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Urban change and the literary imaginary in Vancouver Joseph, Maia 2011

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URBAN CHANGE AND THE LITERARY IMAGINARY IN VANCOUVER  by Maia Joseph B.A. (Hons.), University of Victoria, 2001 M.A., University of British Columbia, 2004  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (English) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  October 2011 © Maia Joseph, 2011  Abstract In this dissertation, I examine literary responses to socioeconomic and spatial change in Vancouver, Canada—a city that has undergone recurrent, rapid, and intensive restructuring over the course of its history. Vancouver has received a significant amount of attention from urban studies scholars, and is home to a well-respected local planning culture. A vibrant, diverse, and critically engaged literary community has also long thrived in the city, with many authors writing about major issues related to Vancouver’s transformation, including population displacement, socioeconomic polarization, the increasing commodification of urbanity, and the mediation of cultural trauma. Despite this engagement with key urban issues, literary texts are often ignored or given only cursory treatment in the broader scholarly and popular conversation about the city. Form, style, and epistemological difference all make literary texts difficult to integrate into this conversation. They are, however, carriers of a certain kind of knowledge—subjective, experiential, affective, interactive, often reflexive—that deserves more widespread attention because it expands and complicates our understanding of what the city is and might be. I propose and enact an approach to reading urban fiction and poetry that privileges the space of the literary while still also attending to the ways in which literary texts, and the authors who produce them, are wrapped up in processes of socioeconomic and spatial change. I focus especially on what literary texts themselves have to say about the contexts informing their production, foregrounding and investigating the heightened self-consciousness of particular pieces of Vancouver-based writing. I argue that these  ii  texts not only enrich and diversify the local urban imaginary, but also encourage a reconceptualization of the role of writers and other cultural workers in the city.  iii  Preface An earlier version of Chapter Three has been published: Joseph, Maia. “The Afterlife of the City: Reconsidering Urban Poetic Practice.” Studies in Canadian Literature 34.2 (2009): 152-77. Print.  iv  Table of Contents Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv Table of Contents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v List of Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viii Dedication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 “Recurrent Restructuring” in Vancouver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Creativity and Cultural Work in the City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Conceptualizing the Space of the Literary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Through a Regional Lens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 “Me Too!” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Chapter One: Historical Overview of Urban Change in Vancouver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Early Boom Years: Speculation, Impermanence, Displacement . . . . . . . . . . . . Vancouver after Mid Century: Rethinking and Redeveloping the Central City . . . . From Expo ’86 to the 2010 Winter Olympics: The Rise of the Neoliberal City . . . .  40 41 47 56  Chapter Two: Writing at the Edges of the Dream City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Theorizing the “Edge City” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Community in the Intertidal Zone: Malcolm Lowry’s “The Forest Path to the Spring” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Interrogating Settlement: Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 Urban Displacement, Grassroots Resistance: Jane Rule’s The Young in One Another’s Arms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125 Chapter Three: Reconsidering Urban Poetic Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140 Cultivating Urbanity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143 Poetry and Complicity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Remembering Bohemia: George Bowering’s “The Great Grandchildren of Bill Bissett’s Mice” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153 The Afterlife of the City: Lisa Robertson’s Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166 Rooted Responsibility: Meredith Quartermain’s Vancouver Walking . . . . . . . . . . . 180 Affected Advocacy: The Poetry of Bud Osborn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 v  Chapter Four: Producing, Consuming, and Mediating Culture in the City . . . . . . . . . . “Creative Virtue”?: Timothy Taylor’s Stanley Park . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The “Blocked Potentials” of Cultural Work: Nancy Lee’s Dead Girls . . . . . . . . . . “Built for Transformation”: Lee Maracle’s “Goodbye, Snauq” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  216 221 252 273  Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 288 “Retro-Speculation” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 295 Works Cited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301  vi  List of Figures Figure 1. Fred Wah, image set from “Me Too!,” 2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Figure 2. Harry T. Devine, Real Estate Office in Big Tree, 1886 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Figure 3. Louis Denison Taylor, City Hall & 1st Council, 1886 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Figure 4. Lindsay Brown, Who Killed Habitat?, 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Figure 5. Impromptu public art (detail), Hudson’s Bay Company, 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 Figure 6. Impromptu public art, Hudson’s Bay Company, 2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150  vii  Acknowledgements I owe a debt of gratitude to the many people who supported me during my work on this dissertation. First, I wish to thank the members of my exceptional supervisory committee. I had the great fortune to be supervised by Professor Laurie Ricou, who mentored me with patience and good humour through two graduate degrees. Along the way, he shared his wide-ranging knowledge of BC writing, showed me to how be an attentive and creative reader of “region,” encouraged me to take risks as a scholar, and reminded me to look and listen, always, for the understory. Professor Eva-Marie Kröller kept passing along reading recommendations and ideas to pursue, pushing me to expand the scope of my thinking. I am grateful for the active interest she took in my work, and for her exemplary scholarship, which significantly enriched my project. Professor Laura Moss’s intellectual energy and critical generosity were truly inspiring. She seemed to know exactly when to challenge me, and modeled the combination of interrogative and appreciative reading that I hope to bring to my own students’ writing. Professor Tom Hutton gave me an enthusiastic welcome when, in the early stages of my doctoral studies, I decided to explore the world of urban planning. His graduate seminar changed the direction of my dissertation, and I am fortunate that he was willing to continue sharing his deep knowledge of his field as a member of my committee. I am also indebted, in no small measure, to a long list of other UBC faculty members who have offered invaluable guidance and support over the years. Their thoughtful feedback and warm encouragement have been integral to my development as a researcher and teacher. The very fine staff in the Department of English were always willing to help and advise, and made administrative tasks in the office a sincere pleasure.  viii  I also wish to thank Professors Susan Huntley, Judith Mitchell, and Evelyn Cobley at the University of Victoria for their guidance early in my academic career, and for providing me with such a solid foundation in literary studies. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada provided crucial funding for my project in the form of a Canada Graduate Scholarship. I am grateful for this support, and hope that Canadian readers, writers, scholars, policy makers, and city dwellers find my research of value. With her infectious enthusiasm and keen insight, my dear friend Sarah Banting has been an ideal companion in the study of Vancouver and its writers. Kit Dobson, Monika Cwiartka, Travis Mason, Lisa Szabo-Jones, and Katja Thieme have been indefatigable supporters who have inspired me with their own scholarly and creative projects. My lovely friends Laura Duke, Lisa Halowaty, Aubrey Hanson, Isla Reynolds, Matt Brown, Alyssa MacLean, Tyson Stolte, Jeff Strain, Ian Bullock, Rachel Knudsen, and Dave Routliffe all cheered me on over the course of this project. The collegial community of graduate students in the Department of English made my time at UBC thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding. Louise provided daily companionship and many moments of joyful distraction. I am lucky to have had my wonderfully supportive parents, Marilyn WalachJoseph and David Joseph, and sisters, Chani Joseph and Chalys Joseph, so close by while researching and writing this dissertation. They have each encouraged me to consider community and city building from different perspectives: through education, through volunteerism, through urban planning, and through engineering. Our lively and  ix  sometimes agonistic dinner-table conversations make me a better thinker, researcher, and citizen. Finally, my husband, Jerry Ziak, moved to Vancouver to share his life with me, and has, during his time in the city, inspired me by making connections with many energetic people and building his own rich community. I am thankful for his enduring support and ever-deepening love.  x  Dedication For all those who have shared their experiences of Vancouver with me in the street and on the page.  xi  Introduction who knows if I’ll be around when they come to chop my pear tree down to build another condominium magpie! magpie! swayin’ on a high silverbranch! will you caw me— if you catch a glimpse of the axeman comin’ down our alley cause i’ve got a petition signed by all the neighbourhood children who haven’t had a chance to skin their knees let alone laugh and sneeze up inside its thatched corridors and there’s a young couple i know who want to build their first nest in its forkt-branches magpie! magpie! will you be my unpaid informer ? my unimpeachable i ? - Roy Kiyooka, untitled poem, Pear Tree Pomes In the late fall of 2009, poet Oana Avasilichioaei, then writer-in-residence at UBC’s Green College, hosted a reading and discussion called Vancouver: The Imagined and the Prospected. The event featured Lee Henderson, Sachiko Murakami, and Roger Farr, three writers who had, like Avasilichioaei herself, used their literary work as a space to explore and respond to social and spatial change in the city of Vancouver. In the flyer for the event, Avasilichioaei observed that “[f]or many writers, Vancouver has and continues to be an active part of their imagination; a city in process, constantly being constructed.” She then went on to wonder, “Why does Vancouver have such a powerful  1  hold? Why are so many writers compelled to write its voices and where can these voices lead us?” Reiterating these questions in her opening remarks for the evening, Avasilichioaei compared Vancouver to Montreal, where she had recently been living. As a writer who had been involved in the literary communities of both cities, she described her sense, however anecdotal, that a particularly significant number of Vancouver authors were actively engaged in writing about the city as it was being built and rebuilt, and about community interactions and tensions as they emerged, developed, and changed in relation to the urban landscape. Rob mclennan, a prolific reviewer and interviewer of Canadian authors as well as a writer in his own right, recently made an observation similar to Avasilichioaei’s—first on his blog, where he shares informal criticism and reading notes, and then in an article for the January 2011 issue of the Maple Tree Literary Supplement. Reflecting in his initial post on poet Kim Minkus’s “Billboards” poems in the Fall 2009 issue of West Coast LINE, the Ottawa-based mclennan noted that Minkus’s poetry “continues a thread of city-specific works that Vancouver poets have been producing for years, from writers such as George Bowering, Daphne Marlatt, George Stanley and Michael Turner to Stephen Collis, Oana Avasilichioaei, Sachiko Murakami, Wayde Compton and so many more” (“Ongoing Notes”). “[R]eeling from all the physical descriptions” of Canada’s westernmost metropolis, mclennan, like Avasilichioaei, mused: “Just what is it about Vancouver?” (“Writing the New” 1; “Ongoing Notes”). Observations such as Avasilichioaei’s and mclennan’s suggest the presence, among writers in Vancouver, of what Raymond Williams memorably called a “structure of feeling.” Williams used the phrase to describe “meanings and values as they are  2  actively lived and felt,” and to distinguish these from dominant or established discourses, institutions, and social structures (“Structures of Feeling” 132). He emphasized that ideas, social formations, and practices emerge not as already-fixed categories, but rather develop gradually as part of complexes of perspectives and lived experiences that are “at once interlocking and in tension,” that co-exist in “living and interrelating continuity” (132).1 Williams proposed that in literature, the “social content is in a significant number of cases of this present and affective kind, which cannot without loss be reduced to belief-systems, institutions, or explicit general relationships, though it may include all these as lived or experienced” (133). Literature functions, in other words, as an important vehicle for expressing emergent social meanings and values. In Vancouver, a city that has been subject to intensive restructuring over the course of its relatively short history, I have often found literary texts serving as spaces for writers to articulate affectively and critically engaged responses to social and spatial change. Displacement, socioeconomic polarization, community crisis, and changing contexts for cultural production recur as key issues for these writers. Some—like Roy Kiyooka, whose work opens this introduction—take clear positions in relation to dominant trends in the city’s restructuring, while others grapple with the complexities of social and spatial change without resolving their inquiries into specific stances. Across these varied texts, I find authors capturing the “present and affective” experience (to borrow Williams’s phrase) of living in a city undergoing rapid and dramatic restructuring, and doing the ethical work of exploring how to live and relate to others 1  Williams suggests that “[a]n alternative definition would be structures of experience: in one sense the better and wider word, but with the difficulty that one of its senses has that past tense which is the most important obstacle to recognition of the area of social experience which is being defined” (132, emphasis in orig.). “Feeling,” on the other hand, captures the sense of present-tense process that is foundational to Williams’s concept.  3  under such conditions. With this body of Vancouver-based literary work serving as my primary material, and with Williams’s capacious framework guiding my inquiry, I investigate the ways in which differently positioned authors—their perspectives “at once interlocking and in tension”—respond in their writing to city building and community formation in Vancouver. How, I ask, do local writers conceptualize their role in the urban project? In what ways do their literary texts enrich and diversify Vancouver’s urban imaginary? And, how do they contribute to the scholarly and popular discourse about development, community dynamics, and everyday living in the city? My aim is to develop a better understanding of writers as producers of urban knowledge and critique, and of the reciprocal relationship between city-focused literary texts and the urban contexts in which they are produced. To do so, I read a selection of literary texts that attest to sustained, attentive observation of the city as well as, in some cases, extensive research into particular areas of the local urban archive. I consider these texts in relation to the lives and community affiliations of the authors who produced them, and to the material and discursive contexts that informed the texts’ making. Histories of socioeconomic and spatial change in specific Vancouver neighbourhoods and the city more broadly, the work of other writers and artists, and scholarly and popular understandings of urban culture and city building all inform my analysis of literary texts. This approach to Vancouver-based writing has emerged, in part, out of my interest in the connections that might be forged between the study of urban change, as practiced especially by geographers and scholars of urban planning, and the study of literary texts and literary production, as practiced by literary critics. While the fields of  4  literary criticism and geography have enjoyed a long and often productive relationship, we are still only beginning to understand what and how literary texts might be able to contribute to the conversation about urban planning and development. At the same time, within the field of Canadian literature, we have yet to consider in a sustained manner how the extensive scholarship on urban restructuring might inform our understanding of literary texts. Indeed, only in the past decade have literary critics really started to turn their attention to the Canadian city, prompted in particular by the publication of the essay collection Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities. In their introduction to this collection, editors Douglas Ivison and Justin D. Edwards note that not only has Canada long been an urban country,2 but the city as a setting is in fact ubiquitous in Canadian literature, though it has often been elided or ignored in scholarly studies, and generally obscured in the country’s cultural imaginary by well-established and powerful national myths (12; see also Pache 1149; New, Land Sliding 156). Ivison and Edwards urge critics to investigate the long tradition of Canadian literature in which “the materiality and specificity of our cities and the experience of urbanism as a way of life” figure prominently (12).3 My contribution is to consider Vancouver-based literary texts in  2  According to Statistics Canada, a majority of Canadians have lived in urban areas since the early 1930s. The 2006 Census indicates that 80 per cent of the Canadian population is now urban (Government of Canada). 3 Since Downtown Canada appeared in 2005, there has been a surge of interest in Canadian urban literature. Key publications during this period include The Winnipeg Connection: Writing Lives at MidCentury, edited by Birk Sproxton; Translating Montreal: Episodes in the Life of a Divided City, by Sherry Simon; and Imagining Toronto, by Amy Lavender Harris, who also maintains an extensive online bibliography (imaginingtoronto.com) of literary works set in or engaging with the city of Toronto. Canadian urban writing has also been a recurring theme and panel topic at scholarly conferences in recent years, including the Modern Language Association’s annual convention, the annual conference of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE), and the University of Alberta Canadian Literature Centre’s annual colloquium. Scholars have also demonstrated an interest in Canadian writers’ connections to cities outside of this country: see especially John Clement Ball’s Imagining London: Postcolonial Fiction and the Transnational Metropolis, Nick Mount’s When Canadian Literature Moved to New York, and Stephen Scobie’s The Measure of Paris.  5  relation to urban studies scholarship and planning policy, and to situate these texts within the context of Vancouver’s history of urban change. In the field of urban planning, important work on the relationship between planning and storytelling has been produced over the past few decades, perhaps most notably by John Friedmann, Seymour J. Mandelbaum, Peter Marris, Ruth Finnegan, John Forester, James A. Throgmorton, Leonie Sandercock, Edward Soja, Robert A. Beauregard, and literary critic Barbara Eckstein. These scholars have investigated a range of actual and potential roles of story and storytelling practices within the planning profession; however, notable across this work (with the exception of Eckstein’s) is the understandable tendency to emphasize oral narratives and to overlook or ignore published fiction and poetry—understandable because much of this scholarship is connected to participatory planning, which faces the problem of mediating the diverse anecdotal contributions to the planning process made by participating citizens. Of course, with fiction and poetry we face the same problem of mediation. Literary texts are, as I have suggested, the carriers of a certain kind of knowledge—subjective, experiential, affective, interactive, often reflexive; this is knowledge that many planning scholars and practitioners value, but that can be difficult to articulate and integrate into planning and development discourse. When we do find references to literary texts in planning discourse and urban studies scholarship, they are usually brief and function anecdotally. By contrast, my aim is to devote sustained analysis to literary texts, treating them as vital contributions to the broader conversation about urban change. As I read Vancouver-based literary texts, I explore three dominant (and overlapping) modes of engagement in urban issues. I attend, first, to the cultivation of  6  critique in urban writing. Examining work by E. Pauline Johnson, Malcolm Lowry, and Jane Rule, I consider how literary texts from different periods in Vancouver’s history— early settlement, mid-century suburban expansion, and later-twentieth-century inner-city restructuring—function as spaces for querying and assessing the impacts of urban development. Then, I shift my attention to Vancouver’s most recent period of redevelopment, and to writers (George Bowering, Lisa Robertson, Meredith Quartermain, and Bud Osborn) who turn this critical lens on themselves. I explore how these writers acknowledge their own, usually inadvertent complicity in the very processes of urban change that they aim to critique, and how they come to understand and articulate the complicated ethics and politics of literary practice in contemporary city spaces. Finally, in recent work by Timothy Taylor, Nancy Lee, and Lee Maracle, I examine representations of cultural workers engaged in the mediation of community crises in Vancouver, and reflect on the ways in which these texts both supplement and problematize the social science scholarship and policy-oriented discourse on creativity and culture in the city. While I began this introduction by citing observers who have emphasized the extent to which the Vancouver-based literary community is engaged in the urban project, this engagement is difficult to quantify and assess; indeed, a more empirical study of cityfocused literary production in different regions might find that there is nothing particularly special about the Vancouver case. Certainly, many of the issues explored by Vancouver’s writers—from population displacement and socioeconomic polarization, to the complicated role of the urban artist in processes of city building and community formation, to the fraught work of mediating cultural trauma in the city—are being  7  investigated by writers in other cities undergoing similar forms of spatial and socioeconomic restructuring. My goal is not to prove the uniqueness of the Vancouver case, though I will insist that attention to particularity is integral to the study of urban writing. My primary objective is to explore the combination of representative and distinctive factors that have informed the production of city-focused work by Vancouver writers, attempting to account for the heightened interest noted by observers such as Avasilichioaei and mclennan, while also situating the Vancouver case in relation to broader trends in urbanization and cultural production.  “Recurrent Restructuring” in Vancouver I chose to open this introduction with an untitled poem from Kiyooka’s Pear Tree Pomes in part because it articulates the worries about neighbourhood sustainability and the community-based activist response that emerged as Vancouver’s central area underwent redevelopment in the latter half of the twentieth century, and in part because Kiyooka’s collection appeared at an important time of transition in the city’s trajectory of change. Written during the early 1980s and published in 1987, Pear Tree Pomes came together toward the end of an initial phase of redevelopment in and near the core, and as Vancouver moved into a period of mega-project development4 catalyzed by hallmark events—first Expo ’86 (the world’s fair hosted by Vancouver in 1986) and, later, the Winter Olympic Games (held in Vancouver in 2010). Importantly, too, Kiyooka is one of a number of Vancouver-based writers—a short list might include George Bowering, Fred Wah, Daphne Marlatt, Gerry Gilbert, George Stanley, Jacqueline Turner, and bill bissett—who emerged during Vancouver’s first phase of redevelopment, and who 4  Smaller-scale, more piecemeal redevelopment also continued during this later period.  8  continued to work and help foster new generations of writers during Vancouver’s more recent period of change.5 Kiyooka was, moreover, a key cultivator of inter-community relationships—both between local literary groups (e.g. the experimental groups TISH and the downtown poets in the 1960s), and between the arts and literary communities (Kiyooka was a painter, photographer, art instructor, and musician, as well as a writer). Such inter-generational, inter-group, and inter-community relationships have proven integral to the ongoing development of innovative and critically engaged writing in Vancouver. Kiyooka’s Pear Tree Pomes is not, first and foremost, a collection about city building or displacement but rather about the breakdown of a long-term relationship between two lovers. But attention to everydayness was a key component of Kiyooka’s artistic practice, and so Pear Tree Pomes became a collection not only about love and loss between two people, but also about quotidian life in Kiyooka’s local community, the neighbourhood of Strathcona, which borders on Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside (in Kiyooka’s poem, the edges of “neighbourhood” are personal and communal rather than institutionally designated). We might say that in the background is a narrative about another relationship—this one with a neighbourhood instead of a lover. Over the course of Pear Tree Pomes, Kiyooka captures various small but rich details from his neighbourhood, such as “the early bird traffic on prior street,” the “lady with a champagne voice on co-op radio,” an anecdote from “jack our cantonese neighbour,” a trip for “a late night bowl of barbecue duck noodle soup at kam’s garden,” the  5  Kiyooka remained an active writer, artist, and teacher until his sudden death in 1994. Contemporary writers still cite his work (see, for example, Fred Wah’s Sentenced to Light, Rita Wong’s Forage, and Roy Miki’s Surrender), and he is remembered as an important figure in Vancouver’s avant-garde arts and writing communities.  9  companionship of “a siamese cat named cooper,” the “thin sliver of [a] november moon over maclean park,” and the “small clapboard house” that the speaker’s family has “thrive[d] in” (13, 17, 18, 36, 38, 44). Through the poems’ lively texture, Kiyooka builds an implicit argument for sustaining a neighbourhood that, by the time he was writing Pear Tree Pomes, had already been partly decimated by so-called “slum clearance,” had fought off further redevelopment as well as a freeway project, had witnessed evictions (in the Downtown Eastside) associated with Expo ’86, and was beginning to undergo gentrification. As I read Kiyooka’s collection twenty-five years later, this part of the city is again facing the possibility of dramatic transformation, as Vancouver City Council has recently made the decision to allow highrise development in Chinatown.6 Community groups remain divided about the impact that such development will have on the area: some argue that the increased density will help support local businesses and will make productive use of inner-city space; others, however, worry that the zoning change will facilitate the gentrification of the area, and question the need for highrises when many European cities  6  A similar zoning change proposal for the adjacent Downtown Eastside was successfully fought by community activists as well as a group of 56 academics, who argued in a petition to Vancouver City Council: We . . . note with concern the recommendation . . . to change the allowable heights in [Vancouver’s] “Historic Area,” which includes much of the Downtown Eastside. The effect of this will be to increase permitted heights on several sites. Assuming, as seems inevitable, that this facilitates market housing, we fear that this will lead to a further reduction of affordable housing in the surrounding area, particularly that of the residential hotels [which currently house many of the city’s poor]. This will have a devastating effect on low-income residents and the continued vitality and viability of the neighbourhood as a whole. We believe that planning in the Downtown Eastside should have at its centre the interests of the most vulnerable, rather than risk further destabilizing a community that is already facing intensifying pressures. Market development, if wisely managed with the insights of the low-income community, can bring benefits to the Downtown Eastside. However, it can, and has, also led to increasing rents, conversions and displacement. We encourage Council not to proceed with the Height Review until a more thorough community based planning process is conducted, a cornerstone of which should be the improvement and protection of the affordable housing stock of the Downtown Eastside. (qtd. in Bula, “Brigade of Academics”)  10  are able to accommodate high population densities in low- and mid-rise built landscapes (Brown, “Plea for Low-Rise”; Bula, “Brigade of Academics”; Bula, “Mayor Backs Away”). Such material contexts, which inform both the production and reception of urban writing, will receive more focused attention in my next chapter, where I offer a detailed overview of Vancouver’s history of development. In this introduction, I wish simply to provide a preliminary sketch of the city’s trajectory of restructuring, and to highlight factors that have made the Vancouver case at once representative and distinctive. Vancouver’s history of change is, in significant ways, similar to the development histories of other major Canadian cities. Notable similarities include the growth, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, of industrial sites7 in and near the city’s core, with primarily working-class populations clustering near these spaces, and— especially toward and after mid-century—increasing numbers of middle-class workers commuting to Vancouver’s downtown business district from expanding suburbs. As Vancouver underwent post-industrial restructuring8 over the second half of the century, it continued to follow “important national trends”: Trevor Barnes et al. observe in Canadian Urban Regions: Trajectories of Growth and Change that blue collar jobs in the region began to decline during this period and, especially during the 1960s and 1970s, a growing middle class started to display new interest in urban living (291). Previously undervalued neighbourhoods in the central city became sites of gentrification as they 7  Vancouver was never a classic industrial city with an economy centred on traditional Fordist industries; rather, it mostly provided processing, warehousing, and transportation-related functions for the regional resource economy (Hutton, “Post-Industrialism” 1958; Barnes et al. 292-93). 