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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

A Year in Five Minutes: Vancouver 1974

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The Credit Foncier Building, photographed in 1974, was designated this year as a Heritage Building. Item # CVA 778-212.The Credit Foncier Building, photographed in 1974, was designated this year as a Heritage Building. Item # CVA 778-212.

In 1974, the Whitecaps hit the field for the first time, important structures were protected as Heritage Buildings and Vancouver finally had its first neighbourhood pub.

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

Knight Street Bridge

On January 15, 1974 the Knight Street Bridge opened. It replaced the Fraser Street Bridge, 1.6 km to the west, which would close February 10. Knight Street became a more distinct dividing point between the western Sunset and eastern Victoria/Fraserview districts after the building of the bridge in 1974. This is now one of the busiest stretches of road in the city, with hundreds of trucks using it daily.

Innovations included the extensive use of semi-lightweight concrete, and electric heating cables in the deck to minimize the use of de-icing salt in the winter. Construction took five years. The cost, including approaches, was about $15 million.

Granville Mall

On January 22 Granville Street north of Nelson closed to automobile traffic for conversion to a pedestrian mall. It would open August 22.


On May 5, 1974 the Vancouver Whitecaps played their first game. They debuted for a crowd of 18,000 people at Empire Stadium against the San Jose Earthquakes, losing 2-1 in a shootout. One of the players was Bobby Lenarduzzi, who had turned 19 four days earlier. He would become one of the best soccer players Canada has ever produced, and would eventually appear in more NASL games than any other player. Born in Vancouver May 1, 1955, Lenarduzzi started playing for Reading Football Club in England at age 16, eventually appearing in 67 Football League games and scoring two goals. He made his International debut for Canada against Poland in Toronto in 1973.

Heritage Buildings

In December Vancouver began a program of designating “Heritage Buildings.” These were structures that, for various reasons (historical, architectural, aesthetic), were protected from demolition or exterior change.

The first 20 buildings so designated, with their location and year of construction, were:

Holy Rosary Cathedral on Richards Street, in 1974. Item # CVA 778-384.Holy Rosary Cathedral on Richards Street, in 1974. Item # CVA 778-384.

1. Hastings Mill Store (1865) 1575 Alma
2. Christ Church Cathedral (1889-95) 690 Burrard
3. St. James Church (1935-37) 303 East Cordova
4. CPR Station (1912-14) 601 West Cordova
5. Gabriola (1901) 1531 Davie
6. National Harbours Board (1905) 50 Dunlevy
7. Court House (1906-13) 800 West Georgia
8. Orpheum Theatre (1927) 884 Granville
9. Shannon (1912-13) 7255 Granville
10. Bank of Commerce (1906-08) 640-698 West Hastings
11. Old Post Office Building (1905-10) 757 West Hastings
12. Credit Foncier Building (1913-14) 850 West Hastings
13. Hycroft (1909) 1489 McRae
14. Heritage Hall (1914) 3102 Main
15. Glen Brae (1910) 1690 Matthews
16. St. Andrew’s Wesley Church (1931-33) 1012 Nelson
17. Sun Tower (1912) 100 West Pender
18. Holy Rosary Cathedral (1899-1900) 646 Richards
19. Aberthau (1909) 4397 West 2nd
20. Hudson Bay Co. Store (1913 & 1926) 640 Granville

Pauline Jewett

Pauline Jewett, 51, became president of Simon Fraser University September 1, 1974, the first female president of a major Canadian university. She would hold that post until October 9, 1978. During her tenure women’s studies, a seniors program, distance education into B.C.’s interior, and an innovative child-care centre were established.

The St. Roch, locked in ice in the Northwest Territories, in 1942. Item # Bo P305.The St. Roch, locked in ice in the Northwest Territories, in 1942. Item # Bo P305.

St. Roch

October 16 was the official opening of the St. Roch National Historic Site. It was 30 years to the day after its return from its historic voyage through the Northwest Passage, and some of the former crew were on hand for the ceremonies. An RCMP vessel, the St. Roch became the centrepiece of a major display in its own building beside Vancouver’s Maritime Museum. The ship is unique because she was the first ship to traverse the Northwest Passage in both directions, and the first ship to circumnavigate North America.

Royal Hudson

BC Rail refurbished its famous 2860 steam engine, known as the Royal Hudson, and placed it in excursion service between North Vancouver and Squamish. The inaugural run was June 21, 1974. Each summer, from mid-May through mid-September, the Royal Hudson hauled 1940s-style passenger coaches, baggage cars and a dining car through some of the most picturesque mountain and ocean scenery in Canada. This popular, historic excursion was enjoyed by as many as 70,000 passengers each season and became a feature of British Columbia’s booming tourism industry. Unfortunately, because of cutbacks at BC Rail, and maintenance required on the locomotive, the excursions have come to an end. The big, beautiful locomotive—restored at a cost of many thousands—is still occasionally pressed into service for chartered excursions.

