Vancouver is known for many things; rain, hipsters, the Canucks. But, and arguably its greatest, lesser known symbol is the Vancouver Special home. Primarily built for working class immigrant families from 1965-1985 these houses stand as a testament to Vancouver’s constantly changing demographic.

Their unique, arguably ugly architecture is characterized as a box like structure. The house’s signature look includes balconies across the front of the house, brick or stone finishes around the bottom and stucco siding on the top floors. Made to suit the rapidly growing population, they were easily and quickly constructed but typically poorly made.

“Vancouver Specials 01” by Jason V 2005-09-07. Licensed under CC by 2.0 via Commons.

Like the disintegrating stucco ceilings, and peeling laminate floors being quickly replaced with modern fixtures and stone tiles, these houses are being gentrified to serve the younger generation and demographic moving in. Although their trademark qualities are quickly being replaced, they still stand as a symbol of Vancouver’s resilience.


Author: Teagan (Lifetime resident of several Vancouver Specials)