Vancouver's First 4/20 Celebration: This Day in Vancouver – April 20, 1995

4/20 Celebration at Vancouver Art Gallery - 2013 - photo by Miranda Nelson

4/20 Celebration at the Vancouver Art Gallery, April 20, 2013. Photo by Miranda Nelson.


“Starting at Noon, more than 200 people begin to gather in Victory Square for the city’s first 4/20 celebration, an event that, according to the BC Marijuana Party Leader and “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery, is the first of its kind anywhere in the world.”

“…there were about only 150 people by 2 p.m., peaking at 250 people at 4:20 p.m. Nonetheless, open pot smoking went on for about 6 hours without any police interference”

This excerpt was taken from the book This Day in Vancouver by Jesse Donaldson. The book is available for purchase at the Museum of Vancouver’s Gift Shop, or online at Anvil Press.

This Day in Vancouver by Jesse Donaldson, Anvil Press

Since then, 4/20 movements have spread throughout the world. Vancouver’s iconic protest saw record breaking numbers of 25,000 supporters in 2016, and organizers continue to expect big crowds today. The event has moved from several different venues in the past (Victory Square, Vancouver Art Gallery) and now finds its temporary home at Sunset Beach. Although the annual pot rally has seen tremendous growth and there are federal plans to legalize the recreational drug, organizers say this still isn’t a celebration. The 4/20 event continues as a development and protest until legalization arrives. Only then, will become a celebration.

To learn more about revolutionary movements, come visit the Museum of Vancouver’s 1960s-1970s: You Say You Want A Revolution. The exhibition highlights Vancouver’s radial youth and time of contention.

Evan Biddell Talks About Upcycled Fashion

It’s no secret that the global Fashion industry is wasteful. In fact, it’s the second most polluting industry in the world next to Oil. The average North American discards around 81 pounds of clothing per year, and that scary number. What’s even more shocking is that within a year of being made, three-fifths (3/5) of clothing produced ends up in landfills.

Events like Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week aim to bring awareness to these issues and help promote the movement of upcycling. Returning for its 12th season, the Vancouver-founded event highlights the importance of moving towards a sustainable textile industry and celebrate today’s most innovative fashion!

But what exactly is upcycled fashion?

Simply put, upcycling is the process of making something new and improved from old and used items. It goes beyond reusing and recycling by building upon the original materials. The outcome is a new, handmade, eco-friendly, and one-of-a-kind piece.


So, what does it look like?

Many designers are bringing upcycling to life, including Evan Biddell. Winner of Project Runway Canada Season ­1, Biddell has transformed second-hand clothing from Value Village into a fully realized fashion collection. Value Village by Evan Biddell (VV by EB) just debuted at Toronto Women’s Fashion Week and features 81 pounds of repurposed and upcycled garments.

In an interview with Goldie, Biddell gave some insight on what inspired VV by EB.

“Rock & Roll.  It’s going to be loud and hard-hitting.  We wanted to create a memorable show and be loud as a voice for the cause.”

And he shared a little bit about what textiles are being used in the collection.

“Weight was a factor.  Heaviness.  Leather, suedes.”

As to what inspired Biddell on this project and the opportunity to work with Eco-Fashion week…

“I was born into it… I grew up shopping at Value Village. You know, everyone wanted those track jackets in the late ‘90s and you’d get them at Value Village… I started making clothes when I was sixteen or seventeen.”

VV by EB is a perfect example of how the textile industry is finding innovative solutions in sustainable fashion, which has become more important than ever in today’s fast fashion world.

To learn more about Evan Biddell’s collection and the excitement of upcycling, join us at

the Museum of Vancouver on April 2 for the Upcycled Fashion panel discussion. Stylist Ellen Balsevich will also join the discussion, while Kelsey Dundon, editor of The Anthology, will moderate.

The 81lb Challenge – Value Village by Evan Biddell will be on display at the Museum of Vancouver from March 30 - April 17


MAJOR COLLECTOR: Major James Skitt Matthews

Viviane Gosselin's picture

As part of our exploration on the relationship between public and private collections in All Together Now, I conducted an interview with Heather Gordon, Vancouver City Archives.

Major James Skitt Matthews - Vancouver historian, collector, featured in All Together Now

I wanted to know more about Vancouver’s first historian and collector, Major James Matthew (1878- 1970) whose work continues to have a huge impact on Vancouver’s historiography. Local historians, filmmakers, authors and other creatives researching Vancouver’s past are bound to stumble upon Major Matthews’ extensive records.

Heather’s insights and knowledge of Major Matthew’s collection were most helpful:

Viviane: How did Matthews started collecting?