Asian Centre

Construction began on the Asian Centre at UBC on January 8, 1974. It would not officially open until June 5, 1981. The Centre has an unusual history: a UBC Religious Studies Professor, Shotaro Iida, who had gone to Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan thought the Sanyo Electric Company’s pavilion would make a great Asian Centre for UBC once the fair was over. He asked Sanyo for the donation of the building, and succeeded! The building was donated to the people of the province of British Columbia in honor of B.C.’s Centennial. In addition to the Sanyo Corporation, sponsors for the Asian Centre included the Canadian and Japanese governments, business, industry and private individuals, many from Japan.

Also in 1974

The car insurance provisions of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia came into force on March 1. From this date, all motor vehicles in BC were required to have ICBC insurance. The new corporation got off to a robust start with one million policies.

The Dover Arms, Vancouver’s first neighborhood pub, opened March 8, 1974 in the West End. Legislation had been passed allowing the establishment of pubs, an astonishing example of common sense.

Vancouver City Council voted March 19 to buy the Orpheum Theatre at 884 Granville Street, for use as a new concert hall, after Famous Players had revealed plans to transform the heritage building into a multiplex cinema. The largest theatre in Canada (2,780 seats) when it opened as a vaudeville house called the New Orpheum in 1927 at a cost of $500,000, the Orpheum cost the city $3.9 million and was then renovated for an additional $3.2 million.

Vancouver Leisure Magazine was in dire straits in April of 1974. It had started in 1967 as Dick MacLean’s Greater Vancouver Greeter Guide. MacLean, who was still at the helm, was fired by owner Agency Press, and new editor Malcolm (Mac) Parry hired. The first issue under his guidance featured five by-lines—all of them Parry, in various disguises, including golfer/author Driver T. Niblick. By the second issue, journalist Sean Rossiter had joined Parry and, for the next two years, they produced most of the magazine’s articles. Today, as Vancouver Magazine, it’s thriving.

Vancouver’s Aquatic Centre, built to replace Crystal Pool, was officially opened May 3, 1974. Swimmers would start using it May 6, and the first paying swimmer to use the pool was 18-year-old Jeff Veniot.

In July, Simma Holt, a well-known Vancouver Sun reporter and author, was elected member for Vancouver-Kingsway, becoming the first Jewish woman to serve in the Canadian parliament.

Canadian Pacific ended its ferry service to Seattle September 30.

Arbutus Village Square opened November 12 in Vancouver. Construction had started in 1972. The 30-acre, $20 million complex at 4255 Arbutus, built by Marathon Realty, included 450 housing units, a park and a 30-store shopping centre. The project had a rocky beginning, with its neighbors almost exactly evenly divided over whether they wanted it or not.

In November Harbour Publishing produced a book titled Raincoast Chronicles First Five, a collection by publisher Howard White of the first issues of the magazine Raincoast Chronicles. It was a smash.

Vicki Gabereau, latterly a Vancouver TV talk show personality, ran for mayor of Toronto as a character named Rosie the Clown.

Popular Steve Woodman, “the man of 1,000 voices,” was badly injured when, driving home after appearing on a telethon, his car hit black ice, went over an embankment and rolled out of control. He sustained severe head injuries, was in a coma for a long time, and did not regain his voice. The accident ended an outstanding career in which his voice skills had been called on often. He eventually emerged from the coma, was even able to play a bit of golf, but he never worked again. He died in his sleep March 13, 1990.

CKNW Radio’s Norm Grohmann joined the cast of CBC Radio’s Dr. Bundolo’s Pandemonium Medicine Show, replacing Steve Woodman. Other cast members at this time included Marla Gropper, Bill Buck and Bill Reiter. Bundolo was produced by Don Kowalchuk, written by Jeffrey Groberman and Dan Thatchuk (now known as Colin Yardley) and ran from 1972 to 1980.

Australia-born (September 29, 1930) Richard Bonynge (bonning) took over from Irving Guttman as artistic director of Vancouver Opera. Some of the operas Bonynge would conduct from now until 1978 would feature his wife, the great soprano Joan Sutherland, ‘La Stupenda.’

