History never recorded

There is no need to travel abroad for archaeological wonders, instead taking a walk through the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve with a careful eye can reveal a phenomenal past – one Capilano University professor and writer Bob Muckle shares in his latest book Forgotten Things: The Story of the Seymour Valley Archaeology Project.


Fascinating location


For close to two decades Bob Muckle has been exploring the Seymour Valley. It began as a practical solution: provide hands-on experience for his Cap U students. As they dug and documented he uncovered evidence of a past not recorded. 

“People can walk through the LSCR and have no idea of the activity that was going on there in the past,” said Muckle. “All the settlements around the Seymour River were permanent homes but they were deliberately destroyed and the forest grows so fast. Things get buried really, really quickly. Most people could be in the middle of the Japanese camp and wouldn’t know there was a thriving community there for decades a hundred years ago.”

Bob Muckle

Muckle took to the forest to teach his students practical archaeological techniques evaluating the Euro-Canadian evidence in the LSCR. 

“There was nobody doing logging camp archaeology in BC so I thought I might be interested,” he explained. “But I kept on finding Japanese artifacts at these logging sites and that was unexpected. I did a bit of research and it was really unexpected. There are some vague references to Japanese in the valley and working in the mill around Rice Lake. We didn’t know the scale of Japanese activities in the valley.” 

To learn more, Muckle scoured written records and spoke to people who had lived in the area in the 1930s and 40s.

“Very little has been written down,” he said. “I spent more time investigating the Japanese because it was so unexpected and there was nothing written, so it felt more important.”

Forgotten Things is a book aimed at both (future) archeologists and lay history buffs told in an informal, anecdotal style. It digs into a variety of archaeological finds in the area – including the extensive Japanese camp. 


A time forgotten


The LSCR, as we know it, is not the forest past residents would have experienced. 

“A 100 years ago there was logging activity and there was some settlement,” said Muckle. “The dam had been built early in the 1900s. It was starting to be logged out in the 1920s but activity continued a little bit longer. There was increasing settlement – not large scale. But there were some houses close to Rice Lake and there were larger settlements on the banks of the Seymour River. The environment had been logged so I don’t think people would have valued the land all that much.”

There were both titled owners and squatters establishing homesteads and communities.  

“It was also a recreational area. On the banks of the Seymour River, there were rental cabins where people would come over from the city for a weekend or for a week in the summer to swim in the river.

“In the 1930s the government started buying up, evicting, and expropriating properties,” said Muckle. “When they left, the government would burn all the buildings down because they were trying to protect the watershed and didn’t want anyone living there. They fenced it off until 1987.”

With diverse experience under his belt from archaeological sites around the world, Muckle has turned to more recent history.  

“North America, British Columbia, Metro Vancouver are fascinating,” he said. “There is so much archaeology to study here. The western, European, colonial view that Indigenous history is not that interesting is completely wrong – it’s fascinating. It goes back thousands of years. The entirety of archaeology in BC is so rich, from thousands of years ago to contemporary times.”

The difference between BC and other parts of the world is that frequently ancient people used stone to build. In BC, most structures were made from organic materials, which when combined with a temperate climate left little for the untrained eye to see. In the LSCR other mitigating factors make sites difficult to find. 

“You need it to be interpreted because everything was burned and then [naturally] buried. It’s unlike, the pyramids of Egypt or castles, most of the archaeology in British Columbia has what we call ‘low-archaeological visibility’ meaning it’s tough to see without someone telling you – then it all makes sense.” said Muckle. “I think that is why people tend not to think of archaeology in BC compared to Egypt or Africa where these features are so prominent. It doesn’t mean it isn’t less phenomenal but it requires more experience and interpretation. It’s easy for an archeologist to see but the public thinks what they are seeing are natural landforms.” 


Hidden gems


In the LSCR, the return of second-growth forest has happened very quickly – in the archaeological sense. 

“The forest grows really fast. It has taken it all over now. If you go back 100 years and you were walking through these pathways, the trees would have been very small. There would first growth stumps very visible and there would have been a lot of burned-out areas and occasionally you would come across houses or orchards.” 

