Chapter Six: The Sixties

Expo 67 – Montreal



In 1967, Canada celebrated its Centennial. – the uniting of the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and new Brunswick to form the Dominion of Canada. Prime Minister Lester B Pearson spoke for many Canadians in his speech at the official opening of Expo 67, a six-month international fair held in Montreal, Quebec.

This is a proud day for Montreal, for Quebec and above all for Canada. Behind this big Canadian birthday “blast” are achievements in planning, organisation and construction that are little short of miraculous.

The men behind these achievements should be proud and happy. We should be grateful to them, as we recall the sceptics who once said Expo 67 was too big a project for Montreal, Quebec or Canada to accomplish in less than four years. But it was done — and well done.

We are witnesses today to the fulfilment of one of the most daring acts of faith in Canadian enterprise and ability ever undertaken. That faith was not misplaced. But Expo is much more than a great Canadian achievement of design and planning and construction. It is also a monument to Man. It tells the exciting and inspiring story of a world that belongs not to any one nation but to every nation.

Link to Canada’s Centennial Song:


Schools throughout the Vancouver School District join in celebrating Canada’s 100th Birthday


There were those who did not join in the celebrations. One such person was Chief Dan George – a leader of the Tsleil-Waututh, a Coast Salish nation whose ancestral lands border Burrard Inlet:

Oh Canada, how can I celebrate with you this centenary, this hundred years? Shall I thank you for the reserves that are left to me of my beautiful forests? For the canned fish of my rivers? For the loss of my pride and authority, even among my own people? For the lack of my will to fight back? No! I must forget what’s past and gone.

Oh God in heaven! Give me back the courage of the olden chiefs. Let me wrestle with my surroundings. Let me again, as in the days of old, dominate my environment. Let me humbly accept this new culture and through it rise up and go on.

Oh God! Like the thunderbird of old I shall rise again out of the sea; I shall grab the instruments of the white man’s success, his education, his skills, and with these new tools I shall build my race into the proudest segment of your society. Before I follow the great chiefs who have gone before us, Oh Canada, I shall see these things come to pass.

I shall see our young braves and our chiefs sitting in the houses of law and government, ruling and being ruled by the knowledge and freedoms of our great land. So shall we shatter the barriers of our isolation? So shall the next hundred years be the greatest in the proud history of our tribes and nations.

                               Chief Dan George

A.  World Events

 During the 1960’s, the world beyond Canada’s borders saw social upheaval, political turmoil, and international rivalry.

  • In 1960, following the election of President John F. Kennedy, the U.S. government sought to bring down the newly created Communist  regime in Cuba. This led to a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union in October 1962, which brought the world    to the brink of ‘all-out’ nuclear war. To avoid similar incidents, a ‘hot line’ linking Washington and Moscow was put in place.
  • The rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union extended to the exploration of space, particularly manned space flight. The United States won the ‘race to the Moon’ on July 11, 1969 when a space craft crewed by two American astronauts, Neil Armstrong and  Bud Armstrong, touched down on the lunar surface. Millions of Canadians tuned in to view live television coverage of the lunar landing.


David Thompson Secondary School: space station mural, 1967

  • Following President Kennedy’s assassination on November 23, 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson became US president. In 1964, President Johnson advanced the cause of civil rights in the United States by signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also escalated US involvement in a costly, civil war in Vietnam. While many Americans supported the war effort, others opposed it. The emergence of a strong anti-war movement produced deep divisions within American society.

Other developments:

  • In Africa, colonial empires controlled by European powers were largely replaced by independent states ruled by Africans.
  • In China, a ‘Cultural Revolution’ led by the Communist leader, Chairman Mao Tse Tung led to a purge of government officials and          others accused of anti-revolutionary thinking and behaviour. Millions were sent to the countryside to do hard labour in re-                         education camps.
  • In Western Europe, steps were taken towards the creation of a union of European states.
  • In Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union asserted its dominance by building a wall dividing East Berlin from West Berlin (1961), and               leading an invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces (1968).
  • In 1967, Israel’s decisive victory in the Six-Day War over an alliance of Arab states changed the balance of power in the region and           sowed the seeds of future conflict.




