Saturday, September 16, 2017

Vancouver's Killing Field

In 1966 British Columbia premier W.A.C. Bennett decided to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the unification of Vancouver Island and the mainland with a commission on the north lawn of the B.C. Provincial Courthouse (now the site of the Vancouver Art Gallery). Bennett wanted the content of the commission (a fountain) to be a secret, so he hired a hoarding company to erect 4'x7' sheets of plywood and paint them green and white -- the provincial Social Credit party colours.

Vancouver Mayor Bill Rathie had another idea. Rather than have Vancouverites endure an alternating green-and-white wall for six months, he invited artists to make paintings on these plywood sheets. Thus the Vancouver "paint-in" was born.

A couple weeks ago the province unveiled its latest plaza commission. Gone is the fountain, while in its place stands a white guillotine platform (on the Howe Street side)

wooden autopsy benches

and a surface whose design features coffins.

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