Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Online storymap of Vancouver

Feb 7, 2024

Joe's Cafe is a landmark on Vancouver's Commercial Drive, not least because of an infamous political protest that broke out there in 1990. When the owner ejected two lesbian patrons for openly kissing on the premises, he touched off a boycott of the cafe by supporters of gay rights. The protest lasted several months until the owner apologized.

What brings this to mind is that the incident is included in a new online "digital storymap" about Vancouver produced by a group of history students at Simon Fraser University. The site combines a walking tour of several important historical landmarks with photos, videos and text. Other stops on the tour include the totem poles in Stanley Park, the Woodward's Building, Oppenheimer Park and the Wing Sang Building in Chinatown, to name just four.

The map was developed with the help of the Vancouver Historical Society and it is well worth a look.