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Searching for the Nasmyth Mill Site - Part 1

Group 1 Photos




GROUP 2 Photo Descriptions

11. What did the Nasmyth Mill Site look like in the mid-1920’s and early 1930’s? The following photos provide some answers.

12. Included in Pollough Pogue’s article, “The Hollyburn Trail”, published on October 4, 1925, is a small photo of the Nasmyth Mill.

13. Even when the photo is enlarged, the key features are not clearly defined at first glance.

14. Colour-coding enhances the key features the photo; the mill pond is highlighted in blue, the mill buildings in brown, and the forest in green.

15. The earliest known image of the Nasmyth Mill is the woodcut print seen on the left. Note the building on the right of the print close to a stump and compare it with the photo on the far right. Most likely they are the same building. Note the tree stump appears in both images.

16. In the the fall of 1924, Eilif Haxthow made his first trip up Hollyburn Ridge. In his journal, Eilif wrote that “Rudolf Jules Verne is Swedish and had been in Canada over 15 years. It is seldom one meets such a nice, friendly man. He said that he had rented an old logging cabin on Hollyburn Ridge just outside of Vancouver and had plans to start a ski camp there for the winter. Fix up a couple of buildings, rent out skis and sell coffee and sandwiches. Would I be interested in that? I thought about it, what could suit me better?”

17. “For a week we have been busy getting things ready. There has been a sawmill operation here before so there was lot of material to work with.“

18. “We fixed up a little shack to live in for the winter, with double walls, floor and a roof, insulated with tar paper so it will be dry and warm. It is almost finished.”

19. “We will then fix up a bigger shack to be used as the ‘restaurant’.” Most likely this photo of Eilif Haxthow was taken inside his cabin on Hollyburn Ridge.

20. The large building seen in this photo is ‘the restaurant’ Eilif Haxthow referred to in his diary. The small building behind the restaurant is most likely Eilif’s cabin. In 1926, ‘the restaurant’ was dismantled and moved to First Lake where it was renamed the Hollyburn Ski Camp. Note that the photo was taken from a viewpoint somewhat above the main building, most likely on the debris pile near the mill. 

Group 3 Photos

GROUP 1 Photo Descriptions 

01. The excerpts from Eilif Haxthow’s Journal & Pollough Pogue’s Hollyburn articles displayed on this webpage explain in part why the Hollyburn Heritage Society is so interested in the Nasmyth Mill site and why we want to determine its exact location on Hollyburn Ridge.

02. An analysis of local historical maps of Hollyburn Ridge gives us important clues regarding the location of the mill site.

03. This map of West Vancouver and Hollyburn Ridge was printed in 1935. 

04. Key features on the 1935 map related to Hollyburn Ridge and the location of the Nasmyth Mill have been highlighted. Before the Lions Gate bridge was opened in 1938, Hollyburners who did not live on the North Shore travelled by ferry to Ambleside. They would then walk or ride a bus to the Hollyburn trailhead at the top of 22 Street. From there they would ascend the Hollyburn trail, highlighted in green, to the Nasmyth Mill site and continue on to First Lake. Rodgers Creek, which flows through the Nasmyth Mill site, is highlighted in blue.

05. In this close-up section of the 1935 map, we see the Hollyburn trail going past a small lake, which HHS believes to be the Nasmyth Mill Pond. Note the 2500’ contour line and the two branches of Rodgers Creek draining into the pond.

06. In this map, published in 1996, we see the Cypress Bowl Road, highlighted in brown, winding its way up Hollyburn Ridge. Note the location of the three hairpin turns, the two Mill Sites, the Forks Store,  the Twenty-Second Street Trail, highlighted in green, the Hi-View Lodge Site, the Hollyburn chairlift, (which ceased to operate in 1965), and Hollyburn Lodge. Again we see two branches of Rodgers Creek, highlighted in blue, joining near the Mill Site close to the third hairpin turn. The Cypress flume ran parallel to this creek. The upper Mill Site is located within the boundaries of the Cypress Mountain Works Yard. Below the Works Yard is a defined area which later became the Old Growth Conservancy Protected Area.

