Settlement of Delta began in the 1860s following the decline of the Fraser River gold rush of 1858.
Pioneers were attracted here by our moderate climate, fertile soil, fresh water and a river teeming with salmon.
The flat lands of Delta required diking undertaken by landowners. The dikes have undergone several upgrades with provincial and municipal funding and assistance to meet current floodplain criteria. Dikes remain in private ownership.
The Corporation of Delta has access by written permission for maintenance and flood protection. Rights of way granted to Delta permit public access for walkers, cyclists, etc.
With protection from the dikes, a main road to "Ladner's Landing" was constructed and known as Trunk Road (Highway 10). There's a debate on the origin of its name, possibly because it was a "main road" or because trunks of trees formed its solid foundation.
Earliest transportation was via the Fraser River and Delta's sloughs. Many pioneers' homes were built next to or in proximity to these interior waterways.
Farmers also owned timber lots in North Delta and South Delta for construction purposes. Early farms were generally of small acreage based on the ability of the farmer to plough and till the soil with a team of work horses. Horses were used as working farm animals into the 1940s. Ladner's character has been shaped by its farming and fishing heritage. "Ladner's Landing" was at one time thought to be the site of a major river port.
Unfortunately Ladner is located on the shallow side of the Fraser and when docks and pilings were constructed, the silt piled up, further compounded by the river's tidal characteristics. The idea of a river port was abandoned and ultimately located in New Westminster, B.C.'s second capital.
Lucrative salmon runs resulted in at least six canneries from the mouth of the Fraser and upstream to the Sunbury settlement. Many Delta families owe their lifestyle to their success with the Fraser salmon runs.
Delta's farmlands were improved by the Chinese community that settled in Ladner. Their labour dug most of the farmland ditching and road construction. At one time Ladner was the site of the second largest Chinese community outside of Vancouver.
The farmland scene was dominated by grazing dairy cattle. Dairy farmers took great pride in their Jersey, Guernsey and Holstein stocks. The production results were posted regularly in the Optimist rating volume and butter fat content. There was keen competition amongst these farmers.
Gradually these large dairy herds were reduced in numbers with an increase in more active crop farming. Traditional crops of hay, potatoes and peas, to name a few, have partially evolved into lucrative berry crops and greenhouses.
Modern farming has been negatively affected by the intrusion of two major highways following the opening of the George Massey Tunnel and resulting development.
Change affects all of us, so hopefully our farmers and fishermen are able to adapt. We should rightfully respect their contributions to the "Delta" we know.
And a good night to you, Kevin.
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