As neighbours and friends ready ourselves for a nature walk celebrating a hidden natural gem in our city, a walking guide is being prepared by local residents in preparation for our upcoming weekend family walk.
A pictorial guide of over 60 pages had been prepared, and it will be made available here on this blog later.
Here is the introductory section of our effort:
A Brief History of Vancouver Neighbourhood: Fraserview
According to the Musqueam First Nations, the flats along the Fraser River in the southeastern portion of Victoria-Fraserview were the site of an important village. A number of east-west trails led to settlements to what is now New Westminster.
The first European settlers arrived in the 1860s. A wagon road constructed in 1875 on what is now Fraser Street opened the vast acres of virgin forest to homesteaders. As part of the Municipality of South Vancouver (incorporated in 1891), Victoria-Fraserview began to receive more attention from farmers who cleared land in the region.
In the 1920s, the Fraser River opened up to industrial traffic. Many of the early farms along the fertile banks of the Fraser were replaced by mills, the largest being Canadian White Pine, which employed 1,000 people.
Although its government had resisted amalgamation for many years, South Vancouver finally became part of the Municipality of Vancouver on January 1, 1929.
Much of the existing development in the neighbourhood came in the 1940s. In late 1947, a federal plan was initiated to help returning veterans of World War II and their families. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation expropriated land and built 1,100 new homes for these veterans in the area (and its neighbour to the west, Sunset).
On Jan. 12, 1950, the first family moved into the “Fraserview development”. Along with the new homes, new schools and community centres were built – including Killarney and Champlain Heights. Killarney community centre, built on a reclaimed bog, recently underwent extensive renovations with it’s ice rink as part of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic venue.
In 1952, city council named the streets in Fraserview after well-known golf courses across North America - Seigniory, Leaside, Uplands, Bonnaccord, Scarboro, Bonnyvale, Bobolink and Brigadoon. The “main” north-south street, Elliott street, was a dirt trail up until the mid 1960’s – with room for only one horse drawn cart. Long time resident, Sue recalls fondly the milk wagons that used to struggle up Elliott Street after a heavy rain.
Fraserview is one of only two neighbourhoods in Vancouver that does not follow a rectilinear street grid. As in Shaughnessy, the grid pattern was abandoned in favour of a series of curving crescents laid out to follow the natural contours of the land.
The most notable public amenity in Fraserview is the public golf course and its surrounding urban forest around it.
In Fall 1996, almost a hundred residents from Fraserview with support from citizens across Vancouver, expressed concern over the City’s redevelopment and upgrade plans for the golf course. The benefit that resulted from our citizen involvement was the addition of over 1,000 trees, a walking trail (partially built by volunteer residents), and a significant reduction to the proposed number of trees removed.
Following on this momentum, the adhoc resident group “Friends of Fraserview forest” continued on to advise the City and succeeded in strengthening our city’s tree removal by-law, making it difficult for mature trees on private property to be removed… thus helping preserve the many specimen trees enjoyed by all across our great city.