Missing?: Monument to First City Survey Stake

mon n32 1952?

Monument to the first survey stake that CPR Land Commissioner, L.A. Hamilton, drove at SW corner of what is now known as Hastings and Hamilton streets. The monument was erected on the front of the former Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce building at 300 West Hastings (the earlier site of the Inns of Court building) in April 1953. Created by Sydney March. Unknown photographer, ca1952.

This monument was created in 1952 to honour the driving of the first survey stake by CPR Land Commissioner, L. A. Hamilton (sometimes referred to as the “Godfather of Vancouver”), at the site (300 Hastings Street; SW corner of Hamilton and Hastings) from where the city would be laid out into what we know today as the streets of downtown and the West End.

When the initial Inns of Court building, the first non-indigenous man-made structure on this corner, was demolished and was replaced by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce building ca 1950, the monument (created by Sydney March) was set into the Hastings street side of the new building.

When the bank, in turn, was demolished in 2015, the word on the street was that the new owner of the site had indicated that the monument would be retained in a public place somewhere on the building.

However, the new building (the SFU Charles Chang Innovation Centre) has been fully built and open now for about a year, but there’s still no sign of the monument in the new structure. I cannot see the plaque anywhere on the building’s exterior. It’s possible that it is inside the foyer of the building, but the door is always locked and so, if it is in there, it isn’t accessible to the general public — for whom the plaque surely was designed.

So what has become of the commemorative plaque?

cva 778-142 1974

CVA 778-142 CIBC building at 300 West Hastings (at Hamilton) with the monument showing to the left of the front entry to the bank, 1974. (Photo cropped by author).

str p306 - [major j.s. matthews and william n. cooper examine the spot where the first survey peg was driven to mark the c.p.r. townsite in 1885] bill cunningham photo, 1953.

Str P306 – Major J.S. Matthews (City of Vancouver’s first Archivist) and William N. Cooper (manager, CIBC) examine the spot where the first survey peg was driven to mark the C.P.R. Townsite in 1885. Bill Cunningham photo, 1953.

img_9656

Demolition of the CIBC building, March 2015. Author’s photo.

300 w hastings - sfu innovation centre

SFU’s Charles Chang Innovation Centre building at SW Corner Hamilton and Hastings. 2019. Author’s photo.

Mon P63.1 - [Miss Isobel O. Hamilton and J.S. Matthews unveil a bronze plaque to commemorate Lauchlan Alexander Hamilton] 1953 W J Dennett photo

Mon P63.1 – [Miss Isobel O. Hamilton (daughter of Lauchlan Hamilton) and J.S. Matthews unveil a bronze plaque to commemorate Lauchlan Alexander Hamilton], 1953. W J Dennett photo.

This entry was posted in art, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Missing?: Monument to First City Survey Stake

  1. Ken says:

    You ought to send this to the President of SFU

  2. Laurie says:

    Good question

  3. jmv says:

    Via John A: [It is] Sitting in storage safe and sound. Its text isn’t really appropriate in this day and age… A more nuanced and contextual piece should/could be put in its place…

  4. JJ says:

    “A more nuanced and contextual piece should/could be put in its place…”?

    Huh? I trust that the above statement was written in a tongue in cheek manner. I can’t think of any other good reason.

    The historical plaque should be replaced as it was. The wording is perfectly reflective of the genesis of what happened to said ‘primeval forest’. An informed citizenry benefits from seeing the attitudes and mores of the 1885 society which caused the original survey stake to be driven in the first place, and which caused the wholesale change-out of ancient forest for surveyed streets.

    Who is to be the arbitrator of the proposed sanitization of this invaluable heritage piece? No need to spend valuable tax $$$ on bureaucrats consulting with consultants on this one, is there?

    History needs to be presented in as raw of form as possible. Spin is damaging. In a democracy, people need to make up their own minds.

    The plaque speaks for itself. Plus, it is awesome.

    Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s