Larwill Park, also known as the Cambie Street Grounds, is a former park and sporting field in what is now downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Larwill Park was the location of the bus depot of Pacific Coach Stage Lines and Greyhound Bus Lines from World War II until 1993, when the bus depot moved to Pacific Central Station. Since then, Larwill Park has been a parking lot. The Vancouver Art Gallery has selected it for the location of a new museum building.
Location and history
Bounded by Cambie, Dunsmuir, Beatty and Georgia Streets, the former park occupied a whole city block and was laid out at the time of the CPR Townsite survey in the early 1880s. It was Vancouver's second sporting grounds, the first being on Brockton Point in what is now Stanley Park, and was used for all kinds of sports. A house on the corner of the lot was occupied by an Alfred Larwill ("Al" or "Fred") who good-naturedly stored all kinds of game equipment in his toolshed and allowed team members to use his dining room for a dressing room.
Located midway between the city's old downtown around Gastown Hastings Street and newer areas uptown around Granville, the park naturally became a centre for public meetings, the most infamous one was a rally by the Knights of Labour which led to the Anti-Oriental Riots of 1907, with the Beatty Street Drill Hall, across Beatty Street on the block's northeast flank, serving as a stage and podium. Baseball, cricket and lacrosse teams made use of the field year round. The playing fields also served as military drill-grounds, with the city's first muster being called up for the Boer War using the site for that purpose, as well as for World Wars I and II. The site was also a main site for rallies of demonstrations by the unemployed and labour organizations in the 1930s.
In July 1943 (during World War II), a ceremony was held to dedicate the park to Al Larwill, some 32 years after his death in 1911. However, later that year, while the men who had used it for sport and politics were away at war and not around to prevent it, the site was converted into the bus depot.
Often used for parking by Canada Post trucks and for film production "circuses", the lot was one of two main sites for cultural events and "nightly celebrations", although not an official venue, during the 2010 Winter Olympics. In the Vancouver Stanley cup riots of June 15, 2011, violence erupted in Downtown Vancouver following Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Rioting crowds entered the lot and multiple cars were burned.
Future Vancouver Art Gallery site
After the bus depot vacated Larwill Park in 1993, it became the only block of vacant public land in downtown Vancouver. It was proposed as a location for various cultural facilities, including the Vancouver Art Gallery. On April 24, 2013, Vancouver City Council voted to designate the property for a new Art Gallery building. On September 29, 2015, the Art Gallery unveiled drawings by architects Herzog & de Meuron for a new museum building. Relocating to Larwill Park will double the Art Gallery's exhibition space. They will break ground in 2017.
- "Cambie Street parking lot hides turn-of-the-century sporting paradise", Archie McDonald, The Vancouver Sun, Feb. 4, 1994: D16
- It's Vancouver, but not as we know it, Vancouver Sun, June 3, 2008
- Vancouver 2010 Party Places
- Staging The Games, Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, February 11, 2008
- Images on Flickr
- "New Art Gallery." Vancouver Art Gallery. Accessed September 29, 2015.
- "Herzog & de Meuron’s design for new Vancouver Art Gallery unveiled." Canadian Architect, September 29, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2015.