In the early 1900s, the logging operations in the Seymour Valley were different than those in Lynn Valley or the Capilano area, said Muckle. 

“It wasn’t ‘meaningful’ – people today have more of a connection to logging in the Capilano or Lynn Valley areas. You can find people whose grandparents worked in the area and there were people living in the area. My sense is there is a deeper connection in those areas but in the Seymour Valley there wasn’t the longevity of connection. The Japanese and others were just going in and getting out. They weren’t putting roots down – with the exception of the one site I found.” 

What Muckle and his students found was the evidence of a long-term, well-established Japanese community. In a completely unexpected place, it showed signs of being quickly abandoned, likely with the forced internment of Japanese and Japanese-Canadians during WWII. 

“I think people were able to stay at this site until they were forced to leave for interment. They could take so little for them, they weren’t taking their diaries or written histories,” he said. “They weren’t even taking the goods they had. That is why at this site there are perfectly usable artifacts – which is unusual in archaeology. These weren’t thrown away, they were good. This isn’t trash. Dishes, cook stoves, it’s really unusual.”

The internment of Japanese Canadians resulted in substantial loss of their history, wealth, and property. Throughout BC, much of the community archives and artifacts were destroyed. This has left a substantial hole in the historic records. Muckle has shared both the site and its finds with the Japanese community. 

“They are grateful because there was so much loss,” said Muckle. “They have said, ‘We didn’t know our ancestors were in the valley’ because there was no record of it. There is a bit of information in memoirs, but it’s mostly secondhand. I invited curators of the Nikkei [National Museum and Cultural Centre] and North Vancouver Museum to choose items for their collections. In a follow-up conversation with the Nikkei director, they were so thrilled because I had context of the items. They get donations from the early 1900s but there is no understanding of context so there isn’t much a museum can do with it.” 

The entire project is an excellent example of how the historic [written] record is flawed and biased, he said. A record he hopes his new book helps correct by looking at tangible evidence, rather than the written records of a small, privileged group of people.

“In the Seymour Valley there are written records saying the Japanese were there but nothing more,” he said. “The records aren’t accurate and when we talk to some of the early residents and we mention these histories they will say, ‘That’s just nonsense. That didn’t happen.’ Archaeology fills in the gaps of knowledge that history can’t.”

Bob Muckle’s book can be found at Monova: Museum of North Vancouver, ordered through Edgemont’s Kids Books or online.

Images courtesy of Bob Muckle. 


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.

A day at the museum

With two months of open doors the new MONOVA Museum of North Vancouver is a great place to spend an afternoon learning about Lynn Valley and North Vancouver’s diverse history. More than 20 years in the making the new facility highlights the connection, passion for place, and the industry and enterprise of our community. 


Innovation


The brand new museum is packed with information and interactive displays. The experience begins with an exploration of a genuine North Vancouver streetcar, before entering the flex space where presentations and education sessions are offered throughout visiting hours. Soon, MONOVA will also have an Indigenous planting garden on its terrace. From this central space, visitors have two options – visit the rotating feature room (estimated opening April) or walk through an atmospheric trailhead to the permanent gallery. 

“The museum and archives were founded in 1972,” said Stephen Irving, marketing and communications specialist for the museum. “About 20 years ago the agreement was forged that the District would provide space for the Archives and the City would provide the museum. The District delivered the archives building in 2006 and here we are 15 years later with the museum.”

Following the tradition of extensive online access already in place for the archives, the museum has also just launched a series of virtual experiences.

“There are nine videos that can be explored at home in an armchair or you can come in and use them as a guide,” said Irving. “This is a lesson from the pandemic. We want to be prepared and have offerings for a contactless visitor experience.”

Through an online virtual reality platform, visitors will enjoy exploring The Stories of Belonging on the North Shore through dramatic monologues, storytelling, songs, and supported with images and artifacts from the collections. 

The most recent innovation at MONOVA starts next weekend: sensory-friendly mornings. For people and families of all ages who are neurodiverse, the museum offers a calmer, quieter experience and respite spaces. Staff have recently undergone training with Canucks Autism Network to support this initiative. Upcoming dates include Feb. 20, March 20, April 17, and May 15. 


