Photo: Jason Vanderhill
The History of Metropolitan Vancouver
This is a sample chapter
from my forthcoming book, The History of Metropolitan Vancouver.
The book will be published in 2011. Every year in Vancouver's history
will have its own chapter. Have a look at events in other years
in our site's chronology.
A note to readers: This
is a first draft of the 1889 chapter proposed for the book.
It was completed July 16, 2006. By the time the book appears in
2010 it may be much altered.
The story of how Vancouver got its water turns out
to be interesting, complicated, frequently rancorous and occasionally
When it came to water, the little city of Vancouver was on the
wrong side of Burrard Inlet. Virtually all the useful water was
on the other side, tantalizingly close. Millions and millions of
gallons of it, in rivers, creeks and lakes, poured into the inlet
and ran off, unused, to the ocean. On the south side, where most
of the people were, there was precious little water.
True, there was a good public well at the CPR depot
on Coal Harbour, and another at the Hotel Vancouver, but carrying
the days supply home in buckets could be, literally, a pain
in the neck. And, as James Morton wrote in Capilano: The Story
of a River, Even the water from a private well at the
back of a house was hardly palatable if one contemplated the dead
rats so often seen floating on the surface. Typhoid fever
was not unknown.
Some locals used cisterns to catch rain, and many stores and offices
in the city were supplied with water carried over the inlet by a
scow from Moodyville and delivered to their doors by horse-drawn
wagons. The Hastings Mill, on the south side of the Inlet and running
more than 20 hours a day, needed a lot of water, so built a flume,
which occasionally collapsed, to carry it from Trout Lake. (Residents
along that flume line frequently tapped it, with the mills
permission, for their own needs.) The mill had to post a man full-time
at the lake to stop the beavers there from building dams that blocked
the flow. Another of his chores was to remove the lakes trout
from the flume, which at times was almost choked with fish.
Vancouvers population in the early 1880s had
been just a few hundred, but the city would grow fast once the railway
arrived, so a better and more reliable water supply was needed.
A Victoria-based civil engineer named George A. Keefer, who had
been the CPRs surveyor for its route through the Rockies and
the Fraser Canyon, came up with an idea to bring the North Shores
water to Vancouver across Burrard Inlet. He recommended an underwater
pipe be laid across the bed of the inlet. The initial reaction to
his notion was skeptical, and with good reason: no one anywhere
in the world had ever tried laying a water main across a body
of seawater nearly 3,000 feet wide roiled by strong tidal currents.
Other seawater harbors (Bostons, for example) had been crossed
by water mains, but the strength of the current was nothing like
the First Narrows, where it runs from 4.5 to 9 knots. Printers
ink was called into requisition, wrote one observer, and
many articles published demonstrating the utter impracticability
of the project.
But Keefer pressed on: he found several prominent
and enterprising capitalists who liked his scheme, thenequipped
at his own expenseformed a team, headed by a young colleague
named Henry Smith and including his nephew George H. Keefer, to
inspect all the lakes and creeks around the inlet and choose one
as the location for a dam. After long and arduous days hacking their
way through the forests of the north shore Smiths team decided
Capilano Creek would do. They surveyed the river for
seven miles from tidewater, and decided on a site for a dam six-and-a-half
miles upstream and 388 feet above sea level. The height of the dam
would ensure that gravity would provide most of the force in getting
the water across the Inlet. There was certainly enough water there:
the Capilano emptied 450 million gallons of it into the Inlet every
Keefer wrote to his uncle, Thomas C. Keefer, in
Ottawa for advice about the scheme. Thomas Keefer was one of Canadas
most well-known engineers, called by the Royal Society undoubtedly
the greatest hydraulic engineer of his day. He replied from Ottawa
to his nephew that he had laid pipe across several rivers in Ontario
and New York, and there would be no difficulty whatsoever
bringing water across the First Narrows.
But Thomas Keefer had never seen the Capilano, and
never seen how the busy tidal waters of Burrard Inlet behaved. If
he had, his reply might have been rather more cautious. The
waters of the Capilano, James Morton wrote, are slashed
to ribbons by the tide rip at the narrows.
