Posted by: Andrew Pask | April 6, 2010

Vancouver Day: the city turns 124

The old McCleery Farm house, 1910
City of Vancouver Archives Item Out P1193.2

Today, April 6, marks the 124th anniversary of our home city’s incorporation.  It’s not a date that features prominently on too many wall calendars, granted, but perhaps it ought to.  After all, there’s so much to celebrate about this city and its inhabitants.

Granted, fixing a date for the beginning of a city is a bit of a dodgy affair.  Where does one start?

In Vancouver, settlement within the boundaries of what we presently know as Vancouver began, as the Coast Salish say, in a far more remote past.  One that is “time out of mind.”  The archeological record of human habitation in the area suggests that people have been walking trails here for many thousands of years.

The European contributions to the area also began some time ago – and dating our home from the moorings of George Vancouver in the Burrard Inlet, Simon Fraser’s footsteps along the river that now bears his name, or the first European settlement (the McCleery Farm in Southlands) also make for imprecision.  We need some specificity with a date of this sort – it being a birthday after all, as well as some ‘reach’ and applicability.    Something that can be rationalized – like, for example, an act of legislation.

And so, the birthday today is for “Vancouver” — the tiny settlement that grew, burned, and grew again: the amalgam of Salish Villages, speculators and skid road haulers, of lumber merchants, dockhands, asian railway workers and immigrants of all stripes.  Sure, there were people here long before, but today’s the day, 124 years ago, that a petition from area residents was read before the legislature, the Municipal Act was set put in abeyance, and a special charter was enacted, calling “Vancouver” into being.

With this act, the civic forbearers of the city — the Hastings townsite and Granville townsite (informally known as “Gastown”) — were rolled up and incorporated into a new municipality, one whose name had been suggested by CPR President William Van Horne (much to the chagrin of Island residents).  Shortly thereafter, the city’s first mayor – Malcolm MacLean was elected.

Only a 124 years ago today!  And to think, we’re 365 days away from a very awkward sounding milestone: our Quasquicentennial.

Mind you, I think I prefer to stick with something simplersounding: Vancouver Day.  It has a nice ring, doesn’t it?



  1. […] “to improve the electoral process for local government elections across B.C.” (More…) April 6, 2010 – Vancouver Day: the city turns 124 Today, April 6, marks the 124th anniversary of our home city’s incorporation.  It’s not a date […]

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