Dan Francis really should be famous. The talented North Vancouver author and historian (he lives just off Lonsdale, but I won’t tell you where) has written dozens of books about British Columbia, and his latest has sold thousands of copies in local bookstores. Where Mountains Meet the Sea: an Illustrated History of the District of North Vancouver continues that history. It’s a must read and an excellent gift to friends who might wish to know more about North Vancouver history.
In an interview in his gorgeous home, originally built in the 1920s close to the tram lines off Lonsdale that created North Vancouver, Dan relaxed after recovering from knee surgery and discussed his career. Born in Vancouver in 1947, he attended the University of British Columbia, then worked as a newspaper journalist before obtaining an MA in Canadian Studies. He was editorial director of Horizon Canada, an illustrated history of Canada before launching a career that has seen him publish two dozen books, most of them about Canadian, British Columbia and Vancouver history.
Francis’ Encyclopedia of British Columbia (Harbour Publishing) was welcomed on its appearance in 2000 as “one of the most important books about the province ever published.” For the past several years he has written a regular column about books for Geist magazine and contributed reviews and articles to a variety of Canadian periodicals. In 2010 he received an Award of Merit from the Vancouver Historical Society “for significant contributions to the history of Vancouver and British Columbia”.
Where Mountains Meet the Sea is a gorgeous hardcover book with wonderful photos supplied by the North Vancouver Museum and Archives, who hired him to do the project.
At 242 pages and at tabloid page size, it’s a huge book, truly a trophy for the library or coffee table, to be shared or savoured with friends. Black and white photos show the earliest European settlements at Moodyville as well as aboriginal life at the same time. Page 11 illustrates an aboriginal dwelling on the harbour at the time of European contact, a photo worth the purchase price of the book.
Page 34 reveals the foot of Lonsdale in a distant time when the ferry to Vancouver was an important daily sailing, where the new Presentation House Gallery will soon appear. There’s a photo of the original Second Narrows Bridge which opened in in 1925 and promptly fell down and was out of service for years, a little known fact that lead to the construction of the Lions Gate Bridge, itself featured on page 41 with only the cables showing and no bridge deck.
The entire book is full of great photos and information relevant to the period. Today, with property values soaring, its valuable to know the humble beginnings of a little village that is now changing into an international and cosmopolitan destination. Where Mountains Meet the Sea is available at 32 Books in Edgemont Village and via the North Shore Museum and Archives.
By Staff Writer