Sensational Vancouver

Cover_SensaVancouver_Apr22Sensational Vancouver

#1 BC Bestseller 

Heritage Award of Recognition, City of Vancouver, 2015


History books typically show Vancouver as a pioneer city built on forestry, fisheries and tourism, but behind the snow-capped mountains and rain forests, the Vancouver of the first half of the 20th century was a seething mass of corruption.

The top job at the Vancouver Police Department was a revolving door with the average tenure for a police chief of just four years. In those early years Detective Joe Ricci’s beat was the opium dens and gambling joints of Chinatown, while Lurancy Harris–the first female cop in Canada–patrolled the high-end brothels of Alexander Street.

Later, proceeds from rum-running produced some of the city’s most iconic buildings, cops became robbers, and the city reeled from a series of unsolved murders. But Vancouver is more than bookies, brothels and bootleggers–the city also produced legendary women, world-class entertainers and ground-breaking architecture.

Sensational Vancouver is a fully-illustrated popular history book about Vancouver’s famous and the infamous, the ordinary and the extraordinary, filtered through the houses in which they lived.


“This is one you can’t put down!” Rick Cluff, CBC The Early Edition.

“Lazarus is an enthusiastic researcher, a quirky writer of prose, and an energetic amateur historian in somewhat the same manner as the late Chuck Davis,” writes George Fetherling in the Georgia Straight. “Her book jumps around like an antipodean marsupial but it’s great fun–particularly when it deals with dope peddlers, hard-working bootleggers, disgraced mayors, and corrupt chief constables.”

Sensational Vancouver should be on everyone’s must read list this summer!” says Ian Power, Host and Producer of CKNW’s The Home Discovery Show. “Thanks for this extraordinary book.”

“High-end brothels, unsolved murders, police corruption, haunted houses, Sensational Vancouver paints a portrait of the city unlike anything you’ll find in a dusty old history book,” says Where Magazine. “Author Eve Lazarus dives into the darker parts of the city’s history, exploring the lives of the iconic people who influenced it, while paying homage to the historic buildings that helped shape it. Stories about Canada’s first two female police officers, the world’s first aircraft designer and a gutsy police detective—who pushed the rules to the limit to crack down on criminals—will keep you turning pages long past bedtime.”

“Part detective story and part architectural digest, Sensational Vancouver looks behind the curtains of a wide range of buildings that have all been worked into the fabric of Vancouver’s history,” writes the North Shore News. “Lazarus weaves the connection between the people and the locations as she brings to life the stories of a city growing up.”

“Rumrunners, writes, aviators, architects, crooked cops, and killers are just some of the motley cast of characters populating Eve Lazarus’s Sensational Vancouver. This is her third local history book and a welcome addition to the growing collection of popular histories responding to a recent surge of interest in the city’s past,” writes BC Studies. “Which brings us to the main point of the book: when we think of heritage conservation, we tend to evaluate built heritage solely on the aesthetics and artistry of physical structures and streetscapes when much of their true worth lies in the stories they have to tell.”

“Lazarus’s topics are eclectic. One section is devoted to entertainers, including Bryan Adams and Michael J. Fox, while other chapters are focused on house murders and haunted houses,” says The Province. “But what holds the stories together is that they’re all told through the filter of the houses they once lived in. Along with [Tosca] Trasolini and [Elsie] MacGill’s stories, for example, are addresses and photos of their Vancouver homes, which are still standing.”

Sensational Vancouver is lavishly illustrated with photographs of people and places, and a map makes it easy to tie things together,” writes Dave Obee, editor-in-chief of the Times Colonist. “This book is filled with great stories, and they are short, so it’s easy to dip in here and there as the mood strikes. As a package, they make for fascinating reading.”

“Part detective story and part architectural digest, Sensational Vancouver looks behind the curtains of a wide range of buildings that have all been worked into the fabric of Vancouver’s history,” writes the North Shore News.

“This meticulously researched history book made it to #1 on the BC Bestsellers List and is a must for residents interested in unexplored stories of Vancouver’s past,” says Vancouver is Awesome.

“A social historian who doubles as a sleuth for secrets, Eve Lazarus is happy to let the world know that the mansion called Canuck Place in Shaughnessy is the former headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan,” says BC Bookworld. “She likewise uncovered an original building where painter Emily Carr had lived, while preparing Sensational Victoria. Now Lazarus has risen again. In Sensational Vancouver she delights in exposing how Vancouver was once a hotbed for bookies, brothels, bootleggers and unsolved murders.”

“The book opens with a comic-style action-packed story in which [Detective Joe] Ricci and his partner Donald Sinclair raid an opium den in Chinatown in 1916,” writes British Columbia History. “Sensational Vancouver provides lively social history, appeals to a broad readership, and adds to the growing number of enlightening books about our city’s past.”

Read an excerpt from Sensational Vancouver’s chapter Lurancy Harris’s Beat in the Vancouver Sun.