I have always loved going through my grandparents’ old photo albums showing their houses, streets, and activities that took place when Vancouver was still being shaped into what it has become today. One of my most cherished photos of my Opa (grandfather) is one that was taken by legendary street photographer Foncie Pulice on Granville in 1956.
From 1934 to 1979, Foncie Pulice set up his camera on Vancouver city sidewalks and snapped candid shots of people strolling by. For almost half a century, he took thousands of photos, unwittingly capturing moments in time, the history of a city, and the lives of British Columbians.
When you knew you were looking good, strutting your stuff down Granville Street, you made sure to get that Foncie Foto. The photos were taken head-to-toe and they were great, mostly candid shots when you were just being yourself, walking along the street. And if Foncie caught your eye, he captured you smiling back at his friendly face. [About Foncie]
I came across the photo a few years ago and it inspired me to write a blog post about Foncie. I also contributed it to the Foncie Pulice group on Flickr where others have uploaded and shared their own photographs.
Vancouver memories that Foncie’s Fotos brings back to British Columbians are heart-warming. They are of loved ones long gone, the beginning of relationships now celebrating decades of marriage, family shopping excursions, Sunday walks in Stanley Park, Hi-Y initiations, long hot summer days, and wonderful teenage years of movies, dances, and cruising with friends on Granville Street. That was a time when downtown really was the centre of just about everything in Vancouver and people dressed to the nines when they went out. And they got their picture taken.
Just last week I received an email through my contact form about a new project from a local filmmaking team. They are collecting, cataloging, and sharing stories about Foncie’s photos through a “Digital Street Corner” hosted by Knowledge Network. This project is leading to a documentary by Melanie Wood that will air in August of this year.
Photo negatives of Foncie’s images do not exist. He destroyed most of them when he retired. Until now there was no central archive or collection. The images and memories you share will become part of this extensive collection, tracing a timeline through the heart of Vancouver. Your shared images could even become part of a documentary about Foncie and his work. This is a story about Vancouver, about British Columbia, and about it’s people… so we need your help.
If you have any photos by Foncie Pulice that you would like to contribute to this archive you can upload them to the Foncie’s Corner section of the Knowledge Network site. Stories are encouraged if you want to share those as well.