Sam Greer, Kitsilano

Sam Greer

black and white photo of Sam Greer

All Nations Stamp and Coin have sold material from Sam Greer’s estate including his handwritten sketches of Greer’s beach, legal documents, letters and more. 

For more background to Sam Greer’s story see the Monte Cristo magazine long read The Hidden History of Kitsilano Beach by Jesse Donaldson

Sam Greer – a family perspective

bw photo of 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

John Streit News1130

The Sam Greer 1884 handdrawn map and landclaim letter to what became Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach is one of the highlights of the Gerald Wellburn historic Vancouver collection. Lot 117. Realized $33,000

page 4 with hand drawn map and notes

See more pages of this letter here

Here’s a riveting acount of the Sam Greer story by a local historian Laura Ishiguro.   It’s a youtube video 75 minutes long.
“historian Laura Ishiguro unravels the fascinating story of Sam Greer and his family beginning with the notorious “Battle for Kitsilano” in 1891 and travelling back over decades of his erratic wanderings through the BC Interior and the USA. His estranged relationship with his first wife and the life of his daughter Jessie Greer Hall open a window onto the world of settler women in the 19th century. The film concludes with an interview with Greer’s great granddaughter who attended the lecture. “

Thank you to Vancouver Historical Society Published on 11 Apr 2019

Map drawn by man who bought Kits Beach for $200 sells at auction for $33,000

Vancouver Sun article by Glenda Luymes 1st July 2017
Drawn by settler Sam Greer, the map was sold by All Nations Stamp and Coin for more than five times its original estimated price.

sketch map on wellburn page

“The map is incredibly rare,” said All Nations owner Brian Grant Duff, who admits his estimate was “conservative.”

The map sold Saturday was part of an extensive collection assembled by collector Gerald Wellburn, who died in 1993. JOHN YANYSHYN Other items in the collection, which came from an album put together by the late Gerald Wellburn, a legendary collector of B.C. stamps and ephemera, have been auctioned off over the last two years, with another Greer map (which was likely drawn by someone else) fetching $24,200 in May, and a Gassy Jack letter selling for $44,000 in 2016.

The map sold on Canada Day was drawn by Greer and also included a land claim letter, said Duff. It was bought by a collector with an interest in local history.

In 1884, Greer bought 200 acres from four First Nations men for $200, then built a farmhouse near the beach and planted some fruit trees.

According to the maps, his claim extended from Balsam to Chestnut streets, and from the water to West Fourth Avenue. It would have included all of Kits Beach and Kits Point save for today’s Vanier Park.

The next year, the provincial government included Greer’s land in the 6,000 acres it gave the Canadian Pacific Railway, a deal that persuaded the railway to put its terminus in what is now Vancouver rather than Port Moody.

The CPR tried to put a rail line and telegraph poles through Greer’s claim, but he tore up the rail ties and cut down the poles. The railway retaliated by tearing down his house while he was away, twice.

Finally, in 1891, the railway convinced the police to evict him.

“They were met by a feisty Sam Greer who was ready to defend his family, their home and his land,” according to a letter posted on the All Nations website by Greer’s great-granddaughter Katharine Draney Burega. “As the men loaded the family belongings into a boxcar, his six children would remove them out the other side.”

Greer fired a warning shot that struck the sheriff and was initially charged with attempted murder. The charge was reduced to assault causing bodily harm, and he was convicted on Nov. 16, 1891 and sentenced to 27 months of hard labour in the B.C. Penitentiary.

Because of the support he had in the community, he was released after a few months. He continued to fight for his claim until he died on April 6, 1925.

Duff said the letter was a great fit for his Canada Day auction.

“It’s an opportunity to consider our history and what went on before we were here,” he said. “The colonial history meeting the native history — the map is an illustration of that.”

Sam Greer material in All Nations auctions from 2017

Recent Highlights