Vancouver Was Awesome: The Human Fly, 1918


A Vancouver time travelogue brought to you by Past Tense.

Harry Gardiner was a stunt man who earned his living climbing tall buildings in North America and Europe, with no special gear aside from his highly developed fingers. On 31 October 1918, the “Human Fly” climbed the Hotel Vancouver and then the World Tower on the corner of Beatty and West Pender. He wore white so as to be visible to the “seething solid mass of humanity” that came out to watch. The climb took about an hour and a half.

After reaching the top, Gardiner disappeared into the building and re-emerged onto the street soon after. He addressed the crowd from atop a fire truck ladder, urging them to “buy Victory Bonds and more Victory Bonds for the completion of the allied victory that now looms up through the world nightmare of the past four years.”

Source: City of Vancouver Archives #1376-113 (cropped)