Most people when they come to you for advice, come to have their own opinions strengthened, not corrected.
Josh Billings, American Humorist, Lecturer

History of Canada

History of Canada

From the History of Coquitlam: Past & Present

When we first came to Greater Vancouver we got settled in Coquitlam for three years. Needless to say, we just fell in love with this place. It’s so close to nature: the beautiful lake Buntzen, lake Sasamat where our kids enjoy swimming in the summertime, and, of course, Belcarra beach with its wonderful park where once in a while we’d come for a barbecue. Later we moved to Burnaby, but still it’s on the border with Coquitlam. Thus we keep going places in Coquitlam.

Native people named the Kwayquitlam (or Quay-quit-lam) after a small fresh-water sockeye salmon. Coquitlam’s development begins with the gold rush of 1858. Col. R. C. Moody arrived with 400 Royal Engineers, narrowly decided against founding the provincial capital at Mary Hill, and moved downriver to New Westminster. That winter the Fraser froze, cutting off supply ships. To render the capital more defensible against any American aggression, in the summer of 1859 Moody built the North Road, which ran unswervingly dead north from New Westminster to a salt-water port at the head of the InIet, since called Port Moody. The north end of the road was exceedingly steep, and in 1884 a gentler cutoff, Clarke Road, was built. Moody and other Royal Engineers, along with some early settlers, then claimed the land adjoining North Road and in the bottoms along the Fraser. In 1862, to link up their good Fraser farming lands, the Engineers built Pitt River Road, which today includes Brunette, Cape Horn, and Mathewson avenues and Pitt River Road. In 1863 the Engineers were recalled to England; the officers said out and returned home, leaving many of the enlisted men as settlers.

In 1886 the CPR reached Port Moody, with a branch line from Westminster Junction, at the Coquitlam River, to New Westminster. These rail lines, with North and Clarke roads, established the present ring of traffic corridors around the Coquitlam plateau, and created a centre at Westminster Junction. In 1890 the City of New Westminster brought water from Coquitlam Lake down Pipeline and Pitt River roads; the water also served Westminster Junction. In 1891 the present area of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam was incorporated as the District Municipality of Coquitlam. Three population clusters developed. The principal one was Westminster Junction, which became Port Coquitlam, the second Millside and the third Burquitlam. Burquitlam was composed of the residents along, or with access to, North Road. Millside was the railway station at the Ross, McLaren Sawmills, which in 1903 became the Fraser River Sawmills. A substantial portion of the mill workers were Chinese, Japanese and East Indians, and until the 1930s Coquitlam had Vancouver’s largest East Indian settlement. Another ethnic group were the many French Canadians, particularly lumber workers, who signed up with the company and came West after a recruitment trip to the East by company employee Theodore Theroux and New Westminster priest Father O’Boyle in 1909.

Vancouver first hydroelectric power, replacing that from steam generators, was provided by the creation of Buntzen Lake in 1905, after a tunnel was drilled under Eagle Mountain from Coquitlam Lake for water supply. And in that year the CPR, while expropriating lands for its freight marshalling yards, talked the residents of Westminster Junction into believing that the yards, together with the cargo capacity of the Fraser and Pitt waterfront, and the imminent opening of the Panama Canal (1914), would turn their settlement into an industrial complex greater than Vancouver. So, not wanting to subsidize with their expected new wealth the large undeveloped portions of the District, they arranged with the province to secede. In 1913 the City of Port Coquitlam was incorporated. Coquitlam was thus left with most of the land and little development.

Until World War II, Coquitlam population grew gradually and essentially in conformity with its economic base: people worked in the municipality or nearby. After the war this changed. With plentiful land, easy subdivision with minimal servicing and good automobile transport, Coquitlam commenced an explosive residential growth. Just over 16,000 residents in 1951 more than quadrupled to 65,000 in 1975. The era of suburban sprawl was signalled in 1951 by the completion of the Lougheed Highway. Then came those great cultural forces of the 1950s, the supermarkets and shopping centres. New governmental and community buildings were concentrated on Poirier St. There was a boom in organized municipal recreation for youngsters, and a paucity of community consciousness among adults. The only industry that developed in step with this growth was the quarrying of gravel. In 1971 the province, recognizing the municipality’s deficient industrial base, forced Fraser Mills to re-unite again with the District of Coquitlam. Of the 3 quadrants remaining as Coquitlam, the northwest and northeast are still semi-rural and largely empty, while the plateau in the south-west is approaching its residential capacity. Now the population of Coquitlam is more than 150 thousand people.

