Hadden park, a bit of history

November 12, 2013

Most of the below come from Megan Carvell Davis affidavit in [1]. She had already stated the issue in a comment on the bike lane vs the park post, but then unaware of the covenant exact terms, I have no commented on that before. The below is under the light of this covenant attached in [1]:

Some historical context

Hadden park (right part) and Vanier park (left) circa 1907...the staircase seems at the same location as today

Hadden park (right part) and Vanier park (left) circa 1907…the staircase seems at the same location as today

The land known now as Hadden park (originally given to CPR as a provincial crown grant in 1886) was promised to be a harbour, according to the CPR wishes:

Kitsilano plan by the CPR - circa ~1920

Kitsilano plan by the CPR – circa ~1890

The CPR always had some development plans for this Kitsilano area, and those encountered opposition at the time (“already many nimby there!”): Even the park board objected to see this area (the land east of Chestnut, was also slated to be an indian reserve by the federal government), to be turned into a major facility for shipping, this in July 1919 [1]. The area was then looking like below:


1919 aerial view of Kitsilano, and what is now Hadden and Vanier parks

Picture from 1982 Ogden avenue, circa 1923- future Hadden park is second grown bush – it will be restored in a more “natural” state by 1928 – (credit photo CoV archive ref AM1376-: CVA 1376-691)

“According to the 1933 journal of Major J.S. Matthews, Vancouver’s first city archivist, on his final trip to Vancouver in 1928,
Mr Harvey Hadden, a real estate business man from London, expressed the view that he would “like to do something for Vancouver which had done so well for him-in his real estate investments”. Hadden accepted the proposal of his former architect and friend, Mr S. M. Eveleigh that there should be a waterfront park connecting the Kitsilano Indian Reserve to Kitsilan Beach.” [1]
In October 1928, Mr Hadden, gave for a $1 and subject to a covenant, to the city of Vancouver, the properties he had just purchased from the CPR. That is block 136 and 137 (DL 526), then valued at $41,000, are shown below:


Hadden donation to the city consist of the block 136 and 137: only those block are covered by the covenant Hadden donation to the city consists of the block 136 and 137: only those blocks are covered by the covenant

The city accepted the gift, and the covenant.

Hadden park, as we know today, consists of

  • Block 136 and 137 (DL 526) as donated by Mr Harvey Hadden
  • “Closed road” Maple and Cypress, North of Ogden, on April 27, 1931
    • The Centennial Totem pole erected in October 1958, is in the Cypress ROW north of Ogden
  • “water lots” 5780 and 5781 granted by the Province of british columbia, on June 12, 1935
    • Part of those land has been filled up, noticeabily to erect the maritime museum in 1958, and the unleashed dog area is also on this area

The covenant
The term of the Hadden Trust are that Hadden Park (that is stricto senso applying to block 136 and block 137 as illustrated above)

  • “shall be used as and for a Public Park or recreation ground and not for any other purpose whatsoever”
  • “shall be improved and put in shape as a public park or recreation ground, but in carrying out such improvements the Board of Park Commissioners shall keep the property as near as possible in its present state of nature subject to such alterations or changes as may be reasonable necessary for its preservation and for the safety and enjoyment of the public. it being the desire of the grantor that those using the Park shall as far as reasonably may be enjoy the same in its natural state and condition”

The maritime museum

In the 1950’s, the city had acquired the St Roch vessel and was looking for a place to moor and preserve it.
After much controversy, a decision was made to house the St Roch into a new building: the maritime museum. This will be built circa 1958, on land granted by the Province in 1935: The “water lots” 5780 and 5781 have been partially filled for that purpose, and that has been considered at one point as not violating the covenant by the city [3]. The fact that the blocks 136 and 137, have lost de facto, their waterfront status, is considered as a violation of the riparian right of the said blocks, this, according to the Hadden park conservators [1].

The dog off-leash area

The covenant, stipulates that “the grantee shall use and maintain the properties for park purposes and the beach for bathing more especially for women and children”. In 1998, the park board approved Hadden Park Beach as an off-leash dog area, while that dogs are not allowed on bathing beaches, according to the park bylaws [2].

