Take a “Jane’s Walk” and hear Lynn Valley history

Jane’s Walks are coming to Lynn Valley,  just in time to celebrate the 100th birthday of the person after whom they were named.

Writer and activist Jane Jacobs had a significant influence on urban planning in the 1960s, when she introduced concepts such as “social capital” in designing communities that better served the overall needs of their residents.

LV Rd by Ross Rd c 1920s NVMA

Lynn Valley Road by Ross Road, circa 1920s. Courtesy of NV Museum & Archives.

Today, Jane’s Walks are free, citizen-led walking tours, in which people get together to explore, talk about, and celebrate their neighbourhoods. On Saturday, May 7, North Vancouver Museum and Archives Curator Karen Dearlove will lead a tour of Lynn Valley, which will be illustrated by historical facts, anecdotes, and historical images, many pertaining to the neighbourhood’s history as a logging and shingle-building community.

The tour will begin at the Community History Centre located in the former Lynn Valley school building at 3203 Institute Road. The tour will begin at 10:30 a.m. and last approximately one hour.


1962 Lynn Valley Day May Queen remembers crowning glory

From Lynn O’Malley, Voice of the Valley

She may have accomplished many things in her life since, but chief among Jane Jessop’s memories is being crowned May Queen at the 1962 Lynn Valley Day. And it wasn’t just any Lynn Valley Day – they really put on the Ritz as it was the 50th anniversary of the first Lynn Valley Day that took place in 1912 in Lynn Canyon Park.

It wasn’t Jane’s first Lynn Valley Day, though. Then Jane Hambleton, she had been one of the May Queen’s flower girls when she was just in Grade 1. But that was nothing compared to being chosen by popular vote from amongst four or five other Lynn Valley Elementary School girls to be the May Queen in Grade 6.


Mom won in a walk: a Lynn Valley Day memory

By contributing writer Len Corben

My mother’s Achilles heel was actually her most valuable asset. At least it was on the afternoon she entered the Lynn Valley Day walking race from 15th Street and Lonsdale Avenue to Lynn Valley Park on June 1, 1957, coming up 58 years ago now.

With this year’s Lynn Valley Day scheduled for Saturday, May 30, this is the perfect opportunity to tell the tale of my mom’s victory using a rather unorthodox finishing kick.


Granddaughter offers glimpse into Lynn Valley Day history

Thanks to our internet-connected world, a little piece of Lynn Valley history recently came to light.

Kim Wertenberger of Wapato, Washington, sent LynnValleyLife a photo of a much-cherished trophy that once belonged to her grandfather, Brian J. Ingoldsby. “I love it dearly and wanted to share it with you,” wrote Kim, who had unsuccessfully tried to make contact with someone in Lynn Valley years ago. This time, her internet search found an appreciative audience in the LVLife editorial office.

Image 4The trophy was given to Mr. Ingoldsby for winning the “Mile Flat Race” in 1921, 22, and 23. The race was run at the first-ever Lynn Valley Day in 1912, and again in 1913, but there is a significant gap in the dates while World War One interrupted such idyllic pastimes. (For a first-hand account of another Lynn Valley man’s experience of this period, see Walter Draycott’s online chronicle of The Great War.) It must have been celebratory indeed when Mr. Ingoldsby won the race when it made its reappearance in 1921.

Says Kim: “I was told that [my grandfather] qualified for the Olympics as a runner, but was spiked by another runner’s shoe so couldn’t participate.  I’m not sure about the truth in that or even if I am remembering the story correctly…but he won this trophy three years in a row so he must have had some skill!”


Lynn Valley loses loved Legionnaire


Received on March 12 from the Lynn Valley Legion. 

Comrade Harold Finnegan, a beloved member of Branch #114 and Veteran of the Korean War, passed away this week.  A Celebration of  Harold’s remarkable life will be held at Branch #114 this Saturday [March 14].  Please join us for a Full Legion Ceremony and service for family, friends and Comrades beginning at 11:00 a.m. A reception will follow at the Branch.


