On This Date: The Great Fire (1886)

Just nine weeks after its incorporation, the City of Vancouver burned down in the Great Fire on June 13, 1886.

“The Great Vancouver Fire” map. Source: Vancouver Archives

Significance:

Although a notable event in the City’s history, the Great Fire is not necessarily considered a planning and development milestone; it changed very little that would not have been changed regardless within a few years. The main actor of significance related to this “new slate/beginning” for Vancouver was CPR Civil Engineer and land surveryor – Lauchlan Hamilton. His work set up the grid system we have today (including the 45 degree tilt in what is now downtown Vancouver) as well as the proposal for Stanley Park.

Background:

The day after the fire, Mayor Malcolm MacLean sent a telegram to Prime Minister Sir John saying “Our city is in ashes… three thousand people are homeless. Can you please send government aid?” The federal government sent 5000 dollars. By the end of 1886, the City was fully functional again.


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

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