Posted on Jun 28, 2018 in Events, Talk

A speaker series created and hosted by grunt gallery, a partner in the Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency project.

Thursday, June 28, 2018, 7 pm, grunt gallery


Squatters have been a fixture in Burrard Inlet since before Vancouver was created. Their story encompasses the history of Gastown and Kitsilano, the dispossession of Indigenous people, the evolution of Stanley Park, the hobo jungles of the Great Depression, and the search for affordable housing in an always-expensive metropolis. Slumped on floating barges or tottering on stilts below the high tide line, the squatters shack projects an alternative view of the City of Glass, a view from the margins instead of the centre. Author Daniel Francis describes this history, illustrating his talk with photographs both archival and contemporary.

Daniel Francis is the author of thirty books, principally about Canadian and British Columbian history. Born in Vancouver in 1947, he currently resides in North Vancouver. His books, which have won several awards, cover a diverse range of subjects, from Canada’s Indigenous people to the history of his native city to the story of world whaling. He is the editorial director of the online Encyclopedia of British Columbia, first published in book format in 2001. His latest book is Where Mountains Meet the Sea, a history of North Vancouver. In 2017 he was awarded the Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media, the Pierre Berton Award, recognizing excellence in bringing Canadian history to a wide popular audience.

The Blue Cabin Speaker Series gratefully acknowledges the support of The Hamber Foundation.

Images: Blue Cabin Exhibition Documentation courtesy of Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, image from an installation by Jeremy & Sus Borsos



The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency brings forward a desire and need for alternate modes of living and working and expands our understanding of what constitutes public space.

Representing the last vestiges of a cultural tradition of artists and others living in squatters’ shacks along the foreshores of this region’s waterways, Al Neil and Carole Itter’s Blue Cabin was one of many structures that dotted the shores of the Burrard Inlet. When the adjacent land occupied by MacKenzie Barge and Shipbuilding for 100 years was sold to Polygon Homes for redevelopment, the cabin’s demolition seemed imminent. Working collaboratively and with the support of many, Other Sights, grunt gallery and C3 moved the cabin to a nearby storage site and then on to Maplewood Farms where, in the sheep pasture, it underwent extensive repair by artist team Sus and Jeremy Borsos.

The organizations’ vision for the cabin is to outfit it as an artist studio and to mount it to a floating platform alongside a tiny house, to serve as a vital, off the grid, multi-disciplinary floating artist residency. The idea to set the cabin adrift from ownership or permanent location speaks to its history and occupation of the foreshore as a generative space. The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency is unique to this region while global in its reach.