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The Dinsmore Family of Mud Bay/Elgin.

Dinsmore Family

Abram Dinsmore was born in 1858. He lived in Grey County for the first thirty years of his life. He was raised on a farm and worked on local farms in Ontario.


Abram and Mary Emma

Four years before coming to BC, in 1884, Abram Dinsmore married Mary Emma Goodmurphy who was originally from Gore Bay, Ontario. Mary Emma was born Sept 25, 1869.

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In 1888, the couple decided to come to BC, settling in Vancouver. The Canadian Pacific Railway had been completed across Canada in 1885 and extended to Vancouver in May of 1887. The trip out in 1888 was far easier than many that had come before them. Abram built a home after arriving in Vancouver at the corner of Main and Thirteenth Avenue.


Abram was a carpenter and mill worker by trade and worked in those trades after his arrival in Vancouver. However, he had too much farm blood in him to stay working in the city and decided he would like to get back to farm work. In July 1891 he heard of work as a farm manager in the Elgin area of Surrey. Leaving at 2 am he walked from Vancouver to Elgin, over 35 miles. Perhaps, he walked the old False Creek Trail to New Westminster, took the ferry across the Fraser and probably walked the Semiahmoo Wagon Road south to his destination at Elgin. Mr. Dinsmore arrived sometime in the afternoon that day. He got the job as manager of the Stefanie Estate, a large tract of land east of Elgin, and made arrangements borrow a horse and buggy from the estate and he headed back to Vancouver the same day. (See Early Trails)


Within the next few days he brought his family and their belongings back to Elgin, an incredible few days of travel. When the family first settled in Surrey, they stayed in a log house on the old McDougal property which was part of the Stefanie Estate. The log house sat just east of what is now the Riverside Driving Range. It was one or the first homes erected in the Mud Bay District. Four of the Dinsmore children were born in this log house.


Early Mud Bay

Ella Dinsmore, in her Normal School essay project, described the Mud Bay District when the Dinsmore family first arrived. The area in the spring was a veritable "Garden of the Gods". Wild crab–apple grew in clumps from the shore of the bay up through the valley. Wild roses grew on the slough banks and both bloomed in the spring. In open spaces luscious wild grasses grew luxuriantly. It was these open meadows or garden patches that were first dyked and cultivated. Blueberry and cranberry bogs dominated the upper valley centre and these drew the attention of native peoples who camped near the bog for their seasonal gathering and drying of the berries.


Mud Bay valley

The valley looking north from the hill at Elgin
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


Mud Bay valley

The valley looking south from Woodward's Hill
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


George Dinsmore also described the valley his father Abram came to. He was answering the question "Before the white man came into this country, what would he have found in this Mud Bay area?"


Well, the growth mostly – the farther down to the bay you got, it was more solid grass and very little brush, but as you worked back up the valley, say a mile and a half to two miles from the bay you started to get into a condition where the, the gradual build up of nature on this soil that lifted it up until it was free of salt water for a big part of the year and the crab apples and some spruces started to grow and then we had, oh, probably, a thousand acres or so of a blueberry bog that had grown and got above the water level and the moss and blueberry and stuff was growing in that. That was the condition as I remember it as a kid. We used to go back into these bogs and pick blueberries for preserves and to sell one once in a while if you got a chance. But when the original farmers come in here, these rivers run amuck. There were no dykes on them, of course, and real high tides would flow over and flood a lot of the area. That was the first thing a farmer had to do when he come in here was to dyke a portion off so that he could keep the salt water off of it. My memory as a young fellow, young kid going to school, was there was very seldom a winter went by that we didn't have one of these dykes break somewhere and we'd have a flood and then the whole country was under salt water for a day or two or a week or ten days as the case might be. George Dinsmore tape. Surrey Archives SA 771:1

Establishing the farm

After Abram managed the farm for a year or two, then he leased it and ran it for himself. He purchased 120 acres midway between the Nicomekl and Serpentine Rivers east of where King George Highway runs through.


