Horseshoe Bay

     Besides some small logging operations that began in before the turn of the century, development did not start in Horseshoe Bay until the arrival of Albert Whyte. Whyte was the owner of the West Shore and Northern Land Company, a company that bought land in the Horseshoe Bay area, and developped what was called White Cliff City. This project equipped the area with such amenities as a water system, and helped attract residents. Horeshoe Bay saw further changes with the completion of the P.G.E. railway and Marine Dr., improvement that helped break down the barrier of isolation and stimulate growth.

     In 1931, a new era began for Horseshoe Bay when a land developer named Dan Sewell acquired some waterfront property and established a resort called Whytecliff Lodge. Sewell later added a marina and a hotel to his operation, all a part of his plan to cultivate a sport fishing business. Equipped with a fleet of powerboats and plentiful salmon stocks, the news of the fishing resort spread quickly and soon developed a North American wide reputation. This reputation was so great that it even lured in such high profile entertainers as Bing Crosby to come to Horseshoe Bay for the fishing.

     As for the ferries, a number of small ferry services had sprung up in the area over years, but it was not until the mid-20th century that a proper ferry system began to develop. Around that time, the operators of Black Ball Ferries in Seattle approached West Vancouver council about leasing property in Horeshoe Bay and starting a ferry service there. After the proposal was approved, Back Ball Ferries subsequently began running service to Gibsons in 1951, later expanding service to have routes running to Nanaimo and Bowen Island.

     Unfortunately, trouble arrived in 1958 when strikes by Back Ball and another ferry company threatened to isolate Vancouver Island without ferry service. In response, a Civil Defense Act was invoked to allow the government to take control of the ferry operations when necessary to ensure continued service. After the strike it was brought to light that there was a growing need for better service between the Sannich Peninsula and the Mainland. To solve this, the government asked the existing major ferry companies if they were interested in expanding to meet the growing need. Yet, the companies rejected the proposal, so the government was forced to undertake a project to start its own ferry service. By establishing its own docks, access routes, and solidifying its position in 1961 by purchasing the Back Ball Ferries, the provincial ferry operation was on its way to establishing itself as the B.C. Ferries were know today.

(Click on the thumbnail to see enlarged version.)

  Year Description Source
38beach.gif (18739 bytes) August, 1916 Beach at Horeshoe Bay VCA
2151lot.gif (15308 bytes) late 1920's Whytecliff Lodge and parking lot WVML
148hotel.gif (5899 bytes) August, 1936 View of Horseshoe Bay hotel and docks VPL
1963ferryterminal.gif (16244 bytes) circa 1940 Sam Heasman's Floats at Horseshoe Bay, site of present ferry terminal. WVML