Al SholundAl Sholund, a Port Moody resident and Freedom of the City honouree, wrote all of the Historical Insight articles found here.

Mr. Sholund passed away on October 23, 2016, just days before his 97th birthday. He is survived by his two daughters, Christine and Pauline. Mr. Sholund's wife Nellie, also a Freedom of the City recipient, passed away on September 22, 2022 at the age of 97.

He contributed years of thoughtful historical articles to the City's quarterly newsletter, the Focus. Al retired his pen in the spring of 2013, but you can still enjoy his collection of stories online.

The Sholunds were the first couple to be honoured by Port Moody with Freedom of the City. Mayor Marusyk presented them with their distinguished awards on June 13, 1998. The couple met during the Second World War in Nellie's home country of England while Al was stationed there. They have resided in Port Moody since 1956 and have two daughters.

Al, a former employee of the Imperial Oil refinery at Ioco, served on the library board for many years starting in 1956, while Nellie volunteered to work the library's front desk. The couple is widely credited with building the City's Public Library, Library Board, the City's museum, and the Historical Society. Nellie was chair of the advisory board at the Kyle Centre for eight years. They donated countless hours over many, many years to the restoration of the museum, its artifacts and objects, and the education of both children and adults on the rich and colorful history of this area.

The Chamber of Commerce named Al Sholund Tri-Cities Citizen of the Year in 1985. As long-time residents of the City, the Sholunds gave their time and expertise extensively to the community.

As former Mayor Marusyk stated "Al and Nellie Sholund are shining examples of community volunteerism."

Al Sholund's Historical Insights Articles

Click on any title below to read the article. Enjoy!

Venosta Restored
To restore “Car 49” to the “Venosta” at the Port Moody Station Museum was not just a big project, it became massive. The leaking roof of the painted riveted steel car had to be stabilized. After the car had been power washed, every rivet had to be wire brushed to remove effects of corrosion. After leaks were patched the entire exterior of the car was primed and repainted with official C.P.R. colour – Tuscan Red. 

Every window and storm window had to be removed, repaired and repainted. It was C.P.R. practice to stamp a car’s name on the windows to assure proper replacement when in a car shop for servicing. Three names were found. C.P.R archives revealed the car was built in 1920 as the “Glen Otter” – a four bedroom, 32 seat sleeping car. It was modified in 1927 as the “Glenatha” and finally in 1941 as the “Venosta”.

The vestibule platforms were very badly corroded and had to be completely replaced. The interior of the car had extensive water damage from the leaking roof and broken windows. The ceiling panelling was replaced after insulating. Every outside wall panel had to be removed to gain access to the 1920 horsehair – yes – horsehair insulation which was replaced with fibreglass.

New electric wiring for heating and lighting was installed prior to replacing the panels.

When the “Venosta” was converted to “Car 49” the whole interior had been painted grey. To get back to “Venosta” the paint had to be removed very carefully to reveal the original rich brown high gloss surface which was then revarnished. Even the 145 feet of decorative brass grill protecting the steam heating pipes near the floor on both sides of the car required careful paint removal and relacquering to reveal its beautiful colour.

The bedroom compartments were stripped, cleaned and laid with new carpets. The bottom berths were reupholstered. Each compartment has its own concealed toilet and washbasin. The upper and lower berths were arranged to show the night and day configuration. One compartment even has a spittoon or cuspidor since there were no restrictions on smoking or use of chewing tobacco when this car was in use.

New sinks, fixtures, lights and mirrors were installed in the ladies lounge.

A new public toilet and sink was plumbed at the east end of the car.

At the west end a small kitchenette was installed where the 1920 cars had their men’s smoking lounge.

Four portable display cabinets were built on site and filled with C.P.R. memorabilia.

Finally to complete the project, simulated gold leaf was attached to the side of the car reading “Venosta”.

“Car 49” was delivered to the museum in September 1987 and re-opened to the public at a huge celebration in September 1992.

The Venosta has had thousands of visitors to view the beautiful ladies lounge and the ingenious arrangements in the sleeping compartments. Also, to attend various programs in the large room including evening dinner mysteries; Mother’s/Father’s Day teas; Easter; July 1; Halloween and Christmas events. It is a favourite for weddings and school programs.

We had to apply for two extensions to the Employment Plus program. All thirteen workers over the length of the project were hired through the Port Moody Social Services Office. They were eager young workers ready to learn new trades. As the project proceeded, Betty Rae, the office manager would frequently join the gang for the Friday afternoon coffee break.

Thanks for assisting in the restoration of this historic railway artefact goes to the C.P.R.; Provincial Employment Plus and Heritage Trust; City of Port Moody; West Coast Rail Association; Flavelle Cedar; General Paint; Fairway Glass and Imperial Oil.

And special thanks to Ken Walters, Charlie McNairnie and Mary Matthews. Ken came to us with C.P.R. and restoration background and Charlie with mechanical and Mary did all of the bookkeeping for this very complex project.

With Venosta complete, Ken was hired by TransLink to restore the interurban car 1207 to running order. It operates as a tourist attraction at Granville Island. Ken lives on the Sunshine Coast where he has won awards for his large murals in Pender Harbour. They can be viewed online at – just search for “Ken Walters”.

Typhoon Freda Stormed into Town
On October 3, 1962, a tropical storm developed 500 miles off Wake Island in the north Pacific Ocean. The storm headed northeast, increasing in intensity as it bypassed the islands of Hawaii. On October 4, it reached typhoon status and was named Freda, as per storm-naming protocol. She reached intensity 3 on October 6 and 7 and died down to a tropical storm on October 8. By October 10, she was a tropical depression. 

The winds in this tropical depression veered east and headed towards North America, reaching Victoria on October 12 with sustained wind speeds of 90 km/h and gusts reaching 145 km/h. These extreme winds continued on to the Lower Mainland, hitting Port Moody at about 4 p.m. The noise was frightening. At our home it sounded as if a jet plane was landing in the backyard. Strangely, above the roar of the wind, one could hear the distinctly sharp noise of alder trees snapping before falling to the ground. It sounded like machine gun fire. With a great number of trees falling all over the Lower Mainland, there was an almost instant power failure.

Most roads in wooded areas were closed. People had a terrible time getting home from work and from shopping. Power was off for four to five days. People had to depend on fireplaces, barbeques or Coleman stoves because the power was off for such a long period of time. Luckily, the temperature did not drop too low. Neighbours pitched in to help each other, especially those with young children. We loaned a Coleman lamp to Mr. Torvick so that he could keep his small grocery store operating (where the present Saint St. Grill is now located). It was the only store that had a supply of candles and they did not last long.

A great number of householders lost their wood or asphalt shingle roofing. Because of the ensuing shortage of shingles, many owners could not get matching colours and there were a lot of multi-coloured roofs for months. One unfortunate Port Moody resident who had replaced some shingles he had lost during a wind gust on October 11 lost all of his shingles on the 12th.

With the extremely high tide and strong winds a number of boats and boat houses on Port Moody's north shore were badly damaged. Industries all over the Lower Mainland were put out of action through damage or no power to operate.

Stanley Park in Vancouver had twenty percent of its majestic old growth trees blown down or so badly damaged that they had to be removed. It took months to get full access to the park.

Typhoon Freda's storm path from near the Philippine Sea to the B.C. coast was in excess of 5000 miles and took nine days. Freda claimed seven lives in the Lower Mainland and caused damage worth a staggering $500 million in 2003 dollars.

And I always thought of Freda as being a very gentle name!

The Good Ferries of Eastern Burrard Inlet
There have been logging camps and sawmills on the shoreline of eastern Burrard Inlet since 1860. They all naturally had to be serviced from the water side. 

Two ferries, the New Delta and the Scenic set up a regular scheduled passenger service to deliver workers from Vancouver to Port Moody stopping at the major mill sites enroute and returning the workers back to Vancouver at the end of their workday.

The New Delta operated out of Gore Street and the Scenic out of Columbia Street, both near the present Centennial Pier in Vancouver. The numerous saw and shingle mills in Port Moody benefitted from this service.

When the construction of the Ioco Refinery started in 1913, a large number of the workers used this service. To facilitate the ferry service the Federal Government who has jurisdiction over navigation on Burrard Inlet built a number of docks. One was at Rocky Point in Port Moody and another was at Ioco at the foot of 1st Avenue. This was a great benefit to the residents of the new (1920) Ioco Townsite. The dock was also a benefit for the Anmore homesteaders since it was fairly close to the trail which follows Mossum Creek to Anmore.

Saturday was bonus day. The ferries kept their regular schedules but this time instead of transporting workers they were taking very happy families for a day of shopping in Vancouver. When the ferries tied up at Gore or Columbia the passengers took the street cars to Spencers (now SFU campus), Woodwards or the Hudson Bay stores.

Another vessel the “Echo” delivered freight including groceries, fruits, vegetables and McGavin bread to customers on eastern Burrard Inlet.

With the advent of the automobile resulting in the expansion of the road system, the passenger ferry service slowly declined.

Some ferries tried dinner cruises to the famous Wigwam Inn at the north end of Indian Arm. They ended with the destruction of the Inn by fire.

The Port Moody and Ioco ferry docks were demolished in the late 1940’s.

Pirate Ship or?
Beached precariously on the sand bank on the little bay east of Rocky Point in Port Moody, is the relic of a marine vessel. It can be seen very plainly from the Inlet walking trail looking like the bleached remains of a long deceased whale. 

It has been viewed by many thousands of people because it has been beached for a very long time. It is slowly losing any resemblance to the boat that it once was. Viewers stand and wonder if it was a tugboat, a fishing boat or a ? And why was it beached there and was it an accident or on purpose?

Ask any child and the answer will come out very quickly – yes I know – it was a pirate ship like in Peter Pan. Naturally that makes sense!

One myth says that it had been a rum-runner during the American Prohibition. The American government proclaimed the prohibition of the manufacturing and sale of liquor in 1920. The act was repealed in 1933.

Since the Canadian prohibition had been earlier – from 1914 to 1920, the Canadian distillers were fully operational during the American “dry” period. This promoted two new industries in North America. In Canada, it was rum-running to the US and in the US it was bootlegging on a massive scale.

Rum-running whiskey in BC was not a secret activity. All types and sizes of boats were used. The big operators had custom built launches, with very powerful and quiet in-board engines, built at shipyards on Burrard Inlet and on the Fraser River. Many fortunes were made in BC in three years. Was our ‘relic’ one of the runners?


Have a Small Town Christmas
The Christmas season in Kimberley is a season of rejoicing. The once green countryside is matted in a blanket of snow and clusters of trees bend under the heavy burden of snow. The district is flooded by the bright light of a full moon and myriads of glittering stars. Dark shadows stand behind large buildings the rays could not reach. Blurred lights shine in most windows and thick coatings of frost glaze other windows. 

In store windows are goods of all descriptions and sizes. Toys for the children, furniture and other useful articles for the grownups, long-necked turkeys, plump geese and chickens, whole pigs and other eatables adorn market windows. Brightly coloured boxes of candy and chocolates are in vivid array on store counters. There are signs of welcome in all stores. Here and there, figures scurry along; glad to be going home to the warm glow of a fire. Bands of people make their way slowly through to the maze of shops, laden with packages and parcels of all descriptions.

In the homes, the little tots prepare for bed, making sure that they have put the largest stockings they have before the fireplace, hoping that “Santa Claus” received their letters of requests. When they had gone to sleep, the parents trim the Christmas tree and place the gifts under it.

Next morning, Christmas day, the air is crisp and below zero. The children get up early to see the gifts they received. Happy voices voice their opinions on how much better their toys are than the other person’s. They don’t eat much for they are saving their appetites for the Christmas dinner and they are eager to get outside to show-off their gifts. Little crowds gather where gifts, such as skis, skates and sleds are being displayed with admiration.

