1. Around 6000 AD: First Nations Settle in Vancouver

For around 8,000 years, the Northwest Coast was a place of settlement for numerous Coast Salish peoples, including the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Xwméthkwyiem, who once occupied what is now Vancouver. Vancouver Island is the traditional land of the Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw peoples, with Victoria home to the Lekwungen People (also known as the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations).

2. 1790s: Arrival of the Europeans

Captain James Cook landed on the west coast of Vancouver Island in 1778, but both the island and the future city were to be named after British Captain George Vancouver, who explored Burrard Inlet in 1792. He visited only briefly, as at that time the Spanish had laid claim to the territory. European arrival and eventual settlement would prove devastating to the First Nations.


Captain James Cook sculpture, Victoria

3. 1808: Simon Fraser Mistakes the Columbia River

In 1808 Simon Fraser set out to try to find a direct route for the fur trade to the Pacific. He followed what he thought was the Columbia River but, after a perilous expedition, he realized the river he had found emptied into the Strait of Georgia, so it couldn’t possibly be the Columbia. The mouth of the Fraser River (as it became known) is the site of present-day Vancouver.

4. 1821: Hudson’s Bay Company

At the beginning of the 19th century, Canada experienced competition in the fur trade between the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1821 the companies merged, and in 1828 Hudson’s Bay set up trading outpost Fort Yale on the Fraser River.


Illustration of Hudson’s Bay Company

5. 1850s: Gold Fever

After gold was found in the Fraser River, Fort Yale underwent a population explosion. Rapid economic expansion in the region led to the area being declared a British Crown Colony.

6. 1868: Victoria becomes the Capital City

Fort Victoria formed the central hub of the fledgling province of British Columbia. During the Gold Rush, all miners were expected to report there before receiving a license, and the city quickly became a major seaport and trading center. In 1868 the city was named British Columbia’s capital.

7. 1887: Canadian Pacific Terminus

A huge turning point in the fortunes of Vancouver was the decision to relocate the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway from Port Moody. The terminus was moved 14 miles (22 km) east to what was then called Granville (quickly renamed to Vancouver). The first train pulled in on May 23, 1887.

8. 1908: The University of British Columbia is Established

In 1899, Vancouver College was established, affiliated with Montreal’s McGill University, and in 1908 the first steps toward an independent university were taken. Point Grey was the designated spot, but it took 17 years before its inauguration.

9. 1986: Vancouver’s Centennial

The centennial of the founding of Vancouver was 1986 and it was marked by Expo ‘86, a World Fair that had a tremendous impact on the city. The legacy of Expo ‘86 endures today with SkyTrain, BC Place Stadium and Canada Place.


Canada Pavilion during Expo ‘86

10. 2010: Winter Olympics and Paralympics

A joint bid between Vancouver and Whistler, the Winter Games were based at the BC Place Stadium and cost close to $2 billion. As part of investment for the Games, the Sea-to-Sky highway was improved, the Canada Line transit to Richmond opened, and the Olympic Village was built.


1. Dr. David Suzuki

A contemporary scientist, broadcaster, and environmentalist, Suzuki inspires individuals to protect the natural world.


The inspirational Dr. David Suzuki

2. Pauline Johnson

Credited for naming Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon, Johnson (1861–1913) published First Nations legends and lore in English.

3. Joseph Seraphim Fortes

Joe came to Vancouver from Trinidad, via England, in 1885. As Vancouver’s first lifeguard, he saved hundreds of lives.

4. Emily Carr

From Victoria rather than Vancouver, Carr’s Modernist and landscape art features prominently in the Vancouver Art Gallery.

5. Chief Joe Capilano

Sa7plek (Sahp-luk) or Kiyapalanexw (anglicized to Capilano) sought greater rights for indigenous peoples.

6. Michael J. Fox

A Hollywood A-list actor, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the 1990s and set up a non-profit foundation for Parkinson’s research.

7. Douglas Coupland

Known for his 1991 novel Generation X, Coupland grew up in West Vancouver.

8. Michael Bublé

The singer and songwriter started out in a downtown club on Granville Street.

9. Seth Rogen

Aged just 16, Rogen and his family headed from Vancouver to LA to launch his career as an actor and producer.

10. Heather Ogden

Before becoming Principal Dancer at the National Ballet of Canada in 2005, Heather Ogden trained at the Richmond Academy of Dance.

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