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Tsawwassen Mills Outlet Shopping Mall (29600080723).jpg
Tsawwassen Mills Outlet
Coordinates: 49°01′N123°05′W / 49.017°N 123.083°W / 49.017; -123.083 (Tsawwassen) [1] Coordinates: 49°01′N123°05′W / 49.017°N 123.083°W / 49.017; -123.083 (Tsawwassen) [2]
Province British Columbia
Regional district Metro Vancouver
City Delta
  Total12.91 km2 (4.98 sq mi)
 (2016) [3] [4]
  Density1,700/km2 (4,300/sq mi)
Website www.delta.ca

Tsawwassen (English: /təˈwɑːsən/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) tə-WAH-sən) is a suburban, mostly residential community on a peninsula in the southwestern corner of the City of Delta in British Columbia, Canada. It provides the only road access to the American territory on the southern tip of the peninsula, the community of Point Roberts, Washington, via 56th Street. It is also the location of Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, part of the BC Ferries, built in 1959 to provide foot-passenger and motor vehicle access from the Lower Mainland to the southern part of Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. Because Tsawwassen touches a shallow bank (Roberts Bank), the ferry terminal is built at the southwestern end of a 3 km (1.9 mi) causeway (part of Highway 17) that extends into the Strait of Georgia. Boundary Bay Airport, a major training hub for local and international pilots [5] which also provides local airplane and helicopter service, is ten minutes away. The Roberts Bank Superport is also nearby.


To the northwest of the community are the lands of Tsawwassen First Nation ("TFN"), a people of Coast Salish ancestry who have used this land since at least 200 B.C. Having been "stripped of their lands, rights and resources" [6] by European colonizers throughout the 19th century, and in accordance with a 2009 treaty with British Columbia, their territory now consists of approximately 724 ha (1,790 acres) of treaty settlement land, [7] 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. While also part of TFN lands, the 92-lot residential subdivision of Stahaken was leased for use by the (then) Tsawwassen Indian Reserve to Staheken Developments Ltd. in 1989 for a 99-year term. It was then developed in a partnership between Stahaken Development Ltd. and the Municipality of Delta. As such it is commonly thought of and serviced in the same manner as other subdivisions in the community of Tsawwassen. Stahaken residents are represented by the Stahaken Homeowners Association. [8]


Tsawwassen is derived from the Halkomelem word sc̓əwaθən, meaning "land facing the sea". [9]


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

Tsawwassen's southern boundary is the Canada–United States border, following the 49th parallel north. To the north, its nearest neighbour is the town of Ladner, which is also part of the City 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 elevation is just below sea level, and its highest is at 70 m (230 ft) at the Point Roberts border near 56th Street.


Tsawwassen and surrounding lands are considered the ancestral home, and traditional lands, of 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 prehistoric villages have been unearthed there. [10]

The first group of Europeans to see Tsawwassen was the expedition of Spanish explorer José María Narváez 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." [11]


Tsawwassen is arranged in a grid, with streets running north/south and east/west. Running east/west are the avenues, with 1st Avenue closest to the Canada–US border. Running north/south, the streets follow the grid laid out for the municipality of Delta, part of the greater street grid set out by the British Royal Engineers in the 19th century.

Tsawwassen main arterial street is 56th Street, which connects Highway 17 with the exclave of Point Roberts, in Washington, U.S. (where it becomes Tyee Drive). It runs through the main commercial area, centred at the intersection of 12th Avenue with 56th Street. This border crossing is the westernmost on the 49th parallel between Canada and the USA.

Tsawwassen is served by buses from TransLink. Four primary bus routes serve the main bus loop at the South Delta Exchange next to the South Delta Recreation Centre, where many terminate at Bridgeport Station in Richmond: Routes 602, 603, and 604 operate during rush hour and connect directly to Bridgeport Station, whereas Route 601 operates all day/all week, and is routed past Tsawwassen Mills and through Ladner.

Route 620 connects the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal to the Ladner Exchange and, ultimately, Bridgeport Station.

Local community routes in Tsawwassen are handled by Route 609 (Tsawwassen First Nation), Route 614 (English Bluff and Beach Grove during non-peak periods), and Route 619 (Boundary Bay).

Tsawwassen is also home to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, part of BC Ferries. Ferries go to the following destinations:

Route 1 Swartz Bay,
Route 9 Southern Gulf Islands
Route 30 Duke Point,

Holidays and events

Tour de Delta wall cover on electrical box outside of Delta, British Columbia municipal hall TourdeDeltaAD.jpg
Tour de Delta wall cover on electrical box outside of Delta, British Columbia municipal hall

Since 2001, Tsawwassen has played an integral part of the Tour de Delta, one-day bicycle races that take place over a July weekend (The White Spot / Delta Road Race for men since 2001; and the women's since 2011). The weekend culminates in a race from North Delta through Ladner to Tsawwassen, where men and women do various laps around Tsawwassen's perimeter until finishing in either Diefenbaker or Winskill Park. The race grows in popularity and coverage each year.

the Tsawwassen / Boundary Bay chapter of Lions Clubs International runs a Sunday car lot in the east parking lot of Town Centre Mall, which donates the space. People selling their cars park them in the lot, where they can be seen by locals and people passing through on the way to Point Roberts. 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 live music, and a variety of activities such as children's games, food tents, and sporting events. There is usually a theme for each year's event, and attendees are encouraged to dress accordingly.



