I was alerted to this place by my colleague at Global BC Chester Ptasinski and also excellent reporter, Mike McCardell – to whom I’m indebted for his historical knowledge.
It’s a small, unregarded, green-blue house set back from the street at 1016-E 7th Avenue in Vancouver – right behind my home, as it happens. It recently sold for $899,000, and was listed on a real estate blog as an example of the poor buys available in a housing bubble.
It also happens to be probably the most historic spot left in a neighbourhood that has turned its back on history.
You see, this was once sea-front property – back before Vancouver was a bustling metropolis and long before the Great Northern Railway changed the face of the city forever. Built at the confluence of China Creek and False Creek, it would have been an idyllic summer cottage in a quiet, remote resort on the edge of the city.
But history has not been kind to the property. The Great Northern Railway – for whom Great Northern Way is named – and CN Rail decided that the easiest way into Vancouver was to dig a trench from a spot near Nanaimo and Grandview Highway, to Glen Drive. All of that fill had to go somewhere, so it went straight into False Creek to create a new rail yard. The quiet sea-front property on East 7th lost its million-dollar spot.
Over the decades, the cottage, and the neighbourhood surrounding it, fell into a gradual decline. Quaint homes were bought up by developers and turned into 3-storey apartment blocks and condominiums (one new development was recently completed right next door). Property values soared.
But the man who owned the cottage, a metal worker who could often be seen toiling in his back yard shop up until he died, refused to sell or move out. He once told Mike McCardell he was offered a million dollars to sell, but wouldn’t know what to do with the money.
He has now passed on. His heirs have sold the property as a tear-down. Yellow tape now marks the spot where presumably a new development with a view of the park and the soon-to-be-developed new MEC headquarters will be built.
And another part of Vancouver history will be lost to progress.