Vancouver History: Robert Burnaby

Monday, June 29th, 2009 — 11:00am PDT
Comments 6

I was browsing my favourite Vancouver History site the other day and came across a mention that Robert Burnaby has more landmarks named after him than any other BC pioneer. With so many streets, parks, and monuments dedicated to those who helped shape our region I decided to look a bit further into Burnaby’s past to see what made him rise above the rest.

Photo credit: Derek K Miller on Flickr

Robert Burnaby was from Woodthorpe, Leicestershire, England and arrived in BC in the 1850s to survey New Westminster, upon the request of Col. Richard Moody (who also made him his secretary).

“Richard has got Mr. Burnaby now as his “Private Secretary” which will I trust be a great comfort to him, as he had no help before, and the letters of all kinds were innumerable.” — 3rd March, 1859, From the Letters of Mary S. Moody [source]

He was a businessman, dealing with affairs in Victoria as well as exploring areas in the Lower Mainland, in particular the region around Burnaby Lake in 1859. In 1892 the municipality of Burnaby received its charter of incorporation, and was named in his honor by Moody. According to the City’s website, “he has given his name to a city, a park, a lake, a hill, a Vancouver street, a mountain range in McKenzie Sound, an island and a narrows in the Queen Charlotte Islands.” Burnaby also spent time serving in the BC Legislature in Victoria.

Photo credit: Marina on Flickr

You can explore the various landmarks, including the city, or even Robert Burnaby Park to enjoy his legacy. The park features a baseball diamond, dog off leash area, casual picnic area, playground, outdoor swimming pool, tennis, walking and hiking trails, disc golf course. Also, according to entertainment podcaster Marina Antunes, the park was also the home to the “Cabin in the Woods” and various sets for New Moon and Battlestar Gallactica.

For more information about local namesakes, I would recommend checking out the book Namely Vancouver: A Hidden History of Vancouver Place Names or browsing the Hall of Fame on the Vancouver History website.

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  1. Marina says:

    Thanks so much for the love… and for sharing that picture. It’s one of my faves!

  2. Jessica says:

    Always passed by the portrait of Robert Burnaby in elementary school, but never knew his story. Thanks for the history lesson!

    Robert Burnaby Park also has horse / equestrian trails, an area for archery, a rowing clubhouse and launch area, nature house, a wildlife rehabilitation “center”, and several soccer fields. There are also nature walks periodically throughout the year.

  3. Even though I grew up in Burnaby, I never gave much thought to the city’s namesake. It was just home. Looking back, I still like the times I spent wandering around Burnaby lake as a kid. I’m tempted to walk the length of that trail that runs all the way around it (is that still there? I haven’t been out that way in ages.).

  4. Thanks fo reh little piece of history – now I can wow my friends from Vancouver when I come visit. For some reason I find it funny that Robert Burnaby Park has a disc golf course… I wonder what Robbie would think of that.

  5. This is a beautiful lake, in the summertime you can rent small pedal boats for nominal fee and cruise around the lake, i would highly recommend it.



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  6. i love to play archery because i idolize robin hood, archery is also the sport of my daddy”          

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