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Canada 150, Vancouverites, History, Photos, Events, Life

Canada 150: Vancouver Then and Now (PHOTOS)

Canada 150, Vancouverites, History, Photos, Events, Life

Canada 150: Vancouver Then and Now (PHOTOS)

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Guest Author Jul 01, 2017 9:44 am 1,197

Story by Andrew Farris, Founder and CEO of the On This Spot historical then-and-now photo app.


The On This Spot app offers you a guided tour of historic photo spots in your area and allows you to create your own then-and-now photo mash-ups as you walk around.

We launched the app in Vancouver last summer, with 11 walking tours examining different themes in the city’s history.

And in time for Canada 150, we are adding in 200 more then-and-now photo opportunities.

Celebrate Canada 150 by discovering Vancouver’s history and creating your own then-and-now photos! Share them on Instagram with the #onthisspot hashtag.

Canada Day in 1889

Ships in Vancouver's harbour celebrating Dominion Day (Canada Day) in 1889 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

Ships in Vancouver’s harbour celebrating Dominion Day (Canada Day) in 1889 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

The picture above shows ships in Vancouver’s harbour celebrating Dominion Day (Canada Day). The poem below by Pauline Johnson embodies the spirit of the time: bold, optimistic, British.

How else can one explain Wilfrid Laurier, the francophone Prime Minister featured on our $5 bill, saying, “When Britain is at war, Canada is at war. There is no distinction.” We forget today, but our concept of Canadian-ness has evolved dramatically over the past century.

We first saw light in Canada, the land beloved of God;
We are the pulse of Canada, its marrow and its blood;
And we, the men of Canada, can face the world and brag
That we were born in Canada beneath the British flag.

Few of us have the blood of kings, few are of courtly birth,
But few are vagabonds or rogues of doubtful name and worth;
And all have one credential that entitles us to brag—
That we were born in Canada beneath the British flag.

We’ve yet to make our money, we’ve yet to make our fame
But we have gold and glory in our clean colonial name;
And every man’s a millionaire if only he can brag
That he was born in Canada beneath the British flag.

No title and no coronet is half so proudly worn
As that which we inherited as men Canadian born.
We count no man so noble as the one who makes the brag
That he was born in Canada beneath the British flag.

The Dutch may have their Holland, the Spaniard have his Spain
The Yankee to the south of us must south of us remain;
For not a man dare lift a hand against the men who brag
That they were born in Canada beneath the British flag.

– Pauline Johnson, 1911

Chaythoos in 1890

A view of the North Shore Mountains from 'Chaythoos' in Stanley Park in 1890 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

A view of the North Shore Mountains from ‘Chaythoos’ in Stanley Park in 1890 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

A view of the North Shore Mountains from ‘Chaythoos’ in Stanley Park. This was one of the historic locations of a First Nations village, and means ‘High Bank’ in Squamish.

Hastings Street in 1896

Hastings Street in the 1890s (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

Hastings Street in the 1890s (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

Hastings Street in the 1890s is quite quiet, with some pedestrians and a single horse-drawn cart travelling up the road. The Victorian-style building at right houses S. Blackson Tobacconist.

Klondike Outfitters in 1898

A crowd in front of Johnston and Kerfoot's Klondike Outfitters to see a mule train equipped for the journey to the gold fields in 1898 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

A crowd in front of Johnston and Kerfoot’s Klondike Outfitters to see a mule train equipped for the journey to the gold fields in 1898 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

A huge crowd has assembled in front of Johnston and Kerfoot’s Klondike Outfitters to see a mule train equipped for the arduous journey to the gold fields.

As tens of thousands of American prospectors made their way north, the prohibitive customs duties on bringing supplies across the border meant that most stopped in Vancouver to kit out.

As a result the gold rush was a huge economic boon for Vancouver and marked the start of Vancouver’s most dizzying expansion which would last until 1913.

Cordova Street in 1901

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall ride down Cordova Street in 1901 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall ride down Cordova Street in 1901 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall ride down Cordova Street, passing under an arch created by two ladders. Mounted on the ladders, in addition to flags and a coat of arms, are a number of firefighters.

Georgia Street in 1938

A military parade down Georgia Street in 1938 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

A military parade down Georgia Street in 1938 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

A military parade down Georgia Street. The troops are clearly American.

The idea of American military units parading through a Canadian city will seem odd to us today, but there were frequently visiting American units in Vancouver in this time period.

They would often take part in parades that happened to be occurring at the time, and a military component to the parades would not have raised eyebrows in the 20th century, when society was far more militarized.

Sunset in the 1930s

Two ships pass each other at the entrance to Vancouver harbour in the 1930s (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

Two ships pass each other at the entrance to Vancouver harbour in the 1930s (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

Two ships pass each other at the entrance to Vancouver harbour in this rather moody shot from the 1930s.

Rollerskates in 1940

Three smiling girls take a break from roller skating at the Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain in 1940 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

Three smiling girls take a break from roller skating at the Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain in 1940 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

Three smiling girls take a break from roller skating in Stanley Park at the Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain. Notice how their skates are simply a platform and wheels tied on to their normal shoes.

Celebrating the end of war in 1945

A uniformed man and woman beam as they celebrate Victory in Europe Day in 1945 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot0

A uniformed man and woman beam as they celebrate Victory in Europe Day in 1945 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot0

A uniformed man and women beam as they hold up a copy of the Vancouver Daily Province which is celebrating Victory in Europe Day as Germany surrenders. Vancouver Archives.

Coming home from war in 1945

The Seaforth Highlanders march past the Hotel Georgia to celebrate the end of the Second World War in 1945 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

The Seaforth Highlanders march past the Hotel Georgia to celebrate the end of the Second World War in 1945 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

The Seaforth Highlanders march past a reviewing stand in front of the Hotel Georgia to celebrate their return from Europe at the end of the Second World War.

Granville Street in 1967

A busy Granville strip and so-called Theatre Row in 1967 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

A busy Granville strip and so-called Theatre Row in 1967 (Vancouver Archives/On This Spot)

A busy Granville strip and so-called Theatre Row. Standing at the same spot today, you’ll see how little has changed in the last 60 years, save the makes of the cars and the fashion choices of the pedestrians.


The On This Spot app offers you a guided tour of historic photo spots in your area and allows you to create your own then-and-now photo mash-ups as you walk around.

On This Spot is expanding across Canada and partnering with universities to create coops for history majors who want to help write walking tours for the app.

If you are a history major interested in working with On This Spot, get in touch at [email protected]

To download the app for Android or iPhone, for more info or to contact Andrew, check here:


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