8 The post-industrial thesis was first developed by Daniel Bell in The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, in which Bell observed a new occupational trend toward white-collar service jobs. As David Ley explains, the rise of the post-industrial economy brought with it the increasing entrenchment of a two-tier labour market, socioeconomic polarization, population displacement in previously undervalued urban areas, and an enhanced culture of consumption (New Middle Class 15).  11  were “upgraded” and redeveloped for the burgeoning group that David Ley terms the “new middle class”; the period was also marked by the increasing commodification of urban lifestyles, as developers, retailers, and service providers sought to capitalize on this new market’s enthusiasm for city living. In the past few decades, as the gap between rich and poor has widened and as property prices have continued to rise, class tension has become a defining dimension of community life in Vancouver, with heated battles arising over a range of planning, policy, and development issues (see Campbell et al.; Ley and Dobson; Blomley, Unsettling; Mitchell; Shier; Olds, Globalization). Reflecting on what distinguishes Vancouver from other Canadian urban regions, Barnes et al. suggest that certain features of post-industrial change—socioeconomic polarization, population displacement, the emergence of an intensified culture of consumption—have simply been exacerbated in the Vancouver case; we might say that Vancouver’s transformation has, in some ways, proven distinctive in its representativeness. At the same time, Vancouver has, in the past few decades, diverged “from the classic model of the post-industrial city, . . . typified by a monocultural, officebased economy . . . and modernist form and imagery” (Hutton, “Post-Industrialism” 1953). Factors informing Vancouver’s trajectory include the city’s influential gateway functions, its “insistent integration” into Pacific Rim markets, its use of hallmark events (Expo ’86, the Olympics) to catalyze mega-project and infrastructure development, and its post-corporate economy (Barnes et al. 291, 293-294). Barnes et al. note that while “Vancouver does not often make the list of global cities, remaining peripheral to the world’s financial and business centres[,] . . . the city’s economy has [nevertheless] been  12  transformed by global capital and labour” (307).9 With the decline of its mid-century role as an administrative and processing hub for the regional resource economy, Vancouver has become home to what Barnes et. al. describe as an increasingly invisible economy made up primarily of small and medium-sized enterprises, with an emphasis on services and consumption amenities (associated with entertainment, recreation, leisure, tourism), and—in keeping with the global emergence of the New Economy10—notable strength in the culture and technology sectors (see also Hutton, New Economy). Barnes et al. argue that, “more than other Canadian urban regions, Vancouver exemplifies the city as a space of flows and recurrent restructuring, rather than as a durable construct of stable industries, labour, social class, and communities” (291). In other words, in comparison with Canada’s other major cities, Vancouver has been subject to particularly frequent, rapid, and intensive socioeconomic and spatial change.  Creativity and Cultural Work in the City In this study, I focus in particular on Vancouver as an emergent landscape of cultural production and consumption,11 and examine creativity and cultural work in relation to processes of city building and community formation. The commentator who has, over the past decade, proved most influential in transforming the discourse on urban  9  Vancouver lacks the corporate head offices and “agglomeration of central [financial] functions” that would make it a global city as defined by Saskia Sassen in her seminal study, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo (4). 10 In his article “Creative Cities: Conceptual Issues and Policy Questions,” Allen J. Scott offers this expansive definition of the oft-used term “New Economy”: “the leading edges of growth and innovation in the contemporary economy are made up of sectors such as high-technology industry, neo-artisanal manufacturing, business and financial services, [and] cultural-products industries (including the media). . . . [T]hese sectors in aggregate constitute a ‘new economy’” (3). 11 I employ the phrase “landscape of cultural production and consumption” following sociologist Sharon Zukin, who uses it in her work to capture the idea that processes of cultural consumption and production are organized spatially, and play a key role in shaping urban environments and communities.  13  creativity and culture is planning and policy theorist Richard Florida. In The Rise of the Creative Class and other writings, Florida champions “[h]uman creativity [as] the ultimate economic resource” (Rise xiii), and develops urban-policy prescriptions for fostering bohemian urban arts environments that in turn draw more lucrative “creative” talent (connected with new technology development, advertising, design, and so forth) to a city. Florida’s work has been criticized by many urban studies scholars who argue that, under the banner of “creativity” (the term usually vaguely and problematically defined in his work), Florida promotes economic development strategies intrinsically linked to gentrification and socioeconomic polarization.12 Florida himself acknowledges some of the problems with his thesis in his later book Cities and the Creative Class, where he states that “the most salient of what I consider the externalities of the creative age has to do with rising social and economic inequality. . . . [D]iscouragingly, inequality is considerably worse in leading creative regions” (171; emphasis in orig.). As Loretta Lees et al. observe, “[Florida] recognizes that his model of urban economic renaissance both invites gentrification and stifles the diversity and creativity that it seeks,” as earlier, “bohemian” gentrifiers are, in turn, gradually pushed out by wealthier buyers (xx). Florida has nevertheless remained a champion of the creative class thesis, and the idea of the creative class as an economic driver with trickle-down benefits for other residents continues to inform urban planning and development (Stern and Seifert 1).13  12  In “Struggling with the Creative Class,” Jamie Peck offers a useful summary of Florida’s opponents’ key arguments while also developing his own incisive critique. 13 In Vancouver, urban planning initiatives have helped foster the growth of the city’s cultural economy (see Hutton, New Economy; Hutton, “Post-Industrialism”); moreover, in 2004 the municipal government established a “Creative City Task Force,” with the stated aims of “achiev[ing] the vision of Vancouver as a Creative City and as a Capital of Culture,” and “capitaliz[ing] on the profound potential of our creative community” (City of Vancouver). For a discussion of cultural policy in Vancouver, see Chapter Four.  14  In their introduction to the essay collection Spaces of Vernacular Creativity, Tim Edensor et al. criticize the way that the discourse of the creative class and the creative city14 has promoted a financial hierarchy of creative activity. This discourse, Edensor et al. argue, privileges “spectacular spaces of culture and consumption” (“festival marketplaces, creative quarters and cultural facilities designed by world-renowned, ‘star’ architects” [2]) as well as “cultural activities whose products are easily commodifiable in terms of intellectual property rights and copyright material” (4). The collection’s contributors call for greater attention to other kinds of creative activity that manifest in vernacular culture, exploring in their essays such practices as Flickr photo-sharing, community gardening, and public walks. Literary texts do not fit neatly into the category of vernacular creativity—they are, after all, a commodified art form; at the same time, however, they are not, usually, associated with spectacle, nor do they enjoy a place of prominence in the hierarchy of creativity implied in Florida’s work. We might say that literature is, generally speaking, the poor and often overlooked cousin of other commodified art forms such as film, television, and the visual arts, which in Vancouver (as elsewhere) tend to be more financially lucrative and enjoy considerably greater popular and critical attention.15  14  Consultant Charles Landry and cultural planning scholar Franco Bianchini’s The Creative City, which identified creativity as an important aspect of economic regeneration in cities, was a precursor to Florida’s work, and helped popularize the phrase “creative city.” 15 Interestingly, the visual arts have—since artists associated with the Vancouver School of photoconceptualism (Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Ian Wallace, Ken Lum, Vikky Alexander, Roy Arden, Stan Douglas) rose to international prominence in the 1980s—become a sector where it is possible to achieve considerable financial success without abandoning a regional identity, as curator and critic Melanie O’Brian observes in her introduction to the essay collection Vancouver Art and Economies (21-22). In contrast, Vancouver’s two best-known writers, Douglas Coupland and William Gibson, achieved literary success with books set elsewhere, and then started to “regionalize” their fictional writing—Coupland with Life After God and Girlfriend in a Coma, and Gibson with Spook Country. (One exception, in Gibson’s case, is the story “The Winter Market,” which he published in the collection Burning Chrome in 1987. Paul Delany opened his 1994 study of this story by emphasizing the exceptional status of “The Winter Market” in Gibson’s oeuvre: “Gibson is a Vancouver author almost solely by residence. . . . [His] choice of  15  And yet, the ability of writers to create and command cultural capital means that, even if their work is not always profitable, they still play an important role in the urban landscape. As Zukin revealed in Loft Living, her groundbreaking study of New York City’s art and real estate markets,16 artists contribute in significant ways to the revalorization of marginalized urban spaces. Indeed, it is this ability that Florida suggests cities should capitalize on; Zukin and other critical scholars, however, emphasize instead what they see as artists’ sometimes rather troubling role in the gentrification process. David Ley argues that the aestheticizing practices of artists significantly increase the cultural capital of the neighbourhoods in which they live, making these spaces more attractive for potential buyers (Ley, “Artists”).17 Richard Lloyd, commenting on the early presence of a literary nonprofit in the now-gentrified Chicago neighbourhood of Wicker Park, notes that even makers of less commercially viable art such as poetry function as signs of cultural distinction and producers of cultural capital in urban spaces, “help[ing to] ‘make the scene’ . . . by providing local color,” featuring the neighbourhood in their work, and contributing the “real brow sweat” that goes into readings and launches, nonprofit organizations, and narrow-margin arts-related businesses (102); these factors, in turn, help make the neighbourhood more appealing to “new waves of artists, and the growing number of artists increases the attractiveness of the neighborhood for further  locations supports the cliché that Vancouver is a good place to live, but not a place where anything important happens” [179].) In terms of achieving international economic success without abandoning a regional identity, the visual arts remain a special case among commodified art forms in Vancouver, given that film and television have (with a few exceptions) also tended to avoid regional branding. 16 See also Rosalyn Deutsche and Cara Gendel Ryan’s article from the same period, “The Fine Art of Gentrification.” 17 For a more extensive discussion of Ley’s research—which draws on data from Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal—see Chapter Three.  16  investment” (101).18 Sarah Brouillette, in a recent study of literary texts marketed as representations of the gentrifying London neighbourhood of Brick Lane, argues that these texts “and their accompanying marketing and media commentary . . . solidify [Brick Lane’s] desirability as an urban frontier for exciting neighbourhood experiences” (427). Significantly, Brouillette reads the literary text that is the major focus of her study—Monica Ali’s novel Brick Lane—as a “gentrification tale,” arguing that it offers, in its central character, a story of transformation through cultural entrepreneurship that reinforces the gentrification narrative (428). In my own study, I take a different approach, selecting texts that resist or query dominant processes and narratives of change, or that demonstrate a degree of self-consciousness about their place within those processes. In other words, the “social content” of the texts I choose to study does not simply reinforce an existing narrative of change; instead, I emphasize the importance of reading these texts as productive interventions in the conversation about the role of artists and cultural workers in the city. As well, by selecting for analysis the work of a range of Vancouver-based writers, each distinctively positioned in the city, I aim to demonstrate that the urban artist is not simply a social type, as the social science scholarship on the role of artists in urban  18  Economist Ann Markusen has questioned the scholarship linking the presence of artists in undervalued neighbourhoods to gentrification, noting that “[i]n roomy metros . . . and stagnant urban . . . environments, it is harder to argue that new artistic spaces are displacing anyone. . . . In Minneapolis, [for instance,] the decades-long presence of several converted breweries with in excess of 500 studio units for artists has not destabilized a persistent working class and immigrant community northeast of the center of the city” (193637). Drawing on research by Mark Stern, Markusen also observes that in Philadelphia, “where no larger dynamic is pressing on housing and land prices, the entry and presence of artists into stable, low-income neighbourhoods does not set off a process of gentrification” (1973). However, Markusen does still concur with Zukin that in cities with “high and rising” housing prices, such as New York City (or, for that matter, Vancouver), “the sequential arrival and departure of artists is more notable” (1936).  17  change often implies.19 The writers whose work I examine in Chapter Two (after providing an overview of Vancouver’s history of change in Chapter One) take me to the physical and social edges of the city, using their texts as spaces for articulating resistance to displacement and marginalization. Such objectives remain crucial in the poetry that I examine in Chapter Three, but these more recent texts include at least a partial recognition of artists’ complicity in processes of urban change; at the same time, the complicated poetic personas that emerge in the texts encourage the recognition that artists are more than mere signs of cultural capital in the urban landscape. In my final chapter, I consider how literary representations of cultural workers (restaurateurs, reviewers, scholars, librarians, journalists, teachers) invite a rethinking of the “economic” and “intrinsic” definitions of culture that have informed recent urban cultural policy. Read together, these literary texts build an argument for a more expansive understanding of cultural work, and query, without dismissing, instrumentalizing notions of the role of culture in the city.  Conceptualizing the Space of the Literary I have proposed to explore, in this study, the ways in which differently positioned authors—their perspectives “at once interlocking and in tension,” as Williams puts it— have responded to processes of city building and community formation in Vancouver. But what is involved, and what is at stake, in taking such an approach? To begin to answer this question, I wish to consider together, briefly, the projects of Vancouver’s first 19  Markusen is a notable exception: in her interrogation of the link between artists and gentrification, she encourages a more complicated portrait of urban artists: “many artists are of the community in which they live, including many artists of color and immigrant artists. Many are also poor. . . . Many artists play active roles in their neighborhoods—in working with troubled youth, in visiting prisoners, and in staging and coaching community arts fairs and performances” (1937).  18  two poet laureates, George McWhirter, who served from 2007 to 2009, and Brad Cran, who completed his term in 2011. McWhirter’s and Cran’s different interpretations of the poet-laureate role are suggestive of the at times highly politicized tensions within Vancouver’s literary community; at the same time, however, they share notable common ground in their conceptualizations of literature’s relationship to the broader urban project. McWhirter, during his tenure as poet laureate, compiled a book titled A Verse Map of Vancouver, in which he gathered poems by different writers about specific neighbourhoods, streets, parks, buildings, geographical features, and landmarks in Vancouver. Together, the poems sketch an alternative map of the city based on lived relationships to particular places. Some reviewers have questioned McWhirter’s editorial choices: Jacqueline Turner, for instance, finds that his selections suggest urban boosterism, though she does acknowledge that “there are some poems which veer from [a] celebratory formula to reveal glimpses, at least, of a lived reality.” My own assessment of the collection is more in line with that of Sonnet L’Abbé, who argues that Verse Map provides a “many-voiced, intimate and unpretentious portrait of the city. The Vancouver [it] present[s] . . . is not a tour of official sightseeing stops, but rather a ramble through the varied and sometimes seemingly ‘featureless’ places that have held enough meaning to people that they were inspired to write about them” (2). And yet, published in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympics as a $45 coffee-table book complete with glossy colour photographs of the city, Verse Map must be seen—regardless of its content—as a commodified consumer object, one that is at least in some ways complicit with the spectacularization of urban culture. Even without the special packaging, the celebratory discourse that dominated in the city during this period inevitably informed the publication  19  and reception of Verse Map. In this sense, Verse Map keeps company with Vancouver’s first three major anthologies of local literature, which were published in anticipation of Expo ’86—Vancouver Short Stories (1985), edited by Carole Gerson; Vancouver Poetry (1986), edited by Allan Safarik; and Vancouver: Soul of a City (1986), edited by Gary Geddes.20 All of these collections, including Verse Map, helped vitalize and diversify the local urban imaginary, and expanded the readership of Vancouver’s literary archive; and yet, without diminishing this function, I would suggest that they were also, perhaps inevitably, to some extent wrapped up in the urban boosterism associated with Expo and the Olympics. Brad Cran, in partnership with the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia, seized on another funding and marketing opportunity—Vancouver’s 125th anniversary in 2011—to spearhead a publishing initiative of his own, the Vancouver 125 Legacy Books Collection, which will see ten Vancouver-based works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction return to print. This initiative shares similar goals as Verse Map and the 1986 anthologies, but with key distinctions. First, the Legacy Books list has a more explicitly politicized agenda, favouring texts that depict and explore class- and race-based issues and experiences.21 Moreover, each Legacy text is being re-published as a standalone document, with different local publishers responsible for particular texts. Only the Legacy Collection designation gathers the texts together under the sign of “Vancouver,” easing, at least to some extent, the burden of representativeness. Still, the project is 20  The non-fiction book Vancouver and its Writers: A Guide to Vancouver’s Literary Landmarks, by Alan Twigg, was also published in 1986. 21 The Legacy Books list includes the following titles: A Hard Man to Beat (1983), by Howie White; Along the No. 20 Line: Reminiscences of the Vancouver Waterfront (1980), by Rolf Knight; Opening Doors: Vancouver’s East End (1979), edited by Daphne Marlatt and Carole Itter; Who Killed Janet Smith? (1984), by Edward Starkins; Class Warfare (1974), by D. M. Fraser; A Credit to Your Race (1973), by Truman Green; Crossings (1979), by Betty Lambert; The Inverted Pyramid (1924), by Bertrand W. Sinclair; Day and Night (1944), by Dorothy Livesay; and Anhaga (1983), by Jon Furberg.  20  connected to the same promotional machinery as the anthologies.22 Arguably, though, Cran’s most distinctive act as poet laureate took place a year before the announcement of the Legacy Collection, when he refused to read poems as part of the celebrations for the Olympic Games. Cran explained his position in an essay published on the Poet Laureate website and in a local newspaper, the Georgia Straight, citing both the content guidelines in artists’ contracts23 and the dearth of literary events in the Cultural Olympiad, which ran concomitantly with the Games.24 Though the latter reason perhaps makes Cran’s refusal seem somewhat counter-productive, he was clearly comfortable with the contradiction that his public stand involved: in his essay, he aligns himself with Vancouver-based writer and critic George Woodcock, an anarchist who— contrary to his anti-government political leanings—once accepted a Freedom of the City award from the municipal government because, according to Cran, he believed in honouring the idea of the city as “a bastion of intellectual freedom” (Cran). Cran goes on to suggest that the “muzzle clause” in artists’ contracts was an attack on the freedom that Woodcock had felt it was so important to honour. “[I]t shows,” he argues, 22  Another major project of Cran’s that also takes advantage of the city’s anniversary is the Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference, which will run for four days in October 2011. The conference is another example of Cran’s efforts to use the poet-laureate role to make a bold statement: as impetus for the conference, Cran has suggested that Vancouver’s poetry scene is too fixed on the past, that it is “still very much defined by the 1963 [Poetry] [C]onference,” a landmark international poetry event that was organized by UBC professor Warren Tallman and American poet Robert Creeley (Cran, qtd. in Lederman). Arguing that the Vancouver-based writers associated with the 1963 conference (the TISH group, the downtown poets) have overshadowed later generations, Cran has set up the 2011 event so that it will only feature poets who published their first book after 1990 (Lederman). 23 Cran explains, in the essay, that he had been invited to “read poems that corresponded to themes as provided to [him] by an Olympic bureaucrat,” and that his contract would have also included a clause stipulating that “[t]he artist shall at all times refrain from making any negative or derogatory remarks respecting VANOC, the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic movement generally, Bell and/or other sponsors associated with VANOC” (qtd. in Cran). Cran was not alone in responding critically to the Olympics guidelines and contract: the so-called “muzzle clause” was the subject of considerable debate within the local artist community in the lead-up to the Games. 24 Cran notes that just six of a total of 193 events were devoted to literature, and only two featured local writers. In addition to these few Cultural Olympiad literary events, the Opening Ceremonies also included a local writer—Vancouver-based spoken word poet Shane Koyczan.  21  that VANOC [the Vancouver Olympic Committee] is misrepresenting Vancouver. Vancouver is the most politically progressive city in North America with a strong history of political activism. . . . Rather than finding a way to celebrate these important attributes VANOC has . . . tried to suppress them. As George Woodcock teaches us: our freedom as a city is a tradition that should be protected and we should not underestimate an attack on that freedom whether symbolic or otherwise. In suggesting that any vision of Vancouver as a “world class city” must include a recognition of artistic and political freedom, Cran provocatively redefines this phrase favoured by urban boosters. McWhirter and Cran clearly diverged in their approaches to the laureateship; and yet their conceptualizations of the role that literature plays in city building and community formation are not entirely irreconcilable. Both demonstrate a deep investment in literature as a means of articulating what Henri Lefebvre—in what remains one of the most subtle and productive theorizations of space—called “lived” space. For Lefebvre, the subjective experience of space (at once embodied, affective, and mental) is filtered through, but also involves the potentially resistant negotiation of, the representational lenses of culture. Lived space is, on the one hand, “dominated” space, structured according to prevailing “representations of space” developed by planners, developers, architects, government officials, lawmakers, business leaders—those who play an influential role in shaping the built landscape and establishing what Lefebvre terms “spatial practices” (schedules, routines, conventions of use) (Production 39, 38). Importantly, though, lived space is also “space which the imagination seeks to change  22  and appropriate”—it is, in other words, where Lefebvre locates individual agency (39). Both McWhirter and Cran, in their respective ways, encouraged Vancouverites to attend to the dominated but potentially interrogative, even transformative role of literary texts in the production of urban spaces and communities. McWhirter gathered and disseminated a diverse collection of “word-windows” onto lived experience; some of these queried, and others reinforced, dominant conceptualizations and depictions of the city (McWhirter, “Introduction” 5). Cran, meanwhile, criticized the reductive and troubling “misrepresentations” of Vancouver promulgated in Olympics programming and content guidelines, advocating for greater recognition of literary texts as vital contributions to the urban imaginary, and for the right of writers to share their work without censure. McWhirter’s and Cran’s perspectives and projects were (to return to Raymond Williams’s phrase) certainly in tension, but interlocking. Considered together, they suggest the complicated ways in which Vancouver-based writers are engaged in the project of city making. Like McWhirter and Cran, and following Williams’s suggestion that the “social content” of literature is often of the “present and affective kind,” I approach literary texts as especially (though not uniquely) well suited to the task of articulating lived space, and suggest that they have the capacity to inform and influence the ways in which we experience, understand, and build community. Form, style, and epistemological difference all make literary texts difficult to bring to the broader scholarly and popular discourse about city building and community formation; however, I would suggest that this inassimilability is not simply limiting but also potentially instructive and productive. My understanding of literary texts is informed by the work of Charles Altieri, who in  23  “The Sensuous Dimension of Literary Experience” describes literary texts as complex, internally dense formal structures that perform and model a negotiation of the sensuous and reflective, the concrete and the abstract, the real and imagined dimensions of experience. Altieri suggests the need for a return of attention to the ways in which “literary experience affords not just the details of material life but also an affectively charged sensuousness calling forth and rewarding the free play of imagination” (72-73). He views literary texts not simply as supplementary fictions but as entities that inform, and that we engage as part of, our actual experience. Altieri makes this call in response to the privileging of materialist theories in late twentieth and early twenty-first century literary criticism, citing in particular arguments about the material text, Bill Brown’s thing theory, and—most important for my own work—cultural materialism (73). He proposes that in “adamantly resist[ing]” the idealist dimensions of traditional literary criticism,25 these theoretical approaches can tend toward at least a partial failure to recognize “the distinctive roles literature can play in social life” (71, 72). In his discussion of cultural materialism, he suggests that there is a disjunction between the cultural materialist view of social relations as fundamentally structural, and methods of observing and reading that seek to account for and explore individual experience and agency. He also notes the tendency, among cultural materialists, to divert attention away from the text itself and to focus instead on the cultural context in which  25  Literary criticism, for Altieri, is rooted in the recognition of literature’s special capacity to instruct and delight, which he argues “distinguishes the literary from both the commitment history has to unfolding particular stories and from the commitment philosophy has to sharpening our sense of the universals available for reasoning” (72). Altieri encourages a literary critical approach involving close readings which attend “primarily to how a work deploys various structuring devices to give it a kind of internal force and hence an intensified individuality capable of affecting our sense of possible actions and possible ways of caring for others” (79).  24  the text was produced26 and the ways it has been taken up or appropriated. He concedes that “[m]aterialist criticism promises a hard-headed, politically committed realism sharply at odds with the now somewhat embarrassing claims to sensitivity and to wisdom all too common in . . . close readings”; however, he goes on to emphasize that the materialist approach, far from escaping the idealist tendencies that it aims to resist, has its own, political pieties. Like Altieri, I worry about the possibility of eliding or tending toward reductive readings of literary texts in the effort to demonstrate how these texts are wrapped up in socioeconomic processes. I also worry that approaches favouring a structural understanding of social relations do not always provide the best lens for, as Altieri puts it, appreciating the special capacity of literary texts to articulate subjective experience and “make particulars bear generalized reflection” (86). But I would not argue, as Altieri does, that we require “an alternative to materialist theory” (71). In fact, I would suggest that my subject of study—literary responses to urban change—demands that I situate these texts in their appropriate socioeconomic contexts and consider their relations to power. My primary aim, however, is to do so without occluding the space of the literary. Thus, while always working to contextualize my readings, I privilege the literary as a space where (to borrow another phrase from Williams, whose cultural materialist work on structures of feeling was so attentive to the pre-structural quality of emergent social relations) we find social content articulated in its “generative immediacy” (133). And, as I have already indicated, I devote particular attention to what literary texts themselves have to say about the contexts informing their production and consumption, recognizing 26  Cultural context, as Altieri defines it, includes “the practices, the active ideologies, and the webs of interest that are largely responsible for the author’s sense of the possible significance of what he or she writes.”  