Old Photographs of Coal Harbour in Vancouver (1885-1975)

Nestled between Vancouver’s downtown peninsula and Brockton Point in Stanley Park lies Coal Harbour. As you might have guessed, the name ‘Coal Harbour’ originated because coal was actually found in the harbour by Colonel Moody back in 1859. Although the coal was of low quality, and nothing materialized from the discovery, the name still stuck. Some of Vancouver’s earliest European inhabitants settled in the eastern portion of modern-day Coal Harbour. Vancouver was incorporated as a city in April 1886, which coincided with the Canadian Pacific Railway’s decision to make Coal Harbour the western terminus for its transcontinental railroad. The area became a industrial hotbed with multiple warehouses being erected. Shipping piers were later constructed, which proved valuable during World War II as the warehouses were converted to munitions factories. In the 50’s the docks were destroyed and the industries removed in the 60’s, leaving the area ripe for new developments.

Coal Harbour
1885 – Photograph shows part of Deadman’s Island, Coal Harbour

Coal Harbour has undergone numerous transformations since those early days. The Westin Bayshore Hotel, what many consider to be the start of the Coal Harbour we know today, was built in 1961. Canada Place, built for Expo 1986, soon followed, as well as a newly planned convention centre. The transformation from industrial area to commercial hub had officially begun. As we entered the 90’s a huge residential explosion occurred, leading Coal Harbour to become one of the premiere neighbourhoods in all of Vancouver.

Coal Harbour
190-? – Coal Harbour from the Park
191-? – Dredging at Coal Harbour. Photograph show dedging machinery, workers in a rowboat, and a diver at the side of the boat.
Coal Harbour
1910 – Coal Harbour
Coal Harbour
1911 – Coal Harbour
Coal Harbour
1913 – Log boom in Coal Harbour
Coal Harbour
1914 – Coal Harbour
Coal Harbour
192-? – Coal Harbour
Coal Harbour
1920 – Yacht approaching Coal Harbour
Coal Harbour
1925 – Mill ruins in Coal Harbour
1930-? – “La Reine” in Coal Harbour
1930 – Sailboats in Coal Harbour
1936 – Boats moored in Coal Harbour
1938 – Fishing boats in Coal Harbour
1940 – Coal Harbour, Vancouver, B.C.
1940-1948 – The “Romance” moored in Coal Harbour
1940-1948 – Four warships in Coal Harbour
1965 – Coal Harbour and downtown Vancouver
1973 – Morning in Coal Harbour
1975 – Coal Harbour


The photos above were collected from the City of Vancouver Archives. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on their website. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from Vancouver, British Columbia, and across Western Canada. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.