Unlocking North Vancouver History

Moodyville: Legend and Legacy

Mrs. Emily Patterson, ‘Heroine of Moodyville’

Moodyville had the good fortune of counting among its population Burrard Inlet’s first nurse, Emily Susan Patterson. Attracted by its status as a model community, she moved there in 1874 with her husband and four children after spending a year at another mill town. At that time, the inlet had no hospital or resident doctors. Stories abound of Patterson’s willingness, fearlessness and success as a midwife and giver of first aid, despite her lack of formal training. She was known as a Lady of Grace of St. John or Dame Hospitaller. She helped whites and Natives alike, and parents of both communities named children in her honour. Almost three decades after her 1909 death, Nora M. Duncan wrote the epic poem The Heroine of Moodyville to commemorate a particularly selfless deed of attending to the wife of the local lighthouse keeper.

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A portrait of Emily Susan Patterson, a Moodyville resident famous for her nursing abilities and the epic poem written about one of her selfless deeds.

The dramatic poem The Heroine of Moodyville was published in Chatelaine, a national women’s magazine.

The poem was written and published in 1936. Chatelaine is now more than 75 years old and still widely read.

The poem’s author, Nora M. Duncan, née Dann, was born in 1881. She also wrote Rainbow Reveries and Down to the Sea in the 1930s.
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