25  and exploring the highly self-reflexive dimension of specific texts.  Through a Regional Lens When the journal Canadian Literature held a conference to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2009, the editors invited a selection of established scholars to offer their thoughts on the current state of the field. In her contribution to the conference, Alison Calder called for a return to the critical discussion of region, which she suggested had been neglected in recent years: “literary analysis that attends to representations of specific places, or that connects itself to specific places,” she insisted, “can help us to develop ideas about what is going on in [those] places . . . —what forces are acting on us, and how we might respond to them” (114). Calder’s description of the kind of understanding that literary regionalism can produce recalls W. H. New’s reflections on the regional approach in Land Sliding: Imagining Space, Presence, and Power in Canadian Writing: At its most sensitive, regional criticism can . . . usefully indicate that literary texts have social value. They are not to be dismissed as ornamental foibles or as artificial aberrations from some authoritative documentary norm. They emerge from specific social contexts. They are charged with particular social meaning. Hence they are contributing actively to an attitudinal dialectic in a society still very much concerned with change. (152) My own study is, as I have emphasized, deeply invested in such a project. It is especially attentive to the role that processes of urban agglomeration play in configuring a region as a social, cultural, economic, and physical space, and to the capacity of literary texts to  26  foster what another important scholar of literary regionalism, Laurie Ricou, has described as “a different, critical, radical involvement in home” (“Region” 953). My understanding of urban regions is informed by the work of urban theorist Edward Soja, in particular his application of the “long-neglected concept” of synekism to contemporary urban contexts (“Writing the City” 274). Soja traces the term synekism back to the work of Thucydides and Aristotle: both employed the Greek word synoikismos, in their studies of the formation of the Athenian polis, to describe processes of physical agglomeration and societal consolidation (273). Soja observes that Aristotle in particular used the term to articulate “an active social and spatial process that involved political and cultural confederation around a distinctive territorial centre” (273). Synoikismos, Soja explains, has the root oikos—“home or dwelling place”—which is “the same root that is found in economics . . . and ecology” (273). The word’s suffix, mos, “connotes the conditions arising from,” and its prefix, syn, “refers to being together” (273). Thus synoikismos, according to Soja, describes “the economic and ecological interdependencies and . . . synergisms that arise from the purposeful clustering and collective cohabitation of people in space, in a ‘home’ habitat” (Postmetropolis 12).27 In taking up the term, Soja uses it to articulate the way that “creativity, innovation, territorial identity, political consciousness and societal development . . . arise from living together in dense and heterogeneous urban regions”; he argues, moreover, that this crucial quality of cities can be grasped properly only through attention to the lived specificity of urban spaces (274). With Soja’s definition of synekism in mind, I focus, in  27  Similarly—and apparently without debt to Soja—cultural critic Jenny Burman uses the term “ideosyncretism,” in her reflections on the diasporic city, to describe the ways in which “[c]ultural difference is mobilized, portrayed or performed, and ‘managed’ differently from city to city” (268).  27  my study, on the production of a situated literary imaginary in Vancouver, and the interdependencies of this imaginary with the broader urban “habitat.” My project is furthermore indebted to previous work on regionalism by Canadian literature scholars—notably Janice Fiamengo’s essay “Regionalism and Urbanism,” which foregrounds urban texts as often overlooked forms of regional writing, and also Lisa Chalykoff’s efforts to bring “a more precise and critically inflected vocabulary of space” (via the work of Soja and Lefebvre) to the discussion of Canadian literary regionalism (41). I take as foundational Ricou’s suggestion, in his entry on regionalism for the Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, that regional writing helps make visible and animate “the contingencies, the network of relationships” that emerge in and produce a particular place (953). This recognition of contingency and provisionality comes to the fore especially in Chapter Two of my study, where I explore how Vancouver-based literary texts interrogate the binary distinction between the regions of city and hinterland: as New suggests in Land Sliding, “in practice, this binary breaks down; the categories move, being constantly in negotiation with each other” (158). Frank Davey’s observation that regions are characterized by “contexts in which specifically marked varieties of textuality differ and negotiate” has also helped shape my understanding of Vancouver’s literary imaginary as a diverse, changing, always precarious discursive construct (“Toward the Ends” 17). With Eva-Marie Kröller, I recognize the identity of the Vancouver city-region as fundamentally unstable, and see the ongoing acceptance, even nurturing, of such instability as “a challenge in civic responsibility” (Kröller, “Regionalism” 281). While a regionalist approach has often been taken up, by Canadian writers, in  28  response to the apparently homogenizing, centralizing forces of nation, empire, and globalization, I concur with Herb Wyile that regionalism should not be understood as “a synonym for anti-centrism,” and am troubled by reactionary discourse that naturalizes or fetishizes regional difference (273). Following the historian Arif Dirlik, I appreciate that any region/centre divide “is now complicated by the recognition of differences internal to regions . . . and that distinguish groups of people that cut across national, regional, or civilizational boundaries” (163). I understand contemporary Vancouver as a particular expression of what Dirlik terms “global modernity”: the contradictions of capitalist modernity have, Dirlik suggests, been universalized “through the agencies of capitalism and colonialism” (163), but it is precisely the contradictory nature of capitalist modernity that creates unevenness and difference in its expression both across and within particular regions (24, 90-98).28 “We have all been touched by modernity,” Dirlik writes, but “it nevertheless has launched societies on different trajectories[,] . . . and that point . . . is important for considering what [the future] might bring” (155). The Vancouver of global modernity is, in other words, hardly a unique space, but at the same time global modernity has been established, and its dominant discourses disseminated, in this cityregion in specific ways. My own work develops from the premise that studies of the literary texts produced in Vancouver must likewise be particularized and contextual.  28  As Jeff Derksen observes, Dirlik conceptualizes “globalization not as economic and cultural processes that national [or, indeed, sub-national] economies, . . . cultures, . . . and identities are centripetally drawn into, resisting and being transformative as they go, but as a more mobile class project of inclusion and exclusion, of integration and marginalization, of accumulation and dispossession” (“Poetry” 5). See Chapter One for an overview of how this class project has contributed to the reshaping of Vancouver.  29  “Me Too!”  Fig. 1. Image set from Fred Wah, “Me Too!,” Sentenced to Light (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2008; 64).  During the time that I have been working on this study, I have often found myself returning to a small photo-text project by Fred Wah called “Me Too!,” which is included in his 2008 collection Sentenced to Light. The project was inspired by Wah’s visit, in 2004, to a retrospective exhibition of photography by his longtime friend Roy Kiyooka. The show included several photographs of the pedestrian traffic and shops along Hastings Street in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside—images taken by Kiyooka about 25 years 30  earlier. Both Kiyooka and Wah have long-standing connections to this traditionally working-class neighbourhood, whose population has, in recent decades, struggled to survive and thrive in the face of various social and political pressures and failures.29 Wah’s idea for a photo-text response to Kiyooka’s photographs emerged as he toured the retrospective. In an introductory note to the “Me Too!” project, he writes: Walking around the show, I accidentally pass[ed] between one of the slide projectors and the carousel of images projected on the wall. My shadow [was] cast into the image on the wall and I [had] the strange sensation that old friend and artist Roy Kiyooka [was] taking a posthumous photo of ME, framed in a familiar landscape, from within the darkness of a stairwell on Hastings Street in Vancouver around 1979. (65) Wah decided to take digital photos of his silhouette against the street scenes (see fig. 1, previous page), and then wrote an accompanying text in the style of the utanikki, or Japanese poetic diary—a literary genre that has its roots in 10th century Japan, with Matsuo Bashō’s 17th-century travelogue Narrow Road to the Interior providing perhaps the best-known Japanese example of the form. Over the past century, the form has been adapted by a range of Western practitioners, including members of the San Francisco Renaissance and Black Mountain School, American literary groups with whom Kiyooka, Wah, and other members of Vancouver’s post-war poetry scene were in close and ongoing dialogue. Wah, however, has indicated that Vancouver-born, Toronto-based poet 29  The Downtown Eastside community is characterized by poverty but also a strong activist spirit, which has been sustained by many longtime residents who have fought for social housing and have, as I indicated earlier in this introduction, repeatedly challenged planning initiatives that would allow for gentrifying development in the neighbourhood. At least in part because of its proximity to the Port of Vancouver (a key entry point for illicit drugs into the country), the Downtown Eastside has also been hit hard by the city’s drug trade (Shier 2002: 14). See Chapter One for further discussion of housing and development issues in the Downtown Eastside.  31  bpNichol’s playfully titled poem “You Too, Nicky” was his first exposure to the form (Wah, “Is a Door”) (see Nichol, Gifts). In his introduction to a collection of Japanese poetic diaries in translation, Earl Miner explains that the “dominant features” of the utanikki are “a strong consciousness of time and a desire to memorialize [experience]” (18, 3). Tyler Doherty reflects that while Miner’s term “memorialize” might connote a “kind of ‘flies in amber’ fetishizing,” the utanikki in fact tends to place “great emphasis on enacting and embodying the moments [and] movements [it] perform[s]” (14). The utanikki functions as a vital testament to “a broad, generous, and compassionate attention,” constellating reflection and memory in relation to the present-tense experience of the “world in the process of unfolding” (15). The work of articulating this sense of at once deep and open-ended experience is facilitated by the utanikki’s dynamic form, which is rooted in the Japanese tradition of haibun, combining haiku or haiku-like poetry and what Joanne Kyger describes as “prose-like descriptive narrative bridges” (33).30 As Miner writes, in the utanikki, “[a]fter prose has said all it can, or at least all that it is decent for it to attempt, poems rise to have their say” (19). A final characteristic of the utanikki that continues to feature prominently in contemporary examples, including Wah’s, is the practice of quoting other poets and observers; the utanikki thus holds the potential for highly textured forms of observation. Such characteristics make the utanikki a fruitful form for Wah in his response to Kiyooka, enabling him to articulate an extended moment of attention to the way that 30  As Wah understands it, haibun is “short prose written from a haiku sensibility and . . . concluded by an informal haiku line” (Waiting; qtd. in Wah, “Fred Wah on Hybridity” 151). “So,” he reflects, “if you’re writing this short piece of prose and you know that you’ve got to end it with a little haiku, that’s going to be in your consciousness as you’re working through the piece; you’re looking for the haiku sensibility—of fragility, seasonality, deep reflection, meditation—in the language” (“Fred Wah on Hybridity” 151).  32  body memory, along with the language and images of a particular artistic inheritance, inflect present experience. The prose bridges carry Wah’s readers through his experience of viewing Kiyooka’s photographs, while the movements into poetry hold us in the moment, attending with him to it. Throughout, Wah mingles Kiyooka’s distinctive and rather eccentric personal vernacular with his own voice and imagery, enacting in and through the text the “layered potency for montage” that, he tells us, the experience of viewing his friend’s old photographs evoked (“Me Too!” 68).31 Kiyooka developed a highly idiosyncratic personal vocabulary over the course of his career as an artist, and one of the terms that he favoured, the word “inter-face,” seems to express particularly well the ethic and form that Wah, along with critics such as Miner and Doherty, associate with the utanikki. Kiyooka tended to insert a hyphen into the middle of the word “interface,” highlighting the term’s two component parts—a tactic that enabled him to evoke through the word an especially strong sense of vitality of encounter, whether among or between bodies, materials, spaces, or phases. For Kiyooka, everyday experience and artistic practice were informed by this notion of the inter-face: he devoted careful attention to the ways in which, for example, one subject meets another, viewing subject meets world, text meets photo, past meets present, and time  31  Wah’s decision to draw on the utanikki in response and homage to Kiyooka is especially apt because Kiyooka himself engaged with the form (e.g. his long poem “Wheels,” which documents Kiyooka’s trip to Japan with his father). Even beyond instances of explicit engagement with the utanikki, aspects of its form and ethic were foundational to Kiyooka’s work. For example, shifts between prose and poetry and a sustained diaristic quality are key characteristics of the writing collected in his two thick volumes of published letters, texts which combine reflections on artistic practice, pedagogy, politics, personal and family history and relations, travel, and everyday experience. Moreover, some of Kiyooka’s most critically lauded works (e.g. StoneDGloves, Pacific Windows) consist of poetry or poetic prose appended to photographs, with the attached text enhancing the viewer’s awareness of the ways in which the photographs emerged out of daily observation and subjective response. Such projects, suggests Wah, “resonate with the utanikki” (“Me Too!” 65).  33  meets place.32 In his life and work, he endeavoured to acknowledge a lively otherness and to nurture an awareness of his own specific position as a viewing subject.33 Moreover, as a Japanese Canadian who had lived through marginalization and displacement during and following the Second World War, Kiyooka was particularly aware of what he termed the “inter-faces” between and within communities and cultures—especially the often disjunctive tensions of such spaces of negotiation—and he brought this awareness of difficulty and complexity to his thinking about what it meant to participate in, and observe, his downtown Vancouver neighbourhood. Like Kiyooka, Wah has long been interested in what he has described as the “poetics of the hyphen”—the hyphen as a linguistic articulation of the social and phenomenological “dynamics of ‘betweenness’” (“Is a Door”)—and his evocation of an intricate set of inter-faces, or spaces of hyphenation, in his “Me Too!” project would likely have pleased his old friend. Combining observation, memory, and imagination, Wah uses the space of the appended text to highlight Kiyooka’s disjunctive relation to the scene he was photographing: he describes Kiyooka sitting and smoking, “crooked shoulder [tucked up] against his chin,” “shooting the framed street . . . from the camouflage at the top of [a] stairwell,” “there but not wanting to be seen there” (“Me Too!” 66). In altering Kiyooka’s photographs to include the figure of a photographer in silhouette, Wah further exposes (without fully revealing) the artist playing the role of shadowy voyeur, clandestinely capturing images from the darkness of the doorway. 32  See “Inter-Face: Roy Kiyooka’s Writing”—which combines an interview with Kiyooka and a commentary on his work by Roy Miki—for further background on Kiyooka’s use of the term “inter-face.” Miki, in his commentary, emphasizes the chiasmic quality of the inter-face in Kiyooka’s art practice (41). 33 Reflecting on Kiyooka’s careful “attention to the textures of language in [his] poems,” Miki notes: “[w]hatever alchemical ingredients were stirred into the making of his speech-writing, the localism of the words at hand—in hand—enact a present-tense ‘i’ that is both affect and effect, both producer and produced” (“Coruscations” 314-15).  34  The inclusion of this figure is also, of course, Wah’s way of emphasizing his own viewing body, with its particular connections to the late 1970s Hastings Street scene in Kiyooka’s photographs.34 “ME too,” Wah writes in the appended text, expressing his paradoxical feelings of connection to, and exclusion from, Kiyooka’s Hastings Street: have always been there some part of myself left behind there but joined to the busy street ... what matters man w. cane walks west woman w. shopping bags man w. no cane walks east empty street I’m left, behind already past the frame always just off the edge. (66, 68) Wah has remarked that he appreciates the utanikki for its “rambling possibility,” and has smilingly referred to his response to Kiyooka as a “Me too Nicky,” or me-too-nikki (“Is a Door”).35 In his play with the utanikki as a form and ethic, Wah highlights its potential for flexibility and texture, making it a space for de-stabilizing and interrogating the authority of the perceiving “I”/eye (or “i,” as Kiyooka would write it), and for articulating the complexities of embodied relationality. This does not mean that he entirely  34  In a reflection on the “Me Too!” project, Wah describes the following connections between his own work, Kiyooka’s, and the Hastings Street environs: “Around 1979-80, Daphne Marlatt had a writing studio on Hastings, just across the street from Save-On Meats, west of Army and Navy. She walked to her studio each day from Keefer Street [in Strathcona, where she lived with Kiyooka]. I was editing her selected poems, Net Work, at the time and she asked Roy to make a photo for the cover of the book” (“Is a Door”). The cover of Marlatt’s Net Work: Selected Writing features a photo montage by Kiyooka that includes one of his shots of Save-On Meats. 35 Wah’s odd spelling of what is, already, a decidedly odd word/phrase is, of course, a nod to bpNichol’s “You Too, Nicky.”  35  undermines Kiyooka’s point of view as a perceiving subject, which to a considerable extent coincides with his own. Rather, Wah’s me-too-nikki at once celebrates shared experience and evokes a lively sense of otherness. Moreover, Wah grapples with a question that, Doherty argues, has often been elided by western practitioners of the poetic diary—“how to honestly acknowledge the place of the self in experience without tipping overboard into confessionalism or navel gazing” (qtd. in Rothenberg 90-91). In repeating the self-consciously childish cry of “Me Too!,” Wah highlights the role that ego plays in his desire to insert himself into the scene, even as his project also contributes to the conversation about what it means to be an attentive, affected artist-observer of an urban community. What Wah ultimately contributes to this conversation, through his “Me Too!” project, is a portrait of artists living and working in Vancouver’s inner-city neighbourhoods as a kind of shadow community. The members of this community are, on the one hand, participants in the life of the neighbourhood, but their position as observing artists—which endows them with cultural and social capital, and (at least in Wah’s and Kiyooka’s cases) more opportunity for mobility than many of the neighbourhood’s lowincome residents—also situates them at a certain remove from the broader community that they photograph and write about. While “Me Too!” pays homage to the honest effort of an artist to document his local community, it also highlights the way in which artists trade in a currency of images and text, and how the power of the observing “I”/eye continues to accrue even in a project that aims to interrogate its own authority. In the final section of “Me Too!” Wah seems to comment on this process, describing the multiplication of his silhouetted selves over the course of his series of altered images:  36  Me too, then three, then four more than another some one else on Hastings Street. (69) Of course, this multiplying figure remains in shadow, at once a configuring presence and an unsettling absence in the artistic document of the neighbourhood.36 Wah’s me-toonikki can be read as an embodied meditation on how neighbourhood residents, in taking on the role of observing artists, find themselves on the outside looking in, engaged in an intricate push and pull of separation and belonging at what Kiyooka would describe as the inter-face of their arts and neighbourhood communities. I have found myself often thinking about Wah’s “Me Too!” because I too am a long-time Vancouverite (I was born and raised in Vancouver, and returned in my midtwenties to pursue graduate work) and have, at times, grappled with my relationship to the city as at once a resident and a researcher. I know that as I produce research on the work of writers such as Kiyooka and Wah, I too am trading in a currency of text and images, and accruing a certain kind of power through my observation, documentation, and critique of urban culture. I am especially aware of the power that lies in selection: for every text that I discuss in this study, there are many more that have informed my thinking, and that might—if not for lack of space—have expanded my discussion of literary responses to Vancouver’s trajectory of change, and my portrait of local writers’  36  To borrow a phrase from Kiyooka in his poem “Mutualities: A Packet of Word/s,” the photographers in shadow (Wah and Kiyooka) “reveal[] even as they conceal their solemn ties” (134). Significantly, the poem “Mutualities” is Kiyooka’s homage to the painter Richard Turner, and it is a text to which Wah explicitly refers in “Me Too!”  37  engagement in the urban project. And there are still, always, more texts to be read, more texts to be written. In both this study and this city, there are many persistent silences. It is true, too, that my affective, embodied relationship to some of the places featured in this study has, inevitably, informed my responses to those places as well as my selection and reading of certain texts. I have, on many occasions, heard that little voice crying “Me Too!” and have tried to maintain an awareness of how sometimes deep emotions might be shading or distorting my perspective and approach. At the same time, though, I consider affect to be a vital and often productive aspect of the relationship between literary texts and their readers—including scholarly readers. Moreover, while my love for the city and its various communities undoubtedly blinds me in some ways, I also know that this love is enhanced not only by my daily participation in civic life, but also by the processes of research, reflection, analysis, and even critique that inform my project. As Vancouver-based poet and critic Jeff Derksen writes in his essay “How High Is the City, How Deep Is Our Love”: By our productive movements through the spaces of the city, and by the making public of streets, parks, galleries, bars, studios, bars, apartments, through the ways we enliven them, and through the discussion of what is possible in a city, we slowly build up the city’s identity and life. Likewise, through the critique of the lack of possibilities . . . and the achingly stupid aspects of any city, we also build up a love for the city in another way. Working on this project in my apartment in Vancouver’s West End, by a window overlooking a downtown alley, I have often felt—like some of the artists whose work I study—at once distanced and implicated, complicit and critically engaged. This tension, I  38  have come to understand, is part of a complicated, and certainly imperfect, way of loving the city. & the lights of Vancouver say shine even when lines aren’t there to be written ... outside the window the rumble of other journeys planes, trains, cars passing the feet of friends or strangers echo the unseen concrete the blind is white under its horizontal ribbing the world enters your ear - bpNichol, “You Too, Nicky”37  37  “You Too, Nicky,” a section of bpNichol’s long poem The Martyrology, was written between 1979 and 1985. It was published posthumously in Gifts: The Martyrology Book(s) 7 &, and is also included in the bpNichol selected works An H in the Heart: A Reader. The version cited here is from Gifts (n. pag.).  39  Chapter One: Historical Overview of Urban Change in Vancouver Vancouver had always seemed more like an encampment than a city . . . , about as permanent as a card table set up for a Friday-night game. - Michael Christie, “Discard” The now-staid Dominion Building began its life as a gleaming, high-tech example of what was possible in architecture. Just like the Sun Life Building in Montreal, it was a very proud colonial reference to the distant sea of Empire. Then it would have housed whatever businesses . . . needed peak profile and status. Now it represents what rental brokers call C or even D Property—desired, primarily, by people like myself, or by outfits that either don’t need or can’t afford shinier digs. Entire populations have washed in and out of the Dominion Building in those one hundred years. In each of them, the change in tenant profile would have shifted minutely, invisibly. But if you stand back and look at the century in total, then you see the change to have been an enormous, city-scale social phenomenon. - Timothy Taylor, in interview with Noah Richler, This Is My Country, What’s Yours? The material contexts of urban change will, for the most part, provide the background for sustained readings of Vancouver-based literary texts (including novelist Timothy Taylor’s Stanley Park) over the course of this study; however, in this chapter they come to the fore in the form of an overview of Vancouver’s history of development. I begin by examining key development trends and emergent narratives of civic identity from Vancouver’s late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century boom era, before turning my attention to the phase of extensive redevelopment in the central city that began after World War II. This period saw the rise of a progressive urban reform movement in  40  response to a long-dominant pro-development agenda at City Hall; however, as we shall see, the uptake of new ideas about urban living and heritage preservation during this era was also connected, in complicated ways, to the class-based transformation of residential neighbourhoods near the core that started to take place in the 1960s and 1970s. I conclude the chapter with a discussion of Vancouver’s most recent period of change, which has been characterized by mega-project development, ongoing gentrification, growing socioeconomic polarization, and the emergence of homelessness as an entrenched social issue. In this final section, I consider the role of hallmark events (Expo ’86 and the 2010 Winter Olympics) in catalyzing development, and reflect on the place these events hold in the local urban imaginary. Over the course of this overview of Vancouver’s development history, I focus in particular on the economic, political, and social forces and events that have contributed to the pervasive feeling articulated by Michael Christie in his recent story “Discard” (2010), and perpetuated especially by players in the local property speculation game, that this city’s built landscape has a card-table quality to it, easily erected and just as easily discarded. Like Timothy Taylor, I try to stand back and take a longer view of Vancouver as an ever-shifting social and spatial structure, attending to distinctive moments and recurring trends in the city’s history of change.  The Early Boom Years: Speculation, Impermanence, Displacement The first decades of Vancouver’s emergence were key to the formation of local attitudes toward development—attitudes that, in slightly altered forms, continue to dominate in the city today. When scholars and other commentators turn their attention to  41  Vancouver’s earliest years, they tend to highlight the intense real estate speculation and rapid growth that were characteristic features of many nineteenth-century settler cities.38 The anticipated completion, in the early 1880s, of the final stretch of the Canadian Pacific Railway led to feverish speculation and development at the proposed sites for the coastal terminus—first at Port Moody (now an eastern suburb of Vancouver) and then, when the CPR announced an extension further west, at Granville, which would be renamed Vancouver when it was incorporated as a city in 1886. The decades-long inaugural boom period that followed transformed what had been a little settlement of a few hundred sawmill workers into the central hub of British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, and ultimately enabled Vancouver to surpass the provincial capital of Victoria as BC’s largest city and major port (Wynn 69, 106-07). Significantly, the year of Vancouver’s inception was marked by what might be described as a formative instance of demolition and redevelopment. Rapid construction was already underway in response to the CPR terminus announcement when, just nine weeks after Vancouver’s incorporation, a fire that had been lit to clear new land burned out of control and the little city was almost completely destroyed by the blaze.39 Vancouver residents, however, had a pressing reason to rebuild quickly in the wake of the city’s destruction: the first transcontinental train was set to arrive in less than a year’s time. According to geographer Graeme Wynn, by the time the train rolled in “local boosters [were] claim[ing] that no other city in the world had enjoyed such prosperity or held such bright promise. . . . In some minds, this burgeoning place with sixteen real 38  See James Belich’s Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783-1939 for an extensive study of what Belich describes as the “precocious sprouting of . . . nineteenthcentury settler cities” (2). 