Indigenous Wisdom – March 12, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Finding Home: Transformative Places Where Refugee Claimants Flourish – March 15, 2022 at 7:00 am - 8:00 am
Steven Knight: Stations of the Cross Presentation – March 15, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Eleanor McLaughlin: Theology of the Person – The Person and Disability – March 16, 2022 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Prayer for Peace – March 16, 2022 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Religious Dimensions of the War Against Ukraine – March 17, 2022 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Audible – March 18, 2022 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Awake from Woke #2 – March 21, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Cancelled: Chris Tomlin & Hillsong United – March 23, 2022 at All Day
Writing on Music, Meaning and the Ineffable – March 24, 2022 at 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
SIMinar: Explore Liberia – March 24, 2022 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Listening to Creation's Call: The Church & Climate Change – March 24, 2022 at 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
The Impact of Technology on Relationships: Should We Worry? – March 24, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Apologetics Canada Leadership Summit – March 25, 2022 - March 27, 2022 at 4:00 pm - 12:00 pm
ARPA Canada: Preparing for Conversion Therapy Bans – March 25, 2022 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Eugene Skovorodnikov: Ukrainian-Canadian pianist aids humanitarian gathering – March 25, 2022 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Kentucky Eileen – March 25, 2022 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
AC Literary Expedition: Prophetic or Pathetic? Exploring Orwell's Warnings to the Future – March 27, 2022 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Reflections on the Possibilities and Impossibilities of Experiencing Home – March 28, 2022 at 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
IRF Webinar | Advocating to Eliminate the Death Penalty – March 29, 2022 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Interface Lectures: Niels Henrik Gregersen – Christ in a World of Creativity and Suffering: Deep Incarnation and the Evolution of Biological Agency – March 29, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jordan Wales: Theology of the Person – Personhood and AI – March 30, 2022 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Interface Lectures: Niels Henrik Gregersen – An Eco-theology of Wondering, Intervening, and Enmeshment: Deep Incarnation and the Three Ecologies – March 30, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Taking Your Soul to Work – March 30, 2022 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Taste of Alpha – March 31, 2022 at 9:00 am - 10:15 am
Mark Glanville: Called to this Time – Easter – March 31, 2022 at 9:30 am - 12:00 pm
Standing Guard – March 31, 2022 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Interface Lectures: Niels Henrik Gregersen – Living in a World of Shocks and Resilience: Towards a Theology of Disasters – March 31, 2022 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Lauren Strumos: Notions of Justice Among Activists Opposed to the Trans Mountain Pipeline – March 31, 2022 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Kairos Blanket Exercise – March 31, 2022 at 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *