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A place where the streets have two names

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In some areas of the Peninsula

"Thanks for clearing up that mystery,” said a member of the Laureate Beta Nu Sorority. “It’s puzzled me for years!”

Last week, during our White Rock history presentation to the sorority, we had explained why the street signs on one of the community’s main thoroughfares don’t match: North Bluff on the south side, 16 Avenue on the north.

Most people know the road is the boundary between White Rock and Surrey, but why couldn’t a common name have been agreed upon?

Both Surrey and White Rock had compelling reasons why it couldn’t.

In 1956, while White Rock was still its troublesome Ward 7, Surrey joined the other Lower Mainland communities in subscribing to a uniform grid system of numbered streets and avenues. With that, White Rock’s time-honoured street names evaporated.

There is certainly logic in numbering streets, but Hugh learned, to his chagrin, that White Rock residents could care less.

His naive remark, “It would be so much easier to find your way around if streets had numbers,” was met with a stern, “I am not a mathematician. All places should have NAMES!”

With White Rock’s incorporation in 1957, one of the first committees struck was chaired by alderman Jessie Lee, and charged with restoring names to streets.

By 1960, the cherished names were back, with early day Bergstrom (136) and Stayte (160) joining North Bluff as boundary names. Marine Drive, the chosen name for the sea-front road, was met with less enthusiasm because it eliminated the familiar names of Washington Avenue and Campbell River Road, which old timers closely associated with the development of the community.

Other problems also cropped up. Some of the streets – Vidal, for instance – were dead ends in the older part of town. Should they be carried through on hilltop or supplanted to new names to reflect the settlement of that part of the city?

Irony and whimsy have played their parts in the naming game, too. The Johnston family, influential in the development of Surrey, didn’t live in White Rock, but its name was stamped on the county road that extended into White Rock.

Years later, when it came time to name a short road in the middle of the city, an alderman – in a burst of civic pride – suggested Cardinal, adding, “We already have a Bishop, but I think White Rock is worthy of a Cardinal.”

What it comes down to is that White Rock is a people place, with people who are passionate about many aspects of living – views, trees and street names to name a few.

The Peninsula’s best-known mother-and-son historians, Lorraine and Hugh Ellenwood, are dedicated to preserving history through the White Rock Museum & Archives. Call 604-541-2222 or email whiterockarchives@telus.net