More than 100 years of Lynn Valley Days

Lynn Valley is a neighbourhood rich with history; the tales of our long-age neighbours are interwoven through our very forests, steams and streets. For a primer on our past, visit the LynnValleyLife History page … or, even better, pop into the Community History Centre, located in the former Lynn Valley elementary school heritage building at 3203 Institute Rd. 

This is a great post from our archives by Bob Rasmus.


Lynn Valley Days gone by


In 1912 the residents of Lynn Valley worked hard. There were trees to fall, buck up and transport to the mills. And once they reached the mills, there was still a lot of hard work remaining in order to turn the raw logs into lumber for transport to market or to build local houses.

By today’s standards, every task that was carried out was accomplished through hard physical labour. It only made sense that a few community-minded individuals took it upon themselves to create an event that gave the local residents an opportunity to play.

The first Lynn Valley Day was held 100 years ago, in September 1912. Featured events include Pin the Tail on the Donkey, a Tug-of-War, a ‘Fat Men’s’ race and a Men’s Handicap Competition for Merchants Trust and Trading Co. Cup. For a look at the actual 1912 program of events, click here!

Lynn Valley Day 1915

Lynn Valley Day 1915

Also included in the day’s activities was the official opening of Lynn Canyon Park by Reeve William May, with assistance from the Mayor and Council. (For a story about the park’s early history, click here.) Following the opening of the park was the inaugural opening of the Suspension Bridge. Later in the evening, there was a dance that was led off by the Reeve and distinguished guests. The president of the organizing committee was John M. Duval, and the Vice-President was J.M. Fromme.

Lynn Valley Day continued to be celebrated over the following decades. (For a newspaper account of the 1946 community fair, click here.) By 1949 the event had moved to June 25th and had grown in importance with the advent of hundreds of new residents. From 9 a.m. until midnight there were activities for young and old alike.

Track and Field events for all ages got underway at 9 a.m. with one of the features being a community tug-of-war, in which winners were awarded with a special trophy. The afternoon featured the crowning of May Queen Norma Damgaard, in addition to folk dancing, Maypole dancing, a children’s fancy dress parade, a band concert by the North Vancouver School’s Band, boxing matches and whist drives and concert.

These were all topped off with the annual Lynn Valley Day Dance. Officials in 1949 included M.E. Sowden, James Sinclair, Johnny Cates and MLA W.M. Draycott – the latter, of course, still well-known to us as the community builder who is commemorated with a bronze statue sitting on a bench in Pioneer Park.

In 1962, the 50th Anniversary was a special event held on Saturday, June 2. The day began with field sports, including races, jumping competitions for children of all ages, some pole vaulting and some discus throwing for older children.

The afternoon was reserved for adult races which culminated in a “married couple’s pie-eating contest” with a $2.00 prize. While the afternoon races were going on, there was also a full slate of concessions to take part in and a parade to watch, as well as the coronation ceremonies for the Lynn Valley Day Queen of the year.

The evening began with a ladies softball game at 6 p.m., followed by a square dance at 7:30 and a dance at the community hall at 9:00. It was a full day of activities – just check out this schedule of events!


Historical photographs


Lynn Valley Day historical images courtesy of North Vancouver Museum and Archives.


Lynn Valley Day 2018


More than 100 years later, this annual community event is still very much alive and entertains up to 10,000 people. In latter years, it has grew to the point that now both the Lynn Valley Lions Club and the Lynn Valley Community Association were required to manage it.

This year’s event kicks off with a gala dinner and dance under a huge tent on Friday night. Saturday morning begins the community parade.  There will be the fantastic Lions’ Cook Shack, balloon artists, face painters, music, along with rides, public displays and a collector car show, will be entertaining crowds all day long.

The residents of Lynn Valley still work hard, and deserve a chance to relax and enjoy time with their family and friends. Lynn Valley Days still provides that opportunity.

Summer camp ready in Lynn Valley

The summer season is almost upon us. Parental planning is just about hitting its peak as families coordinate childcare, vacations and summer camps. Living where we are you don’t need to go far for some local solutions. Watch out for registration dates!


