The Vancouver Province’s Kent Spencer celebrated Vancouver 125th birthday with a look at some of the colourful characters that made our history rich.
First up was pioneer Sam Greer who’s Greer’s Beach is essentially what we know today as Kits Beach.
There are few Vancouver characters with more curious histories than Sam Greer and his daughter Jessie.
Sam Greer was a pioneer who spent time in prison for shooting a sheriff, while Jessie reached the pinnacles of society with her numerous good social works.
Their stories date back to the 1860s, when Kitsilano was so far out of town people took weekend camping trips to get away to a place called Greer’s beach.
It was named after Irish-born Sam Greer, who was described as a hothead and father of a rapidly growing family.
According to his daughter, Jessie Greer, Sam shot cougars and wolves from his back door and used a boat to gather smelts so thick they could be “picked up with a garden rake.”
Sam Greer put down roots near Kitsilano Beach, eventually raising a family of six.
In 1862, he claimed 65 hectares of land on which to build a family farm.
But the Canadian Pacific Railway said it was actually Crown land which had been ceded to them.
The dispute was ugly. Greer fought back by taking down telegraph wires and filling in holes while railway workers were still digging them.
Things came to a head when New Westminster sheriff Thomas Armstrong appeared at his home and was greeted by a hail of buckshot coming through the front door.
Convicted of wounding the lawman, Greer spent time in prison and saw his farm razed. He lived into his 80s before passing away in 1925.
His daughter Jessie went on to win her place among Vancouver’s wealthiest and most cherished citizens.
Be sure to read the rest of Spencer’s article in the Vancouver Province.
Last modified: May 25, 2017
Greer must be rolling in his grave now that Kits Beach is owned by the Portland, OR based company McCormick & Schmicks (owner of the Boathouse). They reportedly bought it for a song after Watermark flamed out, now they charge for the privilege of visiting a “Public Park.”