Railroad tracks cutting through the Strathcona neighbourhood just east of Raymur Avenue separates Admiral Seymour School from the homes of the majority of its students. When the Raymur housing project opened in 1971 parents were dismayed that their children had no option but to cross the railway tracks to get to school. Unfortunately the right-of-way was a busy line between the Great Northern and Canadian National freight yards and the wharves at Burrard Inlet. Repeated requests to have the schedules adjusted so that the trains would not run when students were on their way to and from school fell on deaf ears. So too did the requests for an overpass.
After months of meetings with railway, school board and city officials produced no solutions residents took action. On January 26 1971, newspapers reported that: “twenty five women, the “Militant Mothers of Raymur,” blockade the train tracks between Raymur and Glen demanding a safe crossing for Seymour students who have to cross the busy and dangerous tracks every day to get to school.”
Tents were pitched across the tracks, placards were hoisted with slogans such as “Petitions Don’t Work” and Children Before Profits” and the news media showed up. In short order the city agreed that an overpass would be built across the tracks at the foot of Keefer Street. Not trusting the City, the “Mothers” kept a vigil on the tracks until construction actually began in March of 1971.
In 2019 the City of Vancouver officially changed the name of the bridge from the Keefer Street Pedestrian Overpass to the Militant Mothers of Raymur Overpass in honour of these women.
Nearby Places That Matter Sites
- Vancouver Sun and Province
- CBC News footage
- Black Strathcona website