Vancouver Centennial Plaque #25 – Stevens’ Folly


1803 Stewart Street


Pacific Grain Elevator #3


Missing (demolished in 2020)



To coincide with the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914, H.H. Stevens, M.P. initiated and promoted the construction of Dominion No. 1 grain elevator. Because World War I and a recession delayed the first bulk shipment until 1921 the elevator was dubbed Stevens' Folly.”

Credit: Vancouver Centennial Commission, Historic Plaque Program – list and documentation plaques 1-49 (June 18, 1986). Courtesy of Vancouver Archives


Henry Herbert Stevens was the MP for Vancouver City and, with the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914, he thought that the city could become a vital port for Canadian grain. However, there were no facilities to handle the predicted huge volumes, so he persuaded the federal government to build Vancouver’s first grain elevator.

Construction of Dominion No.1 cost $1,750,000 (almost $48,000,000 today), but the war and recession meant that it wasn’t used for eight years, which led to the “Stevens’ Folly” name. In 1921, it loaded a shipment of wheat onto an American steamship – the first step to Vancouver becoming a world-class shipping port. Private companies began building their own grain elevators on both sides of Burrard Inlet.

HH Stevens was an MP from 1911 to 1940. He was anti-immigration and actively involved in the Komagata Maru incident (to be discussed later).

This plaque was installed beside Pacific Grain Elevator #3, but the structure was demolished in 2020 and the street is for port traffic only, so it’s unlikely to still be in place.

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