BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

The Official Heritage Fairs Student Site

It’s Heritage Fair Season! — April 27, 2016

It’s Heritage Fair Season!

Alumni, prepare yourselves for this month’s challenge: TO GET INVOLVED!

From helping with activities, workshops or set-up to T-shirt design, adjudicating, and even co-coordination(!) Alumni around the province are getting involved with their Regional Fairs and demonstrating excellent leadership in the Heritage Fairs community.

Many of the province’s Fairs are also open to visitors, so check out what’s happening in your Region! Even so much as visiting and chatting with a few student-participants will complete this month’s assignment.

Here is a list of upcoming Fairs in BC:

Okanagan April 27th– 28th Laurel Packinghouse
Fraser Valley April 28th-29th The Reach Gallery Museum
Delta-Surrey April 29th-30th Harris Barn
Sea to Sky April 29th-30th Brennan Park Rec. Centre
Northern April 29th Hudson’s Hope School
South Island May 6th Royal BC Museum
Rivers to Sea May 6th-7th Burnaby Village Museum
North Island May 6th-7th Alberni Valley Museum
Richmond May 6th-7th Minoru Cultural Centre
Northwest May 8th North Pacific Cannery
Kamloops-Thompson May 12th-13th Henry Grube Education Centre
Central May 13th Prince George Civic Centre
Vancouver May 18th & 21st
Killarney Secondary School
Use That Adrenaline Rush! — April 21, 2016

Use That Adrenaline Rush!

Wow! It’s that time of year again. When six thousand students from across the province will face the climax after months of hard work, research, and preparation. Yep, I do indeed refer to the upcoming Regional Heritage Fairs. With the Heritage Fair comes fun activities, excursions, opportunities to #throwback, but also interviews with adjudicators. You may be winded up with nerves jamming your muscular mobility, or tumbling through fluttering butterflies, or not experiencing any of the above at all.

All of us experience some degree of anxiety before any big or small event. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve felt your roller-coaster of emotions before my own Heritage Fair interview. In order to help make your presentation experience as smooth as can be, I have enlisted several techniques (yes, they actually work) in a video clip. You can access my video at this link:

Vedanshi’s Video

I really hope that those tips help! Remember, you’ve done your best, just watch the rest!

Author: Vedanshi

World Heritage Day 2016 – Celebrating Sport! — April 18, 2016

World Heritage Day 2016 – Celebrating Sport!

April 18th is International Day for Heritage Monuments and Sites, also familiarly known as World Heritage Day!

ICOMOS, the International Council for Monuments and Sites first proposed the celebration at the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1983. The goal of World Heritage Day is to celebrate the diversity of the world’s history and heritage, and raise public awareness of the efforts to protect and conserve it.

This year’s theme is “The Heritage of Sport”! In celebration, enjoy a few photos (courtesy of the Vancouver Archives) of some historic sports teams who played in our province.

St. George’s high school rowing team, 1938


women's hocket.jpg
The original Vancouver ladies’ hockey team, 1914
Hudson’s Bay Company cricket team, 1917
The Musqueam Nation lacrosse team, 1930
The Vancouver Post Office’s golf team, 1931
prov. girls.jpg
Provincial high school girls basketball team, 1933
japanese rugby.jpg
Japanese rugby team (playing a tournament in BC), 1930 
tug of war
The Connaught’s 1912 tug of war team (military)
The Commodore girls bowling team, 1931
The Chinese Students’ Athletic Association’s soccer team, 1926

Do you practice or play a sport? Why is it important to you? Or what (or whom) do you think is important to the history of sport in Canada? Share it today using the hashtags #worldheritageday and #heritagefair on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Old Homes: Our Culture, Our Heritage, Our History — April 16, 2016

Old Homes: Our Culture, Our Heritage, Our History

In the last year, the city of Vancouver has issued permits for the demolition of 974 single-family dwellings, many of which were built in the early 1900s. These houses represent the craftsmanship and architectural genius seen in Vancouver over the last century, and they hold more than just the long-lost secrets of past builders. They are ready-made museums, living documentation of our heritage that we can explore first-hand. Heritage homes are excerpts from lives that even our grandparents are too young to remember, and with their architecture they retain culture and historical beauty we could never see anywhere else.