Map 1903

Mud Bay 1903
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


To make a living, Abe continued to operate both farms, raising hay, potatoes, hogs and a dairy herd, while much of the produce, including butter, was sold at the New Westminster Market. In October 1902, the family moved from the log house on the leased lands to their own Mud Bay property where a large barn, several outbuildings and an eight-room house had been constructed.


Dinsmore home

The Dinsmore Home
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


In time Mr. Dinsmore added another 120 acres of land along Elgin Road to his holdings, and operated the three farms for a number of years but then he gave up working the Stefanie Estate when the "Lamb" branch of the McDougall family bought it in 1907. He continued to operate both his farms at Mud Bay until 1921. When he decided to retire he leased the farms north of the Serpentine to his sons George and Ed while his older son William (Will) operated the original family farm between the rivers.


Abram Dinsmore passed away April 1, 1933, and his wife followed him on January 25, 1937. The original farm in Mud Bay was left to William, while those holdings north of the Serpentine were bequeathed to Ed and George.


Louise Dinsmore said:
Well, the farm that my husband (Ed) and his brother (George) had, was north of the Serpentine River, you know, toward Woodward Hill. They had a hundred and twenty acres there and then, later, they acquired more land across on the west side of King George Highway, what we used to call the old Woodward property. And there was a big red barn on the bank of the river on that property, but that barn burned later years. Louise Dinsmore tape Surrey Archives SMA89.83.08

Ed and George continued to operate the farms under the name Dinsmore Brothers. About 1930 Abram and Mary Dinsmore moved to a small property which they owned on Wade Road. Mr. Dinsmore served many years on the Mud Bay and Surrey School Boards.


George Dinsmore said:

Father went on as a manager for a year or two years, then leased the place and stayed there until 1902 as a renter and then after, during 1901 and '02 he bought another farm in the centre of the valley here and built his home buildings on there – his barn and his home and it – in October or November, 1902 my parents and the family moved into this new home. I was born in this old log shack or log home on the Elgin property and several of my brothers and sisters were born there. And, I know, they tell me I was something like three weeks old when they moved into this new home so I don't remember anything about that part of it.
About two years later (1904), I think, he bought this property here and he, for a long time, ran the three farms. There was something like six hundred acres in the big place over there and there's a hundred and twenty in each one of these farms here that he farmed, but he farmed the whole three of them. Then he let the big place go over there and carried on farming on these places until about 1919. Then my brother and I rented the farm from him after the War. And when things kind of started to toughen up again he thought it was a little rough farming so he said, "I can't make much money at it, maybe you fellows can do it." So, we rented the farm from him and carried on from there. George Dinsmore tape. Surrey Archives SA 771:1

For just over 10 years, between 1891 and 1902, the Dinsmore rented and farmed in the Mud Bay area. In October 1902, they purchased their own land and did so in the centre of the Mud Bay Valley and it was here the family built a home of their own. Abram and Mary raised a family of seven: four daughters and three sons, Marion, born Feb. 28, 1888 (Mrs. G.H. Richards); Mildred, born July 9, 1890 (Mrs Neil Johnston); William (Bill) M. Arthur, born July 24, 1892; Edith May born July 31, 1895 (Mrs. Wm. Tarves); John Edgar, born April 17, 1899; George Henry, born Oct 7, 1902; Ella Gladys, born July 31, 1907 (Mrs. Don Rogers). The eldest Marion was born in Ontario; Mildred was born in Mount Pleasant, Vancouver. All of the remaining children were born in Surrey in the old McDougal log house except, Ella Gladys who was born three weeks after the family moved into their new home in Mud Bay.


Dinsmore Family

The Dinsmore Family
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


In 1921 Ed and George started their working partnership by renting their father's farm. Initially, they lived on their father's farm, until on New Year's Eve, 1925, Ed and Ontario–born Surrey school teacher Louise Bishop of Ladner were married, and for several years the couple stayed in the pioneer family home. Ed built a home on the original property.

