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Program Summaries

Glimpses of the Past through description, related books and internet connections

Select a year from the drop-down menu below to view summaries of talks

University of BC fieldwork on the Marpole Midden, Photo: UBC Laboratory of Archaeology and Musqueam Indian band.  

Cǝsnǝʔǝm, the city before the city
[January 28, 2016 (MoV) Viviane Gosselin, Larry Grant, Susan Roy]

The five-year joint Museum of Vancouver-Musqueam First Nation exhibition (Ċǝsnǝʔǝm, the city before the city) has asked “Whose home is Vancouver?” This gives outsiders a chance to view Musqueam history through bone, stone and shell objects of ċǝsnǝʔǝm an important ancestral village for the Musqueam. The artifacts, important to native people as an ownership of the past - the deep past, come from what is more familiarly known as the Eburne Midden, Great Fraser Midden and Marpole Midden. They are equally important to Vancouverites in driving home the point of the long time pre-colonial presence of the First Nations people especially when looked at from a Musqueam point of view. Even though the artifacts have changed, the longer Native presence, the ċǝsnǝʔǝm culture, continues into the present.


Statue in Vancouver commemorating the "Miracle Mile" between Roger Bannister and John Landy (Photo: Paul Joseph, Vancouver)  

A Week to Remember: Stories from the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games
[February 25, 2016 (MoV) Jason Beck]

Sleepy 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. During that week, all events were held in the city and at the University of British Columbia except for the rowing events which were held at the Vedder Canal in the Fraser Valley. By its end, 662 competitors from 24 nations had participated in the games with Canada coming fourth in medal standings. While best known for the “Miracle Mile” which took place between Roger Bannister and John Landy, making headlines throughout North America, Europe, and the Commonwealth, it was the unfinished marathon of Jim Peters who collapsed well ahead of the pack but just shy of the finish line that impacted Vancouverites the most. While the Bannister/Landy race was celebrated elsewhere and here, Vancouverites quietly held their collective breaths as they closely followed the slow recovery of Peters who never ran professionally again.


Convent of the
Sacred Heart
(Photo: Wikipedia)

The Convent of the Sacred Heart/St. George’s Junior School Historic Building
[March 5, 2016 (Field Trip with Adrienne Davidson, Michael Kluckner, Tom Matthews, Airlie Ogilvie, Neil Piller)]

An outstanding piece of Gothic Revival architecture with its granite and terra cotta façade replete with gargoyles, the Religious of the Sacred Heart girls’ day and boarding school was completed in 1913. A real gem in the woods of the then city of Point Grey, it was run by the Sisters until 1979 when it was acquired by the privately run St. George’s Boy’s School. It had to be completely rebuilt to meet present day earthquake standards. So well done was the rebuilding and restoration detail, that the Heritage Commission of the City of Vancouver gave it top honours citing the meticulous and well-executed preservation of the original buildings which included the Boiler House with its soaring 23 meter (75 ft) chimney.

The ghost of a headless nun, who occasionally rattles her rosary beads, apparently has taken up residence within the structure.   


600 block Granville Street, Vancouver, Canada. Looking north east from north of Georgia Street. The Hudson's Bay department store is partially visible far right. Several streetcars are running, including a B.C. Electric observation car, which made a sightseeing trip popular with tourists.
(Photo: Wikipedia)

Vancouver in Transit: Fast-forward from 1890 to 2016
[March 24, 2016 [MoV] Henry Ewert]

The 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. [see Henry Ewert’s The Story of the B.C. Electric Railway Company, North Vancouver, BC:  Whitecap Books, 1986; Heather Conn, el al, Vancouver’s Glory Years: Public Transit, 1890-1915, North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books, 2003].   


