northshoreLower Lonsdale’s history is rooted in the logging and shipbuilding industries. It has been home to a water powered sawmill, a shipyard that produced steel-hulled cargo vessels, a war time naval ship manufacturer, lots of tug boats, and several ferry operations connecting the North Shore to Vancouver – the most recent of which is our SeaBus. It has led a rich and colourful maritime life that is accurately remembered in its latest incarnation as Shipbuilders’ Square.

Historical Timeline

earloflonsdale1800’s – Moodyville (at the south end of Moody Avenue, now Moodyville Park), is the oldest settlement on Burrard Inlet, predating Vancouver; only New Westminster is the older non-native settlement in the region. Logging came to the virgin forests of Douglas Fir in North Vancouver, as sailing ships called in to load.

1863 – In June the first water powered sawmill on the Inlet, Pioneer Mills, opens near the mouth of Lynn Creek. Early in 1865 it is purchased by Sewell Prescott Moody and becomes the focus of a thriving community, Moodyville, with a hotel and the Inlet’s first school.

1880’sArthur Heywood-Lonsdale and a relation James Pemberton Fell, made substantial investments in North Vancouver and in 1882 he financed the Moodyville investments. Several locations in the North Vancouver area are named after Lonsdale and his family.

1882 – Electricity is installed at Moodyville

lonsdaleferry21900 – A passenger ferry, the North Vancouver, Ferry No.1, begins running from the foot of Lonsdale to downtown Vancouver. Ferry No.2, the St.George, carried cars and was launched in 1904. Service continues until 1958.

1903 – Alfred St. George Hamersley buys land to the west of Moodyville, subdivides it and begins selling lots. This area near the foot of Lonsdale Avenue emerges as the heart of the new community.

docks1906 – Shipbuilder Andy Wallace moves his yard from Vancouver’s False Creek to the North Vancouver waterfront. During World War I, Wallace builds the first deep sea steel-hulled cargo vessels in BC. Wallace Shipyards later becomes Burrard Dry Dock (1925) and then Versatile Pacific (1985)

1940-45 – During World War II Burrard Dry Dock manufactures naval vessels and one third of all the cargo ships produced in Canada. At its peak, the shipyard employs 14,000 people in three round-the-clock shifts. Wartime housing booms to accommodate the workers and their families. North Vancouver’s role in maintaining the war effort is out of all proportion to its size as a community.

1945 – Women have been employed in the shipyards since 1942, making up about seven percent of the workforce. Burrard Dry Dock is the first shipbuilder in Canada to employ women in significant numbers. At the end of the war they all lose their jobs to men returning from the armed services.

seabus1977 – The Seabus goes into operation, linking the North Shore once again by ferry with downtown Vancouver.

1985 – Lonsdale Quay opens next to the Seabus Terminal on the site of the former North Van Ship Repairs

1990’s – The shipyards closed in the early 1990’s; however, the Vancouver Drydock Company, located to the east of the shipyard site, continues to operate and is an important part of Lower Lonsdale’s working waterfront. Burrard Dry Dock has received the National Heritage Designation and is recognized as a Primary Heritage Site.