Past Tense is a blog for bits of history from Vancouver, British Columbia. It was originally housed at http://pasttensevancouver.blogspot.com/.

I don’t always cite my sources, so if you want to know where I got a particular piece of information, just drop me an email and I’ll be happy to share. Most of what you’ll find here comes from primary sources, usually old newspaper articles, but also the City of Vancouver Archives, other repositories, and occasionally things I found online. Once in a while I’ll use secondary sources, such as theses, journal articles, and books. I’m most interested by things that haven’t been covered in published Vancouver histories, are new to me, or otherwise obscure but somehow intriguing.

If you are looking for a more comprehensive chronicle of the city, try Chuck Davis’s History of Metropolitan Vancouver.

Unless otherwise specified, all non-historical photos were taken by me.

Please email me with comments, suggestions, criticisms, or complaints, or if you have interesting stories, photos, etc. from Vancouver’s past you’d like to share.


Lani Russwurm
laniwurm [at] gmail [dot] com

You can also follow Past Tense on Twitter

and on Tumblr.

17 thoughts on “About

  1. Lani, I am a grad student at SFU, also this summer was driving tourists around town on the red trolley buses, so got a first hand look at how Vancouver’s history is presented to them. This is an excellent website; I’ve sent the link to my employers at Vancouver Trolley. I would hope that the Museum of Vancouver would promote your site too. Congratulations.

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  3. Hi Lani,

    Your research and web site is so fabulous. I turn to it often, on a catch-as-catch-can basis – when I come across articles – usually kind of cross-wise, as I don’t know how to navigate your site. do you have any kind of table of contents, so that I see at a glance all your articles, and check out different ones? Or?

    You are such an extraordinary community resources…your research is a beautiful gift..

    All the best,


    PS could you email me this information

  4. Thanks Savannah! For now, there’s the 15 most recent posts listed on the lower left side, and the drop down archives menu on the upper left, though those are by month, not topic or title. The lack of easy navigational tools has sort of bugged me for a while – I’ll try & come up with a solution.

    • I too am interested in anything history-related (& i live in Gastown) & i’m motivated to save what’s left of our city’s history.. I’m especially concerned about the City’s planned ‘redesign’ of Blood Alley in Gastown (a protected heritage area no?), an absolute travesty that you can see on the City’s website linked here: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/blood-alley-square-redesign.aspx
      Let’s stop this vulgar demolition of historic Gastown, somehow!!?

      Ps. I love your store!

  5. As always, when reading a good history of any age, the main themes repeat and it sounds almost as if it could have happened yesterday. Only this is better than a “good history;” the writing is alive, dynamic, and insightful, and every era stands out as unique and precious. Please keep it up, and add to it as much as you can.

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  8. Hi Lani,
    i am a Grad student at SFU working researching the labour movement in Vancouver the 1918-19 period. I really enjoyed your articles “Fighting Labour” about the Beatty Drill Hall and your artilce about the “Lumberman”s Building”on Seymour. Do you have any information tracing anti labour activities in these buildings to the First World War period ir 1918-19 strikes? The Lumberman’s Build was built by Pretty in 1912 so their might be some activities there during this period.
    Brian Latimer
    SFU MA History Canadidate

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