In the evening, peals of laughter float from the houses into the cold air. In the house, the first thing we would see would be the Christmas tree, complete with icicles and lights. The families, sitting around the glowing fireplace, laugh and joke while the children play with their toys. From the kitchen sweet aromas drifted and made all mouths water. Mischievous eyes glances towards the kitchen, not knowing whether to sneak in or not. The huge gobbler, swimming in gravy, was a great tempter. A great assortment of vegetables steamed in bowls. Pies, cakes and other delicacies made heads swim. Fruit and candies couldn’t be better and last, but not least, is the old fashioned plum pudding with the customary brandy lit up in a blue flame.

After the dinner, they sat around the fire chatting and discussing the events of the day. In the small hours of the morning, the guests departed, looking forward to New Years and then another Merry Christmas Day – thus ending another Christmas Season. 

“Relics” – Hundreds of Relics
One does not have to go to Rome or Greece to see relics of the past. One should visit Port Moody’s “Old Millsite Park” to see our own variety of relics. To get to the site, follow the Shoreline Trail heading west after the north side of the crooked bridge. 

Most of the relics are the remains of the McNair Cedar Mill which was destroyed by fire in the late 1950's. There are also a few from the Jackson Sawmill located just west of McNair’s. It, too, burned just prior to the McNair disaster.

McNair’s was one of the largest specialty cedar shingle and shake mill in B.C. (cedar shingles and shakes were used for roofing before being replaced by asphalt and duroid shingles).

McNair operated a logging railway which criss-crossed the North Shore Mountains picking up cedar logs which were delivered to a wharf on the mill site. Here, they were dumped in a bay where they were stored and directed to the huge log escalator leading to the saw milling and shingle cutting floors in the mill.

McNair also used gravity to assist moving “bolts” which were specially picked cedar logs which were cut into the length of shakes, about two feet. A dry flume was built on the mountainside. The very heavy bolts were placed in the flume where they very quickly reached the mill pond at the mill site. The bolts were hand cut into “shakes” about three times the thickness of a shingle and was very durable roofing material.

Walking around the site, one sees a great number of pilings. These “relics” were the foundation for the various mill buildings, wharves, bridges, roadways, and railway siding. They also supported a huge dry kiln or oven used to dry the products before bundling for shipment to customers.

At the water’s edge is a large round concrete structure which was the base for a huge beehive burner. It was used for the burning of wood waste. This was standard practice for most sawmills in that era.

It is fun to walk the site and wonder what all the “relics” were for.

The Railway Station that Rode the Rail
Shortly after Port Moody was declared to be the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railway in 1879, work started on the Port Moody waterfront. A deep water dock, sufficient to handle sailing ships with railway supplies (and later steamship service to Victoria), was built on a site near the present marina on the Barnet Highway. Freight storage sheds were built for water and rail cargos and Port Moody’s first railway station was built in 1882. 

When the Canadian Pacific Railway was given control of the transcontinental system, they successfully negotiated with the provincial government and with the Town Council of Granville (became Vancouver in 1886), a land grant and support for a branch line to be built from Port Moody to Vancouver. After completion of the branch line, the first passenger train entered Vancouver in 1887. Subsequently, all water freight was diverted to Vancouver and the Victoria­—Port Moody steamship service was cancelled. The dock became redundant.

The 1882 station continued in use until 1907 when a new station was built away from the water and at a more convenient location on the branch line. It was not until 1945 that it was decided that the station was too far from the main part of town. The station was raised, put on large timbers which were moved over and placed onto well greased railway tracks. A railway engine slowly pushed the station to its new location just west of Queens Street.

Eventually, through advancing technology, cessation of passenger service and the expansion of the Port Coquitlam CPR yards, the CPR no longer had a need for the Port Moody Station.

The Port Moody Heritage Society acquired the historic building from the CPR and in 1978; the station took another ride—this time by road. A house moving company hauled the station to its final destination—a site on Murray Street in the centre of the Moody overpass cloverleaf and it took on a proud new identity as the Port Moody Station Museum.

Footnote: The 1882 station became a union oil office and lab and later, a British-American oil sub-office before being demolished in the early 1960s. 

Air Horns, Sirens and Steam Whistles

Every day in Port Moody one can hear an air horn, siren or a steam whistle. It can be from a large truck reversing, a cargo ship entering or leaving its berth, a CP Rail operation, West Coast Express, a fire engine or an ambulance.

These sounds are a vital part of our economy and the well being of the community. Air horns were and are part of a communication system where the sound of operating machinery can interfere with normal communication. All of the Port Moody sawmills used a code system of long and short bursts from an air horn to contact personnel or request an operational change.

The Ioco Refinery covered a very large area. The crude oil tanks were one mile north of the crude receiving dock. Telephones were situated at various locations. When a crude tanker arrived at the dock, an air horn alerted a pump man who went to the nearest telephone to receive instructions on which tank should receive the crude. This simple air horn system started in 1915 and was used to contact key personnel for over 35 years until replaced by the mobile phone – the “walkie talkie” in the 1950’s.

In the early days, Port Moody fire fighting depended on volunteer firemen. A fire siren was located on the Flavelle Cedar Plant and controlled by Flavelle personnel. When the siren was activated, key volunteers met at the Fire Hall. The other volunteers would phone to the B.C. Telephone office (which was a 24 hour operation) on Clarke Street where the switchboard operators would have information from the Fire Chief.

During the 1939–45 war, a second siren was installed. It was at the city hall and was dedicated as an air raid siren but luckily it was used only during periodic testing.

The Ioco Refinery had their own fire fighting capability. In the early days, most of the employees lived within hearing range of the fire siren and would respond to the call. The siren could be heard very plainly in most parts of Port Moody. The employees looked forward to the testing of the siren which was every second Thursday coincident with their paydays.

The operation of railway steam whistles is federally regulated. At a minimum, the engineer must blow the whistle when approaching or leaving a railway station and when approaching a level road crossing. For more than eighty years Port Moody had a station in the vicinity of the present bulk loading terminal and Kyle Street was the level railway crossing leading onto Murray Street.

Passing through Port Moody daily were Canadian Pacific Express, freight and passenger trains, the Kettle Valley Railway passenger and freight service and “milk runs” up to Mission and back.

Adding to the traffic, during the 1939–45 war, there were many military and troop trains. On some days there were more than 18 trains in 24 hours. Now imagine — the engineer coming from Vancouver has to sound his whistle approaching the station, leaving the station and again when he approaches Kyle Street. Trains from the east do the reverse. It is rumoured that the birthrate during the war rose dramatically. Talk about whistling in the dark!

The introduction of the diesel-electric locomotives sent shock waves through the train watchers’ (listeners) community. With no steam the whistles were air operated and sounded like bleeping sheep. Luckily, Bob Swanson, who was brought up in Vancouver Island logging camps and was very familiar with air horns, became a steam engineer. He designed an air horn to replicate the steam whistle sound. His air horns are on diesel-electric locomotives worldwide. Bob also assisted in the restoration of Engine 374 which sits at the Roundhouse in Vancouver.

The closing of the station, the Moody Street overpass eliminating the Kyle Street level crossing and the security fencing along the CP right-of-way reduced the number of train whistles (the sound of which still is music to train watchers).

The First Spike

Where was the first spike on the transcontinental railway driven? When B.C. joined Confederation in 1871, it was promised a railway system to Eastern Canada within 10 years. It was not until 1879, after B.C. had threatened to cede from the union, that contracts were let for construction. One contract, held by Andrew Onderdonk, was to build a line between Port Moody (which the government had just declared as the “Western Terminus” of the line) and Kamloops Lake and eventually to Craigellachie, 40 miles west of Revelstoke. The last spike ceremony on November 7, 1885 joining the west to the east line is well documented and photographed.

But the first spike honour goes to Bonfield, Ontario where the 125th anniversary will be celebrated in June, as recognized by the Railway Hall of Fame. Bonfield is between North Bay and Mattawa on Trans Canada Highway 17. Bonfield had been the Western terminus of the Canada Central Railway with connections to Ottawa and Toronto. It was one of the lines absorbed by the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. when it was given a contract on February 15, 1881 to construct the railway between Bonfield and Port Moody – a total of 2,540 miles.

The completion of the all-Canadian line in 1885 led to the historic first passenger train hauled by Engine 371 from Montreal to Port Moody on July 4, 1886 which we celebrate as Golden Spike Days.

The picture taken in 1886 shows the original Port Moody Station built in 1882. The dock and warehouse was built to facilitate sailing ships bringing railway supplies from Britain. The ships had to sail around the tip of South America. In the middle is Engine 371 preparing for its next scheduled trip east.

Onderdonk used Port Moody and Yale on the Fraser River as his base of operations.

Port Moody Royalty: May Queens
In the early days of Port Moody, May 24 – Victoria Day – later simply May Day – was a day to celebrate Queen Victoria who was our monarch for sixty years. The early celebrations were held at the red-brown schoolhouse situated on the site of the present elementary school on St. Johns Street. 

The May Queen and her attendants (all chosen by their classmates) were paraded onto the site led by the mayor of the day. The site was always decorated with red, white and blue bunting. The school children entertained with a very complicated and delightful May pole dance. Following the ceremonies, there was a luncheon for the Royal group and the town dignitaries at the Kyle Street Recreation Hall. A children’s dance was held in the afternoon followed by an adults’ dance in the evening.

Over time, Rocky Point Park, which had been a very boggy field, had become a very pleasant grassy, well-maintained site. The May Day celebrations were moved to the park. The May Day parade was along St. Johns Street. The traditional May pole dancing carried on but there were no functions in the recreation hall. The Queen and attendant were invited to lunch by various individuals or service groups. After over forty years, May Day faded into history to be taken over by July 1st and finally, Golden Spike Days.

In recognition of the Victoria/May Days, portraits of every May Queen and the attendants plus photos of the activities will be on display in the Port Moody Station Museum starting in April.

Expo ’86 Revisited:

They came, they saw, the loved it!

Over 20 million people attended the World Exposition May 2 – October 13, 1986. It was held on 173 acres of Vancouver’s False Creek waterfront. The original name was “TRANSPO 86” to celebrate transportation. But as more people got involved in the project the name was changed to EXPO 86 to include not only transportation but also communication, and arts and entertainment. Fifty-four foreign countries, Canada, the provinces, territories, and thirty corporations built pavilions as showcases for their inventions, history, artifacts, culture, entertainment, exotic foods—the list is endless. Some pavilions still remain as legacies to an incredible experience. The Canadian pavilion is now Canada Place; EXPO Centre is now Science World; BC Place is now GM Place; and the CPR Roundhouse is now the Roundhouse Arts and Recreation Centre. 

The opening ceremonies were held at BC Place with 70,000 in attendance including Prince Charles and Princess Diana and dignitaries from every participating country.

The EXPO site was divided into six coloured zones. Each zone had pavilions, theatres, amphitheatres, bandstands and plazas. The price of admission included a passport, which was stamped upon entry to a pavilion and a daily show guide indicating all of the days’ events and in which zone.

It was very easy to get around the site. The EXPO Skytrain line had just been completed. A monorail connecting with the Main Street station circulated through the site.

There were several specialized periods during EXPO:

  • Aviation: Hot air balloon; Silver Dart—Canada’s first powered plane; 50 vintage DC-3 fly past; Snowbirds; Concord; sky diving; U-2 spy plane over flight; USSR’s Sputnik and US space capsule.
  • Auto: There was a display of antique autos and all of the auto producing countries had displays of current, futuristic and experimental models.
  • Marine: Displays included a canoe paddled from Bella Coola; Nippon Maru from Japan; Jacques Cousteau with his futuristic turbo sailboat; operating model boats; tugboat sail-past plus boom boat ballet (Port Moody’s Seaforth tugs participated in both); BC-built submarine plus specialized diving gear.
  • Recreation: Skate boards and roller blades were introduced.
  • Urban transit: History of transit leading up to Skytrain. A four-horse team with covered wagon plus spare horses en route from 100 Mile House to take part in EXPO program had a two-day rest stop camping at the Port Moody Recreation Centre.
  • Communications: A large international exhibition on computers.
  • Communications and mobility for elderly and disabled people: A quarter million dollars was presented to Rick Hansen who was still on his Man in Motion World Tour.
  • Search and rescue: A number of air and marine accident scenarios were examined by experts.
Some off-site events were highlighted in EXPO programs. The Port Moody World Championship Handcar Races June 28-30, the Abbotsford Air Show, and Steam EXPO—a parade of steam engines and locomotives including Stephenson’s Rocket.

