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Historic Vancouver

Sam Greer and Greer's Beach


Sam Greer

Sam Greer - a family perspective

Sam Greer – Greer’s Beach

The Fall of 1891 is when our Family story of Greer’s Beach began.  Our Great Grandfather Sam Greer was forced off his 200 acres of land in English Bay called Greer’s Beach, known today as Kitsilano and Kit’s Beach. 

When Sam Greer bought his land and set up his homestead it was of little value. The CPR was heading West and refused to go any further than Port Moody unless it was granted the foreshore rights of English Bay that included Greer’s Beach.  Although his land was expropriated and the foreshore lease granted to the CPR the railway never went through to Greer’s Beach, however his land was never returned to him but rather taken by the politicians.

Locals had realized and were enjoying the beauty of Greer’s Beach, the CPR was forcing the hand of the Provincial politician’s and City officials and the powers that be also wanted their stake in what had become very valuable land.  None were willing to let an Irish settler named Sam Greer get in their way.

A posse of the sheriff, deputies, CPR men and a few heavy weights picked up by boat along the way, arrived on the shore of Greer’s Beach on that fateful day in September 1891 to move the Greer family off their land.   They were met by a feisty Sam Greer who was ready to defend his family, their home and his land.   As the men loaded the family belongings into a boxcar his six children would remove them out the other side.   Not making much progress the posse got rough and Sam is alleged to have fired a warning shot that struck the sheriff, grazing his face.  As he was led off to jail they burned his house, barn and stables to the ground.  There was such uproar from the public about Greer being forced off his land that upon his release from jail a civic reception was held in his honour.

It is reported that those who took Greer’s Beach wanted no trace of it left behind.  The only visible marker that remains today in Vancouver that Greer’s Beach ever existed is a tiny street named Greer Street in the Kits Point neighbourhood.  

Our Great Grandfather fought until his death in 1925 at age 82 for justice and his land, stolen from him by Provincial & Federal Politicians of the day.

Sam Greer was a brave and strong willed pioneer who left his mark on Vancouver’s history.

Katharine (Draney) Burega – Sam Greer’s Great Granddaughter

Latest Updates & Media coverage

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Sewell Prescott Moody's Mill
Dietz, Nelson and Robert Burnaby

Early Vancouver
from the Forest to a Magnificent City

Governor Sir Antony Musgrave
On Her Majesty's Service

Jeremiah Rogers
The Greatest Logger Of Them All

Sam Greer and Greer's Beach

Portuguese Joe No. 2
Accused of shooting, signs Statement with Granville JPs

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and the Puget Sound connection

Early Vancovuer Post Offices
Burrard Inlet PO
Moodyville PO
Hastings PO

Jonathan Miller
Early Vancouver pioneer.

Agnes Deans Cameron
Author, Schoolteacher at Granville and early leader for Women's Rights

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1st July 2017

Vancouver Sun John Mackie

Vancouver Sun article by Glenda Luymes >
Map drawn by man who bought Kits Beach for $200 sells at auction for $33,000

Drawn by settler Sam Greer, the map was sold by All Nations Stamp and Coin for more than five times its original estimated price.

“The map is incredibly rare,” said All Nations owner Brian Grant Duff, who admits his estimate was “conservative.”

The map sold Saturday was part of an extensive collection assembled by collector Gerald Wellburn, who died recently. The map sold Saturday was part of an extensive collection assembled by collector Gerald Wellburn, who died in 1993. JOHN YANYSHYN

Other items in the collection, which came from an album put together by the late Gerald Wellburn, a legendary collector of B.C. stamps and ephemera, have been auctioned off over the last two years, with another Greer map (which was likely drawn by someone else) fetching $24,200 in May, and a Gassy Jack letter selling for $44,000 in 2016.

The map sold on Canada Day was drawn by Greer and also included a land claim letter, said Duff. It was bought by a collector with an interest in local history.

In 1884, Greer bought 200 acres from four First Nations men for $200, then built a farmhouse near the beach and planted some fruit trees.

