Unlocking North Vancouver History

Wilderness on the Doorstep: Vancouver’s Mountain Playground


The 1930s were the heyday of cabin culture on Mount Seymour (near Vancouver). People would hike up 6.5 km and stay overnight in ramshackle cabins they had built. At one point, over 200 of these structures dotted the upper slopes. People walking in the intense mountain darkness would use “bugs” or “buglights”–homemade contraptions of candles rigged in tin cans. Some were kept in a tree and borrowed on an honour system. Seymour was more than just a collection of shacks–recreationists experienced a real sense of community, mingling at dinners, parties and impromptu dances. It was largely pressure from various groups using the mountain, including the “Seymour people” and the Alpine Club of Canada, that caused Mount Seymour to be declared a provincial park in 1936. The Provincial Forest Service, which managed the park, cast a supportive eye on the folks and did much to establish the trail system.

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This “buglight” was constructed from a Malkin wholesale grocery coffee tin, wire and a candle. These devices were widely used.

This type of homemade light was used to light the way along Seymour Mountain trails before the era of flashlights.

Cheap to make and effective, lights like this one were used in outlying areas prior to electricity or batteries being commonly available.

The people who participated in the cabin culture on Mount Seymour made and used these buglights.

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