Lower Customs Building

6714 Corbould Road
Delta, BC

Built: 1935

This building was built here in response to a need for greater control over the border from the Canadian to the American side of the beach at Boundary Bay and vice versa. Smuggling, we are told, was pervasive as far back as the 1870s.

Status: Still Standing

Lower Customs Building - 2009
click photo to enlarge
Referred to always as the Lower Customs, it was built at the same time as the customs crossing was moved from the intersection of 56th Street and 12th Avenue to the southern end of Point Roberts Road, thhat is, at the international border on land purchased from Edith Jordan, Henry Jordan's widow. Perhaps some of the impetus for this change was the setting up of a customs office at this location by the Americans in 1934. It should be noted that this office was located in a tent and everyone wanting to cross to the American side had to report to this office.

The Lower Customs Office was built on land purchased by the Federal Government, then called the Dominion Goverment, from Grace Brimacombe who inherited it from the Corbould estate. The Corboulds, beginning with Gordon Edward Corbould and his wife, Arabella, were long time campers at Boundary Bay, probably from the late 1880s or early 1890s. Corbould was a senior partner in the New Westminster law firm of Corbould Grant & McCall and his family was a good example of the many well-off city residents who came to Boundary Bay for the summer.

The Lower Customs operated here beginning in late 1935 with hours of 7 am to 11 pm during the busy summer months. From May 1st to the October 1st, there were customs officers here controllong access to South Beach, Whalen's Store and other amenities on the U.S. side. Summer hours for the customs office were reduced to 10 am to 6 pm for the winter season. Various individuals who camped at one spot or another during the 1940s have said that border control wasn't as rigorous as one might imagine -- certainly not what goes on now.

Both the Lower and Upper Customs offices built in 1935 were similar in construction. They were 23 feet x 43 feet with a general office 20 feet x 20 feet and a private office in the rear for the officer in charge. Both buildings also had storerooms and separate garages.

The first customs officer at the Lower Customs was George Jameson who lived in Beach Grove with his wife, Vera. Percy Bradford, Ladner house builder, was responsible responsible for building the Lower Customs building.

The Lower Customs was de-commissioned in 1976 and was beautifully restored in 1997.