Tag Archives: the city

prohibition and death

vancouver and forgetting

alcohol was prohibited in Vancouver during the 1918 pandemic. a lot of people died during prohibition, at the end of the war, in that pandemic


WAVE AFTER WAVE (Epidemic and Public Health : Influenza in Vancouver, 1918-1919 by Margaret W. Andrews)


health services were already short staffed because many doctors and nurses had gone overseas, to serve in the war.

they couldn’t figure out how people were getting sick − it wasn’t the poor, the old, the weak − they couldn’t figure out how those who became infected were infected. they couldn’t make connections

the majority of deaths were people between 20-39.

it was prohibition and if you wanted to drink, this was the legal route. you needed a prescription. it was rationed, and mild.

"there were long queues for prescription spirits"

it was pandemic safe supply.

otherwise you had no idea what you were drinking but people went to underground bars anyway. i know this; i was in the basement of old gachet on cordova, where there’s a tunnel to the old bar − people could enter it from down the block & around the corner. to not use alone.

to examine documents now, to be historical, is to wonder at how infrequently the pandemic is mentioned. once it was here.

"there was popular reluctance to admit that normal life was being disrupted"

it was understood very differently in in different places. and death rates tell only only a part of the tale. i wonder what it was by neighbourhood

table from Margaret W. Andrews, Epidemic and Public Health, BC Studies 1977

if you can’t get social or physical distance, there’s always the historical option. step back, and look at us.

26.9 in 2020 for the whole province
but overdoses


in the aftertimes people tried to forget it happened as quickly as possible and focused on recovering from the war and even called it Great and repealed prohibition and once again believed that everything was fine and nothing would ever change and the pandemic only lasted three years

and almost 800 people had died in the city, which had a population of 100 000

were they supposed to pretend that never happened? to forget that they ran out of flowers for funerals? they sure tried.

will we? did our deaths or lives ever happen?

Appropriate Futures

hey everybody remember that whole thing with the Balmoral and the Regent

remember that thing with the expropriation

last year 

the expropriation

remember the expropriation of the hotels

before the buildings were SRO hotels

they were hotels

it wasnt that long ago, from a historical perspective.

but their function slowly slowly completely changed 

not imperceptively 

you might notice slow historical change

if you looked close   or from an angle

people dont want to notice, because that would make it real

not like now

(historical change is all up in your face)

anyway those days are over and that is the past now if it seemed and felt normal

normal is done.

we’re not going back to ‘normal’

also, normal sucked.

this is a fast emergency and fast fast change and nobody knows the future.

one more thing.

this is a really small thing that apparently needs to be said.

we’re not going to have mass tourism, cruise ships, events, big festivals and so on

for a really long time. historical-type time.

all that is over. 

yes i am a historian actually.

becoming social housing IS your bailout 

and lifeboat

take it


did you know ‘hotel’ and ‘hospital’ are derived from the same word

and there will be 1-3% of visitors as in the beforetimes and why would they i mean who takes the risk of boarding a plane to look at a pile of corpses and the monuments the survivors built for themselves and then sold to a corporate investor for a 3.4% profit on spec #vanre 


Pigeon Futures

“Based on the agenda of the City of Vancouver’s Urban Design Panel on Wednesday (June 27), the development will have 38 housing units as well as 12 micro dwelling units above commercial spaces on ground level.” Those are the only details about the ‘development’ in the article cited below.


View image on Twitter
Carlito Pablo@carlitopablo

New development proposed at heritage site next to Vancouver’s Pigeon Park https://bit.ly/2KhOlIO 

cw: the thread that will undoubtedly ensue may contain various not-exactly-on-topic freak-outs, references to harsh things, bitter yet nuanced literary allusions, & images i spend too much time making (gifs gifs gifs). Because this is worth it. #ThisIsWhy


This ‘development’, the article does not note, is beside this capital-generating structure, and an important public space. Good thing I checked, because if you read @tlupick‘s article, I am already pissed off about this!

