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History of the Vancouver Historical Society

On October 2, 1936, an organizational meeting was held to create a Vancouver Section of the British Columbia Historical Association, which up until that time had been located only in Victoria. This Section ultimately became what we know today as the Vancouver Historical Society.

The new Section had as its prime objectives to stimulate public interest in history in general, and in Vancouver history in particular, and to promote and encourage historical research and publication. Another objective was the promotion and designation of heritage sites and buildings, and their preservation. This function has since been assumed to a great extent by Heritage Vancouver.

The new Section also encouraged the publication of works on local history topics. In addition, opportunities to publish were provided through the establishment of the new periodical, the British Columbia Historical Quarterly. Ultimately the BCHQ was succeeded by the British Columbia Historical News, which, in 2005, was renamed British Columbia History. VHS members are still active contributors to this publication today.

Since 1936, meetings have been held in a number of locations, including the Hastings Mill Store, the Grosvenor Hotel, the Georgia Medical Dental Building and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Since 1970, with some exceptions, most of its monthly public meetings have been held in the Museum of Vancouver (formerly Vancouver Museum).

On February 1, 1977, the VHS was incorporated as a separate society under the “Vancouver Historical Society” name, but still maintained a relationship with the BCHA. In 1983, the BCHA was itself renamed as the British Columbia Historical Federation to more accurately represent its organization as a federation of individual societies.

Over the years, and in accordance with its objectives, the VHS has promoted interest in Vancouver's history through the holding of monthly meetings with speakers, presenting annual awards for achievements relating to local history and research and hosting field trips to destinations of local historical importance. In addition, the VHS had been pro-active in promoting Vancouver heritage and history by publishing books on its own and supporting financially the publication of other works. It has also supported special projects such as the Oral History Project which produced over 40 taped interviews relating to the Fairview Slopes and the business history of Granville Island. More recently, it has lent direct support to the Historica project of the Vancouver School Board. The VHS also publishes its own monthly Newsletter.

Run entirely by volunteers, the Vancouver Historical Society has, for over seven decades, continued to remain a voice in the city's history. During this time, its history related projects and its support to local publishing have enhanced the role of the Society and confirmed its effectiveness.

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