Vancouver Historical Society
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Meetings:

Meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of the month (except in June, July, August and December).

The society sponsors presentations by guest speakers on subjects generally relating to the history of Vancouver.

These gatherings take place in the Vancouver Museum, located at 1100 Chestnut Street at 7.30 pm. Enquire at the Museum desk for directions to the room.

All meetings and events (unless otherwise notated *) are FREE and open to the public and visitors are welcome.

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Historical Markers in Vancouver Parks

In 2008 the Vancouver Historical Society erected two historical interpretation signs, one at Hallelujah Point in Stanley Park (near the totem poles) and the other at Devonian Park (at the foot of Denman Street). Each marks the historical significance of the area.

The first marker was placed at Hallelujah Point so that tourists can easily access it from the parking lot and is worded as follows:

Hallelujah Point
Vancouver's First Graveyard

From the 1860s until 1887 the deceased from the community here and from the early settlement of Hastings Mill, located across the waters near Gastown, were buried along the shoreline between the Nine O'Clock Gun and the Brockton Point Lighthouse. Bodies were also buried in the nearby wooded area. The graveyard was Vancouver's first burial site but ceased to be used when both the Park roadway and Mountain View cemetery were established in 1887.

A Thriving Settlement
For several millennia Coast Salish people used this site. From the 1860s Europeans, Chinese and others built houses and lived along the shoreline. After Stanley Park was opened in 1888 the Chinese were the first to be removed. Others continued to live here until evicted in 1931, the last person left in 1957.

Deadman's Island
Deadman's Island was used by First Nations peoples for millennia as a place for their dead. From the 1860s Europeans, Hawaiians, Asians and others were buried there, most having died from contagious diseases. Others made their homes there. The federal government, which secured title in 1906, repeatedly removed the island's varied inhabitants. In 1942 Deadman's Island became the naval reserve training centre, HMCS Discovery.

The second sign was placed in Devonian Park along the Georgia Street sidewalk and has the following text:

From Coal Seams to a Park
This grassy area, now Devonian Harbour Park, represents layers of historic use from early settlement to industrial waterfront.

Coal Harbour
In 1859 Captain George Henry Richards from the British Royal Navy named this bay Coal Harbour, after finding occasional coal seams within the sandstone. However, to mine this low-quality coal proved to be uneconomical.

Kanaka Ranch
In the 1860s Coal Harbour was settled by several Hawaiian families. Their home became known as Kanaka Ranch, a name derived from their Polynesian heritage. They grew fruit and vegetables as well as fished and hunted to sustain their small community. They also sold charcoal, which they produced on the ranch, to Hastings Mill where the men worked. Their children trekked to school at the Mill.

Denman Arena
In 1911 the Patrick brothers built the Denman Arena on part of the Kanaka Ranch site. One of the world's largest indoor rinks at the time, holding 10,500 people, it became home to the Vancouver Millionaires. They won the Stanley Cup in 1915. The Arena burned down in 1936.

Georgia Auditorium
In 1927 Frank Patrick built an auditorium alongside the Denman Arena. The auditorium and arena hosted boxing and wrestling matches, rallies and other attractions. Originally called Denman Auditorium, the name was changed to Georgia Auditorium in 1952. It was demolished seven years later.

Waterfront
From 1903 starting with the Vancouver Shipyards Ltd., several shipyards on the shoreline began constructing small vessels. From 1929 the Boeing Aircraft Company of Canada built amphibious aircraft, called “flying boats,” such as the Thunderbird and Totem. Production in the 1930s switched to boats and household items. William Boeing’s private yacht, Taconite, on which he died in 1956, was built here. In 1937 aircraft production restarted in its plant in Sea Island, Richmond.

Famous Faces
You may find a name you recognize in this list of famous people featured at the Denman Arena or Georgia Auditorium complex:

Politicians:

Prime Ministers R. B. Bennett and John Diefenbaker, Premier W. A. C. Bennett

Evangelist:

Aimee Semple McPherson

Explorer:

Roald Amundsen

Composer:

Maurice Ravel

Musicians:

Dizzy Gillespie, Glenn Gould, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson

Singers:

Paul Anka, Everly Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Holly, Jeanette MacDonald, Margaret Truman

Sports Figures:

Jack Dempsey, The Vancouver Millionaires, Percy Williams

Each marker will be credited to the Vancouver Historical Society.

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