As you leave North Burnaby and you head over the Second Narrows Bridge, if you “look up, way up,” as the Friendly Giant used to say, on your right you’ve got Mount Seymour, on your left Grouse Mountain.
And right in the middle, as you peak on the Second Narrows Bridge heading north, is Fromme Mountain. That is where you’re going, that is Lynn Valley.
Which is part of the District of North Vancouver and if you visit, you’d better like trees, you’d better like rain, you’d better like the colour green, and you’d better like the wilderness.
LISTEN: Lynn Valley – Green, growing, and full of heart
It’s being in the city without actually living in the city; where you can get away from that maddening crowd, wander into the woods, and find that peace right next door to you.
While the commercial centre of Lynn Valley is anchored by the mall and apartment complex at Lynn Valley Road and Mountain Highway, and home to about 33,000 people – the real heart of the valley is the north end of Lynn Valley Road where you’ll find a little convenience store.
According to owner Connie Fay, the location is crucial.
“The End of the Line General Store. It’s where the BC Electric Car had the Lynn Valley route. There were three routes on the North Shore. One up Lonsdale, one up Capilano Road, and one into Lynn Valley and the End of the Line was where the streetcar stopped, reversed, and went back on its tracks back down the bottom of Lonsdale.”
“Right at this corner is where all three parks merged. Lynn Canyon, which belongs to the District of North Vancouver. The Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve and Lynn Headwaters Park all merged right at this one little corner of Lynn Valley and Dempsey.”
A bit of a history buff, Fay specializes in retro toys, and retro candy from the 60’s and 70’s.
“Well, I’m always on the hunt. I’m still looking for Black Cat gum, can’t find it.”
By the way, if you know where Connie can get some Black Cat gum, you can email me, and I’ll pass it on to her. But it’s the tables and chairs outside that have turned the End of the Line General Store into the social hub of the neighbourhood.
“First thing in the morning it’s normally all the early-birds who like get up and at ’em and get their coffee on their way to work and those health enthusiasts that go out for their morning jog and their morning ritual of walking. Then you’ll get the second wave of the moms who have dropped the kids off a school, now it’s after 9 o’clock, they start to trickle in and get in their little groups. And it’s the walking ladies, the walking groups, the seniors walking groups, the senior pole-walking groups. Then you get the senior bicycle groups, then you get the baby-buggy brigades, of moms walking through the forest and then it goes on and on and on, all day every day. Then 3 o’clock comes and you get the after-school rush, then you get the coming home from work crush, they don’t want to stop at the mall with all the traffic.”
So, what do people like about Lynn Valley?
“Being so close to the forest. Being able to for hikes and not having to drive, we can just walk over, we live here, we love it. The outdoors absolutely the outdoors. The best thing about Lynn Valley is the natural hiking trails and the beauty of the nature. We’ve lived her for upteen years and take it for granted sometimes. In the last 7 or 8 years we got back into the nature trails, people come from all over the place and we just live up the street, so we’re kinds of spoiled. Having the community. I’m finding that nowadays it’s a little bit harder to find community because kids are off doing things, they’re not out in parks and fields and on the streets in the same way, so I feel it’s almost still present here, to some extent. This is neighbourhood and I feel, having lived in another part of Lynn Valley, I feel like this Upper Lynn area is like a very strong sense of community, there’s a lot of kids around here, there’s a lot of young families, there’s parks, everyone’s super friendly. I think people are drawn to what the good memories they had as children. And so when I was a kid we played on the street and now all the kids play on the street here and I like that, a lot. I didn’t have that when I lived in Vancouver. Oh, probably being almost completely surrounded by green space, and wherever you live in Lynn Valley, you’re no more than a five-minute walk from the woods.”
I think you’re starting to hear a theme. Now this is a part of the Lower Mainland where you don’t need the nice suit or dress, that’s for downtown along with the umbrella. What you do need is a good rain jacket, good hiking shoes. And don’t worry about the umbrella as I said, it rains in Lynn Valley. Get used to it. That’s why they have hoods on those jackets. And you better like trees, lots and lots of trees. To be fair, all is not perfect in the valley. Other than the housing issue, the problem we’re all facling all over the place, there are some other issues.
“Transportation. Well, everything. Mountain Highway, Lynn Valley getting out, and with all of the development we’re planning it’s still small roads and The Cut. There’s not enough infrastructure to accomodate all the high-rises that are going up with the influx of people. We have some friends in Deep Cove and it takes them a half hour to get down to Lonsdale now. It gives you an idea where it used to take 10 minutes. I think we’re getting a little too dense. Too much densitification is going to be going on here soon. Traffic’s gone crazy already. There’s traffic jams in Lynn Valley already so there’s a rush hour, we never had that 15 years ago.”
Driving home the other day I was listening to Robin Larose on Rock 101 and he played a hit from a bunch of old guys from the past, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan who came together as the Traveling Wilburys. So, when you come and visit drive all the way up to the top of Lynn Valley Road and when you stop, make a turn on Dempsey and give me a wave. I’ll be sitting there, at the End of the Line watching the crowd go by.