Unlocking North Vancouver History

Moodyville: Legend and Legacy

Ships Loading Lumber at Moodyville

In its heyday, the mill at Moodyville was a huge commercial success. During the second half of the 19th century, the company pioneered lumber sales to overseas markets. British Columbia’s wood was internationally famous for its size and lack of knots; massive cedar beams ended up in the ceilings of the Imperial Palace in Beijing, China. Ships from as far away as Australia, China, South America and Europe would dock at Moodyville to take on cargoes of milled fir. For the first two decades after British Columbia entered Confederation in 1871, the mill was the largest single source of export revenue in the province. In 1888, for example, it shipped out 30 million board feet or 70,800 m3 of lumber (one board foot measures 12 x 12 x 1 inches [0.00236 m3].) of lumber. Yet it was always a tiny community. At the time, the two major regional hubs were New Westminster, located on the Fraser River, and Victoria at the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

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Four sailing ships load lumber in this photo of the Moodyville docks. Note the piles of pickets ready for loading.

The docking facilities at the Moodyville mill could accommodate the largest vessels in safe anchorage. Fresh water from nearby Lynn Creek helped loosen marine growth such as barnacles from hulls.

This photo was taken sometime after August of 1888 and before November of 1889. During this time, the mill was shipping some 30 million board feet (70,800 m3) of lumber annually.

Moodyville locals serviced marine vessels, with a rigging loft available for mast and sail work. The mill provided superior wood-handling and machining equipment.

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