AFTERSHOCK – Looking back at 1918 for a view of Vancouver’s future


The first victim in Vancouver of the 1918 influenza epidemic—Annie Sachs—a mother of three young children – died on October 8, 1918. By October 27, 1918, 24 people in Vancouver died in a single day. Before the disease’s fury was spent, almost one per cent of Vancouver’s population had died.

In the following decade, Vancouver underwent extraordinary changes in urban planning, design and architecture as World War One ended, the economy shuddered, protests filled the streets and cities re-invented themselves. A century later, Vancouver is once again grappling with the effects of a pandemic. The boundaries between past and present begin to blur when we look closely at what happened in 1918 and where we are now.

Linking the past to our future, the Vancouver City Planning Commission’s Chronology Project hosted a panel discussion 102 years after that heartbreaking day when the virus claimed so many lives – October 27, 2020 – to explore how the 1918 influenza changed Vancouver and whether we should anticipate similar changes in the months and years ahead. The panel is part of a VCPC series of discussions on the post-pandemic city.


Chat Transcript

A transcript of the Chat can be found here

Video Transcript

Coming soon!

Panel Biographies

Mary Rowe, President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute. An impassioned civic leader with diverse experience in the business, government, not-for-profit and philanthropy sectors in Canada and the US for over 30 years, Mary has been a steady advocate and champion for place-based approaches to building livable and resilient cities, and community-driven local economies. In her role at the CUI, Mary has spearheaded a number of COVID-19 Initiatives that offer important conversations, analysis, commentary , and guidance on the new urban reality under COVID-19.

Wade Grant, is an intergovernmental officer with the Musqueam Indian Band. He has served as a Musqueam councilor, a Vancouver police board member, and a special advisor to former premier, Christy Clark. In addition to his Musqueam background, he is a proud descendant of settler Canadians who immigrated from both Europe and China many years ago. Throughout his career, Grant has shown his dedication to inter-cultural dialogue and community engagement.

Kelley Lee (MPA, MA, DPhil, FFPH, FCAHS, FRSC) is Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Global Health Governance and Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, and previously Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has served in several leadership roles including co-director of a WHO collaborating centre, chair of a WHO expert committee, and associate dean.

Her research focuses on how societies cooperate together to address shared health risks including pandemics. Over her career, she has been awarded almost $20 million in research funding. She has published 15 books, 200 papers and 60+ book chapters. She is currently leading an international team analysing the role of travel restrictions and other border measures during COVID-19.

John Atkin is a civic historian, author and heritage consultant who has explored Vancouver like few others. Through his research, writing, walking-tours and advocacy, he offers an often offbeat but always prescient insights on urban planning and development, a love of architecture, and brings the fascination of the curious to all his work.


Uytae Lee produces videos that educate and engage the public on urban planning issues. His background in urban planning paired with his experience in journalism, music, and videography provides him with a unique perspective on communicating the complex issues surrounding our cities. His past clients include The City of Vancouver, the Halifax Regional Municipality, the BC Council for International Co-operation, Halifax Water, and much much more.

Uytae currently produces a video column with CBC Vancouver called About Here where he challenges viewers to ‘rethink’ their city.

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