Unlocking North Vancouver History

Wilderness on the Doorstep: Vancouver’s Mountain Playground

Pauline Johnson, Poet.

One artist moved by the natural beauty of the North Shore mountains was Emily Pauline Johnson, also known as Tekahionwake (1861-1913), a poet and storyteller from Ontario’s Six Nations Reserve. The daughter of a Mohawk chief and an Englishwoman, the self-styled “Mohawk Princess” in buckskin performed her poems and stories throughout Canada, the United States and England for almost two decades. Before the era of radio and television, she enthralled audiences with her stage presence and romantic poems about Aboriginal life. Johnson wrote three books of poetry, two of stories and her famous collection of Aboriginal tales, Legends of Vancouver. These share Native lore about natural local landmarks (including the Capilano area and the Lions peaks) that had been told to her by Chief Joe Capilano (about 1840-1910). Fatally ill with breast cancer, she retired to Vancouver and asked to be buried in Stanley Park. City officials allowed it, and a cairn still marks her grave.

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Poet E. Pauline Johnson picks salmonberries near the Golden Staircase, a trail that led across a rock bluff south of the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Born in 1861 on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Pauline Johnson retired to and died in Vancouver.

This photo was taken circa 1906, possibly during a tour. She did not settle in Vancouver until 1909.

Philip Timms, who took this picture, was an active Vancouver photographer from 1900 to 1910.

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