John Linn


(Text of article by Athelstan George Harvey (1884-1950), located in
BC Archives, MS1925, Box 26, File 5)
(apparently written circa 1945)

If the name of the pretty North Shore mountain stream had been spelt properly it would now be not Lynn but Linn Creek.  Likewise, Lynn Valley, Lynn Lake, Lynn Peaks, Upper Lynn and Lynnmour would all be spelt with an "I" instead of the "y".  All are named after John Linn, early settler at the mouth of the creek.

Linn was a member of the famous detachment of Royal Engineers that came round Cape Horn to British Columbia in 1859 following the Fraser River gold rush.  Born at Corstorphine, Edinburgh, on July 12, 1821, he joined the Army in 1846, coming to Halifax two years later.  There he was stationed for nine years and married Mary Robertson in 1857.  He then returned to England with his bride before sailing with her on the six months' voyage to British Columbia. It was on their clipper ship, the "Thames City", that the first of their six children (two boys and four girls) was born.


On the 24th Instant, in Lat. 4.10 South, Long. 29.30 West, the wife of Sapper John Linn, R.E., of a son and heir.

--27th November, 1858
From The Emigrant Soldier's Gazette and Cape Horn Chronicle

A mason by trade, Linn had his part in the construction of roads and buildings, preservation of law and order, and other diversified labours which the Royal Engineers did so well in the newly established colony.


At the R.E. Camp on the 15th inst., the wife of John Linn, Royal Engineers, of a daughter.

--18th April, 1863
The British Columbian

When the force was disbanded in 1863 he had served over seventeen years, character "very good."  He elected to remain rather than return to England.  In 1869 he moved his family from the barracks at New Westminster (Sapperton - where the penitentiary now stands) to a cottage he build on the north shore of Burrard Inlet just east of what is now Lynn Creek.  He obtained a free grant of the land, Lot 204, under the government's plan of rewarding soldier settlers.

As a Sapper Linn's Regimental Pay per Diem would have been 1s. 2 1/2d. plus Working Pay per Diem of 1s. to 4s.

The surroundings were very different from what they are today.  The North Shore, like the South, was nearly all forest.  There were no roads - only a few logging trails.  A mile to the west (near the present grain elevator) was the bustling sawmill settlement called Burrard Inlet, afterward Moodyville, then the leading place on the Inlet.  The Linn children went to the little one-room school there.  On the east was an Indian reserve and a burial place where the bodies were placed on platforms erected on trees in native manner.  Farther on, at the mouth of Seymour Creek, was Hugh Burr's the first dairy ranch on Burrard Inlet.

A skilled workman, the big, easy going Scotsman found work on both sides of the Inlet which as New Westminster's back door was showing signs of civilization after being undeveloped for seventy years after Captain Vancouver earlier named it.  When his trade was slack he engaged in logging and had a camp up the North Arm.  He supplied poles for wharf construction at the Stamp (later, Hastings) mill, the second sawmill on the Inlet.

The Linn trail was well known to the people of Moodyville.  To wander down its shady stillness and across the limpid stream to the quiet homestead was a pleasant relief from the noise and dust of the mill village.  The name Linn was given to the creek as early as 1878, when it is mentioned in a Legislative Committee's report on an unsuccessful plan to bring cattle from the Interior to the Coast by a trail made through the Cheakamus and Seymour Valleys.  However, an earlier name, Fred's Creek (presumably named for Frederick Howson, early pre-emptor on the creek), continued on some maps until 1891.  The Linn family name was frequently misspelled Lynn, and that spelling of the creek name came into use at an early date.  The names of the Valley, peaks and lake followed that of the creek.  Lynnmour is named after the two creeks, Lynn and Seymour.

The Indian name of the creek was Kwa-hul-cha, according to information on file at the Vancouver City Archives.

"Jock" Linn did not live to see the great development that came with the selection of Burrard Inlet as the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway.  Illness which necessitated medical treatment at New Westminster and Victoria culminated in a paralytic stroke from which he died on April 18, 1876.  After a funeral service at home conducted by Rev. Robert Jamieson, first Presbyterian minister at New Westminster, the body was rowed across to New Brighton (Hastings) and taken by hearse to the Royal City, where detachments from the New Westminster Rifles and Seymour Artillery joined in the burial service at the Masonic cemetery.