During the 1960s, the Government of Canada was led by the following prime ministers:

      John Diefenbaker (Progressive Conservative) 1957 – 1963

  • Appointed the first female minister in Canadian history to his Cabinet.
  • Appointed the first aboriginal member of the Senate.
  • Obtained passage of the Canadian Bill of Rights.
  • Granted Indigenous peoples the right to vote.

       Lester B Pearson (Liberal) 1963 – 1968

  • Committed  Canadian soldiers to a number of United Nations ‘peacekeeping missions’:  Papua, New Guinea (1962),  Yemen                      (1963), Cypress (1964).
  •  Chose to keep Canada out of the escalating conflict in Vietnam. However, he did allow Canadian industries to sell military                         equipment and supplies to the United States.
  • Overcame considerable opposition to win approval in the House of Commons to replace the ‘Red Ensign’ with the ‘Maple Leaf’ as             Canada’s national flag. Queen Elizabeth II approved the Maple Leaf flag by signing a royal proclamation on January 28, 1965.


                                                                   Top: the Red Ensign. Bottom: the Maple Leaf flag that replaced it.

‘Maple Leaf flag’ supporter distributes copies of an earlier design of the Maple Leaf flag (July 01, 1964).


      Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Liberal) 1968 – 1979

  • In 1969, the Trudeau government introduced a law that profoundly changed the social landscape of Canada. Birth control pills,                “therapeutic” abortions, and homosexual acts between consenting adults were made legal.
  • Trudeau continued Pearson’s policy of non-intervention in the Vietnam War. During the war, thousands of young Americans fled to Canada fled to Canada to avoid military service in Vietnam.  Many settled in Vancouver. At the same time, an estimated 30,000 Canadians joined the US military as volunteers. 110 Canadians are believed to have died in combat in Vietnam.Immigration Policy


     2. Immigration Policy

The 1960s saw the Federal Government make a number of changes to Canada’s immigration laws and policies.

1962              New immigration regulations were introduced that remove most racial discrimination from the selection process.                                                         Despite high levels of unemployment, immigration targets were increased.

1967              The “points system” was introduced as the basis for selecting immigrants. The last vestiges of racial discrimination are                                                  eliminated from immigration policy. This change led  Canada to become a more multi-cultural society.

1968              In the aftermath of the occupation of  Czechoslovakia by Warsaw pact forces, Canada authorizes the admission of                                                       10,975 Czechoslovakian refugees. Numerous organizations and agencies in Canada assist in the settlement of the                                                         new arrivals.

1969               Canada consents to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.

A comparison of immigration patterns in Canada in 1961 and 1971 shows that:

  • The percentage of the population who were immigrants remained essentially the same (1961 – 15.6%; 1971 – 15.3%)
  • The percentage of immigrants from Great Britain declined from 34 percent to 28 percent.
  • The percentage of immigrants from Asia increased from 2 percent to 4 percent.


3.  Other Developments in Canada

  • Separatism in Quebec

During the early 1960s, Quebec experienced major economic and social changes – a period known as the ‘Quiet Revolution’. The                        slogan ‘Masters in our own House’ summed up the feelings of many Quebecers during this time. One result of this: the rise of a                         ‘separatist’ movement inspired by the belief that Quebec should break away from Canada and become an independent state.

  • Beatlemania

The early 1960s also saw the dramatic rise in popularity of the Beatles, a British rock band from Liverpool, England. The Beatles had                gained wide popularity among young people in Germany and the United Kingdom before embarking on a tour of North America in                    1964.

The term ‘Beatlemania’ was coined to describe the screaming and hysteria that greeted the band when they performed at concerts or                otherwise appeared in public. Other famous British rock bands followed, including the Rolling Stones (1965) and Led Zeppelin                          (1968). This so called “British Invasion” faded towards the end of the 1960s as American rock bands gained popularity.

Follow the link below to see video of the Beatles performance at Empire Stadium in Vancouver in August 1964.

  • Native Land Claims – the Calder Case .

