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Meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of the month (except in June, July, August and December).

The society sponsors presentations by guest speakers on subjects generally relating to the history of Vancouver.

These gatherings take place in the Museum of Vancouver, located at 1100 Chestnut Street at 7.30 pm. Enquire at the Museum desk for directions to the room.

All meetings and events (unless otherwise noted *) are FREE and open to the public and visitors are welcome.

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Meetings, Special Events and Field Trips

Please note: All events (unless otherwise noted *) are free and open to the public.

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
A Week To Remember: Stories from the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games

Speaker: Jason Beck, Curator, BC Sports Hall of Fame

Jason BeckSleepy Vancouver was in a rare spotlight in 1954 when the British Empire and Commonwealth Games was opened in Vancouver on July 30, 1954 by Earl Alexander of Tunis and closed on August 7 by the Duke of Edinburgh. By its end, 662 competitors from 24 nations had participated in the games with Canada coming fourth in medal standings. These Games became best known for the “Miracle Mile” which took place between Roger Bannister and John Landy at Empire Stadium marking the first time these runners appeared together in a competitive mile and the first time the two men broke four minutes in the same race. At the other end of the scale, Jim Peters, holder of the world’s best for the marathon, entered the stadium 17 minutes ahead of his nearest rival but collapsed, never completing the race and never running again. The Games left a legacy of many memorable sports stories.


Thursday, March 24, 2016 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Vancouver in Transit: Fast-forward from 1890 to 2016
Speaker: Henry Ewert, transportation historian

Henry EwertThe sophisticated, state-of-the-art transit that began being installed in 1890, only four years after the city’s incorporation and three years after the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, deeply impacts the City of Vancouver today. Up to and after 1913 when the full street railway and interurban system was in place, industrial and residential areas grew up around these transit routes. However, the system declined because of a combination of vehicular traffic’s need for greater road space, the Great Depression, etc. After WWII, making room for more cars, the system was replaced with a much weaker version of what had been in place. Recently, however, the city has seen the merit of the thoughtful original plan and has revisited it as a template for a modern transit system.


Sunday, April 10, 2016 - 12:00 Annual Incorporation Day Luncheon
at University Golf Course
(Tickets must be purchased ahead of time: Members $35; Non-Members $45)

130 years of Fashion in Vancouver
Speaker: Ivan Sayers, fashion historian

Ivan SayersThroughout the last 130 years, Vancouver fashion has seen sweeping changes. From the long cumbersome cover-up dresses of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras to the breakout styles of the Roaring Twenties, the more sober styles of the Great Depression, the creative scarcity of the war years or to the New Look of the post war years, Vancouver has seen them all. The VHS is lucky to have fashion historian Ivan Sayers, honorary Curator and life member of the Society for the Museum of Original Costume, speak to us at our annual luncheon. His lecture will be illustrated with examples from his own vast collection (one of the largest North American collections in private hands). A treat not to be missed.


Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Local Protest and Transnational Politics: Vietnam War Resistance in Vancouver and British Columbia Speaker: Lara Campbell, Associate Professor, SFU

Lara CampbellTens of thousands of Americans left the United States for Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft or to protest the war between 1964-1973. Draft resisters immigrated mainly to three major Canadian cities: Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. Vancouver became a hub for transnational anti-war activism where the student, socialist, anti-imperialist, and women's liberation movements intersected, organized, and criticized each others' positions on the war in Vietnam. This talk will place Vancouver at the centre of antiwar organizing by examining how local organizations and activists built support networks for draft resisters, resisted and criticized American cultural and political influence in Canada, and debated the subordination of women within antiwar and draft resistance movements.


Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Sensational Vancouver: a romp through the city’s dark side
Speaker: Eve Lazarus, writer

Eve LazarusHistory books typically show Vancouver as a pioneer city built on forestry, fisheries and tourism but, behind the snow-capped mountains and rain forests, the Vancouver of the first half of the 20th century was a seething mass of corruption. The top job at the Vancouver Police Department was a revolving door, and in those early years Detective Joe Ricci’s beat was the opium dens and gambling joints of Chinatown, while Lurancy Harris patrolled the high-end brothels of Alexander Street. Later, proceeds from rum-running produced some of the city’s most iconic buildings, cops became robbers, and the city reeled from a series of unsolved murders. Speaker Eve Lazarus will illustrate this talk with photos from cases from her books Sensational Vancouver and Cold Case Vancouver: the city’s most baffling murders.