Click here to watch Emily’s Deconstructing Heritage” Video

Concerned by the rising numbers of demolished heritage houses (and after seeing the BCHFS alumni coordinator’s occasional Facebook posts about heritage houses), myself and a few of my friends decided to do a short documentary on Vancouver’s oldest homes and why these buildings are so important to our heritage. We interviewed two of Vancouver’s most passionate heritage advocates: Caroline Adderson and Richard Keate. In 2013, Caroline started a heritage-themed Facebook page where she posted pictures and updates about heritage homes, schools, and buildings that were currently being demolished. Eventually, the Facebook page evolved into Vancouver Vanishes, a beautiful coffee table book featuring all of the homes she had posted about, and more. Richard is involved in all sorts of heritage preservation campaigns around Vancouver including the Vancouver Heritage Commission, and he was an enthusiastic supporter behind the move to classify the First Shaughnessy neighbourhood as a heritage conservation area. This area is home to 316 heritage homes, all built in the early twentieth century during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, a train track that runs along the outskirts of the Shaughnessy neighbourhood. From 2005-2014, over two-hundred buildings in the Shaughnessy area were demolished and rebuilt as modern houses.

To really gain an understanding of the importance of these homes to Vancouver’s culture, we asked Caroline and Richard what makes the houses so integral to our city. “[These houses] were repositories of narrative,” Caroline says. “I look at one of these houses and I don’t really see the architecture. I see the lives lived in the house, and the people who made the house.” She tells us the story of her own home, a heritage house that she moved into not too long ago. Upon exploring the house, she discovered old relics in the basement, old wallpaper under layers of paint, and eventually, she was able to track the owners through the years and unravel the stories of how the house came to be.

Coming from a more architectural background, Richard has a slightly different answer. He talks about techniques that builders used in the past to ensure houses would last for years to come. “Our houses respond to our region; we’re a rain forest, unlike any other part of Canada.” Houses used to be built perfectly for rainy Vancouver weather, strategically placing overhanging roofs above windows to protect them from the rain. Richard laments over the way houses are currently constructed, protected only by thin tarps as workers brave the stormy weather to finish building as fast as possible.

His point is only further emphasized by Caroline. “We don’t have old-growth wood anymore,” she says, referring to a type of wood that comes from forests that have never been logged. There are very few old-growth forests left, but the reason old Vancouver homes are so rugged is due to the abundance of old-growth wood in the early 1900s from our successful logging industry. Because old-growth wood is no longer an option, houses are made using sheets of plywood, which are not nearly as resilient.

Old Vancouver homes reflect our culture, our heritage, and our history, none of which are things that can be properly done justice in photos or even videos of the houses. When these houses are torn down, the stories and struggles that the previous owners experienced are demolished with them. “If we eliminate them all, we end up with a housing form that can never retain narrative,” said Caroline, and she’s absolutely right. In one Vancouver heritage home, the windows are decorated with detailed stained glass depictions of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. Richard reminisces about childhood homes that had grandiose brick chimneys, dumbwaiters for butlers, and ornate hand-stenciled floral decor.

If we don’t start taking major action now, we could be sacrificing everything that makes Vancouver the beautiful, culturally diverse place it is today. In the same way that a book isn’t a story until it’s filled with words, a house is not a home until it’s been filled with the experiences, stories, and lives of past owners. More than just an area to eat and sleep, our houses are places where we work, create, love, cry, celebrate, and grow up, and heritage homes commemorate decades upon decades of past owners doing exactly that. Although it could be argued that modern houses will eventually have the same stories and could then technically be called the heritage houses of the future, there is still no substitute for the rich culture and craftsmanship seen in today’s heritage homes. Says Caroline, “We are throwing out the silverware, and filling the drawers with plastic forks.”


Author: Emily

Annoucement: 2016 BC Provincial Heritage Fair — April 15, 2016

Annoucement: 2016 BC Provincial Heritage Fair

The BCHFS is excited to announce that the 2016 Provincial Heritage Fair will be held in Vancouver! The Fair will take place at the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia from July 4th through 8th. Students and chaperones will be accommodated in university residences while taking advantage of the beautiful natural environment, local cultural sites, and Vancouver’s vast array learning opportunities at venues on- and off-campus. It promises to be a superb Fair!

