I was at the North Vancouver Archives this week trying to hunt down some information from the city directories. On the way out I noticed a black and white photo exhibition by Bruce Stewart. Called West of Eden, these photos were all taken over a two-week period in 1972 at what’s now the Maplewood Conservation Area on Dollarton Highway.
Since I’m used to seeing wood ducks, chickadees and the odd deer at Maplewood, it was kind of cool to see a bunch of naked hippies frolicking around down there completely oblivious to being documented by Stewart.
Back in the ‘70s squatters used to live above the tidal mudflats in a row of shacks. It sounds kind of romantic today, but I’m guessing raising a family among salvaged materials, with no electricity or running water would not have been much fun, especially in winter.
The Dollarton Pleasure Faire held back in that summer of ’72 was one of many Faires that popped up around North American in the late ’60s and ’70s. The Dollarton Faire was meant to be a celebration of alternative living timed to clash with the PNE held across the inlet. The two week resistance Faire was also a show of support—the mudflat squatter community versus the District of North Vancouver who were determined to burn it down for a shopping mall.
I’m not sure what happened to the shopping mall, but in the end capitalism trumped the rights of people to occupy public land, and all traces of the Mudflat shacks are long gone.
The exhibit runs until October 10. It’s on the second floor of the Community History Centre, which is the old Lynn Valley elementary school at Mountain Highway and Lynn Valley Road.
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