39 Such fires, Stephen Hume emphasizes, were not “uncommon in the wooden cities of the day. San Francisco burned six times from 1849 to 1851. Portland burned in 1873 and Seattle in 1889.”  42  estate firms, twelve grocers, and almost 3,000 inhabitants was well on the way to becoming ‘the metropolis of the west, [and] the London of the Pacific’” (69). As Terminal City, Vancouver grew so quickly that Rudyard Kipling—who visited three times between 1889 and 1907 and invested in multiple parcels of land in the city40— remarked after his last visit: “Time [has] changed Vancouver literally out of all knowledge. From the station to the suburbs, and back to the wharves, every step [is] strange, and where I remember[] open spaces and still untouched timber, the tramcars [are] fleeting people out to a lacrosse game.” Around the time of Kipling’s final visit, city boosters belonging to Vancouver’s “100,000 Club” were enthusiastically championing the slogans “In 1910, Vancouver then, will have 100,000 men” and “Move her! Move her! Who? Vancouver” (qtd. in Matthews 90). When 1910 arrived, the little city had not only met but surpassed the 100,000-resident mark. Two widely disseminated photographs from this early boom era—both staged for the camera—highlight the centrality of speculation and development to Vancouver’s emerging identity. One, labeled “Real Estate Office in Big Tree,” features realtor James Welton Horne and colleagues perched on and around a large felled tree, from which hangs the sign “VANCOUVER LOTS FOR SALE” (see fig. 2, next page). The other shows members of Vancouver City Council standing in front of a tent that was, supposedly, the temporary home of City Hall after the great fire (see fig. 3, next page); the photograph appears to have been taken in the immediate aftermath of the fire, but was actually staged months later (Hayes 52). As Derek Hayes observes in his Historical Atlas of Vancouver, the photograph of the realtors “embodies the spirit of Vancouver after the fire—rebuild, 40  Kipling never found the success in land speculation that some of his contemporaries in Vancouver enjoyed—indeed Lord Birkenhead, in his biography of the author, describes Kipling’s efforts in this domain as “pathetic” (qtd. in Davis).  43  get back to business, and let’s make some money!” (54). The photograph of the officials in front of their makeshift city hall, for its part, retrospectively constructs—and celebrates—the city’s newness and impermanence.  Fig. 2. Harry T. Devine, Real Estate Office in Big Tree, 1886, Vancouver Archives, Vancouver.  Fig. 3. Louis Denison Taylor, City Hall & 1st Council, 1886, Vancouver Archives, Vancouver.  44  If a formative event in Vancouver was its demolition by fire followed by rapid reconstruction stimulated by enhanced speculative interest, the fact that Vancouver was built and rebuilt on unceded Aboriginal land remains this city’s inaugural—and as-yetunresolved—instance of dispossession and displacement.41 “For over a century,” Nicholas Blomley observes in Unsettling the City: Urban Land and the Politics of Property, “First Nations in British Columbia have sought recognition of their rights to land through delegations, legal petitions, and direct action. It was not until 1991 that the province . . . gave partial acknowledgement of aboriginal title, and began treaty negotiations with native peoples, that continue, often proving fractious and controversial” (107). In Vancouver as elsewhere, stories of colonial settlement and urban and suburban development have all too often obscured the local Aboriginal presence. As Blomley points out, not only are Aboriginal people themselves often written out of the city’s story, but so too is the act of dispossession (117). Indeed, even when dispossession is acknowledged, it is often characterized as “a necessary and inevitable transition”; in other words, it is not recognized as an ongoing, fundamentally unsettling fact of the urban project (118).42 I would suggest as well that the particular emphasis on newness and impermanence in the popular discourse about Vancouver only encourages descriptions of the landscape as tabula rasa, the trope that was foundational to colonial expansion and settlement.43  41  Nicholas Blomley emphasizes, however, that “while dispossession is complete, displacement is not” (Unsettling 109). Aggressive property allotment, speculation, and development did lead to extensive displacement, but this has not resulted in the disappearance of Aboriginal people from Vancouver. As Blomley puts it, “[p]hysically, symbolically, and politically, the city is often still a native place” (109). 42 See Penelope Edmonds’ article “Unpacking Settler Colonialism’s Urban Strategies: Indigenous Peoples in Victoria, British Columbia, and the Transition to a Settler-Colonial City” for a penetrating examination of this issue within the context of the rise of Victoria as a settler city. 43 Hayes, for example, inadvertently invokes the tabula rasa metaphor in his commentary on Vancouver’s development after the great fire, suggesting that “the city grew rapidly from its clean slate” (54).  45  While the idea of Vancouver as a new and impermanent landscape is a strategic and in some ways highly problematic construction, I do not mean to suggest that it does not have any basis in fact. It is true, after all, that Vancouver is relatively “young”: it emerged late as a settler city, even in comparison with other settlements on the West Coast, and has undergone its transformation from colonial outpost to regional administrative and processing centre to transnational metropolis in a notably compressed timeframe.44 And there is, too, a longstanding trend toward demolition and rebuilding as opposed to renovation and refurbishment in the city, which enables Vancouver to retain a sense of impermanence and newness. Geographer David Ley attributes this trend in part to the preference for wood as a building material, in this city which was first built around a sawmill and which is located so close to vast timber resources (New Middle Class 3). When residents rebuilt after the 1886 fire, many did choose to use more durable materials (brick, stone), but since that time wood has again become and remained, across the decades, a favoured building material. Newness and impermanence have also remained “facts” of the Vancouver landscape thanks to an ongoing rhetorical emphasis on these traits, especially by those who have stood to profit from this increasingly old story. As Scott Watson observes in his essay “Urban Renewal,” by the mid twentieth century those more durable Victorian and Edwardian structures that had been built following the great fire had fallen out of favour, and architects and planners were exploring a new, modernist vision for the city (38); in his study of architectural modernism in Vancouver, Rhodri Windsor Liscombe suggests  44  Hayes suggests that “[i]n many ways Vancouver was a city waiting to happen; with such an advantageous site it was born at a time when the technology to create a modern metropolis was already available elsewhere: it just had to be brought [to Vancouver]” (54).  46  that the energetic young architects who arrived during this period saw small, culturally marginal Vancouver as “an architectural tabula rasa” (27). In the decades that followed, plans emerged to “renew” (demolish and rebuild) portions of older neighbourhoods in the central city, and the downtown core was “transformed rapidly and dramatically” by commercial modernism (178). Conservation and innovative renovation did also begin to play an important role in shaping Vancouver’s built landscape; however, despite the presence of an active heritage preservation organization, the demolition of older buildings continues today. Rather ironically, numerous examples of mid-century modernist architecture have now been lost to (or are currently threatened with) demolition.45  Vancouver after Mid Century: Rethinking and Redeveloping the Central City One particularly influential factor in Vancouver’s history of development is the city’s physical geography: since Vancouver is bound on two sides by the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains, the extensive suburban expansion that is characteristic of most North American cities has not been possible in Vancouver. Its suburbs to the south and east have, to be sure, grown steadily over the past century (and residential development continues ever higher up the North Shore mountain slope), but geographic constriction has also encouraged planners and developers to devote considerable attention to the centre of the city, where redevelopment has, in the last 50 years, produced one of the  45  Vancouver filmmakers Mike Bernard and Gavin Froome recently completed a documentary, Coast Modern, that explores the emergence of architectural modernism on the West Coast, the values the style embodied, and the (partially) disrupted transference of this vernacular architectural vocabulary from one generation of architects to the next. The film highlights demolition and redevelopment as both a cause and result of failed knowledge transfer. While Bernard and Froome focus on residential modernism, Windsor Liscombe notes in the conclusion to his study of Vancouver modernism that “almost all the major Modernist commissions in downtown Vancouver have been either demolished or distorted out of all recognition—with the partial exception of the BC Electric Head Office, which survives reclad as the Electra condominium” (179).  47  most densely populated downtown cores on the continent. As early as 1956, Vancouver planners were rezoning the West End (on the downtown peninsula) to allow for highrise residential development; a nation-wide recession kept development to a minimum in the early 1960s, but following the recession a building boom began in earnest (Gutstein 101). As was the case in many other cities on the continent, Vancouver’s Central Business District (CBD) also underwent considerable redevelopment during this period.46 And so, while it was still primarily low-rise at mid century, the built landscape of the downtown peninsula had been dramatically transformed, by the 1980s, into highrise office buildings and apartment towers (Hutton 1960).47 Also during this period, proposed urban renewal plans were threatening the historic central-city neighbourhoods of Strathcona and Chinatown, located to the immediate east of the downtown peninsula. With the stated aim of tackling urban “blight,”48 the municipal government proposed the razing of whole blocks of two- and three-story, turn-of-the-century working-class homes, which were to be replaced with row houses and apartments; a new freeway project was also set to cut through Strathcona,  46  Donald Gutstein observes that the West End and the CBD “[fed] off each other,” with population growth in the former ensuring a burgeoning supply of shoppers and office workers for the latter (98). 47 Since this time, constraints on space have also led to considerable densification in Vancouver’s suburbs, where home buyers seeking “urban” lifestyles (walkability, proximity to amenities), but lacking the funds to purchase a home in the sought-after central city, are fuelling mid- and high-density development. According to Christina DeMarco, a Metro Vancouver senior planner, Vancouver currently has more suburban residents living in dense developments than any other city in North America (Bula, “Home” S1, S4). Metro Vancouver is also set to finalize its new Regional Growth Strategy, which will help protect agricultural and industrial land from (sub)urban sprawl. (The Regional Growth Strategy builds on and modifies land designations made in the Livable Region Strategic Plan, introduced by the Greater Vancouver Regional District [now Metro Vancouver] in 1996.) 48 A pro-development National Film Board film from the period, To Build a Better City (1964), describes in voiceover the need for urban renewal while displaying a series of shots of the residential areas to the east and south of the downtown core: “Blight is death to a city. And these dwellings, built with such hope and care at the turn of the century, are dying, board by board, and the property they occupy dies with them. Most of Vancouver is kept strong and healthy through the normal process of land and building renewal, but in areas such as this nothing happens except dilapidation, and decay gets worse each year. Property values fall, and blight is the result.”  48  Chinatown, and Gastown (Harcourt et al. 33). “Armed with background studies to rationalize the rebuilding of the inner city through slum clearance, and using its powers of expropriation, the municipal government purchased properties deemed ‘blighted’ for comprehensive demolition and redevelopment,” Jo-Anne Lee recounts in her study of the multi-ethnic forms of community-based activism that arose in opposition to the project (384). Beginning with the area through which the new freeway connector was to run, the City cleared 30 acres of land and, in the process, displaced 3300 people (384). Perhaps the most devastating loss was Hogan’s Alley, the centre of Vancouver’s small black community.49 Ultimately, however, the final and most extensive phase of this project was halted as a result of the efforts of a coalition of neighbourhood residents, business owners, politicians, concerned professionals, and members of the arts and counterculture communities (see Lee, “Gender, Ethnicity”; Harcourt et al.; Watson; Ley, New Middle Class; Ley et al.; Gutstein). The surge of resistance marked the beginning of a new period in local politics, in which the question of how “to build a better city” (to borrow the title 49  Wayde Compton, poet and founding member of the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project (HAMP), explains further: “Hogan’s Alley” was the local, unofficial name for Park Lane, an alley that ran through the southwestern corner of Strathcona . . . during the first six decades of the twentieth century. While Hogan’s Alley and the surrounding area was an ethnically diverse neighbourhood during this era, home to many Italian, Chinese and Japanese Canadians, a number of black families, black businesses, and the city’s only black church—the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel— were located there. As such, Hogan’s Alley was the first and last neighbourhood in Vancouver with a substantial concentrated black population. . . . Today, the block or so that is left of the alley itself bears no mark that there was ever a black presence there, having become part of greater Chinatown. Nevertheless, the building that was the Fountain Chapel still stands, and is still a church, having been handed over to the Chinese Lutherans in the 1980s. (Compton, “Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project”) HAMP members have initiated and supported various grassroots memorial initiatives, including poetry (see Compton’s Performance Bond) and a guerrilla gardening project conceived by Lauren Marsden that saw the planting of the words “HOGAN’S ALLEY WELCOMES YOU” in a green space near the viaduct, mimicking similar official floral messages of civic welcome (“Guerrilla Art and Public Memory”). In 2010, as the City discussed plans to close and demolish the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, HAMP was continuing to call for the history of the area to be remembered in the form of an official public memorial (“New Facebook Group”).  49  of a local pro-“renewal” promotional film from the era) became the subject of intense debate. Since 1937, the pro-growth, pro-development Non-Partisan Association (NPA) had held office at City Hall, but in 1968 two new municipal parties—The Electors’ Action Movement (TEAM), consisting primarily of younger, middle-class, liberal professionals, and the more left-wing Committee of Progressive Electors (COPE), which provided a voice for anti-poverty groups, tenants, and unions (Ley, New Middle Class 4)—were formed, with TEAM eventually coming to power in 1972 on a platform that “incorporated growth management, urban aesthetics, and social justice in an uneasy amalgam” (4). In his now-foundational study The New Middle Class and the Remaking of the Central City, David Ley explores the changes in the local discourse about city building that were taking place in Vancouver (as well as other major Canadian cities) during this period. Factors in Vancouver’s transformation included its role as a hub for the 1960s counter-culture (see Aronsen), the critique of post-war society that informed this youth movement, the expansion of the welfare state, and new ideas about city building and urban living that developed in conjunction with emergent social, cultural, and environmental values of the period (Ley, New Middle Class 3-6). These ideas about the city were taken up especially by members of the baby boom generation, who came of age in the 1960s and, by the 1970s, were establishing professional careers. Many, Ley notes, were employed in the public and non-profit sectors (4), which informed how they understood the function of local government and their own roles as citizens in ensuring and enhancing the public good. The expanding welfare state not only provided jobs for this cohort, but also funded many new social projects. Jeff Sommers and Nick Blomley  50  point out that “[m]uch of the present-day social infrastructure of Vancouver was organized during this period as non-profit organizations proliferated in response to community demands for services and political representation” (37). The welfare state also provided support for an interactive planning process that, especially in the 1970s under the guidance of the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s director of planning Harry Lash, attempted to bring the opinions of ordinary residents to the table (see Harcourt et al. 76-86). Jane Jacobs’s critique of slum clearance projects and her ideas about urban livability and community dynamics, especially as articulated in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, were particularly influential in shaping the new generation’s visions for the city; Henri Lefebvre’s call (made in the lead-up to the 1968 student uprisings in Paris) for a city that fosters play and sensual pleasure as well as fulfilling the basic needs of all inhabitants also played a role. Ley explains: “If, as Jane Jacobs charged, the modernization of the Canadian city then underway showed no advance upon the modernist visionaries of the 1920s and their dream of the freeway, high-rise city, the urban reformers of the 1970s had a more humanistic view with a complex approach to the quality of urban experience” (New Middle Class 4). The reformers wanted “a city people [could] live in and enjoy”;50 their vision for Vancouver privileged mixed-use zoning to enhance amenity accessibility and walkability, improvement and expansion of parks and other green spaces, greater government responsibility for housing and infrastructure (e.g. social housing, public transit), and resident participation in the planning process (4).  50  This phrase was a TEAM campaign slogan from the 1974 municipal election (qtd. in Ley, New Middle Class 20n13).  51  The turn to and rethinking of the city during this period had a range of complicated effects. The countercultural groups who moved into central city neighbourhoods during the 1960s, from the flourishing artist and bohemian communities in the early part of the decade to the influx of hippies a few years later, helped initiate this turn and the continuing transformation of Vancouver’s central area into the 1970s. Ley observes that the youth culture of the 1960s included not only the last in a long line of poorer households occupying the inner city, but also the first in a new sequence of residents for whom the inner city would not be the site of last resort for households with few choices, but rather the preferred location of a middle-class cohort with a rather different vision of the opportunities of city living. (175; emphasis in orig.) Guided by data from Montreal and Toronto as well as Vancouver, Ley proposes a succession model for the movement of the middle class into traditionally undervalued areas of the central city, with members from lower positions in the class hierarchy (e.g. “bohemians” and artists, social- and cultural-sector employees) serving as bellwethers for other professionals and businesspeople with more economic capital (“Artists” 2540). While many members of the more progressive wing of the middle class may have been keen to save historic inner-city neighbourhoods from redevelopment and to prevent the displacement of longtime inhabitants, the desire of this class cohort to live in these areas placed increasing pressure on the real estate market. Housing prices rose, making the neighbourhoods less affordable for the populations who had traditionally inhabited them, and evictions began to occur as property owners and speculators saw opportunities  52  for redeveloping property for the new, growing middle-class market. Importantly, too, “saving” particular neighbourhoods meant different things for different members of the expanding middle class. For some, it meant helping to sustain longstanding communities in place, but for others, it involved simply protecting and, often, upgrading built structures; as Sommers and Blomley emphasize, heritage preservation was as much, if not more, “an alternative economic and property development strategy” as it was a progressive social project (41). In Vancouver, as in many other North American and European cities, “saving” central city neighbourhoods became intimately tied up with the gentrification of these areas. Coined in the early 1960s by British sociologist Ruth Glass, the term gentrification, Loretta Lees et al. explain, was originally used to describe “a complex urban process that included the rehabilitation of old housing stock, tenurial transformation from renting to owning, property price increases, and the displacement of working-class residents by the incoming middle classes” (Lees et al. 5); however, most gentrification scholars now recognize a more expansive definition that includes newbuild development along with renovation and refurbishment (129). New construction played a key role in the transformation of Vancouver’s central area, especially following the introduction, in 1966, of legislation allowing for strata ownership of apartment units. The aim of the legislation was, according to Watson, to “stimul[ate] . . . development and to increase the value of urban real estate” (39). Watson goes on to observe that the subsequent condominium boom “transformed not just the appearance of Vancouver, but the texture of everyday life and the notion of what constitutes a home” (39). The changing landscape and real estate market brought with them a new rhetoric about what it  53  meant to live in the city: Caroline A. Mills, in her examination of architectural styles and marketing messages associated with new-build developments in Vancouver’s Fairview neighbourhood during the 1970s and 1980s, finds that new developments were, over the years, increasingly “promoted with images of upward social mobility, convenience of location, and—most prominently—the qualities of ‘urban’ living. To quote a representative example, developers offer ‘ . . . truly distinctive city homes—homes that city people will treasure for the pleasure they add to an urban lifestyle’” (“Fairview Slopes” 309; see also Mills, “Life”). “Livability” effectively became a commodified lifestyle as developers and realtors co-opted and transformed the messages of this urban agenda for marketing purposes. The 1970s also saw significant decline in the primary resource industries of the region—forestry, mining, and fishing—and the concomitant “‘decoupling’ of the Vancouver economy from . . . resource production in the rest of the province” (Barnes and Hutton 1254). As Vancouver moved toward a post-industrial (or, more accurately, post-staples) and post-corporate economy, it also entered the first phase of redevelopment of the industrial lands circling the False Creek basin, which separates the downtown peninsula from the southern part of the central city. The major project of this initial phase, during which the lands on False Creek’s south shore were transformed into “medium-density residential and amenity uses” (Mills, “Life” 173), was the redevelopment of Granville Island into a mixed landscape of consumption and production, comprising “a public food market, theatres, an art college and hotel, and shops and offices cheek by jowl with new and long-established industry, including a cement plant” (Ley, New Middle Class 6-7). Along with serving as an important new  54  destination for tourists, Granville Island became the prime amenity space used to lure buyers to nearby Fairview with promises of a leisured urban lifestyle. Ley offers this description of the transformation: On Granville Island an adventure playground was created in the shell of the former Spear & Jackson sawmill, . . . an unprepossessing corrugated iron structure, in places rusting, dented, and torn. The playground (as a microcosm of the Island) contained some of the inversions of a contemporary urban aesthetic, an orientation to experience and the sensuous. . . . [The Island’s] retail outlets contain no chain stores, its produce is advertised as direct from regional farms, its goods are personalized by resident artists and craftspeople. The public market . . . is a . . . swirl of colours, sounds, tastes, and fragrances, an aesthetic triumph, joyous festival. (7) Ley goes on to wonder if the acts of conspicuous consumption that now take place on Granville Island—and indeed, the “carefully themed” island itself—are “the true harvest of 1968,” the actual cultural and social product of the urban revisioning that informed this period of social change (7). Certainly, the transformation of Granville Island and nearby Fairview was part of a shift toward a new landscape of cultural consumption and production in Vancouver, and toward increasingly commodified conceptualizations of urbanity. It also demonstrated the potential profitability of redevelopment on False Creek’s industrial lands, setting the scene for major projects on North and East False Creek over the next three decades.  55  From Expo ’86 to the 2010 Winter Olympics: The Rise of the Neoliberal City The 1980s and 1990s saw the global emergence of neoliberalism, which David Harvey has defined, in A Brief History of Neoliberalism, as “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade” (2). Privatization, deregulation, and the reduction of social programs are all common practices of the neoliberal state, which endeavours to create the conditions for new markets to emerge, while keeping intervention in existing markets to a minimum (3). In the early 1980s, with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan leading the way in Britain and the United States, nation-states across the globe began to take up neoliberal forms of governance, resulting in what Neil Brenner and Nik Theodore have described as a “dramatic U-turn of policy agendas throughout the world” (3). Canada was no exception: in the closing decades of the twentieth century, the federal government amended its immigration policy and developed transnational agreements with the goal of removing impediments to cross-border trade and attracting global capital. Canada’s immigration policy changes were clearly class-based: in 1978, the federal government introduced a Business Immigration Program, amending it in 1984 and again in 1986 as Britain announced that it would hand over control of Hong Kong to China (see Mitchell; Olds, Globalization). As Katharyne Mitchell observes in Crossing the Neoliberal Line, the new legislation—which “entitl[ed] those with capital or business experience to skip processing queues, procure landed-immigrant status, and ‘join’ the greater Canadian community without the usual hurdles and aggravating bureaucratic delays”—targeted  56  wealthy immigrants from Hong Kong who were considering leaving the colony (or acquiring citizenship elsewhere) in anticipation of the 1997 handover (Mitchell 4, 58). Actually existing neoliberalism is, Brenner and Theodore explain, “polycentric and multiscalar”: “in contrast to neoliberal ideology, in which market forces are assumed to operate according to immutable laws no matter where they are ‘unleashed,’ we emphasize the contextual embeddedness of neoliberal restructuring processes insofar as they have been produced within [supranational,] national, regional and local contexts” (3; emphasis in orig.). The combination of class-based amendments to the federal immigration act, the surge in immigration and investment interest from Hong Kong, and provincial-level neoliberal restructuring initiatives ultimately generated a range of regional and local impacts in British Columbia, including the dramatic reshaping of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula. BC was particularly hard hit by the global recession of the early 1980s, and the provincial government responded by introducing a Thatcherinspired “restraint” program. However, Mitchell notes that “while the working rights and benefits of labor were eviscerated,” the BC government also engaged, during this period, “in a land-buying spree. In an attempt to stimulate the economy by diversifying away from resources and by initiating megaprojects, the provincial government . . . acquired massive quantities of land for redevelopment” (46). The purchase, by provincial crown corporation BC Place Ltd., of 176 acres of CPR-owned land51 on North False Creek in late 1980 was made with the declared premise that the land would be “for public use,” and that its first function would be to serve as hosting area for a world exposition in 1986 (Bennett, qtd. in Olds, Globalization  51  The land was purchased from CPR subsidiary Marathon Realty. The amount of acreage purchased “later increased to 224 acres” (Olds 2001: 101).  