Camp Alexandra: 100 Years Building a Spirit of Community

Camp Alexandra: 100 Years Building a Spirit of Community


Camp Alexandra: 100 Years Building a Spirit of Community One hundred years ago, Camp Alexandra began at Crescent Beach. The Semiahmoo First Nation lived, hunted, and fished here for thousands of years before newcomers settled on the Semiahmoo Peninsula. When the Great Northern Railway opened its sea line route in 1909, the area became much more accessible. [Music] [Building Sounds] Homes began to emerge and the Crescent Hotel opened in 1912. [Music and Children’s Voices] By 1914, Vancouver-based Alexandra Orphanage was looking for a way to help children and disadvantaged families “escape” city life. Crescent Beach was chosen for the Alexandra Orphanage’s camp site in 1916. By 1918, the Alexandra Orphanage purchased land from the Agars, one of the early families to settle in Crescent Beach. A Fresh Air Fund was created to raise money to construct a summer lodge. The lodge was complete by 1920. [Music and Water Sounds] [Music and Train Sounds] [Music and Children’s Voices] Two additional buildings, the Wigwam House and the Dining Hall, were complete in 1921 through the support of community donations. A flagpole memorial was added to the site in 1924. [Music and Bells Chiming] A boy’s camp was added in 1925. The camps were seen as an opportunity to re-educate the participants. A women’s recreation room was built on camp grounds in 1928. Alexandra Fresh Air Camp became the new name of the summer camp in 1934. 1,377 campers would visit this year. [Music] [Babies Crying] [Music and Children’s Voices] Alexandra Fresh Air Camp flourished through the Second World War. The mid 40s saw the start of “The Happy Old Age Club,” the first seniors club on the peninsula. [Music and Boat Sounds] [Music and Arrow Sounds] [Music and Children’s Voices] [Music and Baseball Sounds] [Music and Children’s Voices] Local service clubs would pool donations into the Alexandra Fresh Air Camp in the 1950s, allowing costs to remain as low as 99 cents per camper a day. They would help build many of the buildings that still stand today at Camp Alexandra. [Music and Birds Tweeting] By 1954, officials at the Alexandra Fresh Air Camp felt that Crescent Beach was losing its rural landscape. Many homes were being built in the area. As a result the organization bought more land in Sunnyside. They named this new plot of land “Five Acres.” Campers would hike through the forest to this new campsite. By the end of the 1960’s, it was felt that the camp should be used year-round to make better use of facilities. [Music] Because of this, Alexandra Fresh Air Camp was rebranded Crescent Beach Community Services. Crescent Beach Community Services focused on local residents and families in the 80’s. Computer Camps, Retirement Camps, Special Care Camps, and daycare were now offered. [Music and Birds Tweeting] [Music] Renamed Alexandra Neighbourhood House, this long lasting organization is a thriving part of the community of Crescent Beach, valuing diversity, providing sustainability, and promoting a sense of belonging and sharing. [Music] Camp Alexandra: 100 Years Building a Spirit of Community
Presented by the Surrey Archives

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