Leaning on the Port Haney Wharf's wooden railing, watching the swollen waters of the mighty, muddy Fraser River drift swiftly past, a bald, big-boned biker sporting a goatee, jeans, leather vest and black T-shirt sucked back on a joint and exhaled.
A light breeze towed the pungent aroma of marijuana smoke westward. The second-hand fumes funneled into your nostrils, making you feel light-headed for a second or two.
Yep, life on the wharf on the south side of River Road is never boring.
Take every second Monday during July and August for instance. That's when the wharf transforms into an concert venue, allowing visitors to soak in the river views while enjoying the Music on the Wharf series.
It's also home to the Wharfinger Office, a blink-and-you-missed-it sized, white building that oozes local history, and a building that often goes unnoticed by dock visitors.
Unfortunately at times, the building happens to catch the attention of some of the wharf's more nefarious visitors.
"There's a lot of people who hang out down here that are not necessarily well adapted to society," said Dick Sutcliffe, a board member with the Maple Ridge Historical Society. "[The office] gets graffiti on it, and vandalism. The building has a steel plate on the front door, and the back [has] a steel door, and the windows are covered with Lexan. The paint has got an anti-graffiti finish on it."
More than likely, the Wharfinger Office has been around a lot longer than its vandals have. A plaque in front of the building maps out its history.
Originally a commercial building, it was built in 1926 and used as a real estate office on what is now 224th Street.
It later served as a bus shelter until the land was purchased for a post office in 1950.
The building was then moved to the Fraser River bank and used as an office on the riverfront by the Roy Beckstrom Towing Company until the early 1980s.
It was restored by the Heritage Advisory Committee and placed on the Port Haney Wharf in 1992 as part of the Heritage River Walk.
Sutcliffe said the Wharfinger Office was once used by the person responsible for collecting moorage fees.
"It went through several different owners and abandonments [before] it was acquired by the historical society - rescued I guess would probably be a better term," Sutcliffe said.
Maple Ridge Museum director Val Patenaude said in the time leading up to its 1992 acquisition, the building was going to be destroyed.
"It was kind of derelict," Patenaude said. "It was in a place about another 50 metres west of where the West Coast Express station is now."
The building rested on pilings on a bank and it wasn't being used.
"People were afraid it was going to be set on fire," Patenaude said.
The society acquired the office and put out a call for volunteers to move the building north to the nearby Maple Ridge Museum - at 22520 116th Ave. - for restoration purposes.
There, a group of volunteers refurbished and painted the building and in the dark of night slid it onto a truck and transported it to the wharf, where it sits today.
Patenaude said the building is "most desperately in need of a use."
"We're afraid to store anything in it, because it's attacked constantly," she said. "It's a real target for vandals because there's nobody's using it. There's no constant activity around it, there's no alarm system on it, there's not much of anything."
The structure was once used for a movie shoot, Patenaude said, which netted the historical society a $250 profit.
"We've spent a couple of thousand [dollars on the building]," Patenaude said.
The Wharfinger Office on the Port Haney Wharf is currently available to rent. Contact the society at 604-463-5311, as the rate would depend on the planned use.
Concert series begins
The Port Haney Wharf is once again the venue for a summer concert series.
According to the Maple Ridge Historical Society, the Music on the Wharf concert series started with a local band offering to play a one-time concert and has become one of the society's most popular annual events.
Since 1997, this free (by donation) concert series has taken place on the wharf, located on River Road, just east of the Port Haney West Coast Express station.
Visitors are encouraged to bring a chair to sit on while enjoying the entertainment.
The first concert was held Monday, July 9 featuring Wendy Biscuit Blues.
The rest of the concert series:
- Monday, July 23: Penelope Above at 7:30 p.m.
- Monday, Aug. 13: Bruce James Orchestra at 7:30 p.m.
- Monday, Aug. 27: Good For Grapes at 7 p.m.