Channels
× Select City
×
×
×
Vancouver History, News

Vancouver Then and Now: False Creek (PHOTOS)

934b8bf0c8e2a9efe392a5c724fd7ec5?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Guest Author Sep 01, 2016 5:16 am

Story by Andrew Farris, Founder and CEO of the On This Spot app. This is part of a six-part series in which he’ll share some of the photos and history you can find on the app with Daily Hive readers.

See also

Separating the downtown peninsula from Vancouver proper, False Creek has gone through dramatic transformations since the arrival of Europeans 150 years ago.

False Creek was once much longer, stretching further east, and shallower, consisting primarily of tidal flats. The site was home to First Nations’ people for millennia, who found the tidal flats ideal for collecting clams and oysters.

When Europeans first began surveying the south side of False Creek in the 1880s, they admired the incomparable views to be had of the growing city to the north, set against the towering forests and mountains. It seemed only fitting to name those neighbourhoods Fairview and Mount Pleasant. In the 1880s the smart money was on this area becoming home to the most beautiful and exclusive neighbourhoods in the city.

The Canadian Pacific Railway had other plans. They owned all the land around False Creek. In their view False Creek was well placed to become the industrial heartland of the new city.

It didn’t take long for the area to transform. The old growth forests went down, replaced with rail depots, sawmills, shipyards and other heavy industries. Smokestacks belched noxious clouds of effluents across the city and the water filled with carcinogenic concoctions of toxic pollutants.

It stayed this way for much of the 20th century. One historian writing in the 1970s reflected on how the names ‘Fairview’ and ‘Mount Pleasant’ seemed like a bad joke.

“It is difficult to imagine this in view of the current environmental horror in the False Creek area.”

Then, in the 1970s False Creek was transformed again.

The industries were shuttered and replaced by condo towers and parks. The water was cleaned and detoxified. By the time Vancouver hosted Expo ’86, False Creek was unrecognizable. Asides from repurposed warehouse districts in Yaletown and Granville Island, there is little evidence today of False Creek’s industrial past. It remains one of the most successful urban revitalization projects ever.

View across English Bay in 1885

1885: A view looking out into English Bay from False Creek before any development had begun. You can see Kits Point on the left side, which was once home to a Squamish village.

1885: A view looking out into English Bay from False Creek before any development had begun. (Vancouver Archives)

1885: A view looking out into English Bay from False Creek before any development had begun. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

View towards Yaletown in 1893

1893: A view back towards Yaletown from Fairview, though the original old photo was taken from up the hill by about 4th Avenue. You can see the Yaletown Roundhouse in the middle. In those early days it was church spires that dominated the skyline.

1893: A view back towards Yaletown from Fairview. (Vancouver Archives)

1893: A view back towards Yaletown from Fairview. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

Hinge Park in 1897

1897: The industrialization of False Creek is already well underway by this point. In this fascinating photo taken from today’s Hinge Park, construction crews and their workhorses pose for a group photo. In the background ships, docks, and industry obscure the north side of False Creek.

1897: Taken from today's Hinge Park, construction crews and their work horses pose for a group photo. (Vancouver Archives)

1897: Taken from today’s Hinge Park, construction crews and their work horses pose for a group photo. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

False Creek in the 1910s

1910s: A rather bizarre-looking tug shuttles logging booms across False Creek. Visible are the rail sidings and boxcars that long defined Yaletown, named for the first railway workers who settled there who came from Yale, BC.

1910s: A rather bizarre-looking tug shuttles logging booms across False Creek. (Vancouver Archives)

1910s: A rather bizarre-looking tug shuttles logging booms across False Creek. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

Granville Island in 1916

1916: Granville Island didn’t exist before the arrival of Europeans. The tidal flats were gradually dredged up and the island expanded until it took on its current form. In this photo, some of the land reclamation has yet to occur and logging booms fill False Creek. The industrial enterprise emitting great clouds of smoke was but one of False Creek’s many sawmills. The round-topped building is a beehive burner which was used to burn sawdust. The smoke frequently blanketed the city, stinging the eyes and causing respiratory problems.

1916: Some of the land reclamation to create Granville Island has yet to occur and logging booms fill False Creek. (Vancouver Archives)

1916: Some of the land reclamation to create Granville Island has yet to occur and logging booms fill False Creek. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

View from the Roundhouse in 1916

1916: This is a section of a huge panorama taken from just above Yaletown Roundhouse looking south across False Creek (the now photo is from the waterfront just below). The Cambie Street Bridge is visible in both photos.

1916: This is a section of a huge panorama taken from just above Yaletown Roundhouse looking south across False Creek. (Vancouver Archives)

1916: This is a section of a huge panorama taken from just above Yaletown Roundhouse looking south across False Creek. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

Shipbuilding fire in 1918

1918: This was West Coast Shipbuilders, once located at today’s Olympic Village. In 1918, it burned down, but was rebuilt and proved invaluable in the war effort during World War Two.

1918: West Coast Shipbuilders burned down. (Vancouver Archives)

1918: West Coast Shipbuilders burned down. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

Olympic Village in 1939

1939:  During World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic, Germany’s U-Boats took an appalling toll on Allied merchant shipping and threatened to cut Britain off from the vital supplies that kept her in the war. It became imperative for the Allies to build merchant ships faster than the Germans could sink them. The Canadian government formed the Park Steamship Company to mass produce small standardized Park Ships. West Coast Shipbuilders launched 24 Park Ships from here during the war. Another 42 were built in North Vancouver.

1939: This was West Coast Shipbuilders, once located at today's Olympic Village. (Vancouver Archives)

1939: This was West Coast Shipbuilders, once located at today’s Olympic Village. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

View from Olympic Village in 1941

1941: This view is from one of the shipyard’s berths as it was being expanded for mass production of Park Ships. It is fascinating to look back across False Creek at the Vancouver skyline and see what appear to be working class slums all along the water’s edge where BC Place is today.

1941: This view from one of the shipyard's berths as it was being expanded for mass production of Park Ships. (Vancouver Archives)

1941: This view from one of the shipyard’s berths as it was being expanded for mass production of Park Ships. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

View from Burrard Bridge in 1941

1941: A view of war-time industrial False Creek taken from the Burrard Street Bridge. You can see on Granville Island at the right many of the original warehouses remain. The Kitsilano train trestle in the foreground once connected the rail yards of Yaletown with the Arbutus Corridor.

1941: A view of wartime industrial False Creek taken from the Burrard Street Bridge. (Vancouver Archives)

1941: A view of wartime industrial False Creek taken from the Burrard Street Bridge. (Vancouver Archives)

On this spot now…

(On This Spot)

(On This Spot)

The On This Spot app offers you a guided tour of Vancouver’s historic photo spots and allows you to create your own then and now photo mash-ups as you walk around.

The app launched in Vancouver this year, but will expand to other major cities in Canada and the US soon – if you have a talent for writing history tours, On This Spot wants to know.

To download the app for Android or iPhone, for more info or to contact Andrew, check here: onthisspot.ca


934b8bf0c8e2a9efe392a5c724fd7ec5?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Guest Author
Guest posts are welcome to Daily Hive. Send in your thoughts: [email protected]

© 2018 Buzz Connected Media Inc.