Local runner shares essential adventure in children’s book

Lynn Valley trail runner Julie Flynn has taken her experience in the forest and created a adventure story to help children be prepared for the outdoors.


First hand experience


“Every Monday morning as I was getting up I would hear about North Shore Rescue being out all weekend and how they had saved someone,” she said. “For weeks and weeks I thought ‘Why aren’t these people prepared when they go into the mountains?’  and I realized I could write about that.”

With a passion for writing, this idea was just the catalyst Flynn needed.

“I have always wanted to write a fairy tale,” she said. “I am trail runner and I thought it would be great to write about our beautiful mountains.”

In its 30 pages, Finn and the Magic Backpack tackles North Shore Rescue’s 10 Essentials in a fun and engaging way.

“There are a lot of kids who are doing way more stuff than I think I did when I was young,” she said. “Kids are out hiking now. It would good to drum it into them early that they need this stuff – even with their parents.”


Creating the story


“The trails and forest were so inspiring,” said Flynn. “I would know what kind of feeling I wanted to create and have in mind how the essential [item] would look in the illustration to appeal to children and I would write the story to share that.”

While Flynn hopes the book will have mass appeal for any child who embraces the outdoors, there are plenty of North Shore icons that local kids are familiar with.

“Mount Seymour is in there,” she said. “There is the General and the General’s Wife – two huge cedar trees who are the magic talking trees. There are the yellow gates that are all over the North Shore marking trails. There are even the triangle trail markers of the Baden Powell.”

Flynn took advantage of the rise of resources and online marketing for writers, using her own motivation to publish the book herself.

“I’ve done a few workshops on writing and publishing,” she said. “Traditional publishing and self-publishing have their pros and cons. I thought self-publishing would work for me.”

When the book was released last summer it was very warmly received with some early traction on Amazon – reaching number one on its children’s camping chart.

“It’s pretty exciting. It has done quite well,” said Flynn. “There have been people in the community that have really supported it. The launch at End of the Line was almost overwhelming. I sold out of all my books. Children really love the pictures and after each section when they turn the page they find it really exciting to have a cliffhanger where they don’t know what is going to happen.”

With one book under her belt, Flynn is already thinking of other stories.

“For the next one, maybe Finn will meet his granny and she will be really cool, love the outdoors and hike all over the place and they would go off on a big adventure together,” she said.

Finn and the Magic Backpack can be purchased at the End of the Line General Store or Amazon and a copy is available at the North Vancouver District Public Library.  


The 10 Essentials


  1. LightFlashlight or a headlamp with extra batteries (and light bulb if not LED). Green cyalume stick or small turtle lights as emergency backup. North Shore Rescue says the lack of light is the most common reason they respond to emergencies.
  2. Signalling Device – Whistle (NSR recommends the Fox 40 whistle with a lanyard), Bear Bangers, Pencil Flare.
  3. Fire StarterMatches (water proof or in plastic bag) or lighter. NSR also recommends a commercial firestarter and/or a candle. Commercial firestarters can be purchased at outdoor stores like Mountain Equipment Coop.
  4. Warm clothesHat or toque, gloves or mittens, puffy jacket, gore tex jacket, polypro underwear, good quality hiking socks and gore tex over pants.
  5. PocketknifeAlthough a multi tool is preferred, a good pocket knife with a quality blade will suffice. It may also be worth carrying a small pruning saw for cutting branches when building a shelter or fire.
  6. ShelterLarge orange plastic bag and thermal tarp.
  7. Water and foodGatorade crystals recommended and high energy food bars.
  8. First-aid kitShould include pocket mask; Sam Splint, bulk dressings, protective gloves, bandage, scissors and blister dressings.
  9. NavigationGood quality compass with built in declination adjustment and both topographical and interpretive maps. NSR also recommends a GPS unit but only as an adjunct to compass and map. Most team members carry a Garmin 60 series GPS unit that has terrific reception in the trees.
  10. Communications – Cell phoneNSR recommends you bring a cell phone with a fully charged battery. It is advisable to keep the phone turned off, and stored in a ziplock bag. This way, if you get into trouble your phone will be dry and have a full charge. Many people manage to call 911 initially but their phone dies before their location can be relayed, not a desirable situation.  If you have a smartphone, you should also know how to get GPS coordinates off of it to give to search and rescue if you become lost or injured (eg. MotionX or iphone compass app) . Depending on the terrain and difficulty of your excursion, it may also be worth considering satellite based communications devices like the Spot, Delorme InReach or a Personal Locator Beacon.

