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Or wander with delight

March 12, 2013

From the pen of  newspaper correspondent Fred Bourne we have the following view of Brownsville, British Columbia in the spring of 1889.

"The opposite bank of the Fraser presents a beautiful prospect: it is literally ‘with verdure clad,’ every conceivable shade of green being used in the delightful ensemble. The timber is being rapidly cleared off, large open spaces of green sward being visible. When the last stick of timber disappears (a few years hence, no doubt) Westminster will have a view that will be hard to rival anywhere. The green rolling hill over there would make it a capital city park, easily reached by the bridge and electric cars — that is in the few years hence noticed above."

The south bank of the Fraser River had been farmed by Sam Herring since 1860, but back of the river lay cranberry swamp,  and dense forest stood dark on the hillside.   Logging opened up the evergreen forest to expose grassy  meadows, berry bushes, poplars and alders in bud — the bright greens of spring.

A collection of postcards held by Simon Fraser University has been digitized and affords some colourized views of Brownsville, previously known only in shades of  grey. The three samples below exhibit some of the verdant qualities described by Bourne, even  as  through the years the landscape has transitioned from forest and swamp  to the neatly laid out fields of the dairy farmer,  while  roads have been slashed and laid down with steel and gravel, and as  industry left its stamp.


Fraser River from New Westminster to Brownsville   In this rooftop vista from New Westminster to the opposite side of the river, Brown’s wharf is visible, barely, on the right, while the view upriver extends to the Fraser Bridge, Herring’s Point and beyond.
SFU Postcard Collection
Brownsville British Columbia – view from New Westminster    

Brownsville and Fraser River aerial view   This picture is from the aerial survey of the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1954. 
At lower right is  the triangular mill property of the Timberland Lumber Company.  Upriver, smoke rises from the beehive burner at the Brownsville sawmill. The King George Highway winds up Peterson Hill from Pattullo Bridge.

SFU Postcard Collection
Brownsville British Columbia, Fraser River from the air    

Brownsville - Fraser River - bridges   In this aerial view Brownsville is in the foreground, showing the Brownsville wharf and the start of the Old Yale Road. A train runs along the Great Northern spur and passes under the Pattullo Bridge.
SFU Postcard Collection
Brownsville, British Columbia – Old Yale Rd & Pattullo Bridge    

In the few years hence

The two photographs below are representative of Brownsville today,  a place of old and new industries where nature is once again valued and encouraged.

Brownsville at work - view to New Westminster   The last stick of timber: between the old GNR spur line and the Fraser River,  a sawmill faces the city of New Westminster opposite.
Brownsville British Columbia at work – a sawmill    

Manson Canal view to Timberland Road   Parks have been developed at the old South Westminster ferry landing on Tannery Road and at Brownsville Bar.
The Manson Canal is a green corridor from the Fraser River to the foot of the hill on 104th Avenue, only a mile and a half from the City Centre.
Timberland Road bridge on Manson Canal    
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