In February 1945, Mrs. Thora Johnson invited around 20 people to a meeting to discuss her idea about building a retirement home for old Swedes. This was at a time when social welfare did not exist and many elderly lived in poverty in substandard dwellings. Seven people attended the meeting and a building fund of $12.59 was established—with $10 donated by Mrs. Johnson herself.
Despite its humble beginnings, the building fund had raised enough money by 1946 to purchase 12 forest lots 8 km from the north end of the Second Narrows Bridge. Without any organized financial backing, work started on building a retirement home. All the labour, except electrical and plumbing work, was performed by volunteers with material that was often donated by surrounding businesses. The first Swedish Rest Home officially opened on May 15th, 1949.
When the Second Narrows Bridge with its 'clover' design of on-ramps was finished, the road to the north side of the Burrard Inlet was deemed "too dangerous" for use by seniors and a decision was made to build a new Swedish Rest Home in Burnaby. The building in North Vancouver was sold to the BC Government.
The construction of the new Swedish Rest Home went smoothly. Many enthusiastic supporters combined with enough financial support made it possible to complete the new retirement home in 1957, with capacity for 112 residents. During the following decade, the Swedish Canadian Rest Home was viewed as the best senior rest home in North America and visitors came from all over to see an example of a new model for senior living in spacious rooms and apartments with modern furniture and decor.