Our story


At the centre of the main gallery is an Indigenous welcome circle. The intimate space will be perfect for discussions and small-group learning opportunities, said Irving. The entire project was done with guidance and support of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, said Irving.

The museum has three key themes that guide the gallery celebrating connection, passion for place, and industry and enterprise. Each of the unique neighbourhoods and communities of the North Shore has representation. The permanent space has kid-zones on either end, but with flaps to open and drawers to explore there are hidden delights for kids to explore throughout the gallery (sure to delight: animal diets both the native plants and resulting scat).

To learn more about Lynn Valley on your visit try to discover the answers to these questions:

  • Before it was known as Lynn Valley, this community of loggers and shingle makers was known by what name? 
  • Which Group of Seven artist briefly called Lynn Valley home?
  • Which North Shore pioneer described himself as “…a sort of way-faring scribe, fascinated by the historical past and a lover of Nature’s handiwork in geology, botany and varied subjects?” 
  • Which Lynn Valley icon was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2015? 

If you aren’t quite ready to visit the museum in person but would like to learn more about Lynn Valley, MONOVA has created a unique family Geocaching experience starting at the Archives building beside Lynn Valley Elementary. For details scroll to the bottom of MONOVA’s events page

How to visit

MONOVA is located in the Shipyards neighbourhood and is open Thursday – Sunday: 11 am-5 pm at 115 West Esplanade.


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.

Celebrating a 100 years of time and place

If you attended the fourth Lynn Valley Elementary in 1990’s through its retirement in 2004 the North Vancouver Museum and Archives is looking for your stories and those of anyone who worked or went to the school during its first century.


100 years of history


The North Vancouver Museum and Archives is putting together a new project: “A landmark transformed – 100 years of serving the community” showcasing the community history associated with it’s home at 3203 Institute Road – the former home of Lynn Valley Elementary. 

“This was the 4th Lynn Valley Elementary school which was built September 7th, 1920 and this September is its 100th anniversary,” said Archivist Jessica Bushey. “It was an incredibly important place because it was the place of education for all the children of Lynn Valley and then in 2004 it ceased being a school and underwent two years of restoration and adaptation to become the home of the archives of North Vancouver. The archives is going to celebrate that with a number of online events and community engagement programs.”

 Today sitting in the shadow of the current Lynn Valley Elementary, the facility has environmental controls, archival storage and an art vault. It will remain as the archives as the museum transitions to its new home this fall in the Shipyards. 


The projects


The staff is working to collect oral histories and archival materials from the buildings past. They have many stories from the early history from its collections as people typically pass on materials that are 50 years or older. 

LVE student and later teacher, Mollie Nye had perfect attendance.

“We already have several wonderful oral histories we have collected over the years of the leaders of the area, past students and past staff,” said Bushey. “But we noticed we have a gap in the oral histories we have of the school and the area from about 1990 to 2004. We are looking for students, teachers or principals who might have been going there or working there.”

The organization would also be interest in more records from the 1960s-80s. One goal of the information gathering is to create a HistoryPin project. 

“We hope it will show how Lynn Valley evolves and grows and transforms and what the importance of the school and education was over the course of those many decades,” she said. “We are always interested in archival materials from the community but what we are looking for are the stories connected to the photograph – if you are sending a photo make sure you know the names of all the people.”

 It is pretty simple to participate in the project. Participants can submit materials and related information or have a more extensive interview. 

“We have two really good volunteer interviews who have experience gathering oral histories,” said Bushey. “Because of Covid we are doing them remotely over the phone or on Zoom.” 


The celebration


Early fall will mark the kick off to celebrate this 100 years in Lynn Valley. 

“We would love to do an exposition at the archives but we have to limit that because of Covid,” said Bushey. “We are planning to start at the end of September to mark the start of BC Culture month. We are going to start with the online exposition, then the HistoryPin project will go live. We are also planning a Geocache adventure that will talk about the building and the history of the area and we will be celebrating home movie day in October.” 

If you would like to participate you can contact the North Vancouver Museum and Archives for more information by email at [email protected] or by telephone: 604-990-3700-8012 for Daien Ide, Reference Historian or 604-990-3700-8011 for Jessica Bushey, Archivist.

