In recent years, the MOV has received funding from the BC History Digitization Program, run by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC. The aim of the program is to promote increased access to British Columbia’s historical resources. For us, that means photographing the objects in our collection and making those images accessible to the public at openmov.museumofvancouver.ca. This year’s round of digitization focused on objects from the Vancouver History Collection. Two sets of artefacts in particular caught my eye. They both involve long-standing Vancouver institutions (though one is now defunct) awarding their employees with jewelry for extended years of service.
The first set, comprised of a tie clip, keychain, and a ring, belonged to Eric Nicol. Though born in Kingston, ON, Nicol’s family moved to BC when he was two and he was truly a Vancouver boy, attending high school at Lord Byng and university at UBC. After a few years away in Europe, he returned to Vancouver and became a longtime humour columnist for The Province, winning three Stephen Leacock Memorial Medals for Humour during his tenure.
These three pieces were awarded to him by The Province; a tie clip for 15 years of service, a keychain for 20 years, and a ring for 25 years. It’s unclear what company was responsible for the manufacture of the tie clip and key chain, but the ring’s history reads like a provenance hat trick. Not only was it awarded to a Vancouver resident by a Vancouver newspaper, it was produced by Birks, which has, despite its origins in Montreal, over a century’s worth of history in Vancouver.
The other service awards the MOV has in its collection are from Woodward’s. The company awarded its employees everything from tie tacks, to watches, to cufflinks and earrings. Most of the awards in the MOV’s collection are for 20 years of service and the Roman numerals XX feature prominently. There are a few tie tacks and a set of cufflinks, however, which feature the iconic script W that the company first started using in 1958.
It’s strange to imagine being gifted rings and cufflinks by one’s employer, much less working for the same one for over 20 years. Much like being able to afford a house in Vancouver or making it through March without a rainy day, it’s not something that a lot of people see as feasible. However, should anyone currently employed at the MOV still be around in 20 years, I’d like to see them gifted with our iconic white roof immortalized as a giant pendant from Birks, thank you very much.
The digitization of the Vancouver History Collection was made possible by funding from the British Columbia History Digitization Program at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia.
By Adrian Sinclair
Ballot Box, City of Vancouver (1902). Wooden, Cedar. openMOV. H971.259.1
In 2013, Elections BC has taken a few notable steps to make voting more accessible. They have partnered with non-partisan organizations like Vancouver Design Nerds, Get Your Vote On, Rock The Vote, , and Bike To Vote to make educational resources available online and on the street for a new generation of voters.
The evolution of who has been able to access the voting process is quite the read. In 1918, Canadian women were enfranchised to vote in federal elections (except in Quebec, where women were enfranchised in 1940).
Suffrage Blotter, (1917). Rectangular, White Blotter. openMOV. H994.30.9
Historically, many other groups have been excluded from accessing the right to vote. In 1993 persons with diagnosed mental disabilities were given the right to vote for the first time. In 1970 the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 and ten years before that in 1960, First Nations living on reserve were given the right to vote for the first time. There remains further work to be done in order to ensure the vote be fully accessible. Of concern are Young voters (18-35) who have the lowest turn out among registered voters.
Of course it’s not only the non-partisan institutions that have an interest in making the vote as broadly accessible as possible. A quick look through the MOV’s online collections database openMOV, yields an interesting attempt by a political candidate to get the youth vote out during the 50’s. This faux pep pill containing Teresa Galloway’s political platform on a mini-scroll of paper, was handed out to notify voters that “our city hall needs a tonic … A woman of action can supply pep and vigor.”
Theresa Galloway Election Campaign Capsule, (1955). Plastic, Paper, Ink. openMOV.
Elections BC’s efforts to ensure fair and accessible elections that represent the political will of the electorate is a work in progress. Here at the MOV, we are also constantly working on how to make our collections more accessible in order to provoke, engage, and animate Vancouverites around our shared material and cultural history.
After exploring our online collection political artifacts, reading up on the candidates (of past and present), get out there and vote today!
Engage with the political life of your city and province!
With the Vancouver Art Gallery officially on its way out of their current location between Robson and Georgia, we've been getting asked more and more whether we might be taking that space.
Today we announce that we are committed to finding an optimal location that will complement our provocative, award-winning programs and exhibitions - in other words, we don't know yet whether we will choose to stay here or move. But we have been taking deliberate steps towards securing our position as a thriving part of the Vancouver’s cultural landscape for generations to come.
The MOV has occupied its current location in Vanier Park since 1967, and while the location is picturesque it is not without its challenges (pictured above in 1971). A study is being conducted by AldrichPears Associates (APA) to define a functional program for the Museum in an optimal scenario.
“We are constantly asked about our location,” said Nancy Noble, Museum of Vancouver’s CEO. “With this study we will finally have a definitive answer to the question ‘should we stay or should we go?’”
Through the study, the Museum is examining many options for its location, the current Vancouver Art Gallery space being only one, with potential to stay at its current location. The functional program is informed by current operations, industry best-practices, the vision for the visitor experience at the Museum and the anticipated visitation levels at the current location as well as other locations throughout Vancouver.
Isaac Marshall, Principal at APA, said, “There are so many opportunities in Vancouver right now. It is the perfect time for the MOV to prove it is ready to lead the world in redefining the role of a city museum.”
By Craig Scharien
My own sex education at school (in the mid ‘90s) was not exactly memorable, but there are a couple sections of Sex Talk in the City that remind me of that time of my life. The group of white desks with graffiti all over them certainly conjure up memories of boredom and a lack of true sexual understanding. The other is the giant black cougar on a striking red wall.
For anyone who was watching movies in the 1960s all the way to the 80’s in British Columbia it is easy to recognize the restricted cougar icon that once acted as a warning about questionable content in film. When I was a kid all it meant was that I wasn’t able to watch anything with the cougar on it. The cougar and the fact that it was forbidden meant that I spent a lot of time scouring the restricted section at Canadian Tire (they used to have movies to rent, believe it or not) looking for a movie I could get away with suggesting to my parents.
These days there are boring rating systems that include things like “18A”, but back then the cougar was a symbol of coarse language, violence, nudity and obscenity in general for movies. It was developed by the BC Film Classification Board and the BC Chief Censor, Ray MacDonald at the time. The hope was that the iconic symbol would help raise public awareness of R-rated films. The cougar plays a very effective role at Sex Talk, by reminding many of us of the way censorship has been approached in our province.
It is also a vehicle for articulating an important point – that obscenity is often in the eye of the beholder. Within the exhibition, it has allowed the Museum to present sexually explicit material and stories of censorship by allowing the visitor to opt in to that element of BC’s history. If you are curious you can take a peek through the holes in the cougar to learn about pivotal moments in the history of the production, consumption and censorship of sexually explicit materials. Like the red drawers in the bedroom section of the exhibition the decisions are left to the visitor, thus making moments of discovery just a bit more and powerful.