57  101). After the fair, however, the site—which made up approximately one-sixth of the downtown peninsula—was put on the market as a single package (“effectively exclud[ing] small-scale developers with low capitalization levels” [Olds 108]), and was sold in 1988 to Hong Kong-based billionaire Li Ka-shing, who would go on to redevelop the site as Concord Pacific Place, one of the continent’s largest condominium megaprojects (Smith and Derksen 68). The sale and massive redevelopment project initiated Vancouver into the phase of gentrification in which, according to Neil Smith, “real-estate development becomes a centerpiece of the city’s productive economy, an end in itself, justified by appeals to jobs, taxes, and tourism. . . . [T]he construction of new gentrification complexes in central cities,” Smith continues, “has become an increasingly unassailable capital accumulation strategy for competing urban economies” (“New Globalism” 443; emphasis in orig.). The Concord Pacific Place mega-project would ultimately function as lynchpin for the development, on the southeastern portion of the downtown peninsula, of Vancouver’s new upscale condominium neighbourhood of Yaletown. The seafoam-green glass towers of Yaletown became, in turn, the dominant image of the “new” Vancouver. While this image is very different from the felled tree and makeshift tent in the photographs from Vancouver’s inaugural boom period, it told the same story of a newly emergent landscape, a developer’s and speculator’s paradise. The future of the North False Creek industrial lands that would eventually become home to Concord Pacific Place had been in question since the mid-century beginnings of industrial decline. The first plan for residential development in this part of the city was put forward in 1969, but political conflict and concerns about economic viability stalled development throughout the 1970s (Olds, Globalization 100). In 1980, aiming to catalyze  58  development, the government announced that Vancouver would host a world’s fair at the site (100); geographer Kris Olds argues that the city’s centenary in 1986 was “simply a suitable excuse” for the event that became Expo ’86: the link to an important date in Vancouver’s history, he suggests, was “required in order to attract support from the community, all levels of government, and the Bureau of International Expositions” (100). Expo ’86 was the first of two major forays, in Vancouver, into the use of hallmark events as “fast-track, facilitative mechanism[s] to speed up the redevelopment process” (Olds, qtd. in Pablo)—the second would be the 2010 Winter Olympics (announced in 2003), which would offer yet another reason for accelerated infrastructure and amenity development and would see a major section of former industrial lands at the southeastern end of False Creek become the site of the Olympic Village. Along with providing incentive and justification for the provincial government to amass and (after the fair) sell the land on False Creek’s north shore for private development (Olds, Globalization 105), Expo ’86 also enhanced Vancouver’s profile on the world stage, helping develop the city’s reputation as a site for investment and as a “world class” tourist destination. In his research on this period of change, Olds describes the negative impacts of Expo on residential communities in the central city. “The fair,” he observes, was . . . used to spur on the redevelopment of [the Downtown Eastside,] a stable low-income community (the “slums” according to Premier [Bill] Bennett) which bordered the Expo site. This area . . . was traumatized by the forced eviction of between 500 and 850 elderly and handicapped residential hotel and rooming house residents[,] a process which drove several evictees to their premature death. (Globalization 105-06; see also Campbell et al.; Olds, “Canada”; Cameron,  59  Fighting; Olds, “Chronology”) The new, more lucrative market for the hotels proved to be a temporary one: after Expo, vacancy rates rose again, and “the vast majority of evicting residential hotels began catering to traditional clientele” (Olds, “Canada”). But Expo set the stage for the reshaping of Vancouver’s downtown that was to come, both by providing the rationale for the acquisition of the North False Creek site, and by offering an early indicator of the tensions and displacements that would continue to accompany the core’s transformation. The closing decades of the twentieth century were marked by racial as well as class tensions, as Vancouver’s Asian immigrant population grew quickly in the wake of the immigration policy changes and concerted efforts by government officials to attract investment and elite immigrants to the city (Mitchell 57).52 Such tensions were not new: Vancouver has, since its inception, been home to many residents of Asian descent, and as Glenn Deer observes the city has “a long, but often overlooked, history of significant conflicts between dominant white communities and minority communities of colour, mainly of Asian background, over the ownership and use of space” (“New Yellow Peril” 20). Most of Vancouver’s earliest residents of Asian descent earned substandard wages and were restricted to specific spheres of employment;53 as a minority group they lacked economic as well as social and political power, and were subject to racializing strategies of spatial management, both institutional and informal (Anderson). Key examples include  52  According to Mitchell, “[m]any regions around the world attempted to attract the Hong Kong capital, but British Columbia laid siege in an especially stubborn and effective manner. Building on preexisting connections . . . , the province began an all-out campaign to sell Vancouver as a world-class city in which to do business and reside” (57). 53 Vancouver’s early community of Chinese settlers was, Kay Anderson explains in Vancouver’s Chinatown, “economically differentiated into a small élite of well-to-do merchants and their wives, a significant minority of small businessmen, and a large number of workers. Family life was the preserve of a minuscule proportion of the merchant sector who could afford the onerous head tax and whose often elegant living conditions set them widely apart from the less privileged ‘bachelors’” (79).  60  the race riots of 1887 and 1907 spearheaded by anti-Asian organizations, which resulted in extensive destruction of property in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Japantown; the 1885 Chinese head tax (raised in 1900 and 1903) and the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act, which limited immigration from China until 1947; and, during World War II, the federal government’s decision to seize Japanese Canadian property and confine Japanese Canadians in internment camps (see Deer, “New Yellow Peril”; Barnholden; Anderson; Miki and Kobayashi; Ward; Adachi). It is important, however, not to emphasize the actions and strategies of dominant white communities at the expense of attending to Asian Canadian subjectivities and agency, and their role in the formation of institutions, communities, and spaces in Vancouver (Ng 6-8). As Wing Chung Ng argues in his study of Chinese Canadians in the city, while “the asymmetrical relationship between the dominant host and Chinese [Canadians] [is] too glaring to be ignored,” we must also recognize “the dynamics and complexities of . . . identity construction and contestation” within Chinese Canadian and immigrant Chinese communities, and the ways in which cultural, social, and economic variables have “play[ed] out differently for different groups and at different times” in Vancouver (6, 8). Such group differences, together with “process[es] of group interaction and engagement,” are the focus of Ng’s study, which explores and delineates the “discursive parameters” of the complicated, inter-generational debates about identity within Vancouver’s Chinese Canadian community (6). New variables certainly came to the fore during the period of property-related conflict at the close of the twentieth century. It mattered, for instance, that many of the new immigrants and investors from Hong Kong had a substantial amount of economic  61  power, and that their growing interest in Vancouver’s property market extended to middle-class, predominantly white suburban areas (especially Richmond, just south of Vancouver) and to neighbourhoods on Vancouver’s affluent West Side that had long been the enclaves of white elites. A significant amount of single-family-home development (including the construction of so-called “monster houses”) began to take place with the aim of catering to this emerging Asian market, and cultural differences in housing and landscape aesthetics enhanced tensions in residential areas (Mitchell 16364).54 The state, as I have emphasized, was instrumental in creating the conditions for this period of rapid respatialization in Vancouver, and many local developers, realtors, and property owners were keen to capitalize on the emerging market opportunities; as Eva-Marie Kröller observes, “The urgency with which the project of turning Vancouver into a welcoming site for Asian investors [was] conducted derive[ed] from an economic agenda which [was] equally important to newcomers and older residents” (“Regionalism” 281). However, the new Hong Kong immigrants (and, indeed, longtime residents of Asian descent, who—in a failure or unwillingness to acknowledge the diversity of communities of Asian background in Vancouver—were sometimes conflated with this group) became the prime targets of increasingly angry responses to the city’s transformation (Deer, “New Yellow Peril”; Mitchell; Ray et al.). “[I]n complex ways,” Mitchell argues, the heretofore “invisible” workings of certain aspects of the circuits of capital . . .  54  As Mitchell explains, “[c]ultural differences became apparent in many areas: beliefs around geomancy or feng shui, the importance of size and newness rather than architectural or landscape aesthetics, views on nature and gardens, assumptions about appropriate family relations and size, and conceptions related to the meaning of home” (163-64).  62  were rendered visible (vis-à-vis the practical consciousness of the residents) as a result of the spatial practices and presence of the Hong Kong immigrants, who were positioned as the ultimate vectors of fast capital. This sudden visibility forced Canadian residents to consider more fully the repercussions of the state’s neoliberal agenda, which facilitated the creation of a spaceless, free-flowing, giant enterprise zone. . . . At the same time, it exposed the limits of many taken-forgranted liberal assumptions in Canadian society. (4-5) Further complicating matters, some of those who stood to profit from Hong Kong investment and immigration used charges of racism as “a strategic intervention to silence critics” (Ley, “Rhetoric” 340), their “cynical manipulation of the ideology of tolerance” exacerbating rather than alleviating tensions in local communities (Mitchell 37). In other words, both racist discourse55 and a distorted version of Canada’s national discourse of multicultural tolerance were employed by parties attempting to manage and control space during this period.56 I have, thus far, foregrounded the roles played by the federal and provincial governments in creating the conditions for Vancouver’s transformation in the closing decades of the twentieth century, but what Hutton has described as “the extraordinary reordering of inner-city space” during this period was also guided by policy and planning 55  Among the various forms of “subliminal and not-so-subliminal racial prejudice” that proliferated, Kröller points to a particular emphasis on the absenteeism of Hong Kong buyers, whether . . . in empty “monster houses” in which the lights [were] automatically switched on and off to simulate their inhabitants’ presence or in the off-shore purchase of vast chunks of valuable real-estate. Here, the buyer’s or occupant’s absence [became] proof not so much of an enviable transnationalism but of evasiveness and impenetrability. Both of these are staples of orientalist discourse in which the Orient plays seductive but untrustworthy female to the West’s conquering hero. (“Regionalism” 278) 56 I have focused on late-twentieth-century Hong Kong immigration and investment because it was connected with heightened property-related tension and inspired widespread public debate. However, immigration from Hong Kong tapered off after the handover to China; in recent years, Vancouver has seen an influx of mainland Chinese immigrants, as well as significant immigration from other East and South Asian countries (see Yu; City of Vancouver, “Multiculturalism and Diversity”).  63  at the municipal level (“Post-Industrialism” 1954). Hutton argues that the City of Vancouver’s Central Area Plan, implemented in 1991, diverged in notable ways both from previous planning in Vancouver and from approaches to planning elsewhere (195455). The plan circumscribed the space occupied by the Central Business District, made housing a priority in the downtown areas surrounding the CBD, and “enabled the rise of a specialised inner-city ‘New Economy’ shaped by intersections between culture and technology” (1955). After government restraint had, in the 1980s, put an end to the participatory planning initiatives of the 1970s, the City’s new policy direction in the 1990s also included the re-integration of public consultation into the planning process (though grassroots organizations continued to play a crucial role in resident advocacy). According to Hutton, municipal planners tried “to balance the market, the broader public and marginal groups by means of a dialectical process of plan-making”; however, generally the City tended to accommodate “ascendant ‘new class’ interests over those of declining occupations and social groups,” and to privilege new construction at the expense of preservation (1975). The recent redevelopment of the downtown core has been celebrated by many commentators, and copied by planners elsewhere. In his book The Vancouver Achievement, for instance, urban design scholar John Punter argues that Vancouver underwent an “urban renaissance” thanks to local planning and policy initiatives: Vancouver can justifiably claim to be a compact, proto-sustainable city with a livable downtown surrounded by a series of distinct high-density, mixed-use residential areas. . . . It has reclaimed its derelict industrial waterfront for public recreational use, . . . [and is transforming] into a resort in its own right, quite apart  64  from enriching the quality of life for its citizens. (346) Architecture critic Trevor Boddy has become a major champion of Vancouverism, a term that, he explains in the introduction to an exhibition on the subject co-curated with architect Dennis Sharp, was first coined by “American architects and city planners . . . who began speaking of ‘Vancouverizing’ their under-populated, unloved urban cores”: Our city has become first a verb, and now, an ideology promoting an urbanism of density and public amenity. Vancouverism at its best brings together a deep respect for the natural environment with high concentrations of residents. Within condominium residential towers . . . and courtyard and boulevard-edging mid-rise buildings . . . , Vancouverites are learning to live tightly together. (Sharp and Boddy) Both Punter and Boddy acknowledge that there remain important issues, such as a lack of affordable housing, that planning and policy initiatives have failed to resolve; nevertheless, they tend in their work toward generally positive, sometimes even boosterish, assessments of Vancouver’s recent transformation (see also Boddy, “Vancouverism”). Numerous critics, however, have emphasized that during this same period, homelessness became an entrenched social problem in the city, and working- and even some middle-class residents started to struggle in the face of astronomical housing prices. Funding for the National Housing Act—which saw the creation of thousands of social units across the country annually—was cut by 1993, to be replaced by the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP), a program whose name, Smith and Derksen point out, is reminiscent of the language of earlier “regeneration” programs, and which  65  only offers “grants for ‘upgrades’ and maintenance of existing buildings” (80; see Government of Canada). At the same time, Vancouver began to see a significant decrease in the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units that housed many of the city’s poor. Smith and Derksen note that while the BC Housing program cut funding and placed much of the onus for “regeneration” on the private sector, the City did initiate a program that responded to resident displacement in the Downtown Eastside by providing new social housing, though it was not able keep up with the loss of other dwellings (86). The ongoing housing shortage, in combination with the extensive upscale development that was taking place elsewhere in the city and proving a growing threat to the long-established Downtown Eastside community, resulted in a three-month-long protest that became known as Woodsquat. In September 2002, protestors formed a tent city on the sidewalk outside of Woodward’s department store; once the commercial centre of this struggling community, the building had been standing empty since the store’s closure in 1993 while developers, government officials, and non-profit groups attempted to negotiate a deal for its future. The protestors were eventually moved to temporary accommodations, and the City bought the property from the Province in early 2003 (Campbell et al. 188-90). A new mixed-use development, which included 200 units of social housing (plus retail space and approximately 500 condominium units), was finally completed in early 2010, just in time for the Olympics. The development remains controversial, with critics arguing that it will contribute to gentrification, and supporters applauding the social housing units and the fact that the new businesses employ neighbourhood residents (Baluja). The ongoing homelessness crisis and ever-mounting concerns about  66  gentrification57 have remained hot-button issues in Vancouver during the past decade. These concerns, combined with memories of the Expo-related evictions of the mid1980s, made housing a much-discussed issue in the lead-up to the announcement of the Olympics in 2003, and to the Games themselves in 2010. Activist groups were particularly vigilant about the impact of Olympics-related development, speculation activity, and tourism on housing affordability and availability. According to a count commissioned by the City of Vancouver, homelessness continued to rise throughout the decade (Eberle Planning and Research 1);58 however, the extent to which the impending Olympics contributed to the problem remains the subject of debate (see, for example, Delisle; Lewis). The original development plan for the Olympic Village did include promises of a significant amount of social and affordable housing; as early as 2005, however, the number of planned units was already being scaled back.59 Built on former industrial land on the southeast shore of False Creek, the Olympic Village is part of a larger site that will be developed over the course of the next decade,  57  In a recent study, David Ley and Cory Dobson observe that certain factors (e.g. community activism, public policy, the presence of social housing, a lack of amenities, higher levels of crime, a “gritty street scene,” and proximity to working industrial sites) have helped slow long-anticipated gentrification in particular Vancouver neighbourhoods, including the Downtown Eastside and the adjacent neighbourhood of Grandview-Woodlands (Commercial Drive) (2493). However, they emphasize that “the loss of affordability elsewhere” in the city is nevertheless starting to bring “in the middle class in larger numbers . . . , creating significant conflicts about the definition of liveable environments and tolerable behaviour in public spaces. As planners, police, social workers and politicians are appealed to as intermediaries, the role of public policy . . . continues to be significant” (2493). 58 The same report finds that, while the homeless population increased between 2008 and 2010, the annual homelessness growth rate decreased slightly. More homeless people were also being accommodated in shelters in 2010 (Eberle Planning and Research 1). A year later, in 2011, the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count found similar numbers, recording a very slight increase in the City of Vancouver’s overall homelessness population, but a significant decrease in the number of unsheltered homeless. The Metro Vancouver count also found that the suburb of Surrey now has the largest unsheltered homeless population in the region (OrgCode Consulting 1-2). 59 The original development plan for the Olympic Village promised that two-thirds of the Village’s 1100 units would be affordable or social housing units. In 2005, Vancouver City Council cut back the number to 252, with 30 to 50 percent set aside for “core-need individuals” (Delisle). In late 2010, as the first tenants began to move into the Village, there were 126 social housing units available and another 126 were being rented out to “essential service workers” (e.g. firefighters, police, nurses) at market rates (Cole 1).  67  and that will, according to the City, become home to between 12,000 and 16,000 people by 2020 (City of Vancouver, “About SEFC”). But the future of the Village and surrounding area is uncertain. During the Village’s construction, mounting costs combined with the global recession led to a funding crisis, and the City was forced to borrow additional funds to complete the project; the property was placed into receivership in late 2010, and prices for market units have been cut by an average of 30 per cent (Sherlock and Lee). It is still too early to assess the total cost to taxpayers for the Village on False Creek (as it has been rebranded by Vancouver real estate marketer and “condo king” Bob Rennie), or what the future of South East False Creek will look like in terms of development, housing costs and rents, and availability of social housing. While a somewhat different narrative seems to be playing out than the one for the Expo lands, it is important to keep in mind that a year after Expo, the future of False Creek’s north shore was also still very much in doubt: it was not until 1988 that the Expo lands were sold to Li Ka-shing (and then for only a portion of the original cost)—a move that was widely criticized at the time. Indeed, the history of the Expo lands reminds us that there will be more than one story to be told about the Olympic Village and South East False Creek. With this in mind, I wish to close this chapter by briefly reflecting on the place of Expo and the Olympics in Vancouver’s popular imagination. I have focused especially on the more negative impacts of accelerated development catalyzed by such hallmark events, but it is true that they have brought real benefits, too: I would emphasize especially the transportation infrastructure projects that were pursued in the lead-up to both Expo and the Olympics, as well as, from a social perspective, the sense of belonging that the events instilled in many, though not all, Vancouverites (and, in the case of the Olympics, in  68  Canadians more broadly).60 Like urban planning scholar Leonie Sandercock, I am convinced that “a city of bread and circuses” is possible (“Negotiating Fear” 201; emphasis in orig.); however, Vancouver’s ongoing struggle with homelessness and the debt left to taxpayers by the Olympics suggest that we have not yet figured out how to achieve both of these objectives—fulfilling social needs and celebrating through festival—together. I wonder, too, if the emotional attachment many Vancouverites feel to Expo and the Olympics impedes the important work of imagining what a different trajectory of change might have looked like, or what we might do differently in the future. As Derksen has suggested in a recent essay, our “love for the city,” as he puts it, is often harnessed and directed toward policy objectives that may not always be in residents’, or the city’s, best interest (“How High”). Vancouver-based designer Lindsay Brown has been exploring this issue as part of her research on the UN Habitat Conference on Human Settlements (or Habitat ’76), which a still-“provincial” Vancouver hosted for two weeks in May and June 1976. According to Brown, the event was at the time the largest conference the UN had ever assembled. It was the first time the world community met to discuss the growing challenges of urbanization, the accelerating human migration from rural to urban areas, urban problems including clean water, sanitation, poverty and homelessness, as well as the nascent field of 60  In saying this, I wish to emphasize that it is always important to question and discuss the terms of such belonging. In the case of the surge of Canadian nationalism inspired by the 2010 Olympics, scholars have taken different perspectives on the phenomenon: Jeff Derksen has described it as “a nonreflexive form of nationalism that was resistant to any challenge or questioning” (“How High” n16); Laura Moss, on the other hand, has suggested that it might be described as an example of “strategic nationalism,” arguing that it was “not an uncritical celebration of all things red and white—the more traditional notion of cultural nationalism—but a focused pride on Canadian accomplishments in the realm of the arts or sports” (qtd. in Woo). My own sense, from anecdotal observation, is that the sentiment was interpreted and enacted by different individuals in decidedly different ways—sometimes uncritically, and sometimes in the strategic, focused manner described by Moss.  69  sustainable urban design. (Habitat Forum)61 Conference attendees included Buckminster Fuller, Mother Teresa, Margaret Mead, and Pierre and Margaret Trudeau, along with many other international delegates. Brown is particularly interested in Habitat Forum, a people’s forum associated with the conference. Five art deco seaplane hangars at Jericho Beach were retrofitted by a team of 11,000 local labourers (including a number of skilled craftsmen, as well as local youth who were taught skills on the job) for the event, which was organized and run by citizens without government intervention (Brown, Who Killed Habitat?). And, as Brown notes, they converted the site “without waste. They re-used salvaged BC lumber, the hand-forged iron railings that had once graced the Lion’s Gate Bridge, silk from WWII parachutes and other materials from Vancouver’s history.” Brown wonders why we remember events such as Expo and the Olympics, while this citizen-run forum—which was executed “without bureaucracy, without real estate developers, without stock brokers and without bankers,” and which could have made Vancouver a real leader in housing and sustainable design issues—has been all but lost from the city’s memory.62 Brown has set herself the task of bringing Habitat ’76 back into Vancouverites’ collective memory: she is currently writing a book about Habitat Forum, and has contributed a manifesto on the subject to WE: Vancouver—12 Manifestos for the City, an exhibition held by the Vancouver Art Gallery in celebration of the city’s 125th anniversary (see fig. 4, next page). Her project resonates with me: after all, a similar 61  For a more extensive discussion of Habitat ’76, see H. P. Oberlander’s Habitat ’76: The Hinge in a Decade for Change. 62 The converted hangars, which included a large exterior wall mural by artist Bill Reid, were unceremoniously demolished a few years after the conference, despite community protests and a City Hall directive not to do so (Brown, “Habitat Open Forum”). According to Brown, one of the hangars burned down under mysterious circumstances, just a few days after it was discovered that the sprinkler system had been dismantled. The rest of the buildings were demolished—apparently under the direction of the Parks Board—during a spell of particularly foggy weather (“Habitat Open Forum”).  70  desire informs my own study of local literary texts, and my particular interest in work that encourages us to experience and imagine the city we thought we knew, differently.  Fig. 4. Lindsay Brown, Who Killed Habitat?, 2011, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver.  71  Chapter Two: Writing at the Edges of the Dream City What charmed [Orthodocia] most were the unbuilt city squares, still dotted with the stumps and green with the ferns of the forest which was here two years ago. . . [H]er frequent expressions of confidence in the future of Vancouver . . . gave me profound misgivings. One afternoon, while we were riding in the Park—which is really a British Columbian forest with a seven-mile drive round it, where they show you trees fifty and sixty feet in girth, and the pale green moss hangs its banners everywhere between you and the far blue sky, . . . my misgivings were justified. “I am going,” said Orthodocia, with a little air of decision, “to invest.” “You are not,” I replied. . . . Whereupon Orthodocia began to discuss the scenery. - Sara Jeannette Duncan, A Social Departure Vancouver imagines itself as on the edge of something else: a city which is not a city but could be. - Laurie Ricou, “Vancouver—Rim of the Park” Situated on a wedge of land between snow-capped, densely treed mountains and a sometimes moody, sometimes glittering sea, Vancouver has emerged as a built environment and urban culture imbued with a heightened awareness of its physical setting. Urban planning commentator Lance Berelowitz observes that while we tend to think of cities as centripetal spaces, where the attention of the populace is pulled inward toward the public squares and busy streets of the core, Vancouver is more centrifugal, more outward looking, a place where “activity intensifies towards the edges,” and where the spectacle of the view and the leisured consumption of nature are especially privileged components of the local culture (162). Some observers, Berelowitz notes, “describe Vancouver as anti-urban,” but he proposes that we consider it instead “as a particular  72  type of urbanism in which the city acts as . . . a vast display case for the aesthetic consumption of nature” (162). Like Sara Jeannette Duncan—believed by scholars to be the first writer to represent Vancouver in fiction (Gerson, “Introduction” xi)63— Berelowitz emphasizes the extent to which the spectacle of nature keeps many people in its thrall; indeed, both Duncan, writing in 1890, and Berelowitz, a century later, suggest that this spectacle is a troubling—if profitable—distraction. Going on to reflect on the creation and cultivation of public space in Vancouver, Berelowitz argues that residents are too mesmerized by the view, too committed to the leisured consumption of nature, and fail more than they succeed as citizens engaged in the collective effort of fostering diverse, vibrant, civically oriented spaces (164).64 Certainly, Vancouver has been designed and built so that many public and private spaces and structures—its seawall walkway, its shoreline park spaces, its protected view  63  Duncan’s A Social Departure (1890) describes a trip around the world taken by two young women—the practical and sometimes self-mocking American narrator, identified as SJD (Duncan’s initials), and the narrator’s friend, a naively romantic and rather conventional Englishwoman named Orthodocia Love. The two women travel across Canada by train, and arrive at the CPR’s terminus in Vancouver with the plan of boarding a ship for Japan. But the little boomtown, just two years old, seduces Orthodocia, and the friends decide to extend their stay. The brief story that Duncan goes on to tell about Vancouver is, as Carole Gerson has observed, a speculation story (xi). Orthodocia is impressed by Vancouver’s youth and rapid growth, and, despite her friend’s resistance, she quickly gets caught up in the speculative fever that is gripping the city. Within a few days she has bought—and sold for a profit—a stump-filled lot off of Granville Street. 64 Berelowitz does acknowledge that these aspects of local culture have led to the construction of a considerable amount of public space at the city’s edges, remarking that “[n]o developer can now contemplate a new waterfront project without [the] automatic inclusion [of a shoreline promenade]. The waterfront walkway has become a sacred cow in this city, and its citizens ardent worshippers” (166). In this sense, the spectacle of nature has become a tool not only of developers but also of the city and its residents, allowing restrictions to be placed on private building; as geographer David Ley emphasizes, “the opening up of the waterfront to public use,” in Vancouver, is an important example of “government action promoting a more accessible and convivial public realm” (New Middle Class 6). However, as Berelowitz’s language indicates, he is markedly suspicious of these waterfront view spaces and the forms of engagement they engender. “If public space is where homogeneity breaks down, where civic rights and rituals are exercised,” he writes, “then what Richard Sennett calls a Public Geography—that is, a coming together of a Crowd in a Public Space—has but a tenuous foothold in Vancouver. The city is endowed with a number of platform spaces in which the public is rendered passive. . . . Public life requires collective activity, but these are platforms for private consumption” (164-65).  