April 2012

Posted by: Zaena Campbell on April 30, 2012 at 10:23 am

Regent tailors neon signThis Museum Monday we’re basking in the glow of this iconic Regent Tailors sign (circa 1946 to 1975). Today, the sign hangs in the MOV's Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver exhibition, but it was originally located at 324 West Hastings, it hung across from another famous neon display (at “the Sally Shop”). The Regent Tailors Sign was installed in 1946 — the early beginning of the 1950s neon boom in Vancouver.

You’ll find several smaller treasures in our OpenMOV Collection related to Regent Tailors. These include technical drawings, a business card circa 1950-70, and a couple of charming items collected by Ivan Sayers (of “Art Deco Chic” fame).

One such item is a “Tailors box” (circa 1945-1959). It’s decorated with a quaint picture of a ‘tailor at work’ alongside a snappy blue slogan, “Regent Tailors Ltd. Where Smart Styles Originate”. The strangest find of all? A branded pocket knife (circa 1925-45). Emblazoned with “Regent Tailors Vancouver BC” on its plastic handle, this promotional pocket knife was probably given away with a newly tailored suit. What an odd marketing choice! “Like your suit? We’ll here’s a trusty knife for you…”

The sign itself, was designed and manufactured by the Neon Products Company of Vancouver (located at 1885 Clark Drive). Other custom creations to their credit include the whimsical Artistocrat Restaurant sign and that monolithic beacon for the BOW MAC car dealership. Established in 1928, the Neon Products Company was the earliest and most prolific manufacturer of neon signs in Western Canada.  It is now the largest company of its kind in the world, putting Vancouver squarely on the ‘neon map’ despite local city bi-laws which today strictly limit installations here at home. Ralf Kelman, an artist and self described ‘lighting activist’, collected signs from the Neon Products scrap yard. In 1977 he sold part of his collection to the Museum of Vancouver. As they say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” (or perhaps as museums would say: one man’s “I just don’t possibly have any place to store this old thing anymore” become museological points of interest).

The MOV’s neon collection is still buzzing in the electric glow of our Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver exhibition (which runs through to August 12). The latest news? The Green Couch Sessions and rising indie songbird Adaline came to MOV for a live video shoot in the Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver Exhibition. The humming sound created by the signs was a perfect fit for her song “The Noise”.


This video features Adaline on an analogue keyboard/drum machine with Adrian Glynn on acoustic guitar. I especially love this ‘paired down’ production which shows off Adaline’s sweet vocal tone and blends seamlessly into the neon hum. Adaline’s black and silver sequined outfit picks up on the neon scene –shimmering like puddles on a cool midnight street.

Not only did we rock out in the Neon room but we got to explore the vintage clothing exhibit happening in the gallery next door. It was one of the best Monday mornings the Green Couch has ever had…” - Green Couch Sessions

Posted by: Gala Milne on April 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Illustrated map of VancouverLost your compass and looking for the path creatively travelled? This hand-illustrated map of Vancouver has delighted the audience engagement office at the MOV. We love coming across artistic gems like “they draw and travel” which celebrate unique perspectives on the world. Here’s another, which takes a “higher” perspective on mapping the city’s history.

There are some maps, however, that make us queasy – particularly the map that draws a thick oily squiggle into Burrard Inlet care of daily Kinder Morgan oil tankers cruising along our captivating coastline. Vancouver’s Mayor Robertson seems to feel the same and has sent a warning cry to citizens in his Vancouver Sun op-ed article. Read it.

Then there are some trails that carve themselves. Like the bamboo bicycle trail. A new venture in Vancouver is seeing the procurement of bamboo bike frames as a way to increase sustainability and local production of transportation materials. If you’re interested, they’ll be at “Bike the Blossoms” this Saturday, and the upcoming Sustainability Expo Not to be confused with the Fan Expo that happened over the past weekend.

Little did we know… YVR loves to dress up! Last weekend’s Fan Expo brought loads of people downtown dressed in their favourite superhero/ comic character/ legendary villain attire. Lucky you, the MOV is giving you a chance to dress up for our Mother’s Day High Tea @MOV – explore the Art Deco Chic exhibit in classic 1920’s style with your mum.

