North Vancouver was incorporated as a city in 1907 and West Vancouver in 1912. However, it was still almost twenty years until West Vancouver’s iconic British Properties were carved out of the forest on Hollyburn Ridge. On Nov. 5, 1931, the Vancouver Sun newspaper displayed a front page headline proclaiming the initial plans for the soon to be much-desired area:
“British Syndicate Invests Million in W. Vancouver” & “Greater Vancouver’s Own ‘Riviera”
Up to this point in time, West Vancouver was basically a few built up streets around Ambleside and cottages along Marine Drive with small villages at Dundarave and West Bay. Everything above the 500 ft elevation level was barren forest. The newspaper description continued;
“The proposition visualizes Hollyburn Ridge as the most beautiful residential area in Canada, contoured and planned to take advantage of every natural feature offered by that sunny southern slope with its vistas across the Gulf of Georgia.”
The article then listed the main points of the purchase by the British syndicate;
1. The land in question comprises about 4000 acres lying between the 500 and 1500-foot levels above the sea and extending from the west bank of the Capilano River to Horseshoe Bay.
2. The syndicate offers $1,075,000 in all for the property.
3. Of this amount the syndicate will spend $1,000,000 in the first five years on street development and public improvements of property. These will be turned over to the municipality on completion. If the scheme is approved by the ratepayers, actual work will commence at the beginning of the year.
4. A fixed assessment of $100,000 a year for five years is asked, after which the land will pay taxes to the municipality on its valuation.
5. The syndicate has undertaken to employ one of the foremost internationally-known firms of town planning experts to contour the area and take advantage of every natural feature in its development as a residential area.
6. The syndicate expects to spend further large amounts of money in development of the area in grading, street building, installation of sewers, water and light, and will probably undertake construction of some, if not all the homes in the area.
7. It is very probable that one of the finest golf courses on the North American continent will be built in the new area by the syndicate.
The “syndicate” would soon come to be known as the British Pacific Properties Limited and was backed by the Guinness brewing family. The purchase of the land was put to a plebiscite in West Vancouver and was passed by a vote of 1,329 to 26. In addition to the land deal, the company agreed to construct a bridge over the first narrows connecting Vancouver to the North Shore and the Lions Gate Bridge was completed in 1938. The promise of “one of the finest golf courses” was also kept as Capilano Golf and Country Club was opened in 1937.
The final major development by the Guinness family interests was the Park Royal shopping mall, which opened in 1950 as Canada’s first regional shopping centre. The name Park Royal was taken from an area in London, England where one of the Guinness breweries was located at the time.
When all was said and done, the British Properties have certainly become one of Canada’s most desired real estate areas, it would seem the syndicate’s original goals were successful indeed.
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