East from Burrard Bridge (2)

Here’s a view eastwards down False Creek from Burrard Bridge taken in 1941. (We saw a closer view taken in the 1950s that was posted last month). In the foreground is the Kitsilano Trestle, originally built by Canadian Pacific in 1886 (although by 1941 the structure was more elaborate than the original, and considerably strengthened). It was torn down in 1982, deemed a navigational hazard for shipping. From 1902 CP had run two passenger trains a day from Vancouver to Steveston, an established river port with up to 10,000 seasonal residents working in the 29 canneries. In 1905 BC Electric leased the line, and electrified it, running the ‘interurban’ that departed from Downtown, crossed the Kitsilano Trestle and in Vancouver stopped at Millside (4th Avenue), 9th Avenue (Broadway), Kerrisdale (41st), Magee, and Eburne, on the Fraser River, before crossing to Richmond.

In 1958 the trains were abandoned as BC Electric’s “Rails to Rubber” program converted most of the streetcar lines to trolley bus lines. To the west of the trestle, on the waterfront, there were the abandoned pilings of the wooden wharf used for Macdonald and Marpole’s coal shed and stables. Next door were the huge stone blocks of the Vancouver Granite Co, which had expanded into the area occupied by the Vancouver Marble and Tile Co. A S Allen’s stone contracting business shared the area as well as a paving contractor. On the other side of the trestle was a boat building yard, the Beach Avenue shipyards. Their first boats built here were the tugs ‘Edith’ and ‘Navvy Jack’ in 1907, but by the 1940s production was limited to scows, (large flat-bottomed barges with broad square ends used chiefly for transporting bulk materials). George Cates, originally from Nova Scotia, ran the Cates Shipyard here initially from around 1900. In 1902 he built the steamer, “Britannia” powered with a steam engine built in Glasgow by McKie and Baxter and equipped with reversible, plush covered pullman seats for the comfort of the day passengers. His brother, Captain John Cates owned land at Bowen Island where he built a picnic ground, and later a hotel. It was a family business – Miss Lillian Cates was co-owner of the Terminal Steamship Limited (and the sponsor of the launching of the “Britannia”). Captain W. Cates was the captain and Willard Cates was the engineer.

The Granville Bridge, seen in 1941 beyond the trestle, was the second to be built here. The first was constructed in 1889 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, running over the sandbar on the southern shore. Two years later it was widened for streetcar tracks, which narrowed to a single track where they crossed the opening swing span that was tied with wire ropes to a central wooden tower. It was replaced in 1909 with the bridge in the picture, mostly built of steel, with a through truss swing span which could be open for shipping on a central pivot. In 1915 four Germans were arrested after a fire broke out on the bridge that was thought to be an arson attack.

The present 8-lane bridge opened in 1954, designed to have the traffic capacity for a freeway system that was never built. It followed the alignment of the first bridge, but crossed Granville Island created in place of the sandbar (and just visible on the right of the picture). The bridge has recently had extensive seismic upgrades (that are costing a lot more than the original construction of $16.5m). Once complete a new bicycle crossing and wider sidewalk will be created on the west side of the bridge, while retaining six traffic lanes.

On the skyline the only building visible in 1941 is City Hall, completed in 1937 and located outside Downtown. Today there are offices along West Broadway and hospital buildings to the south, with more taller buildings likely in future as the SkyTrain is extended along Broadway and a new plan for the area increases permitted development density and encourages new higher density rental buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-682

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Posted 5 September 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, False Creek

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