It is not fair to single out any pavilion but Egypt with their Great Hall of Ramses II with the 3,000 year old treasures and the huge entrance gate to the China pavilion were breathtaking.

Walking the curving two mile road through the site, jam-packed with revelations on both sides and above was like a trip with Alice in Wonderland. The undulating Highway 86 with every type of transport from tricycles and motorbikes to rickshaws, dog teams and transport trucks all suspended in a grey time warp. Old and new aircraft were suspended above the crowd. A 1907 carousel for the young and an enormous all steel roller coaster—the Scream Machine—for the brave. The large flying saucer—UFO H2O—was the centerpiece for the water park in the huge supervised childrens’ play area. A boat being built on the very busy waterfront. And on and on…

On coming onto the site at 10am the first sound came from the maintenance staff walking the length of the site singing the EXPO theme song “We are the World” written by Bert Niose of the CBC radio “Happy Gang.” They were followed by musicians, singers, mime, acrobats, magicians, jugglers, fire eaters, wire acts… Each daily program showed at least 150 individual or group entertainers.

During the 165 days of EXPO a staggering 65,000 amateurs performed including our own Port Moody Can Can Dancers who wowed the huge audience on BC Day. Also there were 14,000 professional performers including Port Moody entertainer, Julie Valenti.

Jim Pattison had tremendous respect for the volunteers at EXPO. They came from towns throughout the province. Most of Port Moody’s volunteers worked at the Roundhouse and the Heritage brick program which paid for the restoration of Engine 374 sitting outside the Roundhouse.

In closing, a very historic silver dollar was minted in 1986. One side shows Engine 371 that pulled the first ocean to ocean passenger train into Port Moody in 1886; the other side shows the birth of Vancouver city.
The Original Rec Centre
When Port Moody was incorporated in 1913, a beautiful city hall and a recreation hall were built. This was a tremendous accomplishment for a very small town. The original city hall is now home for the arts community (Port Moody Arts Centre), and the recreation hall served the needs of the town for sixty-five years before being replaced by the Kyle Centre in 1978. 

The recreation hall was located on the corner of St. George and Kyle Streets with the main entrance facing Kyle. It was very well designed. It contained a top main floor and a full basement. The main floor was very large with a raised band stage on the west side and a balcony on the east. The stage had change rooms and full length draw curtains for concerts. And, it was high enough to facilitate the storage of tables and chairs underneath. The balcony had a movie projection room. Below the balcony was a cloak room.

The basement was divided into four rooms whose functions changed over the years. There was a kitchen with a very large cast iron wood stove. It was accessible from the upstairs main room and from the adjoining bingo room. The bingo room had an entrance door on the north side of the building so there was no need to use the front entrance for events in the bingo room.

The third and fourth rooms were used for elementary school classes for a number of years. The basement also contained washrooms and a shower room.

When the new elementary school was completed in 1953 the third and fourth rooms became an adult library and a children’s library operated by the Port Moody Public Library Association.

Just north of the recreation hall was a lacrosse box, complete with viewing bleachers. To the west was the city’s works yard.

In the next issue of the Focus (Summer, 2005) there will be a description of some of the events and programs which took place in this historic building. 

The 1913 recreation hall on Kyle Street was, in fact, a complete Community Centre. Since the Parks and Recreation Department was not created until the 1950's, most of the events were organized by clubs and groups of volunteers and there were a great variety of events. One annual civic event which was very well attended was the meeting, prior to the November elections, hosted by the Rate Payers Association. The Mayor and Aldermen had to account for their actions. It was a 3-ring circus and no Mayor or Alderman was safe from barbs from the audience. Unfortunately, the Association folded in the mid-60's. The Hall had wonderful acoustics and a superb "sprung" floor. During the early May Days, the May Queen and Attendants' dinners were held in the Hall always followed by dancing. The early Port Moody Board of Trade had their meetings - followed by dancing. The dance of the year was the Volunteer Firemen's Ball. New Year's dances were sponsored by different groups such as the Legion until their building was constructed in 1946. Square, ballroom, and round dancing clubs loved the floor. Port Moody Kinsmen had regular fund raising dances (the Kinettes raised funds for the purchase of books for the opening of the children's library in the Hall basement). Music was supplied by local musicians (no amplifiers!) 

The Hall has a fine kitchen. All of the ladies' aids to the churches took turns sponsoring dinners and on special occasions like May Day they all joined in. One annual Christmas dinner, catered by the ladies' aids, and sponsored by Nick Alvero, proprietor of the Tourist Hotel was for all single men in Port Moody. The kids' Halloween party was a huge success. The Volunteer Firemen plus lady helpers served the hot dogs. For years, Guy Flavelle judged the costumes and every kid received a prize whether dressed or not. The finale was a fireworks display by the Firemen.

In the 1930's and 40's, a film club had Saturday matinees for the kids. All of the early children's school plays and Christmas concerts were in the Hall until the new schools were built. The "sprung" floor was ideal for youth and adult badminton and children and youth basketball. When visiting teams came for basketball, refreshments and a dance always followed the game.

In the late 1930's to mid-40's, there was a very active pro-rec program which appealed to a large number of teens. It was sponsored by the Provincial Government who supplied specially trained instructors who taught vigorous physical exercises. Flavelle Cedar supplied a spring board for this activity. For the more rugged sports, Flavelle also supplied a fully functional boxing and wrestling ring. Port Moody produced some excellent boxers who competed in boxing cards throughout the Lower Mainland.

From the late 1920's to the 1940's, the annual Horticultural and Craft Fair presented a great variety of local fruits, vegetables, baked goods, preserves and crafts. Some of the items received prizes at the P.N.E. There was an intense competition between the ex-Brits. to grow the largest leeks.

All of the service clubs used the Hall for their fundraising. The J.U.G.S. (Just U Girls) from Ioco had rummage sales for various causes including the first Port Moody school band. The Kiwanis had annual casino nights and the Kinsmen ran weekly bingo.

As mentioned, a great number of activities took place in the Hall including the following two:

  • "After the disastrous fire that destroyed the United Church on St. Johns Street on November 11, 1955, it was arranged that church services be carried on temporarily in the basement of the Hall. And during part of the 1939-45 war, the Hall was home for the Port Moody detachment of the "Rocky Mountain Rangers". This group of dedicated young men received military training and were prepared to respond if called upon in an emergency.
  • "Early in the 1950's, a Port Moody branch of the Old Age Pensioners' Organization (O.A.P.O.) was formed. Most of the members were associated with the clubs and groups who had been active in the Hall for many years. The O.A.P.O. started fundraising teas and dinners in the Hall. It was very fitting that when the venerable wonderful "Old Rec Hall" was torn down and replaced by "Kyle Centre" in 1978, it was this group that obtained a Federal New Horizons Grant that paid for all the furniture; pool tables; carpet bowling; rock and gem and kitchen equipment for Kyle. 
Did you know?
That a logging company built a logging railway that crisscrossed the north shore slope in the 1920s-1930s. They employed a railway locomotive called a "climax" that was designed specifically for climbing & descending steep mountain grades pulling heavy loaded log flat cars. The company supplied logs to mills in Port Moody, Coquitlam & Port Coquitlam. 

That there is a large picture of the Climax and the portable saw at the Port Moody Station Museum.

The McNair's shingle company logged cedar on the north slope for their mill on the north foreshore. The remains of the mill, which burned down in the 1950s, can be seen while walking the Inlet Trail. The circular concrete structure was the foundation for the tepee burner used for burning wood waste.

That in the 1920s the McNairs used the first portable gasoline engine powered saw in Canada. It was used for cutting large diameter cedar logs into "bolts" three to four feet long. The bolts were sent down the mountainside to the mill via a dry flume. It was rumoured that on payday some of the more adventurous loggers would ride a log down the flume rather than take the long way down.

That in the 1950s and 1960s the Port Moody volunteer firemen sponsored Hallowe'en parties for all Port Moody children. The parties were held in the old recreation hall on Kyle Street (replaced by Kyle Centre in 1978). All the children were given hot dogs, apples and candy. For years Guy Flavelle was on hand to choose the winners of the best costumes. He had the knack of making sure that every child felt good in their costume, no matter what they wore. These parties continued until the formation of community associations, who took on the responsibility for holding the parties in their respective areas.

That on June 13, 1792 when Captain Vancouver was on his assignment to map the Eastern end of Burrard Inlet (later named Moody Arm) he had anchored his ship, the Discovery, at Birch Bay and was using a cutter (a very large rowboat fitted with sails) for his explorations. At nightfall some of the crew who chose to sleep on a rocky beach instead of in the cutter got a very rude and unexpected awakening. They were awakened by a very high incoming tide that took over their sleeping accommodations. The beach was possible the rocky foreshore of the present Ioco refinery site.

That in 1884 the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. installed a telegraph service between Port Moody and New Westminster. The first messages sent to New Westminster were requisitions for butchers and grocers to deliver meat and provisions to the worksite in Port Moody where the Western Terminus of the C.P.R. was being built. The telegraph line to Granville (Vancouver) was not completed until 1886.

That in 1913 the planning and construction of Port Moody's domestic water supply system began immediately after the City's incorporation, a large earthen reservoir was constructed high on the north shore hill near a fresh water creek which kept the reservoir full. An ingenious method was used to maintain uniform pressure in the pipeline at all times (especially critical in the event of fire). A large wooden storage tank was constructed on the hillside directly south of the present Port Moody Arts Centre. The tank was at the same elevation as the reservoir and was connected to the water distribution system. As water was drawn out of the tank it was automatically refilled from the reservoir without the need of any pump. The tank remained in use until the 1950s. The original distribution system used wooden stave pipes and some of the wooden sections were not replaced by steel until the 1960s.

That in 1917 Port Moody supported a recycling program which unfortunately had disastrous consequences. With the Great War underway there was a shortage of iron and steel for the local shipbuilding and other defence industries. In support of the war effort a company built a reclamation plant in Port Moody east of the present Works Yard. They used electric reduction to convert scrap iron and steel into pig iron for use in making the badly needed steel.

In order to assist the construction of the plant the City put up a $50,000 bond which was a lot of money for a small town. With the war over in 1918 a worldwide depression ensued, resulting in a bad market for steel. The fledgling mill had to shut down – with no possibility of repayment! Mayor Perry Roe, Port Moody's first mayor, was very popular: nonetheless he was held responsible for the City's massive debt and he was voted out of office. Unfortunate timing! Slag from the mill was used (and can be seen) to build up the foundation of the Old Ioco Road which is part of the Shoreline Trail on the east end of Burrard Inlet.

That thin sheet ice forms on the Moody Arm during our colder winters because of the various fresh water streams that enter Burrard Inlet. During the very cold winters in the 1930s and early 1940s, the ice became very thick – so thick that the Baird Tugboats Co. that serviced Flavelle Cedar could not tow log booms to the mill without using their tugs as icebreakers to clear a path through which to pull the booms. During those winters Ioco refinery workmen who lived in downtown Port Moody walked to work across the ice – one even drove his car!


Flushback – the First Water Closet in Port Moody
In 1907 Robert Abernethy and Perry Roe sold their Canadian Pacific Lumber mill and bought the Emerson mill located on the site of the present Flavelle Cedar. 

Since there was no coordinated water system in Port Moody until after Incorporation in 1913, Abernethy and Roe devised a system to provide water to their plant in the event of a fire.