Photo source: UBC
Oral History: A Personal Connection — April 8, 2016

Oral History: A Personal Connection

Experiences and stories (gathered by conversations and interviews) from people about what they have lived through, is oral history. If you are fortunate to have contact with an elder, they can tell you about “the good ol’ days” or their memories from “way back when”. If you do have contacts that can tell you about their experiences related to your project or topic, I encourage you to gather this invaluable first person experience.

“In the presence of grandparent and grandchild, past and future merge in the present.”

– Margaret Mead –

Conducting an interview to acquire oral history may be intimidating. Cold calling (emailing, calling and talking to someone out of the blue) especially to people you don’t know can be the most difficult part of the interview process. From my experience, emailing is the easiest way of contacting a person that you don’t know. However if this person does not have a public email address, contacting them may be more difficult. If you know that the person is going to be in town for a public event or gathering, you can ask them in person! This can be quick, just introduce yourself, explain you are doing a school project or personal research and ask for an interview. If they say yes, ask them when they are free and you can continue from there, but also prepare yourself for a no. They may not be comfortable with an interview or not want their personal experiences to be shared publicly. Whether the initial contact is in person or by email, you should introduce yourself, your project and topic, and politely ask for an interview.

Obtaining consent is very important. Make sure you ask them beforehand for their permission to use audio or any video recording devices. Personally, audio recording is easier than taking notes.

Remember to prepare questions before you ask for an interview. It’s good to have your questions in mind before asking for an interview as they may have time to conduct an interview at that very moment. So be prepared. If the interview is face-to-face, choose a location that is fairly quiet. Even sharing a meal and having a casual conversation can be relaxing and can release those jitterbugs. Remember to be casual and relax.

After the interview is finished, it is a good idea to compile your notes, audio recordings or video clips into a polished and finished product. Incorporating these interviews into your project can be very simple.

Last but not least, Have Fun! Talking to someone that you usually wouldn’t have a chance to, is a great and rewarding experience. Take this opportunity to value and recognize their opinion. Enjoy the moment! Be appreciative of their time, and be grateful that they are sharing their personal experiences with you.


Author: Abrielle

All Fools’ Day — April 1, 2016

All Fools’ Day

All Fools’ Day falls on the first day of April.  Today, we more commonly know this day as “April Fools’ Day”.  Now, just like many holidays, April Fools’ Day has it’s own unique traditions that many people across the country continue to take part in.

April Fools’ Day is celebrated by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes, then exclaiming “April Fools” once the joke or hoax has worked.  Thus, the victims of the humour have become the April Fools themselves.

Here is an example of an old April Fools’ joke from 1954.  This is a picture of City Hall in Calgary from 1954, however it appears that the top is in the process of being completely removed!  So, as you can imagine, this stirred up quite a bit of confusion and shock when, on April Fools’ in 1954, Jim Parker waltzed into City Hall and offered this image for publication.  It involved everyone rushing onto the street to have a look for themselves, only to realize that they were the April Fools.

Gita pic1
Image source: Calgary Herald, 1954

This is another example of an April Fools’ prank from 1979.  This photo was published in the ‘Toronto Star’ newspaper on the front page.  It features King Kong hanging from the top of the CN Tower, which, at the time, was in the process of being completed.  Further, the newspaper claimed that Carmen Nigro, who played King Kong in the 1933 film was inside the costume atop the CN Tower as well!

Gita pic2
Image source: Toronto Star, 1979

Finally, here is a humorous and interesting example of a more recent April Fools’ joke.  This is an image from April Fools’ Day 2011, which happened to fall during a federal election.  Reporters tracking NDP Leader, Jack Layton, knew Mr. Layton could take a joke, so were planning to give him just that.  CBC’s Rosemary Barton cut up paper moustaches, in reference to Mr. Layton’s own moustache, and distributed them to journalists, before a news conference with Mr. Layton himself.  In this image, you can see the journalists struggling to keep straight faces while questioning the NDP Leader.

gita pic3
Image courtesy of Canada.com, 2012.

While April Fools’ Day is well known, its exact origins are unknown.  The most plausible explanation we have so far relates to the movement of New Year’s Day.  Ancient cultures had originally celebrated New Year’s Day on April 1st, as it soon followed the vernal equinox.  So, when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the Gregorian Calendar to replace the old Julian Calendar, New Year’s Day made the jump from April 1st to January 1st.  However, those who were unaware of the change, or refused to accept it, continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1st.  Thus, other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something else false.  In the end, the practice had eventually spread throughout Europe, and to North America today.


Author: Gita