Photo Credit: Rob Atkins
688 HAMILTON St, Vancouver BC
In 1954 the City of Vancouver announced a national architectural competition to design a new 3,000-seat civic auditorium. The judges selected a scheme submitted by ARCOP, a team of students and instructors from McGill University’s school of architecture.
The winning out-of-province design consisted of a curving reinforced concrete concert hall contained within rectilinear curtain walls of glass, aluminum and porcelain tile. The lounge and lobby overlook an expansive front plaza and fountain through a huge floor-to-ceiling glass wall. In 1962 a smaller 647-seat theatre was added at the rear of the main auditorium.
The Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza was the assembly point for many union marches in the 1970s. On October 14, 1976, a general strike against federal wage controls rallied at this location. One million other workers across Canada also participated in the Day of Protest organized by the Canadian Labour Congress.
In 2018, the plaza outside the theatre was officially renamed šxʷƛ̓exən Xwtl’a7shn Square, an indigenous name from the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Downriver Hunq’eme’nem (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nation languages. The new name “refers to the Walks for Reconciliation which bring tens of thousands of people to the plaza to walk together in recognition of residential school survivors, acknowledge those that did not survive, and celebrate the work that’s being done to redress this legacy.” For more information on the renaming see The Georgia Straight article.
Canada's Historic Places, Mid-Century Modern Downtown Vancouver Map Guide (VHF), Working Class and Labour History Walking Tour