Nestled in a half-moon bay on the Semiahmoo Peninsula in the extreme southwest corner of British Columbia, White Rock is an independent municipality which includes a 5mi/8km stretch of sandy beach.
Surrounded by the City of Surrey to the west, north and east, and the US/Canadian border to the south, White Rock is a picturesque seaside community offering magnificent views of snow-capped Mount Baker and the San Juan Islands in Washington State, as well as the tip of Vancouver Island. Also across Semiahmoo Bay lies the long finger of Point Roberts, the anomaly that resulted when the 49th Parallel was established as the boundary between America and Canada.
Located only 30mi/48km from Vancouver, White Rock is a popular destination for daytrippers and with the Canada/US Douglas (Peace Arch) crossing within a 10 minute drive, it's a spirited change-of-scene for many cross-border visitors.
The White Rock
The large rock after which the city was named is a glacial erratic of the Coast Mountains, left here after the last ice age. Graffiti has long since forced the City of White Rock to lime it white, which is reminiscent of its original translucent white colour. It weighs approximately 486 tons.
Named for the Semiahmoo First Nations who first settled the region, the area south of Marine Drive along the water is Reserve Land and although it extends east into the bounds of Surrey, the shared waterfront location has forged a particularly close relationship between the Semiahmoo and White Rock residents. Established in 1887, The Semiahmoo Reserve remains largely undeveloped as a natural, forested area to the beach.
White Rock Ecosystems
The peninsula is adjacent to Boundary Bay, a major preserve for migratory birds which has engendered a co-operative stewardship between Blaine, Surrey and White Rock of the region's ecology. The trans-boundary area encompasses the Fraser River Estuary and the Georgia Strait-Puget Sound where ecosystems support more than 333 species of birds, some rare and endangered, as well as eelgrass-dependent marine life.
Although the water and hillside have always defined White Rock's geographic nature, urban development has reached far beyond the hilly slopes. Technically, everything north of 16th Avenue is in the City of Surrey, but it's a boundary that's gradually blurring as growth fuels a thriving commercial centre away from the sea. With an enviable ease of access to South Surrey's many parks, nature trails and golf courses as well as the farm-fresh bounty of its abundant agricultural lands, newcomers appreciate the bounty of all worlds and in the vernacular, at least, are talking of White Rock in much broader and geographically larger, terms.
Climate & Weather
White Rock has a year-round, moderate climate that often boasts two or three degrees higher than in nearby Vancouver. Also, because White Rock is set away from the Coast Mountains, it sees less fog, fewer rainy days and if snow falls, it rarely stays for long. Meteorological statistics show that White Rock does, in fact, receive 20 per cent more sunshine than does Vancouver. Summer temperatures average 23°C/73°F in summer and 6°C/43°F in winter. Annual rainfall averages 1,064mm/42ins.