East Van - Hastings - Sunrise Part 2 - The Developing Years

The Developing Years




Growth in the area was slow and significant development didn't begin until 1911, the year the Hastings Townsite voted to join the City of Vancouver. Hastings laid claim to many of the city's firsts, including first road, first wharf, first post office, first museum and first subdivision. Other firsts included first hotel, first telephone, first real estate transaction, and first ferry between Burrard Inlet and Victoria.


The Scenic Ferry


Two ferries, the New Delta and the Scenic set up a regular scheduled passenger service to deliver workers from Vancouver to Port Moody stopping at the major mill sites enroute and returning the workers back to Vancouver at the end of their workday. 

The New Delta operated out of Gore Street and the Scenic out of Columbia Street.  Both near the present Centennial Pier in Vancouver.  The numerous saw and shingle mills in Port Moody benefitted by this service. 

Most of the northern half of Hastings-Sunrise, the Hastings portion, was developed for residential use in the 1920s, while the southern portion, Sunrise (the area south of First Avenue), was not developed until the 1940s. In the decades following WWII, the neighbourhood continued to grow as First Nations, European, Asian and families from around the world made Hastings Sunrise their home. Today, our vibrant community is a culturally diverse, warm, welcoming neigbourhood.




Leonard Frank, 1925, men standing on lumber on Grand Trunk flatcar at Hastings Mill





Both the CPR and the Grand Trunk Pacific played a predominant role in the development of British Columbia. They had considerable impact on the economic, labour and political history of the different regions and different communities they served.

Every era lays claim to fame through earthshaking events, remarkable individuals, and new ideas. But, by any standard, the seven decades that began with the introduction of gaslight to this province in 1862 and ended in 1929 when the British Columbia Electric Railway Company (BCE) was "brought home" from England were remarkable. In 1867, a new country called Canada was created, followed by a new province, British Columbia. Since neither the transcontinental railway nor the Panama Canal had been built at the time, it took months to get news or goods from Eastern Canada or Europe. The province was virtually cut off from the rest of the country. Seventy years later train lines, highways, and a budding airline industry connected the country.

For most of this period, women and many ethnic groups couldn't vote. The First World War employed weapons of unimaginable destructiveness and was not truly won by any side. Transportation was no longer typified by beasts of burden but by new electrical and combustion systems.


 1926, looking East on Hastings


 At the start of the Depression, governments didn't provide citizens with relief. The First United church at the corner of East Hastings and Gore fed 1,252 people a hot meal in the middle of one day in 1930. 







As part of First United’s food program in the early 1930s, volunteers gave potatoes to those in need.

 The East Side of Vancouver was also a place of social upheaval and protest during the tough years of the Depression. The Ballantyne Pier, which was at the base of Heatley Street, was the site of a number of violent confrontations between the police and unemployed or locked out workers. The most famous,
and the bloodiest of these was the Battle of Ballantyne Pier on June 18, 1935.





Ballantyne Pier Police Protection 1935







The "Battle of Ballantyne"


Police on horse back actually chased striking workers up the front stairs of houses on Powell Street with batons, in an effort to disperse the crowds. The Powell Street Grounds, now called Oppenheimer Park, from early on was used as a site for labour rallies and freedom of speech demonstrations. In the newspapers of the day, it was sometimes touted as Vancouver's Hyde Park.







May Day Protest of unemployed people Powell Street Grounds 1930's

Between 1940 and 1970, Vancouver was remade. In contrast to the 1920's and the stagnation of the 1930's, Vancouver was transformed beginning with the Second World War. The 1940's brought a new demand for resources and war materials that fuelled Vancouver’s growth beyond the end of the war. In the postwar era, Vancouver experienced an economic boom driven by the resource economy of the province, port activities, industrial consolidation, and immigration.


















 The city’s population grew from 275,000 in 1941 to 345,000 by 1951 and then 425,000 by 1971. Persons of Chinese, Japanese, East Indian, and Aboriginal descent were still prohibited in 1940 from voting and thereby from most professional employment. Chinese and East Indian British Columbians were given the vote provincially in 1947, Japanese Canadians and Aboriginal people two years later in 1949. Chinese Canadians who served in the Canadian military during the Second World War helped pave the way for the 1947 repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act.






The internment of Japanese Canadians during the second world war would not only empty out much of the Powell Street area, also known as Japantown, but would also open a very sad chapter of Canadian history. Look for my next blog on this topic. 


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Hope you've enjoyed this posting. If you have any questions, any little known facts or interesting Vancouver Stories or pictures you'd like to share, please feel free to contact me at:

For all your Vancouver Real Estate needs, call me,

Gerry Gramek, direct at: 604-551-2747



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