Upcoming Events

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Past Events

The Friends AGM and Aaron Chapman
Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 at 2 pm

comm2Aaron Chapman will present an illustrated lecture on his entertaining history of the Commodore Ballroom and its role in the downtown/Granville Street dancehall and concert milieu. Since his success with Liquor, Lust and The Law: The Story of Vancouver’s Legendary Penthouse Nightclub (Arsenal Pulp, 2012), Chapman has created a worthy addition to the literature on Vancouver’s nightclub culture from its genteel beginnings in the Dirty Thirties to the raw glory of the Punk era.


Photos from Live at the Commodore showing the evolution of dance bands and public decorum: (left) Mart Kenney and His Western Gentleman in the 1940s-50s (courtesy of Neptoon Records archives); (right) DOA in the ’70s (Bev Davies).

aaronAaron Chapman is a writer, historian and musician with a special interest in Vancouver’s entertainment history. Born and raised in Vancouver, he has been a contributor to the Vancouver Courier, Georgia Straight, and CBC Radio. A graduate of the University of British Columbia, he is also a member of Heritage Vancouver and the Point Roberts Historical Society.

Author photo by Rebecca Blissett.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Fall Fundraiser: Vancouver—An Ever-changing City
Join Andy Coupland and John Atkin as they explore the changing nature of Vancouver through before-and-after images selected from the blog Changing Vancouver and the Vancouver Archives. Set against the background of selected historic panoramas John and Andy will take you through a hundred or so years of an ever-changing city, displayed on the dome of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre’s Star Theatre.

HERSTORY CAFE PRESENTS Frontier Femininity: rodeo cowgirls in B.C.
An illustrated talk by Mary-Ellen Kelm, SFU Canada Research Chair, Department of History professor and author of A Wilder West, Rodeo in Western Canada, UBC Press, 2011.
Thursday October 2, 2014
Co-sponsored by The City of Vancouver Archives, The Friends of the Vancouver City Archives and the Simon Fraser University’s Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. “ A controversial sport, rodeo is often seen as emblematic of the West’s reputation as a ‘white man’s country.’ A Wilder West complicates this view, showing how rodeo has been an important contact zone — a chaotic and unpredictable place of encounter that challenged expected social hierarchies. Rodeo has brought people together across racial and gender divides, creating friendships, rivalries, and unexpected intimacies. Fans made hometown cowboys, cowgirls, and Aboriginal riders local heroes. Lavishly illustrated and based on cowboy/cowgirl biographies and memoirs, press coverage, archival records, and dozens of interviews with former and current rodeo contestants, promoters, and audience members, this creative history returns to rodeo’s small-town roots to shed light on the history of social relations in Canada’s western frontier.” A Wilder West, Rodeo in Western Canada, UBC Press, 2011.

Mary-Ellen Kelm. “Born in Windsor Ontario, Mary-Ellen moved to the west coast to do her Masters at Simon Fraser University in the late 80s. She completed her PhD at the University of Toronto 1995. She received a NHRDP Post-doctoral award in 1994 which she took at the University of Northern British Columbia where she was founding faculty in the History Program. In 2006, she returned to the coast to take up a Canada Research Chair here at SFU.” She is a member of Vancouver’s Archives Advisory Committee.

Annual General Meeting Sunday, March 23, 2014
Presentation: Vancouver From the Driver’s Seat
Angus McIntyre is both a retired BC Hydro trolley bus driver and a skilled photographer. Born in Toronto in 1947, he moved to Australia with his family for five years, returned to Canada at age 16 and graduated from Point Grey High School in 1966. After a summer job as a deckhand on the Sudbury II and further education, he started his job in 1969 as a bus driver with B.C. Hydro and kept at it for almost 41 years. He still occasionally gets behind the wheel of a vintage bus as a volunteer with the Transit Museum Society. His stories and photographs, many developed and printed himself, capture an earlier era of a transit-oriented city and illustrate the changes he witnessed from the driver’s seat. He lives in Dunbar.

birks Mock funeral for the Birks Building, Georgia Street at Granville, Spring 1974, a photo by Angus McIntyre

Sunday October 20, 2013 
As the 20th century dawned, British Columbia politics were a tangled mess. Governments came and went rapidly as loose groups of supporters formed new coalitions. A young MLA in New Westminster, Richard McBride, found an unlikely ally in Lieutenant – Governor Sir Henri Joly de Lotbinière, a Protestant Québécois appointed by Liberal Sir Wilfred Laurier and formed a government under the Conservative banner on 1902. Party Politics had arrived in B.C.!  McBride’s stable administration, which lasted until 1915, oversaw the greatest economic boom of the era, and provincial politics never looked back. Drawing on material from their two recent biographies, Patricia Roy and Jack Little explain the circumstances leading to this political evolution and reflect on matters of party discipline and governance relevant today when a  portion of the populace dreams of politicians “representing their constituents” and “voting their conscience.