They built a dam on the small creek south of Henry Street and installed a pipeline along Elgin Street down to their mill on the waterfront where they had constructed a water tank tower to give additional pressure in an emergency.

In the meantime, Thomas Crapper (1837 - 1920) of Thorne, England had just invented that wonderful device - the flush toilet– named the "Crapper".

So when Perry Roe (who became Port Moody's first Mayor) built his house on the corner of St. John's and Elgin – presently called Perry's Restaurant – he had a "Crapper" installed. His water supply was from the Elgin Street pipeline he had installed for his mill.

The early "Crappers," unlike today's toilets had a wall mounted water reservoir about six feet above the bowl. The water valve was operated by a long chain. The operation was very noisy and didn't always work with the first pull, or the second, or the third…

When Perry Roe's daughter, Agnes Mae, visited Port Moody for the City's 75th anniversary, the writer had the pleasure of inviting her to Perry's Restaurant for lunch so that she could visit her former home.

She told me that, as a child, she was very proud of their W.C. (water closet). The porcelain water reservoir, toilet bowl and sink were all highly decorated. She invited all of the children at the red/brown schoolhouse on the corner of St. John and Grant to come to her house to "pull the chain – and they did – very often!"

From the Archives: 25 years ago
From the September 1977 edition of the "City of Port Moody Newsletter." 

The front page of this newsletter suggested "Have a drive with the family around the City and see all the new construction, both residential and commercial." Stops on the tour would include the new Kyle Centre, Tall Trees complex on James Road, Woodside Village (with fully furnished display units) new road patterns opposite the No. 1 Firehall that "lead into the new shopping complex of Eatons, Woodwards and the Hudson's Bay to be located in Coquitlam." Also not to be missed are Highland Park development on the site of the former gun club, the display home at 535 San Remo Drive, which was described as like "stepping down the hillside like a Mediterranean Village" as well as Phase IV on April Road in the Barber Street subdivision, the new recreation complex at 300 Ioco, stops at Old Orchard and Rocky Point Parks and finally a look at the new commercial buildings on Spring Street.

Also in the newsletter was a note that a member of Council has observed that while the national anthem and Queen's anthems were played at schools and sports events, the songs were not sung. So for handy reference, the words to the national anthem were printed.

Residents were reminded of the Barnet Highway garbage dump hours, as well as garbage "extra" tickets could be purchased (12 tickets for $1 – they are $1 each, now!) and that backyard burning days would be allowed on certain fall weekends without a permit.

It was reported that City Council had authorized planning to start for a new City Hall, which "is possibly five years in the future, but needs careful planning." Our new City Hall officially opened in October, 1995 – eighteen years later.

It is truly amazing that this very recent history is now quite historical. If you have photographs of Port Moody from any era, Jim Millar, curator of the Station Museum, would love to have a look at them. He can be reached at the museum at 604-939-1648. 

Ioco Victoria Days
In the early days of the last century most towns and villages in B.C. celebrated Victoria Day – May 24 – in honour of Queen Victoria. The Village of Ioco was no exception. But what was unique at Ioco was that these early events were held on the oil refinery site itself with storage tanks, pipes, and processing buildings as a backdrop for the activities. 

The first celebration was in 1917 two years after the opening of the refinery. At that time there were 14 cottages on the refinery site. Most workers lived in a shack town adjacent to the refinery until the townsite was built in 1920.

In 1921 the children's parade from the new Ioco school to the refinery was led by six black convertibles (mostly model T Fords) bearing the May Queen and her attendants. The cars were decorated with cedar boughs and red, white, and blue bunting. Two Boy Scout escorts rode on the running boards. Near the main office on the refinery, a Maypole had been installed and a reception stand, complete with piano, had been built for the May Queen Crowning Ceremony. The stand was decorated with Union Jacks and jack-o-lanterns. Most of the older children, including the Boy Scouts, joined in the Maypole dancing.

At the conclusion of the dancing, speeches, and singing, all of the Ioco children sat down for gallons of homemade ice cream, cake and cookies.

Five Victoria Day celebrations were held on the refinery before a sports field was ready at the new school.

I believe the Ioco Refinery was the only oil refinery in the world to host community events such as Victoria Day on the refinery site.

Migrating Oak Trees Survive a Century of Care
Port Moody pioneer Captain James A. Clarke was born in New Brunswick and moved to Port Moody in 1883 from New Westminster. He built and operated the Elgin Hotel and was a prominent realtor. To promote easier access to Port Moody, he paid out of his own pocket to have Clarke Street extended to connect with North Road by way of what we know today as Clarke Road. 

Captain Clarke, because of his East Coast roots, was very fond of oak trees which are not native to B.C. When he moved his family here he planted acorns from his native province. A survivor may be observed on John Street (now known as St. Johns Street) across from the Starbucks Coffee at Queens Street.

Thirty-seven years ago at the age of five, a Port Moody resident by the name of Pauline Sholund planted an acorn from that same tree in the back yard of their family home on Hope Street. An acorn from the tree on Hope Street was subsequently planted by a bluejay (name and where-abouts today unknown) in a nearby location. This eventually produced a healthy tree eight feet in height.

On April 20, 1998, school district staff removed the eight foot tree and transported it to the Port Moody Middle School where another eager group of school kids had dug a hole and awaited its delivery. It joined a collection of trees which were planted by the students as part of the three year long "Tree Replanting Project."

So with the effort and foresight of a few individuals, Captain John Clarke's passion for oak trees is alive and well 115 years later and seeded for the next generation.

Port Moody Hotels
The Port Moody Arms Hotel in the 1970s. started out as the Tourist Hotel in 1908.

The last of the old time hotels was the Tourist Hotel built on the corner of Clarke and Queens in 1908. Wm. Walmsey operated the hotel for 37 years. The first Port Moody Council had their photo taken on the hotel veranda in 1913. The beer parlour was divided into a men's room and a ladies and escorts' room by law.

In 1945 Nick Alvero bought the hotel. Nick as well as being very popular, worked at the bar and knew all of his patrons. He supported all community causes and was one of Kiwanis first Port Moody members. For years at Christmas he rented the Recreation Hall on Kyle Street and invited all single men to a free turkey dinner. In 1960 the hotel was closed after 52 years of service.

Meanwhile when the New Burrard Hotel on St. Johns Street came up for sale in 1950 it was bought by Nick's brothers John and Frank. In 1960 when the liquor laws were changed to allow the sale of liquor and to allow women and men to partake in the same room John renovated the hotel. Following British pub pictures he changed the exterior, added a separate small liquor lounge, a fine dining room and a cafe. Another brother, Meiko came to operate the new lounge. He added a touch of pub authenticity by installing a shelf bearing old pewter mugs inscribed with the names of early city residents and Council Members. With the renovations complete the Alveros renamed their hotel the Port Arms. All of their operations were very successful until finally in 1980 after 30 years of service the Alveros sold the business.

There have been a number of owners since 1980. About 3 years ago there were renovations which included a band stage and a large area for dancing. A number of historic photographs dating back to 1886 adorn the walls. The hotel was renamed Jakes Crossing.

Over the years the hotel staff have reported strange phenomena-noises, lights, etc. Three years ago a "ghost" photographer from Seattle took photos in the hotel looking for evidence of this phenomena. There have been at least 2 séances in the hotel basement by psychic societies. During a filming in the hotel the film crew were held up 2 days by an unexplained failure of their own electrical system.

Just as the Tourist was winding down, another hotel was being built at the east end of St. Johns Street by Leon Perry. The Leon was a fine hotel with conference rooms and a large dance hall in the basement. On the main floor there was a large beer parlour, a café and a dining room. Leon believed in fine dining and hired a maitre d' from the Hotel Vancouver to set up his operation, which was very successful. Leon hosted a number of large conventions and his holiday dances with live bands were always a sell-out.

When Leon passed away the new owners converted the dance hall into a cabaret with disc jockeys. The Leon was the first hotel in the area to have "exotic" dancing. The Leon was destroyed in a disastrous fire in 1990.

The most recent hotel was built in 1971, on B.C.'s 100th anniversary of joining Canada and was to be called the Centennial. The hotel is unique because it was built cooperatively by a number of building trades who were given shares depending on their participation. On completion one of the partners bought all the shares and changed the name to the Barnet Motor Inn.

A popular feature at the Barnet was the Saturday afternoon jam/dance sessions. One of the most favourite local bands featured six of the Swanson family plus Dennis Hartley. Some of their recordings were made in the Barnet under the "Swanson Sound" label.

The Barnet has had a number of owners including Bob Williams, the high profile Minister in the Barrett government. 

Some Early History on Port Moody Street Names
St. Johns Street was meant to be John Street, but a clerical error occurred when the name was registered

and 'St.' for 'Street' became 'St.' for 'Saint.'

St. Johns Street was meant to be John Street, but a clerical error occurred when the name was registered and 'St.' for 'Street' became 'St.' for 'Saint.'In 1879, the Federal government declared Port Moody the Western Terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Although it was unoccupied, Admiralty charts clearly identified Moody Arm at the eastern end of Burrard Inlet. 

In 1882, a dock and the first CPR station were built near the present Reed Point Marina in preparation for receiving supplies for construction of the rail line between Port Moody and Yale. A land boom was speculated by many centering on the rail terminal. The Port Moody Station Museum has a copy of a 1884 survey predicting 25,000 residents for this area.

Two men who had very high hopes for Port Moody's future were John Murray Sr. and Captain J.A. Clarke. John Murray had been a sapper in Colonel Moody's Royal Engineers, whose one task was to build the North Road between New Westminster and Burrard Inlet in 1859.The regiment returned to England in 1863. Any sapper who chose to remain in Canada was given a land grant of 150 acres. Murray and three others chose Port Moody, although nobody lived here.

Captain Clarke was a sailor and very well known in New Westminster. In the late 1860's he bought one of the Port Moody land grants from a former sapper. Mr. Murray and Captain Clarke continued to live in Sapperton-New Westminster with their families until moving to Port Moody in 1883.

In 1882, Murray and Clarke requested a subdivision survey of their two District Lots (a total of 300 acres). John Murray Jr. had participated in the survey and was asked to name the streets.

John Jr. was born in 1859 on the ship which took more than five months to sail from England to Victoria with the Royal Engineers. John Jr. was very patriotic and family loving as shown by the names he chose for the streets.

When the names were forwarded to Victoria for registration St. John and St. George were registered. This was done inadvertently, because the abbreviated "St." in front of the Street names were confused as Saint John and Saint George Streets instead of John Street and George Street.

When the rail line was extended to Vancouver in 1887, the dream of 25,000 people living in these subdivisions ended.

John Jr. spent most of his life in Port Moody. He was elected to the first City Council in 1913. He spent the last quarter of his life as a game warden and very lenient school truant officer.

St. John – father
St. George – brother-in-law
Jane – mother
Kyle – brother-in-law
Mary – sister
Queen – Queen Victoria
Sarah – sister
Albert – Queen's Consort
Hugh – brother
Elgin – Governor General
William – brother
Douglas – Governor- Crown Colony
Henry – brother
Clarke – father's partner

Teepee burners, pea soup and salt!
Did you know that in the early days, Port Moody was known as the "Birthplace of the Fog?" During the fall and winter, there were absolute zero visibility pea soupers that would put old London's reputation for dense fog to shame. 

There were a number of contributors to this phenomenon: Before the widespread use of oil and gas for heating, everyone burned smoke-producing wood, coal or sawdust. Also, a number of sawmills have operated in Port Moody over the years and they all produced wood waste in the form of bark and sawdust. They used as much as possible in their power plant furnaces but there was always an excess which had to be disposed of. The simplest way was to burn the waste in a teepee burner. Emission controls did not exist and the smoke created was thick!

Every sawmill in BC (and there were thousands) had a teepee burner. They were generally made of steel plate formed in a conical shape that resembled a large teepee. The open top was covered with a screen to prevent the escape of sparks and embers. Conveyer belts kept the teepee burner well stocked with waste fuel.

