My home town ...
Posted on: 7/19/2020 8:45:16 PM
|Though I was born in Powell River, BC – at the time a mill town – I was raised in West Vancouver. West Van was located on the north side of Burrard Inlet; a companion town – North Vancouver – is to the east on the north side of Vancouver Harbour.|
I was five when I moved there in 1946, and West Van was a fine place to grow up. It was semi-rural (there were orchards to steal apples and cherries from, e.g.). It had its own transportation system and governing body with a mayor who went under the old name of Reeve. West Van had what we called then an "Indian Reserve"; I believe the chief's name was Desmond Charlie, and I went to school with some of his kids. They were the Capilano Band, part of the Squamish Tribe, which in turn made them (I believe) members of the Coast Salish. West Van also had an area called casually "The Cannery", a functioning fish processing area whose boats and workers were almost allof Japanese descent. I would expect they didn't return to West Van until about 1948; they had, of course, all been interned during WW2. I met my first Japanese school-mate (Denny Enjo) in about 1948, though he was not part of the group who re-populated the Cannery (largely Hayashis and Hironomos and Hayas). It had few Chinese, but there were two families (both Wongs), one of which was long-resident and the other which showed up probably about 1950. The father of the second family was editor of Vancouver's "Chinese Times".
But closer to the point, West Van was isolated from the "big" city by a toll bridge built by foreign private capital. It was Guinness money, and they built the bridge under agreement with Canadian authorities which granted them two concessions: the ability to charge tolls for a given number of years (it may have been a 30-year grant, or only for 25 years); and the opportunity to develop an allotted land grant (I'm guessing; they may have purchased the land outright) as an exclusive development of properties.
Which, finally, is where I can offer what prompted me to write this.
This is, IMHO, news-making with old news. But it echoes a report I heard on (I believe) NPR, about property deeds in the US that had similar riders.
I've known for decades that the exclusion clauses existed: I had Jewish friends that lived the the "Properties" in the early 1960s, and they were pushing the envelope at that time. I accepted the clauses as proof of British cultural arrogance that was supported by a majority of Canadians who saw themselves as loyal citizens. It stank as a policy when I faced it in 1963, swimming in an outdoor pool in the "Properties", and it stinks now as Councillor Wong calls to have such clauses expunged from titles and deeds.
I don't want to see them eliminated. In fact, I would like to see their remaining inclusion enforced by law. Not as enforceable clauses, but as written testimony to the arrogance and ugliness which as part of the creation and development of my country.
"The British Properties" is by no means the only area developed in BC with such controls and covenants provided to private enterprise. I get that when land seems endless, it is easy to swap hard work for land grants.
Cheers. And stay safe.
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.
"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.