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Canada Calling

Our bi-weekly history lesson of the local area.

Did you know how Library Service began in the Fraser Valley?  

The Fraser Valley Regional Library began service to rural populations from Ladner to Hope in 1930. Consisting of a consortium of municipalities who could not afford libraries of their own, service began with a Book Van which displayed books along outside shelves travelling throughout the valley stopping at grocery stores, gas stations and schools. The Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded a grant of $100,000 to establish this project for five years.
Hired to manage this project was Dr. Helen Gordon Stewart who met this challenge with dedication, hard work and the enormous energy needed to organize an area of 2,600 square kilometres and 24 governing bodies. The task at hand was to select books, hire staff and purchase a truck suitable for use as a book van. In 1934, FVRL became a tax supported regional public library system, the first of its kind in North America. 

Photo: Debut of Fraser Valley Regional Library Book Van at Chilliwack Cherry Festival, July 1930. Source: Fraser Valley Regional Library. 

Courtesy Surrey Historical Society




The US (and Canadian) standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.

That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Well, because that's the way they built them in England, and English engineers designed the first US railroads. Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the wagon tramways, and that's the gauge they used. So, why did 'they' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that same wheel spacing. Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break more often on some of the old, long distance roads in England . You see, that's the spacing of the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since. And what about the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match or run the risk of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder 'What horse's as came up with this?', you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' ases.)  Now, the twist to the story: When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah . The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, a major Space Shuttle design feature, of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system, was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's as. And you thought being a horse's as wasn't important? Ancient horse's as*es control almost everything.





Canada Calling you didn't know

It Was Actually Canadian Chemist Marcellus Gilmore Edson Who INVENTED PEANUT BUTTER Not George Washington Carver!

Happy Black History Month!

His process involved grinding skinned peanuts on a hot surface, then letting the resulting cream-like substance cool until it was the consistency of butter. The paste was to be mixed with sugar and used for candy, plus, create a nutty food spread for people who couldn’t chew. Ironic, since a slice of bread with peanut butter on it makes for a lot of chewing!



Canada Calling

Last week was the 324th anniversary of an earthquake that hit Washington and British Columbia.

If you think Vancouver Island will save us, think again.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake caused massive flooding and damage to the coast lines of Vancouver Island, British Columbia and Washington State.

Here at THE SUN we receive up to date notices of earthquake action near White Rock. There is probably not more than a week or 10 days goes by that a small earthquake occurs, normally just south of us off of Bellingham. At this point there is nothing to worry about, but that is the problem with an earthquake. Normally there is no warning and no opportunity to prepare. Do you have an emergency kit in your vehicle?




January 09, 2024

With the launch of the PWHL, I'm covering the history of women's hockey in Canada with a series of posts.

I'm starting today with the 1890s!

This photo is the earliest photo of women's hockey & the woman in white is Lady Isobel Stanley, daughter of the Governor General Lord Stanley.

She was a pioneer when it came to women's hockey, and this photo is of her playing on the natural ice rink at Rideau Hall.

Her father Lord Stanley was a big fan of hockey, and he turned a large lawn into a rink for his daughter to play the game on.

The first documented game of women's hockey happened on Feb. 11, 1891. We have a newspaper account of the game, featuring a seven-a-side system, in the Ottawa Citizen.

Throughout the 1890s, the game began to expand through eastern Canada. The McGill University's women's hockey team was created in 1894, followed by teams at the University of Toronto and Queen's University.

On March 8, 1899, another account of a women's hockey game appeared in print, featuring a four-a-side system on the Rideau Skating Rink.

To honour Lady Isobel Stanley's role in the early history of women's hockey, the Isobel Cup was named in her honour. That cup is the championship cup of the Premier Hockey Federation.

The Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award is presented by Hockey Canada to the active player at any level whose leadership and personal traits represent all female athletes.

If you enjoy my Canadian history content, you can support my work with a donation at



Grizlee the monolithic granite bear by Frank Slavin. Placed at the end of the east beach promenade as a memorial in 1999 for Frank's son Lee.

This picture courtesy of Bill Hawke Photography not only showcases this piece of public art but the beauty of east beach and one of our iconic trains going by


Consolidated Grocers 1934
15479 Marine Dr, White Rock

Currently The Moby Dick Restaurant 

You can see the Former Consolidated Grocers in the back alley few today.

The bottle dash finish is from another era 15479 Marine Dr, White Rock



The Lady Alexander

A regular sight in White Rock .
Between excursions from White Rock to Victoria and back then in the off season used to haul supplies to and canned fish from local canneries in White Rock area .

Alexandra's primary use was a day vessel carrying organized excursions on Howe Sound, including in particular to the resort area owned by the Union Steamship Company on Bowen Island. Alexandra's first trip was on June 25, 1924, four days after arriving in Vancouver, was an excursion to view the battlecruiser HMS Hood, then on a visit to Vancouver.

Although Alexandra had been designed primarily as a summer-time day excursion steamer, the company had intended to use the ship, which had a 300-ton cargo capacity, as a freighter in the off-season to transport canning supplies to, and pick up packed salmon from, the many canneries along the coast of British Columbia north of Vancouver Island. This was done just once, following the close of the 1924 summer season. Alexandra was sent north to the Skeena River with a load of cans. On the way south, laden with salmon, in open waters of Queen Charlotte Sound, the ship rolled continuously and dangerously as much as 35 degrees. While it would probably have been possible to mitigate the rolling by adjustments to the ship's trim, the company had other vessels which could serve the route, and thereafter the Alexandra was kept on the southern routes.

