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Grow your roots: explore our living history.
Photo : Rosanne Paciencia Lambert

Neighbourhood History

The Neighbourhood Today

Renfrew-Collingwood is a diverse neighbourhood of approximately 50,000 residents. Our borders are Boundary Road, Broadway, Nanaimo Street and E. 45th Ave..

About 75% of neighbourhood residents speak English as an additional language while almost 43% speak a Chinese language as their first language. About 6% speak Tagalog, 4% Vietnamese, and roughly 4% speak Punjabi or Hindi. 1.2 % identify as Aboriginal. The median household income is just over $47,000, very close to the city’s median (2006 Statistics Canada Census).

From the late 1970s through the 1990s the number of neighbourhood residents speaking English as additional language has increased dramatically. Collingwood Neighbourhood House (est. 1985), with its model of intercultural community development, offers residents many opportunities for intercultural engagement and involvement.  CNH plays a central role in helping the neighbourhood become a vibrant place where residents work, play, learn and celebrate together.

Explore Renfrew-Collingwood with these self-guided walking tours.

Collingwood Days History Collector Cards

 

 

Background 

Our neighbourhood is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.  Before colonial settlement, the area was rich with pristine lakes and diverse forests. Aboriginal people would come to the area to hunt and gather food. It was said to be a popular destination with people as far away as Vancouver Island paddling over in their canoes to get food to feed and nurture their families.

In the 1860s Colonel Richard Moody of the Royal Engineers took a fancy to a lake that sat between what are now Kingsway and Vanness Avenue.  He laid claim to the lake and the surrounding land.  Moody and other early European settlers were attracted to this area because they were able to drain the lake and grow food in the fertile soil. Kingsway, once part of an early military trail to Burrard Inlet, follows the route of earlier Aboriginal trails that ran parallel to the lake shore.  Streets in the neighbourhood were built in orientation to Kingsway and are therefore at odd angles with the rest of Vancouver’s grid-like layout.

In 1891 the Interurban Railway opened and ran from Downtown Vancouver (through Collingwood) to New Westminster. It brought people, housing and businesses to the neighbourhood, particularly to Vanness Avenue and Joyce Street, where the Collingwood East Tram Station was located.

In 1896, a two-room schoolhouse was built at Kingsway and Joyce. The schoolhouse is still part of Sir Guy Carleton Elementary School, which added several larger buildings, and is the oldest remaining school building in Vancouver. The presence of the expanding school, the decision to pave Kingsway, and the presence of a new bus system led to the growth of Kingsway and Joyce as a business centre for the neighbourhood.

The community around Collingwood East Tram Station was a thousand strong by 1909 with its own post office, doctor, butcher, plus numerous real estate offices and plant nurseries.  Historic Firehall 15 (located at E. 22nd Avenue near Nootka Street) was built in 1913 and is still in operation today.

With the advent of SkyTrain in 1985 a new Collingwood of condominium and rental towers began to emerge from the former trackside warehouses clustered near Vanness Avenue. The former Collingwood East Tram Station area is now the Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain Station and has attracted development, residents and businesses to the area, particularly with the development of Collingwood Village in the 1990s.  Today, the huge variety of ethnic restaurants and businesses along Kingsway cater to many tastes and reflect the cultural diversity of the neighbourhood.

 

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