Since 1936, membership in the Vancouver Historical Society has been open to everyone who has an interest in the sharing and preservation of local history.

Next Event

APR 27 2017

Historic Clan and Association Buildings of Vancouver’s Chinatown

  • 7:30 PM
  • MoV
Guest Speaker: John Atkin and City Planning staff involved in Chinatown

John AtkinChinatown’s historic clan and associations buildings are a unique heritage resource in the city of Vancouver. As Chinatown evolves these structures provide the continuous thread of history in the community.

Built in an era when mutual support was a necessary and needed part of life for the city’s Chinese immigrants, the buildings reflected the architecture of southern China. Balconies recall both the ancestor hall of the clan areas and the residential buildings of Guangdong province.

For this presentation join civic historian John Atkin and city staff for a look at the history and what the future holds for these important cultural spaces.

Upcoming Events

May 25 2017

Morag Maclachan’s legacy: The untold story of Noel Annance

  • 7:30 PM
  • MoV
Speaker: Jean Barman, historian

Jean BarmanVHS member Morag Maclachan left a legacy of an important publication, The Fort Langley Journals (UBC Press), along with extensive research on Noel Annance, an Abenaki from just outside of Montreal who was among the post’s founders in 1824 and after whom Annacis Island in New Westminster is named.  Just before her death in 2011 and unable to complete his story, Morag asked Jean Barman to do so. The result is Abenaki Daring: The Life and Writings of Noel Annance, 1792-1869 (McGill-Queen’s University Press), which tells the story of an Indigenous man who by virtue of having attended Dartmouth College, due to his maternal descent from child captives, was all his life caught between two ways of being.  He was too indigenous to be accepted in the fur trade, too highly educated to fit in on returning home in 1834.  Noel Annance did not crumple, but rather used his pen to detail to the government Indigenous people’s plight in a Canada in the making.  The exclusionary policies generally considered to have originated with the Indian Act of 1876 were long in place.

Jun 24 2017


  • 1:00 PM
  • Stanley Park
Tour Leader: Vickie Jensen

Stanley Park Totems

Stanley Park’s totem poles first began attracting visitors and locals in the 1920s. Today with over 3.5 million visitors each year, they are the #1 tourist destination in the entire province. Join author/photographer Vickie Jensen for a guided tour of the totem poles of Brockton Point. Discover the whys and hows of totem pole carving, the artistic culture of the Northwest Coast peoples, the controversial history of this amazing art form in the park and the newest additions of Salish art.
The field trip will be given by Vickie Jensen, who has spent over 40 years photographing and documenting totem poles. Her most recent book, TOTEM POLES AND THE LURE OF STANLEY PARK, is available for sale ($14.95) at the gift shop at Brockton Point.

Where:  Brockton Point totem poles in Stanley Park (paid parking available right at the totem poles).  Meet near the totem poles, at the covered shelter between the Legends of the Moon gift shop on the left and the washrooms on the right. Note: There will be some walking. In case of rain, bring your umbrella!   
When: Saturday, June 24  
Time: 1:00 PM.

NOTE: The VHS field trips are a benefit for membership in the Vancouver Historical Society and open only to members unless there is additional space available. If there is space available, non-members can attend but will be charged $10. To attend members must sign up beforehand at  If that is not possible phone Bob McDonald@604-827-3622.

Jul 30 2017


  • 10:00 AM
  • Chinatown
Tour Leaders: John Atkin and Tom Wanklin

Vancouver's Chinatown

Chinatown is an important cultural landscape. Since non-native settlement began, there has been a Chinese presence on Burrard Inlet and Chinatown is as old as the city. Yet, as all communities do, Chinatown is evolving and facing change. An aging population, changing business climate and different immigration patterns have all had their affect on the district, but it endures.

On this walk we’ll the history and development of this unique part of the city.  It will be given by John Atkin is a civic historian, author, and heritage consultant and Tom Wanklin is Senior Planner for Downtown East which encompasses Downtown Eastside, False Creek Flats and the proposed new Jim Pattison Medical Centre St Paul’s Hospital and health campus.

Where: Meet at the courtyard of the CCC at Pender and Carrall.  
When:Sunday, July 30th  
Time:10:00 AM

NOTE: The VHS field trips are a benefit for membership in the Vancouver Historical Society and open only to members unless there is additional space available. If there is space available, non-members can attend but will be charged $10. To attend members must sign up beforehand at  If that is not possible phone Bob McDonald@604-827-3622.

Sep 28 2017

The Japanese-Canadian Internment – 75 Years After

  • 7:30 PM
  • MoV
Speakers: Mary and Tosh Kitigawa

Mary and Tosh KitigawaSince 2017 is the 75th anniversary of the incarceration of 22,000 Japanese Canadians, it is fitting that we review and discuss this regrettable chapter in Canadian history. Tosh Kitigawa will talk about the anti-Asian environment that prevailed from BC joining Confederation in 1871 until 1949, including the exploitation of Chinese labour in the building of the railway from 1880–1884 and the Anti-Asian riots in Vancouver in 1907. Mary Kitigawa will chronicle her personal history from 1941–1949, beginning with the forcible removal of her father by the RCMP in front of her and her young siblings and his exile to work on the road camps. Her saga continued with her family in the horse barns at Hastings Park and their time spent in seven different incarceration camps until their freedom finally came in 1949. Her narrative concludes with her struggle to obtain Honourary Degrees for the 76 Japanese-Canadian students expelled from UBC in 1942.

