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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, April 23, 2015 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Bread & Roses: The History of Women in the Vancouver Labour Movement

Speaker: Joey Hartman and the Re:Sisters choral group

Joey HartmanSince the earliest days of recorded history in the Vancouver area, women have played important roles as supporters, activists and leaders in the labour movement. This talk will introduce you to key individuals and events since the late 1800s that brought women’s issues around work, equality, union struggles and social concerns to where we are today – and identifies some priorities for the future.

Joey Hartman, president of the Vancouver & District Labour Council, has over 30 years of experience as a trade union and social activist that began on the picket line during the 14-week Vancouver area civic strike in 1981. She has a keen interest in labour and women’s history, and incorporates these subjects into her work wherever possible.

Ms. Hartman will be joined by the Re:Sisters to add historic voices and a musical dimension to the presentation.


Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Daughters in the City: Mennonite Maids in Vancouver

Speaker: Ruth Derksen

Ruth DerksenIn the early 1930s, young Mennonite women - mostly adolescents - began to arrive in Vancouver, seeking work as domestic servants. Most had recently come to Canada as refugees from Russia, having escaped from the terror of Stalin’s regime and consequently their desperate families owed a substantial debt to the Canadian Pacific Railway for their journey.

These indomitable young single women, however, were pioneers of their community for they broke through the barriers of the “evil city,” the English language and the upper-class British culture. Significantly, they shaped the settlement patterns of not only Vancouver, but also western Canada. The author and speaker, Ruth Derksen, pays tribute to their impact and their long lasting legacy.


Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Raincoast Jews: Integration in British Columbia

Speaker: Lillooet Nordlinger McDonnell

Lillooet Nordlinger McDonnellCanada’s population and society have developed through the addition of immigrants who bring with them their values and practices as they seek opportunities in a new land. While doing this, they have to balance a respect for their original culture while adopting and adapting to a new society. The speaker will explore the lives and contributions of five leading Jews living in British Columbia between 1860 and 1970. Those memorable for shaping communities within the province are Cecelia Davies for her charity work in early Victoria, Hannah Director who rose in a small mining camp to become head of the school board, Leon Koerner the Czechoslovakian refugee who was associated with the lumber industry and became known for his philanthropy, Harry Adaskin who started the first UBC music school and Nathan Nemetz who rose to become the first Jewish chief justice of British Columbia. Emphasis will be placed on how their Jewish heritage shaped their professional legacy and contributions to Canadian society.


Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Vaudeville’s Great White Way

Speakers: John Atkin and Tom Carter

Gallaghter and Sheen, from Ziegfield FolliesFrom shortly after its incorporation, Vancouver became part of the vaudeville circuit which found a home in the blocks around East Hastings and Main Street. This area, a place for the everyman with its theatres, cinemas, pool halls and restaurants, became the base for vaudeville in Vancouver. Its mixed variety entertainment included singers, dancers, comedians, musicians, minstrel shows, etc. who travelled throughout North America.

These performance theatres often changed ownership and names during the brisk years of the early 1900s; however, when vaudeville died elsewhere because of the Great Depression and “the talkies”, they persisted in Vancouver for some time attesting to the unique character of the city. Civic historian John Atkin and historical artist Tom Carter will reveal the lively culture of Vancouver’s vaudeville.


Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Habitat Forum and the United Nations Conference of 1976

Speaker: Lindsay Brown

Lindsay BrownAt the end of May 1976, Vancouver was abuzz with the opening of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, the largest UN conference at that time. Focusing attention on the city, the conference drew 10,000 people from 150 countries, a big event for small Vancouver. Luminaries in attendance were Margaret Mead, Mother Teresa, Buckminster Fuller, Paolo Soleri, Pierre Trudeau, etc. Habitat Forum, a parallel utopian gathering of non-governmental organizations was organized by community activist Alan Clapp and others. For this, thousands of volunteers and local artists transformed the former army base at Jericho Beach into an extraordinary “happening.” The conference closed on June 11th but a strong if often unacknowledged legacy remained.


Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Speaker: TBA


Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
A Week You’ll Remember a Lifetime: The Story of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games

Speaker: Jason Beck

Jason BeckSleepy Vancouver was in a rare spotlight in the 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
Speaker: TBA


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

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, 2015 - 7:30 at Museum of Vancouver
Speaker: TBA

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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