The Mysterious Visit of John and Yoko to Stanley Park

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By Lani Russwurm

Several years ago, I came across an art project by the Goodweather Collective that re-imagined a Vancouver in which the City had left select old growth trees in those roundabouts that dot the city’s residential neighbourhoods. Their photoshop work was convincing and it was jarring seeing our familiar urban landscape dotted with unfamiliar giant trees. I had been doing my Past Tense Vancouver blog on Tumblr and thought it would be fun to do some photoshopping of my own for April Fools’ Day.

The first one I did was John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the Hollow Tree. This one remains the most successful in terms of the number of likes it got, and also the number of times I’ve seen someone post it to Facebook without any mention that it was fake. I used the image from the cover of John and Yoko’s Wedding Album, thinking it was a familiar enough image that wouldn’t fool too many people, but alas, no. It put me in a bit of an awkward position, since I spend a fair bit of time sorting out what I believe to be the truth of Vancouver’s past; here I was being a purveyor of fake history.

The next fake image I did was a dog riding a tricycle down Water Street in 1887. This one actually may have happened, though I have no proof.

For the last one, I riffed on all of the unsubstantiated stories of Jimi Hendrix’s time in the Vancouver. I photoshopped Jimi’s face onto a bonneted lady in a car visiting Stanley Park. Everyone in the car is smiling and appear to be in on the joke except for a boy with a puzzled expression looking at Jimi. This one was an obvious fake, but the original photo had its own weirdness. On the left is what appears to be another man in women’s garments that I swear I had nothing to do with.

Lani Russwurm is a Vancouver historian who has been blogging for over a decade as Past Tense Vancouver on Tumblr and WordPress, and more recently for Forbidden Vancouver walking tours. He is the author of Vancouver Was Awesome: A Curious Pictorial History and lives and works in the Downtown Eastside.

Source photos:

  • Hollow Tree, 1905, City of Vancouver Archives, #Port P1257
  • Britannia, ca. 2010 by the Goodweather Collective
  • Water Street, 1887, City of Vancouver Archives #Str N58
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  1. The Stanley Park tree photo of John and Yoko is almost certainly a hoax. However, I have it on reasonably good authority that, some years following John’s 1980 murder, Yoko and their son Sean visited Vancouver and presumably Victoria.

    The late father of a friend of mine was a BC Ferries captain. According to his son, crew spotted Yoko and Sean aboard the ferry. The captain (my buddy’s dad) welcomed them to the bridge and gave them a tour.

  2. Love the determined hound on the bike. JImmy is not looking too comfortable in his bonnet and certainly not like I remember him in his 1968 concert! Great spoofs all.

  3. Doug – yes I was there. I’ll never forget Jimmy’s cool entrance and “hello Canada” with the crowd going wild. The club names brought back memories but the closest I got to that scene was babysitting for a well-known (at the time) club owner and his wife – who was also a performer (I base this merely on the skimpy outfits she wore) I ran in to him a few years later when he was producing a “summer of love” band event at the armory on Burrard street in 1967. Thank you for sharing the Hendrix recording and related stories. I didn’t appreciate just how innocent and how much fun Vancouver really was back then.

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