June, 1848, Lord Aberdeen, British Foreign Secretary,
proposed a treaty making the 49th parallel the boundary to
the sea giving England the whole of Vancouver Island. The
treaty was concluded on June 15,1855.
Point Roberts provided a
natural stopover for gold seekers headed north along the
Fraser River during the gold rush of 1858, as they arrived
by small boats and canoes from Victoria and New Whatcom,
which is now Bellingham. A "swinging" business
center mushroomed to accommodate the travelers.
After the colorful era of
the gold rush faded, "The Point" was made a
military reserve so no permanent settlers could make it
their home. It became a popular and practical hiding place
for smugglers and renegades.
In 1894, a colony of
Icelandic families migrated from Victoria and settled in the
area. These hardy pioneers cleared farmland from the forest
and hewed logs for homes. To obtain mail or supplies meant a
seven mile walk to Ladner, B.C.
Early in the 1900's the
military reservation was canceled, and President Theodore
Roosevelt extended homestead rights to the settlers, who
previously had enjoyed only "squatters' rights".
continued to farm and fish in the area. Fishtraps and
canneries were developed to take advantage of the Fraser
River salmon run. The waters around Point Roberts still
provide an estimated several million dollars worth of salmon
annually. Both commercial and sports fishing boats frequent
Long sandy beaches, sunny
climate, and the aura of tranquility soon attracted
Canadians who built summer cottages, even though they had to
travel either by way of New Westminster or the old Ladner
In May of 1959, the
opening of the Deas Island Tunnel under the Fraser River
shortened the trip to Vancouver to less than a half hour.
More weekend visitors decided to build cottages and become
"summer people", swelling the area's population
during the summer.
Observing that their
'summer camps" were within the same commuting area as
Tsawwassen, they came to spend more and more time at Point
Roberts, and less and less in the city. As a result. the
trend during recent years has been toward year 'round
residency, and much subdivision has taken place as more
permanent homes have been built.