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!
Jesse Dean Cook