By Adrian Sinclair
Ballot Box, City of Vancouver (1902). Wooden, Cedar. openMOV. H971.259.1
In 2013, Elections BC has taken a few notable steps to make voting more accessible. They have partnered with non-partisan organizations like Vancouver Design Nerds, Get Your Vote On, Rock The Vote, , and Bike To Vote to make educational resources available online and on the street for a new generation of voters.
The evolution of who has been able to access the voting process is quite the read. In 1918, Canadian women were enfranchised to vote in federal elections (except in Quebec, where women were enfranchised in 1940).
Suffrage Blotter, (1917). Rectangular, White Blotter. openMOV. H994.30.9
Historically, many other groups have been excluded from accessing the right to vote. In 1993 persons with diagnosed mental disabilities were given the right to vote for the first time. In 1970 the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 and ten years before that in 1960, First Nations living on reserve were given the right to vote for the first time. There remains further work to be done in order to ensure the vote be fully accessible. Of concern are Young voters (18-35) who have the lowest turn out among registered voters.
Of course it’s not only the non-partisan institutions that have an interest in making the vote as broadly accessible as possible. A quick look through the MOV’s online collections database openMOV, yields an interesting attempt by a political candidate to get the youth vote out during the 50’s. This faux pep pill containing Teresa Galloway’s political platform on a mini-scroll of paper, was handed out to notify voters that “our city hall needs a tonic … A woman of action can supply pep and vigor.”
Theresa Galloway Election Campaign Capsule, (1955). Plastic, Paper, Ink. openMOV.
Elections BC’s efforts to ensure fair and accessible elections that represent the political will of the electorate is a work in progress. Here at the MOV, we are also constantly working on how to make our collections more accessible in order to provoke, engage, and animate Vancouverites around our shared material and cultural history.
After exploring our online collection political artifacts, reading up on the candidates (of past and present), get out there and vote today!
Engage with the political life of your city and province!
Art Speak. Vancouver artists like Roy Arden and Ken Lum are voicing their support for the movement of the Vancouver Art Gallery to a new location near the current Queen Elizabeth Theatre. As this Georgia Straight piece explains, "In early March, Vancouver city council will consider something different: whether to allow the Vancouver Art Gallery to develop a new $300-million gallery on the old bus-depot site, a city-owned parking lot known as Larwill Park, just east of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre complex. It would replace cramped, inappropriate exhibition spaces in an adapted courthouse." Artist support for the move comes amidst opposition from the likes of Bob Rennie (who would like to see VAG's collection split between multiple new locations) and those dubious of the VAG's ability to fundraise the $300 million required to build the new gallery.
Race Riot. As The Tyee points out, last week marked the 126th anniversary of Vancouver's very first race riot. Tracing the beginnings of an incident that saw white males run Chinese labourers out of the city, the article also delves into the long-term implications of the riot. As interviewee David H.T. Wong explains, although the extreme xenophobia of Vancouver's early years has dissipated, there is still conspicuously little Asian representation at events like the commemoration of the CPR's Last Spike.
March 7 - Special Curator Talk & Tour: A Clandestine History of Contraception
March 10, 17, 24 - Design Sundays: Upcycled Urbanism
When Tobias Wong released “This is a Lamp” – a Phillip Stark bubble chair installed with a light bulb and a pull chord – it was considered his breakout moment. It was the beginning of his acquirement of nick names like “Bad Boy” and “Enfant terrible of the design world.” He was showing what he did best – taking every day objects and twisting them to create a point of conversation.
Looking at it, I always wonder who got to sit in that chair. Would I sit in it, if it were in my house? Or would I put it on display. I dug into openMOV to see what Vancouver chairs we have in our collection, and who was sitting in them.
This cute almost wicker style chair was owned by Frances Barkley, the first European woman to view the coast of what would later be called British Columbia. She came while on a three-year honeymoon with her husband, Captain Charles William Barkley. The chair was made in Malacca between 1750 and 1775.