Louise Dinsmore said:

My husband built this house in the summer of 1926. And when he built it, he said he was going to have it rather narrow and tall because one day he thought that on his own property he would use it as a granary and we would have, we would build a new house. So, in the winter of 1930 he decided that we would move it over onto the property that his father had given he and his brother and we couldn't move it on the road because at that time, there was something known as a gantry over the bridge on the Serpentine River, which is like an overhead arch and our house wouldn't go underneath that. So, we had to figure out some other way to get it over to this property, on the other side of the river. So that winter when it froze very hard, the ice on the river was, was very thick and hard, so they put the house on skids, took it across the fields and across the river to the other side and to the place where it stands today. And we couldn't have done it without the real cold weather and the frozen river. Louise Dinsmore tape Surrey Archives SMA89.83.08

Ed, Louise, George,Robina

Ed and George and their wives
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


Ed and Louise Dinsmore had a family of three: daughter Helen (Mrs. Earl Andresen); Norman, a civil engineer in Vancouver; and Mary Jo (Mrs. R. Sayer). There are seven grandchildren.


On March 18, 1936, George and Robina Catherine, daughter of the late Crescent Beach realtor Gilbert Tulloch, were married and moved into the house which has been their home ever since on Rankin Road overlooking the Elgin Valley. "George was working on the place for months before the wedding," Robina Dinsmore recalled, pointing out the fine view from their hillside residence. The Dinsmores…1891 Mud Bay. Along the Way… by Margaret Lang Hastings, p174

George and Robina Dinsmore had two daughters: Marilyn (Mrs. A1 Tecklenborg), mother of Albert; and Georgina, who taught school in a North Vancouver secondary school.


Over the years the Dinsmore brothers added to their farm until it covered 275 acres and while they worked the land, wives Louise and Robina kept busy with church and community activities besides housekeeping, and mothering the children. The Dinsmores…1891 Mud Bay. Along the Way… by Margaret Lang Hastings, p174

Louise Dinsmore said:

When I came to the farm, they had a dairy farm, they had milk cows. But they gave that up later and it was mostly grain, hay, oats were the grain crop, but the last years they farmed mainly potatoes weas the big crop they had. That was mostly what they – it seemed like grain and hay didn't – there wasn't the market for it that there had been. They had some pork. I remember when we had the flood in 1935, they put pigs up in the hayloft to keep them out of the water, so I know we still had the pigs at that time. Louise Dinsmore tape Surrey Archives SMA89.83.08

Elgin Road looking south

Elgin Road looking South
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


Mud Bay School

Mud Bay School
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


Mud Bay School

Like other pioneer families, the Dinsmores wanted to give their children an education. A school already stood in the centre of the Mud Bay Valley – Mud Bay School. This was Surrey's second school and opened in 1883. The structure still stands today. It has been converted into a residence. (See Schools before 1900)


Boys at Mud Bay School

Boys at Mud Bay School c1914
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


Girls at Mud Bay School

Girls at Mud Bay School c1914
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


The decision was made to locate the school in the centre of the Valley so settlers from each side of the Valley could walk an equal distance to the school. All of the Dinsmore children attend Mud Bay School. John Edgar Dinsmore, known as Ed, was one of the first to attend Surrey High School, which began operation in 1912. Ed Dinsmore started his studies there in 1913. Surrey High was Surrey's first high school. It was located in Cloverdale, beginning operation in 1912. In 1915, Ed's brother George began his studies at Surrey High. The children traveling to Surrey High from Mud Bay would often ride a horse into Cloverdale for classes. When a heavy snow fall occurred, children from Mud Bay would hop on the train, the Victoria Terminal Railway, which ran east–west through Surrey. George Dinsmore, though, recalls this train being unreliable. It was known locally as the "Molasses Limited". Anyone who took the train did not know if they’d arrive on time or not.


For the families of Ed and George Dinsmore schooling was important as well and getting the children to school was a priority.