Looking for more?


There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Healthy teachers – happy classrooms

A health-focused Lynn Valley couple has written the book on keeping teachers healthy. With more than 20 years practicing occupational therapy focusing on the education sector Wade Repta put much of his expertise down on paper in The Well Teacher with the help of his wife Andrée.


Keeping teachers well


“Expectations on teachers are extremely high,” said Wade. “They work under extreme scrutiny and typically they are hare high performing individuals who put others ahead of themselves. The job can be overwhelming – it’s far more challenging than people think.”

Covering a range of topics The Well Teacher was written to give teachers practical tools to keep them in the classroom longer and to get them back sooner after injury or illness.

“If someone is struggling with mental or physical health it can be a tough to manage while caring for 22 children,” said Wade. “I have probably worked with over 1000 teachers either one on one or in workshops. We see so many challenges and there was nowhere for them to go to get the information they need. We wanted to give them the information to improve their well being. We hear over and over again ‘Why didn’t I know this?’ Or ‘Why was I never taught this?’”

Another big difference between other sectors and education are the return to work accommodations, explained Andrée. After an injury or significant work absence most employees are able to figure out with their employers reduced hours, part-time schedules, different responsibilities and a variety of other accommodations.

“For teachers depending on their schedule, their blocks, their specialties it can be difficult to find support for that which makes it very different from other sectors,” she said.

Most of the book is specific to the teaching profession which Wade says is to address the unique challenges teachers are facing.

“In the work we do – [the teachers we see] are already struggling,” said Wade. “Our job is to help people to manage their illness or disability and then figure out their work. This book is to help those teachers and to give information to teachers who don’t want to get to that point.”


Specific help for teachers


Topics range from mental health to ergonomics to voice as well as an entire chapter on returning to work after an injury or illness. They cover the day to day life of educators which can slowly erode health. The physical challenges are usually not brute force injuries but stem, typically, from poor routine.

“In younger grade levels everything is low, so there are repetitive injuries from bending, kneeling,” said Andrée. “Or in high school a teacher maybe working by a white board all day long and not doing in the best way.”

Often small changes to classrooms and routines can help those teachers. The Well Teacher also addresses the physical challenges of chronic conditions and disease. But that’s not the case for other teachers.

“Of those we see – people who are asking for help or had a crash – pretty universally, about 50 per cent are off for physical health and about 50 per cent are off for mental health reasons,” said Wade. “We are seeing a lot of anxiety, we are seeing a lot of depression and while it is not a diagnostic term, we are seeing burn out. They are just tired.”

People don’t realize it’s common for teachers to feel that way because they get multiple breaks throughout the year but when they are at work it is overwhelming, he said.

“So many are just barely getting by.”

The Well Teacher website also has a number of resources available that help readers implement the strategies in the book.

“We wanted it to be functional and actually used and put into practice,” said Wade. “We know sitting down and setting goals leads to more success. We want teachers to have more control over their wellness – to prevent a further decline or give them a starting point to get back in the classroom.”

The Well Teacher is available online or by contacting Wade and Andrée at thewellteacher@humanworks.ca to order your copy and arrange Lynn Valley pick up to save on shipping.

Who is your good neighbour?

It’s one of our favorite times of year here at Lynn Valley Life: The Good Neighbor Award season.  Year after year this is a highlight for all of us.


