West Vancouver Timeline

West Vancouver Timeline

Our West Vancouver Timeline will always be “a work in progress”. We welcome suggestions regarding historical events not yet included in the Timeline.

We acknowledge that we are on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Musqueam Nation. We recognize and respect them as nations in this territory, as well as their historic connection to the lands and waters around us since time immemorial.

Credits: Content originally from the West Vancouver Museum & Archives. Compiled from material collected by: Hugh Johnston and Dave Barker, West Vancouver Historical Society, Rupert Harrison, District of West Vancouver, and the West Vancouver Museum and Archives. Pre-contact to 1938 was written and adapted by Gallery Guide Volunteer Yvonne Wilson, March 2003.



1893: The first school was opened on Bowen Island. Mr. William Acheson was hired to teach for $50 a month.


1897: The Whiteside and Burnham Cannery was erected at Eagle Harbour at August Nelson’s unfinished mill site.

This cannery continued as late as 1918. John Cates ran a ferry service to Bowen Island.


1898: The Defiance Cannery was erected at Sandy Cove and was operated by several owners into the 1950’s.

It is now a Fisheries Research Station. Francis Wm. Caulfeild bought acreage around Skunk Cove from Balfor Ker. Ker acquired the property from Nils Frolander, the original pre-emptor. Ker allowed the Pilot Boat Captains to erect the “Pilot House” just outside the Cove. Caulfeild charged the Pilots $1 a month rental so that the pilots would have no claim on the land.


1902: A few early residents in West Vancouver.

Some were earning a living providing farm products to the lumber mill at Moodyville in North Vancouver. Others worked for the Great Northern Cannery (although the work was seasonal and most employees itinerant). Others came simply to enjoy the beauty and the solitude of their recreational cottages.


1905: The order of sale in default of $1320 mortgage was issued against the estate of John “Navvy Jack” Thomas.

J.C. Keith then purchased the property. An eight-mile shingle bolt flume down the Capilano was completed.


1906: In November John Lawson purchased the Navvy Jack Thomas property from J.C. Keith.

On December 6th, Lawson leases part of his new waterfront property to the McNair Timber Co. Ltd. For use as a railway log dump and booming ground. The yearly rent was $35.


1907: McNair-Fraser Lumber Co. built a logging railway that ran from the pier on the 16th Street waterfront north east through the middle of the 1200 block Inglewood to approximately 11th Street where it turned north, then curved north east crossing Brothers Creek.

There were two camps; the lower was near 11th Street and the upper approximately 1-mile beyond. The lower camp had a large stable, a cookhouse and a bunkhouse. The upper had a blacksmith’s shop, 3 bunkhouses and a combination cookhouse, store and dining hall.


1907-1913: The provincial government divided the land into parcels with road allowances at mile intervals.

Unlike the divisions in Caulfeild and later the British Properties, the grid does not consider topography. As a result many roads go straight up hill instead of following contours this results in steep grades and a propensity to flood.


1908: The McNair-Fraser Lumber Company needed something better than a locomotive to cope with West Vancouver’s steep hills to get to the logging sites so it purchased a unique cable engine called the “Walking Dudley”.

The Dudley made 4 round trips in a 10-hour day trailing 10 to 16 logs each time. The first Presbyterian and Methodist Church services were held in John Lawson’s home.


1909: John Lawson began the development of the Hollyburn area (near the waterfront).

A ferry service between West Vancouver and Vancouver harbour was initiated. Also a daily ferry service to Bowen Island from Vancouver. A dynamite plant opens on Bowen Island and a number of accidental explosions lead to an inquest and juries recommendation that books of rules be printed in Chinese as the Chinese workers cannot read the English warnings and instructions.


1910: The North Vancouver District Council built a wharf at Hollyburn (l7th Street) at a cost of $9,000.

The wharf’s exposed situation made it unsuitable for ferries; it was also too short and did not extend into deep water. This did not prevent it from still being used by ferries between 1909 and 1912. It became an attraction for tourists and young fishermen. The foundations for the Presbyterian Church were laid at the southeast corner of 18th and Marine Drive. On April 24 a two-day forest fire threatens the upper camp of McNairs logging operation.


1911: Scattered tents and summer cottages dotted the shore of West Vancouver.

Miss Mary Reid came from Ontario to teach the 14 boys and girls who were of school age in West Vancouver. The students were between the ages of 5 and 14. Before she arrived the children had to hike over the Keith Road to North Vancouver. Before the Presbyterian Church is complete the services were held in a makeshift tent. But one day the tent collapsed under the weight of a heavy snowfall, so a more sturdy, temporary building had to be constructed. To help pay the costs of the new building a decision was made that it would be rented to the school board as a schoolhouse.


1912: West Vancouver becomes a separate District Municipality.

The split between North and West Vancouver was amicable-even as terms were discussed the North Shore Council approved a by-law for $100,000 to improve Keith Road and to build Marine Drive. Charles Nelson was elected first Reeve (Mayor) and the first Municipal Hall was built at a cost of $3500. At separation, West Vancouver assumed $156,000 of North Vancouver’s debt of $54,300,000 (a heavy load for a population of 700). The debt was accumulated for development costs and services. By the end of 1912 the school population was 44. The Council tried to encourage industry (fish canneries, logging). The Clachan hotel is built by the Stevenson sisters at the east side of 25th Street and the waterfront. David Rogers built a timber mill above McNairs upper camp and the Walking Dudley’s track was extended to serve the mill.


1912: The first lighthouse at Point Atkinson was torn down and replaced by a new tower.

Col. Wm. P. Anderson, Chairman of the Dominion Lighthouse Board designed a concrete hexagonal tower, 65′ high, embracing six buttresses, which stood 108′ high above sea level.


1913: The Conservative Hall is built at Dundarave.

The first classes for children in the Dundarave area were held in the Conservative Hall with Miss MacKay as Principal. They moved into a new two-room schoolhouse in 1918 at the site of the West Vancouver Care Centre. A two-room schoolhouse called Hollyburn is built and Miss Lillian Smith became principal. In July the ferry service moved to the foot of 14th Street, where a new pier, freight shed and ticket office were built. (Today the ticket office is known as the Ferry Building Gallery). The first St. Stephens Church was built. Campbell and O’Conner opened a lumber mill at 3rd Street and Mathers. F.W. Cardinell Shingle Mill builds at 27th Street and Marine.


1913: First Reported (toll station) telephones in West Vancouver.


1914: First telephone switchboard with 35 magneto phones located in John Lawson’s real estate office.


1914: The Pacific Great Eastern (P.G.E.) passenger service had its first run to Dundarave on January 1, 1914.

On January 2 the train derailed at 24th Street. The original Methodist Church was at 2200 Fulton. A pier was built at Dundarave to provide transportation for those living in the area. McNair and Fraser Lumber Co. ceased to operate. Hollyburn Lumber Company opened a mill at 14th Street and Fulton.


1915: Marine Drive to Caulfeild was officially opened.


1916: The Dundarave pier built in 1914 was not well used and was discontinued in favour of a bus system.

The bus service was inaugurated to 25th Street, the bus held 12 people and ran on an hourly basis.