Bears under threat from continued urban expansion

Black bears and human beings, aside from the occasional unfortunate interaction, have co-existed on the North Shore for over a hundred years. The bears are smart enough to know that human beings are dangerous, and vice versa. There has been an unwritten truce to stay away from each other’s territories, but that truce is starting to crumble as the urban built environment crawls further and further north into the forests on the hill.  At the North Shore Black Bear Society, Christine Miller is starting to worry where all this urban growth may end up.


Exploring Lynn Valley forests with the Ecology Centre

Ecology 2Are there really salmon found in Lynn Valley creeks? (Yes.) Are there really bears in Lynn Valley parks? (Of course.) Is it safe to explore Lynn Valley parks. (Yes, if you don’t get lost.)  What’s the best way to learn about Lynn Valley parks?  At the Ecology Centre, right in the centre of the park.

Since their doors opened in 1971, the Ecology programs and interactive exhibits have helped over 80,000 people each year learn more about coastal temperate rainforests and about local and global environmental concerns.


Lynn Valley forests fun for foraged foods

ea23c73d32a08297f57d92028a4f0ed8Foraged foods, sometimes known as “weeds,” are showing up on the tables of the coolest restaurants in the world. The New York Times says that when you see ramps (Allium tricoccum, better known as wild leeks) featured in the finest gourmet magazines, you know that something is up.

In Lynn Headwaters Park, Robin Kort of Swallow Tail Tours leads tours for curious foodies through the underbrush pointing out various scrumptious edibles invisible to the untrained eye. Kort, a naturalist and former chef herself, leads walks for gourmet foragers. Since Lynn Headwaters is a park, Kort doesn’t pick anything on her weekly tours, but she points out such delicacies as salmonberries, thimbleberries, wild sorrel, miners lettuce, sweet cicely, Indian rhubarb, and ferns. Lots of ferns.

Nearly all types of ferns are edible. So are most mushrooms. There are thousands of types of mushrooms you can eat. The rule with mushrooms is simple. When in doubt, throw it out. Dandelion greens are (as any gardener will tell you) very plentiful everywhere. Oregon-grape are purple-blue berries that grow in bunches on evergreen bushes. Stinging nettles are good for soup greens. Wild watercress and freshly sprouted clover greens and wild flowers are great for salads.

Foraging photoPlantains can be found growing right on your front or back suburban lawns. Those aren’t weeds, they’re lunch! Currents are everywhere on bushes in BC. Elderflowers make a wonderful syrup. Wild asparagus is very tasty. The tips of fir branches are great for making tea, as are rose hips. Oyster mushrooms can best be found around alder trees, growing on dead logs. Nature’s bounty is everywhere.

The woods these days are alive with mushroom and fern pickers, and specialty food stores are popping up for the discerning gourmet. Don’t have time to crawl about the forest? Restaurateurs with sufficient clientele are turning to bulk specialty food providers like Ponderosa Mushrooms in Coquitlam. They will also sell wild asparagus and ramps (wild leeks) if you ask nicely, and order in bulk.

Want to learn more? Well, join the club. Kort’s Swallow Tail Supper Club is dedicated to creating underground, secret and totally bizarre one-time only dining events (“pop ups”) where you will find famous chefs from the town’s top restaurants like Vij’s and Hawksworth slaving over hot pots of hand picked chanterelles grilled and served in white wine sauce. Local foodies can become supper club members via e-mail and then the fun begins. Dinners are held in strange places featuring equally strange (but delicious) food, including foraged seafood like crabs from the inter-tidal zones.  For more information contact

By staff reporter

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.


Gardening season is here, and LV plant sale, too!

With the recent (on and off!) spate of sunny weather, Lynn Valley green thumbs are itchy to get out into their gardens.

gardenIt’s too early to get annuals out, but we have a great list of gardening tasks that can (and should!) be tackled right now, thanks to our friends at Endless Summer Landscaping. Have a look, then roll up your sleeves!

With  flowering spring bulbs cheering the gardens and roadways, inspiration is everywhere you look – and who doesn’t love cherry blossom season? You can learn more about our many local cultivars and where to see them, and the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, by reading this super article by Michael McCarthy over at our sister site, LonsdaleLife.

After your garden is in shape for the spring and summer, you can reward yourself with a trip to a local plant sale. The Lynn Valley Garden Club annual plant sale is always a popular pick, and takes place this year on Saturday May 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Clement’s Church, 3400 Institute Road, on the east side of Lynn Valley Park.

