Unlocking North Vancouver History

Moodyville: Legend and Legacy

Moodyville Sawmill Co.

The lands and mills of what became Moodyville were bought and sold for 40 years. In 1863 T. W. Graham and George Scrimgeour pre-empted 480 acres (194 ha) of Crown land and established Pioneer Mills, the first sawmill at the site. (Pre-emption was a process that allowed pioneers to apply to the provincial government to claim, settle and eventually buy or be given Crown land.) The next year, J. O. Smith bought the struggling business, renamed it Burrard Inlet Mills and sent out the first international cargo. Sewell Prescott Moody (1834-1875) and two partners bought out the near-bankrupt undertaking cheaply in January 1865, changed the name to Burrard Inlet Lumber Mills and made it a success. In 1866 Moody took on new partners George Dietz (1830-84) and Hugh Nelson (1830-93). After a fire, he rebuilt the second mill as a 330-foot (100 m) structure capable of producing 100,000 board feet (236 m3) of lumber per day. The complex was named the Moodyville Sawmill Company by the early 1870s. The mill and town were actually built on pilings, with dumped ship’s ballast and sawdust making up the reclaimed land underfoot.

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A barque loads through her bow ports at the Moodyville mill. Many residences belonging to community members can be seen in the background.

The busy waterfront was a centre of activity. Look closely to see a Native canoe and men on a scow unloading hay for horses in the logging camps.

This photo was taken sometime after 1882, when Moodyville was already well established.

Houses visible in the background belonged to people such as mill owner Sewell Moody, cook Philip Sullivan, and engineer and machinist James Lockhart.

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