It feels a little silly to get all excited about a city turning 125 years old – especially when most cities of note measure their story in centuries rather than decades. But it is OUR city and our history and somehow that seems good enough for me.
The photos are of South Granville circa 1886. It is hard to believe how our neighbourhood has changed in 125 years. Did you know that 16th Avenue was the outer edge of Vancouver in 1886 when the city was incorporated. South Granville was virtually the end of the world back then. We did not exist as an extension of the downtown, but rather as a critical access route to the Fraser River. There are photos of enormous logs that had to be removed to clear a road. In many cases, the logs were simply burned – can you imagine?
According to an article in the Vancouver Courier, I am as rare as a Leprechaun – I was born in Vancouver. What makes me even more rare is my father was born here in 1917 and my mother moved here in 1932 from Saskatchewan. I grew up hearing about wooden plank sidewalks in South Vancouver; fishing at 16th and Oak; hunting at Queen Elizabeth Park; taking the ferry to Richmond; wilderness expeditions to Lynn Canyon, and special dinners at the Granville Street White Spot.
I have watched the city grow and change. Many of our family dinner conversations now revolve around subjects like ‘did you see what they did with Dad’s old warehouse in Yaletown?’ or, guess how many Woodward’s bags still exist in my mother’s basement.
I watched Expo 86 change our city. All we had until that point was the PNE in terms of public events of any size and scale. Expo was professional, and fun, and the world agreed! I can remember going literally hundreds of times with my season’s pass, amazed at the positive energy and later seeing how it brought Vancouver out of the dark ages. For my Mom, it was the beginning of the end for community life as she remembered. Houses got bigger, yards got smaller, street baseball disappeared and knowing your neighbour became a rare thing indeed. She always speaks of that change with a little sadness. For me it was the day Vancouver showed its potential as a world class city. […]