Late Victorian society ladies in their finery  

130 Years of Women’s Fashion in Vancouver
[April 10, 2016 (Vancouver Incorporation Day Luncheon, UBC Golf Club) Ivan Sayers]

From its earliest years, Vancouver like any city that was easily accessible by train or boat was very quick to pick up on the worldwide phenomena of changing women’s fashion. Catalogues from Woodward’s and Eaton’s kept women up to date with design differences which reflected social and political change. Early restrictive corsets, creating hourglass and other shapes, drew the eye to the female body as an object of men’s desires. During the Suffragette movement, larger hats drew the eye to the face, other than the body. The required mobility of World War I brought about a less restrictive dress allowing for freer movement. With the growing freedom of women in the 1920s, dresses lost their shape. When dresses shortened, fashion designers lengthened dresses which used more material, allowing the fashion industry to charge more. Steel and elastic during WWII were restricted so women were allowed to bulge. And so it went. Locally based stores of high fashion, such as Gordon Drysdale’s Ltd and local designers such as Lore Maria Wiener kept the fashion conscious well dressed. Today, however, tight fitting yoga pants passing as street fashion has caused many a disparaging comment on the current Vancouver fashion scene.


BC Sports Hall of Fame Book Launch
[April 2016 Jason Beck]


Vietnam War Resistance in Vancouver and British Columbia  

Local Protest and Transnational Politics: Vietnam War Resistance in Vancouver and British Columbia
[April 28, 2016 [MoV] Lara Campbell]

Between 1964-1973 tens of thousands of Americans (the exact number is unknown) left the United States for Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft or to protest the war. Draft resisters (commonly known as draft dodgers) immigrated mainly to three major Canadian cities: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. This city 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. Undervalued in this sea of activism was the extent of the role of women, who outnumbered the men in immigration numbers. In Vancouver, 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 the antiwar and draft resistance movements. [see Lara Campbell’s contribution to Worth Fighting For: Canada’s Tradition of War Resistance from 1812 to the War on Terror, Toronto: Between The Lines, 2015].


Sensational Vancouver  
The book Sensational Vancouver by Eve Lazarus  

Sensational Vancouver: a romp through the city’s dark side
[May 26, 2016 [MoV] Eve Lazarus]

History 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.

[see Eve Lazarus' books Sensational Vancouver, Vancouver: Anvil Press, and Cold Case Vancouver: the city’s most baffling murders, Vancouver, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015]


Image Courtesy  

Finn Slough
[July 9, 2016 (Field Trip with David Dorrington and Nadeane Trowse)]

Situated on the south arm of the Fraser River and perched on pilings and floats, sits one of the last inhabited tidal communities on the West Coast. Subjected to the rise and fall of the tides, Finn Slough was originally settled by tough and independent Finish fishers and their families in the late 19th century. Old net sheds and scow houses were over time repurposed as dwellings. Somewhat protected by the long narrow Gilmour Island the remaining 18 households of artists and fishers, after 100 years of occupation, are still seeking crown leases to their land the legal jurisdictions of which continues to be mired in overlapping municipal, provincial and federal jurisdictions. Today, although most descendants of the original Finns have moved elsewhere their spirit of resiliency and creativity still live on in the present day population of Finn Slough.


Image Courtesy Tourism Burnaby  

The City of Burnaby’s Historic Deer Lake Park
[August 13, 2016 (Field Trip with Jim Wolf)]

Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park is a treasure trove of preserved and reconstructed history. In 1953, after the relocation of the Municipal Hall to the Deer Lake area, plans were envisioned to develop a cultural hub. This came to fruition in 1967 with the opening of an art gallery and gardens on one of the former grand estates, a particularly fine example of English Arts and Crafts style, the Henry and Grace Ceperley 1909 estate of “Fairacres”. This mansion was just one of several large estates purchased in the immediate area by the municipality many of which have since been carefully restored to serve various functions. All have interesting pasts. For example, “Fairacres”, before it became a gallery, was sold in 1922 to the former mayor of Vancouver, and after a succession of owners was purchased in 1939 by the local Catholic Diocese for a group of five Benedictine monks to establish a Priory in the province. However, the Benedictines sold it in 1955 when they established Westminster Abbey at Mission, BC. The mansion was sold to a religious cult whose leader was exposed as a fraud and who left in a hurry. In 1965 it was briefly leased by a fraternity and in 1966 the somewhat deteriorated mansion was purchased and renovated by the municipality of Burnaby to serve its present function.

