|In the crisp
autumn twilight of 2003, two friends hiking through the trails of
Belcarra looked across the waters of Burrard Inlet to see lights
through the evening mist. Knowing the area well, they were
sure they were not seeing Port Moody nor the lights originating from
nearby oil refineries. As they studied the area further, a
silhouette of a small town came clearly into view -- dim lights
flickered in the windows.
hikers had every right to be concerned, for they knew the mirage they
were experiencing couldn't be real. The town of Barnet was
abandoned and torn down over forty years earlier. Still, they
saw homes, small commercial buildings, smokestacks and what appeared to
be movement along a far off street.
that perhaps a local studio had constructed a movie set, they hopped
into a car and travelled along the Barnet highway to
investigate. They found nothing but darkness and a closed
area known as Burrard Inlet has been a hotbed for unusual
sightings. Ancient legends tell of the coastal
mountains transforming before people's eyes. Perhaps the most
famous documented story is Pauline Johnson's account of a "lost island"
not far from the old Barnet town site that is said to appear and
is the ancestral lands of several First Nations. Known as an
ancient cultural and spiritual mecca, the unique climate allowed for an
early berry harvest while the sheltered coastline supported an
abundance of shellfish. Clam middens found in the area date
back as far as 3,000 years. Mystical legends describing the
area are in abundance.
|This cache is located in Barnet Marine Park on the lands once occupied by the town of Barnet. If
you park in the overflow lot on the west side, there is a pedestrian
bridge over the railroad tracks. The photographs below depict
what the area looking west to the Kask Bros land would have looked like 100 years ago and what
it looks like today.|
1909, the town boasted two general stores (one private and one
belonging to the North Pacific Lumber Company), a telegraph & post
office, a CPR station, a school, police enforcement, electricity and
indoor plumbing. With a population of 250, Barnet was truly one of
Canada's most modern towns.
1905, the pedestrian bridge would have been close to the entrance of
the second largest sawmill in British Columbia. The parking lot and
grassy lawns to the south and east along the highway is all that is
left of residential Barnet. While walking on the pedestrian bridge,
take a look back to the parking lot. The photographs below are
close to the same view of the Barnet slopes looking south towards
the bridge, the concrete path under your feet is all that remains of
the original mill road. The large structure jutting from the
manicured lawn was once the foundation for the sawmill's
machinery. On the waterfront, the remains of the sawmill's furnace is a
nice spot to take in the view.|
you ever wanted to go back to a simpler time, this wouldn't be the
place to do it. By the 1920s, the surrounding forest was
clear-cut as far as the eye could see. Noisy sawmills, oil
refineries and foundries spewed tons of coal smoke into the air.
Pollution and frequent mudslides caused by deforestation turned ocean
and sky into a perpetual shade of brown The Barnet/Port Moody
area was not the place of picture postcards.
west along the seaside trail and you will discover what is left of the
docks. This is where processed timber bound for American
and Asian ports was loaded onto ships. Today, the birds find the
pylons a great place to make nests. This area is now a seasonal
off leash park for dogs.|
along the trail, piles of rubble become more evident. This area
has not yet been fully rehabilitated into parkland. Along with a
few buildings, much of the old barnet road was bulldozed onto the
shoreline during the Barnet Highway expansion of the 1990s. The
seaside trail itself is partly built on newly claimed landfill from
that construction project. You may notice a chimney stack, a
porcelain sink or two, or sheet metal from an old building amongst the
first financial woes to hit Barnet took place during the Great
Depression. It was at this time that the demand for lumber
dropped drastically. To add to the town's troubles, the saw mill burnt
to the ground. A small replacement mill was rebuilt quickly but
the newly named Kapoor mill never managed to grow to the status of its
predecessor. By 1958, the cost of barging in trees from
increasingly distant areas of the province forced the mill to close
down. The town slowly died within thirty years after that.
city of Burnaby bought up most of the land in the area for use as
parkland. Today, Barnet Marine Park is in its first phase. As the
remaining industrial businesses move out, the park will eventually
stretch from Hastings St. to the current Petro Canada refinery and
beyond to Port Moody.
One hundred years after its heyday, the town of Barnet has been virtually wiped off the map.
this cache was placed in 2005, there were still homes, albeit
abandoned, on the south side of the highway. They've since been
demolished and replaced with a parking lot and a mountain bike park.|
has presented its own unique epitaph to the town of Barnet. In
the springtime, look to the grassy fields and you'll witness a strange
phenomenon. Like grave markers, gardens planted long ago still
pop through the grassy fields and line the perimeter of long demolished
homes. Reminders of the town are everywhere if you know where to
As for the ghostly sightings, most people dismiss them as
atmospheric phenomena. Other people swear that paranormal
activity in the area, being well documented for centuries, can very
well recapture the spirit of a town's last breath as it is being
unceremoniously wiped off the face of the planet.
For those with an open mind that dare to hunt for the cache at twilight, perhaps the spirit of Barnet will reveal itself to you.
Enjoy your visit.