Evening Lectures


VHF’s Evening Lectures offer illustrated talks that look at the history of Vancouver, covering the events, movements and people that shaped our city. The talks are co-hosted by Vancouver Heritage Foundation and the Hycroft Heritage Preservation Foundation.

2018 Evening Lectures are now complete. Thank you to everyone who attended this year! Please check back soon for 2019 dates and topics.


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Thank you to the University Women’s Club at Hycroft for partnering with VHF to offer this evening talk series.


October 30th - Granville Street: 1886 to Today - Commerce, Entertainment and Historic Buildings
Granville Street continues to evolve since it was first created as the centrepiece for the CPR town site in 1886. Later known as Theatre Row, it is still part of Vancouver's Entertainment District today. Along Granville Street there is a significant number of early 20th-century heritage buildings that now house shopping, offices, music venues and bars. Aaron Chapman, author of several books on Vancouver history, and Michael Gordon, recently-retired Senior Planner for downtown Vancouver shared images and stories about Granville Street including highlights from venerable venues, the Orpheum, the Commodore and the Vogue Theatre. The lecture explored how the street has changed, its evolution of over 100 years of nightspots and the speakers' thoughts on how this popular corridor may change in the future.

October 9th - Vancouver’s Police Museum: Stories from 240 E Cordova
The building that houses the Vancouver Police Museum and Archives is a key artifact in the collection. Purpose built and opened in 1932, the former Coroner's Office, Coroner's Court, and City Analyst Laboratory reflects both innovative technology and city planning of its time. It remained in operation for seven decades. Transitioning to a museum starting in 1986, the building and its preserved spaces provide insight into how the Coroner’s work was conducted during much of the 20th century. Museum Director, Rosslyn Shipp and Curator, Elizabeth Peterson discussed the use and adaptation of the building’s facilities through the decades, the Museum’s custodianship of the historic site today and the unique perspective the Museum offers to connect with Vancouver’s history.

September 18th - Private Property, Public Regulation, and the History of the Arbutus Corridor
The Arbutus Greenway is a 10km linear park through Vancouver's west side that, in the two years since the City purchased the land from Canadian Pacific, has become a favourite route for cyclists and pedestrians. The Greenway is only the latest use for this strip of land that the Canadian Pacific Railway assembled in 1902 for its Vancouver & Lulu Island Railway and on which passenger and freight trains rolled until a final freight shipment in 2001. Professor Douglas Harris explored the conflict between the City and Canadian Pacific that led to the Supreme Court of Canada. Douglas will also considered the manner in which Canadian law establishes the balance between public regulation and private property.

April 24th - Themes, Subthemes and Memes: Telling History in a Different Way
For this lecture, Heritage Consultant Donald Luxton looked at Vancouver’s history from his groundbreaking work, the Vancouver Historic Context and Thematic Framework. From the big ideas of city planning to the details of design and the everyday, Donald covered a wide swath of the city’s history from social movements such as Temperance, Suffrage and the Women’s Liberation Movement, through all manner of social, economic and community endeavors. This includes everything from the development of water and sanitary services to barber shops and beauty salons. It provided a fascinating glimpse of this work and a fresh perspective on the identification of historic places. The Thematic Framework provides a foundation for identifying gaps in what can be recognized as having heritage value in Vancouver and has an integral part in the City of Vancouver Heritage Action Plan.

March 20th - Squat City: An Informal History of Squatters in Vancouver
The story of the squatter's shack in Vancouver encompasses generations of history including the origins of Gastown and Kitsilano, the dispossession of Indigenous peoples, the Depression-era city, the post-WWII veterans' housing crisis, the hippie movement and modern say social housing activists who occupied the old Woodwards store in 2002. Author and Historian Daniel Francis investigated how the squatter's shack contrasts with glass towers of the modern city, a different kind of iconic structure, projecting a view from the margins. This lecture discussed the historic context of the squatter's shack, as well as its place in our contemporary "City of Glass".

February 27th - Stanley Park: Digging Deeper and Rethinking Cultural Heritage
Stanley Park is often thought of as a relatively untouched piece of nature amid Vancouver’s built landscape. The appreciation and understanding of the park is broadening and deepening, as thousands of years of First Nations presence are better understood beyond the colonial history. With this context, Reconciliation Planner Rena Soutar (Cha’an Tdut) and Vancouver Park Board Archaeologist Geordie Howe consider how we define “our cultural heritage” as a city. They explored the Indigenous peoples’ relationships to the land, the approach to stewardship and how the environment was cultivated to support communities.

