Vancouver Heritage Foundation Weekly: Markers in Time

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Vancouver Heritage Foundation is a registered charity supporting the conservation of heritage buildings and structures in recognition of their contribution to the city’s economy, sustainability and culture.

People the world over love to share stories and a common way to do this is to put up plaques. These plaques serve as a physical reminder that something important happened here.

Vancouver is full of commemorative plaques providing windows to the past. These plaques can reveal personal stories or local events, and help us to connect to places. They help us to identify our part in local, national and even international events.

Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Places That Matter program, with its 125 blue oval plaques sharing the unique and lesser known history of the people, places and events that have shaped Vancouver, is just one plaque project through the city. Here are a few others you may spot around the city:

City of Vancouver Heritage Plaque Program

Photo: City of Vancouver

These plaques acknowledge the value and significance of Vancouver’s heritage resources. Historic buildings and places in Vancouver protected by municipal heritage designations or other legal agreements are marked by a bronze plaque featuring a V-shaped marker. The marker and wave motif are taken from the city crest, and are highlighted in the City’s official blue.

Vancouver Centennial Plaques

To celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary in 1986, a series of 100 plaques were installed on buildings around the city. Not all of these round yellow plaques still exist, but you can spot them on buildings at 390 W Hastings and 5740 Fraser St.

Community Plaque Programs

Photo: citycaucus.com

Some Vancouver neighbourhoods express their individuality and history through plaque projects. For example, Vancouver Street Stories, celebrates the history of South Fraser’s beginnings with street plaques which feature archival images and facts about the neighbourhood. Many neighbourhoods like Kerrisdale, South Granville, the Downtown East Side and Mount Pleasant have their own history plaques.

Labour History Centre Plaques

Photo: Labour History Centre

Placed around the perimeter of the Vancouver Convention Centre is a series of plaques from the Labour History Centre which provide information and images of important people, events, and innovations from different periods from our labour history. Visitors can learn about worker protests, and industries such as timber and mining.

Chosen Family Portraits

Created as part of the 2010 Vancouver Queer Film Festival with Artists-in-Residence Sarah Race and Sarah Buchanan, plaques mounted on light poles portray a Chosen Family Portrait image, personal quote from the family, and a queer historical fact about our dynamic city.

National Historic Sites of Canada in Vancouver

Photo: Sandra Cuffe

There are several National Historic Sites designated in Vancouver. Most National Historic Sites are marked by a federal plaque bearing Canada’s Coat of Arms. In earlier years, these plaques were erected on purpose-built cairns such as the one built for the Marpole Midden site, but in later years have been attached to buildings or free-standing posts. These maroon and gold markers are typically in English and French

Living Memorial Stones Project

Photo: Carmine Marinelli, 24 Hours

The Living Stones Memorial is a series of bronze plaques embedded in city sidewalks to represent each of the 62 women who were murdered, went missing, or were victims of Robert Pickton.

Each plaque bears the name of a victim, followed by their birth date as well as the word “murdered” or “missing”, and are placed at the approximate location that each woman disappeared. Working with the City of Vancouver, the Canadian Foundation for Creative Development and Innovation (CFCDI) pioneered the project in a hope to keep the memory of the women alive.

Cedar Dedication Plaques

Photo: Rebecca Bayer, 1015 Maple

Installed for the Stanley Park 125th anniversary celebration by artists in the Field House Residency program of the Vancouver Park Board, a series of 25 cedar ‘dedication’ plaques reflect on the past and present of specific locations within the park.


Plaques connect us to the people who have been here before us. Take some time to explore your city, read some plaques, and learn about your neighbourhood. Places That Matter has presented over half of our 125 plaques. Check out our website for announcements about our upcoming presentations!

Please share images and links about your neighbourhood plaques with us on twitter @vanheritage with #placesthatmatter.