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About Burnaby

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The municipality of Burnaby received its charter of incorporation on September 22, 1892.

The land that Burnaby is on has always been home to diverse communities of indigenous peoples.

Burnaby is located on the ancestral and unceded homelands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples. We are grateful for the opportunity to be on this territory.

The earliest known human occupation of the Lower Fraser Valley dates to approximately 10,000 years ago, shortly after the retreat of the last glaciers. However, the present configuration of the Fraser River and the height of sea levels did not stabilize until at least 5,000 years ago, creating the unique land forms and lush native vegetation of Burnaby.

A complex society of aboriginal peoples utilized many locations around Burnaby as seasonal food gathering and camp sites, leaving behind today’s archaeological resources.


The year 1825 marked the founding of Fort Langley by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The establishment of the fur trade economy and the immigration of Europeans to the region would radically alter settlement patterns, health and population of First Nations. When gold was discovered on the sandbars of the Lower Fraser River, it started a human stampede to the newly incorporated Crown Colony of British Columbia in 1858.


The development of Burnaby was sparked by the creation of the City of New Westminster in 1860 and the arrival of the transcontinental railway and incorporation of the City of Vancouver in 1886. 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 local landowners and residents paid went straight to Victoria, the new provincial capital of B.C. 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 urban 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 another settlement within the municipality.

Burnaby's population has since grown to over 232,000. 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 per cent of the employment in Burnaby. This reflects Burnaby's growing role as a diverse urban centre.

In 1992, the City of 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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