Author Archives: Bronwyn Smyth

New Video Wall: Seasons

As summer turns over into autumn, we present a new video wall show in keeping with this theme: Seasons: Vancouver through the year.

Seed bed preparation, 1908. Reference code: AM505-S1-: CVA 660-688

The Archives’ holdings have a delightful number of photographs that relate to various seasonal celebrations and activities, which was the seed of inspiration for this video wall show. It begins with spring, moving through summer and autumn, and finishes with winter. The viewer will be treated to photographs of gardening, track and field races, soccer matches, lazy days at the beach, wedding celebrations, regattas, groups hiking, Thanksgiving feasts, children in costume for Halloween, and skiers eyeing up slopes. The earliest image showcased is the gathering of a crowd celebrating Dominion Day in 1878, with the most recent image over a hundred years later depicting crowds celebrating Chinese New Year in 1987.

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Winter Wander 2019

At the beginning of February the Archives, Museum of Vancouver, HR MacMillian Space Centre, Vancouver Maritime Museum, Vancouver Academy of Music, and Bard on the Beach hosted the 8th annual Winter Wander. For those who haven’t yet been, it is a fun day filled with activities, performances, and a chance to visit the cultural sites that call Vanier Park home.

Winter Wander gives the Archives an opportunity to show off a selection of our favourite records to visitors who might not otherwise walk through our doors during regular operating hours to conduct research. This year, in addition to our ever-popular first Council minute book, contract for a Chinese opera singer, and prisoners’ record book, we displayed a handful of posters from the recently donated BC Gay and Lesbian Archives fonds, the illustrated panoramic view of the City of Vancouver originally published as a supplement in the Daily World newspaper in 1898, and drawings of unbuilt Vancouver, including that of a stadium that had it been built in the 1930s would be sitting where the Archives is currently located. Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

The Archives will be closed for the holidays from 5pm on Friday, December 21, 2018, and reopen at 9am on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

A delightful Season’s Greetings card depicting a woman in a poinsettia dress holding a wreath with a man in a black top coat. Reference code: AM968–

This year’s season’s greetings card comes from the Lorne Brown fonds. Lorne Ellis Brown (1908-1976) was a teacher in the Vancouver public school system when this card was sent to him in 1930 or 1931. Later in his career, he became the Provincial Superintendent of Physical Education in the Department of Education (1944-1946), the Director of Health and Physical Education at the Provincial Normal School (1946-1955), and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia (1955-1973), and Vancouver Park Board Commissioner (1967-1968). Continue reading

New Video Wall: Goods & Services–Businesses in Vancouver

Our latest video wall showcases the types of businesses that have operated in the city over time. Goods & Services: Businesses in Vancouver introduces the viewer, through the lenses of work, school, home, and play, to a host of different commercial enterprises that have called Vancouver home over the last 150 years.

Saw mills were one of the first types of businesses to operate in the City of Vancouver. Ships loading lumber at Hastings Saw Mill, ~1896. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Mi P26

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Merging Time: Past & Present Combined

Merging Time, an exhibit created by the students of Langara College’s Professional Photography program, has returned to the Archives gallery space. It is an exhibit that merges a photograph from the Archives holdings with a newly-shot image of the same scene. This year, there are nineteen of these past-and-present combined images adorning the gallery walls.

Archives photograph selected by Luc Frost for the Merging Time exhibit. Hastings Street looking towards Cambie Street intersection, ca. 1913. Reference code: AM1376-: CVA 220-10

Digital composite by Luc Frost incorporating Archives image AM1376-: CVA 220-10

The creation of the merged images may look effortless and seamless, but don’t be fooled. The first challenge for these students is finding the locations from which the original photographs were shot. Getting a new shot with their dSLR cameras from the same perspective can be tricky, as buildings, construction, or other barriers that didn’t exist in the past may block or obscure today’s views of the original scenes. Even the height of the original photographer can make getting a similar shot a challenge. Continue reading

Vancouver Elections: New Video Wall Show

With the 2018 civic election set for October 20, and advance polls October 10-17, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to search through our holdings to see what election-related material would make an interesting and new video wall show. As the official repository for the City’s records of archival value, our holdings are rich in election-related material. These records give insight into how Vancouver and its electoral system has developed and changed throughout the years. The changes range from who could run for election, and who could vote, to frequency of elections, to the abolishment of the ward system, to what topics ruled the various plebiscites in a particular election year. A sampling of these records–photographs, posters, maps, and other visually interesting textual records–has been captured in the latest addition to our video wall shows: Vancouver Elections.