73  corridors, its glass towers—invite a turn toward the spectacle of the view. It is true, too, that the “private pursuit of nature and leisure” has long been, and continues to be, widely celebrated and reinforced as a lifestyle choice in local property marketing and tourism imagery and rhetoric (Berelowitz 161). But while these powerful and pervasive aspects of the local culture have fixed and framed connections in and to space, many Vancouverbased writers have, across the decades, encouraged us to think about spatial and social relations in the city-region differently. In Chapter Three, we will see that Vancouver has—despite the outward-turning tendency described by Berelowitz—a vibrant and highly self-reflexive tradition of local poetry inspired by the experience of street and neighbourhood life in the inner city; however, I will first attend to literary texts that engage critically with, and complicate our understanding of, “edge city” urbanism (as Berelowitz calls it) in Vancouver. To this end, I will focus on three authors from different periods in Vancouver’s history—E. Pauline Johnson, Malcolm Lowry, and Jane Rule— who all lived, worked, and helped build alternative communities at the physical and social edges of the city. While foregrounding, in their texts, significant negative impacts (dispossession, displacement, enhanced social tension) of the city’s growth and change, they each describe other, often overlooked, but nevertheless vital versions of “edge city” culture that have thrived in Vancouver. After a preliminary section in which I offer a theoretical framework for understanding “edge city” urbanism and alternative forms of edge consciousness, I turn to an examination of Lowry’s story “The Forest Path to the Spring” (1961). The story is set in a fictional community based on an actual squat that existed for decades near Dollarton on Vancouver’s North Shore, and that was home to Lowry himself between  74  1940 and 1954. Situated in what was then a relatively rural area, the squat looked out on an industrial landscape (integral to the economy of the growing city) across Burrard Inlet, and was repeatedly threatened by suburban expansion. Drawn to this little community by the romance of the simple rural life, and negotiating also both the threat and lure of the nearby city, Lowry’s narrator in “Forest Path” explores involvement and retreat, work and play in the quest for the good life, both personal and communal. In Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver (1911), the city similarly recedes into the distance (remaining at the edge of our awareness, a configuring power) and turn-of-the-century Aboriginal experience comes into focus. As Johnson transcribes and re-envisions oral narratives that tell of the mythical origins of particular features of the local landscape—testifying to a long history of Aboriginal settlement—she continues to register the presence and impact of the settler city, while also foregrounding her own positioning as an edge figure. Rule’s The Young in One Another’s Arms (1977), for its part, is set in Vancouver during the 1970s, a period of extensive inner-city redevelopment. The novel focuses on a mixed group of socially marginalized residents attempting to live together according to cooperative principles. Development forces them out of the old house that they share, and they find themselves pushed to the city’s outskirts—first to a farmhouse near the Fraser River and then across Georgia Strait to one of the southern Gulf Islands. Even there, the young idealists find themselves forced to negotiate the social and economic forces that threaten their chosen way of life, finding on the island only a partial retreat from the city. While Berelowitz proposes that in Vancouver we find urban space distorted, even inverted, as Vancouverites turn their attention away from the city (163), Lowry, Johnson, and Rule effect rather different spatial “distortions” in their literary texts. Giving us  75  characters that are not only physically but also socially displaced from the urban centre, they encourage us to look back at Vancouver from the point of view of marginalized inhabitants at its edges, and to attend to these inhabitants’ attempts to build socially just and sustainable communities despite the threat of urban expansion and redevelopment. Importantly, too, all three authors query the regime of private property that plays such a central role in structuring social relations in cities. In Unsettling the City, geographer Nicholas Blomley criticizes the widely held view that links the ownership model of property to the “settled prosperity” of cities (xvii). Using, as examples, the struggles over space associated with colonial settlement and gentrification in Vancouver, Blomley argues that cities are fundamentally unsettled places. He questions the “definitional certainty (this is property, that isn’t)” of the ownership model and calls for greater recognition of the diverse and often conflicting claims made to particular urban spaces (xv; emphasis in orig.). I turn to Lowry’s, Johnson’s, and Rule’s narratives about spatial conflict and alternative community formation because each can be read as a contribution to the project of denaturalizing the structure that the ownership model imposes on social relations. Like Blomley, moreover, they explore how some claims to, or investments in, space open up the possibilities of community affiliation and engagement.  Theorizing the “Edge City” As Duncan’s brief representation of Vancouver in A Social Departure suggests, the relationship between the leisured consumption of nature and property speculation can be traced back to the city’s earliest days, with the formation of Stanley Park (Vancouver’s largest public green space, situated on the northwestern half of what is now  76  the downtown peninsula) offering a prime example of their interplay. Historian Jean Barman observes that while “[i]n the popular imagination, the park rose pristine out of the wilderness,” Stanley Park was the product of a series of land transfers between governments and strategizing by prominent landowners in the area, including the Canadian Pacific Railway (85). The Canadian government acquired what is now the park site from the British in 1884—though as Barman emphasizes, the land was then and remains unceded Aboriginal territory (13).65 The CPR then tried to request ownership of the land, and when this failed, it joined forces with other landowners to keep the site from going on the market at all, so that the value of nearby property would remain stable (8889). In a motion passed at the newly incorporated city’s second council meeting in mid 1886, the CPR proposed that the site be transferred to the City of Vancouver for the creation of a public park: this way, Barman explains, stakeholders could use the park to “depict Vancouver as a desirable place to live,” drawing on the “romanticized association of parks with natural bounty” with the aim of “transform[ing] the image of Vancouver [into] . . . more than just another boomtown” (90). Over the next century, the park was developed and preserved according to an eclectic combination of values, becoming a favoured space of leisure and nature at the edge of the downtown core.66  65  Barman’s book Stanley Park’s Secret is devoted to recovering and sharing the stories of the people who lived at the site that became Stanley Park. Inhabitants included local Aboriginal people as well as newcomers, and many were mixed-race (see Renisa Mawani’s “Genealogies of the Land: Aboriginality, Law, and Territory in Vancouver’s Stanley Park” for a discussion of how the colonial legal system handled the question of Native title for these mixed-race inhabitants). “Long before there was a Stanley Park,” Barman writes, “the thousand-acre (400 hectare) peninsula we know by that name was a locus of family life. Much of the history has been lost, but enough survives for us to acknowledge that the park was never the virgin forest its promoters would have us believe it was at the time of its imposition” (11). The process of dispossessing and displacing inhabitants of newly designated park sites is not, Barman notes, exclusive to Vancouver; rather, such evictions have proven a characteristic component of North American park creation (12-13). 66 In his article “‘Holy Retreat’ or ‘Practical Breathing Spot’: Class Perceptions of Vancouver’s Stanley Park, 1910-1913,” historian Robert A.J. McDonald emphasizes the class- and period-based character of the romantic principles informing the initial creation of the park, and describes how the idea of the park as  77  Such dynamics in what Henri Lefebvre would call the social production of space suggest that Vancouver’s “edge city” urbanism might be usefully understood as a particular manifestation of the contradictory spatial processes of differentiation and equalization, which produce the uneven geography of capitalism. Glenn Willmott, who has brought geographer Neil Smith’s foundational theorization of these processes to a study of modern Canadian fiction, offers this concise summary of Smith’s argument: Capitalist development requires not only a constant movement of change and exchange, transmuting all things into exchange value, but a realm of absolutes, and “absolute spaces”—distinct physical forms and locations according to which differential values can be produced. . . . For Smith, capitalist modernization does not act in a linear narrative of progress, but in a kind of see-saw, in which the development of one space demands the underdevelopment of another, a nonlinear progress between “relative” spaces—for example, between empire and colony, or town and farm. (Unreal Country 150; see Smith, Uneven Development) Paradoxically, Willmott continues, regions differentiated and “fixed” as underdeveloped tend to “accumulate and develop and modernize anyway” (150; emphasis in orig.). This process of equalization “arises from the ineluctable interests of capital to produce newer and larger markets wherever it can” (150). In Vancouver, the “fixing” of the urban/rural or city/nature divide has, as I noted, played an integral role in the city’s growth and development since its founding, with spaces of apparently undeveloped “nature” used to attract investors and residents to the city.67 But these dominant constructions of place, in  preserved, pristine “nature” came to be contested by working- (and, increasingly, middle-) class residents who favoured a more “practical play space” for athletic and other leisure pursuits (129). 67 Despite their designation as “nature,” these spaces, already to some extent settled, and often radically altered by resource extraction, developed concomitantly with the city. Stanley Park, as we know, emerged  78  reifying the categories of nature and the city and raising leisure pursuits to a high form of participation in civic life, have tended to obscure more complicated and diverse social and spatial realities—including, for example, the fact that spaces of “nature” and “wilderness” were already settled, that spaces designated as leisure and recreation spots remain sites of habitation for marginalized residents, and that the apparently non-urban scenes we appreciate as viewers are in an important sense produced through the same processes which shape the spaces we call “city.” Though he focuses primarily on texts with rural settings, Willmott’s reading of modern Canadian fiction through Smith’s work on differentiation and equalization speaks to my own study of “edge city” writing. After all, Willmott finds that his chosen texts testify not to “nostalgic or pastoral alternatives” to the modern city but rather to a decidedly modern, urbanized consciousness extending into, and shaping experience in, rural spaces. He explains: such invisible cities are not the expressionist product of writers turned inward, moodily immersed in psychological dramas that they project upon a setting. . . . They are rather the realist product of writers trying to express a modern Canadian rural experience in terms of a social whole which encompasses the self, others, and the artificial and natural space that knits them together. If there is a truth to the general recognition of modernism as an “art of cities,” then a tradition of rural Canadian writing has established its continuity with this urban truth. (148) Just as this continuity between urban and rural spaces, between the city and the hinterland, informs the rural Canadian fiction studied by Willmott, so too does it come to as a carefully managed and increasingly commercialized leisure space; similarly, suburban development has crept ever higher up the sides of the local mountains that make up the city’s scenic natural backdrop, and ski areas continue to expand near the mountains’ peaks.  79  the fore in the “edge city” texts that I examine in this chapter, all of which work to make visible, to make readers conscious of, the frames through which we perceive the Vancouver city-region. Indeed, literary texts, with their focus on the particular and the subjective, offer a helpful lens for exploring the role of individual inhabitants in perpetuating, negotiating, and interrogating dominant spatial categories and processes. The work of fiction writer Ethel Wilson, who was one of Vancouver’s most astute observers of the local cult of the view, can take us some way in beginning to conceptualize the subjective dimension of “edge city” urbanism and its critical articulation in literature. In her short story “A Drink with Adolphus” (1961), for example, Wilson explores the experience of appreciating a view through the character of Mrs. Gormley, who is, at the beginning of the story, on her way to a house on Capitol Hill in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby. As her taxi speeds up the hill, the elderly woman asks the driver to stop so that she can enjoy “ten cents’ worth of view”: She looked down the slope at the configuration of the inlet and on the wooded shores which now were broken by dwellings, by sawmills, by small wharves, by squatters’ house-boats that were not supposed to be there, by many little tugs and fishboats. . . . But her eyes left the shores and looked down across the inlet, shimmering like silk with crawling waves. . . . She looked farther on to where the dark park lay, . . . at the ocean and islands beyond (so high she was above the scene), and across at the great escarpment of mountains still white with winter’s snow. In ten cents’ worth of time, she thought—and she was very happy islanded,  80  lost, alone in this sight—there’s nearly all the glory of the world and no despair, and then she told the taxi-man to drive on. (73) Mrs. Gormley, here, at first notices various details of industrial and underclass residential development that, according to dominant constructions of space, “[are] not supposed to be there”; she then proceeds to focus on the natural spectacle, selecting and framing as she does so. Significantly, Mrs. Gormley must pay for her experience, but it has its rewards—she finds the view “superb and worth more than ten cents” (73). In stopping to enjoy the view, this doddery old middle-class woman finds a moment of privileged seclusion from, and a sense of power over, her community;68 then, her money spent, she must drive on. Wilson captures Mrs. Gormley in a necessarily fleeting, decidedly selfindulgent act of viewing; while not denying or decrying the pleasures associated with the view, Wilson highlights its power to mesmerize, select, privilege, and elide.69 In his reading of “The Window,” another story in which Wilson explores the local cult of the view, Richard Cavell notes that what is framed by the big view window that gives the story its title is effectively “the realm of capital, with its infinite extension [into apparently undeveloped regions] and its infinite production of value” (27).70 In this instance, the story’s protagonist, Mr. Willy, “owns” the view—the window is in his waterfront home—and yet he is even more fully in its thrall than Mrs. Gormley. Cavell reads the story as suggesting that “Mr. Willy cannot get outside capital; there is no realm 68  Nina Varsava’s article “Beyond the Window” offers further analysis, from an ecocritical perspective, of the ways in which the frame of the view organizes human experience in Wilson’s fiction. Focusing on Wilson’s representations of view windows, Varsava argues that they encourage “fallacious conceptions of human distinction from, and superiority over, the landscape and its non-human species” (n. pag.). 69 I am grateful to my students in English 470B (Fall 2009) for their thoughtful contributions to our discussion about Wilson’s treatment of the view. 70 Cavell’s analysis of Wilson’s work is, like my own, informed by Willmott’s examination of Canadian modern fiction through the lens of uneven development. Along with Wilson’s “The Window,” Cavell also considers work by Charles G. D. Roberts, F. P. Grove, and Sinclair Ross, arguing that “the experience of the land has consistently been negated in the service of colonialist abstraction” (15).  81  of escape” (29). However, while Mr. Willy seems particularly trapped, the narration of both stories (Cavell emphasizes Wilson’s strategic use of free indirect discourse, which allows her to convey and connect the experience of subjects on both sides of the window [28]) suggests, if not the possibility of escape, then at least a manner of looking productively and critically askance. Indeed, in her ability to perceive the ways in which a scene is assembled, and to register details and complexities that often disappear from view, Wilson exhibits not passivity or enthrallment (like Mr. Willy or Mrs. Gormley) but rather what I would describe as a dynamic and critical edge consciousness. An essay by Peter Dickinson on reading and teaching Vancouver-based writing (published in Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities—the same collection in which Cavell’s article appears) offers insight into the potentially unsettling effects of this kind of literary description on local readers. Dickinson proposes that we think about the relationship between literary text, reader, and city through Marshall McLuhan’s idea of the “city as classroom”—as an environment where humans can become conscious of, and begin to grapple with, structures and patterns of relationality.71 In “The Invisible Environment,” moreover, McLuhan figures the urban artist as a kind of renegade teacher, a maker “of anti-environments or counter-environments, created to permit perception of environments” (165). Such a role, he suggests, has caused the artist to become “increasingly fused or merged with the criminal in popular estimation” (165). While McLuhan’s figuration of the artist is somewhat exaggerated for rhetorical purposes, his 71  Dickinson brings McLuhan’s ideas to his reflections on the experience of teaching an undergraduate course on Vancouver literature at the University of British Columbia. “I wanted my students to think,” he says, “of what it means to be both resident and reader of a particular place, to make connections between the spit of land on West Point Grey occupied by UBC (which, technically speaking, is not part of the City of Vancouver) and other areas about which they were perhaps reading for the first time, or were told never to visit, or were heading back to after their class had ended” (80). In other words, Dickinson suggests that literary texts might play a role in un-“fixing” the dominant, divisive constructions of place that shape our encounters with particular places within the city-region.  82  point is that in making an environment perceptible, the artist draws other people out of their unconscious immersion in that environment, engaging them in a process of making strange that can be productively, if also uncomfortably, unsettling. Along with McLuhan, Dickinson draws on Elizabeth Grosz’s important essay “Bodies—Cities” to help him conceptualize relations between reader, city, and text. According to Grosz, “The city provides the order and organization that automatically links otherwise unrelated bodies: it is the condition and milieu in which corporeality is socially, sexually, and discursively produced” (104). The body and the city, she suggests, are not distinct entities but rather are “mutually defining. . . . [T]here is a two-way linkage that could be defined as an interface” (108; emphasis in orig.).72 Grosz thus reconceptualizes urban relations non-dualistically as “assemblages or collections of parts, capable of crossing the thresholds between substances to form linkages, machines, provisional and often temporary sub- or micro-groupings” (108). For Grosz, the bodies of city residents operate as thresholds between the “individual” (whose isolation as such is illusory) and other components (e.g. other residents, physical structures, discourses) of the city. Social and spatial relations, in this formulation, are “provisional and often temporary” (108): a complicated interplay of power, agency, and chance shapes an individual’s experience of, and intersections with others within, the spaces of the city. Grosz’s understanding of the city is informed by the Deleuzian concept of the assemblage—a complex of heterogeneous components organized according to at most “contingently obligatory” (rather than “logically necessary”) relations (DeLanda 11). Such a relational complex, which is made up of both material and “expressive” (or 72  Here, Grosz takes up and theorizes a term that was, as I noted in my Introduction, particularly important to Vancouver-based writer, artist, and teacher Roy Kiyooka. Kiyooka used the term to describe the complicated dynamics of encounter among and between bodies, sites, discourses, and materials.  83  discursive) components, is open, inherently dynamic (12). Manuel DeLanda, who has devoted himself to gathering and synthesizing Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s disparate discussions of the concept of assemblage,73 notes that any component in an assemblage can be material or expressive, or play a combination of material and expressive roles (12). As Helen Stratford explains in an essay that examines urban spatial practice through a Deleuzian lens, assemblages are imbricated complexes of physical, social, and discursive structures that “define and are defined through” their particular location and arrangement (108). Processes that assert the power of a particular structural component or that sharpen boundaries can “stabilize the identity of an assemblage” (DeLanda 12), and we might say that in Vancouver the economic and discursive forces associated with speculation and development have had such an effect. But, as Stratford argues, recognizing the city as “a dynamic inter-related aggregate” as opposed to a monolithic structure “makes it possible to express the potential of being otherwise” (109).74 In other words, the inner and outer edges of an urban assemblage, and the ways that they are conceived, matter. They are spaces of “dynamic . . . animate/inanimate interchange,” as Laurie Ricou puts it in his reflections on Earle Birney’s “November walk near False Creek mouth”—a poem that recognizes Vancouver’s shoreline and the spaces it appears to separate as imbricated, and as always in process (Ricou, “Vancouver” 30). 73  See especially A Thousand Plateaus, where Deleuze and Guattari offer this description of “the nature of Assemblages”: On a first, horizontal, axis, an assemblage comprises two segments, one of content, the other of expression. On the one hand it is a machinic assemblage of bodies, of actions and passions, an intermingling of bodies reacting to one another; on the other hand it is a collective assemblage of enunciation, of acts and statements, of incorporeal transformations attributed to bodies. Then on a vertical axis, the assemblage has both territorial sides, or reterritorialized sides, which stabilize it, and cutting edges of deterritorialization, which carry it away. (88; emphasis in orig.) 74 As Phillip Mar and Kay Anderson, drawing on the work of George E. Marcus and Erkan Saka, affirm: “[a]ssemblage theory . . . has provided a means for social and cultural analysts to identify new formations and phenomena proliferating on the edges of historically structured institutions, to focus on the ‘alwaysemergent conditions of the present’” (36-37).  84  Attending to the interfaces between parts of an assemblage, between parts of a city, can open up the possibility of imagining and cultivating a different kind of urban space and community—it can turn us, as Birney’s poem does for Ricou, toward the city that “could be” (30). This idea is central to Dickinson’s reflections on teaching and reading Vancouverbased literary texts. He explains that he was interested in exploring the interfaces “between city and classroom, body and text” (80): “I was hoping . . . to reconfigure the spatial or figure/ground indices between bodies, texts, cities, and classrooms not as a set of opposing or isolated practices (i.e., texts belong in classrooms and bodies reside in cities) but as a metonymic . . . chain of linkages that together map out new spaces of inquiry, exchange, and contestation” (81). Dickinson emphasizes his interest in the way texts “reorient[] readers,” helping them to see and experience the city differently (101). Like Dickinson, I am proposing that recognizing and engaging local literary texts as significant components of our urban assemblage might contribute to a reconfiguration of relations in the city. The local literary tradition testifies to repeated, provocative efforts to unsettle dominant discursive and socioeconomic structures, pushing again and again toward an understanding of community that is informed by heterogeneity, openness, and an ethical recognition of fundamental implication. Importantly, the effect is temporal as well as spatial: local literary texts help foster an awareness of multiple, often contestatory versions of history in a city “where everything is new,” as the poet Evelyn Lau has put it (F4);75 they cultivate a sense of  75  I am grateful to Thomas Hutton for first drawing my attention to the Vancouver Sun article in which Lau makes this remark (see Hutton’s chapter “New Industry Formation and the Transformation of Vancouver’s Metropolitan Core” in The New Economy of the Inner City). In the Sun article, Lau reflects on her  85  community across time; and they can alter our relation to the future. Vancouver is often figured as a dream city (Berelowitz, in fact, takes this phrase as the title of his book)—a dream that is at once already realized in the apparent glassy perfection of its downtown towers (the image chosen for the cover of Dream City) and, paradoxically, endlessly deferred in the form of ever-emerging new speculative development projects.76 As I emphasized in Chapter One, this “dream” version of Vancouver—both its present manifestation and projected future—masks a much more complicated reality that includes increasing socioeconomic polarization and a longstanding homelessness crisis. And yet, while I am troubled by the misrepresentation of Vancouver as a “dream city,” I also want to question the way that projects or ideas with any kind of utopian dimension tend to be met with great suspicion. Critics stress that utopias are impossible no places we can never realize, never attain; however, following recent scholarly work by Ann Cvetkovich, Jill Dolan, and Avery Gordon, I want to reconceptualize the utopian and think of it rather as projects that we attempt to put into practice in the lived present, in whatever limited and necessarily failed ways that we can. Gordon argues that [the utopian ] exists in all those examples of the things we are and do that exceed or are just not expressions of what’s dominant or dominating us. It exists when there is no painful split between the dream world and the real world; when revolutionary time doesn’t stop the world, but is rather a daily part of it; when needs and desires and investments are already being re-engineered. . . . It exists  experience as one of the earliest residents of Vancouver’s new downtown neighbourhood of Yaletown, which was developed over the course of the 1990s and into the new century. 76 In a recent article in The Walrus, Gary Stephen Ross jokingly observes that investors in unfinished condo projects are “buying an idea rather than a condo, . . . a hologram of aspiration shimmering above a muddy hole in the ground.”  86  when the utopian is not the future as some absolute break from the past and the present, but a way of living in the here and now. (129)77 Like Gordon, I am interested in projects and imaginaries that contest dominant socioeconomic structures and processes, and that are dedicated to the cultivation of socially just and sustainable forms of community. The authors whose texts I now turn to in this chapter—Lowry, Johnson, Rule—are part of a long history of just this kind of utopian practice in Vancouver.  Community in the Intertidal Zone: Malcolm Lowry’s “The Forest Path to the Spring” In January 2010, acclaimed Vancouver-based artist Ken Lum installed a new artwork at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite exhibition space, located at the luxury downtown hotel Living Shangri-La. Titled from shangri-la to shangri-la, the artwork involved scale reproductions of three shacks that belonged, respectively, to writer Malcolm Lowry, artist Tom Burrows, and Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Paul Spong. The shacks once stood in the intertidal zone on Vancouver’s North Shore where a squatter 77  For Cvetkovich, an important example of this kind of utopian project is the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, where she has worked for many years: Writing about the music festival, the haven of lesbian separatism and women-only space, might seem like an anachronism, a return to the period before queer culture, yet it is a significantly queer project for me since the festival, particularly the workers’ community, has survived as a locus for alternative cultures and visionary thinking. I focus on how forms of manual labor associated with the working class, especially working-class masculinities, can be the site of community building and creativity, remaking Marxist notions of alienated labor. And I consider the continuity between labor and performance, as evident in the many impromptu kinds of performance that occur in the festival community beyond the more formal staged events. The festival enacts utopian possibility, and for those workers, performers, and audience members who establish a sustained relation to it, it can be transformative far beyond its temporary duration. (“Public Feelings” 466-67) Cvetkovich includes these brief reflections at the end of an article about political depression, insisting that we not see a discontinuity between the two topics: “if I began with depression and close on utopia, I have not necessarily shifted topics or even affective registers—the point would be to offer a vision of hope and possibility that doesn’t foreclose despair and exhaustion. It’s a profoundly queer sensibility and one that I hope can enable us to tackle the work that needs to be done and to create the pleasures that will sustain us” (467).  