New Brighton was a popular weekend retreat for residents of the province's capital city, New Westminster. By 1868, vacationers, loggers and mill workers made the 16 kilometre journey from New Westminster to the Brighton Hotel via stage coach. From there a ferry, the Sea Foam, commenced a triangular route, first across Burrard Inlet to the logging operation at Moodyville, then back to Stamp's Mill (at the foot of Dunlevy Street), then along the northern shore of the inlet back to New Brighton.
The settlement's name was changed to Hastings (officially the Hastings Townsite) in 1869 to commemorate a visit to the area by Admiral George Fowler Hastings. As Hastings grew, it laid claim to virtually every first for Vancouver: first road, first hotel, first post office, first telephone,first real estate transaction, first subdivision, and even the first ferry between Burrard Inlet and Victoria.
Hastings' role as a resort continued until the turn-of-the-century, with leisure-seekers drawn to the area for the New Brighton Hotel (destroyed by fire in 1905) and the half-mile race track at Hastings Park. Local residents began lobbying for more wholesome activities such as tradeshows for dairy farmers, loggers, and horticulturists. This pressure resulted in the first exhibition, staged by the Vancouver Exhibition Association, in 1910. By 1946, the event's success caused the site to be renamed "Exhibition Park." Today's Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) is the modern day descendent of the Vancouver Exhibition. The PNE's lease with the City was held by the provincial government until 1994. A new agreement was signed by the City and the province, establishing the City as the owner of the site. The city has begun the redevelopment of Hastings Park by removing buildings and developing natural areas, gardens and water features.
Growth in the area was slow, significant development didn't begin until 1911; the year the Hastings Townsite voted to join the City of Vancouver. Hastings laid claim to many of the city's firsts, including first road, first wharf, first post office, first museum and first subdivision. Other firsts included first hotel, first telephone, first real estate transaction, and first ferry between Burrard Inlet and Victoria. Most of the northern half of Hastings-Sunrise, the Hastings portion, was developed for residential use in the 1920s, while the southern portion, Sunrise (the area south of First Avenue), was not developed until the 1940s.
Did you know?
- The named Sunrise wasn't associated with the Hastings-Sunrise area until the 1940s, when a new subdivision called Sunrise Ridge was developed and a nearby park was named Sunrise Park.
- In 1911, the citizens of Hastings Townsite voted 1,200 to 1 in favour of joining the City of Vancouver.
- During the British Empire Games of 1954, held at Hastings Park, runners Roger Bannister and John Landy both completed the mile in under four minutes - a world first. A bronze statue at the corner of Hastings and Renfrew commemorates their achievement.
- The place where New Brighton Pool sits today was once the site of the New Brighton Resort. Established in 1865 at the foot of Windermere Street, the resort was a popular watering hole and summer place for residents of Moodyville, Hastings, Gastown and New Westminster. The resort was a popular place to swim and boat, with amenities that included a hotel, bar, and dining room. New Brighton pool opened in 1936.