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British Columbia Historical News Review

Robin Ward came to the west coast as an adult immigrant from Scotland. The first book of his drawings produced by Harbour Publishing was Robin Ward's Vancouver (1990).

Like the first, Robin Ward's Heritage West Coast is based on his weekly column in The Vancouver Sun. It is a mix of pleasing sketches of older, mainly Vancouver, structures, capsule histories, and usually apt, sometimes scathing, commentary.

Inevitably one is drawn to compare Ward's output with that of Michael Kluckner. Perhaps this is unfair, given that Kluckner is an artist in watercolours and a native of Vancouver to boot. One could hardly expect Ward's work to match the richness of Kluckner's Vanishing Vancouver (1990) in any respect -- historical record, detail, captured ambience, deep feeling. Nevertheless, Ward's too is a worthy record of "built Vancouver."

Given the state of the city's official heritage efforts as described, it is doubtful that few, if any, of Vancouver's large heritage structures will survive much longer, let alone the gentleness of established neighbourhoods in the "residential city" recorded by Kluckner. Ward has a fine flow of words to describe what most distresses him -- "aberration," "fiasco," "grotesque banality." Though he is often surprised by what he happens upon, even delighted, he can be seriously depressed by the "blinkered attitudes" of some developers and councillors. He refers to several failed or wrongheaded attempts at heritage preservation, and notes also that the City of Vancouver, incredibly, allowed the removal of the distinctive and powerful Canadian National neon sign, even though it had received the city's heritage designation.

Can Ward's public and caustic commentaries save his sketch subjects? Surely they will help.
-British Columbia Historical News (v.27(4), 1994 pg 37)