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Delta throwback: Dog walking site has historical significance

The residential community had such amenities as a grocery store, social club, gymnasium and a sport field

Let’s head back in time to visit the site of a bustling residential community at the Vancouver Wireless Station in East Ladner.

In 1941, what's now the Boundary Bay Airport was established as an air training field under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

As the Second World War escalated, the airport would be home to a fighter squadron and bombers.

By war's end in 1945, the RCAF had no further use for the facility and closed it.

The site was later transferred to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in the late 1940s and became a signals intelligence station under the name Vancouver Wireless Station.

It was the start of the Cold War and personnel at the station played a key role in gathering communications from the Soviet Union and its fleet.

To the north of the station, a gated 40-hectare residential community was developed.

Streetlights and sidewalks were added in 1950.

The roads were paved in 1951 and some 2,000 trees and flowering shrubs were planted, the legacy of which still exists today.

The vibrant community eventually grew to over 120 buildings with other additions like a school and chapel.

When the armed forces were unified in 1968, the station's name changed to CFS Ladner.

The station closed in 1971, due to the installation of nearby power lines in Ladner that made gathering signals difficult. The wireless station's operations relocated to Masset, B.C.

The buildings in the residential community were moved away, leaving the foundations and streets as remnants.

The adjacent former airport would eventually re-open for commercial aviation and flight schools.

Now popular with dog walkers, the former residential community is now on Delta’s Heritage Register and is known as the North 40 Park Reserve.

A previous consultant's report for Delta noted the site still has significant historic value for its links to the Second World War military operations and the industrial development of Delta, although none of the original buildings remain.

"The Vancouver Wireless Community is historically significant as a rare surviving Canadian example of a purpose-built community from the postwar era and as a symbol of Canada's wartime and military experience," stated the report from Donald Luxton and Associates.