Unlocking North Vancouver History

Moodyville: Legend and Legacy

Stevedores at Moodyville

This group of Native longshoremen posing on the Moodyville docks give some insight into the town’s amazing ethnic diversity. A population of about 400, made up of mill workers, longshoremen, logging-camp workers and their families, also included Africans, Chileans, Chinese, Americans, English, Irish, Scots, Swedes and Norwegians as well as Indigenous workers. One planked street was called Kanaka Row, and the Chinese lived in groups of shanties known as rookeries. While equality for minorities and women did not exist in British Columbia at the time, mill owner Sewell Prescott Moody made a point of getting along with everybody. The longshoremen in this photo appear rather proud of their strength and profession. In the background, the incredible complexity of the sailing ships’ rigging is plainly visible.

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Longshoremen at Moodyville dock; the third figure from the left (standing) is Joe Capilano while the center figure holding a white bundle is William Nahanee. Both were of the Indigenous community.

Native settlements expanded on Burrard Inlet, since much of the heavy labour in the lumberyards or for loading ships was done by local First Nations people.

This photo was taken in 1889. The presence of Native people on Burrard Inlet increased as work became available, starting in the 1870s. Their settlements became permanent when the Dominion government introduced the reserve system in the 1880s.

Mill owner Sewell Moody made deals with local Native chiefs. He would supply tools and the promise of a cash market for logs, while they persuaded their men to go logging.  Over the years, the native men established a fine reputation for being efficient mill hands and longshoremen.

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