Orphaned BC dropout builds Canada's most iconic bridge, prosperous community, and prestigious golf club

TheBigScore.com is my new FREE newsletter sharing inspiring wealth creation stories. Join us!

In 1916, a frigid night witnessed Sgt-Major Billy Taylor's heroic end in WW1's trenches, urging his men to "Go for 'em" before succumbing to fate. His big brother, AJT Taylor, would carry this indomitable spirit into an extraordinary success story.

Born in 1887, AJT's humble beginnings found him labouring in Vancouver's shipyards for $5 a month as a teen. Undeterred, he dreamt big, envisioning a future that would revolutionise Vancouver's landscape. From modest origins, he rose to the pinnacle of the British Empire- literally. Taylor's investment group acquired the Marine Building in Vancouver, which was built on the site of his former shack. He later lived in its penthouse, the tallest structure in the Empire.

Vancouver's hidden beauty, with its ocean, forests, and mountains, captivated AJT. In 1927, after early ventures in engineering, contracting and mining, his perseverance led to founding British Pacific Properties (BPP), attracting influential supporters, including the Guinness family.

BPP bought 6,000 acres in West Vancouver for $120k in 1931. A remote beach community, only accessible by boat, but just one mile from the city. His grand vision of a luxurious community and golf course rested on the ambitious Lions Gate Bridge, named for the twin pointed peaks along the North Shore mountains. Prime Minister R.B. Bennett opposed it, and large investments were already in motion. But AJT's unwavering spirit and influential allies won federal approval for the bridge in 1936.

Elite minds collaborated on AJT's dream, including the Olmsted brothers, celebrated for designing New York's Central Park and the White House grounds. They crafted a refined community, Capilano Estates, now known as the British Properties, its streets commemorating gentry and project patrons. Acclaimed golf architect Stanley Thompson contributed his genius, sculpting an awe-inspiring 18-hole course with city views, Capilano Golf & Country Club, transforming sleepy West Vancouver into an exclusive residential haven.

The Lions Gate Bridge, completed ahead of schedule and under budget, opened in 1938. AJT's enduring legacy manifests in the iconic bridge, Taylor Way, and the British Properties—an ode to his ambition and the empire forged from a modest investment.

Yet, success bore a heavy price. A rift with the Guinness family's management led to AJT's resignation. His name graced a road, but he remained absent from the bridge's royal inauguration and the Capilano Golf Club opening. He returned to London during WWII to work for the British Ministry of Aircraft Production. At the age of 57 in 1945, Taylor died of cancer in a Manhattan hospital room.

AJT's $120k investment in the '30s burgeoned into a remarkable $20B value. Capilano Estates lots, initially $1,500 per acre, now command millions. With 2,000 acres awaiting development, British Pacific Properties continues to create and contribute, enriching future generations of Guinness heirs. AJT's "Go for 'em" spirit lives on, a lasting reminder of the power of dreams and determination to achieve greatness.

Video: Rare footage of Taylor, Vancouver’s Marine Building, early West Vancouver and Lions Gate Bridge construction, Capilano Golf and Country Club in the 1930s, Kew House, Taylor’s personal residence, 1939 royal visit footage. Some contemporary West Vancouver and Taylor Way videos. Sources: Vancouver Archive & Youtube