A Message from Rick Antonson, President and CEO, Tourism Vancouver:
A great man has passed away this morning. He had more admirers than the number of pages in all his (17 and counting) books. He leaves us a legacy of history-as-wit, and of our own stories internationally told. He touched every nook of our city; he gave us memory.
He was my friend, and a friend of Tourism Vancouver. He made the time to come to one of our staff gatherings some years ago to talk about new found film footage of old Vancouver, to help shape our collective pride of this place we invite the world to visit, and to make sure we knew where we'd come from. A few years ago our board of directors honoured Chuck with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his unique contributions which include the first-ever 'guidebook' to Vancouver.
In his mid 70's, Chuck was still writing - compiling a massive website on this destination's past one hundred+ years, and preparing another book on Vancouver (yes, one day it will be published) that in scope and ambition exceeds any book that Canadians will have seen. It was the culmination of his life's work, and with that life now over, others will help to complete his project.
A few weeks ago Chuck and I had one of our regular breakfasts, this time at a restaurant near where he lived. He was in fine form despite the creep of his illness, and his stories unfolded as they always did - with humour and insight and candour. He laughed. We laughed. Then I drove him home and we sat for a while in his living room and talked of things he cared about: Edna and their daughter Stephanie, his ongoing writing that would never end (though it has), and his love of research that knew no bounds except perhaps that he geographically contained it to our benefit as British Columbians. He wanted to show me something in his writer's den, a room overflowing with boxes, books and notes, and cluttered with intentions, all lit by a wee light. Yet he could find what he wanted, when he wanted it, amid his simple filing system ("I start a new file and give it a number and put it somewhere safe, and then try to remember where it is and what's in it," he said).
Without Chuck, we'd be without a thousand anecdotes, without a hundred laughs at ourselves, and without much of the knowledge that brings west-coasters a shared self-confidence. He was of profound importance to our world: a national treasure, locally owned.