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Rail & Lumber

With the clearing of the North Delta Uplands in the late 1800’s, and later, the logging of Kennedy Heights and Sunshine Hills, the availability of lumber created its own economy for local and distant markets.  

 

The Great Northern Railway coastal spur line, started in 1904, would eventually transport raw logs harvested in North Delta as well as dimension lumber and cedar shakes. The railway was constructed on the south shore of the Fraser River from the new rail bridge at Brownsville (where the Pattullo Bridge now stands) to Boundary Bay, across to Crescent Beach and White Rock, and ending in Blaine, Washington.

 

The railroad’s construction was welcomed as a source of off-season work for North Delta fishermen and cannery workers, but they soon realized that the railroad had its own crews and little construction work would be available.

 

Sadly, construction also impacted the lives of North Deltans by separating their homes from the Fraser River. Houses and lands were expropriated, and throughways for launching boats and watering livestock were disrupted.

 

In Annieville, the railroad was to be built at the doorstep of Trinity Lutheran Church. The church, which had just been dedicated in 1904, was dismantled board-by-board in 1905. The building was carefully reconstructed, complete with improvements, at its current location on River Road and re-dedicated in 1909, the same year that the railroad was officially completed.

 

Passengers could travel to New Westminster from Brownsville, but for North Deltans, hopping on a boat to pick up groceries in New Westminster or taking a wagon to market via the eight-foot carriage and foot bridge located over top of the rail bridge was more practical.

 

Although the new line provided a quick holiday trip to White Rock or Crescent Beach, most North Deltans found the fare too expensive for a family outing and took a wagon or car on the dirt road instead.

For the communities of Cloverdale and White Rock, the new Great Northern spur was of greater consequence. For Cloverdale it signalled a decline in its importance as a transportation hub, and for White Rock it brought access to the beach town as a resort and a customs port for the American border.

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Great Northern Railway Engine 477 at Port Guichon, 1910.
Image CR-101 1970-1-470 courtesy of Delta Heritage Society.

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Great Northern Railway track siding at Delta Shingle Mill in North Delta, 1910-1916,  Image CR-133 2004-11-6
courtesy of Delta Heritage Society.

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Great Northern Railway Museum Train engine and cars, 1967.
Image CR-101 1970-1-471 courtesy of Delta Heritage Society.