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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

A Year in Five Minutes: Vancouver 1967

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Pender and Carrall Sts in the 1960s. A transportation plan in 1967 would have seen . Photo by Walter E. Frost. Item # CVA 447-346.Pender and Carrall Sts in the 1960s. A transportation plan in 1967 proposed great changes in this neighbourhood. Photo by Walter E. Frost. Item # CVA 447-346.

1967 was Canada’s centennial, which saw several well-known performers descend on the city. It was also a pivotal year in the fight to save Strathcona from a freeway.

By Chuck Davis, The History of Vancouver
Photos courtesy of Vancouver Archives

Canada celebrated its 100th birthday on July 1, 1967.

A new direction for the city

The October 16, 1967 headline in The Vancouver Sun read: “Chinese seethe over Freeway.”

This was in reference to the anger in the city’s Strathcona neighborhood over plans to run a freeway through the area—many of the residents were Chinese who had lived there for decades. Wrote Taras Grescoe in The Greater Vancouver Book: “A San Francisco-based firm concluded that a waterfront freeway would best be served by levelling 600 houses in Strathcona and laying a ten-metre-high overpass over Carrall Street, in the centre of Chinatown. Immediately, protest came from every part of the city, and a crowd of 800 people gathered in City Hall to shout down the consultants’ proposals. The Chairman of the city’s planning commission resigned on the spot, and a year later, the plan was scrapped. Apparently, the spirited editorializing of the local papers in favor of cutting out civic blight with a concrete knife had influenced no one but a handful of architects.”

John Atkin, author of Strathcona: Vancouver’s First Neighbourhood, has commented: “It was because of its mixture of housing and industry and the fact that it was the entry point to the city for successive waves of immigrants, that the East End name came to have a derogatory meaning. By the 1950s planners had declared it a slum for demolition, despite evidence to the contrary. By 1967, despite protests, fifteen blocks of the neighborhood had already been acquired and cleared for urban redevelopment when the city announced a freeway to downtown.”

But the planners hadn’t counted on Mary Lee Chan. Her story will be told in A Year in Five Minutes: Vancouver 1968.

“Tom Terrific”

Thomas J. Campbell became mayor of Vancouver. He would hold the post to 1972. Writes Donna-Jean McKinnon: “Campbell, ‘Tom Terrific’ to the developers who couldn’t have asked for a better advocate for their interests at city hall, was an East End Vancouver boy turned prosperous. Considered a brash upstart, Campbell’s chronic absence from council didn’t stop him from promoting a freeway through Chinatown and demolition of the Carnegie Centre. He backed the construction of a luxury hotel at the entrance to Stanley Park, but it was rejected by voters. It is for his stance during the so-called Gastown Riot in the summer of 1971 that Campbell is most remembered. The so-called Battle of Maple Tree Square drew more than 1,000 people to Gastown as a protest against the illegality of marijuana. But police on horseback were called in to break it up, arresting 79 and charging 38. A later judicial inquiry criticized the action, characterizing it as a ‘police riot.’”

The Georgia Straight

The first issue of the Georgia Straight appeared May 5, 1967. This radical newspaper (published every two weeks at first) would stir up a great deal of attention in the following months, before the city settled down and accepted it. Here’s an excerpt from a chronology in What The Hell Happened?, a 1997 book on the Straight’s history:

Georgia Straight’s first issue appears May 5 [1967]. It costs a dime. Stories include a local art censorship bust at the Douglas Gallery, a report on the youth movement in Amsterdam, and an article from San Francisco claiming that hard drugs, capitalist head merchants, and corruption of young runaways are serious problems in Haight-Ashbury. The 12-page paper is produced out of Dan McLeod’s $30-per-month apartment at 1666 West 6th and a warehouse studio on Prior Street. On May 12, it moves into its first office at 432 Homer; later that day, Dan McLeod is taken away in a paddy wagon and jailed three hours for ‘investigation of vagrancy.’ College Printers refuses to print the second issue.”

Nancy Greene

On March 26, 1967 skier Nancy Greene won the first ever Women’s World Cup. In doing so she broke the European domination of the sport, and—on this side of the water—was named Canada’s Athlete of the Year.