87  community had survived until the 1970s. As art historian Scott Watson explains, “Squatting in the intertidal zone is as old as Vancouver and is an important part of the history of the city. . . . Intertidal squats have been established and last largely due to the ambiguity of jurisdiction over the intertidal area. In Canada, private property, regulated by cities and their zoning laws, can extend no further than the mean high tide mark” (40). The squat, in other words, was located in a physical and social edge space, at once rural and urban (41). Here, squatters were somewhat freer to engage and explore alternative modes of community formation and everyday living. Ken Lum’s replicas of the shacks, which were smaller than the originals and made (like the originals) out of what at least appear to be salvaged materials, contrasted sharply with the aspirational height and material excess of Living Shangri-La, and of the city more broadly whose growth over the second half of the twentieth century threatened and eventually destroyed the squatter community at its edge.78 In a Georgia Straight article about Lum’s installation, Robin Laurence notes that [t]he curatorial line, given on Offsite’s didactic panel, is that Lum’s work is about the contrast between a “rustic conception of the ideal life” and the “abstract 78  In an email to Gordon Hatt that is now publicly available on Tom Burrows’s website, Burrows included the following details about the three shacks featured in the Lum artwork: Ken Lum had 3/4 scale models of once-upon-a-time skwat [sic] shacks assembled by a prop-shop working from borrowed photos. . . . You might recognize the middle one was mine (part of a Canada Council grant I received at that time was to build our home from effluent). To the left is Paul Spong’s, the save the killer whale guy. Historically it was about 100 yards to the east of our home. The shack to the right was Malcolm Lowry’s which was about a mile to the east, the other side of Chef [sic] Dan George’s Tsleil-[W]aututh people’s land. It was razed in 1954, Spong’s and ours were torched in 1971. All three done-in by the same corporate district of North Van building inspector. Here, Burrows notes Lum’s divergence from the original building method of the shack dwellers (assembly by prop shop vs. construction by owners and community members using salvaged materials) and also highlights his own institutional affiliation, gesturing to the performative dimension of his life and work at the squat (see Anderson [“Looking for the Utopian”] and Watson for more information on Burrows’ activities and projects in the intertidal community). There does not appear to be evidence in Lum’s exhibit of an Aboriginal presence (either the Tsleil-Waututh or the nearby Squamish), or of the fact that the squat site (like most of the city-region) was and remains unceded Aboriginal land.  88  perfection” of the towering architecture that characterizes Vancouver’s downtown core. We’re warned against reading from shangri-la to shangri-la as “an overly simplified duality between past and present.” Actually, it’s almost impossible not to read it as an extreme duality—a screaming irony—between present and present. . . . Lum’s work looks a lot like a metaphor for the gap between the marginalized lives of Vancouver’s homeless and the staggering privilege represented by Living Shangri-La. Still, it is more complex and layered than that: some of the mud-flat squatters lived there by choice, including Lowry, who was a remittance man. The son of a wealthy industrialist, he spurned bourgeois comforts and consciously embraced an unencumbered life close to nature. Though Lowry’s choices were in fact fairly limited (his longtime struggles with alcohol affected his ability to make and manage money, and his father kept him on a strict allowance [Volcano: An Inquiry]), Laurence is right to emphasize an element of agency: Lowry purposefully turned away from the city—indeed, he seems to have felt, as the narrator and protagonist in “The Forest Path to the Spring” puts it, that in a figurative sense “the city was . . . behind [him] on the path” (216).79 And yet, while Lowry chose the squat over the city, the latter continued to play a significant role in his life and, at times, functioned as a lure: he made numerous trips into Vancouver for access to books, films, and music, and in some years overwintered there. In “Forest Path,” Lowry’s narrator describes the troubling effect of a trip to the city, suggesting that in just “a few  79  For Lowry at Dollarton, the city was “behind . . . on the path” in a literal sense too: though parts of north Burnaby (with its oil refinery) and Port Moody were visible from Dollarton, the city of Vancouver itself was out of sight off to the southwest, back up the road (Dollarton Highway) and over the bridge (Second Narrows / Iron Workers’ Memorial).  89  hours” the city could “[begin] to render our existence [at the squat] an impossible fable, . . . almost suffocat[ing] all memory of the reality and wealth of such a life as ours” (252). “Forest Path” is fiction (Lowry refers to the squat as Eridanus), but much of the story is based on events from Lowry’s own life. Indeed, in “Forest Path” Lowry seems to be making a concerted attempt to rehabilitate the public image of the real squatter community, which faced repeated threats of eviction over the years as the Dollarton area developed and interest in the squatters’ land increased (Salloum 28-29). In the story, Lowry’s narrator describes some of the typical public complaints about the squat, remarking that “the rate-payers in the district were in the habit of using the slightest excuse to make a public issue of the existence of the ‘wretched squatters’ at all upon the beach, whose houses, ‘like malignant sea-growths should be put to the torch’—as one city newspaper malignantly phrased it” (236-37). Lowry and his wife, Margerie Bonner Lowry, arrived in the Dollarton area in 1940 and outlasted several eviction notices before a range of concerns—including income tax debt, Margerie’s health, and yet another threat of eviction—culminated in a decision to leave in 1954 (Salloum 123). Bulldozing of the squatters’ shacks finally began in the year of the Lowrys’ departure, the last of the homes were demolished by 1958 (Salloum 123), and eventually the District of North Vancouver designated the area Cates Park, which now, ironically, includes a trail in Lowry’s name as well as a commemorative plaque.80  80  Burrows and Spong arrived on the North Shore after the Lowrys had left, in the late 1960s, and their shacks were located further west on the Maplewood Mudflats, where a squatter community thrived until much of it was demolished in 1971, ostensibly to make way for a proposed private development, though this never materialized. Andrea Anderson explains the role that speculative development played in the fate of this squat: [t]he squatters’ occupation and activities on the mudflats were curtailed when the District of North Vancouver chose to consider the Grosvenor Plan, a major commercial development for the mudflats proposed in 1970, which included a multi-purpose town centre with apartment blocks, marina, shopping centre, hotels, theatres, office buildings, and other amenities. The plan was never  90  Lowry was undoubtedly a recluse, and his life in the squatter community at Dollarton was in important ways a retreat, but—just as Glenn Willmott discovers in his study of rural characters and settings in modern Canadian literature—Lowry’s positioning was conceived and constructed in dynamic relation to the encroaching city and its attendant ideologies of class, economic development, and morality. However, while Willmott focuses on how his chosen texts “fail[] to offer a pastoral alternative to modernity” and instead “ironically and uncannily repeat[] it” (153), I am most interested in the critically and ethically engaged edge consciousness that Lowry seems to have cultivated—and that he gave voice to through his “Forest Path” narrator—in the unsettled settlement of the intertidal squat. In Lowry’s descriptions of the fictional squat, power lines cut through the view of the sunrise, the forest referred to in the title is mostly second growth, slicks of oil leak from a tanker docked at the refinery across the inlet, and the narrator is shooed off of private property while gathering water from a nearby creek; the narrator notes, too, that members of the broader urban community have been agitating to change the name of the squat site to Shellvue, which would—at least symbolically— utterly reduce the squat to its relationship to the heavily developed landscape (which includes a Shell oil refinery) across the inlet (226). And yet, finding himself in this compromised and overdetermined landscape, Lowry’s narrator does not try to retreat even further; rather he begins participating in the community that he gradually finds  implemented, but the inhabitants were nevertheless forced to leave. Burrows’s court battle resulted in the bulldozing of his and other shacks. Although most shacks were razed on December 18, 1971, some on private land remained until March 1973; the commercial development that was the premise for the expulsions never happened. It seemed that the issue was really that the squatters were not ratepayers and the proposed development served as an excuse to remove them. Burrows made a performance event out of the razing of his shack. He hauled it over to a piece of disputed land and documented its destruction by fire. (58)  91  there, making a social and personal investment in the squat, while also maintaining a tentative—and certainly critical—relationship to the city. In the process of conceptualizing the edge consciousness that informs Lowry’s relations with others in this story, I have sought out theories of community that accommodate and help illuminate his reclusive, critical, but intrinsically connected positioning. The term “community”—which, as Raymond Williams notes in his Keywords, carries with it “warmly persuasive” connotations (66)—has traditionally described a form of bonding through a shared sense of commonality or interest (65). But, recognizing the inherent dangers of such an understanding of community,81 many scholars have, especially in the past few decades, complicated the term. Particularly important for my own thinking has been the conversation about community that has emerged in the work of Maurice Blanchot, Jean-Luc Nancy, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, and Alphonso Lingis, who have all—often in dialogue with each other— theorized community in a manner that accounts for fundamental difference in relations with others. The critic Kuisma Korhonen has summarized this conversation, explaining that the background of [the] discussion has been the conviction, shared more or less by all the authors . . . but expressed perhaps most memorably by Levinas, that human subjects come into being only in relation to the Other. Singularities may gain their subjectivity only by facing the other or the multiplicity of others; before one can  81  Notably, Williams’s work proved exemplary of such danger. Williams was deeply influenced by his memories of his childhood home in rural Wales, and at times tended, as James Donald observes, to “translate[] [this] sense of loss, our routine sense of being not quite at home, into a cultural-political programme for restoring the conditions of a plenitude which can only ever exist as a memory” (Donald 1999: 151).  92  construct any immanent self-hood, one has already been called into question by the existence of others. “Some primal community is thus inescapable,” continues Korhonen, “but is soon replaced by communities that constitute themselves as work—communities that exist in order to produce an identifiable [structure or system] that then defines the identity of its members” (emphasis added). Even resistant communities (and certainly we see this in Lowry’s description of the squatter community) “still form their own mythology and their own institutions and ways in which the community becomes ‘a work’” (Korhonen). The term “work” (or oeuvre) is central in this conversation, as Blanchot and Nancy in particular are interested in the possibility of what has been translated as an “unworking community,” or a communauté désoeuvrée—in other words, the possibility of revealing and experiencing the state of primal being-together that precedes the “work” of community formation. The unworking community—also referred to as the “negative” or “unavowable” community—is, as Korhonen explains, “‘unoccupied,’ ‘idle’: it is not bound to any institution, instrumental reason, or some clearly defined goal.” Says Blanchot: “it takes upon itself . . . the impossibility of a communitarian being as subject. . . . [I]t differs from a social cell in that it does not allow itself to create a work and has no production value as aim” (11). And Nancy: “[the unworking community is] that which, before or beyond the work, withdraws from the work, and which, no longer having to do with production or with completion, encounters interruption, fragmentation, suspension” (Inoperative 31). Thus, while they propose that communities are constituted through and as work, Blanchot and Nancy try to recover and gesture toward a more complicated and expansive sense of community that emerges in and as “unworking.” Says Korhonen:  93  “Our duty in our respective working communities is to stay open to the call of this other community.” Significantly, the narrator in “Forest Path” attends repeatedly to work and also to work’s other, idleness. In fact, he and his wife first come to live at the fictional squatter community on Labour Day—a day of leisure set aside to celebrate the achievements of workers (Lowry 226). Labour Day is also the day that the population of Eridanus changes like the tide, with summer inhabitants leaving for the city, their vacations complete, and wintertime dwellers arriving at the end of their seasonal work (222). Through his description of these movements, Lowry’s narrator reminds us of the ways in which Eridanus and the city beyond are constructed in relation to the concept of work. As a vacation spot and overwintering space, Eridanus is primarily perceived as a place of idleness, while the city is perceived as the place where work happens. But in symbolically connecting these constructions to Labour Day, which intertwines notions of work and idleness, Lowry invites a querying of such a simple divide; indeed, “Forest Path” can be read as an extended interrogation of these opposing concepts and their application to particular spaces and communities. We know, of course, that work happens in Eridanus. Lowry’s narrator repeatedly highlights the various challenges involved in living at a remove from the city. In a fruitful comparison with Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, one critic has noted both the greater difficulty Lowry’s narrator experiences in achieving seclusion at Eridanus (an environment “more fully beleaguered by heavy industry” than Thoreau’s rural Massachusetts), and also the “considerably weaker position” of Lowry’s narrator, who is “a recovering alcoholic compared with Thoreau’s sinewy teetotaller” (Otterberg 118-19).  94  Lowry’s narrator also finds himself lacking “the practical knowledge necessary to survive. He enters his new life naked, and must relearn what a character like Thoreau’s can largely take for granted” (119). Lowry focuses on the many delights of this learning process, but he also emphasizes that it involves considerable physical and psychological labour. This foregrounding of work is integral to Lowry’s depiction of the squatter community as a community. He repeatedly stresses the efforts of the inhabitants to maintain their homes and those of their neighbours, cultivating a responsible, benevolent sense of what we might call, after Blanchot and Nancy, a working community. Lowry also highlights the psychological labour necessary to maintain an alternate identity: as I noted, even a short excursion to the city can plant seeds of doubt about the lives that the protagonist and his fellow squatters have chosen to lead at Eridanus. An emphasis on work is also integral to Lowry’s attempt to rehabilitate the squatters’ public image: as a vacationer’s idyll and a longer-term dwelling place for perceived idlers, Eridanus is viewed by outsiders as essentially an unproductive space, a place where no work happens, where nothing is made. Such a perspective is certainly clear in the newspaper article that describes the squatters’ houses as “malignant sea-growths”—natural deformities rather than structures built and cared for by human beings. The narrator also demonstrates his awareness of his own prejudices, especially toward the summertime vacationers who, arriving from the city, complicate the sense of community established at Eridanus. Such self-awareness comes through especially in his discussion of the jokey names that these inhabitants give to their shacks—names that, significantly, frame Eridanus as a leisure space. The narrator admits that,  95  [h]aving once seen the joke about some of these names . . . they began to irritate me, especially Wywurk. But apart from the fact that Lawrence wrote Kangaroo in a house called Wyewurk in Australia (and he was more amused than irritated), though I did not know this at the time, the irritation itself really springs I now think from ignorance, or snobbery. . . . But irritate me they did then, and most especially Wywurk. The holophrastic brilliance of this particular name, and more obvious sympathetic content, never failed to elicit comment from the richer passersby in motorboats, who, having to shout in order to make themselves heard on board above the engine, could be very well overheard on shore. (220) As he describes this scene it becomes clear that the narrator, in hindsight, sees these names performing another kind of work—a kind of work that effects what one might term an “unworking.” “First there was the brilliance of the pun to be discussed as it dawned upon them,” the narrator remembers, “then its philosophic content to be disputed among the boat’s occupants, as a consequence of which they would disappear round the northward point in that mood of easy tolerance that comes only to the superior reader who has suddenly understood the content of an obscure poem” (220). In other words, the name Wywurk is a way of speaking across a divide that reduces the tension of that divide—unworking (though not completely undoing) the class structures that differentiate the community of shore-bound vacationers from the community of pleasure boaters. The narrator’s recollection and re-reading of the shack names also hints at another kind of work that is central to Lowry’s story—the work of art. Indeed, it seems that “Forest Path” itself was partly created out of the desire to speak across a divide in much the way that the Wywurk name does, with the aim of increasing tolerance of, and  96  sympathy for, the squatter community that Lowry called home. Though Lowry does not shy away from enhancing this divide by expressing his extreme dislike of the city and describing the misinformed views of the squat that are cultivated there, his story involves a repeated working and unworking of the boundary between the city and squatter communities. Such an unworking takes place, for instance, when the narrator (who, it should be noted, himself first arrived at the squat as a vacationer, as did Lowry) describes his own initial assessment of Eridanus as a garish, dirty and strange place (226-27). This unworking happens, too, when the narrator acknowledges that he continues to appreciate the beauty of industrial structures such as the oil refinery across the inlet, even as he abhors the destructive work that takes place there (256). And the narrator also unworks the city/squat divide when he celebrates the culture that thrives in the city, and that helps sustain him, both psychologically and financially, in his rural retreat. “Forest Path” thus contains key moments of unworking, but I would suggest that it is not the story itself but rather the works of art described in the text that best articulate Lowry’s sense of the unworking potential of art. Significantly, the central artwork in the story—a symphony composed by the narrator—disappears: it is consumed with his entire shack in a fire.82 Such an end is perhaps fitting, even symbolic, as the narrator’s conception of the symphony is connected to, in fact seems to emerge from, a moment of extreme unworking, when the narrator encounters a mountain lion in the forest near his shack while walking to the spring to fetch water. We might read the encounter with the mountain lion as an encounter with the radically other—as a recognition of that primal community that precedes and exceeds all forms of human construction. After all, the  82  Lowry’s own shack also went up in a fire, but the manuscript of his novel Under the Volcano, on which he was working at the time, was saved.  97  walk has drawn the narrator out of the home that he has built and the happy community of two that he shares with his wife there, and the encounter with the mountain lion takes him completely out of himself, distancing him, if only momentarily, from his tendency to endlessly, obsessively story himself and his world. It is also in this moment that the narrator forgets the labour in which he is engaged, the burden of the water-filled canister that he is carrying (262). As I suggested, it seems fitting that the work of art that emerges out of the narrator’s experience, on the forest path, of “incommunicable” or “extraterritorial existence” (as he puts it) disappears and cannot be recaptured (270). Instead, after the fire’s unworking of his life and art, the narrator explores the idea of re-working. This is a practice that he has already begun to hone at the squat, converting old, found items such as a ladder and canister to new uses. After the fire, the narrator and his wife, with the help of their neighbours, build a new house on the foundations of the old one, “out of driftwood and wood from the sawmill at Eridanus Port, which was now being torn down to make way for a real estate subdivision” (270). These scenes highlight the fact that Lowry’s “Forest Path” is, in important ways, a narrative about sustainable living and community building, one that preceded the environmental movement (which would, as I noted, find an early architect in another tidal flat squatter, Greenpeace’s Paul Spong). Already, at mid century, Lowry was not simply questioning but also advocating an alternative to the processes of development that were radically reshaping the edges of the city during this period, and that would transform the inner city in the decades to come. Significantly, too, the narrator of “Forest Path” begins to make art again following the fire, composing an opera that, he says, was “built, like [the] new house, on the  98  charred foundations and fragments of the old work and . . . old life” (271). The narrator’s intent seems to be to allow unworked materials to be present in, to give substance to, this new work of art. The opera, he explains, is partly in the whole-tone scale, like Wozzeck, partly jazz, partly folksongs or songs my wife sang, even old hymns. . . . I even used canons like Frère Jacques to express the ships’ engines or the rhythms of eternity; Kristbjorg, Quaggan, my wife and myself, the other inhabitants of Eridanus, my jazz friends [from the city], were all characters, or exuberant instruments on the stage or in the pit. (271) The opera is, like “Forest Path” was for Lowry, a creative reworking of the artist’s life that includes his disparate cultural influences, the sounds of industry and nature, and the voices and bodies of neighbours as well as friends beyond the squat. Both the narrator’s art and his life at the squat are—as were Lowry’s own—created through acts of reworking that could be likened to the artistic practices of collage or its three-dimensional counterpart, assemblage. Lowry’s notion of reworking is at once an aesthetic and an ethic, including as it does a revaluing of old materials (“my new vocation,” says the narrator, “was involved with using [the] past . . . with turning it into use for others” [279]) along with an appreciation of a diversity of styles, forms, and perspectives brought together—indeed, cohabiting—in carefully negotiated juxtaposition. Certainly, prejudices and unquestioned biases do remain in the reworked, collagelike conceptualization of community that Lowry presents in “Forest Path.” Most notably, he generally fails to acknowledge the Aboriginal work of community that had existed long before the establishment of the squat (see Ravvin), or, for that matter, the daily  99  domestic and editorial83 work performed by his wife.84 Despite the limitations of his perspective, however, Lowry offers, in “Forest Path,” a consciously and carefully reworked understanding of community, one informed by an effort to remember and remain open to the possibility of its own unworking. “Forest Path,” in this sense, is an important document of local utopian thinking and practice—limited, incomplete, in some ways a failure, and yet nevertheless a vital testament to the possibility of living otherwise. In highlighting the collage-like qualities of art making and community formation that Lowry describes in “Forest Path,” I am building on recent scholarly and curatorial efforts to draw attention to the vibrant local history of collage and assemblage in Vancouver’s post-World War II art communities and practices. In “Urban Renewal: Ghost Traps, Collage, Condos, and Squats,”85 Scott Watson shows how many artists from the period came to privilege an oppositional aesthetic in response to a variety of related forms of urban change and development, including the demolition of Vancouver’s Victorian and Edwardian building stock, the condo boom, and the aspirational growth of the downtown core (see Chapter One for an extensive discussion of redevelopment in Vancouver during this period).86 Watson finds that these artists tended toward a  83  Margerie Bonner Lowry was much more than a domestic helpmate to Lowry: she transcribed and provided extensive feedback on his writing, and edited and compiled the stories collected in Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place, including “Forest Path.” Indeed, the collaborative practice that produced these texts as well as Lowry’s great testament to reworking, Under the Volcano, could certainly be said to have a collage-like quality. 84 I am grateful for Sherrill Grace’s feedback on an early version of this examination of “Forest Path,” in which she noted Lowry’s failure to acknowledge gendered work in the story. 85 This essay is now archived online as part of Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties, “a research archive and educational resource that brings together still and moving images, ephemera, essays and interviews to explore the diverse artistic practices of Vancouver art in the 1960s and early 1970s” (“About this Site”). An impressive resource, the site is the result of a partnership between grunt gallery and The Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery. 86 In the artist community of the period, Watson notes, [l]ate Victorian and Edwardian furniture and bric-a-brac furnished communal houses. . . . Art Nouveau was revived and deployed to advertise concerts and events. Rejection of the “brutality of the new” was, in essence, a very real concern about the disappearance of places to live, eat,  100  politicized mixing of older styles, structures, and materials—a collagist aesthetic that was intrinsically connected to a political stance and a mode of everyday living. Watson focuses on a period slightly later than Lowry’s—the 1960s and 1970s—and in his discussion of squats he concentrates on the Maplewood Mudflats, home to Spong, Burrows, and a thriving hippie community during the later 1960s. A text such as “Forest Path,” and Lowry’s own experience and literary practices at Dollarton, anticipate the concerns and practices that emerged in later decades, providing an early example of how ideas about art and community as assemblage were cultivated in relation to the threat of demolition and redevelopment. Michael Turner, who has also written about collage in local visual art (see “Glass and Mirrors”), recently turned his attention to the rich but often overlooked history of local literary and textual collage practices—and to the work of Lowry in particular—in an exhibition that he curated for the Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties archival initiative. Titled “to show, to give, to make it be there”: Expanded Literary Practices in Vancouver, 1954-1968,” the exhibition opened at the Simon Fraser University Gallery in January 2010, just a few weeks before Lum’s installation opened at VAG Offsite. Turner identified Lowry’s short story “Through the Panama” as a particularly early example of local collage art, and an important reminder that a collage aesthetic has long informed key examples of local literary innovation. Combining poetry, song, ephemeral documents, and marginalia, Lowry’s “Through the Panama” asks readers to attend not only to the story’s halting, drifting through-narrative (the account of  congregate, exhibit, and perform. In defense of a crumbling inventory of modest, poorly built pioneer-era wooden and brick structures, the art community of the day rejected not only the Brutalist [architectural] idioms of the 1960s and 1970s, but [also] . . . authoritarian, normalizing, “design for living” modernism. (39)  101  an ocean voyage from the west coast of North America to Europe, taking the form of a writer’s travel journal), but also to the juxtapositional relations between various fragments of text. For the exhibition, Turner highlighted the visual dimension of this collage-like structure by laying out the story page by page in a large square on the gallery wall, and announced the story’s inaugural status by locating the display near the gallery entrance,87 along with In Search of Innocence, Québecois filmmaker Léonard Forest’s documentary of innovative modes of artistic practice and collaboration in the early 1960s in Vancouver.88 “Forest Path,” for its part, is not as collage-like as “Through the Panama,” though in incorporating bits of song, signage, and newspaper headlines there is certainly a collagist aspect to Lowry’s approach. However, as I have suggested, the real importance of “Forest Path” lies not in its style but in what it has to say about art practice, the 87  In an email to me, Turner emphasized that he did not wish to suggest, through such placement, “a causal root (route?) that binds the show”: “‘Through the Panama’ is something that washed up on shore,” he remarked, “like what [local artist, writer, and musician] Al Neil found outside his cabin and made into assemblages.” 88 In Search of Innocence is, as Turner observes in the exhibition program, itself a work shaped by a collage aesthetic, offering an outsider’s view of an emerging Vancouver art scene, where Jack Shadbolt builds a painting, Al Neil plays a gig (and scores the film), Fred Douglas reads his poems (with Neil’s band), Douglas and [Roy] Kiyooka argue, and more. . . . Forest’s film is not a narrative but a collage, one that allows its viewer to visit Vancouver’s art scene for the first time, without preconceived notions about when is a poem and what is a painting. (2) Aesthetics and ethics intertwine in Turner’s description of the film, and of the Vancouver art community it depicts. Both Turner and Forest highlight the interest, among writers and artists of the period, in process over finished product, in simultaneity and improvisation, in interdisciplinarity and the mixing of media, in debate and community formation as key dimensions of the artistic process, and in the fusion of this process with everyday life, as opposed to the separation and sanctification of art practices and spaces. Along with Lowry, another key player situated by Turner at the beginning of literary/textual collage’s emergence in Vancouver was poet, visual artist, performer, and publisher bill bissett, whose editorial poem in response to In Search of Innocence, printed in his blewointment magazine, provided the title for Turner’s show. Bissett celebrates in particular the immediacy and viscerality highlighted in Forest’s film: “To me,” he wrote in his editorial, “you [Forest] showed all these levels instead of talking about them” (qtd. in Turner, to show 3). Bissett’s blewointment magazine was shaped according to similar values. Crafted with a whimsical but purposeful casualness, it served as an innovative space for exploring connections and frictional intimacy between a range of different art forms and media, from concrete and other kinds of experimental poetry to illustrations and collages. (See Chapter Three for further discussion of bissett’s formative influence on Vancouver art practices and communities.)  