In 1971 a small historic town, the Burnaby Village Museum, reflecting the early aspects of small tram-stop community was further created in the Deer Lake Park area. It includes a restored 1912 Parker Carousel and Interurban car 1223 both of which were lovingly restored. The area holds a little history for everyone.


The unique Shelly’s sign on the side of Via Tevere restaurant at Victoria and William
Image Courtesy: Grandview Heritage Group

Selling Bread to Housewives in the 1920s
[September 22, 2016 (MoV) Michael Kluckner)]

The plight of the overworked housewife, juggling her duties raising children and running a household, became a running theme in newspaper advertising of the very large Shelly Vancouver-based 4X Bakery in the 1920s. Other bakery ads tracked the public-health and safety concerns of the era, speaking to hygiene, to bread-delivery boys who never touched the horses pulling the 4X wagons, and to the safety of children going to corner stores carrying Shelly’s products, all reflecting the context and attitudes of the time. Michael Kluckner first researched William Curtis Shelly and his bakery in 1989, after painting Shelly’s old Fairview house that appeared slated for demolition. Shelly himself was a well-known businessman and politician, as well as a magician, serving as the chair of Vancouver’s Park Board and as the province’s Minister of Finance. Michael’s interest was rekindled in Shelly’s bakery during the renovation of an old grocery store on Victoria Drive when there emerged into the sunlight a forgotten painted Shelly’s Bakery advertisement which had been covered by stucco for half a century.


Direct Action: Left Wing Activism in the 1970s and 1980s
[October 27, 2016 (MoV) Eryk Martin)]

Direct Action (Vancouver Five)

In spite of Canada’s reputation as being a peaceful country with a peaceful past, activism in Vancouver, British Columbia and elsewhere contradicts this myth. In the 1970s and 1980s, for example, activist struggles against racism, capitalism, patriarchy, sexism, homophobia, environmental issues, etc. brought about the organizing of “Direct Action”, the five principal activists (above) of whom chose the tactics of destruction of symbolic structures to make their point. They have served extensive prison sentences. Another group, the “Wimmin’s Fire Brigade” made their point against sexism and exploitation by fire bombing video shops (namely Red Hot Video) which carried various violent forms of pornography, particularly against women. Times have changed but it is instructive to remember that meaningful changes to our society have come about through sometimes violent action rather than the accepted narrative of change through quiet dialogue.


Mission To Seafarers Flying Angel Club  
“ Mission To Seafarers Flying Angel Club
Image Courtesy: Rick Horne, Flickr

The Hastings Mill Monument and the “Flying Angels” Mission to Seafarers
[October 29, 2016 - Field Trip with Katheryn Murray, Michael Kluckner, Bruce M. Watson)]

Since 1966, the VHS’s 3-part granite Hastings Mill Monument has been situated near the “Flying Angel” Mission to Seafarers on the site of the old Hastings Mill. (for a full story of the VHS Monument, see our Projects and Publications section [1966] on this website). However, because of recent expansion of the Port of Vancouver (PoV) facilities and the need for greater security, the area presently occupied by the monument will be taken over by the PoV and the monument will have to be moved. The VHS is working closely with the PoV and the City of Vancouver to try secure a new location.

The adjacent blue building which now houses the “Flying Angel” Mission to Seafarers was originally constructed in 1906 by the BC Mills Timber and Trading Company Ltd as an office and demonstration centre to show off their pre-fab construction techniques as well as different types of wood. When the old Hastings Mill closed in the 1920s, the building was briefly used as an office by the Vancouver Harbour Commission until they vacated it in 1930. More than two decades later, having been at other locations in the city, the “Flying Angels” Mission to Seafarers moved in and have been there ever since. Originally they serviced 90,000 seamen a year; however, because of more mechanized ships and smaller crews, they now service and provide real and ecumenical spiritual sustenance to 15,000 appreciative seamen from all over the world. Several people claim to have seen ghosts and heard the presence of spirits in the building and even though the present manager has not seen any herself, she respects their claims.


