Vancouver Was Awesome: Hastings Mill, 1925

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A Vancouver time travelogue brought to you by Past Tense.

Here’s some great quality footage showing the mainstay of BC’s economy for much of its existence: logging. The wood ends up at Hastings Mill at the foot of Dunlevy Street (6:40). The mill was opened by Captain Edward Stamp in 1865. Stamp recruited Jeremiah Rogers to supply trees cut from the west side of the peninsula. Rogers set up his logging operation on a spot on English Bay that became known as “Jerry’s Cove” and shortened to Jericho in the 1870s. (Notched stumps can still be spotted in Stanley Park that were cut using the technique shown in the video).

Hastings Mill was the reason Gassy Jack Deighton decided to relocate to Burrard Inlet in 1867. From his saloon in New Westminster, Deighton noticed that a lot of his customers were in the area because of the activity generated by Hastings Mill and had to hike all the way to New West to get a drink. Thus, Gastown was born in 1867, was officially recognized as Granville Townsite in 1870, and then incorporated as Vancouver in 1886.

The workforce at Hastings Mill was a culturally diverse group that included local natives and sailors from all over the world who jumped ship in Burrard Inlet. The Mill’s manager, RH Alexander, lost the first Vancouver mayoral contest in part because he was trying to break a strike of white mill workers with Chinese labourers, and experienced the backlash at ballot box.

The Hastings Mill shown in this video was near the end of its life. The site would soon be slated for demolition, and in the first heritage conservation campaign in the city, the Native Daughters of British Columbia raised $10,000 to save the Hastings Mill Store. In 1930, they had the building moved to the foot of Alma Street where the Daughters continue to operate it as a museum in the summer months. The building is the oldest in Vancouver and the only one that pre-dates the Great Vancouver Fire of 1886.

Source: Library & Archives Canada on YouTube

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