History Centre showcases diverse stories


A press release from the North Vancouver Museum & Archives:

North Vancouver has undergone many changes in recent years. We see this in changing skylines, advertisements about new businesses and festivals, and in the diversity of people now residing within our community.

It is important to recognise and document the multicultural history of our dynamic community. This is being done through the Diversifying History Project, a North Vancouver Museum & Archives’ oral history initiative which documents the arrival stories of new Canadians.


Online project offers glimpse into Draycott’s war years

Some current-day citizens of Lynn Valley knew Walter Draycott when he was alive. Most of us, however, know Walter as the man sitting on the bench, immortalized in bronze, in Pioneer Park on the corner of Lynn Valley Road and Mountain Highway. Others know him best from the pages of his excellent community history, Early Days in Lynn Valley, a must-have book usually available for purchase at the Community History Centre in the old Lynn Valley school.

Now, however, there is another, more intimate way to get to know him: from the pages of his own diary, in an online chronicle of his years spent as a military sketch artist in World War One. The unique project will unfold, one day at a time, each diary entry posted exactly 100 years after it was written. The North Vancouver Museum and Archives sent out the following press release today, and for a wonderful short video description of the project, click here.


Walter DraycoOn September 13, 2014, the North Vancouver Museum & Archives launched a unique online project documenting and contextualizing one man’s experience of World War I. In commemoration of the centenary of the War, each of Walter Draycott’s war-time diary entries is being posted 100 years from the day it was written. The project, entitled “Walter Draycott’s Great War Chronicle” spans the four years of the War between 1914 and 1918. It will be updated daily between 2014 and 2018, with personal photographs, battlefield drawings, and other materials, complementing Walter’s terse diary entries.

An early settler in Lynn Valley,  Walter Draycott answered the call for men at the start of World War I. By the end of 1914 he was thrust into combat on the Western Front as part of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

Years later, upon his death at the age of 102, Walter left his entire life-time’s set of diaries (1907-1985) to the North Vancouver Museum and Archives (NVMA). According to Archivist Janet Turner, “NVMA staff has long been intrigued with Walter’s life, the documents he left behind, and in particular, the tiny volumes that recorded his years as a soldier and military topographer.”

“The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War this year provides a perfect opportunity to share these unique materials with Canadians and the world,” Turner explains. “Walter Draycott’s personal records are significant because they provide an entry point into the momentous changes that were taking place at the time.”

Throughout the website, audio, essays, photographs, and other resources help connect Walter’s words to a rapidly shifting political, economic, and cultural landscape. Many of the significant diary entries are brought to life with voice-over readings by North Vancouver actor Gordon Roberts, veteran of the musical Billy Bishop Goes to War.

Yearly essays by BC military historian, David Borys, link Walter’s personal experience as a self-described ‘pawn’ to the unfolding global conflict. Photo albums help visitors envision Walter’s world with personal portraits, battlefield drawings, and images from his original handwritten diaries.

Walter Draycott Statue, Lynn Valley

Walter Draycott’s Great War Chronicle” is presented by the North Vancouver Museum 

& Archives with funding from Veterans Affairs Canada, City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, Friends of the North Vancouver Museum & Archives Society, and the Canada Summer Jobs program. The interactive website can be found at:  greatwarchronicle.ca

Cedar V theatre memories recalled

Just over two years ago, we wrote this post about the now-legendary Cedar V theatre, located next door to what is now the PetroCan station on Lynn Valley Road.

This week, we were happy to receive some more reflections, sent our way by Dave Whitmore, who lived at 2826 Crestlynn Place from 1958 till 1973. Thanks for the memories and the photos, Dave!

The Cedar V Theatre Years

I was born in 1950, and our family moved to Lynn Valley in 1959. At that time there was a small shopping centre with a Safeway, one elementary school, Eastview Elementary, and soon one high school, Argyle (finished in 1965, in time for me) and one theatre – the Cedar V Theatre.

cedar vThe theatre was Quonset Hut-style building with a covered wrap-around area for the line-ups that also posted the marquee of shows playing. They always showed double features, and on Saturdays a half-price matinee for kids. The price was 35¢, later 50¢, and snacks were cheap, too. Also, they had hot dogs, a snack that has since disappeared from theatres.

