Joy Wheel Fun Factory

The Joy Wheel Fun Factory was an amusement site at 1805 Beach Avenue around 1910.

The triangular area surrounded by Beach Ave, Morton Ave, and Denman Street has been a public park for many years. For several years in the early 1900s, however, it was the site of some houses, along with a roller-skating rink, two car dealerships, a beach club house and a “joy wheel.”

The “Joy Wheel Fun Factory” appears in the postcard below, as well as in Vancouver Public Library photo no. 35445. It’s the smaller building to the left, to the west of the larger building that was the home of the Imperial Skating Rink.

Esplanade and Baths - English Bay - Postcard - about 1910 to 1911

Esplanade and Baths – English Bay – Postcard – about 1910 to 1911

Joy Wheel Fun Factory and Imperial Skating Rink - Detail from postcard - Esplanade and Baths - English Bay - about 1910 to 1911

Joy Wheel Fun Factory and Imperial Skating Rink – Detail from postcard – Esplanade and Baths – English Bay – about 1910 to 1911

Looking across English Bay beach to the “Joy Wheel Fun Factory” [and] roller rink; VPL No 35445

Looking across English Bay beach to the “Joy Wheel Fun Factory” [and] roller rink; VPL No 35445

In the plan below, the Joy Wheel Fun Factory was in the building called “Garage,” just below the number “71.”

Detail from Goad's Atlas of the city of Vancouver - 1912 - Vol 1 - Plate 8 - Barclay Street to English Bay and Cardero Street to Stanley Park

Detail from Goad’s Atlas of the city of Vancouver – 1912 – Vol 1 – Plate 8 – Barclay Street to English Bay and Cardero Street to Stanley Park

Joy wheels were popular amusements in the early 1900s. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following description:

A once-popular novelty, now obsolete, was the “Joywheel”, or “Devil’s Disc.” This consisted of a power-driven spinning disc, slightly domed and having a smooth surface. It was surrounded by a stationary padded circular platform, which in turn was surrounded by a padded wall. Riders sat on the disc while it was stationary and, as it accelerated, were eventually thrown off against the padding. [Engineer, (1954) 27 Aug. 282/2]

The first joy wheel seems to have appeared around 1907 at Coney Island in New York. Within the next few years, joy wheels like the ones below became popular at resorts and amusement parks in North America and in the United Kingdom.

Ian Trowell - National Fairground Archive - The Joy Wheel - how to exhibit yourself

Ian Trowell – National Fairground Archive – The Joy Wheel – how to exhibit yourself

Visual advertisement with new Joy Wheel - Yorkshire Telegraph and Star, 23 December 1910

Visual advertisement with new Joy Wheel – Yorkshire Telegraph and Star, 23 December 1910

Dingle’s Fairground Heritage Centre - Joy Wheel

Dingle’s Fairground Heritage Centre – Joy Wheel

Vancouver’s joy wheel appeared about 1910. Its first home may have been on the north side of the 1700 block of Davie Street, just east of Denman Street. The wheel was open for business in the afternoon, and again from about 8:00 to 10:30 in the evening.

The owner of the joy wheel was Mr. Ross; he hired two men named Bogart and Roberts to build the wheel itself and to operate it. (“Bogart” was probably Cecil Kinzer van Bogart (1880-1957), an electrician who lived in a series of Vancouver rooming houses. Further information on Mr. Roberts is difficult to find.)

Vancouver’s joy wheel was a solid hardwood wheel about 19 feet in diameter, with a sloped surface running from the centre of the wheel to its circumference. This upper surface was highly-polished to reduce friction. The main wheel rested on a series of smaller wheels, all supported on a track or floor inside a frame building. An electric motor provided power to the wheel, first using a cable, and later a chain (which was apparently very noisy). The operators then tried a cable once more to try to reduce the noise.

Most patrons were boys and young men from about 10 to 18 years old. They would get on the smooth upper surface, each holding on to each other. Then the operator of the wheel would start the motor and gradually increase the speed of the wheel until the centrifugal force would sweep everyone off the wheel. The operator would slow the wheel and allow another load of thrill-seekers to try their luck.