Still, Thomas confidencefrom nearly 3,000 miles awayconvinced
George to go ahead.
The Vancouver Waterworks Company was incorporated April 6, 1886,
the same day the city itself was created. President was the well-known
New Westminster businessman Capt. John Irving. George A. Keefer
was a principal. Because of the river the group had chosen, locals
called it the Capilano Company.
But they werent the only game in town. A rival firm, Coquitlam
Water Works (CWW), also incorporated April 6, put forward a scheme
to run its water into Vancouver over land from Coquitlam Lake, 20
miles away. This company was already under contract to bring water
to New Westminster, which they eventually did.
In the spring of 1887, after a lot of heated debate, Vancouvers
city council had made its choice between the two rival proposals:
CWW. That companys scheme involved a much longer route and
required burying miles of pipe, so it would cost more, $350,000
against $300,000 for the Capilano proposal. Council asked Vancouver
voters to approve the CWW budget.
The voters said No.
The water question provided a lot of entertainment
for the little city, and factions quickly formed for and against
both companies. A second vote was held June 4, 1887 and in the days
leading up to it advertisements for each side appeared in the local
papers. One in the News-Advertiser listed 20 reasons voters
should reject the Coquitlam companys scheme. The ad showed
no sponsor, but we can guess. The complete text of the by-law that
would govern the operation of the water supply was run many times;
its last paragraph is worth study: And it is hereby further
covenanted and agreed by the said company that they shall not employ
any Chinamen or person of the Chinese race in or about the construction,
maintenance or equipment of the said water works system to the City
of Vancouver or within the limits of said city.
It was the citys first major public works
controversy, everyone in town was intensely interested, and many
locals imagined the whole British Empire was interested in the question.
In the book By Track and Trail: A Journey Through Canada
Edward Roper reported that one 1887 seaborne visitor from England
to Vancouver asked the pilot, who had come on board the ship as
it prepared to enter the harbor, for the latest news.
Great news! the pilot told him. Capilanos
Got it? the befuddled traveller asked.
Got what? Capilano? Who the devils he?
Well, said the pilot, you must
be a very strange man not to know that all Vancouver is divided
as to which waterworks scheme shall gain the citys patronage,
and they have been voting today, and Capilanos got it!
Roper reports that the pilot retired to the steamers
bridge in great disdain, to think a Britisher should be so
The vote was 58 in favor of the Coquitlam company,
86 against. The triumphant Vancouver Waterworks began to shape its
plans. They intended to lay two mains across the Inlet in case one
was damaged, and to build two reservoirs, one in the heavily forested
government reserve that was soon to become Stanley Park, and the
other on the high ground south of False Creek. The Stanley
Park reservoir is remembered today only by a trail named for it.
It was demolished in the early 1950s to install a picnic ground.
The high ground location later became Queen Elizabeth
Park. (The old reservoir VWW built there, which was paved over for
a parking lot, would be demolished, and a new, larger and earthquake-resistant
one installed in 200_.)
Work on the dam commenced January 30, 1888. It was
completed April 18, little more than two-and-a-half months later.
Remarkable, because everythingsupplies, tools, machineryhad
to be carried on mule-back six-and-a-half miles from the waters
edge and through the forest during what was reported as an unusually
severe winter. The canyon walls, wrote Louis P. Cain
in B.C. Studies, did not permit the river to be diverted around
the dam site at an economic cost. The result was that the
men had to work on excavating the foundations while standing in
three to four feet of icy mountain water. But the dam was completed
and, writes Cain, created a reservoir 380 feet wide and 700
feet long during high-water season which held approximately 14 million
gallons of water. This first dam site and a road that was
built to expedite the delivery of supplies there have long been
submerged under todays Capilano Lake.
The water still needed to get across Burrard Inlet to the city.
Mains had to be built from the dam to a 280-foot-long tunnel (made
necessary by the topography), then, at the other end of the tunnel,
another set of mains was built to bring the water to the shore of
the Inlet. Now all that was needed was to extend the first pipeline
across the water.
