"Suzanne Wilson looks through Churches on Sunday, a booklet she produced
of photographs and histories of North Vancouver churches. The volunteer archivist has also completed projects documenting North Vancouver homes
and buildings slated for demolition.
"Recently,a pair of robins hatched their family in a nest they built one the
wreath that decorates the front door of a North Vancouver home. Suzanne Wilson, born in Wisconsin and now a Canadian,and her husband,
Alan,Vancouver born and a retired elementary school librarian, raised
their own family in this home in the Cloverly neighbourhood where they have
lived since 1972.
"Suzanne recorded the story of the robins and their offspring in their twiggy home in a series of photographs. It’s what she does.Her
vocation as a documentarian of North Vancouver homes began in the year
2000 with Y2K.
“When Y2K came along ,I realized we were living in interesting times,”she says.
“I began thinking about what I could do to mark this time.”
She set out to photograph 2000 homes in the City of North Vancouver in
one year. To accompany each photograph in the Your House/Our Home
project, Suzanne recorded as much about the house and its occupants
as she could learn.
She began on New Years Day with the home of Percy and Marjorie Barber
at 1835 Westview Drive. The Barbers purchased the lot on View Drive, as it was
known then, in 1955. It had taken the family 14 years, with Percy walking
everyday from their rented wartime house to his job at the shipyards, to
save enough money to buy the lot and build a home. The full story of the house
and the Barber family is available to read at the North Vancouver Archives
in Lynn Valley.
As heritage houses become more rare, and interest in them grows, says
North Vancouver Archivist, Janet Turner, so will the value of these records
and photographs ,in colour for the first time in the archives collection,
For the next project, Demolition and Construction, Suzanne focused her
camera’s eye on(houses) scheduled for demolition and kept it there
for 10 years ,expanding her scope to include North Vancouver’s non-‐residential buildings.
Suzanne processed the film, yes ,black and white film, in her
basement darkroom, which doubled as the laundry room–just as her father, a
hobby photographer, had done back home in Milwaukee,Wisconsin.
Her blog, Demolition Mama, documents the place these buildings occupied
in the community through
photographs and, where possible,a record of the building and its occupants.
When the demolition (Blog) closed, Suzanne found herself “wit hall
these churches”. Every Sunday for (four) years, Suzanne
posted photographs and records of North Vancouver churches in her
Churches on Sundays blog. Even those long gone are remembered in
a category she calls “Posthumous”.
“This entire community is our home, ”says volunteer documentarian
Suzanne Wilson, about North Vancouver.“This is our history, and it
needs to be collected, preserved and shared.”
Recently, Suzanne collected the posts in a series of booklets–Deep Cove, Lynn
Valley, the City and the District, First Nations Lands and Posthumous–and
donated them to the North Vancouver Archives.
Janet Turner comments, “This compilation of Suzanne’s blog postings
of North Vancouver churches different denominations is an invaluable
asset to the community record. Usually, such records are maintained
in their respective church archives. Suzanne has contributed a
unique portrait of North Vancouver churches–interiors, exteriors,
architectural details and stories. The value of these records will grow
enormously. ”Suzanne’s documentary projects have found a permanent
home in the North Vancouver Museum and Archives.
“In my experience”, says Janet, “the most common reference question is
‘does the house have a story?’”
In combining photographs and histories of the houses and buildings
of North Vancouver, Suzanne has created a unique documentary record
of lasting interest and increasing value to her community.
“Suzanne has a passion for built heritage, skill as photographer, and
the determination to see a project through to the end,” says Janet Turner.
“She’s had the vision, in all her projects ,of making the photographs and
research she has accumulated available for future generations. The North
Vancouver Archives is very grateful to Suzanne for the donation of these
invaluable resources to our holdings. ”Your House/Our Home, Demolition
and Construction ,and Churches on Sundays are Suzanne Wilson’s
tribute to the people of North Vancouver who lived, worked and worshiped
in these buildings, and her gift to the community where she raised her
family.“ This entire community is our home,” she says. “This is our history,
and it needs to be collected, preserved and shared.”