From L.D.: Mayor Louis Taylor and the Rise of Vancouver, published by Arsenal Pulp Press in April.
Because of its status as the city’s tallest structure, the World Tower attracted a fair share of attention over the years, but nothing equalled the much-publicized attempt by Harry Gardiner, “The Human Fly,” to scale the outside of the building at noon on Halloween in 1918. By this time L.D. had lost control of his newspaper, but he would have been in the crowd that day. Who wasn’t?
It was the largest gathering the city had ever seen. Pender and Beatty streets were a moving sea of people for several blocks. As well as standing in the street, onlookers crammed the windows of neighbouring buildings and sat on the edge of every available rooftop. A great roar went up when, at the appointed hour, the Fly emerged from the front door of the building. He was dressed in a white canvas suit so as to be visible from a distance as he made his climb. The newspapers remarked on his “long, powerful hands” and his jaunty manner. The ascent took an hour and a half, during which the people below alternately held their breath and cheered him on.
There was a fire truck parked in the street with its ladder extended straight up into the air about three storeys high and at one point a young woman named Lottie Fletcher climbed to the top of it and unfurled a banner displaying the total amount of money that had been collected in Vancouver for Victory Bonds. The war was still two weeks from being over and the purpose of the Fly’s stunt was to raise support for the bond drive. Then all attention reverted to the Fly as he continued his assault on the walls of the Tower, “a speck of white on the face of the building.”
Finally he scrambled up the slippery copper dome to the summit. “Then, crowned by the brilliant sunlight, he waved once again to the crowd, now scarcely able to see him, and vanished into the interior of the building.”