Monday, August 10, 2015


By the fall of 1915, the optimism of Vancouverites was plainly visible. The University of BC, under President F.F. Wesbrook, opened. The buildings in Point Grey wouldn't be finished until after the war so the students were taught in shacks and tents on the General Hospital grounds. And the official student gowns were piped with khaki cord to mark its wartime birth. Many students left classes soon after enrolment to enlist in the Western Universities Battalion for overseas service. But UBC was started!

That same September, the city got its first major war contract. It was a $2 million order for shell casings and it was split between Wallace Shipyards and North Shore Iron Works.

The Admirality released the old Empress of Japan to take up its trans-Pacific service again. In November, the first Canadian Northern (later known as the Canadian National) train left the city depot on Main Street. The Great Northern railroad was building a depot and the CPR trains had been running to Penticton on the Kettle Valley line since June 1.

At the end of the year, the Board of Trade called for conservation of resources, an end to monopoly control in industry, but also reported that business was sound, construction dead, and trade picking up.

The upsurge continued through 1916. The provincial government, under W. J. Bowser of Vancouver, provided laws and funds to aid shipbuilding, mining, farmers and seaport - all of which helped Vancouver. 

Prices were rising steadily. Though there was little or no increase in wages, everybody was back at work. The fish pack was fair, the lumber mills working to capacity, no miners on skid road. 

City building rose to $2.4 million from $1.5 million in 2015. However, it was almost all large industrial construction; permits for the year dropped from 612 to 434. 

Shipping was picking up. Large consignments of munitions and other war materials were shipped to embattled Russia via Vladivostok. This trade vanished with the outbreak of the revolution in 1917 and for years immense dumps of machinery and steel sat rusting at the city's outskirts.

Thanks to the book, Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis by Alan Morley for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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