David Banks, in a comment below, alerts us to a remarkable website – Vintage Air Photos of B.C. – which has its own remarkable story, as told by Mark:

My dad worked in the drafting/survey/mapping industry since the late 1940′s. …

I recall in the mid-1990′s when mapping was going “digital” and most of the old equipment was being retired. … the majority of this film was destroyed.  But my dad, growing up in Vancouver and being a nostalgic fellow, rescued some of the oldest and stored them in his trailer.

Another 15 or 20 years went by, and now I’m sad to say, my dad has passed away.

While cleaning out his trailer and going through his possessions, we made an incredible find, roughly ten thousand air photos from 1946 through 1967, the majority of them original negatives.

Since I know a little something about digital imagery, it is my intent to scan these negatives and post as many as I can to this web site.

I hope that we can offer you a glimpse of what it was like to live in the Lower Mainland over 50 years ago.

Thanks, Dad… Mark

Ah, where to start …

The collection begins, in a delightful coincidence, with a shot of the West End in 1946:


Thanks to the high-density reproduction and a zoom function, I can check out the building that preceded the one I live in.  It was a rambling wooden mansion, typical of the West End before the highrise boom:


Indeed, it was 1956 when the West End was rezoned for high-density development – the year that, so far, the collection ends.  Here’s downtown Vancouver just at the point when it will be transformed:


The Hotel Vancouver dominates the skyline; the B.C. Electric tower (now Electra) has yet to be built; Granville Island and False Creek are still dominated by heavy industry.  Not a single highrise in the West End, which, in a decade and a half, will look like this:

That skyline shot (not part of the Vintage collection) includes contemporary buildings – but after 1972, when the manic growth phase was over, not many highrises were built.  (Over at Changing Vancouver, they’re also featuring some West End transitions.)

Mark’s site also includes shots around the Lower Mainland, Victoria, Kelowna – and I’m sure many more to follow.  A site worth checking out periodically as the son leaves a growing legacy to his father, and provides a valuable resource for the rest of us.