The ship was popularly known as the Alex. Passenger travel to the Bowen Island resort tripled after the Alexandra was brought into service. In the 1920s and 1930s it was a common practice in Vancouver for companies and associations to organize large annual excursions to Bowen Island for their employees or members. The largest of these was the Longshoreman's Union annual picnic, when 3,000 people would be embarked for Bowen Island on the Alexandra and two other steamers. The Port of Vancouver willingly shut operations every year on the day of the picnic. Popular Vancouver orchestras were recruited to play on the company's "Moonlight Dance Cruises" which left every Wednesday and Saturday evening. Alexandra was also occasionally used on employed on excursions running from White Rock to Victoria, British Columbia. Excursion work was seasonal in nature but highly profitable for the company.

Alexandra's crew began work at 7:00 am to get the ship ready, and often worked until 1:00 am, making a 16- or 17-hour day. In addition to the ordinary work of the ship, the tasks of embarking, disembarking, and keeping order among up to 2,000 passengers on a daily usually fell to the deckhands. For this work deckhands were paid $69 per month in the 1930s.

For much of the 1920s and 1930s, the master of the Alexandra was William "Cappy" Yates (1890–1966), who although not known as an outstanding seaman, was knowledgeable about the methods of showmanship that made him and the company popular, such as delaying a departure at Bowen Island to retrieve a child's hat which had blown overboard. 

See less

The COLDICUTT VILLAS opened in 1935. The auto court where a cottage could be rented back in the day for just $15.00 per week.

You could call ahead of time to make reservations by dialing Cloverdale 50-Y or Kerrisdale 1953-L.

The popular summertime destination was located on the same site of the condominium development located on Marine Drive @ 140th street (NE corner).


This is the first building on the pier – the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 8. It opened in 1929 and burned down in 1935. A new building was built immediately afterwards, that later became the Dolphins. Pre-breakwater, the “tank” is located right next to it. 


From top to bottom

The original building on our famous pier was the local legion, which morphed into the Semiahmoo Sailing Club and finally converted to The Dolphin restaurant.

All the buildings were destroyed in fires.

Will there ever be another structure built on the pier. Doubtful but in1988 there was a movement to build a new restaurant on the pier. It didn't get very far up at city hall or with the residents of White Rock.


PIER BEING BUILT. While your eyes are drawn to the train & station, more interesting to me is that it also shows the construction of the pier.

The first pile was driven on July 28, 1914, and by September it was completed – 750 feet long, and 18 feet wide. A month-and-a-bit to build it from scratch...

This photo shows just the unconnected pilings in place, so this is probably August of 1914. (WRM&A image)

  • Since someone will ask, Burlington Northern crews removed the passing track and the setout spur in White Rock in June of 1975.

  • Here is an aerial shot of them during the 1964 Sea Festival parade (at Vidal & Marine Drive.)

  • Tom Saunders


Unless you lived in the Surrey/White Rock/Langley area 30 years ago you may or may not be aware we once had a stock car race track located in South Langley. The skeleton of the track is still visible if you drive south on 208th street from 16th avenue to the end of the road. Park and enter by the yellow gate.

Langley Speedway hosted NASCAR Winston West races in 1971, 1972 and 1978. This makes it one of only three sites in BC that had hosted NASCAR races. The others being Western Speedway in Victoria and Westwood in Coquitlam. (In these modern times, NASCAR owns the former CASCAR brand and runs at tracks across the country.)

They ran Late Models, Super Stocks, Street Stocks and Bombers in the final years, but everything from Super Modified to crash-to-pass and mini-stock cars were run at the track.

The property is still part of the Campbell Valley Regional Park, owned by Metro Vancouver taxpayers.

The concrete walls are still in place. Some appear to be falling apart, but in fact are showing the damage caused by race cars smashing into them.

On Sept 3rd 2006, The Langley Speedway Historical Society had a clean-up at the track, exposing the walls and clearing the track surface. There will be more work parties of this nature in the future, as Metro Vancouver has accepted the proposal of the Langley Speedway Historical Society 

If you are interested in helping preserve the history of this track, contributing articles or photos, or helping in the restoration of the site, please contact the Langley Speedway Historical Society and put yourself on our list.



This is a view of the Crescent Beach Hotel I've never seen before.

It is a real photo post card with the picture taken by Stride Photos from New Westminster.

It is currently on Ebay for the crazy price of $34.99 USD ($46 CAD) It seems collecting memorabilia has become a pursuit of the well heeled.

I always thought post cards were 50¢



The Legend of the White Rock

Legend tells us that, long before the arrival of the discoverers Cook and Vancouver, the Gulf of Georgia was ruled by a Sea God worshipped by the Cowichan Indians.

The Sea God had a son, tall, handsome and strong, who dwelt with his father in a subterranean cavern not far from the present town of Sidney on Vancouver Island. On the shores of the gulf, on the original site of Sidney, lived a tribe of Cowichans, whose Chief had a beautiful daughter whom many young braves had wooed, but she refused them all.

One day when the lovely Princess was bathing in the waters of the Gulf, the son of the Sea God rose to the surface beside her and, as mortal youths had done, fell in love with her at first sight. He seized her and carried her off to his father's mansion, in front of which was a tremendous totem pole of rock carved with the history of the ocean. The Sea God was angry with his son for bringing a mortal, even one so fair, to his Kingdom, and, refused his blessing on their marriage, ordered them to return to the girl's tribe.

The young God, determined to keep his Princess, went with her to her father's home where she said he would be as welcome as a son, and in time would rule. But when they rose from the water and presented themselves before the old Chief of the Cowichans, he too refused to accept the, and declared, like the Sea God, that mortals and Gods should not wed.