The joy wheel was quite popular for a short time. However, the the noise of the wheel, along with the laughter and shouts of the customers, began to disrupt the the neighbourhood. One nearby neighbour was Mr. Keil (probably Lewis Keil, who lived at 1775 Denman Street). Mr. Keil hired a well-known lawyer named Donald Greenfield Macdonell (1849-1916), who sued Mr. Ross, claiming that the noise was legally a “nuisance” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuisance]. Mr. Macdonell applied for an injunction to stop the joy wheel from operating. Arthur James Kappele (1876-1944) was the lawyer for Mr. Ross.

On February 11, 1910, Justice Murphy of the British Columbia Supreme Court agreed that the joy wheel was a nuisance, and granted an injunction against Mr. Ross, but only to restrain the operation of the wheel on its current site. Mr. Ross also had a “mountain slide” as part of his operation, but there was no evidence that the slide was a nuisance, so Justice Murphy did not order an injunction against the slide.

After the court injunction, it appears that the joy wheel moved to the site in the postcard above. By 1911, however, the Dominion Motor Car Co. Ltd. occupied the building, and Vancouver’s joy wheel was gone.

Sources

Joy Wheels

Ian Trowell – National Fairground Archive, “The Joy Wheel – how to exhibit yourself,” http://www.nfa.dept.shef.ac.uk/jungle/index4b2.html

Visual advertisement with new Joy Wheel – Yorkshire Telegraph and Star 23 December 1910; http://www.nfa.dept.shef.ac.uk/images/jungle-1910-12-23b-YTS.jpg

Dingle’s Fairground Heritage Centre: http://fairground-heritage.org.uk/collections/joy-wheel/

Law of Nuisance and the Joy Wheel case

Wikipedia article: “Nuisance,”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuisance.

Keil v. Ross (1910), 13 Western Law Reporter 512 (BC Supreme Court).

14 Law Notes (Edward Thompson Co.) 121 (1910-1911), October 1910, Issue 7, page 121; http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/lawnotes14&div=8&g_sent=1&collection=journals

Cecil Kinzer van Bogart

Vancouver City Directories: 1908 to 1915

“Canada Census, 1901,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KHVG-336 : accessed 24 Apr 2013), Cecil K Bogart in entry for Henry Bogart, 1901.

“Canada Census, 1901,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KHVL-5WP : accessed 27 Apr 2013), Cecil K. Bogart in entry for Walter F. Askew, 1901.

“United States, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K8QZ-R7K : accessed 24 Apr 2013), Cecil Kinzer Bogart, 1917-1918.

“United States Census, 1930,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XC3C-1KS : accessed 24 Apr 2013), Cecil K Van Bogert in entry for Josie F Jenning, 1930.

“Washington, Death Certificates, 1907-1960,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N31C-H5V : accessed 24 Apr 2013), Cecil Kinzer Van Bogart, 18 Nov 1957.

Donald Greenfield Macdonell

Donald Greenfield Macdonell (1849-1916) lived at 1906 Nelson Street from 1906 to 1916.

“British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FLKZ-2HK : accessed 25 Apr 2013), Donald Greenfield Macdonell, 1916.

Arthur James Kappele

Arthur James Kappele (1876-1944) lived at 1054 Denman Street from 1910 to 1911

“British Columbia Marriage Registrations, 1859-1932,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JDZC-L9N : accessed 27 Apr 2013), Arthur James Kappele and Mabel Wealthy Haynes, 1908.

“British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FLG7-F79 : accessed 27 Apr 2013), Arthur James Kappele, 1944.

“British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FLRM-VHW : accessed 27 Apr 2013), Mabel Wealthy Kappele, 1958.

Justice Denis Murphy

Denis Murphy (Canadian politician), Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_Murphy_(Canadian_politician)

Denis Murphy (1870-1947) was on the Supreme Court of British Columbia from 1909 to 1941. He was educated at Ottawa University and was a member of the British Columbia legislature for Yale from 1900 to 1902: Law School: The Story of Legal Education in British Columbia, Chapter 2, http://faculty.law.ubc.ca/Pue/historybook/school02b.html

One thought on “Joy Wheel Fun Factory

  1. Pingback: Joy Wheel Fun Factory | westendvancouver

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