Gary McGratten and White Rock Museum collections

Snapshots of growth on the Peninsula

Local realtor donates historic aerial photos to White Rock Museum and Archives

Nobody remembers at this late date the name of the pilots and photographers who flew over Semiahmoo Bay and Crescent Beach in 1928 and 1932, methodically exposing photographic plates to build up an bird’s eye view of the area.

No one knows what kind of planes zig-zagged over the Semiahmoo Peninsula, including South Surrey and the small but growing community of White Rock, as the work was done, although it’s a fair bet that the crews and technology – and maybe even the aircraft types – had seen similar service in aerial reconnaissance missions during World War One.

But thanks to local realtor Gary McGratten, these crucial pieces in the ongoing jigsaw puzzle of local history are now a part of the permanent display at White Rock Museum and Archives.

McGratten, a keen collector of local historical ephemera, said he found a series of the images at a second-hand store around 15 years ago, and had them pieced together to form a single panorama.

Interest piqued, he discovered that aerial surveys had been done yearly and purchased prints of others from the period that are still on file at the National Archives in Ottawa.

McGratten, who specializes in ocean-view properties, said he had the resulting collages “hanging around the office” for years until he decided to donate them last month.

“I thought it would be great for the museum to have something like this,” he said,

“It’s a very, very nice acquisition for the museum,” said collections, exhibits and programming co-ordinator Amanda Sittrop. “It teams very well with what we already have here.”

Having what is – literally – an overview of the history of the period provides a valuable geographic reference and context for other photographs and reminiscences collected and preserved by the museum, she said.

She said the museum is grateful not only for McGratten’s generosity in donating the aerial panoramas to the community, but also for the example it sets for others.

“Some people don’t think about donating their photos to the museum – but there must be boxes and boxes of historic photos still in attics and storerooms that could wind up being lost.”

Geographical features of the time, including the original appearance of the Peace Portal Golf Course, the pier and operations at the lumber mill on the Little Campbell River, and the old Semiahmoo Secondary school at Five Corners (now site of White Rock Elementary) are clearly discernible in the photographs.

McGratten said the principal source of amazement for him in the photographs was “all the greenery.”

“There weren’t many roads, and most of them were for logging trucks – at that time only a handful of owners owned the whole thing,” he said.

“I’d always had an interest in the history of the city, so the only thing that really surprised me was to see where Marine Drive (originally Washington Avenue) ran along the waterfront, before the railway moved it up onto “the hump.”

“It makes it interesting to see the past like this – how much growth there has been, he said.

“People can’t believe it used to look like that here.”

“I’m surprised at the agricultural sense of the area,” said archivist Hugh Ellenwood.

 

“There were large plots of land that had been cleared out here.”

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Despite evacuation, coronavirus-quarantined White Rock couple still two weeks from home

Government chartered plane to help cruising Canadians return from Japan

Trade sends Surrey NHLer Brenden Dillon to Washington

‘We felt it was important for us to add a player of his caliber to our defensive group,’ says Caps GM

Suspect in Surrey forcible confinement arrested in Toronto

Constable Richard Wright, of the Surrey RCMP, said William Daniels-Sey was arrested on Feb. 16

Outdoor AED unit in Surrey among the first in B.C.

SaveStation cabinet is alarmed and monitored – and hasn’t been used yet

Surrey Mounties arrest man in Chatr Mobile store robbery in Whalley

Jeremy Morgan, 32, is alleged to have had a loaded gun when he was arrested on Feb. 12

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Nanaimo man wins lotto, plans to buy $16,000 fridge

Curtis Wright a winner in Lotto 6/49 draw

Metro Vancouver wants the region to repurpose, donate, or repair used clothing

Textile mending workshops to be held across the Lower Mainland

Most Read

l -->