The young man, by now more determined than ever raised in his powerful arms a huge white rock which stood on the shore and said to the Princess: "I will hurl this tone over the water! Wherever it falls, there we will make our home and establish our tribe." So saying, he cast the stone far over the gulf. High over the island it went, and as it rose the son of the Sea God took his bride in his arms, dived into the sea and swam off in the direction of the great boulder. So swift were his movements that, as the huge rock fell on the mainland shore sixty miles away, the young God and his bride rose out of the water be side it.

There on the shores of a bay shaped like the crescent moon, they made their home, and the mighty Semiahmoo Tribe, the half moon tribe, grew and became famous. After many years the tribe dissolved, but a remnant of that once great and powerful people still lives near the Rock.

Bernie Charles, Chief Semiahmoo Tribe


Al Young

Fowler's Store At McKenzie & Beecher in Crescent Beach 1927.

Shell gas station sign on the roof and a cigarette advertisement for Sweet Caporal on the side wall


The White Rock Kiwanis float in the 1966 White Rock Sea Festival PARADE.

The giant banner on the float was to promote their upcoming Bar B Q at RUTH JOHNSTON PARK.

A part of White Rock's (Not talked about) history occurred the following year when the White Rock council of the day, decided to up and change the name of the park to commemorate Canada's Centennial year. Thus with no consultation with anyone the park's name was simply changed.

The park we now know as Centennial Park sits on the land which was donated by RUTH JOHNSTON'S husband to honour her memory. A few years back The White Rock Sun helped orchestrate a movement to have the city restore the name. The best the city could come up with was to name a portion of Centennial Park, Ruth Johnston Park.



The Bear Facts


My father and I put the GrizLee on the beach in 1999. It was in memory of my brother Lee who passed away in a South surrey car accident in 1998. The bench beside it is in memory of my mother who passed away just 7 weeks before Lee. Grizlee was replaced last year after taking some abuse over the years. We chose this location for two reasons. My father wanted it at the end of the promenade for the exact reason this post was written....for the people of White Rock to enjoy and love it. Also we faced it towards Point Roberts, where our family spent many summers growing up.

Thank you ll for enjoying it. I used to share these stories with dad....unfortunately he passed away shortly before the new one was installed. It was his vision to replace it and I was happy to get it done for him. 

Keep enjoying it. Please look after it. And tell kids to stay off of it if you see it happening. Too many parents allow their kids to climb all over it. It wears. It's there for you all. Much love

And yes. Touching the nose has definitely become a thing ðŸ™‚

Cory Slavin




White Rock 1923-1924. Looking East - 1923

On Washington avenue ( Marine Drive )

Buildings Include Dance Hall, Store & gas Station, Central Hotel.



Memories of Surrey / Al Young

Did you know that Surrey used to be home to a popular amusement attraction called the “Whoopee Dipper”?

Built in 1929, the Whoopee Dipper was a contraption that served as a roller-coaster for cars. 10,000 feet of lumber and around $10,000 were invested in building this U-shaped wooden track that stood near Peace Arch Highway /King George Highway and Hjorth Road / 104 Avenue.

For 25 cents, automobile enthusiasts could drive around the Whoopee Dipper once.

For 50 cents, visitors would be driven by the owner himself.

The Whoopee Dipper was a hot attraction for all ages, so much so that all the roads leading to the bridge were backed up on weekends and for a good reason, because there were only five of these attractions in operation at the time throughout North America.

West Beach BARGE General Store

Tom Saunders

Group expert

In the picture above, on the far right, above the store (in the middle of the picture) is a horizontal black and white ladder-like design. That's part of the Central Hotel. The Central and Barge's store both burned down Jan 22, 1930. Barge's was rebuilt soon after. The picture I'm attaching is even a few years prior to that, when it was known as Barge Bro's Veteran's General Store. There were many incarnations of the Barge Brothers' various hardware ventures within a few dozen yards of this location.



Crescent Beach

Settled in 1871 (just four years after Canada's inception as a nation), what once started as a single-family farming community expanded to a hot summer getaway with the development of the Great Northern Railway in 1909. 1912 was considered the boom year for Crescent (later renamed Crescent Beach). This was due to local construction and promotion of the resort by the Crescent Beach Development Company. In addition to a boat house and twelve homes, the Crescent Hotel, and a pier were constructed. 

Crescent Hotel as it looked in 1926.
In 1912, the Crescent Beach Development Company promoted Crescent Beach as a resort. area. That year, Capt. Watkin Williams opened the Crescent Hotel. It was said the 21-room building was built mostly from lumber from the beach.

The Crescent Hotel seen here flying the Union Jack Flag.
When the Hotel was first constructed it provided only the bare-board necessities of life. It had just two indoor flush toilets and one bath tub. Each room had a basin and a jug of cold water on the wash stand. A chamber pot was in a cupboard below. There was no central heating, no insulation, and no electricity. Only the special guest rooms had wallpaper. Each floor had a balcony and the stairway came down outside for easy access to the beach and the outside lavatories

The aftermath of the fire in 1949 that destroyed the Crescent Hotel; It was never rebuilt. 


The Queen of New Westminster docked in the Royal City: This BC Ferry that visited the city it was named after and docked at the foot of Eighth Street April 30, 1973. It was newly retrofitted having been enlarged to carry more cars and passengers for the Horseshoe Bay run to Nanaimo. Over 4,000 toured the boat and were overwhelmed with it's features

Though not capable to load or unload in New West .