07. Here is a section of the latest Cypress Provincial Park Hiking Map published in September 2014. Note the Forks Trail, marked in green, ascending from the second hairpin turn on the Cypress Bowl Road. For some reason, Rodgers Creek does not appear on this map. The borders of the Old Growth Conservancy Protected Area are clearly defined. The presumed location of the Nasmyth Mill Site has been added by HHS. 

08. Even though our analysis of the maps seems to pinpoint the location of the Nasmyth mill, the site has changed considerably since 1925, when Eilif Haxthow and his Scandinavian partners operated the ski camp there. This photo of the main mill building was taken during the summer of 1925.

09. This photo of the Nasmyth Mill site was taken in the early 1930’s. There is little left of the main mill building. Note the large clear-cut area visible in the background.

10. Now compare the previous two photos with the video of the same general location taken in April, 2015. (The video is displayed at the top of this webpage.) The challenge for HHS has been to match features of the historic site with those seen in today’s landscape.

Group 2 Photos

GROUP 3 Photo Descriptions

21. The debris pile from the mill is clearly seen in this photo.

22. Eilif Haxthow drew this sketch of the interior of ‘the restaurant’ in his journal.

23. This photo of ‘the restaurant’ was taken by Eilif Haxthow in May 1925. Pollough Pogue is second from the left. Note the crossed skis above the doorway.

24. Compare the photo on the right with the photo on the left. (Both photos were taken in 1925.) In the left photo, on the far right, the roof of ‘the restaurant’ is seen rising above what appears to be a debris pile. A geographic feature may be involved as well, . . . a ravine? The building to the left of ‘the restaurant’ is most likely the building we saw in the woodcut image.

25. Here is a close-up of that building.

26. Here is a another photo of that building.

27. In this photo, taken in 1926, we see a glimpse of peaked-roof building behind the skiers. Another building is on the left. There appears to be a road in front of that building. Most of the skiers are standing on a gentle slope above the road.

28. Let’s have another look at the woodcut, which seems to confirm what we saw in the previous three photos. Again, note the building on the far right . . .

29. . . . which is most likely the small building seen on the left in this image. We will now focus our attention on the main Nasmyth mill building on the right.

30. In this photo, Hollyburn pioneer, Gerry Hardman, is standing in front of the main mill building. Note the roofline on the right.

31. Another look at the main Nasmyth mill building gives us a different perspective of the roofline seen in the previous photo.

32. What information about the historic Nasmyth mill site does this 1925 photo reveal? The diagonal wood structure below the mill building is a flume. Consider where the photographer was standing when the photo was taken. A ravine appears to lie between the mill building and the point where the photographer took the picture.

33. In this photo, two flumes are seen. The flume in the previous photo appears to pass underneath flume where the children are playing.

34. Here is a different perspective of the two flumes seen in the previous photo.

35. In 1925, the mill pond was still filled with water. Again, note the large clear-cut area visible in the background.

36. As late as 1929, Hollyburn hikers could still ride a raft on the mill pond.

37. By the early 1930’s, the mill pond had drained. Rogers Creek still flowed through the site. There was little left of the Nasmyth mill buildings.

38. Planks from buildings and flumes and foundation stones had been used in the construction of the first cabins on Hollyburn Ridge,

39. Gerry Hardman & his cabin partners used stones and bricks from the Nasmyth Mill to build a chimney for their cabin, which was located a short distance away. Note that the walls of the cabin are made of planks, not logs. These planks came from the abandoned flumes.

40. In this photo taken in February 1932, the log dam that was built to create the Nasmyth millpond is clearly seen. A ravine cut by Rodgers Creek is visible In the left foreground. Behind the dam, on the right, is the millpond basin.

41. The top of the Rodgers Creek ravine is just visible behind the hiker. Note the curve of the snow-covered hill visible in the background.