The story is well documented in the “The Ambitious City: A History of the City of North Vancouver” that was commissioned by the City in 2007. In it there is even a picture of the city fathers on the day of the City’s founding, July 1, 1907, that features James Cooper Keith and Edward Mahon, major shareholders in the North Vancouver Land and Improvement Corporation, flanking the ex-Reeve of the District and new Mayor of the City, Arnold Kealy. Kealy happened to be an officer of the Western Corporation, the largest buyer of land from North Vancouver Land and Improvement Company and builder in the City.
When the notion of a new, more urban, municipality on the north shore of Burrard Inlet was first discussed in 1905, there was talk of the boundary being all the land between Capilano River on the west and Lynn Creek or Moodyville on the east and three miles up from the waterfront. There was even talk of the new community having its own name: Capilano, Lonsdale or Burrard were some of the options considered.
However, the true motives for the creation of the City were revealed when it came to determining the boundary and the name we have today. The boundary was simply drawn around the lands held by the North Vancouver Land and Improvement Company and Lonsdale Estates. A small section on the southeast corner (St. Davids) was the border with Moodyville, which was absorbed into the City in 1912 and was largely developed by Lonsdale Estates as well.
The notion of a different name was also discarded. North Vancouver was already an established credit in the bond market. It seemed too much trouble to bother introducing a new name when North Vancouver was a recognized brand. Besides, it was the same people who controlled North Vancouver District anyway, so differentiation was not necessary.
The reason for the narrowed scope and limited ambition of the new City was clear. Learning from the experience of Vancouver, where the city fathers lived, they believed that responsibility for too much undeveloped land would simply divert the resources of the City from its main task, making developer's properties ready for sale. Serving a larger community was just not worth the trouble.
This approach to municipal restructuring – carving a little urban municipality out of a rural one to serve the interests of a few developers - was as unusual then as it would be now. The more common pattern was and is for an urban municipality to absorb the surrounding rural municipality as it become connected as one economic and social community. Even more so when the geography of the land seemed to provide a natural common boundary.
Today the Corporation of the City of North Vancouver meets the needs of a broader range of developers and it listens carefully to the unions that represent its employees. These are the groups that it deals with every day and, not by coincidence, are the ones that provide the bulk of the contributed funds for the election expenses of the Mayor and certain Councillors.
The developer-inspired bias to fast growth and increased density that characterized the first draft of the City's recent Official Community Plan would indicate that the City continues to work very well for the interests that founded it.
Now elections are going to be four years apart instead of every three. This means that the risk that this comfortable alliance between the developers, the unions and the local politicians that they support being upset, will be reduced from once every three years to once every four.
 Lonsdale Estate was a company owned by Arthur Heywood-Lonsdale, possibly a distant relative of mine.
 The Ambitious City: A History of the City of North Vancouver (Harbour Publishing 2007), p. 94.