Unlocking North Vancouver History

Moodyville: Legend and Legacy

Fire Insurance Map

In 19th-century North America, a devastating fire was a major threat to any city. Fire insurance maps were one of the main measures taken to assess the risks and costs. They were usually drawn on a large scale and included detail about building materials and the use of the property and structures. Often, accompanying notes would provide insight into social life. This fire map is invaluable for the details it provides about the layout and composition of the Moodyville sawmill and community. It marks the location of groups of Chinese residences, or “rookeries,” indicates numerous shanties scattered across the slope above the townsite and names the mill’s various outbuildings. Notes at the bottom tell that the mill at this time was “not tidy”; employed 160 men, 36 of whom were Chinese; used electricity and dogfish-oil torches; and often ran all night.

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This fire insurance map focuses on details of the mill site that could indicate fire risk. Zoom in on the note “Slabs & sawdust. Fire!” in the upper left.

Besides Moodyville, this map depicted two other mills in the region: G. Cassady & Co. mill in False Creek and the Royal City Planing Mills in New Westminster.

This map was drawn up in 1889, when the Moodyville mill was in high production.

This map was produced through a local association of fire insurance underwriters.

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