Jesse Dean Cook. Discovering West Vancouver's Most Glamorous Properties.

 

The Spencer House was built in 1913 for Thomas Arthur Spencer and his wife Catherine Isabel Spencer. The craftsman-style bungalow sat on a lot of over 9 acres with the address of 2089 Westdean Crescent. The 9 acre lot extended between 19th and 21st Streets and then Mathers Avenue to Queens Avenue.

 

Thomas Spencer was the son of David Spencer who in 1862 founded the Spencer Department Store in Victoria. The Spencer's were expert merchandisers and as such were able to purchase property such as the beautiful estate-sized lot on upper Dundarave.

 

The Spencer House was featured in numerous publications for its wonderful gardens and was also part of many garden tours.

 

Thomas Arthur Spencer was commonly known as "Dean" Spencer, and when the estate was subdivided into 33 lots in 1955, the street (Westdean Crescent) was named in his honour. The Spencer House now sits on a lot just shy of one acre and has been renovated and restored many times. Though the original landscaping and gardens did not survive, the character still remains in this West Vancouver landmark.

 

Best regards,

 

Jesse Dean Cook

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Naavy Jack Thomas is believed to be the very first European resident to call West Vancouver home. Things have changed substantially since 1872, about the time when Naavy Jack purchased approximately 80 acres of prime wooded water frontage stretching from what is now 21st Street to about 16th. I would sure like to be the Real Estate Agent who sells 80 Acres of prime West Vancouver waterfront today....wow!

 

Born in Wales in the 1830's, Jack made his way to BC by way of the Royal Navy in 1860 and settled in Northern BC. Eventually he made it down to the North Shore where he became very well known for the quality of his river-washed gravel used as a major component for concrete. This fine gravel still uses his name today in the Vancouver building trade! Naavy Jack's success led to the purchase of the gorgeous waterfront property where he built a home in 1873 that still stands today at 1768 Argyle. Though this home has been modified many times, the original home design was well before its time.

 

Thanks to pioneers like Naavy Jack Thomas we now live in a community rich with history and unparalled beauty. For more information please click on the link below, and the next time you are on the Seawall make sure to stop for a few minutes to take a closer look at his home...as well as just how much land was originally his! 

 

http://www.wvhs.ca/heritage-homes/navvy-jack-house/

 

 

Best regards,

 

Jesse Dean Cook

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There wasn't always the Lions Gate Bridge, so people had to figure out a way of transporting themselves between West Vancouver and Vancouver back in the day.

 

In 1906, John Lawson purchased a small fishing boat which he renamed Aoma. He bought the river craft for personal use, however, he was often called upon to ferry citizens for supplies and food. When John and W.C. Thompson decided to set-up shop in West Vancouver and develop the land, they knew a Ferry Service would be key to their survival and growth as a community.

 

On November 8, 1909, service began on a 35 passenger craft named West Vancouver which offered hourly service between Hollyburn and Vancouver. As more newcomers landed in West Vancouver, the need for a ferry terminal rose and in 1913 work started on a wharf at the foot of 14th Street. 

 

Passengers initially purchased single fares, however, this proved cumbersome and instead a 20 fare ticket was issued and hole punched by a mate during each trip. The Ferry Terminal acted as a waiting room, and men were to be at the front (north-side), with women at the back where a large stove kept them somewhat warm during the winter months.

 

The Terminal acted as more than just a ferry terminal, but a meeting hub for the entire community. Six other vessels were added to the fleet, each with her own personality. However, once the Lions Gate Bridge opened in May 1939, the demand for the West Vancouver Ferry Service plummeted. In 1947, after 34 years in business, the ferry service discontinued and soon after the wharf was abandoned.

 

The Ferry Building was beautifully restored and is now a wonderful Art Gallery promoting local artists. Admission to the gallery exhibits is free so make a point of checking out some excellent North Shore artists this summer! 

 

 

Best regards,

 

Jesse Dean Cook

 

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Ever wonder about the history of The Lions Gate Bridge? Below you will find excerpts from various publications including Wikipedia as it relates to this iconic West Vancouver monument.

 

The Lions Gate Bridge, opened in 1938, officially known as the First Narrows Bridge, is a suspension that crosses the first narrows of Burrard Inlet and connects the City of Vancouver, BC to the North Shore municipalities of the District of North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, and West Vancouver. The term "Lions Gate" refers to The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver. 
 

The total length of the bridge including the north viaduct is 1,823m (5,890 ft), the tower height is 111 m (364 ft), and it has a ship's clearance of 61 m (200 ft). Prospect Point in Stanley Park offered a good high south end to the bridge, but the low flat delta land to the north required construction of the extensive North Viaduct.

 

Starting about 1890, bridge builders saw that a bridge across the first narrows was becoming a possibility. There were a number who argued against its construction, as many felt it would ruin Stanley Park or cause problems for the busy seaport or that it would take toll revenue away from the Second Narrows Bridge. However, many others saw it as necessary in order to open up development on the North Shore and it was felt that these problems could be overcome. The decision was put to the electorate of Vancouver in 1927, but the first plebiscite was defeated and the idea was put to rest for a short while.
 

Alfred James Towle Taylor, who had been part of this proposal and still owned the provincial franchise to build the bridge, did not have the finances to purchase the necessary large sections of property in North Vancouver and West Vancouver. However, he was able to convince the Guiness family (of the Irish beer fame) to invest in the land on the north shore of Burrard Inlet. They purchased 4,700 acres (16 km²) of West Vancouver mountainside through a syndicate called British Pacific Properties Ltd.
 

On December 13, 1933, a second plebiscite was held and this time, it was passed by a 2 to 1 margin. After considerable further negotiations with the federal government, approval was finally granted, with the requirement that Vancouver materials and workmen be used as much as possible to provide employment during the Great Depression.
 

The bridge was designed by the Montreal firm Monsarrat and Pratley and construction began on March 31, 1937. After one and a half years and a cost of $5,873,837 (CAD), it opened to traffic on November 14, 1938.

On May 29, 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth presided over the official opening during a royal visit to Canada. A toll of 25 cents was charged for each car.

The newly constructed bridge differed from the current configuration of the bridge as it originally had only two lanes. Yet, as had been foreseen, West Vancouver’s population boomed as a result of the new connection. Thus, to accommodate the increased population, the lanes were divided into three with the middle lane acting as a passing lane. Another difference with the original configuration was that in an effort to recover the expenditure it cost to build the bridge, the Guinness family had toll booths installed. The toll booths remained on the bridge until 1963, at which time the bridge was purchased by the provincial government for the same price that it took to build it. Changes were made shortly after the takeover, as the tolls were removed and the overhead lane controls were added. The Guinnesses’ last involvement with the bridge happened in 1986, when they added lights to the bridge as an Expo '86 gift.

 

 

Best regards,

 

Jesse Dean Cook

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