Group near Jericho Charlie's home on Kitsilano Indian Reserve (Snauq) 1891  
Group near Jericho Charlie's home on Kitsilano Indian Reserve (Snauq) 1891
Image Courtesy:

The Kitsilano Indian Reserve
[November 24, 2016 (MoV) Douglas Harris]

Allotted 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 Snaag which was left vacant when, making way for other development, the male heads of its families were paid to move with their families to the North Shore. However, in 2002, a unanimous five-judge panel of 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. Nonetheless, during the period up to 2002 the other 70 acres have become, in part, the old CPR right of way, Vanier Park, the Molson Brewery site, city streets etc. Changing legal framework, the discussion of property vs. sovereignty, traditional federal fiduciary responsibility, and how the City of Vancouver deals with this important parcel of land are all questions that have yet to be fully answered. It is a work in progress.




A Half Century of Civic Politics
[January 26, 2017 (MoV) Gordon Price]


Bike Lanes in Vancouver  
Bike Lanes in Vancouver
Image Courtesy:The Langara Voice

Vancouver 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 livable cities in the world. This has been done through a variety of civic political parties with such initials as NPA, TEAM, COPE and Vision each of whom, at one time or another, have captured the political centre and by doing so, have espoused similar values of keeping the water supply pristine, the dirty water flowing outward in a non-polluting way and by upgrading the infrastructure incrementally year by year. The biggest problem now is the difference in vision of the Provincial Government which is still building greater access for more cars to come into the City and the vision of the City which is to continue reducing the number of cars within the city. 


Emily Carr, Potlatch Figure (Mimquimlees), 1912, oil on canvas, 46 x 60.3 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa  
Emily Carr, Potlatch Figure (Mimquimlees), 1912, oil on canvas, 46 x 60.3 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa  

Early Vancouver Artists: surviving while being creative
[February 23, 2017 (MoV) Gary Sim]

From the time that Vancouver was carved out of old growth forest little more than one hundred and twenty years ago, artists - painters to sculptors to photographers - sought to nourish their souls while sustaining a livelihood. It was a tough job for artists working within an early city environment of newly arrived loggers, fishermen and workers whose main job it was to feed their families on meager workers’ incomes let alone contemplate the artistic qualities of their fellow Vancouverites. The artists themselves, coalescing under various organizational umbrellas and exhibiting in small private art galleries, became teachers and illustrators in order to sustain themselves. Very few made a living solely by their various forms of art output. For the wives of those who had managed to find their way into the upper middle class or higher, expressions of their own artistic abilities assured their place in upper class gentility. Consequently, an awareness of early art in Vancouver is integral to the study of the city’s long road to maturity.


Ferries of Indian Arm (Burnaby Library)  
Ferries of Indian Arm (Burnaby Library)  

The Ferries of Indian Arm
[March 23, 2017 (MoV) Ralph Drew]

As prosperous times before the First World War created a local surge in immigration as well as a house and ship building boom in Vancouver, comparatively 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 and 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. (See: Ralph Drew’s Ferries and Fjord: The History of Indian Arm, Its Ferries & Docks, Travelling Post Offices & Floating Grocery Stores, Belcarra, BC: Ralph Drew, 2015)


Expo 86 (Photo News 1130)  
Expo 86 (Photo News 1130)  

How Vancouver Changed in the 1980s
[April 2, 2017 (Vancouver Incorporation Day Luncheon, UBC Golf Club) Michael Harcourt]

