Hastings Park is the second largest and second oldest park in Vancouver.
It was once a 160-acre expanse of thick forest, gullies and marsh, granted to the city for park purposes by the Provincial Government in 1889. At that time, it was beyond the city limits so there was little development in the early years. A small race track was established by the B.C. Jockey Club in the early 1890’s. A small group of businessmen formed the Vancouver Exhibition Association [VEA] and in 1910, with substantial government funding, Vancouver’s first exhibition opened.
In the first fifty years the VEA (which later became the Pacific National Exhibition, or “PNE”) was well supported by the local community, although there were critics. In 1936, Vancouver’s Golden Anniversary Year, members of the VEA were proud of their contribution to the city and the region. Hastings Park had an 18-hole golf course, an Olympic athletic track, and indoor tennis and badminton courts. In the Forum there was hockey, skating and 10 sheets for curling. The park had a small zoo and a bird sanctuary. There was an amusement area, a dance hall, a fine restaurant and more.
By the 1960s the PNE had lost much of its local support. In 1960-61, the PNE attempted to “temporarily” take over control of New Brighton Park. East End residents, led by the Cassiar Ratepayers’ Association stated, “The PNE is continually encroaching on this district and commercializing it. They have developed it with complete disregard for the residential area.” PNE General Manager, A. P. Morrow countered, “Why is it, when anyone comes forward with an idea which means progress, they are immediately assailed by small-minded individuals who love to vilify anything constructive?”
Breen, David and Kenneth Coates, Vancouver’s Fair: An Administrative & Political History of the Pacific National Exhibition: University of British Columbia Press