This is a collection of videos related to Vancouver’s history gathered from around the net. If you know of any others you think might belong here, please let me know by emailing laniwurm[at]gmail[dot]com. More will be added as I find them.
First Film of Vancouver (1907)
CBC has posted a video of the earliest film shot in Hollywood North. In 1907, Seattleite William Harbeck bolted his hand-crank camera to the front of a streetcar and filmed along Granville, Hastings, Carrall, Cordova, Cambie, and Robson streets. Very little is recognizable to the 21st century Vancouverite. Robson is entirely residential, for example, and 1907 landmarks like the old CPR station at the foot of Granville are long gone. This is what the city looked like when the Asiatic Exclusion League mob rampaged through Chinatown and Japantown later that year. Try and spot the only car in the video (although getting around looks familiarly perilous).
The Vancouver Historical Society has produced a DVD version entitled City Reflections, which includes a 2007 film of the same route taken by Harbeck, and is available for $20.
Harbeck made a similar video of Victoria. His final film gig didn’t turn out so well. In 1912, Harbeck was hired to document life aboard the maiden voyage of an impressive new ocean liner, the Titanic.
For more info, see Chuck Davis’s history site
Port of Vancouver history
Here’s a cheesy promo video for the Port of Vancouver, but made using an early 1920s Harbour Commissioners film with some great historical footage.
Footage of creepy giant toys parading down West Hastings Street and Santa Claus during Spencer’s Department Store’s 1927 Christmas parade. From the City of Vancouver Archives, Item # MI-32. Several other local historical films can be found on CVA’s website.
Victoria and Vancouver: Gateways to Canada (1936)
The Asahi Baseball Story
In the years before the Japanese were interned during WWII, the Asahi baseball team was legendary well beyond their home turf on the Powell Street Grounds in Japantown. Clicking the image below will take you to the NFB website, where you can watch Sleeping Tigers: The Asahi Baseball Story (50 min 47 sec), an excellent documentary with some great historical footage.
Click to watch Sleeping Tigers on the NFB website
Vancouver Streetcars (1950)
Skid Row (1956)
Renowned Canadian filmmaker Allan King, a pioneer of cinema verite, made his first documentary in 1956 for the CBC. Skid Row follows 3 alcoholic men living in what is today the Downtown Eastside.
Dealing with Drug Addiction (1959)
Here’s a 20-minute documentary clip that aired on CBC’s Close-Up on 13 May 1959. It features reporter Jack Webster looking into the issue of drug addiction in Vancouver and includes interviews with an addict, a druggist, a coroner, and a drug squad detective. The drug issue was in the news after three young men died from heroin overdoses. Addicts in the 1950s were subjected to more vigorous enforcement of drug laws than anytime since, yet the police themselves felt their efforts were futile against the drug menace. In this clip, Detective Al Shepard echoes a defeatist proposal made earlier in the decade by Chief Constable Walter Mulligan that addicts should be segregated from society, maybe on some island. Until then, it’s “just the same thing, day in and day out” for the drug squad.
NFB documentary on early LSD experimentation in Canada.
To Build a Better City (1964)
1964 NFB propaganda film for the CMHC to promote “slum clearance” in Vancouver. The strategy might seem unenlightened today, but notice that the government was actually building social housing.
City Lights (1964)
Kodachrome footage of Granville Street neon. From the City of Vancouver Archives’ youtube channel.
Jimi Hendrix interview (1968)
Terry David Mulligan interviews Jimi Hendrix, who touches on his connections to Vancouver. From the CBC.
Nora Hendrix interview (1970)
Interview with Vancouver resident Nora Hendrix following the death of her grandson, Jimi. The segment opens with a comment from music journalist Jack Batten and continues with Jack Webster interviewing Jimi’s grandmother, Nora.
Archival footage of Vancouver Yippies invading the USA in protest of the Vietnam War on 9 May 1970 at Blaine, Washington. Promo for a play produced by Theatre in the Raw and written by Bob Sarti, scheduled for Spring 2011.
Rolling Stones, “Street Fighting Man” (1972)
The Rolling Stones performing Street Fighting Man at the Pacific Coliseum, 3 June 1972
Whistling Smith (1975)
National Film Board documentary on Sgt. Bernie Smith, beat cop on the notorious 100 and 200 blocks of East Hastings in Vancouver.
Click image to watch Whistling Smith on NFB's website.