Fall Colors Canadian Style – Life on the streets of Vancouver 1986

I wear my Sunglasses at nightMy wife and I are in our forties and although we do not have any children, I often get asked…

“Grandpa, what was life like in the eighties?”

This is where a parent realizes that their child has wandered from the McDonald’s play area only to be interrupting my moment of rapture with the brand new McDonald’s All-Beef Angus burger – available for a limited time only.

And they say: “I have no idea why little Joey asked you such a thing…”
Fair question though. So let me answer.

I had just finished a 4-year coop term and apprenticeship with the Federal Government of Canada in the sagging months of 1985. (And) With a fresh Expo 86 Season pass in my hands and the prospect of unlimited unemployment, I planned to do the bulk of my career development at this once-in-a-lifetime World technology Expo.

But let’s back up half a Back to the Future moment shall we?
In October 1985 I was finishing up the final stages of my education at B.C.I.T – I was on salary with the Federal Government of Canada on full expenses. Many of my classmates were on unemployment benefits while they were away from their employer so I was not too vocal about my situation.

During the day I studied hard and at night I frequented some of the many popular night clubs in Burnaby and downtown; Systems, Richards on Richards, Love Affair and Coconuts out in Burnaby on Kingsway. I lived near the current location of Metrotown (it was under construction at the time) and I would walk to many of the hot spots – often many miles along Kingsway towards New West, on week nights or weekends.

The difference was: The likelihood of being hassled, beaten or shot at was about as likely as winning a jackpot lottery or having a Steinway grand piano fall on my head from a Russian Soyuz space station… or both… on the same night… while wearing a thin leather tie, Ocean Pacific shirt, Emanuel un-constructed white sport coat, lime green cargo pants and deck shoes without socks.

In fact, walking down Kingsway in Burnaby in 1985, I was more likely to encounter an elderly black labrador dog gnawing on a bone by the side of the road than see a gangster or a drug deal.

It was that safe. So what happened in 20 years? Permissive laws? Higher stakes in a profitable drug market? Not enough prisons? Prisons that are too comfortable? A court system that is more revolving door than rehabilitative? You tell me. Vancouver is very quickly becoming a War zone – and as of yet, there have not been too many civilian casualties.

In my next chapter on the life and times of Vancouver in the 1980’s, I will drone on and on about my Ray Ban Wayfarers and my Season Pass to Expo 86…

And I wear my sunglasses at night So I can, so I can Keep track of the visions in my eyes