George Keefer wisely decided to hire someone with actual experience
in submarine pipe-laying for the work, and wrote to a fellow named
John Ward of New Jersey. Ward was an inventive engineer who had
devised a system of pipe-joints that was beginning to catch on with
municipal governments and private water-supply firms all over North
Ward wrote back, happily accepting the assignment,
and added: It pleases me to hear that you propose to duplicate
your submerged pipe, as it would be a pleasant thing for me to face
the dangers of the narrows twice for money, in case you should conclude
to make a contract with me for the work.
His bravado evaporated shortly after he arrived. The story is told
in an 1899 paper by Henry Smith, the man who had led the original
search for a suitable stream. Smith reveals a quietly devastating
wit in his description of Wards work.
Mr. Ward, on his arrival, made a thorough
inspection of the crossing, and expressed himself as confident of
being able to complete his contract with ease and rapidity. Accordingly,
on the 21st of April, 1888, he began operations, his plan being
to joint the pipes on a suitable platform stationed at low water
mark on the north shore, and by means of a stationary engine on
the south shore, to haul them across, length by length. Inasmuch
as Mr. Ward failed to carry out this plan to completion, the writer,
without expressing any opinion as to its practicability, will merely
describe his mode of procedure.
Then Smith gives a detailed, technical explanation of Ward's modus
Here's the kicker: However, after 18 lengths
[of pipe], covering a distance of 216 feet, had been submerged,
Mr. Ward concluded to substitute a steel wire cable for the wrought
iron rod. In stretching this cable across the Inlet, it unfortunately
fouled on a boulder . . . and such efforts as were made to dislodge
it proved unavailing. Mr. Ward then notified the company that urgent
private business compelled him to leave the work for St. Paul, Minnesota.
He did not return . . .
Heres an indication of the problems the pipeline
company faced: hold your hands apart nine inches. Thats the
thickness of the first rope that was strung across the inlet as
a guide for the pipeline, a rope that had been tested to 20 tons
tensile strength. When the tide came in, said an awed observer,
it snapped like a pack thread.
Vancouver Waterworks devised a new hauling apparatus
over the summer and, with the help of a diver named Richard Thomas
Llewellynwho walked three times across the bottom of Burrard
Inlet during the testingsuccessfully laid down a 12-inch main
across the Inlet and had the satisfaction of testing it August 28,
1888. About this time fire hydrants manufactured in Victoria began
to arrive, stacking up in warehouses until time came to connect
them. There seems no reason to doubt, the Vancouver
Telegram commented, that Vancouverites will be able to
wash down their Christmas dinners with copious draughts of bright,
pure and sparkling Capilano water. It took a little longer.
Finally, on March 26, 1889 a small crowd gathered
at Georgia and Granville Streets and watched as a valve was turned
and fresh Capilano River water began to gush out. Wrote the Weekly
News-Advertiser . . . water from the water works dam of
the Capilano River, ten miles from the place of writing in this
city, crossed the Narrows Monday night at 11:10 oclock, at
1 oclock had filled the mains on Georgia street and at 2 oclock
had reached Westminster avenue [Main Street]. Vancouver had
It was delicious.
The citys water became famed for its taste.
A writer in the British Columbia Magazine of June, 1911 spoke
of the great good fortune the Vancouverite enjoyed in his water:
The tinctured draught he gulps down in the heat of midsummer
inspires him with the utmost of respect. It is out of the heart
of these towering piles [the North Shore mountains] that the welcome
water comes, fresh to his lips from glacial ice beds ages old.
Industries began that couldnt have existed
without water, new restaurants opened, and the citys clumsy
watertanks, submerged behemoths holding 50,000 gallons each and
installed after the Great Fire, were dug out and discarded. Alan
Morley wrote, in his history Vancouver: From Milltown to Metropolis:
On April 14 , the city tested 60 hydrants, the fire
department abandoned water tanks forever, Thorpe and Co. opened
its new soda water factory and innumerable housewives threw out
their kitchen pumps.
One welcomed change: the incidence of typhoid fever dropped immediately.
