Celebrating Vancouver’s Milestone Anniversaries in 2011, 2016 & Beyond

Vancouver, a city renowned for its stunning natural beauty and diverse cultural tapestry, has a rich history that spans over a century. As the city marks its milestone anniversaries, it showcases its vibrant community spirit through a series of engaging celebrations. These anniversaries serve as opportunities for residents and visitors alike to connect with Vancouver’s past, present, and future while fostering a sense of belonging and pride in the city’s achievements.

celebrate vancouver 125

Vancouver’s Historical Timeline

Founded in 1886, the city of Vancouver has grown from a small logging town to a thriving metropolis. The city’s journey began with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which played a crucial role in its development. Over the years, Vancouver has embraced its multicultural identity, welcoming people from all walks of life and creating a unique blend of traditions and customs. Today, as Vancouver celebrates its 137th year, it continues to evolve and adapt while preserving its rich heritage.

vancouver history

How Does Vancouver Celebrate Anniversaries?

Vancouver’s approach to celebrating its milestone anniversaries is rooted in the principles of inclusivity, diversity, and community involvement. The city strives to create a welcoming atmosphere where everyone can participate and contribute to the festivities. From public art installations and community events to historical retrospectives and cultural showcases, Vancouver’s anniversary celebrations offer a wide range of activities that cater to diverse interests and backgrounds.

The city organizes free shows and concerts in Vancouver, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the festivities regardless of their financial situation. Additionally, the city often holds contests, such as the Vancouver 125 contest, to engage residents and visitors alike, providing opportunities to win exciting prizes while celebrating the city’s milestones.

Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary Celebrations in 2011

In 2011, Vancouver marked its 125th anniversary with great fanfare, earning the designation of Cultural Capital of Canada. The year-long celebration featured a series of events and initiatives that highlighted the city’s cultural richness and community spirit.

Vancouver JP Plaza night

Tourism Vancouver 125 played a significant role in promoting the city’s anniversary celebrations and attracting visitors from around the world. Tourism Vancouver participated in the year-long celebration of Vancouver’s 125th anniversary with a special promotion for out-of-town guests. Visitors who booked a two-night stay at participating hotels received a $125 gift card that could be used at local attractions, events, sightseeing activities, and even transit passes. More information on participating hotels and the different ways to use the $125 gift card was available on the Tourism Vancouver website.

Additionally, Tourism Vancouver hosted a Vancouver 125 sweepstakes, offering participants a chance to win a trip to Vancouver that included return flights, ground transportation, and a six-night stay at the city’s Fairmont Hotels – the host hotel for Vancouver 125 celebrations.

Major Vancouver Events & Festival

Event Name
Brief Details
Birthday Live
April 6, 2011
Jack Poole Plaza
Free party with music, street hockey, video art, dance, and ceremonies.
Summer Live
July 8-10, 2011
Stanley Park
Free arts and entertainment festival with music, theatre, dance, art, sports, and food.
Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference
October 19-22, 2011
Segal Building, SFU Harbour Centre, SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Four-day poetry conference with over 95 poets, readings, workshops, and discussions.
Vancouver Schools at 125 – A Yearbook
September – December 2011
Online and at all lower mainland schools
Yearbook project collecting stories from Vancouver schools, promoting diversity and community.
Public Art & Murals for Vancouver 125
Throughout 2011
Various locations across the city
Commissioning of new artworks for installations to celebrate Vancouver’s 125th anniversary.
The History of Metropolitan Vancouver book launch
December 6, 2011
Vancouver Public Library (Central Branch)
Launch of Chuck Davis’ posthumous book covering Vancouver’s history.
Mapping the Everyday: Neighbourhood Claims for the Future
Nov 1, 2011 – Feb 25, 2012
The Audain Gallery, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Downtown Eastside community
Exhibition offering a visual map of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre community.
ALIVE Arts Winter Festival & Dialogue
December 13-15, 2011
W2 Media Cafe & Woodward’s Atrium
Aboriginal cultural showcase with performing artists, artisans, dancers, meals, and dialogues.
BOLD 125 Celebration
Sept 11, Nov 26, Dec 15
VanCity International Theatre, The Western Front, Rhizome Cafe
Events celebrating the culture and achievements of older lesbian women in Vancouver.
Launch of Vancouver’s Interactive Building Permit Database
November 23, 2011
The City of Vancouver Archives
Launch of a database unlocking the secrets of Vancouver’s historic buildings.
Songs of the False Creek Flats
November 23, 2011
SFU Woodwards, World Art Centre
Performance of a song cycle and visual narrative about the False Creek Flats area.

Birthday Live at Jack Poole Plaza

A free, all-ages event featuring music, street hockey, video art, and a dance party. The celebration took place at Jack Poole Plaza, the site of the Olympic Cauldron, and included a Coast Salish Witness Ceremony, speeches by Mayor Gregor Robertson and other dignitaries, and the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron.

Summer Live in Stanley Park

A three-day festival showcasing outdoor music stages, family entertainment, sports activities, and Indigenous history and culture. These Vancouver summer events were held at Brockton Point in Stanley Park and featured performances by Mother Mother, Daniel Wesley, The New Pornographers, Neko Case, Dan Mangan, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bramwell Tovey.

Summer Live in Stanley Park

Summer Live Transportation Guide

Vancouver 125 Summer Live drew large crowds to Stanley Park. As there were driving and parking restrictions, and in keeping with the City of Vancouver’s sustainability initiatives, festival-goers were encouraged to arrive by bicycle or on foot via the seawall. Cycling or walking was the most expedient way to get easy access to the festival site at Stanley Park’s Brockton Point.

