Posted by: Amanda McCuaig on May 15, 2013 at 3:46 pm

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  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.

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on May 15, 2013 at 11:44 am

Proposed high rises in the downtown core have us thinking about Vancouver's rapidly changing skyline. Will new buildings blend in with the existing architecture or will they quite literally stand out? And more generally, what does it mean to 'fit in' and conversely, to be conspicuous in the city? 
This week we're looking at a trendy digital marketing conference that found its match in Vancouver, a church's possible move to an unlikely building, and an opinion piece from two urbanists who would like the provincial government to try a distinctive approach to urban development. Which reminds us: love it or hate it the BC Election results are in. Some of us were surprised, but should we have been? Some insightful discussion here.
Hyping Hyper Island. The Swedish company Hyper Island has announced it will be holding its buzz-worthy, three-day education institute in Vancouver this December. With presentations and collaborative workshops exploring digital media's influence on the marketing world, the event draws some of the best and brightest execs, creatives, and strategists from around the world. What made Vancouver a natural fit for the event? We're already on board with forward-looking, digital action plans as illustrated by the recent unveiling of our digital strategy.
Westside Church at the Centre. Westside Church is looking into the possibility of moving into the current home of the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. So far, Westside Church has raised one third of the funds necessary for the purchase and move. It would also need to apply to the city for changing the use of the property. But would the church fit into the new neighbourhood? Given the area's emergence as a cultural district, the answer is, well, complicated. As Brent Toderian points out to the Georgia Straight, the church could be considered a cultural institution, but it is unclear what kinds of events would take place in the space and if it would bring the same kind of vitality to the neighbourhood as other occupants.
Getting Our Priorities Straight. Finally, Anne McMullin and Michael Ferreira voice their opinion about the direction they'd like to see the province go in the coming years. Their number one priority? "...A clear vision for the province’s economic future and sustainable growth" with specific attention paid to urban development. Sounds pretty good, but what exactly would that look like? For starters, they want to see a centralized decision-making process surrounding infrastructure projects like rapid transit on the Broadway corridor and Surrey's proposed light rail. As they say, "Given the importance of such strategic investments to the province, and to the next government’s policy interests and fiscal planning, it is imperative that the decision-making authority for these projects lie with a responsible provincial minister — and those decisions be linked with cabinet’s budgetary process."
At the MOVeum:
May 31 - Libido Liberation: Sex Talk After Dark
June 5 - Foncie's Fotos Opening Reception
[Image: Inside the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. Photo by Garry Zeweniuk via Flickr]
Posted by: Guest Author on May 14, 2013 at 8:31 am

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 NerdsGet 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! 

Other interesting BC Electoral finds on openMOV. Ballot, SoCred, Jim Green, 1960’s Liberal, 1990’s Mayor candidate.

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on May 7, 2013 at 7:42 am

Behind every public event, social interaction, and prominent building in Vancouver there are quieter discussions that shape and direct how we engage with the city. This week we look at the whispers, rumours, and insider gossip around TED Talks' big move to Vancouver, the politics of tipping (or not tipping), and the recognition of some of our oldest neighbourhoods and buildings. 
Behind TED's Big Move. Wonder why Vancouver got the prestigious honour of hosting the 2013 TED Conference?Vancouver Magazine interviewed TED owner Chris Anderson and got the goods. One of the qualities that makes us uniquely positioned to host the talks according to Anderson: spectacular natural beauty side by side with plentiful hotels. 
Tipping Points. Ever withhold a tip to protest bad service at a restaurant? You're not alone, but as restaurant owner Mark Taylor points out to the Vancouver Observer, you might not be communicating your message as clearly as you think. There are in fact, plenty of other reasons why people don't tip. Check out the article for the ins and outs of tipping and its relationship to minimum wage in Vancouver's service industry.
Heritage Talks. Heritage Vancouver's 2013 Top 10 Endangered Sites list is out and once again it's shining a light on the civic manoeuvring and development talks surrounding some of the city's most iconic buildings. But while you might be familiar with the controversies around the Waldorf or the Main Post Office, there are other lesser known sites on the list like Delamont Park and a threatened stretch of Granville Street. On a similar note, people were chattering before, during, and after the Jane's Walks that happened all over the city this weekend. Tours featured multiple perspectives on topics like gentrification and alternative transportation.
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Main Post Office, 1961. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives 2011-068.04]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on May 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm

