ZYTARUK: Yippee for Surrey’s Whoopee-Dipper

Tom Zytaruk

So let it be written…

Last week I wrote about some cool stuff in North Delta that not many people know about. Today, it’s Surrey’s turn.

Let’s start with Whalley, named after a bootlegger. Arthur Whalley opened a gas station and store at the top of Peterson Hill in 1925 and the Pacific Stage Lines put a bus stop there. They called it "Whalley’s Corner," and the community adopted the name in 1948.

Concerning his bootlegging ways, Whalley had a shack closer to Cloverdale but had to move it further away to avoid being raided by the police stationed in the rodeo town. The added distance, as the story goes, bought him more time to hide his stuff from police. One of his sons later became a deputy police chief in New Westminster. Hmmm.

Anyway, if you stand at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 104th Avenue, you’ll notice you’re in a depression (hopefully not the mental kind). From this point, you’ll see that the land rises slightly in all directions. If the surveyors of yore are correct, this was the basin of what used to be a shallow lake.

On July 5, 1791 the Spanish explorer Jose Maria Narvaez sailed into Mud Bay on his schooner the Santa Saturina and made his way over land through primeval forest to find a herd of elk and Native children paddling little canoes here.

Besides old bootleggers and ancient lakes, the community of Whalley holds other interesting secrets.

Have you ever visited Royal Kwantlen Park, at 104th Avenue and Old Yale Road? Without realizing it, you might have stood on an old Kwantlen burial ground if you were near the tennis court. The iron grave crosses were stolen a long time ago but the human remains remain. European settlers, upon their arrival to what today is North Surrey, got all fired up at the Natives’ practice of tree burial down near the river, so they packed the bones into cedar boxes and gave them a second "Christian" burial where today, one hopes, they rest in peace.

On a cheerful note, Whalley might not be home to a giant ferris wheel, but it did at one time have a rollercoaster of sorts. This contraption was called the Whoopee-Dipper. Built in 1929, in the same vicinity of that extinct lake, it was made of wood planks and for 50 cents you could drive your car on it. The faster your front end went up over the hills, the faster your back end would come off. Whoopee!

Wouldn’t it be neat if remnants of this thing were still in somebody’s back yard in Whalley? If this is the case, and you know about it, I’d love to hear from you.

So let’s now venture out east.

Near Tynehead Park there used to be a zoo and a nudist colony.

A little further east, we have Port Kells and Harvie Road, which protrudes like a tree branch from the intersection of Fraser Highway and 176th Street. This long, rural road was in a previous life the path of a rail line, opened in 1891. The tracks were removed in 1929. As the story goes, buried somewhere alongside the road, which is named after pioneer logging train locomotive that was derailed, sank and ultimately disappeared from sight in the mud there.

Steering a ways south, here’s a cool story about stagecoach robbers and gold buried somewhere along the Semiahmoo Trail, which used to connect Brown’s Landing with Blaine. A stagecoach rattled along the route twice a week up until the New Westminster-Southern Railway opened in 1891. As the story goes, a couple of bandits bushwacked a stagecoach along the trail, somewhere in the vicinity of south Newton. Some people believe they buried the box of gold somewhere along the Semiahmoo Trail, small parts of which have been preserved to this day.

If you find that treasure, give us a call. We’d be glad to put you on the front page.

…So let it be done.

Tom Zytaruk has been named a Friend of Heritage by Surrey and Delta. He can be reached at tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com.

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