News from Burnaby Village Museum

Sanya Pleshakov came to our meeting tonight to tell us about all the upcoming things at the Burnaby Village Museum.

If you’re interested, here are the programs starting this Saturday (there are a couple sold out already):

Burnaby Neighbourhood History

Free Speakers Series and Walking Tours

Explore a range of local history, heritage, and cultural topics. Community members are invited to bring their own stories, memories and questions to share. Presented in partnership by the Burnaby Village Museum and the Burnaby Public Library.

Talks »

Walking Tours »

Presentations are free but registration is required. Call the library at 604-436-5400 to reserve your place or use the links below to register online.


History of the Heights

September 25, 7-8:30pm
McGill Library | 4595 Albert Street
Register »

See photographs, share stories, and learn about the history of “the Heights” in North Burnaby. City of Burnaby Heritage Planner Lisa Codd will talk about the early development of the neighbourhood as well as some of the well-known businesses and landmarks that are still part of the community today.

Across the Pacific: Chinese Canadian Stories in Burnaby 

October 2, 7-8:30pm
Tommy Douglas Branch | 7311 Kingsway
Register »

Join us for a virtual tour of Burnaby Village Museum’s Across the Pacific summer exhibition on the history of Chinese Canadians in Burnaby. Co-curator Denise Fong will share stories and historical photographs about Chinese Canadians in Burnaby, and their past and present connections to villages in Guangdong, China. The Hong family from Marine Drive’s Hop On Farm will share about their family’s multigenerational ties to Burnaby and farming in the Big Bend neighbourhood of south Burnaby.

Songs of Resistance

October 16, 7-8:30pm
Burnaby Village Museum | 6501 Deer Lake Avenue
Register »

Join Solidarity Notes Labour Choir and City of Burnaby Heritage Planner Lisa Codd for an evening of song and short presentations about some of the protests and strikes that are part of Burnaby’s history. Singing along is encouraged! In partnership with the City of Burnaby Community Heritage Commission.

Unfounded: Discussions in Decolonizing Heritage

October 23, 7-8:30pm
Bob Prittie Metrotown Library | 6100 Willingdon Avenue
Register »

How do we come to know our communities? What narratives and sense of place shape our connection to the lands we live upon? In this presentation, we will look at how dominant colonial narratives are embedded into the built environment, place names, heritage landscapes, and the very planning of our cities–contributing to exclusion and erasure of the local Coast Salish Nations who have lived on their unceded territories since time immemorial. How has “Heritage” contributed to the harms of colonialism? And what will it take to decolonize and re-Indigenize the stories, landscapes, and understandings of the places we call home? Led by Kamala Todd, Indigenous Community Planner and Filmmaker.


Walking Tours

Explore the outdoors and indoors of our beautiful city during our Neighborhood Histories Series walking tours. Community members are invited to bring their own stories and questions.

Ceperley Estate Walking Tour [sold out]

September 21, 2-3:30pm
Burnaby Art Gallery | 6344 Deer Lake Avenue
Register »

Tour the grounds of the Fairacres Estate, constructed by Grace and Henry Ceperley on the shores of Deer Lake between 1909 and 1911. The tour will feature a peek inside some of the remaining estate buildings, including the Fairacres mansion that is now home to the Burnaby Art Gallery. Tour provided by City of Burnaby Heritage Planner, Lisa Codd.

Heritage Bus Tour to the Transit Museum of BC  [sold out]

September 28, 2-4pm
Cameron Library | 9523 Cameron Street

Join the Transit Museum Society of BC on a bus and walking tour of their vintage fleet and see busses from as far back as the 1930s. Participants will have a chance to learn and explore BC’s transportation history with experts. Tour includes a ride to and from Cameron Branch Library on a vintage bus. Unfortunately, the bus is unable to accommodate wheelchair users–please inform staff at time of registration to make alternate arrangements. Sensible footwear with closed toes are required.

Tour the Al Salaam Mosque & Islamic Education Centre

October 5, 2-3:30pm
Al Salaam Mosque | 5060 Canada Way
Register »

Masjid is Arabic for mosque while Al-Salaam is Arabic for peace. The award-winning design of this architectural marvel was conceived by local Muslim architect Sharif Senbel. Learn from Sharif about the significance behind many of the architectural details, as well as the importance of the Mosque as a place of faith, education and service to the larger community.