At the MOVeum: Art Deco Chic Curator’s Talk and Tour with Joan Seidl – May 3, 7-9

MOV Walking Tours are back! Home: An Exploration takes place May 6, 10:30am

[Image: Illustrated by Adela Kang c/o They Draw and Travel]

Posted by: Guest Author on April 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm

High Tea at Museum of VancouverBy Tyaka Graves, High Tea @ MOV organizer

Lucky guests joining us for the High Tea @ MOV will be delighted to hear our guest speaker Brendan Waye provide insights on the traditions and rituals of high tea culture over time.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to interview Brendan, better known as the ‘The Tea Guy’, he is an Accredited Tea Sommelier (TAC), Certified Tea Specialist (STI), and Happy Tea Sipper. In other words, Brendan is a local tea connoisseur and will leave you with a whole new appreciation for tea.

To start, tell me a bit about The Tea Guy, and what you do? was registered as a domain name in 2002 after I had opened a series of teahouse’s called Steeps Tea in Alberta and BC. People called me “the tea guy” so I thought I would make it official by setting up a website dedicated to disseminating correct and accurate information on the tea business and  all the aspects of drinking loose leaf tea.

What inspired you to become an accredited tea sommelier (TAC)?

It started with my love of the leaf and then progressed into a desire to get as educated I could on all aspects of the tea industry. I have always been an information sponge and the more knowledge about tea  I acquire, the more I realize how little I actually know. Learning about tea is not a destination one arrives at, but a life long journey of exploration and tasting.

How and where do you source the teas that you distribute?

I work with blenders and importers who have been in the business a very long time. A few teas I get directly from the source when I have the connection, but most I get from a select few blenders and producers who have quality, organic, and fair trade principal as the central thrust of their own tea procurement. I create the recipe, make it in a small sample batch, and then outsource the concoction to a large blender who can make it in large volume for me.

Describe the best cup of tea you have ever had, and what made it so amazing?

There are too many great cups of tea to narrow it down into one type. Recently though, I acquired a rare Phoenix Mountain Oolong from Guangdong province in China. It was picked from a single trunk rare 100-year-old tea tree. The pickers must climb 30 feet up these ladders to harvest the fresh new leaves off the top canopy of the tea tree. The long slender leaves then go through a very elaborate series of hand twisting, drying, and fermenting to create an unbelievable cup of tea. It is unlike anything that I have ever had from an oolong tea.

What is your number one tip for making the perfect cup of tea?

There is no one great tip really except don’t buy it from a grocery store, find a boutique tea shop instead. When making the tea, you have to take into account at least three variables to get the perfect cup of tea. They are:

  1. Fresh boiled water at the right temperature
  2. Fresh tea leaves that are not from a supermarket
  3. Correct steep time of the leaves

If you can nail down these three variables for each type of tea, then you will be blown away by how great tea can taste.

Posted by: Gala Milne on April 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

MOVments: current events in Vancouver by the Museum of Vancouver

Rize development in Mount PleasantVancouver makes, shakes, retaliates!

This week’s MOVments have tallied up yvr’s points and prongs from policy to film.

In Mount Pleasant, despite loud controversy, the new Rize development has been approved by city council. This will mean a 19-story development smack in the middle of Mt. Pleasant. OpenFile has curated some great comments from the twittersphere.

Down Broadway at Granville street, the Vancouver Public Space Network transformed a bus shelter  into a public message board to house your comments about Vancouver!

In film, the Projecting Change Film Festival is underway and bringing Vancouverites a special panel discussion along with their screening of Miss Representation this Saturday. Simultaneously, our MOV Youth Council will be hard at work editing their films. More on this in late May.

In foliage, nature lovers gathered outside the Van Art Gallery recently to throw a giant flash mob for cherry blossom season. Simultaneously, across the Georgia Straight, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities threw their hands in the air to pass a resolution for the decriminalization of pot! This means the UBCM will vote on this issue later this year.

Lastly, if you’re an aspiring journalist, you’ll appreciate this workshop on Perfecting your Pitch, put on by the Tyee’s Freelance Survival Series.

