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The Birth, Death, and Resurrection of the Beloved White Rock Pier

white rock

Photo: briantolin / 604 Now Flickr Pool

The history of the White Rock Pier begins in 1914, but the pier was actually birthed two years before that.

According to Explore White Rock, an earlier and smaller version of the pier was built in 1912. Winter storms a year later would destroy it, prompting the pier to be rebuilt and strengthened. (History would repeat itself over 100 years later.)

The White Rock Pier, in the form that we know today, opened on November 14th, 1914.

It operated as a dock for ships when the Great Northern Railway began operating in the area, contributing to White Rock’s designation as a port of entry.

White Rock Pier
Photo: @sarazaytsoff / Instagram

While originally funded by the federal government, the City of White Rock eventually assumed ownership of the pier in 1976, becoming responsible for its upkeep.

At 470 meters (1542 feet), the White Rock Pier became the longest pier in all of Canada, and remains so to this day. It became an icon of White Rock, and even more so to those who live in the community, making it all the more devastating when it was destroyed.

RELATED: The History Behind White Rock (And The Actual Rock)

The Death

White Rock Pier Destroyed One Year Ago
Photo: Friends of the Pier

It was a bright cold day in December, one year ago this week, when the beloved White Rock Pier was destroyed.

On December 20th, strong winds upwards of 100 km/h generated even stronger waves, whipping nearby boats into the pier.

The pier was ultimately split in half, trapping one person along the far end, leaving him stranded until a helicopter was able to fly in to rescue him.

The destruction devastated the White Rock community. The White Rock Pier isn’t just a pier in White Rock, it’s the pier. It’s one of the first places that come to mind when people think about White Rock, like the Sea-To-Sky Gondola for Squamish.

RELATED: How The Sea To Sky Gondola Sabotage Impacts The Squamish Region


The Resurrection

There’s a common trope at the end of disaster movies where one survivor asks another: “What do we do now?” The answer is almost always a short, simple, and dramatic “Rebuild.” And that’s exactly what White Rock did.

The community banded together. Funds were raised by Friends of The Pier, going towards the millions that was need to not only repair the pier. And like what happened over 100 years ago, the pier was rebuilt to be even stronger.

Through spring and summer, crews worked tirelessly to repair the pier, implementing upgrades like “additional rebar, the addition of a concrete additive to increase longevity of concrete, additional timber repairs, pressure washing the Pier, and temporary infrastructure to protect the conduits under the north end of the Pier.”

Planks that can support more weight, improved arches, and new light fixtures have also been integrated since the pier re-opened at the end of August, ahead of schedule.

White Rock Pier Re-Opening Ceremony
Photo: City of White Rock

A celebratory re-opening ceremony was held in September, where the White Rock community gathered to re-welcome the pier back into their lives.

“This space means a lot to me, I come here every weekend”, Breanna Ratzlaff told CTV News.

Undoubtedly, many in attendance have a similar relationship with the pier.

“There’s been a piece of White Rock missing for a long time”, Tony Baena, a White Rock business owner, said. “It’s great to have it back.”

For all things British Columbia, stay tuned to 604 Now.


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