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Art Knapp
History of Art Knapp
So Much More Than Plants
Art Knapp

History of Art Knapp

Arthur William Knapp (May 4, 1914 - February 22, 1991), better known as Art Knapp, was a Canadian businessman and entrepreneur. Art Knapp is best known as the founder of the Art Knapp's chain of garden stores. Knapp was born in Cobble Hill, British Columbia and was the son of William Knapp and Zoe Saunders Knapp. As Knapp's mother died in childbirth, he was raised by his paternal aunt and uncle, Phyllis Knapp Jennings and William Jennings of Victoria, British Columbia. According to documents held at the Saanich Archives, the Knapp's and Jennings families, which included Frank Jennings and Elizabeth Walkden Jennings, all immigrated to Canada together from England on the ship RMS Empress of Britain (1906) in 1911. The same documents reveal that the family had an extensive background in horticulture and operated green houses in Victoria.

Art Knapp founded the Knapp's Victoria Nurseries at 716 Fort Street in the early 1940s. This store later relocated to Yates Street by 1945. He later started auctioning plants, trees and shrubs from the back of his truck in empty lots around British Columbia and Alberta in the early 1950s. He opened the first Art Knapp's Garden Spot on Kingsway in Vancouver and later sold the business to Bill and Art Vander Zalm in 1953. Knapp had 5 children and spent his retirement years in Santa Barbara, California.

The business continued to expand as more franchises were sold to others, including Frank Van Hest, who owned and operated the location in Richmond, BC from the early 1970s. Today there are 15 Art Knapp Stores located throughout British Columbia.

The store on King George Blvd. is now owned and operated by the VanderZalm family. As times changed the store has grown from a predominantly Nursery based operation to a Specialty 'General Store' with a great Garden Department - only one of many. Come on in and check out all the treasures and hard-to-find items.

Historic Mud Bay Village


Mud Bay Village once comprised the area which surrounds the Art Knapp store and Garden Centre. The area which occupies the tract of land between the Serpentine and Nicomekyl Rivers housed a working farm (with barns and out-buildings) as well as a small church and a one-room school house, which was restored and resides in it's original location directly across from the store on King George.

The area was farmed by multiple generations of three families over the course of 100 years. Between 1885 and the mid 1980s the McBrides, Cosens and McDonald familes worked the land with everything from dairy and beef cattle to various cash crops including potatoes.

The McBride Family (1885-1945) developed and worked the land for 60 years and erected a school and church as well as building up a profitable farming business.


The Cosen's Family (1945-1958) purchased the farm from Bert McBride in 1945 and farmed until they sold out to Ken McDonald in 1958.

The McDonald Family (1959-1972) operated the farm for another 14 years. They kept the dairy farming going but also invested in cash crops, producing in excess of 400 tons of potatoes annually. They sold the farm and the cows in 1972. The land was purchased by the Greenbelt Fund which was the beginning of the Serpentine Fen (Serpentine Wildlife Area), home to many species of local and migratory birds and waterfowl. The McDonald's rented the land land until until the mid 1980s.

The small area of private land is occupied by Art Knapp, and the Vander Zalm family business ventures as well as adjacent parcels for other local businesses. The bulk of the land is part of the Conservation Area.

For more on the history of this piece of land look at:
Surrey History - McBride Family Farm


The Serpentine Wildlife Area  - lies in a triangle between Highway 99, the King George Highway (99A), and the Serpentine River. This wildlife area is managed by Ducks Unlimited. The fen includes many different types of habitat in its 150 hectares, and is home to more than 130 different bird species. September and October is the busiest birding season. In the winter months, many birds shelter in the fen where there is open water and a good, natural food supply.

The Serpentine Wildlife Area (SWA) - better known as the Serpentine Fen - contains 71.3 hectares (176 acres) of habitat important to wildlife. The Fen is managed by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks  to protect the area's habitats. The agricultural lands south of 44th Avenue are owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Highways and are not part of the wildlife area, but are currently managed by the Ministry for the benefit of wildlife. These lands are referred to as the Serpentine Annex.

The extensive freshwater marshes, and the small tidal brackish water marsh are important to wildlife populations, including birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and insects. The wildlife and habitats of this Conservation Area can be experienced via the many kilometres of trails, some with dense hedgerows. There are three covered viewing towers. A covered picnic shelter is located off 44th Avenue.

For some great park photos check out:
Greater Vancouver Parks - Serpentine Fen

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