The family remained at Lynn Creek for several years, Mrs. Linn raising cattle for market and draft oxen (used for hauling logs to the mills).  Latterly part of the property was used for a shooting range by the Vancouver Rifle Association.  It is said that a prominent member, Dr. Bell-Irving, once missed the bull's-eye and killed one of Mrs. Linn's best cows - an expensive shot for the physician.

Mrs. Linn died in 1907.  Three daughters survive: Mrs. Janet Macey, Mrs. Mary Jane Perry, and Mrs. Maris Ellen Peters, all of Vancouver.  They have seen Burrard Inlet's two straggling sawmill settlements grown into the great metropolitan community of today.


Mrs. Alice Crakathrop says (Dec. 15/39):

The Lynn cottage had kitchen & dining room & 4 small bedrooms, with veranda in front, facing the Inlet.  The Lynn farm was a pretty place but Mrs. L. had to work it.  "Jock" as he was called (Scotch) was always drunk.  The two sons would not work; the two girls were too young.

The tide used to come right up to the cottage at high tide, all around it.  Once when Mrs. L. arrived there was a canoe tied to the veranda post.  Mrs. L. was a very neat & tidy woman and always kept the place so.  She was boss.  The girls had to scrub and clean.  And she was very religious.

She had a terrible time with her sons.  Always trouble when they were about.  Hugh's hanging was merely the end.  He was in the little one roomed jail at Moodyville several times.  She used to pay his fine & get him out.

She was over at New West. Exhibition once and they got her to open the Scotch dance, "Reel O'Tulloch".

Afterwards there was a rifle range near Lynn's.  Mrs. L. used to serve them meals.

Eldest son, Hugh, was hung.  Next, Tom, cut his throat, a suicide.

Three daughters: Janet; Mary (Mrs. Perry), 1500 block Charles St.; Maria (Mrs. Peters), Robson Street

* * * * *

Maria Peters - 1119 Nelson Streer (March 1, 1940)

Jock died intestate and his estate was tied up till Maria was 21.  When they sold the place they were well off.  Also got money from relative in Scotland. Maria got educated at a convent in New West, made quite a lot of money in property - owns Lynada Apts. (Lynn + ada from Canada)

'My father and mother were two excellent people.  I never saw my father drunk, although he took a drink occasionally.'

* * * * *

T.H. Calland says Edward Mahon bought DL 204 from Mrs. Lynn for $21,000 (she asked 65,000)

* * * * *

City Archives - Recollection of A.E. Beck, K.C.
"Some Old Time Murder Trials", Province, June 5/37

John Lynn, Royal Engineer (survey work, building Cariboo Road) settled at mouth of creek named after him.

Hugh, his son, after his death, drifted into bad ways, consorting with Indians and leading a trapper's life.  Expert rifle shot.  Early one morning he landed at Savary Island with an Indian woman.  He broke into and robbed a store on Savary Island.  Caught in the act by the owner and a friend - he shot and killed both.  Loaded stolen goods into his boat, set fire to store and eluded capture for several weeks.  Arrested while in camp on small island just S. of boundary line and taken to Victoria.  Tried in Vancouver before Mr. Justice Drake + jury with Hon. A. Richards, formerly Gov. B.C., as Crown Prosecutor.  A detective disguised as a hobo was putt into Lynn's cell and got admission of crime + hiding places of goods.  Goods were found there.  This evidence led to his conviction and hanging.

Museum and Archive Notes, near 31/31
"The Ecology of Savary Island" by R.S. Sherman

Jack Green, sole inhabitant 1892, an old crippled man living in a cabin on north shore near Green's Point (named after him).  Connected with his cabin was a log store and trading post.  Garden. 300 sheep, cattle, pigs, poultry.  1893 he and a visitor were murdered as they sat at a game of cards. pp. 4,5

* * * * *

Moodyville Tickler, Vol. 1, No. 1, July 20, 1878
"Tom Lynn Jr. is not yet 20 but weighs a ton."