Posted by: Zaena Campbell on April 16, 2012 at 10:37 am

The city is flushed with pink and buzzing for joy over sunshine, blue skies, birdsong, and cherry trees!

This Museum Monday, the 6th annual Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (on now to April 28) compels me to share a soft petal pink, evening gown (pictured right and now on display at our popular Art Deco Chic exhibition, part of Ivan Sayers’ collection).  This early 1920s shift falls loosely from bare shoulders to dainty feet in cascades of shimmering, velvety rose.  The subtle pattern resembles a bundle of plush blossoms. 

If you have a spring-time frock you’ve been dying to wear, put it on for our special High Tea @MOV fundraiser on Mother’s Day Weekend. Spoil mom or simply come to savor fine teas, sweet treats, and art deco fashions. And if you’re craving a bit of lively jubilation, claim your tickets now for our Dapper & Flapper Formal.

Pictured here in a postcard (circa 1942), cherry blossoms adorn the path to a Japanese memorial in Stanley Park.  These cherry trees were donated in the 1930s, and again in 1958, to honour Japanese Canadians who served in WW1.

This is just one of the many distinctive stories our trees have to tell.  For more Vancouver Cherry Blossom history, consider taking a Tree Talk & Walk Tour with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, or search for more cherry tree paraphernalia on OpenMOV.

Scout out the best cherry trees using this list of favourite locations for blossom viewing and an interactive Google map which shows where the cherry trees are blooming right nowWe're a little biased, but we personally recommend coming to Kits Point, where the scent of cherry blossoms is quite remarkable this month!

“I believe in the power of blossoms. It’s appreciating the beauty in life that makes life worth living. In our universal response to their beauty, we are united . . . The ephemeral nature of the blossoms reminds us to seize the moment and celebrate life now.”
- Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Founder and Director, Linda Poole

A view from the MOV Studio. Photo by Maurice Li.

Posted by: Gala Milne on April 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Despite our efforts to bring people together over stimulating talks and exhibits, the conversation of “Lonely Vancouver” has reared its lonely head once again. Luckily, however, this time it comes with a well-written and somewhat rousing remedy: Rent-A-Friend. Do you find yourself yearning for occasional companionship? If Rent A Friend is up your alley, you might want to consider this bubbling compilation of events around town as date-options. Careful, it might make Vancouver seem fun and action packed.

In Burnaby, one woman is aiming to build, not only a network of friends, but an entire community of empowered immigrants. Through launching a community market in her Edmonds neighborhood, Lubna Abdelrahman is a shining example of the type of leadership Vancouver needs to embrace. Speaking of which, did you know there is a free market taking place this Sunday in Grandview park?

While the “Regeneration” dialogues around transportation and sustainability continue this week, some are calling the series a new platform for public engagement with the City. Indeed. On the contrary, forty years ago, the City’s idea of public engagement consisted of possibly the most daring act of grant-giving in the enactment of a Town Fool.

And on that note, we leave you with some contemporary, digital tomfoolery.

What do you think? Next MOV exhibit, “#YVRlolz”? 

Posted by: Guest Author on April 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Community Food Resiliency:
Envisioning Our Food System in 2040

Guest Authors: Shelby Tay & Jay Penner

Over a hundred people gathered at the Museum of Vancouver on a Tuesday night in February for the follow up event "From Here to There (Part Two): Food, Energy and Transitioning to Community Resilience." At the launch event in December, over a hundred gathered in the same place to start a visioning process around what a just, sustainable, resilient food system might look like in 2040. Both events were collaboratively organized by the Museum of Vancouver, members of Village Vancouver (VV) and the Vancouver Food Policy Council, and was convened at MOV. The night began with a freshly cooked spread of soup, breads and roasted root vegetables and the room quieted to listen to Senaqwila Wyss, 17, of Skwxwu7mesh, Sto:Lo, Tsimsian, Hawaiian, and Swiss heritage (and food security queen in her own right!) who shared a beautiful Musqueam song, acknowledging the unceded First Nations’ land on which the gathering took place.

How did we get here?

