Monday, September 24, 2012

They Built this City

Today I am getting information from the book Namely Vancouver by Tom Snyders and Jennifer O'Rourke. The photos are of the temporary garden in a vacant lot at the corner of Clark and 12th.

It is undeniable that the CPR - Canadian Pacific Railway - is responsible for Vancouver growing to be the city it is today. In fact, the city itself was named at the urging of the CPR's William Cornelius Van Horne. (residents of Vancouver Island were against naming the city Vancouver for fear of confusion between the two.)

The city was surveyed by CPR surveyor Hamilton and many of our streets are named for executives with CPR. Examples are Hamilton, Abbott, Angus, Baillie, Beatty, Bodwell (now 33rd), Cambie, Creelman, Hosmer, Manson, Marpole, Matthews, McBain, McGuigan, McMullen (now 26th), McNicoll, Nanton, Neal, Ogden, Osler, Salsbury, Shauaghnessy, Stephens, Strathcona, and Whyte.

Some of our neighbourhoods were also named by the CPR. Like Yaletown and Shaughnessy as well as numerous streets such as Alexandra, Caranarvon, Chestnut, Collingwood, Devonshire, Douglas, Gore, Kersland, Laurier, Mackie, Marguerite, McRae, Montgomery, Roxburgh, Selkirk, Tecumseh, Wolfe and York.

Here is an interesting tidbit. For many years, Gore was the only street that ran the entire way from downtown and New Brighton Park to the water. The CPR was pleased with this because it gave them more control over the use of the property. William Sinclair Gore was surveyor general of B.C. in 1878 - this was before Hamilton arrived to survey and name for the CPR.

Gore Avenue almost follows the path of an older logging road that led from False Creek to Burrard Inlet. The original skid can be seen in the streets angle compared to other nearby north - south streets.

The street may have been named for the surveyor general or it could have been an inside joke. "Gore" is the term for a wedge-shaped area formed by the meeting of two areas surveyed to different axes.

There are connections to the CPR all over this city and more names that have those associations are Abbottsford, Greer, Hycroft, Oppenheimer (also the name of one of our mayors), Pigeon Park, Railspur, Railway, Riel, and Roundhouse Mews.

While Vancouverites have a lot to be thankful to the CPR for, we shouldn't forget that other railways have left their mark on our city as well.

The interurbans that linked our various districts in the 1890s, prompted the naming of new neighbourhoods such as Cedar Cottage, Collingwood, and Kerrisdale.

There were various investors, like Oppenheimer and Edmonds, who were recognized and those who rescued the railways from bankruptcy -Barnard and Sperling - and the railway itself  is remembered in street names like Trolley Place and the now renamed Electric and Railway Avenues.

During the First World War, the monopoly of the CPR was broken. The Great Northern and Canadian Pacific carved the Grandview Cut and filled in False Creek's eastern end. Their influence left names of executives Hebb and Thornton. These other railways were also responsible for the names such as Central, Northern, Southern and Western Streets, Great Northern Way, National Avenue, Station Street and Terminal Avenue.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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