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Greater Vancouver and Lower Mainland History - The Coming of the Railroad



Train 
crossing the mountains By 1866, the BC and the Vancouver Island colonies were united, but an economy based on just fur trading and mining was not stable enough to grow a colony. In 1871, four years after Canada was given its independence by Britain, BC joined Canadian confederation. The BC provincial government began encouraging the agriculture and forestry industries, to begin economic diversification.

To entice it to join Canada, BC was promised a railroad linking it to the eastern part of the country. While one crew was building from the east, across the Prairies and then through the Roger's Pass. Another crew was laying track from the West, up the Fraser River canyon and into the Thompson River valley. On November 7, 1885 the Canadian Pacific Railway set the last spike in its construction at Craigellachie, just east of Shushwap Lake. The first trans-continental railway train arrived in Port Moody on July 4, 1886. The following year, the railway was extended the last 20 kilometres into Vancouver. Since then, BC has shipped much of its natural resources east to the rest of Canada, and become the country’s gateway to the Pacific nations.

Vancouver began as a little log cabin city amongst the tall trees (when the whole city looked like Stanley Park’s forest). In 1886 a fire destroyed much of Vancouver , helped along with a strong westerly squall, razing over 1,000 buildings in 20 minutes and left 3,000 people homeless. From this initial setback, Vancouver rebuilt itself and prospered.

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