Herb Barbolet began the panel presentations drawing from his 30 years of experience engaging in issues relating to the food system. Herb talked about his experience with projects relating to organic food production, cooperative restaurants, collective living, to founding Farm Folk City Folk and Community Supported Agriculture initiatives. It became clear to him early on that people were becoming more and more disconnected with their food and that education was needed – addressing issues of health, social justice, equity – and exploring alternatives to globalization and corrupt capitalism.

Herb explained that since the end of WWII we have seen our agricultural system fundamentally transformed -”industrialized and chemicalized”. Chemically contaminated food systems have been divided into two food systems based on wealth. Herb noted another fundamental change was that the definition of poverty shifted from a “...lack of land to a lack of income” with sustenance farming no longer seen as a viable option. “Wars over oil are also wars over food... the mainstream global food system is not as it appears to us here.” 

“What kind of diet must we have? How can we sustain our populations? How do we rebuild the commons – networks of mutual aid and respect? What was food about before government and corporations?” Herb suggested we need better questions for more sophisticated answers and we need to re-frame what we do and how we think. “A loss of the commons means loss of freedom, personal accountability and responsibility and we must regain control over these parts of our lives.” Despite the challenges ahead, Herb emphasized that there are many inspiring examples of what our future could look like right here in the city, including the forthcoming New City Market food hub, and that each has a role to play in reshaping our food system. “Urban agriculture mobilizes community and breaks down fear, recreating a collective vision and engaging youth.” 

Making food systems resilient

The next speaker of the night, Lena Soots, spoke to the group about creating resilient communities.  Lena has been involved with the Transition Towns Network for several years and works with communities on addressing issues of energy uncertainty, climate change and community mobilization. As a trainer, Lena has introduced communities to the concept of an EDAP, or Energy Descent Action Plan, a model that was pioneered by Rob Hopkins and his students in Kinsale, Ireland and later in Totnes, England and several communities worldwide -- the focus of the night being unique in developing an Energy Descent Action Plan with a focus on food, or FED-AP. “The Transition approach has a fun and experimenting spirit in a serious context...what we’re doing now has never been done before.”

“The term resilience,” Lena explained, “is the ability of a system (person, community, ecosystem) to absorb shocks, stresses and changes while maintaining its essential function. Keeping in mind that the system may change while still maintaining its essential function”.  She cautioned the room about the term and it’s over-use, noting “it often gets thrown around - like ‘sustainability’.” 

Lena discussed three important characteristics of resilient systems; diversity, modularity and feedback, relating each back to food systems. Diversity is the spectrum of activities needed to maintain the central function and depth within each component.  Modularity refers to the interconnectedness of a system but not connected to everything directly so that if one part of the system experiences issues, the system can still function and the entire system does not collapse. Feedback is about communicating the health of the system allowing for a fast enough response to crisis. “Decisions must be made a the lowest level possible - where people are most affected.”

Lena also emphasized the need to look to indicators for resilience - many of which have already become the focus of research; diversified leadership, community member involvement, optimism about the future, mutual assistance and cooperation, and the percentile of people with food production skills. These indicators can help us bridge our past and present with our future and how it relates to the bigger picture.

She finished by suggesting a shift in the language of our narratives, “Resilience isn’t a point that we want to get to – we are already resilient...Lets start telling the story of resilience in Vancouver: How Vancouver feeds itself.

Rural connections

Following the opening presentations by Herb and Lena, Hannah Whitman shifted the discussion to the role of the rural and its connection to urban food systems. She provided an example of the International Peasant Movement, La Via Campesina, a project founded in 1993 involving 150 organizations from 70 countries, representing about 200 million farmers.  Farmers must have a place in local food systems and Hannah argued for a more local focus on diet, local suppliers and institutionalizing relationships through local government.

“Food security means getting food from somewhere but it doesn’t address the autonomy of consumers and producers, where food is coming from, who benefits and under who’s interests and for what purpose?” She explained that what is needed is not food security, but food sovereignty, as well as “frameworks with diverse actions in diverse communities that facilitate choice.”  She ended by providing some examples of food sovereignty campaigns and the various issues they aim to address, including; keeping agriculture out of the WTO; ending violence against women – with women producing more than half the food in rural regions (globally); and peasant rights such as land access and food producing rights.