According to the maps, his claim extended from Balsam to Chestnut streets, and from the water to West Fourth Avenue. It would have included all of Kits Beach and Kits Point save for today’s Vanier Park.

The next year, the provincial government included Greer’s land in the 6,000 acres it gave the Canadian Pacific Railway, a deal that persuaded the railway to put its terminus in what is now Vancouver rather than Port Moody.

The CPR tried to put a rail line and telegraph poles through Greer’s claim, but he tore up the rail ties and cut down the poles. The railway retaliated by tearing down his house while he was away, twice.

Finally, in 1891, the railway convinced the police to evict him.

“They were met by a feisty Sam Greer who was ready to defend his family, their home and his land,” according to a letter posted on the All Nations website by Greer’s great-granddaughter Katharine Draney Burega. “As the men loaded the family belongings into a boxcar, his six children would remove them out the other side.”

Greer fired a warning shot that struck the sheriff and was initially charged with attempted murder. The charge was reduced to assault causing bodily harm, and he was convicted on Nov. 16, 1891 and sentenced to 27 months of hard labour in the B.C. Penitentiary.

Because of the support he had in the community, he was released after a few months. He continued to fight for his claim until he died on April 6, 1925.

Duff said the letter was a great fit for his Canada Day auction. 

“It’s an opportunity to consider our history and what went on before we were here,” he said. “The colonial history meeting the native history — the map is an illustration of that.”

See also Makkah Newspaper article (arabic)

Vancouver Sun John MackieVancouver Sun article by John Mackie >
Special auction: Celebrating Canada's 150th with Louis Riel, Sam Greer and a flaming zeppelin!

Page 80 of Gerald Wellburn's Historic Vancouver album

John Streit News1130 >

Brian Grant-Duff from All Nations Stamp and Coin in Vancouver is speaking about a map and landclaim letter dating back to 1884 from pioneer settler Sam Greer. The item is up for auction on Sat July 1st, 2017.

The Sam Greer 1884 handdrawn map and landclaim letter to what became Vancouver's Kitsilano Beach is one of the highlights of the Gerald Wellburn historic Vancouver collection. Lot 117.

Realized $33,000


                                                                                    Granville 15th Dec 1884


To the Hon W Smithe Chief Commissioner Land Works,


    Honble. Sir,

I beg to inform you that In the month of June 1884 I bought

all the Right Title and Interest through Mr. Mc tiernan Indian Agent

Belonging To four Indians Known as the Indian Settlement Near

falce Creek the Improvements on the Settlement Constists of Seven

houses Orchards fencing Cultivation abought 20 acres have

expended abought Two thousand Dollars In Improving

and Clearing the place. those Indians were in possessary

and Continuous Occupation from the time of Crown Colony

To the present time. In Addition to this 160 acres was prempted

and applied for to you by J.M. Spinks In equal partnership

with Myself your Official Answer was that the land would

Soon be open for premption and purchase but was of other

Value at present. I have the first application to the local Gov

when Port Moody was the Declared terminus of the Pacific

Railway I have Improved this land In good faith believing

It to Myne   

the following is My Clame to this land in question

first) that I bought the land and Improvements from British Subjects

        being In Possessory and Continued Occupation for 20 years and

        under the protection of the Dominion of Canada and Disposed

        of through there Agent.

Second) that accordant to the land act No other person Can prempt or

            occupy a Indian Settlement by Lease or other Incumberances

            without first making provision and other Renumerations for the

             that privilage  

3)         that should the fee Simple remain Vested In the Crown they

           have No Disposing Power over the land, without first

           Respecting My first rights No other person have equal rights

4)        that the land In question is well adapted for farming purposes

          being of first Class quality I am no speculator

           In order you May fully understand the position and

           Nature of Improvements I give you a Sketch on Back

                       S  Greer

Indian Improvements and names of Indians

Sign Indian Charly

       Mrs. Salpcan




Page 76 of Gerald Wellburn's Historic Vancouver album

December 1884 Sam Greer Kits Beach Land Claim Letter & Map

Read more in the Vancouver Sun article by John Mackie

Page 76 Sam Greer's land claim and letter realized $24,200 in our Auction 20 May 2017.