Roy, emerita professor of history at the University of Victoria is the author of Boundless Optimism: Richard McBride’s British Columbia, the latest in a series of books and articles on B.C. history: she is perhaps best known for her three volumes on the province’s responses to its Chinese and Japanese residents. Little, professor of history at SFU, is the author of Patrician Liberal: The Public and Private Life of Sir Henri -Gustave Joly de Lotbinière, 1829 – 1908; he is the author of nine books and a specialist on 19th – century Canadian history. Both speakers are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada.

September 12th, 2013
Herstory Cafe presents
 The Women of “Opening Doors, Vancouver’s East End. An illustrated talk and book signing with special guest speakers:Daphne Marlatt and Carole Itter, with James Johnstone. Co-sponsors: Simon Fraser University’s Gender, Sexuality at Women’s Studies Dept, Friends of the Vancouver City Archives and the City of Vancouver Archives.

Writer Daphne Marlatt and artist Carole Itter moved separately into the Strathcona neighbourhood in 1975 when it was a much more diverse working class neighbourhood, one that had actively saved itself from demolition for “urban renewal.” Getting to know their neighbours and local shop owners, they soon realized the depth of history in their new neighbourhood and that there were many stories to be told by long time residents. In 1977, they started tape recording many of their elders under the auspices of the Aural History program of the B.C. Archives. Two years later, they were still meeting and recording the memories of people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Their book, Opening Doors: Vancouver’s East End, was first published in 1979 and then republished in 2011 by Harbour Publishing as Opening Doors in Vancouver’s East End: Strathcona. This was thirty seven years ago and now both Daphne and Carole are elders living in the same neighbourhood.

Their Herstory Cafe presentation on September 12, 2013 will be an informal one; they will interview one another about their experiences and memories of the women they interviewed. Kindly offering to accompany Daphne and Carole will be the historian, James Johnstone who has a special interest in Vancouver and this neighbourhood.

Daphne Marlatt is an award-winning poet, dramatist, and novelist. Her poetry titles include Salvage, Steveston, and most recently Liquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now. Her novels include Ana Historic and Taken. A novelistic long poem The Given received the 2009 Dorothy Livesay Award. Last year she was awarded the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.
Carole Itter is a Vancouver artist who has lived in Strathcona neighbourhood for over three decades. She has worked in various media including film, video, assemblage, performance, collage and photography. Her work is in the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Belkin Gallery, U.B.C. and the Vancouver Public Library.
James Johnstone is an East End based house history researcher, neighbourhood historian, heritage activist, blogger and neighbourhood History Walk guide who has researched the social histories of over 900 houses in Vancouver. His blogs on Vancouver heritage and Italy are followed by people in over 70 countries around the world. Trip advisor ranks his History Walks 13th of 119 Things To Do in Vancouver.

August 24 & 25, 2013
“ASK A HISTORIAN” at the Friends of Vancouver City Archives & City of Vancouver Archives table.  Informal Q & A’s all weekend long, where the public can mingle with Vancouver’s top historians. Here’s your chance to ask experts questions about Stanley Park and Vancouver’s remarkable past. Over 20 historians, researcher and educators will randomly drop by the table throughout the 2 days to chat with the public.

June 7, 2013
Friends of the Vancouver City Archives board members joined the Vancouver Archives staff at City Hall to celebrate the Archives 80th anniversary. The Beatles’ dressing room and limo requirements for their PNE show, a silk sample book from a Chinatown merchant, the City’s first voters’ list, a letter written by Captain George Vancouver in 1794 while stationed in Nootka Sound, an 1898 police blotter as well as historic photos, 25 displays and movies will all be on display . The City of Vancouver Archives is the oldest municipal archives in Canada outside Quebec, having been founded on June 8, 1933, with the appointment of Major James Skitt Matthews as the first City Archivist. Its holdings include 1.5 million photographs, 45,000 architectural drawings and maps, 2,600 audiovisual records and over 47 terabytes of digital and digitized records.

March 17, 2013 AGM & Special Presentation
An Illustrated talk by Leslie Mobbs, City Archivist “What’s New at the Archives: A Top Ten Review of Acquisitions, 2007-2012”  

The City of Vancouver Archives regularly receives donations of materials from pioneer families, politicians, social activities, artists, entrepreneurs and community organizations. In his talk, Leslie Mobbs, City Archivist, will review a “top ten” list of acquisitions received in the past five years, highlighting additions to the City Archives in film and sound recordings, digital records, business records and records relating to the early history of Vancouver.

Leslie Mobbs has been an information professional since 1972, working as an archivist, records manager, knowledge manager and information management consultant at the municipal, provincial and federal government levels. He was Director of the National Archives’ Gatineau Preservation Building Project, Health Canada’s Corporate Records Manager, Principal Consultant in Knowledge Management at Consulting and Audit Canada, and is currently, City Archivist at the City of Vancouver.

Winter Wander 2013 at Vanier Park
Saturday January 26, 2013
Drop by our Friends table, meet our board members and view an archival photograph display.


FRIENDS OF VANCOUVER CITY ARCHIVES FALL FUNDRAISER “Selling Vancouver in the Kodachrome Era, Commercial Photographers and Filmmakers, 1940-1980″  Sunday October 14, 2012 With Michael Kluckner and special guests. An illustrated talk on commercial photography and filmmaking in Vancouver in the decades after the Second World War, focusing on the people who were using Kodachrome and colour film and the backdrop of the city. Subjects include colour postcards, educational films and television commercials, illuminated by special guests who will describe the challenges of making a living in the city’s small creative milieu.

