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In view of times past

June 5, 2013
aero surveys vancouver

With much talk lately about the need to replace the Pattullo Bridge, this view is a reminder how much the landscape has changed since the bridge was built in 1937. 

The photo by Aero Surveys Limited,  of Vancouver, dates from the early 1950s.

In the distance the old terminal of the Vancouver airport is visible on the south side of Sea Island.  Annacis Island  lies in the middle of the south arm, undeveloped, with Robson Island lying  like a battleship in stream at its upriver point.

In the close-up, below,  Old Yale Road is running left to right on the angle, downhill and across the flats to Brownsville wharf.  King George Highway in the foreground, runs left to right before curving from Whalley’s Corner down to the Pattullo Bridge.  At 104 Ave and King George are seen meadows on the site of the old peat mining plant.

Whalley - Brownsville - 1950s - air photo

The photo appears in The Work of the River, by CH Crickmay,  a geologist who, early in his career, studied the fossil beds on Peterson Hill – just out of view in this picture.

"A few years ago (1919) Dr. S. J. Schofield, of the University of British Columbia, then my teacher, drew my attention to a fossil locality which he had discovered. This locality is a road cutting on the Pacific highway on the south side of the Fraser River, opposite the city of New Westminster. It is 2,100 yards from the south end of the Fraser River bridge and seventy feet above mean sea level. . ."

CH Crickmay,  A Pleistocene Fauna from the South-Western Mainland of British Columbia, in The Canadian field-naturalist. v39, 6,1925, p140-141

As noted before on this blog,  some “petrified mussels”  were earlier discovered by some boys in 1892.  They came to light once again in the course of highway improvements.

The location of the fossil beds is about 132 Street and King George Blvd.

From a paper by WA Johnston:

"Fossil marine shells were also found in a section exposed by the construction of the Pacific highway along the side of the hill on the south side of the Fraser River 1 1/2 miles above New Westminster. The hill rises somewhat steeply from the level of the river up to about 200 feet. At the base of the section in the road cutting which rises gradually along the side of the hill blue stony till is exposed. The shells occur in the upper 1 to 3 feet of the stony clay and in a sandy bed a few inches thick overlying the clay. The shell beds are overlain directly by 6 to 10 feet of stratified sand and clay barren of fossils, and immediately to the east the till and the fossiliferous beds pass beneath a thick deposit of stratified sand and gravel in which a large excavation for a gravel pit has been made. The gravels are a least 50 feet thick and occur in the form of a ridge or dome with marked stratification dipping down on either side in the form of an anticline." Pleistocene Oscillations of Sea-level in the Vancouver Region, British Columbia. WA Johnston Read May Meeting 1921 Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada 1921, Section 4, pp9-19.

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