Auction review: 1884 Samuel Greer land claim document brings $24k

A 133-year-old Samuel Greer land claim document—filed 16 months before the City of Vancouver was officially incorporated—recently brought $24,200 in an auction out west.

On May 20, the Vancouver-based All Nations Stamp and Coin hosted its weekly auction, which was highlighted by an 1884 land claim document filed by settler Samuel Greer, who in 1862 pre-empted 160 acres of land on Vancouver’s west side, along the southern shore of English Bay.

By 1884, Greer filed a claim with the provincial government for ownership of Greer Beach—later renamed Kitsilano Beach—where the Irish-born immigrant and father of six wished to build a family farm.

The land claim document was filed by Greer in December 1884, 16 months before the City of Vancouver was officially incorporated. (Photo by All Nations)

In contrast, the government included Greer’s land as part of the 6,000 acres the Crown ceded to the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.

While Greer claimed to have purchased his portion of land from a group of Aboriginals, this was later denied by the selling agent, who claimed his signature was forged. Greer was charged with forgery but eventually acquitted, and although a committee of the provincial legislature recommended covering Greer’s land claim with a Crown grant, the province didn’t act on the recommendation.

The lot eventually sold for $24,200 after a pre-sale estimate of $5,000.

LAND CLAIM TRANSCRIPT

Honble

   Sir

      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

18/5/85

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

SAM ‘GRITTY’ GREER

In a story published in 2011 by the Vancouver Province, Greer is described as a father as well as a pioneer and a “hothead” who eventually spent time in prison for shooting a sheriff.

“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,’” reads the story.

“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.”

Greer was eventually convicted for his role in the shooting and spent time in prison. His farm was razed, his land was expropriated by the Crown, and his beach was given a new name.

He died in 1925. Today, Greer Avenue in Kitsilano is named in his honour.

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