This week we're exploring the spaces where Vancouverites are making connections, collaborating, and becoming better acquainted. Ideas like the VPL's new public garden or an award for Vancouver's 'greenest' family are complicating the perception of Vancouver as an unfriendly city. Sure, there are still places that make us uncomfortable and standoffish (namely, public transit) but as you'll see, there are people in the city working on how to make these friendlier too.
Garden in the Sky. Chances you aren't one of the very few people who have visited the VPL's rooftop garden. But that's about to change because the original design dream team that includes architect Moshe Safdie and landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander has reassembled to work on a new public green space at the central library. In 2015, the newly renovated top floors and roof will be opened to the public, complete with a grand reading room, outdoor terraces, and new rooftop garden. Sounds like a perfect place to meet new friends to us.
A Family that Recycles Together...A very "Vancouver" competition put on by SPUD Vancouver and Vancouver Mom came to a close on Monday: the city has voted for its greenest family. The five finalists wowed voters with their collaborative environmental achievements ranging from energy efficient renovations in their homes to air drying clothes instead of using a dryer. Read all about them here and congratulations to the McEacherns for taking home the big prize!
Getting Friendly on the Bus. Buses might not be known as the friendliest places in the city but one bus driver has taken it upon himself to change that. While most people try to remain as anonymous as possible on public transit, Brian Revel sees buses as temporary "micro-communities" where people can have positive interactions. So how does he get people talking? By simply encouraging passengers to say "hi" to each other. Pretty inspirational. Check out his Facebook page here.
Special Shout Outs. The MOV's community partner (and friend) Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, i.e. the city's biggest show and tell, is holding their third annual faire at the PNE Forum on June 1 and 2. Come out and get to know over 100 Vancouver makers demonstrating skills such as puppetry, electronics, computer hacking, music-making, quilting, farming and virtual reality. Advance tickets here. 
And finally a special shout out to our own curatorial team for the new Visible City virtual exhibit and free mobile app (download it through iTunes or Google Play) that allow you to explore Vancouver's neon neighbourhoods. Check it out!
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Crowded Vancouver bus. Photo by Michael Kalus via Flickr]
Posted by: Amanda McCuaig on April 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm

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.”

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on April 24, 2013 at 6:54 am

This new series from Inside Vancouver inventorying Vancouver neighbourhoods got us thinking about what it means to live in a city with distinct, geographically and socially defined communities. But as this week's stories reveal, our neighbourhoods are also fluid, permeable, shared spaces. Read on for a look at close-quarter living in Surrey's new micro-lofts, the new neighbours being brought together at the revitalized Chinatown Night Market, and a potentially major shift to a very central neighbourhood: the VAG's possible move from Robson to Cambie. 
Micro Communities. Micro-suites that are being called "Canada's smallest ever condominums" are now up for sale in Surrey. The smallest units are 297 square feet and can include space-saving features such as murphy beds and built-in storage units for an extra cost. Speaking to the Province, Charan Sethi of Tien Sher developers, highlighted their shifting model for apartment living: "We have to start thinking about what the next generation wants...[They want] a pad of their own that they can call their home. They don’t entertain at home ... their dining room is actually restaurants.” Just how these tiny condos might affect the ways we interact with each other, inside and outside of them, remains to be seen.
Mixing it Up at the Night Market. Tannis Ling of Bao Bei restaurant and current managing director of the Chinatown Night Market has a new vision for the long-standing cultural institution. She hopes that by incorporating vintage clothing booths, Rain City Chronicle storytellers, hip hop karaoke, and other acts and vendors the summer market will attract a "wider demographic": “Chinatown is Chinese, but there’s so many different neighbourhoods in the area. There’s no reason why we should appeal to strictly a Chinese audience where there’s all those other kinds of people around.”
New Neighbours for the VAG? City Council is meeting with members of the public today regarding the potential move of the Vancouver Art Gallery to the corner of Cambie and Georgia, currently the site of a parking lot. There has been ongoing debate surrounding the move with critics skeptical of the gallery's ability to raise funds for the move and operation of the new building. For more information on the issue check out the complete recommendation report here. Whatever the outcome, using the site as anything other than a parking lot makes sense to us.
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Chinatown Night Market, 2010. Photo by claydevoute via Flickr]
Posted by: Guest Author on April 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm

