I just went on Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s two hour walk tour about Francophones in early Vancouver -dating back to the last half of the eighteen hundreds. Hosted by historian Maurice Guibord, who is extremely knowledgeable, has a lovely sense of humour and does a lot of digging to verify facts and ascertain the correct information when found with conflicting opinions. The tour took place in the original Downtown Vancouver – Gastown and the Downtown Eastside.
Francophones were French, Belgian and French-Canadian. Maurice gave us the history of a Sun reporter, Doctor, photographer and many entrepreneurial merchants, including bar owners because Gastown was a hub having the port and railroad in the neighbourhood. He passed around a picture of them and pointed out buildings, some designated as heritage, that were built by them, many with French names.
Did you know that the original Vancouver General Hospital was built next to the Sun Tower – it is presently a parking lot.
In 1909 mill workers were brought from Quebec to Maillardville by the owners of Fraser Mills. The immigrants from France and Belgium in the late 1800s became notable in business and society. This occurred around 1867 when the Dominion of Canada was formed. Happy 150th birthday Canada!
But back in 1790 it was mainly Francophones who facilitated the early overland crossing of the Pacific Northwest, drove the fur economy and eased relations with the indigenous people, as well as being the first non-indigenous people to farm in BC. A francophone was instrumental in organizing the CPR.
I learnt lots!
If you are interested in history and would like to learn about Vancouver’s history, I suggest you check out Vancouver Heritage Foundation and join a house tour, walking tour, workshop or special event.
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