New pulp and paper plants in BC that used sawmill's waste signaled the demise of teepee burners. The only remaining evidence of a Port Moody burner is the large circular concrete foundation just offshore of the former McNair mill site on the north side of the Shoreline Trail.

The owners of Flavelle Cedar, Port Moody's longest-running mill, spent a great deal of time and money trying to reduce the smoke from their burner. They managed to reduce the blackness but could not entirely reduce the opacity. In the 1960s a consulting firm hired to do an in-depth analysis of their operation made a very interesting discovery: Chemical analysis of the smoke revealed infinitesimal particles of sodium chloride (salt) which was the main contributing factor to the opacity. All the mills on Burrard Inlet transported or stored their logs in the water prior to processing. Their bark became soaked with salt from the ocean. The bark, stripped off the logs before being sawn, was burned as waste. Moisture contained in the bark left the burner as steam, which unfortunately contained the extremely fine particles of salt, which became the nuclei for fog formation during the right climatic conditions, thereby producing the notorious pea soup fog. All coastal mills using salt water transport and who burned their waste inadvertently contributed to the birth of fog in their areas.

Incidentally, Barnet, our neighbouring town to the west, had two huge mills with teepee burners which would have also contributed negatively to our airshed.

The Ioco Townsite Story
Site clearing for the Imperial Oil refinery at Ioco began in 1913, followed by installation of the crude oil processing equipment in 1914. The refinery began refining in January, 1915. 

The refinery site was very isolated – the ferry “New Delta” had a scheduled run from Vancouver, calling at Dollarton, Barnet and Ioco, en route to Port Moody. While a number of workmen used this service, others rowed from Barnet or Port Moody, or used the water taxi service from Port Moody. Still others chose not to commute: they set up a tent town near the work site. As construction continued on the refinery, more manpower was required and as a result the tent town expanded and became a more permanent “shack town.” This tent-and-shack town squatted on both sides of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) right of way south of the present townsite. By 1917, approximately 200 men, women and children were living in the shack town, which now boasted a school and two grocery stores.

The company had built fifteen cottages and a large boarding house on the refinery site for the trained operating personnel who had come mainly from the Sarnia, Ontario refinery. The school teacher was one of the boarding house’s residents.

Imperial Oil wanted to buy a large block of crown land which bordered the present April Road in order to build a townsite, but the federal government refused to sell as the Great War was on and the land was deemed a military reserve. In frustration, Imperial Oil purchased land from a private seller on which the present Ioco townsite was built.

The land was cleared and housing construction began in 1920. The first houses, however, were the cottages from the refinery, which were towed to their new site using donkey engines (portable steam engines used primarily in the lumber industry). Between 1920 and 1924 83 houses were built – all with indoor flush toilets, a real luxury at the time! On completion, the houses were sold to the employees.

In 1920, the company also built the Ioco grocery store and the Ioco community hall. Later, a tennis court and lawn bowling green was laid out. As well, Anglican and United churches were built. 
The Mystery of the Train Bell
On display at the Port Moody Station Museum is a train bell. It was received from long-time resident Ernie Morgan, a retiree of Flavelle Cedar. Ernie found the bell in 1962 when a ten foot deep ditch was being dug for the main sewer line on Esplanade St. in front of Flavelle Cedar near the CPR line. The mystery bell was found at least six feet below the surface. Upon detailed examination, no identifying marks could be found on the bell. 

It was known that a terrible accident had taken place in 1913. A cattle train, proceeding east from Vancouver under full steam, entered the Canadian Pacific Lumber Co. site through a main line switch which had inadvertently been left open. The huge CPL mill (no connection to CPR) was located just west of what is presently the Flavelle Cedar site. What followed was a catastrophe.

The steam engine pulling the train plowed into a string of box cars on the mill railway siding. Unfortunately a number of immigrant employees were piling lumber inside the cars or were working alongside. Tragically fourteen of the workers were killed and many others injured. Subsequently, a memorial service and cremation was held at Pigeon Cove which is located on the Eastern shore of Burrard Inlet.

On checking the files at the museum for this story, this ghostly (double exposed) picture of the engine was found. You can tell by the photo that the engine had been totally demolished during the collision. It is apparent that during the massive cleanup operation following the accident, the bell fell off the body of the engine when it was being moved and became buried until it was finally recovered from the ditch by Ernie forty-nine years later.

The Police Chief Who Walked the Beat

We have all heard stories of police officers walking the "beat", but in the case of Port Moody's second police chief, Thomas Mackie, the whole of Port Moody was his "beat". His tour of duty was from 1919 to 1939.

Chief Mackie didn't own or use a car (except in an emergency) performing his duties. He walked every street and back alley from Barnet to Ioco.

The Chief was an imposing man always wearing a long, black topcoat and a Homburg hat. Only on very special occasions did he wear a uniform. He lived as a bachelor in the old City Hall (now our Arts Centre) on St. Johns Street.

Because Port Moody was a small town and because he walked, he knew everyone. Adults and children not only respected him but also liked him. When he came across boys smoking he would give them a quiet lecture about the "no smoking under 16 law." When he encountered any boy playing hooky, he would very quietly escort the boy back to school (very few girls smoked or played hooky).

Paydays from five sawmills and the Ioco Refinery could be quite hectic in the Tourist and Burrard Hotel beer parlours on Clarke Street. Amazingly, most fights were resolved without an arrest. However, if the protagonists did not listen to reason, the Chief would march them up to the lock-up in the basement of the City Hall to spend an uncomfortable night on the iron slat bunks.

In those days, all fines went into the city coffers. The elementary and high schools were together in the Grant-Moody block facing St. Johns Street, which was posted "School – Slow to 15 MPH". Most traffic fines were picked up at that location mostly from non-Port Moody drivers unaware that the man wearing a black topcoat standing leisurely on the corner was a police officer (pre-dating photo radar!).

In an emergency the Chief would flag down a car and ask the driver to take him to the site directly and this was done without question.

In 1935, two local 15 year old boys were planning to bicycle to Tacoma, Washington on a camping trip. They had a meeting with Chief Mackie asking for advice on do's and don'ts. At a subsequent meeting the Chief gave them letters of introduction to be used at the U.S. border and to be given to Police Chiefs in the major cities en route to Tacoma. The boys camped along the way until they reached a major city when they would produce their letter to the police. They invariably got a kind welcome and were offered overnight accommodation – if they did not mind sleeping in a jail cell – plus a hearty breakfast the next morning! All because of Chief Mackie's letters.

In some ways the good old days were far less complicated than today.

Tidal Pool Dipping in the 1950’s

Any youngster in the "olden days" (1910-1930) who liked to swim was very fortunate to call Port Moody home.

It was a short walk from any house to get to the water. Ioco and Pleasantside kids had their own beaches. But the kids in the town centre had the largest choice of swimming sites.

Before Rocky Point became a park there were five mills on the south shore. Each had a "mill pocket" which was a cedar, timber dam equipped with a steel plate control device. At high tide the steel plate was raised to allow water into the dam. At the same time, logs were moved in to supply the mill as required. These mill pockets became ideal swimming pools for the more adventurous youths.

The best pocket was at the CPL mill which was west of the present Flavelle Cedar. It was 6-8 feet deep and being more isolated was ideal for "skinny dipping"... so the story goes. The other favourite spot for "dipping" was Pigeon Cove at high tide. The boys who attended the old Red Schoolhouse off Moody Street would bike to Rocky Point for a cool dip at noon hour.

Adults and children did their "formal" (with bathing suits) swimming at the end of the Queen St. ferry dock which extended to deep water unaffected by tides. Incidentally, the "suits" for boys and men were FULL woolen swimming suits not just swim trunks. (No wonder the boys preferred to skinny dip.)

Port Moody did not get a constructed swimming pool until 1949. The city had hired a civil engineer Mr. Wotton (recently retired from the City of Vancouver) to do some design work for the city water works. At the same time, he designed the tidal pool at Rocky Point. It opened in 1949 and was used continuously until the present pool was built in the early 1960's.

The tidal pool had a marvelous design. A "flapper" valve was incorporated into the pool so that at high tide the valve would open and it would automatically close as the tide fell, trapping the water in the pool.

Bill Clitherow (who lived in the park cottage) was the park caretaker. He monitored the pool and would drain it at low tide at least once per week. May 24th was opening day each year. Bill built a change shack with toilets near the pool. Sod was placed around the pool and change shack.

As the only swimming pool for miles it received a lot of patrons, not just Port Moody people. A great number of lower mainland children and adults learned how to swim in the Port Moody tidal pool.

Oil Tankers in Burrard Inlet

In Burrard Inlet the golden days for oil tanker spotting (similar to train spotting) ended in 1995 with the last sailing of the Imperial Skeena from the Ioco Refinery.

The tanker traffic began 97 years ago when a cargo of crude oil was delivered to the ill-fated B.C. oil refinery situated west of the bulk loading terminal in Port Moody. The plant experienced a number of problems which led to its closure in 1913. Union Oil of California purchased the property, built storage tanks for bunker fuel which they imported and distributed in Union Oil tankers for a number of years.

The second phase in tanker traffic began when the Imperial Oil Co. built the Ioco Refinery in 1914. The start up of the refinery was delayed until January 1915 because the first tanker of crude oil was captured by a German raider early in the war.

Because there was no Canadian oil available, the company imported the oil from San Pedro, California in their own fleet of tankers (very small compared to today’s giants) from 1915 to 1953. The fleet included the Albertolite, Incolite, Minabrea, Warwick, Calgarylite, Ontariolite and the Edmontonlite (the Warwick was formerly a German tanker which had been captured during the First Wolrd War and ironically it was one of the first Imperial Oil tankers to be torpedoed in the second war).

The Ioco-San Pedro-Ioco round trip for these tankers averaged 10 days–with a tanker arriving at Ioco every three days.

In 1947, Imperial Oil Co. discovered oil in Leduc, Alberta, resulting in the construction of a new Ioco Refinery, which opened in 1953, after completion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

There was no need to import American oil so all the aforementioned crude oil tankers were diverted to the East Coast or sold.

  • From 1917 to 1995, Imperial Oil operated nine tankers dedicated to hauling refined products like kerosene, heating oil, lubricants and eventually motor gasolines, diesel fuel and aviation jet fuels. 
  • The “Polarine,” built by Burrard Dry Docks in 1917 delivered packaged products to the company bulk plant at False Creek. 
  • The first tanker to carry kerosene and lubricants to Vancouver Island and as far north as Prince Rupert was the “Imperial”. It had been a Great Lakes tanker. In 1922, it was towed from Ontario through the Panama Canal up to Ioco by the crude oil tanker “Albertolite” before it started its Ioco-San Pedro run. 
  • Then two small tankers, the “Fuelite” and “Nanaimolite” were added to the fleet for short hauls. 
  • In 1926 the “Marvolite (renamed “Imperial Namu”)” built by Burrard Dry Dock joined the “Imperial” for the long hauls. 
  • In 1937 the “Beeceelite” (renamed “Imperial Nanaimo”) all welded ship built in Sorrel, Quebec came from Quebec to Ioco through the Panama Canal under its own power. 
  • In 1939 a new “Imperial” (renamed “Imperial Vancouver”) was built to replace the 1922 vessel. 
  • In 1970 the “Imperial Skeena” built at Burrard replaced the “Imperial”. 
  • In 1973 the “Imperial Tofino” built by McKenzie Barge Co. in North Vancouver replaced the “Imperial Nanaimo.” The “Tofino” was designed specifically so that it could (and did) go into every waterway and fjord on the B.C. Coast. The Tofino has a 10-man crew and some were trained to assist a marine technician collect plankton and water samples for research in the Federal Salmon Enhancement Program. 

These tankers have an amazing history. Their first cargoes included candles, medical supplies, groceries and mail. They served well over 200 marine locations which include mining, logging and fishing camps; canneries; native villages; resorts; military basis and large and small communities. They also hauled to Alaska and Washington State.

