Author Archives: Megan Schlase

The Two Fronts of War

The First World War left few Canadians untouched. About 8% of the country’s population served during the war. Of those, about 10% died and almost a quarter were wounded. Citizens at home worked to support those fighting overseas.

image of people at cenotaph

1929 Armistice Day ceremonies. The Cenotaph was erected in 1924. Stuart Thomson, photographer. Reference code AM1535-: CVA 99-2010

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Many organizations, societies and companies raised money to help the troops. Continue reading

Ghosts of Vancouver: our city’s best-known haunts

Are they really haunted? You’ll have to find out for yourself. These are the stories we’ve heard.

Evoking a medieval French castle, the Chateau-style Hotel Vancouver, complete with steep copper roof (now painted green), ornate dormers, and creepy gargoyles, is alleged to be haunted by an elegant “lady in red” who patrols the 14th floor. This fashionable apparition has reportedly been seen walking on an invisible ledge by hotel guests, employees and film crews. It is said that the hotel’s elevator often stops on the 14th floor, and as the elevator door opens on its own, the lady in red is seen gliding through the hallway . . . .

Hotel Vancouver – Archibald & Schofield, 1928-1939. Reference code AM54-S4-: Hot P70

This medieval style, fortress-like landmark is Vancouver ‘s earliest drill hall. Its notable features include two rounded towers complete with battlements, and rusticated stone trim. Three and a half foot thick walls and a parapet made from Gabriola Island limestone rest solidly on a foundation of huge granite blocks. The Hall has always housed Vancouver’s and British Columbia’s senior militia regiment, The British Columbia Regiment – Duke of Connaught’s Own. Various eerie sounds are the most commonly reported evidence of other-worldly residents: footsteps. . . . voices. . . . books falling from shelves. . . . items falling from walls. However, the image of a man has been observed in the Senior NCO’s and Officer’s messes. Little is known of the identity of those who haunt the Drill Hall, but the military personnel who trained here saw action in the Boer War, as well as the First and Second World Wars. Continue reading

Camping at the Seaside: The “fashionable” thing to do in summer

From about 1894 to 1908, summer camping on the beach was considered a fashionable holiday tradition, enjoyed by many of Vancouver’s early well-to-do families.

The most popular spot was Greer’s (now Kits) Beach, where “tent town” comprised two long rows of tents on either side of an irregular “street” of beach sand. Greer’s Beach was reached by boat down False Creek from Carrall Street; on foot across the CPR trestle bridge or via a sinuous trail through the cleared area; or by buggy over a former wagon track used by loggers with their oxen.

English Bay Beach was another popular camping site, where, in 1898, “about two score tents extended to the West” and “many were commodious and richly furnished.”

These are the camping beaches shown in the images below.

Beach camping was discontinued after 1908, due to improper sanitation conditions and increased development. Continue reading

From Suitcases and Cigar Boxes – Or: How Do Our Holdings Grow?

Here at the City of Vancouver Archives, we adhere to a Canadian archival principle called “total archives”. This means that we acquire, preserve, and make accessible records from all sectors of society—local government, private industry, cultural institutions, organizations, families, individuals, etc.—and in all formats. Also, because we are the municipal archives for Vancouver, our holdings must relate to some aspect of the history of our city.

The portions of our holdings that come from the City of Vancouver government come to us systematically through the City’s records management program.  Those parts that we acquire from the private sector (local businesses, families, associations, etc.) arrive here in a variety of ways, often unexpectedly and sometimes in surprising packages.

Just a few examples of containers donations arrive in.

In many cases, people with records to offer will either call or email us asking if we would be interested in what they have. When this happens, Continue reading

Camping at the Seaside

The “fashionable” thing to do in summer — even for cows.

From about 1894 to 1908, summer camping on the beach was considered a fashionable holiday tradition, enjoyed by many of Vancouver’s early well-to-do families.

Kits Beach

The most popular spot was Greer’s (now Kits) Beach, where “tent town” comprised two long rows of tents on either side of an irregular “street” of beach sand.

Picnickers and campers - complete with cow! - at Greer's (now Kits) Beach, 1896. Item # Be P98

Greer’s Beach was reached by boat down False Creek from Carrall Street, on foot across the CPR trestle bridge, via a sinuous trail through Continue reading

Our Researchers – Will Langford

Originally from Calgary, Will Langford has been pursuing his post-secondary education at UBC, where he completed a B.A. in history and is currently working on his M.A. thesis, the working title of which reads, “Is Sutton Brown God?” Planning, Expertise, and the Local State in Vancouver.” (Gerald Sutton Brown was Vancouver’s first Director of Planning.)

Will Langford

Ever interested in all things urban (as opposed to outdoorsy things like camping. . . ), Will became intrigued with the concept of urban planning during an undergraduate course on the history of Vancouver, taught by Professor Robert A. J. McDonald, where he was introduced to the notion of the relationship between the built environment and society. Curious about the underlying assumptions behind the claims of planners that only their expertise could result in better societies, and driven by his observation that things turned out quite differently, Will began to investigate. Continue reading