Frank Calder was a member of the Nisga’a nation and one of its a hereditary chiefs. Born in 1915, he was elected to the Legislative                      Assembly of British Columbia in 1949. In 1967 he and other members of the Nisga’a Tribal Council launched a law suit claiming                          that the Nisga’a title to land in and around the Nass Valley had “never been lawfully extinguished.” The case went to trial two                              years later.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia, and later, the Appeal Court of British Columbia, ruled against the plaintiffs, declaring that                    Aboriginal title did not exist in Canadian law. Then, in January 1973, six out of seven judges of the Supreme Court of Canada ruled                    that Aboriginal Title did exist.

The judges, however, split on the question of whether the Nisga’a had lost title to their land prior to British Columbia becoming a                      Crown Colony. Three judges ruled ‘Yes”, three judges ruled “No”, and the seventh judge ruled against the Nisga’a claim on a                                technicality.

Despite this setback, the decision in the Calder case influenced the outcome in other court cases in ways that advanced Indigenous                    rights. As well, in a meeting with Indigenous leaders following the decision, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau acknowledged the                              existence of Aboriginal rights and declared that changes in Government policy were needed.



     1. The Economy 

During the 1960s, Social Credit Premier W.A.C Bennett continued his string of political victories, winning re-election in 1960, 1963, 1966 and 1969. Bennett used his time in power to expand government services through the creation of Crown Corporations: BC Ferries, BC Hydro, and BC Rail. Major hydro–electric projects were undertaken, including the building of huge dams on the Columbia River and Peace River. In 1961, to help British Columbia finance the dam on the Columbia River, the Government of Canada signed the Columbia River Treaty with the United States. This Treaty authorized the sharing with Canada of half of the downstream US power and flood benefits.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Premier Bennett at ceremony marking construction of the Peace River Dam – July 31, 1964.  (Deni Eagland, Vancouver Sun files)


     2. Education:


October 1960: The Report of the Royal Commission on Education, also known as the Chant Report (458 pages), is presented to the British Columbia Government. The Report made 158 recommendations which would have transformed the education in British Columbia. These recommendations were based on extensive consultation and research, as indicated in this quote from the Foreword to the Report:

The Commission derived information from a great many sources, and wishes to express appreciation to the many citizens of the Province who assisted in so many ways. Thousands of people shared in the preparation of briefs and hundreds participated in the hearings. Had such co-operation not been forthcoming, the scope of the Commission’s inquiry would have been very restricted.

In the document, VANCOUVER SCHOOLS – ESTABLISHING THEIR HERITAGE VALUE, the findings of the Report were summarized as follows:

The Commission recommended that the aim of education in British Columbia should be ‘promoting the intellectual development of the pupils, and hat this should be the major emphasis throughout the whole school system.’ More time and effort was to be spent on ‘central subjects’ and less time on ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ subjects. Secondary students in particular felt the effect of the Commission; school days were made longer and the overall program was restructured.’  See Chart below:




The Report proved controversial. Many of the key recommendations were not implemented.

 Two Viewpoints:

 1.  Dean Scarfe, Head of the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia (UBYSSEY newspaper, January 1961)

 Dean Neville V. Scarfe charged Monday that the Chant Royal Commission report is “contradictory and conservative.”

Scarfe, Dean of the Faculty of Education, told a large noon-hour audience in Brock Hall that the commission looked backwards and is short-sighted.

He stated that education is a growth process and it is essential that school work be presented in a creative and adventurous manner in order to make school an intellectual adventure.

The Royal Commission does not recognize this approach and desires to force students into drudgery, he said…

Scarfe opposes the recommendation for a greater amount of drill on the three R’s. He believes that for the most part, high school graduate entering university are well prepared.


2L. A. Garstin, Principal, McKim Junior High School, Kimberley

Acceleration, enrichment, homogenous, offering of electives and combinations of these devices have all been used to provide for pupils of different levels of ability in B.C. schools.          

The Chant Royal Commission feels, however, that none of these measures has met with any conspicuous success. It would therefore reorganize the public school program at the secondary level into a regular or academic type course and a practical or vocational type course to be given normally in composite high schools or in separate schools where facilities are available. Choice of students for each of the two types of course would be determined by a set of examinations at the end of the Grade VII year, and again at the end of the Grade X year.      