Our quiet contributors


Day-to-day we try to gather interesting and Innovative stories about Lynn Valley but one thing that is often missed are the quiet stories. The good that goes on in our neighborhood everyday – often unnoticed beyond the person or organization helped.  We have people step up in times of need, we have those that day in and day out give of their time, money and energy. We have those that invest in our schools, our community groups, our churches. We have those that are staples on our streets who step up and help neighbours and friends whenever it’s needed. From helping refugees to outstanding coaches to people who are practically community institutions.


Pillars of the community


Lizz Lindsay at Sharing Abundance.

The Good Neighbour Award has been going strong since 2012. We receive heartfelt nominations – some short, some long. Check out some previous winners and read their stories – whe have an exceptional community! Last year we had Tim Green, a tireless supporter of the Lynn Valley Services Society and Molly Nye House. Dave and Wilna Parry passionate advocates for refugees and immigrants. In 2015 we were proud to recognize Cath Bates Dimmock a volunteer with Argyle Secondary for more than 10 years! We have shared the astounding work of Lizz Lindsay and her charity Sharing Abundance that brings people together through food and programs address food insecurity and social isolation. We love hearing about who makes a difference in your life and our community.


How to nominate your good neighbour


Who might our Good Neighbour be for 2018? Please send us a note telling us why you think your nominee makes Lynn Valley a better place to be. It doesn’t have to be long and fancy – just from the heart! Please send your suggestions to info@LynnValleyLife.com before December 31, 2018. Lynn Valley’s Good Neighbour for will receive a plaque, a restaurant gift certificate, and some well-deserved recognition!


Looking for more?


There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Culture Days: Shaketown

Lynn Valley will be buzzing with activity for the ninth annual Culture Days September 28-30th. Events and activities will be happening throughout Canada, North Vancouver and in our very own neighbourhood.


North Shore Culture


Culture Days is an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to try something new, experience something totally different, discover creative spaces in the community and meet the artists that work there. North Vancouver Parks and Recreation have centred the events at seven different “Hubs” throughout the District and City of North Vancouver.

“North Shore Culture Days celebrates the vital role that arts and culture plays in creating vibrant and connected communities. We invite residents to participate, be inspired and have some fun.” said Heather Turner, director, North Vancouver Recreation & Culture Commission.

We have two picks for Lynn Valley:

  1. Saturday Sept. 29; 10-11 a.m. Shaketown Walk with NVMA curator Karen Dearlove , Community History Centre, 3203 Institute Road, Lynn Valley
  2. Saturday, Sept. 29; 2-3 p.m. The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore with author David Crerar,  Community History Centre, 3203 Institute Road, Lynn Valley

Shaketown


At the turn of the last century, Lynn Valley isolated, forested and at the edge of the frontier.

“It really was in the mountains,” said North Vancouver Museum and Archives Curator Karen Dearlove. “Before bridges it was a fairly remote. Just to get up here traveling from Burrard Inlet was difficult. It was mostly skid roads for the mills.”

Ca. 1909. Hastings Creek bridge and boardwalk on Lynn Valley Road, with flume running overhead.

The heavily treed landscape was bisected by Tote Road, a rugged skid road that allowed oxen to haul felled logs down to the Moodyville waterfront, “Centre Road” (now Mountain Highway), and Pipeline Road, a plank road along which a pipeline was installed to carry drinking water from Rice Lake into North Vancouver.

Its relative remoteness and difficulty did not keep people away. The community was first called Shaketown because of the mill – on Mill Street – producing cedar shakes or perhaps it was because of the the shake-sided shacks housing the necessary workers.

“Because the workers at the mills wanted to live close by, homes were built, stores opened, clubs and churches were formed. There was an influx into the area and quite quickly it became a community,” said Dearlove.

The appeal of good jobs, land and a community drew a diverse group of workers from early Chinese and Japanese workers, to industrialists from Vancouver and a number of families from Finland, plus many others, she said.

“Many were like Walter Draycott – they had a sense of adventure,” she said.


