The area remained unsettled until 1888 when Arthur Wilson bought 16 hectares (43 acres) of land that cornered on Knight and Westminster Highway (Kingsway) and began the Cedar Cottage Nursery. Within a few years, others bought large tracts of land around Trout Lake for farming. The interurban line built to link Vancouver with New Westminster in 1891 opened up the Kensington-Cedar Cottage area, drawing merchants who opened shops around the tram stop at 18th and Commercial, and more farmers.
In 1894, a bank and a two-room schoolhouse opened on 20th Avenue between Clark Drive and Inverness Street. By 1910, a small but independent village with a post office, 40 stores and a two-storey school (Lord Selkirk which still stands today) had sprung up around the 3500-3600 blocks of Commercial Drive. However, as the automobile became more popular during the 1910s and 20s, Kingsway became a major thoroughfare drawing the businesses south, away from the old village centre.
By the beginning of World War 1, Cedar Cottage was no longer rural. Small wooden and stucco houses lined the streets. Workers spent ten hours a day in the factories, either riding the tram to the mills that lined False Creek or walking to one of Cedar Cottage's growing number of industries: Nanaimo Foundry, Bader's Biscuits, Marston's Sash and Door, Tait Pipe and Fletcher's Meats, to name a few.
After World War II, Gladstone High School was built on what once had been a dairy farm. The community was also the beneficiary of over $4 million through the federal government's Neighbourhood Improvement Program in the late 1970s. Local citizens working with City staff brought about a wide range of improvements to the neighbourhood including: the city's first storefront library near Kingsway and Knight, the Trout Lake Community Centre, Brewers, Clark and Cedar Cottage Parks, and beautification of Commercial Street.
Rapid growth and significant neighbourhood change in the past few decades have left Kensington-Cedar Cottage with few notable heritage buildings. Exceptions include Sir Alexander Mackenzie School and Lord Selkirk School. Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, at 960 East 39th Avenue, was completed in 1930. The school is one of the earliest surviving examples of the cast-in-place concrete construction method pioneered by architects Townley and Matheson.
Lord Selkirk School, at 1750 East 22nd Avenue, was designed by W.T. Whiteway and built in 1908. The building is characterized by a high bellcast hipped roof, extensive use of tall windows, and a round-headed entry arch.
The house at 3845 Dumfries is reputed to have been the Wayside Inn, and is a reminder of a time when travelers followed Westminster Road (now Kingsway), from Vancouver to New Westminster. Its simple detailing is indicative of an early, functional building style that did not involve elaborate decoration.
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?
When Trout Lake froze in the winter, young entrepreneurs would rent skates from tents and sell food and drink from booths set up around the lake.In its heyday, between 1908 and 1929.
Cedar Cottage was a bustling little village in the countryside, outside Vancouver's boundaries. On Saturday nights, the Salvation Army band would play and stores and banks would remain open until 9 p.m. People would come to shop, eat, take in a movie, or ride the roller coaster.