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Ocean Park

Ocean Park is situated on the north shore of Semiahmoo Bay midway between Crescent Beach and White Rock. From the bluff it overlooks Semiahmoo and Boundary Bays. Birch Point is to the south and Point Roberts is to the west. Between the points Galiano Island, Mayne Island and Saturna Island can be seen. The highest Island to the south is Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands. The Semiahmoo of the Straits Salish occupied the southern peninsula. They named the area Kwomais, which literally means Place of Vision as a result of its huge bluffs and unobstructed views.


Kwomais Point

Kwomais Point at Ocean Park prior to development in 1905. Local residents are enjoying the park like setting and the spectacular views.


In 1886 Ben Stevenson acquired a 350–acre parcel of land at Ocean Park. It was bounded on the north by Sunnyside (24th Avenue), on the east by Stevenson (128th Street), on the south by North Bluff (16th Avenue), and on the west by the waterfront. Here he built a large home with a veranda all around the outside. It overlooked Semiahmoo Bay to the west. Ben and Emelia raised a family of eight children. When the oldest child reached school age, Ben donated the land at Sunnyside (24th Avenue) and Ocean Park Road (124th Street) for a school so the children could be educated locally. This is now the Crescent Park Elementary School annex.


In 1905–06 a former Methodist Minister W. Pascoe Goard, from Winnipeg, through his agent H. T. Thrift, obtained 136 acres in what is now Ocean Park. The parcel was bounded by the present Broach (130th Street), North Bluff (16th Avenue), and the waterfront. He divided his holdings in five-acre blocks which he sold for $1,250 each to a number of men who became know as the Syndicate. The western end of this block of land was designated as a park and was named Ocean Park. Mr. Goard's object in acquiring the property was:


...to provide a place, on behalf of the Methodist Episcopal Church, where members, preachers and others could spend their vacations near the seas amid the beauties of nature and enjoy a period of recreation undisturbed by outside cares. - H. T. Thrift

Ocean Park Cabin E.W. Leeson's cabin

Log cabins such as these near Kwomais Point were typical of the summer retreats common in 1910. E.W. Leeson's cabin is pictured on the right.

Mr. Goard's original plan was to make it into a Methodist Chautauqua Centre. The Methodist Church turned down this plan, but they accepted the administration of the property and in 1910 offered summer school. Campers slept in tents and did their own cooking. In 1925 church union occurred and the Ocean Park Camp became the property of the United Church of Canada, B.C. Conference. The camp is the second oldest camp accredited with the B.C. Camping and the oldest camp using the original campsite.


In 1909 the Great Northern Sea line route was being completed and Mr. Goard saw the potential of sales of recreational property. The Syndicate members decided to have their lots subdivided into 50 by 100 foot lots and put up for sale. Financial problems and the outbreak of World War I delayed the subdivision until the 1920s.


GN train at Ocean Park

Initially the GNR did not stop at Ocean Park. Later it became a flag stop when friendly trainmen would stop when flagged. In 1912 campers built a small shed station at the foot of the hill beside the tracks and GNR accepted it and agreed to stop one train a day each way on flag.


Until the opening of the Great Northern Sea line route the only way to get to Ocean Park was via the New Westminster Bridge (built in 1904), the Old Yale Road, Johnston Road, and Crescent Road. From the lodge at the corner of Stevenson Road (128th Street) and Crescent Road, the route south was a trail which in places ran through farmer's yards and involved the opening and closing of farm gates. With the coming of the railway people were able to detrain at Crescent Station and then hike the two miles to Ocean Park. Initially the Great Northern Railway authorities had refused requests for a station at Ocean Park. However, in 1912 campers built a small shed station at the foot of the hill beside the tracks and GNR accepted it and agreed to stop one train a day each way on flag. Later a Campers' Special, known locally as Dinky, was operated during the summer. It made morning and evening runs with stops at Crescent Beach, Ocean Park and White Rock. This gave people from Vancouver and New Westminster the opportunity for weekend or summer long vacations at the beach.


From the 1890's to before World War I, the Ocean Park area and the whole southern peninsula was an active logging area. As logging ended more extensive settlement began to occur. Initially seasonal homes dominated but as settlement expanded and roads improved more permanent homes were established.