It started with drop-in spaghetti nights

Ross Moster, founder of Village Vancouver Transition Society, spoke of a need for groups to work together.  “[The] challenges are so enormous that we really need to work together," with VV approaching many different groups to rise to the task of  community-based, local responses to the challenges of creating resilient food systems.

Before founding Village Vancouver, Ross and his partner decided to get to know their neighbours and invited them over for a big pot of spaghetti. They did it to have fun, and realized two days later that what had happened was that rather than everyone cooking in their own homes, they had collectively lowered their carbon footprint and without even thinking about it had become more resilient. Today, Village Vancouver engages in a variety of projects from seed libraries, to neighbourhood food networks to skill-sharing workshops across the city. It all starts with the suggestion, “Get to know your neighbours and see what happens.”

Moving into action

Brent Mansfield, co-chair of the Vancouver Food Policy Council, led a general discussion, getting people to pair up and talk about “what brought you here? What drives us toward a different future?” Brent sees that while 2040 targets are arbitrary, we need to focus on what has to be different and what do we want to be different -- that this process is not just about individual change but how can we re-envision our communities, families, cities and beyond.  These solutions can only be achieved together.

Closing discussion returned the group to thinking about Vancouver communities with one panelist asking the group “What does our FED-AP look like? What does a resilient Vancouver look like?” Transition is not a spectator sport and FED-AP is on the verge of creating working groups and engaging as many as possible.

All of the presenters reinforced the idea that bringing about change to the food system is as much about visioning and storytelling as it is about planning. As the evening winded down, people made their way up to the front of the room to drop their names into paper bags, each marked with the topic of a working group. Participants were invited to join a group of interest for future discussions around various topics to start looking at the next steps from here, building the momentum to weave together relationships, vision, projects, stories of what will become the FED-AP, a collaborative community-based food resiliency plan.

To get involved in a working group, contact Ross Moster by writing an email to ross [at] or through Hanna Cho at the Museum of Vancouver, hcho [at]

See more photos from the event here.

Jay Penner is a graduate student at the University of British Columbia specializing in adult education and a researcher with CityStudio. His interests are in the area of experiential and real-world learning, collaborative learning, environmental education and program planning.

Shelby Tay is a member of Village Vancouver and the Vancouver Food Policy Council and has worked with the Transition Towns movement for several years exploring how we create spaces that foster agency, connection, sense of place and stewardship.

Posted by: Zaena Campbell on April 9, 2012 at 12:00 am

It’s Museum Monday!  This week we’re celebrating the historic art deco landmark which connects Kitsilano (and the MOV) to the heart of Vancouver’s downtown: the Burrard Street Bridge.

The Burrard Bridge opened ‘with a snip of golden scissors’ on Canada Day, July 1, 1932. The MOV has several items which capture this opening day, including theBurrard Bridge Rose Bowl presented to assistant City Engineer William Brand Young in 1932. No pictures are posted yet, but you can just imagine its shining splendor: Victorian, silver plate, decorated with an ornate fruit and vine border and finely engraved with “Souvenir of the Opening of the Burrard Bridge July 1st 1932”.

I love this photo from the Vancouver Archives, which seems to capture the excitement of the day – a gathering throng out to test the new bridge and parade their Sunday best. Gentlemen in suits, caps, and fedoras; Ladies in frocks and cloche hats; Couples arm in arm; A lad on his bike…perhaps one of the first cyclist to cross?
Head engineer John R. Grant and Architect George Lister Thornton Sharp designed the bridge so that boats could get through safely while cars passed overhead. Preserving an unobstructed view was another key concern. According to the Burrard Bridge Heritage Study (Donald Luxton, 2001), the handrails were structured so that vehicles driving between 40 and 64 kilometers an hour could still enjoy the beautiful bay thanks to a “stroboscopic” visual effect.

The decorative bridge towers have inspired speculation and urban myth over the years. Is there a hidden gallery or office space up there in the middle of the bridge? What about the mysterious spaces arching in between the towers and those small windows peering onto the traffic below? It’s tempting to imagine…but apparently nothing much is going on there. In fact, it’s an elegant way to conceal some necessary steel support structures.

