False Creek Sawmills

False Creek looking east from Granville Bridge 1928

False Creek – 1928

Mills and Log Booms on False Creek 1936


In A Short History of False Creek, Sam Sullivan writes: “The first Granville Bridge was built in 1889 connecting the south and north shores and industry, mills and manufacturing began to encircle the Creek. The CPR installed massive rail yards centred around the now refurbished Roundhouse, and to
the north residents began to settle close to the yards where they worked. These men used to work on the CPR in the Fraser Canyon town of Yale and when they relocated to False Creek, the neighbourhood of ‘Yaletown’ was born. By 1891, six of Vancouver’s eight saw mills were on False Creek.”

Living in Yaletown today, it’s hard to believe False Creek was once an industrial waterway lined with as many as 17 sawmills. When Vancouver’s first five-alarm fire destroyed the B.C. Forest Products plant and lumber storage facility on the south shore of False Creek in 1960, it marked the end of an era. Reportedly 200 million board feet of lumber (equivalent today to an 8-hour shift at West Fraser 🙂 ) was destroyed in the fire. A “False Creek Sawmill” search at The City of Vancouver Archives website this week produced over 89,000 results. The old images posted here are but a sample, interspersed with some pictures from a recent stroll.

~Green Shoots~

The Wall Street Journal reports “investors in the lumber market are the latest to be whipsawed by the struggle between two forces acting around the globe: stubbornly sluggish economic growth and expansive central-bank stimulus aimed at jump-starting business activity.” Five bullish takeaways from the article that suggest Lumber’s Set to Build on Its Rally:

  1. The 20.2% jump in new-home construction in April is the biggest monthly gain in percentage terms since February 1991
  2. Lumber futures have rebounded 15% since falling to a three-year low last week
  3. Many countries are cutting interest rates/buying bonds to ease financial conditions and support growth
  4. China has reduced rates three times in the last six months – Chinese demand likely to pick up in the coming months as lower borrowing costs revive home construction
  5. Building permits in the U.S. held steady even when housing starts were weak earlier this year (“all the projects delayed over winter will get done, in addition to everything else that’s scheduled”).

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