Heather: Major Matthews arrived in Vancouver in 1898, twelve years after the city’s incorporation. Shortly after his arrival, he began writing about Vancouver. To get information, he searched old maps and spoke with old-timers. In the process, Matthews became acutely aware of the imminent loss of the Vancouver’s “pioneers” and of the city’s rapid transformation. He saw himself as the champion of Vancouver’s history.

Viviane: As someone who is surrounded by his collection and is constantly interacting with it, how would you describe Major Matthews’ collecting philosophy, in three words:

Heather: Eccentric – both the items he collected and how he catalogued them. Even today, some things are almost undiscoverable unless you 'think like Major Matthews.'

Subjective – he was the quintessential collector-archivist. He collected what he wanted to collect, interpreted it and edited it. He worked exactly opposite the way professional archivists work today. We leave the interpretation to our researchers. Not so the Major.

Militaristic -- he loved anything military.

Viviane: What would you say is one of Matthews’ most important contribution to the city archives?

Heather: His collection forms the core of the Archives’ private-sector holdings, holdings that have grown substantially since his death. Those holdings complement the City government records in our care, and are crucial for telling the non-government side of the story of Vancouver’s development.

Viviane: Could you tell us a bit more about the digitization of the collections of books Early Vancouver?

Heather: Early Vancouver is one of the most used resources at the Archives and we wanted to make it more widely accessible. Written between 1931 and 1956, and over 3,300 pages, it is a collection of Matthews’ interviews with pioneers, along with annotated photographs and maps and transcriptions of letters and newspaper articles. What you see online is actually a transcription of the text, not a digitized version. The paper Matthews used was too thin and his typewriter ink too blurry to result in a scanned image we could keyword index. Funded by the Vancouver Historical Society, hundreds of hours of transcription was the answer, with digitized versions of the photos and maps added to the transcribed version.

Viviane: Could you mention a few examples of people (not just historians) using Matthews’ archives for their work (you can be as specific or generic as you want)

Heather: Academics, of course, but also bloggers and social media enthusiasts who love to feature his photographs. The photos are also popular among business owners (particularly restaurateurs) who exhibit large reproductions of his photos, complete with his handwritten annotations, on their walls. One of my favourite uses, though, is by author Lee Henderson. He consulted Early Vancouver extensively in order to evoke the Vancouver of 1886 for his novel The Man Game.

All Together Now: Vancouver Collectors and Their Worlds features Major Matthews' collection of Vancouver history.

All Together Now: Vancouver Collectors and Their Worlds featuring Major James Matthews’ collection closes Sunday, March 19.




The Ship That Saved Vancouver

Countless vessels have transacted in Vancouver’s port throughout the city's history. Few ships, though, hold such an important place in Vancouver’s history as the Robert Kerr.

The Robert Kerr was a sailboat built in 1866 in Quebec. In 1885, she was sold at auction and retrofitted into a coal barge, pulled around by a tugboat. The Robert Kerr travelled between Vancouver Island and the mainland on a regular basis. It was during one of these trips that the ship earned its reputation as “the ship that saved Vancouver.”

Robert Kerr - the ship that saved Vancouver
S.S. Robert Dunsmuir on the left, and Robert Kerr on the right. City of Vancouver Archives, AM54-S4-: Bo P127.3, 1898.

On June 13, 1886, work crews for the Canadian Pacific Railway were clearing land between Cambie and Main streets. A strong wind picked up the controlled brush fire and carried it towards Vancouver. The fire engulfed the city, killing dozens of people. Witnesses reported that within forty-five minutes, the city was reduced to ash. The crew of the Robert Kerr opened their ship to people who were fleeing the fire. Approximately 150 people climbed on board and watched the city burn from the relative safety of the ship’s deck.

The Great Vancouver Fire
Map drawn by city archivist J.S. Matthews showing the path of the fire. Note the Robert Kerr in Burrard Inlet. City of Vancouver Archives, sketch by Major J.S. Matthews, AM1562-: 75-54, 1932.

However, the ship's role in the Great Vancouver Fire began long before June 13, 1886. A year before the fire, the Captain of the Robert Kerr donated the ship’s bell to the city of Vancouver for use as a warning bell. The bell rung a year later as the fire first spiraled out of control. Those peals were the first warning for many residents.

The bell that the captain of the Robert Kerr donated to the city of Vancouver in 1885. This bell was rung on June 13, 1886 to warn residents of the fire. Museum of Vancouver collection, H973.539.1

After the fire, the Robert Kerr continued to haul coal throughout the west coast of British Columbia. In March 1911, the tugboat Coulti was tugging the Robert Kerr from Nanaimo to Vancouver when it accidentally pulled the Robert Kerr across a coral reef just north of Thetis Island. The crew removed the coal on board, abandoned the Robert Kerr, and left it to sink. The shipwreck, designated a heritage site under the BC Heritage Conservation Act, is a popular site among recreational scuba divers. 


