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Johnson Wharf

Johnson Wharf is named after Captain C. Gardner Johnson (1857-1926), a Scottish mariner who arrived in Vancouver in 1885 to open the City’s first shipping and insurance agency in 1886.

Located at the foot of Carrall Street, the $60,000 Johnson Wharf was constructed in 1907.  The 1,020 ft (310 m) long finger pier was built using specially treated teredo-proof wooden piles costing $10,000 and included a 300-by-50 ft (90-by-15 m) single storey freight shed. A railway siding ran out the full length of the pier and flanked the freight shed on the east. Two other large freight sheds (130-by-30 ft (40-by-9 m) and 100-by-30 ft (30-by-9 m)) were also constructed.[i]


In May 1920, the CPR cancelled Johnson Wharf Co.’s lease so that its ocean steamers could use the then renamed CPR Pier H. The CPR found it impossible to berth its vessels elsewhere while its new pier was being constructed.[ii]


Eventually, the pier would be dismantled to make way for the new Centerm.

[i]The Province (Vancouver, BC: May 29, 1907) p 1

[ii] The Province (Vancouver, BC: May 8, 1920) p 5

Notable Event

This February 20, 1909, Vancouver Daily World headline announced that the 6th Regiment, Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles, armed and in full uniform, would travel by steamship to Seattle to participate in a grand military display at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (A-Y-P) Exposition on the weekend of August 20-22, 1909.

Six months later, Lieutenant Colonel F.W. Boultbee commanded the Adjutant, Captain H.D. Hulme to order the regiment, staff, bugle corps and brass band to parade at the Beatty Street Drill Hall on Friday, August 20th at 7 p.m. That evening, after being issued Magazine Lee-Medford rifles complete with bayonets under the watchful eye of Quarter Master Sergeant F. Kennedy, Regimental Sergeant Major H. Heritage inspected the soldiers in their khaki Service Dress with field service caps and white Universal pattern helmets.  Haversacks containing towel, soap and brush were also worn along with grey blankets carried en banderole over the right shoulder. Led by its bands sounding their bugles to clear the way, the Regiment marched out the massive front doors of the Drill Hall in column of route, wheeled right on Beatty Street and carried on down to the Johnson Wharf.  Here at the foot of Carrall Street, the Regiment filed aboard the iron-hulled SS Rupert City.  The Regiment was accompanied on its 120-mile journey south to Seattle by the 18th Field Ambulance (Officer Commanding - Captain F.C. McTavish), No. 101 Vancouver High School Cadets (Officer Commanding - Captain R.N. Davey) and the Vancouver Pipers’ Society band (Pipe Major H. MacKenzie).

Loaded to the gunwales with over 500 men in uniform and 200 civilians, the 310-foot-long steamship set off for the Emerald City after Captain D. Mackenzie gave the order to cast off at 8 p.m. The men were quartered between the decks of the 23-year-old vessel while the officers were provided accommodations in the ship’s cabins.  Impromptu concerts took place mid-deck and were reported to be of a highly entertaining character.  They lasted until “lights out” sounded below and then continued on the upper deck. That first night, the Orderly Officer, Lieutenant J.S. Matthews proceeded with a sergeant to the hold of the ship to see that lights out was observed and first “met” Lieutenant Colonel J.W. Warden, D.S.O., O.B.E. who would later raise the 102nd (Northern British Columbia) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. In the darkness, there was a candle burning. The sergeant called out, “Put that light out.” An answer came out of the night, “I can’t find my blankets.” Lieutenant Matthews asked the sergeant, “Who’s that fellow?” The sergeant replied, “His name’s Warden, a private.”[i]


[i]  van Weelderen, F. Sixth Regiment Will Invade United States, The Duke Volume 2, Issue 21 (Vancouver, BC: BCR (DCO) Association, April 2020)

The Pier
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