North Van Rec – Register May 16


Camp Lynn Valley, 5-6yrs, various dates Jul. 3-Aug. 31, Lynn Valley Rec Centre

Calling all five & six year olds! Camp Lynn Valley is a great way to spend your summer. Visit parks, explore forests, streams and creatures, learn about science, make new friends and more.

Bricks 4 Kidz, various age groups 5-15,  various dates Jul. 3-Aug. 31, Lynn Valley Village/Mollie Nye House

Bricks 4 Kidz® camps are a fresh and fun way for kids to spend their school or holiday break! Children will enjoy using LEGO® Bricks to build specially-designed models, play games, explore the world of engineering, architecture and movie-making.

Camp KM Tennis & Waves, 9-12yrs,  various dates Jul. 3-Aug. 31, Karen Magnussen Rec Centre

A half day camp program focusing on tennis skills and plenty of games. After a supervised lunch, enjoy and swimming (12:00-1:00pm) in the wave pool.


North Shore Winter Club – Registration open


Multi-sport Day Camps, 6-11 yrs,  various dates Jul. 3-Aug. 24,

Each week offers multi sport activities to keep kids active and doing lots of different things. We end the week with a field trip to a local hangout. Day camps are supervised in the safe environment of the Club. Lunches and snacks are included.

Activities may include: swimming, tennis, dance, sportball, basketball, hikes to the park and arts, crafts and games.

Kids Corner – Culinary No Cook Recipe Week 2, 2-7 yrs, Aug. 27-31, 9-11 am

 

A week filled with fun, no bake recipes. The children will learn how to make fresh fruit salad, summer berry cheesecake, trail mix, oatmeal energy bites and more, without the use of any heating equipment. The day will finish with an active game or swim in the small pool.

Atom Summer Hockey,  various dates Jul. 3-Aug. 31

The NSWC Summer Hockey Camps are a great way to keep your kids active over the break. Drop them off for a day of fun activities with 3 hours of ice broken up into 4 different ice sessions. Kids will work on their skating, puck skills and game skills, as well as play a 45 minute 3v3 game to end each day. Participants will be introduced to off-ice development. Lunch is included.


Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre – registration open


Summer Mini-Camps, various dates M-W Jul. 3-Aug. 29, 5-8yrs/8-12yrs

Ecology Centre Summer Camps are where the Forest and Fun meet! There is plenty of forest fun planned throughout the summer from Slime Time to Splish Splash for younger children and from Survive to Homesteaders.

Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre

Keeping the hills alive with the sound of music

For decades parents have been supporting their children’s dreams and keeping Lynn Valley’s hills alive with the sound of music. The 36th Annual Argyle Music Association fundraiser Cabaret is taking place this weekend.


Annual Cabaret funds scholarships


“It’s for students graduating from the Argyle music program, “ said Sheila Balzar, parent and volunteer fundraising coordinator. “It varies from year to year, but last year we had, I believe, 25 applicants and everyone received something.”

The annual evening of music, silent auction and dining will take place at May 12 at 6 p.m. at Mulgrave Theatre in West Vancouver. This year’s event – titled Jazz to Jukebox will showcase the talents of students as they perform their skills in an industry-level performance. As a fundraiser, it is one of a handful held throughout the year that supports students, the curriculum and trips the students take.

“Cabaret is strictly for scholarships and bursaries,” said Balzar. “Over 100 students will be performing. It is the pinnacle of the jazz students curriculum – they are expected to perform as if they are a professional and this is a paid gig.”


Exceptional program, bright futures


For those who have not been through Argyle, they might not be familiar with the school’s extremely well-regarded music program. Parents with a child in music automatically become a part of the Argyle Music Association and their dedication is essential to the program.

“We are there to support the music – these teachers put so much energy and time into creating this quality program. They need to be able to focus on teaching,” said Balzar.

The investment in students is paying off in so many ways, she said. From outstanding opportunities to tour in Europe to creating foundational music and technical abilities that have students stepping out of high school and into industry jobs while pursuing post-secondary education, and ultimately full-time employment.

For her son and daughter, it has not only meant a passion for music but technical skills to support the performances as well.

