Talk and Tour: Unbelievable Stories!

Photo: PWL Partnerships Landscape Architects Inc.

Photo: PWL Partnerships Landscape Architects Inc.


Join us for an evening of hard to believe Vancouver stories. Local historians John Atkin, Rob Howatson and Mike Harling present Vancouver narratives which on the surface appear too strange to be true, except that they are! 

One of the more curious Vancouver stories yet to be embraced by the mainstream media is the tale of country music star Loretta Lynn being discovered in a Fraserview chicken coop in 1959. Writers Rob Howatson and Mike Harling examine the unlikely Canadians who helped the Coal Miner’s Daughter achieve her American Dream. Did the Queen of Country suppress the truth about her own origin story or did the Vancouver record executive who produced Loretta’s first hit embellish his star-maker role? The facts are between the tracks in this bizarre musical odyssey.

The high density 1950s development of Vancouver’s West End neighborhood is commonly thought to be rezoned due to a housing shortage. Historian John Atkin disproves this notion by linking West End development to the 1929 amalgamation of the three municipalities that make up today’s Vancouver and the preservation of green space. In what ought to be filed in “the hard to believe” category, building height increased not because of developer pressure, but rather in an effort to preserve more green space.

South Van Twang meets West End Pangs in a single, fun packed evening of history, stories, images and musical interludes.  

Date: Thursday, August 17, 2017

Time: 7:00pm

Admission: Advance tickets (Until August 10):  *Adults: $15; Seniors, Students: $13; MOV Members Free.

After August 10: *Adults: $17; Seniors, Students: $15; MOV Members Free. 

Gallery admission included with event ticket. Come early and explore.

* Online Tickets Sales will end ONE HOUR before the event begins. Remaining tickets on sale at the door / Visitor Services at the time of event.


John Atkin is a civic historian, author, walking tour guide and heritage consultant who brings an insight of urban planning and development, a love of architecture, and the fascination of the curious to his work. He has published five books about Vancouver, two co-authored with Michael Kluckner. His most recent publication is Changing City [2010] written with Andy Coupland. As a consultant, John has written the Chinatown Lighting Strategy for the City of Vancouver [2008], the City of Vancouver’s successful nominations for the Lee Kuan Yee World City Prize [2011] and the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation [2012], John co-authored, with Jeannette Hlavach, the successful 2010 application for Chinatown's National Historic District status. He is the chair of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of  BC and is on the board of the Dr Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical Garden. He sits as a member of the City’s Civic Assets Naming Committee. His on going research project is the exploration of the persistent myth of Chinatown tunnels in North America.

Mike Harling has contributed to the Georgia Straight, Vancouver Courier and the Globe and Mail. He has also authored three books, including Rock 'n' Roll Trivia. Along with Rob Howatson, he created to shed light on the Canadian chapter of Loretta Lynn's career.

Rob Howatson is a freelance writer who has contributed entertainment, travel and business articles to a variety of publications, including the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Courier, Vancouver magazine, BCBusiness and Westworld. Rob also writes about local history and once helped the Vancouver Park Board locate a 1950 time capsule that had gone missing in the walls of the old Sunset Community Centre (spoiler alert: the canister contained rare footage of Bing Crosby).


MOV's Unbelievable exhibiiton features contested objects, storied replicas and iconic artifacts for a mind-bending exploration of the role stories play in defining community – and what happens when these tales can't be relied upon.