Remarkable video of Vancouver's past in new film
Published Sunday, May 18, 2008 6:49PM PDT
A new documentary will be released with remarkable video footage of our city from 1907 -- and it shows that from streetcars to SkyTrain, carriages to condos, a lot has changed in Vancouver over the past century.
But much of Vancouver is still recognizable in the six-minute film, taken by Seattle filmmaker William Harbeck with a hand cranked camera on the front of a streetcar on May 7, 1907.
"Watching the film for the first time was so remarkable because it's a window into the past," said Jim McGraw of the Vancouver Historical Society.
The film had been hidden away for decades in the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia, because an Australian film buff had thought it was a film of early Hobart, Australia.
But in the 1990s, someone noticed that the film was of a city in North America, and it was traced back to Vancouver.
The 101-year-old footage inspired McGraw to make a documentary about Vancouver, then and now.
City Reflections re-creates the streetcar footage to show the differences between Granville Street in 1907 and today.
"You see people walking, there are stray dogs running across the street, people on bicycles, horses on wagons all over the place," said McGraw.
Amongst it all, the Hotel Vancouver is recognizable in the footage, as is the Sinclair Centre.
"If you take a look at the 1907 film there are construction projects going on everywhere," said McGraw. "There are construction projects everywhere today, too.
"Lots of traffic back then -- mind you, it was bicycles, horses and carriages. Today, it's cars and trucks," he said.
Like his footage, Harbeck became a part of history too. Five years after he filmed Vancouver, he was commissioned to film the first voyage of the Titanic.
He went down with his ocean liner.
The Vancouver Historical Society will show City Reflections at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre on May 22 at 8 p.m.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson