The Growth of Grandview 1901-1915

As mentioned in the report on this month’s meeting, I gave a presentation on the growth of Grandview using the data collated in the growing Grandview Database. This post is a brief and attenuated version of that report.

In the maps that follow, the following streets are highlighted to allow orientation:

Street Names

It has often been thought that the laying of the interurban tramline between Vancouver and New Westminster in 1891 brought about the growth of Grandview. While it is true the line ran down Venables Street and proceeded along Commercial Drive (then, Park Drive), there were no stops in Grandview itself.

What little development took place involved bringing building materials along the half-open Clark Drive and hauling them up the timber skid roads that ran down from the later Victoria Drive to False Creek between what would become William and Grant Streets.  This was probably a disappointment for the land owners of the area, but they did well enough in Cedar Cottage and Central Park where the tram really did spur development.

By the time of the 1901 Census, there were barely a dozen houses in the core area of Grandview, virtually all of them in the area of the skid road west of Park Drive.


The blue block in the north-east was the Isolation Hospital, where Templeton School is today. In the following maps, public buildings, generally schools, are shown as blue blocks. Official parks will be shown in green.

It is important to realize that at this date there were NO roads cleared. The entire area was in heavy stubble from the logging operations of the previous decades. However a few years into the new century, the large landowners of the area (mostly financiers and monied gentlemen in the city of Vancouver) began to subdivide and offer up lots for sale.

There were still many desirable areas available closer to the city centre and so business was slow at first. This is the situation by 1905.


Future growth was clearly anticipated in the acquisition of sites for Macdonald School on Hastings, and the Grandview School at Park and First.

The trajectory of growth is clearly from north-west (closest to city centre) to south-east. However, the next few years saw such explosive growth that the direction became irrelevant.  From 1907 until 1913, Grandview was the subject of an extraordinary speculative boom in lots and houses, the speculation justified by major population influxes, mainly from Great Britain. By 1910, Grandview is well established.


The boom continued until the pre-war financial crisis of 1913 brought building almost to a halt throughout the city. The level of building between 1910 and 1915 can be compared in the following map.


In this map, what would later become Grandview Park on Commercial Drive is shown as a brown block. In 1915 the area was controlled by the Dominion War Department and was used for drilling soldiers and recruitment. It would not become a park until much later in the 1920s.

Building in Grandview was essentially halted by the recession, the war, and post-war economics until well into the 1920s.

Meeting Notes, January 2016

The GHG had another well-attended and fascinating meeting last night, covering a wide range of topics:

  • Eric took us through a long list of items on the regular Neighbourhood Update segment. We discussed the recent fires on Lily Street and Commercial Drive; land assembly around Broadway; new buildings on E. Peder and Ferndale; and another dozen or more developments throughout Grandview;
  • We reviewed a number of upcoming courses and lectures of heritage interest;
  • We discussed the projects we had lined up for two GEOG 429 students this year. One student, working specifically for the Britannia Planning & Development group, will be examining the social aspects of the earlier development of Britannia, including the demolition of many houses and the displacement of residents. A second student was planning to conduct a research project on Grandview’s transportation history. Unfortunately, he has withdrawn from the class;
  • The idea of reviving GHG walking tours was bruited.  Jak agreed to conduct a new Commercial Drive tour in the summer. John described his idea of a tour of the industrial areas north of Hastings. We welcome other ideas;
  • Jak discussed the next update to the Grandview Database due to be published on 1st February. As an example of what can be derived from the collated date, he presented a series of maps illustrating the historic growth of Grandview from 1900 through 1915;
  • Eric presented another of his highly informative Heritage Mechanicals and Materials series — this time on gutters. Who knew they could be so interesting?


GV Ratepayers’ Organized 105 Years Ago Today

“The Grandview Ratepayers’ Association was formally constituted last evening at a meeting held at the Grandview schoolhouse, the following officers being elected: President Maxwell Smith; vice-president J.J. Dougan; secretary-treasurer, J.R. Shannon. A constitution was adopted and immediate steps will be taken to secure recognition from the ratepayers’ central executive. The the attention of the city council will be drawn to the need of an improvement of conditions at the corner of Venables street and Park drive. It was decided to meet in future on the third Thursday in each month” — Vancouver Daily World, 19 Jan 1911, p,16.

Maxwell Smith lived at 910 Victoria Drive and was the editor of “The Fruit Magazine“. JJ Dougan was a traveling salesman, resident at 1601 E. 3rd. J.R. Shannon was a realtor living at 1650 Harris (later E. Georgia) Street.

The Grandview Ratepayers Association continued for a while but then faded away. In 1952 it was revived under the leadership of Harry Rankin and continued into the 1960s.


Next Meeting: 21st January

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is this coming Thursday, 21st January.  As usual, we will meet in the Britannia Boardroom at 7:00pm.  The agenda this month will; include:

  • A roundup of neighbourhood property news;
  • Mapping the historical growth of Grandview using data from the Grandview Database;
  • A list of upcoming heritage courses;
  • A review of the challenges set for our two Geog 429 students;
  • A presentation on heritage gutters;
  • Updates from the November meeting;
  • Early ideas for summer walking tours

And any other heritage topic you would like to discuss.

Everyone is welcome — do come and join us!

Grandview Database v.3

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

Changes in this version include:

  • More than 960 new data points from City Directory 1909; 1927-1930 Insurance Map; and Luxton & Assocs 2015 Assessment of 1872 Parker;
  • 40 additional previously-demolished buildings recovered;
  • 5 buildings previously shown as separate now integrated into other buildings;
  • a restructuring of blocks D/L 182 – 17; D/L 183 – 6D, 9D, 9E, 10, 13; and D/L 264a – 23, 48 to more accurately reflect their history;
  • miscellaneous minor corrections

The 1927-1930 Insurance Maps have proven particularly useful this month, giving high data density and helping to sort out a number of problematic issues. This version includes data from this source for the area enclosed by Clark – E. Georgia – Victoria – Parker. Next month’s update will include much more information for the core area south of Venables.

Happy New Year to everyone!