On This Date: This Birth of Vancouver (1886)

The City of Vancouver was founded on April 6th, 1886, with boundaries of Burrard Inlet, Alma, 16th Avenue and Nanaimo Street.


One significant aspect of the founding of the City of Vancouver is based in the partnership and agreements between the CPR and the provincial government. These agreements included the shift in the terminus of the railway and large land grants to the CPR. The location of these land grants dictated the location of financial focus and transportation expansion by the CPR. The incorporation of the city entailed public representation in the first City Council, which has been responsible for the city’s development since 1886.


The incorporation of the city affected the surrounding area. Following the announcement of the move of the CPR terminal station from Port Moody to Granville (Vancouver), property values sky rocketed. However, with that agreement also came the CPR Land Grants. The Canadian Pacific Railway received 5800 acres of what is now central Vancouver, including 200 acres of what is now downtown Vancouver, as well as one third of all private lots from Carrell to Burrard.

With such a large volume of land under the ownership of the CPR, their representation in government was unavoidable. CPR civil engineer and surveyor, Lauchlan A. Hamilton, was one of the first Senior Aldermen on the first city council. Archival photographs and maps show that Vancouver was essentially a six-block district surrounded by dense forest. With the CPR Land Grants and subsequently the establishment of the City of Vancouver, population and development rapidly increased.

The partnership between CPR and the City led to the changing of the municipality’s name in the incorporation, from the Town of Granville to the City of Vancouver. General Manager William Van Horne believed that naming the city after the first British explorer to arrive in Burrard Inlet would be more appealing.

For more information on Vancouver’s planning and development milestones, please visit or Chronology Timeline.

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