VANCOUVER

THE SUPERCITIZENS

August 1 1967
VANCOUVER

THE SUPERCITIZENS

August 1 1967

THE SUPERCITIZENS

VANCOUVER

Vancouver roses bloom earlier, Vancouver’s ocean is bluer, Vancouver mountains are craggier than anyone else’s— and its most visible citizens, naturally, are more visible than anywhere else. Meet a few of

SUPERBUILDER

The most controversial piece of furniture around Simon Fraser University is the speakers’ lectern that stands in the school’s central mall. The lectern is the focus à la Hyde Park for student dissent, and last spring, it was the centre for angry speechmaking and strike action over the firing of five teachers that ground SFU to a standstill. It’s altogether appropriate, then, that the podium was a gift from the university’s remarkable and gifted architect, Arthur Erickson. Erickson’s intention, after all, was to “create an environment that will bring students into a single space where they’ll be drawn to meet together and talk.” Simon Fraser also attracted attention

this year from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada which awarded Erickson’s firm a prized Massey Medal for the school’s design. At 43, an urbane, cultivated man, Erickson is the chief visionary among a group of west-coast architects who are out to revolutionize the Vancouver — and possibly the Canadian — townscape. He has already left his mark on Vancouver’s domestic architecture with a series of houses that reflect the sensuousness of the city’s climate and geography (see page 23). Now he’s applying the same design ideas to public buildings — the Macmillan - Bloedel building in downtown Vancouver, two pavilions at Expo, and, most notably, the stirring, shaking, talking environment of Simon Fraser University.

SUPERMAYOR *

Vancouver’s freshman mayor Tom Campbell has a lot of adjusting ahead of him if he intends to measure up to the stodgy image that Canadian mayors seem born to. He’ll have to give up his W. C. Fields-load of luncheon martinis, shave off his cowboylength sideburns, stop riding up front with his city chauffeur and, most of all, he'll have to cool it with his public pronouncements. Campbell — known around Vancouver as Tom Terrific for all of the foregoing reasons — is devoted to outrageous statements the way most mayors are devoted to mill rates and garbage disposal. How did he get himself elected last December? “With a lotta money and a big mouth.” He hasn't stopped talking since the voting results rolled in, showing a squeaking 1,200-vote margin over the incumbent, and in record time he has thereby alienated the park board, the Centennial committee, most of his 10 aldermen and both local newspapers, one of which, the Province, declared editorially that “Campbell is in a fair way to becoming Vancouver’s blunder of the century.” But, even if his administration hasn’t produced much except noise so far, Campbell insists he won’t shut his mouth because “the only way to jazz people out of their civic apathy is to say all kinds of

things that shock them.” He may be right. Certainly no Vancouverite is apathetic when it comes to Campbell, especially the city's Establishment members who arc united in their distaste for Tom Terrific’s flamboyant ways. Campbell, who’s only 39, grew up in Vancouver’s working-class east end where “half my class ended up in jail, half on the police force. I played it down the middle and chose law school.” His law practice soon took second place to his wheeling and dealing in the construction business and he earned his first million before he was 30 by building Vancouver's earliest high-rise apartments. He got into politics six years ago when the then mayor moved more slowly than Campbell considered just on one of his building applications. Partly in pique, he mounted a whirlwind, last-minute mayoralty campaign that won him an astonishing 30,000 votes and fell just short of victory. Campbell won an alderman’s seat next election and held it for five years. Now, since his successful bid for the mayoralty, he’s been taking a quiet peek at even bigger political challenges, perhaps in the BC legislature. Whatever he decides, he doesn't expect to stray far from Vancouver. “Where else,” he asks, “could a loudmouth like me win an election except in a crazy city like this?”

+SUPERTHINKER

On the spring day in 1949 when George Woodcock was leaving England for British Columbia, his friend George Orwell advised him cautiously, “That country could be fun for a bit, especially if you like fishing.” Woodcock, who was 37 then, wasn't interested in fish; he was, instead, searching for “a retreat, a good place to write in isolation.” He found it, obviously, in Vancouver. Since his arrival, he has produced more than a dozen books, ranging from poetry through travel writing to political biography: earned three Canada Council grants and a Guggenheim fellowship; founded and edited the eight-year-old quarterly, Canadian Literature; lec-

tured in English and Asian Studies at UBC; and in 1967 won a Governor General’s literary award for his book The Crystal Spirit, a biography of old friend George Orwell. Woodcock, a gentle, grey man with a mid-Atlantic accent, has, in short, created a career as perhaps Canada's most dedicated, most productive intellectual. “Vancouver is an especially congenial place for my sort of life,” Woodcock says. “It permits me to close myself off from the world. There aren't any intellectual demands on a writer here. There is indeed very little intellectual life among adults in Vancouver. I like that. And — I'm like everybody else here — Vancouver's soft climate and the mountain scenery would always draw me here.”

