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Burnaby, BC - history and the growth

About Burnaby

Burnaby is a city in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia, Canada, with a population of about 250,000 people (according to the 2021 census). It is located in the center of the Burrard Peninsula and is adjacent to the city of Vancouver to the west.

Before Burnaby

Before the Burnaby, the ancestors of several local nations of the Salish of the Central Coast lived on this land. Today, descendants of several local nations continue to live in Burnaby and the surrounding municipalities that developed in their traditional territories.

The appearance of settlers significantly changed the lives of the indigenous population. Hundreds of years ago, British Columbia and the adjacent state of Washington were home to more than 100,000 representatives of the Coast Salish people. Usually, such a population density is observed in places where people are engaged in agriculture since this is an indicator of storing excess food for the winter months.

Here, on the northwest coast, the indigenous people developed a technology for preserving salmon and other seafood, which ensured the existence of communities all year round. Everything changed dramatically with the advent of settlers who cared little about the lifestyle of the indigenous population.

European arrival

Until the 1850s, only a few hundred English-Canadian settlers lived in British Columbia. In 1858, the Fraser River gold rush prompted the British government to establish the Colony of British Columbia. The British claimed control of the land and the people on it. Colonial officials and royal engineers soon arrived from England to establish New Westminster as the colony's capital. Settlers were asked to claim the land through a process called pre-purchase.

At this time, Burnaby formed as a network of small neighborhoods, often around transportation routes. Prior to 1892, settlers viewed Burnaby simply as a territory between New Westminster and the new but rapidly growing city of Vancouver. Although several people purchased the property in the 1860s and 1870s, the extension of the Canadian Pacific Railway from Port Moody to Vancouver in the 1880s made land more accessible. Land speculators and businessmen bought real estate near the railroad, establishing a small resort town on the shore of the Inlet near North Road. Several settlers established family farms on the outskirts of New Westminster.

City establishment

The municipality of Barnaby was founded in 1891. In the same year, the entrepreneurs of Vancouver and New Westminster began the construction of an intercity tram between their cities. They planned to charge passengers for train rides, but they also had property along the route that they hoped to sell profitably. The construction of the rail contributed to the sale of real estate, especially in the area of Deer Lake.

The provincial government officially recognized Burnaby in September 1892. Soon large landowners began to divide and sell their property. The new Burnaby Council promoted the emergence of new settlements by persuading the province to sell state reserve lands at a low price, thereby continuing to exclude indigenous peoples from the land acquisition process. By 1900, about 500 people lived in Burnaby, many of whom owned small but productive forms.

20th century

Burnaby began to flourish during a time of economic prosperity in 1900-1913 when a suburban real estate boom brought about 14,000 residents. The boom ended during World War I. The population decreased by 2,000 people, as men in large numbers went to serve abroad, but not all returned home. The local economy declined, although several military industries appeared in Burnaby. Chemical and ammunition factories and even a top-secret submarine construction plant were operating there.

After the war, the settlement of Burnaby resumed. About 12,000 people moved to the city before the end of the 1920s, doubling the pre-war population. The prosperity that was observed in Burnaby in the 1920s was fragile and collapsed in the 1930s. Land speculators have failed in their development projects and have not paid taxes. Full recovery from the Great Depression occurred only at the end of 1939 when Canada entered World War II.

When Japanese naval aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the war suddenly became closer to home. Air raid warning groups have been set up in Burnaby neighborhoods to monitor enemy activity and prepare for an air attack. After the war, governments began to play a more active role in the economy, as the war required strict state planning and control. Canada was becoming a "welfare state." Housing was a crucial new government policy, and Burnaby had land to build houses on.

In the 1970s, Burnaby had a new identity. Over the previous decades, it had grown and flourished and had all the signs of a modern city: an active population of about 125,000 people, a reliable school system, a university, a hospital, recreation, art, and culture centers, as well as multi-story residential buildings.

Burnaby Today

Burnaby's population has since grown to over 249,000. The economic base has changed from logging and agriculture to service, commercial and industrial activities. Community, business and personal service industries account for approximately 27% of the City's employment, reflecting Burnaby's growing role as a diverse urban center.

In 1992, the City of Burnaby celebrated its 100th anniversary. The Corporation of the District of Burnaby officially changed to the City of Burnaby.