      You Can See that I am

no Squater but Came here In good

faith Bought the rights I have

acquired and I consider that

it would be unjust to Take away

Vested Rights And give them

To any other person for Railway

or other purposes - Trusting

you will give this your Carefull

Consideration for I have reason

To believe that the Gov has

Included Me In the land set

Apart for Railway purposes

And this is a grievance which

I May be forced to call on the

Representatives of the County for

Justice and rights


I have already consulted

Eight of the Members the

Say that the will have

Justice done between me and

the Railway and that The Honble

Chief Commissioner will be   

Consulted on the grievance

Set forth I ask no favours

of the Gov or Members only

Justice only it is a duty

all members owe to the County

To protect its Settlers

Trusting To have a

Favourable Reply

I Remain your Obds

Samuel Greer


Page 75 of Gerald Wellburn's Historic Vancouver album

1885 Granville, B.C. 2-page Letter from Sam Greer with various initials ex Wellburn

Page 75 featuring 16 February 1885 letter by Sam Greer sold for $3,960 in our 13th May auction



                                             Granville 16/February 1885


To Mr. Wilson Chair man Squaters                                        Committe

Sir Peter Mc tiernan Indian

agent did Sign the Indian Title

as a Witness Jims Name is a

forgory I can prove it I read

its Contents of the Title to Mc tiernan

In his own house if he Denies

Receiving the Money I can prove

it by Bank Cheque on Garesche

Green + Co I can prove the Indian

Said he was 20 years on the land

I have Mc tiernans letter to prove

he transacted all the Business for

Them I Trust the Honorable Committee

will have this so called forgery

Investigated if summoned I will

Again appear before the Committee

To prove Mc tiernan signed  

To have Norman Bole Summoned

To prove that Mc tiernan Told him

The Indian was on this land In

Question 20 years

I also wish to have

The steward tolmie of the

Holebrook house New Westminster

Summoned as evidence

Also Mr. Rickman of

New Westminster

Mc tiernan cant denie

The Signature

Trusting you will have the matter

Investigated I Remain yours

            Respectfully S Greer  


Page 74 of Gerald Wellburn's Historic Vancouver album

17th March 1884, a letter from Sam Greer on Granville Hotel letterhead (now with new proprietor). Wellburn notes: "Sam Greer tells of Captain Irving who has written in respect of land titles at Kitsilano and English Bay. Greer was allowed to sell 100 choice city lots fronting on English Bay."

Page 74 sold for $3,960 in our 6th May 2017 auction


                                17th (Nov) 1884

Dear Spinks,

Capt. Irving has written you Today

Respecting the Indian title the parties

Ignored Me 8 thousand was offered

last week for the Indian title

Capt. Irving and Mr Drake

will tell the matter the parties

who Duped you wanted me to

Sue you for 8 thousand Dollars

for My Share I Sepose the

place is worth a billion

I have two of the Best Backers

In the province a Dreadfull

fight will Take place Soon

I am Still In occupation

I done all the Business and

and I am Determined you Shall

Have a Equal Share with

Green McDonald or henderson

or humphres or Walls for

these is the parties you Sold yourself

To against my advise you had a true

friend In Me always Now you See The

affect Henderson had in Discouraging

You live and learn I have a Share

already Trans fared for you forward

the $500.00 Imediately Since Writing you

at Victoria I have adopted another

course by the advise of Capt Irving

who believes (Me) you to be honest

as well as my self you May been deceived

everything is in my power the were only

one of the Indians Signed the Transfare

we got the other was that is Jim Charly

had no right to Sign for him

the are four Indians In all who

owned houses and Patches

on the place I have got new

Transfares Made out In My

own Name for the other three

to Sign Then we will Talk

Business to Green + Co.   