From Vancouver City Alderman (1973-1980) to Mayor (1980-1986) to MLA (1986-1991) to Premier of the Province of British Columbia (1991-1996) Michael Harcourt has long marshaled a career in progressive politics. Starting as a new lawyer, a call from the organizers of SPOTA (Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association) saw him successfully lead the charge on their behalf against all manner of advocacy groups who wanted to cut up the city with freeways and in doing so tear down established neighbourhoods. Consequently, Vancouver today is the only major North American city without freeways running through it, instead, relying more on public transportation. He also spent a good part of his time as mayor helping set the stage for Expo 86 which brought the world to the city, changing the city’s dynamic. As a result of these two actions and others and, with the help of similarly like-minded people, Vancouver has enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most livable cities in the world. Mike says, with a grin, that after leading dynamic Vancouver, he took a demotion when he became the Premier of the Province of British Columbia. Hardly the case, but that’s another story. (see:


Stock Parade at the Fair, New Westminster  
Stock Parade at the Fair, New Westminster  

Queen’s Park, New Westminster
[April 23, 2017 (Field Trip with Lynda Mauve Orr)]

Queen’s Park, a 75 acre mixed-use New Westminster public park (the first such park conceived in the colony of British Columbia) was established on June 13, 1887 to celebrate the Jubilee year of Queen Victoria’s reign. As early as 1859, Colonel Richard C. Moody, as commissioner of land and works and founder of New Westminster, gushed over the site in a letter to Governor James Douglas: “What a grand old park this hill would make!” Almost 30 years later it evolved as a romantic nature park with non-native exotic shrubs, trees and flowers being suffused with West Coast native flora. Over time, Queen’s Park also incorporated built structures and was from 1905 to 1929 also the site of the Dominion Exhibition. During WWI the exhibition buildings served as a barracks for recruits and in WWI the local Westminster Regiment used the area for combat training and exercises. A practical breathing spot for local working people the park continues to host sports competitions, including lacrosse and hockey.


Chinese Freemason's Building, Vancouver  
Chinese Freemason's Building, Vancouver [Image: FlickRiver]  

Historic Clan and Associations Buildings of Vancouver’s Chinatown
[April 27, 2017 (MoV) John Atkin and Tom Wanklin]

Vancouver’s Chinatown is not an historical entity frozen in time, but an area which has evolved and continues to evolve to meet the ever changing needs of this vibrant part of our collective urban memory. The historic brick and mortar structures of the area reflect a dynamic crossover of styles between Chinese, European and a hybrid Gold Mountain design which even returned in form to southern China. As well, the incorporated ornate balconies recall both the ancestor hall of the clan areas and the residential buildings of Guangdong province. From their ground floors of shops, to the mixed use mezzanine second floors, to the third storey residential and the fourth floor assembly halls, they reflected clan and benevolent associations answering a much needed early mutual support. Even though the Chinese community over the past half century has spread throughout the lower mainland, the historical Chinatown has remained a spiritual centre for many and joint efforts are being made to preserve its importance.

The task at hand is to preserve the cultural history of the area with sustainable, often 100 year old, upgraded buildings which reflects their evolution. The city’s aim, along with the various Chinese associations who still control the buildings, is to revitalize the economy and protect the heritage and thread of history, all the while being respectful and mindful of the complex dynamics that continue to drive the area.


Noel Annance  
Book Cover: Abenaki Daring - The Life and Writings of Noel Annance, 1792-1869 by Jean Barman  

Morag Maclachan’s legacy: The untold story of Noel Annance
[May 25, 2017 (MoV) Jean Barman and Elizabeth Walker]

VHS member Morag Maclachan (1920-2011) left a legacy of an important publication, The Fort Langley Journals (UBC Press, 1998), along with extensive research on Noel Annance, an Abenaki, from just outside of Montreal, who was among Fort Langley’s founders in the winter of 1824-25. Delta’s Annacis Island (now an industrial island in the Fraser River situated between New Westminster and Delta, originally called Annance’s Island) is named after him. Just before her death and unable to complete Annance’s story, Morag asked Jean Barman to do so. The result is Abenaki Daring: The Life and Writings of Noel Annance, 1792-1869 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016), which tells the story of an indigenous man who by virtue of having attended Dartmouth College, due to his maternal descent from child captives, was all his life caught between two ways of being. He was too indigenous to be accepted in the fur trade, too highly educated to fit in on returning home in Lower Canada [Quebec] in 1834. Noel Annance did not crumple, but rather used his pen to detail to the government Indigenous people’s plight in a Canada in the making. His letters showed that the exclusionary policies generally considered to have originated with the Indian Act of 1876 had previously been in place.