Footnote: Crude Oil – the raw oil as it has been extracted from the ground
Bunker Fuel – the very heavy thick portion of crude oil after it has been processed to remove the more valuable components such as kerosene, gasoline, etc. Bunker fuel is (was) used by steamships, steam engines, heating large buildings, etc.

Port Moody’s “Horseless Carriages”

Ray Lapworth, owned a horse and buggy which she drove around Port Moody and New Westminster to visit friends and shop.

On one of these trips to New Westminster she became enamoured by a new mode of transport. Without hesitation she traded in her horse and buggy. After receiving one half hour of instruction she drove, by herself, back to Port Moody to a very shocked family.

Her new mode of transport was the Model T Ford (1908-1927) one of the first in Port Moody. She was an exceptional person to have learned the Model T so quickly, some people compare it to training a wild horse. The car had three pedals on the floor, one for forward, one for reverse and one for braking. There was no gear shift.

On the steering column there were two metal levers like cats whiskers. One was the throttle and the other was for advancing or retarding the spark (only used when starting the engine).

It took patience to drive the Model T. But it took more than patience to start the engine. There was no self-starter. It had to be started using a crank which was inserted into the engine at the front of the car, and adjusting the spark lever on the steering wheel. Occasionally the engine would backfire causing the crank to reverse causing damage to the cranker’s arm (a new word resulted—cranky—ill tempered).

Despite some of the car’s faults she loved her Model T and continued visiting her friends in Port Moody and New Westminster and she had no fear of Clarke’s hill!

Footnote: The Model T had a fault which was not corrected until Ford built the Model A in 1928. If a driver tried to make a sharp turn to the left the front wheels would turn sharply to the right. I was told about the fault after running into a fence post!

Just imagine – you have just bought a brand new horseless carriage and you are anxious to show if off to your family and brag about it to your friends. But it is 1918 and you live in a cottage on the new Ioco Refinery. There is no road to Ioco—only a collection of logging trails. This was the dilemma facing Dan McNairnie. How?

Well the Canadian Pacific Railway, in 1914, had constructed a branch line from Port Moody to Ioco to service the Refinery. Dan chose this route. He drove his car on the railway right-of-way. Amazingly it was not shaken to pieces by the ties.

His horseless buggy was the “E.M.S. 30”, built in Walkerville (now Windsor, ON) and took its name from the initials of the founders of the car manufacturing company (which eventually merged with Studebaker.) The E.M.F. led to a number of nicknames including every morning fix-it, every mechanical fault, and every mechanics’ friend. The car was distinguished by large polished brass acetylene (carbide) head lamps. As with all early cars the steering wheel was on the right. Despite the nicknames these early cars were very durable considering the roads they had to use.

Incidentally, until 1930, most cars, including the Rolls Royce, came with a basic repair kit: pliers, screwdriver and a ball-pane hammer. And the wise drivers carried a length of hay bailing wire.

Dan didn’t have many roads to drive on but he sure loved his car—one of the earliest in the area.

The Year of the Veteran… A Tale of Two Soldiers

In 1854 Queen Victoria decreed that a medal be struck honoring “valour” in the services.

Since 1854 John Chipman “Chip” Kerr was one of ninety-four Canadians who have received that medal–The British Empire’s highest military honour–The Victoria Cross.

Chip was farming in Alberta before enlisting in the Edmonton 49th Battalion which fought at Ypres before moving on to the Somme. Chip was a Chief Bayonet man in a group of twelve from the Battalion.

On Sept. 16, 1916 they had a close combat grenade battle with a number of Germans. This group of twelve captured sixty-two German soldiers. For a number of very courageous acts he received the Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace on Feb. 5, 1917.

During World War II Chip reenlisted and became a service policeman at Sea Island. After the war he retired with his family to Port Moody. His house, which he called “Sleepy Castle”, was on the 2300-block of St. Johns. It has recently been relocated to 2100 Clarke St. and has been declared a heritage house. Chip died on Feb.19, 1963 and lies in the Mountain View Cemetery. His widow donated his medal to the Canadian War Museum.

Chip was honoured by the city of Edmonton, has a mountain in Jasper National Park in his honour, and in Port Moody we have the “Chip Kerr Memorial Auditorium” in Branch 119, Royal Canadian Legion, of which he was a life member. Stored at the Port Moody Museum on behalf of the city is a framed document which reads “Citizens Of the City of Port Moody 1914 to 19-- Serving with His Majesty’s Forces During the European War.”

There are 54 men listed on the document along with their military units. Five were listed as killed and five were listed as severely wounded. This is an enormous contribution considering the small population in Port Moody in 1914!

One of those listed was W. (Darcy) Kreut. He and six others on the list, because they had worked in the local sawmills, were assigned to the foresters. This was a special unit set up to log and to operate portable saw mills in France.

Starting in 1916 morale boosting concerts were given to the troops. The concept was expanded when the YMCA got permission to second talented men from various units to perform under the name “Dumbells” (taken from the 3rd division insignia). They were extremely successful because their humourous skits were based on the everyday soldiers’ life. The Dumbells performed wherever Canadian troops were fighting.

One of these Dumbells was “Darky” Kreut. He was seconded because he had a fine voice and a sense of humour. His nickname was the result of playing in minstrel shows.

After military service “Darky” worked at the Ioco refinery and lived on the town site. He carried on his ability to make people happy with his skits and singing. He was the perpetual Santa Claus. He performed in many fund raising concerts in the Ioco Hall during the depression. 

An Unlikely Wildlife Sanctuary

When our family moved to Port Moody over fifty years ago, we chose to live in the 2300 block of Hope Street. It was magical for our two children. We had frogs, bullfrogs and garter snakes which probably migrated from the adjoining—at that time—vacant lot which had a tiny stream running through it (since culverted). 

The stream was ideal for building dams, sailing boats and making mud pies. We also had pheasants and raccoons and, without many fences in the area, deer frequently walked through our yard. (We did not see a bear until about six years ago).

All of the school children on Henry Street, with their infectious laughter, passed through our yard on the way to and from the elementary school.

The area was a great place for kids because there was lots of open space. The neighbourhood boys were trailblazers creating trails all over the hillside south of the city hall (now the arts centre). They used scrap wood to build tree houses. Also, for playing Tarzan, they attached ropes to select trees and became experts in swinging from one to the other. Some of their ropes hung precariously over the Chines gully.

Our children played in “Judd’s Bush.” A long time resident of Port Moody, “Chuck” Judd had a licence from the city to undertake selective logging in a tract of land owned by the city south of the 2300 block Henry Street. He had a lot of young superintendents overseeing his job!

On Saturdays and Sundays we could hear the shouts of Tarzans at their tree houses and the laughter of the children playing hide and seek in “Judd’s Bush.”

Another area that was magical was the Ioco Refinery where I became employed. Because of its location near the mountains and because it was partly fenced, it was a wildlife sanctuary. There were red fox, coyotes, raccoons, bears and deer.

The deer roamed all over the refinery site without regard to any pipelines. When twin fawns were born on the site, both lived, whereas in the wild only one usually survives. I have counted as many as fourteen deer (two groups of seven) having an after lunch snooze near one of the storage tanks on the hillside north of the main office.

Even today the former storm water retention pond (8 acres) at the closed refinery has been taken over by fresh water reeds and other vegetation and it has become a mini bird sanctuary with ducks, blackbirds, swallows and other birds nesting and living in the vegetation. And there are myriads of dragon flies.

I don’t think that there are many refineries in the world that could claim to be a wildlife sanctuary!

Footnote: Chuck Judd recently passed away leaving generous bequests to a variety of community organizations. Recipients included Port Moody Firefighters’ Union, Port Moody Fire Department, Eagle Ridge Hospital and the Port Moody Foundation for the benefit of the Port Moody Public Library.

First Flight

The rapid advancement of industries which were born after the first airplane flight in Canada was phenomenal. The cloth or paper covered wooden frame was replaced by all metal framing and cladding (covering) paired with increasingly powerful engines. Larger planes were designed to carry passengers and supplies. The introduction of float and ski mounted planes gave birth to our intrepid bush pilots – some veterans of WW 1. They could and did fly geologists and prospectors to thousands of uncharted lakes “by the seat of their pants”. Before the bush pilot industry consolidated Imperial Oil and the BC based mining company – Cominco (now Tech-Cominco) had their own small fleet of aircraft for flying prospectors and staff as far north as Yellowknife. A number of gold, lead, zinc, and uranium deposits were identified by aerial surveying followed by land investigation.

A small airplane industry that operated in the 1920’s and 30’s was barnstorming. A company would move aircraft from town to town (much like a travelling circus). Some had aerial acrobats; others offered ½ hour rides. I took this awesome ride (for a 14 year old) with my dad at a July 1st celebration in Cranbrook in a three motor Fokker-Ford. My oldest daughter took a 1½ hour ride in a British-Concord when it was barnstorming during Expo 1986 Aviation Week at the Vancouver International Airport. (I flew at a horrifying 60 mph – she flew at a leisurely Mach 1 – speed of sound – while being served champagne).

The picture with the flying boat was taken at the opening of the Vancouver Airport (not yet International) in 1931. Featured on the aircraft is a camera formerly used for reconnaissance during WW 1. The owner, K. Allen used the camera to aerial photograph coastal communities all the way north to the copper mining town of Anyox and the pulp milling town of Ocean Falls (both now ghost towns).

In 1927, Mr. Allen photographed the Ioco Refinery and the Ioco Townsite as well as Port Moody showing the teepee burners which reveal the location of the Canadian Pacific, Thurston-Flavelle and McNair Lumber Mills. He also photographed land marks such as the first CPR hotel and the Marine Building, the tallest building in the Empire at the time. He presented all of his photographic work to the BC Archives in Victoria. His son, Ken, carried on the family business. He took aerial photographs of the Ioco Refinery and surrounding area in the 1980’s.

From Car 49 to Venosta

The Port Moody Heritage Society was formed in1969. The first banner year was in 1978 when we acquired the former Port Moody Railway Station which was ultimately converted into the Museum opening in 1982. 

The second banner year was in 1987 when we received “Car 49” from the CPR. The car had been built as a sleeping car in 1920. It was eventually converted to a mobile safety rules training car #49. In the conversion to a classroom, everything was stripped except for two double bedroom compartments and a compartment with a basic washroom. The entire interior of the car was painted grey.

After being retired as a training car, it remained in limbo for some time in the Port Coquitlam CPR Yards until it was moved to Port Moody. Cursory examination revealed considerable water damage to the interior. Some members of the West Coast Railway Association (who operate Railway Museum in Squamish) volunteered under the leadership of our member, Dave Emmington, to try to stabilize the car. They found and patched a number of roof leaks. However, a lack of funds prevented work on the interior.

Fortunately for the Society, the Province created an employment opportunity program in 1989 called “Employment Plus”. It was sponsored jointly by the Ministry of Social Services and Heritage Trust. We received a grant which included funds for materials and labour, including supervision, to repair and restore Car 49 to reveal in part what the original 1920 sleeper looked like.

Through the Social Services’ office in Port Moody we were able to hire four employees to work on the car and one for the Museum office.

Also, fortunately for us, we were able to hire Ken Walters as foreman to supervise and train the employees. He had worked for the CPR at the Roundhouse in Vancouver and, in fact, had training in Car 49. He was just finishing the restoration of the CPR car, “British Columbian” in Cloverdale when we hired him.

Mary Matthews, who was volunteering full time in the Museum office, was hired to be full time stenographer/timekeeper/bookkeeper for the project.

And, lucky for us, we had our member, Charlie McNairnie, Ioco Refinery pensioner, with many years of experience in the refinery mechanical department.

Ken and Charlie worked together giving on-the-job training to the employees in all of the trades used in this restoration project. Training also included safety.

I was the gopher for the group – go for this – go for that.

As president of the Port Moody Heritage Society, I had to give regular project reports to the Social Services Manager in the Port Moody office and to Heritage Trust in Victoria.

