The Vancouver Special

Vancouver Special on Keefer St. (photo from sillygwailo on Flickr)

If I remember correctly, I spent about 2 years of my childhood in a Vancouver Special. Most of my years in Vancouver were actually spent living in post-WWII bungalows built in the 1950’s. The Vancouver Special didn’t come to exist until the 1970’s.

I do know quite a few people that grew up in Vancouver Specials and who actually live in one now (a few of them are actually homes in Burnaby). I guess they are the quintessential Vancouver home. It was almost cliche in the 1980’s when you’d drive around town and see tons of Vancouver Specials. The 1980’s version that I grew up with had red Spanish roof tiles. I later realized that Vancouver Specials were not just the Spanish roof homes, but they included a variety of other 1970’s homes that dotted the east side of Vancouver.

The defining features include a ground-level main floor with a front door to the left or right of the home. The foyer connects directly to stairs that can take one upstairs. There’s always a family room or entertainment room right beside the foyer and there can be up to 3 bedrooms and a bathroom downstairs. In older versions, a 2-car garage is attached in the back of the house with usually a generous patio deck built on top of the garage. On the second floor, is the main living room with kitchen and dining areas all loaded onto one side of the house. Then a series of up to 3 bedrooms on the other side of the home plus a bathroom. The master bedroom is almost always the room at the back of the house and there may or may not be an ensuite with it.

If you want to read more about Vancouver provides a great read on it. And I swear that one of my high school classmates is in the photo in the article.

The Vancouver Heritage Foundation recently had their annual Vancouver Special House Tour on April 18. I’ve never been able to make one these house tours, but maybe in the future.

The Vancouver Heritage Foundation also has created a documentary called Restoring CommunityI’ve embedded the YouTube video for Part Two of the documentary that covers Vancouver Specials. If you want to watch the whole documentary, you can find it here on YouTube.


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