Louise Dinsmore said:

My sister–in–law and I took turns driving them to Sullivan because that was the closest that the school bus came and we would get them there every day to go to school and pick them up again every afternoon. And we usually alternated it, like a week at a time and drove them to get the school bus. We were, you know, down in the middle of the Mud Bay flats and we were a long way away from schools there. Louise Dinsmore tape Surrey Archives SMA89.83.08

Mud Bay Methodist Church

Mud Bay Church
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


The Methodist Church in Mud Bay.

The Mud Bay church was built and opened in the fall of 1885. It was free of debt, a fact largely due to the generosity of the Reverend Dr. Dunn's personal friends in and near Victoria, although the congregation contributed most liberally for means. For several years the Mud Bay Church was used by the Presbyterians and Methodist on altetnate Sundays. Anglican services were also held the on special occasions.


Getting good water

For the farms between the Serpentine and Nicomekl Rivers, good water was a continuing problem. Brackish or bog water might do for the cattle but it was not the best. (See Surrey water)


Louise Dinsmore said:

Well, this is, I think this was what inspired my father–in–law to try to get a well because they were hauling water from that spring. There was a spring at the foot of the Woodward Hill and it was an excellent source of water, too. And they used haul water from there, but, you know, that was a lot of work and it took a lot of time and so, when they drilled for the well, evidently, in 1910, he got, he got water. It was a good supply. Interview with Louise Dinsmore and Irene Shelley, Surrey Archives SMA89.83.08

In 1910 an artesian well was drilled to provide good water. It was the first such well in the area.


George Dinsmore recalls the hand-made pipe system used to supply the valley:

Now, this was the waterworks deal. Some old farmers went into the bush up here on the hill and they cut these poles, fir poles around ten inches through, about twelve foot lengths and got a steam outfit and a boring machine and bored out these pipes with a three inch hole in them and then laid that pipeline from this hill. They put in very close to two miles of it for farm waterworks. That line worked partially and otherwise, up until very close to 1925. Well, then, by that time Artesian wells had come, become quite popular. I think my father drilled the first one that was drilled in this valley at about 1908 or '10, the first was drilled in Mud Bay here…. We had to use rainwater for our house use. Had to have eaves troughs and down pipes and water tanks and after about the middle of the summer, well, every water tank in the country was full of wigglers, you see, and it was kind of rough. The water wasn't very good. For the stock we used – dug wells if there was no creeks. You see there are no creeks out in the valley, no freshwater creeks. We had to dig wells and that was just kind of red bog water and the water situation was very tough…. So, eventually, with the Artesian wells, well, we got away from that and we got away from a lot of trouble with the cattle. The cattle, drinking this bog water, it used to affect the bone structure and we had trouble with what they call lame shoulder. You'd have a lot of cattle with broken shoulders. That was before the days of buying lime and of all the minerals and feeds that they have today to take care of those things. So, after 1925 about when this old waterworks played out, well, my brother and I, we applied to record the springs because we owned this property here and the spring was just barely off of our property on a Municipal lot which was a gravel pit. And we wanted good water and we thought it was cheaper to pipe water all through the farm than it would be to drill it and then pipe it to where you wanted it. So, we, we managed to secure the rights for this spring and put in our pipeline on this farm here in 1930 and it's still in use. George Dinsmore's tape. Surrey Archives SA 771:1

Flooding and Dyking

The Mud Bay District was short or water at times but in others it had too much. Flooding was a continuing problem. (See Surrey Dyking District), (See Dyking Jurisdictions), (See Serpentine Dam)


One of the most difficult aspects of farming in Mud Bay was the constant flooding of the Nicomekl and Serpentine Rivers. Farmers were constantly trying to build up their defences, building dykes, etc. Saltwater is very damaging to agriculture. The farmers of Mud Bay got together and formed the Surrey Dyking District. The organization was created to help rid the valley of constant flooding. Huge networks of dams were built. Prior to the establishment of the Surrey Dyking District, a winter didn't go by in which a dyke did not break. A crew of men would begin work on repairing the damaged dyke at night while the tide was "low." Community spirit, exemplified by the creation of the Surrey Dyking District, was a necessary attribute for pioneers in Surrey. Without it, life would be very tough. Surrey Archives Presentation: Surrey Pioneers-the Dinsmore Family. Ryan Gallagher Archivist.

