A look back at the Whalen Racetrack

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This July will be the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Whalen Race Track.

In July 1951, after a couple years of planning and support from friends and family, Phillip Patrick Whalen’s dream of a race track on the Whalen farm land came to fruition.

Racetrack Opening Day was postponed because of cougar sightings. Things were tense. After the cougar was taken care of everyone breathed easier and reset the date for opening.

It was a beautiful sight with three buildings of stables, grandstands with concession stand selling hotdogs and soda, and a tower in the inner field from where Bob Blair announced over the loudspeaker “And they’re off!” Even though she was not yet three years old, Michelle remembers the excitement and the hot dogs.

There was a pre-race parade of local riders and their horses. Kim Whalen Pringle remembers her horse being among them.

There were sulky races as well as horse races. Unfortunately, the delay of ferry travel over the Fraser River prevented horse race enthusiasts from making it to the track in time for the races. After a few tries at horse racing, the track was used for racecars and then went silent. Local cabin dwellers were glad for the peace and quiet again.

In 1959, Pat Whalen turned the site into the Sea Bird Tent and Trailer Park, later (1986) to be owned by Kim and Gary Pringle as the Whalen RV Park.

The venture only survived a short time, but it is a fun example of our rich history of entrepreneurs dreaming big in our little town.

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