The transportation guide, schedule, and map of Brockton Point in Stanley Park were made available for download. The guide included information on:

  • Free, secure, and staffed bicycle compounds (Bicycle Valet) in the festival area.
  • Walking routes along the seawall with signage to guide attendees.
  • Free shuttle bus from Waterfront Station to the festival (drop off near the totem poles at Brockton Point).
  • Free shuttle service within Stanley Park to help those in other areas of the park access the festival.
  • Public transit services to Stanley Park from points throughout the Lower Mainland.
  • Limited vehicle access and parking near the festival site, with pay parking in effect throughout the park.

The guide also provided information on accessibility, including wheelchair access at each of the three festival stages and a dedicated parking lot for people with disabilities.

Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference

A gathering of nearly 100 poets from across North America for readings, workshops, and discussions. The four-day conference took place at various locations, including the Segal Building, SFU Harbour Centre, and SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. The event also welcomed Vancouver’s new Poet Laureate, Evelyn Lau.

Public Art Projects & Murals

Public art projects and murals (throughout 2011): The creation of new public artworks and murals across the city, reflecting Vancouver’s diversity and creativity. Notable projects included:

  • “Changing Times” program: Commissioned new public artworks for short-term, long-term, and permanent installations around the city.
  • “Platforms” program: Commissioned new two-dimensional artworks installed in Transit Shelter Advertising spaces and on outdoor video screens.
  • Vancouver 125 Mural Program: Partnered with the City’s Great Beginnings program to commission new community murals in neighbourhoods across Vancouver.

Other Significant Events & Initiatives

  • The BOLD 125 Celebration (September 11, November 26, December 15): Events celebrating the culture, heritage, and achievements of older lesbian women in Vancouver, including film screenings, art exhibitions, and discussions on politics.
  • Mapping the Everyday: Neighbourhood Claims for the Future (November 1, 2011 – February 25, 2012): A collaborative exhibition at the Audain Gallery involving the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, artists, and the community, featuring workshops, panels, and performances.
  • ALIVE Arts Winter Festival & Dialogue (December 13-15, 2011): A cultural showcase with Aboriginal artists, artisans, dialogues, and community meals at the W2 Media Cafe & Woodward’s Atrium.

These events and initiatives, along with many others throughout the year, showcased Vancouver’s vibrant cultural scene and engaged the community in celebrating the city’s 125th anniversary.

Legacy projects from the 125th anniversary:

  • Major Matthews’ Early Vancouver online archive: The digitization of the city’s first archivist’s historical records, making them accessible to the public.
  • Yaletown Productions archive: The acquisition of the largest moving-image collection documenting Vancouver’s film industry history.
  • Interactive Building Permit Database: The launch of a searchable online database of historical building permit information.
  • 125 Vancouver Stories project: The collection of 125 oral histories and stories from diverse Vancouver residents.

Vancouver’s 130th Anniversary Celebrations in 2016

Building on the success of the 125th anniversary celebrations, Vancouver continued to honor its milestones with the 130th anniversary in 2016. The celebrations aimed to engage the community in new and exciting ways while maintaining the spirit of inclusivity and diversity.

One notable initiative was the “130 Facts in 130 Days” campaign, which sought to educate and engage residents through daily social media posts highlighting key moments, achievements, and quirks in Vancouver’s history. The facts covered a wide range of topics, from arts and culture to sports and infrastructure, offering a fascinating glimpse into the city’s evolution.

In addition to the social media campaign, Vancouver 130 featured a variety of events and activities, including art exhibitions, neighbourhood block parties, and community dialogues. The celebrations encouraged residents to explore their city, connect with their neighbours, and contribute to Vancouver’s ongoing story.

How the Community Can Get Involved

Vancouver’s anniversary celebrations provide countless opportunities for community members to get involved and make their mark on the city’s cultural landscape. Here are some ways residents can participate:

Attend, support, and volunteer:

  1. Take part in the various events and activities organized throughout the anniversary year, supporting local artists, performers, and businesses.
  2. Offer your time and skills to help with the planning and execution of anniversary events, or join organizing committees and volunteer teams.

Share your story and organize:

  1. Participate in oral history projects, storytelling initiatives, or community art projects that showcase the city’s diverse perspectives and histories.
  2. Plan and host your own anniversary-themed event, collaborating with local organizations, schools, or businesses.

Engage, support, and provide feedback:

  1. Follow and interact with official anniversary social media accounts, sharing your experiences, photos, and reflections using designated hashtags and online platforms.
  2. Contribute to or fundraise for anniversary legacy projects that will have a lasting impact on the city.
  3. Share your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions with event organizers and city officials to help shape future anniversary celebrations.

Vancouver’s Anniversary Celebrations

Celebrating Vancouver’s milestone anniversaries is more than just a festive occasion; it is a testament to the city’s resilience, adaptability, and unwavering sense of community. As Vancouver continues to grow and evolve, these celebrations serve as reminders of the shared experiences, triumphs, and challenges that have shaped the city’s identity.

Looking ahead, Vancouver’s future anniversary celebrations promise to be even more inclusive, engaging, and reflective of the city’s ever-changing cultural landscape. By embracing its past and present, Vancouver sets the stage for a vibrant and prosperous future where all members of the community can thrive and contribute to the city’s ongoing story.