Delta History Hunters

Join us for walks, talks and socializing as we explore our local history

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Delta History Hunters Tour – June 16th – Millennium Trail, Ladner

mill trail

Join us for a walk along Delta’s Millennium Trail.  We will talk about Delta’s relationship with the Fraser River and the history of the Massey Tunnel while enjoying a nice walk east along the river.  The route is approximately 3.5km.  History Hunters will meet at the parking lot at the end of Ferry Road, in front of the entrance to Captain’s Cove Marina at 9:30am.

To RSVP call 604-946-9322 or email

This is a great opportunity to learn more of the history of your local community and meet people with similar interests. Tour goes rain or shine, so dress for the weather.

Please note, for the 2016 season, there is a small fee of $5 per tour for non-members. DMAS members are eligible to attend programs free of charge. For more information on membership, please visit Memberships are available for purchase at each History Hunters event.


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Delta History Hunters Tour – May 19th, 2016 – North Delta Cemetery

Tour the historic North Delta Cemetery in Annieville and explore the graves of North Delta pioneers. We’ll talk about the history of Delta’s Norwegian community and the growth and development of North Delta. Meet at North Delta Cemetery, 8757 Brooke Road, North Delta at 9:30am. Meet at the main entrance of the Cemetery.

To RSVP call 604-946-9322 or email DMAS members are free, $5 for non-members.

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Upcoming Event and Program Updates

Welcome back Delta History Hunters! Our once a month community tours are open to anyone interested in learning more about our richly diverse community.

Join us on Thursday, October 15th for a relaxing history hunt where we will walk, talk and explore our way through our local history. Find out why Vancouver is called “Hollywood North” as we explore filming locations of popular movies and TV shows in Ladner and discuss the history of the film industry in Greater Vancouver. Please meet outside the Delta Museum’s front entrance.

To RSVP call 604-946-9322 or email

This is our last 2015 tour. Tours will resume April 21st, 2016. To learn more about the Delta History Hunter’s group, or about the services the DMAS provides, please visit our website

For the 2015 season, we will charge a small fee of $5 per trip for non-members. DMAS members will continue to receive monthly programs free of charge. For more information on membership, please visit Memberships will be available for purchase at each History Hunters event.

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Trip Report: Visit to Earthwise Society Demonstration Garden and Farm on June 26, 2014!

earthwise garden photo


It was a beautifully sunny morning as 12 History Hunters joined Earthwise Executive Director, Patricia Fleming, for a tour of this innovative Boundary Bay garden. The garden was first created in 2007 and those of us who knew it from that time were immediately impressed with how much the garden has matured since then. Some of the site was once the parking lot for a landscape supplier, and was compacted and lacking top soil. Now that same area is full of colourful gaillardia, California poppies and golden rod. Dogwoods and other native trees shade the flower beds, and winding paths lead through the different parts of the garden.

earthwise photo 2

Earthwise Garden Society was formerly the Delta Recycling Society and operated volunteer composting programs out of Tilbury Industrial Estate. The goals of the non-profit group have expanded from education about environmental sustainability to encompass demonstration eco-friendly gardening of all kinds. The different areas of the garden showcase bee-friendly plants, such as nepeta and blue salvia, a minimal water resource garden, heritage plants, and native plants. There is also a therapeutic garden for people with physical barriers. The idea is to create whole ecosystems which provide habitat for bees, butterflies, birds and other animals. The Farm area of the site produces organic fruits and vegetables which it sells in the Earthwise Farm Store, open twice a week.

earthwise photo 3

The garden is on a 20 year lease, and is part of the Southlands property. Patricia is hoping that they will negotiate an extended stay despite changes in the Southlands as a result of the rezoning. The Garden has plants for sale, is open to the public at certain hours, and has many educational and fun events scheduled through the year. This month saw the Spice Road Market celebrating Indian food, art and culture in the garden. More information about the Earthwise Garden and Farm can be found at They are also on Facebook

earthwise photo 4

The group very much enjoyed the tour, and Patricia provided a wealth of knowledge that participants could use in their own gardens. Thank you, Patricia, for a lovely morning in the garden.

Anne Murray

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Trip Report: Visit to Hamming Family Farm – May 22nd, 2014

Our Delta History Hunter trip for May was an invited visit to Martin and Ann Hamming’s dairy farm in the Crescent Slough area of Delta. We were met by Ann and daughter-in-law Angela Hamming who kindly showed us around. Warren Nottingham came along too, and augmented our tour with interesting information on the history of the property.