In October 2004, the Evergreen light rail transit line was approved in principle by the TransLink Board. This line will have 12 stations over 11 kilometres starting from Lougheed Town Centre up to the Coquitlam Center via North and Clarke Roads, linking neighbourhoods in Coquitlam, Port Moody and Burnaby and connecting with SkyTrain, West Coast Express and TransLink buses. Design is just getting underway on this new line.

One day late fall I was walking around Coquitlam Centre. All of a blue I discovered a cozy cafe on the small plaza at Barnet and Lansdowne not far from the Coquitlam Town Centre. Its name is Zia’s Deli & Cafe and the owners serve wonderful Italian and Mediterranean cuisine like delicious and unique sandwiches, soups, some Mediterranean pickles, and of course spicy pesto. If you ask them they could treat you with some of their specials: forgotten recipes of Italian dishes. You don’t believe me, just go and check it out. Their address is: 2773 Barnet Hwy, and phone number is (604) 944-2747.

Mitch Grigori

Vancouver Central Business District: Our Downtown and its History

There is a rare visitor to Greater Vancouver who hasn’t been to its downtown area. It’s really worth sightseeing, because our downtown is a unique blend of business area, residential districts, both old and new with high-rises, entertainments quarters, and of course famous boutiques. And all that became real in a little bit more than one hundred years.

A century ago a walk through Vancouver would have been quite a short excursion: In 1876 the town, then cal1ed Granville, stretched 2 blocks along the waterfront of Burrard Inlet, a motley collection of hotels, shops and shacks in a universe of skunk cabbage, stumps and gothic firs. The census of 1881 tabulated the work force of Granville: 2 shoemakers, 44 loggers, one policeman, 31 millworkers, 4 butchers, one school teacher, 2 ministers and one wine merchant. An additional hundred labourers performed various jobs from saddle-making to construction work. The census did not count wives, children, Chinese, Indians or prostitutes.

The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway changed things dramatically. The shenanigans involving the extension of the CPR tracks 12 miles beyond their expected terminus at Port Moody provide fascinating material for the political muckraker or investigation journalist. For the most part, Vancouver’s first dignitaries were real estate agents, men who knew that wherever the trans-continental train stopped, the value of adjacent land would skyrocket. The CPR officials knew this, too. So for several years they played a successful charade on land speculators, maintaining adamantly that the train would stop at Port Moody while secretly negotiating with W. M. Smithe, then premier of B.C., for a huge tract of land on the shore by Coal Harbour as “payment” for the extension of the railroad.

Much of this was unknown to the citizens of Granville, being backroom talk over cigars and sherry. Then in February 1886, District Lot 541, virtually the entice area covered by today’s central business district, was signed away to the CPR in a sort of Promethean lure to catch the biggest fish in the economic ocean, the railroad. But this was just part of the deal. All Granville land-owners had to agree to donate a third of their lands to the CPR, since the train would bring increased business to the town. The executives of the CPR must have laughed all the war to the bank. They had convinced the hungry real estate speculators in Vancouver and the government in Victoria that unless a substantial settlement could be made to extend the tracks to Coal Harbour, Port Moody would get the prize.

On April 6, 1886, the City of Vancouver was incorporated, and a month later the first municipal election was held. After the fire the same summer the city went on a 7-year building spree. First Water St. filled up and then parallel to it Cordova St., where the Hudson’s Bay opened shop in late 1886. The CPR, eager to take advantage of its enormous windfall, spent $200,OOO in 1886 to finance lot clearing and street paving along Hastings and Pender streets. The next year CPR work crews cut Granville St. through from Burrard Inlet to False Creek. But Granville did not catch on despite its location. For 15 years Cordova St. was the popular district downtown; Granville was lined with empty shops until after the torn of the century.

Vancouver earned the rubric Terminal City when in the space of a month in 1887 two significant arrivals took place. On May 23 the first passenger train garlanded with ftowers, chugged to the siding at the foot of Howe St. And only 3 weeks later the first passenger ship, the Abyssinia, arrived in port.