The enforcement of the covenant in that matter per-suppose, that the blocks 136 and 137 have riparian right, but the city viewpoint could be that:

Mr Hadden rights did not extend below high water mark as he did not hold title to the water lot which was at that time in the name of the crown. He therefore had no power to convey any rights with respect to bathing on the beach [3].

The letter and the spirit of the covenant

The spirit of the covenant could not have been respected that well, but so far the letter of the covenant has been relatively well respected (neither the maritime museum, nor the totem pole are on properties donated by Hadden). Basically, the only alteration the properties has seen since 1928, has been the installation of benches (already there circa ~1940), and can be considered, as a reasonnable alteration forward a better enjoyment of the park. The construction of a bike path, directly on block 136-137 could certainly set a major precedent:

the "approved" bike path  routhe into Hadden park. Some cyclists currently use the path on the right, but is it legal?

the “approved” bike path routhe into Hadden park. Some cyclists currently use the path on the right, but is it legal? (credit photo facebook)

Main source is the lawsuit filled by Megan Carvell Davis [1]

[1] lawsuit filled by Megan-Carvell-Davis-vs-City-of-Vancouver, on Nov 4th, 2013

[2] park by laws City of Vancouver, Jan 1st, 2008.

[3] Corporation counsel letter to city, November 20th, 1957, as attached in [1]

9 Responses to “Hadden park, a bit of history”

  1. It will be interesting to see how the court handles this. From my non-lawyer perceptive, i think it comes down to
    1) is cycling an appropriate activity for a park or recreation ground; and
    2) do the safety benefits and improved utility of a separated, paved path outweigh the stipulated desires to keep the park in its natural state?

    I’ve heard opponents of the bike lane claim that bikes don’t belong in the park, but I doubt the court will agree. The tradeoff between safety and the natural state of the park is a more interesting one.

    Your archival pictures show the natural state of the area – it’s all scrub brush. Adding grass, benches, and a gravel path are probably within the terms of the covenant because they increase the utility of the park. But why wouldn’t a paved path be ok? What line does the paved path cross that the gravel one doesn’t?

    Can’t wait to see the courts decision on this one.

    • spartikus Says:

      “Adding grass”….and mowing grass.

    • Voony Says:

      To be sure the picture with scrub brush, is from 1923. The “present state of nature” of the park in 1928 was pretty much as today (I don’t have a picture yet to illustrate that*, but you can find one in the lawsuit)

      Regarding, the relevance of cycling into a park, the court could examine the case in the light of the Vancouver park board bylaw stipulating that bicycling is prohibited, unless a path has been designed as such (14.h of ref [2] provided in post)….

      *I have contacted Megan Carvell Davis and will update this post with her inputs, in due time

      • Jeff Leigh Says:

        It would appear that the Park Board have already stipulated that bicycling is not prohibited, given the existence of the current paved and shared path, its inclusion on the city map of official cycling routes, and the posted signs along the current path that are referring to bicycling.

        Do we know when the current shared path was paved? Was it recently?

        Thanks for posting the article, good information.

      • Voony Says:

        Jeff, yes some maps show a bike path along the shore,
        but a map is not necessarily a legal document:
        this one http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/map-cycling-vancouver.pdf suggest a unpractical route (not passing thru the properties under covenant either).

        If you follow the posted bike path sign, you don’t pass thru Hadden park. The route in fact is like below:

        Sign usually justify a bylaw before to be put in place…

        The legality of cycling in Hadden park is hence still questionable?

  2. Stephen Rees Says:

    Very useful clarification of the issues. Well done.

    Now, how reasonable is it that someone who bought land from the CPR – who got it from a land grant – on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish don’t forget – can impose his views by covenant in perpetuity?

    Many properties are sold with covenants that do not recognize how much the world has changed since they were imposed. I owned a house in Richmond in a subdivision that required the use of cedar shakes for roofing. But the logging of old growth forests has been greatly reduced so suitable boles for shake making are now expensive and rare. Hardly any of the homes around mine still had their original roofs – and none of the replacements were cedar shakes.

  3. IanS Says:

    There is a procedure under the Property Law Act, section 25, to modify or cancel restrictive covenants.


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