In a rare occurrence, the Fraser River was frozen across its entire width from Langley to Maple Ridge at Derby Reach this week, as a deep freeze continued across the Lower Mainland.
Chunks of ice are common in the Fraser River during cold snaps, but the entire river’s surface freezing is more unusual.
The river freezing was more common in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1862, the Fraser froze solid as far west as Lulu Island – the island that is now better known as Richmond. Ice was between 13 and 25 inches thick from bank to bank, blocking all river traffic. American cattle importers landed a herd at Point Roberts, drove it through Delta, and then took the animals straight across the river to New Westminster, then the largest community on the mainland.
In Langley, pioneer-era documents mention people crossing the ice on foot in Langley, and photos from New Westminster in the 1920s show when the river there froze solid enough for people to skate and play hockey.
The last deep freeze for the Fraser River through to Surrey and North Delta was in 1962.
The river isn’t frozen that far west this year, as video images indicate that around Surrey and New Westminster it is broken up into ice floes, rather than solid.
The ice doesn’t appear to be impeding operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s docks in Surrey.
“At this time, we are not aware of any high concentration of ice within our navigational jurisdiction,” said Matti Polychronis, a spokesperson for the port. “However, we continue to monitor weather conditions, including forecasts and warnings issued by Environment Canada.”
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