Inside the secret history of Vancouver’s infamous Clark Park Gang

Today the East Van Cross installation by artist Ken Lum at Clark Drive and Great Northern Way welcomes outsiders entering East Vancouver. It wasn’t always that way. The symbol has roots the area going back at least sixty years.

Today the East Van Cross installation by artist Ken Lum at Clark Drive and Great Northern Way welcomes outsiders entering East Vancouver. It wasn’t always that way. The symbol has roots the area going back at least sixty years. Photo: Michal Urbánek, 2016.

In the 1970s, Vancouver wasn’t quite the pristine, law-abiding city that we know today. One gang in particular was a thorn in the side of local authorities. In his latest book, The Last Gang in Town, Vancouver historian Aaron Chapman chronicles the epic battle between the Vancouver police and the Clark Park Gang.

Publisher Aresenal Pulp Press is celebrating the publication of The Last Gang in Town with two events, including an official book launch Nov. 2 at the Biltmore Cabaret (2755 Prince Edward St.).

The book launch, scheduled for 7 p.m., includes musical guest Rich Hope. Local CBC radio personality and author Grant Lawrence will host.

There is another free event Nov. 3 at Read Local 2016: Vancouver’s Histories and Mysteries. It features Chapman along with Eve Lazarus and Caroline Adderson at
Book Warehouse (4118 Main St.).

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Chapman’s previous books include Live at the Commodore, which traces the history of one of Vancouver’s best-known music venues, and Liquor, Lust & the Law. The latter covers the family behind the Penthouse Nightclub.

The press release for the book describes the Clark Park gang as “a wild, two-fisted crew of characters from Vancouver’s post-1960s counterculture.” The gang is blamed with starting riots and clashing with the police, including an incident outside of a Rolling Stones concert. Finally, the Vancouver police formed an undercover squad to end the Clark Park Gang.

At the height of the chaos, the riot squad pushed the crowd back to Renfrew Street. June 3rd, 1972 PNG Library/Vancouver Sun

At the height of the chaos, the riot squad pushed the crowd back to Renfrew Street. June 3rd, 1972. Dan Scott photo/PNG Library/Vancouver Sun.

The book features previously unpublished photos and police documents, as well as interviews with surviving gang members and police officers, some of whom are speaking publicly for the first time on the subject. Besides presenting new research and telling a long-forgotten story from the city’s past, the book is a portrait of early-1970s Vancouver.

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One Response to Inside the secret history of Vancouver’s infamous Clark Park Gang

  1. leona chaput

    I had a son involved with gang at China Creek Park. That was a terrible time fighting them and praying to survive. Sounds dramatic, it was a battle ground with many casualties. Please call me or email if you would like more details of that time. My phone no: 604-327-6073.

    Sincere