The local Musqueam people lived here in the ancient village of Ee'yullmough and the earliest modern immigrants were attracted to the site as well. Spaniard Jose Narvaez and his crew rediscovered it in 1791 and named it Langara Point. The next year, Captains Galiano and Valdez ran into Captain Vancouver off the same shore. This meeting led to the naming of two local areas: Spanish Banks and English Bay. In 1865 Jeremiah Rogers set up the first logging camp and cut down the giant fir trees for use as "the best spars in the world." In the 1870s others set up a whaling station here.
By 1897, the area's outstanding recreational potential was evident, yet only 54 property owners had set up homes. They were soon joined by the Government Reserves, which recognized the area's strategic location and set up a post at the Point and along Jericho (now the site of UBC, Jericho Park, the former School for the Deaf and Blind, and the Jericho army base). In the 1920s, its strategic location made it an ideal air station site from which flying boats would chase rumrunners, map the coastline, and track illegal immigrants. During war years, anti-submarine reconnaissance was performed from the site.
In 1908, the Municipality of Point Grey was established by breaking away from the Municipality of South Vancouver. The newly-elected Council moved quickly to improve access and services to the area. In that first year of incorporation, water service reached West Point Grey, construction began on the scenic Northwest Marine Drive, and the Jericho Golf and Country Club opened.
In 1909, a one-room schoolhouse was built for the area's 24 children. The wooden structure still stands on the bluffs overlooking Spanish Banks, dwarfed by the newer Queen Mary School.
Despite the municipality's investment in roads, sewers and parks, development lagged. To spur new development, a tax was levied on all unimproved land. That year, 1912, $250,000 worth of building permits were issued and the boom began. Commercial development followed and by 1924, 40 shops lined 10th Avenue between Tolmie and Trimble Streets.
In 1921, construction began on the Pacific Coast Station of the Royal Canadian Air Force at Jericho Beach. When the federal government decided to move the station in 1967, the future of the Jericho lands became an issue. Far-sighted citizens and politicians finally agreed that the area should be a park, and in the early 1970s an additional 54 hectares (133 acres) of recreational land was made available to the public.
West Point Grey retains most of its original homes, and features some older mansions, notably two 1913 Tudor revival mansions designed by well-known local architect Samuel Maclure. Rear House is now the Aberthau Cultural Centre while Brock House, on Jericho Beach, is a senior's activity centre and a restaurant.
The Old Hastings Mill Store Museum, in Pioneer Park at the foot of Alma,was the general store for the Hastings Mill, the first industrial building in Vancouver. Built in 1865, it is the oldest building in Vancouver and was moved to this site in 1930. The building was also Vancouver's first post office, first library, and first community centre. Today, the store is a museum, owned and operated by the Native Daughters of B.C.
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.