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CPR Vancouver Yards circa 1953

Andy Cassidy Collection


Vancouver Yards

Andy Cassidy

This aerial view is likely dated 1953 based on the Granville Street bridge construction at the upper left. There are a number of interesting features in this photograph. First off, all the trains come into Vancouver on the other side of downtown which is way over to the top left of this shot. From there some freight and all the passenger equipment came over to this side of town through the Dunsmuir Tunnel that exited out just a bit east beyond the Cambie Street Bridge. The freight cars were marshalled around the Centre Yard that ran closest to the downtown buildings. You can also see some passenger equipment stored in about the middle there. Farther west from there was where the BC Electric Railway, (BCER), interchanged their traffic. They came and went over the Kitsilano Trestle that you can see going diagonally between the Burrard Street Bridge and the newly constructed Granville Street Bridge. If you have a close look at the Burrard Bridge, you can see that it was designed to accept a rail bridge on its lower level, although this was never utilized. The Kits trestle was removed in 1982 along with the rest of the rail infrastructure in the photo to make way for Expo 86. The whole area is high-rise buildings now.

Carrying on looking at the yard. At the bottom closest to the water you see the tracks that run along the south leg of the "Y" and over to the Coach Yard at the far left. This is all Q-Yard. At the time of this photo this area of the operation was a going concern. Passenger operations were the mainstay. At the bottom right is where the Wash Rack is located, and just south of that are those other tracks that seem to be where they are ripping out the broken grain doors from the box cars there. The "Y" was used to turn engines and cars for the trip back east. That runs on the south side of the roundhouse over towards the shed where they used to clean carpeting from the coaches just before going into the coach yard. Then it goes right in front of the turntable heading north over the crossings and northwest up past the Stores Warehouse and Office buildings. That road crossing the yard into downtown at that point is Drake Street.

Looking at the shop complex there starting at the middle of the photo is the loco servicing area. There is no infrastructure in place here at that time for Diesels. That comes soon after. If you look close you can see features such as the water tower, sand shed and tower, oil tank, coal chute, etc. Now another lost point that many are unaware of is the garden that was kept there by the guys. That is that triangular patch in the south corner of the "Y". Look close. Now looking at the Roundhouse you can see a few loco's sitting outside. All those bays on the south side were handed over to CP Transport some years later. I'm quite sure they got the ten bays on that side. Then what was left was renumbered from 1 to 12. Pit 1 was where we kept the oil car for the shop boiler operation. Pit 2 was where the 2860 was later kept till rebuilt in 1975. Pits 3 to 9 were used for servicing etc. And pits 10 to 12 were the newer addition that had the overhead crane installed and on track 11 was where we had the 35 ton jacks to lift the diesel units to pull trucks out. Directly behind the roundhouse was the Machine Shop where all the metalworking etc was done. And beyond that was the Administration Building, Electrical Shop, Upholstery Shop, Car Repair Shop, Car Drop Table and Rabbit, Wheel Lathe, and so on. You can see the boiler house stack just behind the roundhouse to the south of the Machine Shop building.

The buildings running parallel to the Coach Yard track are the Coach Yard, Office, Electrical, Plumber, Car Cleaners, Dining Car Services, Etc. Up at the top left is the area where Johnston Terminals was located. I'm not sure if they were there at the time of this shot. Just up from that you can see another bridge crossing False Creek and that's the 2nd Granville Street Bridge that was torn down once the new one was finished in 1954. You can see it has a swing span for marine traffic.
There are many other items of interest to people who know the area, but the last thing I'll note is the area at the top middle just to the north west of the Burrard Street Bridge, and that's the RCAF storage depot that is now Vanier Park, once an Indian Reserve. Looking to the right out of the photo, is the BCER Carrall Street Yard.

False Creek

Aerial view of Downtown Vancouver from the South West and you can see the Drake Street area in the foreground. The tracks merge under the Granville Bridge and end up going over the Kitsilano Trestle, that is open in this shot. That goes over to the Arbutus line that at the time was serviced by the BC Electric Railway.
They interchanged traffic in the Centre Yard. 1977

A view of the False Creek Marina and Ondines Restaurant that was built there. This was just south of Drake Street roundhouse area. They built an Intermodal terminal just north of the road between the marina and the rail yard. You can see the green containers there. It was funny when they built that small container handling area. Hastily built with no consideration to the weight of a top loading container lift truck when picking up a full container. The first day they had the machine in action it picked up a box and proceeded to sink into the ground. Nobody could believe the size of the tires on these things when it arrived! Quite a mess to dig it out. It was a very small pad and was later replaced by Mayfair out in Coquitlam, and now today is at the big Vancouver Intermodal Freight, (VIF), facility out in Pit Meadows east of Coquitlam.

Now see all those nice sail boats in the marina. Here again nobody was thinking. We didn’t have any sophisticated waste water treatment facility there. All our wash and waste water went through a primitive separator and then right into the drink. Nobody used to think about where wash water and spilled oil went in those days. We just washed it all down the drain. Imagine the shock when the boaters woke up to see oil all around their nice new boats. Then there was the time they woke up to find soot all over the tops of their boats. That was when the power house boiler tubes were cleaned up with a little sand tossed through the tubes one night. August 1977.


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