The visit was purely for public relations purposes

A more overwhelming sight to behold from the Southside of the Fraser


Scheduled service south of the Fraser — Blue Funnel line stops and fares beyond New Westminster 1915

Open Blue Funnel Line

Fares are from Vancouver. New Westminster 25 cents

White Rock line

Leave Westminster week days, 10:00 am, 5:00 pm; Saturdays 10:00 am, 1:30 pm 6:00 pm; Sundays 9:am 6:00 pm.

Leave White Rock 7:30 am, 2:30 pm.

South Port Mann 60 cents

Johnson Rd 65

Cloverdale 75

Hazelmere 75

White Rock 1 dollar

Blaine 1.25

"The White Rock car, in the camping season especially, serves a very pressing need, as this district is unserved except by the G.N.R. company and the Blue Funnel."


On August 25, 1954, Peace Arch Hospital opened with just 50 beds, five doctors, and ten nurses!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PEACE ARCH HOSPITAL! What an amazing 68 years it's been!


Nestled between the clear waters of Three Valley Lake and sheer cliffs of the Monashee Mountains, Three Valley Lake Chateau is an extraordinary Revelstoke resort destination. Whether you are looking for Revelstoke accommodations or attractions, Three Valley Lake Chateau is the place to visit.

Part of the resort features the recreation of an old wild west town complete with a museum that contains many different forms of transportation and antique vehicles.

One of those vehicles is our old White Rock fire truck.

Thanks to TOM SAUNDERS for this1997 pic of the day they moved the old truck out of White Rock.



As some of you know, the Ellingsen Family of White Rock are my extended family and I was contacted by Troy Ellingsen who asked if I would help him to create a post announcing that White Rock Brake & Wheel, 15170 Prospect Ave, will be shutting its doors permanently on August 31, 2022 after 46 years. Troy’s father, Eric Ellingsen, ran White Rock Brake and Wheel successfully for well over 40 years until his passing in 2020, at which time Troy took over the business, maintaining the same integrity and desire to serve the community of White Rock as his father did. Unfortunately, all good things must come to pass and as the landscape of White Rock changes, the time has come for White Rock Brake and Wheel close its doors. Very few businesses can stand the test of time as long as White Rock Brake and Wheel did and it was thanks mostly due to the support of the community. It was never just about making money, it was about being part of the community, supporting customers and most importantly, developing relationships and long-lasting friendships. Troy and the rest of the Ellingsen family wish to sincerely thank the White Rock Community for their unwavering support of the business over the years, and would like to invite you for one last visit on Friday August 26th for a BBQ, a chance to share memories, say good-bye and to thank everyone who has supported the business over the years.

Tom Saunders



An interesting article published in the Vancouver Sun in September 1948. The possibility of White Rock separating from Surrey went on for over 10 years before White Rock finally did leave the municipality of Surrey to go it alone.

It was not until 1957 we actually declared our independence.

Now if you really would like to learn about White Rock separating from Surrey, sit back and enjoy the conversation Community Connections host GORDIE HOGG had with VIN COYNE last year former city Councillor and unofficial historian. 



After appearing at Vancouver's Denman Auditorium in 1958, Gene Vincent returned for a date at the Silver Moon Ballroom in suburban White Rock on Valentine's Day, 1959. Les Vogt's band The Prowlers backed Gene up.

The Prowlers L-R. Jim O’Hara, Les Vogt, Bob Tillyer, Larry Tillyer, Fred Bennet

Here's Les:

"Gene Vincent was basically a one-hit recording artist at the time. He wasn’t carrying his own band as yet. He would use a local band because we could play the 2-3 dance sets required and then back him up for a 45 minute show set. He performed mostly cover tunes that we already knew and we learned a few of Gene’s original tunes as well as his hit “Be-Bop-a-Lula” which we already had in our repertoire.

The crowd was enthusiastic, but not rowdy as I recall. In fact, I remember Gene mentioning that he thought Canadian audiences were very polite."

Gene Vincent died in October 1971. He was only 36.

Gene was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 by John Fogerty, who said:

"I do believe that this record is probably one of the greatest records ever made. That voice, man, Gene Vincent! Anyway, the sound of Cliff Gallop's guitar, the drummer screamin' in the background - I think it's what we call attitude. And I sure learned that from 'Be-Bop-a-Lula'."

EDITORS NOTE: The Silver Moon Ballroom was located at the corner of Victoria avenue and Martin Street. Currently home to the Silver Moon apartments behind ULI'S restaurnt.


Good Idea

Brooks Rock East Beach off of Semiahmoo Park

We constantly hear people saying "Bring back the Sandcastle Competition!" Believe me we would love to see it but local environmentalists would block it every step of the way due to it inter-fearing with the eel grass in the bay. Fair enough.

So when we saw the beautiful new rock wall constructed on East Beach to repair the damage caused by the winter storm, we got to thinking.

Why not create White Rock - Rock Wall? As you can see by the above picture of Brock's Rock which is located on East Beach, someone already took the initiative to carve a commemorative stone. We sell benches and plagues all over town, what about having your loved one's anniversary, baby's birth, graduation etc carved into a stone in perpetuity


Good Idea #78

Over the lifespan of the White Rock Sun we have used the electronic pages to promote thought and discussion within the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

Two things happened that spawned this idea.

1. The city of White Rock spent over $30,000 to hire a company to provide a FREE shuttle from east to west beach. If you live in the area you know how that worked., People stayed away in droves. Hour after hour, day after day, week after week the empty shuttle bus drove back and forth burning fuel and adding to the toxic fog for the diners in the restaurants on the beach.

2. A friend purchased electric assist bicycles for himself and his lady. The bikes were purchased in Richmond made by a local company. The bikes cost around $1200.00 each.

