In its natural state, Arbutus Ridge consisted of uplands surrounding a low-lying marsh known as Asthma Flats. The original inhabitants fished the local streams, although there is no record of settlement. In 1888, the Province turned over 2,100 hectares (5,189 acres) of land in the area to the CPR. Included in this holding was a large portion of what is now the Arbutus Ridge community. Over the years Arbutus Ridge has been part of three municipalities: South Vancouver until 1908; then Point Grey and finally Vancouver in 1929. The crossroads of East/West Boulevard and Wilson Avenue (now 41st Avenue) were the hub of local political activity in those early years.
The community's uplands area (known to residents as Mackenzie Heights) was first to see residential settlement. These uplands, which filled with gracious middle-class homes between 1912 and the 1930s, became identified with the adjacent communities of Dunbar and Kerrisdale. The B.C. Electric's interurban railway line, which connected Steveston with Vancouver in 1905, passed through the Kerrisdale area (with stops at 37th/ East Boulevard and 41st/East Boulevard) acted as a trigger for early development. The railway was replaced with trolley buses in July 1952.
During the 1940s and 1950s sand was brought in from False Creek and the low areas filled in with houses, schools and shops. in the late 1960s a major development occurred within the community when Arbutus Village, a housing and shopping complex was constructed.
A number of homes remain in Arbutus Ridge from Vancouver's early settlement years. Of particular heritage significance are several period homes on 37th Avenue built in 1912, in the English Arts and Crafts Style, by prominent architect G.L. Thornton Sharp. Sharp is credited with helping to define Vancouver's identity in the first half of this century.
St. Mary's Kerrisdale Anglican Church, also built in the English Arts and Crafts style, is an important heritage structure and neighbourhood landmark. The original church building was constructed in 1913, but has been expanded many times since. Thornton & Sharp were the original designers. The church hall and Sunday School (designed by Sharp and Thompson) were added in 1923. Well known Vancouver architects, Twizell and Twizell, extended the east and west portions in 1947. As of June 1992, there were 18 structures in Arbutus Ridge listed on the Vancouver Heritage Inventory.
See detailed information on the city's heritage and a complete list of heritage buildings.
Additional information is available through the City of Vancouver Archives.
Did You Know?
Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell attended Prince of Wales Secondary School. In her senior year she was voted the first female president of the Student's Council.
In the 1920s, residents of Point Grey and Kerrisdale referred to the future Arbutus Ridge area simply as "Asthma Flats." The future neighbourhood was a huge swamp that could only be crossed via a three-plank sidewalk.
Valley Drive dates from the 1870s, when its route was cut through the forest to provide the right-of-way for B.C.'s first logging railway. The street is one of the few streets in the community not oriented to the regular street grid.