Vancouver: History

A multicultural metropolis with snowcapped crags, city-hugging beaches and waterfront forests

Vancouver History

British Columbia has been inhabited since the glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago – aboriginal tribes were the first people to live in and explore the region. Their existence in the area was first interrupted when the British arrived at Vancouver Island in 1778, bringing waves of European settlers plus diseases which decimated the indigenous population.

However, the city of Vancouver owes its settled start to Fraser Canyon Gold Rush: the waves of immigration in the 1860s provided its first citizens, incomers from all over the world. Although Vancouver had been discovered and partially settled before this time, playing host to the northwestern Headquarters of the Hudson Bay Trading Company and an American military barracks, its emergence as a city followed rapidly on from the arrival of the transcontinental railway in 1887. The development of its port in the 1920s led to Vancouver becoming the busiest seaport in Canada.

Later periods of rapid economic expansion in the 1950s and 60s brought further waves of immigration and attendant transportation, construction and technological progress. This has led to the intense diversity of today’s population: the city’s large Asian communities have made Chinese and Punjabi the most spoken languages in Vancouver after English. Other communities have also flourished, leading to sizeable numbers of German, Italian, Japanese and Russian Vancouver citizens. This rich social mix creates today’s Vancouver: a vibrant cultural tapestry in which distinct cuisine, architecture, language and arts leave the visitor spoilt for choice.