West Vancouver Historical Timeline

 

1791

First European sighting of West Vancouver. Pilot Don Jose Narvaez passed through English Bay and explored the northwest to Jervis Inlet in the 36- foot sloop Santa Saturnia.

1792

On July 3 Captain George Vancouver entered First Narrows and explored Burrard Inlet. First Nations peoples from the village of Holmulchesun, located at the mouth of Capilano River, greeted him.

1858

The B.C. mainland was proclaimed a British Colony.

Surveyor S.J. Dawson recommended to the Canadian Government that the West Vancouver area be the terminus for the Transcontinental Railway.

1859

Captain Richards surveyed from the H.M.S. Plumper and recommended the Burrard Inlet as a more protected harbour for settlement and the railway. He pointed out that the South Shore was more accessible by land.

Richards selected Point Atkinson as a British Naval Reserve.

1863

Corporal Turner of the British Royal Engineers completed a survey setting out the boundaries of Reserve No. 5, home of the Squamish Nation, at the mouth of the Capilano River. 

1868

John "Navvy Jack" Thomas, who began the first ferry service across Burrard Inlet, began extracting sand and gravel from the west side of the Capilano River. This material was used in the making of concrete and was transported in his five-ton sloop to construction sites in Moodyville, Hastings and Gastown.

1869

Sewell Moody obtained timber leases for both sides of the Capilano.

1870

Sewell Moody, who had purchased the Pioneer Mill in 1864, acquired two timber leases west of the Capilano River. The smaller lease extended along the shore west of Cypress Creek to Point Atkinson and was soon exhausted of available timber. The larger lease extended east from 22nd Street to the Capilano River and north to the headwaters of Brothers Creek. Moody's main camp at Ambleside operated into the 1890's.

1872

James Blake became the first non-native landowner in West Vancouver, pre-empting 160 acres on either side of Lawson Creek (17th Street).

1873

John "Navvy Jack" Thomas, who had married the granddaughter of Chief Capilano, sold his half interest in the Granville Hotel and arranged to take over Blake's pre-emption and built a house for his bride.

1874

Arthur Finney began construction of a wooden lighthouse on May 4th at Point Atkinson.

1875

The lantern for Point Atkinson arrived in January and in March the first Light Keeper, Edwin Woodward began work for an annual salary of $800.

First pre-emption on Bowen Island by William Eaton.

1876

The first settlers' children were born in West Vancouver; Christine Thomas at Navvy Jack Point and James Atkinson Woodward at Point Atkinson.

1877

Josias Charles Hughes pre-empted 121 acres at Ambleside, the territory between Tomase's property and the Capilano Indian Reserve.

Isaac Fisher, a New Westminster banker, filed a pre-emption and mineral claim in the Whytecliff area.

1882

The B.C. Government suspended the pre-emption privileges and cancelled those on which the required improvements had not been made - to prevent land speculation until the location of the railway terminus had been determined. 

1885

The first commuter, - "Navvy Jack" Thomas, used a rowboat to commute to Vancouver from his home on the West Vancouver waterfront.

1886

The railway terminus was established and the City of Vancouver incorporated in April. On June 13th everything west of Hastings Mill burnt to the ground. The shoreline of West Vancouver was rapidly pre-empted. This pattern of settlement along the water was dictated by the early settlers dependency on the water and lack of access by land. A road survey crew ran a preliminary trail from Capilano to Eagle Harbour but this was quickly overgrown.

Construction began on the first Capilano Dam.

1890

Canessas Fish Smokehouse operating on Eagle Island. Pilot Cutter "Claymore" based in Pilot Cove.

1891

The City of North Vancouver was established which included all of the present West Vancouver. The total population was 300.
The promise of a road to Eagle Harbour stimulated a new surge of pre-emption and other land speculation. A syndicate headed by the Burrard Inlet Coal Co. promoted the sale of residential lots in the City of Newcastle. This was the name used to describe early West Vancouver; the company also claimed the existence of a substantial coal deposit. Like many promotions of the time, the scheme evaporated, as did the proposed road construction. The severe depression of the 1890's dried up the land speculation.

1892

In an effort to attract settlers, North Vancouver negotiated a loan ($40,000 for 50 years at 8%) to build a road or wagon trail from Deep Cove to Eagle Harbour. Fourteen years will pass before this road reaches West Vancouver.
J.C. Keith who underwrote the loan gave his name to the road.

