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.”

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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.”

 

 

 

 

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge celebrates 100 years

BY TRICIA EDGAR: In 2012, Lynn Canyon Park is 100 years old. Let’s go on a walk through the trails of the canyon a century ago. If you’d visited then, what would you have seen?

It’s a sunny day, and you decide to take the small rail car up from the waterfront to get to the park. As you move up the hill toward Lynn Valley, you see small houses that dot the landscape, standing amidst the remains of a giant forest. The tram moves up the road the place where Dempsey and Lynn Valley Road meet today.  You get off the tram and follow the trail into the park. As you walk, you can hear the music of a live band playing in the bandstand and the shouts of laughter from the children playing in the playground.

Huge stumps of Douglas-fir and Western Red Cedar dot the landscape, and small alder trees grow abundantly, surrounded by salmonberries and other sun-loving shrubs.

You buy lemonade for eight cents from the refreshment stand and sit down to enjoy a relaxing lunch in the picnic area under the shade of a few smaller trees.  You hear the water rushing through the canyon and feel the breeze as it blows through alders that line the creek.  You reach into your pocket, looking for 10 cents that will allow you to cross the suspension bridge, a swinging bridge that stands a daunting fifty meters above the rushing Lynn Creek.

This was Lynn Canyon Park when it opened on September 12, 1912.  When Mr. J.P. Crawford originally proposed a park to the McTavish brothers who had logged the area, all parties involved had great real estate dreams of drawing people to Lynn Valley.  Although logging was the main industry in the area, Lynn Valley was still fairly heavily treed and would be a beautiful, sought-after area in which to live.  To create the core of the park, the McTavish brothers made a 12-acre donation which was met with a 10-acre donation from the District Council of North Vancouver.

Their business venture was a huge success, and for seven years the park was a thriving tourist destination. However, just seven short years after the park opened, it changed dramatically.  Following three weeks of straight rain, on November 14, 1919, several acres of land collapsed into the river, bringing with it most of the park infrastructure: the caretaker’s cottage, the bandstand, the refreshment booth, and the picnic tables.

Over time, the park has been rebuilt and transformed again and again by nature and by people. Since 1971, the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre has provided education for over 2.6 million visitors to the park. The Centre was built in the shape of the Dogwood blossom, B.C’s floral emblem. The Centre provides park visitors with an opportunity to learn even more about this ever-changing wilderness that sits just next door to Vancouver.

Over the last 100 years, the once-tiny firs, cedars, and hemlocks left behind by long ago loggers have grown into huge trees that inspire millions of visitors from around the world. The suspension bridge draws line-ups of visitors every summer, and it’s cheaper than it used to be: it’s free! Today, Lynn Canyon Park conserves 617 acres of temperate rainforest, providing a wilderness oasis on the urban fringe and catering to families, tourists and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

– Tricia Edgar is the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre’s eduction programmer.

Theatre lives on in local memories

Musings from Lynn O’Malley: It’s always seemed to me that a little movie house would do well in Lynn Valley; something that would bring in the kind of interesting flicks you usually have to travel over to the 5th Avenue or Park Theatre to see. (OK, I can’t guarantee it would do well, and I don’t know where it would go, but I can promise that I would be a loyal patron.)

Then it occurred to me that we’ve already had a little movie house here in the valley, one that was very popular indeed. If you’re lucky enough to be of the right age, and a long-enough resident of the neighbourhood, you’ll already know about the Cedar V. The rest of us young ’uns have no memory of it, or we have faint memories, or perhaps just memories we think we have, but that really belong to older brothers and sisters and have been listened to often enough that they feel like our own.

The Quonset Hut-style building was located at 1260 Lynn Valley Rd., near the site of the current PetroCan station. Built in 1953, its Saturday matinees became the highlight of the week for hundreds of local schoolkids. Here’s what former Valleyite Barbara Black had to say about the Cedar V from her current home in Victoria:

“I was just thinking about the old Cedar V Theatre, where I saw my first terrifying movie: Bambi. I think I was six. I remember they sold popcorn in little kiddie-sized paper bags and the butter soaked through the sides before you could finish it. Saturdays were the double-bill matinee. If it was your birthday you were called up on stage and given a prize. I also saw “The Three Lives of Thomasina” there, another heart-wrenching movie complete with witch and a cat funeral.”

