Remembering Lost Biodiversity of False Creek, Vancouver: Through Artistic Maps, Stories and Walks. March – April 2011

False Creek shoreline. Vancouver BC. Photo by J. Chong

False Creek shoreline, looking out towards English Bay. Vancouver BC. Photo by J. Chong

 On March 31, 2011, celebrate with the False Creek Watershed Society during their public event about  the biodiversity of False Creek, through history, memory and map-making.  Before the industrial activity in False Creek during the early 20th century and well into the 1970’s, False Creek was rich with seashore life and plants. An excerpt from the Society’s preamble about their public education events in March 2011:

“It was not that long ago that the shores of False Creek would have been lined with rocky shores, sealife, conifers up to a thousand years old, home to bears, cougars and wolves and humming with the sounds of beaver, frogs, chipmunks, much much more.”

Today although much biodiversity has been lost, the water is still there, some birds and sea life are still present. Many workshop participants will have visited other wilderness areas that offer some idea of what life in False Creek would have been like before the mid 1800’s when the first logging began.”

“Water Beneath Our Feet”, a community-mapping event, harkens back to this now diminished eco-system in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Nowadays, it is thick with pleasure boats,  kayakers, dragonboaters,  and water taxis. On the rare occasion, you might (as I have) seen the rare seal plying the water, a blue heron bird stepping gingerly around or live purple /red starfish lying in the water by False Creek. It is a remarkable sight when such wildlife, are spotted.

Blue heron on dock  at Granville Island. Vancouver, BC. Photo by HJEH Becker

Blue heron by South False Creek. Granville Island. Vancouver, BC. Photo by HJEH Becker

In 2010, the Society with assistance of Emily Carr University and Roundhouse Community Centre, led workshop participants through several pre-educational sessions where people were encouraged to share stories and document them in citizens’ maps, on False Creek’s natural life and its long–gone way of life. This form of recounting through artistic map-making by people and public walks, revealed the eco-cultural and historic fabric of False Creek. 

An example of this memory revival, is the publication of the Gulf Islands’ natural and local history, “Islands in the Salish Sea—a Community Atlas”.  It is a wonderful local art and history book that I bought a few years ago myself.  (After clicking on the book title link, scroll down to see sample community map artwork.)

The public open house will be held at Rhizome Café, 317 East Broadway, Vancouver, Mar. 31, 2011.  Click here for details.

Free Public Walks
The Society is also providing several free public walks. But do register as soon as possible since there is a limit on group size (Musqueam walk is booked full now. It was on a lost salmon stream.).  The walks are:

  • Mar. 13  & Mar. 21:  Walk on South False Creek with guided commentary.
  • Mar. 27:     A community sharing event where information and stories will be shared about False Creek. At Roundhouse  Community Centre.
  • Apr. 10 & 17:    Community Map-making  and about artistic presentation of False Creek.

Please check here for locations, time and details.  This event promises to appeal  to those who enjoy cultural and eco-history interwoven with creative envisioning of a place through artistic map-making, stories and visuals.

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