This plan has much in common with British and European practices… It is rather unfortunate that the commission should have drunk so deeply at the fountain of Old World educational traditions at a time when the Old World itself is calling them in question…

Dr. A.G. Hughes, recently retired chief inspector of the London County Council, speaks of the atmosphere of fear of failure pervading all elementary school life as a result of children’s knowledge that they must face a set of tests which will determine their future education and their life work.



During the 1960s, the ‘Baby Boom’ generation began graduating from high school, and the demand for post secondary educational                    opportunities grew rapidly. The Vancouver School Board responded by combining the Vancouver Vocational Institute, the                                    Vancouver School of Art and the Vancouver Continuing  Education Centre (formerly, King Edward High School), into one organization            called Vancouver City College, and expanding overall student capacity.

The Vancouver Continuing Education Centre closed in 1973 following a major fire. Later, the site was taken over by the Vancouver General Hospital.

Composite photo of the King Edward High School’s last Grade 12 Graduation Class – 1962. The following year, the building re-opened as an adult education school called the Vancouver Continuing Education Centre.


1966 – Instructor, Vancouver Continuing Education Centre


Aftermath of the fire at the Vancouver Continuing Education Centre (1973.)


Also during the early 1960s, the Vancouver Vocational Institute was remodeled and expanded. The new facilities opened in 1964. The Vancouver School of Art occupied part of the new facility for several years.


In 1962, following publication of a report by Dr. John B. MacDonald, President of the University of British Columbia, the BC Government increases funding to UBC to enable it to meet the needs of a growing student population. Additional funds were provided to other post secondary institutions: the BC Institute of Technology, the University of Victoria, and Simon Fraser University.

 The new Simon Fraser University campus under construction (SFU Archives, 1964.)



1. The Freeway Debate

During the 1960s, Vancouver’s population continued to grow – from 384, 522 in 1961 to 426, 256 in 1971. Much of the new population growth occurred in East and South Vancouver. In several neighborhoods, population density increased due to low density housing being replaced by low-rise apartments. During the same period, the population for all of Metro Vancouver increased from 790, 741 in 1961 to 1,028, 334. New residential areas were developed to accommodate this growing population.

Most residents of Metro Vancouver relied on automobiles to travel about the region, and to accommodate them, there was massive construction of new bridges and the building of some freeways. However, one proposal ran into strong opposition: The construction of a freeway network that would link the downtown business district to the surrounding suburbs and regional communities. In 1967, the City of Vancouver announced plans to build a freeway linking Downtown Vancouver with the Trans Canada to the east. In the same year, a third crossing of Burrard Inlet was proposed.

In 1972, the new Georgia Street Viaduct was opened. Originally, it was to be one of the key components of the proposed freeway scheme. In the end, nothing came of these proposals. Residents of the Strathcona neighbourhood mounted a strong protest, arguing that the freeway link to the Trans-Canada Highway would destroy a large part of Chinatown and physically divide Strathcona into two isolated parts. At least as important was the refusal of the Federal Government to contribute funds to the project.

The Georgia  Street Viaduct (City of Vancouver files)

The Inner City Project

 One of the Strathcona residents who had participated in the protests against the freeway was John Minichiello. During the early 1070s, he led a team of Social Studies teachers at Britannia Secondary School in a project aimed at encouraging students to become actively involved in finding solutions for problems affecting their community. For more information, follow this link:

The Inner City Project – Student Initiated Research Into Problems of the Inner City


2. Two American ‘invasions’.


Beginning in the mid 1960s, an estimated 100,000 young Americans seeking to avoid or escape military service fled to Canada. Many arrived accompanied by wives or partners.

Vancouver was a favoured destination. Local anti war activists greeted the new arrivals  and helped them find accommodation and jobs. In      January 1968, a Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada was published. Five other editions followed. Other Vancouverites were less sympathetic. Vancouver Mayor Tom Campbell (1967 – 72) vowed to “get rid of” the newcomers.

