Wooden Walk on the Ocean
I can see for miles and miles
Crescent Beach has been a summer destination for centuries. In pre-colonial times, it was the location of a significant temporary summer camp for area aboriginals. The tidal mudflats were a good clam digging area. Wild berries, especially cranberries, and a weir site were located at nearby Nicomekl River and Serpentine River areas. The area was part of Snokomish territory until a smallpox epidemic in 1850 forced the survivors and their lands to be amalgamated into the Semiahmoo First Nation. Musqueam bands also travelled to use the lands seasonally.
Artefacts such as arrowheads and jade have been found on the beach in the modern era. First Nations’ burial sites were uncovered in 1970 by sewer excavation.
The Semiahmoo First Nation attributes three to five metres depth of the land base to archaeological deposits of clams, charcoal and fire-cracked rocks without which the area would largely be a sandspit. Modern excavations in some parts have also uncovered more than 700 human remains.
The first Europeans to chart the area were Spanish sailors. Captain Galiano titled it San Rafael Point on his map.
After creating British Columbia, the first owner of the Crescent Beach area was John Musselwaite of Royal Engineers in 1871.
In 1909, the Great Northern Railway development from Blaine, Washington to New Westminster provided easier access to the beach for Vancouver-area residents. In 1913, permanent dikes (now serving as the waterfront walkway) were established to permit subdivision development. 1912 saw a piercing development, and the Crescent Beach Development Company promoted Crescent Beach as a resort area. Notable Vancouverites began building summer homes in the neighbourhood. That year, Captain Watkin Williams also opened the Crescent Beach Hotel, a 21-room building with a restaurant, store and post office. The hotel burned down in February 1950.
Oyster imported from Japan seeded a thriving business for some decades until the Crescent Oyster Company was closed in 1961 due to river pollution and contemporary concerns about shellfish paralytic poisoning.