By the end of 1888 people could reflect proudly on the town’s advancement towards real cityhood: Vancouver had 36 miles of streets, 24 miles of wooden sidewalks, an electric, water and sewerage system, a second 4-room school, a number of factories, a 4-storey hotel, 2 newspapers, telephones and 8,000 people whose tastes, although frequently philistine, did include a madrigal and dramatic club.

With a clang of its bell the first streetcar rattled a rectangular route along Main, Cordova, Granville and Pender on June 28, 1890. The streetcar did to the internal development of Vancouver what the railroad had initiated 3 years before, for wherever tracks were laid, villages grew up: the West End, Grandview, and a little later Cedar Cottage, Mount Pleasant and Fairview. Vancouver was beginning to develop a downtown with a ritzy suburb on the CPR land in the West End and working-class suburbs to the south and east. Downtown was still an oddly disorganized place, lacking real cohesion.

Despite the dreams of executives, politicians, bankers and industrialists, Vancouver was not destined to be a manufacturing centre. It became instead a trading centre, a place for light industry, and a home office for wholesalers, insurance companies and banks. Heavy manufacturing failed to develop and the waterfront became crowded with canning companies, paint factories, makers of stoves and clothing, glassware and stationery.

Although Vancouver continued to grow during the last decade of the 19th century, the first wave of rapid expansion ground to a halt before a world-wide economic collapse that lasted from 1891-98. It took the finding of gold in the Klondike I to rejuvenate B.C.’s economy. The 7-year drought was followed by a l4-year boom, the single most important period in Vancouver’s history. In what is now the downtown area, the empty spaces between buildings were filled in. Automobiles appeared. An age of opulence had commenced and couples would stroll along tree-lined Granville St., finally accepted as the shopping district, on their way to the opera.

Gradually the centre of the city shifted. When the 14-storey Dominion Trust Building was completed (at that time making it the tallest structure in the British Empire) and subsequently the Vancouver World Building was constructed nearby, the first signs of a southwestward movement could be seen. In a sort of urban game of musical chairs, the small factories, once confined to the Eastern shoreline, spread farther into the Water and Cordova St. area. By the end of this epoch the Central Business District was solidly developed. Off the main thoroughfares, the streets were quiet and tree-lined, with hedge encircled homes and trellises in the back yards. And in one or two places the first apartment houses were being built, miniature predecessors of the behemoths to come.

The decade from about 1912-22 was one of recession, war, unionism and finally recovery as the full effects of the opening of the Panama Canal began to influence the growth of Vancouver as Canada’s western port. Towards the end of World War I, Vancouver earned a reputation as a tough union town in a series of bitterly fought strikes that culminated in Canada’s first general’ strike. When the Depression struck in 1929 it halted work on the half-completed Vancouver Hotel, which remained a steel skeleton, black ribs against the sky, reminding the city that castles, even those owned by the CNR, are not built in the air. The economic collapse brought an abrupt end to the construction boom downtown. Except for the addition of the B.C. Hydro Building in 1955, the skyline of the city remained virtually unchanged from the end of the 1920s to the niid-1960s.

It is an interesting and little known fact that during this time large parts of downtown real estate were owned by Americans who used their holdings as a tax-shelter. Then in 1961 the V.S. government altered the tax laws, forcing these foreign landlords to sell their property, thereby making it suddenly available to developers who would soon take advantage of the city’s last great building boom. The developmental hiatus downtown between 1930-1965, did not affect the lateral spread of the city. Once. World War II had ended, Vancouver grew outward In all directions. This centrifugal motion was accelerated in the 1950s by the construction of shopping malls, which drew considerable business away from the central city. By 1962, 15% of the stores on Hastings St. were vacant

Big business came to Vancouver with a vengeance. It is hard for a newcomer to imagine the face of the central city 10 years ago. In 1968 and 1969,37 apartment buildings were started in the West End. Shortly afterwards skyscrapers were built on the western edge of the downtown core, turning Melville St. into a canyon reminiscent of New York City.

