Living

Birch Bay

Cousins Janelle Hassebrock, 10, left, and James Twedt, 11, re-inforce the wall of their sand fort on the beach at Birch Bay. The beach offers nearly two miles of shoreline and views. Activities include boating, fishing, swimming, clamming, and crabbing. There's also camping nearby at Birch Bay State Park.
Cousins Janelle Hassebrock, 10, left, and James Twedt, 11, re-inforce the wall of their sand fort on the beach at Birch Bay. The beach offers nearly two miles of shoreline and views. Activities include boating, fishing, swimming, clamming, and crabbing. There's also camping nearby at Birch Bay State Park. NIKI DESAUTELS THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

OVERVIEW

Birch Bay’s identity as a resort community peaked in the 1970s, then waned with the recession of the 1980s and the drop in the Canadian dollar in the 1990s.

Now Birch Bay is growing rapidly, from nearly 5,000 people in 2000 to about 7,000 people today. Vacation properties are growing, but so are permanent residences. Incorporation is under study.

Meanwhile, subdivisions are sprouting, commercial plans are developing, and a remodeled golf course recently opened. The area’s proximity to Blaine, Ferndale and Bellingham is a plus. So is its waterfront location, which people enjoy year-round, from a polar bear plunge each Jan. 1 to a sand sculpture contest and Birch Bay Discover Days in the summer.

HISTORY

Tourism blossomed in Birch Bay after World War II, with throngs of people, including many Canadians, drawn to the beach, roller rink, rental cabins, amusement park, dance halls, golf course, swimming pool and taverns.

SCHOOLS

Blaine Primary, Blaine Elementary, Blaine Middle, Blaine High, Timber Ridge.

District: Blaine School District, www.blaine.wednet.edu.

PARKS

Birch Bay State, Birch Bay Leisure, Sunset Farm Equestrian Center, Lions Camp Horizon, Semiahmoo.

QUOTE

“Birch Bay is a settlement, community that is located right on the waterfront and is easily accessible for walking and swimming in the summer when the water’s warm. It’s the unique bay because of its horseshoe shape.”

Jean Makela, Birch Bay resident for 26 years

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