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Europeans became acquainted with the area of the future Vancouver when José María Narváez of Spain explored the coast of present-day Point Grey and parts of Burrard Inlet in 1791—although one author contends that Francis Drake may have visited the area in 1579.The explorer and North West Company trader Simon Fraser and his crew became the first-known Europeans to set foot on the site of the present-day city.The original settlement, named Gastown, grew up on clearcuts on the west edge of the Hastings Mill logging sawmill's property, where a makeshift tavern had been set up on a plank between two stumps and the proprietor, Gassy Jack, persuaded the curious millworkers to build him a tavern, on July 1, 1867. As part of the land and political deal whereby the area of the townsite was made the railhead of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), it was renamed "Vancouver" and incorporated shortly thereafter as a city, in 1886.From that first enterprise, other stores and some hotels quickly appeared along the waterfront to the west. By 1887, the Canadian Pacific transcontinental railway was extended westward to the city to take advantage of its large natural seaport to the Pacific Ocean, which soon became a vital link in a trade route between the Orient / East Asia, Eastern Canada, and Europe.The dominance of the economy by big business was accompanied by an often militant labour movement.The first major sympathy strike was in 1903 when railway employees struck against the CPR for union recognition.One of those merchants, Charles Woodward, had opened the first Woodward's store at Abbott and Cordova Streets in 1892 and, along with Spencer's and the Hudson's Bay department stores, formed the core of the city's retail sector for decades.in fact, the CPR was the main real estate owner and housing developer in the city.
Following a lull in the 1920s, the strike wave peaked in 1935 when unemployed men flooded the city to protest conditions in the relief camps run by the military in remote areas throughout the province.The Greater Vancouver area had a population of 2,463,431 in 2016, making it the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada.