Man of destiny
December 12th, 2019
Jesse Donaldson’s new book, Land of Destiny: A History of Vancouver Real Estate (Anvil $20) will be launched December 19.
Launch party details:
Venue is Resurrection Spirits, 1672 Franklin Street, Vancouver.
Doors open at 6 pm.
In Land of Destiny, Donaldson examines the pervasive role of real estate developers in Vancouver’s history. From publicity for the book: “Ever since Europeans first laid claim to the Squamish Nation territory in the 1870s, the real estate industry has held the region in its grip. Its influence has been grotesquely pervasive at every level of civic life, determining landmarks like Stanley Park and City Hall, as well as street names, neighbourhoods — even the name ‘Vancouver’ itself. Land of Destiny aims to explore that influence, starting in 1862, with the first sale of land in the West End, and continuing up until the housing crisis of today.”
Donaldson explores the backroom dealings, including “the skulduggery and nepotism, the racism and the obscene profits, while at the same time, revealing that the same forces which made Vancouver what it is — speculation and global capital — are the same ones that shape it today.”
Land of Destiny is the first title in Anvil’s new series 49.2: Tales from the Off Beat, an ongoing series dedicated to celebrating the eccentric and unusual parts of Vancouver’s history. From Jesse Donaldson and a host of other local historians, the series will be an in-depth examination of the weird, the wonderful, and the terrible, injecting fresh details into well-worn local lore, or digging deep into the obscure people, places, and happenings of the last 130 years. From psychedelic hospitals to town fools, from communist organizers to real estate scumbags, 49.2 will take pains to break down the myths surrounding the City of Glass.
In his first book, This Day in Vancouver (Anvil, 2013) Donaldson used approximately 100 archival photos to accompany his compendium of facts about Vancouver, one for each day of the year. It was a finalist for the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award.
According to promotional materials: “The City of Vancouver has been through a lot in its first 127 years. It’s a city that has played host to the likes of Mark Twain, Alice Cooper, Elvis Presley, Winston Churchill, The Beatles, Louis Armstrong, Howard Hughes, Expo ’86, and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. It’s the birthplace of Canada’s first female MLA, the country’s first (and largest) clothing-optional beach, and the reason for the first nationwide prohibition legislation. It was the final resting place of Errol Flynn, and the city where two of his genital warts were briefly (and posthumously) kidnapped. It has been a hotbed of political activism, technological innovation, and bitter racial tension. It is the site of the West Coast’s first electric light, and the nation’s first female police officers, as well as home to world-renowned actors, deadly snipers, twisted serial killers, UFOs, the founders of Greenpeace, an official Town Fool, and even the headquarters for the Canadian Ku Klux Klan. It’s a city on a journey; a journey that has taken it from being an unrefined, out-of-the-way, frontier logging village, to its current position as one of the most livable cities in the world. This Day in Vancouver is the story of that 127-year journey, one day at a time.”