We are a non-profit organization focused on promoting, preserving, and being a strong, active resource for all things of heritage value on Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia. Join us to learn about the history of Sea Island and its residents, past and present.
Street sign from Cora Brown subdivision (Karen Tourangeau)
About Sea Island
The streets in the Cora Brown Subdivision - Abercrombie, Myron, Edgington, and McCutcheon were the names of young Richmond men in British Columbia who died in World War II.
After World War II, tracts of land were set aside for the returning veterans under the Veterans Land Act. One of these was the Cora Brown subdivision, located at the north end of Sea Island. The original fifty houses were built from Grauer Road to Ferguson Road on Myron and Abercrombie Drives. Each holding consisted of a small two-bedroom house (no more than 800 square feet) and an acre of land. The balance of the subdivision was also Veterans Land Act land but these people could build their own designs.
Living in Cora Brown
The first residents moved into their homes in 1946. The Cora Brown subdivision was like a small town, and due to its physical location, quite isolated. Most of the men worked in Vancouver and commuted to work every day. The women worked hard to make homes out of the original houses with some amenities like flush toilets, running water, electricity and coal or sawdust heaters, later converted to oil heaters.
Cooke House on Sea Island (Cooke Family Collection)
Around 1960, another smaller subdivision was built to the west of Cora Brown on the other side of McDonald Road - this was the Tapp Road Subdivision. The lots were smaller, but the houses were larger than the original Cora Brown houses. Some of the Cora Brown residents moved into homes on Tapp Road. So, even though Tapp Road was not built until several years later, the lives of the residents of this neighbourhood and the residents of the Cora Brown subdivision were entwined.
Grauer's Store (unknown author)
Cora Brown had a corner store, Butlers, located at the corner of Grauer Road and McDonald Road. This was a magnet for the children, who for a penny, could buy a Double Bubble Gum, or for a nickel a popsicle. The next closest shopping was at Grauer's Store located right by the Marpole and Lulu Island bridges where you could buy produce, dairy products, meat and packaged goods. But you needed a car to get to it, or had to take the bus. Fortunately, Grauer's offered a delivery service to the entire island.
Sea Island Elementary School (Merv Volen)
The children from Cora Brown were bussed to Sea Island Elementary School. The bus ride was long and someone usually started to sing with the whole busload joining in. Who can ever forget a few rousing choruses of "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain." After dropping the elementary children off, the bus dropped off the older children at Cambie High School. When the children attended the RCAF Annex school, the bus stopped at the RCAF Annex, then Sea Island Elementary and ended at Cambie High School.
Cora Brown Bridge Group (Eunice Robinson)
While many activities took place on the Burkeville side, Cora Brown had its own social life. Ladies formed bridge clubs. The bridge group from Myron Drive and Ferguson Road started in about 1950 and was still active in 1996. Bess Hamalock, Isabelle McClellan, Jean Steele, Midge Hammell, Marge Kerr, Ruth Robertson, Eileen Richardson, Sadie Grieves, Irene Henderson, Mary O' Reilly, Peggy Keetley, Iris Roine and Mrs. Dorothy Applegath were some of the early members. Mrs. Jean Whitaker, Cleo Taylor, Muriel Clendenning, Norma McIntyre, Elsie Turecki and Joan Anderson for another bridge group at the far end of Abercrombie Drive and Edgington Road.
Sea Island Slicers Softball Team (Richmond Review/Eunice Robinson)
One of the few sports available to the girls of Cora Brown was softball. Some of the coaches were: Marg Miller, Dot Edinger, Bess Hamalock, Cleo Taylor, Dot Bolton, Herb Charlton, Mike Anderson, Al Diel, Audrey Wipp, Chris Hamblin, Harold Hammell, Sue Hammell, Eunice Hamalock, Lauretta Hamalock and Yvonne Meneice. The oldest girls were members of the Sea Island Slicers who were league champions for all Richmond from 1964 to 1970. For the boys, the summer sport was hardball, and a couple of their coaches were Mr. Jack Bolton and Mr. Lloyd Glibbery. After the baseball season came the summer holidays!
McDonald Beach on the Fraser River (Jim Hamalock)
Kids living in Cora Brown could play on the road without encountering any vehicles until people returned from work. There were evenings of "kick the can", " hide and seek", or just taking a walk around the neighbourhood. Then there was "the river". The North Arm of the Fraser River flowed to the north of the Cora Brown neighbourhood. The river was fast running and cold but residents would flock to the beach during the summer months and laze about on the soft grey sand, soaking up the rays. When you got too hot, you jumped in the river - no crowds, no long drives to the city beaches, no parking problems. Some of the more adventurous walked on the log booms.
The Final Chapter
When all the talk of expropriation started, the residents of Cora Brown were worried. Meetings were held to try and avoid the inevitable. Tears were shed, but in the end, the residents of Cora Brown had to move. In August 1995, the Vancouver Airport Authority cleared the land south of the new Grauer Road which now runs along where Ferguson Road was. Every tree, stump and blade of grass was removed to make way for the third airport runway.
Over the years, the road has been paved, and a new walking trail – the Cora Brown Trail – was constructed. The south side of Grauer and Ferguson Road is now built up with businesses such as Fedex and a new Canada Post facility.