Sam Greer and Greer's Beach
Sam Greer - a family perspective
Sam Greer – Greer’s Beach
The Fall of 1891 is when our Family story of Greer’s Beach began. Our Great Grandfather Sam Greer was forced off his 200 acres of land in English Bay called Greer’s Beach, known today as Kitsilano and Kit’s Beach.
When Sam Greer bought his land and set up his homestead it was of little value. The CPR was heading West and refused to go any further than Port Moody unless it was granted the foreshore rights of English Bay that included Greer’s Beach. Although his land was expropriated and the foreshore lease granted to the CPR the railway never went through to Greer’s Beach, however his land was never returned to him but rather taken by the politicians.
Locals had realized and were enjoying the beauty of Greer’s Beach, the CPR was forcing the hand of the Provincial politician’s and City officials and the powers that be also wanted their stake in what had become very valuable land. None were willing to let an Irish settler named Sam Greer get in their way.
A posse of the sheriff, deputies, CPR men and a few heavy weights picked up by boat along the way, arrived on the shore of Greer’s Beach on that fateful day in September 1891 to move the Greer family off their land. They were met by a feisty Sam Greer who was ready to defend his family, their home and his land. As the men loaded the family belongings into a boxcar his six children would remove them out the other side. Not making much progress the posse got rough and Sam is alleged to have fired a warning shot that struck the sheriff, grazing his face. As he was led off to jail they burned his house, barn and stables to the ground. There was such uproar from the public about Greer being forced off his land that upon his release from jail a civic reception was held in his honour.
It is reported that those who took Greer’s Beach wanted no trace of it left behind. The only visible marker that remains today in Vancouver that Greer’s Beach ever existed is a tiny street named Greer Street in the Kits Point neighbourhood.
Our Great Grandfather fought until his death in 1925 at age 82 for justice and his land, stolen from him by Provincial & Federal Politicians of the day.
Sam Greer was a brave and strong willed pioneer who left his mark on Vancouver’s history.
Katharine (Draney) Burega – Sam Greer’s Great Granddaughter
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Page 73 of Gerald Wellburn's Historic Vancouver album
Page 73 of Gerald Wellburn's Historic Vancouver album is one of the highlights of the collection. An 1884 letter from Sam Greer on Joseph Mannion's Granville Hotel letterhead, witnessed by Matthew Baillie Begbie. Joesph Mannion was an informal Mayor of early Vancouver. The Granville Hotel was opened by him in opposition to Gassy Jack's hotel. A period of 'commercial expansion' in Burrard Inlet notes Wellburn.
Sam Greer fought a war with the C.P.R. and was evicted from Greer's Beach. Vancouver's postmaster, and former Gastown lawman, Jonathan Miller chose the new name Kitsilano for Greer's Beach.
Joseph Mannion Unofficial first mayor of Vancouver b. March 17, 1839, County Mayo, Ire.; d. Sept. 12, 1918, Lillooet, B.C. Left priestly studies to hunt for gold in the Cariboo, arriving in New Westminster on April 19, 1862. From 1864, worked as a stevedore, telegraph company employee, miner and logger. In 1874, bought a half interest in the Granville Hotel (later sole proprietor). In 1881, his two sons drowned when their canoe was swamped on English Bay. Known as "the mayor of Granville" before the first official mayor, M.A. MacLean, was elected. Elected alderman (1888) but resigned and moved to 160 acres on Bowen Island. "Settled into the life of a country squire." from History of Metropolitan Vancouver
Mr J M Spinks
July 2nd 1884
Sir I got your letter
To day with Cheque I am going
to put on Some Chinamen to Clear on the Beach to
Keep every person off
I was offered $500 for my
Bargain but Indian Agent McTiernan
helped me out. This is the best
property on the Bay I got $75
from Henderson to help
me on the Bill of Sale. It is through
Mr. McTiernan I got the land I had no
Dealing with the Indians it is Signed and
Sealed In your Name Drawed up
by Howse & Rickman by a Lawyer
20 Men has asked me for a Intrest
this is good property Come over at once
Yours truly S. Greer
Page 73 with Sam Greer's letter is offered as Lot 72 in our current auction
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