Lower Lonsdale’s Early History

Lower Lonsdale lives and grows

Situated just above the shoreline of the Burrard Inlet, Lower Lonsdale was bustling with activity at the turn of the last century with the introduction of a cross-inlet ferry service and a booming shipyard industry.

By 1900, the North Vancouver—the first in a five-ferry fleet, began running back and forth from Vancouver to the foot of Lonsdale on a regular basis. A couple years later, Alfred St. George Hamersley, one-time solicitor for the City of North Vancouver, purchased and subdivided District Lot 274 which resulted in the rapid development of the Lower Lonsdale area. Soon after the acquisition, the housing market opened up in the area and by late 1903 land was being sold and more lots were being cleared.

The population influx in the area led to the beginnings of a small, commercial sector in Lower Lonsdale.

Pete Larson was among the first of a series of entrepreneurs attracted to the neighbourhood, establishing his Hotel North Vancouver on Esplanade in 1902. Other prominent businesses followed suit and set up shop farther up the hill.

John B. Paine’s hardware store, which eventually became a Lower Mainland institution, opened its first store on East First Street.

In 1905 council called for a proposal for a street railway system to enhance the area’s transportation system. The British Columbia Electric Railway Company’s bid asked for the initial length of track to be built about five miles starting from the foot of Lonsdale to 19th Street. The first trial run along the Lonsdale route took place on August 29, 1906.

Lower Lonsdale is currently undergoing another vibrant redevelopment phase, with an emphasis on a more urban setting. Many of the old shipyards buildings are now gone, soon to be replaced by a new collection of buildings, including a 3rd boutique hotel, multiple residential buildings, a $35 million public recreation and entertainment precinct including a covered skating rink and a children’s water park with retractable roof.