Vancouver History: The Name Game

Comments 6 by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s been a while since I did a Vancouver History segment so I have decided to look at some familiar streets and neighbourhoods around town and share how their got their name, with help (as always) from my favourite VancouverHistory website.

Shaughenessy Thomas George Shaughnessy, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was the President of the CPR until 1918.

Photo credit: under_volcano on Flickr

Cates The Cates brothers, who started our most well-known tugboat company, were from Maine and in 1950 Cates Park was dedicated in the name of Charles H Cates, founder of the Cates Towing Company which became Cates & Son with his son John H Cates (who later became Labour Minister). George Emery Cates (Charles’ brother) started Cates Shipyards and his son, John A Cates developed Bowen Island as a summer resort, opening Hotel Monaco and the Terminal Hotel.

Seymour Mount Seymour, Seymour Street Frederick Seymour was governor of B.C. from 1864 to 1869. He moved from New Westminster to Victoria when it was named the capital in 1868, which he was not too happy about. Side note, he pronounced his name “seemer.”

Hamilton Hamilton Street Lauchlan Alexander Hamilton was a CPR land commissioner and surveyor that arrived in Vancouver in 1883 where he surveyed and named streets from English Bay to Hastings and as a city councilor he proposed Stanley Park and laid out its perimeter.

Capilano Capilano River, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Capilano College Royal name of the Stalo people, a Capilano chief greeted Simon Fraser in 1808 and in 1906 another Chief Capilano lead a delegation to London to speak with King Edward about land claims. This Chief Capilano was friends with poet Pauline Johnson, who told many of the Legends of Vancouver and his wife was the granddaughter of George Mathias who welcomed Captain Vancouver at Point Grey in 1792. Their son, Mathias Joe Capilano, was a Squamish chief who was a prominent leader and internationally famed carver who attended coronations of both George V and Elizabeth II. He was a lifelong campaigner for the rights of Native people and in 1949, with his wife, he cast the first native ballots in B.C.

Khahtsahlano Kitsilano August Jack Khahtsahlano helped build the first Capilano Suspension bridge when he was 12 years old and his grandfather was the namesake of the Vancouver neighbourhood, Kitsilano. August Jack is most known for his conversations with archivist J.S. Matthews, by which he “made a name for himself as one of the most fruitful and dignified sources of information on early native life.”

You can continue reading up on interesting tidbits like this over at

6 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Michael AllisonMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 1:03pm PDT

    This is great. Having just moved to Vancouver, I’ve been wondering what is named after whom.

  2. RaulMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 1:17pm PDT

    As a water guy, every time I hear Seymour I think the Seymour watershed (which I think feeds into Vancouver’s municipal system) 🙂

  3. BethMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 5:52pm PDT

    This is neat. As I’ve been reading about the premiers of BC, I’ve noticed a lot of names I recognized from streets & bridges: Robson, Dunsmuir, Smithe, Davie, Pattullo – all Premiers!

  4. fotoeinsWednesday, October 1st, 2008 — 10:50am PDT

    Thanks, B. I love reading these segments …

    I didn’t know about Seymour being pronounced as “seemer”.

    @raul, given my trip home last year which included a visit to Cleveland Dam for the first time in decades, “Capilano” now resonates to both the suspension bridge as well as the watershed …

  5. StringThursday, December 11th, 2008 — 9:34am PST

    I have wondered about Seymour. It is my family name and we also call ourselves “seemer”. I am English and know a bit about the history there but nothing for here. I think there was a side of the family that travelled as the same name has turned up in Hong Kong!

  6. Metro Vancouver Park Series: Cates Park » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittMonday, June 29th, 2009 — 8:13am PDT

    […] location including signs of the old Dollarton Mill burner (read a little bit about ‘Cates‘ in one of my previous local history posts). Source: […]

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