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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A geographical study of the Port of Vancouver in relation to its coastal hinterland Cornwall, Ira Hugh Brooke

Abstract

The Port of Vancouver, situated on Burrard Inlet in southwestern British Columbia, is of major importance both as a world deep-sea port and as a coastal port. This importance in a dual function results from: first, the wealth of forestry and fishery resources of coastal British Columbia; secondly, the ability of the port to forward to world markets the produce resulting from these resources; and finally, the fact that Vancouver is a major hulk grain exporting port. The port occupies all of Burrard Inlet which was first seen by Europeans in 1791. It was not until 1859, however, when an unsuccessful attempt was made to mine coal, that any use was made of the area. The years of early growth from 1862 to 1886 were marked first by the start of lumbering on Burrard Inlet followed in 1886 by the incorporation of the City of Vancouver and the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway to Port Moody. By 1919 bulk shipments of wheat from Vancouver via the Panama Canal had been proved as successful. Thus, with wheat shipments established and the lumber industry extending beyond the limits of Burrard Inlet, the Port of Vancouver had become established as a world export centre of wheat and wood products. As Vancouver increased in importance as an exporting port, so there followed an increase in Industrialization with the resultant increase in population, industrial power, supply and rail facilities. However, available industrial locations on the harbour waterfront had become scarce with the result that some new, large industries — most notably pulp and paper — were located in small coastal settlements nearer the sources of raw material. From these small centres there started direct shipments to world markets rather than exclusively through Vancouver. As small out-ports operating alone, it is doubtful if such an arrangement would have been possible; with the attraction of manufactured goods and wheat available in Vancouver, however, it was possible to draw ships to British Columbia and so to the small ports with their special commodities for world markets. At the same time Vancouver profitted because of its own deep-sea shipments, plus the fact that the out-ports are dependent on Vancouver for virtually all requirements of labour, food supply and mechanical equipment. This dependence by the coastal area on Vancouver is the basis of very extensive coastal movement of various specialized types of vessels which operate almost exclusively from Vancouver. Thus the Port of Vancouver, competing economically but cooperating functionally with the out-ports, is a coastal port of major significance while at the same time its world shipments place it in a position of Importance as a deep-sea port.

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