Remembering Perry the Poster Man

Perry the Poster Man. | Image: Tim Matheson.

Perry the Poster Man. | Image: Tim Matheson.

Last week, with heavy hearts, we announced the passing of Perry Giguere, better known to his many friends in Vancouver's arts and culture community as "Perry the Poster Man." Perry died in his sleep on June 17, following a brief but intense battle with ALS. The news of Perry's passing was greeted with an outpouring of grief and shared memories, a testament to both his personal character and his undeniable impact on the community he loved.

Perry Giguere was born in 1950. He grew up in Montreal and moved to the West Coast in the early 1970s. It was during that decade that he started distributing posters for events, exhibitions, festivals and performances happening around Vancouver, always holding onto at least one copy for his own archives. As he amassed his posters, his collection became a living document, tracing four decades of the city's vibrant cultural history. Perry himself was also an invaluable resource, deeply knowledgeable about Vancouver and its people, and always willing to share his expertise.

As his collection grew in size, reaching over 250,000 items at its height, it became of interest to those documenting the cultural landscape of Vancouver over the years. The BC Alliance hosted a retrospective exhibition of his collection in 2013 at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre. Afterwards, Simon Fraser University acquired part of his archives, which they've fittingly titled "the Perry the Poster Man Collection." These posters, which date back to the 1980s, can be viewed in person along with SFU's Special Collections and Rare Books.

The collection will also be partly digitized, with a planned completion date of April 2019. SFU has pledged to acquire the remaining balance of the collection, ensuring that Perry's archive will endure, and a critical photograph of life in Vancouver will be preserved for the ages.

Posters are ephemeral works that often don’t have a life beyond the event that they are advertising. Perry’s foresight to create and maintain this amazingly rich archive is a legacy that will benefit students, researchers, artists and anyone interested in the social, political, and cultural history of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland over the past 40 years.
— Melanie Hardbattle, SFU archivist

Perry's legacy lies not only in the physical documents he archived, nor in his tireless work promoting Vancouver's arts and culture scene, but in his warmth, kindness, and generosity of spirit. Perry was a personal friend of the BC Alliance. We looked forward to his weekly poster delivery, as much for the time spent chatting and catching up as for the posters themselves. We know we're not alone in this regard—it takes only a moment to look over the reactions to Perry's passing and see how beloved and valued he was by his community. He was irreplaceable, and will be deeply missed.

The BC Alliance extends its deepest condolences to Perry's family and friends. We will share details on his memorial service as they emerge. In the meantime, Perry's loved ones have shared an obituary here. If you're one of the many with fond memories of the Poster Man, we encourage you to share them in the guest book. The obituary aptly gives the final word to Perry, who was never short on wisdom or wit. Always generous with his time, Perry was a 39-year volunteer with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Asked if he had any nuggets of advice for rookie volunteers, he offered the following:

Learn how to work together with strangers with a light heart. Share the joy, share the pain, live it up. It’s over quicker than you think.
— Perry the Poster Man

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