A brisk chronicle of Vancouver, BC, from early days to its emergence as a global metropolis, refracted through the events, characters and communities that have shaped the city.
In Becoming Vancouver award-winning historian Daniel Francis follows the evolution of the city from early habitation by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, to the area's settlement as a mill town, to the flourishing speakeasies and brothels during the 1920s, to the years of poverty and protest during the 1930s followed by the long wartime and postwar boom, to the city's current status as real-estate investment choice of the global super-rich. Tracing decades of transformation, immigration and economic development, Francis examines the events and characters that have defined the city's geography, economy and politics.
Francis enlivens his text with rich characterizations of the people who shaped Vancouver: determined Chief Joe Capilano, who in 1906 took a delegation to England to appeal directly to King Edward VII for better treatment of Indigenous peoples; brilliant and successful Won Alexander Cumyow, the first recorded person of Chinese descent born in Canada; L.D. Taylor, irrepressible ex-Chicagoan who still holds the record as the city's longest-serving mayor; and tireless activist Helena Gutteridge, suffragist and Vancouver's first woman councillor.
Vancouver has been called a city without a history, partly because of its youth but also because of the way it seems to change so quickly. Newcomers to the city, arriving by the thousands every year, find few physical reminders of what was before, making a new history like Becoming Vancouver long overdue.