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Tsawwassen is a suburban, mostly residential community located on a peninsula in the southwestern corner of the Corporation of Delta, British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker. The name means "facing the sea" in the local native language (Coast Salish), and is commonly , , or . Residents of Tsawwassen pronounce the "T" and not the first "s". Tsawwassen provides the only road access to the community of Point Roberts, Washingtonmarker via 56th Street. It is also the location of BC Ferries' flagship Tsawwassen Ferry Terminalmarker, built in 1959 to provide foot-passenger and motor vehicle access from the Lower Mainlandmarker to the southern part of Vancouver Islandmarker and the Southern Gulf Islandsmarker. Because Tsawwassen touches a shallow bank, the ferry terminal is built at the southwestern end of a 3 km-long causeway that juts out into the Strait of Georgiamarker. The ferry dock and causeway are part of Highway 17, and the ferry terminal is the largest in North America. Boundary Bay Airportmarker, one of the busiest general aviation airports in Canada, is located ten minutes away. The Roberts Bank Superportmarker is also located in Tsawwassen.

A large, mostly undeveloped but agricultural part of northwest Tsawwassen is designated as the Tsawwassen First Nation Reserve, where members have a Coast Salish ancestry. This land is bounded by the Strait of Georgia on the west, the 2600 block to the north, the 4800 block to the east, and the 1200 block to the south. A condominium development (Tsatsu Shores), the Tsawwassen First Nation Reserve longhouse, a church, cemetery, and several entertainment facilities - the Splashdown Waterslide Park, F440 Grand Prix Race Track, and Parkcanada RV Park - are located on the land, along with the residential Stahaken subdivision of Tsawwassen, leased to Delta in 1989 to use for 99 years.

Tsawwassen had a population of 20,933 in the 2006 census.'


Roberts Bank Superport, off of Tsawwassen's western shore.

Tsawwassen is situated on the northern end of a peninsula flanked by the Straight of Georgia to the west and Boundary Baymarker to the east. Boundary Bay is an important stopover for migratory birds on what is known as the Pacific Flyway. Tsawwassen has recreational access to Boundary Bay at Centennial Park, and there is an extensive bike/foot path running along the edge of the Bay, known as the Dyke.

The southern boundary of Tsawwassen is the border with the United Statesmarker, following the 49th parallel of north latitude. To the north, Tsawwassen's nearest neighbour is the town of Ladnermarker, which is also part of the Corporation of Delta. Together, Ladner and Tsawwassen make up the area known as South Delta. Ladner is the site of the Delta Municipal Hall. Both the police station and hospital serve Ladner and Tsawwassen.

Tsawwassen's lowest altitude is just below sea level, and its highest is at approximately 50 metres along English Bluff spanning from the Stahaken subdivision to the American border; this height is verified by signage at Fred Gingell Park.


Tsawwassen is home to the Tsawwassen First Nation, a Coast Salish people, who may have lived in the area for over 4,200 years, the age of the oldest archeological site found on English Bluff. Eight different prehistoric villages have been unearthed around Tsawwassen.

The first group of Europeans to see Tsawwassen was the expedition of Spanish explorer Jose Maria Narvaez Gervete in 1791. Narvaez named the Point Roberts peninsula Isla de Zepeda and wrote that "there is an incredible quantity of rich salmon and numerous Indians... They speak an entirely different language."

The history of Tsawwassen, and the municipality of Delta, is on display at the Delta Museum and Archives, in the original city hall building, on Delta Street in Ladner Village.


Main streets

Tsawwassen is divided up into a grid with streets running north/south and east/west. Running east/west are the avenues, numbered with 1st Avenue closest to the Canadian/American border. Running north/south, the streets are numbered following the grid laid out for the municipality of Delta. This grid is part of the greater street grid set out by the British Royal Engineers in the 19th Century.

Theoretically, 1st Street is located in the middle of the Georgia Strait between Vancouver Islandmarker and the Lower Mainland. Actually the lowest numbered street is 30B Street in the western portion of Ladner on Brunswick Point to the north. In Tsawwassen, the lowest numbered street is 49 Street, the street numbering continues up through the 100's in North Delta.