And in this online essay, Vancouver writer Michael Hayward reminisces about the almost magical power the theatre cast upon him, his cousin and the other kids who were drawn to it “like moths to a fire.”

Unfortunately, the fire went out on October 31, 1971, when the theatre was demolished to make way for new development.

Would a small movie house today have the same allure for our kids, accustomed as they are to the more modern on-screen entertainment constantly at their fingertips? Hard to say. But there are some things that Playstations, HDTVs and iPads just can’t offer: Theatre popcorn. Getting together with dozens of friends. Having someone pull you up on stage because it’s your birthday.

Cedar V, you are missed.

Lynn Valley ’70s counterculture recalled in colourful autobiography

From Lynn O’Malley: Inspired by our Christmas post in which we published a list of Lynn Valley residents’ wishes, publisher Jim Lanctot and I got talking about what we’d ask for if we could wave a wand and make something good come true for our community.

He thought that more programs for youth might be a fine thing; I wondered if kids – like the rest of us – have perhaps too many entertainment choices and are hungry instead for a way to get involved in something more meaningful. (In fact, as reported recently in the Globe and Mail, youth are more likely to volunteer their time than people in any other age group!)

Thinking about ‘kids these days’ made me recall tales of the Lynn Valley Crabs, a gang that roved these streets many decades ago. Thanks to Google, I was soon reading this first-person account of a dance going sideways at the Lynn Valley Community Hall, a building now replaced by the more aesthetically pleasing Lynn Valley Rec Centre. It’s written by Dave Jenneson, singer and front-man for The Burner Boys, the homegrown band playing that night:

“We had horrified one of the biggest bands in Vancouver but still our problems were not over. We immediately got a new gig at the Lynn Valley Community Center. It looked more like a bunker – a low squat cinderblock building at one end of a playing field that was covered with graffiti, but Lynn Valley’s notoriously troubled youth had to make do with it. It was almost as if the City Fathers had purposely drafted a recipe for disaster. One can imagine them at a planning meeting: ‘Let’s hold an unsupervised dance for bad teenagers at a remote spot, but within two blocks of a liquor store.’

The crowd was young and belligerent and within 15 minutes I could hear the sound of beer bottles shattering against brick walls. On the dance floor they writhed like a bag of snakes, but seemed less intent on the music than on mayhem. During the first break I walked across the dance floor, my feet crunching on broken glass. We’d just started the second set when a kid approached the stage. I leaned over to hear him.

“The Ant Hill Mob is going to wreck your van.”

I ran outside between songs. Sure enough, the van was jacked up on one side with blocks of wood and empty beer cases. It would only take a little more effort to turn it over and trash it. There was no way we could guard our van and play at the same time. The Ant Hill Mob was the second most powerful gang in Lynn Valley, but their attitude was that of every second banana organization – ‘we’re number two but we try harder.’

I ran back to the stage and got on the mike. “The Ant Hill Mob is trying to wreck our van. What are the Smiling Crabs going to do about it?” I was appealing to the better nature of the first most powerful gang.

Amazingly that produced a cheer – the first one we’d got. 

“The Burner Boys dedicate this gig to the Smiling Crabs!” I shouted. “WE RULE TOGETHER!”

Jenneson goes on to describe the ‘Smiling Crabs’: “The Smiling Crabs – actually the Lynn Valley Society of Smiling Crabs – were bigger, older and more numerous. It was a remarkable organization in that many of its members were extremely intelligent – a tragic fact considering many died young from drug overdoses or car accidents.”

Boy, it makes today’s Lynn Valley youth scene look pretty wholesome, doesn’t it? The writer, Dave Jenneson, was a fellow I met briefly at work a long time ago; at that point I had no idea about his hard-rockin’ past. Unfortunately, Dave passed away early in 2009, but luckily for us the Lynn Valley native has left behind and freely shared a fascinating account of his band’s place in North Van’s 1970s free-wheeling counterculture.

The passage above is taken from Chapter 7 of the online work, but I bet you’ll enjoy reading a lot more of this well-written, colourful autobiography. A Band is a Beautiful Thing is even accompanied by audio files of the band in its heyday. Enjoy!