East from Burrard Bridge (1)

This view looking east from the Burrard Bridge dates from between 1956 and 1958. It shows that the area between the bridge, and the Granville Bridge in the background, changed pretty dramatically in the 1980s, when now named as Granville Slopes, this was one of the False Creek neighbourhoods planned by the City of Vancouver to revitalize the Downtown Waterfront. One of the most important elements of the 1983 plan was the inclusion of public access along the entire length of the edge on a newly constructed seawall.

Unlike areas to the east of here, where Concord Pacific acquired all the former Expo lands, a variety of developers were involved in the development on land acquired by the City and then sold off. The design principle adopted here was similar to other waterside neighbourhood, where densities closest to the water are lower than further up the slope to the north. The City’s planning department used the area to provide “a testing ground for a number of the planning and urban design precepts that have helped shape the rest of False Creek North, Downtown South, Coal Harbour and other high density neighbourhoods.”

In the area south of Beach Avenue (seen in this image) just under a thousand apartments were developed and completed between 1986 and 1995, designed by six different architectural practices. The False Creek Yacht Club lease the water lot and have a marina and clubhouse, a world away from the shacks constructed on pontoons and squatted on the waterfront under the bridge from the 1930s to the mid 1950s.

The shanties first appeared during the depression in the 1930s, and grew over time. The cutting from 1950 indicating they would be cleared was published in St John’s, and similar stories appeared in many Canadian local news outlets. The interest arose out of a sensational murder case that we’ve outlined in another post. The murderer lived in a shack on the south shore, opposite these homes, but there were over 300 shanties all along the shores of False Creek. The Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce urged that the ‘nest of perverts’ should be removed as soon as possible, but the eviction notices were only finally issued in 1955, and as our picture shows, they weren’t immediately acted on.

These structures were on a site that had been a wharf for many years, run by McDonald Marpole & Co, who ran a coal delivery business, with storage on the waterfront, and also a shipyard building mostly wooden scows. Next door the Vancouver Granite Co had a series of stone cutting sheds from the 1900s, and Wilkinson’s had a wire and steel warehouse closer to Beach Avenue.

In the early 1900s the Colonial Portable House Co had their Planing Mill here. They built modest kit-build summer cottages, as seen here in a 1908 advert in ‘Westward Ho’ magazine. They were ‘Ready to Erect, Adapted to any climate’, and claimed to be good as either permanent homes, schools or churches, or as summer cottages.

Canadian Pacific’s rail track cut across the site, heading for the Kitsilano Trestle across False Creek. Beyond it on the waterfront were cement and lime stores and gravel bunkers, although some of the area had fallen out of use by the 1950s. There was still a government customs warehouse here, and the Vancouver Granite yard and Beach Avenue shipyard were still in operation.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives (copyright) CVA 203-6

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Posted 1 August 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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