The main arterial street in Tsawwassen is 56th Street, which provides the only land access to the hamlet and geographical anomaly of Point Robertsmarker, in Washingtonmarker, USA (upon which it becomes Tyee Drive). This crossing is the westernmost border crossing on the 49th parallel between Canada and the USA.

56th Street is the main entrance to Tsawwassen from Highway 17. Along its length 56th Street is home to virtually all of Tsawwassen's commercial areas; three strip malls and two chain supermarkets cluster around the main intersection at 12th Ave (commonly referred to as "downtown Tsawwassen"). In recent years, there has been a significant effort to beautify 56th Street with palm trees, lighting, banners, and new condominium buildings in part due to a 2004 National Geographicmarker article which hailed Tsawwassen a "strip-mall hell". There are also large parks, and a few undeveloped areas along its length, before this road reaches the Canadian-American border. 56th Street runs due north/south for its entire 5.6 km run. South of 12th Ave, the road used to be known as Point Roberts Road. North of 12th Ave, all the way to 28th Ave, it used to be known as Boundary Bay Road. (Boundary Bay Road's name has still been retained as a segment of road at the east end of 12th Ave.)

In recent years, there has also been a push to rename the street to give it a name that more reflects the community, rather than just a number. Suggested names include "Cedar Street" and "Tsawwassen Boulevard". While there is no projected time at which such a renaming may occur, the street will also retain the name of "56th Street", so as not to confuse non-locals.


Tsawwassen is serviced by TransLink, the transit company that manages bus, SkyTrain, and SeaBus routes in the Vancouver metropolitan area.

  • 601: This is the major bus route from Tsawwassen, noted as BRIDGEPORT STATION northbound or SOUTH DELTA southbound. It runs every half hour from 5:30am to 1am weekdays and weekends, except in the evenings when it runs hourly. This bus also services Ladner as well. It connects with Bridgeport Stationmarker on the Canada Line in Richmond, thereby providing service directly into Vancouver.

  • 602, 603, 604: All other major bus routes from Tsawwassen are express bus routes, and operate during peak rush hour periods in the mornings and evenings. These routes bypass Ladner entirely and shave 20 minutes off the travel time of the #601. These routes are the #602 (BRIDGEPORT STATION/TSAWWASSEN HEIGHTS), #603 (BRIDGEPORT STATION/BEACH GROVE) and #604 (BRIDGEPORT STATION/ENGLISH BLUFF).

All routes numbered #601 through #604 terminate in north Richmond at a major transit exchange, Bridgeport Stationmarker.

  • 609: TSAWWASSEN FIRST NATION/SOUTH DELTA REC CENTRE - a newer route, starting in December 2008, that runs between the Tsawwassen Indian Reserve, the South Delta Exchange, and the centre of Tsawwassen.

  • 620: The Tsawwassen ferry terminal is also accessible by the bus system; this route (TSAWWASSEN FERRY/AIRPORT STATION) leaves the ferry terminal, stops at the Ladner Exchange, and then terminates near Vancouver International Airportmarker.

The following community shuttles, operated by Translink, began service in September 2006:

  • C84: ENGLISH BLUFF/SOUTH DELTA REC CENTRE - This route does a figure-eight through Tsawwassen, following 56 Street, 1 Avenue, 12 Avenue, 16 Avenue, English Bluff Road, and Beach Grove Road.

  • C89: BOUNDARY BAY/SOUTH DELTA REC CENTRE - This route follows a direct route from the South Delta Rec Centre and the subdivision of Boundary Bay in southeast Tsawwassen. It is the only bus route to service that area.

Ferry Routes

Tsawwassen Destination
BC Ferries
Route 1
Swartz Baymarker
BC Ferries
Route 30
Duke Pointmarker
BC Ferries
Route 9
Southern Gulf Islands

Holidays & events

Since 2001, Tsawwassen has played an integral part of the Tour de Delta, a bike race that happens over a weekend in July. The racing weekend culminates in a race from North Delta, through Ladner, and then finally to Tsawwassen, where the men and women do various laps around Tsawwassen's perimeter until finishing in either Diefenbaker or Winskill Park. This race is growing in popularity and coverage with every year.