Public schools in Tsawwassen are part of School District 37 Delta. Tsawwassen has only one public high school, South Delta Secondary School (SDSS), formerly South Delta Senior Secondary.

There are five public elementary schools in Tsawwassen. These are Cliff Drive, Pebble Hill, South Park, English Bluff, and Beach Grove. A sixth school, Boundary Beach (Grades K-3), closed in June 2009. There is also a small French programme cadre school, Ecole Du Bois-Joli, for students with French language spoken at home.

Boundary Bay Elementary School, formerly located on 56th Street south of 12th Avenue, served grades K-7. With usually one class per grade, it was a small school, and shared a principal with Boundary Beach Elementary School. Grades 3-7 students from Boundary Beach were bussed daily to attend the school. The school was closed in the early 1990s, and the land sold. It is now a residential development. There was also a middle school called Tsawwassen Junior Secondary (TJS), but low enrolment led to its closure in 1994. This land was also sold by the school district and re-developed into a housing subdivision.

Private schools in the Tsawwassen area include Southpointe Academy, a private K–12 school; Delta Christian School in Ladner, a Christian private school offering grades K-8; and Sacred Heart Elementary in Ladner, a Catholic school offering grades K-7.


Tsawwassen contains many community and regional parks; Boundary Bay Regional Park (home to Centennial Beach) is run by the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD). The following parks are maintained by Delta Parks & Recreation, an arm of the municipal government:

The following parks aren't officially recognized by the municipality, but still exist within Tsawwassen's boundaries:

Historic Street Names

And then there's historic Boundary Bay Road, which features the following streets:

From here, this connects with the segment of road that has always been known as Boundary Bay Road.

In the neighbourhood of Boundary Bay, virtually every numbered street here was historically named something else:


Tsawwassen, like the whole of the Municipality of Delta, was initially only serviced by Delta Cable (since sold to Eastlink) for TV and cable internet services, although Shaw and Telus now offer services as well.

As in all of British Columbia, incumbent telephone services is provided by Telus; the area codes serving Tsawwassen are 604 and 778 - though the latter is primarily used for cell phones. The original CO Code servicing Tsawwassen was 943, but as the population expanded, a new code, 948, was introduced in the early 1990s. New codes have since been added, and local number portability has blurred traditional exchange differences. Phone calls within Tsawwassen or the entire 604/778 region must adhere to the process of ten-digit dialing.


Tsawwassen is home to the largest shopping centre in South Delta (Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall). Other businesses in Tsawwassen are Save-On-Foods, Tim Hortons, McDonald's, White Spot, Thrifty Foods, Shoppers Drug Mart, Dairy Queen, two Starbucks and many more. [13] In 2016 a new commercial business complex, Northgate, [14] was completed, and construction began on the Southlands Market Square [15] project; both developments of Century Group.

Tsawwassen Mills opened in October 2016 in the neighbouring municipality of Tsawwassen First Nation, located to the west of Tsawwassen (Delta,) BC.


Tsawwassen is known for its relatively dry and sunny climate compared with other locations in Metro Vancouver. For example, it receives nearly 40% less precipitation than downtown Vancouver [16] and less than half of that of North Vancouver. [17] It has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) with cooler summers and milder winters than other areas on the Canada–U.S. border, and features some of the mildest winters and lowest diurnal temperature variation in Canada.

Climate data for Delta Tsawwassen Beach
Climate ID: 1102425; coordinates 49°00′39″N125°05′36″W / 49.01083°N 125.09333°W / 49.01083; -125.09333 (Vancouver International Airport) ; elevation: 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in); 1981-2010 normals
Record high °C (°F)14.5
Average high °C (°F)7.2
Daily mean °C (°F)5.1
Average low °C (°F)2.9
Record low °C (°F)−9.5
Average precipitation mm (inches)134.6
Average rainfall mm (inches)124.3
Average snowfall cm (inches)10.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)18.514.315.514.
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)17.713.915.514.
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada [18]

In film

Due to being part of the Greater Vancouver 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 locations

  • Shoot to Kill (1988)
  • Bill & 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 Save-A-Lot" were filmed at a former SuperValu store at the open-air Delta Fair Mall, which was located at the southwest corner of 56th Street and 12th Avenue. The space has since been demolished and replaced with the new Safeway (since sold to Save-On-Foods as of March 2014). An intersection near Diefenbaker Park was used for a scene of an animal stampede.
  • Da Vinci's Inquest (CBC, 1998) Various locations
  • Smallville (2001–2010) - various episodes were filmed in Tsawwassen, as well as just outside 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 Golf Club Drive.
  • 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: Heading Home (2007) - filmed 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 Boundary Bay side of Tsawwassen, at Centennial Beach.
  • Hellcats (2011) - Pharmacy scene took place at Wellspring Health.
  • Child Bride (2019) - filmed primarily in Tsawwassen.

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

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

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  15. Southlands Market Square
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