GHG Meeting Thursday, Sept 19th, 7:00

Our next Grandview Heritage Group meeting is Thursday, Sept 19th.
We meet in the Britannia Board Room (“Info Centre”) at 7:00 p.m. and will have our usual wide-ranging and open agenda, which this month will include:

  • Introductions
  • Michael Kluckner on the character house motion Councillor Hardwick is proposing to stem the tide of demolitions in RS zones. It has some relevance to the RT zones that are a large part of Grandview; there are RS zones here too.
  • The Vancouver Heritage Foundation Grandview Tour on Sept 28th (see below)
  • Our Century Signs campaign for 2019–2020
  • Changes around the neighbourhood — Eric

Our discussions are always educational and entertaining … And, as usual, our agenda is flexible, and we are always happy to add items that you might want to discuss.
Everyone is welcome! Do come and join us!

Note that the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is putting on a Grandview Heritage Tour on Sept 28th and they are looking for a few more volunteers to help out. They’re wondering if any of our GHG members would be interested in volunteering.  In exchange for assisting during half of the tour, volunteers receive a ticket for the tour for the rest of the day. More details can be found on the volunteering page of the VHF website.

Grandview Database v.30

We have today uploaded a new and updated version of the Grandview Database.  

This version incorporates several hundred new and amended data points since the previous release. Much of this update is based on a thorough review of the 1921 Census reruns which also led to these three articles: Population Distribution in Grandview, Population Growth in Grandview 1911-1921, and the Rental Market in Grandview in 1921.

Research continues, and comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

The Rental Market in 1921 Grandview

An innovation of the 1921 Canada Census was to ask detailed questions regarding those who rented, how much rent they paid, and how many rooms they occupied.

According to the 1921 Census counts, in the core district of Grandview, there were:

  • 4,547 people living in rental accommodation, or 44.27% of the Census population;
  • They were living in 1,191 suites and houses, comprising 5,341 rooms;
  • The average rental unit contained 4.5 rooms, with
  • an average of 3.82 people per unit, and 
  • an average of 0.85 persons per room;
  • The average rent was $26.75 per month and
  • the median rent was $25 per month;
  • Rents ranged from $5.00 to $75.00 per month;
  • Total rents brought in $31,861.50 per month;

I have used this data to show how rentals as a percentage of overall population were distributed across the district.

The map shows that the highest concentrations of renters were in the north-west half of the district, while properties east of Victoria were more generally occupied by owners.

The data also allows us to see where average rents per block were higher or lower:

The pattern here is not so clear, although the less expensive rents were generally along the western, northern, and eastern periphery.

The least expensive rents, at $5 per month, were both in 2-room shacks, one at 1812 E. Pender and the other at 1224 Garden Drive. Besides those, 1365 E. Georgia — which in 1911 had been a $1 a week flophouse — was the next cheapest option offering 20 two-room units at $6 and $7 a month.

The most expensive suites were at 841 Commercial and 1000 Commercial.  In the former, furniture dealer Ada Walsh and her three children occupied an 8-room suite at $75 per month. In the latter, Dr. Sutherland and his family lived in a 7-room suite for the same price.  (As an aside, I will note that Mrs. Walsh claimed on the census form to have earned $1,000 in the previous 12 months, while paying $900 in rent).

The apartment building at 841 Commercial, the Sandon Apartments, offers a good opportunity to see what variety was available.  While Mrs. Walsh paid $75 a month, most of the suites listed in the census were significantly less — ranging from 1- and 2-room suites at $10 and $12 through to 4-rooms at $20, $22.50, and $25 a month. The owners of the building were frequent rental advertisers and during 1921 they offered 3- and 4-room furnished housekeeping suites at $22 and $25, with a 2-room unit at $12 a month.

Vancouver Sun, 7/13/1921, p.10

Vancouver Sun, 10/28/1921, p.10

Finally, I believe the actual number of renters is under-counted in the Census.  There are significant numbers of people listed as “boarders”, “roomers”, or “lodgers” who are shown as distinct from those who were officially renting. Because neither rental amounts nor the number of rooms they occupied are shown in the Census, I have not counted them in my survey.  However, I assume that at least some of these people were contributing to the household expenses and were, in all but name, renters.

