Keeping track of rail history


Re: Respect the owner of trestle land, Aug. 20 letters.


Re: Respect the owner of trestle land, Aug. 20 letters.

I want to take you back about 10 years or so to a rumour that was floating around White Rock.

It was rumoured that the city was considering the purchase of a piece of property across the street from Sawbucks, where a restaurant is still located. It was also rumored the city was then going to build a parkade.

At some point, this parkade and land were going to be turned over to the Semiahmoo First Nation to make up for the land that was expropriated by the railroad.

I thought to myself, hmm, railroads can’t expropriate land. Governments can but not railroads.

At this point, I began to ask some questions about this so-called expropriation. One of the answers that came was that the railroad bought the land from the Semiahmoo Band in about 1909.

My next question, of course, was how do you know that they bought the land? The answer, “because I have a copy of the bill of sale!”

And there it was, a bill of sale stating that the Semiahmoo First Nation sells the land to the railroad for the sum of $1,250.00, plus $50 for an orchard, plus, I believe, another $50 to move the cemetery, to the Victoria Railroad and Steamship Company.

Another document is a letter from Sir Wilfred Laurier – the guy on the $5 bill – to Parliament or Department of Indian Affairs, I believe, asking them to ratify this transaction.

A third document is a large map showing that the waterfront in front of the museum was intended to be a deep water port. It clearly shows that the railroad owns the beach from the pier all the way down to the railroad crossing at the west end of the beach. The railroad was eventually sold to BNSF and was ultimately sold to Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway.

I turned these documents over to the White Rock Museum & Archives for all to see as part of our history.

Hope this clears up any misunderstanding about who actually owns the railway land.

Barry Gaudin, White Rock