 

Images courtesy of the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. 


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.

Culture Days: Glorious Mountains

From zeppelin logging to secret whiskey caches, the tales and trails of North Shore mountains come alive in a new book from locals David and Harry Crerar and Bill Maurer. Highlights from The Glorious Mountains of  Vancouver’s North Shore will be shared at the upcoming Culture Days Festival in Lynn Valley.


Ninth annual Culture Days September 28-30th


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

Glorious Mountains


For David Crerar the love of the mountains came early. It was puttering around the neighbourhood heading off on random trails – sometimes ending up in Deep Cove at about eight-years-old after following the Baden Powell trail after school, well that was only once, he says.

Author David Crerar with giant cedar on slopes of Zinc Mountain

“My parents appreciated the outdoors and were content to let me play around in the forest and explore,” said Crerar, still a North Shore resident and now a lawyer. “We lament we couldn’t quite give our kids the same experience – more because of cars than bears, so my way was to embrace outdoor adventures. Walking, hiking, exploring – I think they did Little Goat Mountain behind Grouse by the time they were three.”

His passion for local hills lead to the creation of a contest to encourage local trail runners to hit as many peaks as they can in a single season.

“I found there wasn’t a list,” said Crerar. So he began making one, which lead to more research and now, eight years of research later, a book is complete.


From Dreams to Pages


With friend Bill Maurer, and high-school-aged son Harry, Crerar has written The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore – a Peakbaggers Guide that goes well beyond the typical trail guide.  

“In the marvelous 105 Hikes by Stephen Hui, it covers, I think, only 10 of the hikes,” he said. “And although it is classified as a hiking book, I almost prefer to think of it as everything you need to or wanted know about these mountains in our backyard. Even folks who aren’t hikers will find history and culture.

“There has never been a book written like this which focuses on the North Shore peaks and which tries to provide not only a comprehensive list of hiking routes but the history of the mountains not only hiking use but the long industrial history beyond the obvious forestry – did you know there is an existing zinc claim in the [Lynn] Headwaters Regional Park on the Hanes Valley trail?”

The authors also recognize the history in the mountains extends well past the European contact.

“I think we have written the most comprehensive collection of local indigenous people use of and names for not only mountains, but also creeks and islands and everything,” said Crerar. “We’ve researched the archaeological finds and there is a fair bit of information on Squamish and TsleilWaututh nations.”

There a nuggets and secrets like this peppered throughout a short conversation with Crerar. The depth of his local knowledge perhaps only trumped by his enthusiasm to get outside. Take Lynn Peak for instance, right in our own backyard.

“Did you know the park sign leading to the peak – isn’t technically the peak? It’s a viewpoint,” he said. “Most people don’t know the reason it is clear and makes a nice view point is that in the 1960s there was a zeppelin logging operation there and that was the mountaintop docking station. They would basically float this big balloon up and put a bunch of logs on it and float it down again. If you bike along the Lower Seymour Conservation trail lower down and to the east, you will find Balloon Creek and the Balloon Picnic Area – they are there for a reason. It tells a relatively unknown and wacky bit of North Shore history.”


Culture Days


First ascent of the Camel August 4, 1908

Much of the research the authors undertook was at Lynn Valley’s North Vancouver Museum and Archives and the Community History Centre, which also houses the BC Mountaineering Club archive. David Crerar will be returning Sept. 29th from 2-3 p.m. to share more secrets from his book and local highlights. Pre-registration is required: call 604 990 3700 x8016.

“I’ll be talking about waterfalls you don’t know about, First Nations history, wildlife – there are still mountain goats in our local mountains,” said Crerar. “If you hike back there you will see old mining claims, old mining stakes, old metal stoves – there is so much mining history back there and Vancouverites really have no idea. There are a bunch of plane crashes in mountains. There has been a fairly recent phenomena of whiskey caches – there are so many unique things to learn about.”

David Crerar’s book The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore is available now and he will be speaking Sept. 29 from 2-3 p.m. at the Community History Centre 3203 Institute Road, Lynn Valley. Pre-register: 604 990 3700 x8016.

Photos courtesy of David Crerar and Rocky Mountain Books. 

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.


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.