“My son discovered sound and lighting in Grade 7 when a teacher suggested he help with the school play,” she said. “That dovetailed nicely into the sound and lighting crew at Argyle. He had the opportunity to become a leader at young age, putting in incredible hours and now is working in the industry at 19 doing events at Rogers Arena.”


Exceptional program, bright futures


“Music is a huge part of these students,” said Balzar. “The program at Argyle is outstanding. There are opportunities to perform with members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. It is elevating their musical experience – the level of commitment, the preparation, the excellence to do that. Just to put themselves out there to perform at the level – its huge.”

For some the music program is an opportunity to be part of something bigger – to be part of team.

“There is a sense of belonging in the music program – working together,” said Balzar. “The progress is phenomenal throughout the year and to see them from Grade 8 to Grade 12  — it’s exponential.”

Senior choir at Bach’s Tomb

The work is paying off. During the school’s most recent senior trip to Europe their reputation for excellence afforded them the unique opportunity to perform Bach while at Bach’s tomb – something that could only happen because of their skill, said Balzar.

“It’s a massive program,” she said. “So many people put so much energy, so much love in to 300-plus students to enrich their high school experience and change the rest of their lives.”


How to help


There are plenty of opportunities for the community to support this program. In addition to attending Cabaret or donating auction items, the teachers have wishlists, she said.

“With a new school being built, we need to remember it is just the shell of a school and to run an excellent program there needs to be equipment,” said Balzar. “This is not in the capital budget; this is not in the operating budget.

“There are so many ways to help: come out to concerts and performances,” said Balzar, noting there is a list on their website. “If a student knocks on your door – try to say yes to purchasing some pie or chocolates.”

To create a lasting legacy of support contact the Argyle Music Association for current needs at fundraising@argylemusic.ca. The group has come up with some fantastic passive fundraising options as well that support students throughout the year. If you shop at SPUD you can purchase your produce and support students – details here or purchase SPUD gift cards and use them later – details here. Same goes for fantastic North Shore Two Rivers Meats – details here.

Remembering 25 years ago: Lynn Valley Little League at the World Series

In 1993 a team of 14 boys from Lynn Valley – just ages 12 and 13 – made their way to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to represent Canada at the Little League World Championship.


A milestone 25 years later


This is was a first for a North Shore team and has not been matched since. It was also a first in Little League history because it was first team helmed by a woman to qualify – a moment so important Coach Kathy Barnard’s Canada hat hangs in the Little League Museum.

The run has been documented in an engaging post by North Vancouver’s Len Corben to celebrate the 20th anniversary. Today, for the 25th anniversary we caught up with player Scott Carlson.

“It was a once in a lifetime sort of thing,” said Carlson, now a investment advisor. “We were playing in Lynn Valley and then provincials and then a couple of weeks later grown men were asking for our 12-year-olds’ autographs in Williamsport. I didn’t even know there was a world series until after nationals.”

The 1993 Lynn Valley Little League all-star team at the Little League World Series. Scott Carlson is back row, second from left.


Local and international history


It was a whirlwind summer for those selected as 11/12 all-stars. They had to win regionals, provincials, turn 12 and 13, head out to Nova Scotia for nationals and after a hard-fought victory head down to Pennsylvania – just three days later – for the World Series.

“Personally I found the Canadian championships more stressful – we were playing to be the best in our country,” said Carlson. “The world series was extremely fun – and extremely competitive. But we got to spend a lot time with the other teams. There was lots of fun to be had. It wasn’t just ballpark – hotel – ballpark.”

The team from LV received special attention from media upon their arrival. Coach Barnard’s glass ceiling-breaking achievement created quite a buzz around the tournament.

“She was the coach of [my regular-season team] the Pirates and her son Spencer was my best friend. They lived three doors up from me,” said Carlson. “She was always there – a great coach.”


Memory of a lifetime


Scott Carlson

Barnard’s milestone, along with the entire team’s journey wasn’t something that hit home until later years later.

“I don’t think I realized how big it was until I was in my 20s when ESPN and TSN started showing all the [Little League World Series] games on TV,” said Carlson.

Now a North Shore dad in his own right, Carlson looks a back – a bit astonished that it has been 25 years.

“It doesn’t feel like yesterday, but it is the most vivid memories I have. It is really hard to reach that level of play – the world championship. It was such a unique experience,” he said. “It is great to sit back and think about it – and to dream of being on of the boys of summer again – just playing baseball.”

