Tag Archives: English Bay

Vancouver’s unbuilt leisure palace

While working on rehousing some of our map collection, I recently came across drawings from one of the more interesting unrealised development projects in the city’s past: a winter swimming pool and leisure complex proposed for English Bay in 1920.

Public natatorium and concert hall, English Bay (Sharp and Thompson, in conjunction with A.S. Wootton, 1920). Reference code: VPK-S98: LEG1969.09

For over a century, English Bay beach has been one of Vancouver’s most popular playgrounds. English Bay has always attracted waterfront development, and in the early years, privately-built and operated bathing houses, as well as residences, lined the shoreline. Continue reading

Camping at the Seaside: The “fashionable” thing to do in summer

From about 1894 to 1908, summer camping on the beach was considered a fashionable holiday tradition, enjoyed by many of Vancouver’s early well-to-do families.

The most popular spot was Greer’s (now Kits) Beach, where “tent town” comprised two long rows of tents on either side of an irregular “street” of beach sand. Greer’s Beach was reached by boat down False Creek from Carrall Street; on foot across the CPR trestle bridge or via a sinuous trail through the cleared area; or by buggy over a former wagon track used by loggers with their oxen.

English Bay Beach was another popular camping site, where, in 1898, “about two score tents extended to the West” and “many were commodious and richly furnished.”

These are the camping beaches shown in the images below.

Beach camping was discontinued after 1908, due to improper sanitation conditions and increased development. Continue reading

Buildings on the beach side of Beach Avenue

Earlier this year, Harry Swain of Victoria donated a photograph to us and it caused great excitement. Here it is:

image of Beach Avenue

View from the Sylvia Court Apartments, May 18, 1913. Reference code AM1376-: 2013-002.1

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Black History Month: What’s in the Archives?

People of African descent have been part of Vancouver history since before the City was established. It has been a challenge, however, for the Archives to acquire records which document the activities of individuals and the groups in the Black community. In recognition of Black History Month, we thought we would feature a few of the records we do have and, by doing so, encourage the donation of other records.

Sir James Douglas (1803-1877). Item # Port P1593.

Governor Sir James Douglas, born in Guyana to Creole and Scottish parents, was not a resident of Vancouver but he encouraged the settlement of Blacks, who were fleeing from persecution in California, on Vancouver Island. Some 800 left for Victoria between 1858 and 1860 and descendants of these immigrants eventually settled in the Lower Mainland.

One of Vancouver’s best-known and earliest Black residents was Seraphim “Joe” Fortes (1865?-1922). Originally from the Caribbean, Joe arrived as a crewman aboard the Robert Kerr in December 1885. Joe worked in various jobs, including as a bartender, but it is his legacy as a swimming instructor and Vancouver’s first official lifeguard at English Bay for which he is best remembered. Continue reading