1893

The first school was opened on Bowen Island; Mr. William Acheson was hired to teach for $50 a month.

1897

The Whiteside and Burnham Cannery erected at Eagle Harbour at August Nelson's unfinished mill site. This cannery continued as late as 1918.
John Cates ran a ferry service to Bowen Island.

1898

The Defiance Cannery was erected at Sandy Cove and was operated by several owners into the 1950's. It is now a Fisheries Research Station. Francis Wm. Caulfeild bought acreage around Skunk Cove from Balfor Ker. Ker acquired the property from Nils Frolander, the original pre-emptor. Ker allowed the Pilot Boat Captains to erect the "Pilot House" just outside the Cove. Caulfeild charged the Pilots $1 a month rental so that the pilots would have no claim in the land.

1902

A few early residents in West Vancouver. Some were earning a living providing farm products to the lumber mill at Moodville in North Vancouver. Others worked for the Great Northern Cannery (although the work was seasonal and most employees itinerant). Others came simply to enjoy the beauty and the solitude of their recreational cottages.

1905

The order of sale in default of $1320 mortgage issued against the estate of John "Navvy Jack" Thomas. J.C. Keith then purchased the property.
An eight-mile shingle bolt flume down the Capilano was completed.

1906

In November John Lawson purchased the Navvy Jack Thomas property from J.C. Keith. On December 6th, Lawson leases part of his new waterfront property to the McNair Timber Co. Ltd. For use as a railway log dump and booming ground. The yearly rent was $35.

1907

McNair-Fraser Lumber Co. built a logging railway that ran from the pier on the 16th Street waterfront north east through the middle of the 1200 block Inglewood to approximately 11th Street where it turned north, then curved north east crossing Brothers Creek. There were two camps; the lower was near 11th Street and the upper approximately 1_ miles beyond. The lower camp had a large stable, a cookhouse and a bunkhouse. The upper had a blacksmith's shop, 3 bunkhouses and a combination cookhouse, store and dining hall.

1908

The McNair-Fraser Lumber Company needed something better than a locomotive to cope with West Vancouver's steep hills to get to the logging sites so purchased a unique cable engine called the "Walking Dudley". The Dudley made 4 round trips in a 10-hour day trailing 10 to 16 logs each time.

The first Presbyterian and Methodist Church services were held in John Lawson's home.

1907 to 1913

The provincial government divided the land into parcels with road allowances on a standard North-South, East, West grid. Unlike the divisions in Caulfeild and later the British Properties, the grid does not consider topography. As a result many roads go straight up hill instead of following contours this results in steep grades and a propensity to flood.

1909

John Lawson began the development of the Hollyburn area.

A ferry service between West Vancouver and Vancouver harbour was initiated. Also a daily ferry service to Bowen Island from Vancouver.

A dynamite plant opens on Bowen Island and a number of accidental explosions lead to an inquest and juries recommendation that books of rules be printed in Chinese as the Chinese workers cannot read the English warnings and instructions.

1910

The North Vancouver District Council built a wharf at Hollyburn (17th Street) at a cost of $9,000. The wharfs exposed situation made it unsuitable for ferries it was also too short and did not extend into deep water. This did not prevent it from still being used by ferries between 1909 and 1912. It became an attraction for tourists and young fishermen.

The foundations for the Presbyterian Church were laid at the southeast corner of 18th and Marine Drive.

On April 24 a two-day forest fire threatens the upper camp of McNairs logging operation.

1911

Scattered tents and summer cottages dotted the shore of West Vancouver.

Miss Mary Reid came from Ontario to teach the 14 boys and girls who were of school age in West Vancouver. The students were between the ages of 5 and 14. Before she arrived the children had to hike over the Keith Road to North Vancouver.

Before the Presbyterian Church is complete the services were held in a makeshift tent. But one day the tent collapsed under the weight of a heavy snowfall, so a more sturdy, temporary building had to be constructed. To help pay the costs of the new building a decision was made that it would be rented to the school board as a schoolhouse.

1912

West Vancouver becomes a separate District Municipality. The split between North and West Vancouver was amicable - even as terms were discussed the North Shore Council approved a by-law for $100,000 to improve Keith Road and to build Marine Drive. Charles Nelson was elected first Reeve (mayor) and the first Municipal Hall was built at accost of $3500.