Then there is, of course, this lovely summery chair that was owned by Joe Fortes, the English Bay beach lifeguard and swimming instructor. He enjoyed the ocean view from his cottage at English Bay c. 1900-1920 while sitting in this chair, which he found at the cottage when he moved in.
And for the orderly and rigid Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, a more stiff chair. Begbie was the first Chief Justice of British Columbia, starting in 1858. Some say the orderliness and lack of crime during the gold rush in BC were probably due to Begbie’s rigid, but fair, enforcement of the law.
For this week's installment of MOVments we set out to keep things light, offering some "fun facts" to keep you entertained during the last wee bit of summer. However, as with most MOVments, we got a little serious in spite of ourselves. Read on for the latest on playing in Vancouver (for a good cause), strolling around the city (and the problems that go along with it), and the story of our very own Vancouver Town Fool (who, it turns out, had a pretty serious mission).
(Not Just) Playing Around. Some of us MOVers have had a chance to make it out the PNE this summer and as always, it's a guaranteed sensory overload experience. But if you can slow down and take a little break from eating deep-fried oreos,Canfor's Playhouse Challenge is well worth checking out. Each of the seven playhouses on display uses local forest products and is designed by a renowned architectural firm. Kids are encouraged to interact and engage with the playful designs (think beehive shapes and pirate ships) before they're auctioned off at the beginning of September to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.
Vancouver on Its Feet. Frommer's travel website calls Vancouver one of the most walkable cities in the world, noting Stanley Park, False Creek, and Granville Island as particularly idyllic areas to meander through. However, as Carl Funk argues in his recent report entitled “Walkability of transit-oriented development: Evaluating the pedestrian environment of Metro Vancouver’s Regional City Centres” there are definitely things we could be doing better in the pedestrian-accessibility department. As Nathan Pachal summarizes on the Civic Surrey blog, more could be done to widen sidewalks, create segregated bike paths, add connecting streets, and install street furniture at transit hubs like Metrotown and Surrey City Centre.
Foolish City. And finally, this week The Dependent (by way of the The Tyee) brings us the fascinating story of Joachim Foikis, who, upon receiving Canada Council funding, became Vancouver's "Town Fool" in 1968. Playing with the traditions from Medieval Europe and other cultures, Foikis, dressed in a jester's costume and proceeded to publicly poke fun at social norms and governmental institutions at the time. As The Dependent's Jesse Donaldson describes, "For three years -- starting with his "coming out" at the city's 1967 Canadian Centennial Celebrations (where he was threatened with a knife by a sailor who thought he was a communist) -- he played the Fool, promoting discussion, drawing ire, and promulgating joy, before vanishing just as abruptly as he'd appeared." Despite his playfulness, Foikis' intentions were serious; by making fun of the "rat race" and concepts of social status, he forced observers to re-examine their own civic expectations and assumptions. Great piece, seriously worth a read.
At the MOVeum:
September 13 - Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers | Design Challenge Winners Panel
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong
September 20 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution, Retold
[Image: Joachim Foikis as the Town Fool. Courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library]
This week, we're engaging with some of the current debates and controversies taking place in Vancouver. From the Olympic Village neighbourhood, to the Vancouver Art Gallery's big move, to the the Marpole Midden, we're lending our ears to some of the city's most passionate voices for a provocative installment of MOVments.
False Creek Comes into Its Own. After years of controversy around the Olympic Village development, the False Creek neighbourhood finally seems to be thriving. As the Globe and Mail reports amenities like an Urban Fare grocery store, a new restaurant with a sizable patio, and the Creekside Community Centre are drawing visitors to the area in droves. Observers have taken note of the suddenness with which this all seemed to happen. UBC architecture professor Patrick Condon describes the phenomenon with a tipping point analogy: “It’s very common to urban areas that suddenly people say, ‘Hey. Let’s go there. That was fun the last time.’ Until that tipping point, people might go there, and say, ‘This isn’t very much fun. There’s not many people here. I don’t think I’ll go back.’”