SUPERSCRIBE *

“I've got the perfect newspaper job,” Jack Wasserman likes to say. “I don’t have to follow a regular beat. I don’t have to show up at the office. I can work any 16 hours of the day I want. ' He does, too, and it's just his hustler’s indefatigability that makes Wasserman Vancouver’s most read, most powerful newspaperman. His 14-year-old, fivedays-a-week column in the Sun, a pungent amalgam of night-life gossip, crusading, wisecracks and inside dope, is necessary stuff for any Vancouverite who cares enough to understand his city. “I can’t stand not being in on everything that’s going on around town,” Wasserman says. “I’m a natural-born busybody and I operate on the arrogant assumption that what interests me interests everybody else.” He digs out some of his choicest items on his nightly rounds of Vancouver’s dozen showbiz-y nightclubs, a boozy circuit that has given him a permanent 4 a.m. pinko-grey complexion and a voice like a hungover foghorn. It also provided him with his wife, singer Fran Gregory, whom he encountered one night on the stage of the Cave supper club (Wasserman’s one-word review: “WOW!!”). But his column isn't all saloon talk: in recent months, typically, he has blasted the Vancouver General Hospital’s old-fashioned med-

ical practices, exposed some underworld operations, leaned on Vancouver police for their tendency to strongarm law-abiding citizens, and deplored the “stubbornness” of unions in a waterfront dispute (for which the longshoremen’s chief negotiator labeled Wasserman “the garbage collector of the Vancouver Sun"). Wasserman, a Vancouverite for most of his 41 years, began his newspaper career as a University of British Columbia law-school dropout. His night jobs on the News-Herald (now defunct) and, later, on the Sun, he discovered, suited his busybody personality better than the world of contracts and torts did. He arrived during the era of the daily columnist in Vancouver— the Sun alone employed 13 regulars — and he soon pestered his managing editor, Hal Straight, into a tryout on the after-dark circuit. He scored an instant hit with Straight and with Sun readers. And unlike such other bright young men as Pierre Berton, municipal-affairs specialist Ron Haggart and sports columnist Dick Beddoes, who were successful on the Sun but headed for bigger money in the cast, Wasserman stayed put. “I don't have any burning ambitions,” he explains. “I’m concerned about the things I’m concerned about and they all happen to be right here in Vancouver. This is where I get my jollies.”

SUPERTEEN

Like many of her Vancouver contemporaries. 18-year-old Patsy Iwabuchi is convinced that the city's older generation doesn't understand teenagers. “Vancouver is too conservative.” she says. “Adults won’t accept miniskirts and they seem to think we all keep a bunch of LSD in our lockers.” But instead of op123out of society, as many Vancouver teens have (see page 18), Patsy has chosen to win all the prizes it offers. At Gladstone High, from which she graduated cum laude in June. Patsy was a sixyear honor student. Senior Personality of the Year, a tennis-team and biology-club member, and script writer, chief director and driving force behind Gladstone's most exciting project of 1967, a 60-minute, $4.000, Ford Foundation-sponsored film biography of Louis Riel. And this summer, before she enters UBC, Patsy is gadding about North America collecting a heady assortment of awards for her after-school successes. One week at Expo as winner of a Why 1 Want To Visit Expo essay contest. Two weeks in Toronto for a prize-winning article, Canadas Role in Vietnam, in the high-school magazine. Foreign Affairs. A few days in Banff doing her batontwirling - and - dance specialty act. A stop in Los Angeles as a Ted Mack Amateur Hour winner, and five days in Chicago for a gathering of International Majorette champions. “Patsy's a reassuring symbol for a lot of parents,” one Gladstone teacher says. “There's only one way to describe her: superteenager.”

SUPERWHALER

The biggest crowd draw in Vancouver isn't, astonishingly, the BC Lions. More surprising, the combined annual attendance at Lions football games, Mountie baseball games. Queen Elizabeth Theatre shows and Art Gallery exhibitions doesn't come close to the number of spectators who flock into the city’s single greatest attraction — the flashy, McLuhanesque. 1 1-year-old Vancouver Aquarium. Aquarium attendance for 1967 will easily top

750,000. and the man most responsible for that imposing statistic is the aquarium’s 43-year-old director. Dr. Murray Newman, an American-born scientist who combines shrewd publicity instincts with canny persuasiveness. By any standards, Newman has put together an absorbing marine collection, with emphasis on the multifarious products of BC waters. But more refreshingly, he has succeeded in turning aquarium attractions into front-page news. His most imaginative coup to date was the capture of a killer

whale, Moby Doll, in 1964, a world first that won for Newman international renown. Since then, Newman has snared another killer whale, added a $1.5 million wing to his building and, in 1966, turned down an offer at double his Vancouver salary to take over New York City’s spanking new aquarium. Why? “Because,” Newman says, “I intend to make all the public institutions jealous of us. I've only got one ambition at the moment — to turn Vancouver’s into the best aquarium in the world.”

SUPERFLACK

The Vancouver Symphony played its most crowd-winning season ever in 1966-67. and the reasons are threefold: (1) Vancouver is at last shucking its frontier-country aversion to “serious” entertainment: (2) the VSO's shaggily good-looking conductor Meredith Davies began generating some Leonard Bernstein-like sparks in Vancouver's female concert-goers: and (3) Heidi Peters. Mrs. Peters, 28. blond and perkily energetic, took on the sym-

phony’s PR post in December 1965 and, after a year of her charming but high-powered proselytizing, attendance zoomed by an average of 10 percent per evening to a hefty 81 percent of capacity houses for 31 concerts. “Heidi really set some firecrackers under the sleeping dogs around here.” one VSO director says. “I set out to sell the young people.” Heidi explains. “The kids in this city are beautiful but, you know, nobody had bothered to tell them that the symphony even existed.” Heidi Peters knows all about youth —

she tends house for three teenage boys. After a career in advertising and filmmaking that took her from her native Vancouver to Toronto, New York, Paris and London, she married BC television executive Ray Peters and settled in as an instant mother to his three sons. “The boys and 1 get on fine,” she says. “They're just entering their dreamy stage and I've never left mine. Besides, they help me bring some young vitality and excitement to the symphony and Vancouver's never had that before."