Out of the school yard and up to ‘Big House’

Suddenly there is quiet – 50 formerly noisy, energetic Grade 3 students have just stepped into the forest. Since they started school, the students have been told they would go to the Big House, now known as the longhouse. For months, they have been working with their teachers and special Aboriginal instructors to gain a base of knowledge they hope will transform into appreciation. The moment they begin their time at  Cheakamus Centre, it is clear this not a typical school day.

For decades, parents in the North Vancouver School District have been sending their children to Paradise Valley – first on trains; now in school buses for the unique programs offered at Cheakamus Centre – remembered by many as the North Vancouver Outdoor School. But unless you check out the Centre’s Open House, only a few lucky parents get to experience this themselves. Thus it was that LynnValleyLife tagged along with Lynn Valley Elementary on a recent visit to see firsthand what this Indigenous Cultural Program is about.


The Forest


Dusted with snow, the forest glowed as the sun shone through a light fog as students were divided into groups for an interpretive walk. Indigenous Cultural Program Coordinator Sarah Davidson-James and Indigenous Cultural Program Staff Member Mathew Siýámken Williams took the groups along the Ch’iyákmesh (Cheakamus) River. It was clear which children frequently visit the forest and for which this was a rare experience – some walked tentatively on the uneven icy ground while other bounded through the snow. Every couple of minutes Mathew would gather the group to share some ecological or cultural knowledge. Students were encouraged to pick up fallen materials – like moss, lichen or horsetails – to feel or use them as Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) people did.

750-year-old cedar

We learned what plants made what pigments for art or ceremonial purposes. Quickly there were 20 children sputtering into horsetails after Mathew shared they were used as whistles. As the walk continued to a 750-year-old cedar tree, a few clear notes rang through the forest.

The trees in this area are stunning, but the second growth looks nothing like the ancient stumps that dot the forest or one of the few remaining ancient cedars. It took about 17 students to encircle the base of towering tree.

The walk emphasized how First Nations people used and respected the forest. The students were keenly interested in how the Skwxwú7mesh people chose to use cedar trees based on their gender. Women would use female trees and men would use male trees. Another fact that resonated with the students was how Skwxwú7mesh children are taught to harvest cedar bark – people were taught to harvest a strip of bark only as wide as their two hands. If children were gathering, their strips were obviously smaller. The students could identify trees that had been harvested by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people about their age. Experiential moments like this throughout the day seemed to foster connection – students were relating to information in a much different way than what they learn in a classroom.


The Programs


Skw’une-was (the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh word for partnership), the overnight Grade 3 program is a provincially recognized program tied to the BC Curriculum, said Sepideh Tazzman, communications and marketing manager for the Cheakamus Centre. It began after a conference in 1985 of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people, North Vancouver District educators, and a few non-First Nations guests knowledgeable in Northwest Coast First Nations culture.

“During the conference that was the impetus for the program, participants listened to the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people speak of their values, attitudes and ways of life as well as traditional family roles and structures, and the approach to educating by example. It also included discussions about religious beliefs and language, as well as sharing experiences of the past and hopes for the future of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people,” said Sepideh. “Both First Nations and non-First Nations came away from the conference with a heightened understanding of and respect for one another. The sharing that had taken place developed into the longhouse curriculum and embodies the same sense of partnership between cultures.”

Within the halls of NVSD schools the program is known as Skw’unw-was and a much anticipated highlight of the year. The program is based on three major ideas that underlie the activities at the longhouse: respect, sharing, and seasonality, said Sepideh.

Those themes ran throughout the experience, from respecting the elders by serving them their food first, to respecting the forest by leaving any souvenirs that students had gathered; sharing of knowledge and cooperating to make lunch; to discussing the changing forest and work needed to survive there throughout the year.

A big takeaway for all the students was how Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people had to be patient and plan – nothing was instant like today’s culture. If you wanted a blanket it took five years to gather the wool and another year to weave, according to Mathew. If you wanted to weave hats or mats the cedar had to be harvested and dried for a year before you could get to work.