Gastown has been totally rejuvenated and Granville MaIl, finished in 1975, has lured new businesses back to that area. Another attempt to rebound Gastown’s tourism economy was erection of Storyeum in 2004, a huge theatrical museum. The main character who became the CEO of the enterprise was Danny Guillaume. He is known for his Moose Jaw attraction in Saskatchewan, Petcetera, and West Coast Video. Yet Storyeum became a fiasco. A life show on British Columbia performed by actors every hour and sometimes half an hour was cheap and rehashed pseudo-show. Some computer, sound, etc. effects were far from perfect and up to date. Result was that no one wanted to come and see it any more. Storyeum had to close in October 2006, and Danny still owns the City more than 5 million dollars. They say he never was able to pay rent. Anyway, it’s an interesting story for a present muckraker.

Mitch Grigori

History of Burnaby, British Columbia

It happened so that Burnaby became a popular corner for new immigrants, especially from Eastern Europe to settle down. Metrotown and its Metropolis Mall are well known places. The Simon Fraser University is also located in Burnaby. Well, let’s give a closer look at the history of Burnaby.

In 1858 the Royal Engineers under the command of Col. Richard Moody came to western Canada. They opened up the North Road from Sapper Town (Sapperton) to Burrard Inlet.

By 1892 over 200 people lived in the southeast corner of the land between New Westminster and Vancouver. A group of interested citizens met to plan and submit to Victoria an application for a municipal charter. The response to the request was immediate, and the land officially received identity – Burnaby.

The name chosen for the municipality was that of a man who, strangely enough, spent only a few months on the mainland of B.C. Robert Burnaby arrived in Victoria in 1858 from England with a letter of introduction to Governor James Douglas. It seemed logical to Gov. Douglas that Burnaby with his knowledge of business gained from 17 years as a custom’s agent in England should act as secretary to Col. Moody. The arrangement lasted for 6 months, after which Burnaby started 2 mining companies and a navigation company, but all were financial failures. He then turned to banking and became a respected Victoria businessman. He also organized the first Freemason Lodge in B.C. in 1860. Robert Burnaby had resided in Victoria for 18 years when his health began to fail. Thus, he returned to his former home in England.

By 1896 it was deemed necessary to hire an enforcer of the law in the person of a Mr. Bailey. His duty was to admonish owners of pigs to keep their livestock from rooting and wallowing on the Vancouver-Westminster Rd. (Kingsway) and to enforce the wide tire by-law, which stated that wagons carrying one ton or more must have tires at least 4 inches wide.

In 1899 a mill built several years previously on the shores of Burrard Inlet, but never used, was activated. Known as the North Pacific Lumber Co. (later Barnet Mill), this mill, at the peak of its operation, was the largest of its kind in the British Empire.

By 1910, and up to about 1940, agriculture had taken over much of Burnaby’s land. Many residents went in for produce and small fruit farming. Burnaby was noted even in the early days for its strawberry crops.

In 1911–12 a population influx and real estate boom hit Burnaby. The municipality borrowed money to open up more land by installing sewers, waterworks and roads. Then World War I burst on the scene. Development in the municipality came to a standstill until the war ended and veterans came back to settle with their families.

During the 1920s jobs were scarce, taxes went unpaid and many people lost their homes as a result. Then the Depression came, and Burnaby, where the budget had not balanced for at least 6 years, found itself in financial trouble with no proper relief setup for the large number of unemployed within its bounds. For the destitute, municipal work was provided so that heads of families could earn their relief money. Under the program roadwork was done, several of Burnaby’s parks were created and a section of Burnaby Lake’s shore was cleared so that the International Rowing regattas could be held there in 1930-31.

Up to November 1932 relief investigations in Burnaby totalled 11,384 out of a population of approximately 25,500, although not all those who applied were eligible for aid.

During the 1930s industry began to take over Burnaby’s farmlands and unopened territory. As the municipality was gathering momentum in urban and industrial development, World War II broke out and progress was halted.

By 1941 the population of Burnaby was 30,328; by 1975 it had risen to approximately 133,000. The current population is more than 210,000. To meet the growing needs of municipal administration a new centrally located hall was planned on Canada Way and the cornerstone was laid in 1955. On top of Burnaby Mountain, Simon Fraser University took shape and was officially opened in 1965. The year before that another large educational complex, the B.C. Institute of Technology, was completed on Canada Way.

