Timeline

To download a more detailed history in PDF format (including sources), please click here.

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Vancouver strolls in 1975

1975

  • The Greater Vancouver Regional District’s “Livable Region Plan” was introduced.
  • St. Paul’s Hospital opened the first Drug and Poison Information Centre (DPIC) in Canada.
  • Dec 31 – The Vancouver nightclub The Penthouse was closed by the vice squad.

1976

  • The owners and management of the Penthouse Cabaret on Seymour were charged with keeping a common bawdy house. The Penthouse Six, as they became known, included Joe Philliponi, a celebrated cabaret figure. It was alleged that 80 to 100 prostitutes a night would pick up clients at the nightspot. “The trial,” wrote Greg Middleton of the Province, “was a sensation. There were undercover tapes, liquor inspectors on the take . . . During the trial, Philliponi pleaded for leniency, claiming it ‘would kill my mother.’ The trial regaled packed courtrooms for months, before all six finally walked free after successfully appealing the conviction.” In 1983 Joe Philliponi was shot dead during a robbery.

1977

  • Mayor: Jack Volrich became mayor, succeeding Art Phillips. He was born in Anyox, B.C. “Volrich,” wrote Donna Jean McKinnon in The Greater Vancouver Book, “was a founding member of TEAM, but his priorities and outlook seemed more in keeping with the free-enterprise mayors of previous years. He considered running as an independent in his second bid for office, and later still was a member of both the Progressive Conservative and Social Credit parties. Volrich was fiscally conservative and presented a stabilizing force and return to the old values in the midst of social ferment. He re-introduced much of the pomp and ceremony to the mayor’s office, yet could be wooden and humorless.”

1978

  • Nov 1 – The Province and The Vancouver Sun were closed by a labour dispute. They would not resume publication until June 26, 1979, just under eight months. The Province lost 16 persons from its editorial department, the Sun eight, including columnist Doug Collins, who joined The Daily Courier, and sportswriter Jim Taylor, who later joined the Province.
  • The union newspaper The Vancouver Express was launched to fill the gap. Copies of this newspaper are on microfiche at the Vancouver Public Library. (An earlier Express, also launched as the result of strikes at the two major dailies, had appeared from February to May, 1970.)

1979

  • Vancouver city council reinstated Joe Philliponi’s licence to run the Penthouse. On December 31, 1975, the club had been closed by the vice squad, and in 1977 Philliponi was charged with living off prostitution but the conviction was quashed.
  • Police seized a little brown book at the apartment of a well-known Vancouver prostitute. In it were 800 names of men, a who’s who of high society, including a high-ranking member of the B.C. judiciary. Wendy King pleaded guilty to keeping a bawdy house and was fined $1,500. But the notebook was sealed by a B.C. Supreme Court Judge, the names never revealed.
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Vancouver strolls in 1980

1980

  • Oct 17 – Conference on prostitution held by CROWE at the West End Community Centre.
  • Nov 26 – The International Bureau of Expositions in Paris approved Expo 86 for Vancouver.

1981

  • July 20 – A fixture on the Vancouver club scene for decades was The Cave, whose dark interior and famous papier-mache stalactites were a setting for acts ranging from Mitzi Gaynor, Milton Berle, Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Jack Carter, Henny Youngman and Louis Armstrong to Eric Burdon and the Animals and The Doors. The Cave, run in its heyday by the towering Ken Stauffer, closed its doors today with a farewell performance by the Bobby Hales Orchestra. The club was demolished the next day. Actually, the demolition started early: “Before the day dawned,” Joy Metcalfe wrote, “every mirror, stalactite, showcase, sink and toilet that had not been auctioned off earlier had been demolished by the mob.”

1982

  • April 6 – City Council passes the “Street Activities” bylaw, which prohibited the selling and purchasing of sexual services, where doing so would prevent others from using the street as then were intended. Committing an offence against this by-law, resulted in fines from $350.00 up to $2,000 for offenders.
  • Oct 7 – Construction of the Expo 86 site begins today

1983

  • April 20 – There is a large demonstration at City Hall organized by ASP, the Alliance for the Safety of Prostitutes
  • Sept 18 – Joe Philliponi (born Filippone), nightclub owner, was shot to death, aged 70. He was born January 1, 1913 in southern Italy. He came to Vancouver in the early 1930s and started Eagle-Time Delivery Systems (1934), later acquiring taxi cabs. In 1945 he opened The Penthouse dinner club at 1019 Seymour, presenting big names like Sammy Davis, Jr. and George Burns. On December 31, 1975 the club was closed by the vice squad; in 1977, he was charged with living off prostitution but the conviction was quashed. His business licence was withdrawn but re-approved by city council in 1979. His murder was linked to a robbery attempt. Some 800 people attended his funeral, a crowd described as including “Supreme Court justices, businessmen and dancers.” Two men were convicted of the murder, Scott Ogilvie Forsyth and Sydney Vincent Morrisroe. Both were jailed.

