The waters of Crescent Beach are often a hot-spot for an abundance of activity. Whether it’s sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding, or wading in the low-tide pools of water that warm up under the suns rays, the shores of Crescent Beach are known for some serious summer fun. Long before the times of water wings and picnics on the beach, the Crescent Oyster Company ruled the waters of Crescent Beach for some less-than-leisurely business.
Founded in 1904, the Crescent Oyster Company did just what the company name suggests: farm oysters right in the waters of Boundary Bay! Located at the mouth of the Nicomekl River, bunk houses were built on pilings above high water marks to act as housing for crew members while they were busy harvesting oysters.
It may come as a surprise that oysters were found in the waters of Boundary Bay. In the beginning, oysters were grown in lagoons, and water flow was controlled by tide gates to keep the oysters growing. This method of growing and harvesting shellfish proved to be very expensive, so immature ‘seed’ oysters all the way from Long Island Sound were transplanted onto the Mud Bay and Boundary Bay oyster beds. Oysters were harvested and shucked, and twice daily were express shipped via the Great Northern Railway to Seattle or Vancouver.
For over fifty years, the Crescent Oyster Company prospered, until the company was bought out in 1957 by the B.C. Packers, who had a competing plant across the bay in Ladner. Eventually all oyster farming was ended due to water pollution.
Little reminders of the Crescent Oyster Company still remain remain today. The pilings that kept the crews above water are still visible, and can be spotted from the Crescent Beach Water Pump Station. Likewise, a nearby commemoration of the Crescent Oyster Company is engraved on one of 33 memory stones at Blackie Spit park, arranged in a big circle just across form the dog park.
So next time you find yourself gazing at the sunset’s reflection on Crescent Beach’s waters, or spending a summer day playing frisbee at Blackie Spit Park, take a moment to picture boats brimming with oyster shells, and the scent of fresh seafood in the air.
**Photo credit: Surrey Archives