A huge rock attraction was born when Bachman Turner Overdrive, managed by Bruce Allen, exploded out of Vancouver. Their first LP had been released May 17, 1973, but it was the 1974 release of Not Fragile that made them internationally known. Their biggest hit single, Takin’ Care of Business, is still being heard more than 30 years after it was released.

Advertising agency Griffiths Gibson Ramsay Productions and Western International Broadcasting Co. invested $500,000 to open Little Mountain Studio. Among the celebrated groups that recorded there before the studio’s demise in 1994: Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and AC/DC.

Mushroom Records was founded by brothers Wink and Dick Vogel. An early Mushroom LP, Dreamboat Annie by Heart, sold four million copies. The label would declare bankruptcy in 1980, a year after the death of its vice-president and creative sparkplug, Shelly Siegel.

A young Vancouver lawyer and alderman, Michael Harcourt, criticized Vancouver police for their “Eliot Ness-style raids” on gay bars and bathhouses.

The Red Book first appeared. This was an initiative of the Community Information Service (known today as Information Services Vancouver), and had actually begun back in 1957, when they realized their comprehensive card catalogue of community services in the Lower Mainland would be useful to many other agencies and services. They began to publish it every two years. This year the directory was published in a red, three-ring binder and thus was born The Red Book. In 1977 it would begin to be published annually because of rapid changes in the information. (70 per cent of the listings change each year.) In June 1996 a computerized version would begin. It is used by doctors, lawyers, educators, clergy, human resources staff, emergency services workers and others. More than 5,000 social, community and government agencies and services are in the data base.

Raymond Hull and publisher Gordon Soules and his wife Christine collaborated on “an extensive sociological and economic study” titled Vancouver’s Past. Read more here.

Chief Dan George’s book My Hearts Soars appeared.

Fort Langley lawyer John Cherrington produced his first book Mission On The Fraser.

Five book publishers cooperated to found the Association of Book Publishers of B.C. In 2005, out of more than 50 members, 18 based in the Greater Vancouver area cover every type of book publishing including literary, poetry, educational, scholarly and a full range of trade books.

Several publications debuted in 1974. They include: Canadian Journal of Botany — Revue Canadienne de Botanique A monthly bilingual academic journal on research in botany, published under the auspices of the National Research Council Research Journals. Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering — Revue Canadienne de Genie Civil A bimonthly bilingual academic journal on research in research in civil engineering, published under the auspices of the National Research Council Research Journals. Canadian Journal of Communication A quarterly, issued by Communications, Harbour Centre, Simon Fraser University. It was an academic journal on communications and telecommunications. East Side Revue, a community bi-weekly, distributed free to households in the area, and free at various drop points. Westbridge Art Market Report: The Newsletter for Fine Art Collectors and Investors, a bi-monthly from Westbridge Publications Ltd.

Vancouver Taped Books began. It was a project funded by a federal Local Initiatives Project grant. Now named Audiobooks, another 250 or so titles are added each year to the more than 5,000 released so far. The Library Services Branch signed an agreement in the later 1990s with the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency to record work by well-known Canadian authors, including Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies and Bill Richardson. Nearly 6,000 people throughout British Columbia use the service yearly.

Dr. David Suzuki began as host of CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things. He’s still doing it!

The movie The Wolfpen Principle was released. Written and directed by Jack Darcus, the film tells the story of a holocaust survivor (Vladimir Valenta) who joins a young Coast Salish mystic (Laurence Brown) in a plot to free the wolves in the Stanley Park zoo.

Byron Black’s movie The Holy Assassin was released. “Adding a science-fictional twist to his visual experimentation,” reviewer Michael Walsh wrote, “director Black’s second feature involves a metaphysical criminal from another dimension hiding out in a local hippie commune.”

And, of director Paul Krasny’s film Christina, Walsh wrote: “Planning to make his home here, producer Trevor (Groundstar Conspiracy) Wallace found backers for this mystery romance, a vehicle for Vancouver-born actress Barbara Parkins.”

A big untitled metal sculpture by George Norris (whose more famous Crab fountain is a visual highlight in front of the Museum of Vancouver) was erected in front of the Eaton’s store at Granville and Georgia. In a 1981 guide book, Terry Noble described the piece as “a majestic, glistening, glinting dragonfly, bowing gracefully to all who pass.” It would be removed in 1987 and is currently stored in Surrey’s works yard.

The BC Cancer Institute changed its name to the Cancer Control Agency of BC.

Johnny Carson came to Vancouver to plug his new restaurant chain.

Minneapolis entrepreneur Tom Scallen, owner of the Vancouver Canucks since 1970, found himself in financial and legal trouble, and sold the team for $9 million to Frank Griffith’s Vancouver based telecommunications company, Western Broadcasting.