Shaketown Walk


Ca. 1910. Depicting the new streetcar line at Lynn Valley Road and Ross Road. The Lynn Valley general store is at the right.

The September 29th Shaketown walk will take participants on an hour-long stroll through Lynn Valley, centring on the intersection of Lynn Valley Road and Mountain. Dearlove will present historical images alongside today’s environment to explore juxtaposition of then and now.

“We have some really great historical photos that show how buildings have changed or moved,” she said.   

The guided walk should be easy for most abilities. It begins at the Community History Centre, 3203 Institute Road, Saturday,  Sept. 29, 10-11 a.m. Participants must pre-register by calling 604 990 3700 x8016.

For all the Cutlure Days events check out the  NVRC website at https://www.nvrc.ca/arts-culture/culture-days (for Lynn Valley events, click on the Lynn Valley Hub accordion on the webpage) or the national website at https://culturedays.ca/en.

All images courtesy of the North Vancouver Museum and Archives.

To learn more about Lynn Valley’s history check out this page.


Historic images


ca. 1950s. Panoramic image along Lynn Valley Road, across from Mountain Hwy. Buildings depicted from left to right: the Brier Block; the Triangle block; the Fromme block. Lynn Valley United Church can be seen behind the Fromme block. This image was taken after the streetcar lines had been removed.

Trail Tales

The North Vancouver District Library has launched a new program to get families outside and active all the while enjoying a good story. 

Trail Tales will take families to Princess Park Aug. 17 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. for a literary walk and the story Two Sisters by E. Pauline Johnson and illustrated by Sandra Butt. It’s a story that fit naturally into the goals of the program said Danielle Wing, a children’s librarian at NVDPL.


The Legend


“Chief Joe Capilano told the legend to E. Pauline Johnson, a Canadian poet, who retold the legend in her book Legends of Vancouver [published in 1911],” said Wing. “ Now, it has been illustrated and presented as a children’s picture book.”

The story is rooted in the mountains of the North Shore.

“Since the book is being presented outdoors, it is fitting that the story focuses on the land and landmarks that families can explore after reading the story. We acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples and this book showcases the Salish Sea and explores themes of Creation, courage and peace,” said Wing. “It also includes supplemental information that will enable readers to further immerse themselves in the rich history of Coast Salish cultures. We hope that this book will inspire families to learn more about the land we live on.”

The library was inspired to create Trail Tales after being inspired by library in Vermont and others that have started similar programs.  

“Stories come in many formats and can be presented and experienced in many ways,” said Wing. “North Shore families are active and excited to explore the outdoors already, so we wanted to provide a unique literacy opportunity that took advantage of this while celebrating the remarkable nature we have in our community.”

Presenting the story on a walk allows each family and child to experience it uniquely and coloured by the ways they learn and engage with it.

“We know that children are diverse learners and that each child will take a different approach when reading or listening to a story,” said Wing. “The wonderful thing about engaging with a story outdoors is that everyone can take their own approach: they can walk quietly and read while listening to the sounds of nature around them, or, they can leap and bound between the signs and react as noisily as they’d like!”

The library is debuting a number of new programs that engage patrons in different ways and in different places. They also have a new Brews & Books series which takes melds a pint with author discussions at a local brewery. The Trail Tales program aims to show reading isn’t necessarily a passive activity.

“We hope that families will recognize that literacy and reading can be active and fun,” said Wing. “The North Vancouver District Public Library aims to connect our community, share knowledge and inspire stories: Trail Tales will allow families to interact, share a literacy experience with one another, learn something new and inspire them to explore literacy in all of its forms.”


How it works


Library staff  have created numbered signs that will be displayed throughout the Princess Park from 10:30-11:30 a,m, August 17, starting at the parking lot. Families can either walk with a librarian who will read the story, or they can follow the signs on their own. Trail Tales will be an interactive and engaging family experience for all ages.

Additional dates and locations can be found on the library’s website.