Historical Analysis of Vancouver British Columbia Canada Term Paper

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Vancouver British Columbia is a location that is steeped in tradition and a rich history. The purpose of this discussion is to examine Vancouver within the larger context of western Canadian development. The task is to prepare a short history of Vancouver and discuss the changes that have taken place over time. In addition the research will focus on the community's political history as a local register of reaction to outside or distant forces. We will complete this task by assessing regional geographic factors. Finally, the conclusion will reflect upon the broad sweep of Vancouver's history over the decades.

A short history

Vancouver is a city with a profound history consisting of very diverse people from various places in the world. The city of Vancouver was first occupied by Coast Salish people of the Kwantlen, Musqueam, Tsawwassen, and Capilano bands. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003) A book entitled "Making Vancouver: Class, Status, and Social Boundaries, 1863-1913" explains that For Centuries the waters of Burrard Inlet on the northwest coast of North America and the shores surrounding it were the territory of Native people. Gulf of Georgia Salish people came in the early summer each year -- Squamish from the north and Musqueam from the south -- to harvest the bounty of resources that Burrard Inlet and False Creek offered. (McDonald 1996)

The book goes on to explain that the isolated nature of the land kept white settlers away from the area for many years. (McDonald 1996) In the early 1790's Vancouver was visited by British naval officer George Vancouver and Spanish explorer Jose Maria Narvaez. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003)

However the author asserts that it wasn't until the 1850's that whites began to decend upon the area because of the gold rush. (McDonald 1996) Ultimately the European population grew substantially and there was an increase in the need for natural resources and food. (McDonald 1996) The Europeans found that the timber that was found in the area provided a viable means of income. (McDonald 1996) They built saw mills and a labor force began to settle in the region. (McDonald 1996) Eventually a second mill opened and the book explains that,

Burrard Inlet had entered the industrial age. The high-pitched scream of metal cutting wood ricocheted across the Inlet as an ethnically diverse labor force of loggers, mill hands, longshoremen, hotelkeepers, and shop owners went about the business of extracting wealth from the dense rainforest of British Columbia's lower coast." (McDonald 1996)

Encarta explains that the first settlement was created near Hastings sawmill in the 1860s. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003)

The article explains that the name of the settlement was Gastown, which was the nickname of a citizen Jack Gassy Deighton. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003) The article asserts that the settlement was ultimately renamed Granville in 1870. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003)

The author of the book "Making Vancouver: Class, Status, and Social Boundaries, 1863-1913" contends that the industrialization of Vancouver created some unforeseen problems between labor and capital. The book asserts that The industrialization of British Columbia through the extraction and processing of resources had accelerated in the 1890s. The growing tensions between workers and managers that resulted from the intensification of industrial production, especially in the fishing, coal mining, and hard rock mining industries, struck observers like Chown and Hobson as British Columbia's defining characteristic. As the province's largest city, and from the late 1890s the centre from which the region's economy was managed, Vancouver naturally reflected and was influenced by this regional trend. Changes within the structure of capitalism at the national and international levels also affected the social relations of production on Canada's west coast. Consequently, Vancouver did become more clearly divided along class lines in the 1897-1903 period. The higher incidence of industrial conflict and the increasing prominence of the language of class in politics clearly distinguished the city of the twentieth century from that of the nineteenth. (McDonald 1996)

In 1886 the town was incorporated when the Canadian Pacific Railroad was created, and the settlement was subsequently renamed after George Vancouver. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003) During the early years the economic base of the town was dependent upon the railroad, the port and a wood processing center. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003) The article also asserts that, "Vancouver surpassed Victoria (which nevertheless remained the provincial capital) in population and commercial and financial importance at the turn of the 20th century." ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003) In the book "entitled "Making Vancouver: Class, Status, and Social Boundaries, 1863-1913" the author also asserts that the city also became a major social area. The author asserts,

Sophistication also permeated social life. A vast array of voluntary associations emerged, many emulating the practices of Vancouver's big city counterparts in London, New York, Chicago, Montreal, and other eastern centers. With Aboriginal people now a negligible presence and an Asian minority cast to the social and geographic margins, Vancouver had become by the First World War at, English-speaking European city much like Toronto and Seattle, far different from Burrard Inlet's culturally and racially diverse lumber communities of days gone by." (McDonald 1996)

By the year 1929 Vancouver merged with the neighboring cities of South Vancouver and Point Grey to form one town. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003)The structure of the town was created by American Planners and these plans were used until the 1970's. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003)

The entire economy in British Columbia had grown substantially by the 1950's. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003) Vancouver played an instrumental role in this economic success and became essential to the financial health of the nation and the world. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003) The article explains that Much new building occurred in the 1960s; high-rise buildings rose in the downtown area and multistory apartments were built in the neighboring West End. Suburban development was facilitated by the automobile and by new bridges across the Fraser River. Growth has continued steadily since. In 1986 the city was the site of Expo '86, an international exposition whose theme was transportation. Canada Place, on Burrard Inlet, now comprising a convention center, cruise-ship terminal, and hotel, was constructed for this event, while the fair's main site on the north shore of False Creek was sold to private interests and is currently under development for high-density housing. ("Vancouver (British Columbia)" 2003)

As you can see much of Vancouver's history has been dependent upon an economy based on natural resources. Natives and White Settlers were able to utilize these resources to create a city that is vital to the success of an entire nation. Now that we understand the foundational, economic and social history of Vancouver, let's discuss the political history of the city.

Political History

Ironically enough the first real political action in Vancouver took place in 1846 with the signing of the Oregon Treaty. (Tenant 1990) The Oregon Treaty set a southern limit on British influence and allowed them to create Colony of Vancouver Island, but control of the colony was given to the Hudson Bay Company. A book entitled, Aboriginal Peoples and Politics: The Indian Land Question in British Columbia, 1849-1989 explains that mainland Vancouver became a colony in 1851. (Tenant 1990) The book also explains that the first governor of both colonies was James Douglas. (Tenant 1990) Douglas governed both colonies from 1858 until 1864. The book also explains,

The new colony of Vancouver Island was formally administered by a governor appointed by the Colonial Office in London; however, the Hudson's Bay Company, having been granted control of land and settlement in the colony, was in a position to exert much more influence than the governor. The Company's chief official in the colony was James Douglas. He had been born in 1803 in British Guiana, his father a Scots trader and his mother "a free colored woman." After 1826, when he was posted to New Caledonia, he had played an increasingly major part in the Company's operations from Oregon to Alaska and he had established Fort Victoria in 1843. (Tenant 1990)

The author also explains that the governor was instructed by the company to consult the local chiefs about the rights of the natives. (Tenant 1990) The company also asserted that the natives only had rights to land which they themselves had cultivated or had built houses on. (Tenant 1990) The natives would also retain the right to hunt and fish. Furthermore, any land that was not being used was described as waste and subject to colonization. (Tenant 1990) The Company also asserted that if the natives wanted access to the wasted land they must properly register with the colony. (Tenant 1990)

This translated into the Natives selling land (except their cultivated or occupied land) to the Company and surrendering to governor Douglass. The original sales agreement is as follows,

Know all men, We the Chiefs and People of the "Teechamitsa" Tribe who have signed our names and made our marks to this Deed on the Twenty ninth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and Fifty do consent to…[continue]

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