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Span Floating – View of Brown’s Wharf

May 21, 2012
Floating Bridge Span & Brown's Wharf

This interesting photograph, dated 1903, of the spread span of the Fraser River bridge being floated into position—workmen clinging to the girders with a view of old Brown’s Landing—neatly captures the passing of an era.

John Robson, later Premier of BC, landed at that spot in 1860 and began clearing trees in order to bolster a claim for pre-emption rights. He lost out to Ebenezer Brown when the land was put up to public auction in 1861.
In 1873 when the Semiahmoo Road was opened up, Brown put his own money into improving the section running through his property to the river, and built a substantial wharf for the convenience of the public.
Cannery operations took over a large portion of the site in 1878 and the first government money was spent to build a new wharf in 1881.
The first public ferry, the K de K,  began service to New Westminster in 1884.
A new wharf was built a half-mile downriver in 1890 when the new ferry Surrey went into service.  Brownsville wharf was kept up as an alternate ferry landing. Brownsville was for a time the northern end of the line of Great Northern Railway service from the United States.

With the opening of the bridge in 1904,  ferry service ceased,  trains and public traffic passed by over the bridge,  and Brown’s Landing at the foot of the Old Yale Road became a dead end.

In 1971 commercial fishermen requested the wharf  be closed to the public owing to vandalism to their boats.
The wharf was a popular spot for public sport fishing.  Anglers judged it one of the best spots on Fraser River for fishing and lobbied for continued public access to the waterfront.
In dilapidated condition, the 200-foot long wharf survived until 1976.  Brownsville Bar park was developed to accommodate public fishing.
The view shown is from a photograph in the Vancouver Archives series on the building of the bridge,  reference number AM54-S4-1-: M-1-62.

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