Open Doors Project
On February 15, 2011, Julia Aoki (JA), Linda Reid (LR) and Carmen Lam (CL) interviewed Rosemary Georgeson (RG) as part of the Open Doors Project. Below is part of the transcript from the hour-long conversation with the artist, storyteller and writer.    

CL: Let’s start off with you telling us a bit about yourself.

RG: My name is Rosemary Georgeson. I’m from Georgeson Bay on Galiano Island. My family is First Nations family with a long-standing history, since before first contact here in the Downtown Eastside and Galiano Island. My family has always spent – our whole history here – working on the water and out of the Waterfront here. So we’ve had a long interaction in the Downtown Eastside since before Vancouver was even a city.

My family’s always been around here. The old uncles, they would have been my dad’s uncles, they were all sea captains and fishermen out here. My grandfather was a boat builder on the Waterfront down here. He owned property up on Dundas.

LR: What boat builders did he worked for?

RG: I couldn’t remember that, my brothers would probably remember. They were fishermen out of here, too. My old Uncle Jack was a skipper out on Sea Island.

LR: Any relation? Georgeson Bay?

RG: Yup. That’s where we’re from.

LR: Named after?

RG: The old grandfather, Scotty Georgeson. He was the lighthouse keeper, first lighthouse keeper at the Sand Heads.

[Referring to a Japantown map with businesses and street names dated around 1941]

LR: Now things changed over the years obviously, that’s 1941…that map.

RG: That [is the] Imperial Hotel rooms now. Used to be a lot of fishing stores along here. For years everybody came up here to get [their] gear for fishing. And the net companies were along there, too. So when you come in to town you’d go get your naps and stuff, and your lines and traveling gear, whatever you needed in way of marine, for fishing, and fishing gear or any kind, this is where you went, all the places were along Powell Street.

JA: It’s [Oppenheimer Park] such a focal point for the community, in the way that I don’t know if any other park that functions that way.

RG: Yeah, I don’t think there is another park that functions that way. Where people, like I said, you could go some place on the other side of Canada and they’ll say, “Oh if you go to that park there, you’ll find them.” And I’ve been up in the North West Territories, I’ve been all around Canada and people say that, “that Park,” you’d know right away what park it is, it’s Oppenheimer.

JA: Yeah, it’s such an important part to the community, in terms of services and people meeting there and there’s a lot of history there.

RG: Yeah, there is. We’ll always be there. I was in the park, I guess this was just a couple of years ago, when I was sitting on the grass and I realized that you could feel where the streambeds used to run through there.