The more things change, the more they stay the same. Earthquakes have been an ongoing concern in these parts for a very long time – here’s an account of a major earthquake that hit these shores 70 years ago today, from the diary of Winnifred Kate Walton.

Winnifred was born in England in 1888 and travelled to British Columbia in April 1912.  She had a number of homes in Lynn Valley, and in the 1940s and ’50s operated a ladies’ wear shop here as well, first in the Brier Block then across the street in the Fromme Block, now home to the TD Bank and Waves coffee house. Winnifred passed away in Lynn Valley in 1983. Thank you to her granddaughter, Dianne Elphinstone, for providing us with occasional excerpts from “Granny’s Diary.”

June 23, 1946

We have had a most upsetting day. I love staying in bed on a Sunday morning, but the little girls are running around and laughing.

The girls came in and said get up, Gram, tea’s ready. I had just walked into the kitchen when the house began to shake. Dick [husband] shouted at Jimmy to get out of the house and run. Dick grabbed Dianne, I grabbed Judy, and we ran for the door. Try as I might not to fall I fell, Judy still had my tea cup in her hand.

After a bit we went back in. Dick said that if it happens again, stay away from electric wires and poles. We heard on the radio this afternoon that the quake was a 7 magnitude, and was thought to have been centered off the Vancouver Island.

We didn’t have any damage here in Lynn Valley, although a row of Mr. Wilson’s* chicken’s nests fell. Dick said Wilson was too cheap to use nails when building and most likely used wallpaper paste.

( *name has been changed)

So there you have it. Don’t use wallpaper paste in your construction jobs. For a fully comprehensive guide to earthquake preparedness however, we recommend you read these handy (and possibly life-saving) tips from North Shore Emergency Management.

Lynn Valley in 1946, as drawn by Mr. Walter Draycott. Courtesy North Shore Museum and Archives.

Lynn Valley in 1946, as drawn by Mr. Walter Draycott. Courtesy North Shore Museum and Archives.