E. Pauline Johnson was such an extraordinary woman. I’ve been drawn to her personal legend for some time now. I suppose it has something to do with being attracted to women who, at the turn of the 20th century, made an impact in an all-male world.

In Pauline, I see shadows of another great Canadian, Emily Carr. Both women made a name for themselves at a time when women were expected to settle for the role of mother and wife (or, perhaps, teacher). These two were headstrong and their art (poetry and prose in Johnson’s case and majestic drawings and paintings of the west coast in Emily’s) provided a sense of place to a young Canada in search of an identity of its own.

• Emily Carr, Big Raven (1931), Oil on canvas, 87.3 cm x 114.4 cm, Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust

• Emily Carr, Skidegate (1928), Vancouver Art Gallery

Canada Post | Emily Carr painter/peintre 1871-1945





When Johnson grew tired of her years of touring her show, she decided to settle in Vancouver.

An avid canoeist, she would often paddle the inlets and bays around the city. Back then, Stanley Park was an island, cut off from the young city. At high tide, it was feasible to canoe the entire way around Stanley Park, using little Ceperley Creek as an outlet to Second Beach. At low tide, the western part of Coal Harbour (the “lagoon” part) would empty, and the mudflats would be impassable by canoe.

Here is an interesting photo of a mural of pre-contact Vancouver that shows Lost Lagoon as part of Coal Harbour:

“A mural on the wall of Capers Organic Foods Store depicting the shores of Burrard Inlet just before the arrival of George Vancouver” by Flying Penguin, Wikimedia Commons

In 1912, the city decided to construct a permanent causeway across Coal Harbour, thus forming present-day “Lost Lagoon.”

It took several years to build, but by 1916, the causeway was completed and the lagoon became a lake.

Click on the photos below for panoramic views of Coal Harbour/Lost Lagoon and the construction of the causeway:

Panoramic view showing Lost Lagoon, the Stanley Park Causeway under construction and the Vancouver Rowing Club

6 November 1917 | Coal Harbour Vancouver : Height of Water in Upper End – 9 Feet Above Zero, PAN N54

27 July 1927 | View of Stanley Park causeway showing Lost Lagoon and the Vancouver Rowing Club building on Coal Harbour, PAN N199


189- | Bailey Bros, Stanley Park entrance arch, VPL 19796

ca. 1902 | Pauline Johnson – Edwards Bros., Port P1633

190-? | Pauline Johnson – Geo. T. Wadds, Port P637

Pauline Johnson, friend of the Timms family, stands on a path in a wooded area, probably near the Capilano River

190- | Pauline Johnson on a path – Philip Timms,  VPL 7652

The Leader, Regina

10 March 1913 | The funeral procession for Pauline Johnson on Georgia Street near Granville Street, Port P1422

1921 | Pauline Johnson Memorial [Stanley Park], Mon N47.2

ca. 1920 | Ceremony at Pauline Johnson’s grave – Stuart Thomson, CVA 99-1328

Siwash Rock, Stanley Park, before the Seawall. Photo> Bishop & Christie

Pauline Johnson Canada Canadian commemorative stamp issued 1961.03.10 celebrating the centenary of her birth. She was the first Canadian woman, first Native Canadian, and first author to be honoured by Canada Post.

Between 1936 and 1945 | The fountain at Lost Lagoon at night, CVA LP 219

McMaster University | Pauline Johnson Archive

Heritage Perspectives by Doug Mackey | Gray’s story of Pauline Johnson best Biography yet

ABC Bookworld | Emily Pauline Johnson (biography)

Wikipedia | Pauline Johnson

Wikipedia | Emily Carr

City of Vancouver Archives | E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake), 1861 -1913

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