Dunbar-Southlands is a neighbourhood in the City of Vancouver that stretches north from the Fraser River across much of the peninsula between the mouth of the Fraser and English Bay. It encompasses a collection of commercial and residential areas mostly made up of single-family residences, as well as the unique community of Southlands, populated by upscale mansions and horse farms and known as a pocket of country living within a few minutes of downtown Vancouver. It is also the home territory of the Musqueam Indian Band.
Dunbar-Southlands is bordered on the north by West 16th Avenue and on the south by the Fraser River; it stretches from the University Endowment Lands on the west to Mackenzie and Blenheim Streets in the east. It is centered around Dunbar Street, a busy urban thoroughfare that is lined by a variety of retail stores. West 41st Avenue and Southwest Marine Drive also pass through the neighbourhood. Southlands lies south of Marine Drive in the floodplain of the Fraser River, and theMusqueam Indian Reserve is also encompassed by the region.
Archaeological finds indicate that people have resided in the Dunbar-Southlands area for centuries, with some estimates placing the first settlement of the area by Indians as around 400 BC. The first European settlement was recorded in 1863 when the first homesteaders, Fitzgerald and Sam McCleery, constructed a farm in the area. Logging cleared much of the land in the area, which was held by the Canadian Pacific Railway and the province, and in 1912 subdivision was started for residences to serve the soon to be built University of British Columbia just to the west. By 1927, Dunbar was served by three streetcar lines and featured a number of unique homes, thanks to bylaws introduced in 1922 regarding lot sizes and placement of buildings on the lots. Many of these homes are still standing today, with 21 structures on the City of Vancouver's heritage register.
Dunbar-Southlands is known for its gardens and tree-lined streets, which often arch across the entire roadway. Early spring brings hundreds of cherry trees to blossom, and the city maintains eight parks within the neighbourhood, including Musqueam Park, a 22-hectare oasis off Southwest Marine Drive along the Fraser River. The neighbourhood is next to Pacific Spirit Regional Park, which contains many kilometres of trails and the Camosun Bog, a two-thousand-year-old wetland revered by the Musqueam people.
Southlands is a unique community that offers a country lifestyle within the city, where it is said there are more horses than people. The area is predominantly acreages with multi-million-dollar mansions dominating the land. The Southlands Riding Club, formed in 1943, is a highlight of the area; its clubhouse was a former net drying hut for fishermen on the Fraser, and was disassembled and carried to its present site by members on horseback.
The area also boasts a number of public and exclusive private golf courses that have hosted major Canadian and international events in the past.
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