For many years, people selling their cars parked and displayed them in the east parking lot of Town Centre Mall on Sunday mornings and afternoons, where they can be seen by people passing through on the way to Point Roberts. For several years, the mall has charged a small fee and provided signage and a large designated area in which to display the cars. Dozens of cars and hundreds of shoppers now come from all over the Lower Mainland each Sunday.

In keeping with its reputation as the sunniest spot in the Greater Vancouver Region, every year on the August long weekend (for B.C. Day), Tsawwassen hosts the Sun Festival, which usually includes a parade, a variety of live music events and activities, such as children's games, food tents, and sporting events. There is often a specific theme to each year's event, and people are encouraged to dress the part.

Neighbourhoods and communities

On the southeast corner of the peninsula is the community of Boundary Bay also known as Boundary Beach, which originated in the 1890s as a seaside summer community for wealthy Vancouverites. Some of the original cottages still stand, many as renovated and updated homes, as well as modern contemporary single family homes and waterfront architectural residences. To the south, "The Bay" as it is referred to by residents, borders on the neighbourhood of Maple Beach in Point Roberts, WA. A Canada/US customs checkpoint joined the two communities (at the foot of 67th Street) until it was closed in the 1970s. Currently, Boundary Bay Road provides the only access route.

Other areas within Tsawwassen which have names but are not necessarily distinct communities include:
  • Beach Grove, which is situated on the edge of Boundary Bay, further north from the community of Boundary Bay. It is located on the east side of 56th Street, between 12th and 17A Avenue.
  • The Highlands, which is the area just to the northwest of Downtown Tsawwassen, behind the Town Centre Mall and situated around Highland Park.
  • Pebble Hill, which is the area surrounding Diefenbaker Park and Pebble Hill Park.
  • Tsawwassen Heights, a small area located on English Bluff Road, south of 1st Ave. Two totem poles stand on either side of the road here as its official gateway.
  • The Terrace, a terraced subdivision located between 56th Street, the Tsawwassen Nature Reserve, and the American border.
  • English Bluff, which refers to the area along English Bluff Road, where many of the most expensive homes in the community enjoy commanding ocean views.
  • Stahaken, which refers to a large area of houses built on land belonging to the Tsawwassen First Nations Tribe. This land is leased to the Town of Tsawwassen on a hundred year basis; the current lease expires in 2089.
  • The Village; adjacent to Stahaken, it is a wealthy subdivision built on the west side of English Bluff Road, overlooking the Strait of Georgia. Another totem pole stands at its entrance at Wesley Drive.
  • Tsatsu Shores, a large apartment complex beneath English Bluff, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. This is also built on land leased from the Tsawwassen First Nations Tribe.
  • Imperial Village, a large subdivision located east of 52nd Street at 16th Avenue.
  • Forest-by-the-Bay, which refers to a housing development off 56th Street and 6th Avenue beside Tsawwassen's only cemetery.


Public schools in Tsawwassen are part of School District 37 Delta. Tsawwassen has only one public high school, South Delta Secondary School(SDSS). There existed a middle school called Tsawwassen Junior Secondary (TJS)up until (about 1995?)when low enrolment led to its closure and eventual sale by the school district and re-development into a residential housing subdivision.

There are several public elementary schools in Tsawwassen. These include Cliff Drive, Pebble Hill, South Park, English Bluff, Beach Grove, and Boundary Beach elementary schools. There is also a small fully french programme cadre school, Ecole Du Bois-Joli.

Southpointe Academy, a private K-12 school, also serves the area.

Sacred Heart Elementary, a private Catholic school located midway between Ladner and Tsawwassen, features a large number of students from Tsawwassen.

Delta Christian school, also in Ladner, is a Christian private school, which services North Delta, Richmond, Ladner, and Tsawwassen.


