Unlocking North Vancouver History

Wilderness on the Doorstep: Vancouver’s Mountain Playground

British Columbia’s Natural Bridges

Before regular ferry service, bridges and streetcars provided access to the North Shore, non-Native adventurers had to cross Burrard Inlet by rowboat or, perhaps, in a Native dugout canoe. Some may have made the long walk west along the beach from the early sawmill town of Moodyville. With its dramatic gorges, good fishing and 1880s’ waterworks access road, the Capilano River and its canyons were an irresistible destination for outdoorsy types. The valley was named after Ki-ap-a-la-no, the first Native man to settle at the mouth of the river, who eventually became a chief. By the time this picture was taken, a streetcar led to the Capilano River valley and its two hotels, but trails through the woods still weren’t well established. Young men clambered along the banks or crossed “natural bridges” to good fishing holes–some of the area’s huge trees may have been deliberately toppled to create crossings.

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Early explorers fish in the Capilano River and cross it via fallen or felled trees.

This image likely captures an area at the top or bottom of one of the Capilano’s two canyons.

This photo was taken during the First World War, by which point non-Natives had already been accessing the canyon for a quarter century.

The Edwards Brothers–Edgar Herbert, George William and Arthur Neil–are credited with this photo. Prominent early Vancouver photographers, they kept a Cordova Street studio.

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