Happy Birthday Vancouver!

Posted by Daniel on Apr 5, 2011

Wednesday April 6 marks Vancouver's birthday. On that day, 125 years ago, the little sawmill community of Granville was reborn as the brand new city of Vancouver.

The story has often been told how the Canadian Pacific Railway chose to locate its Pacific terminus at Granville instead of Port Moody in return for a large land grant from the provincial government. It was William Van Horne, the CPR's general manager, who apparently selected the name Vancouver, after the British naval explorer. In 1885 Lauchlin Hamilton, the company's chief surveyor, began laying out the townsite, beginning at the downtown corner of Hamilton and Hastings where a plaque now marks the spot.

According to Patricia Roy's illustrated history of the city, it is actually John Robson who should be known as "the father of Vancouver". Robson was the member of the legislature from New Westminster, the electoral district that included the future city, and the minister of finance in the provincial government. After he encouraged the residents of the area to incorporate, they struck a special committee to draw up a bill of incorporation, headed by R.H. Alexander, the manager of the Hastings Saw Mill. The bill was passed that spring of 1886 by the legislature and incorporation took place on April 6 at a modest ceremony at the home of Jonathan Miller, the town constable.