Not-So-Terrifically Respectful

tom-campbell - Vancouver Sun-2

Mayor Tom “Terrific” Campbell (1927-2012) captured by Vancouver Sun.

Vancouver’s 31st mayor (1967-72), Tom Campbell, was a pro-development, shoot-from-the-lip civic leader.

Campbell is best known to Vancouver heritage advocates and to the communities of Chinatown and Strathcona, as one of the most vocal proponents of the proposed downtown freeway system. Fortunately, community groups prevented Campbell (and others who favoured the freeway) from succeeding beyond the initial stage of that plan – the replacement of the old Georgia (McHarg) Viaduct with the Georgia/Dunsmuir Viaducts (which resulted in the near-total destruction of the predominantly black community of Hogan’s Alley).

In November 1967, a public meeting was called by City Council on the proposed freeway (evidently, Campbell wasn’t able to muster the votes necessary to prevent Council from taking that action).

Campbell responded publicly that the meeting would be “a public disgrace” and “a tempest in a Chinese teapot”.*

“The only purpose of the meeting is so that some politicians at city hall can appease people,”he said.

The Playhouse Theatre (part of the Queen Elizazbeth Theatre complex) was tentatively booked by Council for the meeting .

Campbell said, in response: “Do we have to hire a playhouse to put on a puppet show for objectors? All we’ll hear from are a few groups with vested interests who oppose the freeway.”


Exhibit at MOV: Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver. Photograph illustrates the freeway system envisioned by Tom Campbell and others. 2016. Photo by author.


*All quotations in this post are taken from Vancouver Sun, November 6, 1967, p. 16.

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One Response to Not-So-Terrifically Respectful

  1. bernecho says:

    What a guy. Gastown riots?

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