Restaurant patio proposed for Pigeon Park pits developer against activists

A stylish new vision for for a popular Downtown Eastside gathering spot is creating controversy.
I have some facts: “The Applicant, Human Studio Architecture + Urban Design on behalf of the Developer, Millennium Group have applied to the City for permission to restore a 2-storey municipally designated heritage building (McConnell [335 Carrall]), ….
add a 3-storey addition and build a 7-storey infill building on the adjacent lot (333 Carrall).

That was Millenium who is developing this ‘site.’ That’s relevant information

Olympic Village: details emerge of “tax loss” sale – Real Estate | Business in VancouverOverview

As controversy continued to swirl around the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in the leadup to the event’s August 5 opening ceremonies, a divisive legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics remains

But as this history of the old building, the Louvre, beautifully woven  by @PstTnse reveals, this is about much more, and less, this is about settler-vancouver and the #dtes and what it is.

Louvre Hotel 

It’s not fancy, but this is one of my favourite extant heritage buildings in Vancouver, and now it is in danger of coming down due to a demolition next door by developer Millennium
For the Panel’s attention. I am writing with great concern for the future of 323-335 Carrall Street, the McDonnell Building, once the Louvre Hotel, adjacent to Pigeon Park (Pioneer Square). I will not dwell on the elitist inadequacies of the building design overall;
It is an unimaginative offering at best and does not meet the standards of this area’s past, nor I hope, its better future. But this proposal is, frankly, an affront to our collective #history, and an erasure.
This building is contemporaneous with the Great Fire. It is listed as the “Vancouver Tea &Coffee Co.” in 1889, operated by Won Alexander Cumyow. He was the first person of Chinese descent born in “Canada,” and barred by racist laws from becoming a lawyer…
he served as an interpreter, speaking several dialects very well and perfect 19th century Vancouver english. He was the only person known to have voted both before and after disenfranchisement. [below, voting in 1955.]
A little later the building was the Louvre Saloon, and was the place to go. It became the Louvre Hotel because Prohibition.
This is the oldest “ghost sign” in Vancouver. Beds 20c.
But the building’s first occupant, interestingly, was the Vancouver Drug Co. Among its more recent tenants, were the people who opened the unsanctioned safe injection site that led to Insite, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users @VANDUpeople – Canada’s first drug-user org.
And 327 Carrall was the place where WAHRS, the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society was founded. Lives were saved there. Lives are still being saved today because of things that happened there, words that were said.
Now, I am no nostalgic sentimentalist. This building should be cared for, restored, re-opened. But this, I submit to the Panel, is an important historical site, one which has enabled, through community, the growth of a transformative movement that has become national, and beyond.
The idea of VANDU – a politics of Harm Reduction -has changed many lives, beyond an organization, and beyond simple stereotypes of the “drug user”. Bud Osborn wrote poems on the walls and painted over them later. I met him here. This is our history, everyone’s. Vancouver’s.
We must acknowledge this as a part of who we all are. This historical awareness is part of the knowledge that is required, I believe, to end the overdose crisis. To find roots, foundations, when we have none. Together, we were a forest of raised hands that day

And it is Sacred, too – @cultrsaveslives drums there, often. The Survivor’s Totem, raised just 2 years ago, is a spiritual axis for the entire community. We remember our dead there. It is a very important place.

Photos: Hundreds attend Survivors’ Totem Pole procession and raising in the Downtown Eastside

Carved from a 982-year-old red cedar log by Williams and 12 apprentices, the 27-foot pole now stands tall at the corner of Hastings and Carrall, in the centre of Pigeon Park.
It is not a concrete triangle, a blank slate.
It is a history that needs no plaque but is not less real. It pursues us all fiercely
It’s said that History is Written by the Winners. I disagree. I think history is what you choose to work to understand. It’s what you choose to read, or look squarely at, or finally face. It’s a complicated thing: to really understand the past, I think (and I don’t, yet)
one must prepare oneself to be strong and brave and vulnerable enough to face the present too, and be hurt by both.

Right now, we need this building to be much more than is proposed. I urge you to reject this proposal.

(June 26 2018, part of a submission to City of Vancouver Urban Design Panel)