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Map drawn by man who bought Kits Beach for $200 sells at auction for $33,000

Glenda Luymes

A photo of a map drawn by Vancouver settler Sam Greer in 1884. The map and a landclaim letter sold for $33,000 at an auction on July 1, 2017. [PNG Merlin Archive]

A photo of a map drawn by Vancouver settler Sam Greer in 1884. The map and a landclaim letter sold for $33,000 at an auction on July 1, 2017. [PNG Merlin Archive]

A map drawn in 1884 by the man who bought Kits Beach for $200 was sold at auction Saturday for $33,000.

Drawn by settler Sam Greer, the map was sold by All Nations Stamp and Coin for more than five times its original estimated price.

"The map is incredibly rare," said All Nations owner Brian Grant Duff, who admits his estimate was "conservative."

Other items in the collection, which came from an album put together by the late Gerald Wellburn, a legendary collector of B.C. stamps and ephemera, have been auctioned off over the last two years, with another Greer map (which was likely drawn by someone else) fetching $24,200 in May, and a Gassy Jack letter selling for $44,000 in 2016.

The map sold on Canada Day was drawn by Greer and also included a land claim letter, said Duff. It was bought by a collector with an interest in local history.

In 1884, Greer bought 200 acres from four First Nations men for $200, then built a farmhouse near the beach and planted some fruit trees.

According to the maps, his claim extended from Balsam to Chestnut streets, and from the water to West Fourth Avenue. It would have included all of Kits Beach and Kits Point save for today’s Vanier Park.

The next year, the provincial government included Greer's land in the 6,000 acres it gave the Canadian Pacific Railway, a deal that persuaded the railway to put its terminus in what is now Vancouver rather than Port Moody.

The CPR tried to put a rail line and telegraph poles through Greer’s claim, but he tore up the rail ties and cut down the poles. The railway retaliated by tearing down his house while he was away, twice.

Finally, in 1891, the railway convinced the police to evict him.

"They were met by a feisty Sam Greer who was ready to defend his family, their home and his land," according to a letter posted on the All Nations website by Greer's great-granddaughter Katharine Draney Burega. "As the men loaded the family belongings into a boxcar, his six children would remove them out the other side."

Greer fired a warning shot that struck the sheriff and was initially charged with attempted murder. The charge was reduced to assault causing bodily harm, and he was convicted on Nov. 16, 1891 and sentenced to 27 months of hard labour in the B.C. Penitentiary.

Because of the support he had in the community, he was released after a few months. He continued to fight for his claim until he died on April 6, 1925.

Duff said the letter was a great fit for his Canada Day auction.

"It's an opportunity to consider our history and what went on before we were here," he said. "The colonial history meeting the native history — the map is an illustration of that."

With Postmedia files

gluymes@postmedia.com

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