BY JULIE CHENG
As a young boy my husband lived for a while in Port Moody. Since the opening of the Evergreen Skytrain extension in December 2016, I’ve been thinking of visiting that area of the Lower Mainland. Along with tracing the roots of my husband’s childhood, I discovered history connections between Port Moody and our little corner of Vancouver, Renfrew-Collingwood.
Skytrain Station: Renfrew station at East 12th Avenue/Hebb and Renfrew to Inlet Centre Station. Travel time: 28 minutes. Roundtrip with a walk in between takes two to three hours.
From Renfrew station, take the Lafarge Lake-Douglas train. Along the way you’ll pass by Brentwood Mall, Production Way-University and Lougheed Skytrain stations, interspersed with industrial warehouses. At Burquitlam you can see the east side of Simon Fraser University on top of the hill before entering a tunnel that will take you into Port Moody.
As you glide into Inlet Centre Station, you’ll notice the railcars sitting on the tracks running parallel to the Skytrain line.
Port Moody is a historical railway town. As a port, it was the original destination for the railway terminus for the Transcontinental Railway (CPR) before land speculators got a hold of it and moved it to Vancouver where the Seabus building now stands. Apparently Port Moody didn’t have enough flat land to put the railyards, says my history-buff husband. This is why we have the tunnel (now the Skytrain tunnel) to Yaletown, which became the railyard flats.
Check out the artwork inside and outside Inlet Centre Station before you turn left and follow Ioco Road to Sherbrooke. Turn left at Suter Brook Village and go through the village. This is your chance to grab a juice or coffee before your trek.Cross Murray Street and go left, following the bike trail. Along the edge of the wooded area you’ll see nurse stumps, which are tree stumps left over from old forestry logging. Take the Sutter Brook Creek trail and go through the community centre parking lot with tennis courts on your left. Pass by the Trasolini soccer field and you’ll see a trailhead straight ahead. Go right and follow the rail lines with the soccer field to your right. Cross the railway line and follow signs into Shoreline Park.
The map shows you can turn right to Old Orchard Park, where you’ll see old logging equipment along the way, or you can turn left to Rocky Point Park, which loops you back into Port Moody.
From the map, we head straight and found we had met up with the TransCanada Trail. In front of us are mud flats – the head of the Burrard Inlet and a tidal area. My husband remembers as a three year old walking with his dad across the mud flats at low tide from his house on Ioco Road all the way to Rocky Point (now marked by a large green shed that’s a sulphur storage plant).
Turning left across a small bridge onto the TransCanada Trail, destination Rocky Point, you’ll see the mud flats become marsh. My husband imagines native peoples living in middens throughout this area, with its rich food sources from the sea. This is where the sea meets fresh water, and an area that salmon would travel on their way to their spawning grounds. It’s important to catch the salmon close to the sea as salmon start to deteriorate once they hit fresh water.
It’s a leisurely walk over boardwalk and trail along the edge of the water. Take your time reading the TransCanada Trail signs and learning about local history and flora and fauna.
Rocky Point has a children’s playground and a nice wharf. It’s still a working waterfront, with an active mill near the wharf. A sign at the beginning of the wharf tells the history of Port Moody’s namesake, Colonel Richard Moody. “You know,” my husband says, “Colonel Moody and his ‘sappers’ did all the surveying in Collingwood.” A quick search confirms this tidbit of history (see box).
By now you may be ready to head home, or you can head into Port Moody to see what the shops and restaurants have to offer. To head home, take the overpass. To the right is the Port Moody Railway Museum and to the left is the Moody Centre Skytrain station, around five minutes’ walk from Pajo’s.
On the way back we transferred at Lougheed Station and took the Expo line back to Collingwood. Just walk across the platform at Lougheed and take the Expo line train heading to Waterfront.
Along the way we saw more working waterfront. Around Sapperton (named after Colonel Moody’s sappers) in New Westminster there’s the hospital and the Brewery District, where Labatt’s Brewery used to be. To your left up the hill is the former B.C. Penitentiary, opened in 1878 and closed in 1980. Just before you pull into New Westminster station you’ll pass the red brick buildings of the New Westminster courthouse, first built in 1891.
New Westminster, too, was established before Vancouver in the 1859 and for a short time was the capital. Kingsway was a trail and the quickest way from New Westminster to Vancouver.
Before rolling into Royal Oak station, I look south for the ocean views and the Gulf Islands in the distance. So much more history to discover.
Julie Cheng loves taking the Skytrain. She has been the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News for 10 years.
Colonel Moody and Collingwood
“In the 1860s Colonel Richard Moody of the Royal Engineers took a fancy to a lake that sat between what are now Kingsway and Vanness Avenue. He laid claim to the lake and the surrounding land. Moody and other early European settlers were attracted to this area because they were able to drain the lake and grow food in the fertile soil.
“Kingsway, once part of an early military trail to Burrard Inlet, follows the route of earlier Aboriginal trails that ran parallel to the lake shore. Streets in the neighbourhood were built in orientation to Kingsway and are therefore at odd angles with the rest of Vancouver’s grid-like layout.” (www.cnh.bc.ca/neighbourhood-stuff-to-do/neighbourhood-history/)
Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News