The general area was once called “Khanamoot” by First Nations people who landed canoes on its foreshore and went inland to pick berries.
When colonization began in the mid-1800s, the forested heights that were to become Burrardview had a front row seat on history. On what is now New Brighton Park to the east of us, was the Brighton Hotel complex – rooms, bar, restaurant, wharf and playing fields.
New Westminster residents used Brighton as a resort community, travelling through the forest on Douglas Road. Others came from Granville Townsite (now Gastown) along a shoreline trail built in 1870, followed by a wagon road seven years later.
The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1905, but a plaque marking its location lists an impressive array of Vancouver “firsts” associated with the site: first road, customs house, bridge, dock, post office, hotel, stable, playing field and museum.
Meanwhile the CPR laid its rail line along the shore into what is now downtown Vancouver, waterfront industry expanded, and 65 hectares of land adjacent to the present Burrardview was set aside by the provincial government to become Hastings Park.
An electric streetcar line was built along Eton and McGill streets to access the park, where the first Vancouver Exhibition was held in 1910. One year later the area of Hastings Townsite, south from the inlet to 29th Avenue between Nanaimo and Boundary, merged with the city of Vancouver.
In 1928, Wall Street east of Nanaimo was zoned for residential use. By then, the area had been cleared of forest and about half was covered in houses accessed by dirt roads. It has been completely built up since about 1945.
Residents have watched as three successive bridges were built over Burrard Inlet at Second Narrows, the present one renamed Ironworkers Memorial Bridge in tribute to the 18 workers who died when it collapsed during construction in 1958.
In the centre of the neighbourhood is Burrard View Park, home to the St. James Society Hospice and Community Meeting Room. The complex started as a Children’s Aid foster home. It was expanded in 1931 to become the only juvenile detention facility on the Lower Mainland. It became a family court complex before being reborn as a hospice.
Farther east, Dusty Greenwell Park offers outstanding harbour and mountain views where the old Columbia grain elevator once stood. Those vistas, seen also from many street-end mini-parks and residences, have helped earn Burrardview its reputation as a desirable place to live.
Residents have been vigilant in opposing negative developments and supporting positive ones. They have rallied to assess cliff erosion, rail and harbour noise, and intrusive projects such as a proposed concrete batch plant adjacent to New Brighton Park. They have championed the popular Trinity Street Lights Competition, which enlivens Christmastime and enriches local charitable causes.
Vancouver – Stories of a City (The Vancouver Courier, 2008) by Lisa Smedman
Vancouver – the Way It Was (Whitecap Books, 1993) by Michael Kluckner