You will be able to choose plants for sun, shade, and container gardening, as well as herbs and veggies. Plants are grown by members in their own gardens, so are proven to be “tried and true” for the North Shore! Proceeds go to local community and charitable gardening projects. The club will only be equipped for cash-only sales, so please arrive prepared! For more information, email or visit the club website. (And p.s. – did you know the Lynn Valley Garden Club has been part of our community since 1943? In fact it’s been such a popular group that at times there is a waiting list for membership!)

We hope Mother Nature cooperates with local gardeners this year! If your hard work pays off and you would like to share some photos of your garden, please send them our way! We’d love to use them on our site or put them out on our Facebook page!




Hot-weather tips for local lawns

New “Phase Two” water restrictions were announced today, so this article on hot-weather lawn care is just in time! Check out the water sprinkling rules here – and take note of the following advice from Matt and Rob Boyd of Endless Summer landscapers (you can find more of their articles for LynnValleyLife by clicking on the link!)

If spring lawn care is about getting your lawn healthy and green, summer lawn care is about KEEPING it healthy while temperatures soar and rainfall becomes a fleeting memory. It’s also about maintaining a lawn that can withstand all the barbecues, games, parties, and running feet that summer has to offer. Here are some tips for keeping your lawn in shape over those long, hot days of summer.


Divide your perennials to keep them perky

Spring is well upon us, so it’s time to tune into the local experts for some garden tips.  Here is some advice on keeping your perennials looking perfect, from Matt and Rob Boyd of Endless Summer landscapers.

Many perennial plants grow in an ever-widening clump. After several seasons of growing, these perennials will begin to die out in the center and look more like a ring than a clump.


Celtic spiritual practices introduced at workshops

Lynn Valley is home to nearly a dozen churches and congregations of various types. But in this age that is often described as “spiritual but not religious,” church leaders are increasingly being found outside their buildings, helping people of all backgrounds find the sacred in everyday life.

Lynne McNaughton is the priest at St. Clement’s Anglican Church on Institute Road, and an avid learner and teacher of Celtic spirituality. Lynne, who has a doctorate in spirituality and has led  pilgrimages to several ancient Celtic sites in Europe, is looking forward to introducing interested locals to the tradition of Celtic practices that serve to inject an appreciation of  nature and holiness into the everyday tasks of living.

Everyone is welcome to participate in the hands-on workshops, which will take place at Mollie Nye House, 840 Lynn Valley Road, over a series of Monday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. Topics to be explored include:

Celtic knot.jpgApril 20: Smooring the Fire: Mindfulness in ordinary everyday physical activity

May 11: Illumination: Beauty as spiritual practice

May 25: Celtic Knots as Spiritual Practice: Interweaving life and the sacred

June 8: Holiness of Rocks and Trees, Skies and Seas: Cultivating awe as a spiritual practice (This session will begin with a Celtic dinner at 6 p.m.)

Cost is $10 for each of the first three sessions, $20 for the June dinner session, or $50 for  the whole series. Register by calling 604-988-4418 (St Clement’s Church, where messages are checked frequently) or email at Please inquire about babysitting should that be helpful.

LynnValleyLife recently caught up with Lynne to ask her some more questions about the workshops and her thoughts about Celtic spirituality in general. We’ve shared her answers, below:

What is it about Celtic spirituality that intrigues you? What do you think it has to offer people in the church and in the wider community?

Celtic spirituality has intrigued me for decades, as I have led pilgrimages to ancient Celtic sites in several countries.  Although I am fifth or more generations Canadian, I have Irish, Welsh and Scottish heritage (as you might guess from my last name!)   I see Celtic life as part of my own roots, my aboriginal heritage.    My study of Celtic spirituality deepens my understanding of myself, who am I, how do I relate, and what matters in life.

Lynne McNaughton

I see Celtic spirituality as embodied, that is, having to do with our physical bodies.  Spirit and body are connected, and I think this is something we are reclaiming today; that spirituality is not some separate ethereal thing, but our whole beings.

Celtic spirituality is also very communal.  Our hope with this whole series is to have conversation in our neighbourhood that work against the isolation in our society, or a sense that our spiritual lives are only private and solitary.

What parallels might you suggest between the Celtic culture and ours on the Pacific coast?

