Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The historical development of Mount Pleasant in Vancouver (teaser)

I promised Rebecca (aka Miss604) that I would write a whole post on the history of Mount Pleasant (the neighbourhood where I live now), but just wanted to give you all dear readers a mini-teaser. I am a bit frustrated because I can't find the photographs I took from the intersection of Main Street and 12th Avenue, but I'll take a few pictures and upload them to complement said guest post on Rebecca's blog.

But for now, let me just tell you that I'm a big fan of industry. Yes, I admit it. Having factories is a necessary element of societal development, and despite the current apparent trend towards a "post-Fordist" society, where industry will decline, we still need industrial plants. And Mount Pleasant used to be an industrial area.

One of the elements that makes Mount Pleasant very interesting and peculiar is that there are still some signs of evident industrial activity. For example, if you have ever been to The Whip (on 6th Avenue and Main), right across from it you can find what used to be a brewery.

I am fascinated by this trend of transforming industrial land to residential zoned areas (this is something I actually analyze in my day job). It was also funny to find out that there used to be two slaughter houses and a tannery (not surprisingly, since these industrial activities are part of the same commodity chain). From the Vancouver Archives, I dug out some information and apparently this tannery was to be built around 1890.

The City of Vancouver's website provides some interesting tidbits on the history of Mount Pleasant: [City of Vancouver]
The proximity to the business district of Vancouver and the availability of a quality water supply (Brewery Creek) made the area an ideal place for early industry and settlement. Early expectations were that Mount Pleasant would develop as Vancouver's fashionable "uptown." The area high above False Creek was named "Mount Pleasant" in 1888, after the Irish birthplace of the wife of H.V. Edmonds. Edmonds, clerk of the municipal council in New Westminster, was the original owner of much of Mount Pleasant.

By 1904, Mount Pleasant was home to a tannery, two slaughter houses, four breweries, and a train station. Industrial expansion brought residential development. By 1912, Mount Pleasant had a thriving residential population and community facilities such as an elementary school (the Kingsgate Mail site), a firehall, a first run theatre, and Vancouver's first skyscraper (the Lee Building). Mount Pleasant was also a terminus for the streetcar network.
I really hope that development plans for this area will try to preserve the peculiar flavor of this industrial/residential neighbourhood. Have you ever walked on 17th Avenue almost corner of Ontario Street? You will find a wax factory (not sure if it still operating, I would seriously doubt it).

My dream house? The house at the corner of 18th Avenue and Columbia Street. It has a little detached place that I am guessing used to be a corner store. I am sure I shared this story with many of my friends: I would have loved to buy that house, and start a little coffee shop or a dance studio in the space where the corner store used to be.

There are lots of haunts that I could talk about and that I am sure you'd love to visit in your next stop by Mount Pleasant. However, that'll have to wait until I finish writing the guest blog post for Rebecca. Until then, stay tuned!

1 comment:

Karen Fung said...

I grew up this neighbourhood and love it to pieces. I remember when every other store south of 25th Avenue was an antique store. It's changed so much. I would be tickled pink to get the chance to live there again.