George Dinsmore described how the dyke digging was organized.

It was all hand work. It was all done by hand. You'd get a crew of men and go down there when, if a dyke broke, you'd have to start around ten o'clock at night or eleven o'clock when the tide was down and the water was away so you could work and just go to work and fill that hole up. It might be ten feet wide, it might be thirty feet wide or it might be a hundred feet wide. According to the size of the whole was the crew of men that you had to collect for to do the work. George Dinsmore tape. Surrey Archives SA 771

Initially the settler had to fight against was the salt water coming in from the sea. He had to dyke against that and drain his property. With development on the uplands, conditions changed to a fresh water problem and flooding from the abundant rain and runoff.


The problem today is twofold. We not only have the clearing on the hills that brings – and the road work and the house roofs and all these things that aggravate our water conditions, but we also have the trouble of the ground settling. And with the two together that means that you get water on the surface whereas a few years back your land was higher and it was down, your water table was down below ground, you didn't see it. And, like I mentioned, over this dam proposition, building these dams in the Surrey District here we've spent well over a million dollars on, on drainage over the last fifty years in this Surrey Dyking District. George Dinsmore tape. Surrey Archives SA 771

Mechanical dredging and dyking first occurred about 1895, when a barge with a floating dragline would scour the bottom of the river and bring up sediment to build dykes along the river banks.(See Surrey Dyking District), (See Dyking Jurisdictions), (See Serpentine Dam)


Breaking the land

In addition to dyking to prevent the constant flooding, clearing or breaking the land was another hurdle that had to be overcome.


George Dinsmore said:

At one time this valley must have been sea because in the early days, when drilling wells, you'd bring up clam shells and sea mud and sea life from two hundred and fifty, three hundred feet deep, and three hundred and fifty feet. So, it practically proves to my mind that it was all sea. Well, when they originally started to farm here, of course, the water from these little rivers, the Nicomekl and the Serpentine, used to flow all of this country at high water and that all had to be dyked. And, of course, when they started out farming it was a pretty rough job, you know, it was muddy, soupy stuff and I've heard some of the old timers say that there was no such thing as finishing up a land when you were ploughing. When you got down to the last little space, it was too soft, you had to just leave it and work over it. They used what they called bog–shoes on the horses; a shoe of some kind made out of plank, something like padding to keep the horses from bogging in this land, a lot of it in the early days. George Dinsmore tape. Surrey Archives SA 771:1 (See History of Agriculture)

River navigation

Despite the flooding and the heavy work of dyke building, the rivers were very important means of shipping product out before the railways were built. Bulk products like hay, grains and potatoes would be shipped by boat to both Vancouver and Victoria. Barns tended to be located next to the river banks to facilitate store and easy movement to the little shallow draft steamboats that might handle 100 tons. The ships would come in at high water and there would be a frenzy of loading as the boat had to leave with the receding tide. In those early days the bridges had to be fitted with a lift so that these little boats could go on up the Nicomekl to get into Kensington or up to Halls Prairie Road. (See Water Transportation)


Nicomekl Bridge

The bridge over the Nicomekl before the cement control dams go in.
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


George Dinsmore said:

Well, these bridges were built 镃 you have seen the cantilevered bridges where they have the big weights on them for lifting. Well, of course, they weren't that intricate, you just had a wench and you would pick up a section of the bridge. It was hinged on one end and you would pick it up with this wench and it would have to be superstructure with blocks, you see, and you'd wind on this wench and pick up one end of the bridge, just lift it up in the air and let the boat through and then drop it back down again. George Dinsmore tape. Surrey Archives SA 771:1

Threshing

Threshing the grain on the Dinsmuir farm
Courtesy of Surrey Archives


Transporting the farm's products

Louise Dinsmore said:

