Made in Vancouver: Did You Know?


1967 This magazine is born! Its first incarnation-as the memorably named Dick MacLean’s Greater Vancouver Greeter Guide-lasts only a few years before it’s rechristened first as Vancouver Leisure Magazine, then to its current form.

1968 On Labour Day, CHAN-TV (now BCTV) airs the world’s first 60-minute TV news program. That first episode includes, among other stories, a broadcast from the Alexandra Park bandstand in English Bay of the weigh-in of the Sun fishing derby. The show is conceived by renowned station president Ray Peters and produced by Alan Clapp (see 1976).

1969 The Don’t Make a Wave Committee is founded. The group’s first environmental action sends a ship to Alaska to bear witness to U.S. nuclear testing. It’s better known in recent times-and around the world-as Greenpeace. 1969 Legend has it the Peter Principle (the notion that people are inevitably promoted beyond their competence) is hatched in the lobby of the Metro Theatre when Laurence Peter (a UBC English prof) and Raymond Hull (full-time author) complain about the show during intermission. Their book of the same name becomes a New York Times bestseller and the plot engine for most modern sitcoms.

1973 The next time you rage at the labyrinthine tangle that is the West End, regain your calm with this thought. For years, drivers used its perilously narrow streets as a shortcut to the Lions Gate Bridge. When Art Phillips’s TEAM council sweeps the 1973 election, he adopts the notion of barricading streets west of Denman. So is introduced the first traffic-calming of its kind in North America.

1975 The province establishes Whistler as Canada’s first “resort municipality.” The designation is intended to help the developing resort address growth free of the traditional municipal framework. Communities from Sun Peaks to Tofino now share the description.

1976 The U.N. holds its inaugural Human Settlements Programme, Habitat, here, concluding that “The improvement of the quality of life of human beings is the first and most important objective of every human settlement policy.” This is Vancouver’s first turn on the world stage (Expo is a decade off, the Olympics a generation away), and while bigwigs are mulling policy downtown, Habitat Forum, a grassroots conference run by Alan Clapp (who died earlier this year), attracts luminaries like Mother Teresa and Buckminster Fuller to Jericho Beach.

1978 The Destroyed Room, a large-scale “cinematographic photograph,” 1.6 metres by 2.3 metres, helps establish Jeff Wall and, more broadly, the Vancouver School, highly recognizable, internationally celebrated, with work by Roy Arden, Ken Lum, Stan Douglas, and Rodney Graham.

1979 David Suzuki, a UBC geneticist and part-time broadcaster, hosts his first episode of CBC documentary show The Nature of Things. Through graspable science and human profiles, Suzuki sounds the first mainstream call for a perceptual shift in our relationship with nature. That education continues.

1980 Vancouver’s Lois Wilson becomes the first woman named moderator of the United Church of Canada. (She’ll go on to be a senator under Jean Chrétien.) Three decades later, the church again breaks a barrier, electing Vancouver’s Gary Paterson, the first openly gay person to take church leadership.

1982 A local teen good with computers starts a company called Distinctive Software, a gaming firm that gains fame for its racing and sports titles for Commodore 64 and DOS. (Remember, it’s 1982.) The firm morphs over time into Electronic Arts Canada, owned by one of the world’s leading entertainment software companies. Don Mattrick, that visionary teen, moves on to Microsoft to oversee Xbox, then switches this year to Zynga, which sees a 15 percent jump in share value with the news. Continue reading…


1989 A little North Vancouver firm called Arc’teryx (named for the oldest known bird, the Archaeopteryx) obtains a licence from W.L. Gore to adapt that company’s breathable, waterproof fabric for outerwear, popularizing the Gore-Tex jacket and inventing Vancouver “fashion.”

1991 “They are better educated than those before them, but the jobs are mundane. They are excellent conversationalists, but no one wants to listen to them. They have taste, but those in the power positions have German cars.” So began “Generation X,” a feature in the September 1987 issue of this magazine written by staffer Douglas Coupland, whose St. Martin’s Press book of that name, published this year, brands a generation and, simultaneously, its prodigiously creative composer.

1992 Bill Rees, a professor at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning, publishes an academic paper in the journal Environment and Urbanization. In only a few years its core concept-the “carbon footprint,” a calculator allowing us to visualize how much land and water a given population needs to support its chosen lifestyle-reaches ubiquity, redefining our understanding of our choices and our degree of self-interest.

1994 In the market for a bong? Perhaps you’re looking for a novelty gift: a grow book, say, or some marijuana seeds? Head on down to Hemp BC, opened this year by Marc Emery. It’s not even his first act of disobedience. (Before moving here, he clashed with police by being open on a Sunday and by selling banned copies of 2 Live Crew’s As Nasty As They Wanna Be.) His ongoing, defiant activism to legalize marijuana makes him our first sociopolitical pot advocate and international martyr.

1996 At a time when one person dies from AIDS every day in British Columbia, St. Paul’s researcher and physician Julio Montaner performs a miracle. This summer, patients in the five trial countries stop dying. The city adopts his triple drug therapy (the AZT cocktail) and within a year, the death rate drops by more than 85 percent. He has fired the magic bullet.

1998 Yoga goes truly mainstream. Through clever design, well-placed logos, and (possibly) the innovative use of seaweed, Chip Wilson’s Lululemon definitively addresses the question, Does my butt look good in these sweatpants? Yes. Yes, it does.

2002 Treating uncontrollable blinking, local ophthalmologist Jean Carruthers uses a dilute solution of botulinum toxin. An injection helps manage the condition, but even better, it smooths away troublesome, unattractive frown lines. Jean and dermatologist husband Alastair quickly realize they’re on to a game changer, though it will take 15 years for the FDA to approve the cosmetic use of Botox. Jean says she hasn’t frowned since 1987, though she does make one misstep that would furrow most brows: she never secures the patent.

2003 North America’s first legal safe-injection site opens. Over years of mixed reception from area businesses and sustained attacks from Ottawa, it shelters users as they inject two million doses (suffering 1,400 overdoses but not a single death).

2009 HootSuite, a spinoff of Invoke Media, proves it’s possible to make money off Twitter. CEO Ryan Holmes says he’s steering his social media dashboard toward a billion-dollar valuation while keeping profits local. A recent round of funding nets the company $165 million in venture capital-suggesting he’s on the right track.

2013 It’s our superstar moment. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, commander of the International Space Station, rules the Twitterverse even before his orbiting cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” nets 18 million views and counting. That guitar he’s playing? A locally built Larrivée Parlor, using B.C. sitka (the wood used in most guitar sound boards around the world). Continue reading…

Did You Know?


How Hip-Hop Mushroomed 
The Incredible Bongo Band was one of hundreds of bands to record at West Sixth’s Mushroom Studios. Instrumental funk single “Apache” has been sampled countless times, including in this song.



He Chutes, He Scores 
In 1980 accountant Geoff Chutter left his job to open a waterpark in Penticton. Today, his Richmond-based WhiteWater employs 500 or so and is the biggest park designer and builder in the world.



The Birth of the Universe
When physicists confirmed the Higgs boson in 2012, it was with substantial aid from local consortium TRIUMF. On a roll, the UBC-based facility is now busy isolating antimatter and medical isotopes. 



Supersize Me 
Your next Big Mac attack, take the time to trek out to 7120 No. 3 Rd., Richmond. The modest location, opened in 1967, was Canada’s first Golden Arches. It was takeout-only, and burgers cost 18 cents.