Oct 26 2017

The Last Gang in Town: The Epic Story of the Vancouver Police vs. the Clark Park Gang

  • 7:30 PM
  • MoV
Speaker: Aaron Chapman, author

Kate BirdDecades before organized crime syndicates brought sensational drug wars to Vancouver, street gangs held sway over its unruly east side. None was considered tougher or more feared than the Clark Park gang, a wild, two-fisted crew of characters from Vancouver’s post-1960s counterculture.

In 1972, after a number of headline-making riots and clashes with police – including an infamous altercation outside a Rolling Stones concert – the Clark Parkers became the target of a secret undercover police squad. Their hostile interactions culminated in a notorious police shooting, resulting in the death of a Clark Park gang member. This presentation is the story of the after dark-underbelly of the city’s not-so-distant past.

Nov 23 2017

City On Edge: a rebellious century of Vancouver protests, riots, and strikes

  • 7:30 PM
  • MoV
Speaker: Kate Bird, librarian

Kate BirdFor more than a century, photojournalists at The Vancouver Sun and The Province have been on the scene to capture those times when the city stood up, took to the streets, and made some noise. From the 1900 salmon fishermen’s strike to the 2017 women’s march, Vancouver has a long history of making its viewpoints heard, and in some cases, felt. Join retired PNG librarian Kate Bird, author of City On Edge: a rebellious century of Vancouver protests, riots, and strikes and Vancouver in the Seventies: photos from a decade that changed the city for a slide show of images from Vancouver’s rich history of protest activism.

Jan 25 2018

Where Mountains Meet the Sea

  • 7:30 PM
  • MoV
Speaker: Daniel Francis, historian

Daniel FrancisOriginally part of the territories of the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations, the community of North Vancouver predates Vancouver as the earliest European settlement on Burrard Inlet. For several years Moodyville was the "capital" of Burrard Inlet. Boosters even thought that the North Shore might become the terminus for the transcontinental railway. Instead North Vancouver had a more measured history, characterized by industrial development along its waterfront, residential development up its mountain slopes and recreational development in its backcountry.

In this well-illustrated talk based on his book Where Mountains Meet the Sea commemorating the 125th anniversary of North Vancouver District, historian Daniel Francis describes how the community evolved from a frontier sawmill village into a modern urban centre marked by its location midway between the mountain wilderness and the third largest city in Canada.

Feb 22 2018

The Death and Life of the Single Family House

  • 7:30 PM
  • MoV
Speaker: Nathan Lauster, Associate Professor of Sociology - UBC

Nathan Lauster

In his 2016 book, The Death and Life of the Single-Family House, sociologist Nathan Lauster explains how residents in Vancouver – recognized as one of the most “livable” cities in the world - have attempted to make themselves at home without a house. Building on historical and interview data, Lauster has painstakingly studied the city's dramatic transformation to curb sprawl. He tracks the history of housing and interviews residents about the cultural importance of the house as well as the urban problems it once appeared to solve. Although Vancouver's built environment is unique, Lauster argues that it was never predestined by geography or demography. Instead, regulatory transformations enabled the city to renovate, build over, and build around the house. 

Mar 23 2018

Blood, Sweat, and Fear: the Story of Inspector Vance, Vancouver’s First Forensic Investigator

  • 7:30 PM
  • MoV
Speaker: Eve Lazarus, author

Eve LazarusHeralded internationally as the Sherlock Holmes of Canada, John F.C.B. Vance was Vancouver’s first forensic investigator. During his 40-year career (1907-1949) Vance was constantly called upon to use his skills in serology, toxicology, firearms, trace evidence and autopsy to solve hit-and-run, robberies, and some of the most sensational murder cases of the twentieth century. His skills and analytic abilities were so effective that there were seven attempts on his life, and for a time, he and his family were under constant police guard. Vance was on the forefront of forensics, often inventing his own equipment when none was available.

In 1932 he was given the honorary title of Inspector and put in charge of the newly formed Police Bureau of Science.

Eve is the author of several books on Vancouver history, her latest being the subject of this talk.

Apr 27 2018

The Gardens of Vancouver

  • 7:30 PM
  • MoV
Speaker: Christine Allen, Master Gardener

Christine AllenIs there a typical Vancouver garden? Was there one at any time in the past? Author Christine Allen looks back through the photographic record to analyze the gardening preferences of the city's residents, explaining fashions in landscaping, plantings of orchards and vegetable gardens, and trends such as English Cottage and Asian. The talk mentions avid gardeners including "sugar king" B.T. Rogers and influential landscapers such as Raoul Robillard.

Christine Allen is the author of "Gardens of Vancouver" (Raincoast, 1999) as well as books on roses, climbers, and the large garden she created on a farm in South Langley. She is a Master Gardener and a long-time volunteer at VanDusen Garden.