Vickie Jensen with Yelton Pole in Stanley Park  
Vickie Jensen with Yelton Pole in Stanley Park  

The Lure of Stanley Park's Totem Poles
[June 24, 2017 (Field Trip with Vickie Jensen)]

Stanley Park’s totem poles first began attracting visitors and locals in the 1920s. Today with over 3.5 million visitors each year, they are the number one tourist destination in the entire province. The first totem pole, from the Skeena River, was donated to Stanley Park in 1903, and four more were acquired in 1922. Over the years the Park’s collection of poles has changed, from the original location at Lumberman’s Arch to the present location, in 1963, at Brockton Point. Since the Coast Salish peoples, whose territory includes the site of what is now Stanley Park, did not traditionally carve totem poles, the collection of poles that merged in the park reflected the culture of northern First Nations, including poles carved or restored by the renowned Haida carver Bill Reid and Kwakwaka’wakw carver Doug Cranmer. The longtime absence of work reflecting local Salish culture led in 2008 to the erection of three marvelous Welcome Gateways created by Musqueam artist Susan Point. They surround a cluster of totem poles that tell the diverse stories of the Northwest Coast’s Indigenous peoples.


Chinatown Field Trip  
VHS Members on Chinatown Field Trip  

Chinatown Field Trip
[July 30, 2017 (Field Trip with John Atkin)]

Chinatown is an important cultural landscape. Since non-native settlement began, there has been a Chinese presence on Burrard Inlet and Chinatown is as old as the city. Yet, as all communities do, Chinatown is evolving and facing change. An aging population, changing business climate and different immigration patterns have all had their effect on the district, but it endures.  On this walk we explored its history and development. Moments that stood out included insights into the distinctive local influence on the area’s historic buildings; the story of Vancouver’s four separate Chinatowns across time; conversation about a laneway tenement building that passes unseen by most visitors; and reference to the parts of China-town that are new but respectful of the community’s cultural heritage.  Above all, John told the story of Chinatown from the perspective of the Chinese inhabitants themselves, a useful reminder that history offers many different perspectives.


Japanese-Canadian Internment  
Japanese-Canadians on their way to forced internment  

The Japanese-Canadian Internment – 75 Years After
[September 28, 2017 (MoV) Mary and Tosh Kitagawa]

Since 2017 is the 75th anniversary of the incarceration of 22,000 Japanese Canadians, it is fitting that we review and discuss this regrettable chapter in Canadian history. Tosh Kitagawa talked about the anti-Asian environment that prevailed from BC joining Confederation in 1871 until 1949, including the exploitation of Chinese labour in the building of the railway from 1880–1884 and the Anti-Asian riots in Vancouver in 1907.

Mary Kitagawa chronicled her personal history from 1941–1949, beginning with the forcible removal of her father by the RCMP in front of her and her young siblings and his exile to work on the road camps. Her saga continued with her family in the horse barns at Hastings Park and their time spent in seven different incarceration camps until their freedom finally came in 1949. Her narrative concluded with her struggle to obtain Honourary Degrees for the 76 Japanese-Canadian students expelled from UBC in 1942.


The Clark Park Gang  
The infamous Clark Park Gang  

The Last Gang in Town: The Epic Story of the Clark Park Gang vs. the Vancouver Police
[October 26, 2017 (MoV) Aaron Chapman]

Decades before organized crime syndicates brought sensational drug wars to Vancouver, street gangs held sway over its unruly east side. None was considered tougher or more feared than the Clark Park gang, a wild, two-fisted crew of characters from Vancouver’s post-1960s counterculture. In 1972, after a number of headline-making riots and clashes with police – including an infamous altercation outside a Rolling Stones concert – the Clark Parkers became the target of a secret undercover police squad. Their hostile interactions culminated in a notorious police shooting, resulting in the death of a Clark Park gang member. Author/historian Aaron Chapman presented previously unpublished photos and police documents, and anecdotes told by surviving gang members and police officers who spoke for the first time on the subject, making for a compelling portrait of the early 1970s that put the spotlight on the after-dark underbelly of Vancouver’s not-so-distant criminal past.


