Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History

In 2010, Aussie transplant/Vancouver blogger Eve Lazarus launched a website that covered Vancouver’s heritage. Little did she know that 10 years down the road, she’d turn those entertaining blog posts into a book.

Birks funeral; Angus McIntyre photo
[Birks funeral; Angus McIntyre photo]

Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History celebrates Vancouver’s wild and weird history through its own unique architecture, buried houses, events, neighbourhoods and citizens.

The lovely soft-bound coffee table book feature six areas of the city best known for its eccentricities, starting with the heart of downtown, Granville and West Georgia. Eve does an admirable job of peeling back the layers of Vancouver’s history to reveal layers of surprises along the way.

David Rowland with Woodward's Figurines
[DTES David Rowland with Woodward’s Figurines; photo courtesy of David Rowland]

You’ll discover how East Hastings Street evolved from the “Great White Way” to what we see today. The beloved Woodward’s department store’s Christmas window displays, English Bay Pier, ghost signs on buildings west of Main Street, even Canada’s oldest nudist camp are all covered in this fascinating read.

Wally Wooldridge's wrecked car
[DT Movie Projectionist escapes bomb (Wally Wooldridge’s wrecked car); photo courtesy Vancouver Archives 199-4144, January 22,1932]

For example, I’d be surprised if you knew that in 1932, 38-year-old movie projectionist Wally Woolridge got into his car outside the Colonial Theatre at Granville and Dunsmuir, turned on his lights and was hurled 20 feet into the air through the roof of his car (I didn’t think so). Clearly you had to be pretty brave to see a movie here in the 1930’s!

As I’ve only lived in Vancouver for 15 years, I had no idea that a mock funeral was held for the Birks Building in March 1974. The group of mourners gathered under the store’s iconic 6.5-meter (over 20-foot) tall clock, where for decades Vancouverites would utter the famous line, “Meet you at the Birks clock”.

Colonial Theatre
[Colonial Theatre (1899-1969); photo courtesy Vancouver Archives 1135-46, 1957]

I just love the vintage photos sprinkled throughout the book (many sourced from city archives) that help paint a vibrant picture of Vancouver’s yesteryear.

1.49 Day
[$1.49 Day; Doug Todd photo, courtesy of Province]

And the sheer variety of content will keep you entertained long after you’re through reading and marvelling at our city’s past!

Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History is short-listed for this year’s Bill Duthie Booksellers Choice Prize (BC and Yukon Book Prizes).

Eve Lazarus

Eve has penned numerous books, including Cold Case Vancouver: The City’s Most Baffling Unsolved Mysteries (2015), Sensational Vancouver (2014), Sensational Victoria (2012), Murder by Milkshake: An Astonishing True Story of Adultery, Arsenic, and a Charismatic Killer (2018) and others.

Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History is an ideal book for history buffs, Vancouverites and out-of-towners alike. You can pick it up online via Arsenal Pulp Press, Indigo Books as well as select bookstores; CAD $32.95

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