Dorothy Stratten, Vancouver, B.C.
Vancouver, B.C.: It was a city built on railroads, mining, timber--turn of the century fortunes made by Canadian business barons whose Victorian mansions faced the snow capped peaks of Mount Seymour. As the region prospered, new communities sprang up, like Coquitlam, a town that grew up around a lumber mill on the banks of the Fraser River. Coquitlam--"stinking with fish slime"--is the name the Indians gave the rough, densely wooded forest.
But by the 1960s, the city had become a bedroom community for the surrounding area: solid, suburban, middle class. The city history proudly notes: "Coquitlam began the post-war era with major growth as roads were cut into the bush to open up new areas...The new Lougheed Highway was completed...resulting in an increased flow of traffic through the municipality."
In Coquitlam, Dorothy Stratten had attended Centennial High School, a large suburban school which then had about 1,200 students. A friend, Leslie Buchanan, recalls: "I remember being in a typing class with Dorothy. She was taking a lot of business classes as we called them. I do remember her being friendly but quiet, and always looking good in her Seafarer jeans. She wore clogs, too, which I wasn't sure if it was because she was Dutch or because they were 'cool' at the time."
The sixties were over, and the Doors and Stones had been replaced by KISS, Canned Heat--heavy metal bands. Leslie remembers that girls dressed in tight T-shirts and wore their hair like (a young) Farrah Fawcett. Drugs were available: lots of students did "acid as well as marijuana."
(This story inaugurates a regular American Legends feature--a look at the hometown behind the legend. Brandon Yip, a Vancouver writer, conducted research and interviews. Also, background information was obtained from Peter Bogdanovich's memoir of Dorothy Stratten, The Killing of the Unicorn, New York, William Morrow, 1984.)