Metro Vancouver is an interesting region with a history that goes back farther than most people realize. Sure, this area has been settled by Europeans for only around 150 years, but Europeans have explored the area since the late 1700s, and First Nations peoples have been here for thousands of years. Many of our place names reflect this fact: Coquitlam, Squamish, Capilano, Kwantlen University and local elementary school Spul’u’kwuks show First Nations people and language. Spanish Banks, Langara College and Galiano Island show Spanish Exploration.
Vancouver, Richmond and many other names show English and Scottish influence.
Derek Hayes’ Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley shows the history of growth and development of our region from early days of fishing villages and hunting trails to our current cities of skyscrapers and rapid transit lines.
Hayes presents maps from the history of the area from as many sources as are available. Though there are very few Native maps that have survived, he has maps drawn for European explorers by guides, maps of where villages and settlements existed, and photos from early days of European settlement. Later maps include town plans, surveys for the railway and dreams of future development.
I learned: Sturgeon Banks, the marshy wetlands off the west dyke in Richmond, was once a proposed location for the Port of Vancouver. Abbotsford’s Sumas Prairie, the rich farmland that’s the center of Vancouver’s breadbasket, was once a lake. In 1915 properties in Coquitlam could be had for $7 and even at that price people weren’t buying.
Well organized and full of fascinating photos and illustrations from our local history, this is a good look for people curious about what made us the city we are today. Derek Hayes has a number of other similar books, including Historical Atlas of Canada, Historical Atlas of the North American Railroad and British Columbia: a New Historical Atlas. All are worth a look.
Steven is a Library Technician II at the Richmond Public Library’s Cambie Branch.