Living in British Columbia
The city and its industrial sector
If you walked through the streets of Vancouver in 1905, you would be surprised by the intermingling of new and dilapidated buildings. It was as if the city had grown too quickly and everything had just been haphazardly thrown together. People of all origins lived here, but in very distinct neighbourhoods. On one side were the workers’ neighbourhoods and Chinatown; on the other were the neighbourhoods of upper and lower middle classes, who benefitted from sewers and electricity. The city was disfigured by the many poles that supported the electrical and telephone wires. But the city also had all the attractions of a modern city, such as parks, theatres and streetcars.
If you crossed Vancouver Island over to Victoria, the capital, you would find a very different landscape. The city was different and had a typically “British” appearance: English gardens, Victorian style homes, tea rooms, etc. As you got closer to the sea, you would find many industries along the coast. There were sawmills, canneries and countless docks for loading and unloading goods. Ships were also being built there.
As you moved away from the sea, the scenery changed. In the valleys, people farmed for a living, growing tobacco, peaches, cherries and such. In some areas further north and in the mountains, like at Fort Grahame, the Hudson’s Bay Company operated trading posts. Mining and logging towns were also being developed. With the arrival of the railway in the 1910s, town started springing up everywhere. Sawmills, which were mobile, were usually set up near rivers or railway tracks. These mills used horses to transport their equipment in the forest.
Those who gradually settled in the mountains and valleys over time (up until the 1960s), felt far away from the hustle and bustle of Vancouver with its electrical wires and streetcars.
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