Nov 22

  • Firebombs go off at three Red Hot Video outlets. A group calling itself the Wimmin’s Fire Brigade claims responsibility. Five people (the “Squamish Five”) will be arrested January 20, 1983 and, for this and other acts, will be jailed for lengthy terms.
  • AIDS Vancouver was founded, one of the first AIDS service organizations in Canada. Although the disease wasn’t confined to gay men, news items and articles on AIDS had appeared in The Body Politic, Canada’s leading gay news magazine, in September 1981. In April 1983 the first large public meeting on AIDS held in Toronto was sponsored by Gays in Health Care.
  • St. Paul’s Hospital admitted its first AIDS patient.
  • Debut: Angles: magazine of Vancouver’s queer voice A monthly magazine offering a gay-lesbian perspective on contemporary events, politics, arts and entertainment.

1984

  • May 25 – A “Shame the Johns” operation began in Vancouver in an attempt to drive prostitutes’ clients from the West End. Most of the angered residents’ attention, however, was directed against the prostitutes themselves: picketing them, verbal harassment, etc. The women did leave, but simply moved to other neighbourhoods: Mount Pleasant, Strathcona, Kensington-Cedar Cottage and Grandview-Woodlands.
  • Earlier, Concerned Residents of the West End (CROWE), led by Vancouver Centre MP Pat Carney, had formed to oust the streetwalkers. City council, led by mayor Mike Harcourt, had passed a street-activity bylaw a couple of years before, imposing fines up to $2,000. But like so many attempts to legally control prostitution, it failed to stick in the courts.
  • June 20 – Christ Church Cathedral was occupied by 12 members of ASP, the Alliance for the Safety of Prostitutes. The attorney general had obtained a Supreme Court injunction prohibiting soliciting west of Granville Street, and this demonstration was in protest of that move. (Residents of the West End had complained of prostitutes patrolling the Georgia Street sidewalk adjacent to the Cathedral.)
  • 1984 was worrisome for Expo 86 officials. Strikes delayed the pace of construction.
  • Hookers On Davie (produced by Janice Cole and Holly Dale) A documentary in which Torontonians Cole and Dale record the stories told them by four prostitutes and three transsexuals in Vancouver’s West End.
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Vancouver strolls in 1985

1985

  • Former Surrey mayor and MLA Bill Vander Zalm and his wife Lillian began construction of Fantasy Gardens in Richmond.
  • The funky old Orillia apartment block, built at Robson and Seymour Streets in Vancouver in 1903, was demolished.
  • Design work began on Canada Place (designed by Toronto’s Zeidler-Roberts Partnership with Vancouver architectural firm Downs-Archambault). The building will serve as the Canadian Pavilion for Expo 86. Its distinctive five sails will make it a landmark on the harbor.

1986

  • Mayor of Vancouver (1986-1993): Former realtor and businessman Gordon Campbell became mayor of Vancouver, succeeding Mike Harcourt. He would serve two terms. Born in Vancouver January 12, 1948, the 38-year-old Campbell’s terms in office were a time, Donna-Jean McKinnon has written, “when civic government worked more closely with development than community interests.” At the end of his second term in 1993, Campbell would win the leadership of the provincial Liberal party that had gained right-of-centre support in B.C. following the 1991 decimation of Social Credit. (RS. Nov.7/08)
  • Oct 22 – The Province’s Page One headline: SHA-ZALM! That announced the election of “millionaire gardener” Bill Vander Zalm as premier. Inside the paper VANDER SLAM! was the headline for the story on how the Zalm’s Social Credit forces had battered Bob Skelly’s NDP.
    “The Socreds,” the paper said, “who have governed B.C. for 31 of the last 34 years, were elected or leading in 49 seats at press time, while the New Democrats were ahead in 20 seats.”