The opening of the Stevenson Road (128th Street) in 1924 significantly improved car transportation to New Westminster and also to White Rock. At the time there was no North Bluff Road (16th Avenue) or Marine Drive. Residents would hike by the tracks to White Rock. In the late 1920's Marine Drive was constructed but at first it was necessary to travel from Ocean Park by the old skid road along North Bluff and down Bergstrom (136th Street) to the new Marine Drive. Two bridges had been built over the ravines on the hill down to White Rock. A bridge west of Bergstrom was not yet finished. This new road meant that it was no longer necessary to take the Stevenson, Crescent, and Elgin route to Johnston Road in order to drive to White Rock.


In 1924 an Ocean Park Hall building committee was established after Mr. Horner had agreed to give the site for the hall outright. Fund raising commenced and plans were drawn for a 40 by 28 foot hall. March 3, 1926 the new hall was officially opened.


The community center of Ocean Park consisted of Ocean Park Hall, a small grocery store was located at North Bluff (16th Avenue) and Stevenson Road (128th Street). In addition a 6 by 6 foot building was placed on the corner of 126A and 16th Avenue in 1921 by Mr. Pratt and functioned as the local Post Office. Later a new Post Office was built, and enlarged to 6 X 12 foot, and located on the NE corner of Stevenson (128th Street) and North Bluff Road (16th Avenue).


Ocean Park Post Office

The original Ocean Park Post Office, a 6 by 6 foot building, was placed on the corner of 126A Street and 16th Avenue in 1921 by Mr. Pratt. This post office had a number of additions to enlarge it over the years.


OP Post Office 1951

A new Ocean Park Post Office was built and enlarged to 6' by 12' and located on the north east corner of Stevenson Road (128th Street) and North Bluff Road (16th Avenue). Mrs. Hume is pictured in front of the P.O. in 1948. The building behind the P.O. is the Cope's Home (later the Nicols, and finally Mr. Parrott) and it faced Stevenson Road.


Names that are synonymous with the growth and development of Ocean Park in the 1920's are; Bolton, Broatch, Carlson, Cope, Christopherson, Crux, Giblin, Henry, Howard, Hughes, Laronde, Leeson, Lowe, McArthur, Muir, Sandford, and Ringstad.


In the 1930's with the Great Depression and the drought on the Prairies a number of families settled in the Ocean Park area where a more self-sustaining life style was possible. The 1940's, specifically after the war, saw a rapid growth of the area. In 1948 Crescent Park School opened due to increased student enrolment. In 1951 the Crescent Beach/Ocean Park Volunteer Fire Department was formed under Colin McFadden. By November 1958 the 128th Street Fire Hall was completed by the volunteers themselves. In 1956 Crescent Legion #10 opened to accommodate the number of veterans who had settled in the area. The corner of North Bluff and Stevenson Roads has always been the core of commercial development. In 1927 Mrs. Cope opened a small store on her farm at the northeast corner. The Ocean Park General Store was run as a summer operation only in the beginning. The store had the only gas pump and phone in the area. By 1939, Mr. Parrott and John Greene ran the store. Jim Carruth bought the store and moved it across the street to the northwest corner where the Shell Service Station is now located. Shortly after Carruth built a much larger store just to the north. The old store re-emerged as a Shell Station.


In the 1940s and 1950s, a number of small commercial developments opened. John McKean's Grocery store on 16th Ave at 126A Street. A hardware store with adjoining cafe on the SE corner of 16th and 128th. The Pleasant Cabin Court consisted of a few cabins along the east side of 128th Street and south down from 14A Ave.


1967 was a pivotal year for Commercial Development. Jimmy Milne and W. Johnson's Ocean Park Plumbing located at 12853 16th Avenue. Across the street the Saba Brothers began the first stage of the Ocean Park Shopping Centre and within two years the completed project had a total of 22 stores including a Safeway and BC Gov't Liquor Store.


Ocean Park continues to grow as a vital residential area. Its mild climate and easy access to the beach make it a preferred residential community.


Ocean Park March 2004. The east side of 128th Street.


View NE View SE

Safeway and Ocean Park Plaza in the North East corner. The Bank of Montreal, Dental Office and Ocean Park Pizza in the South East corner.


Ocean Park March 2004. The west side of 128th Street.


View NW View SW

The North West corner with the Shell Station and Plaza. The South West corner with the small Plaza and Ocean Park Hall.


References:

The Ocean Parker Vol.7, Issue 9 September 2000
O.M. Sanford The Ocean Park Story Looking Back at Surrey, Surrey Historical Society Vol. 1.



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