When one of the two features were considered ‘adult only’, us matinee goers would be given a raft of cartoons and a ‘Three Stooges’ movie in place of it. Because of this, I have seen every ‘Three Stooges’ movie at least twice, and know the names of all five ‘Stooges’ characters: Moe, Larry, Curly (bald), Shemp, and Curly Joe (also bald).

Between features, there was a ‘Birthday Break’ where birthday kids came on stage and were given applause, a ‘Happy Birthday’ sing-along, and a free ticket and a treat. In all those years, my birthday never happened on a Saturday. Damn!

In the rear of the theatre were two soundproof ‘Crying Rooms’ with their own speakers and big glass windows. They were used in the evening where adults that had crying kids could go and watch the movie without disturbing others. On matinee days, they were occupied by all the local “tough kids” as a sort of clubhouse. Most of them were members of a loose Lynn Valley gang that called themselves ‘The Lynn Valley Smiling Crab Society’ (or LVSCS for short). In there they would smoke up a storm and drink smuggled booze; but that left everyone else in peace – so it worked out well for everyone. I’ve never seen ‘Crying Rooms’ in any other theatre, though some other theatres must have had them, too.

Cedar V property today

– graphic by Dave Whitmore

The family that ran it was the Chisolm family who lived upstairs in the theatre, and one of their kids (John , I think) was often in one of my high school classes. I always envied a kid who lived in the theatre. He was a small, mild-mannered guy, but unlike other small, mild-mannered guys like me, he never had to worry about the many bullies from the LVSCS and others, lest they be banished from the Saturday gang get-togethers in the ‘Crying Rooms’. A sort of ‘Diplomatic Immunity’.

Despite the fact that because I was always the smallest kid in my grade and got bullied a lot, the years in Lynn Valley were the best in my life. The schools and houses were surrounded by woods and trails, and Lynn Canyon Park had the free suspension bridge. Most people lived in the new suburban ‘Westlynn’ and ‘Westlynn Terrace’ developments and were generally pretty well off. And watching all the ‘Sinbad’ and ‘Beard and Sandals’ epic shows (eg: Ben-Hur, Barabas, etc) in technicolor at the Cedar V Theatre was a big part of it. Notwithstanding the shadow of the Cold War, these were happy innocent times.

– Dave Whitmore, former Lynn Valley resident

Dave Whitmore still visits his old haunting grounds in Lynn Valley.

Dave Whitmore still visits his old haunts in Lynn Valley.


Suspension bridge spans 100 years

Once again Lynn Valley is celebrating an important centennial. Having already marked the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the L.V. Community Association and the first-ever Lynn Valley Day, everyone can pull out their party shoes again in order to honour 100 years of swinging good times on the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge.

On Saturday, Sept. 15th, between 10 a.m. and noon, North Vancouver District is inviting locals and friends to come to the park for music, cake, antique fire trucks and more. The Lynn Valley suspension bridge and canyon gained worldwide exposure when uber-volunteer Bob McCormack passed the Olympic torch mid-span, but those of us here in Lynn Valley are lucky to have this wilderness adventure playground in our own backyard, free of charge, all year round.

Here’s what the LynnValleyLife history section has to say about the origins of the park. After you read it, we hope you’ll be inspired to come out on Sept. 15 to start a whole new century worth of memories!

Lynn Canyon Park was the brainchild of one J.P. Crawford, a Lynn Valley land agent who convinced Vancouver’s McTavish Brothers to donate 12 acres of property to serve as an attraction that would bring more settlers to the area.

