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Skid Roads in North Vancouver.

Logging in Lynn Valley

Ever wonder about the history of the forests near Vancouver, BC, Canada? Next time you visit Enfor's office you could be driving on historical forest roads used 130 years ago. Maybe check the big notched cedar stump in the little park beside our office for insight into forest history.

The first roads in North Vancouver were built for the logging industry. The first commercial skid road was built in 1873 to convey tree trunks (often over 160 feet long) to both Moodyville Sawmill (opened 1862) on the North Shore and to Hastings Mill (opened 1867) in Vancouver at the foot of Dunlevy Street on the south shore of Burrard Inlet. Several skid roads were already in use when the District of North Vancouver was incorporated in 1891. Keith Road, the first civic road, was initiated only after incorporation.

Long before commercial logging commenced in 1885 as a local business in Lynn Valley, (later Shake Town) logs were being harvested here and transported to the shore of Burrard Inlet by way of the route shown on the adjacent map.

At first, logs were felled from the water's edge. Later, skid roads were constructed to haul the logs out of the forest. The skid roads used heavy logs, eight feet long and positioned perpendicular to the road's direction. Down the centre of the road was a "U" shaped notch hewn out with axes to roughly the contour of a 12-foot diameter log and greased with fish oil. This was applied to allow the approximately 160-foot long log, cut into three parts, spiked and chained together, to be towed by teams of eight pairs of oxen.

One skid road route commenced near the Dempsey stone quarry 1 on the west side of Centre Road (Mountain Highway) in Upper Lynn Valley and passed through what later became Princess Park, continuing tip to 29th Street (also known in 1907 as Boundary Road). The skid road then followed around Tempe Crescent 2 south of the 29th Street hill on the west side of what is now Lonsdale Avenue. Here there was a wide turning circle from 29th Street on to Chesterfield Avenue 3 to allow a 16 oxen team towing 160-foot long tree trunks in three inline sections, to turn south 4 down to Burrard Inlet. Once in the water the logs were towed by steam tug to

The skid road branch 5 came from the south-east side of Tempe Crescent (presently located by steps and paved footpath leading down into Tempe Heights subdivision). As late as the 1920's the local children could hear the "chuff chuff" of the steam donkey engine hauling logs at the foot of this slope and see its sparks and smoke long after dark.

The skid road linked in 1903 with a feeder road coming down from the area of Harold and another from the south-west. All then proceeded south 6 down Fromme Road/27th Street angling down to join the skid road continuation of 7 Allen Road (which was built around 8 1903 for the Hastings Shingle Manufacturing Company owned 9 by James and Robert Mcnair of Vancouver). The 1875 and 1903 skid roads met just east of the "Dog Leg" on Mountain Highway at 14th Street and the resulting single skid road continued on the south side of the curve of Heywood Street to Moodyville mill site and the waterfront.

Roy J. V. Pallant, MA

Source: A community contribution from the Adera Group of Companies, for the District of North Vancouver, 1999 (posted in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver, BC).

1Dempsey Quarry

2 Skid Road

Log Hauling Donkey Engine

Upper Mill (Mill Street)

Hastings Lower Mill Pond

Mill at Moodyville

For more about logging in the early 20th century on coastal BC, Canada, please see the Youtube video kindly prepared from Allison Logging Coastal Logging in the early 20th Century

For more about current day sustainable timber harvesting and forest workers on the coast of BC, Canada, please see the Youtube video kindly prepared by The Truck Loggers Association

Thankyou for your interest in forest history. If you have any photos or stories you'd like to share, please feel free to contact us. Mike Greig, a forester and principal at Enfor, would be pleased to talk with you.