Lots of interesting facts can be told about Burnaby and its past and present. Myself, for example, I like to roller blade right under the sky-train Expo Line. At some places you can observe a really fantastic view on the city. Also you can roller blade on a trail starting from Cameron street near Lougheed Town Centre and go up to Hastings passing along the Golf Course closest to SFU. There are several bike trails in the woods on the Burnaby Mountain and some lead to SFU. They are of different difficulty levels, at some places going steep up the hill. Well, you can take a break, stop, and rest awhile. Why don’t you pick up some berries like blackberries or elderberries? You can also find a shroom and eat it up at the spot. You may also come across a cub bear or a coyote. Well, then what I’ll do is just give a whistle so the cub approach me, and pet him a little bit. Satisfied, the animal runs back into the woods wiggling his tale. How many miracles of nature do we have in Vancouver!

Mitch Grigori

World War II: Tanks for Russia from Canada

During the Soviet Times they used to say: Russia won the war exclusively by its own might and economic strength. In the light of recent events it looks a slightly different. The facts speak for themselves: military equipment and armoury from the West helped Russia a lot. In particular, land lease automobiles’ supplies was 70 %, tanks – 12 %, airplanes – 10 %, and marine airplanes – 29 %.

Last year I happened to go to Ottawa where I visited the newly opened Wars Museum. There is a huge hall there filled with armoury and the stuff. By chance I came across a small battle tank called Valentine. I learned that those tanks had been supplied to the Soviet Union from Canada during the World War II. Intrigued, I decided to find out how many of them did Canada supply to Russia during the Great Patriotic War.

The first order connected with tank production was received in October, 1939. Drawings and specifications in connection with this order were received from the United Kingdom in January, 1940 and a conference was immediately summoned.

Although this particular order was cancelled it appears to have had the effect of indicating the CPR Angus Shops as the plant that could be organized for tank production at the shortest notice. Canada was prepared to build tanks and notified the United Kingdom to this effect. As a result, in June, 1940 the first order requiring the production of complete tanks was received. This was an order for 300 Valentine tanks and other contract to produce the tanks was awarded to the CPR Angus Shops.

During October, 1941 the United Kingdom arranged to take over the entire output of Valentine tanks being built by the C.P.R. to the end of 1943. In view of the military situation at that time it was the intention to ship all Canadian-built Valentine tanks to Russia. The original British order of 300 tanks was increased to 1,420; this included the Canadian order for 488 which was accordingly cancelled. Canada, however, required a small number of the tanks for training purposes and the United Kingdom agreed to allot 30 of the 1,420 to Canada. The remaining 1,390 tanks were shipped to Russia in the course of the next two years. The Russians were pleased with the Valentine tank and continued to show a strong preference for this type after it was considered to be obsolete.

The final shipments of the Valentine were made in May, 1943 (23) and the C.P.R. Angus Shops discontinued assembling tanks and concentrated upon producing components for tanks being assembled by the Montreal Locomotive Works.

With Britain unable to afford to send many of its tanks to Russia under the Lend-Lease program, all Canadian-built Valentines were allocated to the Russians. Montreal Locomotive Works (Canadian Pacific) produced 1,420 Valentines, Marks VI, VII, and VIIA.

The decision to send all-out aid to Russia was as courageous in its way as the decision last year to defend the Mediterranean at a time (just after Dunkirk) when the British had nothing with which to defend themselves “but a few rifles and a few good boys in good planes. Since that time the British have brought their home strength somewhere near to the point of adequacy, but the sacrifice of major quantities of materiel from Britain and Egypt will be more than a noble gesture. It will be a real military risk.

Finishing this story I’d like to remember the convoy PQ17. This Arctic convoy sailed from Iceland on 27 June 1942, guarding supplies destined for Russia. The supplies were essential to support the Red Army in the battle against the German forces who had invaded the previous year. The convoys constantly faced threat and those who took part became familiar with mountainous seas, biting cold and the continual fear of attack by air or sea.

When PQ17 sailed in July 1942, it was thought by the Admiralty that the convoy faced imminent attack from four battleships: the 42,000-ton Tirpitz, the cruisers Hipper and possibly Admiral Scheer, along with the pocket battleship L?tzow. Ultra intelligence could not prove this, but had suggested that the four ships were gathered at Altenfjord, Norway, poised for attack.

A series of signals were issued on 4 July, culminating in the order from First Sea Lord Admiral Pound for PQ17 to ‘scatter’. Believing that they were steaming to intercept a bigger force in order to protect the convoy, the British destroyers and cruisers headed west.

Mitch Grigori

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