I have had a hard time with

them at Victoria for the last week

the Cost has been heavy for

advise and other Documents

the expenses of getting the Indians

and Indian Agent I have Deposited

($100) $150 for New Transfare

advanced by Captain Irving

abought 300 expenses this last

10 day two men on the place

we will have the Deeds as Soon

as every thing is settled Send me

Some Assistance to I can See

you when Capt.Irving telegrams

Me to Victoria I will Telegram you

to Meet me there then I will leave

every thing Before you.

               Your sincear friend

                  S. Greer             

  this is Confidential

Trust no Body

I am pretty hard to heal on

Business Matters of this Kind but

honesty and upright Dealings will

Come out all Right in the long run

these parties new especially henderson

you stick up for that I am indebted

To one half of the place and I

will have it and you will have

8 eights part with McDonald

Green + Co or equal partwith

them that is already fixed

Myself and Capt.Irving and Co

Will hold the other I leave

Tomorrow with the Indian agent

to get Indians to Sign the Transfare

I was badly Anoyed when I write my

last letter to you at Victoria they said

you were a Mean Skamp I later

there I could not believe that to

I was Convinced that you were

Conscious of what you were doing

at the time no doubt you Signed

all away


Page 73 of Gerald Wellburn's Historic Vancouver album

Page 73 of Gerald Wellburn's Historic Vancouver album is one of the highlights of the collection. An 1884 letter from Sam Greer on Joseph Mannion's Granville Hotel letterhead, witnessed by Matthew Baillie Begbie. Joesph Mannion was an informal Mayor of early Vancouver. The Granville Hotel was opened by him in opposition to Gassy Jack's hotel. A period of 'commercial expansion' in Burrard Inlet notes Wellburn.

Sam Greer fought a war with the C.P.R. and was evicted from Greer's Beach. Vancouver's postmaster, and former Gastown lawman, Jonathan Miller chose the new name Kitsilano for Greer's Beach.

Mr J M Spinks

July 2nd 1884
My Dear
Sir I got your letter
To day with Cheque I am going
to put on Some Chinamen to Clear on the Beach to
Keep every person off
I was offered $500 for my
Bargain but Indian Agent McTiernan
helped me out. This is the best
property on the Bay I got $75
from Henderson to help
me on the Bill of Sale. It is through
Mr. McTiernan I got the land I had no
Dealing with the Indians it is Signed and
Sealed In your Name Drawed up
by Howse & Rickman by a Lawyer
20 Men has asked me for a Intrest
this is good property Come over at once

Yours truly S. Greer


Joseph Mannion Unofficial first mayor of Vancouver b. March 17, 1839, County Mayo, Ire.; d. Sept. 12, 1918, Lillooet, B.C. Left priestly studies to hunt for gold in the Cariboo, arriving in New Westminster on April 19, 1862. From 1864, worked as a stevedore, telegraph company employee, miner and logger. In 1874, bought a half interest in the Granville Hotel (later sole proprietor). In 1881, his two sons drowned when their canoe was swamped on English Bay. Known as "the mayor of Granville" before the first official mayor, M.A. MacLean, was elected. Elected alderman (1888) but resigned and moved to 160 acres on Bowen Island. "Settled into the life of a country squire."  from History of Metropolitan Vancouver

Mr J M Spinks

                                                                                                              July 2nd 1884
My Dear
             Sir I got your letter
             To day with Cheque I am going
             to put on Some Chinamen to Clear on the Beach to
             Keep every person off
             I was offered $500 for my
             Bargain but Indian Agent McTiernan
             helped me out. This is the best
             property on the Bay I got $75
             from Henderson to help
             me on the Bill of Sale. It is through
             Mr. McTiernan I got the land I had no
             Dealing with the Indians it is Signed and
             Sealed In your Name Drawed up
             by Howse & Rickman by a Lawyer
             20 Men has asked me for a Intrest
             this is good property Come over at once

                                                                                      Yours truly S. Greer


Page 73 with Sam Greer's letter sold for $17,000 in our 22nd April 2017 auction.

Bid now in Current Auction

See Gerald Wellburn's Gassy Jack Letter & Media coverage




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