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DECEMBER 16

Vancouver Travel Guide

Vancouver History



The Indians that settled around Vancouver come from the Coast Salish peoples, (not as commonly thought, the Haida, whose society centred around the 150 islands in the Queen Charlotte group). The three main local Nations within Vancouver are Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh. The sea and forests provided an abundance of both food and building materials, and enabled them to develop a sophisticated culture including a system of trade. There are currently over 90,000 Natives in BC with 11 distinct linguistic groups. There are 197 bands living on 350 reservations, represented by 33 tribal councils.

Europeans appeared on the scene in notable numbers during the eighteenth century, when Spanish explorers charted the waters along what is now southwestern British Columbia. In 1778 Captain James Cook reached nearby Nootka Sound while searching for the Northwest Passage, sparking off immediate British interest in the area. In 1791 Josť Maria Narvaez, a Spanish pilot and surveyor, glimpsed the mouth of the Fraser from his ship, the Santa Saturnia .

Major colonization of the area only came after the Fraser River and Cariboo gold rushes in 1858, when New Westminster bustled with the arrival of as many as 25,000 hopefuls, many of whom were refugees from the 1849 Californian rush.

In 1885 Granville was selected by the Canadian Pacific Railway to be the western terminus of the transcontinental railway commissioned by the government of Canada under the leadership of Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald. (The CPR terminus led to the one-time nickname Terminal City.) The CPR selected the new name "Vancouver", in part because the existence of Vancouver Island nearby would help identify the location to easterners. On April 6, 1886, the city was incorporated under that name; the first regular transcontinental train from Montreal arrived at a temporary terminus at Port Moody in July 1886, and service to Vancouver itself began in May 1887.

A fire devastated much of the city on June 13, 1886, but with the arrival of the railway, Vancouver soon recovered and began to grow rapidly due to access to Canadian markets. Additionally, as part of the agreement to join the Confederation, British Columbia's debt of approximately $1,000,000 was paid in full by the Canadian government, creating additional business opportunities.

Within 5 years of the arrival of the CPR, Vancouver's population reached 15,000 and by 1911 Vancouver and its neighbouring municipalities included 120,000 people. Over the years, Vancouver and its region saw it population increase and much of this increase in population was due to streetcars, interurban railways, buses and automobiles. Remote areas began to be linked to Vancouver and this allowed people to live in one area and work in another.




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