Vancouver is a relatively new city, but the city’s history is rich. Archeological records prove the presence of Aboriginal peoples in the Vancouver area for at least 3,000 years. Several settlements around Vancouver indicate that they were a food-gathering people with a complex social system.
Modern day history all began in 1792 when Captain George Vancouver, searching the waters for the Northwest Passage, sailed into Burrand Inlet and landed here, beginning a great change in the lives of the First Nations.
Gold prospectors, fur traders and other settlers soon followed. The explorer and North West Company trader Simon Fraser and his crew were the first Europeans known to have visited the site of the present-day city. In 1808, they descended the Fraser River perhaps where the University of British Columbia now sets. The first European settlement was established in 1862 at McLeery’s Farm on the Fraser River. Later a sawmill was established at Moodyville (now North Vancouver) beginning the city’s long relationship with lumbering.
The settlement of Gastown grew up quickly around the original makeshift tavern established by “Gassy” Jack Deighton in 1867. Three years later, the colonial government surveyed the settlement and laid out a town site, renamed “Granville.” In 1886, Vancouver was incorporated as a city, only to be destroyed by fire several months later. Through determined months of work, the entire city was rebuilt by the end of that same year. In the next four years, its future was assured when the train transportation from the east, along with the traffic of ships of the Canadian Pacific fleet, arrived.
Due to the advent of the railway, the population increased rapidly from 5,000 in 1887 to 100,000 in 1900. During the first decade of the twentieth century, Vancouver’s population tripled and along with it came a construction boom. The first pavement in British Columbia was the Stanley Park ring road, and was made out of the crushed shells of the large midden at the old native village of Qwhy-qwhy (Lumberman’s Arch); it was paved for use by bicycles. Automobiles were scarce until after World War I because of the long distance from Vancouver to the industrial centers of eastern North America.