Thursday September 20, 2012 at the Archives. Herstory Cafe presents: Bella Bell-Irving and Social Power in an Upper Class Vancouver Family. Co-sponsored by the City of Vancouver Archives and the Friends of the City of Vancouver Archives Society. This illustrated talk will explore the role that class and gender played in shaping social power in an upper class family in Vancouver, British Columbia, from the 1880s to the 1930s. Guest Speaker: Robert McDonald has taught British Columbia history at UBC since 1978 and is currently writing a book on British Columbia’s political culture for the first century after BC entered Confederation.  He has published a book on the social history of early Vancouver called Making Vancouver and served as editor of the journal BC Studies for seven years. Photo: City of Vancouver Archives. ca 1913. Isabell Bell-Irving. CVA 677-815

BC DAY Monday August 6, 2012. Roedde House Museum, Historical Photograph display. Drop by and visit the Friends of the Vancouver City Archive’s table, view historical photographs and hear all about the Friends and the work they do to Help “Save” Vancouver.
Photo: City of Vancouver Archives, 1891. Roedde family working at their Vancouver Bookbinding Company on Cambie St. Misc P12

Saturday June 2, 2012.  Marpole Community Day,
Drop by and visit the Friends of the Vancouver City Archive’s table, view historical photographs and hear all about the Friends and the work they do to Help “Save” Vancouver. Friends memberships available. The event is located at the Marpole Oakridge Community Centre at 59th Avenue at Oak Street.

March 4, 2012
Special Presentation: Vancouver Noir, 1930-1960. Publisher Anvil Press. It was an era of gambling, smuggling rings, grifters, police corruption, bootleggers, brothels, murders, and more. It was also a time of intensified concern with order, conformity, structure, and restrictions. Vancouver Noir provides a fascinating insight into life in the Terminal City, noir-style.

Special Guest Speakers: Diane Purvey is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Human, Social and Educational Development at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.  Her research interests include the history of deinstitutionalization, mourning cultures among youth, and restorative justice practices in elementary schools.  She is the co-editor of Child and Family Welfare in British Columbia: A History (Detselig Press 2005) and co-author of Private Grief, Public Mourning: The Rise of the Roadside Shrine in British Columbia (Anvil 2009).
John Belshaw is Dean of Social Sciences and Management at Langara College.  He is the author of Becoming British Columbia: A Population History (UBC Press 2009) and Colonization and Community: The Vancouver Island Coalfield and the Making of the British Columbian Working Class, 1848-1900 (McGill-Queen’s University Press 2002), winner of the Robert S. Kenny Prize for Marxist and Labour/Left Studies.  He is the other co-author of Private Grief, Public Mourning: The Rise of the Roadside Shrine in British Columbia (Anvil 2009).                                                                     

Friends Outreach Tables during  2012

January 21
Vancouver Archives Photograph exhibit at The Stanley Park Nature House on Lost Lagoon


June 26, 2011
Crinolines, Crimes and Courage: Women of Mountain View Cemetery Historical Walking Tour
What do a Titanic survivor, a murdered nurse and an adventurous Gastown school teacher all have in common? You will discover the answer and more on this 2 hour tour led by three Vancouver women historians. Visit the grave sites and hear stories about the famous and forgotten remarkable women who helped shape our city.
Lorraine Irving has been giving tours of Mountain View Cemetery for over 10 years. She is the President, B.C. Genealogical Society, B.C. Historical Federation Director, Vancouver Historical Society member, New Westminster Historical Society member and a guide at Irving House, New Westminster Museum.
M. Diane Rogers is the Editor & Past President, British Columbia Genealogical Society Secretary, Women’s History Network of British Columbia. Teacher, speaker, researcher & writer, British Columbian family history and women’s history.
Jolene Cumming is a local historical interpreter whose specializes in early Vancouver women’s history and Stanley Park. She is the co-founder and co-coordinator of the Herstory Cafe , the Stanley Park History Group and a board member of the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives.

Friends Outreach Tables during 2011

May 13 Doxa Film Festival Yaletown Productions
May 29 Launch of Major Matthews Early Years website
September 25 This is Strathcona Festival
December 3 Winter Wander event on Kits Point
December 17 Vancouver Archives Photograph exhibit, Stanley Park Nature House


2010 Fall Fundraiser Researching Women in the Archives & in the Family presented by M. DianeRogers, President of the BC Genealogical Society. Genealogists have developed strategies and techniques though which are useful for tracing women, for example, using ‘cluster genealogy’, and researching historical family photographs. M. Diane Rogers will discuss these fascinating issues with various illustrations and more. She blogs about genealogy and women’s history at CanadaGenealogy, or, Jane’s Your Aunt: www.canadagenealogy.blogspot.com Currently she is Secretary and Webmistress of the Women’s History Network of British Columbia and President and Editor of the British Columbia Genealogical Society.