Monday, June 15, 2015

80's Heroes

From the city's very beginning as a one block long frontier village snuggled beside a sawmill, Vancouver had promise. On April 6, 1986, the city turned 100 and was now a metropolis occupying 5,500 city blocks and surrounded by blossoming suburbs.

This once tiny hamlet now housed varied populations, mixed lifestyles, numerous buildings and businesses. A long way from the settlement Gassy Jack Deighton set up his saloon in all those years ago.

Today, I am going to talk to you about the 1980s in Vancouver.

The spring of 1980 shocked many Vancouverites when, on May 18, Mount St. Helens erupted. The shocks continued with interest rates of almost 23% in 1981 and the selling price of a home nearly doubled in one year.

Throughout this decade, from 1982 to 1988, unemployment numbers were double digits. AIDS and organ transplants intrigued many of us and technology made its way into our homes with microwaves, VCRs, computers, and compact disc players.

Vancouver restaurants started to create outdoor patios in the summer for its patrons to enjoy our mild weather.

The 1980s was a big decade for Vancouver. The city hosted Expo 86 and invited the world to come visit. Once the fair was over, immigration increased and the number of languages spoken in the schools increased to 60. By 1989, almost 75% of the immigrants coming to Vancouver from outside Canada were from Asia. (Hence, our nickname Hongcouver) 

The eighties was also when Vancouver became known as the "Peace Capital of Canada" when the city declared itself a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and inaugurated a huge peace march in 1982 against the nuclear arms race. This annual event grew to be the largest of its kind in North America. Up to 100,000 participants.

Many people view the eighties as a selfish decade but there are two events that speak of 1980s to me. One is the Marathon of Hope. Terry Fox, having lost a leg to cancer, dipped his prosthetic leg into the Atlantic on April 12, 1980. He filled two bottles with water from the ocean, intending on pouring one into the Pacific Ocean and keeping the other for a souvenir. Then he started to run. His goal was to run across Canada and to raise one dollar from every Canadian to help in the fight against cancer. Sadly, he made it just a little over halfway before the cancer returned and he was flown home to BC where he died a year later. However, money is still be raised in his name to fight cancer.

The second event is the Man in Motion tour. On March 21, 1985, paraplegic Rick Hansen waved goodbye to a crowd of people at Oakridge Mall in Vancouver and began a year long journey. He wheeled his wheelchair around the world and faced many hardships and triumphs along the way. His goal was to raise money for spinal cord research. Hansen completed his journey and has gone on to do many more great things.

Two of my heroes made their mark in the 1980s and both are from my home province.

The first two paragraphs are information from a book entitled Vancouver, A Visual History by Bruce Macdonald. The last, from me.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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