August 7, 1971. The Gastown Riot  
August 7, 1971. The Gastown Riot occurred when 2,000 people went to Gastown to protest the illegality of marijuana. Police on horseback were called in to break it up, arresting 79 and charging 38. A later judicial inquiry headed by Justice Thomas Dohm criticized the action, characterizing it as a “police riot.” (Glenn Baglo/PNG) Source: CBC  

City On Edge: a rebellious century of Vancouver protests, riots, and strikes
[November 23, 2017 (MoV) Kate Bird]

For more than a century, photojournalists at The Vancouver Sun and The Province have been on the scene to capture those times when the city stood up, took to the streets, and made some noise. From the 1900 salmon fishermen’s strike to the 2017 women’s march, Vancouver has a long history of making its viewpoints heard, and in some cases, felt. Retired PNG librarian Kate Bird, author of City On Edge: a rebellious century of Vancouver protests, riots, and strikes and Vancouver in the Seventies: photos from a decade that changed the city presented a slide show of images from Vancouver’s rich history of protest activism.



Christ Church Cathedral  
Christ Church Cathedral at Burrard and West Georgia, Vancouver  

Christ Church Cathedral Field Trip
[December 9, 2017 (Field Trip with Ian Birtwell, Associate Warden)]

Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver’s oldest surviving church building, at the corner of Burrard Street and West Georgia has undergone several major expansions and renovations over its 127 year history. Ian’s slide show presentation and building tour provided a detailed history of the church and the many financial challenges it has faced in preserving a heritage building. It was shocking to learn that it was almost demolished in the 1970’s. The last renovation completed in 2016 included a new bell tower and the replacement of the roof. Underpinning the success of the church is the commitment to an expanded community role and open door policies.




Where Mountains Meet the Sea by Daniel Francis  
Where Mountains Meet the Sea by Daniel Francis  

Where Mountains Meet the Sea
[January 25, 2018 (MoV) Daniel Francis]

Originally part of the territories of the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations, the community of North Vancouver predates Vancouver as the earliest European settlement on Burrard Inlet. For several years Moodyville was the "capital" of Burrard Inlet. Boosters even thought that the North Shore might become the terminus for the transcontinental railway. Instead North Vancouver had a more measured history, characterized by industrial development along its waterfront, residential development up its mountain slopes and recreational development in its backcountry.

In this well-illustrated talk based on his book Where Mountains Meet the Sea commemorating the 125th anniversary of North Vancouver District, historian Daniel Francis describes how the community evolved from a frontier sawmill village into a modern urban centre marked by its location midway between the mountain wilderness and the third largest city in Canada.


In 1961 (around the time this photo was taken of Cedar Cottage), 70% of housing in Vancouver was single-family housing. Today, it’s 34 per cent. (CVA 780-130)  
In 1961 (around the time this photo was taken of Cedar Cottage), 70% of housing in Vancouver was single-family housing. Today, it’s 34 per cent. (CVA 780-130)  

The Death and Life of the Single-Family House
[February 22, 2018 (MoV) Nathanael Lauster]

In his 2016 book, The Death and Life of the Single-Family House, sociologist Nathanael Lauster explains how residents in Vancouver – recognized as one of the most “livable” cities in the world - have attempted to make themselves at home without a house. Building on historical and interview data, Lauster has painstakingly studied the city's dramatic transformation to curb sprawl. He tracks the history of housing and interviews residents about the cultural importance of the house as well as the urban problems it once appeared to solve. Although Vancouver's built environment is unique, Lauster argues that it was never predestined by geography or demography. Instead, regulatory transformations enabled the city to renovate, build over, and build around the house.


Last updated January 29, 2018. For more recent data, please consult archived newsletters.


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