Heritage Week: How Our Past Strengthens the Cultural Fabric of the Here and Now

Monday 11th, February 2019 / 07:00
By Dayna Mahannah

Heritage Week: if you haven’t done it, you should. These days, as time moves faster than ever, it’s easy to get swept up in the technological advances and digital trends that hurtle us into futuristic rapture.

But what of the past?

After speaking with Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Executive Director, Judith Mosley, it’s evident there’s a place for our history in the present and, if we are foresighted enough, in the hereafter.

“The Tie That Binds” is this year’s theme for Heritage Week, which runs from February 18-24 and will host numerous events and activities to help people engage with the legacies of Vancouver. “It helps us understand our communities and our cities,” Mosley says, “by helping us connect to the history to [understand] how we got to where we are.”

Walking tours, visiting museums and old neighbourhoods, and exploring Vancouver’s archives are some of the ways to enjoy this celebration. VHF has also been developing online resources that allow better access to Vancouver’s bygone days – a perfect instance of how to keep alive the relics and memories that are the foundation of our culturally diverse city. The Heritage Site Finder is an interactive map listing over 2,200 registered – yes, heritage – sites, complete with photography and researched information. Another work-in-progress is the Places That Matter project, a collaboration aimed toward gathering history of people, places, and events that are lesser known to the general public and acknowledging those stories. They are catalogued on the Community History Resource website and celebrated with a researched blue plaque. Places That Matter will also be the eponymous mainstay event at Heritage Week.

Still, VHF works year-round to “promote the appreciation and conservation of historic places in the city.” For Mosley, this is vital to sustaining the integrity of where we live. “On someone’s street, a house restored may mean more people are able to live in it… that can lead to more people in the neighbourhood taking on that kind of project as well.”

Reinforcing communities in this way can have a bigger impact on Vancouver’s economic and housing issues. “We encourage people to keep buildings, keep houses, and find ways to reuse them,” she says. “A lot of older places are very adaptable and very much a part of the solution to the challenges we are facing.”

Mosley hesitates to choose a single site as a favourite. “There are a lot of places I treasure,” she laughs. “I couldn’t pick just one.” But it is no doubt they are more than just nostalgic. “Special places in the city can really help bring people together. Understanding the stories of the people and the places where we live and work is really important in helping us make decisions for the future.”

BC Heritage Week runs from February 18- 24 at various locations. Find out more at heritagebc.ca and vancouverheritagefoundation.org.

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