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The Women of Opening Doors in Vancouver's East End: Strathcona

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writer Daphne Marlatt and artist Carole Itter moved separately into the Strathcona neighbourhood in 1975 when it was a much more diverse working class neighbourhood, one that had actively saved itself from demolition for "urban renewal." Getting to know their neighbours and local shop owners, they soon realized the depth of history in their new neighbourhood and that there were many stories to be told by long time residents. In 1977, they started tape recording many of their elders under the auspices of the Aural History program of the B.C. Archives. Two years later, they were still meeting and recording the memories of people in their 70's, 80's and 90's.

At the Vancouver Archives on September 12th, Daphne and Carole plan to recreate their original interview setting. Daphne explains, “Carole and I plan to interview one another in a set-up that imitates the one we used for our interviews all those years ago.... a small table [with] teacups, teapot, a cassette recorder & a glass with a mic in it... . We plan to ask each other questions that will elicit anecdotes about the women we met as well as brief summaries of some of their stories.”

Their book, Opening Doors: Vancouver's East End, was first published in 1979 and then republished in 2011 by Harbour Publishing as Opening Doors in Vancouver's East End: Strathcona. This was thirty seven years ago and now both Daphne and Carole are elders living in the same neighbourhood. Kindly offering to accompany Daphne and Carole that evening will be the historian, James Johnstone who has a special interest in Vancouver and this neighbourhood.

Daphne Marlatt is an award-winning poet, dramatist, and novelist. Her poetry titles include Salvage, Steveston, and most recently Liquidities: Vancouver Poems Then and Now. Her novels include Ana Historic and Taken. A novelistic long poem The Given received the 2009 Dorothy Livesay Award. Last year she was awarded the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.

Carole Itter is a Vancouver artist who has lived in Strathcona neighbourhood for over three decades. She has worked in various media including film, video, assemblage, performance, collage and photography. Her work is in the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Belkin Gallery, U.B.C. and the Vancouver Public Library.

James Johnstone is an East End based house history researcher, neighbourhood historian, heritage activist, blogger and neighbourhood History Walk guide who has researched the social histories of over 900 houses in Vancouver. His blogs on Vancouver heritage and Italy are followed by people in over 70 countries around the world. Trip advisor ranks his History Walks 13th of 119 Things To Do in Vancouver.

This Herstory Cafe special event is held at the City of Vancouver Archives, 1150 Chestnut St (Vanier Park) in partnership with the Friends of the City of Vancouver Archives and the City of Vancouver Archives.