Despite this hostility, most of the new arrivals chose to stay and build new lives for themselves in their adopted city. They were described by one government agency as “the largest, best-educated group this country has ever received.”


In January 1967, a celebration known as the’ Human Be-In’ took place in San Francisco. Timothy Leary, one of the organisers of the event, encouraged the crowd of 30,000 to “turn on, tune in, and drop out”.

This event sparked a social phenomenon called the ‘Summer of Love’, which occurred in the Haight-Ashbury district of the city. Tens of            thousands of young people calling themselves ‘hippies’ gathered there to explore an alternative life style marked by communal living,                beards and long hair, colorful unconventional clothing, use of drugs such as marijuana and LSD, folk music, and rock’n roll, pacifism, and interest in Eastern religions.

The events in San Francisco inspired similar events in Vancouver. In March 1967, a “Human Be-In” was celebrated in Stanley Park.

Vancouver also experienced its own ‘Summer of Love’, which led to the development of a neighbourhood similar to that of the Haight-              Ashbury District. To quote David Wisdom, a former resident of Kitsilano:

“You’ve likely heard about Kitsilano’s hippy heyday, but let’s not be understated: for a  few short years, Vancouver, and most especially  West 4th Avenue between Burrard and MacDonald Streets, was indeed the hippy capital of Canada. The movement rocked this  formerly conservative logging town to its roots, and changed our city forever.”


                                                                                        Hippy ‘Be In’, Vancouver, 1971



A. Superintendent’s Reports


Superintendent Robert F. Sharp visits an elementary school classroom.

Dr. Robert F. Sharp served as Superintendent of the Vancouver School District for the entire 1960s decade. His comments in the Annual  Reports for this period reveal much about the challenges facing the District and the solutions that were pursued:

1960 – 61

This year, 1960-61, which opened another decade, was highlighted by the publication of the Report of the Royal Commission on Education…

A major recommendation of the Vancouver School Board in its brief to the Commission had stressed the urgent need for adequate vocational facilities for secondary students, particularly boys. The Commission recognized this need, but did not define precisely the programs and facilities for students. As a result, the Board of School Trustees continued to devote considerable time and thought to resolving the problem of vocational education.

1961 – 62

In the 1961-62 school year, the elementary schools were affected more than the secondary. Kindergartens were made permissible; Grade VII pupils were made part of the elementary educational program; and time allotments for the subjects was altered considerably.

Special Board committees that studied the gifted children programme, continuing education, and facilities for the handicapped, each led to a change in emphasis or expansion of the services provided for the 64,000 pupils and 34,000 thousand adults now being served by the Vancouver school system.

A tribute to the effort of the Trustees, and a source of encouragement to them and the administrative staff, was the strong support given by the ratepayers to the $8.1 million referendum, and the approval, together with full financing, given by the provincial and federal governments for the addition to the Vancouver Vocational Institute and the School of Art operated by the Board.

1962 – 1963

This year, 1962-63, marked the beginning of what will be a complete change in secondary education in British Columbia. The objective is to increase the variety of programs available to each student and to ensure a more intensive education in the program selected.

1963 – 1964 

The most dramatic innovations in education are occurring in the secondary and post secondary fields… General and specialized training leading to employment in the fields of business and industry, public services and the performing arts, are recognized now as equally important educational programmes to be provided.

1964 – 65

Arrangements were made to establish a city-wide remedial reading program and to extend services for the emotionally disturbed and hard-of-hearing children.

A continuous progress plan was introduced at one elementary school to provide an opportunity to study at first hand its advantages and problems… The planning of an experimental open area elementary school was undertaken.

1965 – 66

In the elementary schools, experiments were initiated or continued in the use of the Initial Teaching Alphabet and the continuous progress plan and in the assistance in English for the non-English-speaking primary pupils.

In the secondary school system, the experiments with team teaching and with computer-produced timetables were extended to a city-wide basis. The Board of School Trustees authorized, on an experimental basis, the employment of nine staff assistants to be assigned in the coming year to three secondary schools.

