OPPENHEIMER, David




Author Tags: 1850-1900, Early B.C.

If there was any justice, Stanley Park would be named for its primary founder, David Oppenheimer, who died in 1897. Instead Oppenheimer's name is attached to a Downtown Eastside baseball diamond.

Born in Bleiskastel, Germany on January 1, 1834, David Oppenheimer was a merchant in Yale and Vancouver prior to becoming the second mayor of Vancouver. In 1848, at age 14, he was one of five Jewish brothers who emigrated from Bavaria to New York. With news of gold in California, the brothers went west and learned the merchant trade until they followed the '49ers' to new digs on the Fraser River. They established a dry goods business at Fort Yale, then expanded to Barkerville. By 1881, Oppenheimer Bros. was headquartered in Victoria. In 1885 David Oppenheimer established a wholesale grocery firm in Vancouver with his brother Isaac, quick to benefit from the news that the western terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railway might be at Coal Harbour instead of Port Moody. As benefactor of Jewish causes and a founder of the YMCA in Vancouver, he increasingly turned to civic affairs instead of commerce, serving one term as an alderman. As mayor of Vancouver from 1888 to 1892, he served four terms and became known as the 'Father of Vancover'. He organized a water supply, built sidewalks and bridges, established a Parks Board and procured Stanley Park. He founded and promoted the Vancouver Street Railway and the Vancouver Transport Company, building the first electric interurban line in Canada, and he was the first president and founder of the Board of Trade in Vancouver. At the end of the 20th century, Oppenheimer Bros. was the oldest company in Vancouver.

Author of:

The Mineral Resources of British Columbia: Practical Hints for Capitalists and Intending Settlers. With Appendix Containing the Mineral Laws of the Province and the Dominion of Canada (Vancouver: News-Advertiser, 1889)

Vancouver City, Its Progress and Industries, with Practical Hints for Capitalists and Intending Settlers (Vancouver, News-Advertisers, 1889). Written by Mayor Oppenheimer and City Council to answer the many “enquiries from all parts of the Dominion and Great Britain” expressing interest in opportunities in Vancouver.

[BCBW 2004] "Early B.C." "1850-1900"