Pictured above is the three wheel tricycle version of the E BIKE. Very stable land room to carry your b each necessities. If we purchased 20 of them to start ( am confident the Richmond company would give us a good deal) but let's just figure $1,000.00 per bike. We could set up a rental place on East Beach (Semiahmoo First Nations empty restaurant across from the Ocean Promenade would be a contender. Then get the Explain White Rock volounteers to man the rental station. NO one takes a bike without leaving a credit card and ID. The possibilities are endless. We could put a little advertisement on the back of the basket on the bike promoting events and or businesses for another source of revenue.

It's just an idea. A jumping off place. But where there is a will and with the right combination of council members and staff, the sky is the limit.

And I don't mean a sky full of cranes!


December 07, 2017

It’s one of the most magical free things to do in Metro Vancouver this winter: a breathtaking stroll around a beautiful lake that is illuminated with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights.

Indeed, Coquitlam’s outdoor winter display, called Lights at Lafarge, is a festive wonderland in Town Centre Park.

Now, a lakeside table near the popular display is taking Instagram by storm. The gorgeous table looks like it was pulled straight out of a frosted fairytale, as it sparkles alongside the moonlit lake. What’s more, there’s even an enchanted looking chandelier hanging overhead.

Could White Rock be inspired by our neighbours in Coquitlam?

If you have been down to West Beach in White Rock you will notice there are extra Christmas lights this year. It wouldn't take too much for White Rock to create a Christmas display similar to Coquitlam's.

Diana Arnold photo

Our waterfront could use it. The cold dark days of winter have severely impacted the restaurants which for the most part on barely hanging on.

The city of Coquitlam has created a showcase of Christmas lights.

Enjoy the magic of the Lower Mainland's largest free outdoor lights display at Lafarge Lake in Town Centre Park.

The lights will remain on until Jan. 21, 2018 giving plenty of time to ​walk around the lake and enjoy the multiple themed zones.​

Enhance your Winter Lights Display experience by taking in the free activities. Join the Park Spark team for pop-up activities including light making workshops, scavenger hunts and special themed nights.

Visit for more information.

Free parking is available in Town Centre Park off Trevor Wingrove Way. The lights display is also just steps from Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain Station.


White Rock was home to the Sandcastle Competition. At the height of its popularity over 400,000 visitors flocked to the sandy tidal pools to observe the wide array of sandcastles and sand sculptures. Our waterfront shoreline is home to a large number of boulders called rip rap that shore up the rail line.

Why don't we create an international stone carving competition with a substantial prize money pot, this way it will attract world class artists. There would also be an entry fee to eliminate the less experienced carvers. Once completed we could leave the boulders on the beach or we could use a train crane and lift them out and place them throughout the city?

White Rock council currently has approved putting $20,000.00 on the table to get a Buskers Festival going in White Rock, which I am not saying is a bad idea, but I kind of like this idea a bit better and it most certainly would put White Rock on the International map

At the far end of West Beach near the eastern end of Semiahmoo Park there is a commemorative stone carving that has been there for years.



Now & Then

Kudos to the new owners of the DEW DROP INN now open in the old location of JIMMY FLYNN'S. When it came time to decide on a name for the new Brit Pub restaurant the owners walked down the street to the White Rock Museum and poured over some old images.

That is when they came across this old photo of the original Dew Drop Inn from the 1920's. The original Dew Drop was located at the corner of Balsam and Marine Drive on East Beach

Marine Drive in those days was known as Washington Avenue.


Now & Then

With the recent fire in the apartments above COSMOS RESTAURANT on White Rock's Marine Drive, we thought it might be interesting to look back at the history of that section of our "city by the sea."

1911 photo of the corner of Elm Street & Marine Drive



Prior to COSMOS taking possession of the commercial space in the Frisby Block, the location was home to a restaurant called SUNRISE.

COSMOS restaurant suffered water damage due to the recent fire in the condo above the restaurant. Plans are underway to repair the western end of the block. It is hoped the work will be completed sometime this summer.

EDITOR'S NOTE - Thank you to local amateur historian TOM SAUNDERS for pictures and time-line.

Good Idea

Paint The Town

This is a very cool idea Travel Newfoundland has come up with. Click on the link below and you are able to colourize iconic Newfoundland images. You are then invited to share them with your friends. Wouldn't this be a wonderful way to promote tourism in White Rock/South Surrey?

(click here and start colouring)



Sometimes something once you see it becomes so obvious.

We love this wheelchair accessible picnic bench.


This is a wonderful idea that started out in an elementary school. It is called THE BUDDY BENCH. If a child did not have someone to play with they simply went over and sat on The Buddy Bench. Soon other children in the playground would invite them to join in.

In addition to having these in the playgrounds of the local elementary schools, wouldn't it be nice if we had one uptown White Rock where someone could sit if they just felt like having someone to talk to?


March 01, 2016

Good Idea

The city of white Rock is facing a challenge on how to solve the problem of East Beach erosion that has been caused by worldwide rising tides, and the occurrence of a phenomenon called King Tides which are exceptionally high tides. We have had two in the last two months. The pounding of the rising tides have caused massive destruction along the East Beach waterfront.

For years the business owners and residents of East Beach have claimed they have been treated like second class citizens. They feel the majority of the community events, improvements to the beach and promotion of White Rock is centered on West Beach around the pier and our famous "white rock."

We got to thinking. Maybe we could solve two problems with one Good Idea.

Can't you just imagine how wonderful it would be to have a swimming pool like Kits Pool (pictured above) on our waterfront. Yes there will be environmental concerns, fisheries and oceans and other levels of the Federal government will have to be engaged. The construction of the pool would create a barrier to protect our shoreline in the future. The idea would be a revenue generator. Think about how many times you have gone down to the beach, and not been able to swim because the tide is so far out. Also it would provide a perfect location for the White Rock firefighters to locate their "
all ability playground."