I think that we are aware, as we live in the immense beauty of nature around us and at this moment are recoiling in horror at an oil spill, that we all need to reclaim a spirituality of deep connection to Earth;  Celtic spirituality gives us some roots in that, some ways of tending to that.

One of the sessions will be about beauty and spirituality.   Celtic spirituality honours and builds our imaginations.

When I have taught Celtic spirituality in Indigenous communities in Canada, we have talked about how Christianity arrived in Ireland in the fourth century with a much more respectful (less colonial and imperial) stance than it did in our country.

Christianity was strongly influenced by Celtic culture when it blended in to Ireland’s rural life, a life that was far more connected to the earth than early continental and urban Christianity.     Earth and everyday life are, after all,  infused with the sacred.   I am fine if people call me pagan;  it simply means “people of the Earth”  – and aren’t we all!

What will people learn/experience in the workshops? 

These aren’t lectures! I will give an introduction to a spiritual practice, some background and context, but this will be experiential learning.  There will be practice, action, and discussion about how we might adapt these insights from the Celts into our real everyday lives. Be prepared to be playful!

Any hints about what a Celtic dinner might entail? 

We are creating the closing dinner from foods that were traditional and considered sacred to the Celts.  The food will be local, as much as possible – we’re not importing anything.  Is that enough of a hint?  Think apples, for instance!

Are you planning other community workshops in the future?

Yes, we plan to have offer other themes to engage people in developing a healthy spiritual practice. One example is embodied prayer – I know I pray best when I am moving!

Streamkeepers report boom in Hastings Creek smolt

IMG_4918While many Lynn Valley residents may have been coming home to a welcome dinner or stretching out in front of the TV Friday night, a handful of enthusiastic citizens were on the banks of Hastings Creek carefully placing a number of bucket-shaped, black mesh traps. And the next morning, they donned their gum boots again to see what had transpired while they slept.

They were volunteers from the North Shore Streamkeepers, surveying the numbers of year-old smolt in the creek to survey whether the fish population was healthy. What they found swimming in the traps put smiles on everyone’s faces.

As the fish were carefully released out of the traps and into a bucket for measuring and counting, Jan Lander tallied the numbers. The result? The best smolt trapping since 2006, with 27 coho smolts being counted, a large increase over the five or so that have been typical in the past few years. These are a sampling of the fish that were born in the Hunter Park area of Hastings Creek last year and have survived since then. Four crayfish and 12 cutthroat trout – many measuring 16 or 17 cm – were also amongst the fish counted and released.

IMG_4926The relationship between human society and waterways has not always been a respectful one. In  earlier decades, the enthusiastic growth of industry, building booms and road construction commonly resulted in polluted streams, blocked spawning routes, and diminished fish populations. Even home gardeners had a negative impact, by introducing invasive plant species such as ivy, lamium, and periwinkle to stream-side environments.

Thanks, however, to greater awareness, tighter bylaws, and good working partnerships the health of urban streams has improved in many areas. Leading the charge in Lynn Valley have been an active group of North Shore Streamkeepers who safeguard and enhance the ability of local creeks to support healthy fish stocks.

People of all ages converge on the streams throughout the year to tackle a variety of tasks, from culling invasive plants, installing and maintaining fish ladders, testing water quality,  restoring habitat and performing surveys. One volunteer even takes it upon himself to find out about new construction projects taking place near creeks; he then visits each site to ensure waterway protection rules are being followed and that filters have been placed in the storm drains. He returns to the site again once construction is complete to ensure the filters have been appropriately removed.

The North Shore Streamkeepers were established in 1993, and is a member of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. The Streamkeepers are a program of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which provides a multi-module training manual for those volunteers who wish to learn everything from performing a habitat survey to sampling water quality to trapping and identifying fish.

Mayor to take part April 25

The Streamkeepers’ work has been recognized in a number of ways – Morten Creek was named for longtime volunteer Zo Ann Morten, and Mayor Richard Walton will be at Hunter Park at Donovan’s Pond on Saturday, April 25 at 11 a.m. to dedicate a new fish ladder installed by North Vancouver District in response to lobbying from the Streamkeepers.

What they’d really like, however, is for more volunteers to swell their ranks and learn for themselves the satisfaction of keeping our waterways healthy. To learn more, visit the North Shore Streamkeepers website or email