History of Shaughnessey BC
From Van City Tree Removal Vancouver BC
Named after CPR president Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, with its most important streets bearing the names of the CPR’s board of directors, the CPR’s influence on the region named Shaughnessy is unmistakable.
In 1907, Richard Marpole, general superintendent and executive assistant of the CPR, proposed development of a private and prestigious residential area that would tempt the city’s elite in the West End. The railroad hired Montreal landscape architect, Frederick Todd, and Danish engineer, L.E. Davick, to lay out curving roads and generous lots. Although lot prices were similar to other Vancouver neighbourhoods, the CPR protected Shaughnessy’s exclusivity by requiring that all homes built in the region cost at least $6,000; more than the $1,000 a typical bungalow might cost.
The houses of the wealthy were surrounded by lush lawns, hedges and tree-line boulevards that followed the contours of the local terrain to the Crescent; a circular driveway of expensive property situated on the crest of the hill overlooking town. By 1914, there were 243 homes in Shaughnessy and 80 percent of the homeowners were recorded on Vancouver’s social register. The area’s appeal was so great that the CPR developed adjoining land as”Secondly Shaughnessy” and”Third Shaughnessy.” The CPR took great pains to safeguard Shaughnessy’s exclusive character, and the value of its lots. In 1914, the railroad attempted to establish Shaughnessy as a municipality independent from Point Grey. The provincial authorities refused and instead handed the Shaughnessy Settlement Act of 1914, restricting growth to single-family homes.
In 1922, Shaughnessy was put even further in the reach of City zoning laws, once the state enacted the Shaughnessy Heights Building Restriction Act, prohibiting the subdivision of lots and restricting construction to a single single-family house per lot. In the uterus, the Depression hit Shaughnessy hard. Many Shaughnessy residents fled to other areas of the town and had their homes repossessed. Despite provincial limitations, many single-family homes were converted to rooming houses or multiple conversion dwellings.
Did you know?
Sir Thomas Shaughnessy called some of the area’s main streets after CRP Directors (Angus, Marpole, Homer, Osler and Nanton) and his daughter (Marguerite).
During the depression, when many Shaughnessy residents lost their homes, the area was known as Poverty Hill and Mortgage Heights.
In 1939, the magnificent”Glen Brae” sold for $7,500, though it was appraised at $75,000 in 1920. It had been used as a kindergarten and nursing home prior to being changed into Canuck Place, a hospice for children.
A underground concrete vault lies under Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. After a drinking water reserve, the room was drained and sealed from the 1970s.
Shaughnessy Heights is Vancouver’s best example of a planned community. In 1907, the CPR spent over one million dollars developing the website before it started selling the expensive lots. The estate-like character of this community is due to a mix of large loads, winding boulevards, and extensive landscaping.
Lots of the houses in First Shaughnessy were created from the city’s leading architects such as Maclure & Fox, Parr & Fee, Sharp & Thompson, and Thomas Hooper. The architectural designs used during this period include English Arts and Crafts and Tudor Revival to Craftsman and Colonial Revival.
Today the area is among the city’s most precious heritage landscapes. Its premier heritage structures comprise The Nichol House in 1402 McRae Avenue, the Frederick Kelly House in 1398 Crescent, the MacDonald House in 1388 Crescent, the Fleck House in 1296 Crescent, and the two homes featured below:
Hycroft, 1489 McRae Avenue
Built in 1909 for B.C. industrialist A.D. McRae, Hycroft was the greatest and most costly mansion in town. From the 1920s, the McRae’s New Year’s Eve costume ball has been the highlight of this active Shaughnessy social calendar. The expansive house had three large gardens, a huge greenhouse, riding stables, tennis courts, guest house, and a ballroom underlain with seaweed to provide dancers more bounce. Inside there was a wine cellar, mirrored bar, an assortment of dens, drawing rooms and a solaria. Hidden passageways ran parallel to the family’s quarters, which makes it effortless for servants to go about their job. In 1962 it was bought by the University Women’s Club, and each year the public is welcome to observe the house during the annual Christmas craft fair.
Glen Brae, 1690 Matthews Street
Sawmill owner William Lamont Tait educated architects Parr and Fee to style him a Scottish baronial-style house he named Glen Brae (meaning valley of the hills ). The result is possibly the most memorable mansion in Shaughnessy. This unusual 1910 home features a set of twin towers with dome roofs on either side of the grand entry porch, and an outstanding wrought iron fence imported from Glasgow. In 1992, owner Elizabeth Wlosinski willed the house to the City. It’s currently the home of Canuck Place, a hospice for children.
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