Tsawwassen contains many community and regional parks; Boundary Bay Regional Park (home to Centennial Beach) is run by the GVRDmarker. The following parks are maintained by Delta Parks & Recreation, an arm of the municipal government:
  • Diefenbaker Park - located at the intersection of 56th Street and 1st Avenue, named after former Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker. One of the largest parks in the area, it has many features - open spaces and large hills, a waterfall, dock, and pond, a very large forest, playgrounds, restrooms, and many gardens. The steep grade from the surrounding streets into the centre of the park makes it especially popular during Tsawwassen's rare snow falls, for sledding and tobogganing.
  • Pebble Hill Park - located west of 52nd Street between 2A Avenue and Milsom Wynd. This park features large fields used for sports (baseball and soccer), tennis courts built atop a pair of water reservoirs, and many forest trails.
  • Fred Gingell Park - Tsawwassen's newest park, located on English Bluff Road just south of 3rd Avenue. It is named after the former MLA who represented South Delta in BC's legislative assembly. Built on a BC Hydro right-of-way, this park sits on the top of a high bluff overlooking the Strait of Georgia, the ferry terminal, and Vancouver Islandmarker. An observation deck is built on this bluff, and a stairway and trail have been built down the bluff to Tsawwassen Beach below. It is the first (and only) public access to the beach, creating controversy as semi-private beach access contributed a great deal to the area's property values.
  • Winskill Park - located at 56th Street and 9th Avenue, named after the land's donor and one of the first families to live in Tsawwassen. This is Tsawwassen's all-purpose sports park, featuring numerous baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and field hockey fields. A fenced artificial-turf outdoor soccer field is currently (as of May 2007) in construction. Also features a walking trail, disc golf course, restrooms, youth centre, playground, and the Winskill Aquatic Centre.
  • Dennison Park - located across from the high school at the corner of 53rd Street and 7A Avenue. This park used to feature an outdoor pool, but is now primarily used as a sports park for the high school football team. Also used for soccer and baseball. A forest grows on the northern half of the park.
  • Village Park - a very small community park located on Wesley Drive at Skana Drive. Mostly green space, but also features a playground.
  • Brandrith Park - another sports park, adjacent to Cliff Drive Elementary school, at the corner of 12th Avenue and Winskill Drive. The focus here is primarily on its baseball diamond, but a soccer field and tennis courts are present as well. A forest can be found to the rear of the park; a large playground can be found at the adjacent schoolyard.
  • Highland Park - mostly open green space with a light forest, located at the corner of 55th Street and 13A Avenue, in the heart of downtown Tsawwassen.
  • Grauer Park - another heavily used park, located at 56th Street and 18th Avenue. Greenspace here is minimal. The park is best known as home to the South Delta Rec Centre (featuring an ice rink, curling rink, and gymnasium). The Kiwanis Longhouse (once the South Delta library) is in this park, and is now an art gallery. Also featured here is parking for the Tsawwassen Park and Ride, the Tsawwassen Skate Park, and a lacrosse box.
  • Jackson Way Park - a grassy greenspace, found at the southern end of Jackson Way.
  • Beach Grove Park - mostly forest, found at the corner of Braid Road and 17A Avenue, adjacent to Beach Grove Elementary school. This park once featured a giant checker board and checker pieces visitors could play with. Also features tennis courts.
  • Imperial Park - an open field underneath the BC Hydro right-of-way in Imperial Village, at the corner of Spyglass Crescent and Silverado Place. Features a baseball diamond, playground, and a decent hill used for sledding/tobogganing in the winter.
  • Beach Grove Mini-Park - a very small community park on Beach Grove Court, featuring a small playground.
  • View Crescent Park - a very small greenspace joining the southeast corner of View Crescent with the north end of Hunter Road, located behind a commercial complex in downtown Tsawwassen.

The following parks aren't officially recognized by the municipality, but still exist within Tsawwassen's boundaries:
  • Wildwood Crescent Mini-Park
  • Woodland Park
  • Tsawwassen Nature Reserve


Tsawwassen, like the whole of the Municipality of Delta, is serviced by Delta Cable for TV and cable internet services.

As in all of British Columbia, telephone services are run primarily by Telus; the area codes serving Tsawwassen are 604marker and 778marker - though the latter is primarily used for cell phones. The CO Code servicing Tsawwassen for years has been 943, but as the population expanded, a new number, 948, was introduced in the early 1990s. Phone calls within Tsawwassen or the entire 604/778 region must adhere to the process of 10-digit dialing.


