Vancouver has only been around for a century and a quarter – after the beginning of the age of photography. We’re fully documented. Some of the earliest shots, like this one of City Council after the Great Fire of 1886, the year of the city’s incorporation, are classics:
But we don’t see a lot of colour images taken mid-century (with the exception of the great Fred Herzog’s). In boxes and basements all over this city there are no doubt fading Kodachromes of Vancouver, waiting to be rediscovered.
Like this one from Serge Vanry (President of B.C.’s Dental Surgeons) who at a Christmas party mentioned that he had an image he took of the West End, probably in 1948 or 49, from the Burrard Bridge:
Sunset Beach and the playing fields haven’t changed much – but the slopes above Beach Avenue lack a single highrise. On the far left, mid-way, you can see the old Crystal Pool at the foot of Nicola Street. And then some of the earliest highrises (which make me think this photo might have been taken a little later than ’48.) On the eternal mountains behind, only the first stage of the British Properties is evident.
Thanks, Serge. And please, to readers, send in any shots you have that capture Vancouver as an adolescent.
When I moved to Vancouver in 1978, the English Bay Seawall ended at the Aquatic Centre. The path itself was only about eight feet wide; pedestrians and cyclists shared the route – and the roller blade hadn’t even been invented. Most people circumnavigated Stanley Park and called it a day. This would not have been the typical view of the seawall along the beach:
I wonder what percentage of Vancouver is out stolling the seawall – any part of its 26 connected miles – at any one time? How do people get to the seawall, how far do they walk or cycle, how often do they use it? While no doubt it has made a great contribution to our health, both physical and emotional – even spiritual – I believe the seawall provides one other great service for Vancouver: it allows us to see ourselves. This common sharing of space, on which we pass each other with a casual intimacy, gives us a regular opportunity, citizen and visitor alike, to at least know who we are, to look each other in the eye if we wish, and to build that critical commodity called civility.