Keep your eyes on the skies: assisting aviation in Port Moody

(photo coming soon)
Look at the picture of the 1905 Port Moody Station. Why would the name “Port Moody” be painted on the roof of all places?

The world’s first heavier than air flight (not in a balloon) was by the American Wright Brothers on December 17, 1903. The event sparked a frenzy of activity world wide into all aspects of aviation.

February 23, 2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the first aeroplane flight in Canada (in fact – in the Commonwealth). When John McCurdy flew his “Silver Dart” at Baddeck, Nova Scotia on February 23, 1909, it was the beginning of an incredible aviation history in Canada.

The early flying machines were very flimsy. The wings and fuselage were framed with wood then covered with waterproofed cloth. The standard landing gear were bicycle wheels.

Now – back to the Port Moody Station.

The early aircraft had very few flying aids. They had a compass, an unreliable altimeter (for giving the plane’s height above the ground) and an oil pressure indicator for the engine. They had no air speed indicator, radio or radar so the pilot had to rely on visual aids. Railway maps were available and back then even the smallest town had a railway station. So the railway companies painted the town name on the roof to assist these daredevils to find their way. On the prairies, names were painted on grain elevators and on tall water storage towers.

Because these early planes had limited fuel capacity and also because they were susceptible to weather conditions, emergency airfields were located strategically along the railway right-of-way. These fields could be identified by tall telephone poles equipped with large air socks indicating wind direction which is vital information for the pilot when landing or taking off.

On a personal note – such a field about ten miles from Kimberley – my home town – was used for a mercy flight carrying spinal meningitis serum from the Trail hospital for a friend in the Kimberley hospital.

On another personal note – in 1931, I and all of the children in the Kimberley Public School saw our first airplane. It interrupted our studies by flying around in circles above our playground. The teachers allowed all of us to go outside to see the plane. After the pilot had seen that we were standing safely near the school, he circled once more then he dropped a package onto the playground. We all watched closely while a teacher opened the parcel. It contained a wreath and a note from the woman pilot who had flown from Trail. The note requested that the wreath be delivered to the cemetery and be placed on the grave marker of a soldier friend.

One bumpy ride to the Stanley Park Hollow Tree

The huge hollow tree stump in Vancouver’s Stanley Park has been in the news for the last few months with discussions on the pros and cons on how to save it. Many thousands of people have had their photos taken at the stump including all twenty-six of the children who attended the first school at Ioco. The photo also shows three teachers and four assistants (for crowd control!).

The school hired the “jitney” (which predates limousine) from the Terminal City Motor Co. in Vancouver for this very historic trip in 1917. Some in Port Moody may recognize the boy on the front right: Charlie McNairnie. Although Charlie lived on the Ioco townsite he was a volunteer in the Port Moody Fire Dept. for a great number of years.

The jitney had to travel along the Barnet road which was an eventful experience in itself in 1917. The road, cut out of the side of Burnaby Mountain, had been plagued with water seepage from the mountain. There have been many land slides and land slumps over the years. Some of the slides covered the CPR rail tracks at the bottom of the mountain.
To be navigable by the new form of motor transport many sections of the road had to be corduroyed to prevent pot holes in the soggy road surface. Wood slabs or small diameter logs were laid side by side across the road creating a ribbed wooden surface (consequently – corduroy). Driving on the road was similar to having speed bumps at one foot intervals!

I assume that after sandwiches and lemonade at Stanley Park the children would have a much needed rest stop before tackling the long bumpy ride home to Ioco. (Incidentally the drainage problems were not totally solved until the 1960’s when the road became the Barnet Highway.) 

State of the Stars in Port Moody

About 60 years ago, I read an article from London stating that school children were being bused outside of Metro London so that they could view the stars. No explanation was offered.

At the time we lived in Kimberley in the east Kootenays. The night skies were spectacular, especially in the winter with crisp minus 20 degree nights. One could reach up and touch the stars.

We moved to Port Moody in 1956 and again the night sky was magical. Our two daughters vied with each other to be the first to spot the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper. The North Star was no contest as it was always shining super bright like a sentinel above Eagle Ridge Mountains. When they spotted the first evening star, they sometimes sang, “starlight, starbright, the first star I see tonight, wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight” and when spotting a falling star they would sing, “catch a falling star and put it in your pocket and keep it for a rainy day”.

With time came an imperceptible change to our night sky. The tiny stars could no longer be seen and finally our favourite North Star was no longer. The night sky had just become a sky at night.

We also used to have spectacular northern lights shimmering above the North Shore Mountains.

The Vancouver Sun used to have an astronomy section noting the times of the evening star and the morning star and noted other bright stars as they appeared and disappeared with the rotation of the earth. The Vancouver Sun still has a two liner showing the sunrise and the sunset and the moon rise and the moon set. No use reporting stars if you can’t see them.

A few years ago I read about the cause for the change in the night sky – it is called “light pollution”. It explains why the children in London were bused outside of Metro London.

The 2013 Earth Hour will be on March 30th. Cities and towns throughout the world will turn off lights for one hour. This will be the time to check for stars in Port Moody. 

The Alderside Regatta – 1949

The 13th Annual Alderside Regatta, sponsored by the Alderside Regatta Association and co-sponsored by the Port Moody Board of Trade was held on August 20-21, 1949. The events were open to “residents of Alderside, Aliceville, Ioco, Pleasantside and Port Moody.” The Vancouver Sun reported that “Alderside is located midway between Port Moody and Ioco and that travelers are advised to travel east on Hastings and take the Barnet Highway to Port Moody.” The event was opened by Miss Port Moody, Catherine Ronco. She along with her attendants, Margaret McCullum, Dorothy Harris, Pat McLean and Loraine Petrie sailed from the old Port Moody wharf to Alderside ahead of a flotilla of decorated boats and floats. Eighteen boats, floats and decorated rafts sailed past the judges’ stand. The seniors group was won by the Jessemans; the Jugs club (just us girls) and Ken MaKenzie (first chairman of the Association in 1939). The junior group was won by Jimmy Slater, Dennis McClosky and joint-third Marian Petrie and Jack Kreut. 

The Regatta included rowboat races, sailboat races and thirty-six swimming events vying for over 40 trophies. The winner of the three-quarter mile swim from the B.A. dock (British American Oil, later Gulf, later Petro Canada) to Alderside was 14-year-old Colin Campbell; second was Roy Cook and third was Ann Zubick. Roy had won the race in 1942 and 1948 and had won trophies in other swimming events in previous regattas – all were lost in a house fire.

It was estimated that 1,500-2,000 watched the first day of the Regatta.

The second day was dominated by over three hours of speed-boat races co-sponsored by the Vancouver Powerboat Association. Fourteen boats, including two from Seattle and two from Victoria, competed for the International Gold Cup. After a four year quest Jim Hutchinson won with speeds of over 75 miles per hour before a crowd of 3,000-3,500.

The 13th Annual Alderside Regatta was a tremendous success. It however could not be repeated on such a grand scale. With the end of the war in 1945 building supplies and labor became available again. Along Alderside the summer cottages became full season houses and empty lots were built upon. There was no space left for such a grand event. But there were a lot of good memories. 

Two locomotives that could and did

Two railway engines stand out in Canadian history - Engine 371 and her sister Engine 374.

Engine 371 pulled the first transcontinental passenger train from Montreal into Port Moody, the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway on July 4, 1886 – 125 years ago!

Engine 371 was honoured on a silver dollar minted in Expo Year 1986. (The Incorporation of the City of Vancouver was observed on the obverse side.) Engine 371 finished her working life as a logging locomotive.

The CPR donated Engine 374 to Vancouver in 1948. It was on display at Kitsilano Park until 1985 when it was moved to the CPR Roundhouse on False Creek in preparation for a complete refurbishing in time for Expo 86.

To help fund the project, Imperial Oil agents sold bricks bearing the purchaser’s name. On completion of the project, Engine 374 was removed from its stall in the Roundhouse and put on the Roundhouse turntable where it remained for viewing until the end of Expo 86.

A large area surrounding the turntable was paved with the purchased “name bricks”. The location of every brick was entered into huge manuals for easy reference. Every purchaser received a certificate with the location of their brick. Visitors from every province and territory came to a stall that was set up to assist purchasers locate their brick.

After Expo 86 closed, Vancouver Parks and Recreation moved Engine 374 back into a Roundhouse stall while the turntable was being removed and the site filled in and paved. The Vancouver Centre Lions Club raised funds for a covered pavilion and for relaying the named bricks in alphabetical order. Upon completion of the project, Engine 374 was moved out of its stall to its permanent weather protected site. The pavilion was officially opened on August 22, 1997.

Additionally, the Vancouver Parks and Recreation has converted the Roundhouse into a beautiful community centre bearing the name “Roundhouse,” naturally.

Drop in to the Roundhouse Community Centre and look for your brick if you have one, look at Engine 374, the sister to our Engine 371. Afterwards, relax with a cup of coffee of tea and reminisce about Expo 86 if you were lucky enough to have attended 25 years ago.

Footnote: Expo 86 visitors will remember that the CPR Roundhouse was home for Czechoslovakia with its fantastic collection of mobile equipment and a thrilling aerial display.

Submarines in Burrard Inlet?

Yes – there were submarines in the Moody Arm of Burrard Inlet as early as 1915. During the first half of the 1914-1918 war, German warships were very active raiding shipping and shore facilities on the Pacific Ocean. In fact, the very first tanker carrying crude oil from Colombia in South America to the brand new oil refinery hear Port Moody (Ioco had yet to be named) had been captured by a German gunboat in 1914. 

The residents of Victoria on Vancouver Island, because of its proximity to the British naval base at Esquimalt, were very fearful of a blockade or even bombardment from the German vessels. Early in the war Esquimalt was more of a coal refueling base than a military base and had few defences.

In 1914, a 'contractor' in a Seattle shipyard was building two submarines for the Chilean navy. Premier Richard McBride in Victoria, with a perfect sense of timing and ignoring protocol, negotiated the purchase of the two submarines and then sent the bill to Ottawa.

The Premier had sent a crew to Seattle to take delivery of the vessels. They managed to take the vessels across the international border in the Strait of Juan de Fuca just minutes before the U.S. declared its neutrality. (Recently released documents show that the submarines had been pursued by an American naval vessel trying to intercept them.)

Also during the 1914-1918 war a top secret activity was underway on Burrard Inlet at a shipyard especially established for this activity. The site was just east of the present Burnaby Marine Park.

Six submarines were being built for the Royal Russian Navy. The site was guarded by the Canadian Army and all 460 workers were pledged to secrecy. When completed the submarines were crated in sections and loaded on a boat destined for Vladivostok, Russia, in the North Pacific.

One of the foremen on the construction site accompanied the ship intending to supervise the submarine assembly in Russia. Unfortunately for him the 1917 Russian revolution occurred when he arrived and he was put in jail for some months before the Canadian government could get his release.

Burnaby topographical maps show "Submarine Creek" flowing into Burrard Inlet at the then construction site but there is no other evidence of this activity.

Also, just before the Second World War started in 1939, a Japanese submarine, on a courtesy visit to the Port of Vancouver, was refueled at the Ioco Refinery.


Winter Flashbacks

Winter seems to be the season when there are more reminiscences than in any other season. First of mine was all the winter scenes painted by local artist, June Moreau, on all of the windows on the store fronts of the businesses on St. Johns and Clarke Streets. She painted these beautiful scenes for more than 30 years.

Second were the Christmas turkey dinners held in the old recreation hall on Kyle Street. The dinners were cooked in the hall kitchen in a huge black iron wood stove and served by the ladies auxiliary of the Port Moody Branch of the Old Age Pensioners Association. O.A.P.O. (now defunct). Oh! The tempting smell of pies and cooking turkey!! Dinner was followed by a sing-a-long to the music of a four piece band.

