George Wales was the first to settle in northern Killarney, which actually developed as the outskirts of the village of Collingwood. In 1878, he bought 221 acres (90 hectares) for $1 an acre. The street on which his house stood still bears the family name today. The remaining land was auctioned off in 160-acre parcels in 1888, and by 1890, the No. 1 Road (now 45th Avenue) and the No. 2 Road (now 54th Avenue) were built along the properties' northern boundaries.
Perhaps the most important transportation route was the interurban line, built in 1891. The interurban tracks followed along Vanness Avenue and crossed Kingsway at Central Park. Residential development followed along the interurban route, and eventually the street grid moved southward towards Marine Drive, bringing settlers into Killarney and the Champlain Heights area.
Between 1892 and 1929 Killarney was a part of the District of South Vancouver. In 1929, it amalgamated with The City of Vancouver. In 1913 Westminster Road was paved and renamed Kingsway. Gradually the business area developed at Kingsway and Joyce. When the bog area south of No.1 Road (now 45th Avenue) was drained and developed at Killarney Street, and the new high school and community centre were built, the area became known as Killarney.
In the 1970s, the southern part of the area was transformed into Champlain Heights. Champlain Heights is now fully developed, and a new comprehensive residential project, Fraser Lands, is proceeding along the area's most southerly boundary, the Fraser River.
Killarney developed long after most Vancouver neighbourhoods, so the number of heritage buildings within its boundaries is few. Scattered throughout the neighbourhood are examples of early farm houses early residential development from the 1920's and some excellent examples of modern (1960's) residential developments.
Some Killarney's most significant heritage assets relate to the natural environment, reminders of a time when vegetation, not urbanization, dominated the landscape. An example is the line of mature fir trees and small orchard of apple trees planted near the eastern corner of 54th Avenue and Tyne Street. This was the former property of F.W. Stewart, who transplanted the orchard in the late 1800s.
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?
During the depression of the 1930s, relief workers were put to work clearing land for the Fraserview Golf Course; Vancouver's first public golf course. Before the course opened in 1935, cold and hungry residents were given permits to cut firewood and use the land for vegetable gardens.
Established in the 1890s, F.R. Stewart's eight hectare fruit farm supplied fruit to the Vancouver market, long before the Okanagan fruit industry evolved.
Vancouver's first cooperative housing development, DeCosmos Village, was built in Killarney in 1970.