The Georgia Straight, November 1, 2007
The selection of the Western terminus of Canada’s first transcontinental railway promised boom times for the lucky host community: a port, jobs, bars, whores, growth. New Westminster was an obvious candidate, Victoria and Nanaimo strong contenders. Lowly Granville -that “aggregation of filth” formerly known as Gastown- was dismissed early on due to, apparently, uncooperative First Narrows high tides. The Canadian Pacific Railway looked favourably on Port Moody; land speculators waxed their mustaches.
Tidal currents notwithstanding, CPR President William Cornelius Van Horne chose Granville after all, impoverishing the nascent Port Moody land barons now rendered peripheral to the real action down the inlet but enriching the railway a windfall of 6,000 acres of prime real estate, including all of the Granville Townsite Reserve and most of Point Grey, with existing landowners required to acknowledge improvements by turning over a third of their property to the railway.
Granville? Sounds small, insignificant, lacking in ambition. Van Horne himself chose the new name, piggybacking on the realm’s familiarity with the general coordinates of Vancouver’s Island.
And in a civic-minded gesture ensuring that the terminal host would not drift too far off course, the CPR secured two appointee positions to the new Council.
Land speculation and shell games, direct management of civic institutions, duplicity, upward wealth transfer, and a predilection for marketing: the sins of the father visited, still, on the sons.
“Hockey is a game of transgression; the end justifies the means. Any real hockey fan could intuit these basic unspoken rules, and would want to be part of the ‘game’. So, in fact, the real fans were down on Robson Street, fighting for the home team in the trenches, plundering the opponents’ warehouses for ammunition. So who’s confused? Just a few simple-minded small-time capitalists whose yearly take equals the sales of concessions in one overtime intermission, which is why we have GM Place and grossly overpriced tickets, while the real fans are out on the street, shut out, homeless, and about to be penalized.”
Reading the Riot Act: A Brief History of Riots in Vancouver – Stanley Cup Riot, 1994