1912 - The eastern end of False Creek is drained for railway lands

One of the biggest changes in Vancouver history - the draining of the eastern end of False Creek to create railway land.

In the early days, False Creek went up to Clarke Drive at high tide. There was a bridge across at Main Street, which was originally called Westminster Avenue.

The water in the east end of False Creek was shallow, and much of it turned into mud flats at low tide.  So Canadian North Railway comes forward with plans to fill it, and become one of the main competitors to the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Port Mann was meant to be the railway's main industrial yard, with Vancouver the depot for passenger travel. The October 1st False Creek Agreement with Vancouver called for the railway to build a passenger station at a cost of not less than $1.5 million. The agreement also required Canadian Northern to erect a 'first class hotel' in Vancouver, and to make Vancouver the home port for a Canadian Northern steamship line 'for all time'.

The railway was to build a seawall 270 feet west of the Main Street bridge, and to fill in the land to the east.

The original agreement was  to employ, white labour only, but this clause was later nixed.

Citizens overwhelmingly voted to approve the deal in a plebiscite on March 15, 1913, with 5,032 voting for and 1,385 against.

Canadian Northern had entered into an agreement with the Great Northern Railway in the US to co-develop the site, and Great Northern opened the first depot on the reclaimed land, Union Station on June 1, 1917.

The railway ran into financial difficulties with the onset of the First World War, and the federal government took it over in 1918.

Canadian Northern merged with Canadian Government Railways to become Canadian National, which was the name of the terminal until it was renamed to  Pacific Central in 1993. It still operates as a passenger terminal for Via Rail and Amtrak.

Union Station was torn down in 1965. In recent years, part of the old Great Northern yards have been developed as a city works yard and playing fields. The remainder is slated to become the new home of St. Paul's Hospital and much more.


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