Showcasing JO’s Legacy

A Brief History of Fraser Street : Jan 26, 2023

History of Fraser Street

Fraser Street is one of Vancouver’s oldest, most storied roads and given its rich history, it is not surprising that the route evolved into the vibrant neighbourhood and successful business district of South Hill. The street began in 1875 as a muddy wagon road carved out of the thick forest that covered South Vancouver. Originally named North Arm Road, it linked two former First Nations’ trails that later became Kingsway and Southeast Marine Drive.

The north-south slash through the brush was the most direct route between the new farms on Lulu Island (Richmond) and the growing settlement of Gastown (Vancouver). When South Vancouver incorporated as a municipality in 1892, farms were already sprouting up along the road. A pair of bridges was built at the foot of North Arm Road in 1894 to cross the Fraser River in two hops. These spans helped secure Fraser Street’s logistical importance and South Van council knew that the right place to build their new city hall was at Fraser and 41st – the present day location of John Oliver Secondary School.

Shops and homes sprouted amid the orchards and dairy farms of the area, but the sharpest boost to development came in 1909 when Vancouver’s streetcar tracks were extended south on Fraser from 33rd Avenue. Suddenly the sleepy, rural neighbourhood was just a five-cent tram ride to a booming downtown that was just beginning to see automobiles.The first South Hill residents of this trolley car era were Europeans, mostly from the British Isles. They swelled the ranks of the English colonial forces during the First and Second World Wars. Many of them are buried just off Fraser Street in Mountain View Cemetery.

The cenotaph that honours the soldiers stands in South Memorial Park, but the original monument was near Fraser and 41st, and was the first Great War tribute erected in Canada. Chinese immigrants first appeared in the area as farmers working fertile fields on the banks of the Fraser and in productive patches higher up the hill, such as the market gardens west of Mackenzie Elementary that bloomed into the 1950s. Germans and Russian Mennonites fled war-ravaged Europe and settled in South Hill, where homes were cheap. They opened bakeries and book stores on Fraser Street, and built churches that shook from the singing of standing-room-only congregations. (No wonder John Oliver’s choir dominated the high school music circuit in the 1960s and 70s.)

Indo-Canadian businesses began to open on Fraser Street in the 1970s when immigrants from the sub-continent saw affordable homes on the city’s southern slopes and unionized jobs in the sawmills along the river. Subsequent waves of immigration included families from Vietnam, Latin America, the Philippines and pretty much everywhere on the planet. South Hill continues to be a beacon to those looking for a better way of life.

Rob Howatson – JO Grad of 84

Places that Matter : History of South Vancouver, March 2, 2023

Places That Matter

Places That Matter

Places That Matter

JO Legacy Society participated in Places that Matter on February 22, 2023. It was held at the beautiful heritage building at 15th and Main, originally a post office before being occupied by RCMP operations, and presently by Vancouver Heritage Foundation.

The event featured displays, speakers, food from local eateries, and music. Many volunteers assisted with making the evening a success. We showcased South Vancouver and JO history. Last year we connected with King George archivists and their display was next to ours. As far as we know, only two high schools have an active archive society but Van Tech will soon be on board. So much history is being preserved for present and future generations.

If alumni, students or teachers want to get involved, please send a message to We welcome help with digitizing and cataloging our amazing collection. For the Red and Blue.

JO Joker History : March 29, 2023

JO Joker History

Well, the story goes…Hugh Marshall was teaching at J.O., when he and math teacher, Alec Burns noticed that the cheerleaders were shouting “Go Jayo-okers!” The two faculty members decided to combine Jayo-oker into Joker, and the mascot was born. Hugh looked through his yearbooks and saw the first Joker reference in 1962.

I still don’t understand why they chose the Joker, but I am glad they did. It makes J.O. unique in the world of school mascots . ~ Courtesy of Rob Howatson, Grad of ‘84

Interhigh Trackmeets : May 10, 2023

Inter High Track Meets

C’mon Jayo, We’re rooting for you. We’re for the good old red and the blue.

Remember singing the school song at the top of your lungs at the Inter High Track Meets?

JO was always a contender at the Inter High Track Meets that started at Brockton Oval before moving to Empire Stadium in 1956. Hundreds of JO students attended the track meets throughout the years to out scream the other schools and cheer on our amazing athletes. So much fun!

Welcome back Students, Teachers and Staff to the 2023-24 school year! : September 4, 2023

2023 Welcome Back Students, Teachers and Staff

Truth and Reconciliation – JO Legacy Society : September 26, 2023

Truth and Reconcilation Day
Indigenous Peoples of Vancouver

The hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and skqxwu7mesh speaking peoples, the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, have occupied these lands since time immemorial.

The City of Vancouver is located on the unceded, ancestral and traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. Indigenous communities have lived here since time immemorial and have a long-established history of settlement, stewardship of the land and harvesting of resources.

Many of the following resources have been created by local Indigenous communities and include interactive maps, videos and teaching materials. They are shared here as a starting point for learning about the history and cultural heritage of the communities, including heritage places, and are only a selection of the many resources available.

Indigenous cultural heritage has often not been well represented to date in formal recognition of heritage places and history in Vancouver, such as the Vancouver Heritage Register.

We encourage you to explore the resources below to begin to learn about local heritage places and cultural heritage of Indigenous communities in Vancouver.

British Columbia is home to 204 First Nations communities and an amazing diversity of Indigenous languages.

Learn more about these communities with the First Peoples’ Map of B.C. An educational resource created by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, it is intended for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to learn about and explore the history of First Nations culture using this interactive map highlighting Indigenous arts, language and culture throughout the province. If you would like to know more about Indigenous place names across Canada, visit Stories from the Land.

The land that is now known as the City of Vancouver is home to many Indigenous peoples and is the traditional territory of three nations – the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. c̓əsnaʔəm (Marpole along the Fraser River)“c̓əsnaʔəm, one of our Musqueam villages, existed on the stal̕əw̓ (now called the Fraser River) long before Vancouver was founded.

Today, c̓əsnaʔəm has been paved over and built upon—yet it remains part of our territory, culture and history.