Population Growth in Grandview: 1911-1921

Further to my previous post about the geographic distribution of population in Grandview in 1921, the following map illustrates the same using the 1911 Census returns (For a description of the block system used to map these results, please see here.):

The 1911 Census showed a population count of 7,356 compared to the population in 1921 which was counted as 10,270.  This indicates a growth of 2,917 persons, or a rise of 40% between the two years.

The following map illustrates the geographic dynamic of that growth:

For earlier analyses of the composition of the residents of Commercial Drive as reflected in the 1911 Census, please see here and here.

I am obliged to note that I do not altogether trust the accuracy of the 1911 Census count. I went through all the relevant census pages some years ago when the 1911 Census was first made available, entering all the data into the Grandview Database.  While doing my count of database entries to compile this map, I noticed a number of individuals who were not included in the Census count but who were definitely here in 1911. Therefore, I chose to go through the Census documents a second time to ensure that I had not missed them on the first pass. Although I did manage to find and correct a few of my earlier errors, most of the “missing” people were still missing in the Census. I leave this as a reminder to others who may rely on the Census data.



Population Distribution in Grandview

When the suburb of Grandview was first surveyed and laid out for planning, the area within the core boundaries of Clark Drive (west), Hastings Street (north), Nanaimo Street (east), and Broadway (south) was divided into surveyors’ blocks, each with a unique legal designation. Grandview, at that time on the very edge of the new Vancouver, was made up of small urban blocks (north, west) and larger rural blocks (south, east), as follows:

The Grandview Database uses this structure for sorting, and it proves useful as a tool to visualise certain data geographically.  For example, the Database now includes a vast amount of data extracted from the 1921 Canada Census. Using this data within the block structure allows us to show how the total population of core Grandview — 10,270 persons counted — was distributed across the district.

In the weeks ahead, we will be publishing more of these maps using 1921 Census data. We hope you find them useful and of interest.   Your comments are always welcomed.

Grandview Database v.29

We have today uploaded a new and substantially updated version of the Grandview Database.  

This version incorporates more than 2,000 new and amended data points since the previous release.

Now that the 1921 census data entry has been completed, analysis of certain overall characteristics of Grandview in 1921 can begin to be ascertained — population densities, household sizes, the location, distribution and cost of residential rental space, for example. Along with the recent concentration on Commercial Drive, this also allows for the beginnings of detailed analysis of retail and other sociological trends across decades (see for example the preliminary work on house prices) . Over the next few months we will continue to bring some of this work into the public forum.

We hope you find the Database of value, and we encourage and welcome corrections, and additions which should be sent to

Historical House Prices in Grandview

At the most recent GHG meeting, I presented some preliminary research on house prices in Grandview from 1918 to 1946.

Select graph for a better view.

The data is drawn from real estate ads in the “Vancouver Daily World“, “Province” and “Sun” newspapers.  The data was filtered to include only those ads that (1) related to property in Grandview; (2) were for a house (rather than an apartment building or business); and (3) listed a price.

The high point for average prices between the wars was in 1923, and the nadir was in 1935.  The average price in 1935 was 60% lower than in 1923.

The Great Depression, from 1929/30 had an obvious effect on prices.  However, the graph shows that the decline in prices began almost a decade earlier. Similarly, the effects of the second world war (an increase in Vancouver’s population for war work, the inclusion of more women in the paid work force, and emergency tenancy regulations) greatly stimulated house prices. However, here, too, we see that the increase had started to begin before the war.

Research continues.

Next Meeting: 20th June 2019

The next monthly meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is this coming Thursday, 20th June, at 7:00pm.  As usual, we will meet in the Britannia Board Room on Napier.

The proposed agenda for the meeting includes:

  • Introductions
  • An early land transaction and its place in Commercial Drive history
  • Historical property values
  • Summer meetings
  • Car-free day: What do we want to do present this year?
  • A search for a “Tribute to Mining” mosaic – Greg Snider
  • Around the neighbourhood  – Eric

We are always happy to add any other topics that may be of interest.

Hope to see you all on Thursday!

The Future of Mount Pleasant Heritage

If any of our readers are planning on going to Main Street tomorrow (June 16th) for the Car Free Day event, we would urge them to look out for the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group (MPHG) Heritage Lounge which will  be in front of Heritage Hall from noon to 7:00pm.

MPHG have a lot of interesting things to say about how that neighbourhood should recognize and integrate its heritage and history into the ongoing City Plan process.  Stop by and take a look.