The Vancouver City College, an amalgamation of the King Edward Edward Adult  Education Centre, the Vancouver Vocational Institute, and the Vancouver School of art, completed its first year of operation with gratifying success.

1966 – 67

The most conspicuous step forward in the field of elementary education was the construction of the city’s first completely open-area school, the Dr. H N. MacCorkindale Elementary School.

  Clockwise from top left: Planning session with model of the school, interior shots of the school.

Arrangements have been made for the introduction of teacher aides on a part-time basis for supervision in a number of elementary schools.

In the secondary schools, the use of team teaching and computer timetabling was expanded and nine staff assistants were employed during the year to assist in the performance of non teaching duties in three schools.

Approval by the Board of preliminary plans for the new Vancouver City College on the Langara Campus was a significant step towards the realization of this project.

1968 – 69

The success of the $15 million Vancouver school referendum for capital expenditures coupled with the receipt of approval from the provincial Department of Education to proceed with specific school construction projects made it possible for the Board to build and plan for urgently needed additional facilities.

In the elementary schools, greater use was made of continuous progress, open teaching areas, learning science through self discovery, the Initial Teaching Alphabet, libraries as resource centres, (and) volunteer and supervision aides who assist teachers.

In the secondary schools, the modernization of libraries was accelerated and greater use was made of social studies resource centres. The program of professional staff development was extended and student representatives were encouraged to increase their leadership role in schools.

1969 – 70  

A new approach to bargaining was established and it is hoped that that it will about a more amicable settlement of teachers’ salaries.

The placing by provincial legislation, of community colleges under college councils, will relieve the School Board of direct responsibility for the operation of the Vancouver City College complex…


B. New Technologies

  1. Classrooms


                             Standard A.V equipment used during the 1960s; free-standing desks arranged for group work.

2) District and Schools – Computer supported Data Management

Applications: Schools: time tabling, report cards, general record keeping.

    3) AV Services to Schools: processing orders; delivering resources


4. Eric Hamber Secondary, ‘lighthouse school’, explores new technologies. 

                    Clockwise from top left: student presents school announcements; ham radio station, editing video tape, computer lab.


 C. Celebrations

  •  Milestones

Windermere Secondary – Opening Ceremony (1961)


  • Cultural Heritage

George Clutesi, renouned artist from the Tse-Shaht nation, honours Indigenous culture with two pupils.


Oppenheimer School, 1969


Model School, 1953


General Wolfe Elementary, 1965

  • Unity and Diversity

Tecumseh Elementary, 1967



 12  elementary schools, 4 secondary schools, and 10  annexes were opened during the 1960s.


 1960       Shaughnessy

                 Prince of Wales Secondary

  1961      Dr. Annie B. Jamieson    Dr. George M. Weir     Emily Carr     Sir Alexander Mackenzie Annex (1961 – 1971) 

                 Windermere Secondary

 1962       John Henderson

                 Eric Hamber Secondary

 1963       Nootka   McBride Annex   Edith Cavell Annex B (1963 – 1971)   Grandview Annex (1963 – 1971)

                 King George Secondary

 1964       Dr. A.R. Lord

 1965       Kerrisdale Annex   Selkirk Annex,   Captain James Cook Annex (1965 – 1980)   Hastings Annex (B)

 1966       Carnarvon  George T. Cunningham  Waverley

 1967       Dr. H.N. MacCorkindale   General Brock Annex (1967 – 1985)

 1968      Graham D. Bruce   Maquinna Annex


 Opening ceremonies – New elementary schools (1960s)

 Opening ceremonies – New secondary schools (1960s): Windermere, King George, PW, Hamber.


       Despite all efforts to construct new schools to accommodate a growing school population, portable classrooms continued to play an important role during the 1960s.


E. Facts and Figures on the Vancouver School District (September 30, 1969)

This report is of particular interest because it shows the moment when student enrolment in the Vancouver School District peaked. Enrolment in high schools continued to rise for the next three years, but enrolment in elementary schools had already begun to decline.  Adjusting to this decline, along with responding to the needs of a growing number of students who spoke English as a second language would pose major challenges to the Vancouver School District during the 1970s.