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Pioneers in Burnaby

Before the advent of settlers in the late 1800's, the area now known as Burnaby was a land of tall trees and wilderness.


The earliest pioneers settled the area and the City of Burnaby developed very slowly until 1887.


The Canadian Pacific Railway was extended into Vancouver from the Port Moody terminal. Due to the dramatic increase in traffic between New Westminster and Vancouver, a tram line connecting the two centres through Burnaby was built.

October 1891

The land along the tram route was subdivided and sold. The population of the area along the Canadian Pacific line was only about 200 persons, who were mainly employed in the agriculture or logging industries.


The property taxes the pioneers paid went straight to Victoria, the new provincial capital of BC. The taxes they paid provided no local benefits to pioneers in Victoria and gave them no local benefits. A group of community minded neighbours consolidated to apply for a municipal charter that would guarantee their taxes went to local roads and services.

September 22, 1892

The municipality received its charter of incorporation on September 22, 1892. It was named after Burnaby Lake, which had been named in honour of Robert Burnaby who had explored the region around the lake in 1859. Robert Burnaby, a merchant and businessman, was active in a variety of community affairs and helped develop much of the west coast. Robert Burnaby went on to serve five years in the BC legislature before returning to England because of poor health. In all, he has given his name to a city, a park, a lake, a hill, a Vancouver street, a mountain range in McKenzie Sound, an island and a narrows in the Queen Charlotte Islands.

First Council 1892

The City of Burnaby: New City – Present Day

By 1896, Burnaby had its first park along with a store, post office, two schools and a church. Within five years, the population in South Burnaby had grown to 400. The opening of the Barnet Mill in North Burnaby in 1900 started a second settlement within the municipality.

Almost 100 years later Burnaby's population has grown to over 165,500. Our population continues to grow into the hundred thousands. Read Population and Quick Stats for the most up-to-date information. Burnaby’s economic base has changed from logging and agriculture to service, commercial and industrial activities. Community, business and personal service industries account for approximately 27 percent of the employment in Burnaby. This reflects Burnaby's growing role as an urban centre.

In 1992, Burnaby celebrated its 100th anniversary and officially changed from the Corporation of the District of Burnaby to the City of Burnaby.

History of Municipal City Hall

Although Burnaby was incorporated as a municipality in 1892, its first Municipal Hall was not built until 1899. This Hall was located at Kingsway and Edmonds. At the time, there was no question that this was the most appropriate location. It was close to the tram line on Kingsway and at the population centre of South Burnaby.

1911 Municipal Hall

Municipal Hall - 1911

1956 Municipal Hall

Municipal Hall - 1956

Two subsequent municipal halls were built at the same location on Kingsway and Edmonds. In 1911 a large brick hall was built to reflect Burnaby's growth into a large suburban municipality and remained in use for over forty years.

As the rest of Burnaby developed, residents in North Burnaby felt that the Edmonds and Kingsway location was too far to travel. A debate on where to build the new Municipal Hall began when staff outgrew the two buildings at Edmonds in 1954. The debate ended when politicians decided to build at the exact geographic centre of the Municipality. Fortunately, this was a beautiful location in the Central Valley near Deer Lake with a sweeping view of Burnaby Lake and the mountains. The official opening ceremony of the Municipal Hall at 4949 Canada Way was on June 22, 1956 where Reeve Charles MacSorley received keys to the Hall from the contractor.

Burnaby City Hall

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