The 'Pretty Face' Debate. But there are some who would see developments like the Olympic Village as just another testament to Vancouver's tendency to abandon the old, for the new and shiny. Local writer and ranter, Sean Orr for one, thinks that Vancouver is more concerned with its pretty facades than building substantial and meaningful cultural and historical connections. And he seems pretty angry about it. Read his interview with the Westender for an alternative tour of Vancouver that reveals some of the problems related to our constant need for reinvention.
100+ Days of Musqueam Protest. The National Historic Site known as the Marpole Midden is still under threat of development after more than one hundred days of occupation and protest by the Musqueam First Nation. Although the ancient burial ground and village was federally designated as a Historic Site in 1933, the midden on Southwest Marine Drive is on privately owned land. Condominium development had been in the works for a while when it was halted in January after the discovery of human remains. Celia Brauer of the False Creek Watershed Society passionately called for the resolution of the conflict in last week's Georgia Straight. She says, "The Provincial government has the power to overcome the “private property” issue. Future generations are watching. In 2012 swapping Cusnaum [village site] for a less important piece of land and giving a small piece of this Heritage Site back to the Musqueam is the right thing to do."
The VAG's Big Move. This week the Globe and Mail reports on the fascinating machinations behind the Vancouver Art Gallery's proposed move from the provincial courthouse building downtown to a new, yet to be decided, location. Real estate marketer and art collector Bob Rennie and VAG director Kathleen Bartels are two of the most influential and outspoken people in the Vancouver art scene so it's hardly surprising that both have strong opinions about the future of the city's artistic landscape. Notably, Rennie is suggesting splitting the VAG's collections between multiple new locations that would be spread out through the city. Bartels, on the other hand, is firmly in favour of a single new facility which she believes would be better suited to the visitor experience. Whatever the outcome, we are excitedly waiting to see how the discussion develops.
Online Voting. And finally, in slightly less controversial news, BC is considering implementing online voting for municipal and provincial elections. In fact, we think we can quite uncontroversially say: that would be very convenient.
At the MOVeum:
August 16 - Volunteer Information Session
September 20 - Opening Day - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong
#OccupyVancouver. While protests on Wall Street continue, actions are spreading around North America and a demonstration is planned for Vancouver on October 15. While there's little indication that it has the potential of becoming violent, it seems to have the Vancouver Business Improvement Association worried.
The movement has Vancouver roots, though some at the General Assembly at W2 on the 8th felt that given the colonial history of Canada, "occupy" is an inapproriate term for the event.
Digitization. The Vancouver Archives describes some of the work and new challenges they're facing in storing digital content.
Building Vancouver has been posting some really fascinating material lately about the people who were involved with building many of Vancouver's historical buildings. It's worth a look.
SOLEfood. A scrapyard on Hastings Street may be the location of the second SOLEfood Farm in the Downtown Eastside. The farm is run by United We Can and provides seasonal employment for residents in the Downtown East Side.
Big debut. The Vancouver Police Department inaugurated their new twitter accountwith a marathon session of tweeting every call they received in a 24 hour period. It just so happened that this allowed them to tweet about the lockdown at Gladstone Secondary but they say that they will likely only be using it for traffic and safety announcements in the future.
Hastings Park. The plan for the renovation of Hastings Park unveiled last week has come under fire from the local community for increasing the size of the PNE and the number of tradeshows hosted in the park.
Internet billing. City Council is voting tomorrow on a motion to oppose the CRTC’s approval of usage-based billing for internet service. The CRTC decision will likely result in increased costs for users, making access to information more difficult for those who can’t afford it. Council has no ability to change the decision but they want to raise the profile of the issue.
Powering the city. Scout Magazine takes a walking tour of electrical substations around Vancouver.
Red army. In the early 1930s the unemployed took to the streets of Vancouver and had their concerns largely ignored. Past Tense has a bit of interesting history about the political unrest at the time and the rise of the Communist Party in Vancouver.
Image source: Dan Toulgoet, The Courier