Course Syllabus: Vancouver History UBC SALA 2015 Winter

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An article entry in the category: UBC SALA History Course 2015 Winter

Milestones in Vancouver’s Planning and Development History ENDS 482B[edit]

Instructor: Marta Farevaag, Adjunct Professor, and the Vancouver City Planning Commission Advisory Panel
Start Date: January 7, 2015

Course Description[edit]

What are the milestones in planning and urban development that have shaped Vancouver?
Learning about a city requires an appreciation of the web of events, decisions and interactions that have been significant in shaping that city as a unique urban settlement. While there are many excellent histories of Vancouver and numerous useful thematic chronologies, there is not yet a comprehensive chronology of milestones in the planning and development of the city.
Through research using primary and secondary sources, combined with interviews with individuals who have played a key role in the evolution of the city and region, students will collaborate on the production of a first edition of a chronology of Vancouver’s milestones in key areas such as built form, land use, transportation, demographics, and politics and governance. The course will provide an introduction to historical research and analysis within the framework of a practical research assignment. In addition to acquiring basic research and data management skills, students will have the experience of working with external professionals, and of applying research to the development of an information tool for public use and benefit.
This course has been designed in collaboration with the Vancouver City Planning Commission. The Commission is the City of Vancouver’s oldest advisory body. It commissioned the first comprehensive plan for the city in 1928, the Bartholomew Plan. An Advisory Panel convened by the Commission will meet with students to review the research project at key stages. The list of milestones created by the students will contribute to an online chronology on the Commission’s website. This chronology will also be used to generate graphic timelines and other publications and as the foundation for further research and development.
This course involves: practical, collaborative research using primary and secondary sources to identify milestones in Vancouver’s planning and development; introduction to historical research and analysis; work with external advisory panel; production of a chronology for publication online. The potential for a print publication will also be explored.

Course Structure[edit]

The class will be divided into research teams during the first class meeting that will work on specific eras or themes of Vancouver’s planning and development timeline. In most weeks, the three hours allocated for the seminar will be divided into sections: the first hour will typically include a presentation by the instructor or a guest speaker and a general discussion; the second and third hours will be dedicated to student presentations of progress and issues related to their research and to discussion of research strategies to advance their work.
Some weeks will have a different structure: either a field trip, including to the Vancouver Archives for an introduction to using the archives for research, or a meeting with the Advisory Panel of the Vancouver City Planning Commission to present, review progress, and strategize additional research. The meetings with the Advisory Panel may occur out of the seminar time and would replace the seminar in that week.

Research Methodology[edit]

Research methodologies will be strategized for each research topic and will evolve over the course of the semester. They are anticipated to include:

  • Historical research into relevant sources from books, journals, newspapers, and photographic collections.
  • Literature review into approaches and techniques for the graphic expression of historical information in summary form.
  • Analytical diagramming and graphic representation of historical information into a timeline format.
  • Consideration of various software applications for data collection and organization including Excel and a course-specific wiki.
  • Oral history research with key sources; interviews will be documented and recorded as part of the products of the course provided to the Vancouver City Planning Commission.


Each research team will be expected to coordinate their tasks and work in a self-directed manner. Each team will be assisted in reviewing research strategies each week and in finding sources for their research and oral history sources for interviews. Each team is expected to present an update of new findings at each class in a concise and graphic presentation that includes draft elements that will be part of their final timeline section. Each team will be required to submit by the last day of class a final timeline in the agreed graphic format suited to integration with others produced in the course and a supporting report on the background research collected in support of the timeline produced to summarize it as a pdf.

Course Evaluation[edit]

Class performance will be graded on the following basis:

  • Class and advisory panel meeting participation 25%
  • Ongoing weekly presentations 35%
  • Final timeline and supporting research report 40%

Reading Materials[edit]

The course does not have a pre-established reading list. Each research team will concentrate on sources relevant to the era that they are studying. A wide variety of sources have been identified as a starting point including books, articles, websites, wikis, films and documentaries, and potential interview sources for oral histories.
An initial list of library sources has been noted for potential placement for course use, where available, in the SALA reading room.


The preliminary list of sources is listed in the bibliography article: Bibliography: Vancouver History UBC SALA 2015 Winter