The Jericho Sailing Centre began operating at Jericho Beach. It’s a non-profit, self-supporting association, under the aegis of the city Parks Board. They call themselves “Vancouver’s Ocean Access Community Centre.” Completely land-based, the centre has 3,000 members, 13 affiliated clubs, four schools, and is a site for thousands of launchings of kayaks, canoes, sailboards and sailboats. A unique affiliate is the Disabled Sailing Association whose members take to the water in specially modified boats. Read more here.

Point Atkinson Lighthouse in the 1940s. Item # Out N140.Point Atkinson Lighthouse in the 1940s. Item # Out N140.

The original, bellows-operated diaphone foghorn at the Point Atkinson Lighthouse in West Vancouver was replaced by diesel-powered airchimes, the sound of which carried eight to 16 kilometres. It came to be called “Old Wahoo,” and there would be unhappiness in 1996 when it was in turn replaced by a solar-powered electronic signal rated for two miles—“like replacing an oboe with a penny whistle,” said one old salt. The lighthouse was designated a National Historic Site this year.

Pacific Princess, famous as TV’s ‘Love Boat,’ and her sister ship Island Princess began sailing out of Vancouver’s harbor in the Alaska cruise trade. They would carry on in that trade until 1991. They “starred” in the series, which ran on ABC-TV from 1977 to 1986. The 20,000-ton vessels, owned by P&O’s Princess Cruises, were built in Germany.

In May, 1985 the series began using the 45,000-ton Royal Princess of the English Princess Cruise Lines as the regular ship on the series.

B.C. Ferries bought a ferry for $13.8 million and named it the Queen of Surrey. She would be retired after just two years, but then put on the Queen Charlotte run in 1980. More than $10 million was spent refurbishing her to serve as the Queen of the North. Under that name, the ship—with 99 passengers and crew aboard—would sink after hitting a rock about 135 kilometres south of Prince Rupert on March 22, 2006. All aboard were rescued.

Construction began on Robson Square in the 800 block Robson Street. Architectural historian Harold Kalman has written: “This extensive complex combines the glass-roofed Law Courts, defined by the distinctive bold shape of its steel space frame, with landscaped public spaces (Cornelia Hahn Oberlander and Raoul Robillard, landscape architects) that invite public activity on several levels, inside and out. The rightist Social Credit provincial government of the early 1970s was determined to build an aggressive 55-storey office tower here. The New Democratic Party government that won the 1973 election dismissed the proposed big-business image by changing architects and architectural programmes, laying the tower on its side, and producing a low, multi-block courthouse that is symbolically and physically more accessible—so accessible that we can walk on it! All this shows how architecture can provide a powerful political symbol.”

The North Vancouver Civic Centre, at 121 West 14th Street, opened. The Centre housed the city’s municipal hall and library. Designer was Barry Downs of Downs Archambault. “Most of the site,” writes Harold Kalman, “is given over to park space, leaving the buildings so understated—perhaps a reflection of the talented architect’s modesty—that some visitors have trouble finding them.”

The handsome old terra cotta Birks Building, at the southeast corner of Granville and Georgia since 1912, was demolished. This generated the most anger and sadness for a lost building since the 1967 demolition of the Pantages Theatre at 20 West Hastings Street.

The Bentall III office building at 595 Burrard was built. With 32 storeys, it stands 122 metres high.

John R. Fisk ended his term as Vancouver’s Chief Constable (he had begun in 1968) and was succeeded by Donald R. Winterton, who would serve as the city’s top cop to 1981.

Mary Pack, arthritis campaigner, 69, was awarded the Order of Canada. The “angel of mobility” had devoted her life to arthritis and rheumatism care and research.

Violet Pooley Sweeny, golfer, was inducted posthumously into the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

The Greater Vancouver Housing Corporation was incorporated. Their web site says: “As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the GVRD, the Greater Vancouver Housing Corporation (GVHC) functions as a non-profit organization, managing more than 3,600 rental units and providing affordable housing for a mix of income levels.”

Greek Day, an annual celebration by Vancouver’s Greek community began. It would happen—largely centered on West Broadway between MacDonald and Waterloo—every year until 1988, when it would be replaced by two smaller events, a Greek Summer Festival at St. Nicholas-Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church on Boundary Road in East Vancouver and a similar event at the Hellenic Community Centre in Kerrisdale.

NITEP (the Native Indian Teacher Education Program) began at UBC in 1974. Seven students graduated in 1985 and the program admitted its first Masters students in 1986.

Vancouver City College became Vancouver Community College when it separated from the Vancouver School Board in 1974.


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.