I would be about four years old, which this would be about 1927, was everything was shipped by steamboat and we had the floodgates on the Serpentine and the Nicomekl Rivers. And it would have to be high tide for these steamboats to come up and the last boat to come up was the one that I remembered. My father had a wharf right from his granary which went right on to the dyke and he had been shipping all his produce up until that time. And in 1927 was when it stopped. Then they had to have to take their horses and their wagons and that's when they went over to what was called the Alleuvia Station which is the Colebrook Road and I think it's still existing today. And there's also the road that runs across the bottom of the valley just at Woodward's Hill, across the King George. But, this is the way they used to have to take their produce up to there and load it on boxcars. And then, as time progressed, a little later there was the little trucks that took it over and then, of course, this was obsolete so the big trucks came in and took all the produce off. But that was the main source of anything that was shipped out, any logging or anything going back in those years. It was all by steam boat. That's why they had the floodgates to hold the water so when the tide rose it was deep enough for these boats to come up. And, of course, it was quite a thrill hearing that toot, toot as the boat came up. Everybody ran down to the wharf.
You had to have your appointments made ahead of time. They knew where tostop, but your produce was there because you had only a certain length of time to load it because it had to be at high tide and when the tide shifted, that boat had to be out 'cause they were quite large boats and the channels were kept open at that time and so you had the minimum of time to load it and get back down the river.
They stop using the boats as at that time the steam boat was becoming obsolete and it was cheaper to ship by rail so, that's why everybody changed to. The steam boat just stopped. And then it was by rail, and then, as I say, eventually by truck. Interview with Louise Dinsmore, nee Bishop, and Irene Shelley nee, Dinsmore, Surrey Archives SMA89.83.08

Finding available Farm Labour

Louise Dinsmore said:

There would be a certain group of young single men, possibly married, that would be hired. It would be sort of like a seasonal and they would have jobs beside that. They would come and work at that and then they would have their other jobs to go back to once the harvesting was over. 'Cause harvesting is a time that once it starts it's got to be done, there's no waiting for it unless the weather predicted otherwise. And that was always threatening.
They came from small holdings which could be classified as little chicken farms which isn't very nice. But they would have, say, just small acreage over on the hill or something. And they used to do odd jobs or whatever and then there might be young fellows that would come that were looking for work 'cause times were a little bit hard in those days so, if they were ready to work, we hired them or my father did, I should say.
Things were very hard during the Depression and there was quite often we would have as you call, transients today, that would come to the door and they were willing to do work just to have some food and they would split wood or do odd jobs around. We never turned anybody away 'cause whatever we had we would share. But, I know, things were very difficult in those days and, like my uncle, my father was in the milk testing or cow testing association and if it wasn't for the cows' milk we would have had very hard times. That's what kept us going. Interview with Louise Dinsmore, nee Bishop, and Irene Shelley nee, Dinsmore, Surrey Archives SMA89.83.08

Chinese workers.

Louise Dinsmore said:

Well, there always some Chinese around it seemed, you know. They, they just came and went as they got work. A lot of them came over. They had families in China and they kept sending money back to China for their families. And they worked here, always with the idea they were going to go back next year, but I don't think any of them ever did, but they never failed to send their money back to China, but they always kept a certain portion out and then they would go into New Westminster and gamble it away. This they did without fail and then they'd come back again and start the next year. Some of them would work, were hired to work. Others wanted to rent a little bit of land and work it on their own and it was all vegetables and it was back breaking work, but they used to sell beautiful vegetables. But they never forgot us at Christmas if you treated them right and they seemed to be a type of person that if you treated them right, they never forgot you. They were very generous. There was always just men; there were never any women with them. As Irene says, I think they were mostly Chinese whose families were still in China because we never saw any with a family with them. At that particular time there were two or three living in the little cabin or house on the property. Sometimes they worked for us and sometimes they worked for other people; wherever they could get work. We never charged them anything 'cause they, they worked for us or for the men, you know, whenever they wanted something that they could do they would give them work.
I don't remember any problems. In fact, they were respected as men who were working and they were generally such decent people and clean and they looked after themselves and they would work well if you had them working for you and Soon Lee is the only name of the one that I can remember. Interview with Louise Dinsmore, nee Bishop, and Irene Shelley nee, Dinsmore, Surrey Archives SMA89.83.08

Fishing local rivers

The local rivers were also important for fishing. The annual salmon runs provided food and a source of revenue for the local settlers.


