Design in British Columbia from the Canada Modern Archive

As a run up to our DesignThinkers Conference taking place in Vancouver May 31 and June 1, the RGD celebrates the work produced by BC-based designers between 1961 and 1982. 


BC Hydro Logo 

Jim Rimmer, 1961

Archive: TM76

The British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (BC Hydro) is the main electric utility in the province of British Columbia, established in 1961. The logo for BC Hydro was created by well-known Vancouver artist / designer / typographer / printer Jim Rimmer. The logo, created when Jim was in his late 20s, depicts the letter H (for Hydro) whilst simultaneously embedding a sense of water (waves / flow) and energy (surge / spark) within the form of the symbol — and thus capturing the essence of hydro power. The use of colour further reinforces this with the lower half set in blue (water) gradiating vertically into green (land and a sustainable source of power).
The current logo is an adaptation of this original version, but has changed somewhat to be less spiky and smoothed out — perhaps a little more friendly.

Vancouver Canucks Logo

Joe Borovich, 1970

Archive: TM63
The Vancouver Canucks entered the NHL in 1970-71 as part of the league expansion draft, along with the Buffalo Sabres. The original Canucks logo was designed by freelance graphic designer Joe Borovich, lifelong hockey fan and nearby resident to the home of the Canucks (the Pacific Colosseum). On hearing rumours that the Canucks would be entering the NHL, Borovich speculatively invested some time to develop a new team logo in an attempt to submit it for consideration. His beautifully simple solution incorporates 3 essential elements; the super-ellipse of the hockey rink, the hockey stick and the letter C for Canucks. The colours were selected to represent the blue of the Pacific Ocean, green for BC forests and white for snow-capped mountains. Joe took his concept to owner of the Canucks, Tom Scallen, who impressed by Borovich’s outstanding work. About a month later Scallen followed up with the designer, having gained full approval to proceed and invited him in to work on the full roll-out of the new identity program, including uniforms, ticketing and marketing promotion.
After several identity changes over the years that followed, the original logo and jersey design were reintroduced for a few games in celebration of the Canucks 40th anniversary in 2010.

Expo 86 Pinback Badge

Ian MacLeod, Frank Mayrs, 1982

Archive: CM165
This large pin-badge was used to promote the iconic Expo 86 World Fair in Vancouver and also sold as a souvenir during the actual exposition between May 2 and October 13, 1986. The symbol was created in 1980 by designer and Graphic Coordinator Ian MacLeod, who worked with the Creative Director of the Fair, Frank Mayers. Originally the event was to be named ‘Transpo 86’ but later the name was changed in 1981/82 to Expo 86.

Three Modern Romantics CBC LP

Uncredited, 1971

Archive: CM307
The CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra (later called the CBC Vancouver Orchestra) was the longest-lived, regularly performing Canadian radio orchestra in North America. It lasted 70 years —  starting in 1938 and surviving until 2008.
This LP features a recording of a performance, which took place on October 28 and 29, 1971, at Ryerson Church in Vancouver. It features the work of and the title of this record, ‘three modern romantics’: Danish composer Carl Nielsen and English composers Ernest John Moeran and Frederick Delius. The concerts were conducted by Canadian John Avison with Robert Aitkin (conductor and flautist).
The sleeve design is printed in black ink only and is typographically set in New Times Roman throughout. The front side features a snow crystal-like composition cleverly constructed of 36 diamonds, each containing one of three portraits of the featured composers and individually adjusted tonally to produce a faceted visual aesthetic — as well as a direct connection to the complex, layered sound produced by an orchestra.

Valentine Florists Logo

Michael Pacey, 1971

Archive: TM53

Valentine Florists was a small, neighbourhood florist based in Vancouver. In 1971 the owners of the shop approached local designer Ted Cooper to create their logo. At this time, Ted and Michael Pacey (Supergraphics) had a mutual arrangement where they would pass work to one another where a project called for the strengths of one of the designer’s skillsets. Because Ted was primarily a typographic designer, he passed this particular project to Pacey.

This resulting symbol is a very smart solution, combining a heart (Valentine) within a flower head, with two lower leaves producing a ‘V’ (further reinforced in the negative space) and a vase. Unfortunately the client never selected this particular concept, but Pacey remained attached to it, feeling it was a really strong idea. He went on to enter it in several awards and it was a winner in the 1971/72  Graphica Awards, jointly hosted by the Art Directors Club of Toronto and Art Directors Club of Montréal.
List curated by Blair Thomson, Founder and Creative Director, Canada Modern

About Canada Modern

Canada Modern is a physical archive of modernist Canadian graphic design focused on the period 1960-1985. It exists to preserve, document, educate, inspire and build a richer understanding of a seminal point in Canada’s development as a nation. The collection is primarily interested in identity design, typography and graphic communication and is shared online via its own website. We cannot find the way forward without clear knowledge of where we began — perhaps through fostering a greater understanding of Canada’s first golden era of design we can begin the process of heralding a new one.
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