This Week in History: the fascinating history of the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver


The B.C. Archives Strathcona Project is a series of oral histories from residents of Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood in 1977 and 1978.

So where was Strathcona?  Kate Heikkila, an archivist at the Royal B.C. Museum, answers that question.

“It was right near several different rail lines” says Heikkila.  “The CPR rail line, Union Station, and the very industrial area of False Creek bordered [the neighbourhood] as well, so it was a very working class neighbourhood well up until the 1980’s, when Expo sort of took over that area. For almost 100 years it was very working class, and it was very diverse, with Jewish, Black, Irish, Italian, and many different communities living in that area.”

Heikkila explains that in 1977, “two researchers went out into the neighbourhood of Strathcona in the East Side of Vancouver, and interviewed long-time residents of the area. This is a time in the history of the Royal B.C. Museum and Archives when we had a large sound and moving-image department, and so there was a push to capture these voices – these words of people that were living in certain neighbourhoods, on different topics, in different regions of the province.

“It’s really special to have these people’s voices recorded, and it can be really powerful for researchers” Heikkila adds.

The B.C. Archives is currently digitizing these oral histories, to ensure they are preserved for future generations.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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