Camping at the Seaside

The “fashionable” thing to do in summer — even for cows.

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.

Kits Beach

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.

Picnickers and campers - complete with cow! - at Greer's (now Kits) Beach, 1896. Item # Be P98

Greer’s Beach was reached by boat down False Creek from Carrall Street, on foot across the CPR trestle bridge, via a sinuous trail through the cleared area or by buggy over a former wagon track used by loggers with their oxen.

Children enjoying the sand and surf, Greer's Beach camp, 1902. Item # Be P143

Two ladies, likely "the McIntosh girls" looking very comfortable in their well-appointed camp quarters at Greer's Beach, 1894. Charles S. Bailey photo. Item # SGN 167

Greer's (Kits) Beach, ca. 1900. Item # Be P99

English Bay Beach

English Bay (First) Beach was another popular camping site, where, in 1898, “about two score tents extended to the West” and “many were commodious and richly furnished.” (The quote is from Major Matthews‘ annotation on the back on the second picture below, # Be P90 N45)

Summer camp of Mrs. Sam Scott. This tent was between Beach Avenue and the sandy beach, at about the foot of Burnaby Street. Just one of several similar camps, this one was nick-named "Hogan's Alley." English Bay, 1897. Item # Be P70.2

English Bay bathing beach, ca. 1898 Campsite area visible to the far right (West). Thompson Photo. Item # Be P90 N45

Crickmay’s Camp

The Crickmay family, William and Frances and their nine children and assorted relatives, arrived in Vancouver in August 1888 from England. William built the Imperial Opera House at Pender and Beatty, his daughter Elizabeth was the second matron of the City Hospital on Beatty Street, and his son Alfred founded Crickmay and Bermingham, one of Vancouver ‘s earliest customs brokerages.

Crickmay's camp at the foot of Bayswater Street, at the time referred to as "over at Jericho," before Kitsilano was named, 1896. Item # Be P35

The End of an Era

Beach camping was discontinued after 1908, due to improper sanitation conditions and increased development. The picture below is very likely one of the last days that Greer’s Beach would host Vancouver’s resort camping families.

Greer's Beach, September 1908. Item #Be P24

Map of Beach Campsites

Note that the campsite nicknamed “Hogan’s Alley” is in a very different area of the city than the part of the lane between Prior and Union that was also nicknamed “Hogan’s Alley”.

Map locating the campsites.

Campsite locations

Summer camp of Mrs. Sam Scott. This tent was between Beach Avenue and the sandy beach, at about the foot of Burnaby Street. Just one of several similar camps, this one was nick-named "Hogan's Alley." English Bay, 1897. Item # Be P70.2

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