I think it at least merits some discussion.

What do you think?


Good Idea

Vancouver unveiled the first of a series of stunning light sculptures over the weekend. This weekend White Rock's Christmas Sail Past will occur off the end of the White Rock pier. what a tourThanks Don will check into it todayist attraction in the winter it would be if our "city by the sea" created art installations along the waterfront like this.

Heck the city could just put a call out for everyone to bring down a string or two of Christmas lights and voila!

Read the CBC story on the West End whale installation (click here)


Good Ideas

At no cost to the city of White Rock we continue on our journey of supplying the city with "good ideas." We like to think of it as a public service.

Wouldn't a gazebo look beautiful while serving a very practical purpose on the green space in front of Laura's Coffee Corner in the 5 Corners District of White Rock?

Local artists could display their work as well as it would provide a nice location for local musicians to busk and a gathering place for our community.

We could also work in a piece of history into the design. Pictured below are HUGH ELLENWOOD from White Rock Archives and MLA GORDON HOGG recently pictured with the cupola that adorned the roof of Semiahmoo Senior Secondary. This is a recent picture so we do know the cupola is still around.


In architecture, a cupola is a small, most often dome-like, structure on top of a building. Often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome.


February 10, 2015

This story in the PROVINCE newspaper caught our eye. In the past we pondered why the city of White Rock had not considered turning one of our many hillside streets into a giant water slide? It could be set up and taken down after a couple of hours, so as not to inconvenience the neighbourhood too much.

White Rock Sea Festival organizers, are you listening?

(read THE PROVINCE story here)


We start off the New Year with another good idea that we would like to see somewhere on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

Here is the current public washroom located at the White Rock pier. Now just imagine if we replaced the smelly old cement cinder block bunker with this.

Yes, a glass public washroom. What with the new public art installation of the "Railway Man" in front of the museum, this would be a real conversation piece on our waterfront. Come on City Hall let's have some fun. Time for some good news.

Here is what it looks like from the inside looking out.

+Congratulations to Joanne the only reader that identified the teaser we posted in yesterday's paper.


September 10, 2014

It has been a couple of weeks since we got around to offering up another "Good Idea" to White Rock/South Surrey. The PARTY ON THE PIER last week got us to thinking how we should be using our pier (the longest in Canada by the way) for more events. That coupled with the recent DINER EN BLANC in Vancouver got us imagining a similar event in White Rock DINER EN BLANC ROC. The DINER EN BLANC in Vancouver this year drew 3,000 diners to the shores of False Creek. (watch the video from 2013)

How many Dîner en Blanc events are there in the world?

There are close to 40 events scheduled, or in the process of being approved for 2014! Most take place in North America and Europe with a total of one hundred thousand members participating each year. The largest and most internationally recognized Dîner en Blanc, is the original event in Paris. Instigated over 25 years ago by François Pasquier and his close friends, it attracts today almost 15,000 people yearly. The second largest event is based in Montreal, Canada with 5,200 guests.

The Vancouver event which was held August 21 drew a record crowd of 3,000 with 5,000 names on a waiting list. Let's give those thousands a Bite Of The Rock.

Here is a link to the FAQ Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Vancouver event (click here)


As you have seen and read above, the city of White Rock has been ordered by Transport Canada to close up the fence along the promenade on East Beach as well as the area in front of Bayview Park at the west end of West Beach.

Instead of filling in all the railing with mesh as it appears they are planning on doing via the request for proposal posted on the city's website, could the city not do something like Surrey has done (above) at the lookout in Kwomais Park in South Surrey?



The Tall Ships have made their annual trip into Blaine harbour for the weekend. The popular explorer vessels (one actually used in Pirates of the Caribbean) offer dinner cruises and simulated battles nightly out on the far side of Drayton Harbour.

What with White Rock's sea festival always having a pirate theme one would think it would be a natural to have the boats come in close to the White Rock side of the bay.


More Good Idea

As a regular user of transit I would love to be able to while away the time spent waiting for my bus, with a little swing ride. The city of Montreal thinks selectively placed swings at local bus stops was a good idea, and the response was instant and overwhelming.

If White Rock instituted this "good idea" the fee publicity would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plus don't think for a moment the swings would not become popular.



There are some people in our community who would not want to see the world famous sandcastle competition return to the tidal flats of Semiahmoo Bay. Environmental groups express concern the eel grass will be negatively impacted by such an activity.

So we have come up with a solution. 3 D sand Art

Jamie Harkins’ art must be seen from a certain perspective for the illusions to work, but when they are the images are mind-bending.

Harkins employes a technique called anamorphosis, which results in viewers thinking his 2-dimensional illustrations are actually 3-dimensional.

See more of his art (click here)


The city of White Rock has plans for a brass statue outside of the White Rock museum on the waterfront. Our good idea would be to have a railway theme as the museum began its life as the train station in "our city by the sea."

Perhaps something like this railway handcart with just a railway conductor operating one side so visitors to the beach could climb up and pose pretending they are operating the other half of the hand cart. Brass statues in Little Mountain Park in Vancouver that are designed to insert yourself in the photo have proved very popular.

Just an idea.


Good Ideas

What Would You Do To The White Rock Waterfront?

North Vancouver is considering revitalizing its waterfront. Will North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Waterfront become “Canada’s best gathering place?”  Plans have been unveiled to transform the former shipyard lands east of Lonsdale Quay into a major regional destination and lively hot spot that will activate and bring business to North Vancouver’s downtown area. If funding is secured, elements of the project could be open as early as 2016. A full draft of the plan will be completed in mid-March. On the drawing board is an outdoor skating rink, a giant Ferris wheel and a beautiful outdoor amphitheater with the city of Vancouver in the background.

