Local History Advent Calendar 2022 – Day 7 – Rudyard Kipling property

It’s back! I has been 3 years since I published my last Local History Advent Calendar! So much has happened since that last time—including the publication of my first book, Mount Pleasant Stories—that I figured it was about time to dust off the Local History Advent Calendar once again. Similar to a regular advent calendar but instead of chocolate treats, each day you “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder– 24 facts or stories about local history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

Did you know that English novelist, poet, short-story writer, and journalist, Rudyard Kipling once owned property in Vancouver?

1912 Goad’s Fire Insurance Plan. Kipling’s property is circled in red.

In June 1889 Rudyard Kipling (age 23), in Vancouver for the first time, purchased 2 lots in Mount Pleasant on the SE corner of E11th at Fraser (previously called Scott Street).  He was on a round the world journey described in his book “Sea to Sea”, which consists of letters or travel reports written by Kipling for his newspapers between 1887 and 1889.  

In those early days, there was a lot of boosterism around promoting Vancouver as a future city and a great place to invest in. Kipling bought the property sight unseen. He describes it when he visited his property the next day:

“Me voici, owner of some 400 well developed pines, a few thousand tons of granite scattered in blocks at the roots of the pines, and a sprinkling of earth. That’s a town lot in Vancouver. You or your agent hold it until property rises, then sell out and buy more land farther out of town and repeat the process. I do not quite see how this sort of thing helps the growth of a town, but the English boy [who sold him the property] says that is the ‘essence of speculation’ so it must be alright. But I wish there were fewer pines and less granite on my ground.”

Kipling never built upon his Vancouver property but continued to pay property taxes for 40 years until 1928 when he decided to sell his two lots. 

Kipling could have sold his Vancouver holdings during the building boom period of 1908-1913 but he held on to it…perhaps he forgot about it? Nevertheless, it’s probably best he sold up in 1928 prior to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Fun Fact: Kipling also bought property in North Vancouver while traveling on his honeymoon in 1892.

2021 Google Street view of the former Kipling properties. These two 1928 era houses sit on land once owned by Kipling.

You can find more Mount Pleasant stories in my walking tour book, Mount Pleasant Stories. Copies are available for purchase in Mount Pleasant at Pulpfiction Books – 2422 Main Street and in Chinatown at Massy Books – 229 E Georgia St. It makes a great gift or stocking stuffer for your favourite local history buff!

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