Monday, February 10, 2014

The Nicest of Harbours

The Granville Townsite was growing in 1872. Workers at the Hastings Mill had families - Granville was becoming settled.

That year, the Hastings Mill Company built a tiny, wooden schoolhouse. In the beginning, the mill operated the school privately but in 1873, it became the Granville School. The school had a wood stove, coal oil lamps, slates for the fifteen pupils to write on and an organ for music. Granville School operated under the Free Public School act of 1872 and the teacher was Miss Georgia Sweney of Granville. Her wage was $40 a month.
But Granville and Burrard Inlet didn't seem to have much of a future. The colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia had united in 1866 and for two years New Westminster was the capital. But when the capital was moved to Victoria, on Vancouver Island, the Governor and his staff left the mainland. That meant a loss of prestige, population and trade to New Westminster and the lower mainland.

The gold rush had collapsed and the lumber market - Burrard Inlet's main resource - fluctuated. There was also the question of what would happen when the forest was cleared. Most of the land wasn't any good for farming.

Things looked even more dismal when British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871. The Canadian government promised to build a railroad to the Pacific ocean and it was to be finished by 1881. One of the many routes suggested would reach the west coast 130 miles north at Bute Inlet, cross Seymour Narrows and go down Vancouver Island to Victoria. Burrard Inlet would be a hole in the coastline and Granville Townsite a dot on the map.

The future of these areas began to look up in 1878 when the federal government settled on a route down the Fraser Valley to the head of Burrard Inlet. However, that still wouldn't do much good to the people living in Granville. They would sit in their village and watch the ships sail to and from Port Moody.

Then one day William Cornelius Van Horne - General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway - came from Port Moody to Granville. He was there to look over land but was impressed by the Inlet. "What a wonderful location for a seaport!" he said.

Funny. Fifteen years earlier, Gassy Jack had said "...this inlet would make the nicest of harbours. It will be a port some day." And so it is!
Thanks go to the book, Vancouver's Past by Raymond Hull, Gordon Soules, Christine Soules for the information in this entry.

If you are on Facebook, I will be having an book release party on March 5. There will be prizes galore and it should be a lot of fun. Here's the link if you are interested.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. Replies
    1. Sorry Chris, no pictures of oil lamps. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliment. I do enjoy writing this blog.