(read the full proposal)

Does White Rock need a makeover or do you like it just the way it is? Our very own DON PITCAIRN thinks a zip line from the top of the hump separating east and west beach, out to the end of the pier would draw thousands of visitors to our waterfront. Do




City of White Rock road ends? Would White Rock ever consider planting fruit trees along the inventory of road ends owned by the city that zig zag the White Rock hillsides? The trees would add to the barren moonscape on the hillside and never really grow high enough that they would block anyone's views.

Over to you city hall.


With an increased Asian population making the Semiahmoo Peninsula their home, we might think about celebrating Chinese New Year with our own Chinese Lantern Festival. In parts of Asia, the festival is typically celebrated on the fifteenth (last) day of the Chinese New Year period to mark the end of the holiday.

The first annual lantern festival took place at Spanish Banks February 07. Over 7,000 spectators and lantern lighters turned up for the event. Lanterns were available for purchase for $5.00 at the event.

Watch the video (click here)

White Rock this past year acknowledged our growing Asian community with a Chinese Moon Festival. A lantern festival could be a fun night and a great spectator event. The mass ascent would be a sight to see.


No Brainer

Groundhog Day 2014: Punxsutawney Phil and Wiarton Willie predict six more weeks of winter for U.S, Canada

Well this GOOD IDEA will continue to be a yearly event until someone up at White Rock City Hall buys into the cheapest most effective way for "our city by the sea" to get tens of thousands of free publicity yearly.

Quick name the cities in North America that get talked about every year when groundhog day (yesterday February 02) rolls around.

Punxsutawney PA

Wiarton Willie (Owen Sound Ontario)

So how about SEMIAHMOO SAM or WHITE ROCK WILMA or whatever you care to choose. Heck run a name the groundhog contest to engage the citizens. This is a no brainer. Just saying.



Could White Rock or Crescent Beach Play Host To A People Place?

For the past few years the city of Vancouver have transformed the space on the south side of the art gallery along Robson street, into a gathering spot for shoppers and visitors alike.

Over the years there have been a number of interesting transformations including a group of giant bean bag chairs that the homeless took to sleeping on at night. Ooops.

So once again this year the city is putting up a $37,5000.00 grant up for grabs for the winning design.

White Rock's grassy area by the pier and Crescent Beach's Blackie's Spit could benefit from just such a promotion. Don't you think?



White Rock Says It Is An Arts Community?

Port Moody Banner Painting

The street banners that festoon the White Rock waterfront and uptown areas are looking a little faded and weather worn.

How about getting Semiahmoo Arts involved with a "show your pride" banner contest.

Artists would pay a $25 entry fee to partake with the money going to a grand prize for the best banner as voted on by the public.

The city of Port Moody recently undertook just such a contest and the response was great. The banners are on display at the Port Moody Civic Centre until the end of the month before they are erected on the lamp standards around the city.


Push outs may be popping up around Vancouver this summer. What is a parklet? Good question. A parklet is the reclaiming of a couple of existing parking spaces and using that area to create a people place to enhance the experience of visiting a neighbourhood.

I can see the how a couple of these located the 5 Corners and uptown district would really enhance the area. What say city hall?


Waterfront Christmas Parade


Central City's fourth "Big Rigs for Kids" Lighted Truck Parade illuminated the streets of Surrey over the holidays and were displayed in Holland Park.

Consisting of over forty local and Vancouver Island Trucks, the convoy started at the Surrey Santa Parade in Cloverdale then travelled west to Whalley.

So my GOOD IDEA is how about the convoy of beautifully lit trucks makes a detour and comes down 176 from Cloverdale, along White Rock's Marine Drive then back out to Whalley?


When this photo courtesy of the White Rock Museum surfaced recently, it got us to thinking. Why couldn't White Rock host an event similar to the Oyster Run just south of us in Anacortes, WA.

The Oyster Run is loosely thought of by motorcycle enthusiasts as the last official ride of the summer before the time to put your bike away for the winter arrives.

The Sandpiper Pub has always been popular with bikers, so let's build the event around that part of town, and if it grows like we think it will, Semiahmoo Park in conjunction with the Semiahmoo Band could be the anchor venue. If you think events like this just attract dirty greasy bikers, think again. (check out the Oyster Run)

(click here to read our other GOOD IDEAS)

Check out the 2012 video of The Oyster Run below


If you grew up in White Rock in the 50's & 60's the iron horse above will bring back a flood of memories. For a couple of decades this old iron horse, which used to be mounted on heavy duty springs was a fixture in Semiahmoo Park.

It presently sits decaying near the abandoned tennis courts in Semiahmoo Park.

So here's my idea. Let's restore it paint it all up really nice and put "Welcome To 5 Corners" and mount it on the grassy area outside of Laura's Coffee Corner.


Crosswalk Art?

When the city of Vancouver painted the crosswalks along Davie street during Pride Week, it got us to thinking of how we could brighten up our town, get people talking and get White Rock thousands of dollars of much needed publicity.

With International Artist Day coming up this could be a perfect tie in to publicize the event.

You're welcome.


Beach Cruise In

This one is a no brainer. This past Sunday over 400 customs and hot rods filled up Semiahmoo Park. Great for the Elks food services, and the Semiahmoo parking brigade, but nada for the merchants of White Rock. How about closing off the parking lots on East Beach and filling them up with hundreds of hot rods and customs?