When breaks (usually caused by ships snapping the pipe, a result
of a combination of shallow water and deep keels) occurred the effect
was immediate and disastrous: factories stopped, restaurants had
to close, fires were unchecked.
On November 15, 1889 a break developed in the submerged
main and the city was without water for eight days. Several firms
and cafes had to shut down. The Telegram couldnt publish
because its presses were hydraulic. VWW brought water over by boat
and distributed it free of charge. In September 1890 the main on
Granville Street ruptured and, said the Telegram, the
city awoke to find the Capilano River flowing happily down Granville
all the way to the CPR station. Two ditches had to be dug to get
the lake removed because, though it was a thing of beauty, it was
in a very inconvenient place.
A clause in the VWW contract with Vancouver permitted the city
to buy the operation, and after a few years of accident-free operation,
wrangling over the price, and threats of lawsuits on both sidesenough
material for a book of its ownthe city owned its own water
supply. They paid $400,000.
The system delivered four million gallons to the city every day,
an amount we slurp up today in about 20 minutes.
Public transit had its start here this year. A company called Vancouver
Street Railways incorporated, won council approval, and began laying
a single track down Granville Street. The original plan had been
to use horse-drawn rail cars, but the company was persuaded to opt
for electricity instead. (Seattle had tested its first electric
cars on March 30.) The decision to go electric caused a delay while
the company sold its horses and stable and began to string up trolley
wire. They bought six cars from a big American builder, John Stephenson
of New York City.
Later in the year the streetcar company would merge with the local
illuminating company to create the Vancouver Electric Railway and
Light Company Limited, with Mayor David Oppenheimer as director.
Two very big present-day companies, TransLink and BC Hydro, would
emerge from that tiny beginning.
There was lots for Oppenheimer to do in 1889. On March 5, as the
outgoing president of the Vancouver Board of Trade, he had presided
over its first banquet. It was held in the Hotel Vancouver, and
cost $12.50 per plate, costly for the time. But it included a quart
bottle of Mumm's Extra Dry Champagne.
Oppenheimer would be succeeded as president by the grandly named
Ezekiel Vining Bodwell. Bodwell, tragically, would die in office
this year and be succeeded by R.H. Alexander, who would also serve
the 1890 term. One curious historical tidbit about E.V. Bodwell:
it seems he is closely related to a George Bodwell, one of a small
party of Union soldiers who captured Jefferson Davis, president
of the Confederate States of American, during the U.S. Civil War!
Oppenheimer presided at the January 4 opening of the first Granville
Street bridge. (The current bridge is the third.) This first modest
wooden span was 2,400 feet long and cost $16,000 to build. Before
the year was out electric streetcars would be crossing the bridge.
A beginning of another kind occurred when on September 1 city council
approved a part-paid fire department. It had been all volunteer
to now. And council did something else important: they appointed
a chief for the department: New Brunswick-born John Howe Carlisle.
Carlisle, 31, had got off to an awkward start in 1886: hed
joined the volunteer fire brigade in May, and the city burned to
the ground the next month. It certainly wasnt his or the other
members fault: the brigade lacked the equipment to fight a
fire on that scale. The city got a lot for the $75 a month they
paid this remarkable fellow. He would be chief for an astonishing
42 years, kept on past retirement age, and would always be pushing
for more equipment, better and more modern equipment, and more firefighters.
Youll meet him again in these pages.
There was a brisk and steady buying and selling of property, and
that led to the formation this year of the Vancouver Real Estate
Board. Today, its known as the Greater Vancouver Real Estate
And the oldest and largest law firm in Vancouver today traces its
origins back to 1889. New Brunswick-born Jay Russell, who had arrived
in the city in 1888, joined the Victoria-based firm of Yates &
Jay to run its new Vancouver office. The firm would now be called
Yates, Jay & Russell. It would eventually evolve into the famous
Russell & DuMoulin, and is today known as Fasken Martineau DuMoulin.
The British Columbia Jockey Club was established April 12 to oversee
races held at the East Park racetrack (later named Hastings Park).
