Vancouver – Brief History

We think of Vancouver, British Columbia as a cosmopolitan city, and it certainly will be capable of welcoming the world next February for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games! But, the underlying, permanent diversity of Vancouver might not be immediately apparent, so here’s a little overview.

Vancouver is so ethnically diverse that approximately 52% of city residents have a first language other than English! Apart from Canadian native French speakers, there is a very large Asian contingent in the city, along with its tribal First Nations Peoples.

Prior to the 1980s, Vancouver’s economy had relied on British Columbia’s wealth of resources: forestry, mining, fishing and agriculture. But, today its second largest industry, after forestry, is tourism, and Vancouver has also become the third-largest film production center in North America after Los Angeles and New York City. Series like the “X Files” were filmed entirely in Vancouver.

Vancouver’s port, blessed by warm currents, is now the busiest in Canada, and is the fourth largest port (by tonnage) in North America.

But Vancouver is certainly used to boat traffic. Archaeological records indicate the presence of ocean-going, canoe-making Coast Salish tribal peoples in the Vancouver area from 8,000–10,000 years ago to the current day.

The city is located in the traditional territories of several, sovereign First Nations: Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Xwméthkwyiem (Musqueam), and Tseil-waututh peoples of the Coast Salish group.They had villages in various parts of present-day Vancouver and on nearby river systems into the interior. Villages have been found at: Stanley Park, False Creek, Kitsilano, Point Grey, near the mouth of the Fraser River and many, many more.

The first Europeans came only recently. Samuel Bawlf contends that Francis Drake of England may have visited the area in 1579; we know he came along the American Pacific Northwest coast. Certainly, José María Narváez of Spain came in 1791 to explore the coastline of present-day Point Grey and part of Burrard Inlet. In 1792, George Vancouver of England explored the inner harbor of Burrard Inlet and gave various places British names.

Captain Vancouver and North West Company trader Simon Fraser were the first Europeans known to have set foot on the site of the present-day city. In 1808, they traveled from the east, down the Fraser River perhaps as far as Point Grey, near the present day site of the University of British Columbia.

The first European settlement was much later, in 1862, at McLeery’s Farm on the Fraser River, just east of the ancient village of Musqueam (in what is now Marpole). And then the immigrant onslaught which obliterated the tribal lands began.

The First Nation tribes never ceded their lands, and they are still in negotiations with the Canadian Government and Provincial Government for Justice and a fair settlement for the European theft of their tribal lands. Very small, inadequate portions have been set aside in the past for tribal lands.

Even though Vancouver is beginning to be “more inclusive”, and certainly has been in the Olympics process, by showcasing their biggest “draw” (the tribal cultures) and including tribal leaders in all the planning as full partners, there’s still a great deal left to do to help the First nations peoples have an even playing field in ordinary life there.

Vancouver, B.C. – detailed Vancouver travel articles archive portal, here!

Vancouver Useful Links Archive from TravelVacationReview

©2009 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Leave a Reply