George Dinsmore said:

For all my young life… I fished on the Nicomekl or on the Serpentine River myself in the early days…. We used to set nets right across the river. You would get a fisherman''s licence and you would be what they called a Location. You got a location for fishing. They were numbered from the mouth of the river up pretty well to the dams here and there was so many hundred feet of the river was your spot to fish on and you were allowed to set two nets right across the river, but you had to leave an opening at each side for a certain amount of the salmon to pass, you see. But, being these rivers were small and a lot of snags and stuff in them, you couldn't drift like they do in the Fraser or out in the out – so they did allow for a number of years to, well there was some fellows that made their living at fishing and other ones of us that were on the farms or young guys that wanted something to do in their spare time, we would fish an odd location. Generally, a farmer had a place close by the river; he would apply for a fishing licence. It was only about six weeks in, in the fall that these Coho run up these rivers. But, eventually, the all the sporting fishermen, they gradually prevailed on the powers that be and got them to cut out this net fishing altogether and now it's strictly sport fishing in the rivers. George Dinsmore tape. Surrey Archives SA 771:1

Marketing the farm products

New Westminster was about 14 miles away but it was a vital market for farm products.


George Dinsmore said:

In the early days before there was any railroads or any other way of travelling… my dad used to make a regular trip to the market every Friday to sell butter and eggs and what have you, veal and pork. We had to haul it all in by team and wagon, generally leave home from anywhere from four to maybe before that if you had to get in early. Some of them claimed they used to leave at midnight from up country here. I heard them talking about two old farmers met at the Westminster market, which was a far cry from what it is today, and one fellow, "What time did you leave this morning?" Oh, he said, "I was a little late I didn't get away till two thirty." He said, "I generally leave about one o'clock, but I didn't get away till two thirty this morning." So that shows you the type of transportation.
They had an auction there every Friday in Westminster and you took in livestock, horses, cows or anything you had for sale and you could take in dressed meat and have it sold. There was no inspection or worry or anything about that. And you done quite a lot of private dealing on this market stand. You as one farmer might be there and I would be in on the market and you'd say, "Well, ''m looking for a cow or I'm looking for a horse." "Well, I know somebody that's got a horse." So the next thing you'd be jumping astride of a horse and coming out to see this friend of mine or see my horse that I had for sale. George Dinsmore' tape. Surrey Archives SA 771:

As the years passed the Dinsmore families kept an active interest in community developments. Both Ed and George were among the local residents who formed the Elgin Community Association to build a hall for meetings and social events on Crescent Road. They and their families were among other pioneer at the 60th anniversary of the little Mud Bay church in October, 1945. Ed served as president of the Surrey–Delta–Langley Pioneers Association and was active in other local projects. On November 25, 1961 Ed and George were present at the unveiling of the cairn to mark the route of the old Semiahmoo Trail near the Nicomekl River.


Robina Dinsmore (Mrs. George Dinsmore) died on November 11, 1970. Ed Dinsmore died February 17, 1979.


For just over 10 years, between 1891 and 1902, the Dinsmore's rented and farmed in the Mud Bay area. In October of 1902, the Dinsmore's purchased their own land and did so in the center of the Mud Bay valley. It was there that the family built a home of their own. Two years after the Dinsmore's original land purchase, the family secured an additional 120 acres of farm land in the area. George and Ed, two of Abram's sons, took over the farming of the area and did so until selling the land in 1962. In total, the Dinsmore family farmed in Mud Bay for 71 years. A remarkable feat! The changes to Mud Bay between the years 1891 and 1962 were remarkable. In 1940, the King George Highway dissected the valley, followed in the 1960's with the opening of Highway 99. Surrey Archives Presentation: Surrey Pioneers-the Dinsmore Family. Ryan Gallagher Archivist.

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