Council room at City Hall, ca. 1910. Reference code: AM336-S3-2-: CVA 677-82

The invention of photography preceded the incorporation of Vancouver in 1886, which means that there are photographs of the first elected city officials, including the first mayor, and the first City Hall in our holdings. Later photographs capture significant milestones in Vancouver’s political arena. A photograph showing Helena Gutteridge, the first woman elected to City Council, taking her oath of office in 1937 represents one of these milestones. Continue reading

Tea, Talk and Treats: An Exclusive Summer Evening in Vancouver’s Chinese Garden

The City of Vancouver Archives is the repository for the early records of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society and on July 5, at 6pm, the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives is hosting an evening entitled “Tea, Talk and Treats: An Exclusive Summer Evening in Vancouver’s Chinese Garden” at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Friends of the Vancouver City Archives invitation for the July 5th event

The event will support the Archives’ digitization work and will offer Chinese tea and pastries, a presentation given by Professor Alison Bailey regarding the traditional concepts and artistic and poetic representations of the Chinese garden, and a tour of the Garden led by docents that will highlight the Garden’s architectural and horticultural elements.

The records held by the Archives were donated by the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society in 1991, 1992, and 2011. They span from 1981-2009, with the majority from 1981-1991, and consist of approximately 1700 photographs, 22 videocassettes, 139 architectural drawings, 1 technical drawing and 2 maps. Continue reading

On the hunt for 2116 Maple Street: A house history expedition – Part 3: City Directories

The final part of hunting for information about 2116 Maple Street, after looking at fire insurance maps, water records, building permit registers, and photographs, involves looking up the names of the residents in the city directories.

The Archives’ city directories available in the Reading Room. Photo by Bronwyn Smyth

The city directories are one of our most well-used resources, as many researchers look for the history of a building’s occupants, or where a relative lived over time. It is time consuming to go through the publications year-by-year and trace the occupants of a house, but, I would argue it is time well spent. Often an underlying narrative emerges about the residents, about the house, and about the neighbourhood. Continue reading

Food and Drink: New Video Wall Show

Over the past several years, five video wall shows centering on various themes have been created at the Archives. Titles include Vancouver Vignettes, Games in the City, Edifice, Forces Shaping a City, and Parks. The video wall shows highlight the diverse nature of our photograph, video, and textual holdings.

One of the photographs included in the video wall show. Fishing on Greer’s (now Kitsilano) Beach, 1890s. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Be P142

It has been a few years since the last video wall show, Parks, was created, so we felt it was time to add another one to our rotating shows. We are happy to announce the latest show: Food and Drink: Growing, making, buying and consuming.

The inspiration for this latest installation was two-fold. As an undergraduate, I studied horticulture and agriculture, and therefore the production and consumption of food and beverages are never far from my mind. Secondly, in my daily work at the Archives, I constantly come across a wealth of materials relating to the production and consumption of food and beverages in and around Vancouver throughout the last 150 or so years. Continue reading

On the hunt for 2116 Maple Street–A house history expedition – Part 2: Photographs

The second phase of hunting for information on 2116 Maple Street, after locating it on fire insurance maps, getting the water service records, and getting the building permit register information, involves delving into the Archives’ photographic holdings.

Houses in Kitsilano. Reference code: AM1535-: CVA 99-1347

The ideal for every house history researcher is to find an old photograph of his or her house in the Archives’ holdings. I hate to burst their bubble, but this often doesn’t happen. However, it is feasible to find photographs of the neighbourhood, which often give a sense of what the area was like throughout the years.

A concerted effort has been made to scan and describe much of our street and neighbourhood photographs. These digitized images can be found from the comfort of your home through our online database. Knowing how to search for these photographs, however, does take a bit of creative thinking and practice. Simply typing in an address or street name into the search bar won’t bring up the masses of results one might have been expecting or in most cases, any results. This is where I recommend a pause from the computer, grabbing some scrap paper and a pencil and brainstorming different search terms. Continue reading