July 30, 1945 - further interview with Mrs. Peters

Mrs. Maria Ellen Peters ("Linnada Apts.") 1459 Robson
born 1869, New West
2nd daughter of John Linn
born in Royal Engineer Barracks where Penitentiary is now

Father died April 18, 1876 at home of paralytic stroke, buried New Westminster (Masonic Cemetery?); taken to Victoria via New West for medical treatment, live a year or so afterwards - in bed - Dr. McInnis from New West attended him

Mother died June 10, 1907.
Married, Halifax, Aug. 11, 1857
Father was in British Army 17 years
Father born Edinburgh; Mother Scottish; nee Robertson

His name was John Linn.  The spelling Lynn just grew.  Brother and sister were college teachers at Edinburgh.

1869, April? - family moved to mouth of Creek afterward called Lynn after my father.  House was on waterfront and close to the creek.  At time of freshets boats were needed to get in house.

Father was a stonemason but here he had a logging camp up N. Arm, Burrard Inlet.  Several men working for him.  He did not have a dairy ranch, nor mother.  She had cattle - raised them for logging teams and market - after he died.  Hugh Burr on Seymour Ck. had dairy ranch (daughter living in New West)

Mother was a Florence Nightingale to the people of the village (Moodyville) - trail - by bridge over Creek.

Rifle Range (Dr. Bell-Irving) was put on her property.  Doesn't know about sale of property.

On Indian Reserve to East was their burial ground where bodies were put on platforms on trees.

Sister, Mrs. Macy has picture of father + his army discharge.  She "takes after" him - good natured and easy going.

Father had two sons and four daughters (all born in barracks, New West, except oldest Hugh, born at sea)

Mayor Keary asked mother to open New West bridge but she was ill in bed and couldn't go. 
[Tim's note: Mayor Keary was the son of a Royal Engineer as well.  Not sure what bridge that would be, but Mrs. L. obviously well thought of!]

My brother, Tom, was a captain on Burrard Inlet ferry and on tugboats.  Died of throat trouble when about 34.  Died 50 years ago.  About two years younger than Hugh.  Tom was presented with a silk hat by Mayor McLean for being the best looking man on Pacific Coast.  A very popular chap.
[Tim's note: "Throat trouble"! Compare to the earlier note that he committed suicide by cutting his throat!]

My father + mother were two excellent people.  I never saw father drunk although he sometimes drank.

July 30 / 45 J.H. Scales, 3520 Main Street - going on 92
(Tim's note: born circa 1854 - son of Sapper John Scales?)

"Jock" Linn was a big fine man

Mrs. L. treed by wild steers from logging camp.

The Emigrant Soldiers Gazette and Cape Horn Chronicle
No. 4 "Thames City", Saturday, November 27th, 1858
Lat. 10.54N Lon. 32.45W (Crossed the "line" on Monday last - Neptune's visit, accompanied by his wife and baby, his doctor and apothecary, barber, barber's mate and staff of constables.)  "Birth on the 24th Inst. in Lat. 4.105, Lon. 29.30W, the wife of Sapper John Linn, R.E., of a son and heir."

The paper (in MS form) was read aloud each Saturday night.  After arrival in BC it was printed at the office of the "British Columbian" newspaper by late John Robson, at mens' expense for distribution among themselves.

Detachment Disbanded Oct. 1863.  Men had choice of returning to England or taking their discharge here and receiving a free grant of 150 acres of land.

? Hugh Lynn was first man hung in Vancouver

Aug. 31 / 45 - Mrs. Peters
[Tim's note: presumably the following documents were produced by daughter Maria Peters]

Discharge Certificate, Regiment of Royal Engineers

No. 1130, Sapper John Linn, aged 42 years, 102 days.
Height 5'11", Complexion fresh, eyes blue
Hair, dark brown
Trade, mason
Marks or scars - none
Discharged at New West Oct. 22, 1863
Born in parish of Corstorphine, Edinburgh
Enlisted at Glasgow for Royal Engineers, Jan. 10, 1846, aged 24 years.
Served in Army 17 years 221 days.
Discharged at his own request.
R.C. Moody, Col. R.E.
New West, BC
22 Oct 1863
Character: very good.

Royal Sappers and Miners Account Book of John Linn

Services Abroad
Landed at Halifax 26 Aug. 1848
Do. at Woolwich 28 Sep. 1857

Married at Halifax N.S. 11th August 1857 to Mary Robertson

Discharged at his own request 22 Oct. 1863
J. Grant, Capt.

