Park Vancouver B.C.
About 1953 Robert Bollinger, Denver Burtenshaw and Gerald Mackey formed a company called Burrard Amusements, Ltd. They built Playland Park in the Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Originally, there were to be five partners; however, the two Canadian businessmen were unable to get financial backing for the venture. One of these men did accept a management position with Playland.
This three man partnership was the nicest business relationship Robert had. Each had their own area of expertise. Gerald Mackey supervised the games as he had been in that field for many years. Denver Burtenshaw owned several fine cafeterias; therefore, it was a given that he supervise the food concessions. Robert was a natural to oversee the amusement rides. He started in the ride industry with the purchase of his first ride in 1925.
Other Playland pictures
Mr. Burtenshaw was the first partner to pass away. According to provisions of the partnership, his widow took his place in the partnership. After Mr. Mackey passed away, his wife also became a partner; however, she would make major partnership decisions without consulting the other partners. When Robert’s wife, Ruth passed away in 1978, he was not able to continue being the driving force for his three Oregon based businesses (The Oaks, FunTastic Rides, Northwest Skate Agency) in addition to Playland. On March 21, 1979, an agreement was signed for PNE to acquire shares of Burrard Amusements Ltd.
Gerald Crawshaw, Manager of Playland,
is shown with his favorite “gorel”
Gerald Crawshaw was a made to order
Manager for the park. His sense of humor
gave him the ability to handle the crews,
public and publicity stunts.
Happyland / Playland Parks
There has been some confusion regarding the locations of Happyland and Playland Parks. The Vancouver Exhibition Association / National Pacific Exhibition 75th Anniversary book states there was no permanent amusement park until the late 1920’s.
By 1929 Happyland had opened as the first permanent amusement park on the PNE site. It was located on the lower end by the race track.
In the early to mid-1950’s, Happyland was not making enough money to maintain their rides (carousel, Spitfire and a few children’s rides). The decision was made by PNE to have a new park built on the upper side by the stadium. Burrard Amusements, LTD. was formed and Playland Park was built.
Happyland closed with the end of PNE’s 1957 season. Its employees were hired by Playland and opened with PNE’s 1958 season at the new park. From 1934 until the end of the 1957 season, Jim Robertson used a whistle to close Happyland's midway. Even though Playland turned off the lights on the Skydiver to signal closing of the midway, the Happyland whistle tradition continued until August 15, 1965 when Jim retired. At that time, he presented the whistle to Robert Bollinger.
"The Whistle" by Jim Robertson
This whistle closed the midway every operating night from 1934 at Happyland to August 14, 1965 at Playland.
Donated by Jim Robertson on his retirement October 1, 1965
(The Acme Thunderer Whistle was made in England)
"Giant Dipper" Roller Coaster
Playland is the proud owner of a wooden roller coaster built by Robert Bollinger and his staff. Burrard Amusement hired Carl Phare to design a coaster for this park. Carl had designed many roller coasters including the Giant Dipper at Jantzen Beach, Portland, Oregon, and Playland Park, Washington.
(see Fact Sheet, 1968 Arson news article and Roller Coaster and other rides)
Playland (British Columbia) was the last (and greatest) one that he designed. Carl drew the plans for the coaster that were submitted to the Building Department, Vancouver, British Columbia. Before permission was granted, the board requested the plans be changed to require a ring with each bolt at every junction of the structure. Burrard Lumber Company (no relation to Burrard Amusement) sold the #1 Douglas fir. The fir was given a pressure treatment covering the life of the wood.
There was a 1912 Parker Toboggan carousel at Playland. Robert, acting for Burrard Amusements, Ltd., purchased it from Happyland. He had it refurbished at his shop located at The Oaks in Portland, Oregon and a large building in the shape of a Mexican hat constructed to protect it.
When Playland was sold, this building was torn down exposing the carousel to the weather which caused major damage in the following years. Today this carousel resides in a museum at the Burnaby Village. Restoration was done with love and a lot of talent. If you have an opportunity, visit this carousel. It has been restored to its original beauty. (see Fact Sheet)
Mrs. Mackey was around the Playland office and grounds more than Robert or Mrs. Burtenshaw and had a habit of making major partnership decisions without consulting the other partners. Her final one was ordering, Mr. Crawshaw, Manager of Playland, to dip the carousel horses in a vat of paint thinner to ready them for repainting.
What she didn’t know was that Mr. Parker would walk along the beach, pick up pieces of driftwood, carve them into pieces and fit them together to make an animal. Each of his animals are distinctive as they are 3-D puzzles. It cost Burrard Amusements a lot of money to get all of the pieces glued back into carousel animals again.
Robert would count the money with the help of one other person then take it to the PNE who recounted and did the banking. Well, every now and then there would be a discrepancy. A bag of coin would be missing.
It was apparent there was a thief but difficult to figure out how the bag was disappearing (these were the big bags like used in the bank for holding coin). One night Robert happened to see an employee walk into the men’s room. This was unusual as no one was supposed to be in the area. After he left, Robert looked around and found a bag of half-dollars had been placed out of sight behind the toilet bowl. As Robert is a very low key person, he replaced the bag he found with a bag of pennies. They were never short coin from that time forward.
One of the concessionaires was very skilled at getting prizes for a good price. During a season, electric toasters were offered. Before long Management started getting complaints that there were crumbs in the toasters.
An investigation was launched. It was discovered that the toaster manufacturer would randomly pick out a toaster from the production line and test it by toasting a piece of bread. These were the toasters the concessionaire was purchasing for prizes.