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.

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on April 17, 2013 at 6:57 am

Over at the MOV, we've been excitedly welcoming the cherry blossoms all over the city (seriously, so excited). And with the arrival of these new buds, there are a whole host of other fresh starts and new beginnings in Vancouver. This week check in with Vancouver's new proposed digital strategy, the start of greener garbage collection, and something that seems like an end, but what we hope will blossom as a new future possibility: the retirement of advocate for the homeless, Judy Graves.

Born Digital. On April 9, City Council met to discuss Vancouver's first ever digital strategy that, if adopted, would mean a huge shift in how the city processes licenses and permits as well as a significant expansion in the availability of free wi-fi. Sounds pretty good, but are there any concerns? Of course. Nikolas Badminton over at the Huffington Post blog suggests the strategy doesn't do enough: "I feel it is a safe governmental play that drags us to be where we should be right now in 2013, but with full implementation not until 2016. At that point we'll be four years behind."

Hello, Green Garbage. Starting in May, the City will be implementing a new garbage pick up system that aims to reduce materials being sent to the landfill. Food scraps will be picked up once a week and garbage only once every two weeks. As the Globe and Mail reports, "It’s part of a push to recycle all organics in Metro Vancouver by 2015, a move that is supposed to result in 70 per cent of the region’s garbage being recycled." The next step will be sorting out all the food waste storage dilemas for those of us in small apartments, but we know we're up for the challenge.
End of an Advocacy Era? And just as these two new systems are beginning, a vital position serving Vancouver's homeless community appears to be coming to and end. Judy Graves, the City's only full-time advocate for the homeless, will be retiring this May with no word on if she will be replaced. Here's hoping that her legacy will help make advocacy work a priority in the future. As Judy told The Tyee: "I think it's important to have an informed advocate within the system who can speak truth to power. It's very easy for government to start believing its own spin."
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Cherry blossoms. Photo by Geoffery Kehrig via Flickr]
Posted by: Guest Author on April 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm

By Arleigh McKerlich

Now that the days are becoming warmer and sunnier, Vancouverites are returning to a long-time favourite recreation spot: English Bay Beach.

Residents of Vancouver have been flocking to "First Beach" since the earliest days of the city. Called "Ayyulshun" (soft under feet) by the First Nations people, the name “English Bay” commemorates the meeting of Captain George Vancouver, along with Spanish captains Valdes and Galiano, in 1792. (This is also how Spanish Banks received its name.)

The beach was opened for recreation in 1893, sand was added in 1898, and by 1900 the Davie Street tram line made it accessible to residents from all over Vancouver. Residents built a pier, summer cottages, a dance hall called "the Prom", and a bathhouse. The original structures were all built out of wood, but the current concrete bathhouse was built in 1932.

As early as 1913, visitors to English Bay who had forgotten their bathing suits could rent one (10 cents for an adult, 5 cents for a child) along with towels and lockers. The wool suits were rented until the 60s at the majority of Vancouver’s beaches.

In 1939, the bathhouse  was converted into the city's first aquarium featuring Oscar the Octopus but by 1956, the aquarium facility was closed and manager Ivar Haglund moved to Seattle and started up a seafood business (Ivar’s Acres of Clams).

Today the bathhouse has new uses, including acting as a stage during the Celebration of Lights each summer and drawing record numbers of people to its sandy shore.


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