Montanna Mills is a recent graduate from the master’s program in public history at Western University. As a member of MOV’s curatorial team, Montanna is conducting research for an upcoming exhibition focusing on the city’s development during the 1860-1880s period.  Occasionally, she will share research on the MOV blog.

Join Us... January/February Events

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All Together Now contributor Maurice Guibord and curator Viviane Gosselin acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 with insights, memories and collectables from this ground-breaking Canadian event.   7pm   +
Explore the MOV, H.R MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver Archives, Vancouver Academy of Music and the Maritime Museum all for $5. There will be food trucks, performances and family activities!  10am - 5pm 
Rebecca Blissett, Richard Lam, and Jon Lehmann discuss journalism’s shift from film to digital photography and the role it has in altering the media’s approach to documenting news. Moderated by Jennifer Moreau.  6pm   +
On the last Thursday of every month, the Museum is open late and admission is PWYC between 5pm - 8pm. 

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Become a MOV Member today. Members receive unlimited free admission to the Museum for one year, complimentary events, 10% discount in the MOV Gift Shop and more.

Shop Local at the MOV Gift Shop

If you're having a hard time finding a uniquely "Vancouver" gifts -  make sure to stop by the Shop Local @ MOV store.

The Museum of Vancouver is proud to be carrying amazing products that are locally made or from local retailers. We also have a new line of MOV products including mugs, totes, water bottles and more. 

We hope you shop local and treat yourself or special someone to these special items!


1) These vintage felt pennants were created by several local designers including 10four Design Group who has worked on several of MOV's exhibitions. Partial proceeds from the Expo 86 design sold online will be donated to MOV. The Creative Director at Pennants of Canada is Vancouver is Awesome's very own Bob Kronbauer.


2) These delicious jams - created by East Van native Natalie Ferrari-Morton - proudly contains a 4:1 ratio of real fresh fruit to sugar. Get them while you can - we're down to just two flavours!

3) New to the store, we have these gorgeous prints of local artist Elena Markelova's hand lettered and illustrated map of Vancouver. The whimisical map includes the MOV! The full size version is on the wall in the store and makes for a great place to take a "Very Vancouver" selfie.


4) These great vintage baseball caps from Nine O'Clock Gun are stylish but also tell a bit about Vancouver's sports history. The caps pay tribute to some of the city's original althetes and amateur leagues including, the 1901 Vancouver Burrards and the 1914 Japanese-Canadian baseball team The Vancouver Asahi.

5) These coasters from Reclaimed Print Co. feature cool Vancouver themed graphics which are printed on locally sourced and sustainable wood!


FRIDAY Five Favourite Photos - 1975

Vancouver in the Seventies: Photos from a Decade that Changed the City is now on view at the Museum of Vancouver.

The exhibition displays over 400 photos from The Vancouver Sun collection. To get a closer look and to celebrate some of these stunning photographs, each Friday we'll be selecting our Five Favourite Photos from each year of the seventies. 


1) A great shot showing the development of what is now the iconic city centre in downtown Vancouver.

September 11, 1975 - Aerial view of the new Vancouver courthouse and Robson Square complex. Photo by George Diack (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 75-3297)


2) I love how the photographer finds a new percepective in representing an otherwise ordinary shot.

March 24, 1975  -  Couple walk past the skylight at the Sedgewick Library at U.B.C. Photo by Deni Eagland (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 75-1230)


3) Perfect horizontal lines with a distinct foreground and background. The man is in the prime spot. Yet despite its immpecable composition there is something haunting and surreal about it.

October 14, 1975 - Man walking in Burlington-Northern freight yard with the misty city in the background. Photo by Ian Lindsay (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 75-3724)


 4)  A gorgeous shot of Grouse Mountain with impressive lighting and contrast.

December 16, 1975 - A picture-perfect night of skiing on Grouse Mountain. Photo by Ian Lindsay (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 75-4528)


5) Tina Turner looks strong and stunning in this photo. Her signature legs never looked longer. Also incredibly interested that this show happened at BCIT!

February 8, 1975 - Tina Turner puts on a show with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue at a dance at the B.C. Institute of Technology. Photo by Glenn Baglo (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 75-0459)


Exhibition Sponsor

FRIDAY Five Favourite Photos - 1974

Vancouver in the Seventies: Photos from a Decade that Changed the City is now on view at the Museum of Vancouver.