We began our tour inside the nursery barn, where about two dozen, black and white Holstein calves were ensconced in their little cubicles. They were keen to push their noses towards us as we admired them. One little Jersey calf attracted a lot of attention, with it’s tan hide and big black eyes, as did the two piglets at the end of the barn. We then made our way into the dairy, where we saw the enormous cylindrical container that stores two days’ worth of milk. From there the milk goes by tanker to the dairy. Before loading, tests are taken to ascertain whether any antibiotics or other contaminants have entered the milk stream. Should such an accident happen, the farmer will be charged for the whole tanker load of milk, as it would be wasted, so precautions are stringently taken to ensure that the milk is kept pure. Canadian farmers are proud that their milk is both free of antibiotics and free of the RBST bovine hormone that is allowed within US milk. While it is necessary sometimes to treat cows with antibiotics (for example to cure mastitis), their milk during the treatment period is separated from the general collection and discarded.

We saw how this was done when we moved into the milking shed. Here sixteen cows can be lined up for milking at any one time. Their udders are disinfected, then they are hooked up to the milking machines, all of which are now computerized. Under normal conditions their milk will flow along tubes into the storage container. If a cow is receiving medication, its milk would be redirected to a separate bucket. It takes three hours to milk all the cows, and this is done twice a day. The first milking is at 3.30 am, and there is a second milking in the afternoon.

While we were having this tour, we were able to ask lots of questions and there was much discussion about Canadian versus US milk, the pros and cons of more frequent milking, and other such entertaining issues! We then toured a barn with the 4H cows, which are cared for and groomed by children in the 4H club, learning the ways of farming. We viewed the main herd of cows from the upper floor of a large, historic barn. This area, reached by steep wooden steps, used to be filled with hay, but the Hammings have just built new hay storage facilities that are easier to stack. Looking down from this upper floor, we were able to admire the cows in their pens. They have locations for feeding and for resting. The sleeping pens have water beds, so that they can lie comfortably even when their udders are full. They choose for themselves which pen they want to be in, and whether to feed or not, at any time. Generally, they live in this large barn rather than out in the paddocks, as the price of land is so high in Delta it is more cost effective to use the fields to grow forage than have the cows out their eating grass.

The Delta History Hunters would like to say a big thank you to Ann and Angela Hamming for a super tour! Thanks also to Warren Nottingham for his interesting contributions to the discussions and to Claudette Hayward for organizing.

Anne Murray

Past-Trustee, Delta Museum and Archives

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Trip Report – Visit to the Tsawwassen Bluffs Heron Colony and Memories of the Beach – April 24th, 2014

By Anne Murray

The first Delta History Hunter trip of the year was a visit to the Great Blue Heron colony on Tsawwassen First Nations lands at the end of the ferry causeway. Fourteen of us gathered to view springtime activity at the colony, the largest in the lower mainland. I gave a short talk on the history of the heron colony and some details of their life cycle, and this was followed by Angela Husvik and Joannie Bennett showing some archival photographs and reminiscing about life on the beach in the days before the ferry and port developments.

We were initially fortunate with the weather, as the sun shone on us as we watched the prehistoric-looking herons gliding overhead and standing tall in the shallow water of Roberts Bank. The maple trees were in full leaf so it was a little difficult to see the nests at first, but by sharing binoculars everyone eventually got a good view of herons carrying sticks, standing on the nests, and squabbling with each other. An eagle sailed overhead setting up some squawks of alarm and frogs croaked in the ponds beneath the bluff.

After my presentation on the herons and some time just spent watching and enjoying the activity, we moved around the corner intending to walk a little way down the beach. However, by that time the wind had got up and it was quite cool, so we gathered in a sheltered corner of the grass to look at archival pictures Joannie had brought showing the early building of the ferry causeway. She and Angela remembered coming down to swim at the beach with their families, collecting clams and crabs and generally enjoying what was then a quiet remote area of the great delta landscape. The group discussed the changes that the causeways and other developments had brought to the ecology of Roberts Bank, blocking the water flow southwards, and affecting the fish and shellfish.

Eventually the cold wind got to us, and we decided to continue our chatter at Petra’s coffee shop in Tsawwassen, with most participants spending a lively 40 minutes or so there. It was good to see everyone again, after the winter break, and the turn out was amazing considering I only sent the email around two days before (due to being out of town for family circumstances). Next month, May 22, we are invited to Anne and Martin Hamming’s farm near Crescent Slough, Delta. Check for details on the DMAS website. I hope you will join us.

Some notes on the Great Blue Herons of Tsawwassen Bluffs

From 1973 to 2004, the main Great Blue Heron colony on the peninsula was at Point Roberts. It had 350 nesting pairs and was considered the largest colony in the Pacific northwest at the time. Delta History Hunters’ participants remembered colonies in the 1950s and 60s on Cliff Drive and Raitt Road (now 12th Avenue) and on the bluffs above Boundary Bay. A photo in the DMAS Archives shows a tree with nests on Raitt Road.