Next of Kin
Father, Hugh, Edinburgh Co., Parish and Town Kirkliston, near Edinburgh (crossed out, replaced with:)
Wife, Mary, with the Company

1846 - stationed at Woolwich & Chatham
1847 - Southampton & Waterfield
1848 - Woolwich
1849-57 - Halifax
1857 Aug - Chatham
1858 - Chatham
1859-62 - British Columbia
1863 - New Westminster

John Linn's Family Bible

Married: J. Linn & Mary Robertson
by John Scott, Prebyterian Minister, Halifax N.S., Aug. 11 / 57

Hugh Linn, born at sea, Nov. 24 / 58
Thomas Linn, born R.E. Camp, New West, Sep. 3 / 60
Janet Linn, do., Apr. 15 / 63 (Mrs. Macey)
Allison Ann Linn, do., Oct. 11 / 64
Mary Jane Linn, do., Aug. 20 / 66 (Mrs. Perry)
Maria Ellen Linn, do., Jan. 24 / 69 (Mrs. Peters)

John Linn died, Burrard Inlet B.C., Apr. 18, 1876
Allsion Ann Linn died, do., June 20, 1882

Photo of Mr. + Mrs. Linn taken at Edinburgh
Photo of John Linn

August 8 / 45 Interview with Mrs. Janet Macey,
2608 Triumph St. (Phone HA4486L) by phone:
[Tim's note: the eldest daughter, then 82 years old]

Family moved to mouth of creek 76 years ago this April.
Father was working "over here" before that.
Burr did not come to Seymour Creek until afterwards.
Father had contract for supplying piles for Stamp's (Hastings) Mill wharf.  Got them up North Arm.
He never had a dairy ranch.  Burr had that.
Never heard of creek being called Fred's Creek.
First heard of creek being named after us when a survey was made.
I went to school at Moodyville.
Father was a big, good natured man.
When he died, there was a funeral service at the house, conducted I think by Rev. Jamieson, Presbyterian minister, New Westminster. The body was then taken by rowboat to New Brighton, and by hearse to New West where he was buried.  Mother and family stayed on several years. I don't remember when we left.

Aug. 16 - Mrs. Peters thinks Tom died about spring 1895. Suggests
Mrs. Fred Armstrong, son of Argyle R. Eng. [Sapper Argyle's daughter-in-law?]

Aug. 18 - Mrs. Macey never heard of Fred Howson.  When we first went there we lived in an old shack on W. side of creek while our house was being built.  Won't know where it was.  Nobody else living near.  Burr not there then.

Aug. 26 - Phoned Mrs. Armstrong (above).  Remembers Mrs. Linn.  A good woman.  Family of the best with the one exception.  Tom went queer on religion before he died.  Mrs. Linn died at New Westminster.

Questions asked of Mrs. Alice Crakanthorp, August, 1945 (appears to be a hand-written questionnaire filled in by Alice's niece)

1. Did you ever hear the Creek called Fred's Creek?  No.
2. Do you know who "Fred" was?  No.
3. Do you know when the creek was first called Lynn Creek or who gave the name?  Always called Lynn Creek.
4. Do you know how the mis-spelling came about?  No.
5. Do you know when, where and how the second son (Tom, the tugboat captain) died?  (I know about Hugh.)  No.
Other information: My Aunt was very young at the time of first knowing the Linns & this is all the information she is able to give.
Do you know of any other pioneer who might give further information?
Some of the Sappers in New Westminster may be able to help.

Alice M. Heads

Land Registry, Aug. 21 / 45

C.G. issued 10/2/1871

Feb. 10 / 71 Crown to John Linn - C.G. Lot 204, 150 A., creek not named

May 2 / 91 Hugh Linn, Thomas James Linn, Janet Johnson, Mary Robertson, Maria Peters, heirs & heiresses of John Linn to Mary Linn, widow, upon filing of Proof of death, heirship & intestacy

May 5 / 91 Mary Linn to Edward Mahon - Sold for $22,000.

Sep. 16 / 1909 Mahon to E. Philip Gilman & Lambert Bond - Sold for $20,000 (excepting roads & parts conveyed to grantees)

Supporting affidavits of Alexander Johnston and Mary Linn as to intestacy and heirs
[Tim's note - Affidavit of Mary Linn signed May 11 / 91 - "her mark" -
it appears that Mrs. Linn was illiterate!)