The Birth of Centre Bay
The first record in the Land Registry for the Centre Bay farm property, designated Lot 1299, was recorded through the District of New Westminster in 1908. This records the purchase from the Crown by Mr. Fred P. Murray of the complete Lot 1299 which includes our original CBYS property and the property we now call the farm. There is no record of the date but Lot 1299 was subdivided to create Lot 1299-L1, which is now CBYS. Lot 2911, which we know as the Fahrni Property, shows up in 1912.
The white house was designed by architect, CBK VanNorman to be placed on the site owned by Dr. Fahrni. When it was discovered that the house could not be built there, it was built in the present location with the front door to the rear. These black and white photographs were taken in 1932 and given to our club by D. W. (Bill) St. John, son of the previous owner.
There was a bridge to the south of the dam that led to the power house across the creek. It collapsed some years ago while Dr. Fahrni’s brother and son were crossing it. He managed to throw the boy clear but went down with the bridge, he was hurt but survived. There was also a cookhouse on the Fahrni property that has long since fallen down. It was used by the Japanese workmen while they were building the house and clearing the land.
The Birth of Centre Bay Yacht Station
I have, inadvertently, agreed to tackle the undaunting task of capturing the immense history of the Centre Bay Yacht Station in a few paragraphs. I agree it is always helpful to know “from whenst you sprung” but, ironically, I was not born until a few years after the inception of CBYS so bear with me. I also realize that the best way to find the truth is to put the stories in print. If you have clarifications, alternative interpretations or photographs that “really” tell the story, please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). A special thank you to everyone who helped with the details, I always enjoy a good bit of “dock talk”.
In 1962 Frank Griffith saw a beautiful piece of waterfront and decided that it would be a great addition to West Vancouver Yacht Club (WVYC). The Club wasn’t interested at the time but he didn’t want to see the opportunity slip by so he purchased the land. He enrolled the help of 14 fellow WVYC members and friends who each pitched in some money and enthusiasm. The original group included Peter Richards, Terry O’Sullivan, Bobby Rolston, Dusty Miller, Bob McDermitt, Heck Perry, A. Huntington, George Clarke, Charlie Morrison, Basil Ray, Shari Bardock and Brander Smith.
At the time the property purchase price was $50,000 which included the property we now call the farm. The group decided to carve out a smaller piece which included the beach, the white house, an existing ramp with a small dock and water access. The total price was $30,000.
WVYC was re-building their floats and Frank Griffith negotiated to purchase the old floats. He towed these floats to Centre Bay behind his boat, the Griffin III, with Basil Ray in tow with his boat to pick up the pieces that kept falling off. After installing the floats, they made the observation that there was not a substantial sandy beach between Hood Point and Gibson’s so they hired a barge to deliver sand to our, now perfect, sandy beach.
Once again the group approached WVYC to purchase the property but again they were turned down. At this point the group decided to change the articles of the company to allow the sale of 200 shares in CBYS. They managed to sell approximately 75 but had no takers for the remaining shares. Most boaters were still tying up to the many log booms in the bay. The group decided to reduce the number of shares to 100 which is how it remains today.
At the time the share price was $100 and the annual maintenance fee was $250. There was a caretaker that lived in the white house and maintained the generator and ran the furnace throughout the winter. The docks were minimal and one night they were washed away in a high wind. As a result, CBYS purchased a number of log bundles to serve as a breakwater. In later years, they purchased a number of barges, three of which were registered vessels (one was the Gulf of Georgia which was built in the early 40’s to ship cargo to Alaska).
The membership fluctuated during the next few years. Some members felt it was easier to quit and re-join rather than pay the maintenance fees, eventually these shares were re-purchased and new members joined. In the early 1980’s the booms were removed from Centre Bay and there was a waiting list of over 25 potential members for shares.
In the summer of 1988, the Fahrni property (the point and cabin) came up for sale. At the time Fred Welsh (Timani Lu) was President. It was late June or July and the majority of the membership was out of town, without time for a membership meeting, the board made a decision to purchase the property. This was the perfect compliment to CBYS. The remaining farm property was purchased by the McIntyre family (a UBC professor and his wife). For a while they attempted a kid’s camp but lacked supplies and equipment. CBYS donated a rescue/evacuation boat and dock space for the camp but it was short lived.
For a number of years there was a generator in the old shack by the dam. They had an electrical line that ran to the bottom of the ramp and there was a single lamp post. That was the extent of electricity on the dock. The original homestead, an 1800’s cabin that was located on the far side of the field just above the second dam, had the earliest form of refrigeration. They had set up an interesting system where they had strips of brown sacking material that soaked up water from the creek into a box which acted as a cooler.
The majority of the parties at CBYS have been held at the white house. There are many stories about evenings spent around the piano, polyester suits, long dresses and kids’ pajama parties in the upstairs bedrooms.
Presidents of CBYS:
1962 Frank Griffith
1966 Ken Kerr
1986 Fred Welsh
1991 Bob Pettinger
1996 Ray Ordano
2004 to 2009 David Welters
2010 Bob Pettinger
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Fred Welsh
2015 Paul Coridor
2016, 2017 Les Landes
Now we have to work on the legend of Creeky Joe!