AITKEN, Douglas Cameron




Asians, in 2009, comprise 45% of Greater Vancouver's population. With an extensive chapter on Temples of Vancouver, Douglas Aitken's pictorial guide book, in a coffee table book format, Three Faces of Vancouver: A Guide to First Nations, European and Asian Vancouver (Lions Gate Road 2009) features the city from the perspectives of First Nations, European and Asian cultures. Aitken is widely travelled watercolourist and graduate of the UBC School of Architecture who is now learning Mandarin in order to complete a follow-up volume to be called Temples of Heaven. $29.99 978-0-9811575-0-4

"The book also has a substantial written section that details the region's ancient history as outlined by serious local anthropologists such as Gordon Mohs and Dr. Knut Fladmark of SFU," writes Aitken. "It has long been known that the Coast Salish in the Eastern Fraser Valley have kept detailed historical records that have been meticulously passed down through certain families. Dr. Fladmark in researching some of these found that they were accurate descriptions of datable geological events, some of which happened over 10,000 years ago. For example, 6,800 years ago, Oregon's Mount Mazama (what is now Crater Lake) blew up in one of the biggest geological events of ancient times. The eruption left a 15cm layer of compacted ash across the whole of Southern British Columbia. The Sto:lo of the Upper Fraser Valley have conserved a credible, first-hand description of the event and they even remember who the survivors were and where they lived. This means that the recorded history of the Vancouver area is older than any history directly passed on by the cultures of China or Ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, the media and educational system in the Vancouver area find it hard to focus on our local past.

"The aim of this book has been to show who we are now, where we have come from and what options we have for the future. I am an urbanist with a degree in architecture who has worked in the Vancouver area for most of my life. In the book I have detailed how it is that Vancouver has become one of the most livable cities in the world. Compared to the rest of North America, parts of our city are even compact and energy-efficient. However, most of Greater Vancouver is inefficient urban sprawl which does not have a future without cheap oil. The last chapter details how we can have a sustainable future by designing our cities to be less wasteful and to run on renewable local resources within our control. Unlike most cities in the world, Vancouver is fortunate in that it is better organized and still has access to adequate resources if it could learn to be less wasteful. Unfortunately, this takes awareness and commitment and most of our media are not paying attention."