Hobo Jungle

Shelter in the ‘Hobo Jungle’, 1931. CoV Archives, Re N3.2.

Welcome to the Vancouver Lexicon. Its purpose is to pin down the patois of the City of Vancouver by recording its toponyms, nicknames, slang terms, personalities, places, and other Van-centric things. Full A-Z here.

Hobo Jungle | place, historical | Broadly speaking, a Hobo Jungle was an encampment of unemployed, homeless people during the Great Depression (aka “Hooverville” in the United States, after US President Herbert Hoover). In Vancouver, the term specifically refers to the large homeless camp that sprung up on the edge of the City Dump in 1930, part of the large parcel of land we recognize today as Strathcona Park. Though unemployed locals were definitely a fixture, the encampment was largely populated by transient men freshly arrived in meteorologically mild Vancouver from much colder and harsher parts of Canada. (“Better to starve to death than to freeze to death!” was the reasoning refrain.) The ‘Hobo Jungle’ was destroyed in 1931 after City officials used the pretext of a possible pandemic (typhoid) to raze it to the ground and send its inhabitants off to work camps in the Interior.

Usage: “Exactly 90 years before Strathcona Park became a tent city for Vancouver’s homeless, it was home to a large squatter camp known as Hobo Jungle.”

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