[Editor’s Note: The Canadian Encyclopedia is proud to present its first free app, Vancouver In Time, highlighting the stories of the city. The UBC students’ great trek is one of 45 unique stories in the app. Download the app here.]
If you were strolling down Granville Street in post-war Vancouver, chances are that an affable photographer would step out from behind his camera to tell you that he’d just snapped your picture. Foncie Pulice was his name, and the sidewalk was his studio.
Foncie Pulice began taking photographs of pedestrians in Vancouver back in the middle of the Depression. It wasn’t as common then for people to have their own camera and the street photographer offered an opportunity to get a candid snapshot of yourself. Then, during the Second World War, business really picked up as film was rationed; the street photographer was the only option.
Pulice took his last photograph on September 27, 1979, then retired. He probably photographed more people than anyone else in the world, sometimes taking as many as 8,000 photos a day. And he was the last of the line. At one time there were at least six companies doing street photography in the city. Pulice was the last.
Pulice’s Electric-Photo camera, with a flash powered by a car battery, is now in the Museum of Vancouver. He died in 2003 at the age of eighty-eight.