George Wales was the first to settle in northern Killarney, which actually developed as the outskirts of the village of Collingwood. In 1878, he bought 221 acres (90 hectares) for $1 an acre. The street on which his house stood still bears the family name today. The remaining land was auctioned off in 160-acre parcels in 1888, and by 1890, the No. 1 Road (now 45th Avenue) and the No. 2 Road (now 54th Avenue) were built along the properties' northern boundaries.
Perhaps the most important transportation route was the interurban line, built in 1891. The interurban tracks followed along Vanness Avenue and crossed Kingsway at Central Park. Residential development followed along the interurban route, and eventually the street grid moved southward towards Marine Drive, bringing settlers into Killarney and the Champlain Heights area.
Between 1892 and 1929 Killarney was a part of the District of South Vancouver. In 1929, it amalgamated with The City of Vancouver. In 1913 Westminster Road was paved and renamed Kingsway. Gradually the business area developed at Kingsway and Joyce. When the bog area south of No.1 Road (now 45th Avenue) was drained and developed at Killarney Street, and the new high school and community centre were built, the area became known as Killarney.
In the 1970s, the southern part of the area was transformed into Champlain Heights. Champlain Heights is now fully developed, and a new comprehensive residential project, Fraser Lands, is proceeding along the area's most southerly boundary, the Fraser River.
Did you know?
- During the depression of the 1930s, relief workers were put to work clearing land for the Fraserview Golf Course; Vancouver's first public golf course. Before the course opened in 1935, cold and hungry residents were given permits to cut firewood and use the land for vegetable gardens.
- Established in the 1890s, F.R. Stewart's eight hectare fruit farm supplied fruit to the Vancouver market, long before the Okanagan fruit industry evolved.
- Vancouver's first cooperative housing development, DeCosmos Village, was built in Killarney in 1970.