The Indigenous People
There is archaeological proof that the Vancouver area had a presence of Aboriginal people in it stemming as far back as 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. In the areas of the Squamish, Musqueam, and the Tseil-Waututh, or Burrard, people of the Coast Salish group, is where the city of Vancouver is located. These groups of people had settlements in the various parts of Vancouver, including the areas of Stanley Park, False Creek, Kitsilano, Point Grey, and near the mouth of the Fraser River.
The Exploration of Vancouver and the Earliest Contact with the Aboriginals
In 1791, it is said that the Jose Maria Narvaez of Spain was the first European explorer to discover the coastline of what is present day Point Grey and parts of the Burrard Inlet, but there is one author who disputes this by saying that Francis Drake had possibly visited the area years earlier in 1579. George Vancouver explored the inner harbor of the Burrard Inlet in 1792, naming the area after himself.
Simon Fraser, an explorer and North West Company trader, and his crew were the first known Europeans to explore the current site of the city. Their exploration took them east down the Fraser River as far as Point Grey in 1808.
There were 25,000 men, who came from mainly California, to New Westminster, which was discovered in February 14, 1859, during the Fraser Gold Rush of 1858. The men were on their way to the Fraser Canyon, bypassing what would become Vancouver. Vancouver is one the youngest cities in British Columbia. It was not until the year 1862 that the earliest European settlement of the area took place at McLeery's Farm on the Fraser River, located just east of Marpole, which, at the time, was an ancient village called Musqueam. In 1863, the first sawmill was constructed in the City of North Vancouver, which was known as Moodyville, beginning the city's relationship with the logging industry. Captain Edward Stamp soon constructed mills along the south shore of the inlet. He began lumbering in the Port Alberni area. His first attempt at running a mill in the Brockton Point area failed, because of the difficult currents and reefs. The operation was relocated to a point near the foot of Gore Street in 1867. The mill was known as the Hastings Mill, which became the center Vancouver was constructed around. In the 1880s, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) arrived, causing the mill's importance to diminish slightly. The mill remained important to the local economy until the 1920s when it closed.
In 1867, there was a tavern constructed by "Gassy" Jack Deighton on the edge of the Hastings Mill property. Around this tavern a settlement was established, called Gastown. The settlement was renamed Granville, after being surveyed by the colonial government in 1867. The government laid out the townsite and renamed it in honor of Lord Granville, the British Secretary of the State for the Colonies. In 1884, this site was selected to be the terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway, because it had a natural harbor, causing the towns of Port Moody, New Westminster, and Victoria to be disappointed after all three had vied for the railhead position. In 1871, the railway was part of the inducements that was being used to allow British Columbia to join the Confederation, but the Pacific Scandal and the disputes over the use of Chinese labor delayed the building of the railway until the 1880s.
In a black and white illustration of Vancouver, there are large ships that fill the harbor in the south. The town, which fills the center of the map, is surrounded by trees on the left and top sides of the city. There are bridges that span the middle top body of water.
On April 6, 1886, The City of Vancouver was united. This took place the same year the first transcontinental train arrived. William Van Horne, the CPR president, arrived in Port Moody to set up the CPR terminus that was recommended by Henry John Cambie. He also named the city in honor of George Vancouver. On June 13, 1886, The Great Vancouver Fire destroyed then entire city. That same year, the Vancouver Fire Department was created. The city saw a quick reconstruction. In 1881, there was a population of 1,000 people. By the turn of the century, there were 20,000 people. In 1911, there were 100,000 people.
In 1898, the merchants of Vancouver dressed the prospectors who were bound for the Klondike Gold Rush. Charles Woodward, a merchant, opened the earliest Woodward's store, which was located at the corner of Abbot and Cordova Street, in 1892. Woodward's, Spencer's, and the Hudson Bay department stores were the core of the city's retail sector for many decades.
Large companies, such as CPR, took over the economy of early Vancouver. This allowed for a large amount of economic activity and led to the rapid evolution of the city. CPR owned most of the real estate and was the construction company behind the housing development throughout the city. Natural resources were what Vancouver's economy was based on, despite there being some manufacturing that did develop. Logging was what the main resource was for the area. By the 1930s, exports were able to move through the seaport, allowing commercial traffic to make up the largest economic sector.
The 20th Century
While big business dominated the economy, it was often joined by the militant labor movement. In 1903, the earliest of the sympathy strikes took place. The railway employees went on strike against the CPR Company in an effort to receive union recognition. Frank Rogers, the labor leader, ended up being killed by the CPR police force while he was picketing at the docks. He became the first martyr of the movement in British Columbia. In 1918, the earliest general strike took place as a result of the rising industrial tension throughout the province. The strike took place at the Cumberland coal mines on Vancouver Island. In the 1920s, there was a lull in striking. In 1935, the strike wave peaked, because unemployed men flooded the city, protesting the conditions in the relief camps run by the military in the remote areas located throughout the province. There were two tense months of daily and disruptive protests, before the strikers decided to take their protests to the federal government. They began an On to Ottawa Trek, but they were halted by force. The protesters were arrested near Mission, forcing them to intern in work camps for the remainder of the Depression.
There were many movements that were influential on Vancouver's evolution, such as the feminist movement, moral reform, and the temperance movements. In 1919, the first woman to be elected a provincial legislature in Canada was Mary Ellen Smith, a suffragist and prohibitionist. During the First World War and lasting until 1921, alcohol was prohibited. The prohibition ended when the government was able to establish control over the sale of alcohol, which is a practice that is still used today. William Lyon Mackenzie King, a federal Prime Minister of Labor and the future Prime Minister, helped to establish the earliest drug law in Canada. The Asiatic Exclusion League led a riot through Chinatown and Japantown, which caused the damage created to be investigated by King. Two of the damage claims being investigated where manufacturers of opium. Upon further investigation, King discovered that white women, as well as Chinese men, were the largest customer base for the opium dens. A federal law banning the manufacturing, selling, and importing of opium for other than a medical purpose was enacted, because of this discovery.
The merger of Vancouver with Point Grey and South Vancouver gave the city its final boundary plan, before it became the third largest metropolitan area in the country. The enlarged Vancouver's population was 228,193 on January 1, 1929.