Third was the generosity of Nick Alvero, Proprietor of the Tourist Hotel on Clarke Street (torn down in 1959). He hosted an annual turkey dinner at the recreation hall for every single man in Port Moody.

Fourth were the children’s’ Christmas parties held in the old recreation hall. Cheers and laughter shook the hall when Santa arrived to give each child a gift.

Fifth were the Christmas bazaar and bake sales held by the O.A.P.O. in the recreation hall and later at Kyle Centre. Some of the churches had well attended bake sales as well.

Sixth is the Christmas (and July 1st) luncheon for Port Moody seniors held at Kyle Centre and hosted by Pacific Coast Terminals Ltd. The luncheon is followed by entertainment which ranges from grade one and two elementary school classes singing Christmas songs to performances from the Lindbjerg Academy children.

Seventh are the yells and shrieks from children on skis, sleighs or improvised sleighs on St. George, Elgin, Henry, Hope Streets and copied on every hill or slope in Port Moody after a good snowfall.

Eighth was when the Ioco Refinery was operating. Three weeks prior to Christmas personnel while working on the processing units would climb the high towers and cover all the lights with coloured plastic which gave the refinery a magical appearance. Also, all of the tankers serving the refinery had coloured lights and decorations on their rigging.

Ninth is the beautiful haunting sound of music emanating from the Carol Ships as they slowly circle the north arm of Burrard Inlet during Christmas week. 

A mini history of Port Moody

A big part of Port Moody’s Centennial event plan centres around history and heritage. Our resident historian Al Sholund, who is a Freedom of the City recipient, has prepared a short but thorough history of our city. Enjoy! 

The 2011 Census released on February 7, 2012 revealed that Port Moody has a population of approximately 34,000 and also showed that it is one of the fastest growing cities in B.C. It seems a good time to give a history primer for the newcomers and a refresher for the old timers.

When you visit the City Hall/Library complex at 100 Newport Drive, have a look at the Port Moody coat-of-arms on display in the Galleria. It is on the wall above the doors leading to the Council Chambers. It was designed by former Mayor David Driscoll. It shows our mountains, trees and water and the words “Blest by Nature – Enriched by Man”.

The water in the coat-of-arms is Burrard Inlet, named by Captain Vancouver while on his mapping expedition in 1792. The inlet was used by the Salish Indians canoeing to their summer/fall encampments east of present Rocky Point Park. They came for shellfish, deer hunting and berry picking. They left evidence of these activities (shells, bones, kitchen utensils) in their middens (European word for garbage dump). When you walk the Shoreline Trail, you are walking on top of some of the middens which can be many feet deep.

After Captain Vancouver’s visit, there were no Europeans in the area until Col. R.C. Moody came to the Colony of British Columbia in 1858 with a detachment of Royal engineers (sappers). They were encamped at Sappertown (Sapperton). He had a great number of tasks. One was to safeguard the Colony from any American encounters caused by their Civil War which started in 1861. His fleet of man-of-war on the Fraser River supporting Fort Langley needed safe winter anchorage, and he chose Burrard Inlet. In 1859 he cleared a military supply road directly north from Sappertown to Burrard Inlet – hence the “North Road”.

Admiralty charts refer to the eastern end of Burrard Inlet as the “Moody Arm”. Col. Moody established a naval reserve just east of the present Ioco townsite because it had a commanding view of the whole inlet. His ships used the site for cannon ball firing practice. A number of cannon balls have been found, one of which is on display at the Port Moody Station Museum. After completing his last assignment – building a road to the Barkerville gold rush – he returned with his Royal engineers to England. Any sapper who chose to remain in Canada was given a grant of 200 acres - one was John Murray. He chose the present site of Rocky Point Park (Murray Street).

As early as 1865 there was talk of a railway to join east to the west. In an 1865 memo, Col. Moody recommended “Port Moody” as the western terminus because of its strategic location on Burrard Inlet. This became a fact in 1879 when the Federal Government made the commitment to complete the railway – the “Canadian Pacific Railway” in order to have British Columbia join the Canadian Federation. In 1880 Port Moody became a boomtown with railway construction activity. A wharf and railway station was built near the present marina on the Barnet Highway to facilitate supply ships from Britain.

Hotels, stores and houses were built. John Murray joined with James Clarke to start a real estate company to sell lots to people lured by the boom. James Clarke paid to have a road built to connect with the North Road to accommodate people coming from New Westminster (Clarke Street – Clarke Road).

The east-west railway was completed in 1885. In 1886 the first ocean to ocean – Montreal to Port Moody passenger train arrived at the Port Moody terminus on July 4, 1886. This arrival is depicted in a lithograph drawn by the renowned Tri-City artist Don Portelance. The Port Moody Museum has a copy on display. The event was commemorated in 1936 with a cairn built on the lawn of the then 1913 City Hall – now the home of the Port Moody Arts community. The event was also commemorated by the Canadian mint by producing in 1986 a silver dollar showing the arrival of Engine 371 in 1886.

Unfortunately, the boom did not last because the Canadian Pacific Railway Company negotiated with the Province and Vancouver to permit the building of a branch line – Port Moody to Vancouver – which was completed in 1887. (Incidentally, the first passenger train into Vancouver in 1887 was hauled by Engine 374 – sister to 371. 374 is on display at the Roundhouse Community Centre at the False Creek Expo Site in Vancouver).

The Heritage Society acquired the original CPR station in Port Moody, and moved it to its present location near the Moody Street overpass. It became the Port Moody Station Museum – a must visit for newcomers.

Now back to the trees on the coat-of-arms. They have sustained Port Moody since the first sawmill was built in the early 1880s. There have been as many as five mills operating. Simultaneously, looking at the mountainside above the North Shore it is difficult to believe that there had been intense logging including use of a logging railway system and a large dry flume system for moving logs from the mountainside to McNair’s shingle mill on the inlet. Incidentally, the concrete base of a teepee waste sawdust burner from the shingle mill can be seen from the shoreline walk on the North Shore.

Port Moody has had two oil refineries, a steel pipe manufacturing plant, a submarine manufacturing plant, a large steel manufacturing plant, a radio/tv manufacturing plant, and a winery.
The oldest industrial plant in Port Moody is Flavelle Sawmill and it depends on logs brought to the plant by water.

Industrial plants do not make a city. Workers who build the plants and operate them do. Flavelle Cedar Mill established in 1912 and Ioco Oil Refinery in 1914 took pride in having a number of three generation employees.

McNair’s and Imperial Oil workers took the new Delta ferry to work or they walked along the CPR branch line that went to Ioco. When the school was built at Ioco in 1920, the teacher, who lived in Coquitlam, walked to the school along the railway tracks.

Many millworkers who lived in Coquitlam used a trail that began (or ended) south of the Shell service station on St. Johns Street. Some parts of the trail are still in use after 100 years.

The son of John Hutchison, owner of the Brickyard on Ioco Road told me that since there was no high school in Port Moody in the 1920s he would walk every school day to Sapperton to catch the New Westminster street car to take him to his school.

Now – recent history. In 1960 Pacific Coast Terminals was established in Port Moody. They dredged the inlet in the vicinity of their dock to allow deep sea vessels to dock safely. The company receives sulphur by railcar from Alberta where it is extracted from natural gas. The company has facilities for off-loading the railcars; for storing the sulphur; and for loading the ships for export around the world.

The company has made Port Moody one of the largest sulphur exporting ports in the world.

Now – quoting from Port Moody’s coat-of-arms: Port Moody is truly “Blest by Nature – Enriched by Man”. 

Garages – the end of an era

When Henry Ford built the Model T car in the first quarter of the last century he set the stage for motoring in North America. It also brought on the construction of garages.

The early cars came with a set of tools. My dad’s 1927 Chevrolet came with a hammer, a screwdriver, pliers, a jack for changing tires and a crank for starting the car engine if the self-starter failed. It also had grease fittings which could only be reached from underneath the car. Garages had grease pits for this job which had to be done on a regular basis.

In the early years four garages were set up in Port Moody – three on St. Johns Street and one on Clarke Street. They had fulltime mechanics for repairs, engine overhauls and for repairing and reinstalling inner tubes in tires. For apartment dwellers the garages stored winter tires in the summer and reinstalled them in late fall.

Each garage owner became the agent for an oil company and installed gasoline storage and dispensing equipment. The three major oil companies were represented on St. Johns Street and Home Oil Company on Clarke Street. Incidentally, the owners hired high school students to be “car jockeys” on weekends.

In time, as cars and roads improved resulting in fewer breakdowns, mechanical servicing diminished until the garage became a gasoline only service station.

Happy Motoring!

Port Moody Changes and Conclusions

Dear Port Moody Focus Readers,

This will be the last article that I will be submitting to the Focus; it is time for me to retire! There have been 62 articles about Port Moody and Ioco beginning in the spring of 1988.

My wife, two daughters and I arrived by stream train along the Kettle Valley Railroad to Port Moody in 1956 from Kimberley, B.C. We have seen many changes in Port Moody and here are a few of them.

Port Moody has much to celebrate and to thank past Councils for their visions. Rocky Point Park is one of the finest in Metro Vancouver. We have talked to many picnickers who come from Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby, Maple Ridge and overseas. A great number of children, our family included, learned to swim in the first salt water tidal pool. Now we have water parks, swimming pools, great soccer fields and trails to walk all day.

Port Moody was the first Tri-City to join the GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District), the GVLF (Greater Vancouver Library Federation) loaning of books from Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster. It was also the first Tri-City to install a sewage disposal system. By mid-1960, most houses were hooked up to the system thereby eliminating all cesspools and septic tanks.

Port Moody is celebrating one hundred years since incorporation in 1913. But it was 134 years ago that the Federal Government announced that Port Moody was to be the Western Terminus of the CPR which was being built to connect east and west. The line to Vancouver is a branch line. The ocean to ocean CPR line was completed in 1886 and is commemorated by a silver dollar minted in 1986.

The first city hall, jail cells and fire hall were built in 1913. It is now the home of the arts and culture community. In the same year a recreation hall was built. The hall had a specially designed (spring) floor that allowed a couple to dance until 3am without becoming tired and we all walked home after the dance! The hall had a full kitchen downstairs, huge room for bingo, a small scout room, and a library which moved from the old city hall. Upstairs, there were many events: the school, fall agricultural fairs, pro-rec, boxing, wrestling, Halloween and Christmas. The firemen had huge bonfires and fireworks for Halloween; freezing the parking lot for skating in the cold winters, fun for everyone. On Thanksgiving, all single men were invited to a turkey dinner sponsored by the Alvaro brothers, owners of the Tourist and New Burrard Hotels. The hall had a raised stage used for children’s concerts, plays, political and other meetings, e.g. For/Against Fluoridation of Water, For/Against Daylight Savings Time and for the Poker Games (no money showing).

On the north shore, the City built a recreation complex which included a skating rink, curling rink, badminton and tennis courts. We played badminton in the high school in the early days. A recreation centre was built at Glenayre subdivision.

The City has also built a number of walking trails throughout Port Moody. One trail that has been in use for 101 years starts in Coquitlam, touches the east end of Henry and Hope Streets and proceeds down the hill to exit near the Shell Station on St. Johns Street. The trail originated in 1912 when Flavelle Cedar Mill started operation and was used by their employees.

A section of the Trans-Canada Trail at Rocky Point Park is dedicated in the name of Mayor David Driscoll when he received Freedom of the City.

The shoreline walk from Rocky Point Park over to the north shore is magical. There are always birds on the tidal flats and sometimes seals. The view is forever changing.

Some years ago the City dedicated a wilderness park on the north shore. I believe Port Moody has the highest park/citizen ratio in the Tri-Cities. Happy Birthday, City of Port Moody and many thanks to our early pioneers and families who still reside here and who helped create a great city to live in.
Editor’s note: As our local historian, Al Sholund’s Focus articles provided an insightful glimpse into Port Moody’s past. The City of Port Moody thanks Al profusely for his contributions to our community newsletter - we wish him well in his retirement!