History books typically show Vancouver as a pioneer city built on forestry, fisheries, and tourism, but behind the snow-capped mountains and rain forests, the Vancouver of the first half of the 20th century was a hotbed of civic corruption. The top job at the Vancouver Police Department was a revolving door with the average tenure for a police chief of just four years.
In those early years, Detective Joe Ricci’s beat was the opium dens and gambling joints of Chinatown, while Lurancy Harris—the first female cop in Canada—patrolled the high-end brothels of Alexander Street. Later, proceeds from rum running produced some of the city’s most iconic buildings, cops became robbers, and the city reeled from a series of unsolved murders.
But Vancouver is more than bookies, brothels, and bootleggers—the city also produced legendary women, world-class entertainers, and ground-breaking architecture.
Sensational Vancouver covers legendary women including Elsie MacGill, Phyllis Munday, Nellie Yip Quong and Joy Kogawa; high-end brothels, unsolved murders, and the homes and buildings of artists, architects and entertainers including Frederick Varley, Arthur Erickson, Bryan Adams, and Michael Bublé.
Sensational Vancouver is a fully illustrated popular history book about Vancouver’s famous and infamous, the ordinary and the extraordinary, filtered through the houses in which they lived. Includes a Walking Tour map of historic Strathcona and Chinatown.
Eve Lazarus is an award-winning writer with a passion for history and heritage houses. She is the author of Sensational Victoria: Bright Lights, Red Lights, Murders, Ghosts & Gardens, and her book At Home with History: The Untold Secrets of Greater Vancouver’s Heritage Houses was a 2008 City of Vancouver book award finalist. Eve co-authored The Life & Art of Frank Molnar, Jack Hardman and LeRoy Jensen, and she wrote Frommer’s with Kids Vancouver. Eve blogs obsessively about houses and their genealogies at www.evelazarus.com/blog/
We have two copies of Sensational Vancouver to give away to our readers. Simply post a comment below if you’d like one and we’ll randomly draw a couple names next week and notify you by email. Good luck!
July 15 Update: Congratulations Janet and Max – check your inbox!