The local CBC has been commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympics. I was invited to join a few other historians in ranking where the Games fit on a list of significant events in the city's past.
The results were tabulated and it seems we all agreed that the Olympics didn't have much of a long term impact at all. In fact, the Games came dead last, trailing other events by a large margin. Race riots, freeways debates, the world's fair of 1986, the dispossession of the Indigenous inhabitants, the creation of the condominium; all were considered more important. (See list here.)
We historians all agreed that the most significant event was the land grant to the Canadian Pacific Railway that began it all. Given how influential the railway has been to the city, it seems like a no-brainer.
But one episode that wasn't even on the list generated by the CBC deserves mention. That is the missing and murdered women of the Downtown Eastside and the trial of Robert Pickton. This tragedy revealed the city's dark side, showing how decades of indifference to the welfare of sex workers, many of them Indigenous women, had left them exposed to violent sexual predators. It is a shameful episode and should not be forgotten.