Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Sinner Man

Over the weekend, I was able to participate in the Sins of the City Walking Tour. I got a free pass, but at 15 dollars, this is a good look at your own city’s sordid past.

When I see century-old pictures of Vancouver  I often find myself wondering, where is that? What was Vancouver? This tour serves well to show Vancouver’s early, and often ugly, days. Ever wondered why Blood Alley is so gruesomely named? Or why there are glass tiles lining the sidewalk at Jack Chow’s?

Tour admission also includes admission to the Vancouver Police Museum, a great little house of horrors located at the former Vancouver Morgue. Their collection of confiscated weapons alone will make you think twice about stepping out of your house.

Vancouver Police Museum

Sins of the City Walking Tour Reservations

Olympocalypse! The Shane!


“We Are More” by Shane Koyczan
When defining Canada
you might list some statistics
you might mention our tallest building
or biggest lake
you might shake a tree in the fall
and call a red leaf Canada
you might rattle off some celebrities
might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie
might even mention the fact that we’ve got a few
Barenaked Ladies
or that we made these crazy things
like zippers
electric cars
and washing machines
when defining Canada
it seems the world’s anthem has been
” been there done that”
and maybe that’s where we used to be at
it’s true
we’ve done and we’ve been
we’ve seen
all the great themes get swallowed up by the machine
and turned into theme parks
but when defining Canada
don’t forget to mention that we have set sparks

Vancouver online in 2001


to celebrate their ten year birthday Google has put their oldest available search index online. Now for a limited time you can search their database that was active in 2001 [g01] as well as my hilariously ugly Matthew Good Band fansite and various student paper stuff [g01]. What will you find if you do? Well for starters you’ll find one of my first blogs [g01] as well as the fact that that other Jeffrey Simpson (a senior writer at The Globe and Mail) had a slightly larger web presence than I did, even though I kind of figure that he had no idea what the internet was at that point.

Give the search a try, and see what comes up. In 2001 for example there was no iPod. What a backwards age that must have been.

Vancouver comes up with not one of the very popular blogs that dot our digital landscape now, at least not on the first page. Who does show up? Well the Vancouver Grizzlies [g01]. The closest thing to the social networking sort of sites that we all laud now [mbv] is a now defunct page for the local chapter of IndyMedia.

These days you can’t throw a rock into the air without hitting someone trying to sell their SEO (search engine optimization) skills or a blogger fretting about Page Rank. 2001 seems so quaint and unspoiled, like an episode of Road to Avonlea.

Happy Birthday Vancouver Sun – You don’t look a day over 115

On September 29th, 1888, The Vancouver World started printing, and 120 years later, The Vancouver Sun is still pumping out the news. I’m not a born Vancouverite, I converted ten years ago, so The Sun was a bit of a puzzle to me – in the rest of Canada (well, most of it), “The ____ Sun” is the tabloid press paper with a girl in a bikini on page 6. These were perceived as the fluffy paper, compared to whatever the rival paper was, which was almost always a broadsheet paper. So for example, there would be The Calgary Sun and The Calgary Herald – both fine papers, but was a bit lighter on the articles, heavier on the Brick ads and sports. In my opinion, anyhow. And that never stopped me from reading them both. And then I moved to Vancouver, and OOOoooh, the hilarity caused by my confusion. Actually, I don’t know where I was going with that – it didn’t take more than a week to rewire my brain to keep the two straight.

Man, that was actually a really boring digression. Anyhow, it’s the 120th anniversary of The Vancouver Sun, which is always of interest to me. I like to see how things change and how they don’t change. When the Royal Bank’s Cambie branch had their anniversary earlier in the year, it was amazing to see their photos of the corner of Broadway and Cambie, back when they were the only building of note. Big empty space where the Wendy’s would one day be.

As part of their celebrations, The Vancouver Sun pointed readers towards which is a treasure trove (2000+ pages, according to the Sun) of facts and photos about the city.

– Vancouver had Canada’s first gas-station.

– Vancouver named 8 city streets after famous golf-courses – Seigniory, Leaside, Uplands, Bonnacord, Scarboro, Bonnyvale, Brigadoon and Bobolink. I can find all but Seigniory on Google maps.

– The first Vancouver mayor who was actually born in Vancouver was hizzonor Bill Rathie, in 1962 (76 years after incorporation.)

– Whistler? Originally called London Mountain. The inspiration for the name it has now? A marmot.

– Marpole is apparently one of the oldest, settled areas in North America, with habitation evidence going back 3500 years. Also, they found 200 bodies in the midden (refuse dump) in 1930. I have no idea who made the dump and who dumped the bodies – Fail, Vancouver History! FAIL!

Anyhow, happy birthday Vancouver Sun. That Metro paper – she means nothing to me baby. Just a paper I met on the bus. You know you’re the only one for me.

Stuff to Do

Blood Alley

My husband rawks my casbah, and he knows me really, really well. So he got me a great present for my birthday that suited me just fine.

We were part of the Vancouver Police Museum’s “Sins of the City” walking tour. So he took me for a two hour walk on Saturday. It’s a two hour tour of Gastown, Chinatown, and Japantown. I’m really stoked about getting this photo, and learning more about the rich history of vice in the city of Vancouver. It was a difficult choice between that photo and the photo of the trapdoor to the basement of a business in Chinatown. That business used to be a gambling den!!

I could have gone my whole life without knowing what Mitzi the Stripper did with ping-pong balls, but hey.

What being Canadian means to you

Canada Day False Creek Ferry

Back on Canada Day [mbv] we fired up a bit of a poll to see what it was about this country that people were most proud of.   We let the poll run a few days, and now the results are in.  Out of 20 possible answers, some such as Alex Trebek were slightly tongue-in-cheek, we’ve got our winners.

Perhaps not surprising to anyone whose been forced to sit through a university poli-sci course with a section on Canadian identity “Not Being American” won with 28% of the vote.

Narrowly behind that with 26% came the one I voted for “Our Progressive Social Values” in which basically could include anything you wanted but I made a special note of our laws on gay marriage and our pot laws.

Next we had a tie at 9% between the sport of hockey and the maple leaf.  Well below that came snow, the wilderness and the CBC.

Those of you who voted thanks for taking part.  Not only was it interesting to see the results, but it was a good test of our polling system which we’ll be using again soon.

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