While we think Vancouver is a pretty unique place to live, there is another West Coast city with the same name – and it turns out our neighbour Vancouver, Washington was actually the first of the two to get its name. So if you’re interested in how the two ‘Vancouvers’ came to be, read on.
We’ll start with the first of the ‘Vancouvers.’ Founded in 1824 as a Hudson’s Bay Company post, Fort Vancouver was named for British Captain George Vancouver – who incidentally also influenced the naming of Vancouver, BC.
Fort Vancouver in Washington (now a national historic site) served as the headquarters for the company’s Pacific Northwest operations, according to Britannica. In 1848, the fort became a U.S. military reservation called the Vancouver Barracks, where the first steamboat on the Pacific to operate north of San Francisco was assembled – the S.S. Beaver.
The City of Vancouver, Washington was incorporated in 1857 – nearly 30 years before its northern neighbour.
The ancestral lands of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam (Xw’muthk’i’um), Tsawwassen, Coquitlam (Kwayhquitlam), Katzie and Semiahmoo peoples, what we now know as Vancouver, BC has seen a lot of change over the years.
According to the Global Civic Policy Society (GCPS), Vancouver used to consist of three distinct original cities: Hastings Township, the West Side (Point Grey), and the East Side (South Vancouver).
Three years after Fort Vancouver in Washington was established (1827), the BC city got its start as a trading post by the Hudson’s Bay Company along the Fraser River.
The trading post marked the first permanent non-native settlement in what is now the Vancouver area, according to Destination Vancouver.
The East Side versus The West Side
By the late 19th century, Vancouver was “a thin settlement along Burrard Inlet,” according to former Mayor of Vancouver Sam Sullivan. The settlement was divided into The East Side, next to the Hastings Mill, and the West End, next to Stanley Park. The former primarily consisted of the working class, whereas the latter was more affluent.
“The native village of Snauq became an Indian Reserve,” says Sullivan. “Its border was called First Avenue – our avenue system pays tribute to that original village.”
In 1886, Granville was incorporated as the City of Vancouver – later absorbing South Vancouver and Point Grey.
So there you have it, Vancouver! We might not be the first city with our name, but we’ve got a pretty interesting history.