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.
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
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
I Remain your Obds
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.