The historical archaeology of a young city

Although in my opinion historical archaeology should examine and record the past that began yesterday, and which indeed is already as inaccessible and mysterious as the neolithic, Vancouver's past had mostly been handled by historians, with archaeologists concentrating on the indiginous peoples who were so rudely displaced when colonisers arrived only 140 years ago.

It may seem that we already know most of what happened since the first invaders settled on the shores of the Fraser River, and yet much of the last 150 years has vanished for ever beneath a young and rapidly-expanding city. Little remains, for example, of the British Columbia Electric Railway system that existed for only some 60 years but which, by establishing "streetcar suburbs," created the east/west shape of the modern city.

The streetcar suburbs of Vancouver

The history of Vancouver's BCER streetcars has been well recorded, expecially by Ewert (1986). My interest is however the way communities were influenced, instigated and intertwined with the streetcar newtork as it expanded, thrived and declined. I hope to survey extant evidence for the existence of streetcar suburbs, as well as documentary and cultural material pertaining to these areas.


Ewert, H. 1986. The story of the B.C. Electric Railway Company. North Vancouver: Whitecap Books.