Lament for Confederation

Chief Dan George of North Vancouver’s Burrard Band moved a crowd of more than 30,000 people to silence on July 4, 1967 with his eloquent “Lament for Confederation” at Empire Stadium.

It began: “How long have I known you, Oh Canada? A hundred years? Yes, a hundred years. And many many seelanum [lunar months] more. And today, when you celebrate your hundred years, Oh Canada, I am sad for all the Indian people throughout the land.”

GVRD/Metro Vancouver

The first meeting of the board of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the GVRD, was held July 12, 1967. Now renamed Metro Vancouver, it’s a voluntary federation of 20 municipalities and two electoral areas that make up the metropolitan area of Greater Vancouver. These communities work together through Metro to deliver essential services, more economically, efficiently and equitably at a regional level. It is one of 27 regional districts in British Columbia and, with well over two million residents, a little more than half the population of the province, is easily the largest.

First McDonald’s

On June 1, 1967 the first McDonald’s restaurant in Canada opened in Richmond at 7120 No. 3 Road. It was take-out only and hamburgers cost 18 cents. Deejay Red Robinson was emcee for the ceremony.

Also in 1967

On January 10, 1967 CP Air inaugurated its Vancouver-San Francisco route.

A big anti-Vietnam War protest was held in Vancouver March 26. On the same day there was a “Super Human Be-In” in Stanley Park.

Vancouver’s millionth convention delegate arrived in April of 1967 during Convention Week. (We’re not sure when they began the count!)

The Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame opened May 17 in the Centennial Community Centre at 6th Avenue and McBride Boulevard in New Westminster.

Queen Juliana of the Netherlands visited Vancouver on May 23, 1967.

The first four notes of O Canada played June 19, 1967 from four huge cast aluminum airhorns atop the BC Hydro Building at Nelson and Burrard. Robert Swanson designed them. Unsuspecting pedestrians could be visibly alarmed when the horns blared out. Today they are atop Canada Place and aimed out over the water. They signal the noon hour.

In June of 1967 Vancouver businessman Harry Con published the first history of Canada written in Chinese.

Not local, but must be reported: Pamela Anderson was born July 1, 1967—Canada’s centennial—in Ladysmith, on Vancouver Island.

The roof began to go up on the Pacific Coliseum July 22, 1967.

On July 30, 1967 Nanaimo mayor Frank Ney’s wacky inspiration bore fruit: the first Nanaimo-to-Vancouver bathtub race was held. 212 powered bathtubs entered.

Sometime in July, 1967 Vancouver writer Chuck Davis wrote, on a scrap of paper, a sudden idea: “should do urban almanac on Vancouver.” That notion would—albeit many years later—lead to the 500-page The Vancouver Book, published in 1976 by J.J. Douglas Ltd., and, in 1997, a sequel, the 912-page The Greater Vancouver Book, published by Linkman Press.

Jack Harman’s statuary group, The Family, was installed July 6 outside the Pacific Press Building at 2250 Granville. The figures were elongated, Harman explained, to lend them a spiritual quality. Controversy arose over the boy in the group: he was naked. That “spiritual quality” didn’t deter the vandal who attempted one night to hacksaw away the boy’s penis. The next day an embarrassed welder insisted on being screened from public view while he repaired the damage using Tungsten-Inert-Gas Welding.

This was a busy time for sculptor Jack Harman. His Bannister-Landy statue was unveiled September 27, 1967 commemorating the famous “Miracle Mile” of the 1954 British Empire Games in Vancouver, when for the first time in one race two men, Roger Bannister and John Landy, ran the mile in under four minutes. Both Bannister and Landy attended the sculpture’s unveiling. Today, the statue is at the main entrance of the Pacific National Exhibition.

A new laboratory and classroom building opened in September at the still young BC Institute of Technology. BCIT had opened October 6, 1964.

An anonymous donation of $100,000 allowed the installation of a pipe organ on November 14 in the recital hall of UBC’s Music Building, part of the Norman Mackenzie Centre for Fine Arts, which would open January 12, 1968.

We got a new arterial route November 22, 1967 when Canada Way was named, its name a tribute to Canada’s centennial. Parts of the new route had been Douglas Road.

CBUF-FM 97.7 signed on December 1, 1967 as BC’s first French-language station.

