Words and Phrases that I heard frequently, growing up in Vancouver in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, that would earn me a puzzled look were I to say them in Edmonton when I arrived in 1975.

  • Saltchuck – the ocean.
  • Lower Mainland – the Fraser Valley from Hope to Vancouver and all points South to the U.S. border.
  • The Island – Vancouver Island.
  • Islander – resident of Vancouver Island.
  • Cloudy Bright – completely overcast with a light layer of, usually, high clouds.
  • Niche – pronounced “Nich”, decades before it was in use everywhere and pronounced “Neesh”.
  • Steam Shovel – large back hoe.
  • Trolley Bus – a bus with standard tires and a large DC electric motor powered by two overhead wires.
  • Trolley – Trolley Bus.
  • Interurban – a streetcar-like system using more powerful engines to haul freight as well as passengers, on several routes between Vancouver and Chilliwack.
  • West End – the mainly residential area in Downtown Vancouver, making up the Western portion of peninsula South of Stanley Park
  • Peony – see PNE.
  • PNE – Pacific National Exhibition, held annually for about two weeks, usually scheduled to end on the Labour Day weekend at the beginning of Septembert on the PNE Grounds. Also refers to the non-profit organization that runs the exhibition.
  • PNE Grounds – Hastings Park where the PNE has been held since 1910, located North of East Hastings Street and West of Cassiar Street (Highway 1) in Vancouver.
  • The Freeway – known as Highway 401, the portion East of Cassiar Street, all the way to Hope, B.C.
  • The 401 – Highway 401 was the original name of Highway 1, the TransCanada Highway from Vancouver to Hope.
  • Soap Box – as the name implies, a wooden box buried in the back yard of a house, to capture soap from the laundry and kitchen sink, until it can break down and be released into the septic tank.
  • Kiddy Corner – one over and one across, especially at an intersection, to the diagonal corner.
  • Telephone Pole – part of a tree trunk, with the bark removed and treated with creosote, used for overhead power and telephone lines.
  • Ash Can – the outdoor garbage can collected each week by the garbage man.
  • Mud Puddle – a pothole filled with water, most often seen on gravel roads.
  • Garage – gas station in an era where they all had service bays to repair cars and small trucks.
  • Corner Store – neighbourhood General Store open long hours seven days a week attached to living quarters for the owner’s family.
  • School Store – Corner Store across the street or next door to a School.
  • School Grounds – precisely defined in Rules for Students to include all of the property assigned to the school.
  • Municipality – usually refers to an unincorporated area that chose not to become a City, such as Burnaby until 1992.
  • Great Northern – a U.S. railway that included a route from Seattle to Vancouver, and became part of Burlington Northern in 1970
  • B.C. Pen – a provincial prison (Penitentiary) in New Westminster.
  • North Shore – North Vancouver and West Vancouver.
  • South Slope – area South of a Ridge that runs West-East through the centre of Vancouver, Burnaby and Coquitlam.
  • North Shore Mountains – mountains immediately North of West Vancouver and North Vancouver, including Seymour, Grouse and Hollyburn.


  • Gears – Engineering students
  • Aggies – Agriculture students
  • Res – pronounced “rez”, the Student Residences on campus
  • CPSC – Computer Science based on its four letter computer abbreviation shown on course schedules and transcripts


  • LG – CKLG-730
  • LG-FM – CKLG-FM, now CFOX
  • NW – CKNW-980
  • OR – CJOR-600
  • WX – CKWX-1130

    Past Expressions

Although not necessarily associated with, or restricted to use in, Vancouver, these are some common expressions used there in the period covered by this site:  mid-1950s to mid-1970s.

  • Alphabet Soup – dried or canned soup with cooked pasta in the shape of letters of the alphabet, such as Campbells Vegetarian Vegetable, which is still sold today.