Archive for October, 2020

Despite the ever-growing forest of towers and townhouses slowly engulfing the city, there are still a few buildings here and there that have survived the wrecking ball. I’ve spent these last few months of solitary confinement combing through Vancouver’s photo archives looking for some evidence that Vancouver actually did have an architectural past. Not a glorious, castles-and-chateaus kind of past like some places, but a good solid century of civilization.

I have found quite a few buildings and landmarks that are still recognizable today, and have lined them up with a current photograph from the same location. At least I’ve tried to. It’s hard to accurately replicate the location, height, and focal length of the original shot, so in many cases the perspectives are a little off. One thing I’ve noticed: there are a hell of a lot more trees now than there were then, and they get in the way of a lot of my shots!

Here are a few, and I will continue adding more as long as I’m allowed outside. (If you didn’t figure it out already, you can use the slider to swipe between the old and new images.) My thanks to the City of Vancouver Archives, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, and a number of blogs that have chronicled the history of these structures much better than I have. Note: The pictures are quite big and it might take a moment for them to show up on your phone, so just be patient.

Added October 24, 2020.

Kits Beach, 1914 and 2020.

In 1914 Charlie Chaplin makes his first film, the Komagata Maru is turned away at Vancouver’s port, Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated, and beachgoers enjoy a sunny day in Kitsilano.


Added October 20, 2020.

Crystal Dairy, 1946 and 2020.

This building was constructed in 1927, with Crystal Dairy as its first occupant. The company was taken over by Palm Dairy in the 1950s, but ice cream continued to be made here until the early 1960s. It currently houses a guitar shop in the heart of bustling Commercial Drive. Each of the original photos show different features of the architecture, so I decided to post both of them.




Added October 13, 2020

666 Kingsway, 1936 and 2020.

The only reason a photo was taken of these two nondescript buildings in 1936 was for a court case.  Some would-be robbers rented the empty store at 662 Kingsway under the guise of growing mushrooms. They were caught digging a tunnel under the dry cleaner with the intention of robbing the Royal Bank next door.


Odd Fellows Hall, 1931 and 2020.

This well-preserved 1904 building overlooking Victory Square has seen many tenants, including Wrigley Directories and the Odd Fellows shown here. Today it’s home to a high-end furniture store.


 Chinese Benevolent Association, 1972 and 2020.

This 1909 building has both architectural and historical significance in the city. The CBA was instrumental in advocating for the rights of Chinese Canadians, who faced severe discrimination in the first half of the 20th century. The building itself set the tone for the Chinatown style of architecture, such as recessed balconies and inscribed parapets, many of which are still visible today.