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By Meg Olson

Published on Mon, Jul 1, 2002
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By Meg Olson

The Point Roberts Historical Society welcomed 18 members of the Vancouver Historical Society and a dozen others to a visit with the Point’s past at their annual walking tour.

Starting at the community center, the group was led by Pauline DeHaan down Gulf Road and down memory lane. There were stops at the Liberty Wine Store, once Johnny Jordan’s new home, Brewsters, once home to the superintendent of the George and Barker Cannery, and the old Grange Hall at the corner of Gulf Road and Marine Drive. “This was the Point Roberts Social Club, founded in 1902,” DeHaan said. ‘It was used as a town hall for dances and meetings.”

The Grange Society took over in 1929. When the Grange stopped using the building it was passed on the parks district, which sold it in the 1980s after the widening of Gulf Road wiped out parking. “We invested the money and now we’ll use it to build a home for the historical society,” said parks district and historical society president Irene Waters.

At the end of Gulf Road looking out at the remnants of the old pier, De Haan described a bustling metropolis in the early 1900s, with hotels, taverns, stores and two canneries. “This was a busy place,” she said.
DeHaan talked about the fish traps that circled Point Roberts and made local fortunes until they were banned in the 1930s. “They were tremendous,” she said. “Hardly a salmon could get through them. When they were dismantled there were planks floating all over the place and some of the cabins were made of those planks.”

Walking back up Gulf Road, they passed the vacant lot on the corner that was once home to the Green Lantern Café, the second place on the Point to be issued a liquor license after the repeal of prohibition.

Back at the community center, tour participants had chicken soup, traditional Icelandic bread and strawberry rhubarb crumble for lunch, and looked at the society’s extensive collection of old photographs. ‘“This is why we need a museum,” said Renee Coe. “People should be able to enjoy these.”

Each picture tells a story, like the one of Sarah Olson, who became the lighthouse keeper after her husband, Magnus, died of pneumonia, leaving her with seven children to support. “Every evening she went to Lighthouse Point and filled the lamp with oil, trimming the wick. By morning the lamp went out by itself, out of fuel. Sarah also cleaned the school and she and her boys chopped firewood to heat it on chilly days.

The pictures also show the changes that have come to familiar locations. Where the Reef Tavern is now, there was once a cannery, then a mercantile.

The Point Historical Society meets monthly at the community center the second Thursday at 7 p.m..

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