Sea Island
Heritage Society


To share photographs and memories or view more of our collection on YVR, please contact the Sea Island Heritage Society.

Opening of New Airport

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh, one of history's finest aviators, was invited to visit the city of Vancouver following his non-stop, solo, transatlantic flight. He declined, stating, "There is no fit field to land on". Needless to say Mr. Lindbergh’s words caused the city of Vancouver to invest $600,000 in an effort to construct a new airport to replace the existing grass airstrip.(1)

In 1929, the city of Vancouver purchased land on Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, approximately 12 km from downtown Vancouver to build a new airport. The new airport officially opened on July 22, 1931.

plane and people on YVR opening day

Photo courtesy of the Geoffrey Rowe Collection, Comox Air Force Museum

World War II

During World War II, the airports and its original terminal, now the South Terminal, were leased to the Federal Government and operated by the Department of National Defence and the Department of Transport.(2) The airport was used for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.(3)

The crews and their families were housed in a new townsite on the island, named Burkeville after Boeing president Stanley Burke. Funds from the lease were used to purchase additional land for new hangars and a production plant for Boeing Aircraft of Canada.(4)

Expansion of YVR

The airport saw much expansion and was often referred to as the "Sea Island Airport" before being officially named "Vancouver International Airport (YVR)" in 1948.(5)

From its war-time expansion in the 1940s to the jet era of the 1960s, Expo preparations in the 1980s and the millions of athletes, passengers and visitors of the 2010 Winter Games—YVR has become a gateway that connects British Columbia's history and its people.(6)

plane and people on YVR opening day

Photo courtesy of Dusty Brown

plane and people on YVR opening day

Photo courtesy of K. Shute

plane and people on YVR opening day

Photo courtesy of Richard Cook


(1) (2)  Simon Fraser University. (Student Projects, Geog 351 - Fall 2004). Retrieved from YVR History on November 14, 2017.

(3)  Hayter, Steven. Retrieved from History of the Creation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan on November 14, 2017.

(4) (5) (6)  Vancouver Airport Authority. (2017). Retrieved from About YVR - Past and Future on November 14, 2017.

Sea Island Heritage Society
4191 Ferguson Road, Richmond, British Columbia
Canada V7B 1P3