On behalf of the Government of Canada, Granville Island is managed by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
“To steward this public land for meaningful urban and social experimentation among diverse, creative, cultural, and business models, engaging local First Nations and communities while welcoming the world.”
“The most inspiring public place in the world.”
In the 1970’s, Granville Island began its successful transformation from an industrial wasteland to one of the most beloved public spaces in Vancouver.
As Vancouver’s premier artistic and cultural hub, located in an urban, waterfront location and steeped in a rich industrial and maritime heritage, this unique destination attracts millions of visitors each year from Vancouver and around the world.
The charm of Granville Island lies in its unexpected mix of uses. The famous Public Market, open daily from 9 am to 7 pm, is home to more than 50 independent food purveyors and contributes to the Island’s appeal as a renowned culinary destination. In the Net Loft Shops and Railspur District, many of Canada’s best artists and designers can be found. Granville Island is home to many cultural venues and hosts numerous performing arts and cultural festivals year-round.
Operationally self-sustaining, Granville Island is home to more than 300 businesses employing more than 3,000 people.
First Nation’s History on Granville Island
with review provided by:
Chief Janice George, Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish)
There are more than 630 First Nation communities in Canada, which represent more than 50 Nations and 50 Indigenous languages.
The xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples are indigenous to the area around Vancouver and have lived on these lands for thousands of years.
The Salish, the Indigenous people of the area, used a large sand bar (later filled in to become an Industrial Island, then Granville Island), and the surrounding areas for traditional purposes such as hunting, gathering, travel, and everyday living and cultural activities.
The area around Granville Island historically provided a plentiful harvest of wild game, such as deer, elk, bear and beaver, along with waterfowl such as duck. The waters were said to haveteemed with flounder, perch, and salmon. The Salish people harvested clams, oysters, urchin, herring and cod, and hunted deer. Berries and a variety of wild plants such as cabbage and mushrooms were nurtured and harvested from the surrounding area by all three local Nations for medicinal and early technology. Shellfish harvesting in the area was closed in 1972.
With such a rich sand bar, the Salish people had a saying, “when the tide went out, the table was set,” meaning that when the tide went out, they could walk with the tide and have enough food for their families.
The sea and its abundance also brought the Squamish people to the area each season. There is some discrepancy over the date of permanent settlement, but most agree that the Squamish inhabited Sen̓áḵw, an ancient village in, what is now the False Creek area, as early as 1821 or possibly as late as the 1850s.
The Squamish leader, Chief Khahtsahlano, led a group to settle in today’s Stanley Park, near Prospect Point, while his brother, Chipkaayam (also known as Chief George) settled in False Creek because of the plentiful duck hunting, fish trapping and natural resources.
In 1863, the British Columbia Mill Company opened a sawmill on Burrard Inlet and what had been a seasonal settlement at the Burrard Inlet became more permanent as the Squamishpeople moved in large numbers to work at the sawmill along with the Musqueam. Many nations fished the Fraser River area. Due to sustained contact with white colonialists, the economy changed drastically, moving from one of traditional subsistence on the land, to paid labour.
In 1868, with many non-Indigenous people settling into the area, the federal governmentprotected it, establishing it as a 37-acre reserve, called the Kitsilano Reserve (what they thought was a rough translation of Khahtsahlano) expanding the reserve to 80 acres in 1876.
By 1884, the sawmill industry on Burrard Inlet had grown, moving into what is now False Creek, creating a labour market for both the Squamish and Tsleil-Watuth men, who focused work on both the sawmills and long shoring.
In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) that they could reclaim the area of their traditional village Sen̓áḵw beside Granville Island. The land behind theformer Molson Brewery and under the Burrard Street Bridge was handed back to the nation byCP Rail in this important court case.
Today, industry on Granville Island has changed with the times and there are several Indigenous-owned galleries and stores. What hasn’t changed is that Granville Island residents are still proud to work and play on territories that are the ancestral lands for all three nations, the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh).
For any administration inquiries please contact the Granville Island Administration Office.
1661 Duranleau Street,
Vancouver, BC V6H 3S3
604 666-6655 Tel
604 666-7376 Fax
You can also contact us via email through [email protected]
Other Organisations on Granville Island