They produced programs for races and kept the racetrack in shape.
A pamphlet from that day laying out the rules and regulations of
the club also includes the names of its officers. They were a high-powered
bunch: president was the Hon. Clement F. Cornwall of Ashcroft, a
former Lieutenant-Governor; first vice president was W.H. Ladner,
who had been reeve of Ladner a couple of times before this, and
would be again three more times; second vice president was Lt. Col.
J.C. Holmes of the Royal Canadian Artillery, and other executives
included Alderman Sam Brighouse and Hastings Townsite businessman
and race enthusiast George Black. Before the formation of the Jockey
Club, Black used to organize horse races down Granville Street.
On September 28 Vancouver's first city hospital opened, a wooden
building at Beatty Street and Cambie, with 35 beds.
On November 16 the Union Steamship Company was formed from the
consolidation of the Moodyville ferry company and Burrard Inlet
1889 brought us the first visit to Vancouver by
a Governor General. On October 29 Lord Stanley of Preston, who had
been sworn in the year before, dedicated Stanley Park, which had
been opened in September, 1888. An observer at the dedication wrote:
Lord Stanley threw his arms to the heavens, as though embracing
within them the whole of one thousand acres of primeval forest,
and dedicated it to the use and enjoyment of peoples of all
colours, creeds, and customs, for all time.
A few days before the dedication, incidentally, a letter was written
(were not sure by whom) promising a suitable monument to commemorate
the event. City archivist J.S. Matthews would discover that letter
in 1950, more than 60 years after it was written, and realize the
promise had not been fulfilled. He began a fund-raising campaign,
and raised enough money to commission a statue. It took a while:
the statuecreated by English sculptor Sydney Marsh, and capturing
Stanleys expansive gesturewouldnt be unveiled
until May 19, 1960. Fittingly, that ceremony was presided over by
another Governor General, Georges Vanier.
Lord Stanleys term would end in 1893, the same year he donated
an enormous silver cup as an award for Canada's top-ranking amateur
hockey club. In 1926 the National Hockey League would adopt the
Stanley Cup as the championship prize in professional hockey.
Writer Rudyard Kipling visited us in 1889, during
a tour of North America. He was 23 and just beginning to be known.
(His short story, The Man Who Would Be King had just come out.)
In a later travel reminiscence called From Sea to Sea, Kipling
wrote about his first brief visit here, and how he came to own a
piece of the city.
Vancouver three years ago was swept off by
fire in sixteen minutes, and only one house was left standing. To-day
it has a population of fourteen thousand people, and builds its
houses out of brick with dressed granite fronts. But a great sleepiness
lies on Vancouver as compared with an American town: men don't fly
up and down the street telling lies, and the spittoons in the delightfully
comfortable hotel are unused; the baths are free and their doors
are unlocked. You do not have to dig up the hotel clerk when you
want to bathe, which shows the inferiority of Vancouver. An American
bade me notice the absence of bustle, and was alarmed when in a
loud and audible voice I thanked God for it . . .
Except for certain currents which are not
much mentioned, but which make the entrance rather unpleasant for
sailing-boats, Vancouver possesses an almost perfect harbor. The
town is built all round and about the harbor, and young as it is,
its streets are better than those of western America. Moreover,
the old flag waves over some of the buildings, and this is cheering
to the soul. The place is full of Englishmen who speak the English
tongue correctly and with clearness, avoiding more blasphemy than
is necessary, and taking a respectable length of time to getting
outside their drinks.
These advantages and others that I have heard
about, such as the construction of elaborate workshops and the like
by the Canadian Pacific in the near future, moved me to invest in
So Rudyard Kipling bought land here! Back in the
1970s I visited the property that he purchased. What he bought,
the lady who lived in one of the houses that sits on the old parcel
told me, was a couple of lots here at the southeast corner
of Fraser and East Eleventh. This house and the one next door are
on the Kipling property. When he bought the land, Fraser Street
was called Scott Street. My understanding is that his property extended
122 feet (37 metres) along Scott, and 66 feet (20 metres) along
Eleventh. Both of these houses went up in 1928; there were huge
trees here, nothing else.