It was the first park in Lynn Valley, which was still heavily treed in most areas.  Before a landslide changed the topography of the area dramatically, the park had playing fields, a bandstand, picnic shelters and outdoor cooking facilities. It hosted the first-ever Lynn Valley Day in 1912, a grand occasion attended by thousands of people from all over Greater Vancouver, who arrived via decorated ferry boats and a new B.C. Electric streetcar line.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, circa 1915

That day also marked the opening of the suspension bridge that crosses high over the roaring waters below. When first opened, it cost ten cents to cross –whether or not you were brave enough to make it all the way to the other side! It eventually fell into disrepair and was closed, but has for some decades now been well-maintained by the District of North Vancouver, which provides this free attraction to local residents and the thousands of tourists who flock there every year.

For a historical look at the park on the occasion of its 100th anniversary, click here.

Prize-winning temperance essay from 1928 still relevant today

FROM LYNN O’MALLEY: It has become abundantly apparent that you can’t count on June for good weather. But the end of the month does bring one thing you can depend on: grad ceremonies, photo opps and – unfortunately – the worry that some kids will take things too far and ‘celebrate’ with an open bottle in hand.

So this month’s launch of Canada’s Temperance Foundation (CTF) is timely. Started by a Victoria man and V-P’d by his addiction-experienced friend, it advocates “abstinence or retraint” in the use of alcohol and drugs. It invites Canadians to take a pledge in support of the cause.

“In ancient Greece,” reads the CTF website, “temperance was considered a virtue and was obtained when one became enlightened through harmonious living.”

Fair enough – who can argue with harmonious living? But in the interests of fair play, I do want to point out that the fine awareness-raising work of the CTF is building on the earlier labours of Nora Newman, Anna Flodin, James Simmonds and other Lynn Valley schoolchildren who competed in the annual essay competitions sponsored by the local Women’s Temperance Union in the early 1900s.

In 1928, young James won a $5 gold coin for the following second-place essay. (Each year the winner received the David Spencer Cup, which was often displayed at Lynn Valley School.)

We bring you this excerpt of James’s 84-year-old essay, along with our heartfelt wishes for a safe and happy grad week throughout the valley. We can’t speak to the veracity of his scientific claims, but we do hope today’s kids pay attention when he says that by drinking, you are “lowering the grade of your mind… (and) dulling your higher sense.”


Alcohol has great effects on health and length of life. If a man drinks he is sick more, and dies sooner than a sober man.

Alcohol causes fatty degeneration and fibroid degeneration of certain of the tissues. In fatty degeneration, little drops of fat or oil gather in the cells which gradually become small bags of oil.

When the muscles of the heart change to fat, they lose their strength. The kidneys and nerve fibres are also affected in this way.

Fibroid degeneration affects the heart, liver, kidneys, arteries and brain. The arteries are affected by the lime that is deposited on the walls. This makes them very brittle and narrow, so the blood can hardly make its way through.

Alcohol affects the brain. It causes paralysis and insanity. A man who takes three ounces of alcohol each day for twelve days could add figures only three-fifths as fast as when he takes no alcohol. This effect lasts for at least forty-eight hours.

A drunkard is not the only person who suffers from the result of his habit. Drink is responsible for a large number of crimes. The worst feature of the poverty caused by alcohol is not the fact that the drunkard himself suffers, but the fact that the innocent person suffers far more than he does. Many companies and railways will not employ anyone who drinks. During the Great War most of the principal nations of the world forbade the manufacture of alcoholic drinks.

Six main things you do if you take alcohol are: that you are threatening the physical structure of your stomach, your liver, your kidneys, your heart, your blood vessels, your nerves and your brain; that you are unquestionably lessening your power to work in any field, be it physical, intellectual or artistic; that you are in some measure lowering the grade of your mind, dulling your higher sense and taking the edge off your morals; that you are distinctly lessening your chances of maintaining your health and living to a good old age; that you are adding yourself to the number of those whose habits cause more suffering and misery, disease and death, than do all other causes combined; that you are fastening on yourself a habit that will lead many business men to refuse to employ you.

Alcohol is a poison, a deceiver and a wrecker of man and homes.”