The exhibition displays over 400 photos from The Vancouver Sun collection. To get a closer look and to celebrate some of these stunning photographs, each Friday we'll be selecting our Five Favourite Photos from each year of the seventies. 

1) A rainy noir like photo captures the current moods in the city. 

March 8, 1974  - People with umbrellas on a rainy day. Photo by George Diack (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 74-0740)

2) Fun energetic photo. Looks like a still out of a buddy-cop film.

June 19, 1974 - Spanish Banks lifeguards Jim Harris and Glenn Schultz demonstrate an amphibious beach buggy and the art of the walkie-talkies to Bonnie Stefanko and Lois Tomlinson. Photo by  Ralph Bower (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 74-2140)

3) I like how Kits Beach looks pratically the same as it does today. There's even a road bike propped up in the middle of the beach which is such a classic Vancouver symbol.

August 5, 1974 - Kitsilano Beach on a summer day. Photo by Deni Eagland (Courtresy of The Vancouver Sun 74-2782)

4) A slice of life photo that captures the humour in everyday things.

August 19, 1974 -  A Canada Post worker takes a break in the mail relay box on the corner of Beach and Chilco in the West End. Photo by  Rob Straight (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 74-2926)

5) Looks like dating in Vancouver was no fun in the seventies too.

December 5, 1974 - Couple at Harry C’s singles bar. Photo by Glenn Baglo (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 74-4329)


Exhibition Sponsor


Burrard Bridge upgrades underway

The City of Vancouver have annouced that they will install heritage-style lamp posts and suicide prevention fencing on Burrard Bridge starting this week. The construction will begin on the west side of the Burrard Bridge.

The final design of the new bridge fencing was designed in collaboration with a stakeholder group made up of representatives from Heritage Commission, Heritage Foundation, Heritage Society, Active Transportation Policy Council, Urban Design Panel, Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Crisis Centre, the Vancouver Police Department and representatives from the film and television sector. Fencing was recommended by the BC Coroners Service and the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

"We applaud the City of Vancouver for adding the barriers," says Vancouver Coastal Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Emily Newhouse. "This new fencing will save lives. The research shows that suicide attempts from bridges are impulsive. Generally, if someone is prevented from jumping off a bridge, they don't try other means of killing themselves."

Several designs were considered, including netting below the bridge, glass fencing, and several fence designs. A picket fence design with strong vertical detail and heritage style pedestrian lamp posts was selected as the final option for several reasons, including:

  • The design respects the heritage elements of the bridge more than other options
  • The simple design of the fence pickets maximizes views for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle passengers
  • The design is constructible and has lower construction and maintenance costs

FRIDAY Five Favourite Photos - 1973

Vancouver in the Seventies: Photos from a Decade that Changed the City is now on view at the Museum of Vancouver.

The exhibition displays over 400 photos from The Vancouver Sun collection. To get a closer look and to celebrate some of these stunning photographs, each Friday we'll be selecting our Five Favourite Photos from each year of the seventies. 


1) Interesting skyline shot to compare to how the city looks today.

 June 26, 1973  - Seaplane and skyline of city at Coal Harbour. Photo by John Denniston (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 73-2344)

2) I find this photo inspiring as it shows a young Svend Robinson delving into his passions and supporting the community at an eary age, unbeknownst of the influenitial Canadian political figure he will become.

August 1, 1973 - Svend Robinson, who went on to become a long-time Member of Parliament (1979-2004), working at the Youth Referral Centre for transient youth at 1845 West Georgia Street. Photo by Brian Kent (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 73-2881)

3) Chinatown feels bustling and exciting with the wall of signs and power lines overflowing to the point where the family crossing the street is almost camouflaged into the background.

August 30, 1973 -  A mom and her children cross East Pender Street in Chinatown early in the morning. Photo by John Mahler (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 73-3391)

4) The composition really mirrors the mood in the photo and the faces of the reporters says it all. The way they are hovering down on Bill Bennett and pointing their mics directly in his face, further emphasize the discontent and the pressure coming down on him.

November 25?, 1973 - Bill Bennett wins the leadership of the Social Credit Party at the convention. Photo by John Mahler (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 73-4426)

5) This photo accompanies a series of fashion shots, however this particular one stands out because on top of the man's cool fashion sense, it feels extremely candid and natural. There is also a nice balance of masculine and feminin with his muscular build and stern look juxtaposed his long flowing hair and big heeled shoes. This image is the cover of the Vancouver in the Seventies book which inspired the exhibition.

August 14, 1973 - Summer street fashion on West Georgia Street with the Devonshire Hotel in background. Photo by Vladimir Keremidschieff  (Courtesy of The Vancouver Sun 73-3098a)

Exhibition Sponsor


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