The 100th anniversary of the opening of White Rock’s pier came on Friday morning without official fanfare – just the quiet appreciation of strollers walking in the footsteps of generations before them.
The official opening ceremony for the city landmark took place on Nov. 14, 1914, with then-MP Col. J.D. Taylor and provincial parliament member F.J. MacKenzie among the dignitaries, according to Lorraine Ellenwood’s authoritative history, Years of Promise – White Rock 1858-1958.
Conceived in peacetime as a federally funded wharf to accommodate steamers from Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver – and perhaps even international trade – the pier had already been overshadowed by larger events in the world.
Work on the wooden structure, started in July of that year, had already been completed in August – the same month that a series of political ultimatums in Europe escalated into the First World War. The impact on Canada of the outbreak of hostilities was cited as the main reason the official pier opening was pushed back to November.
The completion of the Panama Canal the same year spelled the end of dreams of Semiahmoo Bay as an international trade centre and, aside from federal Fisheries boats and smaller vessels, the pier became largely a decorative attraction for both pedestrians and, until the 1950s, motorists. Discussions of having the pier as a terminus for island ferries ultimately came to naught.
The battering effect of storms on the pier had long led to calls for a permanent rock breakwater at the end which was added in 1953.
Although even as early as 1949 a newspaper editorial asserted the pier had no real use, it has always been a point of pride for locals.
When, in 1976, the then Federal Department of Transportation ruled that it was no longer going to be responsible for repair and maintenance of the “unused” pier, a popular movement – spearheaded by local yachting enthusiast Art Bates (who died last month at age 93) – succeeded in having the pier transferred to the city, which has maintained it, as a cornerstone of city recreation policy, ever since.
A commemorative Party on the Pier was held this year on Aug. 28, serving as a fundraiser for the local arts community.
Peace Arch News would love to see your photographs of the pier taken on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014.If we get enough, we will post an online slideshow.Please email high-res photos to firstname.lastname@example.org