Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Life was Happening

When people talk about the formation of the city of Vancouver, we usually start with the arrival of 'Gassy' Jack Deighton in 1867 then jump ahead to the incorporation of the city in 1886. But what about those years in between?

Those years may have seemed uneventful in the cluster of ramshackle structures called Granville - aka Gastown - but life was happening. In 1871, British Columbia entered the Confederation of Canada. That same year, George DeBeck was killed in one of the inlet logging camps. His widow lived past the century mark and saw her sons and grandsons become prominent citizens in towns that weren't even established in 1971. When Mrs. DeBeck was in her nineties, children who were getting milk from DeBeck's in the early morning would see the widow exercising with dumbbells at the her open window.

A 26-year-old Scot, Richard Henry Alexander, arrived with his beautiful wife to become Captain Raymur's assistant. Mrs. Alexander came to the colony on a 'bride ship' and became the social queen of the inlet. Since Mrs. Raymur preferred to remain in the civilized Victoria, Mrs. Alexander took over her social duties. Richard Alexander was one of the few to survive the horrendous overland trek from Canada to the Cariboo goldfields.

In a surprising turn of events, Gassy Jack, Captain Raymur and Richard Moody were on the same opinion with a matter having to do with respectability. Tompkins Brew was constable at the time and not a very good one. He is remembered mainly for sitting asleep on the verandah with his long beard fluttering in the breeze.

The trio petitioned Governor Musgrave for better protection. Jonathan Miller was appointed. The government built Miller a house and a tiny jail. Brew was kept on as a government agent.

Dr. Black was thrown from his horse and killed on the Douglas Road while galloping to answer an emergency call one night. Dr. Black was a survivor of the Sea Foam explosion.

The price of telegraph tolls to New Westminster went up from 25 to 50 cents. The barque Cornelis loaded at Hastings Mill, set for Valparaiso, was lost on Howe Sound. Her cargo was salvaged.

Gassy Jack enlarged his saloon and made it a substantial hotel. On July 20, Confederation Day, the first Canadian flag was seen on the inlet. A month and a half later, New Westminster was able to fly the flag when Jack loaned the flag to Ebenezer Brown so Brown could hoist it over Brown's Royal City saloon.

What we now see as the Canadian flag only came into existence in 1965. From 1801 to 1965, the Union Jack was recognized as our country's symbol.

1872 was the year Vancouver and area got its first post office. Alexander opened it in the mill store and it was then the use of Canadian postage stamps became common. Previously, mail was sent out on American ships using American stamps.

Deacon Henry Eburne arrived on the Fraser's North Arm and bought an acre of land for $1. This settlement retained Eburne's name until 1916 when it became Marpole.

Two bandits named Brown and Shelley raided a logging camp. Constable Miller had a running fight on English Bay with his revolver against their two rifles. Brown and Shelley fled ashore, leaving Miller with a canoe-load of loot and two frightened Indian women.

October 2, 1872 was the day the first bridge across False Creek opened - it was located where Main Street now runs. The bridge led to a trail that ran through Mount Pleasant and down the South Slope to the Fraser River. 

Not everyone was happy to see the bridge though. An eccentric with a vegetable patch on the south shore of the creek, Julius Ceasar, didn't trust the structure. In his spare time, he rolled large boulders into the creek so people could cross the creek safely, and dry, at low tide.

I want to thank Alan Morley and his book Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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