And, also on December 1, the Powell Street Dugout opened as a day centre for homeless men in the area. See the Province for December 2, 1967: Page 26.

Canada’s largest library for the visually impaired opened at UBC December 12. The Charles Crane Library is named for the first deaf-and-blind person to attend university in Canada. See more on this remarkable guy here.

The Clifford J. Rogers, a freighter built in Montreal in 1955 for the White Pass and Yukon Railway Co. for service between Vancouver and Skagway, and sold to Greek owners in 1966 (who renamed her the Drosia), sank suddenly on December 13 near Bermuda with the loss of eight crew members. She was the world’s first purpose-built container ship.

The Vancouver Museum moved from its musty crowded home at the former Carnegie Library at Main and Hastings to brand new quarters in Vanier Park. Museum officials took the opportunity to create four curatorial departments: Archaeology, Ethnology, History and Natural History. Today, it’s known as the Museum of Vancouver.

Greenpeace, now the world’s largest environmental organization, began in 1967 in a home in the Dunbar area, with a group calling itself the “Don’t Make a Wave Committee.”

Grandview United Church in 1973. Photo by Walter E. Frost. Item # CVA 447-147.Grandview United Church in 1973. Photo by Walter E. Frost. Item # CVA 447-147.

Grandview United Church, at the northwest corner of Victoria and Venables, closed. It had opened in 1909 as a Methodist Church. On October 15, 1973 the Vancouver East Cultural Centre (the “Cultch”) would open there as a venue for music and live stage performances.

The Vancouver Aquarium expanded to three times its original size this year and became the largest public aquarium in Canada, and one of the five largest in North America. Two killer whales, Skana and Hyak, began performing for visitors under Chief Trainer Klaus Michaelis, and would do so for 13 years. See here for more details.

In 1967 James Clavell directed a movie (which he also wrote) titled The Sweet And The Bitter.

Dr. Gordon Shrum was awarded the Order of Canada.

A federal law was passed that, in effect, allowed Chinese immigrants to come to Canada under the same rules that applied to other immigrants.

Fairacres, the Ceperley Mansion at Deer Lake, became home to the Burnaby Art Gallery.

The Smith House, 5030 The Byway in West Vancouver, designed by Erickson/Massey in 1965, won the Massey Medal for Architecture.

The North Vancouver Youth Band, founded in 1939, won five first place trophies at the National Band Competition, an unprecedented achievement.

A chunk of Vancouver on the city’s south slope, overlooking the North Arm of the Fraser River and Richmond’s Lulu Island, was named Sunset by city planners. Fraserview butts up against it on the east, with the northern limit at 41st Avenue. The name Sunset was applied after the naming of the Sunset Nurseries, Sunset Park and Sunset Community Centre at 52nd Avenue.

A gift to Vancouver of Yoshino Cherry trees came from the Japanese city of Yokohama. They beautify Cambie Street between West 41st and 49th Avenues.

The Blue Horizon Hotel went up at 1225 Robson Street.

The Marpole Bridge, a low-level rail bridge over the North Arm of the Fraser River to Lulu Island, built in 1902 was damaged by a barge in 1966. It reopened this year, rebuilt with full main-line capacity, and a longer, hydraulically operated swing span. The bridge is used today by the Southern Railway of B.C.

The Greater Vancouver Regional Hospital District was incorporated. It became responsible for hospital planning and construction in the region.

Diver George Athans in 1936. Item # CVA 371-1505.Diver George Athans in 1936. Item # CVA 371-1505.

Diver George Athans, Sr., who had competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and won silver and gold medals at the 1950 Empire Games, was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

Kanakla, a large handsome 1912 mansion designed by architect Samuel McClure on the UBC campus, and built for lawyer Edward P. Davis and his family, was donated to the university by its 1967 owners, Dr. Cecil and Mrs. Ida Green. Renamed Cecil Green Park House, it became the “town and gown” meeting place for UBC.

UBC’s H.R. MacMillan Building (Forestry and Agriculture) was built this year, and dedicated to forest company executive H.R. MacMillan who contributed more than $12 million to the university. It makes efficient use of space for two small faculties, Forestry and Agriculture, each of which requires a lot of research space. Both Forestry and Agriculture have their own wings for faculty and graduate student offices and labs. They share the centre wing containing classrooms, seminar rooms, a lecture hall and the combined Forestry/Agriculture branch of the library. The building has facilities for 550 undergraduates, 120 graduate students and 46 faculty.

