John Atkin is a civic historian and author who organizes and conduct tours for groups and individuals. John has explored Vancouver like few others have and offers an interesting and offbeat insight to the city's architecture, history and neighbourhoods. He has created, and conducts, a number of unique and popular walking tours throughout the City of Vancouver.

John brings an insight of urban planning and development, a love of architecture, and the fascination of the curious to all his tours.

John's walking tours take approximately 2 hours - depending on the group size and route - and are organized year round. Tours cost 10 dollars per person

Custom tours can also be organized for groups or individuals, contact John for information. Please note for groups smaller than ten, there's a 100 dollar minimum charge.



I'm very pleased to announce that I can now accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express payments for my walking tours. Card payments can be made at the start of each tour.


Interested in London: The third week of September is when we go to London for a week of walks.
The previous year's itinerary is here.

The Changing City keep up to date with the blog. While there check out our other blogs.


The Summer Series with the Heritage Foundation

Explore the length of East 25th and King Edward Ave. from the edge of the city at Boundary Road to the forest of Pacific Spirit Park. Along its length the avenue transforms from ordinary street to formal boulevard while crossing an intriguing geography of former bogs, ravines and hills, revealing incredibly diverse neighbourhoods and fascinating residential architecture.

All tours are Saturdays from 10am - 12pm
for the June 14th walk, Sunday morning at 10am.

Register Here

Saturday May 2nd -
At the Edge of the City (Renfrew-Collingwood)

Saturday May 16th -
A Stream and a Ravine (Kensington-Cedar Cottage)

Saturday May 23rd -
Former Farms & Interurbans (Kensington-Cedar Cottage)

Sunday June 14th -
The Wonky Grid (Kensington-Cedar Cottage)

Saturday June 20th -
Markets and Market Gardens (Little Mountain)

Saturday July 4th -
Hobbit and Other Houses (South Cambie)

Saturday July 18th -
The Edge of Shaughnessy (Shaughnessy)

Saturday August 8th -
Asthma Flats (Arbutus Ridge)

Saturday October 3rd -
On the Ridge (Dunbar-Southlands)

Saturday October 10th -
The City Ends (Dunbar-Southlands, Pacific Spirit Park)


Wednesday Night Heritage Walks

I don't have a complete schedule yet (we're working on it) but here's the first tours of the series.

All walks start at 7:00pm, still cost 10.00 bucks

May 27th. John Street.
Meet at the south west corner of John Street and King Edward.

John Street is one of the more interesting streets in the city which creates one very long narrow block where the lots stretch from John Street to Prince Edward in a jumble of front and backyards side by side. It's a great street and neighbourhood.

June 24th. The Lakeview Addition.
Meet at the south east corner of Nanaimo and Grandview Highway.

A real estate promotion and subdivision in the early 1900s saw the property on the eastern edge of Trout Lake being put on the market in 1907. Today this subdivision is still evident with its odd street layout and the many surviving early houses.

July 8th. Grandview Heights
Meet at the corner of Kamloops and Second Ave.

There's Grandview and then there's the Heights. Promoted heavily in the years before 1914, Grandview Heights was pushed as being at the centre of a rapidly growing Vancouver. Buy Now, Don't Miss Out.

We'll look at how the area between First Ave and Broadway eventually developed.

July 22nd. Strathcona
Meet at the corner of Princess and Keefer in front of the community centre

We haven't done a Strathcona walk in sometime and a lot has happened in the neighbourhood. We'll be looking at neighbourhood history and new developments.

August 12th. The West End
Meet at the corner of Thurlow and Pendrell

On this walk we'll be looking at the history of Burnaby and Harwood Streets once two of the more popular streets in the neighbourhood. Along with the Salsburys and Bell Irvings the streets were home to a interesting cross section of residents.


Exploring The Other Waterfront: The River District

The North Arm of the Fraser River is the city’s other, and unappreciated, waterfront. Industry still occupies much of the shoreline and log booms, barges and tugs make for a fascinating and changing parade of activity.

At the foot of Kerr Street, the view was once dominated by the operations of the Dominion and White Pine Sawmills. But since their closure, and after years of planning, a new community is emerging. On this series of walks we’ll be exploring the River District and surrounding area looking at the planning and history of the edge of the river.

Sundays: June 21, July 19, and August 9.
Meet at the corner of East Kent Road South and Kerr Street 10:00am
Cost: $10.00 (no registration necessary)


How to Research Your House:
November 17th.

It's a chance to learn some secrets about how to find information on the previous life of your house. Presented by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation and the Vancouver Archives.

Check with the Vancouver Heritage Foundation for upcoming dates


UBC Continuing Studies

The Fall course starts October 24th. A Field Guide to the Vancouver Specials will explore this Vancouver house style and look at the neighbourhoods where it is the dominate house form.

Check the Continuing Education site for more information and to register


Vaudeville’s Great White Way

Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 7:30 at the Museum of Vancouver
Speakers: John Atkin and Tom Carter

Join Tom Carter and I for our fabulous Vaudeville talk in October for the Vancouver Historical Society.

From shortly after its incorporation, Vancouver became part of the vaudeville circuit which found a home in the blocks around East Hastings and Main Street. This area, a place for the everyman with its theatres, cinemas, pool halls and restaurants, became the base for vaudeville in Vancouver. Its mixed variety entertainment included singers, dancers, comedians, musicians, minstrel shows, etc. who travelled throughout North America. These performance theatres often changed ownership and names during the brisk years of the early 1900s; however, when vaudeville died elsewhere because of the Great Depression and “the talkies”, they persisted in Vancouver for some time attesting to the unique character of the city.

Free for non-members, but a donation to the Vancouver Historical Society is appreciated.

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