In 2001, a golf course was built adjacent to the heronry in Point Roberts and some trees were cut down, although the land on which the heronry stood was purchased and protected. Around the same time, the burgeoning Bald Eagle population really took off, and the higher number of young eagles around caused changes in behavior. Juvenile eagles began to attack herons at the colony. Herons are notoriously skittish about noise and disturbance and while they managed to hang on through the breeding seasons of 2002 and 2003, by 2004 it was all too much. Some had already left, and in June, the colony suddenly abandoned overnight, leaving behind eggs and chicks.

The herons settled at the new site in 2005, the bluffs just a couple of kilometers along the coast on Tsawwassen First Nations land near the end of the ferry terminal causeway, close by the Tsatsu Shores condominiums. These bluffs are well-wooded with bigleaf maples, alder and Douglas-firs and have a resident pair of adult Bald Eagles to guard against roving juveniles. The heronry is set back from the side road by a damp, marshy area, an excellent buffer against human disturbance. The large trees are able to support multiple nests – ten or more in a tree is not uncommon. Stands of trees this size are scarce on the shores of the lower mainland and the Tsawwassen bluffs are a very important location for this species. Great Blue Herons on the Alaska, B.C. and Puget Sound, Washington, coast belong to the subspecies Ardea herodias fannini, aslightly smaller and darker subspecies than the more widely distributed Ardea herodias Herodias. It is listed as a Species at Risk and there are only about 8,000 in the total population, half of which are in B.C., with the majority in the lower mainland, southern Gulf Islands, and southern Vancouver Island. The colony at Tsawwassen Bluffs may have about three hundred nests.

Herons are sometimes called “cranes” but the Sandhill Crane belongs to a totally different family. The Great Blue Heron is a tall wading bird with a sinuous neck, long legs and a long black crest. The crown is white in adults, grey in juveniles. Male and females are alike, although males have a longer bill. Herons are surprisingly light as they have hollow bones. Powder down feathers on their breasts help with preening and keeping their plumage waterproof. Great Blue Herons are resident on the coast, but only come to the nesting colony between early March and July, after which they disperse to the mudflats and fields of the delta. They will eat fish, voles, frogs, bullfrogs and snakes.

Their seasonal cycle begins when the weather warms up in early spring and the fish move into shallow water nearer the beach. The herons beaks turn orange as a sign of being in breeding condition. Juvenile herons take about 3 years before being ready to breed. Males and females are monogamous for the season but may choose a different mate the following year. Both help with building the stick nests up in the trees, lining the nest with other vegetation. The nests are rather flimsy and generally rebuilding is needed after the winter. Usually no more than one, or at most two herons are raised.

The colony becomes pretty dirty and smelly by the end of the season, with copious guano, fish remains and dead chicks. The trees turn grey with the droppings, but the nitrate also provides fertilizer. In spring the forest greens up as usual. However, herons may move their colony periodically, whether or not they are disturbed, as the trees take their onslaught. It is very important that treed bluffs and forest areas are retained on the peninsula to allow for the natural growth and periodic movement of heron colonies, to ensure the future of this fascinating local bird.





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Trip Report: Alaksen National Wildlife Area – October 24, 2013

image002A record number of people (30) joined the Delta History Hunters’ trip to see migrant snow geese and learn about Alaksen National Wildlife Area on Westham Island. It was a beautiful day of autumnal colours and thick mist cloaking the delta. As we gathered in the visitor car park at Alaksen, we could hear geese calling all around us. Suddenly several large flocks flew over our heads, ghostly pale in the mist, calling plaintively. We estimated there were several thousand geese in the circling flocks. The photographers were not able to get the blue sky shots that they hoped for, however, as the mist remained thickly around us all morning. Continue reading

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Trip Report: The Greeks of Deas Island – September 26, 2013

The Delta History Hunters had a wonderful outing Sept. 26 at Deas Island Park. About two dozen people enjoyed the video presentation about the “Greeks of Deas Island” from Peter Capadouca, whose family lived on Deas Island. The participants held a lively discussion later, and we all took a short walk in the autumn sunshine to view some of the historic sites.

Written by: John Stevens, Board Member of the Delta Museum and Archives Society

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Trip Report: Watershed Park – August 22, 2013

In the late 1800s, Delta homes had no running water. For washing, drinking and cooking, rain water was collected in barrels. When the rain supply was low or the pipes froze, water had to be hauled from the river. Life on the delta improved immensely in 1909, when the municipality developed the first waterworks system, using spring water from the hills of North Delta. 104 years later only relicts of these early waterworks remain in Watershed Park, while underground a whole new system continues to supply a small percentage of Delta’s water. Continue reading