The Longhouse


The whispers begin even before the field trip forms go home. They have heard from older students…. The smoke…. The fire….The longhouse. In a day of many memories, the longhouse at Cheakamus Centre leaves the most lasting impression. The imposing – yet cozy – structure is the centerpiece of the program.

The students were greeted by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Elder Henry Khapquolanogh Williams at the bridge leading to the longhouse. Students announced their arrival and he welcomed them to the longhouse and invited them in. The dark, open room was hazy from smoke and warm from fire.

Inside Mathew explains the history, some basic building techniques, the core ideas of communal living, the astounding fact that longhouses were moved – sometimes on canoes – to different parts of Howe Sound and Burrard Inlet seasonally. Students were given an overview of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh life, beginning with food.

Cooking box

If you ask the kids, the most exciting moment of the program was seeing parent volunteers pull glowing rocks from the fire. Students carefully wiped ashes from the stones with cedar bows, before they were placed inside a pot with water and vegetables. Within a cooking box the veggies boiled and cooked while the children roasted bannock over the fire.

Inside and outside the longhouse students cooked their bannock while Mathew explained Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people originally made bread from a flour made from the alder tree and a lichen commonly called old man’s beard. The memorable meal was topped off with salmon prepared by Cheakamus Centre staff.


The Work


Another key piece of the program is experiencing the traditional day-to-day tasks of the Coast Salish people. Groups of students were able to participate in two experiences, choosing from Plant Gatherers, Wood Workers, Cedar Bark Workers, Wool Weavers, or Hunters/Fishers.

Mathew took the Hunters/Fishers down to the river. It was a humbling moment to learn Sḵwx̱wú7mesh means “People of the Fish Weir” while learning about how they would traditionally fish. The students were awed seeing Mathew pull an obsidian arrowhead from his pocket. They scoured the beach looking for basalt, that flakes in a similar way, and a rock to make their own. After seeing an American Dipper fish on the river it was time to head back and try their hand at weaving.

Alongside the longhouse and the outdoor cooking fire, students settled into patiently weaving cedar strips. The slow practice was carefully guide by Elder Henry. He shared photos of elaborate projects inspiring the students to focus harder on their works.


The End


Time at the longhouse flies by. Students, parents, teachers and cultural staff gathered around the longhouse fire one more time to share thoughts of the experience. The take-away from the program is that it fosters an appreciation and understanding of First Nations. The personal stories and anecdotes from indigenous cultural staff and elders help students understand that while they are experiencing a portion of history, they are still learning about issues relevant today – jaws dropped across the fire when Mathew shared there are only seven fluent Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language speakers left. These experiences push some kids out of their comfort zones and invigorate others with a deeper understanding of the forest they love.

With hair scented with wood smoke students filed back on to the bus with exclamations of this being the “best trip ever.”  Osieum (“Oh-see-em”) to Cheakamus Centre and NVSD for sharing it.

The 49th Annual Cheakamus Centre Open House is on Sunday, May 6th, 2018 from 10:30 a.m. -3:30 p.m..

Hatching a new bylaw means more backyard hens in LV

Last September the District of North Vancouver adopted a bylaw allowing for the raising of chickens in single residential homes (RS) zone. You or your neighbours can raised between four to six chickens, given the right enclosure, an electric fence and a animal permit from the district.

While the bylaw maybe new – chickens in Lynn Valley are not. It is estimated there are between 50 and 100 chickens roosting here. For now those chickens are running a-fowl the bylaw, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t thriving in our mountain community.


Happy Hens, Happy Kids


lynn Valley Chickens“Lynn Valley is a pretty cool place,” says Mike, a local chicken owner. “The neighbours have been quite excited about the chickens. They come visit them. When we go away the neighbours’ kids look after the chickens – they get to collect the eggs. It is quite fun.”

For about four years chickens have been a part of their home after his children won over thier parents with some hard fought lobbying and Mike completed some research.

“My wife’s cousins are ranchers and they have 30-40 chickens,” he said. “When the kids were little we would go visit them a lot. And they would play with the chickens. There were dogs, and cattle and haystacks but they would play with the chickens. Eventually they decided they wanted chickens here.