Thursday, September 22, 2016 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Made in British Columbia: Eight Ways of Making Culture
Speaker: Maria Tippett, writer

Maria TippettIs there such a thing as a British Columbia culture, or a culture that has evolved uniquely within the province? And if so, is there anything special about it? Prolific author and scholar, Dr. Maria Tippett answers this question by discussing the lives of eight cultural producers among who are the playwright, George Ryga, the First Nations’ artist, Bill Reid, the composer, Jean Coulthard, the writer Martin Grainger and the architect, Arthur Erickson. The speaker will consider the extent to which the British Columbia landscape and the culture of the First Nations’ people has informed what these people have produced. Tippett will also consider how the reputations of her eight subjects were made, variously, through chance and luck, social standing and self-promotion, and travel and external cultural influences.


Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Direct Action: Left Wing Activism in the 1970s and 1980s
Speaker: Eryk Martin, Department of History, SFU

Ralph DrewVancouver from the time of its incorporation has always exhibited a strong social and labour activism. By the end of the twentieth century the city had become a radical epicenter and, as such, a critical component in the development of radical social-movement activism. An outgrowth of this, Direct Action, saw the creation of a clandestine, guerrilla force, actions about which the speaker will examine to reflect on a much larger and longer pattern of left-wing activism in the 1970s and 1980s. The talk, based on the speaker’s doctoral dissertation, will highlight a side of Vancouver about which people know little, while making connections between Vancouver and wider world of radical politics, from San Francisco, to Paris, London and beyond.


Thursday, November 24, 2016 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
The Kitsilano Indian Reserve
Speaker: Douglas Harris, Nathan T. Nemetz Chair of Legal History, UBC Faculty of Law

Douglas HarrisAllotted by the colony of British Columbia in the 1860s and expanded in 1876 after the colony joined Canada, the Kitsilano Indian Reserve amounted to 80 acres at the mouth to False Creek. It included the age-old Coast Salish village site of Snaaq. In 2002, a unanimous five-judge panel of the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld a trial court decision that approximately 10.5 acres of the former Kitsilano reserve should again be Indian reserve. With the decision, the reserve reappeared in the heart of Vancouver. What happened to it between 1876 and 2002? How did it disappear? And what about the other 70 acres, most of which are now Vanier Park, the Molson Brewery site, city streets, or office and apartment buildings? This talk explores the history of the Kitsilano Indian Reserve and the changing legal framework that surrounds whatever it is that might come next on this important parcel of land that is within and beyond the City of Vancouver.


Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Civic Politics over the Past Half Century
Speaker: Gordon Price, former City Councilor

Gordon PriceVancouver politics from the city’s 1886 inception have shown pockets of brilliance; other times, not so. Nonetheless, by the time of its post-WWII emergence, the city was perceived by some to be a “dirty, grimy backwater”. Remarkably, the city has evolved with forward looking policies and is now deemed to be one of the most livable cities in the world. How did this happen? The half century from the late 1960s to the late 2010s, political groups brandishing such ideological initials at NPA, TEAM, COPE and Vision, have helped move this process along. Some were more transformative than others. To help steer us through the complexities of this will be Gordon Price, an NPA councilor for 15 years during that time.


Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
The Ferries of Indian Arm
Speaker: Ralph Drew, Mayor of Belcarra

Ralph DrewAs prosperous times before the First World War created a local surge in immigration and a building boom in Vancouver, affluent Vancouverites began looking for scenic summer retreats close to the city. However, without roads or bridges to access the North Arm of Burrard Inlet (Indian Arm), reliable ferries became essential to developing these new recreational properties. As a result, during 70 years of the 20th century scheduled ferry runs from Vancouver to steamer landings on the fjord, travelling post offices a floating grocery stores became unique and critical services to the many small communities scattered along Indian Arm. This unique service has been key to shaping the history and psyche of Indian Arm residents of today.

History Related Events Calendar

This calendar shows upcoming history-related events sponsored by other organizations. Click to view »

Please note: This information is provided only as a public service by the VHS which is not responsible for the content.


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