Barclay Street

Barclay Street runs between Haro Street and Nelson Street, from Burrard Street to the edge of Stanley Park.

Source of name

Barclay Street should really be called “Barkley Street,”  after Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This is one of the streets that Lauchlan Hamilton named after features on a Pacific Coast admiralty chart.

Charles William Barkley (1759-1832) [Wikipedia article: Charles William Barkley] was the captain of the British trading ship, Imperial Eagle [Wikipedia article: Imperial Eagle (ship)]. In 1787, Barkley’s ship arrived at the sound, and Barkley named it after himself: John T. Walbran, British Columbia Coast Names: Their Origin and History, Ottawa, Government Printing Bureau, 1909, page 33 [reprinted: Vancouver, Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 1971].

Elizabeth Walker, Street Names of Vancouver, 1999, page 10, suggests that the name on the admiralty chart correctly said “Barkley Sound,” and that the transformation to “Barclay” happened when the name of the sound was transferred to the street map.

Other sources indicate that the admiralty chart itself originally said “Barclay,” and that the correct spelling did not not appear until a later revision of the chart. For example, Walbran, British Columbia Coast Names: Their Origin and History, says at page 35: “Barkley sound was for many years erroneously spelt on the chart ‘Barclay,’ but the correct spelling was restored by the Geographic Board of Canada in 1901.”

Richard Edward Allen, A Pictorial History of Vancouver: Book 1: Origin of Street and Place Names,  1982, page 92, agrees with Walbran: “Whereas the incorrect spelling ‘Barclay Sound’ was corrected to ‘Barkley Sound’ by the geographical survey of 1901, the incorrect spelling ‘Barclay’ remains on the street signs.”

BC Geographical Names: Barkley Sound clarifies the history of the name:

Barkley Sound adopted in the 5th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 30 June 1904; not “Barclay Sound” as mis-spelled on British Admiralty Charts 584 and 592, published in 1863 & 1865, respectively, from 1861 surveys conducted by Captain Richards, RN.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC’s Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

In 1928, the City of Vancouver apparently intended to correct the spelling of the street name:

‘Barclay’ St. now ‘Barkley’

Barclay street, in the West End, will be known as Barkley street in future, the civic finance committee decided Wednesday, upon receiving information through T.P.O. Menzies from F.[sic] A. Hamilton, former land commissioner of the C.P.R., who named most of Vancouver’s streets in 1886 and 1887.

In a letter to Mr. Menzies, Mr. Hamilton, writing from Kissimmee, Florida, cleared up the dispute regarding the spelling of the name of this street.

He wrote as follows:

“In compiling a map of Vancouver, I named a number of the streets after the names of certain straits, bays, islands, etc., appearing on the admiralty chart. I think there was a Barclay or Barkley sound. Whether I wrote the name Barclay or Barkley on the original map I cannot say, but no doubt the name was intended for Captain Barkley and should now be so called.”

Vancouver Sun, Thursday, April 19, 1928, p. 22.

“Barkley” Street Correct, Not Barclay, City Advised

“Barkley” is the correct spelling for the city street now known as Garclay street, according to a communication from L.A. Hamilton, first C.P.R. land commissioner, who named many of the city’s thoroughfares.

Mr. Hamilton’s statement was contained in a letter from the curator of the city museum to the civic finance committee Wednesday afternoon.

The name “Barkley” was after Cap. Barkley, early navigator of the coast, it was stated.

Vancouver Province, Thursday, April 19, 1928, p. 10.

Despite these earlier efforts, “Barclay Street” is still the name of the street in Vancouver.


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