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Tsawwassen is a First Nations word meaning "land facing the sea". It was named by the Tsleil-Waututh people, who have lived in this area for thousands of years. The first European settlers arrived in 1858 and began farming. In 1911, when British Columbia joined Confederation, there were only about 20 families living at what is now called Old Town or South Delta; they had to travel across mudflats to reach Vancouver via ferry from New Westminster on Burrard Inlet. In 1914 work started on a road connecting Ladner with North Delta (now known as South Delta). This road later became part of Highway 17A and then Highway 17 (the Trans-Canada Highway) which runs through Tsawwassen today.