“The ranch up in Cariboo is surrounded by wolves and caribou and all sorts of critters – so we did a lot homework about who was going after urban chickens. We talked to people and heard we needed to keep the ‘coons and the skunks out.”


Keeping ‘coons out of the coop


Between the family dog and the wildlife, using the children’s old playhouse and plenty of chicken wire, Mike got to work.

“We started down this road with a huge amount of chicken security – it was basically a high security prison,” he said. “There was a double-fence system, so if something broke through one, they’d have to break through another. Since we have socialized the dog I have rebuilt everything and made it much more friendly – a minimum security prison for the chickens.”

For his family, the biggest knock against getting chickens was their dog.

“I had family members with dog – and I thought dogs and chickens didn’t necessarily mix,” said Mike. “I have since learned that dogs can be trained to not eat chickens. We worked at it and got the dog to understand it couldn’t eat a chicken.”

In fact the dog is helpful, keeping large birds like eagles and other predators away.

The DNV bylaw requires an electric fence to protect household chickens from wildlife. The District has been working with Wild Safe BC to create a framework for urban chickens that doesn’t habituate wild animals to an easy food source. The District has also been working with CLUCK (Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub).  CLUCK North Vancouver is quite active online with local events, get togethers and its website has a wealth of links including info on a veterinarian in Westview who helps exotic pets including chickens.


Everyone has a job


Back at Mike’s, Hipster and Flopsy a more than just farm animals and more than just pets.

“On a farm they don’t necessarily draw the distinction that urban pet owners do,” says Mike. “Farmers care about every animal in their herd – they will go out in the middle of the night, they will bring them into their home if they need to. To me our chickens are like an animal on a farm but they are also a pet where there is relationship with them. They do work – they produce eggs and they have other jobs.”

While there is work in caring for the chickens, they work they do makes up for the effort, he says. In addition to eggs they eat food scraps, eat weeds, gobble up chafer beetles and dig and fluff the lawn creating healthier grass.

“They produce an egg a day – that is one tenth of their body weight,” says Mike. “They eat a lot and make an egg a day – if you think about that it is like giving birth to a kid everyday. So I have a lot of respect for them.”


The fowl-side of hens


Caring for chickens isn’t all meringues and the best quiche you’ve ever had.

Lynn Valley Chickens“The biggest challenge is they are rather indiscriminate with bathroom habits,” said Mike. “If they are eating that much to make eggs, they have a lot of by products and that is good – we compost it. You have to compost it for a year to get really good garden fertilizer. They wander across the patio and leave little things there and have even escaped into the house on occasion.”

Other challenges include protecting the birds from rats. Apparently rats are common in Lynn Valley compost piles. Mike has taken care to – and the bylaw requires – make the coop inaccessible to rats and to make sure rats don’t partake in the chicken feed.

Another challenge stems from chickens being a bit bird-brained.

“Because we have a dog we don’t leave gates open very often, but the chickens do wander around in the yard and they know where their coop is so they don’t go very far,” says Mike. “But they do disappear and we have chicken panics. There is a lot of things that could happen in the real world. They are not smart enough to not run out in front of a car. They are pretty dumb.”

The most common question the family gets and the number one concern of chicken opponents is noise.

“The chickens make a noise – they don’t do it that often and it’s not an unpleasant noise,” says Mike. “It’s way better than a rock band practicing badly or a diesel [truck] warming up in the morning, or kids screaming or dogs barking or a whole bunch of other things you hear in a human neighbourhood. We were worried about… it’s just part of the background and none of the neighbours seem to care – and I’d hope they would come talk to us if they did.”

The other thing to be aware of, says Mike, is that chickens are fragile – they have been bred to do one thing.

“We made the mistake of getting farm chickens, not ones bred to be pets. The first ones we had were quite weak – one died of an infection and one died of leukemia. We have two now.”

With several years as a chicken owner, Mike insists he doesn’t love them – but he does speak about them with a lot of affection.

“I’m still rather indifferent to them – but my kids would have a different answer. They are entertaining,” says Mike. “There is nothing like a fresh egg – let me tell you. An egg that is made by a chicken that is eating bugs and wandering around eating plants is a completely different thing than what you get in a store.”

Rules on raising hens in Lynn Valley can be found on the DNV website.