Putting this database together hasn’t been easy. Unfortunately, there’s no other way of going about putting this information together than by doing it yourself. There is no existing database of Vancouver Specials in this city. My goal is to photograph and catalogue them all myself.
That means that by the end of this project I will have walked every single street of Vancouver in search of the Vancouver Special. When I find one, I take a picture of it. I try and take an image that is clear and distinct and highlights as many features of the home as possible. Typically, that means a head-on photo, but if there is vegetation in the way, a wall, or a corner lot, I try and find the best angle.
Once the image is taken, I record the distinct features of the Vancouver Special in my database. These are features that are commonly varied from one Special to another such as roof type, balcony size, siding, statuary, etc.
Originally, I began this project recording this information on paper. Thank goodness for modern technology, though. It was far too time consuming and before long I found a far more efficient method of recording the information on a tablet device.
as I Catalogue Every Single
To keep track of my progress, I keep a city street map with me. As I finish a block, I mark that section off on the map. That system prevents me from duplicating my effort and allows me to develop strategies for recording the houses as efficiently as possible.
For the most part, I have tried to conduct my surveys on sunny days (although I’ve learned that the sun can play havoc with a good photograph depending upon the angle). It’s not easy finding sunny days during a Vancouver winter…and even on the West Coast it can get cold when you are walking the streets for hours.
I’m currently about 20% of my way through the process (estimated). With more than 2,000 Vancouver Specials catalogued, I’ve got my system down to a science. However, on average it still takes me about an hour to catalogue 20 Vancouver Specials. Given an estimated 10,000 Vancouver Specials in the city, I expect that it will take me about 500 hours to record them all.
Given that I still need to service my clients and develop new business, the process of cataloguing Vancouver Specials is not a quick one. I expect that it will take me at least a year to get the job done. In the meantime, if you see me walking down your street, be sure to stop and say hello.