Tsawwassen is home to the largest shopping centre in South Delta (Tsawassen Town Centre Mall). Other businesses in Tsawwassen are Safeway, Tim Hortons, McDonalds, White Spot, Thrifty Foods, Shoppers Drug Mart, Dairy Queen, Jack's TV, Jsu Design, Indian Restaurant called Connaught Place Restaurant, Mario's Kitchen and two Starbucks. On April 29th, 2009, the Tsawwassen Town Center mall experienced a fire, closing a large percentage of the mall, as a result of complications involving a roofing contract. Anonymous management in the complex claims the delays in reconstruction of the damaged areas are due to asbestos insulation.

References in popular culture

In film

Due to being part of the Greater Vancouvermarker area, which is the third-largest film and television production centre in North America after New York and Los Angeles, Tsawwassen has also appeared in numerous high-profile movies and television shows over the years. These include:

Shooting location for films

  • Shoot to Kill (1988)
  • Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991) - the indoor section of the Town Centre Mall was used for this film.
  • The X-Files (1993-2002) - various episodes had portions filmed in Tsawwassen.
  • Jumanji (1995) - all of the sequences shot at "Sir Saves-A-Lot" were filmed at an unused supermarket space (Super-Valu) in at the Delta Fair Mall, which used to be located at the southwest corner of 56th Street and 12th Avenue. This has since been demolished and replaced with the new Safeway and Bayside Village shopping centre. An intersection near Diefenbaker Park was used for a scene of an animal stampede.
  • DaVinci's Inquest (CBC, 1998) Various locations
  • Smallville (2001-present) - various episodes were filmed in Tsawwassen, as well as just outside of Tsawwassen on Deltaport Way near the Deltaport container port.
  • Insomnia (2002) - the sequences filmed in the lodge in which Al Pacino was sleeping were actually filmed in an unused space previously occupied by the restaurants Timothy's, the Manor, and others. It is located at the northeast corner of 12th Avenue and 55th Street; it is now the location of Century Holdings, a real estate agency.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) - the location of Jean Grey's childhood home is located in the subdivision of Imperial Village, on Glen Abbey.
  • Snakes on a Plane (2006) - the location of the illegal snake-dealer's greenhouse/barn is shot on the Tsawwassen/Ladner boundary near Deltaport Way and Arthur Drive.
  • Are We Done Yet? (2007) - a portion was filmed on Pacific Drive near Wesley Drive.
  • The Sandlot 3 (2007) Filming in Dennison Park
  • Kickin' It Old Skool (2007) - an outdoor scene was shot in the Thrifty Foods parking lot (off 12th Avenue), and several indoor scenes were shot at the Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall (56th Street and 12th Avenue) and the Pacific Rim Performing Arts Studios in Century Square (56th Street and 18th Avenue).
  • Juno (2007) - the scenes where Juno pulls over on the side of the road in tears were filmed along Deltaport Way near the 46A Street farm overpass; the "Summer" title screen is filmed at Diefenbaker Park.
  • Battlestar Galactica - The final scene of the midseason finale, Revelations showed the remnants of a seaside city devastated by a Nuclear War. It was shot on the Tsawwassen Beach.

Setting for films

  • Scorn (2000) - a Canadian made-for-TV movie that aired on CBC, was a movie that prominently focused on Darren Huenemann, and his actions that would eventually lead to what would become a very high-profile murder that happened in Tsawwassen in the early 1990s.

In music

In The News

  • 1989 - Tsawwassen residents, furious with the proposed development of the agricultural Southlands, became a part of the longest public hearing in Canadian history in order to defeat it. Their attempts to "SAY NO TO TDL" were successful. However, a new development proposal has been on the table since 2008.
  • October 5, 1990 - Darren Huenemann's mother and grandmother were murdered in their Tsawwassen home by he and two friends from Saanich in an attempt to inherit their fortunes. They are all currently serving time for this crime.
  • August 19, 2009 - Tsawwassen became a focal point in the manhunt of suspected killer Ryan Jenkins, as he escaped across the Canadian/American border between Tsawwassen and Point Roberts. Jenkins has been accused of the murder of Jasmine Fiore.

Famous Residents/Former Residents

See also


External links

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