May 2013

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on May 29, 2013 at 6:50 am

This week we look at the economic realities and struggles of big business, small business, and "anti-business." From the uncertain fate of the The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, to the changing landscape of independent bookstores in the city, and the meta-reality of the DTES anti-gentrification conflicts, we're exploring what it means to survive and succeed in Vancouver's economic wilderness.
Saving The Centre. Many in Vancouver's arts and culture scene are looking to the City to step in to save The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. The Centre is set to be sold to the Westside Church after struggling with economically viable programming as a large-scale venue. Will The Centre survive as an art space? We'll have to wait to find out.
Struggling to Sell Books. Francis Bula explores the economic ups and downs of Vancouver's best-loved independent bookstores of the past and present in this recent article. Some of the culprits behind slumping sales are easy to identify - the rise of e-commerce to name one - but others are more surprising (and more Vancouver-specific). She also examines stores like Kidsbooks and Pulpfiction Books that are surviving and thriving against some pretty bleak odds.
Reality TV Gets Real. Did the reality presented in the television show Gastown Gamble contribute to the current anti-gentrification protests in the DTES? Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones of The Atlantic Cities seems to think so. The show follows Mark Brand's journey as the socially-conscious owner of Save on Meats. As Hinkes-Jones says, "For many of the at-risk locals whom Brand has hired, he's a legitimate hero. But there's also little doubt the show's subject — the renovation of a historic Downtown Eastside business to make it more appealing to upscale customers — is exactly the sort of effort that's caused much of the distrust among the protesters."
And On a Not Entirely Related's Bike to Work Week! Check out this neat initiative co-produced by Vancouver is Awesome with Penny Smash funds. Definitely some of the most fun you'll have getting to work in the morning.
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Shelves at Pulpfiction on Main. Photo by Richard Erirksson via Flickr]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on May 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm
In celebration of the coming fine weather (it's coming, we promise. See?) we are offering a pared down round up for the week, leaving you ample time to see some buskers (or not), sit down at a cafe, and perhaps visit with your new co-housing neighbours.
Busker Idol. A new regulation has instituted a rigorous audition process for buskers wanting to perform on Granville Island. Some people are (understandably) upset.
Cafe Culture. This neat exploration of the socio-economic factors surrounding the placement of Vancouver's independent cafes will get you thinking about what it means to sip coffee in your own neighbourhood and beyond.
Living Together. Vancouver City Council recently gave the go ahead to Vancouver's first co-housing project. The residential units featuring shared kitchens and common rooms will go up on East 33rd near Victoria Avenue.
At the MOVeum:
[Image: Granville Island busker. Photo by Stephen Rees via Flickr]
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]