White Rock is a beautiful beach side community just a stone’s throw from the border.
Driving along Marine drive, also known as ‘The Strip”, it’s impossible not to notice the historic White Rock pier and the giant white rock sitting on the beach.
Tim and Claire spoke with Hugh Ellenwood, the archives manager with the White Rock museum, and took the opportunity to ask where did that rock come from?
“Well at the end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago, as the ice receded it left features like that all over the continent. The geological term for it is glacial erratic, and that really just means a large isolated rock, and ours just happens to be on the beach and naturally it’s a lovely, light, light grey colour so you could see it for miles out to sea. The areas always been known as White Rock because of the big white rock.”
If you’ve seen the rock, however, you can tell it’s been painted white. Hugh explained to story behind that.
“Someone tried to blow it up in 1955 and someone painted it completely black…and that’s why it’s painted white now because someone painted it completely black one night and then the next night they came and painted a white skull and cross bones on it. So then one of the service clubs came down, had a picnic and painted it white.”
We asked Mayor Wayne Baldwin for his best elevator pitch on why White Rock is a wonderful place to live:
“It’s got the beach. It’s got the climate, we get about two-thirds the rainfall of Vancouver, and we have a lot of safe neighbourhoods, unlike some of our neighbours, excellent schools – and it’s just a great place to live.”
Mayor Baldwin has lived in White Rock for 35 years and he has had a front row seat to see how the city has changed in that time.
“It’s grown up a lot, when I first moved here I think the population was about 12,000 in White Rock and about 12,000 in South Surrey and now there’s about 20,000 in White Rock and about 80,000 in South Surrey. It has changed considerably, we’ve got traffic signals now…”
And just like any other community in the Lower Mainland, it has seen its fair share of challenges.
“There are a lot of people, of course, who remember how it was and those days are long past. The pressures of population growth… it’s something that we have to acknowledge and the thing to do is try to preserve what we’ve got while still accommodating that growth – and providing people opportunities to live and keep the price of housing down as much as we can.”