VHF Places That Matter Celebration


As part of Heritage Week (February 17th – 23rd), we at Vancouver Heritage Foundation invite you to our third Places That Matter Community Celebration. Join VHF to hear stories about significant places in Vancouver from the people and organizations who brought their history forward.

The Places That Matter Community History Resource is an ongoing project that shares stories and information on the local, cultural and lesser-known history of Vancouver. To learn more about the project, visit the website: https://www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org/places-that-matter/

This free celebration includes displays related to Places That Matter sites and local history (6 pm – 7 pm), a “heritage week proclamation” and a short program of storytelling (7 pm – 8 pm). The event is free and open to the public, and takes place at Heritage Hall at 3102 Main Street from 6pm to 8:30pm on Wednesday, February 19th.

The event poster is attached with the full details. You are welcome to share and help us spread the word. For more information please email Jessica Quan, VHF’s Special Projects Manager at jessica@vancouverheritagefoundation.org or call 604 264 9642.

Although RSVPs are not required, you are welcome to reply to this email to confirm your attendance. Thank you and we hope to see you there!

Kind regards,


Claire Vulliamy

Heritage Resources Assistant

Vancouver Heritage Foundation

604-264-9642 #306

Suite 402 – 510 West Hastings Street

Vancouver BC V6B 1L8




twitter @vanheritage

instagram @VancouverHeritageFdn

Grandview Heritage Group Holiday Party, December 19th


Grandview Heritage Group invites you to a little holiday celebration at Maria Hindmarch’s house, 1750 Parker St. (in the first block east of the Drive), at our regular meeting time — Thursday, December 19th, at 7:00 p.m. 

Bring a holiday snack to share and whatever you’d like to drink. Maria will provide tea and coffee.

John Stuart suggests that you bring something that evokes your holiday memories (for show & tell).  For example, John will be bringing some Santa Claus postcards.

Everyone is welcome! Do come and join us!

Next meeting November 21st!

Our next Grandview Heritage Group meeting is this Thursday, November 21st.
We meet in the Britannia Board Room at 7:00 p.m. and will have our usual wide-ranging and open agenda, which this month will include:

  • Introductions
  • Inventory of 1st Avenue historic houses – Commercial to Nanaimo – Neville and Eric
  • The function of double and single hung windows – Eric & group
  • 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!

GHG meeting this Thursday!


Our next Grandview Heritage Group meeting is Thursday, October 17th.
We meet in the Britannia Board Room at 7:00 p.m. and will have our usual wide-ranging and open agenda, which this month will include:

  • Introductions
  • Review of the Sept 28th Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s Grandview Tour – All
  • Grandview Database – Jak King
  • A search for a “Tribute to Mining” mosaic – Greg Snider
  • Changes around the neighbourhood – Eric Phillips

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!

A Very Short History of Grandview

I wrote the following for the Vancouver Heritage Foundation in support of their Grandview Heritage Tour (see below).  It has been published today in Spacing, along with photographs.

* * * *

For scores of generations, the wooded hills of Grandview were prime hunting and trapping land for First Nations. Once the Europeans arrived, Grandview was the scene of intensive logging, with skid-roads running down to False Creek and Burrard Inlet. Logging continued into the late 1890s and in the entire district less than a dozen houses were occupied before 1901. In 1891, an interurban railway had been built between Vancouver and New Westminster. The route, including what would become Commercial Drive, formerly Park Drive, owed as much to land speculation as it did to transit economics. The interurban made the area better known but, with no transit stops in the neighbourhood, it did little by itself to add to the growth of Grandview.

The situation changed with the new century, as timber leases gave way to speculative acreage, often owned by British interests, which was gradually released for public sale and eagerly sought by a rampant realtor industry. It was further assisted by the incorporation of Grandview into the City’s extensive streetcar system. Residential and commercial development and sales in Grandview were slow until, after weathering a small recession in 1907, the neighbourhood witnessed a massive building boom for several years, peaking in 1912. Many of the Grandview and Commercial Drive properties that seem so characteristic of the district today owe their birth to this boom, from modest homes to grand mansions.

Education and religion were strong components of the community from the earliest years. ‘Xpey Elementary, at Victoria & Hastings, is on the site of the first public building in Grandview, a school built in 1903 to serve the families in Cedar Cove. The original 1910 Britannia Secondary building can still be found just west of the Drive. Two of the earliest churches have undergone radical restorations but both the Cultch, originally a 1909 Methodist church and the 1910 Robertson Presbyterian Church, now a housing complex at Napier and Salsbury, illustrate how heritage is still woven into the living community.

Grandview continued to grow after the First World War but the neighbourhood was hit badly by the Great Depression. It took another war and significant immigration to kick start Grandview’s economy but the place hasn’t looked back since. Entrepreneurial Italians moved into the neighbourhood in large numbers in the 1950s, and a section of Commercial Drive is now officially recognized as Little Italy. They were followed by waves of immigrants from all over the globe, many of whom settled here. It is now a thriving cosmopolitan stew of a place, as a visit to Commercial Drive will show. The Drive’s architectural mix of Edwardian stores with apartments above, the more utilitarian one-storey buidings of the 1920s and 1930s, and a scattering of modern ones, today house street markets and cafes of increasing popularity.

Grandview, with Commercial Drive at its heart, is a fascinating neighbourhood with an evolutionary story that can be seen in its architecture. Exploring its legacy storefronts, well-utilized parks and community spaces, and leafy side streets can be a journey through over 100 years of history.

Interested to learn more about Grandview? Join Vancouver Heritage Foundation for the Grandview Heritage Tour – September 28th, 12pm – 5pm


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.