At separation West Vancouver assumed $156,000 of North Vancouver's debt of $54,300,000 (a heavy load for a population of 700). The debt was accumulated for development costs and services.

By the end of 1912 the school population was 44.

The Council tried to encourage industry (fish canneries, logging).

The Clachan hotel is built by the Stevenson sisters at the east side of 25th Street and the waterfront.

David Rogers built a timber mill above McNairs upper camp and the Walking Dudley's track was extended to serve the mill.

1913

The Conservative Hall is built at Dundarave.

The first classes for children in the Dundarave area were held in the Conservative Hall with Miss MacKay as the principal, they moved into a new two-room schoolhouse in 1918 at the site of Altamont Hospital.

A two-room schoolhouse called Hollyburn is built and Miss Lillian Smith became principal.

In July the ferry service moved to the foot of 14th Street, where a new pier, freight shed and ticket office were built. (Today the ticket office is known as the Ferry Building Gallery).

The first St. Stephens Church was built.

Campbell and O'Conner opened a lumber mill at 3rd Street and Mathers.

F.W. Cardinell Shingle Mill builds at 27th Street and Marine.

1914

The Pacific Great Eastern (P.G.E.) passenger service had its first run to Dundarave on January 1. On January 2 the train derailed at 24th Street.
The original Methodist Church was located at 2200 Fulton.

A pier was built at Dundarave to provide transportation for those living in the area.

McNair and Fraser Lumber Co. ceased to operate.

Hollyburn Lumber Company opened a mill at 14th Street and Fulton.

1915

Marine Drive to Caulfeild was officially opened.

1916

The Dundarave pier built in 1914 was not well used and was discontinued in favour of a bus system. The bus service was inaugurated to 25th Street, the bus held 12 people and ran on an hourly basis.

1917

Logging was still a major industry with seven operators and several small contractors establishing shingle mills, lumber mills and logging operations in West Vancouver.

1918

The Council decided to obtain foreshore rights in Horseshoe Bay, Copper Cove and Fisherman's Cove. The Council now wanted to control all the foreshores and faced the problem of expropriating established housing.

A 10,877 - foot timber flume was built from the McNair, Fraser Lumber Co. mill on Hollyburn Ridge to the P.G.E. Station at Sharon Drive.

1918 to 1920

The number of schools was growing with the opening of Cypress Park School and the 22nd Street School (Pauline Johnson). 

1919

The West Vancouver Courier, the first regularly published paper came into existence. It was printed until 1921.

1921

A one-roomed school in a rented private house was opened in the Whyte Cliff area.

1922

The introduction of electric power, before this time coal, oil lamps, wood stoves were used.

Skiing on Hollyburn Mountain was started by three Scandinavians who used the deserted logging bunkhouses as their cabins. The area around the cabins had been previously logged and provided open areas for cross-country skiing. By the late 1920's they had moved up the hill to ski camps at First Lake. A ski jump was also built on the east side of First Lake.

1925

A new St. Stephens Church was built. The old church became the parish hall. A small amount of logging continued as an element of land clearing.

1926

The Council initiated the Town Planning Act and zoning By-laws to ensure a quality residential area free of major industry. West Vancouver becomes a strictly residential community.

The Library was moved from its old home, in Gemmill's Drug Store on the corner of 14th Street and Bellevue to a more modern home at the corner of 14th Street and Marine.

Hollyburn Theatre opened with five vaudeville acts and a "Great War Play" entitled 'The Dark Angel'.

A large single mill was demolished to clear a site for the Inglewood School.

1927

Gleneagles Golf Course opened.

Hollyburn Pacific Ski Club was formed.

Inglewood School was opened as the West Vancouver High School.

The first apartment block was built in West Vancouver, called "Appleton Court". (The west end of the current West Vancouver Municipal Hall is situated on this property at 17th Street and Esquimalt.

1931

The British Pacific Properties Limited company was formed.

The Sewell family arrived in Horseshoe Bay to set up a boat rental business.

The first May Day was celebrated in West Vancouver and the first Queen, Peggy Barker was chosen. May Day continued until 1973.

1938

Lions Gate Bridge opened to traffic. The official opening in 1939 was presided over by H.M. King George VI.

The population of West Vancouver at that time was 8,324.

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