Photo by cmh2315fl on Flickr

Those special art deco details on the surface do have a story to tell. The boats jutting out at each side are crowned with the busts of Captain George Vancouver and Sir Harry Burrard. The large pylons at each entrance emulate a flaming torch. Bridge engineer John Grant designed these torches as a tribute to Canadian prisoners of war (from World War I), imagining them huddled around open fires in their prison camps.

Thanks to an avid Vancouver collector (Doreen Margaret “Peggy” Imredy), MOV hosts a fascinating assortment of over 3,500 pieces relating to Stanley Park. This extensive collection includes post card views of the Burrard Bridge from 1932, 1978, and 1999. By comparing these images, you can see how our natural and urban landscapes have changed. It’s also striking to see how camera technology and visual taste trends have changed. Today you can catch an almost live view of bridge and sea (updated every 5 minutes) on the Katcam.

Follow the Bright Burrard Banners to MOV! If you’re a Kits commuter, you’ll notice new MOV street banners decorating your route from the Burrard Bridge south to Broadway. Why not take a refreshing pause and follow that trail to the MOV? We’re in the distinctive ‘building that looks like a spaceship / Haida hat’ [find it in the images to the right] with the famous crab fountain out front.

We’re also right in the midst of beautiful Vanier Park, so you can make a day of it… Fly a kite, plan a picnic or just enjoy the city views and sea breeze. Then pop into MOV for a fun event or peruse our Art Deco Chic exhibition and see if you can appreciate the stunning links between art deco fashion and architecture.

Posted by: Gala Milne on April 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm

The quest for truth is always on our heels, and as many of us head into Easter, this week is no different. In true Vancouver fashion, “chicken classes for urban farmers”, aims to teach us which barnyard animal truly lays the Easter eggs around here. On the other side of the proverbial fence, Vancouver is just shy of joining the ranks of online cities using techno-power to engage tourists and citizens. Interestingly, however, green-thumbed gardeners are using their ithumbs to connect garden-to-garden. Now if only there was an app to actually garden the garden…

Local robot-lover and handsome musician Dan Mangan has walked away with two Juno awards including best new artist. Luckily, the witty folks at CBC Music provide some helpful tips on how to win a Juno. At MOV, we wonder all these years later, whether or not it was the hard work and enthusiasm of folks like Red Robinson who led the way for Vancouver’s thriving musical-talent base. In recognition, Happy Birthday Red Robinson!

In contrast, in Northern BC young people are adamantly opposing the Enbridge Pipeline project by declaring a hunger strike. Check out this video on the Tyee’s website for more information. In tying together ideas of political willpower and video production, a video contest is asking participants to pontificate on how parliament would look with a 75% female cast (rather than the current 75% male representation). Good question - particularly as we hear the news that CBC is being forced to cut 650 jobs in the next three years.

At the MOVeum: MOV Youth Council begins this week! Congratulations to the participants. We look forward to meeting you.

Additionally, Ivan Sayer’s Curator’s Talk and Tour is this Thursday April 5, 2012 is SOLD OUT. Next opportunity is June 7 - book early! Or, at our MOV AGM, which is for MEMBERS only, and May 30

Posted by: Viviane Gosselin on April 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I just had an excellent meeting with Daphne Spencer from the Division of STI/HIV Prevention + Control at the BC Centre for Disease Control (CDCofBC). Talked for 2 hours non-stop. She welcomed our idea of having an exhibition zone dedicated to sexual pleasure and giggled when I talked about our research on vintage vibrators! Great potential for collaboration. Amazingly helpful with connecting us with knowledge/community experts. I think she’ll be able to lend us the costume of Captain Condom for the exhibition! She introduced me to the work of Chee Mamuk and educator Sarah Callahan. I’m so impressed with their aboriginal youth video program Youth Have The Power. Super Inspiring. I'm not surprised to see that Hello Cool World is involved!

Join in the conversation on Twitter: @xtalkinthecity #xtalkMOV