The Oldest Part of Vancouver Might Not Be Where You Think It Is

It is generally accepted that the city of Vancouver started at Hastings Mill along the shores of Burrard Inlet. In many ways this is true, but when it comes to bragging rights on the title of the “oldest part of the city”, there’s an argument to be made for Marpole.

Fire Insurance Map of Eburne Townsite, 1912. CoV Archives, Map 324a.48

The first Europeans settled in the area of south Vancouver that we now call Marpole in the 1860s, around the same time that Edward Stamp was setting up his sawmill on the south shore of Burrard Inlet.

Located in the heart of Musqueam’s traditional (and still unceded) territory, Marpole was once known as Eburne Townsite (also “Eburne Station”) after Harry Eburne, the area’s first storekeeper and postmaster. Since it was located along the north banks of the Fraser River and thus separated from the rest of Vancouver by many kilometres of dense forest, this section of the Lower Mainland developed independently of the Granville Townsite, which later became Vancouver. However, millennia before early settlers like Eburne, Magee and McCleery set up shop hereabouts, it was known as c??sna??m (also “Marpole Midden” or “Great Fraser Midden”), an ancient village and burial site of the Musqueam people that dates back at least 4,000 years.

Deposit of shells, 8 ft. deep on Park Road (Marpole), 1888. CoV Archives, SGN 91.

Evidence of the village was first discovered by workers in the late 1880s during the extension of Granville Street. You can read more about the location on the Musqueam Band website here.

View of Hudson Street, looking south toward the Eburne Railway Station, ca. 1910s. CoV Archives, LGN 994.

Eburne grew and prospered with the construction of the Vancouver Lulu Island Railway and the B.C. Electric interurban train line at the turn of the 20th century. In 1916, the area was renamed for CPR General Superintendent Richard Marpole. The community officially became part of the city in 1929, when Point Grey and South Vancouver amalgamated with Vancouver proper.

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  1. That real estate office pictured in the above picture now sits in my backyard.

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