Three bridges and a light rapid transit line across the Fraser River make Marpole a bustling gateway to Vancouver from the south and from the city's international airport. The area has a mix of residential housing, including low-rise apartments, and several major commercial streets, including shopping along Granville Street. Marpole slopes south from Oakridge into the Fraser River.
This area has a community plan that has been recently completed:
It is believed the Marpole area was inhabited as far back as 3500 B.C. Two early village sites discovered along the north shore of the Fraser have been documented by archaeologists.
Today, a stone cairn and a plaque in Marpole Park reminds visitors of the Marpole Midden, evidence of Marpole's earliest settlement. The Marpole Midden was discovered by workers in 1889 during the extension of Granville Street. Many tools, weapons and other artifacts were found in what proved to be one of the largest village sites discovered in North America.
First settled by non-natives in the 1860s, Marpole was originally called "Eburne Station" after Harry Eburne, the area's first storekeeper and postmaster. At the time, it was a small town separated from the rest of the city by many miles of forest.
At the turn of the 20th century, Eburne grew and prospered with construction of the Vancouver Lulu Island Railway and the B.C. Electric interurban train line. Business people realized the riverfront's industrial potential, and gradually sawmills, shingle mills, sand and gravel companies came to the area. In 1916, the area was renamed for CPR General Superintendent Richard Marpole. By 1929, when the community amalgamated with Vancouver, Marpole had become one of the city's major industrial centres.
When the Oak Street Bridge opened in 1957 the historic business district along Hudson and Marine suffered a serious decline as traffic shifted to Oak Street several blocks to the east.
In the 1960s, the area south of 70th Avenue was rezoned and low-rise stucco walkups began to replace the original homes. In 1975, when the Arthur Laing Bridge opened to airport traffic, commercial activity focused once again on Granville Street.
A number of heritage buildings remain in Marpole including Lloyd George School, Colbourne House at 8743 South West Marine Drive, Abbeyfield House, and Firehall No. 22.
After the Fire Department outgrew the building the 1924 Firehall No. 22 was converted, with minimal alternation to the exterior, into Marpole Place, a seniors' centre and neighbourhood house.
Abbeyfield House, at 67th Avenue and Hudson Street, was built in 1912 as a private residence. In 1928, the Craftsman-style home was transformed into the city's first Children's Hospital. The home is now an independent living facility for seniors, operated by the Abbeyfield House of Vancouver Society.
Detailed information on the city's heritage and a complete list of heritage buildings is available at City of Vancouver Heritage.
Additional information is available through the City of Vancouver Archives.