UBC’s “Barn,” built in 1917, was originally used as a classroom for returning World War I soldiers. It later became the horticulture facility for generations of undergraduate students in agriculture. After a long battle to save this heritage building, it was converted this year into a faculty, staff and student cafeteria. While the building’s original cost was just $5,250, the 1967 renovations cost more than $62,000.

John B. MacDonald stepped down as president of UBC (since 1962), and was succeeded by Walter Gage.

Five teaching assistants were fired by Simon Fraser University’s Board of Governors for supporting a student who had criticized a teacher at Templeton High School. The Board recanted when a howl for academic freedom erupted.

An eight-hectare site in the northeast corner of Langara golf course was purchased to provide space for a new campus to replace the crowded King Edward Centre of Vancouver Community (City) College. VCC had been established just two years earlier. Five portable classrooms had been set up on the centre’s playing field and additional offices had been squeezed into its former auditorium.

Ron Meyer of UBC’s Department of Geology wrote his BA thesis on The Evolution of Roads in the Lower Fraser Valley. A version of this, edited by Meyer, appears in The Vancouver Book (1976).

Among publications that debuted in 1967: Dick MacLean’s Greater Vancouver Greeter Guide, a digest-sized listing of clubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas, first appeared. It would undergo various metamorphoses over the years, and eventually become Vancouver magazine. Amphora, a quarterly published by the Alcuin Society, first appeared. It published articles on book art, book collecting, typography, private press publishing and related topics. CGA Magazine, a monthly published in Vancouver by the Certified General Accountants’ Association of Canada, first appeared. It covered accounting matters for Canadian professional accountants and financial executives. Democratic Commitment, a bi-monthly publication of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, first appeared. Education Leader: News and Views on Education, a semi-monthly publication of the British Columbia School Trustees Association, first appeared. It provided information about broad curriculum and policy issues and developments, and the latest trends in education research. Playboard: Professional Stage Magazine, a monthly publication from Arch-Way Publishers Ltd., first appeared. It reports on the local theatre scene. WIDHH News, a quarterly publication for members of the Western Institute for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, first appeared.

Sprinter Harry Jerome won gold in the 100-metre race at the Pan-American Games. He was inducted into the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame this year.

The formal Century Gardens were installed at Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park.

Park and Tilford Gardens in 1972. Item # CVA 1502-1056.Park and Tilford Gardens in 1972. Item # CVA 1502-1056.

Park and Tilford Distillers commissioned the Park and Tilford Gardens, at 333 Brooksbank Avenue in North Vancouver, as a Centennial Year beautification project. This small space has a native woodland garden, a rose garden, a herb collection, an oriental style garden and a greenhouse with tropical plants. During the summer months there is a very good collection of bedding plants. In December the garden is converted to a winter wonderland with more than 50,000 lights strung throughout the trees, shrubs and plants on its 1.2 hectares. Landscape horticulture students from Capilano College learn the practical side of their studies in this garden. They also help with the upkeep of the garden.

Vancouver Art Gallery acting director Doris Shadbolt curated an exhibition titled The Arts of the Raven: 450 Northwest Indian Masterworks Exhibition. Says art writer Tony Robertson, “It brought the gallery international recognition, and general attention to the most important art of the region.”

Tony Emery became director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. He would hold the post for seven years.

The George Cunningham Memorial Sun Dial was created by sculptor Gerhard Class. The bronze and granite memorial, near the foot of Denman Street at English Bay, was commissioned by Cunningham Drug Stores. It commemorates the “Three Greenhorns” who settled in the West End around 1867, as well as the first drugstore built in the area in 1911.

A bronze sculpture, Florentine Door and Wall #3, was created by Frank Perry and installed in the plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse.

Joan Sutherland appeared in the Vancouver Opera Association’s production of Lucia Di Lammermoor.

George Ryga’s powerful play about the abuse of native women, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, with Chief Dan George and Ann Mortifee, electrified Vancouver Playhouse audiences with its strong message.

