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Halfmoon Bay Spells Trouble for Sign Makers

SECHELT, BC — MARCH 15, 2007 — Local real estate agent Gary Little has written the following article relating to the recent spate of typographical errors on street signs in the Halfmoon Bay area.

Writing the Wrongs
One of the offending signs on
Redrooffs Road. California Dreamin'?
I read with interest P. Albert's letter in the March 8 issue of The Local complaining about the typographical errors on highway signs which have recently appeared in the Halfmoon Bay area — the new Half Moon Bay Fire Prevention District / 9-1-1 signs and one of the older Sargent Bay Provincial Park directional signs on Highway 101. There is no excuse for the Half Moon Bay signs with the conspicuous and erroneous space between Half and Moon. The Sargent Bay sign appeared unexpectedly when the metal plate bearing the correct name (Sargeant Bay) fell off to reveal the incorrect name on the original sign erected in 1990 for the opening of the provincial park.

In light of the controversy, I thought it would be interesting to look into the history behind three names in the Halfmoon Bay area which have challenged spellers for the past century: Halfmoon Bay itself, Sargeant Bay, and Redrooffs.

Halfmoon Bay
Although European explorers had sailed the ocean waters of the Halfmoon Bay area as early as 1791, and the area was charted in reasonable detail by Capt. George Richards in 1860, the bay was not officially named until 1910. In that year the Royal Navy conducted a meticulous marine survey of Welcome Pass and the bay was christened Half-Moon Bay. (See www. garylittle.ca/pr-20060629.html for a discussion of the chart created by the surveying crew.) The first commercial chart on which this hyphenated name appeared was Admiralty Chart 2078 of 1912.
Detail from Admiralty Chart 2078 of 1912. This was the first commercially-available chart to name Halfmoon Bay — the name used was Half-Moon Bay.
1938 Halfmoon Bay postmark.

The hyphen never did seem to catch on. The name Half Moon Bay was in more common use in the first quarter of the 20th century even after the Welcome Pass post office had changed its name to Halfmoon Bay on January 1, 1915. Local author Andrew Scott, also a prominent postal historian, has rare examples of early strikes of the Halfmoon Bay postmark which confirm the use of this variant of the name which, of course, is the one we still use today.

By the 1930s, the name Halfmoon Bay had become firmly established and use of Half Moon Bay had faded. In fact, Half Moon Bay never appears to have been used on any map or chart.

Halfmoon Bay's twin: Half Moon Bay, California is located on the west coast of North America, near Highway 101, and within 30 miles of a world-famous city.

Today, if someone tells you that they live in Half Moon Bay on the coast west of Highway 101 and close to a world-famous city, they don't live on the Sunshine Coast. Rather, they live in California, 25 miles south of San Francisco. (See www.halfmoonbayreview.com.) I say this with authority since I lived near Half Moon Bay for 18 years before moving to Halfmoon Bay in 2005. Are you still with me?

Sargeant Bay
There is little doubt that the fellow who first pre-empted the land at the head of present-day Sargeant Bay in 1887 and received his Crown grant in 1892 was named Frederick Sargent (not Sargeant). The primary piece of evidence is the Crown grant itself in which his name is handwritten very clearly. In addition, all the early B.C. directories refer to him as Sargent.
Extract from the 1892 Crown Grant of the land at the head of Sargeant Bay. The grantee was Frederick Sargent (not Sargeant).

When Fred received his Crown grant, the bay was called Nor-West Bay and was identified as such in the plan accompanying the grant deed. (Nor-West Bay Road in West Sechelt earned its name because at one time it looped down to the east side of the bay.)

1913 marine chart. Present-day Sargeant Bay is named South East Bay.
In the 1928 edition of the same chart, the name has changed to Sargeant Bay.

Fred's name disappeared from the B.C. directories around 1910 — no one seems to know what became of him. At the same time, on some marine charts at least, Nor-West Bay became known as South East Bay — quite an unexpected name change for a bay that has not budged since being formed by Ice Age glaciers! Later, probably in the 1920s, the name changed to Sargeant Bay and this is the name used on the 1928 edition of the Canadian hydrographic chart of the area. The misspelling of his surname is perhaps understandable since pioneer Fred was apparently long gone by the time he was honoured, and local officials would not have had many written records on hand to verify the spelling of his name.

The third name in the Halfmoon Bay area which has given people trouble for 98 years is Redrooffs. It has been spelled in many different ways, including Red Roofs, Red Roof's, and the very common (but still wrong) Redroofs. The correct spelling is absolutely, positively Redrooffs, being the name of the summer resort established around 1909 on the site of present-day Coopers Green. (The last owner of the resort was Jim Cooper.)

The name was chosen because the cabins in the resort all had red rooftops to attract the attention of passengers on the coastal steamships, perhaps an early example of corporate branding. The letter f was repeated to give the name rustic old-world charm, much like a store today might call itself a shoppe to evoke a feeling of quaintness. A photocopy of a rare 1913 document in the Sechelt Community Archives removes any lingering doubt about the spelling — it is the first issue of the resort's newsletter and is titled Redrooffs Rag.

Modern examples of the misspelling of Redrooffs are quite common. Current CHS hydrographic charts of the area (3311 and 3512) both use the name Redroofs to identify Redrooffs Road. And BC Hydro seemed intent on sending my electricity bill to Redroofs Road even after I complained about the incorrect spelling.

Righting the Wrongs
We have to bite the bullet and accept that the name of Frederick Sargent's bay is, because of over 80 years of continuous use, effectively Sargeant Bay. Sorry Fred. As a result, it is necessary to patch the Sargent Bay highway sign once again to bring it into conformance.

As for the group of egregious Half Moon Bay 9-1-1 signs, a suggestion. Let's ship them all off to our twin city in California where they would fit in very nicely. With a bit of luck the California Department of Transportation has been as careful as our own Ministry of Transportation and the Half Moon Bay city council will be able to send us some Halfmoon Bay signs in exchange!

— * —

Gary Little is a realtor® and licensed real estate trading services representative in the offices of Royal LePage Sussex in Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada. He is a former senior software marketing manager, having previously worked in Silicon Valley for almost 20 years at the worldwide headquarters of Apple Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc. He is well known for his interactive real estate map of the Sunshine Coast (map.garylittle.ca).



Gary Little, realtor®
Royal LePage Sussex
5485 Wharf Ave., P.O. Box 65
Sechelt, BC V0N 3A0
Cell: 604-741-5347
Office: 604-885-0299
Fax: 604-885-0298

This news release is located online at: http://www.GaryLittle.ca/pr-20070315.html