White Rock BC



White Rock History
The completion of the Great Northern’s coastal line marked the beginnings of the resort communities of White Rock and Crescent Beach. Easy access, via the railway to the wide expanse of beach encouraged growing numbers of New Westminster and Vancouver residents to acquire summer cottages in the communities. Back to Community
   
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The rapid growth of each of these centers was also dependent to some extend on expanding local logging and milling operations. White Rock History marks its beginnings from the opening of the seashore rail line, and the Dominion Government’s
 
designating White Rock as a port of entry for customs and immigration purposes in 1908. In 1910 a New Westminster syndicate took over the original townsite and began the promotion and sale of lots. The rapid expansion of summer cottages on small lots along the slopes and beach frontage of Semiahmoo Bay reached a peak in 1911.

Development was centered on the area immediately behind the Great Northern Station which in 1910 was located at the foot of Oxford Street, but by 1913 the present station about one-quarter mile east of the original one was completed.

The Fox and Hunter shingle mill began operating in the vicinity of the present Marine Drive and High Street. By 1911 a number of prominent Vancouver and New Westminster people had established summer cottages about the core. 1912 saw the opening of the fifty-room White Rock Hotel located on the hill east of the community core.

The communities second hotel was constructed in 1914 opposite the Great Northern Station. It was destroyed by fire in January 1931. White Rock had its present pier built with Federal funds and it was officially opened on November 14, 1914. It was built to provide a deep-water wharf facility, and extended 1,616 feet from shore. However, its primary function was, then as it is now, to serve as a tourist facility for pleasure boats, for a promenade, and for fishing and swimming. Since its construction it has acted as the focus for White Rock’s summer tourist activities.

In 1913 the construction of the Campbell River Mill caused another mild land boom in the east end of White Rock in the area north and west of the mouth of the Little Campbell River. The building boom resulted in the creation of a second focus of community activity.

The opening of Pacific Highway brought improved road access and in the 1920s the area between the East and West developed areas - Balmers’ Beach (East Beach) - developed as tourism increased. Access via the newly cemented Pacific Highway brought many more summer tourists and seasonal residents.

White Rock continued to grow both as a summer resort and as a permanent residential area. The creation of the White Rock Water Works in 1913 and the provision of electric power in 1915 from the Campbell River Mill greatly influenced the attraction of more year-round residents. The development of private summer cottages on small lots along the slopes and beach frontage of Semiahmoo Bay characterized White Rock in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was during this period that the community's resort role was firmly established.

The closure of the Campbell River Mill in 1927 brought a great change to the community. The population dwindled to about 400 permanent residents and many homes were left vacant as mill workers and their families moved out. The Great Depression brought even more difficult times to the resort community.

The 1930s saw people migrating to the west coast from the prairie provinces, where the general depression was made worse by drought conditions and repeated crop failures. Many of these prairie people came to White Rock where inexpensive and available housing made the community an attractive haven.

By 1937 the permanent population had increased to about 1,000. Many summer cottages had thus become permanent homes. The number of summer homes had continued to decline, until they now form a very small percentage of the community’s dwellings.

The improvement of roads and the widespread adoption of the automobile have been responsible for White Rock’s resort role changing to a day-use or at best a weekend summer recreation role. The community is now only thirty to forty-five minutes from the metropolitan core and has emerged as a residential and retirement community. With the expected population growth of the Lower Mainland, there will be greatly increased demands on White Rock’s beaches and other recreation facilities.

In the 1950’s the rapid growth of North Surrey saw the District increase its spending in that region to provide basic amenities. The White Rock area felt that it was being neglected in favor of the burgeoning north, and by special Provincial warrant the City of White Rock was created on April 15th, 1957.

 
 
 
White Rock BC
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