Wrote Mark Leiren-Young in The Greater Vancouver Book: “The Canadian Centennial celebration of 1967 was a milestone year for entertainment in Vancouver as everybody in the city decided to put on a show. Among the acts that played Vancouver in 1967 were Marilyn Horne, Don Ho, Petula Clark, Danny Kaye, Maureen Forrester, Wayne Newton, Victor Borge, the National Ballet of Canada, the American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the New York Ballet and the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. There were so many international acts visiting Vancouver in 1967 that the Centennial Vancouver Festival was actually criticized for having a ‘mediocre line-up’ when they announced shows including the Mermaid Theatre of London, the Sound of Music starring Dorothy Collins (a Canadian-born U.S. TV star), classical pianist Van Cliburn and the Royal Ballet featuring Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.”

Vancouver’s Talonbooks published its first book. Publisher Karl Siegler says that in the early days of the company staff members met once or twice a month in people’s basements to read and vote on what work to accept for publication. More here.

Writer W.P. Kinsella (William Patrick Kinsella) moved to Victoria this year. He was born in Edmonton in 1935 and raised on a remote Alberta homestead. He now lives in White Rock. He’s most well-known as the author of Shoeless Joe, which became a terrific 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, but he has many more tales to his credit. More here.

The book Along the Way: An Historical Account of Pioneering White Rock and Surrounding District in British Columbia appeared. Author Margaret A. Lang was pleased to see it reprinted in 1970.

New Westminster-born actor Raymond Burr, already famous for his Perry Mason TV series, began a new one: Ironside, as a wheelchair-bound investigator. It would be popular and would last to 1975.

Edward Gilbert Nahanee, longshoreman and Native Brotherhood of B.C. organizer, was awarded the Canada Confederation Medal for his work with native people.

Swimmer and swimming instructor Percy Norman, born March 14, 1904 in New Westminster, was posthumously inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. He was considered Canada’s top swimming and diving coach for many years. Norman coached the 1936 Canadian Olympic and 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games swim teams, winning six medals. He was head coach of the Vancouver Amateur Swim Club at Crystal Pool from 1931 to 1955.

Pearl Steen, women’s activist, whose list of accomplishments in a variety of organizations would fill a few pages, received Vancouver’s Good Citizen Award this year. See more here.

Shipbuilder Clarence Wallace bought the shipbuilding operations of Victoria Machinery Depot.

The Vancouver Sun items columnist Jack Wasserman was fired by the Sun for hosting a show on CJOR radio, but was rehired 18 months later.

Griffiths Gibson Productions began in 1967. By 1972 it would expand and become Griffiths Gibson & Ramsay Productions Limited, and go on to become one of Canada’s leading commercial jingle studios. The principals were Brian Griffiths, Brian Gibson and Miles Ramsay.

Eric Nicol’s play In the Rough, originally produced in 1964 at UBC’s Freddie Wood Theatre, had been so successful the show was revived this year to tour the province as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations.

Austrian-born dancer and choreographer Anna Wyman moved to Vancouver. She will become immensely influential on the local dance scene.

Max Wyman, born in 1939 in England, came to Vancouver. He became a long-serving arts critic for The Vancouver Sun and The Province, and is an expert on dance. His books include The Royal Winnipeg Ballet: The First Forty Years; Dance Canada: An Illustrated History and Evelyn Hart: An Intimate Portrait. (He is also the fastest two-finger typist I have ever seen. It’s an awesome sight!)

Writes movie historian Michael Walsh: Canada’s first made-for-television feature was Waiting For Caroline, directed by Ron Kelly. “Pioneering the movie-of-the-week format, this NFB-CBC co-production offered bi-cultural domestic drama with a story set in both Vancouver and Quebec City.”

The Surrey Arts Centre, a very much more modest structure than it is today, was built at 13750 – 88th Avenue as a Federal Centennial project at a cost of $225,000. In 1981 it will be rebuilt by the municipality and the province at a cost of $2.1 million.


On April 28, 1967 Expo 67 began in Montreal.


Chuck Davis is a Vancouver writer who has written, co-written, or edited 15 books. Most of them are on local history, and he describes his next book, The History of Metropolitan Vancouver, as the capstone of his career.