Delta throwback: A quick history of parks

Let’s take a step back in time in the archives of the Delta Optimist where columnist Edgar Dunning explored the history of the municipality’s more prominent parks.

 

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WINSKILL PARK

Few of Delta's parks have as many facilities as Winskill Park in Tsawwassen. Originally part of the Chris Winskill Sr. farm on 56th Street, it was purchased in 1975 by Delta from the family of Chris Winskill Jr. for $1 million, an amount considered by many residents as outrageous at the time. Its area affords room for a playground, picnic tables, baseball diamond as well as softball and slo-pitch, soccer fields and popular swimming pool. A synthetic turf field is part of its amenities.

 

winskill park

Winskill Park was originally a farm owned by Chris Winskill

 

DIEFENBAKER PARK

Early owners of this community park close to the international border were the Kirkland brothers, John and Leonard. From it was extracted much of the gravel used in developing the runways at Boundary Bay Airport. George Hodgins bought the land from the Kirkland brothers and donated it to the municipality. John Reynolds, Member of Parliament for Delta, persuaded Delta council to name it after the prime minister at the time, John Diefenbaker. Picnic tables, playground, ample parking and a natural band shell make it a popular spot for concerts.

 

delta park

Diefenbaker Park was officially opened in June 1976, but it took a few more years for the city to complete the park

 

MEMORIAL PARK

The area at the south end of Delta Street in Ladner was originally the property of William Henry Ladner where he built his third home after fire had destroyed the first homes near the waterfront. Harry Nelson Rich, prominent village businessman who lost his son Sidney in the First World War, obtained the acreage in 1921 to be developed as a memorial administered by the Delta Memorial Park Association with Lloyd Taylor as president. More property was added in 1957 when the municipality acquired title to additional land from Winnifred Ladner, widow of Paul Ladner, for $4,906.25.

 

memorial park

Memorial Park in Ladner has a newly renovated children's waterpark and new pickleball courts

 

SUNSHINE HILLS PARK

One of the smaller recreation areas of the municipality, located between Huff Boulevard and Bond Boulevard near its big neighbour, Watershed Park, it is an open area that makes it ideal for the summer entertainment provided there by the Delta Concert Band and the Delta Music Makers. Documents held by Delta's parks, recreation and culture department show the area was obtained from Sunshine Properties Ltd. of Vancouver in 1956 for "one dollar and other valuable consideration" but no price was given to the "other consideration."

 

BOUNDARY BAY REGIONAL PARK

This park surrounds Boundary Bay, an important bird area on the Pacific Flyway. George Hodgins sold it to the Greater Vancouver Regional District shortly after he purchased the Southlands property in the early 1990s. There are some people who remember the collection of shacks on the east side of Boundary Bay Road built by brant hunters and used during the open season for the birds as sleeping accommodation and occasionally noisy parties. Centennial Beach is a popular part of this unusual park.

 

DEAS ISLAND REGIONAL PARK

Here's a park loaded with history. It's been occupied by aboriginals, site of one of the earliest Fraser River salmon canneries, a settlement for Greek residents who eventually moved to Richmond and started the Finn Slough development there, was a farm and now is a popular recreational area of the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. Remnants of the John Sullivan Deas cannery can be seen at its original site. Frank Fisher, who served as secretary of Delta Board of School Trustees for several years, operated a small farm there.

 

deas island park

Deas Island Regional Park is located along the Fraser River and the Deas Slough

 

WATERSHED PARK

By far the largest park in the municipality, it started in 1910 when acreage on the hillside was purchased for $13,500. Using the artesian springs on the site, Delta's first water system was started with a reservoir and pumping station. The pipe system had reached Ladner by 1920 and eventually served the whole municipality, but inability to supply demands of the increasing population necessitated joining the Greater Vancouver water system. Remnants of the original system are still visible and several organizations use parts of the park for recreation.

 

watershed park

The water fountain is a popular feature at Watershed Park in North Delta

 

MACKIE PARK

Located off 82nd Avenue adjoining Sands secondary, this park memorializes the family of George T. Mackie (1869-1935), whose sons, George Jr., William, John, Robert and Angus, wanted to create a legacy for North Delta and sold property to Delta. Development has included the first artificial turf field in 2002 and the upgrade of the diamond in 2003. George T. Jr. was particularly active in community activities. He was often referred to as the "unofficial mayor of North Delta" and the public library is named after him.

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