Did you know that the Heights was supposed to be Burnaby's toniest neighbourhood?
Charles J. Peter, who managed the G.F. and J. Galt Company, had Overlynn Manor built in 1909 to attract other successful people to the neighbourhood.
"He was hoping to make it the next Shaughnessy," said Mary Briggs, a volunteer with the Burnaby Heights Neighbourhood Association. " Of course, the Depression hit and that didn't pan out as he'd hoped."
However, other homes built in the area between then and the '30s demonstrate what Peter was trying to achieve, with grand houses on large lots, she added.
Burnaby residents can learn more about the history of the Heights at an event being co-sponsored by the association and the Burnaby Public Library.
History in the Heights is being held in the community room of the McGill branch of the library, on Mar. 14 from 7 to 8 p.m.
There will be a presentation on the heritage of the neighbourhood by a staff member from the Burnaby Village Museum, according to Briggs, and a tutorial by City of Burnaby Archives' staff on researching historical information.
Briggs, who has lived in the neighbourhood for seven years, joined the association this year, she said.
Walking through the neighbourhood, one can see the changes in housing development over the years, according to Briggs.
"There was a big gap of time between the wars," she said, "Not a lot of homes were built in the '30s, during the Depression."
But there was another big building boom in the 1940s and '50s, after WWII ended, Briggs added.
The community is one that holds onto its own, she said.
"One of the things we found, after moving into the area about seven years ago, is that a lot of people don't leave," she said, adding they may change homes, but they stay in the area.
Briggs' neighbour was born in her home 70 or 80 years ago and shares her memories of the Heights with Briggs.
"She tells stories of WWII, of having to do the blackouts because they didn't know if the Japanese were going to attack the North West, so they had to put the black paper up on the windows," Briggs said.
Her neighbour also describes how the landscape has changed - how Heights residents used to be able to see all the way to downtown Vancouver, when the only buildings visible were the Hotel Vancouver and the Marine Building.
The History in the Heights event is intended to engage residents by showing them how to access the stories of the area on their own, Briggs said.
"We're just trying to foster community spirit and getting to know your neighbourhood," she said. "The event is basically to share information on the Heights history, some of the pioneers of the area."
The event is free, but space is limited, so those interested in attending should register by calling 604 299-8955, on the library's website, or in person at the library.
For more information, go to www.bpl.bc.ca/events/history-in-the-heights.
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