What was Kipling's reaction to his purchase of this
tiny chunk of the Empire? He that sold it to me, he
wrote, was a delightful English Boy who, having tried for
the Army and failed, had somehow meandered into a real-estate office,
where he was doing well . . . I couldnt have bought it from
an American. He would have overstated the case and proved me the
possessor of the original Eden. All the Boy said was: 'I give you
my word it isn't on a cliff or under water, and before long the
town ought to move out that way. I'd advise you to take it.' And
I took it as easily as a man buys a piece of tobacco. Me voici,
owner of some four hundred well-developed pines, a few thousand
tons of granite scattered in blocks at the roots of the pines, and
a sprinkling of earth. That's a town lot in Vancouver.
You or your agent hold on to it till property
rises, then sell out and buy more land further out of town and repeat
the process. I do not quite see how this sort of thing helps the
growth of a town, but the English Boy says that it is the 'essence
of speculation,' so it must be all right. But I wish there were
fewer pines and rather less granite on my ground.
Kipling would visit Vancouver twice more . . . and his real estate
purchases would end farcically.
Another Englishman, rather less celebrated, who
arrived this year was a man named William Towler. Towler was 47,
from Peterborough in England. That was fortuitous because he sent
back a series of articles, titled Letters from an Emigrant,
to a Peterborough newspaper, that give us a look at the Vancouver
of the time. He sailed with his son, whom he doesnt name,
from Liverpool on February 28, 1889 on the Circassian. His reports
of the voyage indicate it was relatively uneventful, and they disembarked
at Halifax to board the train for Vancouver. Going through the Rockies,
he told his readers, was exciting. I have read somewhere that
when the Creator had finished forming the world, He threw the remnants
into British Columbia.
By March 17 they had reached the New Westminster
junction. We know that spot today as Port Coquitlam. Many
of our passengers got off here for Victoria and other parts of Vancouver
Island, he wrote, to where they proceed by boat to-morrow.
The balance of our 6,000 miles was now reduced to a dozen, and about
that number of passengers remained aboard our cars, who had left
Liverpool with us. One by one, and sometimes a half score or more
at a station they were now scattered, never more to meet; all of
us filled with the desire to better our circumstances, all full
of sorrow at leaving the old land, all full of hope on reaching
a new one.
Later that night they arrived at Vancouver. The
next day: This morning was wet, the rain coming down as if
it were fulfilling a contract against time.
His description of Vancouver is good: although he likes the town,
and its setting, and even the weather, he finds its physical condition
disgusting: only a few brick buildings (this three years after the
fire), dead rats in the street, rotting garbage, etc., phenomena
curiously absent from Kiplings account.
Towler refers to a one-armed man rounding up stray dogs. That would
be John Clough, the city lamplighter whose job would end with the
advent of electricity.
Not all the notable 1889 arrivals were of human
beings. The Steveston Museum reminds us that in September the
Hudson's Bay Company tea clipper Titania arrived July 25
to carry the first direct shipment of canned salmon from Britannia
cannery in Steveston to London, a trip around Cape Horn that took
104 days. Before this, salmon cases had been delivered to Victoria
by stern-wheelers before being shipped to Europe. (There is
a splendid drawing of the Titania in the July 26, 1924 Province,
a drawing, the paper told us, framed and hanging in the office of
fishpacking magnate Henry Bell-Irving.)
One day in the spring of this year a small party of workmen in
the Marpole area was opening up an extension of South Granville
Road to connect it with a bridge to Sea Island. Suddenly their spades
began to turn up clam shellsin the midst of a thick and lofty
forest. Next, from between the roots of these centuries-old giant
trees, the workmen pried pieces of stone shaped like spear points,
some that were hammered, others they couldnt identify.
A few of the workers realized what had been found: a native midden,
an ancient refuse heap. Sometime in the past it had been abandoned.
And then, says Hilary Stewart, time
and the forest took over. Hilary Stewart has written and illustrated
several books on native life in this region. Much of the Marpole
site was whats called a kitchen midden. There had been a village
there, by the midden. Post holes were discovered, and hearths.