Langley in September hosts the Langley Cruise In which is the largest in Canada, New West has a very successful car show as does Tsawwassen as well and Crescent Beach which host a bevy of beautiful cars later this month. I am sure the local car club Westcoasters would take care of everything. One phone call city hall, one phone call to the Rod God!.

(click here to read our other GOOD IDEAS)


The city of Mission has come up with what we think qualifies as a GOOD IDEA. Hey White Rock City Hall, what do you think?

The 2014 Budget process is now underway and we’re seeking your input on how the District will fund the quality of life in our community.

From policing to public works, the District of Mission provides a wide range of programs and services to the citizens and businesses of Mission. For 2014, Council is trying to achieve no increase in taxes (a 0% target). Meeting this budget target is a challenge. We need your feedback to determine which services should be  maintained or reduced in order to hold the line on taxes.

Learn more about how the budget works through Budget 101, fill out the online survey, email us with your comments or stay connected through Twitter. We want to hear what you think. It’s Your Business!


Palm Beach

English Bay Palm Trees

The City of White Rock next year has big plans to re-do the section of Johnston Road between 16th Avenue and Thrift Avenue. The present group of trees along the corridor have uprooted the sidewalks making it difficult and unsafe for pedestrians to navigate the sidewalks along the uptown section of town.

Our GOOD IDEA would be to install palm trees along the corridor. Nothing says "Welcome To The Beach" like palm trees. Tsawwassen a few years back installed a centre median with palm trees. The trees were donated by forme Premier BILL VANDERZALM. When VANDERZALM read the story in the White Rock Sun of our good idea he offered to work out a deal to help White Rock install a similar corridor of trees, at a very affordable price.

As you drive along the waterfront in White Rock along Marine Drive you will notice a number of homes already have installed palm trees and they are flourishing in "Our City By The Sea."

We have submitted the idea to the city of White Rock. Here';s hoping the city adopts this GOOD IDEA.


Fun In The Sun

Why can't White rock install some summertime permanent beach volleyball nets. A pair could be put by the pier so strollers along the pier can stop and watch the game and cheer on the participants. Then a couple of nets could also be installed on East Beach. Everyone up at city hall keeps saying we need something to revive East Beach. Well, here it is.

The nets would stay up all summer, anyone wanting to use them would simply bring their own volleyball. Have you ever seen the crowds that turn up every night out at Jericho Beach in Vancouver to play volleyball? It would be great for the waterfront businesses as the players need liquids to stay hydrated. Let's stop talking and let's get rocking!


A few years back when White Rock was hit with a boil water advisory, it became patently clear there was no system in place to alert residents of an emergency. With the recent rail accident in Quebec we thinnk it is time for the city of White Rock to install an opt in phone system whereby residents can register their phone#. In the event of an emergency the push of one button and everyone in White Rock would be called instantly.

Yes there is a cost factor. But really can't we afford not to install it?

Many cities throughout British Columbia have the sysem in place. It is a no brainer the way we see it.


In our continuing series of "Good Ideas" for White Rock/South Surrey we thank "Pitbull" PITCAIRN for this idea.

Welcome to WR Sign

 (A sign similar to this one promoting Cloverdale back in the 50's that was located at the corner of Fraser Highway and 176th Street)
On Hwy. 99 as you enter Canada from the US there is a large "Welcome to Surrey" sign on the 8th Ave. hillside, made with large concrete letters and lava rock background. Why not add "& White Rock" or "& White Rock Beach" below Surrey? The provincial government is responsible for this sign and would likely pay for the upgrade and if not, the $40,000 per year being spent for a nearby billboard would be better invested making this very permanent change.


I was talking to Bill Vanderzalm about the Palm tree idea...He donated the Palms to Tswassen...have you seen them? He said we should change the street name to Palm drive, and market it as the northern most Palm Drive in North America... He said he could help out with the Palms.

City Manager DAN BOTTRILL informed me the idea has enough credence that it has been forwarded to the committee designing the re-make of uptown next year.


PLAY ME I'M YOURS - A month or so back when I started this series with the "Play Me I'm Yours" piano concept I was not aware Vancouver was launching the same program. I first encountered it a couple of years ago in Toronto and thought "Wow what a great idea for White Rock." I still think it is a great idea, I have a resident who is willing to offer up a piano, now we just need a location and some artists. This could happen very quickly. People will just walk up to it and sit down and start playing. Watch the crowd appear.


CAR FREE DAY - It would be a wonderful idea to close off Marine Drive to all vehicular traffic for an entire day. We could put the tables and chairs out on the street and have a giant street party. Every year this idea gets bigger and bigger with tens of thousands turning up in Kitsilano, Commercial Drive, Gastown and Yaletown. I actually understand the Spirit of the Sea Festival is considering something along this line this year in August. BRAVO.


BRING BACK THE SANDCASTLES - Please, pretty please. I am on bended knees. White Rock keeps trying to figure out how to "brand itself." Back in the 80's the one term mayor TOM KERSTEIN came up with the idea of a sandcastle competition on our beach. The event exploded, and within a couple of years we had 400,000 people on the beach. Its success killed it. Let's bring it back and keep it just big enough that we can control it and benefit from all the attention we get from hosting the event. Up until about a year ago we were listed on the internet as THE SANDCASTLE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. some other city has not adopted it, but there is nothing stopping us from bringing it back.


Video Contest

How about if the city of White Rock, White Rock Tourism and the White Rock Business Improvement Association comes together to create a "I Love White Rock" video contest. There could be dinner packages from local resaurants put up as prizes.

Here are a couple of examples of what could be done.

YOUTUBE - White Rock video

White Rock Longboarding Video

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