5 Things You Didn’t Know About Granville Island


Each week we’ll uncover some unusual and (hopefully) interesting facts about the city. This week we take on Granville Island.

1. The Island is man made

Following the industrial boom of the 20th century, Vancouver had a newfound need for space in order to house the city’s burgeoning forestry, mining, shipping, construction and fishing industries, hence the creation of Granville Island. The island was created using material dredged from False Creek and was completed in 1916.

2. The city tried to utilize the same land decades prior

City of Vancouver Archives, SGN 20

The first attempt to utilize the sandbar that would become Granville Island was an unofficial attempt to create some free real estate following the creation of the original Granville Street bridge in 1889. The Federal government put a stop to the work as they worried it would interfere with passing ships.

3. It was home to squatters during the Great Depression


City of Vancouver Archives, Wat P128.

A slum sprang up on the False Creek flats opposite Granville Island’s shore during the Great Depression. Squatters lived around the island and survived by fishing, foraging and selling supplies to neighbouring businesses and vendors. Because of the island’s natural resources, these squatters were mostly self-sufficient and left to their own devices. 

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4. Granville Island was initially called “Industrial Land”

Industrial land referred to the island’s industrial roots, but Granville Island, named after the bridge that runs directly overhead was the name that stuck.

5. Remnants of Granville Island’s industrial past can be found all over the island

Photo: Granville Island.

You just need to know where to look! The original Canada Chain & Forge sign remains just above the bank machines beside Edible Canada while the Spear and Jackson Saw sign is just barely visible on the backside of the False Creek Community Centre. Many of the island’s buildings are original and have been repurposed over the course of the island’s history, including the Public Market, which used to be a industrial warehouse.

Read more from our “5 Things You Didn’t Know” series HERE.