Parade of Lost Souls


The Halloween photography of Christopher Grabowski

The Parade of Lost Souls is held each year on the Saturday closest to Halloween: participants, many dressed in costumes, congregate in the Commercial Drive area of East Vancouver and follow a route down side streets and back alleys along which houses are decorated in Halloween getup and residents perform shows, music and dances, and put on other Halloween festivities.

The parade grew out of neighbourhood events set up by the artist Paula Jardine, who wanted her children to understand the deeper traditions around Halloween. The first event, held in 1991, was called The Party of Lost Souls and was intended to be a neighbourhood celebration, Jardine writes, “to honour the dead, wake the living, and chase away bad luck.” The event included a procession based on the Russian folktale “Vasilisa’s Journey,” about a young girl’s search for wisdom and her triumph over fear. Since then, the parade has become an East Vancouver institution, attended by thousands of people each year, with satellite events—concerts, parties, dances—held at venues in the neighbourhood.

The photographer Christopher Grabowski, a long-time resident of the Commercial Drive area, has been photographing the parade on and off since 24. The photos displayed here were taken in 217 by Grabowski and his photography students, who set up a photo booth at the parade and invited participants to pose for portraits. “Photos from the parade highlight archetypes spanning the whole of civilization as we know it. The costumes range from animalistic and tribal, through medieval ‘danse macabre,’ to characters populating the iconosphere of modern media,” Grabowski writes. “Some of these archetypes were born of cultures that perished and as our own society is fast approaching a number of critical thresholds, perhaps a carnival is the way we occasionally need to remind ourselves and the powers that be that the existing order is not the only one possible. There is still a potential for a decisive change or even a revolution.”

—Michał Kozłowski

To learn more about this project and see more photos from this series visit Paula Jardine’s work can be found at

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Christopher Grabowski’s award-winning photographs have been exhibited in Canada, Poland, the Netherlands and Germany. His photos and articles have been published in many periodicals and anthologies in North America and Europe. Visit him at


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