2017 LECTURES (click to view)

November 7th: Kitsilano Indian Reserve: Contact to Today
Allotted by the colony of British Columbia in the 1860s and expanded in 1876 after the colony joined Canada, the Squamish Indian Reserve Kitsilano No. 6 amounted to 80 acres at the mouth of False Creek.  In 2002, a unanimous five-judge panel of the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld a trial court decision that approximately 10.5 acres of the former Kitsilano reserve, which had since disappeared from the maps of the region, should again be Indian reserve. What happened to it between 1876 and 2002? How did it disappear? This talk by Douglas Harris explored the history of the Kitsilano Indian Reserve and the changing legal framework that surrounds what might come next on this important parcel of land.

October 24th: What a Mess: False Creek, the Industrial Waterway
It’s hard to imagine from today’s perspective that False Creek was once the centre of industrial activity for the city. From the beginning of non-native settlement the waterway became the home to sawmills, shipyards and other heavy industry. This emerging industry destroyed the fishery and displaced the seasonal and permanent settlements along the shoreline that had sustained local First Nations for centuries.  John Atkin explored the history of industrial development and the Creek's more recent transformation.

September 19th: Shaughnessy's Backstory
This lecture traced the challenges of resisting shops, schools, churches and frat houses as the local economy seesawed between boom, bust, and wartime housing shortages. Innovative zoning changes in the 1980s allowed some of the mansions to convert to strata and infill their grounds in return for heritage conservation, but a wave of wealthy buyers in the 21st century wanted new, single-family homes prompting the City to establish its first Heritage Conservation Area.  Michael Kluckner explored the early development and history of this significant area and what elements contribute to its historic value.

April 25: Ten Myths About Vancouver - The Real Stories
Was there ever any blood in Blood Alley? There are many aspects of Vancouver’s history that are taken for granted, but are they true? Did it happen or was it made up? In this talk Historian and Author, John Atkin looked at the origins of some of the well-worn myths in our city’s history.

February 21: Stanley Park Sites and Stories - Then and Now
Landscape Architect and Author, Adrienne Brown, explored the cultural impacts that have shaped an area inhabited for centuries that is today called Stanley Park. Brown looked at the places and objects that have come and gone, developments which were envisioned but never built, and described the history of some of the cherished structures and spaces which remain in the park today.

March 28: Rum-runners and Border Wars - Prohibition in BC
We all know about jazz era gangsters like Al Capone and the prohibition era in the United States, but Vancouver had its own flirtations with prohibition. Daniel Francis, Historian and Author of Closing Time: Prohibition, Rum-runners and Border Wars, explored how local law enforcement efforts to dry-up the city utterly failed, and immense fortunes were made by entrepreneurs willing to answer the demand for illegal booze.

2016 LECTURES (click to view)

November 29: Who was Major Matthews? with City Archivist Heather Gordon

November 1: The Legacy Sites and Stories of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games with BC Sports Hall of Fame Curator and Author Jason Beck

October 18th: Sawmills and Opera Houses: The Origins of Chinatown with Author and Historian John Atkin

May 29th: The Crescent: From the CPR and the Garden City to Today with Landscape Architect and Author Adrienne Brown

April 5th: How Streetcars and Real Estate Shaped Vancouver with Historian and Author John Atkin

February 16th: Selling Vancouver to Tourists: 1890 - 1960 with Author and Artist Michael Kluckner

2015 LECTURES (click to view)

November 10 - BC: Lumberyard of the World, with Author and Historian John Atkin

October 27 - Artists, Architects and Artisans: Canadian Art 1890 - 1918, with Charles Hill

September 29 - Vancouverism 1954 - 1991, with Senior Downtown Planner, Michael Gordon

June 2 - A History of Vancouver Apartments, with Michael Kluckner

April 21 - The Wild History of Gastown, with Don Luxton

March 17 - Art Deco Architecture in Vancouver, with Maurice Guibord

February 17 - How it all began: The Bloedel Conservatory, with John Coupar

2014 LECTURES (click to view)

November 4 - Vancouver's Vaudeville: the Great White Way, with John Atkin and Tom Carter

October 21 - Samuel Maclure in Shaughnessy, Jim Wolf

September 30 - Gentrification, Heritage & the Future of Vancouver,  Michael Kluckner

April 15 - Arts & Crafts Movement of the Pacific Northwest, Larry Kreisman

March 4 - Challenges & Trends: Public Engagement for Community Planning, Dr. Maged Senbel

January 21 - Vancouver as a Sustainable City, Dr. Tom Hutton

Professional Development Credits are dependent on the lecture topic and speaker: AIBC, PIBC, BOABC, BCSLA, AICBC

You can earn 1 Old School credit per Evening Lecture or Brown Bag Talk, to a maximum of 3 towards the Certificate in Heritage Conservation.