This was no small archaeological discovery. The
Marpole midden turned out to be a very, very major site, Stewart
says. It was also a big one.
But it was a puzzle, too. The place was a
mass of deep shell deposits, in places up to 15 feet deepbut
it was in the midst of a forest six miles from the sea! Were the
Indians backpacking those shells up the river? Obviously not. Were
they canoeing them up? Not likely.
The answer came later. Geological surveys
were done, and they showed that the mouth of the river had been
20 miles farther up in ancient times. Where those workmen had been
standing at the south foot of Granville had once been right on the
shores of Georgia Strait.
Stewart shuddered when she looked at the photos of the first excavations
of the site. They show, in one example, that the side of one mound
has been simply gouged out, probably with shovels. Those early diggers
just burrowed in, plucking out treasures as they found them.
Today, when a site is located, a grid is laid out and a painstakingly
slow descent is made into the dig, with each artifact carefully
drawn to show where it was found and at what depth.
In 1891 an Englishman named Charles Hill-Tout would move to Vancouver.
When the locals learned he had some training in anthropology and
archaeology they took him to see the Marpole midden and the village
site that adjoined it. Hill-Tout asked G.F. Monckton, a mining engineer,
to survey the site and get some idea of its extent. It was found
to run 1,400 feet along the river bank and to be no less than 300
feet wide. Monckton did his calculations and informed a startled
anthropologist that the site covered 4.5 acres.
Hill-Tout realized he was looking at the largest village site discovered
to that time in North American archaeology.
We have an approximate idea of when the site was
occupiedfrom about 400 BC to about 500 AD. Then, as silt from
the Fraser created new land between the village and the river, the
inhabitants moved on. We dont know that for certain,
says Hilary Stewart, but its a reasonable assumption.
The Marpole site was like others that lined the
river: a single row of houses strung along the shore. The string
could stretch pretty farin 1808, when Simon Fraser visited
Musqueam, farther west along the same shore, he found one row of
connected dwellings, occupied, that extended 1,600 feet along the
The midden would begin to develop between the houses and the river
as the residents threw their garbage outside. It must have been
pretty rich on hot days.
Today, a great part of the Marpole midden is covered
by the parking lot of what used to be the Fraser Arms Hotel, and
is now a Quality Inn. Theres still a lot of material under
there, but Hilary Stewart isnt particularly dismayed about
that. Itd be difficult to think of a better preservative
for a midden than a covering of asphalt, she says. Itll
The amount of material in the midden was astonishing. Some portions
of the area were literally crammed with archaeological goodies.
Stewart went into the hotels basement soon after it opened,
and found artifacts sticking out of one unfinished wall.
Hill-Touts claim that the skulls unearthed at Marpole showed
that these early Vancouver residents were Eskimoid was later disproved,
but much of our knowledge of the midden is due to his careful examination
of the site.
August 2 John Robson became premier of BC,
succeeding Alexander Davie. Robson will serve to June 29, 1892.
December 5 The first Shakespearean production
in the city, says Sheila Roberts in her book Shakespeare in Vancouver,
was Richard III at the Imperial Theatre. Now is the winter
of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York . . .
The New Westminster Salmonbellies lacrosse team
was formed. They would soon establish themselves as a team of national
rank. From the article Leisure, Taste and Tradition in British
Columbia by Douglas Cole, in The Pacific Province: A History
of British Columbia.
The Trades and Labour Council was formed for the purpose of establishing
a nine-hour work day.
Bridges connected Lulu and Sea Islands with the mainland. These
and other early bridges suffered repeated damage from floods and
John Hendry bought Hastings Mill, renamed it B.C.
Mills, Timber & Trading Co. From Vanishing Vancouver,
by Michael Kluckner: BCMT & T was the largest forest products
company in the province, an amalgamation in the 1890s by John Hendry
of the Royal City Planing Mills with the Moodyville Sawmill in North
Vancouver and the Hastings Sawmill on the Vancouver waterfront.