The first impression you have of Vancouver may be that it is much like a hundred or a thousand other places in the United States with the standard shops, eating places and cookie cutter businesses that every city has. Naturally we have Costco, Winco, Fred Meyer, and Walmart’s of the world as well as the McDonald’s, Arby’s, Subway, Taco John’s and Papa Murphy’s pizza that most of us want at some time or other. If you want coffee from one of the 20 Starbucks or myriad other coffee spots in Vancouver they’re not hard to find and you can zip in, zip out and get filled up, caffeine powered and ready to roll.

But Vancouver has some “other” treasures that please the palette, color your world and fill you with a bouquet of beauty, awe and wonder. Some of these are hidden places and some very popularly endorsed in every tour guide Visiting Vancouver USA puts out.

Popular: Fort Vancouver, Farmers Market Vancouver, Pearson Air Museum, Clark County Historical Museum, Uptown, Downtown, etc.

Hidden Places: Hiking trails, walking paths, neighborhood parks, boutiques and art galleries. Mom and Pop shops, bazaars, wineries, breweries, favorite local eating places, meeting places and just plain get off the beaten track and breathe places.

Still, if you want to fall deeply in love with Vancouver . . . I encourage you to read a bit, study a bit and let the rich history and culture of yesterday fill your soul.

Endulge in great reads about Vancouver, USA

A number of the books about Vancouver can still be purchased but there are others that are no longer available through regular book purchasing channels. But in many cases local or historical periodicals which had limited print editions never were.

I am just in the beginning of my history diving into Vancouver and I know that I have barely touched the surface.

Some of the books I have read are:

Clark County Pioneers – Through the turn of the Century this 900 page volume sells anywhere from $55 to $110 from Amazon and other places but is available for free with a library card. And though I am probably “not” going to read every page I have started and it’s rather fun to slip into the past of who’s who in Vancouver. Not everyone’s cup of tea obviously but still . . .

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and the opening of old Oregon [2 volumes] – this is an extensive read but definitely immerses one in the amazing people during this era as well as the hardships and difficulties faced in the early days of settlement in the Pacific Northwest.

Pat Jollata – basically anything that Pat Jollata does is worth a read. She is a local historian whose careful research and engaging readability makes delving into Vancouver’s past an interesting and enjoyable time.
Legendary locals of Vancouver, Washington by Pat Jollata (purchased but available at library)
Downtown Vancouver by Pat Jollata (purchased but available at library)

Other books I have checked out and merely looked at the pictures or read bits and pieces but the fact is that there is a wealth of information if you care to partake. I find the more I read about particular figures, events or era’s the more intrigued I become.

Biographies and autobiographies

For me the best way to get into the mood of an historical period is to read a journal, biography or an autobiography of a single figure and walk with that person for awhile. There are many historical figures linked to Vancouver that can deepen this experience (links are to books and references at FVRL).

Chinook Indians, Chief Joseph
ExplorersCaptain William Clark, American Robert Gray and British Captain William Broughton
Historical figures of the Hudson Bay CompanyDr. John McLaughlin, Sir James Douglas, David Douglas (botanist), Peter Skene Ogden, William and Mary Kaulehelehe,
Vancouver BarracksUlysses S. Grant, Buffalo Soldiers, Sgt. Moses Williams
Pearson Air Field
Early pioneers of the areaEsther Short,
Religious pioneers of the areaJohn McCarty (Chaplain), Fathers Francis and Demer Blanchett, Mother Joseph, Marcus & Narcissa Whitman, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Rev. Albert Scott Nicholson, Rev. John Thompson, Rev. Thomas May.
Important city and business figures that shaped Vancouver (see Pat Jollota’s book – Legendary Locals of Vancouver – 150+figures) John P. Kiggins, Herbert Campbell, Henry and Edgar Kaiser, George Propstra
Clark County History – Annuals, books,

Historical Newspapers on Microfilm

I have not used this feature but apparently there is a mountain of information that is available for research. (When Covid 19 restrictions are over I’m definitely going to take a peek at some of these.)

Here is a partial listing:

Vancouver Register:  Local holdings periodicals: Oct 7, 1865 – Oct 9, 1869.
The Daily Vancouver Columbian: Published  1908
Vancouver daily Columbian: Published  1908-1920
Vancouver Columbian: Local holdings newspaper from 1909 to 1920
Vancouver weekly Columbian: .Published  1920-1927
The Vancouver independent: Published  1920-2020, 1875-1910 1875
The Vancouver evening Columbian: Published  1921-1937 [17 volumes]
Vancouver business journal: Published  1920-2020, 1900
The sun: Published  1940-1999
Clark County News  1948-1961

Research a bit before you explore

You can go to the Fort and walk through the barracks and explore the rooms at McLaughlin house (Oregon city) and you will learn a lot but it’s only after you have allowed for a deeper immersion through selected reading that what you see will become vibrantly alive and meaningful.

It’s then I predict that you will want to return again and again to various places in Vancouver and other sites to reengage the powerful experiences, the magical journey that begins with exploring Vancouver USA.

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