102  connections it draws between art making and community formation, and the specific local context it provides for the collagist sensibility that Lowry describes in the story. While “To the Panama” is an important example of Lowry’s engagement with collage as a style, “Forest Path” is perhaps better described as a situated exploration of a collagist ethic of community building and place making. I should emphasize that I am not proposing a direct and exclusive causal link between the local context informing “Forest Path” and the emergence of Lowry’s collagist sensibility (internationally, collage was, by the time that Lowry was writing, a prominent and much-practiced art form, and non-local influences and contexts abound), but I do mean to suggest that the latter was cultivated in dynamic relation to former. Before closing this discussion of “Forest Path,” I would like to return briefly to the idea of unworking and reworking that Lowry explores in the story, and draw attention to his narrator’s repeated emphasis on what I would describe as a leisurely approach to creative work. Such an approach is most memorably foregrounded, for me, in the narrator’s immediate response to the burning of his house: “[my wife and I] created our most jubilant memory that very day,” he says, “when careless of [the shack’s] charred and tragic smell we wonderfully picnicked within it” (280). A hint of leisure or idleness also seems to inflect more specific descriptions of art making: the narrator places the phrases “my work,” “my music,” and “my bouts of composition” in quotation marks, questioning, though never completely undermining, the work’s status as such (261, 266). Throughout “Forest Path,” work and leisure intertwine; Eridanus is at once a space of challenging work and a rejuvenating idyll. Neither art nor life completely loses its  103  seriousness, but the narrator emphasizes a spirited, playful approach to the materials at hand. Henri Lefebvre has criticized the idea that spaces and experiences of leisure might allow subjects to “escape[] the control of the established order,” insisting instead that “leisure is . . . both an assimilative and an assimilated part of the ‘system’” (Production 383). Leisure spaces, he goes on to argue, are “extension[s] of dominated space, . . . arranged at once functionally and hierarchically. They serve the reproduction of production relations” (384). And yet, as soon as Lefebvre makes this argument, he complicates it. Reflecting in particular on the heightened sensorial experiences that we often discover at the beach and when listening to music, he proposes that these can “[give] rise to startling differences” (384): The space of leisure tends—but it is no more than a tendency, a tension, a transgression of “users” in search of a way forward—to surmount divisions: the division between social and mental, the division between sensory and intellectual, and also the division between the everyday and the out-of-the-ordinary (festival). This space further reveals where the vulnerable areas and potential breaking-points are: everyday life, the urban sphere, the body. . . . The space of leisure bridges the gap between traditional spaces with their monumentality and their localizations based on work and its demands, and potential spaces of enjoyment and joy: in consequence this space is the very epitome of contradictory space. (385; emphasis in orig.) “Forest Path” has nostalgic overtones and its narrator does idealize what he sometimes describes as his rural haven, and yet time and again Lowry shows us something else:  104  seeming to recognize the fundamentally unsettled quality of relations in and to space, he explores, through his narrator, a difficult yet vital contradictory space at the edge of the city, and engages in the “search [for] a way forward,” as Lefebvre puts it—of making art and building community in a manner that acknowledges and encourages careful negotiation. At the same time, we know that Lowry himself was very much wrapped up in, even consumed by, a different kind of unworking and reworking—a need to return to and rewrite his material obsessively in the drive for perfection.89 As a result of such obsessiveness, Lowry appears to have at times become utterly entangled in a world of signs that he had trouble bringing to useful order. Ultimately, Lowry was unable to cultivate in a sustained manner the sensibility that he evokes so movingly in “Forest Path,” which ends, significantly, with laughter. The fact that “Forest Path” was not quite complete at the time of Lowry’s death, and that Margerie Bonner Lowry cobbled together the final version from a draft and additional notes, pushes us toward an understanding about works of art (and perhaps, by extension, works of community) that Lowry recognized, even celebrated, but never quite seemed to come to terms with in his lifetime—that there are necessary limits to any work, but at the same time a work is always open-ended because it can be picked up and reworked by others, again and again. This is an understanding with which Lowry’s best-known protagonist, the Consul (Geoffrey Firmin) in Under the Volcano, also struggles. Toward the end of the novel, the  89  In recollections taped for radio in 1961, Lowry’s longtime friend Gerald Noxon describes a night spent discussing and editing Under the Volcano with Lowry, when the two re-wrote the novel’s opening sentence “perhaps twenty times” (qtd. in Salloum 25). Noxon goes on to remark that “[m]uch of this was, in my opinion, not absolutely necessary, and I think one has to realize that while there was an admirable side to Malcolm’s perfectionism about what he was writing, that sometimes he re-worked material to a point where it began to lose its vitality” (25).  105  Consul, whose alcoholism has driven away his wife Yvonne and is driving him quickly toward the end of his own life, begins to read Yvonne’s letters. “Do you remember tomorrow?” Yvonne asks in one letter. “It is our wedding anniversary” (358, 359). The Consul’s answer to this question is “No.” And then: “The words sank like stones in his mind. It was a fact that he was losing touch with his situation” (358). Yvonne’s question and the Consul’s answer emphasize the latter’s refusal of the real possibility of futurity,90 which can be cultivated only by making some kind of ramshackle sense of one’s life, one’s art, and one’s relations with others. Unwilling, unable, to take on this work, with its challenges and limitations, the Consul instead meanders among symbols detached from life-affirming meaning—condemned to, but also seeming to choose, a curtailed existence in what he at one point describes as “the arid air of an estranged postponement” (268).  Interrogating Settlement: Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver I conclude my discussion of Lowry with an emphasis on the Consul’s failure because, in exploring the negotiation of physical and social edge spaces in this chapter, I do not wish to idealize the figure of the outsider: indeed, I hope that my discussion of alternative community formation thus far has registered my resistance to “endorsing [a] state of unbelonging as . . . permanently desirable,” as Smaro Kamboureli, building on Edward Said’s theorization of the exilic positioning of the public intellectual, puts it 90  Significantly, Yvonne imagines that this future might take the form of life together in a small weathered house in Canada—a highly idealized version of the Eridanus/Dollarton shack (279-84, 290). “The thing to do,” the Consul’s half-brother Hugh informs Yvonne, is to get out of Vancouver as fast as possible. Go down one of the inlets to some fishing village and buy a shack slap spang on the sea, with only foreshore rights, for, say, a hundred dollars. Then live on it this winter for about sixty a month. No phone. No rent. No consulate. Be a squatter. . . . After all, [the Consul’s] as strong as a horse. And perhaps he’ll be able really to get down to his book and you can have some stars and the sense of the seasons again. . . . And get to know the real people: the seine fishermen, the old boatbuilders, the trappers, . . . the last truly free people left in the world. (127)  106  (Kamboureli n. pag.).91 Like Kamboureli, I am interested in exploring the idea of a figure whose “subject position and role are not the product of identification with, or disidentification from, her community but rather defined through a relationality with it that allows her to operate as a border figure.”92 Scholars have emphasized the extent to which Pauline Johnson took on such a role over the course of her long career as a performer and writer, which spanned the closing decades of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth. Born on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, to a Mohawk father and Anglo-Canadian mother, Johnson publicly celebrated her dual ancestry in her work, and in the last years of her life she brought her carefully and strategically honed border sensibility93 to her negotiation of relationships with both  91  Said describes the exilic positioning of the public intellectual as follows: Even if one is not an actual immigrant or expatriate, it is still possible to think as one, to imagine and investigate in spite of barriers and always to move away from the centralizing authorities towards the margins, where you see things that are usually lost on minds that have never traveled beyond the conventional and the comfortable. . . . [T]o be as marginal and as undomesticated as someone who is in real exile is for an intellectual to be unusually responsive . . . to the provisional and risky rather than to the habitual, to innovation and experiment rather than the authoritatively given status quo. The exilic intellectual does not respond to the logic of the conventional but to the audacity of daring, and to representing change, to moving on, not standing still. (Representations 63-64; emphasis in orig.) Kamboureli’s thinking is informed not only by Said on this topic but also Abdul R. JanMohamed, who theorizes what he terms the “border intellectual” in his essay “Worldliness-without-World, Homelessnessas-Home: Toward a Definition of the Specular Border Intellectual.” Kamboureli notes that “JanMohamed develops the concept of the ‘border intellectual’ in relation to a wide range of Said’s writings,” in particular Beginnings: Intention and Method and The World, the Text, and the Critic. 92 Kamboureli focuses on the role of contemporary public intellectuals in primarily national and global contexts, whereas I am, in this chapter, exploring historical examples of such figures in Vancouver, and considering how their life and work has been shaped by and responded to a combination of local, national, and global forces. In connecting writers to the scholarly discourse on public intellectuals I am following Said, who, while acknowledging the “separate origin and history” of writers and intellectuals, proposes that “they belong together” to the extent that they share “adversarial attributes in such activities as speaking the truth to power, being a witness to persecution and suffering, [and] supplying a dissenting voice in conflicts with authority” (“Public Role” 25). 93 In their study of Johnson’s writing, performances, and reception, Veronica Strong-Boag and Carole Gerson describe her (drawing on the words of a critic from Johnson’s period) as a “unique figure on the borderland,” highlighting Johnson’s self-conscious “linking [of] Euro-Canadian and Native identities” as well as her ability to “bridge[] high and low culture over a deepening chasm” (117). In a similar vein, Deena Rymhs suggests that Johnson “embodies Gerald Vizenor’s emblem of the ‘crossblood’ . . . whose survivance bears the signature of the trickster and whose intercultural mediation befits a personality who assumed various cultural poses” (53).  107  the Squamish and settler communities in her adopted city of Vancouver—negotiations that she articulated in the stories collected as Legends of Vancouver. I have chosen to examine Johnson’s work after Lowry’s, despite the fact that it precedes his by more than 30 years, partly because I want to avoid suggesting a chronological narrative of progression in their treatment of space and community, and also because Lowry’s life and work present problems that Johnson handles in sensitive and productive ways. After all, the Aboriginal inhabitants of Vancouver’s North Shore seem to have all but escaped Lowry’s notice during the years that he lived there; as Norman Ravvin notes (234), one of the few mentions that Lowry makes of an Aboriginal presence near Dollarton is a reference, in “Forest Path,” to the fact that the suburban expansion threatening the squat was “baffled by the Indian reserve” (276). This reference reminds us that Lowry might have found allies in his neighbours living at the reserve, but he seems to have been relatively uninterested in cultivating relationships with them or representing them in his fiction. By contrast, Johnson—in part because of her own cultural background—made such interactions a priority and foregrounded them in her writing. That is not to say, of course, that she did not have her own blinders and prejudices. Commenting on “her few brief observations of Chinese and Japanese newcomers,” for example, Veronica Strong-Boag and Carole Gerson note that Johnson “compar[ed] them unfavourably with Canadian Indians,” adding that the “anti-Oriental sentiment among the western tribes themselves may have further reinforced” Johnson’s attitude (80). As well, while Johnson made barely enough money from her writing to support herself, we might still question her decision to sell and profit from her creative “translations” or interpretations of Aboriginal oral narratives. Certainly, there was, in her  108  community-building and art-making practices, an element of complicity in processes of domination that she did not seem to recognize. And yet, keeping these important limitations in mind, I would insist that Legends remains valuable as an early example of creative urban critique and as a document of alternative community formation in the cityregion. Previous scholarship on Legends has tended to focus on its complicated relationship to the national imaginary, and on Johnson’s negotiation of colonial and Aboriginal cultures and storytelling styles (see Willmott, “Modernism”; Rymhs; StrongBoag and Gerson). These issues play a significant role in my own study too, but I am specifically interested in the contribution Johnson makes to an emerging urban imaginary in Vancouver, and especially in the way that Legends is wrapped up in, but also creatively articulates opposition to, dominant ideas about property and city building. Johnson arrived in Vancouver on the Canadian Pacific Railway and stayed, when she first arrived, in the Hotel Vancouver, the CPR’s flagship hotel on the West Coast (Gray 357). As I explained in Chapter One, the CPR’s expansion of its transcontinental line to Coal Harbour in the mid 1880s served as the impetus for a population explosion and furious real estate speculation in the surrounding area; by the turn of the century the rapidly growing city of Vancouver had become the province’s largest urban centre (McDonald, Making xi-xii, 37). Johnson’s arrival on the CPR and stay at the Hotel Vancouver remind us of her embeddedness in the invader-settler culture that was dispossessing and marginalizing the local Aboriginal population. As will become clear in my reading of Legends, Johnson was to some extent invested in the city-building rhetoric and associated ideas about landscape aesthetics that dominated during the period.  109  However, Johnson was also committed to her friends among the local Aboriginal population, whose presence in and around Vancouver (fishing off English Bay, trading goods downtown, working at the docks and canneries, living in small communities in Stanley Park [Gray 351; Barman 123ff]) was significant.94 Ultimately, “settlement,” for Johnson, happened in and through her development of a network of relationships that included many inhabitants of the settler city (especially in Vancouver’s “vigorous and congenial community” of writers, activists, and clubwomen [Gerson and Strong-Boag 2002: xx]) but also extended into the city’s deep margins. Through Legends’ narratorial persona, she offers a self-conscious and rather unusual settler perspective, foregrounding the impact of the rapidly growing city on the displaced Aboriginal population, and describing—as she sets the scene for each legend’s telling—the vital cross-cultural exchange between storyteller and listener. While she remains a settler interpreting the Aboriginal stories for a settler audience, a complicated portrayal of the young city of Vancouver, at once critical and affirmative, develops over the course of Legends. Johnson’s relationship with the Squamish community began in the last decade of her life, and it was initiated not in Vancouver but rather at the centre of empire, in London, England. While seeking performance and publishing opportunities there in 1906, Johnson met Squamish chief Su-á-pu-luck (Joe Capilano), who had travelled to London with other Northwest Coast Aboriginal leaders to protest new hunting and fishing laws and to promote Aboriginal land claims.95 Able to speak a few phrases in Chinook 94  Johnson’s background and affiliations remind us not only of the heterogeneity within the category of the “settler,” but also in the particular backgrounds of individual settlers. Moreover, Johnson experienced and enacted “settlement” in complex ways. She spent much of her life in a state of unsettlement, travelling extensively in Canada and the United States and making trips to England for her performance and writing career. She remained also in a state of figurative unsettlement, never entirely escaping her somewhat marginal status in both the Aboriginal and settler communities (Strong-Boag and Gerson 36-37). 95 One of Johnson’s biographers, Charlotte Gray, explains the background to the group’s London visit:  110  Jargon—the hybrid trade language used by West Coast Aboriginals and early settlers— Johnson developed what quickly became a deeply respectful friendship with Su-á-puluck. Johnson would later describe her knowledge of Chinook as the “drawbridge” that made her cross-cultural friendships with the Aboriginal peoples of the West Coast possible (Johnson 84). In 1908, when Johnson arrived in Vancouver for a break from her performance schedule, Su-á-pu-luck welcomed her with a Squamish delegation; they then resumed their friendship when Johnson settled permanently in the city in 1909. Johnson also became friends with Su-á-pu-luck’s wife, Líxwelut (Mary Agnes Capilano), who would paddle from her home on the north shore of Burrard Inlet across the narrows to Vancouver, where she sold berries, shellfish, and woven goods to the Hotel Vancouver and the wealthy colonial inhabitants of Vancouver’s West End (Barman 219). Su-á-puluck, Líxwelut, and their son Matthias shared oral narratives from the Squamish culture, many of which Johnson recorded, re-interpreted in short story form, and eventually published in the Vancouver Province Magazine.96 Johnson’s friendship with the chief lasted until he died of tuberculosis in 1910, and she served as mistress of ceremonies at his funeral reception (Gray 369). As Johnson’s health declined following Su-á-pu-luck’s death she struggled to carry on with her regular activities, including canoe outings with Líxwelut (373); however, she succumbed to breast cancer in 1913.  For years, BC’s native peoples had complained about encroachments on their lands by miners, railroaders, fishermen and settlers. British Columbia was the only province in Canada where Europeans had appropriated land from the indigenous peoples without negotiating land treaties. Successive governments had broken one promise after another regarding land settlements. Now they had unilaterally announced that Indians could only hunt and fish in season. . . . BC natives had protested vigorously, but Canadian politicians were deaf to their arguments. (323) 96 Versions of a number of the stories were also published in Mother’s Magazine.  111  Legends of Vancouver emerged as a fundraising initiative by members of Vancouver’s press and women’s organizations keen to help support Johnson during her illness.97 In 1911, they gathered a selection of Johnson’s Squamish legends and published them in book form. The book sold quickly, and over the next two years was issued at least eight times by various Vancouver printers and booksellers (Gerson and Strong-Boag xxii). It found a major publisher in McClelland & Stewart, who reissued the text numerous times over the course of the century; recent editions have been published by Quarry Press and Vancouver-based Douglas & McIntyre. Glenn Willmott, in a discussion of “Johnson’s appropriation of heritage narratives to modern periodical and book forms,” observes that the circulation of Legends helped to memorialize Johnson as “an icon of a newly Canadian national identity, one that reconciled British imperialist and First Nations aboriginal heritages, and stood for the (hardly secure) authenticity of a Canadian cultural tradition” (“Modernism” 122). “Yet,” Willmott continues, “this iconicity must be curiously entangled with that of Su-á-pu-luck, her beloved anti-imperialist activist, who was far from interested in the nation in general and rather its political antagonist” (122). Noting Johnson’s foregrounding of Su-á-pu-luck—a well-known public figure—as primary storyteller in Legends, Willmott finds in the book a dialectical affirmation and interrogation of an emerging Canadian culture claiming Aboriginal heritage, and the landscapes to which it is connected, as national property. 97  In a study of Legends’ early publication history, Linda Quirk explains: Vancouver journalist Isabel MacLean rallied Johnson’s friends and colleagues, including several members of the Vancouver Women's Press Club and the Women’s Canadian Club, as well as Lionel Makovski and Bernard McEvoy from the Daily Province newspaper, and the son of the former Prime Minister, lawyer C.H. Tupper. MacLean convinced members of the group to establish the Pauline Johnson Trust in order to provide much-needed income for their ailing friend by arranging for the publication of a selection of Johnson’s Squamish legends in book form. It was this group which arranged for the publication and distribution of several early editions of Legends of Vancouver and which later prepared a collection of poetry, Flint and Feather, for publication by the Musson Book Company of Toronto. (211)  112  Complicating Willmott’s argument even further, I would suggest that we recognize the appropriative drive informing Legends’ production and reception as not only a national phenomenon but also an urban one. As Linda Quirk argues, if the “early publishing history of this monograph is the story of a unique publishing enterprise, . . . it is also the story of a group of urbanites who seized the opportunity to promote the book as a cultural icon both to boost book sales and to enrich their young city’s cultural landscape” (206). Importantly, the claim to cultural property (and, more indirectly, to land) in the collection’s title is attributed specifically to Vancouver, and this attribution is reinforced in Bernard McEvoy’s 1911 Preface to Legends, in which he writes that “a poet has arisen to cast over the shoulders of our grey mountains, our trail-threaded forests, our tide-swept waters, and the streets and sky-scrapers of our hurrying city, a gracious mantle of romance. . . . Vancouver takes on a new aspect as we view it through [Johnson’s] eyes” (McEvoy v). McEvoy endows Johnson, here, with the power to effect what might be described, drawing on a phrase from Pierre Bourdieu, as a “cultural consecration” of the city; in Distinction, Bourdieu suggests that aesthetic representation can have the effect of “confer[ring] on . . . objects, persons and situations . . . a sort of ontological promotion akin to a transubstantiation” (Bourdieu, Distinction 6). Framed as an inaugural and transformative expression of local cultural identity, Legends was taken up enthusiastically by Vancouverites,98 who appear to have been hungry for the special relationship to place and community that the collection seemed to promise. 98  As Johnson recounts in a letter to her sister, early sales of Legends in Vancouver were impressively brisk: “My book went out in the book stalls on Saturday at noon hour, & by Wednesday, not a single copy was left in the publishing house. Spencers (who is like Eatons in Toronto) sold 100 of them last Friday. There never has been such a rush on a holiday book here” (qtd. in Gerson and Strong-Boag xxiii). Indeed, as Quirk notes (211), this Vancouver demand meant that copies of the first edition could not be sent to Ontario, where Johnson had grown up, established her career, and still had a loyal following; writes Johnson in her letter: “Brantford telegraphed for 100 to be sent there, but Mr. Makovski could not let them  113  We know that Johnson wanted to call the collection Legends of the Capilano, a fact which reminds us that her primary interest was in honouring her Aboriginal friends, not in promoting urban boosterism or establishing the legitimacy of the settler city— projects that Legends ultimately enabled.99 That said, judging from comments made to her sister at the time of Legends’ initial publication, she was not dismayed by the way that the collection was being taken up by her fellow Vancouverites: “the reviews here have been magnificent,” she remarks; “all the papers seem to think that I have done great things for the city by unearthing its surrounding romance” (qtd. in Gerson and StrongBoag xxiii). But is the “view” of the city-region that McEvoy describes in his Preface, and that is also suggested by Johnson here, the one that she in fact offers in the text? The representations of Aboriginal life that she produced over the course of her career were undeniably romantic and sentimental—indeed, she relied on the appeal of such an approach to capture mainstream audiences of her day. However, with her audience drawn in, Johnson often seized opportunities to make critical social statements: in their study of Johnson, Strong-Boag and Gerson foreground the productive interplay of acquiescence and opposition to social norms in her work, noting that her writing is characterized by repeated, “strategically crafted interventions in the ideological battle to legitimize the claims of First Nations (and also women) for respect and civil rights” (171). This assessment is certainly true of Legends. We know that Johnson faced ongoing financial insecurity during her years in Vancouver, and that her writing, which she continued even as she struggled with cancer-related pain, was always produced with have one single copy. The entire edition is sold out, is it not glorious? I am so tired with people coming here with 4 & 5 books for me to autograph day in & day out” (qtd. in Gerson and Strong-Boag xxiii). 99 Gerson and Strong-Boag note that the change of title—made against Johnson’s wishes—to Legends of Vancouver “effectively erased the prominence of the Capilano, . . . even as it affirmed the legitimacy of the newcomers who had created an English-speaking city on the site of Aboriginal settlements” (xxxii).  114  the need and desire to please her mainstream settler market. Given this context for the stories’ production, it is unsurprising that we find Johnson employing, in Legends, a style and discourse that would have appealed to her audience, frequently taking on the role of tour guide in the local landscape, and invoking the rhetoric of urban boosterism in her descriptions of the city-region. However, the narrator also works to reinscribe a vital Aboriginal presence—contemporary and projective, as well as historical—into spaces that this rhetoric was endeavouring to “fix” (and secure for settler use and appreciation) as park, wilderness, and tourist destination. Moreover, Johnson does not allow her readers to remain comfortably settled in their experience of Vancouver but rather encourages them to view the city through the eyes of her Aboriginal characters. Ultimately, she represents Vancouver in a way that, while romanticized, would also have been disorienting for many members of her settler audience. In the story “The Two Sisters,” for example, Johnson’s narrator employs the second-person “you” in setting the scene, suggesting an audience that shares—or might imagine themselves sharing—the view of the North Shore mountains that opens the story, while also ultimately encouraging this audience to see the scene in a new way.100 Johnson begins the story fairly innocuously by locating the mountains in relation to nation and empire (as Willmott [“Modernism” 118] and Rymhs [53] have noted), and also, at a more local scale, in relation to the city:  100  Johnson’s tour guide persona appears in other stories as well. In her story “The Siwash Rock,” for example, the narrator employs a guiding “you” as she explains to her readers how to find a rock formation near the titular geographical landmark. “If you penetrate the hollows in the woods near Siwash Rock you will find a large rock and a smaller one beside it,” she affirms (15). And in “The Recluse,” she directs her readers “about a mile citywards” to “the upper course of the Capilano River,” saying: “Leave the trail at this point and strike through the undergrowth for a few hundred yards to the left, and you will be on the rocky borders of the purest, most restless river in all of Canada” (17).  115  You can see them as you look towards the north and the west, where the dreamhills swim into the sky amid their ever-drifting clouds of pearl and grey. They catch the earliest hint of sunrise, they hold the last colour of sunset. Twin mountains they are, lifting their twin peaks above the fairest city in all Canada, and known throughout the British Empire as “The Lions of Vancouver.” (1) In Selling British Columbia, Michael Dawson notes that even during this early period western Canadian city boosters and tourism promoters tended, in advertising a city, to highlight its proximity to wilderness (a sign of both the possibility of escaping modern life and, paradoxically, the opportunity for economic development) as well as the beauty of the city itself (a sign of order, local pride, and wealth) (16, 24-25). Many of Johnson’s resident readers would, certainly, have been initially drawn to Vancouver by such rhetoric. In invoking it—and especially in “fixing” the mountain view as a spectacle of nature that seems to present itself for the appreciative consumption of lucky residents and visitors—Johnson creates the grounds for connecting with her readers, drawing them into the story. Then, mid-paragraph, Johnson unsettles the cultural geography in which the mountains have been “mapped,” as well as her own relationship to her readers: But the Indian tribes do not know these peaks as “The Lions.” Even the chief whose feet have so recently wandered to the Happy Hunting Grounds never heard the name given them until I mentioned it to him one dreamy August day, as together we followed the trail leading to the canyon. He seemed so surprised at the name that I mentioned the reason it had been applied to them, asking him if he recalled the Landseer Lions in Trafalgar Square. Yes, he remembered those  116  splendid sculptures, and his quick eye saw the resemblance instantly. It appeared to please him, and his fine face expressed the haunting memories of the far-away roar of Old London. But the “call of the blood” was stronger, and presently he referred to the Indian legend of those peaks—a legend that I have reason to believe is absolutely unknown to thousands of Palefaces who look upon “The Lions” daily, without the love for them that is in the Indian heart, without knowledge of the secret of “The Two Sisters.” (2) In bringing an alternative place name and story into play—indeed, in productively unworking and reworking local knowledge of place—Johnson constructs herself as an active border figure, her “double-awareness of the etiology behind both names [“